Almanac Books: Champions All extract – 1970 Grand Final

Champions All

Champions All

Excerpt from Champions All – A History of AFL/VFL Football in the Players’ Own Words by Matt Zurbo

70 Grand Final
Carlton 17.9 Collingwood 14.17

Thorold Merrett, Collingwood ’50s, ABC commentator: The 1970 side was the best I’ve seen at Collingwood. A magnificent team. They beat Carlton at Waverley by thirteen goals early in 238the season. The return match at Collingwood, McKenna kicked sixteen goals and they won again. Bob Rose was coach. He was so keen, so certain that he was going to win it, he invited three or four of us media people that he could trust to tell of his plans, for history’s sake – Okay Bob, yeah, great idea. Wonderful. Should just put the icing on the cake.

David McKay, Carlton: We were playing a long-kicking, marking game. That was playing right into the hands of Collingwood. Blokes dropping back.

Adrian Gallagher, Carlton: We were 44 points down at half time. I knew Barass would be going berserk. You just keep out of his way. I went straight to the toilet to miss the initial outburst. Bert Thornley wasn’t as smart, I heard Barass yelling at him, ‘You’re off!’

Dennis Munari, Carlton (1st emergency): I thought we were gone. Gone!

Thorold Merrett, Collingwood, ’50s ABC commentator: Colin Tully played in the back pocket for Collingwood. Barassi brought Hopkins onto him at half time …

Adrian Gallagher, Carlton: Barass said ‘Look, I know this might sound ridiculous, but we’ve got to forget about that first half. If we continue on like that you will never forget it for the rest of your life!’ That’s the one that sunk into my head. Making you stop feeling sorry for yourself. He’s just talking calmly now . . . ‘We’ll have to be prepared to take risks. I want you to play on with every opportunity . . .’ That had never been said before.

David McKay, Carlton: When we started to handball, particu- larly in the backline, that was getting us half a kick forward, so we could put it over the wall they were forming. It helped break up their defence.

I kicked the ball to Jezza for that famous grab. Afterwards he said, ‘The mark was even better because it was a mongrel up-country punt!’ It was certainly a highlight, but that’s all.

When Collingwood’s Richardson kicked the ball beautifully to McKenna in the third, everything was perfect, the weight on it, the placing, yet our full-back Kevin Hall took it in front of him, ran forward, and kicked it long into our forward line. That was a real turning point. Their major scoring power was gone. We lifted. I didn’t realise that Tuddenham had accidently run through McKenna earlier and he was lucky to even be out there.

Once we started getting back into the game, the crowd sensed it. You could feel the momentum, Carlton . . . ! Carlton . . . ! Carlton . . . ! Everybody there who was not a Collingwood supporter was barracking for us.

Adrian Gallagher, Carlton: At three-quarter time, we’re right in the game, ten points.

David McKay, Carlton: At the end of his address Barass said, ‘Win, lose or draw I’m proud of every one of you.’ Lose or draw!? Those two words were just so uncharacteristic of him. Really, it came out as a challenge.

Adrian Gallagher, Carlton: Kevin Hall, I think, yelled, ‘Bullshit! We can WIN this!’

David McKay, Carlton: We were all champing, ‘Let’s fucking get back out there!’
Once we got back within scoring distance and Hopkins started kicking those goals, the crowd’s volume, the momentum, I felt like I was invincible!

Adrian Gallagher, Carlton: Then, the siren! We’d won it.

David McKay, Carlton: That night we were floating on air. To have played so well in my first full year of footy and be in the best players with blokes like Crosswell, I felt I’d done what all Carlton players aspire to. Play well in a final.

Adrian Gallagher, Carlton: The Collingwood blokes had tears coming down their faces. I actually think about them, the effect that game would’ve had on their lives. I’m talking about strong blokes. You think, ‘Thank God, you’ve got out of it.’

Thorold Merrett, Collingwood ’50s, ABC commentator: Colin Tully . . . went to Perth after that. He was shot, shot as a person. He wanted to disappear from Collingwood … his confidence was in ribbons.

David McKay, Carlton: My career highlight? The ’70 Grand Final. Undoubtedly. It was the best game I ever played in, and the best game I ever played. My first premiership, a record crowd. All those things conspiring. If that doesn’t make you happy nothing will.

Adrian Gallagher, Carlton: After ’70 Barass, shit, he could do anything then. Seriously, he could’ve said whatever he wanted and everyone would believe him! (laughs)

Champions All – A History of AFL/VFL Football in the Players’ Own Words by Matt Zurbo

Published by Echo Publishing


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  1. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    My favourite quote/reflection about 1970 comes from Des Tuddenham:
    “Should’ve beaten these c-s by 10 goals. Should’ve knocked out Hopkins”
    You’re welcome.

  2. John Butler says

    Gold Matt. Pure Gold. :)

  3. Hi Matt
    I attended the game as a 10 year old and have never experienced anything remotely like it since for atmosphere and just pure noise. The roar after Carlton got back into it was was a physical experience, not just sensory.

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