Grand Final Flashback: 2003

Everyone has their grand final stories, whether they’ve made the pilgrimage to the ‘G, or made a tradition on their couch each year.

Grand finals for me are a bit of a marker of life, as daggy as that sounds. I can tell you where I was for pretty much every grand final since I was a kid, starting from around 2001.

I was incredibly lucky that I managed to see my team in a grand final not once, but four times consecutively, before I hit my teens.

Ten years ago to the day, I managed to see the Lions make history in person.

To this day, September 27, 2003, remains in my top three life highlights.

It wasn’t just my first grand final – it was my first trip to Melbourne, to a place where people live, breathe and sleep footy.

I’d only become a regular spectator that season, and only at the Gabba, so being in Melbourne in grand final week was a whole other level.

We’d lined up at the Gabba the Sunday before, with colour coded paper tickets that gave everyone a spot in the pecking order.

Waited and waited and finally we got our tickets and then the countdown begane.

It’s been a while but I still remember that weekend like, as clichéd as it sounds, it was yesterday.

Probably because my Queensland blood is still recovering from the hit of the Melbourne cold of that weekend – weather conditions that required some emergency fashion rations to be lended out to the poor, under prepared Sunshine State kid.

We flew in on the Friday night- it would be another nine years before I would see a grand final parade live- and I was more excited than a kid at Christmas.

Staying within walking distance of the ‘G, we made the trek the next day to the hallowed turf along with a handful of others.

To say we were in the nosebleed section would probably have been an understatement, as the wind swirled around us, and the pre-match festivities going on below.

We were with some rabid Lions fans in what was a sea of black and white around much of the ground.

The Lions were the underdogs that day, but try telling a 12 year-old girl that her team isn’t going to win the grand final and pick up a historic three-peat, and make Nathan Buckley cry.

By quarter-time, things were still pretty tight, but I was feeling confident as the Lions held a 14-poitn lead.

Then, they got off the leash in the second, and the atmosphere turned from nervy to jubilant.

The Brisbane minority was feeling cocky and the third straight premiership was one half away.

Collingwood came back in the third, but it still felt like the Lions’ game – a far cry from the previous year’s heart stopper.

By midway through the last term, I had another milestone – waving off some dejected Magpies supporters as they fled from the sight of their September massacre.

The mercurial Simon Balck couldn’t get away from it that day, picking up 39 possessions in a time when 30 was still unbelievable.

I still remember Vossy coming to the microphone and just going “you little bewdyyyyyyy” and the crowd went off.

And that was it – I have been a Lions member ever since and that match whet my appetite for the greatest game in the world.

Grand finals are pretty sensational and I will never forget my first visit to the ‘G.


  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Well done Beth and yes I remember Norwood’s 1975 Premiership as a 12 yr old like it was yest Phil Gallagher Brilliant Goal in the last q when the ball came with in inches of me My Dad kissing some Stranger when the siren went and our 25 yr Prem drought was over so I completely understand when you say you can remember it like it was yest
    Good on you !

  2. I just watched The Story of the 3-Peat on youtube. My cockles were warmed. My memories of this game aren’t strong as space was needed for the birth of the first born son, which started the night after the GF, but didn’t reach it’s finale until the early hours of Tuesday. Still, managed to get away with naming him after the Norm Smith Medal winner. (He plays a bit like Blacky too. In and under, uses the ball well. Just need to get him kicking moremwith the left foot).

  3. Great memory for all Lions fans. I hope my little 10yo Blacky gets the chance to see our beloved Lions play in a GF before he is a teenager. Seeing your team play (and win) GF’s @ the age when you are just starting to understand such things really define you – like the Sturt FC’s 1974 and 1976 flags did for me. As the legendary Paul Bagshaw said in 1976, “this is the finest our in the history of the Sturt FC”. It remains among my top 5 memories, along with the Lions 2001 flag, the birth of my little Vossy in 01 and my little Blacky in 03. Thanks for the trip down memory lane Beth.

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