Half a dozen remarkable facts about the 2018 Grand Final


Here’s half a dozen remarkable facts about the 2018 Grand Final and how it sits in the range of GFs going back 120 years.


By Ken Haley.





West Coast won both its first flag, in 1992, and its fourth, in 2018, after being down 17 points at quarter-time and 12 points at half-time. (Their 1992 win was more comfortable, though – 28 points over Geelong.)

In the Grand Final of 60 years ago, Collingwood won after being 17 points down at ¼-time – and not just any 17-point deficit, but 2.2.14-5.1.31 – the exact score at ¼-time in the 2018 Granny. It’s been observed elsewhere that the last three Eagles flags have been won in the Chinese Year of the Dog, but this is the time to pause and recall that the Chinese calendar was founded on the basis of a 60-year cycle. They knew that was goes around comes around. Anyway, numerology is as significant as astrology here: their four flags have been won in an even progression, in years ending in 2, 4, 6 and 8. This means they’re a Shuey-in to win their next in 2020, perhaps 2030. (In 1958, the Magpies ran out three-goal winners against Melbourne.)





Had Dom Sheed not kicked that match-winning goal 1:50 from the final siren, Collingwood would have won with a scoreline of 74-73, in a mirror image of the 1966 Grand Final score, when the Maggies lost to St Kilda. This year’s was the closest Grand Final since that of 2006  when the winner was … West Coast, by 1 point against the Sydney Swans.





Only 4 (out of 122) Grand Finals have been decided by this margin and in 3 out of the 4 Collingwood has been the loser:


THE GF of 1907,  Carlton d. South Melbourne 50-45


The GF of 1918,  South Melbourne d. Collingwood 62-57


The GF of 1979, Carlton d. Collingwood 82-77


The GF of 2018, West Coast d. Collingwood 79-74





The Grand Final of 1918 – one of only 11 in which the eventual winner was trailing at ¾-time – was held 100 years 22 days ago: and the official attendance at the 2018 GF was 100,022. This attendance was the highest for 32 years, in 1986 when it was 101,861.In 1985 it was 100,042. It’s the fifth GF of the last 11 to register an attendance above 100,000.


But the attendances given for those four raise a question or two. The attendances are:


2008:   100,012

2010:   100,016

2013:   100,007

2017:   100,021

2018:   100,022



So one more person attended the GF this year than last year (Who is that person, and how lucky were they to get a ticket this year when they missed out last year!). More to the point, are these figures being massaged – how coincidental is it that we never seem to get 99,991 or 99,995? Or is it a sure indication that these days capacity is 100,000 plus no more than the players who take the field? Which leads to a question absolutely dripping with suspicion: Are they counting the players on the field (and the increasingly numerous umpires?) to “massage” the figures, ensuring they make up six digits rather than five?



FIVE – WINNING THE GF WITH A SCORE OF 79 points (the lowest winning score since Hawthorn’s 77 points against Fremantle five years ago) has been done just twice before:


Scored by Fitzroy in 1922 (def. Collingwood by 11 pts)

Scored by Richmond in 1942 (def. Essendon by 53 pts)



SIX – LOSING WITH A SCORE of 74 points


Scored by Hawthorn in 2012 (Sydney Swans defeated them by 10 pts).


Speaking of that game, it is rare to win a Grand Final after being 17 points down at ¼-time, but in 2012 the Swans were further behind at ¼-time (19 points).


In 1935 Collingwood was 18 points adrift at ¼-time and ended up defeating the Swans (South Melbourne in those days) by 20 points.


Two years later – in 1937 – Geelong was 18 points behind Collingwood at ¼-time and turned it around to win by 32 points. Two years later again – in 1939 – Melbourne was 18 points down at ¼-time and ended up defeating Collingwood by 53 points.


In 1996 North Melbourne were the same margin down at ¼ -time and ended up defeating the Swans (this time of the Sydney variety) by 43 points.


In 1984 Essendon was 21 points down at ¼-time and won by 24.


74 was scored in one other Grand Final – the 1966 clash between St Kilda and Collingwood – but this time it was a winning score, by a memorable solitary point against Collingwood’s 73. 153 points (79+74) is the lowest aggregate for a Grand Final since the drawn GF of 2010, when Collingwood and St Kilda kicked 68 points apiece (for a total 136).





  1. Collingwood now holds the record for coughing up both the biggest 1/4 time lead and 1/2 time lead. One more fore three of a kind.

  2. I’d need to check the footage of the 2010 replay and the 2013 GF (in both of which the trailing team was goal-less at quarter time and kicked one goal at some time in the second quarter, while the leader had six and five respectively at half time), but the only other time either the eventual winner or eventual loser definitely kicked the first five goals in a Grand Final was in 1979, when Collingwood’s fifth goal came half way through the second quarter and Carlton’s first about five minutes later. Collingwood also lost that game, by the same margin. (The Harmes and Sheed incidents both happened in the same pocket, with both Harmes and Maynard wearing no 37 and both having family connections to Melbourne.)

    Carlton in 1970, Essendon in 1984, Hawthorn in 1991 and West Coast in 1992 all won after conceding the first four goals. Only Carlton in 95, and possibly Collingwood in 2010 and Hawthorn in 2013 (see above), won after kicking the first four.

  3. great stats!

  4. G’day Ken. Is this the first time a Grand Final team tally of 111 goals is made up of one player kicking 3, with eight players kicking 1?


  5. Whoops 11, not 111!

    Slow finger hitting delete button.


  6. Yvette Wroby says

    What are the stats for Saints being premiers in 2020??
    Great work!

  7. Thanks Ken. History doesn’t repeat – but it rhymes.

  8. Ken BHS Haley says

    Good question, Glen! I’m a bit overwhelmed with other stuff today. Hopefully someone with a quicker trigger finger (and access to Trove or another archive mountain) will be able to find your answer.

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