The Pies’ most memorable games against the Eagles

This article continues my occasional series on the Pies’ most memorable games against opposition clubs.  This time around they are not all wins, because there have been a couple of famous games that ended in other results.  The Pies and the Weagles have fought some classic battles since the Weagles entered the AFL in 1987.  The ledger currently stands at 23-1-24, with a win required on Sunday to square it.

 

Here is a look back at the Top 5 clashes between the clubs.

1. The drawn 1990 Qualifying Final is without doubt the biggest game played between the clubs.  It set the Pies up for a premiership by messing up Essendon’s preparation, and in doing so changed the rules for future finals, with extra time introduced for finals other than the GF.  A nervous Pies’ team struggled against the determined Eagles, and a classic last quarter eventuated.  The Macedonian Marvel kicked one of the game’s most famous goals, the banana kick from the “wrong” forward pocket after being set up by the handy duo of Millane and Brown (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_Hmv04R_Rw .To relive the memory, there is another goal before it).

 

When Eagles’ gun forward Peter Sumich marked and kicked for goal from a tight angle there were only seconds left and the Eagles trailed by a point. Heartbreak seemed just around the corner again for the Pies, who hadn’t won a final in their campaigns of the previous two years.  Fortunately, he missed and they did it all again the following week, with the Pies capitalising on a fortunate second chance with an easy win. Click here for extended highlights.

 

Mick Malthouse has often spoken about how those last weeks of the 1990 season set up the Eagles for their premiership successes of 1992 and 1994.  They travelled to Carrara (via Melbourne) in round 21 and then to Kardinia Park in round 22 before two trips to Melbourne for the qualifying finals, then returning again to beat Melbourne in a semi-final before being thrashed by the Dons in the prelim.  Yes, six weeks in a row on the road, and Mick said that toughened up their group immeasurably.

 

The drawn match was also significant for being the last match for BT, who kicked two goals in the epic last quarter, but was afterwards discarded, and spent his time writing a controversial diary of the season.  Little did we know at the time that years later he would still be in our lounge rooms on the weekends.

2. Semi-final 2007.  The Pies travelled to Perth to take on the reigning premiers who had lost narrowly to Port the week before, and were without their injured stars Judd, Cousins and Kerr. Incredibly this match also finished in a draw at full-time, although Guy Richards famously threw his arms up in short-lived jubilation at the final siren before realising he was the only one celebrating.

 

The Pies blitzed the Eagles in extra time with Daisy engaging in numerous breathtaking runs along the expansive wings of Subi, and Pendles also prominent, setting the scene for later glory on the big stage.  Eddie famously chartered an aircraft to return to Melbourne at low altitude to aid the players’ recovery.

 

This match was also significant for being the second last game for three Pies’ legends – Bucks and Jimmy Clement, both of whom retired after the gutsy loss to the Cats the following week, and big Guy Richards, whose services were dispensed with after the same game.

 

Click here for the last few minutes of the game, including the Guy Richards salute.

3. Elimination Final 1994.  This one looked to be a no-brainer on paper, with the top-placed Eagles hosting the eighth-placed Pies, whose late season form had been patchy, losing four of the last seven.  The Eagles led by a handy margin until Matthews shifted Brown forward.  The new skipper inspired the team with five second-half goals, and a massive upset was on the cards.

 

Trailing by two points, the Pies surged forward with seconds remaining.  A kick forward cleared the pack and a diving Mighty Mick McGuane spilled a chest mark about 30 metres from goal before the siren rang.  He was infamously sledged after the siren by The Mild-Mannered Pharmacist (aka John Worsfold) prompting much debate about appropriate behaviour in an era when there was a lot less media.

 

This match was also significant for being the last game for Tony Shaw, who sat out much of the game with an injured hamstring.  In a sign of things to come, Channel Seven went to an ad and missed the tearful old warrior being applauded from the ground.

 

Click here for a full replay of the game (I can’t find a highlights video)

4. Round 13, 1992.  The Pies travelled to the West to take on the Eagles, who a few months later won their first flag. In a low-scoring affair, in which Brown was typically inspirational, we trailed most of the day.  We kicked a goal to level the scores with less than 30 seconds left.

 

The last centre bounce was obviously crucial, with all three results possible. Big Monky got one of the greatest and most decisive knock-outs ever, punching it 20-30 metres, the ball ending up at the 50 metres mark from where Paul Williams handballed to the fleet of foot Troy Lehmann who kicked an off-line wobbler which went tantalisingly towards the behind post.  With white knuckled anxiety we watched as the goal umpire raced to his right to get a good line on the ball.  It appeared that it just snuck in for a point and when the goal umpire signalled a point the blokes I was with erupted.  The siren sounded a few seconds later, and we jumped to our feet and embraced in the middle of the lounge room.

 

Click here for the last few minutes of this thriller.

This day is particularly memorable to me because, after the siren, one of the blokes I was with reeled back from the group celebration clutching his chest.  He sat down and took some Anthony Rocca-like deep sucks for air, and then sat quietly for some time.  After being picked up by his wife, who took him to the doctor, the doctor was so concerned that he had suffered a heart attack that he wouldn’t release him and called an ambulance. The upshot was that the tests were inconclusive, and despite some discomfort he was there the following week to see Big Sav debut as the Pies won by a goal against the Dogs.

This win ended up being the key plank in the first interstate Grand Slam, that is four wins out of four road trips, by any Victorian club, with the Pies also prevailing in Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide.  And yes, the club did sell t-shirts promoting this feat !

5. Semi-final, 2012. This game was played in the dark shadow of the death of former Pie J-Mac on Port’s end-of-season trip. J-Mac had left the Pies at the end of 2011 and retained strong friendships with many of the players.

 

The Pies had been comprehensively beaten by the Hawks the previous week and after an injury-plagued season, were carrying many sore bodies,  The Eagles had just missed the double chance, had annihilated North in their elimination final and went in as favourites against a Pies team beset by tragedy as well as patchy form and injuries.

 

The game couldn’t have started any worse for the Pies, with the Weagles kicking the first four goals after a Pies “goal” was reversed after a video review.  The Pies edged their way back into the game and trailed by nine and eleven points at the first two breaks before surging to the lead in the third quarter on the back of Daisy kicking three, a fantastic chase down by Wellingham and Blair slotting one from the boundary before saluting his late mate.  We led by ten points at the last change but there were plenty of questions over whether we would run out the game on the back of the sore bodies and an emotionally draining week.

 

These doubts grew when the Eagles kicked the first two goals of the quarter to regain the lead.  The last quarter was a slog and we eventually got our noses back in front.  When Swanny kicked a goal midway through the quarter we led by ten points.  Remarkably that was the last goal of the game, with an incredibly tense last fifteen minutes of footy ending in relief, jubilation and reflection, with tears aplenty from the players after a most difficult week.

 

Click here for highlights of this game.

 

Hopefully, we can add to this story with a win this week.

Comments

  1. Peter_B says:

    (Mostly) great memories. Thanks Steve. The personal landmarks make footy games more memorable.
    The 2007 drawn semi-final was the Avenging Eagle’s first trip back to Croatia since she was 2yo. Pre Ipad and Wifi she was in an Internet Cafe (remember them) in Split listening to radio commentary on headphones (bloody expensive – but nothing gets between her and her boys). I wandered back and forward from bars/cafes every 30 minutes for a score update. The last 10 minutes of normal time standing over her shoulder while she semaphored and muttered. By the end of extra time she was spent and I was pissed.
    The 2012 Semi Final was 2 weeks after the death of her beloved father. We high fived on angel wings against North the week before. Then mourned all over again against the Pies in Week 2.

  2. Luke Reynolds says:

    Some classic games there Steve. Had a great laugh seeing Guy Richards celebrate again!
    And could never, ever tire of seeing that Daicos goal.
    Gavin Brown was magnificent in those 1992 and 1994 games in Perth. Is he the most under rated, under celebrated Collingwood superstar of all time?

  3. Peter_B says:

    Steve – another one to add to your highlights reel. 24-1-24 now.
    We have good defence and key position players at both ends. You have good ruck and runners – no key position players.
    Amalgamate and we would win the flag this year. Negligent recruiting and player development at both clubs I suspect. I reckon NB is a good game day coach – its the strategic stuff that has fallen apart especially since Balme went to Tigers (coincidence in their renaissance?)
    To paraphrase Kerry Packer – NB must lament “you only get one West Coast Eagles in your life”. Dead parrots.

  4. Steve Fahey says:

    Thanks Peter, you are both incisive (especially re the point in your first email re the significance of personal landmarks on memory) and generous in your second (including by not mentioning the very dodgy free to Reid at the end).

    It was a terrific win for the Pies, but wouldn’t make the Top 5 list, largely due to the teams’positions on the ladder and therefore relative significance of the game, especially for us. Your Eagles must be incredibly frustrating for you, I saw their last quarter against Port and this was similar – poor at the contested footy, content to chip the ball around the back half early in the quarter when they should have been going for the throat and unable to respond to the change of momentum. On the positive side, Kennedy was superb.

    Luke, you are spot on re Gavin Brown, he is even underrated at our club – I have him at number two behind Bucks for Pies players from 1979 onwards. Could play wing, forward, back and as courageous as they come as well as an incredibly strong mark.

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