5 of the most unusual AFL Moments!
With two months between round 1 and 2, the 2020 AFL season has resumed like no other!
In light of the unusual circumstances, we’re taking a look at 5 of the more unusual moments in AFL/VFL history.
MCG Scoreboard Fire
We’re used to sparks flying on Friday night at the G, but it’s not usually the scoreboard. As the Carlton and Richmond teams warmed up for the final round of the 1999 season, an electrical fire lit up the Ponsford Stand scoreboard. The crowd was forced to evacuate onto the hallowed tuff of the G as fire fighters put out the blaze. Amazingly, after a 45-minute delay, the crowd returned to their seats and the game went ahead. Carlton, eventual ’99 Grand Finalists were edged out in an upset.
Richmond by 11 points.
It was a three-minute game disruption that felt like 30, when a band of Sydney footballer’s and “Joe the Pig farmer” unleashed PLUGA the Pig on the SCG. After a 92-point belting by the Hawks the week before, the fear of facing Tony “Plugger” Lockett in the next round was all too much for the Sydney players. The Swans devised an unusual antic to throw the greatest goal kicker of all time off his game. The moment was unforgettable, but it failed to work.
The Saints by 38 points… and Tony Lockett didn’t play.
Fremantle were in front by a point when the final siren sounded on April 30, 2006 at York Park, Launceston. St. Kilda kicked 7 of the last 9 goals & were coming home strong, with raucous crowd behind them. The roar of the crowd (and a slightly dodgy siren) made the final horn inaudible for the umpires, who missed it entirely. With the time-keepers clock at 0.00 the controlling umpire signalled for another ball-up, much to the frustration of the Fremantle players who heard the siren, but their protests were ignored. Continuing to remonstrate & unprepared for the ball-up, a loose Steven Baker found the ball inside-50 and kicked a point to draw the game. Adding to the drama, he copped a late bump from Daniel Gilmore and Baker was awarded a free kick and second crack at the match winner. Like divine intervention from the Footy Gods, he lined up and kicked another behind. The match was deemed a draw. An official protest from Fremantle led to AFL investigation. The result was eventually overturned, and the Dockers were awarded the four points on Wednesday later that week.
Fremantle by 1 point.
Lights out at Waverley
It was a cold and wintery Saturday night on June 8th 1996 when the Saints took on the Bombers at Waverley park. The Don’s were up by 20 points with 22 minutes gone in the third quarter when suddenly, the lights literally went out! Finally, after 50 minutes of darkness, play was abandoned. For the 43,925 strong crowd, confusion and chaos ensued. Under a shroud of darkness, the post-game field invasion (which was tradition at the time) turned a baffled and bewildered crowd into a crazed mob. Bon fires lit up the centre square, anything that could be, was looted. Even goal posts were torn down & walked out the front gates. The match was resumed on the following Tuesday night. 17,000 brave fans turned out at Waverley to see the teams contest over two 12-minute halves for the points. Controversially new players were able to be selected and the Bombers, with a fresh James Hird ended up with the win.
Bombers eventual winners by 22 points.
The Great Wars
Despite the enormous impact the Great Wars had on life as it was known, a VFL premiership (precursor to the AFL) was awarded each year of WWI & WWII, but it was far from business as usual. As the red, white and black flag of the German empire looked eerily close to the St.Kilda jumper, in 1915 the Saints opted for yellow rather their traditional white. This was also a show of solidarity for a members of their team who enlisted in the service, stationed in Belgium. Players enlisting was the major cause of a player shortage, making 1916 arguably the strangest season on record. Only 4 teams; Collingwood, Carlton, Fitzroy & Richmond, competed for the flag. Fitzroy was the eventual premier, despite finishing last on the ladder at the end of the season (this strange quirk was made possible by the Argus Finals System). An exhibition game was played in London on October 28th 1916, compiled of Australian servicemen, the majority of whom were experienced senior players from the VFL and SANFL (pictured). In attendance was the future King of England, Edward VIII as well as King Manuel II of Portugal.
World War II caused its fair share of challenges for the VFL too. Lack of transportation effected poor attendance and was the reason for Geelong pulling out of the 1942-43 seasons. The MCG was a make-shift US Airforce base and the Grand Final’s were played at Princess Park (3) and the Junction Oval (1). Although there were no Brownlow medals presented between 1942-45 an incredibly unique B&F was awarded. Peter Chitty was awarded the “Changi Brownlow,” the best and fairest for a competition played inside the infamous Changi Prison. The comp comprised four teams of Australian prisoners of war. A POW competition was also played in Germany, played in the Stalag 383 camp, just outside of Nuremberg. Aussie Rules even found its way to the battle fields of Africa. The Australian forces first assault in Libya was signalled by a football being kicked into ‘no mans land.’
The Allies by 2 wars.