1997 AFL Grand Final
|1997 AFL Grand Final|
|Date||27 September 1997|
|Stadium||Melbourne Cricket Ground|
|Umpires||Hayden Kennedy (7), Bryan Sheehan (9), Mark Nash (14)|
|Pre-match entertainment||Marina Prior|
|National anthem||Marina Prior|
|Norm Smith Medallist||Andrew McLeod (Adelaide)|
|Jock McHale Medallist||Malcolm Blight|
|Broadcast in Australia|
|Commentators||Bruce McAvaney, Dennis Cometti and Sandy Roberts|
The 1997 AFL Grand Final was an Australian rules football game contested between the Adelaide Crows and the St. Kilda Saints, held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne on 27 September 1997. It was the 101st annual Grand Final of the Australian Football League, staged to determine the premiers for the 1997 AFL season. The match, attended by 99,645 spectators, was won by Adelaide by a margin of 31 points, marking that club's first premiership victory.
The 1997 Grand Final saw the Saints playing in their first premiership decider since losing the 1971 VFL Grand Final, whilst the Crows were appearing in their first Grand Final since entering the competition in 1991.
At the conclusion of the home and away season, St. Kilda had finished first on the AFL ladder with 15 wins and 7 losses, winning the McClelland Trophy. They had won their last seven matches. Adelaide, with former Woodville and North Melbourne star Malcolm Blight taking over as coach, had finished fourth (behind Geelong and the Western Bulldogs) with 13 wins and 9 losses. They had made the finals for only the second time in their club history, after losing in a Preliminary Final in 1993 to eventual premiers Essendon. Tony Modra was the club's leading goalkicker for the fifth straight season with a total of 84.
Adelaide won their Qualifying Final encounter against West Coast at Football Park by 33 points, but still needed to play a Semi Final against Geelong which they won by 8 points, again at Football Park. They then progressed to the Preliminary Final against the Western Bulldogs, a match in which they came from behind to snatch victory by just two points. It was, at that time, the greatest victory in the Crows' team history. However, in this game Adelaide lost Modra in the first quarter to an ACL injury, meaning he would not be available for the Grand Final.
St Kilda won their Qualifying Final against the eighth placed Brisbane Lions by 46 points at Waverley Park before a sparse crowd, sending them to a home Preliminary Final against seventh placed North Melbourne at the MCG, which they won by 31 points. The Saints went into the Grand Final as heavy favourites.
St Kilda's Robert Harvey won the Brownlow Medal earlier in the week for having been the best player in the AFL for the 1997 season. Western Bulldogs player Chris Grant polled the highest number of votes, but as he had been suspended for a one match ban - in Round 7 against Hawthorn for striking - he was deemed ineligible for the award.
It was an exciting Grand Final, and despite St Kilda leading by 13 points at half time, Adelaide won by 5 goals, kicking 8 goals in the final quarter. Adelaide became the first team to win four consecutive finals to claim a premiership.
Andrew McLeod won his first Norm Smith Medal for being judged the best player afield. Shane Ellen, typically a defensive player for the Crows, provided a cameo at full-forward in place of Modra with five goals, while Darren Jarman booted a Grand Final record of five in the last quarter, taking him to six for the match and sealling the game. Other influential Crows players included Shaun Rehn, Kane Johnson, David Pittman, Troy Bond and Ben Hart.
St Kilda's Austinn Jones kicked the goal of the match, or what could have been goal of the year. In an effort reminiscent of Phil Manassa in the replayed 1977 Grand Final, Jones ran almost the full length of the ground and kicked the goal from the boundary. Saints forward Barry Hall, who kicked three goals, would later feature in the Sydney Swans' premiership winning team in 2005.
|B:||44 Peter Caven||35 Rod Jameson||34 Ben Hart|
|HB:||23 Andrew McLeod||15 David Pittman||36 Simon Goodwin|
|C:||14 Matthew Connell||3 Darren Jarman||5 Kym Koster|
|HF:||24 Clay Sampson||10 Matthew Robran||7 Nigel Smart|
|F:||42 Chad Rintoul||13 Shane Ellen||18 Troy Bond|
|Foll:||52 Shaun Rehn||28 Kane Johnson||26 Mark Bickley (Capt)|
|Int:||9 Tyson Edwards||11 Brett James||20 Aaron Keating|
|B:||19 Steven Sziller||31 Jamie Shanahan||1 Justin Peckett|
|HB:||18 Jason Cripps||15 Darryl Wakelin||8 Max Hudghton|
|C:||34 Jayson Daniels||29 Andrew Thompson||5 Austinn Jones|
|HF:||22 Matthew Lappin||23 Stewart Loewe||17 Rod Keogh|
|F:||25 Barry Hall||24 Jason Heatley||7 Nicky Winmar|
|Foll:||42 Brett Cook||35 Robert Harvey||Nathan Burke (Capt)|
|Int:||2 Tony Brown||13 David Sierakowski||16 Robert Neill|
|1997 AFL Grand Final|
|Saturday, 27 September (2:30 pm)||St Kilda||def. by||Adelaide||MCG (Crowd: 98,828)|
|Umpires: Kennedy (7), Sheehan (9), Nash (14)
Norm Smith Medal: Andrew McLeod (Adelaide)
Television broadcast: Seven Network
National Anthem: Marina Prior
|Heatley 3, Hall 3, Loewe 2, Jones, Burke, Winmar, Peckett, Harvey||Goals||Jarman 6, Ellen 5, Bond 4, Smart, Goodwin, Rintoul, Caven|
|Harvey, Jones, Burke, Hall, Cook, Keogh||Best||McLeod, Jarman, Johnson, Ellen, Goodwin, Caven|