1970 VFL Grand Final

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1970 VFL Grand Final
Collingwood icon.svg
Carlton 2018 AFL.png
14.17 (101) 17.9 (111)
1 2 3 4
COLL 4.8 (32) 10.13 (73) 13.16 (94) 14.17 (101)
CARL 0.3 (3) 4.5 (29) 12.5 (77) 17.9 (111)
Date26 September 1970
StadiumMelbourne Cricket Ground
UmpiresDon Jolley
Broadcast in Australia
NetworkSeven Network
CommentatorsMike Williamson, Alan Gale, Ted Whitten
← 1969 VFL Grand Final 1971 →

The 1970 VFL Grand Final was an Australian rules football game contested between the Carlton Football Club and Collingwood Football Club, held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on 26 September 1970. It was the 74th annual Grand Final of the Victorian Football League, staged to determine the premiers for the 1970 VFL season. The match was won by Carlton by a margin of 10 points, marking that club's 10th premiership victory.

This game is widely considered to be one of the greatest Grand Finals of all time and, according to one of the key protagonists Ted Hopkins, heralded "the birth of modern football".[1] The attendance figure of 121,696 spectators broke the grand final record set the previous year of 119,165 spectators, and set an all-time attendance record for any football code in Australia that still stands.


Collingwood finished 1970 on top of the ladder with 18 wins. Carlton was next with 16 wins, followed by St Kilda and South Melbourne (14 wins each). South Melbourne was participating in its first Finals series since 1945, and got in despite winning only four of their last eight home-and-away matches.

During the home-and-away season, Collingwood and Carlton had played each other twice. In Round 8 at VFL Park, Carlton had led by 29 points at half-time before being overrun to lose by 23; and at Victoria Park in Round 19, Collingwood was dominant and won by 77, then its greatest winning margin against Carlton. The two clubs faced each other again in the second semi-final, which was a closely fought battle won by Collingwood 17.16 (118) d. 17.6 (108).[2] Carlton qualified for the grand final with a comfortable 62 point victory against St Kilda in the preliminary final.

The match was the fourth grand final between the two traditional rivals, the previous occurring in 1910, 1915 and 1938.

Match summary[edit]

First half[edit]

Conditions were perfect at the MCG as both teams lined up at almost full strength, only Quirk of Carlton was unavailable due to injury.[3]

Kicking against a very slight breeze, Collingwood attacked relentlessly in the first half of the first quarter, and by the 20th minute had scored nine times, for a disappointing 3.6 (24), before Carlton had scored.[4] The early goals were kicked by Des Tuddenham in the 5th minute, Peter McKenna in the 14th, and Con Britt in the 20th. It was not until the 23rd minute that Carlton registered its first score, a behind, but the Blues did not score a goal in the first quarter. McKenna kicked his second goal from a short range set shot in the 29th minute, and Collingwood held a 29 point advantage at quarter time.[2]

Carlton opened the second quarter with its first goal of the match, Adrian Gallagher converting a short set shot from a free kick in the second minute. Collingwood responded with 3.3 (21) in the next five minutes – with goals to McKenna from a mark in the 3rd minute, Ross Dunne on the run in the 6th minute and McKenna again with a running shot in the 7th minute – extending the margin for the first time to a game-high 44 points. The remainder of the quarter was evenly contested, with each side kicking three goals: Robert Walls (Carlton) in the 9th minute, Adrian Gallagher (Carlton) in the 12th minute, Max Richardson (Collingwood) in the 16th minute, McKenna with his fifth goal of the half in the 22nd minute, Sergio Silvagni (Carlton) in the 29th minute and Robert Dean (Collingwood) in the 31st minute. As such, the half time margin remained 44 points.[2]

Notable among the highlights in the quarter came in the 27th minute, when Jesaulenko (Carlton) leapt onto the shoulders of Collingwood ruckman Graeme Jenkin and took a spectacular mark[5] that was judged the official 1970 Mark of the Year. Mike Williamson's TV commentary of the mark, "Oh, Jesaulenko, you beauty!" has endured as famous as the mark itself, and was later included in the Toyota Legendary Moments series of advertisements.[6]

Although the Magpies had built a formidable and seemingly insurmountable half-time lead, there was one incident that had fans worried; Collingwood's superstar full-forward McKenna was groggy after teammate Tuddenham had accidentally floored him with a hip-and-shoulder while flying for a chest mark.[7] McKenna, who already had kicked over 140 goals for the season and five goals in the first half. He would only kick one more goal for the rest of the match. The fact that this goal came from an overhead mark only 2 minutes and 43 seconds after the collision caused the TV commentators to believe that he had recovered. Speaking about the incident forty years later in an interview for the Herald Sun, McKenna recalled that:

I don't remember much after that and nothing from halftime. The club doctor wanted to take me off, but Bobby Rose wouldn't hear of it. In the second half I started to wait for the ball and play in an uncharacteristic fashion. I went home after the game and straight to bed, waking at 10pm and thinking I had better get to the wake.[8]

Second half[edit]

During the break, champion Carlton coach Ron Barassi instructed his players to handball and play on at all costs, instituting a strategy to try to nullify Collingwood's long kicking game. A key positional move was the introduction of little-known Ted Hopkins, a small rover, as a substitute for Bert Thornley in the second half.[9]

These changes were highly effective and in the early part of the third quarter, Carlton staged one of the most remarkable purple patches in league history, kicking seven goals in eleven minutes to draw the margin back to only three points. Substitute Ted Hopkins kicked the first two, roving the ball from broken marking contests in the goal square in the 3rd and 4th minutes of the quarter. In the 7th minute, Syd Jackson snapped a goal from near the boundary line in the forward pocket. In the 8th minute, Brent Crosswell kicked a goal from a high tackle free kick. Hopkins kicked his third goal in the 10th minute after receiving a handpass from Robert Walls, who had marked at half-forward; and in the 12th minute, Walls marked at half forward again, this time playing on and kicking the goal himself. Finally, in the 14th minute, from a ball-up in the forward pocket, Hopkins managed to kick the ball to Alex Jesaulenko who scored a goal to bring the margin back to only three points, 10.14 (74) vs 11.5 (71).[2]

Thereafter, Collingwood steadied, and the second half of the third quarter was a much more even contest. In the 20th minute, Collingwood extended the lead to 10 points with a set shot goal by Len Thompson. Two minutes later, Jesaulenko kicked a goal for Carlton from a free kick, and from the ensuing centre bounce, Collingwood responded with a goal to Ross Dunne from a close range mark. In the 28th minute, McKenna marked and kicked his sixth goal from 20m, and shortly before the three-quarter time siren he kicked another behind, to extend the margin to 17 points.[2]

Carlton opened the final quarter strongly, but missed two early shots – Hopkins again roving the ball in the goal square before hitting the post from less than a metre out in the first minute, and Jackson missing wide on a long-range set shot – before Thompson kicked a set shot goal in the 5th minute for Collingwood. At this point, Collingwood was 21 points ahead, having scored the last three goals.[2]

Soon after, Carlton had three shots inside three minutes to narrow the margin back to eight points, largely through the efforts of ruckman John Nicholls who was resting forward. He kicked a goal in the 8th minute from a high tackle free kick; then in the 9th minute rucked the ball to Robert Walls, whose snap shot from near the boundary line was just touched on the line by Peter Eakins; and then in the 10th minute took a contested mark and converted another short range set shot. No goals were kicked in the following ten minutes, both teams' defences repeatedly repelling attacks.[2] Collingwood's 19th and 20th men were both brought on to replace cramping team mates.

In the 20th minute, Syd Jackson made a brilliant piece of individual play, smothering then regathering an attempted clearing kick by Eakins, before handpassing to an unmarked Hopkins at full forward, who kicked his fourth goal and brought the margin back to one point. In the 25th minute, from a ball-up at full forward, Crosswell won a free kick for a high tackle, and kicked the goal to put Carlton ahead for the first time in the match. In the critical passage of play in the 28th minute, Peter McKenna claimed an overhead mark in the forward-line, having gotten his hands to the ball but just been spoiled from behind, but the umpire called play-on; ten seconds later, Carlton had cleared to centre half-forward, where Jesaulenko gathered and kicked towards the vacant goal, and the ball took four bounces and went through for a goal to put Carlton 11 points ahead. At this point, Carlton had kicked the last 5.2 (32) of the game. Dunne kicked a behind for Collingwood in the 29th minute to narrow the margin to ten points, and the siren went shortly after.[2]

This was the same winning margin as the Second Semi Final also played at the MCG two weeks earlier between these teams which Collingwood won 17.16 (118) to 17.6 (108). Leading ball winners for Carlton were Crosswell with 23 (17 kicks and 6 handballs), McKay 20 (18 and 2) and Waite 19 (10 and 9). For Collingwood, Price 22 (17 and 5), W. Richardson 22 (21 and 1) and M. Richardson 19 (13 and 6)[10] Brent Crosswell (Carlton) was generally regarded as the best player on the day for his four-quarter contribution, especially in the first half when many Carlton players were not playing well. Hopkins, whose four goals as 19th man became legendary, played only one further game for Carlton, soon quitting football to pursue other interests.

The 44-point half-time deficit overcome by Carlton was then the second-largest half-time deficit ever overcome in VFL history. The only larger deficit overcome before this was 52 points, by Collingwood against St Kilda in Round 10 of the same year (which remains the record as of 2020).[11]


Having defeated Carlton three times during the 1970 VFL season (twice during the home-and-away season and in the Second Semi Final), Collingwood were deservedly pre-game favourites and led for most of the match. Their inability to cement the final victory led to them being dubbed with the derisive nickname "Colliwobbles" for the first time. Their next appearance in a Grand Final was in 1977, when they drew against North Melbourne and then lost the replay. After finishing runner-up a further three times (twice to Carlton – in 1979 and 1981), Collingwood finally broke through to defeat Essendon in the 1990 AFL Grand Final, ending the "Colliwobbles". Nevertheless, the nickname has continued to be used for the club when it fails to match expectations in finals.Note 1 Carlton failed to make the finals the following year, but would bounce back to win the 1972 premiership in a classic shoot-out against Richmond.


"The birth of modern football"[edit]

One thing we said we must do is handball, and we handball, and we handball and we handball. It was the only possible way to get back into the game. I reminded them of the game out at Hawthorn, where prior to this game our handball was down. So that game we had to handball. And today was the same. I reminded them of it. At half time I think our handball was 13, which was just shocking. And we did something about it and it won us the match.

Coach Ron Barassi, Jr., speaking to a radio interview after the game.[12]

The style of play displayed by Carlton in the second half, featuring frequent attacking use of handball, playing on quickly from marks, and open fast running play, was a key part of the club's recovery and victory in the game; and coach Ron Barassi's half-time instructions to "handball, handball, handball!" became part of the game's folklore.[2]

The game, and Barassi's half time instructions, are sometimes referred to as "the birth of modern football",[1] a label which critical historical analysis views as symbolic, rather than literal. The style of football played in Victoria had been undergoing a clear change through the 1960s and early 1970s: prior to this, football had mostly been a stop-start game, with players kicking forward to teammates who took a mark, stopped and kicked again, with the handball being used mainly as a defensive or last-resort option; but through this period, attacking use of handball and playing on and short kicks, became more common. Carlton's recovery in the 1970 grand final symbolized this transition perfectly: falling 44 points behind in the first half playing "old football", then recovering to win playing "new football" in the second half.[2]

Nevertheless, the mythology surrounding the game has perpetuated a myth that Barassi's half-time instructions represented a revolutionary, seminal moment which heralded the transition from the old style of football to the modern style. This literal interpretation does not hold up to any critical assessment: Barassi noted that Carlton had been playing a handball style of game throughout 1970, and credited early 1960s Fitzroy coach Len Smith as being the first coach to encourage attacking use of handball in Victoria.[13] Football historian John Devaney assessed likewise that the transition towards handball and playing on had been gradual through the 1960s, and was already a well established tactic both within and outside Victoria in the years before 1970.[2] Barassi and Devaney both also note that Carlton's recovery couldn't be attributed to handball alone, with Hopkins strong play, better overall discipline and winning a higher proportion of possession also key to the recovery.[13][2]


Carlton vs Collingwood
Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Final
Carlton 0.3 (3) 4.5 (29) 12.5 (77) 17.9 (111)
Collingwood 4.8 (32) 10.13 (73) 13.16 (94) 14.17 (101)
Venue: Melbourne Cricket Ground
Date and time: 26 September 1970
Attendance: 121,696
Umpires: Jolley
Goal scorers: Carlton 4: Hopkins
3: Jesaulenko
2: Crosswell, Gallagher, Nicholls, Walls
1: Jackson, Silvagni
Collingwood 6: McKenna
2: Dunne, Thompson, Tuddenham
1: Britt, W. Richardson
Best: Carlton Crosswell, McKay, Silvagni, Robertson, Nicholls, Jackson, Jesaulenko, Walls[14]
Collingwood Tuddenham, Dunne, M. Richardson, W. Richardson, Jenkin, Waters, McKenna, Price[15]
Reports: nil
Injuries: nil


B: 21 Barry Gill 3 Kevin Hall 30 Vin Waite
HB: 11 John Goold 43 David McKay 35 Barry Mulcair
C: 6 Garry Crane 34 Ian Robertson 15 Phillip Pinnell
HF: 17 Brent Crosswell 42 Robert Walls (a/vc) 5 Syd Jackson
F: 28 Peter Jones 25 Alex Jesaulenko 13 Bert Thornley
Foll: 2 John Nicholls (c) 1 Sergio Silvagni 10 Adrian Gallagher
Res: 22 Neil Chandler 7 Ted Hopkins
Coach: Ron Barassi
B: 9 Colin Tully 21 Jeff Clifton 10 Peter Eakins
HB: 29 Denis O'Callaghan 3 Ted Potter (dvc) 33 Lee Adamson
C: 26 Robert Dean 5 Barry Price 22 John Greening
HF: 18 Max Richardson 28 Len Thompson 27 Con Britt
F: 12 Ross Dunne 6 Peter McKenna 2 Wayne Richardson (vc)
Foll: 14 Graeme Jenkin 1 Terry Waters (c) 8 Des Tuddenham
Res: 15 Bob Heard 23 Ricky Watt
Coach: Bob Rose

See also[edit]


1.^ The Grand Finals that Collingwood lost before during the Colliwobbles era were in 1960/64 against Melbourne and 1966 against St Kilda.


  1. ^ a b "Ron Barassi's greatest gamble - The 1970 Grand Final".
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l John Devaney. "'Handball, Handball, Handball': 1970 Grand Final". AustralianFootball.com. Retrieved 21 October 2020.
  3. ^ Atkinson & Atkinson, 2009, p. 292
  4. ^ Atkinson & Atkinson, 2009, p. 292
  5. ^ "Grand Final 1970 (YouTube) Jesaulenko mark". Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  6. ^ "Grand Final 1970 (YouTube) Jesaulenko, you beauty!". Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  7. ^ "Grand Final 1970 (YouTube) McKenna collision". Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  8. ^ "The 1970 premiership that got away from Collingwood".
  9. ^ The Architecture of Triumph and Tragedy: the 20th Century Sports Stadium Archived 4 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine The Sports Factor, ABC Radio National Transcripts, 29 August 1997
  10. ^ Harry Beitzel's Footy Week, 28 September 1970, p. 2
  11. ^ http://afltables.com/afl/teams/allteams/gamer.html#17
  12. ^ Simon Smith. "'Jesaulenko, you beauty!'". National Sound and Film Archive. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
  13. ^ a b Guy Hand (30 April 2010). "I didn't popularise handball: Barassi". Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney, NSW. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  14. ^ Atkinson & Atkinson, 2009, p. 294
  15. ^ Atkinson & Atkinson, 2009, p. 294


  • Atkinson, Graeme; Atkinson, Brant (2009). The Complete Book of AFL Finals. Australia: The Five Mile Press. ISBN 978-1-74211-275-6.
  • Flanagan, Martin (2008). "1970". The Last Quarter - A Trilogy. Camberwell East: One Day Hill. ISBN 978-0-9757708-9-4.

External links[edit]