1987 VFL Grand Final
|1987 VFL Grand Final|
|Date||26 September 1987|
|Stadium||Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Australia|
|Norm Smith Medallist||David Rhys-Jones Carlton|
|Broadcast in Australia|
The 1987 VFL Grand Final was an Australian rules football game contested between the Carlton Football Club and Hawthorn Football Club, held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne on 26 September 1987. It was the 91st annual Grand Final of the Victorian Football League, staged to determine the premiers for the 1987 VFL season. The match, attended by 92,754 spectators, was won by Carlton by a margin of 33 points, marking that club's 15th premiership victory.
At the conclusion of the home and away season, Carlton had finished first on the VFL ladder with 18 wins and 4 losses. Those four losses were by a combined total of just 56 points. It had been a tumultuous year off the field for the Blues; premiership defender Des English was in an ongoing health battle since being diagnosed with leukemia the previous year, and rising star Peter Motley nearly lost his life in a serious car accident early in the season.
Hawthorn finished second, with 17 wins and 5 losses.
Carlton had only beaten Hawthorn in two of the last twelve games in which the two teams had met, although they had defeated them most recently in the Second-Semi Final leading up to the Grand Final. The Hawks had advanced to the Grand Final after defeating Sydney in the first Qualifying Final, and, after the Second-Semi Final, defeated Melbourne by just two points in the Preliminary Final (with a goal kicked after the final siren) to advance to the Grand Final. The Blues had an easier finals run, earning a weeks rest before the Second Semi Final and then advancing straight to the Grand Final after their Second-Semi Final win.
It was Hawthorn's fifth successive Grand Final appearance and it had beaten Carlton in the previous season's Grand Final by 42 points. Carlton had not won a flag since winning the 1982 VFL Grand Final.
The game was played on a very hot day, with temperatures reaching 30.7 degrees Celsius, the hottest day in Grand Final history. It was the only time in 426 games Michael Tuck wore a sleeveless jumper. The heat was thought to favour Carlton after Hawthorn had finished a very tough finals campaign. Hawthorn were also without Jason Dunstall who had kicked 94 goals for the year and 6 against the Blues in the previous year's Grand Final but was out of the game with an ankle injury. Instead the Hawks played Paul Dear at full-forward.
Carlton's Wayne Johnston set the tone for the Blues early with a fierce opening, in which he grounded Hawthorn's Robert DiPierdomenico and got reported, and kicked the first two goals of the game before hurting his ankle.
The Norm Smith Medal was awarded to Carlton defender David Rhys-Jones for being judged the best player afield. Rhys-Jones kept dangerous Hawthorn forward Dermott Brereton goalless for the game. Stephen Kernahan and Craig Bradley each kicked three goals for the Blues.
For Carlton, the victory was atonement for last year's defeat, and served as a tribute to the fighting spirit shown by Des English and Peter Motley, (English was having treatment for cancer and Motley suffered permanent injuries from an car accident) who joined the celebrations in the dressing room. However, Johnston and Madden had both been reported for striking. They would both miss the first two matches of the 1988 season. After losing to Melbourne in the 1988 Preliminary Final, the Blues would not play in a Grand Final again until 1993.