1989 VFL Grand Final

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1989 VFL Grand Final
AFL Hawthorn Icon.jpg
AFL Geelong Icon.jpg
21.18 (144) 21.12 (138)
1 2 3 4
HAW 8.4 (52) 12.9 (81) 18.13 (121) 21.18 (144)
GEE 2.0 (12) 7.2 (44) 13.7 (85) 21.12 (138)
Date 30 September 1989
Stadium Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Australia
Norm Smith Medallist Gary Ablett, Sr. Geelong
Broadcast in Australia
Network Seven Network
← 1988 VFL Grand Final 1990 →

The 1989 VFL Grand Final was an Australian rules football game contested between the Hawthorn Football Club and the Geelong Football Club, held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne on 30 September 1989. It was the 93rd annual Grand Final of the Victorian Football League, staged to determine the premiers for the 1989 VFL season. The match, attended by 94,796 spectators, was won by Hawthorn by a margin of 6 points, marking that club's eighth premiership victory. It is regarded as one of the greatest Grand Finals of all time.[1]


Main article: 1989 VFL season

Hawthorn were the reigning premiers, having defeated Melbourne in the 1988 VFL Grand Final by a record margin of 96 points, while for Geelong it was their first appearance in a Grand Final since losing to Richmond in the 1967 VFL Grand Final.

At the conclusion of the regular home-and-away season, Hawthorn had finished on top of the ladder with 19 wins and 3 losses. Geelong had finished third (behind Essendon) with 16 wins and 6 losses. The Cats also set a new record for the highest points total scored in a home-and-away season, having scored 425 goals and 366 behinds for a total of 2916 points, an average of nearly 133 points per game.

In the finals series leading up to the game, Geelong lost the Qualifying Final to Essendon by 76 points, before beating Melbourne by 63 points in the First Semi-Final, and then defeating Essendon by 94 points in the Preliminary Final to advance to the Grand Final. Hawthorn had a much easier run, defeating Essendon in the Second Semi-Final to advance straight to the Grand Final.

In the week leading up to the Grand Final, Geelong's Paul Couch was awarded the Brownlow Medal.

Match summary[edit]

The Grand Final was played in near perfect conditions. Geelong made their intentions clear right from the start when Mark Yeates ran through Hawthorn's champion centre half-forward and enforcer Dermott Brereton. As Geelong coach Malcolm Blight would later admit, this had been a premeditated strategy to protect star midfielder Paul Couch and negate Brereton, who constantly used his aggression to unsettle the opposition. Yeates was chosen to carry out the deed, partly as payback for when Brereton had flattened him in the classic Round 6 clash earlier in the season. Amidst the chaos in the middle of the ground, the Cats rushed the ball forward to Gary Ablett, who kicked the first of his nine goals for the afternoon. Yeates' hit left Brereton with broken ribs and a bruised kidney, which caused him internal bleeding. Hawthorn physiotherapist Barry Gavin recalled the scene years later:

"The thing that really struck me was how bad he was when I got there. He'd lost all the color in his face and was vomiting. He'd dragged himself back on his feet by this stage. But he was doubled over, dry-retching and his color was grey... There was no way he could stay out there. I remember looking up at [Hawthorn coach Allan Jeans] in the box and starting to try to get him off. Dermott said, 'No, no. Just get me down to the pocket'. Terry Gay (Hawthorn's team doctor) came out. He was more worried than me. He recognized the gravity of it."[2]

Despite the insistence of the club doctors and trainers, Brereton refused to leave the field and instead was helped to the forward pocket. Moments later, the ball came into Hawthorn's attacking zone. Brereton, only moments ago on the ground and seemingly out of the game, took a strong mark, steadied, and kicked truly to open Hawthorn's account. Brereton's inspirational act lifted the Hawks, and they slammed on a further seven goals to take a commanding 40-point lead at quarter time. However, Geelong's physical approach was starting to take its toll. Besides the injury to Brereton, John Platten had been concussed and Robert DiPierdomenico was crunched from behind by Ablett while going backwards to take a mark, and suffered broken ribs and a punctured lung, although at the time the full extent of the injury was not known.

Geelong captain and ruckman Damian Bourke was replaced by Darren Flanigan in the second quarter, and began to have an immediate impact in the ruck contests. Then Ablett went on an inspired purple patch, booting three goals in a couple of minutes - the most memorable of those when he grabbed the ball from a boundary throw-in and snapped truly from a tight angle - and Geelong were back in it. Scott Maginness, Ablett's opponent up to that point, was moved onto Billy Brownless while Chris Langford was assigned to mind Ablett for the rest of the game. Despite nine goals from Geelong champion Gary Ablett and a spirited final quarter fightback by the Cats, Hawthorn held on to win by six points to take back-to-back flags, and cement their status as the most successful team of the 1980s. Jason Dunstall, Dean Anderson and Gary Buckenara each kicked four goals for the Hawks.

Ablett's nine goals equaled[3] the record for most goals kicked tying Gordon Coventry's overall record of goals in a Grand Final set in the 1928 VFL Grand Final. The Norm Smith Medal was awarded to Ablett for being judged the best player afield. This is only one of four instances of a Grand Final player having won a Norm Smith Medal without being on the winning premiership team.

By the end of the match, Hawthorn had only 13 fit players on the field. Scottish soccer player Ray Stewart observed the game, and was recorded to have said "I would not play this game for a million dollars."[4]


1989 Hawthorn Grand Final Team
B: 4 Andrew Collins 24 Chris Langford 7 Gary Ayres
HB: 20 Scott Maginness 2 Chris Mew 34 John Kennedy
C: 18 Darrin Pritchard 3 Anthony Condon 9 Robert DiPierdomenico
HF: 11 Gary Buckenara 23 Dermott Brereton 25 Peter Curran
F: 10 Chris Wittman 19 Jason Dunstall 8 Dean Anderson
Foll: 14 Greg Dear 17 Michael Tuck (c) 44 John Platten
Int: 35 James Morrissey 31 Greg Madigan
Coach: Allan Jeans
1989 Geelong Grand Final Team
B: 49 Spiro Malakellis 28 Tim Darcy 24 Mark Bos
HB: 2 Bruce Lindner 23 Michael Schulze 1 Steven Hocking
C: 32 Garry Hocking 7 Paul Couch 19 Neville Bruns
HF: 5 Gary Ablett 26 Barry Stoneham 21 Mark Yeates
F: 8 Robert Scott 16 Bill Brownless 36 David Cameron
Foll: 30 Damian Bourke (c) 3 Mark Bairstow 27 Andrew Bews
Int: 14 Darren Flanigan 25 Shane Hamilton
Coach: Malcolm Blight


Teams 1st Quarter 2nd Quarter 3rd Quarter Final Score
21.18 (144)
21.12 (138)

Goals Hawthorn: Dunstall 4, Anderson 4, Buckenara 4, Brereton 3, Curran 3, DiPierdomenico, Wittman, Morrissey
Goals Geelong: Ablett 9, Brownless 2, Stoneham 2, Hamilton 2, Cameron 2, Bews, Bairstow, Bruns, Flanigan

Best Hawthorn: Pritchard, Anderson, DiPierdomenico, Buckenara, Dunstall, Curran, Mew
Best Geelong: Ablett, Flanigan, Lindner, Hamilton, Bews, Couch

Norm Smith Medallist: Gary Ablett (Geelong)

Umpires: Sheehan, Carey


  • Cameron (Geelong) by field umpire Carey and boundary umpire Hammond for striking Anderson (Hawthorn) with a right forearm to the head during the second quarter.
  • DiPierdomenico (Hawthorn) by field umpire Sheehan and emergency umpire Rich for striking G. Hocking (Geelong) with a left elbow to the face during the third quarter.


External links[edit]