BY: George Wilson
COLLINGWOOD yesterday broke a 32-year hoodoo to win the 1990 grand final at the MCG by eight goals over Essendon after leading almost from go to whoa.
The Magpies, the league’s most loved and most hated side, posted 13.11 (89)to the disappointing Bombers’ 5.11 (41) before a crowd of just under 99,000.
Essendon’s score was the lowest since Collingwood failed against Melbourne in 1960 when they kicked a miserable 2.2 (14).
The Dons’ inability to kick big scores in the 1990 finals series after finishing in No 1 spot was the enigma of the year which will haunt their coach, Kevin Sheedy.
At the end of the home-and-away matches Essendon finished on top of the ladder with the highest scoring tally of the season.
Yesterday’s match was a below standard game.
It was watched by almost 99,000 people, who began arriving at the MCG as early as 8am.
To their credit, Collingwood never looked like losing the club’s greatest challenge since 1958, the year of their last AFL flag.
None of yesterday’s winners had been born by that year.
Players, officials and spectators wept and hugged at the MCG after the historic victory by Collingwood.
Their captain, Tony Shaw, won the Norm Smith Medal as best player on the ground and he was brushing aside tears of joy – or perspiration – as the award was hung around his neck.
The Magpie victory ended an era of eight losing grand finals since their 1958 victory and a history of 23 losing appearances in grand finals.
A lowlight of the match was an all-in and brawl as the players from both sides broke up for the quarter-time break.
Six players were booked after the siren had blared to end the term and many of yesterday’s stars from both sides could be missing at the opening of the 1991 season after the AFL Tribunal considers the reports from an otherwise lacklustre grand final.
Collingwood full-forward Gavin Brown was felled and his team-mates, even committeemen who had come on to the ground to encourage the players at the interval, became involved in the fisticuffs which followed.
Even Collingwood winning coach Leigh Matthews appeared involved in a grappling match.
Collingwood looked home and hosed after their runaway second quarter effort when they posted six goals to the Bombers’ solitary major to lead by 34 points at the long interval.
They extended that margin to 40 points at three-quarter time and took charge of the game, making it almost a practice run, to win by eight goals when the final siren created Magpie history.
Paul Salmon gave Essendon fans some hope of 1990 glory when he set about dominating the game in the first term, kicking the Bombers’ entire 2.2 for the quarter.
The three controversial Daniher brothers, Anthony, Terry and Chris – all playing as defenders – held out Collingwood in the opening minutes but their kicks from the backline to attack were not well placed.
Scott Russell, another Collingwood star of the day, had 27 controls of the ball and Darren Millane had at least 21 kicks and handballs.
Tony Francis, recurited this year from South Australia as a rover, was another outstanding player for the victorious Magpies.
The best that could be said for Essendon was that Anthony Daniher won the ball 25 times but did not put his possessions to value and ageing captain Timmy Watson shared the same number disposals.
Collingwood veteran Peter Daicos, hailed as the side’s Mr Magic, kicked two goals to bring his tally for the season to 97.
The fans paid almost $2 million to see the game, the richest gate for a single day in Australian sporting history.
By 10am the members’ area, shared for the day by Melbourne Cricket Club and VFL Park members, was full. Carparks were closed at noon.
The game was seen either live, or delayed TV because of international time zone changes, by 70 million viewers in Australia and 20 overseas countries.
Essendon, winners of 14 premierships, the last of them back-to-back victories in 1984-85, started 10/9 outsiders.
The Magpies, 13 times flag victors, but who have lived with a hoodoo since 1958 despite eight grand final appearances including a tie with North Melbourne in 1977 before losing the replay, were just a shade more popular with punters.
Collingwood had been runners-up 23 times before yesterday. The Bombers had finished second on 12 occasions.
Essendon and Collingwood had not played off in a grand final since 1911 when the Bombers won by a goal.
A pre-match crackdown by police slowed scalpers who asked up to $600 for a pair of tickets under cover.
Police did not anticipate the circulation of forged grand final tickets which were sold outside the ground for $300 a seat.
* Richmond’s Michael Mitchell won the Channel 7 AFL Mark of the Year and took home a new Ford Laser Hatchback following a nationwide phone-in poll conducted by the Seven network and INFO 00 555 in conjunction with the grand final which attracted a record 250,000 callers. The viewers’ prize went to Karen Low of Frankston.
* THE Sun-Herald and Village Roadshow are giving three lucky readers a chance to re-live yesterday’s Collingwood-Essendon grand final action. Watch for details in next week’s paper.
Collingwood 2.5 8.9 11.10 13.11 (89)
Essendon 2.2 3.5 5.6 5.11 (41)
Collingwood: Barwick 2, Brown 2, Crosisca 2, Daicos 2, Russell 2, McGuane, Monkhorst, Starcevich.
Essendon: Salmon 2, Grenvold, Kickett, Somerville.
Collingwood: A.Shaw, Russell, Monkhorst, Millane, Francis, Kerrison.
Essendon: Watson, Sporn, T. Daniher, Kickett, Ezard, O’Donnell.
Crowd: 98,944 at the MCG.
Umpires: Rich, Sawers.