1978 VFL Grand Final

North Melbourne
AFL Hawthorn Icon.jpg

15.13 (103) 18.13 (121)
1 2 3 4
NM 2.2 (14) 7.8 (50) 10.12 (72) 15.13 (103)
HAW 5.3 (33) 7.4 (46) 14.10 (94) 18.13 (121)
Date30 September 1978
StadiumMelbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Australia
Broadcast in Australia
NetworkSeven Network
CommentatorsLou Richards
Peter Landy
← 1977 VFL Grand Final 1979 →

The 1978 VFL Grand Final was an Australian rules football game contested between the Hawthorn Football Club and North Melbourne Football Club at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on 30 September 1978. It was the 82nd annual Grand Final of the Victorian Football League, staged to determine the premiers for the 1978 VFL season. The match, attended by 101,704 spectators, was won by Hawthorn by a margin of 18 points, marking that club's fourth premiership victory.


Main article: 1978 VFL season

It was the third time in four seasons that these two sides met in a Grand Final while North Melbourne was competing in its fifth successive Grand Final. They were the reigning premiers, having defeated Collingwood in the 1977 VFL Grand Final.

At the conclusion of the regular home-and-away season, North Melbourne had finished on top of the VFL ladder with 16 wins and 6 losses. Hawthorn had finished second, also with 16 wins but with an inferior percentage.

In the finals series leading up to the Grand Final, Hawthorn comfortably defeated Collingwood in the Qualifying Final by 56 points before beating North Melbourne by 10 points in the Second Semi-Final to progress to the Grand Final. North Melbourne, after their Second Semi-Final loss, defeated Collingwood by 12 points in the Preliminary Final to progress to the Grand Final.

In the week leading up to the Grand Final, North Melbourne's Malcolm Blight was awarded the Brownlow Medal.

Match summary

North Melbourne went into the game without a number of players from the previous season's premiership victory - star full-back David Dench, who had injured his knee in Round 3, ruckman Peter Keenan, who had received a two-match suspension for striking Hawthorn captain Don Scott in the last quarter of the semi-final,[1] and injured utilities Steven Icke and Brent Crosswell.[2]

First quarter

Hawthorn got off to a fast start, with forward Michael Moncrieff kicking three goals (including two goals in the first two minutes of the game), and they led by nineteen points at quarter time.

Second quarter

North Melbourne hit their stride in the second quarter, with Phil Baker became the focal point of the North attack and taking the mark of the year over Ian Paton. He helped North kick five goals to two to lead by four points at half time.

Third quarter

Hawthorn ultimately finished victors thanks largely to a strong third quarter which saw them kick 7 goals whilst closing down the Kangaroos. The turning point occurred when two North Melbourne players spoiled each other in the goal square at the 6-minute mark, when a mark and a goal could have put them 17 points up. The Hawks went on to dominate play after this incident, and never looked back, kicking 6.3 to North's one behind in the next 12 minutes.

Fourth quarter

The teams traded goals in the fourth quarter but by that time the damage was done for the Kangaroos, as they were not able to make up ground. After being flattened off the ball, Peter Knights was moved forward, kicking two goals then taking a spectacular mark beside the point post which rivalled Phil Baker's mark.

For the victors, Leigh Matthews was considered best on ground with 28 disposals and four goals, lifting his game when the result was on the line.[3] Also important was Robert DiPierdomenico, who gave Hawthorn considerable attacking drive off half back and kept his opponent Arnold Briedis, considered by Hawthorn to be North's most dangerous forward, quiet for most of the match. Terry Wallace capped off an outstanding debut season with a prominent midfield performance, gathering 21 kicks.

Besides the loss of Keenan, Icke and Crosswell before the match, North lost Malcolm Blight early with a torn groin muscle after just five minutes, and Stan Alves also limped off in the second quarter.


The Kangaroos' loss represented another instance in which the team which had finished first at the end of the home and away season lost the Grand Final. Since the final five finals system began in 1972, only Carlton (1972) and Richmond (1974) had won premierships from that position.

This win represented the first for David Parkin as coach. He had previously captained the Hawks to the 1971 VFL Grand Final victory, and later went on to coach Carlton to premierships in the 1980s and 1990s.

Hawthorn's next success came five years later, when they won the 1983 VFL Grand Final against Essendon. It would take another 18 years for North Melbourne to appear in another premiership decider, when it defeated the Sydney Swans in the 1996 AFL Grand Final.


North Melbourne
B: 27 Alle De Wolde 15 Kelvin Moore 42 Ian Paton
HB: 10 David Polkinghorne 24 Peter Knights 9 Robert DiPierdomenico
C: 2 Geoff Ablett 16 Terry Wallace 26 Rodney Eade
HF: 43 Peter Murnane 14 Alan Martello 25 John Hendrie
F: 45 Richard Walter 6 Michael Moncrieff 4 Peter Russo
Foll: 23 Don Scott (c) 17 Michael Tuck 3 Leigh Matthews (vc)
Int: 20 Michael McCarthy 1 Norm Goss
Coach: David Parkin
North Melbourne
B: 34 Ross Henshaw 4 Ross Glendinning 13 Gary Cowton
HB: 12 Ken Montgomery 5 Darryl Sutton 27 Keith Greig (c)
C: 2 Stan Alves 25 Xavier Tanner 20 Wayne Schimmelbusch (a/vc)
HF: 6 Arnold Briedis 16 Stephen McCann 44 Maurice Boyse
F: 15 Malcolm Blight 29 Phil Baker 10 Ray Huppatz
Foll: 22 Mick Nolan 21 John Byrne 17 Graham Melrose
Int: 46 Doug Smith 3 John Cassin
Coach: Ron Barassi


Grand Final
Saturday, 30 September (2:32 pm) North Melbourne def. by Hawthorn Melbourne Cricket Ground (crowd: 101,704) Report
2.2 (14)
7.8 (50)
10.12 (72)
 15.13 (103)
5.3 (33)
7.4 (46)
14.10 (94)
 18.13 (121)
Umpires: Deller, Robinson
Television broadcast: Seven Network
Baker 6
Briedis, Huppatz, Boyse, Smith 2
Melrose 1
Goals 4 Moncrieff, Matthews
3 Scott
2 Knights
1 Ablett, Martello, Hendrie, Eade, Murnane
Schimmelbusch, Huppatz, Baker, Sutton, Henshaw, Glendinning, Nolan, Byrne Best DiPierdomenico, Matthews, Moore, Wallace, Scott, Tuck, Eade, Ablett
Blight (groin), Alves (hamstring) Injuries Knights (slight concussion), DiPierdomenico (bruised leg)
Nil Reports Nil


  1. ^ Sheahan, Mike (19 September 1978). "Keenan 2, Carman off". The Age. p. 36.
  2. ^ Sheahan, Mike (2 October 1978). "Revenge so sweet for Hawks". The Age. p. 32.
  3. ^ "'Lethal' stars in '78 flag". hawthornfc.com.au. 6 June 2018.

See also