1979 VFL Grand Final


11.16 (82) 11.11 (77)
1 2 3 4
CARL 0.4 (4) 5.7 (37) 10.12 (72) 11.16 (82)
COLL 2.2 (14) 5.6 (36) 7.9 (51) 11.11 (77)
Date29 September 1979
StadiumMelbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Australia
Broadcast in Australia
NetworkSeven Network
CommentatorsPeter Landy, Lou Richards, Bob Skilton
← 1978 VFL Grand Final 1980 →

The 1979 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 in Melbourne on 29 September 1979. It was the 83rd annual Grand Final of the Victorian Football League, staged to determine the premiers for the 1979 VFL season. The match, attended by 113,545 spectators, was won by Carlton by a margin of 5 points, marking that club's 12th premiership victory.


Main article: 1979 VFL season

This was the first Grand Final appearance by Carlton in six years since losing the 1973 VFL Grand Final. The last time the Blues had been premiers was when they won the 1972 VFL Grand Final against Richmond. Collingwood had last appeared in a Grand Final two years previously, when it was defeated by North Melbourne in the 1977 VFL Grand Final. The Magpies had last won a flag in 1958.

At the conclusion of the home and away season, Carlton had finished first on the VFL ladder with 19 wins and 3 losses. Collingwood had finished third (behind North Melbourne) with 15 wins and 7 losses.

In the finals series leading up to the Grand Final, Collingwood lost to North Melbourne in the Qualifying Final by 39 points before beating Fitzroy in the First Semi-Final by 22 points to progress to the Preliminary Final. There they faced North Melbourne again, this time winning by 27 points to advance to the Grand Final. Carlton had a much easier finals run, defeating North Melbourne by 38 points in the Second Semi-Final to advance straight through to the Grand Final.

In the week leading up to the Grand Final, Collingwood ruckman Peter Moore was awarded the Brownlow Medal.

Match summary

The game was played in rainy and muddy conditions. Collingwood planned to grind Carlton into the mud, and they managed to take a 10-point lead into quarter time, keeping Carlton goalless. Twenty minutes into the second quarter, Collingwood had stretched their lead to 28 points. Carlton still hadn't scored a goal, and with the conditions only getting heavier, things were looking promising for the Magpies. Seemingly in desperation, Alex Jesaulenko moved himself out of the centre and brought in young pocket battleship Wayne Harmes. Suddenly, Carlton sparked into life, as goals to Harmes, Mark Maclure, Wayne Johnston and Jim Buckley saw the Blues grab the lead at half-time by one point. Carlton capitalized on their momentum, scoring five goals to two and taking a 21-point lead at three-quarter time. However, 18 minutes into the final quarter, the Blues' lead had been slashed to four points, with the Magpies having kicked the last three goals of the game.

Team 1 2 3 Final
Carlton 0.4 (4) 5.7 (37) 10.12 (72) 11.16 (82)
Collingwood 2.2 (14) 5.6 (36) 7.9 (51) 11.11 (77)

Then occurred one of the most memorable moments in VFL/AFL history. With Carlton kicking to the City End, Harmes gathered the ball on the half-forward flank and hurried a kick forward. The kick floated into the right forward pocket, with no player from either team in the vicinity. Harmes chased his own kick as the ball bounced towards the boundary line, and he dived to punch the ball back into play before the ball went over the line. Harmes' punch directed the ball into the goal square, where Ken Sheldon, who was running forward at the time, was able to gather the ball and score a goal, giving Carlton a ten-point buffer. Many Collingwood fans maintain to this day that the ball was out of bounds before Harmes punched it back in. The incident was one of the first two recreated for the Toyota Memorable Moments series of advertisements. Football historian Rhett Bartlett discovered new footage in 2023 that appears to clearly show that Harmes was able to keep the ball in play.[1]

A successful left-foot snap by Collingwood centre half-forward Allan Edwards lifted the hopes of the Magpie army, but from the resultant bounce Carlton managed to move the ball forward where substitute Alex Marcou scored a point. Moments later, the siren sounded.

The inaugural Norm Smith Medal was awarded to Harmes for being judged the best player afield, much to the chagrin of Collingwood supporters who were still ranting about that goal, as well as the fact that Harmes was a grand-nephew of Norm Smith. However, it was Harmes who helped spark the second-quarter comeback when all seemed lost for Carlton.

Carlton's Alex Jesaulenko became the last-ever player to captain-coach a team to victory in a Grand Final. During the final quarter, he injured his ankle and had to leave the field on a stretcher.


B: 37 Wayne Harmes 20 Geoff Southby 43 David McKay
HB: 22 Robbert Klomp 11 Bruce Doull 33 Peter McConville
C: 47 Peter Francis 25 Alex Jesaulenko (c) 19 Michael Young
HF: 7 Wayne Johnston 36 Mark Maclure 8 Trevor Keogh
F: 3 Mike Fitzpatrick 41 Peter Brown 5 Ken Sheldon
Foll: 28 Peter Jones (vc) 12 Barry Armstrong 16 Jim Buckley
Int: 21 Rod Austin 34 Alex Marcou
Coach: Alex Jesaulenko
B: 3 Stan Magro 6 Peter McCormack 27 Kevin Worthington
HB: 26 Ray Byrne 25 Billy Picken 24 Andrew Ireland
C: 43 Ricky Barham 14 Kevin Morris (vc) 21 Graeme Anderson
HF: 36 Rene Kink (dvc) 8 Allan Edwards 20 Ross Brewer
F: 4 Derek Shaw 19 Craig Davis 23 Ray Shaw (c)
Foll: 30 Peter Moore 34 Russell Ohlsen 5 Ronald Wearmouth
Int: 12 Denis Banks 29 Leigh Carlson
Coach: Tom Hafey

Match summary

Goals Carlton: Sheldon 3, Buckley 2, Maclure 2, Francis, Harmes, Jones, Young
Goals Collingwood: Davis 4, Brewer, Carlson, Edwards, Ireland, Kink, Ohlsen, Wearmouth

Best Carlton: Harmes, Francis, Johnston, Buckley, Klomp, Armstrong
Best Collingwood: Picken, Morris, Byrne, Davis, Barham, Ohlsen

Umpires: Bill Deller, Kevin Smith

See also


  1. ^ @rhettrospective (13 May 2023). "So um .... when ABC also televised 1979 GF, their camera was tighter and ever-so-slightly to the right of Ch7s" (Tweet) – via Twitter.