1984 VFL Grand Final
AFL Hawthorn Icon.jpg


12.9 (81) 14.21 (105)
1 2 3 4
HAW 6.1 (37) 8.6 (54) 10.8 (68) 12.9 (81)
ESS 2.4 (16) 3.11 (29) 5.15 (45) 14.21 (105)
Date29 September 1984
StadiumMelbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Australia
Broadcast in Australia
NetworkSeven Network
CommentatorsPeter Landy, Lou Richards, Bob Skilton
← 1983 VFL Grand Final 1985 →

The 1984 VFL Grand Final was an Australian rules football game contested between the Essendon Football Club and Hawthorn Football Club, held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne on 29 September 1984. It was the 88th annual grand final of the Victorian Football League, staged to determine the premiers for the 1984 VFL season. The match, attended by 92,685 spectators, was won by Essendon by a margin of 24 points, marking that club's 13th premiership victory.


Main article: 1984 VFL season

It was a grand final rematch of the previous season's grand final in which Hawthorn defeated Essendon by a then record 83 points.

Essendon topped the home and away season ladder a game clear of their grand final opponents; however, Hawthorn won both home and away contests between the two teams. Despite having won 12 premierships, Essendon's most recent premiership had been in 1965 over St Kilda, who were coached by current Hawthorn coach Allan Jeans.[1]

In the finals series, the Hawks defeated Carlton by 30 points in the qualifying final, and beat the Bombers by eight points in the second semi-final to advance to the grand final. Essendon faced Collingwood in the preliminary final, demolishing the Magpies by a record 133 points on the back of a 28-goal performance to advance to the grand final.

Match summary

First quarter

Hawthorn dominated the game early. Captain Leigh Matthews had the first goal on the scoreboard within thirty seconds of the opening bounce, and Colin Robertson, utilising his pace, added two more.[2] Essendon had hoped to throw Hawthorn off balance early by playing Roger Merrett in the ruck and shifting Simon Madden, by now one of the finest ruckmen in the VFL, to full forward. Hawthorn countered his by putting Ian Paton in the ruck and moving Michael Byrne to full forward. Madden consequently languished in Essendon's forward line doing nothing while the ball was spending more time at the other end of the ground. Sheedy soon moved Madden back to the ruck, but at quarter time Hawthorn led by 21.

Second quarter

Goals to Ken Judge and Matthews saw Hawthorn increase their lead to 32 points.[2] Essendon, despite getting more possession, made little impact in front of goals, but when Bombers kicked their third for the match, by Billy Duckworth, they remained in touch and trailed by 25 points at the half time break.

Third quarter

The third quarter was a low-scoring affair, more notable for the changes to field positions that Essendon coach Kevin Sheedy applied in an attempt to stem the flow of Hawthorn goals. While common today, at the time it was very unusual for a coach to make such radical changes as shifting backline players to the forward line and vice versa. Paul Weston was shifted from defence to centre half forward, captain Terry Daniher was moved to defence, while another defender, Peter Bradbury, was moved to half-forward. With these positional changes, Essendon managed to get within three goals of the lead, but Dermott Brereton kicked a late goal for Hawthorn to give them a 23-point lead going into the final term.

Fourth quarter

Essendon got off to the perfect start in the final quarter. Madden, who had been ordinary for much of the game, won the opening bounce. The ball fell to Williams, who kicked the ball forward, where Baker was in the perfect position to run onto the spilled ball from a marking contest and kick his third goal of the match. Minutes later, Bradbury kicked a goal from the back of a pack. Essendon's charge continued when the ball made its way to Duckworth at half forward who passed it to an unmanned Mark Thompson who put it through from 40 metres out directly in front. The Bombers hit the front in spectacular fashion when, from the resultant centre bounce, Williams kicked towards the right half-forward flank. The ball bounced favourably for Baker, who evaded Hawks defender David O'Halloran with a brilliant blind turn and booted his fourth goal, to the delight of Essendon fans.

Hawthorn was back in front when Peter Curran goaled from a 15-metre penalty but Essendon soon regained their advantage when Roger Merrett took a pack mark in the goal square before converting. Weston extended Essendon's lead to 11 points minutes later and then Tim Watson goaled twice to seal the comeback win for Essendon. The Bombers kicked 9.6 in the final term to break free from the Hawks. It would not be until 2009 that another team would win the grand final from a three-quarter time deficit. The 23-point three quarter time deficit is the largest ever overcome to achieve victory in a Grand Final in VFL/AFL history. (North Melbourne overcame a 27-point three quarter time deficit to draw the 1977 VFL Grand Final).

The Norm Smith Medal was awarded to Duckworth for being judged the best player afield. Watson, Baker, Mark Harvey, Shane Heard and Neil Clarke were also prominent for the Bombers, while Richard Loveridge, Gary Ayres, Peter Schwab, Terry Wallace and Chris Mew were the best for Hawthorn.

Essendon's win ended an 18-year streak during which only Hawthorn, Richmond, Carlton and North Melbourne had won the premiership.

The attendance of 92,685 was the smallest at an MCG grand final for 29 years. The match was the first grand final played in the aftermath of the off-field dispute between the League, which wanted to stage the grand final at VFL Park, and the Melbourne Cricket Club and the Cain state government, which wanted to stage the grand final at the MCG. Under the terms agreed to in early 1984, an area in the Members' and Olympic Stands was set aside for 44,000 MCC and VFL Park members, but only 31,000 attended, leaving a large vacant area at the top of the Olympic Stand. Uncertainty about the new arrangements, accusations that the demand for members tickets had been overestimated, and breezy and cool conditions in the wake of a heavy overnight hailstorm were all considered to have discouraged many spectators from attending.[3]

Eleven players from this game later went on to become senior VFL/AFL coaches.


B: 7 Gary Ayres 8 David O'Halloran 32 Colin Robertson
HB: 6 Rod Lester-Smith 2 Chris Mew 30 Peter Schwab
C: 9 Robert DiPierdomenico 16 Terry Wallace 4 Peter Russo
HF: 1 Ken Judge 23 Dermott Brereton 25 Peter Curran
F: 20 Michael McCarthy 3 Leigh Matthews (c) 22 Richard Loveridge
Foll: 21 Michael Byrne 17 Michael Tuck 29 Russell Greene
Int: 12 Ian Paton 26 Rodney Eade
Coach: Allan Jeans
B: 10 Garry Foulds 22 Billy Duckworth 28 Paul Weston
HB: 36 Peter Bradbury 30 Kevin Walsh 33 Glenn Hawker
C: 1 Merv Neagle 4 Leon Baker 9 Shane Heard
HF: 32 Tim Watson 5 Terry Daniher (c) 18 Paul Van Der Haar
F: 15 Alan Ezard 27 Simon Madden 7 Frank Dunell
Foll: 25 Roger Merrett 8 Neil Clarke 13 Darren Williams
Int: 38 Mark Harvey 26 Mark Thompson
Coach: Kevin Sheedy


1984 VFL Grand Final
Saturday, 29 September 2:30pm Hawthorn def. by Essendon MCG (crowd: 92,685)
6.1 (37)
8.6 (54)
10.8 (68)
 12.9 (81)
2.4 (16)
3.11 (29)
5.15 (45)
 14.21 (105)
Umpires: James, Sawers
Norm Smith Medal: Billy Duckworth
Television broadcast: Seven Network
National anthem: Slim Dusty
Matthews 4
Brereton, Robertson 2
Curran, Judge, Loveridge, Tuck 1
Goals 4 Baker
2 Duckworth, Watson
1 Daniher, Bradbury, Thompson, Merrett, Weston, Neagle
Schwab, Loveridge, Ayres, Mew, Wallace, Matthews Best Duckworth, Watson, Harvey, Hawker, Baker, Clarke, Weston, Heard


Hawthorn 81–105 Essendon
(12.9) (14.21)
Position Player Disps[4] Goals
Back Gary Ayres 17
Back David O'Halloran 9
Back Colin Robertson 12 2
Half-back Rod Lester-Smith 13
Half-back Chris Mew 13
Half-back Peter Schwab 15
Centre Robert DiPierdomenico 13
Centre Terry Wallace 26
Centre Peter Russo 18
Half-forward Ken Judge 13 1
Half-forward Dermott Brereton 14 2
Half-forward Peter Curran 3 1
Forward Michael McCarthy 7
Forward Leigh Matthews (c) 16 4
Forward Richard Loveridge 22 1
Ruck Michael Byrne 10
Ruck-rover Michael Tuck 8 1
Rover Russell Greene 22
Interchange Ian Paton 13
Interchange Rodney Eade 8
Allan Jeans
Position Player Disps[4] Goals
Back Garry Foulds 16
Back Billy Duckworth 19 2
Back Paul Weston 18 1
Half-back Peter Bradbury 13 1
Half-back Kevin Walsh 6
Half-back Glenn Hawker 19
Centre Merv Neagle 21 1
Centre Leon Baker 20 4
Centre Shane Heard 23
Half-forward Tim Watson 22 2
Half-forward Terry Daniher (c) 18 1
Half-forward Paul Vander Haar 7
Forward Alan Ezard 13
Forward Simon Madden 11
Forward Frank Dunell 11
Ruck Roger Merrett 18 1
Ruck-rover Neil Clarke 18
Rover Darren Williams 23
Interchange Mark Harvey 20
Interchange Mark Thompson 11 1
Kevin Sheedy

NOTE: Disps = Total disposals (kicks + handpasses)

See also


  1. ^ Main (2001), p. 182.
  2. ^ a b Atkinson and Atkinson, 2009, p. 376
  3. ^ Dr Alf Andrews, PhD. "A History of the AFL Membership" (PDF). Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  4. ^ a b "AFL – Essendon v Hawthorn – 29-Sep-1984 – Match Stats".