2001 AFL Grand Final
The Melbourne Cricket Ground, where the 2001 AFL Grand Final took place.


Brisbane Lions
12.10 (82) 15.18 (108)
1 2 3 4
ESS 3.2 (20) 8.6 (54) 9.8 (62) 12.10 (82)
BL 3.7 (25) 5.10 (40) 11.12 (78) 15.18 (108)
Date29 September 2001
StadiumMelbourne Cricket Ground
UmpiresMatthew James, Scott McLaren, Martin Ellis
Pre-match entertainmentVanessa Amorosi Men At Work INXS
National anthemJulie Anthony
Norm Smith MedallistShaun Hart (Brisbane Lions)
Jock McHale MedallistLeigh Matthews
Broadcast in Australia
NetworkSeven Network
CommentatorsBruce McAvaney (host and commentator)
Sandy Roberts (commentator)
Jason Dunstall (expert commentator)
Gerard Healy (expert commentator)
Robert DiPierdomenico (boundary rider)
Matthew Campbell (boundary rider)
← 2000 AFL Grand Final 2002 →

The 2001 AFL Grand Final was an Australian rules football game contested between the Essendon Bombers and the Brisbane Lions, held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne on 29 September 2001. It was the 105th annual grand final of the Australian Football League (formerly the Victorian Football League),[1] staged to determine the premiers for the 2001 AFL season. The match, attended by 91,482 spectators, was won by Brisbane by a margin of 26 points, marking the club's first premiership since it was established in 1997.


Essendon were defending their 2000 premiership, and they went into the game having finished on top of the ladder on percentage ahead of second-placed Brisbane (both had won 17 games). Brisbane had won 15 consecutive games leading up to the grand final, a streak which commenced with a major upset of Essendon at the Gabba in Round 10. It was the Brisbane Lions' first appearance in a grand final, and it broke a long grand final drought for the two clubs who merged to form it in 1997: its Melbourne-based predecessor, Fitzroy Lions, had not contested a grand final since 1944, and its Brisbane-based predecessor, Brisbane Bears, did not contest a grand final in its ten-year history. Essendon were the dominant team between 1999 and 2001, losing just 11 games (including just one in 2000) from the start of 1999 until the 2001 grand final.

In the 2001 finals series, Essendon defeated Richmond by 70 points in the first qualifying final and then defeated Hawthorn by 9 points in the first preliminary final to advance to the grand final. Brisbane earned their place in the grand final by defeating Port Adelaide by 32 points in the second qualifying final and then Richmond by 68 points in the second preliminary final.

In the lead-up to the match, Brisbane's Jason Akermanis won the Brownlow Medal. The two coaches, Kevin Sheedy and Leigh Matthews, had met in a grand final 11 years prior, when Matthews' Magpies ended their so-called "Colliwobbles" (a drought lasting 32 years) by defeating Sheedy's Bombers in the 1990 AFL Grand Final.

This was the last AFL match to be televised by the Seven Network before it lost the broadcasting TV rights to the sport, having shown the game for the previous 45 years, with the exception of 1987, when the game was televised by the ABC and TV0 in Brisbane.[2] It wasn't until 2007 that Seven would regain the rights,[3] and it wasn't until 2008 that the AFL Grand Final would again be televised by the Seven Network.

Match summary

Brisbane started the game well, scoring the first goal of the match from a free kick awarded to Alastair Lynch for holding against Dustin Fletcher. Essendon fought back late in the first quarter then took control of the game in the second term. Brisbane's poor kicking for goal almost put them out of the game in the second quarter as Essendon blew their lead out to 20 points late in the term. Brisbane had kicked an inaccurate 5.10 by the half-time break.

Brisbane managed to overrun Essendon in the third term kicking six goals to one and turning a 14-point deficit into a 16-point lead. Brisbane's pace in the midfield and the tiring legs of most of the Essendon players played a pivotal role in Brisbane taking full control of the game in the second half, to win comfortably. Essendon had scored two late goals in the last quarter after once trailing by as much as 39 points.

Shaun Hart of the Lions was awarded the Norm Smith Medal for being judged the best player. Matthew Lloyd was among the best for Essendon, kicking five goals.

Essendon captain James Hird was visibly shattered and disappointed in his post-match speech. A quick congratulations to Brisbane for winning was followed by a public apology to Bombers fans for letting them down.

In a remarkable statistic, most of the Lions' premiership side were on the playing list when the club won the wooden spoon in 1998.[4]

This was the first of four consecutive grand final appearances by Brisbane, and the first of three consecutive flags. For Essendon, this is their most recent grand final appearance as of the completed 2022 season.

Norm Smith Medal

The Norm Smith Medal was awarded to Brisbane midfielder Shaun Hart. The voting panel for the award included Sunday Herald Sun reporter Damien Barrett, Seven Network's Robert DiPierdomenico, ABC Grandstand commentator Stan Alves, and Tony Morwood from 4AAA.[5]

Player Team Votes
Shaun Hart Brisbane 9
Nigel Lappin Brisbane 5
Jonathan Brown Brisbane 3
Chris Johnson Brisbane 3
Justin Leppitsch Brisbane 2
Michael Voss Brisbane 2


Brisbane Lions
B: 42 Danny Jacobs 31 Dustin Fletcher 6 Sean Wellman
HB: 1 Mark Johnson 7 Dean Solomon 11 Damien Hardwick
C: 9 Adam Ramanauskas 26 Chris Heffernan 33 Blake Caracella
HF: 5 James Hird (c) 25 Scott Lucas 43 Dean Rioli
F: 29 Gary Moorcroft 18 Matthew Lloyd 27 Steven Alessio
Foll: 22 John Barnes 14 Jason Johnson 24 Joe Misiti
Int: 10 Mark McVeigh 32 Justin Blumfield 2 Mark Mercuri
16 Paul Barnard
Coach: Kevin Sheedy
Brisbane Lions
B: 2 Chris Johnson 23 Justin Leppitsch 33 Darryl White
HB: 44 Nigel Lappin 22 Chris Scott 10 Marcus Ashcroft
C: 12 Jason Akermanis 3 Michael Voss (c) 30 Robert Copeland
HF: 32 Shaun Hart 16 Jonathan Brown 6 Luke Power
F: 36 Daniel Bradshaw 11 Alastair Lynch 13 Martin Pike
Foll: 27 Clark Keating 20 Simon Black 5 Brad Scott
Int: 43 Beau McDonald 4 Craig McRae 8 Tim Notting
15 Mal Michael
Coach: Leigh Matthews


Grand final
Saturday, 29 September 2:30pm Essendon def. by Brisbane Lions MCG (crowd: 91,482)
3.2 (20)
8.6 (54)
9.8 (62)
 12.10 (82)
3.7 (25)
5.10 (40)
11.12 (78)
 15.18 (108)
Umpires: James, McLaren, Ellis
Norm Smith Medal: Shaun Hart (Brisbane Lions)
Television broadcast: Seven Network
National anthem: Julie Anthony
Lloyd 5, Lucas 4, Caracella, Johnson, Moorcroft Goals Power 3, Akermanis 2, Brown 2, Lappin 2, Lynch 2, Ashcroft, Notting, Pike, Voss
Lloyd, Lucas, J. Johnson Best Hart, Johnson, Voss, Lappin, Power
Nil Injuries Nil
Nil Reports Nil
Team Stats (B.L.) (Ess)
Kicks 176 165
Marks 73 60
Handballs 78 90
Tackles 34 54
Hitouts 39 26
Frees 22 19


A number of participants from this Grand Final have gone on to coach at senior level in the AFL:

1 Scott and Hardwick coached against each other in the 2020 Grand Final, which, due to a COVID-19 outbreak in Victoria that prevented the match from being played at its contracted ground, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, was played at the Gabba.[6]

2 Following his stint as Brisbane Lions head coach, Leppitsch was an assistant coach under Hardwick when Richmond won the 2017, 2019 and 2020 premierships, and under McRae when Collingwood won the 2023 premiership.[7][8][9]

See also


  1. ^ In 1897 and 1924 there were no grand finals and instead the premier was decided by a finals play-off. In 1948 and 1977 there were grand final replays after initial draws.
  2. ^ "Channel Ten's contribution to the AFL underestimated". The Roar. 30 September 2011. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  3. ^ "Seven and Ten win AFL rights". ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). 5 January 2006. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  4. ^ Rays of hope in Lions' historical record, The Courier-Mail, 10 April 2011
  5. ^ a b Nicholson, Rod (30 September 2001). "SHAUN HART The Norm Smith Medallist". Sunday Herald-Sun. Melbourne, Victoria: Nationwide News Pty Ltd. p. 55.
  6. ^ Wilson, Caroline (23 October 2020). "A tale of two coaches: A greater legacy awaits either Scott or Hardwick". The Age. Retrieved 1 September 2021.
  7. ^ Edmund, Sam (4 October 2017). "The coach: How Dimma guided Tigers". Herald Sun.
  8. ^ "Leppitsch lives Tiger dream after Lions nightmare". The Morning Bulletin. 28 September 2017.
  9. ^ Hope, Shayne (2 October 2023). "Leppitsch surprised by Pies' rapid climb to AFL summit". Perth Now. Retrieved 2 October 2023.