2020 AFL Grand Final
The Eastern end of The Gabba at sunset during an AFL game.jpg
The Gabba (pictured), where the 2020 AFL Grand Final was played.
AFL Richmond Icon.jpg

Richmond
AFL Geelong Icon.jpg

Geelong
12.9 (81) 7.8 (50)
1 2 3 4
RICH 2.1 (13) 3.2 (20) 7.4 (46) 12.9 (81)
GEEL 2.2 (14) 5.5 (35) 6.8 (44) 7.8 (50)
Date24 October 2020, 6:30 pm
StadiumThe Gabba
Attendance29,707
FavouriteRichmond
UmpiresMatt Stevic, Simon Meredith, Craig Fleer
Coin toss won byRichmond
Kicked towardWellington Street End
Ceremonies
Pre-match entertainmentCub Sport, DMA's, Electric Fields, Thelma Plum, Andrew Stockdale, Busby Marou, Mike Brady (Performed from the MCG)
National anthemTim McCallum
Halftime showSheppard with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra
Accolades
Norm Smith MedallistDustin Martin
Jock McHale MedallistDamien Hardwick
Broadcast in Australia
NetworkSeven Network
CommentatorsBruce McAvaney (host and commentator)
Brian Taylor (commentator)
Luke Hodge (expert commentator)
Michael Voss (special commentator)
Abbey Holmes (boundary rider)
← 2019 AFL Grand Final 2021 →

The 2020 AFL Grand Final was an Australian rules football match contested between Richmond and Geelong at the Gabba in Brisbane, Queensland, on Saturday 24 October 2020. It was the 124th annual Grand Final of the Australian Football League (formerly the Victorian Football League), staged to determine the premiers for the 2020 AFL season. The match was originally scheduled for the last Saturday of September but was delayed several weeks due to the suspension of the season stemming from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the first AFL grand final to be staged outside the state of Victoria, and the first to be held at night.

The match was won by Richmond by a margin of 31 points, marking the club's thirteenth VFL/AFL premiership and their third in four seasons. Richmond's Dustin Martin won the Norm Smith Medal as the player judged best on ground, becoming the first player in VFL/AFL history to win three Norm Smith Medals. The match was attended by 29,707 spectators, just short of the reduced capacity allowed at the venue under pandemic guidelines.

Background

Impact of COVID-19 pandemic and venue change

In the originally released fixture for the 2020 season, the Grand Final was scheduled according to convention on the last Saturday in September (26 September, 2:30pm) at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. However, the season, and the scheduling of the Grand Final, were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which began to spread in Australia in March 2020. Although the season restarted on 11 June, the fixture was under a constant cloud of uncertainty, and it was not until 2 September that arrangements for the Grand Final were finally announced.

The home-and-away season was shortened to 17 matches per club, instead of the originally intended 22,[1] and the season was suspended entirely for almost three months between 22 March and 11 June as Australia dealt with its first wave of the virus.[2] This adjusted fixture had the effect of delaying the end of the regular season until mid-September, and pushing the Grand Final back to a provisional date of 17 October.[3] The game was ultimately scheduled for 24 October, surpassing the 1923 VFL Grand Final (which was played on 20 October 1923) as the latest in the year to play the Grand Final.

The playing of the match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, as contracted until at least 2057,[4] was complicated by a second wave of the virus in Melbourne that commenced in July, which resulted in tighter border restrictions, local lockdowns, and social distancing rules. All Victorian clubs left the state for the majority of the season, basing themselves primarily in Queensland,[5][6] and on 24 August it was announced that the MCG could not host the Grand Final.[7] The Gabba, home stadium of the Brisbane Lions in the central Brisbane suburb of Woolloongabba, Queensland, was ultimately announced to host the match; Adelaide Oval was kept available as a backup venue in the event of a virus outbreak in Brisbane. As part of negotiations, the deal to play the Grand Final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground was extended by one year to 2058, and two extra home-and-away matches were granted to the ground in 2022 and 2023.[8] It was the first time that a VFL/AFL grand final in its 123-year history was played outside of Victoria, and the first time since 1991 that the match was played away from the Melbourne Cricket Ground.[7] A 3 m2 section of Melbourne Cricket Ground turf was transplanted into the Gabba surface to ensure the traditional venue was still part of the event.[9]

The venue's normal capacity of 42,000 was reduced to 30,000 to comply with health department restrictions still in force at the time, and many tickets were available for general public sale for the first time in more than 20 years—this was in contrast to all grand final tickets having been sold through different corporate and membership allocations in recent years.[10] The reduced capacity was all but filled, with 29,707 attending the match; the restrictions meant it was the lowest crowd to attend a grand final since 1917, during World War I.

In the lead-up to the announcement, it was widely reported that the league was strongly considering moving the match to a twilight or evening timeslot to avoid a clash with major Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival races (the Caulfield Cup on 17 October or the Cox Plate on 24 October).[11] Ultimately, the match was scheduled for a start time of 6:30pm AEST to avoid the Cox Plate, the first time the match had not been played in the traditional afternoon timeslot.[8]

The Grand Final Eve public holiday, observed in Victoria, was shifted to 23 October in line with the adjusted date.[12]

Qualification

Round-by-round ladder positions of the two teams during the season.

The top eight teams on the ladder at the conclusion of the home-and-away season qualified for the 2020 AFL finals series, with the winners of the two preliminary finals to meet in the grand final.

After winning the 2019 AFL Grand Final over Greater Western Sydney,[13] Richmond ended the season in third place after defeating Adelaide to finish with a 12-4-1 win–loss record.[14] They played Brisbane Lions in the second qualifying final and were defeated by 15 points, in what was Brisbane's first win over Richmond in the past 15 attempts.[15] This meant that they had to play in a semi-final against St Kilda, which they won by 31 points.[16] Then, in a low-scoring, rain-affected preliminary final against minor premiers Port Adelaide, Richmond won by six points to advance to their third grand final in four years.[17]

Geelong entered the 2020 season having won the previous year's minor premiership, but finishing third after being eliminated in the preliminary final. The club performed solidly throughout the season to finish 4th with a 12–5 record, but with the league's highest percentage. Geelong played their qualifying final against Port Adelaide, losing by 16 points.[18] In the semi-final against Collingwood, Geelong conceded only one goal in the first half before winning by a dominant 68 points;[19] and then they overcame the Brisbane Lions in the preliminary final to win by 40 points.[20]

It marked the third Grand Final between the two sides, having previously contested the 1931 and 1967 VFL Grand Finals for one win apiece. It was the first grand final to feature two Victorian-based teams since 2011, and only the third grand final not to feature either team that finished first or second on the ladder at the conclusion of the home-and-away season since it became possible in 1972 (the others being 1980 and 2019). The teams had met in a preliminary final the previous year, Richmond winning that game after trailing by 21-points at half time.

Richmond was a slight favourite to win the game; bookmakers offered $1.84 odds for a Richmond victory against $2.05 for a Geelong win.[21]

Media coverage

Television

The match was televised live throughout Australia on the Seven Network. Although not known to be the case at the time, it was long-time broadcaster Bruce McAvaney's last game as an AFL commentator, as he stepped down from football commentary ahead of the 2021 season.[22] The game was McAvaney’s 20th Grand Final that he called.

Radio coverage

Station Region Play-by-play commentators Analysts and boundary riders
Triple M National[23] James Brayshaw
Luke Darcy
Wayne Carey
Chris Judd
Nathan Brown
3AW Melbourne, Victoria Tim Lane
Tony Leonard
Leigh Matthews
Matthew Lloyd
Jimmy Bartel
SEN Radio National Anthony Hudson
Gerard Whateley
Garry Lyon
Kane Cornes
AFL Nation National Jack Heverin
Dwayne Russell
Terry Wallace
K rock 95.5 Geelong, Victoria Tom King
Ben Casanelia
Mark Neeld
6PR Perth, Western Australia Shane McInnes
Matt Granland
Brad Hardie
David Schwarz

Match summary

The game was played on a damp field; heavy rain had fallen for much of the day prior to the match—with some forecasts even warning of thunderstorms around the ground—but all rain cleared prior to the game and stayed away throughout.[24] This was fortunate, as the ground had become inundated the day after. The match was played under the 2020 AFL season's adjusted timing rules, with quarters lasting 16 minutes of playing time instead of 20 minutes.

First quarter

The Grand Final opened with two early injuries after five minutes of play: Tiger Nick Vlastuin was sidelined for the rest of the game after a nasty collision with Geelong's Patrick Dangerfield, resulting in a seven-minute delay as he was stretchered off the ground; and retiring Cat Gary Ablett Jr. injured his shoulder after a tackle from Richmond captain Trent Cotchin. Ablett was able to recover and played out the match, albeit in some discomfort; it was later reported that Ablett played with a broken shoulder. No goal was scored until almost 20 minutes into the quarter, when Dion Prestia scored for the Tigers. Kamdyn McIntosh scored two minutes later to give Richmond an early two-goal lead. The Cats, however, took a one-point lead at the first change, after Cameron Guthrie scored Geelong's first goal at the 25-minute mark and Mitch Duncan goaled at the 33-minute mark.

Second quarter

Geelong dominated general play throughout most of the second quarter of the Grand Final. Dangerfield scored his first goal three minutes into the quarter, and Geelong continued to attack over the subsequent ten minutes, managing only three behinds from several attempts. It was not until Sam Menegola kicked his first goal at the 16-minute mark, followed quickly by one from Tom Hawkins at the 18-minute mark, that Geelong got some reward for its dominance on the scoreboard. At this point, the Cats were leading by 22 points, having completely dominated the territory battle with 14 of the previous 15 inside-50s as well as scoring the last 5.3 (33) of the match either side of quarter time.

In the final few minutes of the quarter, Richmond began to gain the advantage in general play, repeatedly entering its own forward 50 arc in the last few minutes; a late goal from Dustin Martin put them just fifteen points behind at half-time.

Third quarter

As the third quarter began, the run of general play continued with Richmond, as it had been just before half time. Richmond's share of the contested ball increased, and at one stage the Tigers had a run of ten consecutive inside-50s either side of half-time. Two early goals from Jack Riewoldt and Jason Castagna reduced the margin to just three points. Gryan Miers goaled at the eight-minute mark for Geelong to extend the margin back to nine points; however, the Tigers continued to attack strongly and kicked the next two goals, including one by Kane Lambert (about 12 minutes into the quarter) and one from Martin (at the 16-minute mark), which gave Richmond its first lead since the first quarter. Neither team managed another goal in the third quarter, and Richmond went into three-quarter-time with a two-point lead.

Final quarter

Richmond carried on its strong play, and, with three goals inside the first thirteen minutes of the quarter, had extended the margin to 22 points: Prestia goaled within the first minute of the final quarter; next, Tom Lynch scored his only goal of the night at the nine-minute mark after a contested mark and close-range set shot; and then Martin kicked his third major at the 13-minute mark. With half of the quarter gone, it was arguably a match-winning lead.

A few minutes later, Sam Menegola took a solid pack mark for Geelong at centre half-forward, while teammate Sam Simpson was knocked unconscious in the same contest, requiring the game's second extended delay as Simpson was stretchered from the ground; Menegola kicked an impressive goal after the delay to reduce the margin to 16 points and keep a remote chance of victory alive. However, several forward entries by Geelong over the following minutes were repelled by Richmond's defence; and, in response, the Tigers finished with two late goals by Riewoldt and Martin to win by a convincing 31 points. After its largest 22-point deficit in the second quarter, Richmond kicked 10 of the last 12 goals of the match.

Post-match

Having played his final game, Ablett received a guard of honour from both his teammates and from Richmond as he left the field and led the Cats off.

Norm Smith Medal

By unanimous selection for the second straight year—15 out of 15 possible votes—Dustin Martin was awarded the Norm Smith Medal as best on ground. With four goals, often at key moments and largely from individual efforts, as well as sixteen kicks, five handballs, five clearances and three tackles, Martin's influence on the game was extremely important for Richmond's recovery and victory. It was Martin's third Norm Smith Medal after having won it in 2017 and 2019, making him the first player ever to win three Norm Smith Medals, and the second to win two consecutively after Adelaide's Andrew McLeod (1997–1998). Tigers defender Jayden Short finished second, gaining 771 meters of ground; Shane Edwards was third, with 27 disposals and nine clearances; and Geelong midfielder Mitch Duncan, who was the most influential player when Geelong built its lead in the first half, polled three votes to finish fourth.

In a somewhat controversial moment, Leigh Matthews—who was chairman of the voting panel—gave two votes to Richmond's Nathan Broad. When interviewed later on why he voted for Broad, who played an unremarkable game, a puzzled Matthews recalled giving his two votes to Short, theorising that he must have written the wrong name by accident.[25] Fortunately, the misvote did not affect the overall ranking positions, as Dustin Martin had tallied an unassailable lead over Short. Byron Pickett, who won the honor in 2004 with Port Adelaide, presented the medal.

Norm Smith Medal Voting Tally
Position Player Club Total Votes Vote Summary
1 (winner) Dustin Martin Richmond 15 3, 3, 3, 3, 3
2 Jayden Short Richmond 6 2, 2, 2
3 Shane Edwards Richmond 4 1, 1, 1, 1
4 Mitch Duncan Geelong 3 2, 1
5 Nathan Broad Richmond 2 2

Chaired by Leigh Matthews, the voters and their choices were as follows:[26]

Voter Role 3 Votes 2 Votes 1 Vote
Leigh Matthews 3AW Dustin Martin Nathan Broad Shane Edwards
Lauren Arnell ABC Dustin Martin Jayden Short Mitch Duncan
Malcolm Blight SEN Dustin Martin Mitch Duncan Shane Edwards
Damian Barrett AFL Media Dustin Martin Jayden Short Shane Edwards
Peter Ryan The Age Dustin Martin Jayden Short Shane Edwards

Entertainment

See also: List of AFL Grand Final pre-match performances

Prior the start of the match, classically trained tenor and 2015 contestant on The Voice Tim McCallum sang the national anthem,[27] and Mike Brady performed his football anthem "Up There Cazaly" live from an empty Melbourne Cricket Ground.[28] Performances by bands Cub Sport, DMA's and Sheppard, as well duo Electric Fields and Wolfmother frontman Andrew Stockdale (with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra), completed an all-Australian entertainment line-up.[29]

The AFL Grand Final Sprint was held at quarter-time rather than the conventional half-time slot, and it was won by Geelong's Jordan Clark.[30]

Teams

The two teams both went into the Grand Final unchanged from their preliminary final line-ups.[31]

Both teams included players from their past premiership-winning teams in the 21st century. 14 of Richmond's 22 players had played in both their 2017 and 2019 premiership teams. Geelong included five members who had been part of at least one of their premiership teams from 2007, 2009 and 2011: Gary Ablett Jr., Joel Selwood, Harry Taylor, Mitch Duncan and Coleman Medalist Tom Hawkins, with Ablett, one of the last two remaining members from the team that beat Port Adelaide in 2007, also playing his final game. The Cats also selected Luke Dahlhaus, who had previously featured in the Western Bulldogs' triumph in 2016 against Sydney.

Geelong's team through the latter part of the season and into the finals was notable as the oldest by average player age in the league's history; the selected grand final 22, with an average age of 28 years and 117 days, was at the time the second-oldest selected team in any VFL/AFL game, second only to Geelong's qualifying final team from three weeks earlier.[32]


Richmond
Geelong
0Richmond0
B: 12 David Astbury 2 Dylan Grimes 21 Noah Balta
HB: 7 Liam Baker 1 Nick Vlastuin 14 Bachar Houli
C: 33 Kamdyn McIntosh 3 Dion Prestia 50 Marlion Pickett
HF: 23 Kane Lambert 11 Jason Castagna 4 Dustin Martin
F: 19 Tom Lynch 8 Jack Riewoldt 17 Daniel Rioli
Foll: 25 Toby Nankervis 10 Shane Edwards 9 Trent Cotchin
Int: 34 Jack Graham 29 Shai Bolton 15 Jayden Short
35 Nathan Broad
Coach: Damien Hardwick
0Geelong0
B: 24 Jed Bews 7 Harry Taylor 8 Jake Kolodjashnij
HB: 25 Lachie Henderson 46 Mark Blicavs 44 Tom Stewart
C: 22 Mitch Duncan 14 Joel Selwood 27 Sam Menegola
HF: 40 Luke Dahlhaus 23 Gary Rohan 32 Gryan Miers
F: 42 Mark O'Connor 26 Tom Hawkins 4 Gary Ablett Jr.
Foll: 1 Rhys Stanley 35 Patrick Dangerfield 29 Cameron Guthrie
Int: 38 Jack Henry 3 Brandan Parfitt 2 Zach Tuohy
37 Sam Simpson
Coach: Chris Scott
Umpires

The umpiring panel—comprising three field umpires, four boundary umpires, two goal umpires, and an emergency in each position—is given below.[33]

2020 AFL Grand Final umpires
Position Emergency
Field: 9 Matt Stevic (8) 21 Simon Meredith (6) 26 Craig Fleer (1) 23 Robert Findlay
Boundary: Michael Marantelli (4) Ian Burrows (9) Matthew Konetschka (3) Matthew Tomkins (4) Christopher Gordon
Goal: Matthew Dervan (1) Steven Piperno (3) Steven Axon

Numbers in brackets represent the number of grand finals umpired, including 2020.

Scoreboard

Grand Final
Saturday, 24 October (6:30 pm) Richmond def. Geelong
Breeze-weather-showers-scattered-night-48.svg
Gabba (crowd: 29,707)
Report
2.1 (13)
3.2 (20)
7.4 (46)
 12.9 (81)
Q1
Q2
Q3
 Final
2.2 (14)
5.5 (35)
6.8 (44)
 7.8 (50)
Umpires: Stevic, Meredith, Fleer
Norm Smith Medal: Dustin Martin
Television broadcast: Seven Network
National anthem: Tim McCallum
Martin 4, Prestia 2, Riewoldt 2, Castagna, Lambert, Lynch, McIntosh Goals Menegola 2, Dangerfield, Duncan, Guthrie, Hawkins, Miers
Martin, Short, Edwards, Prestia, Cotchin, Bolton Best Duncan, Stewart, Selwood, Menegola, Dahlhaus
Vlastuin (concussion), Houli (calf) Injuries Ablett (shoulder), Simpson (concussion)
Nil Reports Nil
  • Richmond won its 13th VFL/AFL premiership.
  • Dustin Martin (2017, 2019 and 2020) became the first 3-time Norm Smith Medalist in VFL/AFL history.
  • Trent Cotchin became the first player to win three premierships as Richmond captain.
  • This marked the first-ever VFL/AFL Grand Final to be played outside Victoria and the first to be played at night.

References

  1. ^ "AFL coronavirus updates: Round one will commence this weekend". News.com.au. 18 March 2020.
  2. ^ "Richmond, Collingwood draw the opening game of the restarted AFL season, after players take a knee before game". ABC News. 11 June 2020.
  3. ^ "New AFL grand final date, crammed fixture revealed". The Age. 16 July 2020.
  4. ^ "Victoria's AFL stadiums set to receive $500m in state-funded upgrades, with grand final locked in at MCG until 2057". Fox Sports. 13 April 2018.
  5. ^ "AFL clubs rush to leave Victoria after premier's announcement". 7 News. 5 July 2020.
  6. ^ "AFL News: AFL Shake-Up Victoria Out For 2020 Season". So Perth. 15 July 2020.
  7. ^ a b "AFL grand final to be played outside Melbourne for first time in history, Daniel Andrews confirms". The Guardian. 24 August 2020.
  8. ^ a b "This is a win for Queensland: AFL reveals how QLD won race for historic Grand Final as key fixture details confirmed". Fox Sports. 2 September 2020.
  9. ^ Russell Gould; Scott Gullan (15 October 2020). "MCG turf moved to Gabba for 2020 AFL Grand Final". Herald Sun. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  10. ^ Mike Simpson (20 October 2020). "History made as AFL final tickets go on public sale". Australian Times. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  11. ^ "Eddie reveals bold vision for AFL Grand Final as QLD, WA battle for unique event". Fox Sports. 22 August 2020.
  12. ^ "Deal Done On MCG Grand Final Contract Extension". Government of Victoria. 2 September 2020. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  13. ^ Horn, Jonathan (28 September 2019). "Richmond demolish GWS Giants in AFL grand final". The Guardian. MCG. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
  14. ^ Laughton, Max (19 September 2020). "Tigers cop injury scare but roar into top four as Crows 'win' their first EVER wooden spoon". Fox Sports. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
  15. ^ Bilton, Dean (2 October 2020). "Brisbane Lions beat Richmond by 15 points to reach AFL preliminary final". ABC. The Gabba. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
  16. ^ "Richmond beats St Kilda by 31 points to earn AFL preliminary final berth against Port Adelaide". ABC. 9 October 2020. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  17. ^ "Richmond beats Port Adelaide by six points in preliminary final to earn shot at grand final history". ABC. 16 October 2020. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
  18. ^ "Port Adelaide defeats Geelong by 16 points to advance to AFL preliminary finals". ABC. 1 October 2020. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  19. ^ "Geelong thumps Collingwood by 68 points to progress to AFL preliminary finals". ABC. 10 October 2020. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  20. ^ "Geelong beats Brisbane by 40 points as Cats earn right to face Richmond in AFL grand final". ABC. 17 October 2020. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  21. ^ "Richmond Tigers vs Geelong Cats Odds, Tips and Teams – AFL Grand Final 2020". Sports News. 22 October 2020. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  22. ^ Max Laughton (28 February 2021). "Legendary AFL commentator Bruce McAvaney hangs up the mic after more than 1000 games". Fox Sports. Retrieved 20 March 2021.
  23. ^ "Triple M Footy Grand Final On Air Coverage 2020". Triple M. 23 October 2020. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  24. ^ James McKern (25 October 2020). "Wild weather hits Brisbane on AFL Grand Final day". news.com.au. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  25. ^ Joey Riordan (25 October 2020). "'Worst mistake': AFL legend admits embarrassing Norm Smith blunder". 7 News. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  26. ^ "Norm Smith Medal 2020, who won the Norm Smith Medal, AFL Grand Final 2020, award winners grand final, Geelong vs Richmond". Fox Sports. 24 October 2020. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  27. ^ "Geelong-born singer Tim McCallum wins bid to perform at AFL Grand Final". Geelong Advertiser. 10 September 2020.
  28. ^ "Mike Brady to perform at MCG for 2020 Grand Final" (28 September 2020), MCG. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  29. ^ Twomey, Callum (12 October 2020). "Gabba set to 'Glow': AFL locks in locals to rock historic Grand Final", AFL. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  30. ^ Michael Whiting (24 October 2020). "Flying Cat claims early glory in Grand Final sprint". Australian Football League. Retrieved 27 October 2020.
  31. ^ Laughton, Max (24 October 2020). "AFL Grand Final teams: Cats and Tigers buck historic trend as full-strength sides named". Fox Sports. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  32. ^ . AFL Tables https://afltables.com/afl/stats/alltime/misc.html#age. Retrieved 26 March 2022. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  33. ^ "Revealed: Meet the umpires for the 2020 Toyota AFL Grand Final". AFL.com.au. 20 October 2020. Retrieved 20 October 2020.