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Fans witness a great heist on grand final day

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Epic Grand Final one of the all time greats

Fresh from a heart stopping AFL Grand Final AGE footy writers Rohan Connolly and Martin Flanagan reflect on Sydney's epic 10 point win over Hawthorn.

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MOST premierships are foregone conclusions by the time living minutes become dying seconds in the twilight of grand final day. Many are anti-climactic and usually the short-priced favourite gets up. Not yesterday. Not when the Swans won their fifth premiership in what history will recall as the football heist of 2012, a classic grand final and one of the most dramatic afternoons ever staged on the MCG.

With less than one minute remaining the ground that had hosted a wildly fluctuating game, it truly resembled a battlefield — a struggle witnessed by 99,683. The forehead of Hawthorn’s spent captain Luke Hodge was bleeding — again — and Adam Goodes and Lewis Jetta were limping and seemingly out of miracles. Shane Mumford had succumbed to the fragile hamstring he had brought into the game.

Sydney led by four points but Hawthorn looked every measure the likely winner. Runners from both teams stood on the ground wildly gesticulating to their warriors. The final quarter had seen young Alex Johnson almost break his hand in a smother on Brad Sewell, the twice rejected Mitch Morton take on two Hawthorn defenders and beat them and Martin Mattner  taking on the dangerous Grant Birchall.

Winning way: Heath Grundy and Ted Richards celebrate the win.

Winning way: Heath Grundy and Ted Richards celebrate the win. Photo: Joe Armao

Then, fittingly for the Swans, from a stoppage in front of goal the brilliant  Daniel Hannebery somehow released a handball to Nick Malceski who in turn kicked across his body for the goal that won the premiership. Sydney led by 10 points, there were 34 seconds left and every statistic barring the scoreboard pointed to a Hawk victory.

The reaction from both teams after final siren sounded seemed more heightened than usual. The vanquished Hawks lay splattered and motionless across the oval with the team’s heroic forward  Lance Franklin seemingly frozen in shock. Franklin is the game’s true rock star and he seemed headed for a Norm Smith medal when he kicked for a goal earlier in the final quarter that would have put Hawthorn 17 points up. Franklin finished with three goals from eight scoring shots.
The medal went not to one of Sydney’s talented quartet of Old Xaverians — although Hannebery came close — but the veteran Ryan O’Keefe from the neighbouring St Kevin’s College. O’Keefe turns 32 in January and was one of four Swans from yesterday’s team who played in the equally heart-stopping but notably dour victorious contest of 2005. O’Keefe was pivotal yesterday, particularly in the second quarter when the Swans came from 19 points down to kick six straight to  Hawthorn’s nil.

O’Keefe plays each week with a black armband in memory of the younger brother he lost early in his AFL career to a car accident. From the premiership dais he instructed: ‘‘To my boys, all my brothers: run amok!’’  Swans captain  Jarrad McVeigh found his brother Mark in the crowd to embrace him before poignantly greeting his wife, Clementine, and their baby daughter in the race.

Up for the cup: Jarrad McVeigh and Jude Bolton celebrate.

Up for the cup: Jarrad McVeigh and Jude Bolton celebrate. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

‘‘This is going to be the best month of our lives,’’ said McVeigh, before holding aloft the premiership cup. Kieren Jack, who boasts a rugby league pedigree but who fell in love with Australian rules, danced around the boundary line in designer sunglasses and threatened: ‘‘Sydney won’t know what has hit it.’’ Only briefly did Hawthorn’s legendary father figure John Kennedy leave his devastated Hawk camp to cross the white line to congratulate his grandson Josh. Between them three generations of Kennedys now boast eight coaching or playing flags.
Seven years ago, Paul Roos dedicated the flag to the South Melbourne supporters who had been waiting for 72 years. Yesterday, the former coach stood grinning behind the players as his apprentice John Longmire acknowledged the losers, as well as both the South Melbourne and Sydney variety of Swans. And to his mother, who lost her battle with cancer midway through the season, Longmire said: ‘‘Mum, I hope you enjoyed the game.’’

Alastair Clarkson  likened the battle to ‘‘Nadal versus Federer — heavyweights having a crack at one another’’, but attempted to make some sense of the havoc wreaked upon his team described by most experts as the best of 2012. ‘‘At the end of the day it still is the theatre of sport and you have to deal with those emotions. It is not anywhere near the loss of something like what happened to Jill Meagher last week or a brother-in-law that I lost this year through cancer ... or what happened to Jarrad McVeigh’s daughter last year. You have to keep these things in perspective.’’

The shattered but eloquent Hodge described life as a footballer as a rollercoaster existence — an existence symbolised in the drama of yesterday’s clash. ‘‘I know the group we’ve got and we’ll be back next year,’’ he promised his equally stunned supporters. ‘‘We’ll be back bigger than ever.’’ Just as Collingwood one year earlier had qualified for a grand final in heart-stopping circumstances and then lost, Hawthorn did the same. The result was eerily reminiscent, too, of the Hawks’ 2008 win over Geelong, a win which seemed wrong on every statistical level.
But inside 50s and centre clearances could not match what Longmire summed up as his side’s ‘‘never-say-die’’ attitude. ‘‘It’s a great attitude to have boys, and you did it today. Well done.’’ In an historic context, perhaps this clash deserves a place beside the 1970 grand final — a classic also decided by 10 points.’’

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson with Andrew Demetriou after the loss to Sydney.

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson with Andrew Demetriou after the loss to Sydney. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

In a wider context it is worth noting that the octogenarian Rupert Murdoch yesterday witnessed his first VFL or AFL grand final, the country’s first woman Prime Minster (on her birthday) congratulated the game’s first woman grand final umpire. In his pre-match address the game’s chairman, Mike Fitzpatrick — aside from taking a pot shot  at his CEO Andrew Demetriou for his lengthy absence this year — acknowledged the ABC chief Mark Scott and the pain his organisation had suffered in recent days.

The vanquished Clarkson also attempted to place yesterday’s upset in the context of true tragedy. But in the context of sport his club will believe it blew an opportunity to become perhaps the greatest of the modern era.

Deep down, too, the Hawks will rue those six  missed shots at goal from 40 metres or less. And even deeper they might just resent the AFL a little for a botched set of stadium agreements that forced the competition’s top home-and-away team to enter a grand final at a one-day disadvantage.

Not that the Hawks would say that publicly because few could deny the magnificent story of the ugly ducklings of South Melbourne who limped away from their lakeside home in 1982 and somehow became one of the competition’s most admired and successful teams.

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AFL 2015

Round 1
Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
CAR 78 vs RIC 105 Report Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
MEL 115 vs GCF 89 Stats
SYD 72 vs ESS 60 Stats
BRI 74 vs COL 86 Stats
WBU 97 vs WCE 87 Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 78 vs GWS 87 Stats
ADE 140 vs NTH 63 Stats
FRE 75 vs PTA 68 Stats
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 123 vs GEE 61 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE 131 vs CAR 62 Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 66 vs WBU 85 Report Stats
GWS 101 vs MEL 56 Stats
COL 63 vs ADE 90 Report Stats
GCF 76 vs STK 104 Stats
PTA 44 vs SYD 92 Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
GEE 60 vs FRE 104 Stats
ESS 78 vs HAW 76 Stats
NTH 133 vs BRI 51 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 140 vs STK 66 Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
CAR 84 vs ESS 105 Stats
ADE 80 vs MEL 55 Stats
SYD 111 vs GWS 90 Report Stats
NTH 105 vs PTA 113 Stats
BRI 58 vs RIC 137 Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 127 vs WBU 57 Stats
GEE 105 vs GCF 96 Stats
WCE 81 vs FRE 111 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 51 vs MEL 83 Stats
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 81 vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
ESS 49 vs COL 69 Report Stats
GWS 119 vs GCF 53 Stats
PTA 99 vs HAW 91 Stats
FRE 74 vs SYD 60 Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 65 vs WCE 118 Stats
GEE 67 vs NTH 83 Stats
WBU 125 vs ADE 68 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 45 vs COL 120 Stats
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC 76 vs GEE 85 Stats
SYD 73 vs WBU 77 Stats
GCF 118 vs BRI 54 Stats
NTH 70 vs HAW 130 Stats
WCE 120 vs GWS 33 Stats
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL 50 vs FRE 118 Stats
STK 80 vs ESS 82 Stats
ADE 91 vs PTA 115 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
COL 59 vs GEE 100 Stats
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
NTH 109 vs RIC 74 Stats
WBU 87 vs STK 94 Stats
GWS 108 vs HAW 98 Stats
GCF 78 vs ADE 119 Stats
MEL 50 vs SYD 88 Stats
FRE 80 vs ESS 52 Stats
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 75 vs BRI 84 Report Stats
PTA 68 vs WCE 78 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 82 vs NTH 93 Stats
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE 119 vs STK 73 Stats
HAW 155 vs MEL 50 Stats
CAR 57 vs GWS 135 Stats
SYD 120 vs GEE 77 Stats
WCE 135 vs GCF 43 Stats
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
WBU 88 vs FRE 101 Stats
RIC 105 vs COL 100 Report Stats
BRI 102 vs PTA 65 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE 140 vs CAR 63 Report Stats
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
STK 78 vs WCE 131 Report Stats
GWS 108 vs ADE 84 Report Stats
GCF 63 vs COL 132 Report Stats
HAW 69 vs SYD 73 Report Stats
FRE 115 vs NTH 42 Report Stats
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 136 vs BRI 78 Report Stats
MEL 103 vs WBU 64 Report Stats
PTA 43 vs RIC 76 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 122 vs CAR 62 Report Stats
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW 93 vs GCF 40 Report Stats
MEL 54 vs PTA 115 Report Stats
WBU 113 vs GWS 68 Report Stats
RIC 72 vs ESS 59 Report Stats
ADE 57 vs FRE 68 Report Stats
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI 86 vs STK 108 Report Stats
COL 112 vs NTH 95 Report Stats
WCE 120 vs GEE 64 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs ADE 13:40MCG
GCF vs SYD 16:35MS
ESS vs GEE 19:20ES
PTA vs WBU 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
GWS vs BRI 13:10Spotless Stadium
NTH vs WCE 15:20BA
STK vs HAW 16:40ES
Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
GCF vs FRE 13:40MS
WCE vs ESS 16:35Domain Stadium
NTH vs SYD 19:20ES
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs GWS 13:10MCG
STK vs MEL 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC vs WCE 19:50MCG
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs PTA 13:40MCG
GWS vs NTH 16:35Spotless Stadium
WBU vs BRI 19:20ES
Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE vs MEL 15:20SS
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE vs COL 20:10Domain Stadium
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs RIC 19:50SCG
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs ESS 13:40MCG
BRI vs ADE 16:35G
STK vs WBU 19:20ES
Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs GCF 15:20ES
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs PTA 19:20SCG
Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
COL vs HAW 19:50MCG
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs GWS 13:40MCG
GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
WBU vs CAR 19:20ES
MEL vs WCE 19:40TIO
Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs STK 13:10ES
ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
FRE vs BRI 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs COL 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs CAR 19:50MCG
Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs MEL 13:40MCG
WBU vs GCF 16:35CAZ
NTH vs GEE 19:20ES
WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs STK 13:10Spotless Stadium
HAW vs FRE 15:20AS
BRI vs SYD 16:40G
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH vs ESS 19:50ES
Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs WBU 13:45SS
GCF vs GWS 14:10MS
COL vs WCE 16:35ES
SYD vs HAW 19:20ANZ
FRE vs CAR 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
PTA vs ADE 15:20Adelaide Oval
STK vs RIC 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs GEE 13:45SO
ADE vs GCF 14:10Adelaide Oval
RIC vs FRE 16:35MCG
ESS vs PTA 19:20ES
BRI vs NTH 19:20G
Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
WBU vs COL 13:10ES
MEL vs STK 15:20MCG
WCE vs SYD 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
HAW vs RIC 19:50MCG
Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE vs BRI 13:45SS
COL vs MEL 14:10MCG
SYD vs ADE 16:35SCG
CAR vs NTH 19:20ES
GCF vs WCE 19:20MS
Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
PTA vs STK 13:10Adelaide Oval
ESS vs WBU 15:20ES
FRE vs GWS 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
WBU vs PTA 14:10ES
BRI vs GCF 16:35G
GEE vs SYD 19:20SS
WCE vs HAW 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL vs NTH 13:10MCG
GWS vs ESS 15:20Spotless Stadium
STK vs FRE 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD vs COL 19:50SCG
Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS vs ADE 13:45ES
NTH vs STK 14:10BA
PTA vs GWS 16:35Adelaide Oval
GEE vs HAW 19:20MCG
BRI vs CAR 19:20G
Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC vs GCF 13:10MCG
WBU vs MEL 15:20ES
FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW vs PTA 19:50ES
Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs RIC 13:45MCG
GWS vs SYD 14:10Spotless Stadium
GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
STK vs GEE 19:20ES
ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH vs FRE 13:10ES
CAR vs MEL 15:20MCG
WCE vs WBU 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE vs COL 19:50MCG
Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
GWS vs CAR 13:45Spotless Stadium
HAW vs BRI 14:10AS
NTH vs WBU 16:35ES
ESS vs RIC 19:20MCG
GCF vs PTA 19:20MS
Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE vs WCE 13:10Adelaide Oval
STK vs SYD 15:20ES
FRE vs MEL 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
COL vs ESS 00:00MCG
RIC vs NTH 00:00ES
HAW vs CAR 00:00MCG
GEE vs ADE 00:00SS
SYD vs GCF 00:00SCG
MEL vs GWS 00:00ES
BRI vs WBU 00:00G
PTA vs FRE 00:30Adelaide Oval
WCE vs STK 02:00Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Fremantle 9 9 0 0 151.61 36
West Coast Eagles 9 7 2 0 161.19 28
Sydney Swans 9 7 2 0 134.49 28
Collingwood 9 6 3 0 128.24 24
GWS Giants 9 6 3 0 110.26 24
Hawthorn 9 5 4 0 151.26 20
Adelaide Crows 9 5 4 0 113.37 20
Richmond 9 5 4 0 108.86 20
View all
 
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