Gary Moorcroft soaring for Essendon, in 2001, and Bundoora, in 2013. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo and Steve Lightfoot
Mass hysteria could envelop the AFL if its grand final is as dramatic as last weekend's decider in the Northern Football League.
Star-studded Bundoora trailed throughout the first half and by 47 points 17 minutes into the third-quarter, minor premier Montmorency making every post a winner as it sought its first flag since 1979.
Then came a barnstorming, utterly dominant final term from Bundoora, in which it kicked 9.8 to zero, to turn a 33-point three-quarter-time deficit into a comfortable victory – 17.21 (123) to 13.16 (94).
Gary Moorcroft takes a classic in the Northern League grand final. Photo: Steve Lightfoot
Bundoora kicked the final 11 goals of the match in front of a big crowd at Preston.
Helping spark the Bundoora revival was former Bomber and Demon Gary Moorcroft, who turned back the clock with a soaring grab reminiscent of his famous mark of the year effort for Essendon in 2001. The feisty redhead, now 37, ended with six goals.
Former Collingwood, Carlton and Port Adelaide big man Cameron Cloke, 29, brother of Collingwood premiership player Travis, provided the only highlight for Bundoora in the first half with a massive torpedo punt goal.
Gary Moorcroft kicked six majors for Bundoora. Photo: Steve Lightfoot
Best on ground was Bundoora skipper Brayden Shaw, son of Tony Shaw, who was on the Collingwood list in the early noughties, but missed out on playing a senior game because of an untimely injury.
In the first half, Montmorency comprehensively outplayed a tired-looking Bundoora, showing the benefit of having played just once in three weeks.
But Bundoora coach Phil Plunkett insisted his team still believed it could win at the final change.
The last team to kick nine goals in the final quarter of a VFL/AFL grand final was Essendon, who booted 11.3 to 3.3 in the final quarter of the 1985 decider. The Bombers were also the last team to come from behind at three quarter time in a grand final, and kick nine goals - in 1984.
"I just said we've got to take risks because we've got nothing to lose," he said.
"We can't save the game we had to try to win it. Play on at all costs, throw caution to the wind and don't leave the ground wondering what might have been.
"The breeze helped and once we started to create a little bit of doubt in Montmorency we were able to come home with it, it was just a terrific effort from all 22 of them.
Gary Moorcroft's towering mark helped turn the tide in the Northern Football League grand final. Photo: Steve Lightfoot
“They were very much so (in control). Particularly in that second quarter they kicked a few into the breeze and we weren't able to capitalise on what we had and I thought it's gonna be a tough one from here," he said. "But adrenaline's a big thing in footy."
Moorcroft's mark got that adrenaline moving in the Bulls' veins, then Shaw kicked the first goal of the final quarter, changing the game's pattern after Montmorency had kicked the first three goals of the first three quarters.
A Cloke goal cut the margin to just 11 points halfway through the final term.
Bundoora didn't hit the lead until time-on, but the goals kept coming after they hit the front, taking advantage of a freshening breeze. Full-back Trent Barbero even joined the scoresheet to extend the lead.
Plunkett gave his premiership medal to ill club stalwart Lou Galea, who was told a year ago that he only had three months to live.
"Louie is struggling with some health issues," Plunkett said. "He said to me at the start of the year that he might not be around for another Bundoora premiership.
"So I said to him 'you made it, you won it, here you go'. It means a lot to him and his family, he is a major part of the way the club is."
After its most controversial season, the AFL could do with such a spectacular storyline for its grand final next Saturday.
Bundoora 1.2 5.9 8.13 17.21 (123)
Montmorency 3.9 8.12 13.16 13.16 (94)