West Coast at Subiaco. Sunday 19 August.
Being the era where half the matches weren't taped at all comes one from the west that you'd expect to go for the full four quarters. But it doesn't. Either somebody from Channel 7 or whoever uploaded to a dodgy torrent site must have taped over it with an episode of The Main Event. Either way how dodgy can a torrent site be if they've got games like this on offer?
Anyway there's 32 minutes and 31 seconds worth for us to look back at and we join in progress with Chris Lewis lurking menacingly above Graeme Yeats who rises unsteady to his feet clutching his nuts. Considering Lewis' later indiscretions it might be worth zooming in to make sure that there's no teeth marks across the flange.
The uploader clearly left the tackle grabbing in for pure comedy value because seconds later it cuts out and we come back to the start of the last quarter with Melbourne 33 points in front. Take being 33 points in front at the last change in Perth these days? Better odds of winning Club Keno.
With sponsors still on the Subiaco fence to this day like SGIO and Town & Country lurking in the background future Demon Dean Irving beats Stynes for the bounce and we're off.
The ball is soon going forward courtesy of midfielder Simon Eishold (!?) who finds forward Danny Hughes (!?), according to Peter Landy moved from centre half-back where he'd been on Peter Sumich for 'undisciplined play' which considering the match was apparently full of brawls sounds like a cover-up for 'shit play'.
Speaking of undisciplined the flowing permed mullet look is in full effect thanks to Andrew Obst and he's soon given the seal of approval by local crowds when he has a scrunched up chip container piffed at him from the crowd while appealing for an out-of-bounds on the full. The benefit of a replay 22 years later has shown that he was either misguided or a filthy cheat because the ball lands nowhere near over the line, a point that Obst is reminded of by the screaming feral woman in the front row.
Revenge comes quickly for the man with the living hair as a blatant over the shoulder headlock on Brian Wilson in the square goes unpunished but in the confusion the ball bounces to Obst standing on his own in the square and he whacks it through to up the margin to 39 points. Clearly we win this or why else would I have it but without looking at the margin I'm going to assume that somehow we make a total hash of the lead and fall over the line in a thriller.
Straight out of the centre the Wilson/Obst combination comes to the fore again as they combine to set up Tingay (in his shameful rat tail years) for another goal within 20 seconds. All of a sudden my prediction of a drastic Eagles comeback is looking absolutely shambolic.
Sadly the ads are cut out because after that goal it briefly cut to a car ad which started "this is a modern..." with the most 80's looking car in history. I suppose it was "a modern" then. See you in 2032 for a round of pissing ourselves at today's ads.
Good news for Phil Narkle fans as possibly the only indigenous player ever to appear in a helmet marks on the outer wing. He then proceeds to turn around and boot it straight to Stynes without an Eagles player within ten minutes. Good work Phil.
What was sadly left out of this copy is a cracking brawl at three-quarter time (did it stem from Yeats having his tackle mashed?) featuring Stynes prominently. Landy and Commetti (back when Dennis wasn't allowed outside of Perth) allude to the fact that he's "not the most popular man in the stadium" but you can't hear a solitary boo in his direction.
Speaking of unpopular individuals the Narkle debacle eventually ends in a Chris Lewis goal after Jimmy's kick forward was completely botched by Earl Spalding. The crowd goes absolutely mild as the margin returns to 39. Classic era goal umpiring too, he just stands there with body stiff and sticks out the two fingers - none of the baseball capped buffoonery you get these days.
Ever the master of understatement Landy says "they needed that" as the camera pans to show a man who is clearly old enough to know better waving his homemade "ON YA! EAGLES" banner. At least old enough to know where to put the exclamation mark I'd have thought. Another classic early 90's sign in the crowd is "I DON'T BELIEVE IT". If you don't believe somebody kicking one goal perhaps you should be at a soccer game. Except that it's 1990 and at that point there were about 19 non-ethnic people who liked soccer in this country and we were spending most of our time being accused of homosexuality or being un-Australian.
TELECOM MOBILE PHONES is another quality sponsor, for those of you looking for something that fits in a suitcase and everyone in the world can listen in on.
21.13 left in the game and the Eagles go forward again only for Grinter to miss a swinging right fist and accidentally connect with the ball. The ball rolls out of bounds in front of a half-hearted Steven Febey and MY GOD THAT IS THE WORST HAIR EVER. The dual coloured mullet makes Tingay look positively contemporary. Dean Kemp and his perfectly sensible barnet are seen looking in absolute wonder at it seconds later.
Eishold once again gets the clearance (did he do this often? I just remember him botching the '87 prelim and being swapped to Richmond and doing nothing) and finds Spalding just outside forward 50. Earl actually manages to hold onto the mark this time as Commetti declares he's "too far out to score" only for the Duke to have a ping. It gets all the way to the line - and accurately too may I add - where it trickles through off hands for a point.... or so everyone things except the goal umpire who ignores the evidence of Darren Bennett's enormous mitt thumping it through and pays a goal. Before Dennis can properly register his shock Channel 7 dump us to a McEwen's hardware ad.
Back from the ad (sadly we only got somebody singing, "YOU CAN DO IT! AT MCEWEN'S!") and Dennis' conspiracy corner continues. "Bennett showed disappointment, Brennan showed amazement, the goal umpire shows two fingers!" he says. These days he'd try too hard and work in a reference about Rowdy Roddy Piper. Hey Dennis, we'll do the forced obscure 80's wrestling references in this sport. Odd that they never offer a replay. If that happened now it would be analysed for the next 20 minutes.
Stynes loses the ruck contest again but a shock Jay Viney intervention sees the ball going forward anyway. For about five metres. Thankfully for Melbourne fans everywhere the ball lands with Fabulous Phil Narkle who tries to break a hundred tackles before finally managing to get the ball to boot where it trickles a couple of feet. I was not surprised to learn that Narkle only played one more senior game after this.
Eventually the ball finds its way to Brett Lovett (another owner of a spectacular haircut) who is infringed upon by - surprise, surprise - Chris Lewis. He takes off and Landy exclaims "Advantage rule!" only for the umpire to call play back 20 seconds later as Lewis is clearly seen mouthing a four letter anglo saxon word for fornication towards the bemused man in white.
A smothered Spalding kick soon sees the ball come back and the Eagles go inside 50 only for Tony Campbell (he of the gloves and a failed NFL career) to deny Peter Sumich a mark with what would be described and penalised today as an "unrealistic marking attempt". Unfortunately the ball then goes backwards where Garry Lyon does the most blatant throw you'll ever see in your life and gets pinged as the cameras cut to Mick Malthouse looking like a lego man in the coaching box.
Chris Waterman misses an absolute sitter as Landy gives us another round of "that was badly needed". He gets another chance about five seconds later as our kick-in is broken up by Steven Febey being blatantly taken out without the ball but Waterman's second attempt is touched through by Rod Grinter in front of a goal umpire who is actually able to spot that sort of thing. 43 points the difference with 18.11 left to play.
The Eagles go forward again thanks to Tony Begovich, who I'd never realised was a great Phil Read lookalike because I'd never seen what he looked like, before Cannibal Chris ignores Narkle (sensible choice) and dinks a pissy little kick inside 50 that goes straight to Jay Viney.... who proceeds to fuck it right up and allow that man Narkle to kick the last of his 55 VFL/AFL goals. At least Jay got a paycheck in 1991.
Eagles go forward immediately out of the centre again (feel free to win a clearance Melbourne. Oh, where have I heard that before?) and a ball lands in the square where Campbell proceeds to leap up in the air and spike it out of bounds in the forward pocket like he's playing volleyball. I don't want to say that community standards were slightly out of whack in that era but the commentators are legitimately shattered that he's pinged for it. It can't be understated how deliberate it actually was. Never before has an umpire ever got one more right than that and here's Peter Landy openly claiming he only made his decision because of the crowd.
After a brief moment of panic when the crowd get excited the resulting Sumich free kick barely scrapes in for a point, which doesn't stop Dean Irving from seemingly hurling some insults at the goal umpire as he signals the behind. Now, there might be 20 minutes and the win is safe but it would still be nice if they could a) win a clearance and b) keep the ball on our side of the middle for more than five seconds at a time.
A booming Grinter kick-in comes straight back again but Jay freaking Viney takes a huge contested grab in the backline and passes short to Stynes who finally cops some boos from the mutants in the crowd. In a moment straight out of commentator cliche school Danny Hughes kicks the ball off the ground and Landy goes "Oh, he's been watching the soccer!" which I very much doubt he had been given that the World Cup finished about five weeks before.
Inability to keep the ball on the attacking side of halfway almost comes back to haunt Melbourne again as Waterman adds another point hitting the post with nobody in the square. These days he'd have deliberately run onto a funky angle and tried to roll it in.
Now unlike today the kick-ins are actually quite good, and so's the next possession - it's when they go forward of centre that things start going horribly wrong. This time it's Grinter to Brett Lovett who shamefully tries to milk a 50 by slapping the ball into Lewis' hand so it will fall out. The only person fooled by this ruse is Commetti who barks "that could almost be 50 there!" when the umpire was standing about a metre away from him doing it and sensibly tells Lovett to get on with it.
Finally the ball ends up going forward for the first time since that hotly disputed 'goal' and it ends in a not at all disputed major for Steve Febey after a classy underground handpass from that man Eishold. Either history has been very unkind to him or this was the greatest quarter he ever played.
According to the ad break "Seven brings you the hit movies" then they show a scene from Days of Thunder as we cut back to the footy. What's next Mr Nanny?.
Another centre break for the Eagles is quickly defused and after a mazy run down the wing by Steven Stretch, looking down at the ground on every bounce of the ball, it winds up with Spalding who does a snap almost as bad as some of his set shots and misses. Still, this is over - the only thing left to ask is courtesy of the signage around the fence that says "ARE YOU RED RED READY? RED ROOSTER" (A: no).
Eishold continues the game of his life by marking 40m out and kicking the goal to end the Eagles 15 game winning streak at Subi. He should have had a 50 straight to the line too after another great obscure player of the 80's Troy Ugle basically leapt on his back then sat on him after the mark. Not as much concern from the commentators as there was for Campbell's red hot punch out of bounds.
Whoever the special comments bloke he's never acknowledged on screen. It could be Ross Glendinning but unless they identify him it could also be Pol Pot for all I know.
Ironically just as we get the ball out of the centre for the first time all quarter (courtesy of a free kick) it winds up going the other way where finally Chris Waterman gets something right and hits a pass to Lewis who converts and gives Seven the chance to cut away to a Hey Dad advertisement. Looked like Betty was about to do something stupid. They come back to Peter Sumich being kneed in the head by Jay Viney then kicking into the mark before Dean Kemp ensures his spot in every 1990's blunders compilation by doing a darting run through about five Melbourne players and handballing it straight to Brett Lovett standing still.
By this point everyone's pretty much going through the motions and Sumich has another shot which doesn't even make the distance - leaving his tally at 2.5, one out on the full and one into the man on the mark. Some bloke called Melesso who nobody has ever heard of tries to mark in the square but can't hold it and it goes through for another point. According to the ever helpful AFL tables Peter Melesso had one of the most messed up careers you'll ever see. 14 games in ten seasons, no bloody wonder nobody's ever heard of him. What's more ridiculous is that he only played in four wins in that whole time and three of them were this season.
Give up Melbourne might have but the Eagles were utter shite and eventually a cock-up by Ugle gives Brian Wilson a goal and the Eagles yet another chance to win a centre clearance. They do and this time it's Garry Lyon's turn to be done for a blatant by today's standards deliberate out of bounds. This umpire was 20 years ahead of his time because despite the fact that he dinked in straight over the line with a five metre toe poke Garry is ropeable and Commetti is horrified because the ball "angled away" before it went over. Yeah about 90 degrees from where it landed. Mystery special comments man Leon Trotsky tries to defend Gaz by saying "his leg was retarded by a tackle".
The ball ends up with Dean Irving in the square and while he drags the margin back to 41 points with six minutes remaining and I'm absolutely certain about five minutes have mysteriously disappeared from this quarter at some point. Lewis finds Sumich, who you'd think was absolutely shit if this is the only game you'd ever seen and he finally manages to get his third after a couple of rubbish attempts. Also don't you wish Lewis had bitten Jay Viney's finger instead just so Jay would be remembered for something?
It's no bloody wonder we didn't win the flag if this game is anything to go by considering the Eagles win YET ANOTHER centre clearance. Channel Seven have stopped going to ads now because they know that when they come back the Eagles will be in attack. Just to keep it interesting they have another shot on goal through Mainwairing who is absolutely robbed when the ball clearly crosses the line but a mark is paid to Peter Rohde. Not only did it clearly cross the line but Rohde also put the ball on the ground after marking it in a blatant admission that it had crossed. This turn of events is so shocking that the Unabomber shows up to register her disgust;
The "I DON'T BELIEVE IT" banner gets another run, this time with some justification.
The "I DO BELIEVE IT" banner may as well have come out seconds later when Spalding burst inside 50 and attempted a shot on goal which landed in the arms of an Eagles defender 20 metres out. Of all the great players on this Melbourne team he's the one who lifted a premiership. Rude.
As time runs out the Troy Ugle Experience completely stuffs up a bouncing ball inside 50 and gives makeshift forward Danny Hughes the chance to shoot from a tight angle but he makes that same mistake that all footballers did from 1859 to 2006 where he tries to kick it through properly instead of doing a poxy little dribbling shot from the boundary. It was the last score of the game, though he should have had another shot after the umpire somehow pinged him for a throw despite Ugle doing a springboard dive into his back 10m out directly in front.
Mystery Commentator X says we've done well despite having "a record" eight knee injuries that season (a figure later broken single handedly by Collingwood's Lee Walker) and Landy suggests that they've just put in the eye catching performance of the round before proceeding to name another three matches that could take the crown - leaving just three winners who didn't impress him for the week (Sydney, St Kilda and Geelong stat fans. Surely any Sydney win in 1990 was considered impressive?).
Fittingly a huge spoil by Jay-V (Todd nowhere to be seen) sets up Melbourne's last chance of a score but the siren beats Febey a second before he can get boot to ball and sneak it through for a point. Handshakes all round for John Northey and co but it's the early 90's and a win only means one thing. It's time for this guy to make an appearance;
His best feature is the laugh and the backwards march off screen waving the trident triumphantly. In other triumphant gestures Garry Lyon picks some mud off the ground before joylessly piffing it across the field and Darren Bennett runs in and abducts Grinter from a post match interview, carrying him off from the bemused and bemulleted bloke with a microphone. Dennis covers himself in glory by trying to start a scandal about a "confrontation between a radio interviewer and Rodney Grinter" before the mystery commentator points out that "err, I think it was just an interview Dennis".
Speaking of confrontational Brian Wilson decides to lead a 'stirring rendition' of the theme song as the players walk off the ground while Graeme Yeats forsees the birth of the Western Force a few years later by attempting to pack a scrum.
This 'hearty' rendition in the face of the Eagles fans not surprisingly leads to several comments from the punters and neither Willo or Rodney are shy about making their own feelings felt;
In light of that perhaps the reason Bennett abducted Grinter was because Sir Rodney of Cheapshot was about to unleash some foul and offensive comments across the airwaves bless him. Darren himself is seen giving it large on his way off the ground but at least he was sensible enough not to do it on live radio.
With two games left we moved to equal second on points but fourth on percentage. Every possible chance of finishing in the top two. Unfortunately we won both but still finished before Collingwood and the Eagles on percentage - thus throwing them together into a qualifying final. They drew, then the Eagles lost and despite playing that at Waverley with an extra week off we lost. Typical Melbourne fiasco.