1970 VFL Grand Final

The 1970 VFL Grand Final was an Australian rules football game contested between the Carlton Football Club and Collingwood Football Club, held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on 26 September 1970. It was the 74th annual Grand Final of the Victorian Football League, staged to determine the premiers for the 1970 VFL season. The match was won by Carlton by a margin of 10 points, marking that club's 10th premiership victory.

1970 VFL Grand Final


14.17 (101) 17.9 (111)
1 2 3 4
COLL 4.8 (32) 10.13 (73) 13.16 (94) 14.17 (101)
CARL 0.3 (3) 4.5 (29) 12.5 (77) 17.9 (111)
Date26 September 1970
StadiumMelbourne Cricket Ground
UmpiresDon Jolley
Broadcast in Australia
NetworkSeven Network
CommentatorsMike Williamson, Alan Gale, Ted Whitten
 1969 VFL Grand Final 1971 

This game is widely considered to be one of the greatest Grand Finals of all time and, according to one of the key protagonists Ted Hopkins, heralded "the birth of modern football".[1] The attendance figure of 121,696 spectators broke the grand final record set the previous year of 119,165 spectators, and set an all-time attendance record for any football code in Australia that still stands.


Collingwood finished 1970 on top of the ladder with 18 wins. Carlton were next with 16 wins, followed by St Kilda and South Melbourne (14 wins each). South Melbourne was participating in its first Finals series since 1945, and got in despite winning only four of their last eight home-and-away matches.

Match summary

First half

Conditions were perfect at the MCG as both teams lined up at almost full strength, only Quirk of Carlton was unavailable due to injury.[2]

Kicking against a very slight breeze, the Magpies shot to a seventeen-point lead before Carlton scored,[3] and led at the end of the first quarter by 29 points. Carlton only managed to score three behinds for the quarter, but Collingwood's inaccuracy - four goals from thirteen scoring shots - was to prove costly later on. The Blues had a better second quarter, kicking four goals. But Collingwood, in brilliant form, kicked six goals five for the term to take a 44-point lead at half time. Indeed, the only highlight for Carlton had come towards the end of the quarter when Jesaulenko leapt onto the shoulders of Collingwood ruckman Graeme Jenkin and took a spectacular mark[4] that was judged the official 1970 Mark of the Year. Some Carlton fans have described it as the Mark of the Century, although there has never been a formal selection process for such. Mike Williamson's TV commentary, "Jesaulenko, you beauty!" has endured as famous as the mark itself, evidenced by being included in the Toyota Legendary Moments series of advertisements.[5]

Although the Magpies had built a formidable and seemingly insurmountable half-time lead, there was one incident that had fans worried; Collingwood's superstar full-forward McKenna was groggy after teammate Tuddenham had accidentally floored him with a hip-and-shoulder while flying for a chest mark.[6] McKenna, who already had kicked over 140 goals for the season, had booted five goals in the first half, and missed a few others. He would only kick one more goal for the rest of the match. The fact that this goal came from an overhead mark only 2 minutes and 43 seconds after the collision caused the TV commentators to believe that he had recovered. Speaking about the incident forty years later in an interview for the Herald Sun, McKenna recalled that:

I don't remember much after that and nothing from halftime. The club doctor wanted to take me off, but Bobby Rose wouldn't hear of it. In the second half I started to wait for the ball and play in an uncharacteristic fashion. I went home after the game and straight to bed, waking at 10pm and thinking I had better get to the wake.[7]


During the break, champion Carlton coach Ron Barassi instructed his players to handball and play on at all costs, instituting a strategy to try to nullify Collingwood's long kicking game. A key positional move was the introduction of little-known Ted Hopkins, a small rover, as a substitute for Bert Thornley in the second half.[8]

Second half

These changes were highly effective and Carlton scored seven goals to one behind in the first thirteen minutes of the third quarter, almost completely erasing Collingwood's lead. Ted Hopkins' contribution made a major contribution to the Carlton revival, highlighted by four goals.

Collingwood fought back strongly towards the end of the third quarter, leading by seventeen points at three-quarter time, and the game remained in the balance well into the final quarter. Late in the last quarter, with Carlton leading by less than a goal, Alex Jesaulenko snatched the ball on the half forward line and sent a left foot kick bouncing towards goal. With no one guarding the goals, the ball bounced through for a goal, sealing the game for Carlton. Carlton completed a recovery, to triumph by 10 points, 17.9 (111) to 14.17 (101). This was the same winning margin as the Second Semi Final also played at the MCG two weeks earlier between these teams which Collingwood won 17.16 (118) to 17.6 (108).

Leading ball winners for Carlton were Crosswell with 23 (17 kicks and 6 handballs), McKay 20 (18 and 2) and Waite 19 (10 and 9). For Collingwood, Price 22 (17 and 5), W. Richardson 22 (21 and 1) and M. Richardson 19 (13 and 6)[9]


Having defeated Carlton three times during the 1970 VFL season (twice during the home-and-away season and in the Second Semi Final), Collingwood were deservedly pre-game favourites and led for most of the match. Their inability to cement the final victory led to them being dubbed with the derisive nickname "Colliwobbles" for the first time. Their next appearance in a Grand Final was in 1977, when they drew against North Melbourne and then lost the replay. After finishing runner-up a further three times (twice to Carlton – in 1979 and 1981), Collingwood finally broke through to defeat Essendon in the 1990 AFL Grand Final, ending the "Colliwobbles". Nevertheless, the nickname has continued to be used for the club when it fails to match expectations in finals.Note 1 Carlton failed to make the finals the following year, but would bounce back to win the 1972 premiership in a classic shoot-out against Richmond.


It is often stated that the style of play displayed by Carlton in the second half, featuring frequent handball and open fast running play, was a precursor to the modern style of football. However, Barassi himself credits the idea to former Richmond and Fitzroy coach Len Smith. Up until then, Australian rules in Victoria had primarily been a stop-start game with players kicking forward to teammates who took a mark, stopped and kicked again, with the handball being used mainly as a defensive option. In the second half of the Grand Final, Carlton played on and used more handball, moving the ball quickly and catching Collingwood players off guard, not giving them time to settle.

Although the match is justly famous for the contributions of many now-legendary players of that era, Brent Crosswell (Carlton) was generally regarded as the best player on the day for his four-quarter contribution, especially in the first half when many Carlton players were not playing well.

Hopkins played only one further game for Carlton, soon quitting football to pursue other interests.

The 44-point half-time deficit overcome by Carlton was then the second-largest half-time deficit ever overcome in VFL history. The only larger deficit overcome before this was 52 points, by Collingwood against St Kilda in Round 10 of the same year (which remains the record today).[10]


Carlton vs Collingwood
Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Final
Carlton 0.3 (3) 4.5 (29) 12.5 (77) 17.9 (111)
Collingwood 4.8 (32) 10.13 (73) 13.16 (94) 14.17 (101)
Venue: Melbourne Cricket Ground
Date and time: 26 September 1970
Attendance: 121,696
Umpires: Jolley
Goal scorers: Carlton 4: Hopkins
3: Jesaulenko
2: Crosswell, Gallagher, Nicholls, Walls
1: Jackson, Silvagni
Collingwood 6: McKenna
2: Dunne, Thompson, Tuddenham
1: Britt, W. Richardson
Best: Carlton Crosswell, McKay, Silvagni, Robertson, Nicholls, Jackson, Jesaulenko, Walls[11]
Collingwood Tuddenham, Dunne, M. Richardson, W. Richardson, Jenkin, Waters, McKenna, Price[12]
Reports: nil
Injuries: nil


B: 21 Barry Gill 3 Kevin Hall 30 Vin Waite
HB: 11 John Goold 43 David McKay 35 Barry Mulcair
C: 6 Garry Crane 34 Ian Robertson 15 Phillip Pinnell
HF: 17 Brent Crosswell 42 Robert Walls (a/vc) 5 Syd Jackson
F: 28 Peter Jones 25 Alex Jesaulenko 13 Bert Thornley
Foll: 2 John Nicholls (c) 1 Sergio Silvagni 10 Adrian Gallagher
Res: 22 Neil Chandler 7 Ted Hopkins
Coach: Ron Barassi
B: 9 Colin Tully 21 Jeff Clifton 10 Peter Eakins
HB: 29 Denis O'Callaghan 3 Ted Potter (dvc) 33 Lee Adamson
C: 26 Robert Dean 5 Barry Price 22 John Greening
HF: 18 Max Richardson 28 Len Thompson 27 Con Britt
F: 12 Ross Dunne 6 Peter McKenna 2 Wayne Richardson (vc)
Foll: 14 Graeme Jenkin 1 Terry Waters (c) 8 Des Tuddenham
Res: 15 Bob Heard 23 Ricky Watt
Coach: Bob Rose

See also


1.^ The Grand Finals that Collingwood lost before during the Colliwobbles era were in 1960/64 against Melbourne and 1966 against St Kilda.


  1. "Ron Barassi's greatest gamble - The 1970 Grand Final".
  2. Atkinson & Atkinson, 2009, p. 292
  3. Atkinson & Atkinson, 2009, p. 292
  4. "Grand Final 1970 (YouTube) Jesaulenko mark". Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  5. "Grand Final 1970 (YouTube) Jesaulenko, you beauty!". Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  6. "Grand Final 1970 (YouTube) McKenna collision". Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  7. "The 1970 premiership that got away from Collingwood".
  8. The Architecture of Triumph and Tragedy: the 20th Century Sports Stadium Archived 4 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine The Sports Factor, ABC Radio National Transcripts, 29 August 1997
  9. Harry Beitzel's Footy Week, 28 September 1970, p. 2
  10. http://afltables.com/afl/teams/allteams/gamer.html#17
  11. Atkinson & Atkinson, 2009, p. 294
  12. Atkinson & Atkinson, 2009, p. 294


  • Atkinson, Graeme; Atkinson, Brant (2009). The Complete Book of AFL Finals. Australia: The Five Mile Press. ISBN 978-1-74211-275-6.
  • Flanagan, Martin (2008). "1970". The Last Quarter - A Trilogy. Camberwell East: One Day Hill. ISBN 978-0-9757708-9-4.
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