1978 VFL Grand Final
The 1978 VFL Grand Final was an Australian rules football game contested between the Hawthorn Football Club and North Melbourne Football Club, held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne on 30 September 1978. It was the 82nd annual Grand Final of the Victorian Football League, staged to determine the premiers for the 1978 VFL season. The match, attended by 101,704 spectators, was won by Hawthorn by a margin of 18 points, marking that club's fourth premiership victory.
It was the third time in four seasons that these two sides met in a Grand Final while North Melbourne was competing in its fifth successive Grand Final. They were the reigning premiers, having defeated Collingwood in the 1977 VFL Grand Final.
At the conclusion of the regular home-and-away season, North Melbourne had finished on top of the VFL ladder with 16 wins and 6 losses. Hawthorn had finished second, also with 16 wins but with an inferior percentage.
In the finals series leading up to the Grand Final, Hawthorn comfortably defeated Collingwood in the Qualifying Final by 56 points before beating North Melbourne by 10 points in the Second Semi-Final to progress to the Grand Final. North Melbourne, after their Second Semi-Final loss, defeated Collingwood by 12 points in the Preliminary Final to progress to the Grand Final.
Hawthorn had the better of the first quarter, with forward Michael Moncrieff kicking three goals (including two goals in the first two minutes of the game), and they led by nineteen points at quarter time. However, North Melbourne hit their stride in the second quarter, with Phil Baker became the focal point of the North attack and taking the mark of the year over Ian Paton. He helped North kick five goals to two to lead by four points at half time.
|North Melbourne||2.2||7.8||10.12||15.13 (103)|
Hawthorn ultimately finished victors thanks largely to a strong third quarter which saw them kick 7 goals whilst closing down the Kangaroos. The turning point occurred when two North Melbourne players spoiled each other in the goal square at the 6-minute mark, when a mark and a goal could have put them 17 points up. The Hawks went on to dominate play after this incident, and never looked back, kicking 6.3 to North's one behind in the next 12 minutes.
The teams traded goals in the fourth quarter but by that time the damage was done for the Kangaroos, as they were not able to make up ground. They suffered from the loss of suspended ruckman Peter Keenan and injured Steven Icke and Brent Crosswell, while Brownlow Medallist Blight was virtually out of the game with a torn groin muscle after just five minutes, and Stan Alves also limped off in the second quarter.
Moncrieff and Leigh Matthews each kicked 4 goals for the Hawks, while Baker kicked 6 for the Kangaroos.
The Kangaroos' loss represented another instance in which the team which had finished first at the end of the home and away season lost the Grand Final. Since the final five finals system began in 1972, only Carlton (1972) and Richmond (1974) had won premierships from that position.
This win represented the first for David Parkin as coach. He had previously captained the Hawks to the 1971 VFL Grand Final victory, and later went on to coach Carlton to premierships in the 1980s and 1990s.
Hawthorn's next success came five years later, when they won the 1983 VFL Grand Final against Essendon. It would take another 18 years for North Melbourne to appear in another premiership decider, when it defeated the Sydney Swans in the 1996 AFL Grand Final.