AFL grand final: Collingwood want Moore justice, but Lions will be hard to beat

Magpies captain Darcy Moore (L) and Lions captain Harris Andrews with the premiership cup.

Magpies captain Darcy Moore (L) and Lions captain Harris Andrews with the premiership cup. Photo: Getty

For Magpies great Peter Moore, Saturday’s AFL grand final between Collingwood and the Brisbane Lions will either soothe his long-standing September trauma or cruelly pour more fuel onto it.

Such is the brutal nature of professional sport, there is just no in between.

Moore’s story is part of football folklore, having famously been personally responsible for ending the VFL-AFL tradition of handing out runners-up medals on stage after grand finals. Or so the famous tale goes.

Peter Moore with his son Darcy, who will captain Collingwood in the 2023 grand final. Photo: Getty

The story is that Moore, who was sick of finishing second after playing in five grand finals for not one win, threw his medal into the Melbourne Cricket Club stands in disgust as he walked off the ground after the 1981 decider.

It was the catalyst for the league changing the rule, with 1981 being the last year the runners-up would get a consolation prize.

It’s a great tale, even though it may not be entirely accurate.

“Well, that’s actually a bit of a folklore, I just pretended … and it wasn’t into the crowd,” Peter said at a Collingwood press conference this week.

“That was my fourth runners-up medal, so I didn’t really need another one. Had enough coming second.

“Not my finest moment but I don’t regret it because I was determined to back it up (and win the next year).”

Sadly, he never did, but on Saturday his son, Darcy, has the golden opportunity to captain Collingwood to a premiership and ease the grand final pain of his father.

If Collingwood is to win, Moore Snr has fittingly been selected by the Magpies to present Darcy and coach Craig McRae with the premiership cup on stage.

It would be a beautiful moment between father and son that might even warm the cockles of the heart of the most ardent Collingwood hater.

The only thing that stands between this is a pesky club from up north that has a habit of inflicting heartbreak on Collingwood, both on the last Saturday in September and in recent times.

The Lions triumphed over the Mick Malthouse-coached Magpies in the 2002 and 2003 deciders, while the Brisbane side of now have beaten Collingwood in their past six meetings.

The Brownlow factor

Brisbane Lions star Lachie Neale is in rare air after his upset victory on Monday night.

Lachie Neale awaits the outcome of the umpires’ votes at the Gabba on Monday night.

He is a dual Brownlow Medallist, which puts him in elite company.

Not bad for a player who once went undrafted and couldn’t crack this year’s All-Australian team.

Neale is a modest character, and he seemed somewhat embarrassed to have a second Brownlow placed around his neck on Monday night.

The big question is: Can he handle the mantle of a dual Brownlow medallist in the biggest game of the year on Saturday?

Traditionally, grand final players who’ve won a Brownlow on the Monday night tend to not be at their devastating best on the big day for a variety of reasons.

The recent outlier is Dustin Martin, who in 2017 became the first player in history to win a Brownlow, a Norm Smith Medal and a premiership in the same year.

Neale is as professional as they come, and it’ll be interesting to see how he performs in his second grand final after being a part of Fremantle’s losing side in the 2013 decider.

The heartbreak stories

Teams heading into grand finals have generally operated under a cone of silence and behind a wall of secrecy.

That is not the style of Magpies coach Craig McRae, who seems to have no interest in playing silly mind games.

They’ve been arguably the most transparent club in recent memory heading into a grand final, announcing on Wednesday that Billy Frampton would replace the injured Dan McStay and that Patrick Lipinski would be the sub before they had to.

No nonsense, just business.

Taylor Adams, whose hamstring is not yet ready, and John Noble – who played every game this season before being dropped for the finals – are the Magpies’ heartbreak stories.

For the Lions, Jack Payne is unlucky to miss after playing every game and then hurting his ankle before the preliminary final.

Who wins and why

The Magpies will go in as slight favourites, but it really feels like a 50-50 game.

Collingwood has been the best team for most of the year, but the Lions are in the better form right now.

The Magpies are at home at the MCG, while the Lions’ record at the home of football has been abysmal in recent times.

It all points towards an epic grand final to cap off what has been an exceptional season.

  • Nick Smart’s prediction: Brisbane Lions by 21
  • Norm Smith Medal: Josh Dunkley (BL)
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