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'89 classic a labour of love for film-maker

Brereton, Yeates remember 1989 catches up with some of the stars of the 1989 Grand Final at the premiere of The Final Story: 1989
It's probably the best Grand Final ever, so you're putting yourself out there
Peter Dickson, director of The Final Story
THERE were so many dramatic elements to the famous 1989 Grand Final between Hawthorn and Geelong, it is hard to cover them all off in one 45-minute film.

From Mark Yeates' opening bounce bump on Dermott Brereton, to Robert DiPierdomenico's punctured lung, Allan Jeans' famous half-time speech, Gary Ablett's nine goals and the gripping six-point finish.

But for Pete Dickson, director of The Final Story 1989, which will air on the Nine Network this Thursday night and again on Sunday*, there was a very personal element to the game that simply had to be included too.

Dickson's late brother Rob, who was tragically killed in a car accident along with his young sons Byron and Gabriel in 2009, was an emergency that day for the Hawks.

Rob had played six of the last eight games of the home and away season, gathering 22 disposals and kicking a goal against St Kilda in round 22.

But he was dropped for the first final against Essendon, and arrived at the MCG on Grand Final day unsure if he or big man Greg Madigan – who had not played since round 20 – would take the field.

The exact sequence of events around coach Jeans' final decision remains unclear.

Before his passing, Rob told the story of being stripped and ready to play, and only discovering he'd been left out of the team when he saw it on the whiteboard.

Madigan is adamant he knew for certain on the Thursday night that he'd be playing, and suspects Jeans just never quite got around to telling Rob.

Either way, Pete Dickson recalls sitting in his seat at the MCG, not knowing if his brother would run down the race or not.

"On the morning of the game, Rob went to the ground with his bag, and he thought he was a chance," Dickson said.

"But they ran out without him, and he reckoned that next 15 minutes, there was nothing like it.

"He was sitting in an empty room and they were outside playing a Grand Final.

"My memory is hazy, but I was in the stands absolutely wishing for Rob to run out with the team, knowing he was that close.

"And then you see he's not there and you go, 'Oh no'.

"I was shattered.

"Every time someone talks about this epic Grand Final, it makes me sad, because he missed out."

The making of the 1989 film has been a long time coming.

The ninth instalment in the now three-year Final Story series, Dickson admitted he put off re-visiting one of the most renowned of all Grand Finals, simply because he couldn't bear it.

The finished product contains extremely rare behind-the-scenes footage of Hawthorn players, shot by Rob during the 1989 season.

Having to review, cut and edit that footage was both painful and healing for Dickson who, four years on, is still coming to terms with the sudden loss of his beloved brother and film-making partner.

"I did the 1966 documentary first [this year], and I was dreading '89," he said.

"I used to go to work on weekends and just sit there bawling – because it's very hard to look at him and hear him when you haven't for a while.

"But I reckon it's been pretty good for me, doing this, actually, because I've got through it.

"Now I can watch it and I can laugh again with it."

The film also features never-before-seen interview footage of the late Jeans, captured by the Dickson brothers in 2000, as well as candid interviews with Yeates, Brereton, then-Cats coach Malcolm Blight, Madigan and DiPierdomenico, among others.

"It's a hard one, because it's probably the best Grand Final ever, so you're putting yourself out there," Dickson said.

"I don't think I could have done much better with it, but I guess that'll be for others to judge."

*The Final Story 1989 will be screened on the Nine Network in Melbourne at 10.30pm on Thursday night, and at 12.30pm Sunday in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.