THERE have been drought-breaking flags, a drawn Grand Final, multiple extra-time finals, edge-of-the-seat preliminary finals, massive marks, a toe-poke like no other, huge goals, screaming marks, never-to-be-forgotten individual brilliance and, of course, heartache.

So many moments that have shaped the game's finals history from 1991 to now. 

The task here was to identify the 30 most memorable finals moments since the completion of the 1990 season. It proved impossible to be "fairly" limited to 30. Dozens of moments have unfortunately found their way to the cutting room floor. 


Some "moments" identified here were specific plays, some "moments" were the cumulative performance within a finals match.

As always with such exercises, this is one person's opinion. Clearly, you will have your own. Keen to see what moments you feel strongly about.

One thing I can guarantee, though, is that every moment in this list is worthy of all-time acclaim.

06:56 Mins
Published on

Top 30 countdown: Most memorable finals moments, 30-21

Damian Barrett ranks the most memorable finals moments in the modern era

Published on

30: 'Came up behind him like a librarian': The Heath Shaw smother, 2010 GF replay

The 2010 Collingwood-St Kilda Grand Final was a draw. A week later in the replay, the Pies scored the first two goals. Then the Saints' Nick Riewoldt marked in the goal square and played on. Impossibly, Heath Shaw not only ran him down, but got enough on the ball to rush it through for a behind. St Kilda never recovered, losing by 56 points.

00:42 Mins
Published on

Heater's smother

Heath Shaw laid his self-acclaimed "smother of the millennium", sneaking up on Nick Riewoldt to stop him from kicking an easy goal.

Published on

29: One game, one premiership, one famous pirouette: Marlion Pickett's 2019 GF

It was actually an act of beauty, executed almost in slow motion and against one of the game's most skilful players. In his debut AFL match, which just happened to be the 2019 Grand Final, Marlion Pickett grabbed the ball in the centre of the MCG. Instinctively upon seeing the exquisitely talented Lachie Whitfield run to him, Pickett nonchalantly did a 360, and casually passed to teammate Jason Castagna, who goaled. Game over. 

04:45 Mins
Published on

One game, one flag: Pickett's stunning Grand Final debut

Marlion Pickett writes his name into football folklore with a premiership in his first game

Published on

28: Recruited to win a flag. That's what he did: Stuey Dew's third quarter, 2008 GF

Stuart Dew had won a premiership with Port Adelaide in 2004. He sat out of all footy in 2007. Then Alastair Clarkson recruited him for the 2008 season. Even to this day, he admits he wasn’t in great physical nick on that big day against Geelong. But he seized his moment when it came late in the third quarter, kicking two fantastic goals and assisting in two others. It was an explosive, match-winning display.

00:00 Mins
Published on

Finals Moment: Stuart Dew's cameo

Mark Macgugan's favourite finals moment

Published on

27: The GF day sprint which came before half-time: The Jetta-Rioli MCG dash, 2012 GF

Could watch this on rotation all day. Lewis Jetta took possession on the Southern Stand side of the MCG and took off. His problem was that the super quick Cyril Rioli was chasing, with momentum. Then Jetta took a bounce, and then three more, covering 80 metres, with Rioli failing to gain even half a metre on him.

Need for speed: Lewis Jetta drags off Cyril Rioli in the 2012 Grand Final. Picture: AFL Photos

26: Two bulls collide: The Voss-Burns bump, resultant Black goal, 2002 GF

It was an instant epic, the Lions-Pies 2002 GF. In the second quarter, a sluggish Brisbane was trailing, but a passage of play involving their three Brownlow Medallists changed momentum. Jason Akermanis had helped move the ball forward. Michael Voss fumbled it and went back to get it. As he did so, Scott Burns lined him up, with intent to end his day, maybe his week. Voss bounced off, went and retrieved the now hardest of hard balls, handballed it to Simon Black, who goaled.

03:09 Mins
Published on

Fantastic Five: Michael Voss' best moments

An inspirational leader and brutal competitor, Michael Voss led arguably the greatest side of the modern era to three consecutive premierships in 2001, 2002 and 2003 at the Brisbane Lions

Published on

25: The start of the three-peat: Shaun Burgoyne's goal, 2013 PF

The Hawthorn dynasty that took in four consecutive Grand Finals, including three flags in a row, loomed as the remotest of possibilities at three quarter time of the 2013 preliminary final against Geelong. The Hawks trailed by 20 points. Enter Shaun Burgoyne. A brilliant last quarter saw him kick two goals, including the classy match-winner. That goal capped a powerful Hawks' surge which propelled them to the following week's Grand Final win against Fremantle.

Shaun Burgoyne celebrates a goal during the 2013 preliminary final between Hawthorn and Geelong at the MCG. Picture: AFL Photos

 24: 'Allan Scott, you were wrong': No more choking for Choco, as Wanganeen caps a personal fairytale, 2004 GF

It totally lacked grace, but boy was it memorable. Mark Williams' tie-choke on the boundary line and post-match "Allan Scott, you were wrong" – stole the headlines and focus of a special moment for arguably the proudest of Australian football organisations, Port Adelaide, which had just secured its first (and only) AFL premiership. It was a selfish reference and a full-on punch at the club's longest and biggest benefactor Allan Scott. Gavin Wanganeen was to play another two seasons, but he arguably reached his zenith on this day. Eleven years after he had achieved the same premiership success at Essendon (in a year he also won the Brownlow), Wanganeen was unstoppable, booting four goals.

An animated Mark Williams lets everyone know Port Adelaide didn't choke in the 2004 Grand Final. AFL Photos

 23: Smother, gather, handball, block, goal: Daniel Chick's massive role in the 2006 GF

Having lost the previous year's Grand Final by four points to the same team, the Eagles were in need of some magic late in the 2006 GF. In a team bulging with rock stars, it was the always reliable role player Daniel Chick who worked the cameras best when the lights were brightest. It came in the form of a smother on a Ryan O'Keefe kick, a subsequent gather of that loose ball, a quick handball to Adam Hunter, then a block to allow Hunter stroll into an open goal. Eagles by a point at the final siren.

00:32 Mins
Published on

Toyota Fixture Throwback: That Chick smother and Hunter goal

One of the most memorable plays in Grand Final history

Published on

 22: 'USA, USA' ... American Pie buries the Tigers: Mason Cox, 2018 PF

Just four years after holding a Sherrin for the first time, big Texan Mason Cox took over the 2018 preliminary final for Collingwood against reigning premier Richmond. In the space of 11 minutes in the second quarter, Cox won the match with three towering marks and three crucial goals. All 211cm of his massive frame went into swagger mode, and he doubled down with some old-fashioned trash talk as the Pies' crowd chanted, "USA, USA".

03:08 Mins
Published on

On This Day: Cox destroys Tigers in staggering PF, 2018

American Pie Mason Cox etches his name in footy folklore in the preliminary final against Richmond, taking eight contested marks

Published on

 21: The Rocca 'goal': Anthony Rocca, 2002 GF

It was a goal. Just ask Anthony Rocca, who to this day claims his last quarter set-shot attempt at 'the city end' of the MCG in the 2002 Grand Final against Brisbane was inside the goal post by "at least two feet". The goal umpire saw it differently, the Lions held on to win a second consecutive flag on the way to three, that third one coming against a Rocca-less (due to suspension) Pies. Rocca officially booted four on GF day 2002, he will forever believe it was five. That "fifth" one would have put the Pies in front.

A dejected Nathan Buckley and Anthony Rocca after the 2002 Grand Final. Picture: AFL Photos