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. 

BARRETT'S TOP 30 Most memorable finals moments 30-21
BARRETT'S TOP 30 Most memorable finals moments 20-11

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.

07:26 Mins
Published on

Top 30 countdown: Most memorable finals moments, 10-1

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

Published on

10. Long Live The King. Wayne Carey, 1994 QF (and '97 QF)

Wayne Carey purely dominated dozens of the 244 matches he played for North Melbourne. If the 1994 qualifying final against Hawthorn wasn't his most complete, then the '97 qualifying final – where he kicked seven goals with only one functioning arm - against Geelong was. The King had already personally dominated the '94 game when, for the first time, extra time was used to determine a VFL/AFL final. Carey further dominated those 10 minutes, kicking a fourth goal after the second final siren with his 32nd disposal, and after taking his 10th mark as a true centre half-forward in the beautifully old-fashioned way. Still reckon he's the best ever.

00:00 Mins
Published on

Fantastic Five: Wayne Carey's best moments

Take a look back at some of the greatest moments from the superstar key forward

Published on

9. "Boyd's kicked a goal, Boyd's kicked a goal. F#ck!" Tom Boyd goal, 2016 GF

It was Dale Morris' tackle of Buddy Franklin which forced the ball loose, but it was Tom Boyd's goal at the Punt Road end of the MCG, kicked from inside the centre square, that sealed one of the most historically significant Grand Final victories. The Western Bulldogs had won only one flag to that point, way back in 1954. Jason Johannisen was a thoroughly deserving Norm Smith medallist. He set the game up. Boyd, with three telling goals and eight marks, would have been a deserving one, too. He closed it.

00:40 Mins
Published on

Boyd's sealer

Much-maligned Tom Boyd silenced the critics by nailing the goal that confirmed the Dogs would win their second flag, breaking a 62-year drought

Published on

8. The bounce of the ball. Stephen Milne, 2010 GF

Stephen Milne kicked a phenomenal 574 goals in a wonderful career. Hundreds came via his ability to pounce on a loose ball, the type which he approached with 100 seconds remaining in the 2010 Grand Final, with his team one point behind, against Collingwood. Lenny Hayes had mongreled a kick his way. That ball bounced in a one-in-100 manner, pinging at an angle that not even Milne could predict, and bounced through for a score-equalling behind.

03:49 Mins
Published on

Last Two Mins: Coll v StK, GF 2010 - The Milne bounce in a draw

The fickle nature of the Sherrin plays a part in a dramatic drawn Grand Final for the third and final time in VFL/AFL history

Published on

7. "Leo Barry, you star." The Barry mark, 2005 GF

It wasn't the percentage play. But it won the 2005 Grand Final, and broke a 72-year premiership drought for South Melbourne/Sydney Swans. Leo Barry's mark in the final five seconds against West Coast may be the most important mark ever taken in VFL/AFL history. And he didn't just mark the Dean Cox kick in a massive pack. The Sherrin seemed super-glued to his hands. As Quarters iconically said in that very moment - Leo Barry, you star.

00:40 Mins
Published on

"Leo Barry, you star!"

'Leaping Leo' ensured the Swans broke their 72-year premiership drought by clinging to a courageous pack mark on the game's final play

Published on

6. The Plugger point. Tony Lockett, 1996 PF

For a man who kicked 61 more goals than anyone else in history – 1360 in total – it was strangely a behind which was the most resounding kick of his extraordinary career. The final siren had sounded with scores level in the Swans-Bombers SCG 1996 preliminary final. Lockett, though, had marked moments earlier. With a suspect groin, he had to kick the ball 55 metres. Of course he was able to. That's what champions do. He kicked six goals the following week in a losing Grand Final. 

04:29 Mins
Published on

Last Two Mins: Syd v Ess, PF 1996 - Plugger's famous point

Tony Lockett launches from long range to give the Swans the lead after the siren in a thrilling preliminary final at the SCG

Published on

5. The Brown bear-hug. Fraser Brown's tackle, 1999 PF

There are tackles. And then there are tackles. Fraser Brown's tackle in the 1999 preliminary final will forever be Exhibit A in the latter category. Carlton's Brown bear-hugged Bomber Dean Wallis in the closing seconds, eliminating any chance Essendon had of making the Grand Final it had long appeared destined to win.

00:45 Mins
Published on

When 'Browny' tackled 'Wally'

Flag favourite Essendon was a point down inside the last minute when Fraser Brown ensured an upset by bringing down a rampaging Dean Wallis

Published on

4. The most famous toe-poke in history. Matty Scarlett, 2009 GF

Stevie Johnson being Stevie Johnson, he likes to remind people that it was his "seize the moment", centring kick which led to the most famous toe-poke in AFL history. And it actually was. Scores were level in the 2009 Grand Final, Saints and Cats on 67. Johnson, a successful Riverboat gambler from way back, went inboard to Gary Ablett. Zac Dawson spoiled. Matty Scarlett ran in, toe-poked the ball back to Ablett, who ran and bombed to the goalsquare, where Norm Smith medallist Paul Chapman was waiting to kick his third, and game-sealing, goal. 

00:46 Mins
Published on

Scarlett's toe poke

With scores level late, Matthew Scarlett toe-tapped a disputed ball to Gary Ablett, who went long where Paul Chapman snapped the go-ahead goal.

Published on

3. "I see it but I don’t believe it." Nick Davis' last quarter, 2005 SF

There are four moments jammed into a 12-minute space here. The four goals kicked by Nick Davis for the Swans against Geelong in the 2005 semi-final were all mind-boggling. The first from the right forward pocket. The second from a classy mark. The third a near-impossible 45m snap when he was actually running away from goal, being chased by opponents. The fourth was the stuff of legend when, with 10 seconds of match time left, he sharked a ball, and without actually taking possession, somehow guided the hottest of balls onto his foot for a goal which propelled the Swans into a preliminary final, then Grand Final, and their first flag in 72 years. 

03:13 Mins
Published on

Nick Davis' sublime semi-final fourth quarter, 2005

One of the greatest performances in finals history from the Swans' hero against the Cats

Published on

2. The King Of Cool. Dom Sheed, 2018 GF

Talk about cool. With 112 seconds remaining of the entire 2018 season, Eagle Dom Sheed took it upon himself to kick the Grand Final-winning goal 40 metres out on the MCG's Punt Road end right boundary against Collingwood. The kick itself was extraordinary, the lead up to it even more so. Jeremy McGovern's mark. His pass to Nathan Vardy. Liam Ryan's unbelievable, put-everything-on-the-line, super-skilled mark from Vardy's kick. Ryan's pinpoint pass to Sheed. Sheed's King Of Cool kick. 

01:35 Mins
Published on

The winner: Sheed snatches an Eagles victory

West Coast Eagles' Dom Sheed slots the winning goal

Published on

1. THE man, THE moment. Darren Jarman, last quarter 1997 GF

This man, and his moment, to me, unfairly gets lost in a lot of footy discussions. Given what was at stake, I reckon it is the greatest individual quarter ever played. So, the "moment" here is the actual final quarter of the 1997 Grand Final against St Kilda. Darren Jarman may not have single-handedly won for the Adelaide Crows their first premiership. But there is no chance they would have won it without him. Nor the next one. Andrew McLeod winning that year's Norm Smith Medal as well as the following year's was equally history-shaping. To kick five goals - for a match tally of six – as Jarman did in the last quarter of '97, was sporting teenager's dream sort of stuff. He also kicked five in the '98 Grand Final win against North Melbourne. His last quarter of '97 was actually unbelievable. Watch it back. Then watch it again. His final goal was mesmerising. Off a quarter-step, around his body, on a messy angle from 35 metres, he split the middle to steel-bolt down the result. The Crows were only 10 points clear of the Saints at the last change. After Jarman ran amok, they were 31 in front. No one has ever done what Jarman did that quarter. No one ever will.

04:49 Mins
Published on

Fantastic Five: Darren Jarman's best moments

Adelaide's premiership player Darren Jarman dazzled crowds with his electrifying plays in the 1990s and early 2000s

Published on