Well its finally upon us, today is AFL Grand Final Day. It really is the most wonderful time of the year. The day when dreams are simultaneously made and crushed. 22 players and a set of supporters will realise the sport’s most wonderful moment while another will feel its cruellest low.
With only 22 places available for both team’s Grand Final week selection, like the game, means for each elated player is a number left horribly disappointed. Both, the Bulldogs and Swans had to choose between returning stars and their Preliminary Final 22. Sydney made two changes and Western Bulldogs remained unchanged, both decision left heartbroken players.
Hamish Marsh left out by the Swans and Aliir Aliir injured in the Prelim Final, joined the returning Matthew Suckling and Lin Jong, overlooked by the Bulldogs, on the long list of hard luck Grand Final stories.
Come with me as we take a look at some of these names and the devastating reasons they missed out on their ‘big dance’ moment.
Phil Carman – 1977
Carman was a superstar from the moment he broke into VFL ranks, in his debut season he missed out on the Brownlow Medal by a mere 3 votes – after missing 8 games! He was a driving force in Collingwood’s rise to the top of the ladder in 1977 and was a key player in their Second-Semi Final win over Hawthorn. Also during the game, he struck Michael Tuck and was subsequently suspended for two matches, with the Magpies already in the Grand Final this was the end of his season and he would miss the Grand Final. When Collingwood and North Melbourne drew the Grand Final it meant that Carman’s suspension would in fact see him miss TWO Grand Finals. The heaviest of heavy blows.
Derek Kickett – 1993
After playing every game of the 1993 season, Derek Kickett was left out of the Grand Final team. Essendon coach Kevin Sheedy dropping the unlucky Kickett due to concerns over his endurance. The Bombers won the flag and Kickett was absent from their premiership celebrations. Unwilling to play under Sheedy again he moved to Sydney where he got the opportunity to play in the 1996 Grand Final loss to North Melbourne.
Ross Oakley – 1965 & 1966
A talented winger, Ross Oakley was an entrenched member of the St Kilda team that won the Minor Premiership in 1965. As the siren went on his team’s win in that season’s Second Semi Final, Oakley was in the dressing rooms having suffered a season ending knee injury during the match meaning Oakley would miss the Saints First Grand Final in 52 years. A year later and Oakley left another Second Semi-Final with another season ending knee injury, this one seeing the future AFL CEO miss his club’s first, and to date, only Premiership.
Neville Crowe – 1967
In 1967 Richmond won their first final in decades when they defeated Carlton by 40 points in the Second Semi Final. A Grand Final berth won but their star Ruckman Neville Crowe would not be joining them in the Premiership decider having been suspended for 4 weeks for striking John Nicholls.
Unfortunately for the big man video evidence wasn’t allowed in tribunal hearings, with Nicholls falling to the ground after Crowe missed him by (conservatively) a country mile. Crowe watched his Tiger team-mates claim the flag from the MCG stands and did not play League Footy again.
Alan Trusler – 1954
Alan Trusler’s story is an interesting one and a little hard to believe. After playing all season Trusler was unavailable for the Bulldogs drought breaking premiership win to be best man at his brother’s wedding! What was his brother thinking? I guess the same thing could be asked of current Bulldog Stuart Crameri who ended up with a few empty seats at his wedding last night, with his team-mates late withdrawals due to more pressing engagements today.