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Rounds Of Our Lives: The greatest moments from Round 10

Rampaging fans begin lighting fires on the ground during the infamous blackout at Waverley in Round 10 of 1996. Photo: FAIRFAX SYNDICATION

Rounds Of Our Lives: The greatest moments from Round 10

Luke Michael    

Given all the drama and analysis that accompanies an AFL season these days, it can be worthwhile every now and then to step back and appreciate some of the game’s iconic events from yesteryear.

Round 10 has produced some bright moments, and also (literally) one of the darkest in VFL/AFL history.

Because like an 80-metre bomb from Malcolm Blight or a Tony Lockett goal-fest at the SCG, so are the Rounds of our Lives.

ESSENDON 13.11 (89) d ST KILDA 9.13 (67) (Waverley, Round 10 1996)
A highly-publicised press conference in 2013 might have been labelled “the blackest day in Australian sport”, but in 1996, the AFL literally went dark during an infamous blackout at Waverley Park.

Essendon entered this round 10 clash with St Kilda with a three-game winning streak, and held a comfortable 20-point lead during the third quarter when suddenly darkness descended over the ground.

A fault at a nearby United Energy substation had caused the lights to go out, leading to mass confusion for the players and the 43,925 fans crammed into the stands. The players expected the lights to soon return, but when it became apparent the blackout was not going to end any time soon, both teams headed to the rooms.

But fans were agitated, and a large group ventured onto the field and began lighting fires and vandalising goalposts. Essendon player Gary O’Donnell recalled a sense of anarchy gripping the crowd, as a “mob mentality” took hold.

Things weren’t much better down the race, with emergency lighting providing the only brightness in the rooms as the players rummaged for their belongings.

Almost an hour after the blackout commenced, the match was officially cancelled. In the aftermath, many players urged for both teams to be awarded the four points, but the AFL had other ideas.

The league decided to complete the match on the following Tuesday night over two 12-minute halves.

Both clubs were allowed to change their teams for the match’s belated finale, controversially allowing Essendon star James Hird to recover from a fractured finger which precluded him from playing on the Saturday.

Tuesday night’s shortened fixture still drew more than 17,000 spectators, as Essendon continued their ascendency to run out 22-point winners.

NORTH MELBOURNE 11.15 (81) d CARLTON 11.10 (76) (Princes Park, Round 10 1976)
In an iconic moment now etched into footy folklore, North Melbourne legend Malcolm Blight kicked an 80-metre bomb after the siren to secure a miraculous victory over Carlton at Princes Park. The Blues had led at every quarter break and seemed assured of victory before Blight ignited in a fiery cameo. After kicking two goals in time-on to reduce the deficit to just a point, Blight took a mark in the dying seconds about 80 metres from goal. While many fans these days lament the disappearance of the torpedo, Blight used it to devastating effect to kick an incredible goal that sailed through above post height. His fifth goal sealed a five-point victory for the Roos, and solidified Blight’s reputation as one of footy’s most mercurial talents.

SYDNEY 22.13 (145) d COLLINGWOOD 14.10 (94) (SCG, Round 10 1999)
Tony Lockett had already proved himself to be a goalkicking colossus, but in round 10, 1999, he became the most prolific goal-kicker of all time. For 62 years, Gordon Coventry held the VFL/AFL record for most career goals with 1299. But Lockett’s goalkicking prowess over his illustrious career saw him gradually erode the mammoth target. “Plugger” entered round 10 of the 1999 season needing just three goals to eclipse the long-standing record. More than 41,000 fans at the SCG saw Lockett make history, as he kicked his third goal before quarter-time, and was promptly swamped by fans who stormed the ground. He would finish with nine goals as the Swans romped to a 51-point victory over Collingwood.

ESSENDON 11.8 (74) d SYDNEY 11.7 (73) (SCG, Round 10 2007)
Sydney and Essendon engaged in a modern thriller at the SCG during this 2007 clash. In a see-sawing contest, the Bombers looked assured of victory after Mark McVeigh kicked a miraculous goal from the pocket to put them 14-points up with only 3:44 left on the clock. The goal was controversial, with cameras showing Adam McPhee to be out of bounds as he kicked inside 50 moments earlier. But quick goals to Barry Hall and Craig Bolton saw the lead reduced to only two points with just over a minute remaining. Amon Buchanan had a chance to win the match when he had a running shot at goal with less than 40 seconds left, but the ball skimmed the post, giving Essendon the win by the barest of margins.

GEELONG 21.13 (139) d GOLD COAST 10.13 (73) (Metricon Stadium, Round 10 2011)
Geelong fans may now be getting used to seeing Gary Ablett junior in Cats’ colours again, but in 2011 it was the red and gold of Gold Coast which they had to endure seeing on their favourite son. In round 10, Ablett came up against his former side for the first time at Metricon Stadium, in his new team’s first-ever game at its revamped home ground, formerly many years ago home to the old Brisbane Bears. The Suns started off brightly against the Cats, leading by 20-points at quarter time and 11-points at half-time to spark hopes of an upset. But Geelong ran over them in the second half, booting 13 goals to one to run out 66-point winners. Despite this, Ablett was the game’s leading possession winner with 31 disposals.

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