Freedomroo – AFL Grand Final 2021: Melbourne Demons break curse to beat Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium Perth

The Melbourne Demons are the new AFL champions after a historic night for the code at Perth's Optus Stadium

Almost six decades of premiership heartache is over for the Melbourne Demons after they staged an incredible fightback against the Western Bulldogs in the AFL grand final on a historic night for the code.

The game was held in Perth for the first time in front of a sell-out crowd of 61,118 fans at Optus Stadium in an action-packed AFL Grand Final.

The Demons claimed their first premiership flag in 57 years after a stunning third quarter fightback saw them turn a 19 point deficit into a 24 point lead with seven unanswered goals against their shellshocked opponents.

The Demons then ran rampant in the fourth quarter, with five more unanswered goals before running out 21.14 (140) to 10.6 (66) winners.

The Demons were already celebrating before a goal after the siren put the icing on the cake of a famous 74 point victory. 

Demons skipper Max Gawn and Norm Smith Medallist Christian Petracca dedicated the famous victory to their long suffering fans stuck in lockdown back home in Melbourne.

The Melbourne Demons are the new AFL champions after a historic night for the code at Perth’s Optus Stadium

'After 57 years of pain, it's coming home!' Max Gawn (right) cried as he and Demons coach Simon Goodwin held the premiership trophy aloft

‘After 57 years of pain, it’s coming home!’ Max Gawn (right) cried as he and Demons coach Simon Goodwin held the premiership trophy aloft

Norm Smith Medallist Christian Petracca led a second half Demons rampage to win their first premiership flag since 1964

Norm Smith Medallist Christian Petracca led a second half Demons rampage to win their first premiership flag since 1964

Clayton Oliver celebrates with Demons teammates as a fourth quarter blow-out sealed a 74-point victory

Clayton Oliver celebrates with Demons teammates as a fourth quarter blow-out sealed a 74-point victory

Angus Brayshaw and Ed Langdon

Angus Brayshaw and Ed Langdon

‘It is a long time coming,’ Gawn told Channel Seven moment afterwards.

‘My heart goes to everyone in the eastern states at home watching this.’

Petracca added: I actually can’t speak right now. It feels like a dream.

‘It is quite unbelievable. We set out pre-season and the off-season to get this club back to where it should be. 

‘For every fan that is what to home, we bloody did it!’

Petracca was awarded the Norm Smith Medal as the best player on the ground with two goals and a grand final record of 40 disposals.

Bayley Fritsch became the first player since Adelaide Crows’ Darren Jarman in 1997 to kick six goals in a grand final.

The Demons celebrated with fans on a lap of Optus Stadium and Facetimed recently retired 302-game club veteran Nathan Jones, who was celebrating back home with a can of beer.

Jones returned to Melbourne two weeks ago to be with his wife for the birth of their twins.

Many of the players have been separated from their partners and young children for weeks.

Just eight years ago, the Demons won two games all season and were the laughing stock of the AFL. 

‘My first game, we got beaten by 80 points,’ Jack Viney recalled. 

‘Second game, we had 150 supporters throw their scarves at us. We were the laughing stock of the competition.’

‘Now we’ve won a premiership, for the first time in God knows how long.’ 

‘I don’t think it is going to fully sink in until we get out of the crowd and take a step back.’ 

Demons skipper Max Gawn shows off the premiership to fans during a lap of honour around Perth's Optus Oval

Demons skipper Max Gawn shows off the premiership to fans during a lap of honour around Perth’s Optus Oval

Demons players Facetimed recently retired club veteran Nathan Jones on their lap of honour

Demons players Facetimed recently retired club veteran Nathan Jones on their lap of honour

The Melbourne Demons have capped off an incredible season with a 74-win in the AFL grand final

The Melbourne Demons have capped off an incredible season with a 74-win in the AFL grand final

The Demons came from 19 points down in the third quarter to kick 12 unanswered goals and steal the game

The Demons came from 19 points down in the third quarter to kick 12 unanswered goals and steal the game

The Western Bulldogs were left dejected after letting a 19 point lead in the third quarter slip through

The Western Bulldogs were left dejected after letting a 19 point lead in the third quarter slip through 

SNAPSHOT OF MELBOURNE’S AFL GRAND FINAL WIN OVER THE WESTERN BULLDOGS

* Result: Melbourne 21.14 (140) bt Western Bulldogs 10.6 (66) in front of 61,118 fans at Perth’s Optus Stadium.

* The story: Melbourne showed no signs of early nerves to lead by 21 points at quarter-time. Midfield stars Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca were instrumental in the hot-start. But the Bulldogs awoke from their slumber, with Marcus Bontempelli and Adam Treloar putting together outstanding second quarters to give their team an eight-point lead at the main break. The Bulldogs got out to a 19-point lead, before the Demons broke the game open with an extraordinary 12-goal run. In the blink of an eye, Melbourne had a 24-point lead at the final change, before sealing the flag early in the last quarter.

* Key stat: The Norm Smith “curse” is dead and buried. Melbourne have their first premiership in 57 years – 20,285 days since they defeated Collingwood in the 1964 grand final.

* Key moment: If the Bulldogs were any chance of making a last quarter comeback, they needed the first goal. But Ben Brown brought down a strong mark in the first minute to give Melbourne an unassailable 30-point lead.

* Star player: Christian Petracca was the bookies’ favourite for the Norm Smith Medal and the former No.1 draft pick did not disappoint. The explosive midfielder was the most influential player on the ground, bursting the game open in the first and third quarters to finish with a record-breaking 40 possessions and two goals.

* Key quote: “It is a long time coming. My heart goes to everyone in the eastern states at home watching this.” – Melbourne captain Max Gawn

* Injuries: Star Melbourne defender Steven May came in an under injury cloud and looked to still be hampered by his hamstring issue but played out the match.

Australian Associated Press 

Back in the dressing room, Gawn reflected on the heartbreaking tragedies the club has suffered in the last 17 years with the deaths of stalwarts such as Jim Stynes, Colin Sylvia, Troy Broadbridge and former coach Dean Bailey.

There’s also AFL legend’s Neale Daniher’s well-publicised battle with motor neurone disease, the last Demons coach to lead the club to a grand final 21 years ago.

‘We’ve had a lot of tragedy that’s followed the club, especially since I’ve been there,’ Gawn said.

‘Troy Broadbridge, Dean Bailey who drafted me, Colin Sylvia, his parents reached out to me and Neale Daniher who is going through one almighty fight with MND. 

‘His poster was up on the wall before the game. He’s got a big quote you can talk as much as you want, it’s about doing. 

That was my speech before the game, quoted his famous comment. He lives with us. He is still going strong. 

It is a shame he wasn’t here tonight. The Daniher family and the Stynes family, they’re special people that make this club special.

The Demons were first on the scoreboard with two behinds before Christian Petracca extended their lead to boot the first goal of the match. 

Teammate Bayley Fritsch extended the deficit with the first of his four goals minutes later for the Demons before the Bulldogs finally got on the board with their first six-pointer.

The Demons kicked two more goals to enjoy a 4-5 (29) to 1.2 (8) quarter time lead.

But the second quarter belonged to the Bulldogs who staged a fightback by kicking six of the next seven goals to lead 7.5 (47) to 6.3 (39) at half-time

Playing in his third grand final, Adam Treloar led the second quarter Bulldogs fightback with two goals before a late six-pointer from skipper Marcus Bontempelli cemented an eight point half-time lead.

The Bulldogs extended their lead within the first two minutes of the third quarter when Jason Johannisen took an epic mark in the goal square before Bontempelli’s third goal of the game increased the deficit to 19.

The Demons clawed their way back with the next seven goals to reclaim the lead to lead by 24 at three quarter time.  

Ben Brown celebrates one of his three goals for the Demons after seven unanswered goals in the third quarter

Ben Brown celebrates one of his three goals for the Demons after seven unanswered goals in the third quarter

Western Bulldogs skipper Marcus Bontempelli  was an early contender for the Norm Smith Medal with three goals for the Bulldogs to lead their fightback

Western Bulldogs skipper Marcus Bontempelli  was an early contender for the Norm Smith Medal with three goals for the Bulldogs to lead their fightback

Western Bulldogs' Adam Treloar (pictured) scored two second quarter goals as his side came from 21 points down to hit the front against the Demons

Western Bulldogs’ Adam Treloar (pictured) scored two second quarter goals as his side came from 21 points down to hit the front against the Demons

Jason Johannisen (pictured) extended the Western Bulldogs lead with a goal early in the third quarter

Jason Johannisen (pictured) extended the Western Bulldogs lead with a goal early in the third quarter

The Western Bulldogs hit back in the second quarter by kicking six of the seven goals of the quarter. Pictured are the Bulldogs celebrating Lachie Hunter's goal

The Western Bulldogs hit back in the second quarter by kicking six of the seven goals of the quarter. Pictured are the Bulldogs celebrating Lachie Hunter’s goal

Christian Petracca celebrates with Melbourne Demons teammates after booting the first goal of the grand final

Christian Petracca celebrates with Melbourne Demons teammates after booting the first goal of the grand final

The Melbourne Demons booted four of the five first goals of the AFL grand final. Pictured is Bayley Fritsch celebrating after kicking the second goal

The Melbourne Demons booted four of the five first goals of the AFL grand final. Pictured is Bayley Fritsch celebrating after kicking the second goal

Roarke Smith was the first goal-scorer for the Western Bulldogs in their grand final showdown against the Demons

Roarke Smith was the first goal-scorer for the Western Bulldogs in their grand final showdown against the Demons

Western Bulldogs' Adam Treloar led his side's second quarter fightback to hit the lead against Melbourne Demons

Western Bulldogs’ Adam Treloar led his side’s second quarter fightback to hit the lead against Melbourne Demons

The Western Australian capital was blanketed in a sea of blue, red and white ahead of the grand final showdown between minor premiers Melbourne Demons and Western Bulldogs, who went into the clash as underdogs. 

Thousands of footy die-hards descended on Optus Stadium, including Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan, who arrived via train proudly donning a Demons scarf as he posed for photos with fans.

Footage and photos of McGowan showing his allegiances to the Demons surprised Channel 7 commentators.

‘He’s made a statement there, I did not expect that,’ James Brayshaw said.

Abbey Holmes added: ‘That’s controversial.’

A sell-out crowd of 60,000 enjoyed a pre-match entertainment line-up of Australian chart-topping anthems ahead of the first bounce.

‘Everyone is excited, no doubt about that. I’ve never seen a crowd like this,’ Channel Seven commentator Brian Taylor told viewers.

‘Absolutely superb. They are enjoying every moment of this.’

 But not everyone watching at home was impressed, with some calling the musical entertainment ‘worse than Meatloaf’ – referring to American singer Meatloaf putting in a widely panned 12-minute performance at the 2011 AFL Grand Final at the MCG.

There was pre-match drama for the Bulldogs prior to the match with young gun Bailey Smith not on the team bus after he forgot his official accreditation lanyard and arrived at the ground separately via car.

The Demons fans were loud and proud during the first quarter as their side kicked four of the first five goals

The Demons fans were loud and proud during the first quarter as their side kicked four of the first five goals

The Western Bulldogs cheer squad found their voice in the second quarter as they side hit the lead

The Western Bulldogs cheer squad found their voice in the second quarter as they side hit the lead

These Melbourne Demons fans were among the lucky 60,000 footy fans able to snare grand final tickets

These Melbourne Demons fans were among the lucky 60,000 footy fans able to snare grand final tickets

Western Bulldogs young gun Bailey Smith arrived at Optus Stadium separately after forgetting his official accreditation lanyard

Western Bulldogs young gun Bailey Smith arrived at Optus Stadium separately after forgetting his official accreditation lanyard

Sporting a Demons scarf, Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan posed with fans on the train en route to the stadium

Sporting a Demons scarf, Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan posed with fans on the train en route to the stadium

Demons skipper Max Gawn (right) hopes to lead his club to their first premiership flag in 57 years

Demons skipper Max Gawn (right) hopes to lead his club to their first premiership flag in 57 years

Viewer reaction was divided over Amy Manford's rendition of the Australian national anthem prior to first bounce

Viewer reaction was divided over Amy Manford’s rendition of the Australian national anthem prior to first bounce

60,000 AFL supporters in Perth are making  their way to Optus Stadium (pictured a Melbourne Demons supporter)

60,000 AFL supporters in Perth are making  their way to Optus Stadium (pictured a Melbourne Demons supporter)

Western Bulldogs fans arrive at Optus Stadium, hoping their club can win their second premiership in five years

Western Bulldogs fans arrive at Optus Stadium, hoping their club can win their second premiership in five years

Marcus Bontempelli leads the Western Bulldogs onto Perth's Optus Stadium for the 2021 AFL grand final

Marcus Bontempelli leads the Western Bulldogs onto Perth’s Optus Stadium for the 2021 AFL grand final

Earlier in the day, eagled-eyed viewers mercifully mocked broadcaster Channel Seven over a cross-code mix-up.

Channel Seven accidentally called the Demons Melbourne Storm, the city’s club in the rival NRL code in emails promoting the game. 

Defending NRL premiers Storm were also in action on Saturday night in their preliminary final against Penrith Panthers before going down 10-6.

‘Oops. Hey does Melbourne Storm know they’re in the AFL grand final? I know you guys are *good*,’ one fan tweeted.

Another fan quipped ‘I thought it was going to be a tight #AFLGF but I think the Bulldogs’ AFL experience will be too much for the Storm to overcome.

AFL fans have also gathered in Melbourne to watch the big game, despite warnings from health officials to stay home after Victoria recorded 847, its highest ever daily infection spike during the pandemic.

Melbourne Demons fans made plenty of noise amongst the sea of red and blue at Optus Stadium

Melbourne Demons fans made plenty of noise amongst the sea of red and blue at Optus Stadium

Optus Stadium was already packed with Bulldogs and Demons fans more than one hour to the first bounce

Optus Stadium was already packed with Bulldogs and Demons fans more than one hour to the first bounce

There was no doubt which team these dogs were barking for in Saturday night's AFL grand final

There was no doubt which team these dogs were barking for in Saturday night’s AFL grand final

Channel Seven has been mercifully mocked over this embarrassing blunder calling the Demons Melbourne Storm

Channel Seven has been mercifully mocked over this embarrassing blunder calling the Demons Melbourne Storm

It’s the second time in history the AFL grand final has been played outside of Melbourne due to Covid-19 restrictions. 

The code was also been rocked by the sudden death of AFL legend Greg Parke, who played for both grand final sides.  

The former Melbourne Demons and Western Bulldogs player passed away on Saturday morning aged 73 following a reported long illness.

Centre half-forward Parke began his storied career with the Demons, making his debut in 1968 and booting 169 goals for the VFL club.

In his time with the Demons, Parke was famous for wearing his iconic number 26 guernsey as well as his elite marking skills near the goal square.

He then joined Footscray – now known as the Western Bulldogs – in 1974 after an attempt to join SANFL side South Adelaide was blocked at the time.

AFL boss Gil McLachlan was delighted with how Perth has rallied around the grand final.

This colourful Demons die-hard hopes his club can win their first AFL premiership since 1964

This colourful Demons die-hard hopes his club can win their first AFL premiership since 1964

‘There’s a huge energy and demand that I took for granted,’ McLachlan told 6PR radio on Friday.

‘What’s struck me is how appreciative West Australians are. There’s a respect and an empathy for the loss the Victorians are feeling.

‘We might have a silver lining for West Australians, where there’ll be more big games coming to this town.

‘I’m confident about that. We know this is a football town.’  

Leave a Reply

Contact us

Give us a call or fill in the form below and we'll contact you. We endeavor to answer all inquiries within 24 hours on business days.




    %d bloggers like this: