Everyone has their favourite moment from an AFL Grand Final. There’s Leo Barry’s mark that single handedly ended the Swans 72 year premiership drought. It could be Mike Williamson screaming out ‘Jesaulenko, you beauty’. As Alex Jesaulenko soared above Graeme Jenkin (a scene replayed by mates in the local park a few thousand times). Or a personal favourite, the day the Demons won their first premiership in 57 years and I cried for three days straight.

The Grand Final is the ultimate test, the two very best teams of the year going head to head. We’ve done our very best to nail down our AFL Grand Final top ten, of the last twenty years. We had debates, highlight reels were shown, and a friendship or two teetered on the brink of collapse. 

Let the countdown begin (we’re off to go have a lie down).

10. Geelong vs St Kilda, 2009

St Kilda hadn’t won a premiership for 43 years. For decades they’d fallen down at the last hurdle, but everyone knew this was their year. They notched up 19 straight wins, including what many think is the highest standard game ever played. They had a handful of absolute champions, and the remainder played their role, week in week out.

But, Geelong were premiers at the end of the day.

The Saints should have won this game, they laid more tackles than any other side in the history of the game, they had 19 more inside-50s. But to Saints fans dismay, they just couldn’t convert in front of goal. Everything that could go wrong for them did. They had players in the ER the night before, forward star Nick Riewoldt did his hip flexor in the last training session. There have been better grand finals, better wins, but this match seems to encapsulate everything that’s great about the game.

9. Port Adelaide vs Brisbane Lions, 2004

We’ll start with saying the game was great, the players were at their best and the crowd rode every bump, tackle and goal. But there’s one moment post game we can’t get over, the choke. It’s one of the most famous images of a coach in Grand Final history, in 2003 Port Adelaide’s major sponsor had claimed that Mark Williams would never lead the club to a flag. So, when the Power upset Brisbane in the Grand Final of 2004, Williams spoke into the microphone, “Allen Scott, you were wrong” and hoisted his tie above his head to signify the end to the club’s ‘choking tag’. Talk about iconic AFL Grand Final moments of all time.

8. Hawthorn vs Sydney, 2012 AFL Grand Final

There’s not too many grand finals that are decided in the last minute of the game. But with just 34 seconds left, Nick Malceski kicked his second of the match, and sent the Sydney Swans into folklore. You couldn’t pick a winner up until the last 30 seconds of the game. When the siren sounded, Swans players and fans alike shared a moment that was unlike any other.

7. Geelong vs Collingwood, 2011 AFL Grand Final

Maybe one of the most underrated Grand Finals on the list, we just couldn’t exclude it. A man by the name of Jimmy Bartel was the hero for the Cats, finishing with 26 disposals and three goals. Geelong won their third premiership in five years. Cementing a dynasty and their team as one of the greatest of the modern era.

6. Richmond vs Adelaide Crows, 2017

Was 2017 the greatest AFL Grand Final of all time? Just ask a Tigers fan. Richmond pushed hard for their win against the Crows, bringing their renowned fierce competitiveness. While Dustin Martin was the star of the show, the inner-city suburb of Richmond shined, they partied long into the night (and week) after the game. The game is infamous for the Tigers domination, but also for the Adelaide Crows players aggressive stance pre-game. Fists by their side rather than around each other, staring down the opposition as the national anthem sounded.

5. Western Bulldogs vs Sydney, 2016 AFL Grand Final

If a team finishes seventh on the ladder, history says that team is highly unlikely to end up in a grand final, let alone with the thing. But, the Western Bulldogs did just that, entering the big stage on that day in 2016 to end their 62 year premiership drought. There was no shortage of special moments that made this premiership so special. For starters, not a single Western Bulldogs player had ever played in an AFL Grand Final before. There was something about the Dogs on the day though, and they won in a huge upset. The moment that sticks out for us (other than Tom Boyds huge goal from the centre square) was coach Luke Beveridge awarding his medal to the injury-ridden Bulldogs legend, Bob Murphy (tears were shed).

4. St Kilda vs Collingwood: The Draw, 2010

If a team finishes seventh on the ladder, history says that team is highly unlikely to end up in a grand final, let alone with the thing. But, the Western Bulldogs did just that, entering the big Shock, silence, disbelief. The siren went and the hopes of the St Kilda and Collingwood faithful were dashed.

But… what a game.

Only the third drawn grand final in AFL history, Collingwood kicked away in the first half commanding a 24 point lead until the 29th minute of the final quarter, where Lenny Hayes levelled the score, but it wasn’t to be as the final siren sounded marking a draw. Fans felt dazed and confused, what happens next? You come back next week and do it all again. The following week the two teams met again, this time with Collingwood taking the win by a considerable margin. The controversial draw will forever haunt Saints supporters, and the rest of us.

3. Sydney vs West Coast, 2005

A premiership drought breaking win for the Swans was everything you dream of, a big match on the big stage. There’s a reason it sits at number six on our countdown, and that reason is based on one man and one mark. Leo Barry and the infamous grab that saved the game for the Swans.

A tight contest throughout, Swans would stretch their lead out to 20 points at half time, until the Eagles fought their way back into it into the fourth, all of a sudden, Eagles were up, and they were looking dangerous.

Barry Hall put the Swans back in front and it was on, the Eagles had one chance to pump it back into their forward 50, and in a blur in front of a huge pack of players, Leo Barry soared across and took a spectacular grab with less than 10 seconds to go. The siren went, and the Swans were home by just four points.

2. West Coast vs Sydney, 2006 AFL Grand Final

That’s right, we’ve gone back to back here. The two grand finals between these two teams had to fit into our list somewhere because they were both huge. At number three, we’ve got the 2006 rematch of the 2005 grand final, between Sydney and West Coast. The heartbreak of the close loss the year prior weighed heavy in the hearts of West Coast players and fans alike, and they got their shot at redemption. The Eagles had a 25 point lead going into half time, but then the Swans came hard.

Chris Judd was pivotal, just a year after becoming only the 4th player to win a Norm Smith medal in a losing side, he shone again, leading his Eagles right up to the very last second. The Eagles held on in a thriller, much like the year before, but with just one point separating the two this time.

1. West Coast vs Collingwood, 2018 AFL Grand Final

We’ve reached number one AFL Grand Final (finally), and there was one match that nobody could go past. The 2018 grand final, between the West Coast Eagles and the Collingwood Magpies. This match goes down as one of the best of all time, based on the fight shown by the Eagles, who found themselves down by as much as 29 points in the first quarter, due to an onslaught of goals from the Pies.

A lesser team would’ve folded, many wrote them off there and then. But somehow, the Eagles scrapped away and managed to find the goals they needed, giving the rest of the team the hope they needed, going into the main break, just 12 points down. The third term saw the Eagles at their best, and pies hearts start to sink, as they came out a different team to what they did in the first, as the siren sounded, the scores were level.

The last quarter was one for the ages, Collingwood slotted two early and pulled away, clenching an 11 point lead. But again, the eagles clambered back, snapping goals when they could and amping up the pressure. Enter Dom Sheed, who kicked an absolute belter from the boundary line 40 metres out, giving the Eagles a four point lead. With one minute to play, both teams scrambled, but the Eagles took the win as the West Coast of Australia (and any non-pies supporters) celebrated. It’s a game you won’t forget too quickly, and the perfect way to wrap our countdown.

Keen to find out where to watch the finals series in the lead up to the Grand Final? Take a look at our top five places to watch the 2022 finals season.

Keep an eye on the AFL fixture here to see who makes it into the final showdown.

Where can I watch this year’s AFL grand final? Find your local here.