Thursday, September 29, 2011

Grand Final Weather

The Australian Football League Grand Final:
Weather has played a big part in some of the great finals matches of the past.

In the amazing Preliminary final of 1921 between Carlton and Richmond the match was delayed after a massive hailstorm carpeted the MCG in ice. For the record, Richmond won that one.

The 1927 Grand Final was more of a regatta than a footy match with torrential rain falling throughout the game turning the field into a quagmire. Jock McHale’s Collingwood side beat Richmond in a very low scoring match.

Above: Umbrellas were all the go in the 1927 Grand Final, when Collingwood defeated Richmond by 12 points. (Click on image to enlarge)

One of the most famous weather affected matches was the great 1958 Grand Final when rain during the match slowed the pacy Melbourne Demons down and the gritty Collingwood side got up for one of the biggest upsets of all time. Some tough tactics by the Magpies Murray Weideman and Hooker Harrison also helped. On this day, the 20th September 1958, the temperature only managed to reach a winter like maximum of 11.3C, making this the coldest Grand Final Day on record.

The 1960 Grand Final was also a mud-bath after two days of torrential rain leading up to the match. It was Melbourne’s turn to beat Collingwood in this one.

The highest temperature ever recorded on Grand Final Day was on 3rd October 2015, when the temperature reached  a summer like 31.3C, and Hawthorn managed a comfortable win over the West Coast Eagles in the enervating conditions.

The Rugby League Grand Final:
The weather has not only had an influence on several grand finals in the past, but it has also provided the background for the design of the famous NRL Premiership trophy, the trophy for which each team strives during the Australian Rugby league season.

On Saturday, August 24, 1963 at the Sydney Cricket Ground, a record crowd of 69,860 witnessed St. George and Western Suburbs do battle in the Grand Final. The match was played in atrocious conditions after heavy overnight rain had turned the ground into a quagmire.

August 1963 had been a wet month, with 80 mm of rain falling up until the morning of the match and 12 mm of
rain falling the day before. As a result, the ground was a bog and soon after the start of play most players were coated in mud.

The game resulted in a victory for St. George and as the players left the field, two of the mud spattered warriors, Arthur Summons and Norm Provan, shooks hands. The Herald Sun photographer John O’Grady captured the moment for the next day’s edition and in the account of the match conditions were described as “far from ideal” – a massive understatement.

That photograph became immortalised as the model for the famous NRL Premiership trophy – the design of which was heavily influenced by the weather.

Above: The NRL Premiership trophy (Image from Wikipedia Commons)