While the AFL is on COVID-19 hiatus, David Schout is reliving some of the most notable upsets and bad beats over the years. This week, a 2013 miracle at the Gabba.

Geelong and Brisbane were due to face off this weekend, in what would have been Round 7 of the 2020 AFL season. Looking back on prominent matches between the two, it’s perhaps no surprise we’re taking a look at the 2013 ‘Miracle on Grass’.

Pretext

Halfway through the 2013 AFL season, Geelong were flying. At 10-1, the Cats were hunting a fourth premiership in seven years, and along with Hawthorn were the two favoured sides in futures markets. In head-to-head markets the Cats started favourites in nine of 11 games, and won the two clashes they were deemed outsiders (against Hawthorn and Sydney). Brisbane, by contrast, were reeling. At 3-8, Michael Voss’s side were struggling despite relatively strong hopes to contend for finals footy earlier that year.

Odds

As such, it came as little surprise that the Cats started as $1.14 favourites, despite being away from home. At the first bounce, the Lions were $5.66 outsiders. The line opened at 32.5 points, a figure that was cut slightly to 28.5 at the close. The ‘total points’ line sat at a high 190.5 prior to the game.

Cats onslaught

The AFL Round 13 clash started relatively evenly, with the Cats kicking the opening two before the home side snatched back the lead. But when Geelong booted three in a row just prior to the quarter-time siren, the game eased into one-way traffic. Chris Scott’s men extended their lead to 27 points at half-time and at one stage in the third quarter it ballooned out to 52 points. While Brisbane booted the last two goals before the final change, by that stage many home fans were seen leaving the stadium.

Miraculous comeback

Voss instilled in his troops at the break that they were right in the clash, despite the margin. Prior to the game, the odds for a Geelong-Brisbane half-time/full-time AFL result was paying $15. The Lions got on the board early to cut the lead to 20 points but a Steve Johnson major restored the calm for the Cats. But that wouldn’t last, as the Lions onslaught continued. With scores level at 97 apiece, Tom Hawkin’s set shot on a tight angle missed and the Cats held a slender one-point lead with 55 second left on the clock.

The ensuing kick-out up the middle fell Brisbane’s way but after Daniel Rich slammed one on the boot, Josh Hunt marked uncontested at the back for Geelong. And that, in essence, should have been the game. But the Cats inexplicably moved the ball forward quickly and, in turning over inside their forward 50, gave Brisbane another chance. Desperately moving through the middle the ball landed in the lap of 200th gamer Ash McGrath, who marked on the siren, 50 metres out.

McGrath’s moment

“I remember marking the ball and I actually cramped up in my left calf and I threw my head back because I was tight in my legs,” McGrath told the AFL Players Association. “I knew I had the distance in me, even at that point in the game, it was just a matter of getting it on target. I’d done that set-shot 1,000 times at training, so it was a matter of not taking too long and going through the same routine. Some blokes will take longer than they normally would while kicking after the siren but I did the same things I always do.”

It sailed through, cuing mayhem at the Gabba. The comeback (from 52 points down) was at the time the eighth-highest ever in VFL/AFL history.

History repeated

Last season the Lions did it again over the Cats at the Gabba, trailing for the whole day before another barnstorming finish. This time a Lincoln McCarthy hanger (and goal) sealed a famous win and with it, top spot on the AFL ladder despite starting the season as $51 premiership hopes with Palmerbet.

Final Score

Round 13 of the 2013 AFL season, June 23

Brisbane:  3.2   5.4  7.8  15.13  (103) def

Geelong:  5.3   9.7  13.10  14.14  (98)

BRIS: McGrath, Moloney 3; Rich 2; Lisle, Patfull, Brown, Zorko, Adcock, Hanley, Golby

GEEL: Hawkins 3; Christensen, Motlop, Johnson 2; Mackie, Guthrie, Murdoch, Blicavs, Podsiadly

Brownlow Votes: 3 Simon Black (BRIS), 2 Steve Johnson (GEEL), 1 Brent Moloney (BRIS)