AFL: Premiers 1981 Carlton

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For the 3rd year in a row Collingwood qualified for the Grand Final and surely this would be the drought breaker. Flagless since 1958 their Magpie phobia had become all consuming and was starting to annoy this great old club. Like ’79 rain interrupted the match and made life tough for the players. The first half was scrappy tight and tingled with nerves. Players from both sides were feeling this one. But it was Collingwood which drew clear as they approached three quarter time the margin was out to about 4 goals. Memories of ’79 came flooding back Collingwood led by a similar margin that year just prior to half time but the Blues mowed them down. Surely it couldn’t happen again. Just as Magpies the world over thought that thought Carlton lifted. Its defence had been magnificent all day bu it it was the skipper Mike Fitzpatrick who led the charge. An inspirational figure, Fitzy took control just when it appeared as though hope was lost for his side and the tide of this match turned instantly. Carlton’s renowned little men began to exert their influence and you felt Collingwood’s grip on this match subside. The Blues were still down at the last change, but they were playing irrepressible football by then and it was going to take more than the heart of Billy Picken and Mark Williams to stop Carlton. The strength, poise and talent of Bruce Doull, Val Perovic, Ken Hunter and their fellow defenders kept Collingwood’s dangerous forwards to two points in the final quarter, while the Blues rammed on four celebratory majors. It was all over for the Magpies, but there was obviously something very special about this group of Carlton players. It was their second flag in three years and the first at his new club for coach David Parkin. And one got the impression that there was more to come for Carlton.

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