As with many AFL Grand Final traditions, replays have been around for a long time and have historically been used when the Grand Final ends in a draw. However, this has only happened three times in the history of AFL: 1948, 1977, and 2010.
1948: Essendon Vs. Melbourne
The first replay to occur in the history of the AFL, was the Grand Final of 1948 when the Essendon Bombers drew with the Melbourne Demons, the score being 10.9.69 to the Bombers 7.27.69. The replay was held the following week with the Melbourne Demons soundly beating out the Bombers 7.8.50 to the Demons 13.11.89. Both matches were held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground with attendance numbers being way down for the rematch.
1977: Collingwood Vs. North Melbourne
1977 saw the second Grand Final replay take place with the Collingwood Magpie’s tying with the North Melbourne Kangaroo’s 10.16.76 to 9.22.76, respectively. The game was a ripper, with North Melbourne leading by 17 points in the first quarter, then by only 2 in the second quarter. Collingwood fought back to be in front by 27 points in the third, but North Melbourne also came back in the last quarter, leading to the draw. As with the 1948 replay, the match was played a week later at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The game was more consistent the second time round with North Melbourne being in the lead the entire time, eventually beating the Magpies by 27 points.
2010: Collingwood Vs. St Kilda
The last Grand Final replay before its abolishment in 2016 once again featured Collingwood, this time up against St Kilda. Collingwood were a strong favourite going into the game, staying in front of the Saints for the first 3 quarters, although St Kilda did claw back, scoring 7 goals to bring them to only 8 points behind. The final quarter saw Collingwood score 2 more goals to the Saints’ 3. They ended up tying 9.14.68 to 10.8.68.
Many players, including captains of both sides, (Nick Maxwell of Collingwood and Nick Riewoldt of St Kilda) were not happy with having to replay a full game, preferring to have an extra time period added on instead. There was an interesting and fair rule change made following the replay decision in 2010. Any player who had played the drawn Grand Final but could not play the replay would still receive a premiership medallion if their team won.
The rematch took place a week later. This time with Collingwood dominating the game, thoroughly defeating St Kilda by a resounding 56 points. St Kilda only scored 2 points in the first quarter versus Collingwood’s 3 goals and 2 points. The final score was Collingwood 16.12.108 to St Kilda 7.10.52. But how would the original Grand Final have gone if an extra time period were added, instead of a whole new game the following week?
Abolishment of AFL Grand Final replays
Ending one of the long-standing AFL Grand Final traditions, replays were abolished by the AFL Commission in 2016 for a few reasons. Reasons for opting for an overtime rule in the case of a draw included ease of travel plans for away teams and adding to the excitement levels of a close Grand Final. The change was called on and supported by all clubs in the league resulting in the overtime rules we have today.