AFL rematch is 'deja vu' for Montgomery - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL rematch is 'deja vu' for Montgomery

By Greg Buckle 01/10/2010 11:18:14 AM Comments (0)

As North Melbourne premiership player Ken Montgomery watched last week's drawn grand final, the sense of disbelief came flooding back.

Montgomery was the only member of the North team to make the list of best players in the 1977 drawn grand final against Collingwood and again in the replay the following week.

"I watched the second half on Saturday. It was a bit of deja vu," Montgomery told AAP.

Just like in 1977, players from both sides lay on the MCG last Saturday looking shattered and confused.

"I feel for the Collingwood and St Kilda players in some respects," Montgomery said.

"(But) the draw will make the game more memorable. Great grand finals are about pressure.

"The recollection of 1977 is more of disbelief. The players on Saturday would have felt the same way.

"It's more the mental side, the emotional side.

"When you come back (for a replay) you are drained.

"You think `how can I come back again?'"

The turning point for Montgomery - and the other 19 players in the North lineup - came five hours after the siren went to signal a draw against the Magpies.

Coach Ron Barassi's men attended North's post-match function and the "Supercoach" of the 1970s appealed to his players' sense of history.

"The meeting was about 10 o'clock that night," Montgomery recalled.

Barassi told the Kangaroos players they had been presented with a great opportunity.

"We went from being dead on our feet and really flat to looking forward to the game, you could just feel the energy coming back," Montgomery said.

"You walked out of the room with your head held high, the testosterone going, it's a great feeling."

That feeling is something Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse and St Kilda coach Ross Lyon will want to tap into. While Lyon and his men avoided their post-game function last week, Malthouse made a stirring speech to Collingwood's faithful.

Barassi's speech helped lift Montgomery, but the wiry defender had plenty of reasons to give it his best shot in the replay.

Montgomery lined up on the half-back flank in North's losing grand final side against Richmond in 1974.

He missed North's emotional first flag in 1975 because of an ankle injury and a year later he was set to play in the grand final side against Hawthorn, only to break down with a hamstring strain on the track during grand final week.

"I missed two grand finals in a row through injury," Montgomery said.

After the drawn grand final, North had played on the big stage four years in a row and Montgomery was still without a flag, although there was a replay to come against Collingwood on October 1, 1977.

"In finals there are lots of motivations. I ended up having a very good run in finals and semi-finals," Montgomery said.

"I think I went out being regarded as a big-game player."

The first drawn VFL/AFL grand final came in 1948 when inaccuracy was a big factor. Essendon kicked 7.27 (69) to tie with Melbourne 10.9 (69). Jack Mueller, brought out of retirement for the finals, kicked six in the replay for the Demons, who won by 39 points.

Fans waited 29 years to see another drawn grand final when North Melbourne's goalkicking woes led to a deadlock with Collingwood, 9.22 (76) to the Magpies' 10.16 (76).

North half-forward Arnold Briedis had 11 shots at goal in the drawn grand final and failed to kick a major.

A week later the fiery forward bagged five goals in a 27-point triumph for the Kangaroos, 21.25 (151) to 19.10 (124).

"It was a big turnaround," Montgomery said of Briedis.

"It just gelled. We were on song, but it was still a tough game.

"We all believed we would win. We just thought we were a good team in good form.

"Whoever goes out there believing they're going to win, will win."

Montgomery was matched-up on Collingwood's Graeme Anderson, who kicked a goal in the drawn game and another a week later.

One of the few Collingwood highlights in the replay was Phil Manassa's famous goal on the run after bursting clear in defence and sprinting down the wing.

Montgomery recalls playing a blinder in the 1978 preliminary final, shutting down the dangerous Manassa.

The former North Melbourne chief executive (1990-94) runs a house-boat business in Echuca but in 1977 he was an accountant and he took this methodical approach into grand final week.

"Grand finals are about controlling nerves and not losing energy in the lead-up to the game," he said.

"It's all about taking your best out onto the ground and producing your best.

"Some blokes used to bottle it (lose their nerve) before big games.

"I'm not excitable. I suppose my strength was control of nerves.

"I followed the same routine, sleeping patterns, everything.

"Collingwood (under coach Tom Hafey) apparently trained very hard the following week. Barass gave us a very light week," Montgomery added.

"His view was we were fit."

Montgomery says he can't speak for the current Magpies side, but back in the 1970s the phrase "Colliwobbles" was always around.

"In our side, we did think there were Colliwobbles (at Collingwood)," Montgomery said.

The Magpies had lost three grand finals in the 1960s and another in 1970.

"There was always banter about it. If it got close, they (Collingwood) would worry about it," Montgomery said.

But Montgomery was quick to reassure Magpies fans about Saturday's replay against St Kilda.

"It shouldn't carry into the next generation," he said.

"A couple of those Collingwood players (Alan Didak and Leon Davis) would have played in the 2002 and 2003 losing grand final sides.

"I don't know how it affects the current side.

"But St Kilda would be thinking `maybe'."

Montgomery is however tipping Collingwood.

"They've been the best team all year," he said.

"But geez it's a mental game."

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