With West Coast celebrating their 30th year in the AFL competition, The Eagle Eye are counting down the top 30 moments in club history.
Here is 30 - 26.
30. Nic Naitanui Winner After the Siren – R8 2013
Nic Naitanui has shown throughout his career at West Coast an ability to bob up for the match-winner, most recently shown in the win against GWS only a few weeks ago. Naitanui also booted three goals in the final quarter in just his 2nd AFL game to give West Coast a rare win in 2009, against the Hawks.
But Naitanui’s most memorable effort came in Round 8 of the 2013 season against the Kangaroos. The Eagles had entered the 2013 season as premiership favourites for many pundits, but the early stages of the season hadn’t fared as well as was hoped. Four losses in the opening five rounds had left West Coast chasing the pack, with star ruckman Nic Naitanui sidelined by injury.
Wins over the Bulldogs and Brisbane started to build momentum for West Coast, before they hosted the Kangaroos on a Friday night at Subiaco. The Kangaroos had the same 3-4 win-loss ratio, and like the Eagles were trying to catch the top eight. North Melbourne got out of the blocks early, leading by 17 points at the first break, but over the next two quarters, the Eagles slowly reeled them in.
With one quarter to play, North Melbourne’s lead was just four points, and the final quarter turned into a titanic tussle. The Eagles hit the front early, but then North Melbourne settled, and with just a minute remaining, clung to a four point lead that seemed to be enough.
Alas, with the ball 60 metres from the Eagles goal, and along the boundary line, Adam Selwood received a somewhat dubious free kick for a high tackle. His long launch towards the Eagles goal sat on a pack, until Nic Naitanui flew through from the back to take a pack mark. The siren blew as Naitanui set himself for the shot at goal, but did little to distract him, as Naitanui’s kick sailed through for the winning goal, sending the home fans and his teammates into raptures.
29. Glen Jakovich Retirement
On the morning of the Round 8 clash against Sydney in 2004, the murmurings started around the city of Perth. As the game drew closer in the afternoon, the rumours were proven true – Glen Jakovich had called time on his glittering career.
Jakovich himself had kept the decision low-key, only announcing to teammates that morning that he was hanging up the boots.
Jakovich had begun his career with West Coast in 1991, and now 14 seasons later it was ending, with Jakovich citing his body wasn’t up to the demands of the rest of the season. At the time of his retirement, no one had played more games for the club than the 276 that Jakovich had represented West Coast in, nor had they won more than his 4 club champion awards.
Most notably, Jakovich would be remembered for his incredible individual battle with North Melbourne superstar Wayne Carey. The match-up is part of folklore, and pitted two giants of the game against one another. Strangely enough though, whoever won the match-up didn’t necessarily win the game, but the contest was always worth the entry price on its own.
In the latter part of his career, Jakovich spent more time forward, and as a result booted his equal-best haul of three goals as the the Eagles got the break on the Swans in the first half and held on for victory. West Coast did their utmost to do the job against Sydney and in a quirky twist of fate, defeated the Swans by 27 points – matching the jumper number that Jakovich wore for the majority of his illustrious career.
28. West Coast End Brisbane Streak
The Brisbane Lions were the dominant side of the early 2000’s, but despite not being at the very top end of the ladder, the Eagles at the time more than matched the star-studded Lions outfit.
In Round 5, 2002, the Lions arrived in Perth on the back of a 20-game winning streak, which included their maiden premiership the year before. West Coast had started the season with two wins from the opening four games, but were yet to make much mark on the competition after a couple of seasons in the doldrums.
The Eagles were in a transitional phase, with the older heads of Peter Matera and Ashley McIntosh, who were at the end of their careers, running with the new breed in Chris Judd, Daniel Kerr and Darren Glass. After an even first half, where the Lions blew a number of chances, the Eagles broke the game open with a five-goal third term. Another six goals in the final quarter saw West Coast claim victory by 46 points over the reigning premiers, ending their streak.
Despite Brisbane claiming the next two premierships, as well as playing in the 2004 Grand Final, the Eagles held the wood over Brisbane during this period. West Coast would win in four of the five encounters between the sides from 2002 to 2004, including two at the GABBA. The best of these wins would be in 2003, when Chris Judd announced himself to the competition with five first-half goals, as West Coast trounced Brisbane by 69 points.
27. 1999 Qualifying Final v. Western Bulldogs
One of the most sterling wins in the history of West Coast came in the fourth qualifying final of 1999 against the Bulldogs. On a blustery night at the MCG, the Eagles reversed a shocking form line to upset the Bulldogs by five points, winning 9.11 (65) to 8.12 (60). Scott Cummings booted a decisive four goals for West Coast, while Glen Jakovich was the master down back leading the way with 28 possessions.
The 1999 season had started as one of promise for West Coast, before falling into a heap towards the end of the season. West Coast had won 8 of their first 9 games, and come the end of Round 15 sat atop the ladder. But just one win in the final eight games of the season – against the bottom placed Collingwood – had derailed the season, as the Eagles tumbled out of the top four to finish the home and away season in fifth.
Much of the focus for the drop in form centred around coach Mick Malthouse, who had been rumoured for much of the second half of the season to be leaving West Coast to return home to Melbourne. Malthouse eventually revealed his plans to return home to coach Collingwood, which did little to straighten the Eagles season.
Under the original system of the top eight, the fifth placed Eagles were drawn to play the fourth-placed Bulldogs, with many giving West Coast any chance of breaking out of their form slump. As well as the unenviable form line going into the game, the Eagles had lost to the Bulldogs a fortnight earlier, so expectations of a West Coast win were low.
But in the blustery conditions, the Eagles broke the game open in a low-scoring clash, with five goals in the 2nd quarter. Cummings booted four first half goals to be the difference and the 16-point half time lead proved too much for the Bulldogs to overcome. West Coast could only manage two goals in the second half, with the Bulldogs throwing everything to steal the game.
The ball was being scrambled upon by a desperate West Coast defence in the Bulldogs forward line as the siren blew, extending a relieved Michael Malthouse’s career at West Coast by one more week.
26. Peter Matera Leaves... Then Stays
Throughout the formative years of West Coast, the Eagles managed to entice a number of Western Australians to head home from Victoria, such as Ross Glendinning, John Annear, Peter Wilson and Paul Harding to name a few, as well as other unsuccessful attempts including Gary Buckenara and Mark Bairstow.
But at the end of the 1997 season, the roles were reversed when the Eagles almost lost a favourite son of their own to a Melbourne side. Peter Matera had just had one of his best seasons at West Coast, claiming the Eagles best and fairest and All-Australian honours, as well as finishing runner up in the Brownlow medal. The Melbourne Demons had survived a merger proposition 12 months earlier, and were now cashed up, looking to land a big fish and had Matera firmly in their sights.
Before the current world of free agency, the move of high-profile players was relatively limited, but with a major contract in front of him, Matera did the unthinkable for most Eagles fans and announced he was joining the Demons via the pre-season draft. Matera denied his intended move was just financially motivated, with a desire to play more games at the MCG and less travel also a factor in his decision.
The magnitude of Matera’s decision was felt across the town and the Eagles went into damage control in the days that followed. Many of the Eagle hierarchy and Matera’s teammates talked to Matera about staying, all under the watchful eye of the West Australian media who were now camped outside Matera’s house.
Ultimately, Matera changed his mind and agreed to stay with West Coast, and although his form never reached the heights of the early 1990’s, Matera finished his 253-game career following the 2002 season as one of the all-time greats of the club.