With West Coast celebrating their 30th year in the AFL competition, The Eagle Eye are counting down the top 30 moments, games, highs and lows in club history.
Here is 15-11.
15. Sumich’s 100
A big part of the Eagles dominant 1991 season was due to the record-breaking season of Peter Sumich that year. The West Coast full forward became the first Eagle to boot 100 goals in a season, and remains the only Eagle to ever do so.
Sumich was also the first left-footer to ever kick 100 goals, registering the milestone goal in the Eagles semi-final win over Melbourne at Waverley Park. Sumich would end the year with 111.89, highlighting his scoring prowess that season.
In 12 of 25 games, Sumich would have eight scoring shots or more and had inaccuracy not plagued in some games, could easily have taken out the Coleman, which was won by Tony Lockett with 132. Against the Cats in Round 5, Sumich booted 8.7 and then 5.8 in the return game against Geelong later in the year. Sumich also kicked 6.6 against the Bombers, 3.6 in the loss to the Blues at Princes Park and a club record 0.6 against the Swans – the most behinds kicked by an Eagle without a goal!
However, the crowning night of Sumich’s year was his 13 goals in the whitewash of the Bulldogs, which included 7 goals in the third quarter alone. His game haul would remain the most by an Eagle until it was overtaken by Scott Cummings in 2000.
Sumich’s career finished at the close of 1997, as persistent hamstring injuries through the final three seasons curtailed his impact. Sumich retired after 150 games, having booted 514 goals, which still remains the most ever kicked by a player for West Coast.
14. West Coast First Final – EF 1988 v Melbourne
In just their second season, the Eagles would create history when they made the top five and qualified for their first finals series.
Under new coach John Todd, the Eagles built on their strong debut season, which netted 11 wins and a respectable seventh position. Todd, a champion coach at WAFL level, took over from inaugural coach Ron Alexander, and with a good blend of experienced VFL players and young future champions, the Eagles won seven of their last eight games to finish 4th.
Under the Top Five system, the Eagles were drawn against the 5th-placed Demons in the Elimination Final. Despite finishing the higher of the two teams, the rules stipulated that West Coast play their ‘home’ final at Waverley.
The Eagles started the better of the two sides, and at half-time led by 22 points, having held the Demons to just two goals in the first two quarters. However, it was a different Melbourne side after the main break, as they piled on six goals to none to turn the game and take a 14 point lead into the last quarter.
The young Eagles seemed to be showing the strain of finals pressure, but they weren’t done with yet.
Andrew Lockyer was shifted to the forward line with immediate dividends, before Ross Glendinning booted two in succession to have West Coast back in front. Melbourne took back the lead through goals to David Williams and Andy Lovell, before David Hart again restored West Coast’s advantage.
It seemed as though it would be enough, before Alan Johnson – the clear best on ground – set up Garry Lyon to hook around his body from the goal square and give Melbourne a three point lead. Famously, as the clock ticked down into the final seconds, Murray Wrensted had the chance to win the game, but missed with his shot from 30m out, and West Coast went down by two points.
Ross Glendinning capped off a fine season with five of the Eagles 10 goals of the afternoon, to end the year with 73 majors. Steve Malaxos would finish with 33 disposals and a goal, while John Worsfold had 26 possessions.
Melbourne would launch their finals run from this escape, going all the way to the Grand Final, but for West Coast it would be the first taste of the finals success that lay around the corner.
13. First Win in Melbourne
In the Eagles debut season, an opening round win against Richmond had been followed by two close losses to Essendon and Sydney, before being thrashed in round 4 by Carlton to the tune of 87 points. A week later the Eagles returned to Princes Park to take on the reigning premiers Hawthorn and would record their first ever win in Melbourne.
The Hawks were quite rightly favourites, but were unable to shake the new side in the competition all day. Hawthorn led by 7 points at the first change, after a rather high-scoring quarter, before West Coast took the lead into the main break with a three-goal to one 2nd quarter.
The Eagles still held a slender five point lead with one quarter to play, and despite everything that was thrown at them by Hawthorn, did enough to win by 12 points and shock the 1986 champions. In an indication of the historic moment of that win, only four of the 20 players that took the field for West Coast had played more than five games!
The star of the afternoon for the Eagles was Chris Mainwaring in just his third game. Matched up against the 1986 Brownlow Medallist in Robert Dipierdomenico, Mainwaring tallied 26 disposals and a goal to collect the three votes, while the Hawks wingman had just 10 touches.
Murray Wrensted also picked up 26 possessions and a goal, while John Annear – the most senior player in the side with 113 games experience – had 25 and a goal. In an even spread, 13 players would boot a goal, with Chris Lewis and Don Holmes the only players to register multiple goals, finishing with two each.
It would be the Eagles only win in Victoria in their debut season, but would go down in club history as one of the most memorable. And to prove that the win against the reigning premiers wasn’t a fluke, the Eagles would do the double, defeating Hawthorn later in the year by a point at Subiaco.
12. Drawn Qualifying Final v. Collingwood
After their debut appearance in the finals in 1988, the Eagles had a setback in 1989 when they could only manage seven wins in the season to finish a lowly 11th. This brought about another coaching change when Mick Malthouse became the Eagles third coach in just four seasons.
Malthouse immediately instilled a more defensive mindset in the young team, and the Eagles rebounded from their worst season in their short history, to their best! West Coast won 16 games to finish third behind the Magpies by percentage, and one game off Essendon who took out the minor premiership.
With Essendon granted the bye for finishing top, the Eagles and Magpies clashed at Waverley Park in the Qualifying Final. The match would go down in the history books as one of the great finals finishes, and also instigate a rule change.
Very little separated the sides all day with the Magpies two goal lead at half-time whittled back to two points at three-quarter time.
Brett Heady and Chris Lewis opened the quarter with goals to put West Coast 10 points in front, before Magpie full forward Brian Taylor booted two in quick succession to give the Magpies back the lead. Peter Daicos then kicked one of the wonder goals of the season, with a right-foot checkside from the wrong pocket that seemed to give Collingwood a big enough break.
However, Karl Langdon got one as time-on ticked by, and with 30 seconds remaining, the Eagles trailed by one point. Peter Sumich would have the last kick of the day, but his set shot from the left forward pocket missed to the near side, and the siren sounded with the scores locked at 13.12 (90) apiece.
The result threw the AFL’s finals schedule into chaos, causing the entire series to be pushed back one week. This ultimately led to the decision a few years later of extra time being played for all finals other than the Grand Final, so as not to put teams at a disadvantage with games needing to be replayed.
11. 1994 Grand Final
The 1994 season had been one of retribution for West Coast. After an inconsistent 1993 which saw West Coast bundled out in the semi-finals by Essendon, the Eagles looked to re-assert themselves as the premier side in the competition.
The year started with a small loss to the Bombers in Round 1 before the Eagles would win nine of the next 10 games, with the only blemish a 71 point defeat to Hawthorn at Subiaco. The Eagles reached the top of the ladder in Round 8, and despite a surprise loss to Collingwood at the MCG in Round 14 continued their hold of top spot for much of the year.
In Round 20 they fell to the Hawks for the second time that season, before a Round 22 loss to 2nd-placed Carlton had them relinquish top spot a week later when they had the bye. However, they were able to claim the minor premiership in the final round, courtesy of the Blue’s shock loss to arch-rivals Essendon.
With the McLelland trophy in their grasp, the Eagles then survived a scare against the 8th placed Magpies in the Qualifying Final. The game was controversial for a number of reasons, most notably the reactions of John Worsfold and Mick McGuane after the game, when McGuane dropped a chest mark in the final seconds.
With Subiaco Oval under renovations for the 1995 season, the final was played at the WACA, and on two instances the siren was barely audible for umpires to signal the end of the quarter, both times resulting in Eagle shots on goals.
The two point win was enough for West Coast to enjoy the week’s break and in the preliminary final they welcomed the Demons to town. Melbourne had finished seventh after the home-and-away season, but had thrown the finals series on its head when they upset the 2nd-placed Blues in the opening week.
They then made light work of the Bulldogs in the semi-finals, romping to a 79 point win, with Garry Lyon booting a record 10 goals. However, their fairytale run came to an end at hands of West Coast, who were in no mood to make this a close game.
West Coast controlled the match from the outset, and with Brett Heady booting six goals, the Eagles were rarely troubled after half-time as they scored a 65 point win to book their third grand final in four seasons.
For the second time, their opponents would be Geelong, who had made their way through after a thrilling six point win over North Melbourne. Gary Ablett’s goal after the siren would be the difference, with the Cats having knocked off the Bulldogs in similar fashion via Billy Brownless in the opening week, and then defeating the Blues, despite being seriously undermanned.
Again though, the Eagles would prove too strong for their opposition. The Eagles booted the opening three goals of the game, only for the Cats to take control and kick the next four. A late goal reduced the Cats lead to one point at the first change, and then from there it was all West Coast.
Geelong would only boot four more goals after quarter time – all to Bill Brownless – as the Eagles did as they pleased. Despite being outplayed for much of the afternoon, the Cats were still within reach deep into the third quarter, but goals in quick time to Jason Ball, Brett Heady and Chris Lewis was the game-breaker.
The last quarter was a party for West Coast, as they kicked eight goals to one, to finish with their highest ever score in a final. Tony Evans was the leader with three goals, with a multitude of players hitting the scoreboard.
Dean Kemp would be awarded the Norm Smith medal for best afield, with the midfielder gathering 23 touches and kicking two goals. Guy McKenna also finished with 23 running off half-back, while Don Pyke was the leading possession winner on the ground with 26.
Michael Brennan did the blanketing job on Geelong’s superstar Gary Ablett, holding him to just five disposals and a goal. The Cats were dealt a blow early with Garry Hocking forced from the field due to a corked thigh, although he still was able to return to the game to finish with 20 touches. Paul Couch and Michael Mansfield were Geelong’s best on the day with 21 touches, with Bill Brownless getting the better of Ashley McIntosh to finish with four goals.
For West Coast the Grand Final win would be their second in three years, and deserved reward for a side that was filled with superstars. Many had won their second premiership, although David Hart and David Hynes both got to experience grand final joy after narrowly missing selection in 1992. The 80 point win was symbolic of the Eagles dominance throughout the year and the 1994 flag confirmed the Eagle status as the team of the early 1990’s.
Match Details Saturday 1 October 1994
West Coast 4.3 8.12 12.18 20.23 (143)
Geelong 4.4 5.7 7.12 8.15 (63)
Melbourne Cricket Ground Attendance: 93,860
Best: WC Kemp, McKenna, Pyke, Brennan, Jakovich, Waterman, Evans, Mainwaring
GEE Mansfield, Brownless, Riccardi, Couch, Hocking
Goals: WC Evans 3, Sumich, Waterman, Bond, Kemp, Lewis, Heady, Ball, Wilson 2, Bond.
GEE Brownless 4, Couch, Riccardi, Wills, Ablett.
30. Nic Naitanui Winner After the Siren Rd 8 2013
29. Glen Jakovich Retires
28. West Coast End Brisbane Streak
27. 1999 Qualifying Final v. Western Bulldogs
26. Peter Matera Leaves... Then Stays
25. West Coast Held to One Goal Against Essendon
24. Round 10, 1998 Comeback v. Bulldogs
23. John Worsfold Returns
22. Chris Judd Trade to Carlton
21. Chris Mainwaring's Death
20. Round 10, 2006 Comeback v. Geelong
19. Cummings' Record Haul
18. Judd/Cousins Back-to-Back Brownlows
17. Final Round Brawl
16. Jacket Waving Tradition Is Born