The 1991 AFL Grand Final was an Australian rules football game contested between the Hawthorn Football Club and West Coast Eagles, held at Waverley Park in Melbourne on 28 September 1991. It was the 95th annual Grand Final of the Australian Football League (formerly the Victorian Football League), staged to determine the premiers for the 1991 AFL season. The match, attended by a smaller-than-usual crowd of 75,230 spectators, was won by Hawthorn by a margin of 53 points, marking that club's ninth premiership victory.
Reconstruction work at the larger Melbourne Cricket Ground, where most Grand Finals had been played since 1902, meant that the game was played at Waverley Park, marking the first and only time that this stadium hosted a premiership decider. The match was also the first Grand Final to feature a team (West Coast) based outside the state of Victoria.
Hawthorn had played the Grand Final in seven of the previous eight seasons, having most recently won the 1989 VFL Grand Final, while West Coast was playing in its first Grand Final ever, having entered the competition just four years previously. The Eagles came into the game as strong favourites, having played through the entire 1991 season as the leading team in the competition in which they won their first 12 games and finished three games clear on top of the ladder with a 19-3 record, earning their first McClelland Trophy. Hawthorn had finished second with a record of 16 wins and 6 losses. Though starting the season slowly, losing five of their first 11 games, they lost just one more game for the rest of the home and away season. The Eagles defeated the Hawks in both their home-and-away encounters during the season, by 82 points at Princes Park in round 7 and 24 points at Subiaco Oval in round 22.
In the lead-up to the Grand Final, Hawthorn defeated West Coast by 23 points at Subiaco the Qualifying Final. The Eagles subsequently defeated Melbourne by 38 points in the First Semi-Final, while Hawthorn defeated Geelong by two points in the Second Semi-Final, sending the Hawks to the Grand Final. The Eagles defeated Geelong by 15 points in the Preliminary Final to take their place in the premiership decider.
The game was played with what appeared as a four-goal breeze towards the main scoreboard end. West Coast captain John Worsfold won the toss and kicked with the wind, his team beginning the game strongly before fading later in the final quarter.
The ball moved up and down the field before the first of two 50 metre penalties by Chris Langford against Peter Sumich allowing Sumich to kick the first goal after ten minutes. A second penalty by Langford after a Sumich mark gave Sumich his second goal. A snap from Peter Wilson in the pocket followed by a relay free kick to Brett Heady stretched the margin out to four goals. A minute later Paul Dear ran into an open goal to give the Hawks their first. After the Hawks scored four behinds Sumich marked and kicked his third goal from outside 60 metres. Jason Dunstall scored a goal from a Ben Allan centreline clearance, then again Dunstall scored his second for the term from a free kick on the siren. The Eagles lead was nine points at the first change.
With Hawthorn now kicking with the breeze, Dear marked consecutive kick ins and started dominating at Centre Half Forward. Goals to Dear and Darrin Pritchard saw the Hawks take the lead. After a couple more behinds from the Hawks, Tony Hall snapped a goal and the Hawthorn lead was fourteen points. Paul Hudson added the Hawks sixth unanswered goal before the Eagles, through Sumich and Chris Lewis, reduced the Hawks' lead to ten points at the main break.
Both teams went goal for goal in this term, and the margin at three-quarter time was still ten points in Hawthorn's favour. Hawthorn had Stephen Lawrence winning the hit outs, and a dominating midfield negated any wind assistance the Eagles may have had. Heady kicked three goals for the quarter and Hawthorn's Dermott Brereton two.
The Hawks blew the game open in the final term, kicking eight goals to one. Brereton took two marks in the goal square in the first three minutes to put the Hawks 23 points ahead. Four later goals to Dunstall and one to Sumich saw the Hawks win by 53 points.
The Norm Smith Medal was awarded to Hawthorn's Paul Dear for being judged the best player afield, with 26 disposals and 2 goals playing off a half-forward flank.
West Coast coach Michael Malthouse said after the game that "Hawthorn had been first to the ball and clearly won in the air".
Hawthorn's experience was seen as the decisive factor in their victory, and sparked a new club T-shirt: "Too old. Too slow. Too good." (Some commentators had previously thought the Hawks were 'too old and too slow' to ever win another premiership.) Hawthorn defender Gary Ayres made sarcastic reference to this in his post-match interview.
By failing to win the Grand Final, West Coast tied the record for the most home and away wins by a non-Premier (matching the record of 19 wins set by Collingwood in 1973). This record was subsequently broken by Geelong in 2008.
Hawthorn's flag closed a period in which the club won five premierships in nine years. The game also represented the final game of VFL/AFL football played by Michael Tuck. His record includesMost games by a player: 426
Most premierships by a player: 7
Most Grand finals by a player: 11
Most finals by a player: 39
Oldest Premiership player: 38 years, 95 days.
Hawthorn's next premiership would not come until 17 years later, when it defeated the 2008 season's most dominant team, Geelong, in the Grand Final. West Coast did not have to wait long for a maiden flag, defeating Geelong in the 1992 AFL Grand Final.
The two teams would not meet in another Grand Final again until 2015, with the Hawks again winning that encounter.
The day was also memorable for the half-time entertainment which featured a parade of sporting celebrities in Ford Capris, and Angry Anderson singing "Bound for Glory" on a pseudo-Batmobile with a bemused Robert de Castella sitting next to him. The entertainment has been the subject of derision, and footage of the performance featured in a 2008 Carlton and United Breweries satirical television advertisement, with the caption stating that "CUB is a proud supporter of AFL footy since 1877 (except for 1991)".Hawthorn: Dunstall 6, Brereton 4, Dear 2, Hudson 2, Pritchard 2, Anderson 1, Condon 1, Hall 1, Morrissey 1
West Coast: Sumich 5, Heady 4, Lewis 2, Pyke 1, Wilson 1
Hawthorn: Dear, Lawrence, Morrissey, Condon, Jencke, Brereton, Mew
West Coast: McKenna, Heady, Mainwaring, Matera, Pyke, Sumich
Condon (Haw), striking Worsfold
Lawrence (Haw) striking Matera
West Coast: Wilson (corked thigh)