The 1999 AFL Grand Final was an Australian rules football game contested between the North Melbourne Kangaroos and the Carlton Blues at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on 25 September 1999. It was the 103rd annual Grand Final of the Australian Football League (formerly the Victorian Football League), staged to determine the premiers for the 1999 AFL season. The match, attended by 94,228 spectators, was won by North Melbourne by a margin of 35 points (the second consecutive year in which the premiership decider was determined by that margin). It was North Melbourne's fourth premiership victory.
This was the Kangaroos' second consecutive appearance in a Grand Final, whilst it was Carlton's first since winning the 1995 AFL Grand Final.
It was not the Grand Final matchup that was widely anticipated prior to the finals, with the top placed Essendon Bombers clearly the standout team of the home & away season and heavily backed to reach the Grand Final against another top four aspirant. While the second placed Kangaroos filled its end of the bargain to qualify for the premiership playoff, the sixth placed Carlton Blues upset the Bombers to qualify as their Grand Final opponents in one of the biggest boilovers in finals history.
The Kangaroos finished the 1999 home and away season in second position with 17 wins and 5 losses, a game behind Essendon, with the Western Bulldogs, West Coast, Carlton, Port Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney making up the final eight. Carlton had finished with a record of 12 wins and ten losses, becoming only the second club (after Melbourne in 1900) to reach the Grand Final after finishing sixth on the ladder.
The Kangaroos progressed to the Grand Final after a 45-point win over Brisbane in the Preliminary Final, while Carlton progressed to the Grand Final with the upset one-point win against the heavily favoured minor premiers, Essendon, in their preliminary final. Consequently, the Kangaroos went into the Grand Final as heavy favourites.
Carlton scored the first goal through Brett Ratten, but North Melbourne, who were without suspended defender Jason McCartney, also started well and led by 12 points at quarter time. Then, during the second quarter, ruckman Corey McKernan booted two inspirational goals, the first from 65 metres out and the second from a tight angle just a minute later. The Kangaroos were in control and went into half time with a 20-point lead.
North Melbourne extended their lead in the third quarter; Winston Abraham kicked an easy goal and Carlton midfielder Justin Murphy injured his knee. The Blues managed to reduce the Kangaroos' lead to just 13 points, but that was as close as they could get, as the Kangaroos added goals through McKernan and Shannon Motlop. Gradually wearing down their opponents through intense pressure and tackling, they led by 43 points at three quarter time.
The final quarter was simply a formality for the Kangaroos, eventually triumphing by 35 points. Shannon Grant of the Kangaroos was awarded the Norm Smith Medal for being judged the best player afield. Grant had come under heavy criticism for his performance in the previous grand final, which the Kangaroos had lost.
As of 2016, this was the last time either Carlton or the Kangaroos have appeared in a Grand Final.
While Carlton's unexpected feat of reaching the Grand Final in 1999 has undoubtably gone into Australian Football folklore, the finals system of the time was widely critisised for allowing a team that had finished as low as sixth to reach the Grand Final after losing its first finals match. Carlton were beaten by the Brisbane Lions in the qualifying final, yet still progressed to the second week of the finals to play the West Coast Eagles. This match, which was won by Carlton, also created alot of controversy as the Eagles, who subsequently finished a place higher than Carlton and won its first finals match, had earned the right to host the final in Perth, yet were forced to play the match at the MCG due to a contractual agreement with the AFL that required at least one match to be played at that venue every week of the finals.
The AFL acted quickly, and in season 2000 the finals system was changed, requiring the need for teams that finished between 5th-8th after the home & away season needing to win all their finals matches to reach the Grand Final (a loss in any week would see them eliminated). The MCG finals contract was also renegotiated, with only the Grand Final to be committed to the MCG, freeing up higher ranked teams to be able to host finals matches in their home state should they be entitled to. This finals system has been in place ever since, with only one team since reaching the Grand Final from below 4th position (The Western Bulldogs in 2016, who ultimately went on to win the premiership).