This moment is the 18th of a virtual series presenting the Bombers' best 30 moments over 150 years, which fans can vote on for their chance to win prizes. Click here to view and vote, and see the schedule and prizes below.
From the moment Simon Madden won the centre hit-out, Darren Williams gathered the loose ball and thumped it to full-forward, and Leon Baker roved Paul Vander Haar’s crumb before snapping the opening goal, some 19 years of pent-up emotion was released in one burst of volume that rocked the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Baker’s sensational goal kickstarted a final-quarter procession that saw Essendon, having trailed by 23 points at three-quarter time, pile on a then-record nine goals to overrun Hawthorn and end the longest premiership drought in the club’s history.
Having fallen short in each of his first three seasons at the helm, including an embarrassing 83-point defeat to the Hawks in the 1983 Grand Final, it was coach Kevin Sheedy’s ability to motivate his players and rejig his line-up throughout the ’84 Grand Final that secured him the first of four premierships he would win as coach of the Bombers. The moves of interstate recruits Bill Duckworth (from West Perth) and Paul Weston (Glenelg), from defence to the forward line, were particularly pivotal, with Duckworth winning the Norm Smith Medal as the most influential player afield.
Sheedy also sent captain Terry Daniher to defence, with Baker and Peter Bradbury joining Duckworth and Weston up forward. Importantly, a refreshed Madden, who had spent the third quarter seated on the interchange bench because he was, in his words, playing “like an old chook”, was thrown back into the ruck, and Williams was tasked with negating the influence of the Hawks’ prime mover Terry Wallace. All Sheedy’s moves returned immediate dividends, beginning with that Baker goal.
Duckworth, one of Essendon’s most adored players, recalled, “Sheeds was of the belief that Hawthorn were starting to tire a bit, and he said that if we get the first goal of the last quarter, we might be able to get on a bit of a roll and get some momentum, and that’s what happened. Everyone got excited and we started to kick away, and we probably could have gone another quarter after we got on that roll, because nothing was going to stop us.”
Despite only playing 86 games for the Bombers, Baker - recruited to Windy Hill just months earlier from Western Australian club Swan Districts - holds a special place in club history for his remarkable performances in both the 1984 and 1985 Grand Finals. But of all his 70 goals in red and black, it was the one he scored at the start of the final quarter in the 1984 decider that all Essendon supporters remember best.
“Everything seemed to just click after that and, once we got a run on, we just controlled the ball," Daniher said.
Fittingly, that ball was in Daniher’s hands when the final siren sounded, starting the biggest party the people of Essendon had ever seen.
SCHEDULE OF MOMENTS
Round 1 (launching May 6) - 1872-1939
Round 2 (launching May 10) - 1940-1959
Round 3 (launching May 15) - 1960-1979
Round 4 (launching May 20) - 1980-1989
Round 5 (launching May 25) - 1990-1999
Round 6 (launching May 30) - 2000-2021
Round 7 (launching June 4) - Finals round
Round 1 – One 2022 merchandise pack, including an Essendon New Era Black on Black 9FORTY Snapback cap ($40) and an Essendon Heritage Bar Scarf ($30)
Round 2 – One Essendon Fibre of Football Scarf ($80)
Round 3 - One Essendon Football Club 150-year anniversary commemorative mosaic ($295)
Round 4 – One Essendon Football Club 150-year anniversary commemorative mosaic ($295)
Round 5 – One 2022 team-signed guernsey ($500)
Round 6 – One copy of the Red & Black Collection special 150th anniversary book ($329)
Round 7 – One copy of the Red & Black Collection special 150th anniversary book ($329) and one 2022 team-signed guernsey ($500)