Brian Wilson (Melbourne)
Carlton coach David Parkin
BACK TO: Season Reviews 2
A Review of the 1982 Football Season
Glenelg's Tony McGuinness
VFL: Carlton Go Back to Back
The 1970s were a major period of transition for football, and in particular its most prestigious and elite platform for exposure, the VFL. Social and economic developments were having increasingly direct effects upon the on field expression of the game. Clubs were, of necessity, becoming more professional, and this led to longer training hours for players, more meticulous planning on the part of coaches, and a corresponding improvement in the standard of the spectacle afforded by Australian football. Conversely, many clubs were over-stretching themselves in their attempts to compete and maintain their profiles in an increasingly diverse and complex market.
The VFL management itself was acutely conscious of these developments and of the desirability of expanding so as to impact more on the national rather than just the state market. An interstate match between Victoria and South Australia was scheduled for the SCG in 1974 in an attempt to promote the game in New South Wales. Five years later a game for premiership points between the previous season's VFL grand finalists, Hawthorn and North Melbourne, drew 31,291 spectators to the same ground, while a succession of follow up games also proved popular.
Gradually, the school of thought was developing that, if the VFL was to continue to prove viable in an ever-expanding market, it had to establish a niche for itself in Australia's largest city, Sydney. Rumours of cash-strapped Fitzroy being offered financial incentives to re-locate to the Harbour City began to emerge.
In the end, however, it was South Melbourne and not the Lions who grasped the nettle and, in 1981, after protracted and bitter internal wrangling involving officials, coaching staff, players and supporters, made an agreement with the VFL whereby, in 1982, they would play 11 matches at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The basic reason for the move was, predictably, economic, but its effects were much more widespread: many ardent followers of the sport of Australian football were lost to the code, while innumerable others were rendered bitter and cynical and lost all confidence in the league.
Initially, the move to Sydney was somewhat less than a full scale re-location. The players still lived and trained in Melbourne but travelled to Sydney every fortnight to play their “home” matches. This may in part explain why the residents of the Harbour City appeared to have some difficulty identifying with 'their' new team, which for the 1982 season was labelled simply the Swans. Crowds were much lower than anticipated and sponsorship was proving unexpectedly difficult to procure. By the end of the year the club was more than $1.5 million in debt and, from a financial point of view, the move could justifiably be termed a disaster.
Shortly after Carlton’s 1981 premiership triumph club coach Parkin turned his thoughts to the problem which had beset Carlton sides for three quarters of a century: how to remain on top after getting there. "We can win another flag in 1982," he insisted, "but the application of everyone in Carlton, on and off the field, must surpass that of yesterday because the challenge of tomorrow will demand it".
The coach's words proved prophetic. In an evenly contested season the Blues finished the home and away rounds in third place before negotiating a tortuous route to the grand final which included a worryingly mediocre performance against Richmond in the second semi final. (Richmond won by 23 points.) A comfortable 13.16 (94) to 8.15 (63) preliminary final defeat of Hawthorn went some way toward restoring the players' confidence but Carlton still went into the grand final re-match with the Tigers as underdogs. Clearly thriving on the challenge, however, the Blues played inspirational football, and despite trailing briefly in both the second and third quarters managed to establish a 17 point break by the last change. Richmond then rallied to get within 5 points early in the final stanza and Carlton were forced to defend desperately for a period before Bosustow goaled to provide a bit of breathing space. Still Richmond would not give in, but the Blues' defence somehow managed to withstand everything that was hurled at it. When Alex Marcou kicked truly just before time on the game was effectively won, while a further goal to McConville shortly afterwards made final the margin a trifle flattering. Norm Smith Medallist Maurice Rioli's last minute goal did nothing to alter the result but did at least make the final scoreline a truer reflection of the closeness of the game. Carlton won 14.19 (103) to 12.13 (85) with 107,537 people in attendance. Back pocket Val Perovic, half forward flanker Wayne Johnston - a perennially outstanding finals performer - ruckman Mike Fitzpatrick, rover Alex Marcou, wingman Wayne Harmes, and half back flanker Ken Hunter were among the Blues' best in an even team performance.
Richmond headed the premiership ladder at the conclusion of the minor round, but is perhaps significant that 2 of their 4 losses came at the hands of Carlton. Nevertheless, when the two sides met in the second semi final it was Richmond all the way, and their ultimate advantage of 23 points scarcely reflected the scale of their dominance. This meant that the Tigers went into the grand final re-match between the clubs as odds on favourites but, as described above, the Blues proved too strong. As so often proves to be the case the dominant team during the home and away rounds failed to come up with the goods when it mattered.
After three indifferent seasons Hawthorn, under the inspired coaching of Allan Jeans, were again flexing their muscles without really marking themselves out as a genuine premiership threat - yet. Second after the minor round, the Hawks began their finals campaign with a qualifying final clash with Carlton at the MCG before a somewhat disappointing crowd of 70,552. After an even first half the Blues pulled away to score an emphatic victory by 58 points, 25.13 (163) to 16.9 (105). The following week’s first semi final encounter with North Melbourne was also played at the MCG, and it too was poorly attended. Moreover, it proved to be a similar game to the qualifying final, albeit that it was Hawthorn who surged to victory after a closely fought first half. Final scores were Hawthorn 24.22 (166) defeated North 18.6 (114).
The preliminary final meeting of Hawthorn and Carlton at VFL Park proved to be the lowest scoring match of the finals but the Blues’ eventual triumph was no less emphatic for that. After another evenly contested first half Carlton rattled on 13 goals to 5 over the remaining two quarters to win by 31 points, 13.16 (94) to 8.15 (63). It had been a somewhat unkempt game with both teams routinely conceding fifteen metre penalties in an attempt to disrupt the opposition’s flow but there could be no disputing Carlton’s right to progress to the grand final.
After finishing eighth in 1981 North Melbourne improved significantly to qualify for the finals in fifth place. Once there, they achieved a relatively comfortable elimination final victory over Essendon, leading all day en route to a 19.14 (128) to 16.19 (115) triumph. As mentioned above though Hawthorn in the first semi final proved much too strong and North’s finals foray was over.
The VFL’s top goal kicker in 1982 was North’s Malcolm Blight, who registered 103 goals. Blight’s career is summarised in the review of the 1978 football season.
For the third time in four seasons Essendon qualified for the finals only to stumble at the first hurdle. Elimination final opponents North Melbourne got the jump on the Bombers with a 6 goals to 1 opening term but the Kangas refused to give in, and despite trailing at every change they fought back in the last quarter to level the scores at the half way mark. North, however, managed to shift up a gear, and they pulled away to prevail by 13 points. From an Essendon perspective, disappointing though the loss was, it provided a useful lesson in the demands of finals football to the likes of Tim Watson, Terry Daniher, Glen Hawker, Tony Buhagiar, Gary Foulds, Shane Heard, Paul Van der Haar, Roger Merrett and Simon Madden. It was a lesson that would be fully heeded in the imminent future.
Fitzroy made a genuine and audacious bid for finals involvement but ultimately fell a win and a draw short. Among their best performances came in their two clashes with both Collingwood and Hawthorn. The Lions downed the ‘Pies by 3 points at Victoria Park in round six and by 20 points at VFL Park in round sixteen. Against the Hawks they were successful by a couple of goals at Junction Oval in round seven and by 47 points in round seventeen at VFL Park.
Following their decision - one might call it an enforced decision - to play 11 home league matches at the SCG South Melbourne were renamed Swans. Under the new name the side proved hard to beat at home, and overall did rather better than in 1981 when they had managed just 8 wins and finished ninth. Swans ended up with a 12-10 record in 1982, good enough for seventh position, and 4 wins superior to eighth placed Melbourne. Crowds at the SCG averaged just 15,993, the lowest in the competition, and the club’s financial woes were by no means eradicated. Nevertheless there was some reason for celebration among Swans supporters as the team won the VFL’s night competition for the first time since 1960. In front of 20,028 spectators at VFL Park they accounted for North Melbourne in the competition final by 32 points, 13.12 (90) to 8.10 (58).
Melbourne managed 8 wins in 1982, a significant improvement over a 1981 season when a solitary victory consigned them to the wooden spoon. All of the Demons’ wins in 1982 came at the expense of non-finalists.
After failing to impress in 9 games over two seasons at Footscray Brian Wilson crossed to North Melbourne in 1980 and suddenly hit his straps. He played 39 games in two years with the 'Roos, but then was surprisingly off-loaded to Melbourne, where, playing in the centre, he promptly produced the best football of his career to win the Brownlow Medal. Thereafter, he never quite managed to recapture the same level of performance on a consistent basis, but he remained a serviceable footballer for the Demons in 154 VFL games over nine seasons. Later in his career he played a good deal of football as a specialist forward pocket, and his tally of 208 goals affords evidence that he was a success in the role. Wilson's last port of call was St Kilda where he played 7 games and kicked 16 goals in 1991.
One win adrift of Melbourne, in ninth place on the ladder, came an extraordinarily inconsistent Geelong. Moderately successful at home, the Cats were simply execrable on their travels. They opened the season with a slashing 88 point defeat of Collingwood at VFL Park but thereafter tended to blow cold far more often than hot. Nevertheless, in addition to their mauling of Collingwood the Cats did manage upset wins against North (twice) and Carlton.
After making the 1981 grand final Collingwood suffered a dramatic slump, plummeting down the list to tenth after winning just 4 games. In terms of matches won it was the Magpies’ worst season since world war two.
Unlike Collingwood, eleventh placed St Kilda and twelfth placed Footscray were accustomed to performing dismally. The Saints won just 4 matches, and the Bulldogs 3. The last time Footscray had finished at the foot of the premiership ladder was in 1959.
WAFL: A Swans Surge
As reigning WAFL grand finalists Swan Districts qualified to participate in the VFL's night competition, the Escort Cup, in 1982, and they performed well to defeat Glenelg 21.14 (140) to 15.12 (102) and Collingwood 13.9 (87) to 11.11 (77) - away from home in both cases - to qualify for the quarter finals. However, when the competition's organisers, AFC Pty. Ltd., made an unscheduled change to the fixtures the Swans responded by sending a reserve team to Melbourne to contest the quarter final against Richmond. Not surprisingly, the Tigers advanced to the semi finals with some comfort, and from an objective standpoint the upshot of it all was that Swans ended up being debarred from entry to the competition until 1985. Subjectively, however, the upshot was rather more favourable: coach Todd used the incident to whip up a fervour and a resolve among his players that would not be satisfied by anything less than the 1982 WAFL premiership.
With 16 wins in the minor round Swans went into the finals second to Claremont on percentage but the fact that Claremont shared an emblem - the Tiger - with Richmond probably made Todd's task of motivating his players that much easier. Swan Districts were seldom in any trouble against the Tigers in either the second semi final (won 14.26 to 12.10) or the grand final (won 18.19 to 11.12 in front of a crowd of 50,883) and duly recorded their fourth flag. Itinerant centreman Leon Baker vied with half back flanker Graham Melrose (Simpson Medal) for best afield honours, while full back Tom Mullooly, utility Alan Sidebottom, wingman Phil Narkle and rover Mike Richardson also shone.
Abundantly skilled, and with pace to burn, there have been few more exhilarating sights in football than that of Swan Districts' wingman Phil Narkle surging into the forward lines at full throttle. Sadly, he was prevented by injury from displaying the full scope of his virtuosity as often as he - and legions of football supporters, both in West Australia, and throughout the country - would have liked.
After winning the Medallists Medal for fairest and best in the WANFL colts competition in 1977, Narkle made his league debut with Swans the following year. His fleetness of foot, sure ball handling, and superb evasive ability immediately marked him out as a player with a big future, and over the next few years he became one of the bulwarks on which coach John Todd gradually constructed a champion side.
Always conspicuous owing to the helmet he wore after sustaining concussion five times in his debut season, Narkle caught the umpires' eyes repeatedly in 1982 to land the Sandover Medal. He was also among the best players afield in that year's grand final as Swans trounced Claremont.
After playing in a second successive premiership team the following year, Narkle headed east where he joined St Kilda. His first couple of seasons with the Saints saw his performances undermined by injury, but in his third and final season he played consistently well. The following year saw him back in the west with newly formed VFL club West Coast, for whom he would manage just 18 games in three injury impeded seasons. He did manage a memorable performance for West Australia, however, earning All Australian selection in 1987 after being close to best afield in a narrow home loss against the Victorians.
At his best, Phil Narkle was as scintillating to watch as any footballer of the past thirty years. Had recurrent injury problems not undermined his effectiveness just as he was approaching his peak, he might well be remembered today as one of the greatest wingmen of all time.
Claremont won 16 out of 21 home and away matches in 1982 to secure the minor premiership ahead of Swan Districts on percentage. The Tigers had won 2 out of 3 minor round clashes with Swans, but on second semi final day they were comprehensively outdone, with only some wayward kicking for goal by the victors preventing a massacre. Claremont bounced back a week later in the preliminary final when they accounted for West Perth by 38 points, 18.23 (131) to 15.13 (103), but in the grand final rematch with Swans the Tigers were again outgunned. In front of 50,883 spectators at Subiaco Oval Swan Districts led at every change by 20, 35 and 65 points before easing home by a 49 point margin.
Claremont full forward Warren Ralph booted 115 goals in 1982 to top the league’s goal kicking list for the second consecutive time. Ralph is profiled in the review of the 1981 season.
Third placed West Perth won 15 minor round games to qualify for the finals for the first time since 1978. The Cardinals then resoundingly accounted for arch rivals East Perth in the first semi final. Scores were West Perth 27.18 (180) defeated East Perth 16.16 (112), a margin of 68 points. However, in the preliminary final a fortnight later reigning premiers Claremont proved much too strong.
The Cardinals achieved some noteworthy wins in 1982 including a 10 point defeat of Claremont in round seven and a 62 point victory over Swans in round ten. They also amassed the season’s highest score of 30.15 (195) in disposing of South Fremantle by 113 points in round two.
East Perth clinched their place in the finals with a 25.15 (165) to 12.16 (88) round twenty-one defeat of Subiaco. This gave them 13 wins for the season, 1 more than achieved by South Fremantle who went down to Swan Districts on the same afternoon.
The WAFL was a somewhat lop-sided competition in 1982, with the top five sides substantially superior to the bottom three. That bottom three comprised East Fremantle (8 wins), Perth (3 wins) and Subiaco (1 win). The highlight of Old Easts’ season came in their opening fixture when they merged triumphant from a titanic tussle with Swan Districts. In front of 9,338 spectators at Swans’ home ground of Bassendean Oval East Fremantle edged home by 7 points, 23.17 (155) to 20.28 (148). Other than a 2 goal defeat of West Perth in round five there were no further successes against sides from the top four.
Perth’s victories all came at the expense of Subiaco, in rounds two, nine and sixteen, while Subiaco’s solitary success was achieved in round seventeen against East Fremantle. A meagre crowd of 3,350 attended this fixture which was played at Subiaco Oval. Meanwhile, at Leederville, the match of the day between West Perth and Swans attracted 15,695 fans.
SANFL: Rise of the Redlegs
In 1982 the Norwood Football Club was incontrovertibly regarded as a member of what was widely perceived as South Australian football's “Big Four’” along with Glenelg, Port Adelaide and Sturt. Between them these four clubs won every SANFL premiership between 1974 and 1982 and occupied 17 out of 18 grand final places, with the Redlegs' record during that period second only to Port Adelaide.
It had been Port Adelaide who stood in Norwood's way when the Redlegs, coached by former Richmond identity Neil Balme, had taken part in the 1980 grand final, and, despite a tenacious effort for three quarters by the men from the Parade, it was ultimately the Magpies who prevailed.
It was to be a much different story in 1982. With Neil Balme still at the helm, and having qualified for the major round in third spot, Norwood enjoyed an uninterrupted procession to the flag with finals wins over Sturt (by 8 points), Port Adelaide (by 19 points) and, in an anti-climactic grand final, Glenelg (by 62 points). The win against the Tigers was closely fought for much of the first half but after the long break the Redlegs outscored their opponents 13.8 to 6.10. Garry McIntosh, a player who would develop into one of Norwood's greatest ever servants, was best afield in the grand final, with sterling support coming from Turbil, Jenkins, Neagle, Winter, Thiel and Stemper.
Glenelg’s defeat in the grand final might, in part, have been attributable to leg weariness. The Bays finished the minor round in fourth spot on the premiership ladder with 13 wins and a draw from their 22 home and away games and then embarked on a series of 4 gruelling finals over as many weeks. In the elimination final against Centrals they led at every change by 4, 35 and 45 points before easing to victory by 50 points, 19.21 (135) to 12.13 (85). The first semi final then pitted Glenelg against Sturt and once again the Bays led almost throughout en route to a 15.17 (107) to 9.18 (72) success. An even sterner challenge followed a week later in the preliminary final when the Bays faced minor premiers Port Adelaide who had won the recent round twenty-two clash between the sides by 7 goals. This time, however, Glenelg emerged triumphant, albeit that the Magpies’ accuracy when kicking for goal gave rise to a somewhat deceptively close finish - as close, in fact, as it is possible to get. Final scores were Glenelg 13.12 (90) defeated Port 14.5 (89). It was without doubt the highlight of the Bays’ season for, as mentioned above, when confronted by the exuberant pace and skill of a Norwood side who had peaked at exactly the right time, they competed for the first quarter and a half and then wilted.
Glenelg did have one slight cause for celebration as they downed Port Adelaide by 13 points in the final of the SANFL’s night competition.
Dynamic, tireless, direct and pacy, Tony McGuinness was without doubt one of the finest rovers of the past twenty-five years. If he had a weakness it was that he tended to be one-footed - the left - but what a foot it was, whether sending a daisy-cutter down a team mate's throat from a distance of twenty or thirty metres, or bisecting the uprights from a tight angle near the boundary on fifty.
McGuinness wasted no time in making his mark in top level football, winning a Magarey Medal with Glenelg in 1982 while still aged just eighteen. He won the Bays' best and fairest award the same year, and would later also reap the premier individual rewards at Footscray (1987) and Adelaide (1993).
The last of Tony McGuinness' 113 SANFL games with Glenelg was the 1985 grand final in which North Adelaide was despatched to the tune of 57 points. McGuinness' 2 goals in that match brought his career tally with the Tigers to precisely 200.
Between 1986 and 1990 he played a total of 109 V/AFL games for Footscray, amassing 108 goals. With the Crows from 1991 to 1996 he added a further 113 AFL games and 61 goals.
Tony McGuinness returned to Glenelg as non-playing coach from 1998 to 2000 but proved unable to resurrect the fortunes of the once proud club.
Port Adelaide were aiming for a fourth successive flag in 1982 and they gave themselves the perfect platform to achieve it by heading the ladder going into the finals. However, what followed was as surprising as it was inexplicable: against Norwood in the second semi final the Magpies kicked themselves out of contention, managing 31 scoring shots to 25, but losing by 19 points. In the following week’s preliminary final the boot was, as it were firmly on the other foot, with the ‘Pies getting within a point of Glenelg at the death despite having 8 fewer scoring shots.
For the third time in succession, and the fifth time in total, Port’s Tasmanian full forward Tim Evans topped the SANFL’s goal kicking list. He booted 125 goals.
In what was the last of Jack Oatey’s twenty-one season stint as coach of Sturt the Double Blues won 15 of their 22 minor round matches to qualify for the finals in third place. Against Norwood in the qualifying final they led by 13 points at the last change only to wilt when the pressure intensified in the final term and go down by 8 points. A week later in the first semi final against Glenelg the Double Blues were competitive until half time before being overrun, with the Bays adding 10 goals to 6 over the course of the final two quarters.
Central District qualified for the 1982 finals in fifth place and that was where, after going down to Glenelg in the elimination final by 50 points, they finished. This result represented a significant turnaround from when the two sides had met previously in round twenty at the Bay Oval. On that occasion Centrals had stormed home by 109 points, 30.18 (198) to 13.11 (89).
The Bulldogs in fact only just made the finals as they shared the same number of wins - 13 - as sixth placed West Adelaide. In round twenty-two Centrals put West Torrens conclusively to the sword, winning by 122 points, 32.13 (205) to 12.11 (83). Meanwhile West were on the wrong end of a hiding at the hands of Norwood and the combined effect of the two results was to enable the Bulldogs to leapfrog the Bloods on the strength of a marginal superiority in percentage. West supporters would not have long to wait before savouring success, however.
Eighth in 1981 North Adelaide rose one rung on the premiership ladder a year later and the Roosters of ’82 were a visibly improved force. Among their victims during the minor round were Sturt, Port Adelaide (by a whopping 79 points) and Glenelg, and they amassed a near record tally of 32.24 (224) in trouncing West Torrens by 112 points in round twenty-one.
After contesting the finals, and finishing fourth, in 1981 South Adelaide dropped down the list to eighth. The Panthers’ best displays of the season arguably came in round two when the won a high scoring thriller against Glenelg by 4 points, round twelve when they defeated Norwood by 13 points, and round eighteen when they downed Sturt by 4 goals.
Ninth placed West Torrens won just 5 games in 1982 and the Eagles were on the wrong end of some enormous hidings. On no fewer than half a dozen occasions they conceded scores of 29 goals or more and things would not get better for the club any time soon.
For the third successive season Woodville ended up with the wooden spoon, and the team’s achievement of reaching the 1978 finals must have seemed like a distant memory to the club’s long suffering supporters.
VFA: Hat Trick of Flags for Borough
Port Melbourne claimed their third successive division one premiership when they accounted for Preston by 7 points in a pulsating, high scoring match. The Bullants went into the match as favourites having lost just twice all season, but the Borough played with conviction and purpose from the off and were well worth their win. The victors were best served by centreman Bill Swan, rover Brendan Kavanagh and centre half back Glen Robertson, while Preston’s best was their skipper Ray Shaw. The game, which was played at the Junction Oval, attracted a crowd of 20,732. Final scores were Port Melbourne 21.15 (141) defeated Preston 20.14 (134) after the Borough had led at every change by 9, 1 and 17 points.
In second division Northcote scored a thrilling come from behind grand final victory over Caulfield. Down by 5 goals at the main break, the Dragons left the oval seemingly dispirited and depressed only to return revitalised and add 7 third quarter goals to 2 to change ends for the last time a couple of points to the good. The final term was fiercely and evenly contested with Caulfield getting their noses in front at one stage only for Northcote to rally and edge home by 5 points, 12.15 (87) to 11.16 (82).
Runners-up in 1981 New Norfolk went one better this year when they accounted for Glenorchy in the TANFL grand final by 11 points. It was only the Eagles’ second senior grade premiership. Premiers of the NTFA were Scottsdale, who downed Launceston in the grand final by 41 points. Cooee went top in the NWFU thanks to a 10 point grand final defeat of local rivals Penguin.
In Sydney the premiership of the SFL was claimed by East Sydney who overcame Pennant Hills in a low scoring grand final by 3 goals straight. It was the Bulldogs’ third successive senior grade flag.
The QAFL title went to Mayne for the first time since 1973. It would prove to be their last ever QAFL senior grade flag. Opposed in the grand final by Morningside the Tigers won by 30 points.
Ainslie cruised to victory by 76 points against Eastlake in the ACTAFL grand final. It was the Tricolours’ third senior grade flag in four seasons and the twelfth in their history. They went through the entire 1982 season unbeaten to earn the title of “champions”.
For the first time in twenty-four years the premiership of the NTFL was won by Wanderers who saw off the challenge of St Marys in the grand final by the barest margin possible.
Interstate and Representative Football
A section two interstate carnival took place in 1982 involving Tasmania, the ACT, Queensland and New South Wales, who finished in that order. Somewhat contentiously the Tasmanians were given home advantage in all three of their matches which they duly won by margins of 37 points against the ACT, 45 points against New South Wales and 15 points against Queensland. Meanwhile the ACT downed Queensland in Canberra and New South Wales in Sydney, while Queensland thrashed New South Wales by 84 points in Brisbane.
Victoria engaged in two state of origin matches, overcoming South Australia by 12 points in Adelaide, and Western Australia by 23 points in Perth. South Australia and Western Australia faced one another twice at state league level with the home side winning on both occasions. In Adelaide, South Australia won by a record margin for matches against Western Australia of 116 points. Scores were South Australia 29.23 (197) defeated Western Australia 12.9 (81). A short while later, in Perth, Western Australia returned the compliment by winning almost as convincingly, 21.18 (144) to 8.5 (53), a margin of 91 points.
Grand final results - VFL: Carlton 14.19 (103) d. Richmond 12.13 (85); SANFL: Norwood 20.13 (133) d. Glenelg 9.17 (71); WAFL: Swan Districts 18.19 (127) d. Claremont 11.12 (78); VFA: Division One - Port Melbourne 21.15 (141) d. Preston 20.14 (134); Division Two - Northcote 12.15 (87) d. Caulfield 11.16 (82); TANFL: New Norfolk 13.9 (87) d. Glenorchy 11.10 (76); NTFA: Scottsdale 19.9 (123) d. Launceston 12.10 (82); SFL: East Sydney 8.8 (56) d. Pennant Hills 5.8 (38); NTFL: Wanderers 13.13 (91) d. St Marys 13.12 (90); QAFL: Mayne 18.17 (125) d. Morningside 14.11 (95); NWFU: Cooee 16.15 (111) d. Penguin 16.5 (101); ACTAFL: Ainslie 22.19 (151) d. Eastlake 11.9 (75).
 MCG attendances in the first week of the finals from 1979 to 1981 were: 1979 84,660; 1980 83,033; 1981 83,899.
 A total of 61,729 spectators attended the 1982 first semi final, significantly fewer than the 87,139, 94,451 and 85,133 who attended the equivalent match in each of the preceding three seasons. Whether or not anyone cared to admit it VFL football was losing its appeal. Some form of rebranding or reinvention was needed. South Melbourne’s relocation to Sydney was in some measure an attempt to begin to address this issue but, as noted above, it was not exactly a promising start.