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The Final Draw: Peter Dickson's film on the 2010 Grand Final

Peter Di Sisto
December 20, 2016 12:00 PM

AMID the expected recollections of drama and tension, filmmaker Peter Dickson found contrasting moments of levity and humour to enable him to produce what he believes is "the most entertaining" of his series of big-game football films.

Dickson spent around eight months working on The Final Draw, a retrospective of the 2010 Grand Final, only the third premiership-decider to finish with scores level. He interviewed 14 Collingwood and St Kilda players, coaches and officials for the film project, which was broadcast nationally on the Seven Network in the lead-up to the 2016 AFL Grand Final.

One of Dickson's greatest challenges was weaving in as many of the day's story lines, including some players thinking the game would continue, a club president shouting down an Australian senator wearing a footy jumper under a suit, the Norm Smith medallist losing his voice, and post-match flooding in both rooms. 

"It was hard to stuff up, as there were so many great moments," said Dickson, whose CV includes award-winning films documenting the challenges faced by club captains and coaches and chronicling past grand finals including 1966, 1971, 1975, 1989 and 1990.

Dickson predicted viewers would be struck by the varying ways key people recalled the draw. Some (notably St Kilda's Stephen Milne and Collingwood's Ben Johnson) were emotional, while others (including Saint Nick Riewoldt) were more pragmatic. All, Dickson said, reviewed the event with clarity and freshness, as if it had just occurred.

"None of them had to do this – it was a difficult one. It's not a great memory for St Kilda people, but they were fantastic. And I know Collingwood people would rather talk about the fact they won the replay – they won that year's premiership," he said.

"You can't make these films without people investing, so I'm really thankful for their time."

Dickson said Milne and Johnson emerged as stars of the film. The two were opponents late in the game when Milne had a chance to swoop on a bouncing ball just metres from goal, only for it to jag away from him and through for a behind with just 91 seconds left. That point was the final score of the game.

"Johnson talked about how nervous he was, with just he and Milne in the forward line late in the last quarter," he said.

True to his reputation as a knockabout bloke, Johnson revealed how he had snuck a mate into the MCG for the Grand Final by hiding him in the boot of his car. His laidback approach contrasted the intensity of others, including Pies coach Mick Malthouse.

"He lends a real irreverence to the story, which it needed. But towards the end, he does get a bit emotional," Dickson said.

"Milne, who was so pivotal in that final moment, is still very emotional, six years later. People have their perceptions of him but he comes across really well."

Although the film takes a balanced view of the day, Dickson said it was difficult not to have a degree of sympathy for the Saints, who had lost the previous year's Grand Final to Geelong in another thriller.

"In my mind, it becomes more of a St Kilda story, based on what could have been in that era," he said.

"Riewoldt and (Brendon) Goddard were so confident they brought cigars to the ground. That surprised me. But they thought they were going to do it."

Dickson said he hadn't previously understood how much the Geelong loss and the 2010 campaign had taken out of the Saints.

"I didn't realise this at the time, but they had nothing left. They were done. They were never going to win the next week," he said.

"They couldn't train, whereas Collingwood got themselves up.

"Collingwood's effort was remarkable and shouldn't be forgotten. Both clubs had amazing stories."

Dickson said he was struck by the fact some players didn't understand they would have to come back the following week for a replay.

"They didn't know what to do. (Leigh) Montagna even thought the AFL would change the rules on the run and allow extra time," he said.

"It was staggering."