Rebuttal - Controversy reigns in 1990 decider

By Tyler Maher

This week's rebuttal takes us all the way back to the 1990 Picola District Football League grand final between Waaia and Blighty.

The tight contest was bathed in controversy after a dispute upon the final siren, with an appeal meaning the result — a one-point win to Waaia — was not confirmed until more than a week later.

The Bombers trailed all day, but were awarded a free kick across half-back with just seconds remaining.

Blighty's Grant Wilson threw the ball away though, forcing umpire David Ackland to award a 50 m penalty — almost in the same breath as the siren sounded.

As Ackland raised his arms to signal the end of the match, Waaia players and fans despaired, but the offical then stepped out the penalty to give Mick Cleeland a chance to win the game from the 50 m arc.

Cleeland "unloaded with an almighty torpedo punt that sailed through at just below post height" according to the Shepparton News match report to send Bomber faithful at Katunga Recreation Reserve into wild celebration and give his side back-to-back flags.

The Redeyes almost immediately appealed the result, but after deliberation in the umpires’ rooms league president David McKenzie emerged and announced Waaia as premier.

Another appeal ensued, with video evidence presented to the PDFL board, but eventually that was quashed as well to give Waaia's jubilation concrete certainty.

And as Cleeland said after his heroic grand final act, "It's only a small community, but they know how to celebrate.”