The North Queensland Cowboys have the chance to win their maiden NRL Premiership when they take on the Brisbane Broncos tomorrow and you know what that means – a conspiracy is sure to be in the offering.
The Cowboys have been duded by the referees in the past three NRL Finals Series, but if their worst fear comes true they will not be the first side that found themselves on the receiving end of a Grand Final Conspiracy.
1999 NRL Grand Final – Melbourne Storm Awarded A Penalty Try
What Happened: The St George Illawarra Dragons looked as though they had the Grand Final won when they skipped away to a 14-0 half-time lead, but they did not take advantage of their second half opportunities and they let the Melbourne Storm back into the game.
The Storm trailed by four points with just three minutes left to play when Jamie Ainscough hit Storm winger Craig Smith with a head-high tackle over the try-line, which led to a penalty try being awarded and the Storm claiming their maiden premiership.
The Conspiracy: The Melbourne Storm entered the NRL at the conclusion of the Super League War and were 100% owned by News Limited, while both St George and Illawarra were loyal to the ARL. There were suggestions that the NRL were keen to see the Storm win an early premiership to give Rugby League a much needed boost in Melbourne, which may have influenced Bill Harrigan’s controversial decision.
1990 AFL Grand Final – Quarter Time Brawl
What Happened: At the end of the first quarter a massive brawl started between players and officials from both Collingwood and Essendon that required police intervention to break up. The most memorable exchanged involved Essendon doorman John Synan wrestling on the ground with Collingwood team manager Eddie Hillgrove.
The Conspiracy: It has always been alleged that it was fiery Essendon Bombers coach Kevin Sheedy who started the blue between Synan and Hillgrove and the veteran coach finally admitted in 2010 that he threw a punch at Magpies Football Manager Graeme Allan.
1963 Grand Final – Referee Accused Of Placing A Bet
What Happened: The 1963 Grand Final between St George and Wests was made famous by the Gladiators embrace between opposing captains Norm Provan and Arthur Summons, but the embrace was not the incredible act of sportsmanship that it appears
Summons was actually taking the opportunity to call Provan a cheat due to a couple of questions refereeing decisions that he believes cost the Magpies the game.
The Conspiracy: Johnny King was awarded a very controversial try in the final stages of the Grand Final that gave the Dragons the win and referee Darcy Lawler has been accused of placing a big bet on the Dragons.
Recent video footage shows that the try should have been allowed, but the Magpies were still on the end of a nasty penalty count.
2006 AFL Grand Final – West Coast Eagles Players Allegedly On Stimulants
What Happened: The West Coast Eagles bounce back from their defeat at the hands of the Sydney Swans 12 months earlier to take out the 2006 AFL Grand Final in another absolute thriller.
The Conspiracy: Former West Coast Eagles player Daniel Chick claimed earlier this week that there was excessive prescription drug use by Eagles players during their premiership winning season and he said that himself, Ben Cousins and Daniel Kerr took prednisone and a variety of other stimulants to help them perform at their best of game day.
1978 NRL Grand Final – Manly Scores A Try On Seventh Tackle
What Happened: The Cronulla Sharks were denied their maiden premiership in the 1978 NSWRL Grand Final Replay when the Manly Sea-Eagles scored a try on the seventh tackle.
The Conspiracy: Manly received a great deal of assistance from referee Greg Hartley throughout the finals series and he allowed the Sea-Eagles to score tries on the seventh tackle in two separate games, which led to allegations from both Sharks and Eels fans that he was on the take.
1989 AFL Grand Final – Brereton Taken Out Early
What Happened: Hawthorn star Dermott Brereton was viciously attacked at the opening bounce of the 1989 VFL Grand Final and he played the rest of the game with two broken ribs and a ruptured kidney.
Hawthorn were still able to win the Premiership in arguably the most memorable Grand Final in the history of the AFL.
The Conspiracy: Geelong coach Malcolm Blight ordered the hit on Brereton before the game because he was worried that Brereton would go after Geelong’s Brownlow Medal winner Paul Couch in the early stages of the game.