IT took just one almighty kick to launch Malcolm Blight into Australian folklore and THAT kick – and symbolically it was much more than that - plunged an almighty knife into the heart of Carlton supporters.

That famous – or is that infamous – kick after the siren in 1976, which prompted the one and only Mike Williamson, to declare “I’ve seen it all, I have seen it all” as Blight’s mighty torpedo went through goal post height, is the most celebrated illustration of how Blight stuck the proverbial knife into the Mighty Blues.

Image Blight’s famous match winning bomb is detailed in the Blueseum and you can download it on YouTube. But downloading it does not convey the pain and astonishment that engulfed Carlton supporters that day.

The distance of that now seems to be that he kicked it from somewhere near Ti Amo’s restaurant in Lygon St then sat down and had a lovely pasta.

But for Carlton supporters, our hearts and stomachs sunk to the most painful depths as we had dominated the game until time-on in the last quarter.

We led by 21 points in time-on until Blight unleashed his brilliance and genius kicking two goals, including an incredible 40-metre left foot snap from the boundary line, and all this happened at the Robert Heatley Stand end.

Then the Blight mark, then the siren. North Melbourne was still trailing by one point – only a goal would win the game. Many assumed Blight's effort would be futile and spectators were already entering the playing arena. However, Blight unleashed one of the biggest-ever torpedo punts winning an improbable victory for North Melbourne.

I thought at the time that I had never experienced a more gut-wrenching loss, including finals and Grand Finals, in my time watching the bluebaggers. I was genuinely devastated but I was also devastatingly wrong.

On Preliminary Final day that very same year, the Blues faced off against the Kangas at the ghostly grey VFL Park for the right to meet Hawthorn in the Grand Final.

All year it seemed like the Blues were headed for the GF despite Blight’s heroics at Princes Park.

We finished on top of the ladder, beat Hawthorn, who we believed were our main challengers, convincingly twice in the home and away season and felt we had their measure despite the Hawks winning the second-semi on a wet track, again at VFL Park in the heart of the south-eastern rain belt of Melbourne.

But the weather for the Prelim was vastly different. Warm and sunny. Perfect for the Blues.

We had a very strong side including Southby, Doull, Jesaulenko, Walls, Armstrong, Keogh, Fitzpatrick, Perc Jones and Swan McKay - all champions of the club and great finals players – and a strong supporting cast giving us a very even team.

North had an excellent side with Blight, Cable, Greig, Sutton, Melrose, Dench and Byrne being among the stars as well as Schimmelbusch and Icke.
Icke played on Swan McKay in that match and controlled the potential Carlton match winner with clever and frustrating blocking tactics.

North used nullifying tactics across the ground to combat the Blues greater offensive weapons and pace but although it was only two points the difference at three-quarter-time, McKay felt the Blues were controlling the game.

But there was a nagging feeling. “I think we were probably a little over confident. It was close and yes I felt we were controlling the game but then North kicked a couple of quick goals and caught us napping,” he said in an interview with Blueseum.

“That got us rattled and then we started to miss opportunities that we normally would have taken,” McKay said.

Then up stepped Blight. Bloody Blight. Having snared two goals, the North champion – and he was a bona fide champion to use David Parkin’s words – went to the back line and played as a ruck rover a kick behind the play.

To me, on reflection, it was the turning point of the match and that Blight was going to be the one to cause us greater devastation than the kick after the siren earlier that season.

Time after time he marked unattended or in packs and as McKay explained, in today’s football he would have been matched up.

“But that wasn’t the tactics back then and he was just playing back there like an old-fashioned ruck rover and basically did as he liked,” McKay.

Despite this Swan always believed the Blues were going to win.

“We kept on attacking and the game was being played in our forward line and I started to get on top of Icke and had a shot for goal and Blight marked it on the goal line,” he said.

Watching from the top deck of the Sir Kenneth Luke Stand, it seemed to me that it was only a matter of time before we kicked the goal that would win it in those final minutes.

We were having shot after shot and players who would normally eat those shots for breakfast, were clearly, not so much rattled, but unnerved by the fact that we were on top in play – taking out the Blight, bloody Blight factor - but not on the score board.

McKay said the atmosphere out on the ground was hard to describe because of the nature of VFL Park.

“It was such a strange ground. It was nobody’s home ground and the crowd was so far away so the atmosphere was pretty flat, a bit like playing footy interstate,” he said.

“But it just looked like we were going to win and when the siren went I couldn’t believe it. I still thought we were going to win even after the siren went. But it was just too late.”

McKay describes it as the most devastating loss in his career and there are two reasons why.

“We were shattered not only at losing the game but losing the chance to play in the Grand Final,” he said.

“I believe we would have won that Grand Final and a lot of players I have spoken to who played that day refer to it as the one that got away,” he said.
“But secondly it had a double whammy effect as I believed we were good enough to win in 1977 but that Preliminary Final loss made it worse because it took the wind out of our sails going into the 1977 season. Yes, it was very hard to take.”

For a 16-year-old who had ridden every emotion in that, how do I describe it, horrific last quarter, I felt like jumping from the top deck of the Sir Kenneth Luke stand.

I was mortified. Like McKay, I simply couldn’t believe it. We looked the winners all day yet North and Malcolm Blight had denied us again and by the worst possible margin to lose by – one stinking, rotten point.

As I left the ground, numb from top to toe, and knowing I had a bus ride and 31-station rail journey home, all I knew was that we weren’t playing in another GF and that the mighty Malcolm Blight had plunged a bigger knife into our hearts than his famous kick earlier that year. As I walked from that bogey ground, my inner voice kept on going over and over: “Blight, Bloody Blight.”

Ah well, at least it wasn’t Collingwood and it was a true champion who caused almost indescribable heartache.

Footnote: I regard Blight as one of the three best players I have ever seen along with Leigh Matthews and Jezza.

To relive the final frantic minutes watch the following video.

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