The Complete History of AFL Grand Final Entertainment 1977 – 2020

Brace yourself for hours upon hours of flag-waving, people butchering Waltzing Matilda, Failed Olympic bids, and of course Meatloaf and Angry Anderson in the batmobile as we’ve gone deep into YouTube and the archives to bring you the complete history of VFL/AFL Grand Final entertainment.

With the Grand Final being played in Perth this year, and the fact that just about no one can travel into Western Australia it’s an all WA flavour this Saturday at Optus Stadium with the likes of John Butler, Eskimo Joe, Abbe May, indie phenom Stella Donnelly, Men at Work’s Colin Hay and Young Australian of the Year Baker Boy.

The AFL has also called up good old Birds of Tokyo for another hit out to perform with the WA Symphony Orchestra at half-time.

Many suggest that Birds of Tokyo should be banned from AFL venues given they are the ones responsible for the new West Coast Eagles theme song.

No doubt the light show at Optus Stadium will really shine with these WA acts giving their best, but it’s always good to reflect on what’s come before us.

2020 – Cub Sport, DMA’s, Electric Fields, Thelma Plum, Andrew Stockdale, Sheppard, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Busby Marou

The first Grand Final outside of Victoria featured all Queensland acts, and even got Mike Brady to perform “Up There Cazaly” from the MCG.

With the game being played at night, all the lights were on show to justify the games move to the evening, despite the many objections from traditionalists.

Frequent flyers Sheppard sang their one good song with a light show and have no doubt been on the phone to Peter V’Landys at the NRL to perform at the Suncorp Stadium Grand Final this year.

2019 -Paul Kelly, Dean Lewis, Tones and I, John Williamson, Mike Brady

The AFL tried to have a bet each way with a bit of the old and a bit of the new.

It’s rumored that Dean Lewis singing about breaking up with his girlfriend was indeed the reason that Richmond didn’t win by 100+ points.

2018 – Black Eyed Peas & Barnsey

Wil I AM looks at his phone during the performance as many wonder why an act that hadn’t had a hit in over a decade (and no Fergie) got a run on Grand Final day.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Barnes saves the day by belting out a few classics.

2017 – The Killers

In a departure from their regular form, the AFL actually got a good band to play prior to the 2017 decider.

The Killers just played hits and then Jack Riewoldt famously joined them on stage post-match.

This is categorised as a rare-hit for Grand Final Day.

2016 – Sting

A solid and reliable performance by Sting as he simply just sings the hits prior to the Western Bulldogs v Sydney decider.

It’s all you could ask for.

2015 – Chris Isaac, Brian Adams & Ellie Goulding 

Chris Issac plays it safe again by playing the hits.

Meanwhile, pop star Ellie Goulding sings her song from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack and had as good a performance as the West Coast Eagles that day.

Brian Adams was also brought in from overseas.

He sang the hits.

What more could you ask for?

2014– Ed Sheeran & Tom Jones

The AFL went the full Smooth FM by bringing in Ed Sheeran and Tom Jones.

Tom Jones sings Delilah – a song about a man killing his wife.

Very motivational before the big game.

2013 – Hunters and Collectors

Aussie Rock – TICK

Sing the hits – TICK

Holy Grail – TICK

This is a hit.

2012 – Temper Trap

After the Meatloaf disaster, the AFL went simple and brought in the Temper Trap.

It was a bit meh if you ask me.

2011 – Meatloaf

What else can we say?

Enjoy Meatloaf butchering every song ever in one of the most infamous Grand Final performances of all time.

2010 Replay – Lionel Richie 

Linoel Richie gets a last-minute call-up for the 2010 AFL Grand Final replay.

He was awesome.

2010 – INXS (JD Fortune) 

Let’s be honest.

If you’re watching INXS post-Micheal Hutchence, it’s a cover band.

JD went alright, but it’s not the same.

2009 – Farnsey, Barnsey & Mark Seymour 

Solid, classic, Aussie rock.

You can’t go wrong with this combo.

Both Farnsey, Barnsey and Mark Seymour combining to sing “You’re the Voice” makes you proud to be Australian.

2008 – Powderfinger

Powderfinger belt out a few numbers surrounded by some weird circus act.

When it was announced that the Grand Final was going to be played at the Gabba, some speculated that the iconic Brisbane band would reunite for the game, but they politely declined the offer. 

2007 – Jet

The audio was about as good as Port Adelaide’s performance that day.

2006 – Irene Cara

For some reason getting Irene Cara was thought of as a good idea.

It would have been awesome in 1984 but the AFL saw fit to get her for the 2006 GF.

2005 – Delta Goodrem, Dame Edna, Micheal Buble and Silvie Paladino

While not on YouTube, a controversy followed in the leadup to the 2005 Grand Final when Goodrem was bumped from singing the national anthem in favour of opera singer Silvie Paladino, who was unimpressed the AFL wanted to substitute her in the lineup.

2004 – Kath and Kim 

Also not on YouTube, Kath and Kim did perform at the 2004 Grand Final and it also saw the return of Angry Anderson’s Batmobile.

The batmobile was recently purchased by a syndicate of die-hard Hawthorn supporters. 

2003 – Australian Idol & The Cast of “We will Rock you”

In 2003 the cast from the Queen musical “We will Rock You” rocked the G with a few numbers to a montage of footy vision.

The final 12 of the very first series of Australian Idol featuring the likes of Cosima, Millsy, Paulini and of course Nollsy (who was robbed) and Guy Sebastian belting out “One Day In September.”

AFL Grand Final entertainment: 7 of the worst acts from Meat Loaf to Australian Idol | Herald Sun

2002 – Killing Heidi

Back when Killing Hedi was at the top of their game, they got a run on Grand Final Day!

Killing Heidi - Sympathy For The Devil (live on The Panel 6 Nov 2002) - YouTube

2001 – Vanessa Amorosi 

It’s not on YouTube, but what a banger is “Absolutely Everybody” from back in the day?

We assume she sang it prior to the 2001 GF and it inspired the Lions to get home to win the first of their threepeat.

2000 – Bachelor Girl

All the good acts were booked for the Olympics so the AFL could only get Bachelor Girl.

1999 – Wendy Matthews

Seemed like a nice tribute and Wendy could belt out a tune.

1998 – Donna Fisk and Micheal Christian “Rockin’ Footy”

The two random singers who used to sing the Channel 7 footy song back in the day got a run at the 98 Grand Final.

They have not been heard from since.

1997 – Marina Prior

WHERE WAS THE PRIOR? Screamed the crowd during the 97 Grand Final.

She was on before the game singing the national anthem along with an all-star cast.

And try to get this song about the MCG out of your head.

1996 – AFL Grand Final All-Stars 

To celebrate its centenary season back in 1996 the AFL got a who’s who of Grand Final entertainment from years gone by in a star-studded 1990s flag-waving spectacular.

1995 – Tina Arena

As Sorrento Moon is topping the ARIA Charts at the time, Tina Arena did a spectacular rendition of Waltzing Matilda back in 1995.

Half-Time – Tribute to Australian Cinema with Sigrid Thornton

The AFL pays tribute to Australian cinema at half-time of the 95 Grand Final.

It’s also the final year of half-time entertainment.

Half-Time entertainment was briefly brought back in 2012, but most prefer the Auskick kids to get a run.

1994 – The Seekers

If there’s one band who’s songs make me want to run out through brick walls and do whatever it takes on Grand Final day, It’s the Seekers.

1993 – Bad Choreography and Maroochy Barambah

This act has nothing on a North Korean military parade.

Maroochy Barambah claimed there were audio issues as this rendition of Waltzing Matilda is very much butchered like the sheep being murdered in the song.

1992 – Joan Carden 

After the Angry Anderson experience, the AFL kept it simple upon the Grand Final’s return to the MCG in 1992 and signed up opera singer Joan Carden to belt out a few numbers before West Coast and Geelong took the field.

 

1991 – Darryl Braithwaite

Back when Horses wasn’t ironic Dazza really won the crowd over at Waverley Park by wishing Collingwood was playing that day.

Half-Time: Angry Anderson

The GOAT of Grand Final performances.

Nothing will ever compare to Angry in the Batmobile.

SING MELBOURNE!!!

1990  – Normie Rowe

We’re now into the era when singers just sang Waltzing Matilda.

And the half-time entertainment also featured BOUND FOR GLORY, a year before Angry!

1989 – John Farnham

Peak Farnsey belts out Waltzing Matilda prior to one of the greatest Grand Finals ever played.

Half-Time – Melbourne 1996 Olympic Bid

Melbourne tries to show the world they can host the 1996 Olympics by getting kids to wave flags.

One of those kids happened to be a young Nathan Buckley.

Spoiler Alert – Melbourne did not get the 1996 Olympic Games.

1988 – Noel Watson

I’ve seen a fair few attempts at Waltzing Matilda, this is the best one.

1987 –Darryl Somers

No Ozzie Ostrich, no Plucka Duck, no Dickie Knee, no Blackers.

Just Darryl.

Yeah, nah.

1986 – Olivia Newton-John

Peak 1980s Australialiana.

Everyone loves ONJ.

1985 – Diana Trask

A respectable effort with Waltzing Matilda by Aussie Country Music legend Diana Trask.

1984 – Slim Dusty

You can’t go wrong with Slim and Waltzing Matilda.

1983 – Glenn Shorrock

In his performance of Waltzing Matilda, lead singer of the Little River Band Glenn Shorrock gets the crowd chanting for Australia II in the America’s Cup.

1982 – Helen d’Amico

Rolf Harris was the actual pre-game entertainment back in 1982, but we’ll give it a miss for obvious reasons.

Anyway, everyone remembers the streaker during the game.

1981 – Jon English

Before he was the star of All Together Now, Jon English was a fine rock star.

Grand Final Sprint

The Grand Final sprint is and still is an iconic part of Grand Final Day.

It used to be dominated by Gaza Snr’s brother Geoff who would win it every single year.

1980 – Peter Allen

The Boy from Oz sings “I Still Call Australia home” with references to the MCG.

It was beautiful.

1979 – Mike Brady

Up There Cazaly is top of the charts in 1979 and Brady sings it at the Grand Final for the very first time,

The footage isn’t on YouTube, but there’s a clip of his bloke lighting up a dart during the game.

Those were the days.

1978 –  Keith Micheal 

There’s no vision of Keith Micheal back in 78, but it was the year Channel 7 commentator Peter Landy kicked one of the kids with balloons pre-game that got in his shot.

1977 – Barry Crocker 

The 1977 Grand Final was unique in that it was the first one to be broadcast live into Victoria and was also the very first one to have pre-game entertainment,

Barry Crocker was the first artist to perform.