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Moment 4: Fraser Brown's tackle

4. 1999 - Preliminary Final Carlton Member, Patrick Lane, re-lives the 1999 Preliminary Final
4. 1999 - Fraser Brown's tackle in the Preliminary Final

“All I can remember is the elation. I’ve never felt that elation ever in sport. Ever. And that’s Grand Finals included. I’ve never felt the way I felt at the end of that game. We were the underdogs and when you win like that … Christ almighty.”

The speaker is Fraser Brown, the game is the 1999 preliminary final at the MCG, and ‘The Browndog’ is casting his mind back to one of the greatest victories of any epoch - when Carlton nutted Essendon by one big, beautiful point on the day Bracks shocked Kennett at the polls.

“You might have seen that photo on siren time. I was screaming at the sky. I don’t think I was saying much. Only screaming. That was fair dinkum elation. To feel that way was amazing. That was the day [Jeff] Kennett got the arse too,” said Brown, with typically forthright use of the Queen’s English.

“Whenever you play Essendon or Collingwood, and to a lesser degree Richmond, you lift another cog. Anyone who’s played for Carlton should know that. And when you lift another cog, anything can happen.

“In the ’95 Grand Final I was injured, but I knew it wasn’t going to cost anyone because I just knew the feeling around was ‘See you later’. There was no doubt we would win in ’95, and by half-time we had that Grand Final won. But the ’99 prelim was a different kettle of fish. We all had to work for it, and it was great to have a win like that. To win by one point like that and be involved … well … I can’t describe it really.

“I remember the crowd too. Seeing my missus and everyone else in the crowd just freaking out. It was phenomenal, phenomenal stuff.”

Of course, Brown’s involvement in one of the dramatic final plays of the prelim will be talked about for as long as they’re talking footy – the match-saving tackle on Dean Wallis with half a minute left on the clock.

“I remember seeing him [Wallis] taking the mark and coming at me,” Brown recalled. “Nothing against him or anything, but I saw him take someone on before, so I anticipated which way he would dodge. And I anticipated the right way, locked him in . . .

“I was airborne when I tackled him, and I was confident as I could be of holding him in. In my brain I was thinking ‘I’ll get him, I’ll get him, I’ll get him’, don’t worry about that. You wouldn’t be playing otherwise, would you? If someone’s running at you, are you going to say ‘I don’t know whether I’m going to hold him or not?’ It’s ‘I’ll f…ing hold him or I won’t be here next week’.

“It was almost as if I’d seen a replay before I grabbed him. I just knew which way he was going to go.”

When the final siren brought to a stunning conclusion one of the greatest of all Carlton victories - 16.8 (104) to 14.19 (103) – Justin Murphy famously hoisted the football heavenward.

Within seven days, Murphy would be gone, having wrecked his knee in a losing Grand Final, but he too will be remembered for as long as those frenetic final moments of the ’99 prelim are replayed and replayed and replayed.

As for the man who affected football’s most famous one-percenter, Brown’s still dining out on it.

“I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked by people, whether in business, in sport, or at the pub, about that moment,” Brown said. “The majority of them are Essendon supporters who say ‘You bastard. You cost us the 1999 Grand Final’, and it’s still lingering.

“They thought they were home and hosed to go all the way of course, and they would have beaten North (in the Grand Final) for sure. I’m going to say that now, aren’t I?

“You then go and ask a few true Carlton supporters who have been through the run of the mill, and I know that while there isn’t as much elation as in winning a Grand Final, seeing that game from start to finish still blows them away.”