THE story first surfaced in 2015 – some 45 years after the greatest Grand Final of any was played out on the mighty MCG – and central to it was the Carlton defender the late Vin Waite.
The revelation came from Michael Shane, a long-serving member of the club’s cheersquad and one of 121,696 patrons crammed into ‘The G’ on that glorious September Saturday in 1970, when Ron Barassi’s Blues completed the most famous comeback of all time against the hapless black and whites.
Shane recalled the cheersquad’s members banding together at half-time of the ’70 Grand Final, with Carlton a massive 44 points in arrears of its most hated inner city rival, Collingwood.
“When the Carlton players were walking off at half-time it wasn’t looking good, but we wanted to instil some spirit in that team so we chanted in support of the first player to the last as they disappeared down the race,” Shane said at the time.
“When the team emerged after half-time we cheered again.”
It is at this point, in the Northern stand at the old race shared by the Melbourne and Richmond co-tenants, that the legend is born.
“Back then the competing teams’ races were side by side, and on that particular day Collingwood’s cheersquad prepared a half-time banner,” Shane said.
“They put it up after the Carlton players ran out on the ground - but there was one straggler, Vinny Waite, and Vinny was a hulking-sized player by the way.”
Shane remembered that when Waite emerged from the race he briefly contemplated making a beeline around the opposition banner, which was thought to have acknowledged the 100th game of Collingwood rover Wayne Richardson.
“But I could see his (Waite’s) mind ticking over and he thought ‘Bugger it, I’m going to run through it’ – and he ran right through the middle of the Collingwood banner and the Carlton cheersquad erupted into cheers.”