Heroes & Villains: Chris Scott stakes claim to be villain of the year

Season 2020 is (at long, long last) done and dusted. In what was such a bizarre year, the ultimate result was anything but unusual, with Richmond hoisting the premiership trophy for the third time in four years.

Here are your Grand Final Heroes & Villains.


Dustin Martin: Gee, what can you really say about Dusty that hasn't already been said?

Richmond's superstar roared to life once again on the Grand Final stage to become the first player in history to win three premierships and three Norm Smith Medals. His four-goal effort was simply unbelievable.

The Cats had all the momentum and a 22-point lead late in the second term when Dusty scooped the ball up inside the Tigers' attacking 50 and snapped truly over his left shoulder. A minute later he caught Mark Blicavs to set up another shot on goal. They were pivotal, team-lifting moments.

Martin pounced early in the third quarter with his second goal which put Richmond back in front.

His third goal, a sensational skidding ball from outside 50m, all but sealing the deal for Damien Hardwick's side.

But he wasn't done yet. With a minute left on the clock, Martin brushed off Patrick Dangerfield in the pocket and snapped his fourth to cap off one of the great Grand Final games.

The short-priced Norm Smith favourite finished the night with 21 disposals and four goals, backing up his 29 disposals and two goals against the Crows in the 2017 Grand Final and his 22 disposal, four-goal effort in last year's decider.

It's final, don't argue it - Dusty is the best big-game player the AFL has ever seen.

Dynasty Dimma: If Dusty gets the on-field credit, Damien Hardwick has to get the off-field praise.

The man who was so close to losing his job in 2016 is now a three-time premiership coach and at the helm of one of the AFL's greatest teams. Let that sink in.

Back in March, Hardwick said the winner of the 2020 flag could hold their head extra high, given the unusual nature of the year and football season.

He had to keep the side focused and composed while away from home for almost four months. There was the Sydney Stack and Callum Coleman-Jones nightclub indiscretion and the Mabior Chol groping incident. But Dimma wasn't to be deterred.

Even when the Cats took a 15-point lead into halftime, Hardwick remained calm and trusted their game plan and process. He was right to do so.

The AFL: From inconsistent MRP verdicts to the frustration of the score review system, it's fair to say I've been pretty critical of the AFL over the past few years (stay tuned, something else has ticked me off). However, you've got to give credit where it's due.

Gill McLachlan and the entire football fraternity deserve enormous praise for managing to salvage season 2020. Back in March, when the season was called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many didn't think we'd actually get back underway, let alone reach a Grand Final ... in Brisbane!

The AFL, along with the clubs, players and umpires have done a tremendous job in keeping everything running as smooth as possible, bringing joy to many who have struggled throughout this truly one-of-a-kind year.

Not only that but the AFL managed to construct perhaps the fairest season of all time with every side playing each other once throughout the home and away season.

But perhaps the best decision the AFL made in 2020 was to schedule the league's inaugural night Grand Final...


Chris Scott: He might just be the biggest villain of the 2020 AFL season.

While Martin was busy dominating for the Tigers, Scott seemed happy leaving Dangerfield, his own superstar, sitting at full forward.

Danger had just two touches in the first term and one in the third, spending almost the entirety of both quarters in Geelong's forward 50 arc - unable to have any impact on the game.

With the momentum swinging back in favour of Richmond, and eyes shifting to Dangerfield, everyone was waiting for the move to be made. It never happened. Dangerfield's magnet stayed in the forward line.

Bizarre? Stupid? Stubborn? Probably a resounding 'yes' to all three.

It wasn't until the final quarter, with the Cats down by three goals, that Danger saw serious midfield time. But it was too late. The Tigers had all the running and skipper Trent Cotchin one hand on the cup. Dangerfield finished with just 12 disposals, his lowest tally in a game all season.

Scott's been criticised for his refusal to throw Dangerfield into the guts and it's only going to grow louder after the most disappointing loss of his career. For what it's worth, he deserves to be whacked.

Gryan Miers: It feels harsh to label someone a villain after one mistake, but you just can't make big blunders in a Grand Final.

Geelong was all over Richmond in the first half and could have just about had them dead and buried by halftime, if not for some sloppy play in the forward line.

Miers marked uncontested 25m out on a slight angle midway through the second quarter, but instead of composing himself and slotting the set shot, he rushed, played on and sprayed his kick. At the time it felt like a Xavier Duursma-dropped-marked-in-the-preliminary-final moment.

It turned out to be exactly that. We all know how the Tigers flipped the game on its head.

Miers finished the night with 14 disposal and a goal and was far from the worst player on the ground, but he'll be ruing that miss for years to come. Who knows how it would have panned out had they shot sailed through the big sticks.

MCG turf transportation: Gee whiz. Talk about a mind-boggling waste of money!

The AFL's announcement that it would be sending a patch of MCG grass up to Brisbane for the Grand Final left many of us scratching our heads, but that was nothing on the eventual humiliation the league received.

It would have been somewhat cool to see the grass laid in the centre of the ground, or maybe in one of the goalsquares, but instead they plonked the section of turf a metre in from the Gabba fence. That's right, it wasn't even in the field of play.

Rumours are the league and its sponsors spent in excess of AU$100,000 to complete the pointless relocation of turf. Probably not the best use of funds, especially during these difficult COVID-19 times.

Oh, and who said there isn't a Victorian bias in the AFL? I think this proves once and for all how Victorian-centric the league truly is.