Matty Johns relives the infamous aftermath of the 2005 Grand Final
SEPTEMBER 16, 201611:49AM
MATTY Johns was retired by 2005, but he was still involved in some of the more memorable moments of that year’s NRL Grand Final.
The Wests Tigers went on an incredible winning streak in the back end of 2005 to make the decider, and they were too good for Johnathan Thurston’s Cowboys on that Sunday night in October, winning 30-16.
It was the joint-venture club’s maiden premiership since debuting in 2000. Before that, the Wests Magpies last won a title in 1952 and were woodens spooners in 1998 and 1999, while the Balmain Tigers hadn’t tasted championship glory since 1969.
So understandably, Tigers players and fans alike were delirious with excitement after defeating North Queensland more than a decade ago. So pumped was the playing group that they got a bit carried away with the occasion after full-time, forgetting they were still being broadcast on live TV.
Working for Channel 9 at the time, Johns was tasked with speaking to players on the ground as they walked around celebrating with their supporters. No doubt plenty of kids had stayed up late to watch the aftermath of the game on TV, and they probably learnt a few new words because of it.
A clip of Johns’ post-match interviews was uploaded to Reddit overnight and a heap of listeners tweeted it to the Triple M Grill Team — the breakfast radio show Johns co-hosts with Mark Geyer, Gus Worland and Chris Page.
On a segment called “Check the tweets”, the sheer weight of public interest meant the Newcastle premiership player had to relive the awkward experience.
First up, wearing his orange and black tie, he went to winger Pat Richards, whose name will forever live in finals folklore after he was the beneficiary of Benji Marshall’s ridiculous flick pass in this game, screaming down the sideline and bumping off a cover defender to score in the corner.
“Mate there was no way in the world I was going to miss this game, and I f***ing, oh sorry, it’s the best feeling ever,” Richards said.
Unperturbed, Matty kept his cool and managed a little grin. Watching it, you wouldn’t have known anything was wrong.
Next up to the plate was back-rower Anthony Laffranchi, who scored a four-pointer in the big dance.
“Mate it’s f***ing, oh sorry, it’s awesome mate,” he said.
This time Matty flinched, glancing back towards the camera before looking to the sky in a “If I stare up here for long enough maybe we can pretend the last five seconds never happened” kind of way.
Chris Heighington then upped the ante, and the cracks started to show on Johns’ face.
“Yeah mate it’s f***ing awesome, you don’t know how to f***ing … there’s no words for it, it’s just f***ing unbelievable,” the Tiger said.
Johns’ lips were pursed, the smile was gone and you could just see his mind whirring. He told all his listeners what he was really thinking.
“I tell you what, it was so loud the crowd knew it,” Johns said. “At first I didn’t hear it and when Heighington started rattling them off I was going, ‘Oh dear.’”
Johns knows the thrill of winning a premiership.
Johns knows the thrill of winning a premiership.Source:News Corp Australia
He received some stern direction from his employer after that interview went awry.
“Then (Channel 9’s former head of sport) Steve Crawley’s in my ear and he said, ‘Matt, find a sensible one.’ So I looked over and I saw Benny Galea there so I went over and I said, Mate,’ and he went, ‘Oh mate, effing unbelievable.”
To be exact, this is what Galea — who was heroic in defence that night, tackling gun fullback Matt Bowen on nearly every one of his kick returns — said.
“This is unbelievable, f***ing all the boys have stuck together all year, we won the comp, we’re number one, f***ing …”
You can check out the video here, but beware, nothing has been bleeped out. The look on Johns’ face at the end of the clip sums up perfectly how the end of his night was panning out.
“The first two — Patty Richards and Laffranchi — they were kind of apologetic, but Heighington and Galea took it to the next level. They were freestyling,” Mark Geyer said.
“I think even if you interviewed (Tigers coach) Timmy Sheens that night you would have got one.”
We’ll have to wait and see if anything trumps that in 2016.
Warning. graphic language