1994 Grand Final Memories
“The fondest memory for me about 1994 was not only I was playing with so many legends of the game, but to play first grade for the Raiders in my second season at the club was a dream come true for a young kid from New Zealand.
The Grand Final in itself is still an incredible feeling for me. The highlight for me was seeing Big Mal score in his last game to go out on top. He was so respected by many and he was my idol growing up so I feel very blessed to be a part of something special like that.
I’m currently still involved in the game with the New Zealand Warriors as the Assistant Strength & Conditioning Trainer but the Raiders will always be close to my heart.
I am very fortunate to get the privilege of wearing The Green Machine Jersey and so blessed to be mentored by so many greats of our games including Tim Sheens, Craig Bellamy, Dean Lance as coaches then there is the support staff of Brian Hyder, Shaun McCrae, Bob Griffin, Alan Kelly, Mick Mackell and then there are the players that will be my mates for life.
As far as the fans, I just want to say thank you Canberra for accepting me into your hearts.”
“I was lucky enough to play for Australia and New South Wales throughout my career but winning that 1994 Grand Final in Mal Meninga’s last game for the Raiders is a memory that I will always hold close to my heart.
Mal had announced earlier in the season that he would retire after the 1994 Kangaroo tour but sending Mal out a winner for the Raiders was something that we all talked about and were motivated to do.
We were confident all year because of the great players in our team and the smart coach we had in Tim Sheens. Even though we lost the Major Semi-Final to the Bulldogs we still headed into the Grand Final with confidence, especially after smashing Norths in the Preliminary Final. We knew that we had the side to beat them.
The match couldn’t have started any better for us with big Martin Bella dropping the ball from the kick-off and big Ozzie [Paul Osborne] making the most of his opportunity after coming into the team for the suspended John Lomax and setting up our first two tries.
Then seeing Mal score the final try was something that I will always remember. I’m still a bit dirty on him actually because I could’ve bagged a double if he had passed to me in support – that could have got me a spot on the Roos tour!"
“The year in itself was close to a blur. Because I was so young, I didn’t really think too much into it at the time I was just taking it week by week and it wasn’t really until after the Grand Final that I reflected on how big a year it was.
The 94 Grand Final was a standout in my career; the win, Mal’s last game and scoring a couple of tries…what a dream for a young fella.
I was lucky enough to make my NSW debut earlier that year but I would have to say that playing in the Grand Final was a greater experience for me because I didn’t really offer a lot for the Blues because I came off the bench in both games and didn’t really have a lot of game time.
I was nervous leading into the match being so young but that early try off a great pass by Paul Osborne really calmed my nerves. Ozzie was a late inclusion after John Lomax was suspended. There was nothing planned, it was just off the cuff and that’s the way we played sometimes. I haven’t seen Ozzie for a long time but he definitely stretched that story out for a number of years after the Grand Final. He was saying to Dave Furner that he should have got the Clive Churchill Medal!
You always dream about going out a winner like that and although I never did, to see someone like Mal go out the way he did and to have played a part in it is always a special memory. I was happy to have played a small part in his farewell.
I'm still connected to the Raiders through my role as Assistant Coach of the NYC side. It’s great to be involved with the club and assisting the juniors coming through. Not all of them will go through, but hopefully some of them will be a part of the next Raiders’ Grand Final winning team.”
“I was obviously pretty young watching the game but I remember being in Scone and with my old man being a foundation player with the Raiders, my grandma and the rest of my family had me dressed up in lime green and cheering loudly for the Raiders.
We were all nervous before kick-off Paul Osborne started the game well with a few nice offloads which set a couple of tries up and put us on the front foot early on.
Then I remember Laurie Daley, one of my favourite players when I was growing up, scoring a great forty metre try in the corner with Jarrod McCracken chasing him from behind.
The Raiders were the underdogs leading into the match because the Bulldogs had beaten them in the Major Semi-Final, but really, looking back on the team sheets now, the Raiders had such a gun side that they were well entitled to be favourites to win.
The most memorable image of that match was obviously Big Mal racing away in the end after intercepting a McCracken pass and then fist pumping to celebrate. That’s a defining image and one we see often due to the statue of him striking that pose at Canberra Stadium.
For it to be 20 years since and not to have made another Grand Final is not good enough. I’ve re-signed for a few more years and I want to get us back up to the top and win a competition here before I retire.”
“I was only nine years old at the time but I remember watching the match at our house in Queanbeyan with all of the family.
It’s the last Grand Final that the club has won and we had so many terrific players who I idolised so the memory definitely sticks out for me.
I’ve seen replays of the match since but I remember at the time being amazed by Paul Osborne’s passes to set up the first two tries to David Furner and Kenny Nagas. Of all the stars in the Raiders line-up, unsung hero Paul Osborne was the one who got us on the front foot!
Then of course the final memory I have is of Big Mal grabbing an intercept and racing away into the clear to go out a winner. That was such a great sight for a young Raiders fan.
I’ve come in contact with a fair few players from that period in Raiders history over my time in the club through coaches such as Furnsie and now Ricky, as well as playing with guys like Ruben Wiki and Toots [Jason Croker]. It’s been great to hear their stories from those days."
Raiders Member Denis Carnahan
"I’d followed the Raiders since the very beginning look back on the 1994 Grand Final with incredibly fond memories.
I remember being in Cairns at Aunty Karen’s house with a few mates, a long way from home in the Nation’s Capital, and absolutely loving every minute of the build-up, the match itself and of the celebrations.
I was gutted that we lost the Major Semi-Final to the Bulldogs and I was absolutely nervous during Grand Final week despite the great side that we had.
I distinctly remember Martin Bella’s knock-on from the kick off gave us a tremendous start and to this day I don’t remember laughing so much during a game!
Other than that I recall quite clearly Ozzy Osbourne playing the game of his career!
Paul Osborne – ’94 Grand Final offloads = 2. Paul Osborne career offloads = 2.
As a passionate Raiders member, it was fantastic to see Mal Meninga sent off as a winner, although I fear that we used up all our fairy tales in that send off for Mal and have been paying for it ever since! Looking back now, that Grand Final win in 1994 was one of my most favourite rugby league memories of all time but it’s still hard to go past our first win in 1989; that was a come from behind underdog story whereas ’94 was a glorious powerhouse triumph."
Raiders Member Francis Heaney
"There were two or three Raiders buses that went up to the stadium for the Grand Final and I was on one of them. It was absolutely awesome on the buses – everybody was dressed head to toe in lime green and we all went up feeling confident of a Grand Final win after beating Norths the week before.
Plus, how could we not send Big Mal out a winner?
The 1994 Grand Final is my favourite rugby league memory. Mal Meninga was my favourite player and to see him go out on top was brilliant and still brings a smile to my face.
We were all sitting in the corner where Laurie [Daley] scored his marvellous individual try and we were cheering our lungs out as he dived over. We carried on like absolute lunatics though when Mal took that intercept and raced away to score.
The bus trip home was unbelievable – everybody was going nuts! We had taped the game and as soon as we got back home we watched the game again!"
Dr David Headon, History and Heritage Advisor from the Centenary of Canberra
"In my opinion, Mal Meninga single-handedly put the Raiders on the National Rugby League map and inspired a generation of local players in the process, so for him to be sent out a winner in the 1994 Grand Final couldn’t have been more fitting. He didn’t go out a winner in State of Origin that but boy has he got his revenge there over the last eight years – that’s another story though.
In terms of the actual game there were three memories that stand out for me: the first one was the epic hit on Meninga put on Terry Lamb which sent him into coo-coo land. Lamb was the lynchpin of their side and the heart and soul of their team so it was a massive play.
Two was Martin Bella dropping the ball from the kick-off; that really defined the match and from there Ozzie Osbourne set up his two early tries and we never really looked like losing from there.
I was in the state of Mississippi for the 1989 Grand Final so it was great to be sitting at home watching the match with my family all dressed in lime green.
It was the last Grand Final that we have won but it was also the third in that five year period. It was still a really power team with so many great names that have left such a strong legacy in the Canberra community.
I think it’s terrific that the club is celebrating the anniversary. This is a club with a unique history in rugby league; a club that entered the competition for the first time from outside of Sydney and went onto such tremendous success.
It’s a really great direction that the club is going in – to not only celebrate the anniversary this year but to convey to the current group of players our proud history to inspire further generations to reach similar feats."