Eighteen teams. Nearly 800 players, 216 games a season. One premier.
Winning the flag is tough enough. Predicting the next five premiers is like trying to beat the Bombers of 2000, the Cats of 2007, or last year’s heroic Hawks. Tough, but not impossible.
Can the Hawks and Cats hold on to their recent dynasties?
Can Fremantle snag a maiden flag, the Bombers fly in the face of recent dramas, Port continue their dramatic rise, or can the Doggies wind back the clock to ’54?
Or, cue the foreboding music, will the competition’s deepest fears be realised with the Gold Coast and GWS smashing everyone to bits?
Ex Gold Coast Sun Campbell Brown thinks his former teammates are on the verge of greatness. “I think they can win a premiership in the next five years, no doubt. When they get up there, it won’t be a one or two year burst, it will be a significant window. GWS, they won’t be far behind.”
Change is coming. Soon.
2014 Grand Final
Hawthorn 16.14 110 def Geelong 16.12 108
Norm Smith Medal – Shaun Burgoyne
In one of the greatest grand finals in recent history, a Cyril Rioli snap, with just 15 seconds remaining, sealed the Hawks 12th Premiership.
The Hawks were just a bit too quick, a bit too slick. Isaac Smith was fleet of foot, Hill’s scything runs through the centre were reminiscent of Michael Long, and Luke Breust’s three goals were telling.
Where did Shaun Burgoyne play? Everywhere.
2015 Grand Final
Essendon 18.10 118 Def West Coast 14.14 98
Norm Smith Medal – Jobe Watson
Two years ago James Hird was banished from the game; tonight he is a premiership coach.
His captain, Jobe Watson was simply brilliant, 12 tackles, 39 possessions. A premiership cup.
But the true hero of the day was Dustin Fletcher. In game number 418, his last, Fletch departed with a third premiership.
2016 Grand Final
Port Adelaide 10.14 74 Def West Coast 9.14 68
Norm Smith Medal – Chad Wingard
A 20-point loss last year, six points to the negative this year. As Eagles skipper Luke Shuey lamented post game. “So close, yet so very far.”
On a wet day, the port midfield was the deciding factor. They don’t come tougher than Wines, Boak and Ebert.
They don’t come more skilful than Chad Wingard. Four goals, the Norm Smith, and a premiership to add to last Monday’s Brownlow. Fair old week.
2017 Grand Final
Gold Coast 15.9 99 Def Sydney 13.8 86
Norm Smith Medal – Gary Ablett
Twenty-eight years ago Gary Ablett kicked nine on Grand Final day, won the Norm Smith, but lost the game.
Today his son kicked six and also won the Norm Smith. However, Ablett Jnr, won the game.
Rory Thompson was brilliant down back, while both Kurt Tippet and Lance Franklin were beaten on the day.
And then, there was the Sun’s engine room. O’Meara, Swallow, Prestia and Jack Martin. The best midfield since Brisbane’s at the turn of the century? Better? Perhaps.
2018 Grand Final
Gold Coast 19.10 124 Def GWS 17.12 114
Norm Smith Medal – Jaeger O’Meara
The seasons two standout sides, in the season’s standout game.
How can you lose when Jeremy Cameron kicks eight? When Patton kicks four? When Callan Ward destroys everyone in his path?
Easily. You have Charlie Dixon bag six, Ablett five and Jaeger O’Meara play the near perfect game.
GWS left the ‘G intent on revenge. They may well get it….on Grand Final day next year.