First things first, the decade does not end this year – not in sport or anything – but it is fair to say that the 20-teens will end on December 31 and it’s only fitting that we mark our coming of age.
In the AFL there has been a lot of debate about how these teenage years affected various clubs and, given society’s new-found emphasis on ATAR scores for judging adolescents, we might as well go straight to the numbers.
Doing the rounds on social media in recent weeks has been this table of achievement for the past 10 years, with all wins and losses collated.
And there at the top of the tree are the two teams you would expect to see – Geelong and Hawthorn.
Clearly both did their homework and put in a consistent effort, but despite just topping the total winning percentage with 69 per cent, the Cats could be criticised for flunking their final exam.
Geelong took part in nine finals series over the past 10 years, but only managed one grand final for one flag (2011), although it has to be said the Cats were coming off their peak after flags in 2007 and 2009.
In contrast, the Hawks had eight finals series for four grand finals and three consecutive flags (2013 to 2015). Despite now returning to a rebuilding phase, they remain a competitive force under Alastair Clarkson.
By any measure the Hawks were tops in the teens.
The Western Bulldogs’ middling position of 47 per cent in the winning total belies the fact they stole the most unlikely premiership of the past 10 years, while poor old St Kilda has the unenviable record of playing in two grand finals in 2010 and failing to win in both.
Putting aside the struggling new franchise clubs, including the rising 2019 grand finalists Greater Western Sydney, it is the old marques of Essendon, Carlton and Melbourne that could be argued most underperformed.
Essendon surprisingly topped those three despite the supplements debacle that created no end of grief for players, fans and the AFL over almost three years.
The Blues tried and failed to rebuild several times, and the Demons have been unable to find any momentum despite the much-vaunted 2014 arrival and then managed departure of Paul Roos as coach.
Former Premier John Cain … sporting star
Victorian Premier John Cain, who passed away early on Monday aged 88 after a stroke earlier this month, is being remembered fondly as the man who shaped Melbourne as the sporting capital of Australia.
Cain’s premiership from 1982 to 1990 was notable for his commitment to moving the Australian Open from Kooyong to the purpose-built Melbourne Park – ensuring the event’s future.
Tennis Australia paid tribute to Cain, calling him a “pioneer of our sport”.
Cain also led the push for women to be admitted to Victorian sporting institutions, breaking down the male-only barriers at the Melbourne Cricket Club and Victorian Racing Club.
When the then VFL was pushing to expand its stadium at its public transport-poor Waverley ground so it could eventually hold the grand final, Cain refused to allow the rebuild and moved to ensure the showpiece football event stayed at the MCG.
It was a move that saved the VFL from itself, with Waverley hosting just one atmosphere-free grand final in 1991 – won by Hawthorn – when the Great Southern Stand was being built at the MCG.
The VFL eventually sold the ground for a housing development, with Cain proven right as the redeveloped MCG become the undisputed home for big football matches.
I have a meme …
The criticism of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s holiday to Hawaii while the fires raged is nothing new in the sporting world, with some fans being ‘early adopters’ of pointing out that the PM may not “hold a hose”, but didn’t mind acting as a waterboy at the cricket.
The quotable quote ….
‘‘Some of the words, given the history of Australia, I can understand how some indigenous people can be offended … I look at it two ways. I know that was the past and we have to look to the present and the future, but I feel very proud to live in Australia and call this country my home.’’
– Dual rugby international Wendell Sailor says the growing number of empowered indigenous NRL players who stand up for their beliefs will inspire a better future for Australians.