Sunday, September 30, 2012

Rating the AFL Grand Finals from 2005 to 2012

When I first started watching VFL/AFL Grand Finals in the '80s and '90s, and even the early '00s, they were typically one-sided affairs that were decided well before the final siren ('89 and '02 being exceptions). Since 2005 though we have been blessed with a golden era of great games, with only the 2007, the 2010 replay, 2008, and 2011 GFs having sizable winning margins, and even the latter two were quite tense for most of the day. Which has been the best though? This is how I would rate them:

1. 2009: Geelong d St. Kilda - On Twitter a few weeks back I rated 2005 as the best GF since 1989, but after thinking a bit more about it I reckon this one was actually better. The main reason is that these two teams were phenomenally good - the Geelong team won 18 games during the season and their GF side had 16 players that were All-Australians at one point, while St. Kilda won 20 games during the season and had 11 All-Australians. The match itself was in doubt until the final minute, with only an after-the-siren goal extending the final margin out to two goals. (Plus, since I wasn't at the pub, I also remember this match.)

2. 2012: Sydney d Hawthorn - Maybe it's still the glow from the excitement of yesterday, but this match was possibly even better than Sydney's 2005 triumph. It may have had more memorable moments that any other match on this list: Malceski's snap for the Swans first goal, Franklin's two goals outside 50 metres, the Hawks five goals in ten minutes, Goodes' game-breaking goal, and Malceski's sealer. It also had 25 goals scored, the most of any of the top five on this list.

3. 2005: Sydney d West Coast - The importance of this game can hardly be overstated, it broke the Swans' 72-year premiership drought, and was a breath of fresh air after so many GF blowouts over the past 15 years. It also had one of the most famous moments in AFL history - Leo Barry's game ending pack mark deep in the Eagles backline. But it was also a bit dour - only 15 goals were scored, and I reckon both the sides would have got blown off the park by the 2009 combatants, and maybe even the 2012 ones.

4. 2006: West Coast d Sydney - There really isn't that much to separate this and the 2005 GF, except for Barry's famous mark and the fact that the Swans hadn't won for so long the year before. They were both low-scoring matches, and both had one team storm back in the second half only to fall just short in the end. Again though, I think the quality of play was better in some of the other recent GFs.

5. 2010: Collingwood drew with St. Kilda - As exciting as it was, and as great as Hayes and Goddard were in that second half, I have to rate this GF below the others on the list because of the anti-climatic and rather hollow ending; no team came away with the cup (until the next week). Maybe that's as good an argument as any to go to extra time.

As for the others, I'd go: 6. Geelong d Collingwood, 7. Hawthorn d Geelong, 8. Geelong d Port Adelaide (if only to see how much the Cats could win by), and 9. Collingwood d St. Kilda (anti-climatic for all but Magpies supporters).

No comments: