Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Greatest VFL/AFL Dynasty

Recently I mused on this blog about where the current Geelong team ranked among the great VFL/AFL dynasties. This was in part inspired by a recent Fivethirtyeight article about the greatest of the NBA dynasties, which in the author’s view was Tim Duncan’s Spurs. This choice was based on the Spurs remaining well above average for 17 years … and counting.

In my earlier blog post I said that if the strength of a dynasty is determined by how long and how far a team is above a particular benchmark then I could think of at least four ‘dynasties’ in VFL/AFL history that may be considered the competition’s greatest. However, when I went back and looked at the great eras in more detail, one of those eras, in my view, stood well above the rest.

First, my two ‘runner-up dynasties’:
·         Melbourne 1954-1964: The Demons won 75 per cent of their matches, won six premierships, contested eight Grand Finals, and won seven minor premierships.
·         Hawthorn 1982-1994: The Hawks won 72 per cent of their matches, won five premierships, contested eight Grand Finals, and won three minor premierships.
As good as these eras were though I don’t think they compare with the Collingwood team of 1925-1939. The Magpies won about 75 per cent of their matches over a fifteen-year period. They won six premierships, five minor premierships, and contested an amazing 11 Grand Finals. Their winning percentage was boosted a bit by the addition of three new teams in 1925 that were poor for much of that time, but it is still a great achievement to get to the pointy end of the season that many times. A lot of football followers know about the famous four premierships in a row from 1927 to 1930. Fewer may remember that Collingwood also won the 1935 and 1936 flags, and were runners-up from 1937 to 1939.

Even more astonishingly the Magpies did not have a losing season from the VFL’s inception in 1897 up until 1940! The legendary Jock McHale coached them for all six of those flags in the 1920s and 1930s, plus another in 1919, and was at the helm for nearly four decades. Adding to their dynastic credentials is that four of their best players were two sets of brothers, the Colliers (Albert and Harry), and the Coventrys (Gordon and Syd). Now that’s a dynasty. The current Geelong team needs to be contending right up to 2020 for it to match an era like that.

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