While sitting at a Grand Final, back when I was much younger, I made a bet with my uncle that the hapless Brisbane Bears would not make the finals for their first 30 years. My uncle wisely took the other side of the bet. I was thinking back to Hawthorn and North Melbourne, and how they each took 25-30 years to make the finals after they entered the league.
That Grand Final was the 1994 Grand Final, and the Brisbane Bears made the finals next year. (Although just barely …) Luckily, my uncle never made me pay up.
The Gold Coast Suns are in their sixth season, and Greater Western Sydney are in their fifth. On early season form both look like some chance to make their first finals series. In reality, long droughts such as Hawthorn’s and North Melbourne’s are the exception rather than the rule. Footscray took 14 seasons. Richmond took 12 seasons, if you ignore the four-team competition in 1916. Fremantle took nine seasons. Port Adelaide only took five seasons to make the finals. Adelaide took three seasons, and West Coast took two. (And none of those latter teams finished seventh or eighth when they first got in; that is, it wasn’t really the expanded number of finals places that got them across the line.)
Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney will probably make the finals soon, if not this year, then within the next few. It is, no matter how bad your team is, difficult to reach Hawthorn’s initial level of ineptitude. (Remember when Hawthorn were inept? Of course you don’t.)
For the first time since Round 3 last season we have a change in the number one ranking this week. West Coast take the top spot after their big win against Richmond, while Hawthorn barely beat St. Kilda. With Adelaide and Sydney not far behind, the rankings suggest we could be in for a close premiership race this season. At the least, between these four clubs, we could be in for some good matches next week.