MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 06: Collingwood Magpies Premiership cups stand in front of the banner as part of the 125 year celebrations for the club during the round seven AFL match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Carlton Blues at Melbourne Cricket Ground on May 6, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

American journalist and author Sam Walker – who founded the Wall Street Journal’s award-winning daily sports coverage in 2009 – has compiled a list of the greatest sporting teams in history, with one AFL side making the cut.

For his new book The Captain Class, Walker has selected 16 teams who had some of the best runs in their chosen sport, and said the leaders and captains of each side were the ones who made their team special.

Walker chose the 1927-1930 Collingwood team as the best in AFL history, and said both coach Jock McHale and captain Syd Coventry made that side what it was.

The Pies won four flags in a row, a feat which has never been achieved again, and won 88% of their matches during those four seasons.

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Walker likened McHale to legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi, and said the seven-time premiership coach had Lombardi-like features.

“McHale, like Lombardi, was considered a master motivator with some unusual, even radical, ideas about how to make sure a team played as one. The first was disdain for individual heroes,” Walker says.

“McHale enforced this ideology, just as Lombardi did, by exercising a level of control that would be impossible today. He insisted that every member of his team, no matter how talented, be paid the same wage.

“On two occasions during the Great Depression, when Collingwood cut the players’ salaries, McHale insisted on taking the same percentage hit. Other teams in the league would have paid him handsomely to defect, but his loyalty to Collingwood ran too deep.

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The other Australian side chosen by Walker was the Australian women’s hockey team that dominated from 1993-2000, winning seven straight major titles including back-to-back Olympic gold medals in 1996 and 2000.


Collingwood Magpies (AFL), 1927-1930

New York Yankees (MLB), 1949-1953

Hungary (men’s football), 1950-1955

Montreal Canadiens (NHL), 1955-1960

Boston Celtics (NBA), 1956-1969

Brazil (men’s football), 1958-1962

Pittsburgh Steelers (NFL), 1974-1980

Soviet Union (men’s ice hockey), 1980-1984

New Zealand All Blacks (rugby union), 1986-1990

Cuba (women’s volleyball), 1991-2000

Australia (women’s field hockey), 1993-2000

United States (women’s football), 1996-1999

San Antonio Spurs (NBA), 1997-2016

Barcelona (men’s football), 2008-2013

France (men’s handball), 2008-2015

New Zealand All Blacks (rugby union), 2011-2015