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.
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.
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.
GREATEST SPORTS DYNASTIES OF ALL TIME
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