A highly coveted and rare achievement that only a handful of teams have managed in the history of the VFL/AFL, and only two in the last six decades. Lethal’s Lions and Clarko’s Hawks will be remembered as two of the most dominant football sides in recent years, but is there a chance they could have company in the form of Simmo’s Eagles?
West Coast’s 2018 premiership was somewhat of a surprise after many predicted they would finish outside the eight, or worse, after losing a number of experienced players. Despite injuries to stars throughout the season like Josh Kennedy and Nic Naitanui, and Andrew Gaff’s suspension, the Eagles proved their style of play was all but bullet-proof and that they could win games in Melbourne.
In 2019, West Coast is once again shaping up to finish top four and charge deep into finals. Obviously, things can change very quickly in September and a grand final appearance is not guaranteed with Geelong, Richmond, and Brisbane also looking like serious contenders. However, there are a few reasons why if they get the job done this year that it could happen again in 2020.
All the pieces
Looking at West Coast’s list there aren’t really any holes that stand out. They boast some of the league’s most elite players in all areas of the ground and have shown when someone goes down with an injury, they always have a suitable replacement at the ready.
Although they may have eyes on Tim Kelly and he would certainly be a handy asset, the Eagles don’t necessarily need to trade in anyone for the immediate future. There are some concerns over Nic Naitanui’s playing career, but most would say Tom Hickey has performed quite well this season and backups like Nathan Vardy and Keegan Brooksby add some depth.
It also doesn’t look like anyone will leave anytime soon either. The club has managed to secure superstars such as Elliot Yeo and Jeremy McGovern for years to come, with little talk of players wanting to leave.
Young and Old
There aren’t too many concerns right now with losing experience besides the club’s all-time leading goalkicker Josh Kennedy, who is nearly 32. Kennedy has had some trouble with injuries in the latter part of his career, but emerging tall forward Oscar Allen would be an acceptable successor to stand alongside Jack Darling as key pillars.
Other West Coast veterans such as Shannon Hurn, 31, and Luke Shuey, 29, are in strong form and don’t look like slowing down soon. With an average list age of 24, and a number of players in their prime, the Eagles are balancing a mix of young and old to find the sweet spot that will keep them in contention moving forward.
Looking at past three-peaters like the Lions and Hawks you see teams that are fully committed to the cause, and players with a sense of trust and respect for each other, as well as their coaching staff. Winning a premiership is no easy feat so it’s critical that everyone on the list will back each other in to the final siren.
Coach Adam Simpson seems to have helped develop a strong, family-based, culture at the club, with their mantra last season being ‘Family, Friends, and Flags’. With multiple players becoming fathers in recent years, it also appears to have strengthened the bond between the group. A lot can happen within a season of football, but if players believe in each other and their system, it’s hard to completely count a team out.
It would be ridiculous to say West Coast have the 2019 and 2020 premierships won, but it does help they already have the 2018 flag secured. Along with a well-developed game style, a well put together list of players who look like sticking around, and a positive club environment, there’s a possibility we could be witnessing Simmo’s Eagles dynasty unfold before our eyes.