MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 30: Damien Hardwick, Senior Coach of the Tigers and Trent Cotchin of the Tigers hold up the premiership cup during the 2017 Toyota AFL Grand Final match between the Adelaide Crows and the Richmond Tigers at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on September 30, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Melbourne ended a 57-year premiership drought last Saturday after winning a historical Grand Final in the west.

The Demons did not even feature in last year's finals series, yet they were able to soar up the premiership ladder and win a flag within one year.

It followed a similar anomaly recently set by Richmond, when they won the premiership in 2017 after a horror 2016 campaign.

Who could do it next season? We look at the five most likely clubs to follow suit.

West Coast Eagles

The 2022 season could shape to be West Coast's last hurrah before the club utters the notion of a 're-build'.

Among the Eagles veterans aged 28 years or over are Andrew Gaff, Brad Sheppard, Jack Redden, Nic Naitanui, Luke Shuey, Jamie Cripps, Jeremy McGovern and Jack Darling.

It's a long list that gets even longer should Shannon Hurn and Josh Kennedy re-sign.

Although this current list has won a premiership, stars Andrew Gaff and Nic Naitanui will be keen to taste premiership glory after missing out in 2018 due to suspension and injury respectively.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 15: Nic Naitanui of the Eagles runs with the ball during the round 13 AFL match between the Sydney Swans and the West Coast Eagles at Sydney Cricket Ground on June 15, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

The Eagles were placed in the bottom half of the top eight for most of this season before losing their way with a few weeks to go.

They remain a competitive chance with Adam Simpson expected to remain senior coach until the end of 2024, but next year might be his last chance of a premiership with his current crop of stars.


After the brutal sacking of David Teague, the Blues will be hoping new senior coach Michael Voss can call forth an immediate change in fortune. Club president Luke Sayers was only appointed in August 2021, leaving the Blues with two fresh leadership figures ahead of their off-season planning.

Under Brendon Bolton, Carlton's win percentage was just 20.8%, and under Teague it was 44%. Voss - who coached a mediocre Lions side from 2009-2013 - will be hopeful he is adopting a side genuinely on the rise.

Sam Walsh is becoming a proper star of the competition at just 21 years of age, having recorded 30 votes in this year's Brownlow Medal count. Jacob Weitering and Harry McKay, who are both set to take their games to new heights next season, will remain pillars at either end of the ground. Add to that Patrick Cripps, Sam Docherty and an emerging talent in Tom de Koning, and the club is building a solid core group of players.

They also expect to have a busy off-season of recruiting to top up on talent for next season, with Fremantle gun Adam Cerra headlining their likely recruits.

RELATED: Cerra nominates Calrton as preferred club

Carlton had spirited efforts against Sydney, Melbourne, GWS and the Western Bulldogs this season, but the time for honourable losses at the Blues is coming to an abrupt end.


The Tigers have one eye on their long-term future after Trent Cotchin relinquished the captaincy for next year, but apart from Bachar Houli and David Astbury, the same names that won three flags in four years will go on again in 2022.

North Melbourne veteran Robbie Tarrant will join Punt Road next season, fitting in nicely for retirees Houli and Astbury.

The Tigers should remain a threat in the competition and won't be taken lightly after a lean season in 2021. They suffered numerous injuries, including star Dustin Martin, who was wiped out from Round 18 onward.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 30: Trent Cotchin of the Tigers celebrates after scoring a goal during the round two AFL match between the Richmond Tigers and the Collingwood Magpies at Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 30, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

The Tigers re-invented the model for premiership success in 2017 by playing a high-pressure, selfless and hardened brand of football. They will expect to tweak that over the off-season to bounce back into the finals.

Richmond's 2021 playing list had an average age of 24.8 years and 73.7 games played per name, making them the fourth most experienced club in the league.

St Kilda

After the Demons won on Saturday, they passed on the longest active premiership drought to St Kilda. Is it really that silly to consider the Saints after what the Dees have just done?

In 2020, St Kilda won a final for the first time in a decade. There's no doubt it was a successful campaign but perhaps a little premature as brighter horizons were expected in 2021.

With an average age of 25.2 years, the Saints are the second oldest team in the competition. They are the third most experienced team by way of games played, with an average of 74.7 games per player.

St Kilda have been missing an absolute first-grade star of the competition, but Jack Steele could fill that void after finishing a stellar season with 26 Brownlow Medal votes in 2021.

Many considered their 2021 campaign as poor, but the Saints only finished one game outside the top-eight with wins against GWS, Brisbane and Sydney. The side will be hungry and will want to make their experience counts for something in 2022 before their premiership opportunity lapses.


Fremantle finished the 2021 season strongly with their first western derby victory since 2015, as well as a win against reigning premiers Richmond.

Fremantle’s list remains one of the youngest and most inexperienced in the AFL.

In an interview on 10 News Perth, senior coach Justin Longmuir said AFL players can normally expect to find their way in the league between 60 and 90 games played.

Although, of the 38 players currently on the Dockers' list, 60 per cent of players have played less than 60 games.

But Longmuir stated there was no reason to sit idle waiting for more experience to land success, with the current list already performing strongly in 2021.

AFL Rd 2 - Fremantle v GWS
PERTH, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 28: Andrew Brayshaw of the Dockers celebrates a goal during the 2021 AFL Round 02 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the GWS Giants at Optus Stadium on March 28, 2021 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Young guns Andrew Brayshaw and Caleb Serong continue to bolster the side's midfield stocks, averaging 27.1 and 21.2 disposals per game respectively.

Nat Fyfe should return for the start of the season after undergoing surgery for a shoulder dislocation earlier this year. Fremantle games record holder David Mundy (354 games) and veteran Michael Walters round out an experienced Dockers trio hungry to see their side succeed in 2022.

There is some serious upside at Freo.