Geelong has a chance to create modern history if they win this year’s premiership.
As it currently stands, the Cats will finish top of the ladder at the end of the season and could be the first team since Hawthorn in 2013 to go on to win the Grand Final after claiming the minor premiership.
The Cats could create their own bit of history as teams who have finished first have struggled to go all the way and win the flag in the AFL era.
In the 29 seasons of the AFL era, only nine teams have won the premiership from first on the ladder.
Since 2010, only Collingwood (2010) and Hawthorn (2013) have won the flag after claiming the minor premiership.
The most common ladder position for a premier is second, where 11 of the premiers in the AFL era finished second at the end of the home and away season.
A common theory is that the minor premiers peak too early, however, 23 of the 29 minor premiers went on to play in the Grand Final.
A likely theory is that the minor premiers struggle when the odds are not in their favour.
The reason there is a Grand Final is to create equality and allow any of the top eight teams to win the flag. Teams that finish in the top four have a better chance of winning the premiership, but on Grand Final day the two teams have an even chance of winning the flag.
In prior systems such as the ‘Argus system,‘ the minor premier had the right to challenge a result and replay the match. This created an unfair advantage, which almost certainly secured the premiership for the minor premiers.
Teams that finish first also experience greater pressure, which can affect them on Grand Final day, whereas their opponents enter the game with nothing to lose.
The Western Bulldogs benefited from a lack of pressure in 2016 when they came from seventh to beat Sydney on Grand Final day.
Port Adelaide finished minor premiers in three consecutive seasons between 2002 to 2004, yet won only one flag.
Contrary to Port Adelaide is the Brisbane Lions who won three premierships in a row (2001-2003) without finishing the season as minor premiers.
The two main dynasty’s of the AFL era – Brisbane (2001-2003) and Hawthorn (2013-2015) occurred with neither team dominating the home and away season.
Hawthorn won the minor premiership once in their three-peat and in the other two years, they finished second and third.
North Melbourne won two flags in the 1990s without finishing top of the ladder. In their history, North finished minor premiers on four occasions yet never went on to win the flag.
On current form, the team who could benefit from the struggles of the minor premiers is Collingwood who currently sit second on the ladder.
Last season the Magpies faulted against West Coast on Grand Final day, a team that finished second at the end of the home and away season.
On statistics, Geelong and Collingwood are bound to meet on the last Saturday in September, but could it be the Magpies who lift the premiership cup?
The full list of premiers and minor premiers of the AFL era are listed below.
|1994||West Coast||West Coast|
|2004||Port Adelaide||Port Adelaide|
|2006||West Coast||West Coast|