Hawks, LBU buck trend to win premierships
LAST Saturday’s AFL grand final win by those mighty flying Hawks was a fitting end to the season for Hawthorn.
The Hawks were the best team over the course of the home and away season, yet unlike soccer, there’s no prize for finishing in top spot in Aussie Rules.
No matter how dominant a team may have been throughout the course of a year, it all comes down to those couple of intense, pressure-filled hours on grand final day.
The Hawks handled the occasion much better than the Dockers, particularly early, and their 15-point grand final win backed up their home and away status as the AFL’s best team.
However, across central Victoria this year it was a vastly different scenario.
Throughout the Bendigo, Heathcote District, Loddon Valley, North Central and Maryborough-Castlemaine District leagues, only one of the premiership teams topped their ladder.
That was HDFL premier Lockington-Bamawm United. The Cats (pictured) finished two games clear at the top and hit grand final day against Huntly primed for their third-straight flag.
And they delivered in style, blowing the Hawks away after half-time to win by 58 points.
Bridgewater (LVFL) and Navarre (MCDFL) both won their flags from second position, but in contrasting fashion.
The Mean Machine were slow out of the blocks against minor premier Bears Lagoon-Serpentine, then dominated the second and third terms, before surviving a late rush from the Bears, who cut a 35-point last-quarter deficit to just eight at the final siren.
While Bridgewater clung on to win its fourth flag in a row, Navarre had no such concerns against Lexton in an MCDFL grand final whitewash.
The Grasshoppers’ winning margin was an even 100 points, with their premiership coming after a home and away season in which they finished three games, plus 134 per cent, behind top team Carisbrook, which didn’t even make the grand final after being a raging favourite all season.
There’s no prize for finishing in top spot in Aussie Rules
Wedderburn defied the odds to win the NCFL flag - its third in a row - as the lowest-ranked finalist, having finished fourth.
But the Redbacks, who weren’t even in the top four after round 12, timed their run to perfection, culminating in a 12-point grand final win over top side Charlton.
And then there’s Golden Square, which won its fifth-straight BFL flag from third spot, beating top-of-the-ladder Strathfieldsaye by 21 points in the big dance in a game that was in the balance at half-time.
In fact, of Golden Square’s five flags in a row, only two have been won from finishing top – 2010 and 2011.
Finishing on top of the ladder is a great achievement, but as this year shows, there’s a very good reason why it’s only called the “minor premiership”, while the benefit of grand final experience can't be under-estimated.