THIS Saturday signals the beginning of the second half of the Bendigo Football League season.
Logic would seem to suggest that with every team having played each other once, the ladder at the halfway mark of the season should then be reflected the same at the end of round 18 once teams have met for a second time.
But BFL history over the past 10 seasons dating back to 2005 shows that’s far from the case, unless the season is 2010 when the order of the ladder was the same at the end of round 18 as it was round nine.
So what are the trends of the past decade when comparing the halfway ladder to the final ladder in relation to the premiership, the top three, the top five and the wooden spoon?
PREMIERSHIP: Golden Square has proven the past two years that the halfway ladder means nothing when it comes to the flag.
Golden Square has won the past two of its five flags in a row from sitting fifth at the halfway mark.
But prior to the Bulldogs’ winning the flag from fifth the past two years, the other eight premier teams in the timeframe had been on top of the ladder at the halfway mark, which is where Sandhurst is sitting with its unblemished 9-0 record.
The Dragons join Eaglehawk (2007 and 2008) and Golden Square (2010 and 2011) as unbeaten teams at the halfway mark over the past decade.
TOP THREE: Always plenty of speculation throughout the season as to who will finish top three and earn the coveted double chance.
At the moment it’s Sandhurst, Strathfieldsaye and Gisborne sitting in the top three.
Six times in the past 10 years – 2013, 2012, 2011, 2008, 2007 and 2005 - there has been at least one change to the top three from the halfway mark.
The past two seasons saw both South Bendigo and Strathfieldsaye fall from the top of the ladder at the halfway mark of the season to drop out of the top three.
In the Bloods’ case last year, they more than just tumbled out of the top three – they missed the finals all together after crashing from top to sixth over their last eight games.
The only year over the past decade when there has been two top three changes was in 2011 when South Bendigo and Strathfieldsaye dropped out at the expense of Eaglehawk and Gisborne.
TOP FIVE: Joining the Dragons, Storm and Bulldogs in the five at the moment is Golden Square and Kangaroo Flat – a side that has only made the finals once over the past decade.
And the past decade suggest there’s an 80 per cent chance these will be the five teams that contest the finals in September.
Only twice in the past decade have teams sitting in the top five at the halfway mark missed the finals.
That was last year when the Bloods capitulated in the second half of the season and in 2011 when the Storm coughed up their chance to play in their first finals series when they fell from third to sixth.
On both occasions it was Sandhurst that climbed from outside the five at the halfway mark – including from seventh in 2011 – to reach September.
WOODEN SPOON: South Bendigo is the side currently consigned to the bottom of the ladder.
Are the Bloods on the way to what would be their first wooden spoon since 1965?
Castlemaine and Kyneton were both on the bottom of the ladder at the halfway mark the past two years, but later steered clear of the wooden spoon.
However, the Magpies and Tigers bucked the trend of the past decade when the previous eight wooden-spooners between 2005 and 2011 all sat last at the halfway mark.
What will the rest of the season bring? Can't wait to find out.