Which AFL teams won’t feature in 2012 finals action

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    This time of year in the winter football codes, you’d be forgiven for thinking every team was destined for premiership glory.

    All you are likely to find is optimism, from all sides, all players, all team officials.

    Everyone toes the party line that the pre-season has been the best the club has ever had.

    This year was better than last year’s (which was then the best ever), and better than the year before that too (which, coincidentally, had been the best before last year’s epic effort.)

    That every team has their best ever pre-season every year says more about the desire of AFL clubs to attract new members than it does about any team’s chance of success.

    Invariably those who make the least amount of noise pre-season tend to be find themselves featuring at the pointy end of the season.

    This year has been no exception.

    I have barely heard a peep from Geelong, Hawthorn, Collingwood, Carlton or West Coast so far this year, but I suspect that these sides will figure most prominently in the fight for this year’s flag.

    I’d go so far as to say that these five sides are a lock for the top eight, leaving thirteen other teams to fight it out for the remaining three spots.

    So at the risk of bursting the pre-season bubble of a few clubs, and sprinkling a little bit of truth in among the club propaganda, not every team will be victorious this year.

    Only eight of the eighteen teams will make the finals this year. Staggering, I know.

    So let’s put a line through those teams that will be non-contenders, despite all the words and press releases to the contrary declaring that 2012 will be their year.

    Greater Western Sydney Giants
    This one is a bit of a no-brainer. The AFL’s newest franchise doesn’t have a snow-flake’s chance in hell of being around when the finals swing into gear in September.

    The AFL’s newest franchise is full of young kids and the leftovers from other clubs. The Giants lack the star power that the Gold Coast Suns were able to secure in its first year, and it will be difficult for the club to attract supporters in its inaugural season while copping a belting every week.

    The Giants will struggle to get within ten goals of any other side in the competition in 2012, let alone win a match.

    But we all know this to be true, so let’s move on to…

    Gold Coast Suns
    The Suns are another side all but assured of finishing outside finals action this year. Gold Coast surprised many in securing three victories last season, but are still at least a year or two from seriously threatening the top eight.

    The Suns will be looking to edge their win tally to seven or eight this season, and from there, aim for a positive win-loss ratio in season 2013.

    Other clubs should take their wins against the Suns while they can, because in 2015 and beyond, the Suns are likely to be a genuine premiership contender.

    Port Adelaide Power
    The Power had a woeful season in 2011, and only narrowly avoided the wooden spoon with a win against Melbourne in the final round. Expect 2012 to be marginally better, but the Power are still a long way off finals contention.

    Coach Matthew Primus will have considerably better coaching support this season, and the Power have a number of talented and promising youngsters committed to the club, but eight wins this season will be a very good effort.

    Brisbane Lions
    The Lions have won just eleven matches in the previous two seasons, and there are very few signs to suggest that they will better this this year. The Lions lost ruckman Mitch Clark to Melbourne, and have replaced him with the previously retired Ben Hudson.

    A fit and firing Jonathan Brown has the potential be a big upside for the Lions’ chances this year, but the club is short on player talent, and will be anchored toward the bottom of the AFL ladder for a few more seasons.

    Richmond Tigers
    A lot of football followers are bullish about the Tigers’ prospects, but I’m not convinced this will be the year Richmond will make the eight. Damien Hardwick enters his third year as coach, and Richmond is unquestionably a team on the rise, but like a number of other sides on this list, the club may have to wait another year before pushing into the finals.

    Dustin Martin, Jack Riewoldt, Trent Cotchin and Brett Deledio are all very good players, but the second tier of the Richmond list will take another year or so to come on and provide the depth necessary to push Richmond into the top eight.

    Maybe next year for the men from Punt Road.

    You can follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelFilosi

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    The Crowd Says (37)

    • February 20th 2012 @ 12:32pm
      BigAl said | February 20th 2012 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

      would agree on Collongwood ! . . . absolutely NO HOPE !!!

    • February 20th 2012 @ 1:21pm
      Walt said | February 20th 2012 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

      Ten clubs wont play finals this year and you only shoot for five? And of those you chose, 4 of them are no brainers. Come on Michael, show some you-know-whats and earn your “expert” rating.

      • Roar Guru

        February 20th 2012 @ 1:35pm
        The Cattery said | February 20th 2012 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

        There’s not too much difference between those clubs ranked 9 to 16 and the ones likely to fill 7th and 8th.

      • February 20th 2012 @ 4:01pm
        T said | February 20th 2012 @ 4:01pm | ! Report

        Have to agree Walt, what’s the purpose of this article and where’s any sort of insight? Or some form of analysis? Eagerly awaiting the top-six of 2012 article – Pies, Geelong …

    • February 20th 2012 @ 1:26pm
      Col said | February 20th 2012 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

      Thats all pretty obvious with GWS and GCFC. Although I wouldnt be suprised if Port are the big improvers this year. Not top 8 material, but will be better than what most people are predicting.

      With Richmond, the longer they leave Hardwick unsigned for next season, the greater the chance they are of missing the 8. The Tigs have enough trouble hitting targets without the added pressure of another coaching change if they underperform. Sign him up for at least one more year now, so that come round 12 the focus might be on a top 8 spot as opposed to potential care taker coaches.

      Brisbane, have been one of the clubs talking it up big time, apparently going to emmulate West Coast from last year. Puts a fair bit of pressure on Voss. Not sure of his contract status, but he could be the first coach under the pump after the bye rounds if the lions are not roaring by then….

    • February 20th 2012 @ 6:38pm
      me too said | February 20th 2012 @ 6:38pm | ! Report

      well i’ll be braver.
      teams that will get an early holiday are the qld teams, gws, richmond, north, port, crows, melbourne, freo (adjusting to lyon) and the bulldogs.
      a possible miss is essendon. either freo or the dogs could replace them. aside from that, it’s cut and dry.

      • Roar Guru

        February 20th 2012 @ 6:45pm
        The Cattery said | February 20th 2012 @ 6:45pm | ! Report

        Not a bad list – I’m not sure if the Swans and Saints are all that entrenched.

    • February 20th 2012 @ 6:44pm
      calippo said | February 20th 2012 @ 6:44pm | ! Report

      which teams won’t play finals?
      GWS, SUNS, POWER, LIONS, BULLDOGS, SAINTS, BOMBERS
      and then 3 of out of the CROWS (play GWS and SUNS twice each) DEMONS, TIGERS and KANGAS

    • February 20th 2012 @ 8:59pm
      Nathan of Perth said | February 20th 2012 @ 8:59pm | ! Report

      Well, I’d suggest one thing: very few of the $40m plus revenue teams will miss out, and none of the three $50m plus teams will miss out!

      • Roar Guru

        February 20th 2012 @ 9:10pm
        The Cattery said | February 20th 2012 @ 9:10pm | ! Report

        Nathan
        it’s rapidly getting like that isn’t it? Who would have thought that in this day of equalisation we’d say that, but the wealthy teams have broken away from the pack again and have definitely found a way to give themselves an advantage with the extra resources at their disposal.

        • February 20th 2012 @ 10:37pm
          Ian Whitchurch said | February 20th 2012 @ 10:37pm | ! Report

          On the other hand, look back to 2006.

          Im not convinced the advantages are permanent, and Im also convinced the AFL will leave it’s thumb on the scales – it already has to help Port, for example.

        • February 21st 2012 @ 12:56am
          Nathan of Perth said | February 21st 2012 @ 12:56am | ! Report

          The Wookie on BF had a pretty comprehensive list of declared income and it was definitely interesting reading. http://www.bigfooty.com/forum/showthread.php?t=892065 He hasn’t updated with the interesting details out of the Eagles, but even so.

          Has to be said though; *wow* club revenue has been going up and up. I mean, yeah, global scale we’re still minnows, only now approaching European middle-tiers or, for instance, US NCAA I FBS programs, but still. The rate of expansion has been startling.

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