So Essendon have missed the finals again. The dream team of Hird and Thompson have not been able to fully engage their magic wand.
So not since 2004 have the Bombers won a final, and unless they defeat the Pies this week that will be eight seasons without at least a 12 win season.
The only other club (not counting the two new teams of course) to have achived this is Richmond.
The fall has been dramatic and in fact enhanced if you look at the previous eight seasons side by side.
In 97-04 they had 114 home and away victories (the most of anyone) and from 05-12 they had 68 home and away victories.
That’s a drop of 46 – again greater than anyone.
What about the flipside? Who was the most improved? Well, surprise surprise, the Cats went from 88 wins in 97-04 (still a solid 11 win a year average so not coming off a really low base) to 129 in 05-12. That is an improvement of 41.
Second and third were the Pies and Saints.
Well how did this demise start?
Clubs are built over seasons, not any one season. And while every club has had a bad draft, it’s not possible to have three in a row and have a good playing list at your club.
The key for me has always been your three to five season players.
They are the ones that should go onto being 150 games plus players and provide your club with at least a competitive 5-8 season future.
At the end of 2004, the Cats had drafted and traded during 99-01 the following players: Corey, Chapman, Ling, Enright, Hunt, Bartel, Johnson, Ablett, Mooney and Kingsley.
All at least played 100 games.
As for the Bombers, during 99-01 they recruited the following Welsh, Hille and Rioli.
They also had Ted Richards, who went on to be another Swans success story.
The chasm between games played, and talent, of the above two lists is enormous and goes a good way to explaining the Cats’ improvement and why the slide of the Bombers was so severe.
So where the do they stand now?
The Cats have the following: Taylor, Simpson, Brown, Gillies, Motlop, Hunt, Menzel, Duncan, Christensen, Vardy and Stringer. A talented list which should ensure Chris Scott has a long stay at the Cattery.
And the Bombers have: Myers, Pears, Hooker, Prismall, Hurley, Zaharakis, Melksham, Carlisle, Colyer, Long, Hardingham, Howlett and Crameri.
A lot of names, and while Hurley, Zaharakis and Crameri are all looking the goods, the jury is still out on the rest.
James Hird continues to state that he is going to improve from within, without any dramatic changes to his list. However, the list of six season plus players below does not inspire confidence especially with a number of them still not able to hold a regular position.
They are: Bellchambers, Davey, Dempsey, Dyson, Fletcher, Gumbleton, Hille, Hocking, Jetta, Lonergan, Lovett-Murray, Montfries, Ryder, Reimers, Slattery, Stanton, Watson and Winderlich.
If they were to be ruthless, half that list could easily be moved on.
For me the Dons need a real rebuild and quickly over the next 2-3 years if they hope to match it with the top teams. What do you think, Roarers?