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AFL finals fact checker

Roar Guru
29th August, 2013
22

Drawing inspiration from the Federal Election and the various “fact-checkers”, several well-established claims regarding the AFL premiership will be tested.

The Claim
“A Team needs a power forward to win a premiership”

Going back over the years, the likes of Carey, Dunstall, Hall, Franklin, Lloyd and Lynch are names synonymous with “power forwards” and also premiership superstars.

But how important is the need for a power forward is to a side’s premiership chances?

The Evidence
In order to examine this claim objectively, it is first important to define what exactly is a “power forward”.

For the purposes of this analysis, I have defined a power forward as a player that finishes in the Top 8 in the league goal kicking in the year their side has won the flag.

The cutoff of Top 8 is reflective of the cutoff for teams playing in the finals (i.e. a team that finishes ninth doesn’t play finals so a ninth placed goal kicker should also be excluded).

From here, it is simply a matter of trawling through the stats to determine whether the premiers had a power forward in their side.

Unfortunately the AFL only has comprehensive stats for all players since the turn of the century on its website.

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The results are as follows
Year Premiers Power forward?
2000 Essendon Yes (Mathew Lloyd)
2001 Brisbane Yes (Alistair Lynch)
2002 Brisbane Yes (Alistair Lynch)
2003 Brisbane Yes (Alistair Lynch)
2004 Port Adelaide Yes (Warren Tredrea)
2005 Sydney Yes (Barry Hall)
2006 West Coast Yes (Quinten Lynch)
2007 Geelong Yes (Cameron Mooney)
2008 Hawthorn Yes (Lance Franklin)
2009 Geelong No
2010 Collingwood No
2011 Geelong Yes (James Podsiadly)
2012 Sydney No

Some of the results are interesting and perhaps a little contentious. First of all, most fans would not regard Quinten Lynch as a power forward as highlighted in 2006.

Lynch kicked 65 goals that year, placing him eighth on the goal kicking tally, though his tally of nine goals in the final series meant he overtook three other players who were ahead of him at the end of the home-and-away season.

Similarly, James Podsiadly also finished eighth on the goal kicking tally in 2011. Interestingly, his teammate Steve Johnson finished ninth and between they kicked over 100 goals.

On the flip side, many fans would regard Travis Cloke as a power forward but in the pies premiership year of 2010, he only managed only 38 goals from 24 matches. He wasn’t even the leading goalkicker for the Pies (Alan Didak was leading goalkicker with 41 goals.)

The verdict
A tough one to call. Between 2000 and 2008, every premiership side had a player that met the criteria for a “power forward”.

However three of the last four premiers did not and Geelong’s James Podsiadly is a borderline inclusion in this list.

Perhaps this is an indication on how the game has evolved, the more defensive nature of the modern game means you need a greater spread of goalkickers in order to kick winning scores.

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While having a power forward is certainly handy, it does not appear to be a necessity based on recent winners.

Therefore the claim
“A Team needs a power forward to win a premiership” is rated as “Half-True”

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