AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has fronted the media today to respond to growing fan unrest as to a supposed crackdown on fan behaviour at AFL venues over the last few weeks.
Sydney Swans v Western Bulldogs; Melbourne Storm v Cronulla Sharks. Grand finals of eerie similarity.
But this convergence, this parallelism, is no surprise. It happens regularly – not every year, granted, but often enough to be spookily familiar.
When did I first see this trend? It all began for me in 1977. A callow pimply teenager then, I supported St George in what was then the Sydney rugby league.
That was the year that the Dragons drew with Parramatta and a replay was required… and you know don’t you, that in that very same year Collingwood drew with North Melbourne in the then VFL, and a replay was required!
Coincidence? You might say so if it was the only convergence ever noted, but many times since I’ve noticed the same trend. Some years it’s more noticeable than others, but there’s always something in common between the AFL and NRL deciders.
Take 1982 – Carlton win back to back flags, and so does Parramatta.
1989 – many say the greatest AFL decider ever between Hawthorn and Geelong … but don’t they say that about the Canberra-Balmain grand final?
1992 – West Coast win first ever AFL flag won by an interstate team. Lo and behold, Brisbane win the first ever league competition by an interstate team!
1995 – Canterbury and Carlton win respective GFs … they have the same sponsor.
1996 – My two red and white teams, Swans and Dragons, both make the GF. On the same weekend they both lose to forces of darkness (OK, so I’m personally reading a lot into that one).
2000 – Brisbane Broncos and Essendon are premiers … both champion teams who had also won together in 1993.
2001 – Brisbane Lions defeat minor premier Essendon in the big dance, just as Newcastle defeat the minor premiers Parramatta.
2005 – Long premiership droughts are broken as the Swans and Tigers claim surprising premierships.
There are other more minor convergences that I’ve left out for the sake of conciseness, things such as teams of the same colour both winning, or bird mascots, interstate teams, teams that both lost their first final and so on.
But if you’re not convinced, this year’s parallels are uncanny!
Sydney Swans – Minor premiers, last won premiership in 2012, the interstate team.
Melbourne Storm – Minor premiers, last won premiership in 2012, the interstate team.
Western Bulldogs – local team, third GF ever, three colours
Cronulla – local team, third GF ever, three colours
Eerie isn’t it! My convergence theory says that the same team of each pair will win on both Saturday in the AFL and on Sunday in the NRL. So you can be certain of the result in the NRL based on what happens in the AFL decider.