I read with interest the comments from Alastair Clarkson about his criticism of the state of the game.
While the AFL hit the drawing board to combat the restrictions, us fanatical fans have been gifted some great past matches to pass the time.
These throwback matches featured a wide range of forgotten classics from the 90s, 2000s and the most recent decade. We have seen former greats lace up the boots again, once-great dynasties be reborn and the occasional controversial nail-biters, again putting us on the edge of our seats.
Now we are less than a week away from the AFL to resume, and it seemed only fitting constructing a ladder to honour the teams who have put on a show for us these past 11 weeks.
Below will be (in ascending order) the teams’ position, win/loss total and a quick summary of the matches we have seen.
18. Gold Coast Suns (three wins, eight Losses, 12 points)
Look, unfortunately, this isn’t a surprise to many. The Suns have had a somewhat bumpy start to their AFL tenure. Despite the lack of success the team did surprise some to steal some points away including their big Q-Clash win back in their inaugural season.
17. Brisbane Lions (three wins, eight losses, 12 points)
It has taken some time for Lions fans to be anxious for an AFL season to get going and this placement on the ladder reflects that. Despite this, the team easily had one of the best comebacks victories, famously known as the ‘Miracle on Grass’. Still spectacular seven years on.
16. Western Bulldogs (four Wins, seven losses, 16 points)
One of the biggest surprises is the placement of the Sons of the West. They’ve been caught on the losing end of the schedule more often than not, with the only major highlight coming in the second week beating the Giants in a preliminary final back in 2016. The rest we know is history.
15. Carlton Blues (four wins, seven losses, 16 points)
Another team that has had a tough few years are the Navy Blues. They’re a bit unlucky to not have a few more high-scoring matches tilt their way sees them down in the bottom end of the ladder. Reliving a victory over their fiercest rival Collingwood, on the other hand, must have been a worthy consolation.
14. St Kilda Saints (four wins, five losses, one draw, 18 points)
The Saints started the throwback season strong with three wins and a draw to the Tigers, however after the Anzac ‘bye’, the losses kept on piling. St Kilda did cop it a bit more than some including playing one less match and not to mention the infamous loss to Fremantle back in 2006.
13. Melbourne Demons (five wins, six losses, 20 points)
The Demons fell to the bottom of seven teams decided by one game. If you were loyal to the Red and Blue and watched week after week, you may need to check for any newly formed grey hairs. Constant matches were decided within one goal, except for ‘Round 1’ of course.
12. Hawthorn Hawks (five wins, six losses, 20 points)
Another surprise forming the ladder was the unorthodox finishing of the Hawks. Despite missing the finals it was something special to see the magic of Luke Hodge, Jarryd Roughead and Cyril Rioli again. The 2016 match up with Sydney was a good example of class prevailing.
11. Adelaide Crows (five wins, six losses, 20 points)
Crows fans enjoyed a mix of well-fought victories, close scraps and heartbreak during the throwback schedule. The most recent years may come across as gloomy at best for them, yet the 2012 matchup against Bombers was a welcomed sight.
10. Geelong Cats (five wins, six losses, 20 points)
It may have hurt reliving the ‘Miracle on Grass’ again but it was a welcomed sight revitalising a past great Cats side. An early era Gary Abblet Jr with hair, no hair Paul Chapman and even redhead Cameron Ling came back to Kardinia Park. So much talent, yet unlucky to miss the finals.
9. North Melbourne Kangaroos (six wins, five losses, 24 points)
Rounding out the best of the rest is the mighty Kangas. A fourth would have to of been seeing Brent “Boomer” Harvey back singing the chorus in 2008 beating the Bulldogs. However, the team is looking outside the eight despite a winning record, only on percentage.
8. Port Adelaide Power (six wins, four losses, 24 points)
Despite playing one less game than all other finalists, Power snuck into the eight this throwback season. The ‘Round 1’ thrashing of a struggling Gold Coast cemented their chance, kicking out the Kangas. Is this a positive omen for Ken Hinkley’s boys this up and coming season restart?
7. Greater Western Sydney Giants (six wins, five losses, 24 points)
The Giants after the Anzac ‘bye’ were nearly unstoppable to surge their way up the standings. The team even caught a glimpse of defeating the Tigers, which hopefully was not too soon. The team interestingly allowed the least amount of points to be scored against them, so will hypothetical defence be a bonus in this hypothetical final series?
6. Richmond Tigers (six wins, four losses, one draw, 26 points)
Tiger fans did have to endure some early season heartache to the Pies and to the Saints, however, things soon turned back to the familiar winning feeling. The team responsible for choosing which nail-biting match to choose each week were spoiled for choice when it came to Richmond, who are definitely not unfamiliar with situations with less than a goal to decide the game.
5. Sydney Swans (seven wins, four losses, 28 points)
Despite having an under-100 record and having consistently sluggish hard-hitting games, the Swans made their way comfortably up the ladder. The North Melbourne heart-pounder in Round 6 was especially exciting and a classy reminder that the Swans do play a unique brand of footy.
4. Essendon Bombers (seven wins, five losses, 28 points)
It felt wrong not including both Anzac Day matches in the completion of this ladder which gave both the Bombers and the Magpies an extra game to the rest. However, both matches were truly ones for the history books so to casual fans, you are almost forgiven.
3. Collingwood Magpies (seven wins, five losses, 28 points)
The Magpies finished with the most points scored throughout the throwback fixture. Sure, it helps when you play an extra game, giving every other team besides the Bombers an ‘Anzac Bye’, but still exciting to watch. The big win over the Eagles was a nice redemption as well.
2. West Coast Eagles (eight wins, four losses, 32 points)
Narrowing missing the top spot (courtesy of an extra Western Derby I nearly missed), the Eagles unsurprisingly put on a show throughout the season. Seeing the likes of Chris Judd, Matt Priddis and Dean Cox again was a welcomed sight and no wonder the Eagles have been flying high for some time now.
1. Fremantle Dockers (eight wins, four losses, 32 points)
If not the biggest shock on the list, the mighty Dockers find themselves on top going into the restarted season. Even with an extra game the team comfortably sat atop the ladder almost every week. The Fremantle Dockers are your throwback premiers.