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Opinion

Brisbane, Geelong, Hawthorn or Richmond: Which dynasty has been the best?

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Editor
26th October, 2020
216
3005 Reads

I’ll be honest with you, Roar readers – I’m dead tired.

It’s been an absurdly busy time at Roar Towers amd I’ve barely got the energy to put together my normal Tuesday column.

So, today, you’ll be doing the analysis.

On Saturday night, Richmond claimed their third flag in four seasons to officially (in my eyes) join the Brisbane Lions, Geelong Cats and Hawthorn sides of recent years in the exclusive dynasty club.

Tale of the tape

Brisbane Lions
2001 2nd – 17-5, 127.6% Won grand final
2002 2nd – 17-5, 136.7% Won grand final
2003 3rd – 14-1-7, 121.9% Won grand final
2004 2nd – 16-6, 137.24% Lost grand final
Geelong Cats
2007 1st – 18-4, 152.8% Won grand final
2008 1st – 21-1, 161.8% Lost grand final
2009 2nd – 18-4, 127.4% Won grand final
2010 2nd – 17-5, 147.9% Lost preliminary final
2011 2nd – 19-3, 157.4% Won grand final
Hawthorn Hawks
2012 1st – 17-5, 154.6% Lost grand final
2013 1st – 19-3, 135.7% Won grand final
2014 2nd – 17-5, 140.8% Won grand final
2015 3rd – 16-6, 158.4% Won grand final
Richmond Tigers
2017 3rd – 15-7, 118.3% Won grand final
2018 1st – 18-4, 136.2% Lost preliminary final
2019 3rd – 16-6, 113,7% Won grand final
2020 3rd – 12-1-4, 129.9% Won grand final

What jumps out immediately is how absurdly dominant Geelong were during the home-and-away seasons of their dynasty. They never finished outside the top two and lost just 17 home-and-away matches in five years, while finishing that same five-year period with a whopping percentage of 149. They could’ve not scored a single point in 2011 and they still would’ve had a positive percentage during their dynasty.

Brisbane having not won a minor premiership during their run is something of a surprise, while Richmond winning three flags from outside the top two is also pretty impressive, one of those instances comes with a bit of an asterisk.

Journeys through the finals

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Brisbane Lions
2001
QF def. Port Adelaide (3rd) by 32 at The Gabba
PF def. Richmond (4th) by 68 at The Gabba
GF def. Essendon (1st) by 26 at the MCG
2002
QF def. Adelaide (3rd) by 71 at The Gabba
PF def. Port Adelaide (1st) by 56 at The Gabba
GF def. Collingwood (4th) by 9 at the MCG
2003
QF def. by Collingwood (2nd) by 15 at the MCG
SF def. Adelaide (6th) by 42 at The Gabba
PF def. Sydney (4th) by 44 at Stadium Australia
GF def. Collingwood (2nd) by 50 at the MCG
2004
QF def. St Kilda (3rd) by 80 at The Gabba
PF def. Geelong (4th) by 9 at the MCG
GF def. by Port Adelaide (1st) by 40 at the MCG
Geelong Cats
2007
QF def. Kangaroos (4th) by 106 at the MCG
PF def. Collingwood (3rd) by 5 at the MCG
GF def. Port Adelaide (2nd) by 119 at the MCG
2008
QF def. St Kilda (4th) by 58 at the MCG
SF def. Western Bulldogs (3rd) by 29 at the MCG
GF def. by Hawthorn (2nd) by 26 at the MCG
2009
QF def. Western Bulldogs (3rd) by 14 at the MCG
PF def. Collingwood (4th) by 73 at the MCG
GF def. St Kilda (1st) by 12 at the MCG
2010
QF def. by St Kilda (3rd) by 4 at the MCG
SF def. Fremantle (6th) by 69 at the MCG
PF def. by Collingwood (1st) by 41 at the MCG
2011
QF def. Hawthorn (3rd) by 31 at the MCG
PF def. West Coast (4th) by 48 at the MCG
GF> def. Collingwood (1st) by 38 at the MCG
Hawthorn Hawks
2012
QF def. Collingwood (4th) by 38 at the MCG
PF def. Adelaide (2nd) by 5 at the MCG
GF def. by Sydney (3rd) by 10 at the MCG
2013
QF def. Sydney (4th) by 54 at the MCG
PF def. Geelong (2nd) by 5 at the MCG
GF def. Fremantle (3rd) by 15 at the MCG
2014
QF def. Geelong (3rd) by 36 at the MCG
PF def. Port Adelaide (5th) by 3 at the MCG
GF def. Sydney (1st) by 63 at the MCG
2015
QF def. by West Coast (2nd) by 32 at Subiaco
SF def. Adelaide (7th) by 74 at the MCG
PF def. Fremantle (1st) by 27 at Subiaco
GF def. West Coast (2nd) by 46 at the MCG
Richmond Tigers
2017
QF def. Geelong (2nd) by 51 at the MCG
PF def. GWS (4th) by 36 at the MCG
GF def. Adelaide (1st) by 48 at the MCG
2018
QF def. Hawthorn (4th) by 31 at the MCG
PF def. by Collingwood (3rd) by 39 at the MCG
2019
QF def. Brisbane (2nd) by 47 at The Gabba
PF def. Geelong (1st) by 19 at the MCG
GF def. GWS (6th) by 89 at the MCG
2020
QF def. by Brisbane (2nd) by 15 at The Gabba
SF def. St Kilda (6th) by 31 at Carrara
PF def. Port Adelaide (1st) by 6 at the Adelaide Oval
GF def. Geelong (4th) by 31 at The Gabba

There’s a fair bit to be impressed by here for all four sides. Brisbane were just incredibly ruthless in finals and regularly put their opponents to the sword whether playing at the Gabba or interstate. The end to their 2004 campaign is particularly interesting; forced to play a ‘home’ preliminary final at the MCG due to an archaic agreement between the AFL and the ground, you have to wonder if they would’ve been more refreshed in the decider against Port if they’d been able to play in Brisbane.

Geelong regularly won ‘home’ finals at the MCG too against teams who normally play at home there, such as the 2007 and 2009 preliminary finals, as well as the 2011 qualifying finals. Hawthorn’s 2015 campaign is one of the best ever, going from Perth to Melbourne twice, knocking off the minor premiers on their home deck and then crushing a side in the decider who’d beaten them in the qualifying final and came into the match with more rest.

I don’t mind that the grand final is always played at the MCG, but the 2017 qualifying final being played there was a bit of a joke and Geelong fans have every right to be aggrieved they had to ‘host’ the Tigers there. Credit where credit is due, however; Richmond’s run to the flag this season is right up there with Hawthorn in 2015’s in terms of difficulty.

Home vs away

These numbers represent the number of games a team played at their home venue(s), not the games they were arbitrarily determined the home or away team. Brisbane is simple; games at the Gabba is games at home. For Geelong, their number only includes all matches at Kardinia Park, but only Docklands or MCG games against interstate opponents. Hawthorn’s number includes matches at the MCG and Launceston, as well as Docklands games against interstate opponents, while Richmond’s number includes all MCG matches, as well as Docklands matches against interstate opponents.

Before you all start jumping up and down, the reason I calculated it this is way is because I believe the true advantage of playing at home is the lack of travel, not having a higher proportion of the crowd barracking for you. While many of Hawthorn and Richmond’s home MCG games would’ve been against fellow MCG tenants, claiming that this means it wasn’t a ‘true’ home game would be akin to claiming this year’s grand final wasn’t an away game for both sides.

Besides, the real argument about the number of home games Victorian sides isn’t to do with the advantage of no travel for a particular match, but the cumulative advantage of having travelled little over the course of the year.

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Anyway, here are the numbers.

Brisbane Lions
Games at home Record Games away Record
49 44-5 47 27-19-1
Geelong Cats
Games at home Record Games away Record
40 37-3 85 68-17
Hawthorn Hawks
Games at home Record Games away Record
71 58-13 32 22-8
Richmond Tigers
Games at home Record Games away Record
52 45-6-1 42 25-17

Thanks to the oddities of 2020, it actually looks like Hawthorn were the biggest home-ground beneficiaries during their time at the top – 18 ‘away’ games at the MCG in four years is nice travelling if you can get it. They lost just once in Launceston (to Sydney in 2012, incidentally) during their dynasty too.

Surprisingly, it’s the Brisbane Lions who had the toughest time of it away from home during their dynasty, but their clinical finals performances away from home should put any notion of them being home-track bullies to bed.

That’s my work done. If there are any more facts you want to bring to the table – go for it! I’m getting some sleep now.