St Kilda and Collingwood showed they weren't as good as everyone thought at the time and more of a flash in the pan.In my view, the real core of the issue is how impressive Geelong was in 2007 and 2011. They simply obliterated their competition in both years. They never backed up a premiership, but the three premierships they won were just that much more impressive. In fact, their three premiership years were that much more impressive, when considered as individual seasons.
If Geelong had say, won their 2007 finals by a combined total of 74 points (average winning 24.7 points) like Hawthorn did in 2013, this would be a closer debate in my mind.
If Geelong had stumbled in the 2011 finals, losing in week 1 like Hawthorn did in 2013 then this would be a closer debate in my mind.
But they didn’t.
They won 2 finals by over 100 points in 2007! Something no one else has ever achieved, I’m pretty sure.
In 2011 they had 3 comfortable victories in a row, against opponents with a combined home and away record of 55-11. (Even if you removed all the wins against the weak bottom 4, this would still be a better combined record than the finals teams who lost to the premier, in almost any other year). West Coast were unbeatable at home and still decent elsewhere, Hawthorn were very good, and Collingwood were next level. Geelong beat them all. Easily!
Those two achievements are greater than anything Hawthorn, Brisbane or Richmond did. And when you consider Geelong also beat a team who won 19 games in a row in 2009, it's collectively just incredibly impressive.
I guess what I'm saying is this: Not all flags are equal. Geelong's were better, overall.
People think Brisbane and Hawthorn's flags were automatically better, simply because they won the year before. Without regard for opposition, or how impressive they were in the finals. And that seems to be literally the only argument you could make for Hawthorn or Brisbane. (Other than "Brisbane travelled"). But I just can't accept that backing up a flag is necessarily more impressive than falling off the cliff- in the eyes of many- and then climbing the summit again- and going to higher heights than ever before.
So the one possible argument for Hawthorn and Brisbane is equalled by something Geelong did- something different but equally impressive. And then all other factors, all other measures point towards Geelong. That's why they're easily the greatest.