No club has ever started a season 0-3 and finished top 4 in the 18-team era

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GC2015

Norm Smith Medallist
May 27, 2013
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AFL Club
Gold Coast
Stastically speaking, teams that start a season 0-3 in the 18-team era (2012-23) have only qualified for finals 6.2% of the time and none have gone on to finish top 4 or play in the grand final. In the top 8 finals era (1994-2023) teams that start 0-3 have made the finals 15.4% of the time, have finished in the top 4 just 2.8% of the time and have never made the grand final.

Reigning grand finalists Collingwood and Brisbane are both staring down the barrel of 0-3 starts to their season and if it happens to both then history suggests they are unlikely to even make the finals, let alone finish in the top 4.

Are we about to see a changing of the guard at the top end of the AFL?
 
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Since 2007, only 3 teams out of 49 that have started 0-3 or more were able to make the 8;

2021 Giants - 0-3 (7th)
2017 Sydney - 0-6 (6th)
2007 North - 0-3 (4th)

7 out of the 46 sides that have started 3-0 went on to miss out,

2022 Carlton - 3-0 (9th)
2018 Port Adelaide - 3-0 (10th)
2016 Gold Coast - 3-0 (15th)
2014 West Coast - 3-0 (9th)
2012 Essendon/Carlton - 4-0 (10th)/3-0 (11th)
2011 Brisbane - 4-0 (15th)

While teams that have started 0-3 have made the finals/top 4, it's clear that it's very rare. So one can say it does put you at a significant disadvantage.

Also, we see more teams negatively affected after winning the first 3, than we see teams positively affected after losing the first 3. In other words, those who start well have been more likely to face the contrary than those who just start bad.
 
Since 2007, only 3 teams out of 49 that have started 0-3 or more were able to make the 8;

2021 Giants - 0-3 (7th)
2017 Sydney - 0-6 (6th)
2007 North - 0-3 (4th)

7 out of the 46 sides that have started 3-0 went on to miss out,

2022 Carlton - 3-0 (9th)
2018 Port Adelaide - 3-0 (10th)
2016 Gold Coast - 3-0 (15th)
2014 West Coast - 3-0 (9th)
2012 Essendon/Carlton - 4-0 (10th)/3-0 (11th)
2011 Brisbane - 4-0 (15th)

While teams that have started 0-3 have made the finals/top 4, it's clear that it's very rare. So one can say it does put you at a significant disadvantage.

Also, we see more teams negatively affected after winning the first 3, than we see teams positively affected after losing the first 3. In other words, those who start well have been more likely to face the contrary than those who just start bad.


The problem with these takes is it fails to properly take into account that the vast majority of teams that lose their first 3 games are sh1t
 
Since 2007, only 3 teams out of 49 that have started 0-3 or more were able to make the 8;

2021 Giants - 0-3 (7th)
2017 Sydney - 0-6 (6th)
2007 North - 0-3 (4th)

7 out of the 46 sides that have started 3-0 went on to miss out,

2022 Carlton - 3-0 (9th)
2018 Port Adelaide - 3-0 (10th)
2016 Gold Coast - 3-0 (15th)
2014 West Coast - 3-0 (9th)
2012 Essendon/Carlton - 4-0 (10th)/3-0 (11th)
2011 Brisbane - 4-0 (15th)

While teams that have started 0-3 have made the finals/top 4, it's clear that it's very rare. So one can say it does put you at a significant disadvantage.

Also, we see more teams negatively affected after winning the first 3, than we see teams positively affected after losing the first 3. In other words, those who start well have been more likely to face the contrary than those who just start bad.
Better research here, thank goodness.

It's still notable that in the last 20 years the best a side has ever done after such a start is be thrashed in a prelim final.

Wondering if this extends through the whole AFL era. As mentioned, it certainly isn't true when extending to the VFL era.
 
I had a look at the last few seasons end of H&A ladder and the teams that finished 4th to see how many losses they could afford to make top 4.

2023- Demons 4th, lost 7 games.
2022- Magpies 4th, lost 6 games.
2021- Lions 4th, lost 7 games.
2020- Cats 4th, lost 5 games.
2019- Magpies 4th, lost 7 games.
2018- Hawks 4th, lost 7 games.

I scrolled through back to the year 2000, twice teams have had to only lose 5 games to make top 4 this century, there were quite a lot of 7/8 loss seasons and a couple of 9 loss seasons that made top 4.

So if you lose your first 3 games the margin for error is very small, you would have to go the rest of the season at something like 17-3/4 to make top 4.
 
That stat of both grand finalists from previous year starting 0-2 was an anomaly as well.

These sorta trends are meant to be broken at some point.

The AFL are creating the anomalies with the fixture.

The fixture has always been skewed but they have taken it to the next level in the last few years.

Good teams deliberately get a hard start to the season for ratings. Shit teams / teams AFL propping up in expansion markets deliberately get an easy start to the season to try and build momentum on and off field (memberships).
 
People put too much emphasis on the first few rounds.

If Collingwood lost to GWS in Sydney in round 12 & lost to a Sydney team that looks like they will be up the top of the table in round 16 would there be this much talk about them? Probably not. Collingwood has played 2 fellow competitors and lost they just happen to be their opening rounds

If Brisbane got done by 1 point by Carlton. In Brisbane in round 12 & lost to Freo in round 18 in Perth? A lost to a fellow preliminary finalist last year by a point & a lost on one of the hardest road trips in the AFL. Again they just happened to be their opening round.

The AFL more than ever seems to be deliberately putting the best teams against each other early (that was the entire point of opening round & other than Brisbane, the home team with the home ground advantage won). Over history such a manipulation didn’t occur

Surely after 2 teams last year storming out of the bottom 5 at the midway point to the preliminary final, we have learnt not to write teams off too early? It’s been 2 games from Collingwood & Brisbane

Let’s chill. If they are both 1-4 let’s talk then
 

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People put too much emphasis on the first few rounds.

If Collingwood lost to GWS in Sydney in round 12 & lost to a Sydney team that looks like they will be up the top of the table in round 16 would there be this much talk about them? Probably not. Collingwood has played 2 fellow competitors and lost they just happen to be their opening rounds

If Brisbane got done by 1 point by Carlton. In Brisbane in round 12 & lost to Freo in round 18 in Perth? A lost to a fellow preliminary finalist last year by a point & a lost on one of the hardest road trips in the AFL. Again they just happened to be their opening round.

The AFL more than ever seems to be deliberately putting the best teams against each other early (that was the entire point of opening round & other than Brisbane, the home team with the home ground advantage won). Over history such a manipulation didn’t occur

Surely after 2 teams last year storming out of the bottom 5 at the midway point to the preliminary final, we have learnt not to write teams off too early? It’s been 2 games from Collingwood & Brisbane

Let’s chill. If they are both 1-4 let’s talk then

Absolutely. Two key points to bear in mind are:

- the season is longer than it has ever been, both in number of matches and total.time (with both Brisbane and Collingwood having extra week to rest)

- the AFL has increasingly weighted the early season fixture so that good teams play other good teams, bad teams get wins against bad teams, etc. Collingwood are 0-2 precisely because they played two likely contenders. Brisbane also played a top 4 opponent and a mid table team (last year) away. The flipside is those teams have an easier run later in the year.

What it means is that it is more likely than it used to be that a good team starts 0-3, and if they do they have more games to catch up, more rest and time to reshuffle.tactically, and more easy games coming.

So comparing to historical records isn't that meaningful, as we know from last year.
 
Since 2007, only 3 teams out of 49 that have started 0-3 or more were able to make the 8;

2021 Giants - 0-3 (7th)
2017 Sydney - 0-6 (6th)
2007 North - 0-3 (4th)

7 out of the 46 sides that have started 3-0 went on to miss out,

2022 Carlton - 3-0 (9th)
2018 Port Adelaide - 3-0 (10th)
2016 Gold Coast - 3-0 (15th)
2014 West Coast - 3-0 (9th)
2012 Essendon/Carlton - 4-0 (10th)/3-0 (11th)
2011 Brisbane - 4-0 (15th)

While teams that have started 0-3 have made the finals/top 4, it's clear that it's very rare. So one can say it does put you at a significant disadvantage.

Also, we see more teams negatively affected after winning the first 3, than we see teams positively affected after losing the first 3. In other words, those who start well have been more likely to face the contrary than those who just start bad.

It should be less sides making it after slow starts in theory, from 2012 till now as opposed to 1994-2010/11 because a smaller percentage of sides makes finals, meaning you need to win more games to make finals than you did previously.
 
Umm, north won its first flag in 1975 after starting 0-4. And also finished top 3.
Ahh I see what's happened here. The source was referring to the 18-team era from 2012 onward:
Apologies for the confusion. OP and thread title updated.

Since 2007, only 3 teams out of 49 that have started 0-3 or more were able to make the 8;

2021 Giants - 0-3 (7th)
2017 Sydney - 0-6 (6th)
2007 North - 0-3 (4th)
Well done :thumbsu: I'll extend on your research to include results between 1994-2006 as that's the entire 8-team finals series era:

Between 1994-2006 there were 4 of 25 teams that started the season 0-3 and went on to make the finals. Only one finished in the top 4 - Geelong in 2004.

2006 - Melbourne 0-3 (7th)
2004 - Geelong 0-3 (4th)
2001 - Adelaide 0-3 (8th)
1999 - Sydney 0-3 (8th)

Combine that with your stats from 2007-2023 to include all years containing the 8-team finals series between 1994-2023. That gives us 11/71 teams (15.4%) that made the finals after starting the season 0-3 and 2/71 (2.8%) that finished in the top 4.

While teams that have started 0-3 have made the finals/top 4, it's clear that it's very rare. So one can say it does put you at a significant disadvantage.
Correct. In the last 30 seasons (1994-2023) teams that start 0-3 have made finals 15.4% of the time, have made the top 4 2.8% of the time and have made the grand final 0% of the time. In the 18-team era (2012-) we've seen 28 teams start the season 0-3 and only 7.1% of those 0-3 teams have made finals, 0% of teams that start 0-3 have made the top 4 and 0% of teams that start 0-3 have made the grand final 0%. So it's statistically even more difficult to come back from an 0-3 start in the 18-team era than it was in the 16-team era, which makes sense mathematically because more total teams with the same amount qualifying for finals should mean more wins are required to make it.
 
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LOL @ the Suns fan drawing a line in the sand in the year 2012... The "18-team era"
Let's just forget about the 30 year history of the Top 8 and focus only on the past 12. :drunk:

1999 Sydney... 0-3... finished 8th (11-11)... lost week 1 final to Essendon by 69 points
2001 Adelaide. 0-3... finished 8th (12-10)... lost week 1 final to Carlton by 68 points
2004 Geelong.. 0-3... finished 4th (15-7) .... lost QF v Port... won SF v Ess... lost PF v Bris
2006 Melbourne 0-3.. finished 7th (13-8-1).. won EF v St K... lost SF v Freo
2007 North Melb 0-3.. finished 4th (14-8).... lost QF v Geel... won SF v Haw... lost PF v Port
2013 Carlton.... 0-3.. finished 9th (11-11) Ess DQ'd, Carl d Rich.. lost SF v Syd
2017 Sydney.. 0-6 :eek: finished 6th (14-8)...... won EF v Ess.. lost SF v Geel
2021 Giants..... 0-3... finished 7th (11-10-1).. won EF v Syd.. lost SF v Geel


2003 Port Adelaide.. 0-2... finished 1st (18-4)... lost Prelim Final to Collingwood
 
Collingwood only marginally got it done against a lot of teams last season. It wasn't as if they won it in a canter like majority of best sides do in a season.
To me, it suggests the competition was fairly even and the fact they are currently on the verge of going down 0-3 is not shocking at all.

Likewise Brisbane, these teams are not powerhouse sides like we have seen in the past. Carlton, GWS, Sydney . . . these teams are much improved and more importantly, they have actual forward lines and are not reliant on the likes of McStay, Johnson or Mihocek.
 
LOL @ the Suns fan drawing a line in the sand in the year 2012... The "18-team era"
Let's just forget about the 30 year history of the Top 8 and focus only on the past 12. :drunk:
If you look at my post directly above yours then you'll see the exact opposite occurred. I went into depth about what has occurred since the top 8 finals series was introduced in 1994 and added relevant info to the OP. I do, however, think there's a statistically significant difference when comparing the performance of 0-3 teams in the 17 years that we saw 16 teams competing in the league vs the 12 years (to date) that we've seen 18 teams to compete in the league. It makes sense considering more teams inserted into the same top 8 format = more wins required to qualify:

0-3 teams in the 16 team / top 8 era (1994-2010)
  • Top 8 finish: 5/39 (12.8%)
  • Top 4 finish: 2/39 (5.1%)
  • GF finish: 0/39 (0%)
0-3 teams in the 18 team / top 8 era (2012-2023)
  • Top 8 finish: 2/28 (7.1%)
  • Top 4 finish: 0/28 (0%)
  • GF finish: 0/28 (0%)
Although it has been difficult for any 0-3 team to make the top 8 over the last 30 years, the stats suggest it's even more difficult to make it in the 18 team era. If Collingwood and/or Brisbane go 0-3 over the next fortnight then the stats suggest they will need to be better than 92.9% of other teams that have gone before them in order to make the finals in this competition format and there's virtually zero chance of a top 4/GF finish for them based on the historical data.
 
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LOL @ the Suns fan drawing a line in the sand in the year 2012... The "18-team era"
Let's just forget about the 30 year history of the Top 8 and focus only on the past 12. :drunk:

1999 Sydney... 0-3... finished 8th (11-11)... lost week 1 final to Essendon by 69 points
2001 Adelaide. 0-3... finished 8th (12-10)... lost week 1 final to Carlton by 68 points
2004 Geelong.. 0-3... finished 4th (15-7) .... lost QF v Port... won SF v Ess... lost PF v Bris
2006 Melbourne 0-3.. finished 7th (13-8-1).. won EF v St K... lost SF v Freo
2007 North Melb 0-3.. finished 4th (14-8).... lost QF v Geel... won SF v Haw... lost PF v Port
2013 Carlton.... 0-3.. finished 9th (11-11) Ess DQ'd, Carl d Rich.. lost SF v Syd
2017 Sydney.. 0-6 :eek: finished 6th (14-8)...... won EF v Ess.. lost SF v Geel
2021 Giants..... 0-3... finished 7th (11-10-1).. won EF v Syd.. lost SF v Geel


2003 Port Adelaide.. 0-2... finished 1st (18-4)... lost Prelim Final to Collingwood
I think we should go easy on OP, who probably should've just requested research rather than go a little hastily.

We got there in the end and your work is appreciated.
 
I thought we did it in 2007?

Yep we did. Close the thread lol

Mind you the Cats turnaround was even more impressive that season, and they won the flag.

Scary stat about that 2007 North side.

2007 was and still is as of 2024 the last time North made a prelim final after finishing in the top 4 of that ladder.

Sure North made prelims in 2014 and 2015 but North both years finished 5th to 8th. So that means North in 2014 won 2 finals to make a prelim. They did it again in 2015.
 
The AFL are creating the anomalies with the fixture.

The fixture has always been skewed but they have taken it to the next level in the last few years.

Good teams deliberately get a hard start to the season for ratings. s**t teams / teams AFL propping up in expansion markets deliberately get an easy start to the season to try and build momentum on and off field (memberships).

the AFL are even seriously thinking of having AFL sides each play 24 games next season.

going 0-2 means another 22 games to go.
 
Good teams deliberately get a hard start to the season for ratings. s**t teams / teams AFL propping up in expansion markets deliberately get an easy start to the season to try and build momentum on and off field (memberships).
Great point.

This explains why Carlton always get an easy ride for the first handful of games each season...
 

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