Opinion Rank the 5 most heartbreaking finals losses you can recall (from a neutral perspective)

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rapidfire7

All Australian
Jul 28, 2008
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London, United Kingdom
AFL Club
Geelong
1. 1997 Preliminary Final - Adelaide Vs Western Bulldogs

2. 1997 Grand Final - Adelaide Vs St Kilda

3. 2009 Grand Final - Geelong Vs St Kilda

4. 1999 Preliminary final - Carlton Vs Essendon

5. 2018 Grand Final - West Coast Vs Collingwood
 
Not gonna rank them, but some off the top of my head:

2010 Grand Final - Pies vs Saints: obviously it was a draw, but it was really where the Grand Final was lost. Saints couldn't cap off their best ever era in the AFL with a flag, using everything they had left on this game. Perennially considered 'the one that got away' - just about everyone agrees that if there had been extra time, which nowadays there would be, the Saints would've come out on top.

2017 Elimination Final - PAFC vs WCE: kick after the siren in extra time after a ducked high free kick saw 5th lose a final to 8th.

2013 Elimination Final - Richmond vs Carlton: 5th placed Richmond, at the time often referred to as 'Ninthmond' due to their habit of just missing finals, collapsed in the 4th quarter to lose to Carlton, the team that finished 9th, having taken Essendon's suspended spot in the finals.

2017 Grand Final - Adelaide vs Richmond: Crows were the best team all year and went into the match as favourites, what ensued
pretty much tore the entire club apart.

Round 23 2022 - Collingwood vs Carlton: Blues blow a 4th quarter lead to lose their spot in the finals

Round 19 2011 - Geelong vs Melbourne: Cats beat Dees by 186 points, no one could see any way forward for Melbourne at that point

2015 Preliminary Final - Fremantle vs Hawthorn: Freo were the minor premiers, but no one really thought they were the best in the comp. They hosted the reigning premiers in the Hawks with the opportunity to set up the first Derby GF in AFL history, but couldn't match it with the Hawks who went on to cap their 3peat.

2016 Grand Final - Sydney vs WB: it seems that everyone except the Swans saw the writing on the wall that this one was going to go to the Doggies. The Swans players have spoken of their certainty that they were going to win this one, and now publicly question the umpiring on the day.

Round 4 2024 - Fremantle vs Carlton: recency bias, but Freo supporters rightfully felt they had this one stolen off them after a dubious mark was paid to give Carlton the lead in the last minute of the game, then a dissent free kick right after to seal it.
 
1987 Prelim Haw v Melb. Stynes walks across the mark giving a 15m penalty away, Buckenra goals after the siren. Robert Flower's last game, misses out on ever playing a GF.


1997 Prelim Adel v Footscray

Dogs thought they were home, famously picked up Libba after what they thought was a goal. Vic folk missed out on the perennially unsuccessful match up of Stk and Foots, only two flags between them in league history.

2014 PF Port v Hawks.

Hawks a dominant team that year, Port probably the better side that night/day but kicked themselves out of.

2018 GF Pies WCE

A pies mate of mine said "there's never a GF won with a winning goal, so to speak. Was pretty stiff to lose that the pies. Poor Bucks.


Essendon Adelaide 1993 PF

Crows up by 40 odd, should have been in a GF. Great comeback by the bombers that day.


Maybe there's others, that's off the top of my head
 

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(not including GFs, but 70, 79, 89, 09 and 18 are up there)

1987 Prelim wins by a mile. Couldn't make it up.

1994 Prelim (NM v Geel). "There is no justice in football. That was the look on the face of Michael Martyn"

1997 Prelim (WB v Ade)

1991 EF (Gee v StK). The result that changed singlehandedly a finals system. Saints could have won the flag that year (Cats, too)

1999 Prelim (Ess v Carl)
 
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1987 preliminary (Hawthorn d Melbourne) Those extra 15 metres for Buckenara
2009 grand (Geelong d St Kilda) That Tom Hawkins goal which thundered off the goal post
1983 qualifying (Hawthorn d Fitzroy)
2004 1st preliminary (Port d St Kilda)
2005 2nd semi (Sydney d Geelong) Nick Davis! Nick Davis!!
 
Anyone want to have a go at rating the most heartbreaking loss for each club?
Where do I start as a saints supporter from what I've seen.

Round 9 2000 vs Western Bulldogs
1997 Grand Final vs Adelaide
2004 Prelim Final vs. Port Adelaide
2005 Prelim Final vs. Sydney
2009 Grand Final vs. Geelong

HM
2010 Grand Final Draw as good as a loss even worse than the week later for the heart
 
What made it so much more heartbreaking?
The 2002 side played well above themselves and thoroughly deserved it (as did the Lions who were also immense). The Lions were also an all time great side, 2018 they played below themselves and the standard of the previous week. Definitely more gutting to bring your absolute best and it still not be enough.

2007 Prelim outranks 2018 Grand Final too. Far better performance by the Pies and just edged out by an all time team.
 
(not including GFs, but 70, 79, 89, 09 and 18 are up there)

1987 Prelim wins by a mile. Couldn't make it up.

1994 Prelim (NM v Geel). "There is no justice in football. That was the look on the face of Michael Martyn"

1997 Prelim (WB v Ade)

1991 EF (Gee v StK). The result that changed singlehandedly a finals system. Saints could have won the flag that year (Cats, too)

1999 Prelim (Ess v Carl)
You're right. The finals system in 1991 was horrible. Geelong and St Kilda should have never faced each other when they did. What were they thinking.
 

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Anyone want to have a go at rating the most heartbreaking loss for each club?

Adelaide - 2009 SF vs Collingwood

Brisbane - 2023 GF vs Collingwood

Bulldogs - 1997 PF vs Adelaide

Carlton - 2022 R23 vs Collingwood

Collingwood - 1970 GF vs Carlton

Essendon - 2014 EF vs North

Fremantle - One of 2008 R7 vs Melbourne, 2011 R16 vs West Coast, or 2020 R12 vs Carlton (some might say 2013 GF, but that was led by Hawthorn for the entire match, and was pretty much over halfway through Q4)

Geelong - 2013 PF vs Hawthorn

Gold Coast - 2019 R8 vs Melbourne

GWS - 2016 PF vs Bulldogs

Hawthorn - 2011 PF vs Collingwood

Melbourne - 1987 PF vs Hawthorn (2017 R23 West coast vs Adelaide was a heartbreaker too, but it doesn't count since Melbourne wasn't actually playing)

North Melbourne - 2001 R16 vs Essendon

Port Adelaide - 2017 EF vs West Coast

Richmond - 2012 R16 vs Gold Coast

St Kilda - 2010 GF vs Collingwood (not technically a loss, I know, but arguably the most heartbreaking by far)

Sydney - 2016 GF vs Bulldogs

West Coast - 2005 GF vs Sydney


Edit: didn't see the word "finals" in the title. But who really cares, non-finals losses can be heartbreaking as well, especially for teams without a whole lot of finals success (cough Gold Coast cough)
 
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