rank the grand final runner ups from 2007- 2022.

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Senior List
Mar 17, 2006
AFL Club
That’s a good way to look at it. The problem with these types of rankings is it’s largely based on the actual GF result, with scant regard for everything that came before it. So if it’s a ‘close’ GF then the opponent is seen as high quality, and if they have an off day and get pantsed then they are not.

Example: Saints of 2010 v Adelaide of 2017.

Saints finished 3rd with a 15-6-1 record and percentage of 121%. 8th in points for, 1st in points against. During the season lost to eventual Premiers Pies by 48-points. Won 2 x closely fought finals leading into GF by 4 points and 22 points.

Lost GF replay by 56 points. Were dominated in first GF and very lucky to get a draw.

Crows finished top with 15-6-1 record. Lost last 2 games of H&A when top spot was already locked away. Percentage of 136%. 1st in points for (250 points BETTER than next best - 4th in points against). Beat eventual Premiers Richmond by 76-points during season. Won their 2 x lead in finals by 36 points and 61 points. Were warm favourites leading into GF.

So people understandably mix the 2010 Saints (average top-4 record with % of 121%, flogged by premiers during season, close fought lead in finals wins etc….) with the Saints of 2009.

So everything during the season and during finals points to Adelaide being a more dominant GF team than the Saints. The ‘lucky’ draw the Saints got in a game the Pies largely dominated makes them look like a really strong GF loser. The replay was a far better reflection of the Saints credentials as a GF loser based on H&A performance, their game against the eventual Premier during the season, and their lead-in finals wins.

Across entirety of 2009-10, Saints went:

19-0 with percentage of about 165%

Then from R20 2009…:

20-10-2 with percentage of about 115%

So they were absolutely dominant for 19 x H&A games. Then they regressed to a stock standard finals team and GF loser from then onwards.

Sent from my iPhone using BigFooty.com
Agree with this, with the caveat that the Saints did beat Collingwood in their first meeting in 2010 (before the Pies won the return H&A game).

Like you said, the Saints 2010 team tends to be overrated in a number of these historical-comparison threads due to a) the classic drama of the drawn GF, and b) the tendency to bracket the team with the far stronger 2009 iteration. If you look at the 2010 season in isolation, the Saints were fairly stock-standard as far as grand finalists go.

My list, fwiw, is:

1. Geelong 2008 (clearly the best team in the comp until fluffing their lines on GF day)

2. Saints 2009 (fantastic side and marginally better than the Pies of 2011, due to the Saints' three losses being by a collective 19 points)

3. Collingwood 2011 (outstanding for most of the season, but weren't at their best in the finals)

4. Hawthorn 2012 (very strong from round 10 onwards, with a percentage of 169 across their final 16 games - including finals - and their two losses during that stretch being by a collective 12 points)

5. Sydney 2014 (thumped on GF day, but their record between round 5 and the Prelim was excellent - 18 wins from 20, with their two losses by a collective 13 points)

6. Fremantle 2013 (impressive team when you look at their record: 16-1-5, even after effectively throwing their final H&A game by resting half their side, followed by a QF win in Geelong. Probably a bit underrated due to their lack of scoring power and an underwhelming GF in general)

7. West Coast 2015 (a little bit like the Swans in 14 - poor on GF day, but a strong season until that point, going 16-1-5 and a percentage of 148. Two easy finals wins at Subiaco leading in to big dance, too, including thrashing the eventual Premiers in the QF)

8. Sydney 2016 (a touch underrated, I feel, due to losing to what's not widely regarded as a strong Premier. But the home and away season was great - 17-5, percentage of 151, and they did win an away PF win over Geelong. Only below Freo and West Coast due to losing their qualifying final)

9. Saints 2010 (as previously stated, they tend to be overrated due to the GF draw and the association with the 2009 vintage. But still a strong side that came painfully close to pinching a premiership against a better team, ala the Hawks in 2008)

10. Adelaide 2017 (a good season - 15-1-6, followed by two big finals wins - that was undermined somewhat by an easy GF loss. Weren't quite as strong in the H&A rounds as the higher-ranked teams that also suffered big GF defeats - Swans 2014 and Eagles 2015)

11. Sydney 2022 (good season - 16-6, plus an impressive away QF win against the reigning Premiers - that unfortunately also ended with a GF thrashing. I have the Saints 2010 and Crows 2017 marginally ahead of them, despite each winning one less game, as I just felt their best footy was superior to anything the Swans showed)

12. Collingwood 2018 (their H&A season was unremarkable for a grand finalist - 15-7, percentage of 120 - and they did lose their QF. But they deserve credit for a stunning preliminary final showing)

13. Bulldogs 2021 (very good until round round 20, collapsed in the final 3 rounds to miss top 4, then found their best form in the finals - at least until halfway through the 3rd quarter of the GF! A hard side to place really, as there was a huge gulf between their best and worst footy)

14. Geelong 2020 (another hard team to assess given the shorter, COVID-affected season, but they never really had a Premiership look to them, in my eyes, even though they were in front at half-time in the grand final! I thought their 2019 and 2021 teams were superior).

15. Port Adelaide 2007 (15-7 H&A record, and probably wouldn't have reached the GF if not for the Eagles' midfield being decimated late in the season)

16. GWS 2019 (a heroic finals series - after an underwhelming 13-9 season - appeared to take a lot out of them physically prior to the GF, although in fairness the Tigers were in magnificent form in the second half of that season. The Giants' 2016 and 2017 teams were superior)


Brownlow Medallist
Jun 2, 2013
AFL Club
Other Teams
The Exers
1. Geelong 2008 - put it this way - had they won the flag they probably would've been considered the greatest single-season side of all-time (at the very least, up there with Essendon 2000 and Collingwood 1929). Shame about what happened on GF day.
2. St Kilda 2009 - won their first 19 games straight, and helped re-invent the game almost. All 3 losses very tight and were unlucky to face an ATG side in the GF.
3. Collingwood 2011 - similar to St Kilda, but lose points because of the R24 loss and losing the GF by more. You could put 2 & 3 in any order.
4. Hawthorn 2012 - under-rated. After R10 played like the Harlem Globetrotters for most of the rest of the year. Reckon at their best this was the best Hawthorn side of that era.
5. Sydney 2014 - between R5 to the GF they only had two losses - one a close game away from home against the actual Premiers, one a game where they rested a heap of players and the side they were playing against had to win - even then it was a very close game. A sign of a genuinely great team, regardless of what happened on the last day in September.
6. Fremantle 2013 - had arguably the best QF/PF win of the lot, and were a very good side during the H&A season. Get a bit underestimated because they played in a ugly, defensive fashion, but they were a very good team.
7. Sydney 2016 - a pretty dominant H&A record, but the same applies for most of the teams in front of them. OTOH, there wasn't a truly dominant team that year, whereas the teams in front of them did have to beat a side like that (or were even more impressive throughout the season).
8. West Coast 2015 - amazing H&A record (16-1-5 with a percentage around 150%) and had a great QF win. I just didn't feel like they had the aura of the sides above them? Like I never really bought them as a potential Premier, whereas most sides above them I kind of did.
9. St Kilda 2010 - not actually a super impressive H&A record which gets forgotten a bit because of 2009 and the first 2010 GF (went 15-1-6 with a percentage around 120%), but still did some great things and with a little bit more luck might have won that year.
10. Adelaide 2017 - lose points for choking the GF hard. During the H&A season though they were really impressive (15-1-6 with a percentage of 136% - and that's despite losing the last two games, one of which they clearly took it easy), and won their first two finals by big margins. For most of the season played really dazzling footy too.
11. Geelong 2020 - hard one to compare. They did have a blazing period through finals and played some pretty impressive H&A stuff (well, as much as they could). But they just didn't have Premiership aura at all.
12. Sydney 2022 - went 16-6 with a percentage of 128%. Did take a while to really get going though and slumped hard in the last five and a half quarters of the year. At their best were rather good though.
13. Collingwood 2018 - fairly underwhelming H&A season (went 15-7 with a percentage around 120%, only one H&A win against Top 8 opposition), but did at least smash the best team all year in a Prelim and played in a great Grand Final which drags them up.
14. Western Bulldogs 2021 - missed the Top 4, but still went 15-7 with a percentage around 130% which is still a very fine record. And were well and truly in the match for at least half the GF and had some big wins finals. Inconsistency was a bit of a killer.
15. Port Adelaide 2007 - 15-7 in the H&A season with a percentage of 113%. And lost the GF by 119 points. They were by no means a poor team but really, were merely an alright team made to look better by a weak field.
16. Greater Western Sydney 2019 - 13-9 in the H&A season with a percentage around 115% isn't really the stuff dominant sides are made of, and played some really poor footy in the second half of the season. Did at least play some great finals footy....but then ruined it but not turning up for the granny at all.

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