Ranking VFL/AFL clubs - which has been the most successful?

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PumpyChowdown

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I've done the same exercise with completely different criteria. I've only based my analysis on Premierships won. I've then used the number of teams playing during that season as another indicator (obviously much easier to win a flag when only 4 teams are playing). The formula I have used is based on the number of teams in the competition and an arbitrary score used to rate “the professionalism of the era and the quality of the competition”. This last point is obviously the most debatable; as it is impossible to put a real value on it as none of us have been around long enough to make an accurate assessment. That being said, I’ve had a stab at it.

Here are the era’s:

The Beginning: 1897 – 1907; 8 teams
Pre WW1: 1908 – 1914; 10 teams
Post WW1 1: 1915; 9 teams
Post WW1 2: 1916; 4 teams
Post WW1 3: 1917; 6 teams
Post WW1 4: 1918: 8 teams
Post WW1 5: 1919 - 1924; 9 teams
The Golden Age 1: 1925 – 1941; 12 teams
WW2: 1942 - 1943; 11 teams
The Golden Age 2: 1944 - 1987; 12 teams
End of VFL: 1988 -1989; 13 teams
AFL1: 1990; 14 teams
AFL2: 1991 – 1994; 15 teams
AFL3: 1995 – 1996; 16 teams
AFL4: 1997 – 2010; 16 teams
AFL5: 2011; 17 teams
AFL6: 2012; 18 teams

This is the "factor" for each era:

1897 – 1918: multiple of 1
1919 – 1924: multiple of 1.5
1925 – 1987: multiple of 2.5 (definitely the most debatable number due to the huge span of years and the improved professionalism)
1988 – 2011: multiple of 3
2011 - multiple of 3.5

So the formula is:

Number of teams competing x multiple factor
e.g.

Hawthorn 2008: 16 x 3 = 48
Essendon 1946: 12 x 2.5 = 30 points

Here is the table up to last years Premier, which as it happens, leapfrogged the West Coast into the lead. (The highlighted columns are 4 different formulas used to calculate the best teams overall. As you can see, WCE and the Hawks clearly win more flags more regularly. They have also done this during the era with most teams competing and with (arguably) the greatest level of professionalism.

707320
 

Paul P Mark

Rookie
Apr 18, 2018
43
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Brisbane Lions
I've done the same exercise with completely different criteria. I've only based my analysis on Premierships won. I've then used the number of teams playing during that season as another indicator (obviously much easier to win a flag when only 4 teams are playing). The formula I have used is based on the number of teams in the competition and an arbitrary score used to rate “the professionalism of the era and the quality of the competition”. This last point is obviously the most debatable; as it is impossible to put a real value on it as none of us have been around long enough to make an accurate assessment. That being said, I’ve had a stab at it.

Here are the era’s:

The Beginning: 1897 – 1907; 8 teams
Pre WW1: 1908 – 1914; 10 teams
Post WW1 1: 1915; 9 teams
Post WW1 2: 1916; 4 teams
Post WW1 3: 1917; 6 teams
Post WW1 4: 1918: 8 teams
Post WW1 5: 1919 - 1924; 9 teams
The Golden Age 1: 1925 – 1941; 12 teams
WW2: 1942 - 1943; 11 teams
The Golden Age 2: 1944 - 1987; 12 teams
End of VFL: 1988 -1989; 13 teams
AFL1: 1990; 14 teams
AFL2: 1991 – 1994; 15 teams
AFL3: 1995 – 1996; 16 teams
AFL4: 1997 – 2010; 16 teams
AFL5: 2011; 17 teams
AFL6: 2012; 18 teams

This is the "factor" for each era:

1897 – 1918: multiple of 1
1919 – 1924: multiple of 1.5
1925 – 1987: multiple of 2.5 (definitely the most debatable number due to the huge span of years and the improved professionalism)
1988 – 2011: multiple of 3
2011 - multiple of 3.5

So the formula is:

Number of teams competing x multiple factor
e.g.

Hawthorn 2008: 16 x 3 = 48
Essendon 1946: 12 x 2.5 = 30 points

Here is the table up to last years Premier, which as it happens, leapfrogged the West Coast into the lead. (The highlighted columns are 4 different formulas used to calculate the best teams overall. As you can see, WCE and the Hawks clearly win more flags more regularly. They have also done this during the era with most teams competing and with (arguably) the greatest level of professionalism.

View attachment 707320
Interesting way to do it. Quite similar to my results except the order of the top 5. Not sure Pies fans will agree with being relegated to 5th place after playing 42 GFs including 5 in the AFL-era. But I do think they should be penalised for having such a poor record in them. Geelong seem a little hard done by as well in 9th place. Interesting angle though. I really do want to do mine again, same metrics, the AFL-era only (1990-onwards).
 

saints_333

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Feb 16, 2018
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I'm sorry but it's an absolute insult to the Interstate clubs to try and make any sense of their success compared to the VFL clubs, especially when they have won their own premierships in their own states. For example, why aren't Port Adelaide Magpies or East Perth etc added to these tables since they have had success as well. Of course the interstate clubs are going to be low on the lists for premierships and melbourne clubs high on the list for spoons given their time in the comps.

Imo the only states we should be counting are that of the AFL (and yes even people have argued against that due to the other state leagues) because that's the only period where the majority of the teams have been playing altogether. It should be just an AFL table and then all the states have their own for any time before this. And this is coming from a Saints which means that if we go by the AFL existence only then my club hasn't won a single thing.
 

theyellowsash

Norm Smith Medallist
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I think it will be interesting to do another one for AFL-era only (1990 onwards).
That's just an arbitrary moment in time based on a name change of the competition though. There were no more or less teams in 1990 than 1989.

The logic of what you say is based on the idea of the vfl being a national competition, with more teams and it being harder to win compared to The previous VFL. For that to make any sense, you either have to start from 82 when the swans moved (which still makes no sense), or restart the count every time the number of teams changes as that is the only time when winning a flag becomes legitimately harder. To choose a date which was simply a rebranding of the competition is as meaningless as choosing a date when the afl changed their logo.
 

Paul P Mark

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That's just an arbitrary moment in time based on a name change of the competition though. There were no more or less teams in 1990 than 1989.

The logic of what you say is based on the idea of the vfl being a national competition, with more teams and it being harder to win compared to The previous VFL. For that to make any sense, you either have to start from 82 when the swans moved (which still makes no sense), or restart the count every time the number of teams changes as that is the only time when winning a flag becomes legitimately harder. To choose a date which was simply a rebranding of the competition is as meaningless as choosing a date when the afl changed their logo.
With the AFL era, you do get the introduction of Crows, Dockers, Power and now Suns and GWS. It is also roughly when the game became fully professional and with salary caps, etc.
 

Paul P Mark

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I'm sorry but it's an absolute insult to the Interstate clubs to try and make any sense of their success compared to the VFL clubs, especially when they have won their own premierships in their own states. For example, why aren't Port Adelaide Magpies or East Perth etc added to these tables since they have had success as well. Of course the interstate clubs are going to be low on the lists for premierships and melbourne clubs high on the list for spoons given their time in the comps.

Imo the only states we should be counting are that of the AFL (and yes even people have argued against that due to the other state leagues) because that's the only period where the majority of the teams have been playing altogether. It should be just an AFL table and then all the states have their own for any time before this. And this is coming from a Saints which means that if we go by the AFL existence only then my club hasn't won a single thing.
I havent used total flags or any totals as a ranking metric, only the rate per years in the comp. Still, a lot of evidence is pointing to having another look at these metrics but in the AFL-era only.
 

South of the Yarra

Norm Smith Medallist
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Honestly I feel the AFL is such a different comp from the VFL throughout most of it's history that comparisons are almost meaningless. Collingwood especially were dominant in an amateur league with relatively few teams. In the past 50 years they've only won 2 flags, which is kind of hard to believe.

If we just limit it to the AFL era, post 1990, a system that weights years per premiership or premierships per year and overall win rate might be the best. Sometimes the fewer metrics the better.
So you don’t want to use the ‘suburban comp’ to count premierships but you want to use it to highlight Premiership droughts. Instead of being selective wouldn’t you have said Collingwood have won 2 flags in 29 years.
 

theyellowsash

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With the AFL era, you do get the introduction of Crows, Dockers, Power and now Suns and GWS. It is also roughly when the game became fully professional and with salary caps, etc.
Except that wasn't 1990 when the vfl merely changed it's name, and again if the logic is that the introduction of more teams makes it harder to win, then you need to restart every time the number of teams in the competition changes
 

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Bunk Moreland

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Sep 22, 2011
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Funny how people are always saying old flags should be discounted because it was an “amateur league”.

Um yeah, and the clubs that won them were amateur clubs.

It’s not like you’re taking a club’s 2019 squad of super-athletes and pitting them against a bunch of 1930s factory workers... doesn’t make any sense. You can’t just say it was easier in a relative sense.

Every team and player competes against their peers.
 

Paul P Mark

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I don't count vfl flags won in the 1920s as the equivalent to afl flags won in the 2010s.
Even in the 20s, crowds were often in excess of 30-40 thousand - a massive percentage of the city's population. The stakes were just as high if not higher. Heroic on-field efforts, tough as nails, brutal competitiveness. Go back in time and tell the those raucous, die-hard fans that they are watching a low-grade affair? Come on.
 

Paul P Mark

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Funny how people are always saying old flags should be discounted because it was an “amateur league”.

Um yeah, and the clubs that won them were amateur clubs.

It’s not like you’re taking a club’s 2019 squad of super-athletes and pitting them against a bunch of 1930s factory workers... doesn’t make any sense. You can’t just say it was easier in a relative sense.

Every team and player competes against their peers.
That's right. As I wrote in another reply: Even in the 20s, crowds were often in excess of 30-40 thousand - a massive percentage of the city's population. The stakes were just as high if not higher. Heroic on-field efforts, tough as nails, brutal competitiveness. Go back in time and tell the those raucous, die-hard fans and the players that it's a low-grade affair? Come on. This was true talk of the town stuff and the players were heroes to the supporters and the roar of the crowd would've been just as huge. Main difference these days are fitness levels and game plans.
 
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Roylion

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South Melbourne relocated; Fitzroy folded and Brisbane just changed its name and logo.
South Melbourhe / Sydney Swans - founded 1874 (currently competing in the AFL)
Brisbane Bears / Brisbane Lions - founded 1987 (currently competing in the AFL)
Fitzroy Football Club - founded 1883 (currently competing in the VAFA)
 

Paul P Mark

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South Melbourhe / Sydney Swans - founded 1874 (currently competing in the AFL)
Brisbane Bears / Brisbane Lions - founded 1987 (currently competing in the AFL)
Fitzroy Football Club - founded 1883 (currently competing in the VAFA)
The SCG is a looong way from the Lake Oval. 'Relocation' is just V/AFL spin for folding a club that is a non-performing liability. They try to keep the supporters being able to still barrack for their team - even though what used to be a short tram ride to the home ground is now an expensive plane ticket. The concept of relocation is questionable to say the least. The AFL want them to be known as the same club, but most supporters/lovers of the game, do not.
 
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Roylion

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The SCG is a looong way from the Lake Oval.
So what. Many football clubs have moved grounds and changed their club name. Doesn't make them a new club.

They try to keep the supporters being able to still barrack for their team - even though what used to be a short tram ride to the home ground is now an expensive plane ticket.
And hence they changed their name from South Melbourne to Sydney. South Melbourne - as South Melbourne - played 11 home games in Sydney in 1982 and only after this, changed their club name to Sydney.

... but most supporters/lovers of the game, do not.
That's debateable.
 

Paul P Mark

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So what. Many football clubs have moved grounds and changed their club name. Doesn't make them a new club.



And hence they changed their name from South Melbourne to Sydney. South Melbourne - as South Melbourne - played 11 home games in Sydney in 1982 and only after this, changed their club name to Sydney.



That's debateable.
Good topic for another post perhaps. But I still think it's corporate spin. The one and only reason for 'relocation' is when a club is in turmoil.
 

Roylion

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The one and only reason for 'relocation' is when a club is in turmoil.
Yes and...? Very few clubs would willingly relocate if they weren't in turmoil. Still doesn't make them a new club.

Hence South Melbourne / Sydney have five premierships in the current competition they currently compete in. Brisbane Bears / Lions have three. Fitzroy, which now competes in another competition, have eight premierships in the VFL-AFL competition.
 

Paul P Mark

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So what. Many football clubs have moved grounds and changed their club name. Doesn't make them a new club.



And hence they changed their name from South Melbourne to Sydney. South Melbourne - as South Melbourne - played 11 home games in Sydney in 1982 and only after this, changed their club name to Sydney.



That's debateable.
Just imagine this - the AFL relocate the West Coast Eagles to Hobart and become known as the Hobart Eagles. How many West Coast supporters do you tgink would still think it's the same club and keep on supporting that club? The answer is probably zero. I'm sorry, but a club's spiritual existence is tied to area where the club was founded.
Yes and...? Very few clubs would willingly relocate if they weren't in turmoil. Still doesn't make them a new club.
Just imagine this - the AFL relocate the West Coast Eagles to Hobart and become known as the Hobart Eagles. How many West Coast supporters do you think would still think it's the same club and keep on supporting that club? The answer is probably zero. I'm sorry, but a club's spiritual existence is tied to area where the club was founded. I'm actually not sure the AFL could get the concept of relocation past the public these days. Even the Suns would sooner fold than 'relocate' to Hobart. Hobart Suns...really? Why bother? If it comes to that, Fold the Suns and form the new Hobart club. Relocation, reloschemation.
 

Roylion

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Just imagine this - the AFL relocate the West Coast Eagles to Hobart and become known as the Hobart Eagles.
Juat imagine this. The South Melbourne Swans relocate to Sydney and become the Sydney Swans with the same colours and essentially the same jumper. How many South Melbourne supporters do you think would still think it's the same club and keep on supporting that club?

Turns out quite a few.

The Swans had over 12,000 Victorian members in 2016.
 
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BuffDog

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In hundreds of years when people tune in to games played in floating stadiums via their virtual reality headsets and the small forwards are 7 feet tall, the flags of the current era will seem just as ‘meaningless’ as those won back in the 1900’s.

Times change, technology advances and essentially you can’t compare the validity of premierships won between wildly different eras.
 
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