The AFL Eras Biggest Underachievers- My Top 5

Which team is the biggest underachiever of the AFL era

  • Essendon (1999-2001)

    Votes: 53 25.0%
  • Collingwood (2010-2012)

    Votes: 9 4.2%
  • Geelong (1989-1995)

    Votes: 25 11.8%
  • GWS (2016-2019)

    Votes: 30 14.2%
  • St.Kilda (1997-99 + 2004-2010)

    Votes: 83 39.2%
  • Other

    Votes: 12 5.7%

  • Total voters
    212

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DEVO

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They were minor premiers once, and finished 2nd in the H&A season two other times. I'd say two flags is adequate return given they weren't an absolute dominant H&A side for that entire time, but were always among a few teams that were genuinely in the flag hunt.

All that being said, they should have won in 1998.
We actually finished third in 1993 and 1994, a win in the final round of 1993 and we would have finished on top. In 1993 we were a younger team than the Baby Bombers and performed better than them for most of the season, beating them comfortably in our round 15 encounter, but by finals time our forward line, which was the most potent that season was a shell with injuries to Longmire (75 goals) and Carey (64 goals) and we limped into the finals. We played the most exciting brand of footy I've ever seen that year, fast, open, brutal and fearless and it would have been interesting to see how far we could have gone without the injuries. Not sure if we would have won it, but it would have been fun to watch.

In 1994 we lost to West Coast at the WACA by 9pts a few rounds before the finals and went into the finals confident we could compete with them if given the opportunity. We should have won the prelim, the most lopsided free kick count in the history of the game didn't help but in the end we lost it ourselves when we kicked poorly in the first and final quarters. Should have won by 4 or 5 goals, instead lost it when Ablett, who was blown off the park by Mickey Martin, kicked the winning goal after the siren. West Coast were the best team all year and were odds on the win, but I still believe we were a chance if we made it, we defintaley would have been more competitive than the Cats.

In 1997, injuries to Carey and McKernan in the first round put us behind the eight ball a bit which is why we finished lower than normal, but by finals time we were performing okay, beat 2nd placed Geelong comfortably in the first week, and West Coast in the second, but suspensions to Archer and Schwass before the prelim and another injury to McKernan early in the game curtailed any momentum we were creating.

Actually, except for 1997 we didn’t finish outside the top 4 that entire period.
 
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HairyO

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West Coast (played finals every year) and North Melbourne (six straight preliminary finals) in the 90s underachieved the most. Just two flags each from a supposed decade of dominance. Adelaide achieved just as much in two years.
Just 2 each ?

Could argue that Geelong and Hawthorn underachieved. Both kicked themselves out of another Premiership.
So much talent in both teams.
If we had won 2012 I wonder if we 3 peat.

All the players said the 2012 loss is what drove them for 2013 and 2014.

2015 was the 3 peat.
 

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Macpotata

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West Coast - vanished in the 2nd half of the 90's.

1990 - A brilliant side who were a kick after the siren from getting a real crack to go into the Granny. Got absolutely belted in that famous replay against the Pies. Finishing 3rd and having Sumich snag 90 majors that year was a great accomplishment though.

1991 - Best side throughout the home and away season and lost just 3 games in it. Including the last to Fitzpry when nothing was on the line. Belted in the granny against the Hawks. Although it hardened them up for the next year and 94.

1992 - Awesome side and started like dog sh*t. Hard hit by injuries too.

1993 - This is the one that got away. Lack of hunger and arrogance cost them a flag that any side could have won in the finals that season. Shades of 91 too when they drank their own bath water ( as they did last year and at times this season too )

1994 - Flag

1995 - Pushed the best side and eventual premiers the Bues in the 2nd last home and away game of the season falling just a point short in one of the greatest games of all time. But WCE were sh*t so much of 95. Brutalised by Geelong at Kardinia, beaten on their home deck by the Bombers and smashed by the Roos at Princess.

1996 - Jacko's season ending injury was huge.WCE still managed to push on and had a run of 11 straight wins. MCG rule bit them in the ass again as it did so many times in the 90's but the Eagles were way off.

1997 - choked away a 32 point lead and Jarred Schofield's injury smashed their momentum as he was lighting up the MCG being best on up until that point. Still the Saints would have tpuched them up in the prelim.

1998 - Useless

1999 - won their first 8 games or so that year. Limped into the finals. Upset the Bulldogs in a truly memorable encounter before Carlton trounced them at the G ( should have been played at Subi although the Blue Baggers got them there coming from 32 down in the H&A )


2 flags wasn't enough for their dominance in the first half of that decade and 3 would have been fair. Apart from 1990-1994 with a sh*te season 93 the eagles weren't anything special bar that 1996 season where once again they were denied a home final in the 2nd week of September to Essendon where they lost by 77 points. A good season nonetheless and did lose 4 straight before going on that 11 game winning sequence. West Coast and the Roos both should have snared at least one more flag in the 1990's. Then again North did kinda '' win '' in 1999 where the Dons choked. But 1998 was also one that got away.


As for the other sides certainly the Saints botched it in 2009 kicking themselves silly and the next year how that bounce eluded Milne is beyond me. Straight bad luck there though. Similar to North 98 and 99 where they blew a golden chance but redeemed themselves the next and got a little lucky so did Geelong in 2008 and 2009. The Saints had a real shot in 2004 and 2005 although the Swans were bloody tough as well as Gritty and good at the same time. 2004 not sure how they would have fared seeing as though Brizzy belted them by about 90 up at the GABBA in week 1. But Between 1997, 2009 and 2010 no question they choked away a prem.
 

Macpotata

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1992
1997
1998
2008
2009
2010

Threw away a flag in there at least. 2016 made up for all of that though winning it from 7th. Houdini at his finest there. fu**en brilliant though and what a story.

edited - 1992 is being kind. Flogged twice in the finals against us. Both times by 60+ and led by 33 in the first one. Losing finals to us was a way of life for the Doggies as they also suffered defeats in 94 and massively again in 95 while Ablett was missing.


Additionally talk about under achievers and us losing 3 in the 90's had us as the biggest chokers of them all lol. At least WCE and North actually achieved. 89 as well, add that to the list.

fu**en Cats. Nothing much has changed.
 
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CholEstrol

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I chose saints because the others were during dynasties for other sides (even if they hadn't been knocked out by said dynasty side). They did come up against some eras though.
 

sobrave

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Quite possible Lions do a 4 peat if not for some dodgy MCG rule.

Port could be considered under achievers but like the Bombers and Pies had the misfortune to have to contend with the greatest ever team at their peak.
Port's record against Brisbane during that period was pretty good. It wasn't you guys that tended to knock us out of finals, it was other teams. When we actually met the "greatest ever team" you came off second best.
 

Catsace

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We actually finished third in 1993 and 1994, a win in the final round of 1993 and we would have finished on top. In 1993 we were a younger team than the Baby Bombers and performed better than them for most of the season, beating them comfortably in our round 15 encounter, but by finals time our forward line, which was the most potent that season was a shell with injuries to Longmire (75 goals) and Carey (64 goals) and we limped into the finals. We played the most exciting brand of footy I've ever seen that year, fast, open, brutal and fearless and it would have been interesting to see how far we could have gone without the injuries. Not sure if we would have won it, but it would have been fun to watch.

In 1994 we lost to West Coast at the WACA by 9pts a few rounds before the finals and went into the finals confident we could compete with them if given the opportunity. We should have won the prelim, the most lopsided free kick count in the history of the game didn't help but in the end we lost it ourselves when we kicked poorly in the first and final quarters. Should have won by 4 or 5 goals, instead lost it when Ablett, who was blown off the park by Mickey Martin, kicked the winning goal after the siren. West Coast were the best team all year and were odds on the win, but I still believe we were a chance if we made it, we defintaley would have been more competitive than the Cats.

In 1997, injuries to Carey and McKernan in the first round put us behind the eight ball a bit which is why we finished lower than normal, but by finals time we were performing okay, beat 2nd placed Geelong comfortably in the first week, and West Coast in the second, but suspensions to Archer and Schwass before the prelim and another injury to McKernan early in the game curtailed any momentum we were creating.

Actually, except for 1997 we didn’t finish outside the top 4 that entire period.
I'd love someone who can lip-read to elucidate what Pagan was saying to Schwass late in that Preliminary Final vs the Saints that year. Wasn't a huge surprise that 'Schwatta' moved to Sydney the following year!

To be honest i reckon the Saints blew a real opportunity in that '04-'06 era. You had the last gasp of Port and the Lions, and i still reckon if the G-Train wasn't on the cusp of his 100 goals, which saw a ground invasion at Adelaide Oval when the Saints led 18-0 after a hot start...they might have smashed Port in that opening quarter.

And remember in '05, having beaten the Crows in Adelaide in the 1st week of finals, after being about level with Sydney at an MCG Final after the Swans slugged it out against Geelong in the 'Nick Davis' game...St.Kilda (McGuire gut-punched by Festival Hall notwithstanding) were blown away in the last despite the weeks rest.

I reckon St.Kilda's best under Thomas in the '04-06 era was better than the solid Swans, the Crowbots with their running mids, and the Eagles with Cox and the famed midfield of that same era. Crows had the Birdman and Perrie as their forwards, the Eagles had Lynch and Ash Hansen...St.Kilda had Reiwold and the G-Train. They should have gottten a flag in that era before the super sides of the latter '00's, of which St.Kilda themselves were one in '09-10.

Geelong 2012-2020 might be a bit like what Geelong may have been '64-69. Talented sides, but just lacking the pure depth and maybe the ruthlessness of the biggest guns. Even to the extent of a losing GF to the Tigers in those periods. But seeing the three Flags as a Cat in my age then of 39-43, they will be forever remembered and probably will never be too far into the distance for me to not still fondly recall them.
 

emuboy

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The Fremantle Dockers in the early-mid 2010s should get at least an honorable mention.

Except for 2011, they made the finals every year from 2010-2015 inclusive. In both 2010 and 2012 they won an Elimination Final, but were beaten in the semi finals by premiership contenders Geelong and Adelaide respectively, which wasn't too bad considering the good teams higher on the ladder those years. Then in 2013 Fremantle made their first Grand Final against Hawthorn, but were decisively beaten by the Hawks at their own game, never looking likely winners and never once in front on the scoreboard. In 2014 after finishing 4th the Dockers crashed out of the finals in straight sets with losses to Sydney and Port Adelaide.

In 2015 the Dockers started the season with a long unbeaten run which had them well clear on top of the ladder. They then lost form, consistently getting beaten by the better teams and unconvincing against the lower ones even when winning. The early break enabled the Dockers to keep top spot on the ladder and claim their first and to date only minor premiership, but the drop off in form for many weeks continued into the finals. The Dockers scraped home against an undermanned and also out of form Sydney Swans in Perth, an unconvincing victory in one of the worst standard finals seen for many years. Hawthorn in the preliminary final were a different proposition even though the game was played in Perth, the ruthless Hawks making the Dockers look stupid at times as they swept them aside and went into the Grand Final, thrashing West Coast the next week.

The following year, the disappointing Dockers slipped to 16th on the ladder with only 4 wins, and have struggled ever since, never seriously challenging for a finals position from 2016 onwards.
 

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Leon

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Interesting thread.

Technically sides like North of the 90’s, Essendon 1999-01 and Geelong of 2007-11 underachieved in that they could/should have won more flags, but I don’t think fans of said clubs should be unhappy with the return they got from those eras.

My mob of 1997-99 is definitely an underachiever. Blew 2 golden chances of at least making a GF in 1997 and 1998.

As already mentioned our side from 08-10 underachieved but the other top sides of those years (Cats, Pies, Saints) were miles better than us.

Saints 04-10 is definitely one, they had some bad luck but were in winning positions in both games.

Freo of 13-15 is a side that was good enough to win at least one flag, just couldn’t get over the Hawks.
 

mailman4

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09/10 are the obvious ones that saints missed, but 2005 gets forgotten. For me that was our best chance

Up at 3qtr time against Sydney in the Prelim, playing at home (well the G), coming off a long break. Swans came out and kicked 7 to 0 goals in the last, O'Keefe absolutely destroyed us.

I would have backed us to beat West Coast that year had we made it
 

Cash is King

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Port's record against Brisbane during that period was pretty good. It wasn't you guys that tended to knock us out of finals, it was other teams. When we actually met the "greatest ever team" you came off second best.
At best you broke even during the H&A season and in 2002 they did belt you in a prelim. They also belted you in Round 7 that year. In the battle for top spot that year in Round 22 Lynch put them back in front before Roger James kicked the winning goal.
They beat you at AAMI early in 2003 and comprehensively accounted for you mid 2004 at the Gabba. Port were a very good consistent side but were touched up by Brisbane when at their best.
 

Tzatziki_Man

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It was mind boggling how similar to Brett Deledio he left.


Is it just awkward for you supporters to even talk about him? Cause with Deledio, we had an incredibly loyal gun who lost belief in us JUST as we began the dynasty.

Both left to play in multiple GWS premierships.

Both first rounders.

Similar style of player too.
 

doppleganger

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Geelong ‘overachieved’ to even make those 4 GFs back in early 90s, only 92 were they a real show.

North probably about right too, they could have pinched a wide open 93...but they gave up 98, but jagged 99 when probably not best team going

These are the underachievers for mine

Essendon 99 should have made the GF
Adelaide 05-06 should have made a GF
Port 01-03 should have made a GF
Dogs 97-99 could have made a GF
Saints 04-05 could have made a GF

More recently think has been pretty much around the mark

Saints in 09-10 didn’t really underachieve, and two GFs that went down to the wire against two amazing teams is just unlucky

GWS have never been the best team.

Pies 11-12 could have won another flag if things went our way, too much off field sh*t and injuries that derailed us - Shaw and Maxwell gambling, Malthouse distraction and then death of close team mate McCarthy and funeral days before PF not ideal preparation
 

NetworkNerd

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Geelong 2004-2020 for me. Would have the highest winning % by far over past 17 seasons but 3 flags is below par imo

3 premiers
2 runner up
6 preliminary finalists
2 semi finalists
2 elimination final losses
2 10th place finishes

An amazing record! Just not enough flags.
 

Richo83

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The Fremantle Dockers in the early-mid 2010s should get at least an honorable mention.

Except for 2011, they made the finals every year from 2010-2015 inclusive. In both 2010 and 2012 they won an Elimination Final, but were beaten in the semi finals by premiership contenders Geelong and Adelaide respectively, which wasn't too bad considering the good teams higher on the ladder those years. Then in 2013 Fremantle made their first Grand Final against Hawthorn, but were decisively beaten by the Hawks at their own game, never looking likely winners and never once in front on the scoreboard. In 2014 after finishing 4th the Dockers crashed out of the finals in straight sets with losses to Sydney and Port Adelaide.

In 2015 the Dockers started the season with a long unbeaten run which had them well clear on top of the ladder. They then lost form, consistently getting beaten by the better teams and unconvincing against the lower ones even when winning. The early break enabled the Dockers to keep top spot on the ladder and claim their first and to date only minor premiership, but the drop off in form for many weeks continued into the finals. The Dockers scraped home against an undermanned and also out of form Sydney Swans in Perth, an unconvincing victory in one of the worst standard finals seen for many years. Hawthorn in the preliminary final were a different proposition even though the game was played in Perth, the ruthless Hawks making the Dockers look stupid at times as they swept them aside and went into the Grand Final, thrashing West Coast the next week.

The following year, the disappointing Dockers slipped to 16th on the ladder with only 4 wins, and have struggled ever since, never seriously challenging for a finals position from 2016 onwards.
Again, I disagree that this team overachieved.

In 2013, they played Geelong, only for the cats to kick 9.18. They then play Sydney in Perth who was banged up and, if I recall correctly, missing some players. They play a Hawthorn team which is just... better. More attacking, more skillful, more daring, more talented.

In 2014, they finish fourth. They lose to Sydney who lead for the entire game. Then they lose to Port in a game where Port played more daring attacking football.

In 2015, they finish first with a percentage of 118.7%. Their form throughout the year was inconsistent and they knew how to beat teams but not well. They strangled teams to death through organisation and structure but lacked the killer blow. 11th for scores for in the season. They beat Sydney in a low-scoring scrap where Sydney kick 7.18. Then they play a Hawthorn side (in Perth might I add) which, again, more attacking, skillful, daring, talented side.

Lyon's Fremantle was built around pressure and defence. It was not, however a side which took risks, played with flair or took the game on. It was always a measured style of game designed around ball control and a focus on keeping things sealed off. In finals where things are a bit more crazy and the more chances you get, the better, they didn't generate enough chances. Lyon's Fremantle lost because Lyonball doesn't work in finals. If you look at the flag winners in history, it's generally because they're teams which take risks, are talented and know how to score and attack and attack well. The dockers weren't that side. I remember that game against Hawthorn. Hawthorn's speed and willingness to attack drowned them. In fact Fremantle's record against Hawthorn in this period was awful, and it was awful because Clarkson knew how to beat overly defensive sides. I never rated Fremantle as a flag fancy and I said as much here.
 

dumb

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Carlton mid-2000's. We only won 2 pre-season premierships, both years going on to finish 15th and below in the H&A. But we had our best year for a while in 2004 finishing 11th in the H&A (current coach Teague taking out the B&F), yet somehow failed to bring home the silverware at the start of the year.
 

Sunfire

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Damn, I read the title of this thread and went to nominate GCS for not making finals in our first 10 seasons. Then I realised it was for outstanding teams who should have done more.

Ahh maybe some day we too will have been good enough to reminisce about what could have been.
 

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