AFL Grand Final – Get to Know

The AFL Grand Final, what a day to punt.

The AFL Grand final is played out between the two best teams for the ultimate prize in Aussie Rules,  AFL premiership!

The Grand Final has taken place at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, better known as the MCG every season since 1944, except one – where in 1991, Hawthorn defeated the West Coast Eagles by 53 points at Waverley Park in front of 75,230 people. This was the lowest Grand Final crowd since 1948, which is due to Waverley Parks limited capacity.

There have been 30 Grand Finals where more than 100,000 have attended, the last time being when Hawthorn defeated Fremantle in 2013 by 15 points in front of a crowd of 100,007.

The AFL Grand Final traditionally takes place on the last Saturday in September, although this has changed on occasion to the first Saturday in October due to other random events that don’t matter half as much.

The moment Mark Yeates welcomed Dermie to the 1989 Grand Final…

10 AFL Grand Final Facts

There are facts a plenty about arguably the greatest day on the Australian sporting calendar:

1. There have been three drawn Grand Finals –Collingwood and St. Kilda in 2010, Collingwood and North Melbourne in 1977 and Essendon and Melbourne in 1948.

2. The biggest ever attendance was in 1970, where 121,696 watched Carlton overcome old rival Collingwood. In this game Carlton fought back from the largest ever halftime deficit of 44 points to claim the flag.

3. Geelong recorded the largest ever win, breaking a 44-year premiership drought in the process by thumping Port Adelaide to the tune of 119 points in 2007.

4. The highest team score in an AFL Grand Final came from Carlton, who booted 28.19(177) in 1972. Richmond managed to score 22.18 (150) in the same game, a total that would have won all but six other Grand Finals on record.

5. In 2002, the Brisbane Lions became the first team since 1979 to win the AFL Grand Final despite a goal-less first quarter. Their opponents Collingwood, kicked just one in the first term.

6. The lowest score in an AFL Grand Final is 2.2 (14), scored by Collingwood in 1960 against Melbourne.

7. Last year was the fifth straight season where at least one interstate team made it to the last week of September, after five straight seasons of all-Victorian encounters prior. Before that? Another seven straight Grand Finals with an interstate presence.

8. The West Coast Eagles were the first interstate team to win the AFL premiership, overcoming Geelong 16.17 (113) to 12.13 (85). West Coast have since added two flags, in 1994 and 2006, while losing another three in 1991, 2005 and 2015.

9. The Fremantle Dockers are the only current AFL side (aside from the new expansion sides Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast) to have not win a flag. Fremantle have made the Grand Final once, losing to the Hawks in 2013.

10. The longest current premiership drought belongs to the Saints, who won their only premiership in 1966. Up until last season, that unfortunate record belonged to the Western Bulldogs/Footscray who claimed their first flag way back in 1954, defeating Sydney.

AFL Grand Final Betting

There are a number of Grand Final bet types provided by the bookies, and it is without a doubt the biggest punting day of the AFL season.

The simplest and most common bet is the Head to Head, where you select who you think will win the game outright.

Then there is the line bet, where the favourite is handicapped with a margin which in effect makes the game equal. For example, if Team A is considered 22 points better than Team B, the line will be set at -22.5 for Team A and +22.5 for the Team B. This means that if you bet on Team A, they need to win by more than 22 points in order for you to win the bet; Team B will need to get within 22 points of Team A or win the game. The return for a line bet is close to even money at around $1.91 or $1.95 depending on the bookmaker.

The most popular exotic bet for the AFL Grand Final is the First Goal Kicker bet. The concept is simple, you bet on who will kick the first goal of the game. You can bet on the first goal kicker for a certain side, or the first goal kicker in the game/half or quarter. It’s best to check the final team lineups before placing your First Goal Kicker bet. Note that team lineups are finalised 90 minutes before the first bounce and it can pay to avoid placing First Goal Scorer bets on players who start off the bench.

You can also bet on who will be ahead at each break, who will gain the most disposals from a set group of players and who will win the Norm Smith medal, the award given for the player voted best on the ground.

View all AFL bet types

Past 5 AFL Grand Final Winners

2016 – Western Bulldogs 13.11 (89) defeated Sydney 10.7 (67) – the Bulldogs broke a 62-year premiership drought and became the first ever team to win the flag from seventh spot on the ladder when they defeated the Sydney Swans, the clear favourites who were playing their third Grand Final in five years.

The game was low scoring and close all day, as two strong defensive teams played out an arm-wrestle. The Bulldogs travelled from Perth, to Melbourne, to Sydney and then back to Melbourne in winning four straight finals against sides placed above them on the ladder. Jason Johannisen won the Norm Smith medal, tallying 33 possessions while Tom Boyd, Tory Dickson and Liam Picken kicked three goals each.

2015 – Hawthorn 16.11 (107) defeated West Coast Eagles 8.13 (61) – the Hawks proved themselves to be one of the greatest sides of the modern era in winning their third straight flag. The Hawks were rarely troubled against the Eagles, who had come in as favourites after a finals win a couple of weeks beforehand. Hawthorn extended their lead at every break before the Eagles saved some face in the last quarter. Cyril Rioli won the Norm Smith medal, which some thought was surprising given he tallied just 18 possessions and kicked two goals. However, his impact on the game wasn’t measured purely on statistics, with his forward line pressure setting up multiple opportunities and goals for the Hawks.

2014 – Hawthorn 21.11 (137) defeated Sydney 11.8 (74) – after winning the flag the previous year, many thought Hawthorn had peaked and fallen, and the punters agreed. Hawthorn entered the game as $2.40 underdogs with most bookmakers. The odds proved to be wrong, as the Hawks dominated from the first bounce and were never challenged, putting on a clinical display of strong, attacking football and leaving the Swans without an answer. Luke Hodge won the Norm Smith medal, joining only of just three other players to have won it twice. The Hawks had a Grand Final record 442 disposals, 144 more than the Swans, with Jarrad Roughead starring with 5 goals.

2013 – Hawthorn 11.11 (77) defeated Fremantle 8.14 (62) – the Dockers made their maiden AFL Grand Final appearance after 19 years in the league and despite a sluggish start in which they kicked just one goal before half time, they hit the front in the third quarter. The Hawks then steadied and won a scrappy game in which Jack Gunston kicked four goals and defender Brian Lake won the Norm Smith medal. The Dockers were left to rue their poor first quarter, as they were well and truly in the game and likely could have won with more accurate kicking in front of goal.

2012 – Sydney 14.7 (91) defeated Hawthorn 11.15 (81) – widely regarded alongside 2016 as the best AFL Grand Final in recent years, this was a high quality game of pressure footy from start to finish. Sydney broke the game open with six unanswered goals in the second quarter, and withstood a number of Hawthorn comebacks led by superstar Lance Franklin who kicked 3.4. Sydney were led by their deep midfield with veteran Ryan O’Keefe taking out the Norm Smith medal.

View all AFL Grand Final Winners

Past 5 Norm Smith Medallists

2016 – Jason Johanissen (Western Bulldogs): 33 possessions (second most in the game), 9 entries inside 50 (most in the game), 7 rebounds from defensive 50 (second most in game).

2015 – Cyril Rioli (Hawthorn): 18 possessions, 2 goals, 4 goal assists (where he directly passed to a teammate who kicked a goal, most in game)

2014 – Luke Hodge (Hawthorn): 35 possessions (second most in game), 12 marks (most in game).

2013 – Brian Lake (Hawthorn): 22 possessions (seventh most in game), 10 marks (second most in game), 11 contested possessions (possessions where he was directly contesting an opponent for the ball, third most in the game)

2012 – Ryan O’Keefe (Sydney): 28 possessions (third most in game), 15 tackles (most in game), 7 clearances (getting first possession away from a ball-up, bouncedown or boundary throw-in; fourth most in game)

View all Norm Smith Medal winners

Whose won the most AFL Premierships?

The Bombers and Blues have won the most AFL premierships with 16 a piece. Collingwood are close behind on 15.

Essendon won their last flag in 2000 (to compliment wins in 1897, 1901, 1911, 1912, 1923, 1924, 1942, 1946, 1949, 1950, 1962, 1965, 1984, 1985 and 1993). Carlton’s last premiership win was in 1999, with other wins in 1906, 1907, 1908, 1914, 1915, 1938, 1945, 1947, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1987, 1995.

Collingwood have to most of our amusement lost the Grand Final on 26 occasions, while Melbourne and Hawthorn hold the record for having played in seven straight Grand Finals.

Most goals in an AFL Grand Final

Both Gary Ablett Snr (aka ‘God’) (1989) and Gordon Coventry (1928) kicked 9 goals in an AFL Grand Final, Ablett doing so in a losing side as part of what many regard as the greatest Grand Final of all time. Dermott Brereton kicked 8, also in a losing side in 1985. It seems that big bags in Grand Finals are a thing of the past, with no one has having kicked more than 6 goals since Ablett’s performance.

Cameron Mooney (2007) and Jarrad Roughead (2014) are the only two players to kick five goals in the last decade.

View Coleman Medallists