Sunday, 24 February 2013

VFL/AFL matches between last two unbeaten clubs

Following on from my previous list of games between the last two winless clubs in the VFL/AFL, I have listed all matches ever played between the last two unbeaten clubs.

Vis-à-vis games between the last two winless clubs, games between the last two unbeaten clubs seem to have declined in frequency less, with fifteen of twenty examples having occurred since 1919. In part this may be due to recurring draw patterns during the years of country zoning, when discrepancies between zones in player talent led the same teams to consistently finish at the top of the ladder.

Memory of the 1991 game from my school days is strong. West Coast in the autumn of 1991 were the football equivalent of the mean four-man pace attacks of Clive Lloyd’s 1980s West Indian cricket teams: yards too fast and too mean and physically hard for any opposition. However, (as Lloyd’s West Indian sides would have if England and New Zealand had possessed a culture willing to accept the benefits of pitches completely open to rain) the Eagles were not the same side when grounds abruptly became heavier at the beginning of June.

Despite Essendon having won with mediocre form, some kids I recall softly said Essendon, not West Coast as I was saying, would go undefeated in 1991. In reality, no game between the last two unbeaten clubs has been on paper so unbalanced: Essendon had won by an average of 34 points and West Coast by 62, but if we take into account the quality of the opponents over 1991 as a whole (admittedly misleading because of the vast contrast in weather between the two halves of the season), then West Coast were seventy-three points superior to their first six opponents, Essendon merely seventeen points superior. Even in 1929 when Collingwood went undefeated in the home-and-away rounds, Geelong had kept a fine Melbourne side to three goals on a dry day and actually conceded fewer points than the Magpies over the full home-and-away season.
Season Round Venue Home Team Score Away Team Score Remarks
2011 8 MCG Geelong 8.17 (65) Collingwood 9.8 (62)Magpies lost to no other side during season
2009 14
St. Kilda 14.7 (91) Geelong 13.7 (85)
Regarded as one of best games of all time.
Latest match between unbeaten teams
One of only three matches since 2005 where winning team won only first quarter: Saints kept narrow lead all game.
1998 5 SCG Sydney 14.15(99) Western Bulldogs 12.11 (83) -
1991 8 Windy Hill Essendon 13.9 (87) West Coast 14.10 (94) Bombers came back after slow start with 15 fit players.
Memories from school of “Essendon’ll beat West Coast”/“Essendon’ll beat West Coast”/“At Perth” chant.
1981 6 Princes Park Carlton 12.15 (87) Collingwood 22.12 (144)
Biggest win between final unbeaten teams, with Daicos kicking seven.
1979 7 Princes Park Carlton 15.14 (104) North Melbourne 16.12 (108) Classic thriller between era’s dominant teams.
1978 4 Moorabbin Oval St. Kilda 14.16 (100) North Melbourne 17.17 (119)
1976 6 Princes Park Hawthorn 7.20 (62) Carlton 15.12 (102) Spectacular win by Blues despite equal scoring shots
1959 7 Princes Park Carlton 14.15 (99) North Melbourne 10.11 (71) -
1956 5 MCG Melbourne 6.20 (56) Geelong 6.12 (48) Memorably wet day in WAFL as well as VFL (East Perth’s 1.4 is lowest-ever score by eventual premier in a major football league).
Stuart Spencer kicked an amazing 0.11.
1942 6 Windy Hill Essendon 10.17 (77) Richmond 11.10 (76) Defective bell allowed Essendon to kick what became winning goal after quarter-time.
Led to introduction of sirens at all grounds by 1950.
1937 5 MCG Melbourne 13.23 (101) Collingwood 11.10 (76) First Demon win over Collingwood since 1926 Grand Final.
Return saw amazing display of attacking football - comparable to Hawthorn v Geelong 52 years later.
1932 7 Albert Park South Melbourne 14.21 (105) Geelong 14.12 (96) Record attendance between clubs until 1996.
1931 4 Punt Road Oval Richmond 10.12 (72) Collingwood 9.14 (68) -
1929 4 Corio Oval Geelong 6.13 (49) Collingwood 12.13 (85)Magpies achieved only perfect home-and away season
1914 6 East Melbourne Cricket Ground Essendon 5.11 (41) South Melbourne 5.13 (43) -
1907 3 Junction Oval St. Kilda 9.13 (67) Essendon 5.7 (37) Essendon finished with first wooden spoon, managing only three more wins.
1903 6 Princes Park Carlton 8.8 (56) Fitzroy 4.5 (29) Blues had played one game fewer than Fitzroy.
Second round match against Geelong postponed due to a railway strike and played in Sydney in August after another postponement.
1902 4 Victoria Park Collingwood 3.4 (22) Fitzroy 7.13 (55) Fitzroy were to end a 14-game Magpie winning streak in Second Semi.
1899 5 MCG Melbourne 4.11 (35) Fitzroy 3.6 (24) Ended Fitzroy winning streak of 14 games.

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