Wednesday, 27 September 2017


This time last year as the teams prepared for their final game of the season, the options were
- Inside vs outside the old 'Melbourne footy' world.
- A team on a fairytale run up against the Stalwarts of September.
- Battlers from the West against the 'Bondi Millionaires'.

In the end, the dream survived and after 62 years, the Bulldogs had their second flag and most of the footy world loved it.

This year, we have similar threads, but different tales as well.
Its still 'old VFL' against the out of towners, and you could also make a case that is is also the battlers against a different 'Chardonnay set'.

But this year there are two teams looking to break Premiership droughts. 20 years for Adelaide and 37 years for Richmond.
The 'Stalwarts of September' have been banished.

Both teams have strong claims staked out.
And these claims are backed up by the data. On the FMI system, Adelaide have been the best team since the end of Round 1, only being headed by Sydney pre-season, and again for only the period between the first week and second week of finals.

And for Richmond, its been a season where they have dredged themselves out of the mid tier of teams to join the best. The chart below shows that rise, against the even-handedness of Adelaide.

Comparing this pair against 2016's finalists, we see a similar evenhanded year when comparing Sydney and Adelaide. The Swans did turn on a late season charge last year though that is not replicated by Adelaide.
That said, Adelaide were also the best ranked team in 2016 most of the year too, with Sydney only claiming top spot because of the burst.

The Bulldogs chart is interesting, particularly in that last 5 or 6 games. They were tapering off at the end of the season, yet the blue line ramps up dramatically when they found their rhythm in September.

Now scroll back up the post and re-look at Richmond's chart. That yellow line has climbed steeply over the last 4 or 5 games.

Are we looking at another team with all the momentum their way, heading into a drought-breaking Grand Final?
There has been a few in the mainstream media commenting on similar game styles between the Bulldogs of 2016 and the Tigers of 2017. Pressure acts, numbers around the ball, small wins at the coalface, prepared to halve a contest to maintain territory. And more.

If 2016 was any gauge, this year's Grand Final will be another mighty game.
The FMI system backs that up.


Over at the Squiggle site, other 'maths' footy bloggers tips are being accumulated, as they have been all year.
And the results are as interesting as they are varied.
Max has also written up a great blog post examining the two teams and reaching back for similarities in seasons past.
For what its worth, and in keeping with the theme earlier in the post, under the Squiggle analysis, Adelaide are a 'Hawthorn 2008'-like chance at winning this thing, while Richmond are (surprise surprise) very reminiscent of the 2016 Western Bulldogs.
Screen Capture of 2017 Squiggle chart for Adelaide and Richmond - Courtesy of

Two different teams with different backgrounds.
Two different playing styles.
The best attacking team against the best defensive team.

For all the contrasts, there is commonality.
For both teams, the dream is there.
Dreams of their own making, and from their fans. Dreams that Premiership droughts are destined to be broken.

Wishes, fears, expectation and hope.
Creating a new set of heroes.

Good luck to all involved.

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