13 June 2011
Here are my predictions for how the AFL landscape might feel, club by club.
Statistics note - No of top eight finishes - premierships - 1995 result - 2000 result - 2005 result - 2010 result
Hawthorn: - 6 - 1 - 15th - 8th - 14th - 7th
By 2015 the Hawks will be back in the pack, the first year they don't make the finals from now until then. Always looking dangerous, inconsistency ruins a chance at a 2008 encore. Buddy Franklin gets frustrated with his own up and down performance, and Jarryd Roughead leaves the Hawks at the end of 2014 to become a key defender elsewhere.
Key predictions: Lose pace and confidence after a few seasons of threatening football. A natural cyclical movement for Hawthorn, they'll be back soon enough.
Melbourne: - 6 - 0 - 9th - 3rd (RU) - 7th - 12th
The Demons are the club in vogue right now – everyone's prediction to be a power team in the coming years. With a talented roster this should be the case, but a mixture of poor management and under delivery means the Demons will be a fringe top four side at best. By 2015 Tom Scully will have been gone for years and Jack Grimes and Jack Trengove will be trying to hold things together, frustrating fans starved for glory. They will be on the verge though, and some confidence will turn things around quickly.
Key predictions: Club board loses patience with Dean Bailey and poaches Mark Thompson, keen for anther stint as head coach, from Essendon. By 2015 there's a realisation that Jack Watts is the Josh Fraser equivalent – solid but never living up to the hype of being number one draft pick.
North Melbourne: - 10 - 2 - 6th - 4th - 5th - 9th
The Shinboner spirit has carried the Kangaroos through a number of lean seasons, yet over the past 15 years they have been one of the most consistently performing sides. But three trends will stop them from becoming a force again: an inability to keep up with cashed up clubs, false forays into Queensland and Canberra and the fact they have never bottomed out to collect young talent in the draft. By 2015, the gap will widen, North will fall down the ladder, providing the opportunity to recruit, and more crucially, relocate.
Key predictions: North Melbourne will end as we know it, to become the Tasmania Kangaroos induced by unrefusable financial assistance from the AFL. Andrew Swallow is a Brownlow medal winner.
Port Adelaide: - 7 - 1 - NA - 14th - 8th - 10th
Port is in a rut right now, suffering from reports of a selfish playing group lacking potential, and a small supporter base. The mess at Port will cause the AFL to controversially extend its charity further to propping up the club. . External pressures will bring about a complete gutting of the Port's structures and in 2015 the beginnings of a new dawn
Key predictions: Travis Boak will leave South Australia – taking up a lucrative offer from Richmond or Essendon in what may resemble the closest thing to Chris Judd's move to Carlton. Matthew Primus to have left under bad circumstances, replaced by Scott Burns, looking for opportunities out of WA.
Richmond: - 2 - 0 - 3rd - 9th - 12th - 15th
Who'd be a Richmond supporter? The club is battling, despite a solid supporter base, but a lack of on-field success is hampering the Tigers' ability to progress. Two top eight finishes in 16 seasons is abysmal, and going back to the mid 80s doesn't make for much better reading. In fact the Tigers the last time prior to 1995 was when they lost the Grand Final in 1982! That indicates about 30 years of poor results. The current group of Tigers look to be improving and should play finals over the next couple of years. The likes of Dustin Martin and Brett Deledio should be dominant players over the next few seasons. But by 2015 don't count on any more silverware in the dusty Richmond trophy room. The Tigers have rarely shown the ability to turn early draft picks into elite players; this debilitating culture must end for them to rise anytime soon.
Key predictions: Add two more finals appearances over the five years but at the lower end of the eight. Mick Malthouse to be into his third year as senior coach, with grand ambitions for a maturing but promising group.
St Kilda: - 8 - 0 - 14th - 16th - 4th - 3rd (RU)
By 2015 some of the Saints' staunchest supporters will be at their wit's end. St Kilda will be coming up to 50 years without a premiership, and the team won't have the class to turn things around. The side's very best now will be on the wrong side of 30, and talk around the club will tragically still be about that bounce that denied Stephen Milne the winning goal in 2010.
Key predictions: The Saints will start instilling the strictest and most disciplined regimes on their players, causing commentators of the game to debate seriously footy/life balance. But hurting from past mistakes, the board will persist, crafting a new squad aiming for a top four slot in 2017.
Sydney: - 12 - 1 - 12th - 10th - 3rd (P) - 5th
The Swans have made the most finals appearances over the last 16 seasons, missing action in September only four times. That is a remarkable effort, and the reason they hold onto typically fickle NSW fans. Rather than be squeezed by GWS, greater interest in AFL in the state will embolden the Swans and a prolonged culture of success will continue under Kieran Jack and Daniel Hanneberry.
Key predictions: Sydney will finally dump the plan to play matches at ANZ Stadium, instead revamping the SCG as a red and white fortress. The introduction of the Giants will help the Swans with a radical new recruitment policy aggressively targeting rugby league players.
West Coast: - 11 - 1 - 5th - 13th - 2nd (RU) - 16th
The Eagles are starting to build – from the brink of absolute despair in 2010, they've turned things around with strong, creative young players. Over two decades, West Coast has never been down for long – and like Collingwood enjoy the benefits of a huge supporter base and the associated financial benefits that come with it. Luke Shuey will be the next Ben Cousins and when the Eagle start dominating, Matt Priddis will finally be recognised as one of the game's very best.
Key predictions: Pencil West Coast in for the 2015 flag. The next era of football defined by a Coast vs Coast rivalry. Nic Natanui's dominant profile in the game inspires the Eagles to try and develop more players from the Pacific, with varying results.
Western Bulldogs: - 9 - 0 - 7th - 7th - 9th - 4th
The Bulldogs totally missed their chance at grand final glory and will pay the price for putting a failed results-driven strategy ahead of a long term plan. Expect them to be abysmal for at least three years, but by the end of 2015 be ready to start rebuilding into a competitive side once more. Rodney Eade will be long gone and Tom Liberatore and Mitch Wallis will form the Dogs' core.
Key predictions: A lack of vision now to hurt the Bulldogs for years. Internal fractures start to disrupt the football division, similar to the situation now at North Melbourne.
2015 Ladder 1. West Coast 2. Essendon 3. Gold Coast 4. Carlton 5. Sydney 6. Adelaide 7. Collingwood 8. GWS 9. Melbourne 10. Brisbane 11. Richmond 12. Geelong 13. Hawthorn 14. Fremantle 15. St Kilda 16. Port Adelaide 17. North Melbourne 18. Western Bulldogs
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