Limning the Ladder

It's time to consider the grand sweep of football history once again.

This time I'm looking at the teams' finishing positions, in particular the number and proportion of times that they've each finished as Premiers, Wooden Spooners, Grand Finalists and Finalists, or that they've finished in the Top Quarter or Top Half of the draw.

Here's a table providing the All-Time data.


Note that the percentage columns are all as a percentage of opportunities. So, for a season to be included in the denominator for a team's percentage, that team needs to have played in that season and, in the case of the Grand Finalists and Finalists statistics, there needs to have been a Grand Final (which there wasn't in 1897 or 1924) or there needs to have been Finals (which, effectively, there weren't in 1898, 1899 or 1900).

Looking firstly at Premierships, in pure number terms Essendon and Carlton tie for the lead on 16, but Essendon missed the 1916 and 1917 seasons and so have the outright lead in terms of percentage. A Premiership for West Coast in any of the next 5 seasons (and none for the Dons) would see them overtake Essendon on this measure.

Moving then to Spoons, St Kilda's title of the Team Most Spooned looks safe for at least another half century as they sit 13 clear of the field, and University will surely never relinquish the less euphonius but at least equally as impressive title of the Team With the Greatest Percentage of Spooned Seasons. Adelaide, Port Adelaide and West Coast are the only teams yet to register a Spoon (once the Roos' record is merged with North Melbourne's).

Turning next to Grand Finals we find that Collingwood have participated in a remarkable 39 of them, which equates to a better than one season in three record and is almost 10 percentage points better than any other team. West Coast, in just 22 seasons, have played in as many Grand Finals as have St Kilda, though St Kilda have had an additional 81 opportunities.

The Pies also lead in terms of the number of seasons in which they've participated in the Finals, though West Coast heads them in terms of percentages for this same statistic, having missed the Finals less than one season in four across the span of their existence.

Finally, looking at finishing in the Top Half or Top Quarter of the draw we find the Pies leading on both of these measures in terms of number of seasons but finishing runner-up to the Eagles in terms of percentages.

The picture is quite different if we look just at the 1980 to 2008 period, the numbers for which appear below.


Hawthorn now dominates the Premiership, Grand Finalist and finishing in the Top Quarter statistics. St Kilda still own the Spoon market and the Dons lead in terms of being a Finalist most often and finishing in the Top Half of the draw most often.

West Coast is the team with the highest percentage of Finals appearances and highest percentage of times finishing in the Top Half of the draw.