The Painful Eight: Longest Finals Droughts

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If you see a very happy Melbourne fan today, throwing their cheese board up in the air it is because they are celebrating their club clinching finals football for the first time in 12 years.

Unfortunately, it does put an end to the “Ski Slopes in September” jokes we all know and love (at least for this year), but it is tough to deny anyone their moment of joy when their side does make the finals.

There are plenty of other fanbases desperate to see their team breakthrough and get back into the action at the crunch time of the season.

AFL

With the Demons ending their finals hiatus this year, the focus now turns to the Brisbane Lions who last appeared in September in the 2009 season.

They won a classic against Carlton in the first weekend before being trounced by the Bulldogs in the semi-final.

NRL

Two teams are currently experiencing the longest active finals drought in the NRL; with the Wests Tigers and New Zealand Warriors both featuring in the 2011 Finals Series.

If you really want to get technical, Wests drought is three weeks longer as the Warriors made the Grand Final that year, losing to Manly.

The Warriors will end their run this year as they sit four points clear of ninth placed Tigers with two rounds remaining, but it will be at least another years wait for Tigers fans.

 

A-League

In the most recent A-League season, the Newcastle Jets ended a decade of finals absences when they finished second on the ladder and played in their first final since their 2008 Grand Final win.

There would not be a repeat championship this year as the lost the final to Melbourne Victory but they did enter the finals series on a high note.

In some small comfort now, the longest A-League finals absence sits with their rivals from down the road, the Central Coast Mariners, who last played in the 2013 Grand Final, however they may be counting on a Bolt from the blue this season to end that run.

MLS

Shifting over to the other football competition that has a finals series, Orlando City has the longest active drought, at just three seasons with Orlando yet to make the MLS Playoffs since their inception in 2015.

The longest ever drought in the MLS is held by Toronto at eight years, from their 2007 foundation through to 2015.

They have made up for lost time in the last three years making the Championship game in 2016 and winning the League and Playoffs double in 2017.

MLB

In 2001 the Seattle Mariners enjoyed a season for the ages, with a miraculous regular season record of 116-46, which was unsurprisingly good enough for the best record in the major leagues.

2002 was a bit less successful with just 93 wins for the Mariners, but they finished ten games out of the division lead and six games out of a Wild Card spot.

That began baseball’s longest active postseason drought with the Mariners missing the playoffs for the last 16 seasons, however they are only a few games out of a wild card spot in the current season.

They still have a few seasons to go to match the longest ever postseason drought which lasted 30 seasons for the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals franchise between 1981 and 2012.

NBA

It has been 12 years since the Sacramento Kings were involved in the NBA Playoffs, which ended with a 4-2 series loss to the San Antonio Spurs, although it did have a few highlights for them.

A few more rough seasons and they will be challenging the LA Clippers for the longest all-time drought, which lasted 15 seasons from 1977 to 1991.

NHL

Two teams hold the record for the NHL’s longest playoff drought with the Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers spending 10 years on the outside looking in.

Edmonton ended their run in 2017, beating the San Jose Sharks in the first round before being eliminated in seven games to the Anaheim Ducks in their first appearance since losing the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

There was plenty of excitement over the Oilers first playoff goal in their series against the Sharks.

Florida’s run lasted for 10 seasons but spanned 11 years as it included the 2004/2005 season which was cancelled due to the player lockout.

As it stands, the Carolina Hurricanes have gone nine years between playoff berths.

NFL

If you are a fan of the Cleveland Browns (or know someone associated with the team), you know they have become synonymous with the definition of “suffering” with the team struggling for success since their 1999 rebirth.

What was once one of the NFL’s most successful franchise in their previous iteration, they made the playoffs once this millennium in 2002.

For the past 15 seasons the Browns have had a lot of last place finishes in their division including last year’s 0-16 effort.

At least the city of Cleveland and the fanbase had a sense of humour, throwing a parade to “honour” their achievement.

While 15 years is a very long wait, consider that the Redskins and Cardinals both experiencing 25 years away from the playoffs in their history.

Not only was the drought lengthy for the Cardinals franchise, it began in 1948 with the team playing out of Chicago before the team moved to St Louis for the 1960 season before they finally made the playoffs in 1974.

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