Salty September: Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda AFL Premierships – Part 2


Our trip down the salt mines of footy’s sliding doors moments continues as we look deep into the Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda Premierships.

This week we focus in on Geelong, Gold Coast Suns, GWS, Melbourne, Hawthorn and even the boys from old Fitzroy.

There’s no room for sentiment here, let the salitiness begin!



Won at least one Grand Final in 1989, 1992, 1994, 1995. The issue was the strength of their opposition. They had to face Hawthorn in 1989, the might of West Coast in the early 1990s and nobody was to beat Carlton in 1995

Gone all the way in 1993. Geelong’s 1993 season was the ultimate in coulda, shoulda, woulda. After going down to St.Kilda by 71 points at Waverley in Round 16 of that season, the Cats came home like a steam train winning their last five games including a famous win over West Coast at the WACA. But it wasn’t to be.  The ’93 season was unique in that there were only 20 home and away games and a final six. Essendon had finished on top with 13 wins and the Cats seventh with 12 wins. Had there been the usual 22 home and away games or Collingwood had beaten the Crows at Football Park in Round 22 of that season, the Cats would have given the ’93 finals series and almighty shake up.


Done something about Nick Davis in the 2005 Semi Final. Had someone from the Cats tagged him, he wouldn’t of been able to kick the four last goals of the low-scoring game, which resulted in a famous Swans win. Geelong fans still have nightmares about it. Had they tagged him, they wouldn’t of been able to see it but not believe it.

Gone back-to-back in 2008 against Hawthorn. Sure, there was the “Kennett Curse” but 2008 still hurts for all Cats fans. They had to settle for flags in 2009 and 2011.

Had home finals after  the re-development of Kardinina Park. The Cats have been forced to play “home” finals at the MCG including against MCG tenants Richmond and Hawthorn, which has left a sour taste in the mouth of Geelong supporters. Geelong has however, played one final at the Cattery in 2013 against Fremantle – they lost.


Won the 1930 grand final had it not been for the challenge rule that allowed the first-placed Collingwood to have a follow up match the next week.

Won the 1967 Grand Final against Richmond had it not been for the goal umpire.

Won at least a couple of flags in the late 1980’s – early/mid 1990’s had they not come against some of the greatest teams in the history of the game.

Won in 1989 had Mark Yeates done a proper job on Dermott Breretonat the opening bounce.

Gone deep into the 1997 finals series had they paid that mark to Leigh Colbert. IT WAS A MARK.

Beaten Richmond in the 2017 qualifying final, had it been played at Geelong allowing the Cats a clear path to the Grand Final and therefore, a flag.



Been something.


Given Tassie a team.


Been something.




Won their first flag in 2016. The preliminary final against the Western Bulldogs was an arm wrestle and many regard it as one of the best games played in recent years. Who knows what would have happened had Devon Smith (now at Essendon) didn’t miss at the 27 minute mark of the last quarter?


Won a premiership by now. The Giants have had one of the best lists in the competition for almost five years now and are yet to even qualify for a Grand Final.


Finished higher in 2017 had they not had two consecutive draws – Round 14 against Geelong and Round 15 against Hawthorn. Had they finished on top of the ladder, they would have had an easier run into the Grand Final.



Had the first three-peat in VFL/AFL history. In the foundation years of the VFL, the Roys were the dominant team of the competition winning the 1898 and 1899 Grand Finals. Fitzroy faced Melbourne in the 1900 Grand Final and went down to Melbourne by four points. However, the Roy-Boys can lay claim to being the first club to go back-to-back and the only club to ever win the wooden spoon and premiership in the same year – 1916 (When the VFL only had four clubs participate due to WWI)

Had another tilt for a flag in the 1980s. Until September of last year, Fitzroy could lay claim to having won more finals than Richmond after 1982. The Roys featured in the finals in 1979, 1981, 1983, 1984 and in 1986. Their last finals campaign in 1986 was memorable for their run into the finals, which included thrilling wins over the Dons and Swans before they went down to Hawthorn in the Preliminary Final by 56 points at Waverley. It would be the last time Fitzroy featured in finals football.

Made the finals in 1993. Only three games separated the top team (Essendon) and the 12th team (St.Kilda) that year. Fitzroy finished 11th with 10 wins and 10 losses in a 20 home and away round season. Had the Roys gotten over the line in a number of close losses that season they could have made the final six and played finals football one more time. It would be Fitzroy’s last competitive season before eventually merging with Brisbane in 1996.


Won another flag. The Roys last premiership in the VFL was in 1944 against Richmond. They would finish with eight premierships in their own right. It’s a shame they never got to taste the ultimate glory once more.


Survived in the current AFL climate of bailing out struggling clubs. How Fitzroy was treated compared to how clubs are in this day and age gives every Roys fan the right to be angry about what happened. Although, for those who took on the Brisbane Lions, the threepeat from 2001 – 03 was pretty special.



Made the 2001 Grand Final had Darren Goldspink not umpired that prelim against Essendon. Many regard Goldspink as one of Essendon’s best on the ground that day.


Beaten Essendon in the 1984 or 1985 Grand Finals. The Bombers won both of those comfortably. They have had plenty of success since, but those losses still hurt Hawks fans.


Won the flag in 1975 had North Melbourne not purchased a premiership under the 10-year rule.

Won the flag in 2012 against Sydney had it not been for Jack Gunston hitting the post and Brad Sewell’s incredibly poor kicking.



Won the premiership in 1987 had it not been for Jim Stynes running through the mark in the 1987 preliminary final, which resulted in a 15-metre penalty being paid to Hawthorn’s Garry Buckernara. This tragically denying the Dees a spot in the Grand Final.


Picked a better time to make a Grand Final in recent years. The poor old Dees faced the might of Hawthorn in 1988 and Essendon in 2000. No one was going to beat them on those days.

Never sacked Norm Smith. It’s put a curse on the club. Many have likened Melbourne sacking legendary coach Norm Smith to Baseball’s curse of the Bambino.


Won an all-time record of six premierships in a row from 1955 – 1960 had it not been for the Magpies beating them in 1958. The Norm Smith/Ron Barassi era for the Dees was one of the greatest of all time and they haven’t been able to recover since.


Won the flag in 1993.  North Melbourne spent most of the 1993 home and away season on top of the ladder and had it not been for a loss to Footscray in Round 22 of that season, they would have finished on top. Instead, the Roos finished third and played West Coast in an Elimination Final and lost. Many Roos fans regard it as the start of the clubs dominance of the 1990’s but also as one that got away.

Won another flag at some stage in the 90s. They won in 1996 and 1999 but looking back many believe there was another flag in that super North Melbourne team that tore up footy in the 1990’s.

Not played and lost to Adelaide in 1998 had it not been for the Mcintyre final eight system. North Melbourne finished on top that season and the Crows finished fifth. The Crows were belted by Melbourne in the first qualifying final but the then finals system allowed Adelaide to have an extra chance, not be eliminated like they may have been under the current finals model that has been in place since 2000. The Crows went on to beat Sydney in the Semi Finals and the Western Bulldogs in the Prelim before their outstanding performance against the Kangaroos in the Grand Final.

Salty September’s Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda Premierships continues next week as we explore  Port Adelaide, Richmond, St.Kilda, Sydney, West Coast and the Western Bulldogs/Footscray.  

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