Preliminary Final weekend can be one of the most exciting and enthralling weekend’s of football.
The chance to book a spot into the AFL Grand Final is just one win away for four teams this weekend and, especially for fans of the Melbourne Football Club who have not tasted premiership success since 1964, it offers an extraordinary opportunity to cement a legacy on the game forever.
But with the jubilation for one comes devastation for another.
Two team’s season will end this weekend and the hope of their supporters will be shattered.
We’ve seen it before time and again.
Here are some of the most heartbreaking prelim final losses in modern football history.
1994 Geelong 16.13 (109) def North Melbourne 14.19 (103)
North Melbourne were the best team of the 1990s, led by the best player of the decade Wayne Carey.
But they were left wondering what might have been in 1994 when they were kicked out in devastating fashion in the penultimate weekend of the season.
The Cats had won their way through to the Preliminary Final thanks to a Billy Brownless after the siren goal against the Dogs a week previous and over 80 thousand in attendance witnessed the most dramatic finish in Prelim Final history.
Mick Martyn held superstar full forward Gary Ablett to just four disposals and two goals up until the dying stages, yet with scores level, and seconds remaining, the ball fell into the outstretched hands of the man they call the football God.
2011 Collingwood 10.8 (68) def Hawthorn 9.11 (65)
Many believe Hawthorn won a flag before their time in 2008 when they upset Geelong in the Grand Final and many supporters were left feeling distraught after their 2011 Prelim Final loss to Collingwood.
Would they ever bounce back and win another premiership?
It’s hard to feel for Hawk’s supporters now with the advantage of hindsight but this one cut deep at the time.
It’s also hard not to lament what could have been a Geelong v Hawthorn Grand Final a week later.
1996 Sydney 10.10 (70) def Essendon 10.9 (69)
The Sydney Swans advanced to their first ever Grand Final since South Melbourne relocated to Sydney in 1996 when their star recruit Tony Lockett paid his way with a point after the siren.
Similar to Ablett in 1994, the star full forward had been kept quiet for most of the night and ended with just the one goal but it can be just one moment in a game that a player makes an impact on his football team forever.
That is the beautiful thing about Preliminary Finals.
The Bombers would go on to lose to Carlton in1999 on this same weekend and make it two 1-point losses in the space of three years.
2007 Geelong 13.14 (92) def Collingwood 13.9 (87)
Collingwood broke a long premiership drought in 2010 when they defeated St Kilda in a Grand Final replay but heading into the 2007 Finals Series they had not tasted the ultimate success since 1990.
Unfortunately they ran into another club that were motivated by their own premiership drought in Geelong who had not won a flag since 1963.
Just like our first game on the list, it was an Ablett that broke the hearts of another club’s supporters in a Prelim Final.
Cometh the moment, cometh the man.
1997 Adelaide 12.21 (93) def Western Bulldogs 13.13 (91)
Before their drought-breaking premiership in 2016 the Western Bulldogs had lost their last seven straight Preliminary Finals dating back to 1985.
The Dogs finished third in the Home & Away season and were led by club greats Chris Grant, Tony Liberatore, Scott West, Rohan Smith and Brad Johnson.
The Crows kicked four goals to none in the final quarter to lift them into their first ever AFL Grand Final.
“And the reality is that the Dogs missed out”