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Big four a dream scenario

Gough Whitlam was prime minister. The Sydney Opera House was yet to be opened. Television in this country was still a black-and-white affair. It was 40 years ago, 1973, and in the context of football's development, an eternity.

That's how long it's been since the then VFL clubs who came to be known as the big four - Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon and Richmond - all competed in the same finals series. But a long wait seems more and more likely to be ended.

And you can almost hear the rubbing of the hands of the AFL in glee, not to mention the ringing of the cash registers. For the league, we're heading for a finals series straight from heaven.

For these days, it's not just a big four but, throwing giants of recent times Hawthorn and Geelong into the mix, a heavyweight half-dozen who are all going to be playing a part. And if that seems a little parochial, the strong presence of two other states, via the legitimate flag claims of Sydney and Fremantle, should placate the champions of game development.

Yes, it's an early call. But after having claimed a couple of weeks ago that we might already have our top four of 2013, I'm inclined to think we've now just about got our final eight locked away.

The current ladder doesn't necessarily reflect it - Port Adelaide is back in the top half after a superb, gutsy win over the Swans on Saturday, and a game ahead of Carlton and West Coast, who are locked on six wins and six losses - but scan the run home of all those clubs for their remaining 10 games, and there's a fair argument the dye is cast.

Ken Hinkley's Power has clearly recovered the ''oomph'' it lost between rounds six and 10, beating up on Greater Western Sydney the weekend before last, and against Sydney, completely dominated the second half in general play and, eventually, on the scoreboard.

Emerging star Chad Wingard was instrumental, as was Brad Ebert and veteran Kane Cornes in shutting down Sydney star Daniel Hannebery. But given what lies ahead for the Power, it's going to have to maintain this standard weekly.

Port's great win was only the first leg of a quadrella of big games which, over the next three weeks, takes in Collingwood, Essendon and Hawthorn. And four of its last five assignments are challenging to say the least - another Showdown with cross-town rival Adelaide, and away games against Geelong and Fremantle at, arguably, the two most unfriendly venues in the AFL. Port's final game is against Carlton.

West Coast might just have turned a corner, despite its loss to Hawthorn on Friday night. The Eagles pushed the Hawks hard, though their comparative lack of pace is increasingly apparent, and perhaps an explanation for an unusually poor record of 2-4 in their own backyard.

But, again, if the Eagles are still to play a part in September, they're going to have to get much better. Six of West Coast's final 10 games are against sides in the eight, and there's two more against the still-capable Adelaide, immediately beneath it on the ladder. Essendon twice, Sydney, Geelong, Fremantle and Collingwood - one thing's for sure, if the Eagles do still get there, they will have earned it.

Carlton, meanwhile, has its challenges, too. But it does have eminently winnable games against St Kilda, North Melbourne, Gold Coast and Western Bulldogs, and more encouragement in its consistent competitiveness this season - none of those half-dozen losses by any more than 17 points.

At the moment, I have Richmond and Carlton filling the final two places in the eight with 13 and 12 wins respectively, both less than the 14 required last year, but enough in a season in which the top couple of teams have grabbed more of the spoils than in 2012.

If what has to be the AFL's preferred final eight does eventuate, it brings its share of logistical difficulties with it, none the least the distinct possibility of four finals in Melbourne in week one.

If Hawthorn, Geelong and the other four local participants were all to make it, we'd have one final at Etihad Stadium. And if that was to feature the Hawks against an interstate side, given the presence of the Magpies, Bombers, Tigers and Blues, you would rightly hear plenty of squawking from Waverley, given the Hawks copped the short end of the stick in terms of grand final preparation last year.

But that's flak the AFL would be prepared to cop if the trade-off was the league's most popular local clubs all taking part in the most important time of the year.

Much of the world, let alone football, has changed significantly since the days of the early '70s.

But the pulling power of the game's biggest clubs hasn't. And if all the big guns are there, the league will have a memorable finals series on its hands before it has even started.

70 comments so far

  • I'm a Pies supporter & I think we'll JUST make the finals. I hope I'm wrong but I don't think so.

    Date and time
    June 23, 2013, 11:16PM
    • @christos -pies arent that bad, there draw in the upcoming weeks is very winnable and with Clinton young and dayne beams to return soon, along with goldsack, krakour, daisy and fasolo out there doing ok.

      Date and time
      June 24, 2013, 12:01PM
  • Rohan, are you saying Port make it or not? Using the ladder predictor on the AFL website - as you said the other week, agree that the top 4 is set. Then there is a huge gap (10 pts) between 4th and 5th. I have Ess (5th) playing Rich (8th) and Coll (6th) playing Blues (7th). Sure there is still 10 weeks out and there will probably be a surprise somewhere, but if form holds, can you imagine the hype around the opening week with Ess v Rich and Carl v Coll as two of the finals at the G??? 90,000+ at each of the surely.

    Date and time
    June 23, 2013, 11:21PM
    • Essendon (the cheats) should be sitting on the sidelines by then so include port.

      Date and time
      June 25, 2013, 4:58AM
  • When Hawthorn make the finals again, this year, I'm confident should they finish top 2 they will not be giving up a final at the G to make way for a Richmond, Collingwood, Carlton, Essendon or anyone else for that matter, especially if those sides finish lower. Hawthorn will be playing at its HOME ground, the people's ground, the mighty MCG.

    St Kilda
    Date and time
    June 23, 2013, 11:21PM
    • Contractual obligations will see at least one final at Etihad, (stupid but true!) Hawthorn have the lowest support of the Melbourne sides likely to finish in the 8 so off to Etihad they should go. Hawthorn already play with the umpires on their side week after week they don't need anymore breaks...

      Collingwood Fan
      Date and time
      June 24, 2013, 2:41AM
    • It won't be up to Hawthorn regardless of what they think. The AFL runs the fixture and Carlton v Collingwood, Essendon v Richmond, Carlton v Richmond, Collingwood v Essendon, Essendon v Carlton, Richmond v Collingwood won't be played at Docklands.

      Psi Cop
      Date and time
      June 24, 2013, 9:46AM
    • "Hawthorn have the lowest support of the Melbourne sides likely to finish in the 8"
      Collingwood fan, what stats are you basing that on? Hawthorn has more members than blues, dons & tigers. They have more supporters than those 3 as well & get bigger crowds too at the G, their home ground (unlike dons & blues who play at Etihad).
      Dissappointing article Rohan. This whole "big 4" myth was created in the 90s so the AFL could justify blockbuster games further compromising the fixture. The facts are both Carlton & Essendon have been a rabble the last 10 years, both near the middle or bottom of the ladder for most of that time & the tigers have done nothing for 30 years. The real Big 4 Vic clubs are actually the Big 3 - Collingwood, Geelong & Hawthorn. Richmond or Essendon might be able to join that group again, but need to be top 4 contenders the next 3 years. Carlton are pretenders stuck in the 90s still.
      It wasn't long ago that the saints & dogs were top 4 & getting 70,000+ to the MCG in finals.
      The moral is any Vic team playing finals will draw a big crowd to the G if they're playing another Vic team - not just your fraudulent "big 4"

      Date and time
      June 24, 2013, 10:11AM
    • @Moe.....attendances will determine who plays where and when. Geelong will probably sustain their success by choosing Simonds stadium for it's smaller games as they get a better slice of the gate and more likely to win but it kills their attendance figures. Hawthorn played in the GF last year due to a great season but were still beaten in the attendance figures by Carlton and were narrowly ahead of Richmond, neither of whom played in the finals.

      In 2008, Hawthorn won the flag and were beaten in H&A attendances by the four clubs you seem to think are irrelevant despite 3 of those teams not playing in finals.

      Date and time
      June 24, 2013, 12:43PM
    • Interesting point about rights to Home (State) finals per ladder position. (Remember how West coast was shafted in the early 90s by having to play all finals in Melbourne?)

      How's this for a possibility: Geelong finish, say, second, fifth or sixth, and Fremantle finish, respectively, third, eighth or seventh, and Geelong asks for a Home final at (the beautifully renovated & upgraded) Kardinia Park!

      Leonard Colquhoun
      Date and time
      June 24, 2013, 1:22PM

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HuffPost Australia

AFL 2015

Round 1
Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
CAR 78vs RIC 105 Report Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
MEL 115vs GCF 89 Stats
SYD 72vs ESS 60 Stats
BRI 74vs COL 86 Stats
WBU 97vs WCE 87 Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 78vs GWS 87 Stats
ADE 140vs NTH 63 Stats
FRE 75vs PTA 68 Stats
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 123vs GEE 61 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE 131vs CAR 62 Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 66vs WBU 85 Report Stats
GWS 101vs MEL 56 Stats
COL 63vs ADE 90 Report Stats
GCF 76vs STK 104 Stats
PTA 44vs SYD 92 Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
GEE 60vs FRE 104 Stats
ESS 78vs HAW 76 Stats
NTH 133vs BRI 51 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 140vs STK 66 Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
CAR 84vs ESS 105 Stats
ADE 80vs MEL 55 Stats
SYD 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
NTH 105vs PTA 113 Stats
BRI 58vs RIC 137 Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 127vs WBU 57 Stats
GEE 105vs GCF 96 Stats
WCE 81vs FRE 111 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 51vs MEL 83 Stats
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 81vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
ESS 49vs COL 69 Report Stats
GWS 119vs GCF 53 Stats
PTA 99vs HAW 91 Stats
FRE 74vs SYD 60 Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 65vs WCE 118 Stats
GEE 67vs NTH 83 Stats
WBU 125vs ADE 68 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 45vs COL 120 Stats
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC 76vs GEE 85 Stats
SYD 73vs WBU 77 Stats
GCF 118vs BRI 54 Stats
NTH 70vs HAW 130 Stats
WCE 120vs GWS 33 Stats
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL 50vs FRE 118 Stats
STK 80vs ESS 82 Stats
ADE 91vs PTA 115 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
COL 59vs GEE 100 Stats
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
NTH 109vs RIC 74 Stats
WBU 87vs STK 94 Stats
GWS 108vs HAW 98 Stats
GCF 78vs ADE 119 Stats
MEL 50vs SYD 88 Stats
FRE 80vs ESS 52 Stats
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 75vs BRI 84 Report Stats
PTA 68vs WCE 78 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 82vs NTH 93 Stats
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE 119vs STK 73 Stats
HAW 155vs MEL 50 Stats
CAR 57vs GWS 135 Stats
SYD 120vs GEE 77 Stats
WCE 135vs GCF 43 Stats
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
WBU 88vs FRE 101 Stats
RIC 105vs COL 100 Report Stats
BRI 102vs PTA 65 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE 140vs CAR 63 Report Stats
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
STK 78vs WCE 131 Report Stats
GWS 108vs ADE 84 Report Stats
GCF 63vs COL 132 Report Stats
HAW 69vs SYD 73 Report Stats
FRE 115vs NTH 42 Report Stats
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 136vs BRI 78 Report Stats
MEL 103vs WBU 64 Report Stats
PTA 43vs RIC 76 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 122vs CAR 62 Report Stats
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW 93vs GCF 40 Report Stats
MEL 54vs PTA 115 Report Stats
WBU 113vs GWS 68 Report Stats
RIC 72vs ESS 59 Report Stats
ADE 57vs FRE 68 Report Stats
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI 86vs STK 108 Report Stats
COL 112vs NTH 95 Report Stats
WCE 120vs GEE 64 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE 70vs RIC 97 Report Stats
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR 90vs ADE 99 Report Stats
GCF 41vs SYD 93 Report Stats
ESS 53vs GEE 122 Report Stats
PTA 100vs WBU 62 Report Stats
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
GWS 97vs BRI 67 Report Stats
NTH 85vs WCE 75 Report Stats
STK 69vs HAW 132 Report Stats
Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL 85vs COL 110 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA 69vs GEE 92 Report Stats
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
GCF 46vs FRE 53 Report Stats
WCE 96vs ESS 46 Report Stats
NTH 75vs SYD 91 Report Report Stats
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
COL 119vs GWS 77 Report Stats
STK 85vs MEL 83 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE 85vs HAW 114 Report Stats
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC 70vs WCE 90 Report Stats
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR 110vs PTA 106 Report Stats
GWS 61vs NTH 117 Report Stats
WBU 146vs BRI 74 Report Stats
Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE 89vs MEL 113 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE 80vs COL 73 Report Stats
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD 77vs RIC 95 Report Stats
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW 114vs ESS 76 Report Stats
BRI 69vs ADE 82 Report Stats
STK 56vs WBU 62 Report Stats
Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR 103vs GCF 69 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD 94vs PTA 84 Report Stats
Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
COL 91vs HAW 101 Report Stats
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC 78vs GWS 69 Report Stats
GCF 125vs NTH 70 Report Stats
WBU 64vs CAR 53 Report Stats
MEL 60vs WCE 114 Report Stats
Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS 52vs STK 162 Stats
ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
FRE 84vs BRI 48 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA 66vs COL 63 Report Stats
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC 71vs CAR 41 Report Stats
Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS 69vs MEL 60 Report Stats
WBU 95vs GCF 73 Report Stats
NTH 120vs GEE 79 Report Stats
WCE 147vs ADE 91 Report Stats
Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS 84vs STK 49 Report Stats
HAW 115vs FRE 43 Report Stats
BRI 49vs SYD 70 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH 93vs ESS 68 Report Stats
Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE 72vs WBU 64 Report Stats
GCF 79vs GWS 94 Report Stats
COL 56vs WCE 87 Report Stats
SYD 57vs HAW 146 Report Stats
FRE 95vs CAR 53 Report Stats
Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL 60vs BRI 36 Report Stats
PTA 113vs ADE 116 Report Stats
STK 73vs RIC 89 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR 35vs HAW 173 Report Stats
Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS 42vs GEE 69 Stats
ADE 125vs GCF 80 Stats
RIC 78vs FRE 82 Stats
ESS 116vs PTA 129 Stats
BRI 38vs NTH 110 Report Stats
Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
WBU 104vs COL 86 Report Stats
MEL 46vs STK 83 Report Stats
WCE 103vs SYD 51 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
HAW 53vs RIC 71 Report Stats
Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE 113vs BRI 57 Stats
COL 54vs MEL 91 Report Stats
SYD 117vs ADE 65 Report Stats
CAR 54vs NTH 118 Report Stats
GCF 83vs WCE 83 Report Stats
Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
PTA 112vs STK 49 Report Stats
ESS 40vs WBU 127 Report Stats
FRE 84vs GWS 63 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE 88vs RIC 52 Report Stats
Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
COL 105vs CAR 87 Report Stats
WBU 128vs PTA 64 Report Stats
BRI 100vs GCF 114 Report Stats
GEE 95vs SYD 63 Report Stats
WCE 74vs HAW 88 Report Stats
Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL 92vs NTH 127 Report Stats
GWS 93vs ESS 61 Report Stats
STK 59vs FRE 96 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD 87vs COL 76 Report Stats
Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS 59vs ADE 171 Report Stats
NTH 120vs STK 83 Report Stats
PTA 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
GEE 85vs HAW 121 Report Stats
BRI 131vs CAR 67 Report Stats
Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC 138vs GCF 55 Report Stats
WBU 153vs MEL 55 Report Stats
FRE 80vs WCE 104 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW 86vs PTA 108 Report Stats
Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
COL 56vs RIC 147 Report Stats
GWS 44vs SYD 133 Report Stats
GCF 97vs ESS 95 Report Stats
STK 97vs GEE 97 Report Stats
ADE 131vs BRI 44 Report Stats
Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH 94vs FRE 83 Report Stats
CAR 78vs MEL 55 Report Stats
WCE 162vs WBU 85 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE 62vs COL 110 Report Stats
Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
GWS 132vs CAR 51 Report Stats
HAW 134vs BRI 62 Report Stats
NTH 73vs WBU 96 Report Stats
ESS 47vs RIC 74 Report Stats
GCF 51vs PTA 88 Report Stats
Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE 126vs WCE 69 Report Stats
STK 38vs SYD 135 Report Stats
FRE 108vs MEL 54 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
RIC 108vs NTH 67 Report Stats
Sat, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
GEE 119vs ADE 80 Report Stats
BRI 130vs WBU 122 Report Stats
PTA 122vs FRE 53 Report Stats
HAW 113vs CAR 56 Report Stats
SYD 127vs GCF 64 Report Stats
WCE 125vs STK 30 Report Stats
Sun, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
MEL 103vs GWS 77 Report Stats
COL 92vs ESS 95 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 24
Fri, 11 SepTimes shown AEST
WCE 96vs HAW 64 Report Stats
Sat, 12 SepTimes shown AEST
FRE 69vs SYD 60 Report Stats
WBU 102vs ADE 109 Report Stats
Sun, 13 SepTimes shown AEST
RIC 88vs NTH 105 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 25
Fri, 18 SepTimes shown AEST
HAW 135vs ADE 61 Report Stats
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 51vs NTH 77 Report Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 26
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
FRE 67vs HAW 94 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
WCE 80vs NTH 55 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 27
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
HAW 107vs WCE 61 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Fremantle 22 17 5 0 118.73 68
West Coast Eagles 22 16 5 1 148.22 66
Hawthorn 22 16 6 0 158.40 64
Sydney Swans 22 16 6 0 127.12 64
Richmond 22 15 7 0 123.09 60
Western Bulldogs 22 14 8 0 115.12 56
Adelaide Crows 21 13 8 0 115.71 54
North Melbourne 22 13 9 0 106.45 52
View all

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