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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 2016

Round 1
Thu, 24 MarTimes shown AEDT
RIC vs CAR 19:20MCG
Sat, 26 MarTimes shown AEDT
MEL vs GWS 13:40MCG
GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
NTH vs ADE 19:25ES
SYD vs COL 19:25ANZ
Sun, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
WBU vs FRE 13:10ES
PTA vs STK 15:20Adelaide Oval
WCE vs BRI 19:40Domain Stadium
Mon, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
GEE vs HAW 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 01 AprTimes shown AEDT
COL vs RIC 19:50MCG
Sat, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
ADE vs PTA 13:45Adelaide Oval
ESS vs MEL 14:10MCG
BRI vs NTH 16:35G
STK vs WBU 19:25ES
FRE vs GCF 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 03 AprTimes shown AEST
GWS vs GEE 13:10SO
HAW vs WCE 15:20MCG
CAR vs SYD 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 08 AprTimes shown AEST
PTA vs ESS 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 09 AprTimes shown AEST
STK vs COL 13:45MCG
RIC vs ADE 14:10ES
SYD vs GWS 16:35SCG
GCF vs CAR 19:25MS
WCE vs FRE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
NTH vs MEL 13:10BA
WBU vs HAW 15:20ES
GEE vs BRI 16:40SS
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 15 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 16 AprTimes shown AEST
ESS vs GEE 13:45MCG
HAW vs STK 14:10AS
BRI vs GCF 16:35G
CAR vs WBU 19:25ES
ADE vs SYD 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
GWS vs PTA 13:10SO
COL vs MEL 15:20MCG
NTH vs FRE 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 22 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW vs ADE 19:50MCG
Sat, 23 AprTimes shown AEST
SYD vs WCE 13:40SCG
GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
WBU vs BRI 19:25ES
PTA vs GEE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
STK vs GWS 13:10ES
FRE vs CAR 16:10Domain Stadium
MEL vs RIC 19:10MCG
Mon, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
COL vs ESS 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 29 AprTimes shown AEST
NTH vs WBU 19:50ES
Sat, 30 AprTimes shown AEST
MEL vs STK 13:45ES
ADE vs FRE 14:10Adelaide Oval
GWS vs HAW 16:35Spotless Stadium
RIC vs PTA 19:25MCG
GEE vs GCF 19:25SS
Sun, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs SYD 13:10G
CAR vs ESS 15:20MCG
WCE vs COL 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 06 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC vs HAW 19:50MCG
Sat, 07 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
GEE vs WCE 14:10SS
SYD vs ESS 16:35ANZ
GCF vs MEL 17:10MS
WBU vs ADE 19:40ES
FRE vs GWS 20:10Domain Stadium
Sun, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
STK vs NTH 15:20ES
PTA vs BRI 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 13 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 14 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS vs NTH 13:45ES
HAW vs FRE 14:10AS
GWS vs GCF 16:35Spotless Stadium
BRI vs COL 19:25G
RIC vs SYD 19:25MCG
Sun, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs PTA 13:10ES
MEL vs WBU 15:20MCG
WCE vs STK 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 20 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW vs SYD 19:50MCG
Sat, 21 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs GEE 13:45MCG
GCF vs ADE 14:10MS
PTA vs WCE 16:35Adelaide Oval
NTH vs CAR 19:25ES
FRE vs RIC 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
GWS vs WBU 15:20Spotless Stadium
STK vs ESS 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 27 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD vs NTH 19:50SCG
Sat, 28 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs HAW 13:45G
MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
STK vs FRE 16:35ES
ESS vs RIC 19:25MCG
ADE vs GWS 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs GEE 13:10ES
COL vs WBU 15:20MCG
WCE vs GCF 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 03 JunTimes shown AEST
NTH vs RIC 19:50BA
Sat, 04 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs MEL 13:45MCG
CAR vs BRI 14:10ES
GEE vs GWS 16:35SS
GCF vs SYD 19:25MS
FRE vs ESS 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs PTA 13:10MCG
WBU vs WCE 15:20ES
ADE vs STK 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 10 JunTimes shown AEST
ESS vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 11 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA vs WBU 13:40Adelaide Oval
BRI vs FRE 16:35G
GEE vs NTH 19:25ES
WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
STK vs CAR 13:10ES
RIC vs GCF 15:20MCG
GWS vs SYD 16:40Spotless Stadium
Mon, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Fri, 17 JunTimes shown AEST
NTH vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
BRI vs WCE 13:40G
FRE vs PTA 16:35Domain Stadium
WBU vs GEE 19:25ES
Sun, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs MEL 13:10SCG
ESS vs GWS 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Thu, 23 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE vs NTH 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 24 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs FRE 19:50MCG
Sat, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC vs BRI 13:40MCG
GWS vs CAR 16:35Spotless Stadium
STK vs GEE 19:25ES
Sun, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs GCF 15:20AS
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Thu, 30 JunTimes shown AEST
WCE vs ESS 20:10Domain Stadium
Fri, 01 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
GCF vs STK 13:40MS
SYD vs WBU 16:35SCG
CAR vs COL 19:25MCG
Sun, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs ADE 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Thu, 07 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 08 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs SYD 19:50SS
Sat, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs COL 13:40Spotless Stadium
GCF vs BRI 16:35MS
WBU vs RIC 19:25ES
MEL vs FRE 19:40TIO
Sun, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs ADE 13:10MCG
WCE vs NTH 15:20Domain Stadium
ESS vs STK 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Thu, 14 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs HAW 19:20SCG
Fri, 15 JulTimes shown AEST
FRE vs GEE 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 16 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs ESS 13:40MCG
NTH vs PTA 16:35ES
WBU vs GCF 19:25CAZ
ADE vs COL 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs WCE 13:10MCG
STK vs MEL 15:20ES
BRI vs GWS 16:40G
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 22 JulTimes shown AEST
COL vs NTH 19:50ES
Sat, 23 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CAR 13:45ANZ
GCF vs FRE 14:10MS
WCE vs MEL 16:35Domain Stadium
WBU vs STK 19:25ES
GEE vs ADE 19:25SS
Sun, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs BRI 13:10ES
HAW vs RIC 15:20MCG
PTA vs GWS 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 29 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs WBU 19:50SS
Sat, 30 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs RIC 13:45SO
HAW vs CAR 14:10AS
COL vs WCE 16:35MCG
BRI vs PTA 19:25G
NTH vs STK 19:25ES
Sun, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs GCF 13:10MCG
FRE vs SYD 15:20Domain Stadium
ADE vs ESS 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 05 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC vs COL 19:50MCG
Sat, 06 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD vs PTA 13:45SCG
MEL vs HAW 14:10MCG
GCF vs GWS 16:35MS
WBU vs NTH 19:25ES
ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR vs STK 13:10MCG
GEE vs ESS 15:20ES
FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 12 AugTimes shown AEST
WBU vs COL 19:50ES
Sat, 13 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI vs CAR 13:45G
HAW vs NTH 14:10MCG
GWS vs WCE 16:35Spotless Stadium
STK vs SYD 19:25ES
PTA vs MEL 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS vs GCF 13:10ES
RIC vs GEE 15:20MCG
FRE vs ADE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 19 AugTimes shown AEST
WCE vs HAW 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH vs SYD 13:45BA
RIC vs STK 14:10MCG
GWS vs FRE 16:35Spotless Stadium
COL vs GCF 19:25ES
PTA vs ADE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR vs MEL 13:10MCG
BRI vs GEE 15:20G
ESS vs WBU 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Sat, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW vs COL 12:00MCG
STK vs BRI 12:00ES
ESS vs CAR 12:00MCG
GCF vs PTA 12:00MS
SYD vs RIC 12:00SCG
NTH vs GWS 12:00ES
GEE vs MEL 12:00SS
ADE vs WCE 12:30Adelaide Oval
FRE vs WBU 14:00Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Adelaide Crows 0 0 0 0 - 0
Brisbane Lions 0 0 0 0 - 0
Carlton 0 0 0 0 - 0
Collingwood 0 0 0 0 - 0
Essendon 0 0 0 0 - 0
Fremantle 0 0 0 0 - 0
Geelong Cats 0 0 0 0 - 0
Gold Coast Suns 0 0 0 0 - 0
View all

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