VIZ UPDATE: Now includes Melbourne’s 2021 premiership.

Do you think your team is five years from a flag?  Recent history shows you’ll need to have about half of your premiership team already listed…and they’ll need to be pretty good players.

This interactive visualisation (see below) tracks the building of the AFL premiership teams from the last 10 years.

Analysis of the past 10 premiers shows most teams already had around half of their premiership team listed 5 years out from winning the big dance.  These teams are substantially built via the draft, with six of these teams consisting exclusively of drafted players at 5 years out from their flag.  There is some evidence of ‘topping up’ as the premiership year approaches, best demonstrated by the Eagles who traded in 4 players to assist with their 2018 steal (Dom Sheed not being one of these), the Tigers who traded in 3 in their 2017 flag year, thereby solving their ruck challenges (Toby Nankervis) and adding midfield class (Dion Prestia), and Hawthorn’s 2015 ‘three-peat’ team with key position prizes of McEvoy, Hale, Lake, Frawley and Gunston all joining via trade in the 5-year lead up period.

So what hope remains for fledgling clubs dreaming of premiership success in the not-to-distant future?  The best example of a rapid premiership build is the Bulldogs breakthrough flag of 2016.  Six years from that memorable day, the Bulldogs had only 5 of their dais heroes listed, all via drafting systems.  And while there were some handy names within these five, including future premiership skipper Easton Wood, the likes of Bontempelli, Macrae, Hunter et.al. remained anonymous to wider footy world.

Another example of a rapid transition is the Tigers of 2017.  Apart from some leniency in home final fixturing helping achieve success (sorry, I couldn’t resist), Richmond listed half of their ’17 premiership team in the 3 years leading up to their glory.  However, before raising an expectation for struggling clubs, the names Martin, Riewoldt, Vlastuin, Grimes, Cotchin, Edwards, Houli, Rance and Astbury were in the existing half.  That’s a handy foundation.

On the other end of the spectrum lies the Cat’s 2011 flag heroes, of which more than half (12) were already together a whopping 8 years out from this premiership year.  Of course we know the cats achieved ultimate success twice earlier, however, it shows the Cats were able to sustain a near constant team over this period of success.  This team was also one of only two teams to have not introduced a premiership player to their list in their premier year, the most recent Tigers of 2020 being the other.

What other observations can your draw from the analytics?  Grant@perceptivedata.com.au