For a lot of the 2018, the AFL season seemed to be a one-horse race. However a finals collection for the ages ensured soccer followers across the nation acquired greater than their justifiable share of drama and leisure.
With a bevy of rule modifications set to hit the AFL in 2019 – to not point out elevated consideration on AFLX – you’d be proper to really feel a way of trepidation as the brand new 12 months approaches.
However, for now, let’s sit again and keep in mind the 12 months that was.
The 2018 AFL season
It was a very long time in the past now, so many individuals have forgotten simply how unusually the 2018 season began.
A VFL/AFL report Spherical 1 crowd of 90,151 piled into the MCG to observe the season-opener, as Carlton had 5 targets on the board nearly earlier than Richmond had even completed elevating the premiership flag.
Order was restored quickly after, because the Tigers acquired the primary 4 factors of the season with a 26-point victory.
You can say ‘order’ was very a lot the order of the day in 2018.
There weren’t that many surprises on the backside of the desk, with Gold Coast (aside from a powerful opening fortnight) and Carlton doing nearly every thing specialists anticipated them to do in 2018 – that’s to say; candy nothing.
The Western Bulldogs and Fremantle operated within the purgatory of 13th-17th for almost all of the season, whereas Brisbane put collectively a fairly sturdy second-half to complete the 12 months as arguably essentially the most lauded backside 4 staff in historical past.
However not every thing adopted the script.
North Melbourne made a mockery of their wood spoon favouritism for a lot of the 12 months, reaching the lofty heights of fifth as late as Spherical 10.
Whereas a finals look finally wasn’t to be, Kangas followers can put on the ninth-place end as a badge of honour all summer time.
On the flip aspect of the coin, St Kilda – regarded as a candidate for finals – endured a really depressing marketing campaign to complete in 16th. It was a equally disappointing season for Essendon who, after what was seen as an especially productive offseason, spent all of 1 week within the prime eight.
No one can be extra dissatisfied of their season than the residents of South Australia, nonetheless.
Buoyed by a dominant minor premiership and spurned by a crushing grand remaining loss, many thought the Adelaide Crows to be a red-hot favorite to go one higher in 2018.
As an alternative, self-inflicted offseason sadism doomed them from the beginning. A five-game shedding streak earlier than the bye noticed them kicked out of the highest eight, they usually merely by no means recovered.
Port Adelaide followers would’ve been beside themselves watching the misfortune of their older brothers, however they too missed the finals in devastating circumstances.
One win of their remaining seven matches noticed them tumble from the highest 4 to no man’s land within the blink of an eye fixed.
On the different finish of city, nonetheless, it’s honest to say all of us overlooked all of the shocking goings on as Richmond seemed to have the flag within the bag by Might.
Aided by what some followers regarded as a lettuce leaf fixture, the Tigers reached the highest of the ladder in Spherical 5 and, aside from a four-week stretch between Rounds 9 and 12, stayed there till September.
The reigning premiers appeared untouchable, swatting apart competitor after competitor at their MCG fortress, to the purpose the place the bottom’s standing as everlasting grand remaining host was introduced into controversy a number of months forward of schedule.
Who of the contending pack may have probably caught them? West Coast had been constructing a fortress of their very own at Optus Stadium – however premiership deciders don’t get performed in Perth.
Collingwood’s second-half surge had them climbing the ladder with ease, however they had been having a a lot tougher time establishing themselves as contenders within the eyes of the general public.
Would Alastair Clarkson and the Hawks placed on one other September particular? Had been the irrepressible younger Demons on observe to crack their hoodoo? Might both of the 2 Sydney sides put inconsistent years behind them with a clear slate? Would the ‘holy trinity’ of Joel Selwood, Patrick Dangerfield and Gary Ablett lastly awaken within the finals for Geelong?
All of it appeared moot, till…
2018’s finals collection began inauspiciously, with Richmond seemingly wrapping one hand across the cup with a cruisy 31-point win over Hawthorn.
The Tigers’ solely weak point, as much as that time, was an lack of ability to play interstate. If the Hawks couldn’t drive them into taking part in an away preliminary remaining – that was imagined to be it. Damien Hardwick’s males would simply cruise by dwelling preliminary and grand finals on path to a second straight flag.
Collingwood proved they belonged within the prime 4 with a gallant qualifying loss to West Coast, whereas the Giants inflicted extra finals embarrassment on the Swans with a 49-point demolition.
Was Richmond’s finest contender going to return from the underside 4? It certain seemed that approach when Melbourne dominated Geelong from begin to end of their elimination remaining.
That case was additional superior within the semis, because the Dees put Hawthorn to the sword handy Clarkson’s males their second straight-sets exit in three years.
With the Magpies edging out the Giants to progress to the prelims as effectively, it seemed like our grand remaining was set.
Richmond would brush apart the Pies, organising a mouth-watering encounter with the surging Melbourne, who had been going to repeat their late-season heroics in Perth with one other win.
As an alternative, preliminary remaining weekend noticed the competitors turned on its head.
A Mason Cox-led aerial blitz by Collingwood noticed the underdogs race to an unthinkable 64-20 half time lead, earlier than settling for a monumental 39-point upset victory.
Over in Perth, it didn’t even take till half time for the outcome to be determined. The Eagles completely shredded the Demons in one of the one-sided finals in current reminiscence to arrange a decider that no person at first of the season noticed coming.
Everyone knows what occurred on that day, with Collingwood’s unimaginable burst within the first quarter gradual, however absolutely, being whittled down and overcome by the Eagles, who’d convey the trophy throughout the Nullarbor for the fourth time of their brief historical past.
However what’s actually been misplaced within the fallout from the final Saturday in September is simply how surprising that decider was.
Most specialists would have had neither aspect within the prime eight in the beginning of the 12 months, so for us to get a genuinely thrilling grand remaining between two real pre-season underdogs is a present many soccer followers nonetheless haven’t correctly realised the worth of.
It’s additionally significantly unfair to see Collingwood labelled as 2018’s chokers for that final gasp loss when, in precise reality, this season’s actual chokers had been the lads from Punt Street.
The outdated adage that no person remembers the minor premiers is commonly a merciless reminder of the footballing fandom’s fickle reminiscence. In Richmond’s case, nonetheless, it’s in all probability been a blessing.
2018 Outcomes abstract
AFL premiers: West Coast Eagles
AFL minor premiers: Richmond Tigers
Brownlow medal: Tom Mitchell (Hawthorn Hawks)
AFLCA participant of the 12 months: Max Gawn (Melbourne Demons)
VFL premiers: Bow Hill Hawks
SANFL premiers: North Adelaide Roosters
WAFL premiers: Subiaco Lions
TSL premiers: North Launceston Bombers
NEAFL premiers: Southport Sharks
AFLW premiers: Western Bulldogs