Every September, the beginning of the AFL final series brings with it the igniting of hope amongst supporters of the remaining 8 sides, as they allow themselves to ask the big question: ‘Will this be our year?’
However this luxury is not afforded to all, as supporters of the other 10 clubs are left to rue another year in which premiership glory eluded them.
Some of these neglected sides started strong and faded away late due to injuries, over-confidence or an unfavorable draw. Others were written-off preseason due to having developing lists while undergoing the dreaded ‘re-building’ stage.
So what can be done to ensure your side climbs up the proverbial ladder in 2013?
St. Kilda 9th | 12-10
Season Overview: Written off by most before the start of the year, St. Kilda showed critics they still have plenty to offer their supporters, even when the group’s best years may be behind them. Ahmed Saad proved to be one of the best pick up of the year, while both Milne and Riewoldt had excellent years for the Saints.
Best & Fairest: Steven Milne
What they need: Firstly to hold onto Brendan Goddard and secondly to draft a youngster with the potential to anchor the saints backline for the next decade.
Trade Bait: Justin Koschitzke.
Carlton 10th | 11-11
Season Overview: After demolishing Collingwood to the tune of 10 goals in round 3, Carlton immediately firmed into premiership favoritism. However this high was abruptly ended the following week with a shock loss to Essendon. Missing key players Marc Murphy, Chris Judd, Andrew Carrazzo and Jarrad Waite for extended periods, meant the Blues never really found their rhythm in 2012 and ultimately resulted in Brett Ratten losing his job.
Best & Fairest Prediction: Chris Judd
What they need: Carlton’s most obvious priority lies in signing three time premiership coach, Mick Malthouse. Malthouse could be instrumental in unifying the Blues and see the clubs premiership aspirations come to fruition. In addition to Malthouse, the acquisition of Travis Cloke would be pivotal in achieving future success. As with Cloke’s signature, an instantaneous and ominous forward structure would follow.
Trade Bait: Possibly Jarred Waite, injuries have plagued his career, maybe time to move him along while reasonably young for a fist round draft pick or Cloke.
Essendon 11th | 11-11
Season Overview: Much has been written about the Bombers this season. Ten rounds in Essendon looked a genuine top-4 chance at 9-1, before spiralling out of control and finishing a distant 11th. The Bombers could only managed two solitary wins, in the 12 rounds that followed.
Best & Fairest Prediction: Jobe Watson
What they need: Put simply they need someone to replace Dustin Fletcher, the veteran was spotted on the track today just 3 days into the off season, which could potentially be his last. Tayte Pears and Cale Hooker whilst serviceable, simply aren’t nimble enough to stick with the star forwards of the competition.
Trade Bait: Scott Gumbleton. The Bombers could potentially pick up a first round draft pick for the former number 2 pick.
Richmond 12th | 10-1-11
Season Overview: After a shaky 1-4 start, Richmond looked destined to once again be finals outcasts. It was only when they defeated current premiership favorites Hawthorn that the Richmond faithful began to believe September was an actual possibility. However three consecutive losses to Gold Coast, North Melbourne and Carlton by under a goal dashed these hopes and left Tiger fans licking their wounds.
Best & Fairest prediction: Trent Cotchin
What they need: Star full backs are a rare breed, and whilst Alex Rance has come along in leaps and bounds, he is still psychically incapable in containing Lance Franklin and the like. Therefore it would be recommended the tigers invest high draft picks into talent that they may potentially mold into a Stephen Silvagni or Matthew Scarlett.
Trade Bait: Out of favour Angus Graham, could potentially be a win-win trade for both player and team with a compensatory 2nd round pick.
Brisbane 13th | 10-12
Season Overview: The surprise packet of the season, with 10 wins. The Lions (while always being slightly off the pace) showed their hometown supporters that its ‘re-building’ phase may bear its fruits, sooner than expected.
Best & Fairest: Tom Rockliff
What they need: Time to develop; their list is shaping up quite well. Michael Voss will be excepting to lead his troops into finals possibly as early as 2014
Trade Bait: Matthew Leuenberger
Port Adelaide 14th | 5-1-16
Season Overview: Another season supporters would like to forget, with the Power only managing 5 wins and a draw, and in the process losing their coach Matthew Primus.
Best & Fairest: Travis Boak
What they need: Firstly they need to resign star midfielder Travis Boak. But in the broad picture they need to get ther draft picks right in this time of rebuilding.
Trade Bait: Justin Westhoff
Western Bulldogs 15th | 5-17
Season Overview: In a disappointing first season for coach Brendan McCartney, the Bulldogs were 5-7 by midseason. However in the 10 rounds that followed the Bulldogs season completely unravelled, failing to win a single game during this time.
Best & Fairest: Matthew Boyd
What they need: Western Bulldogs are in desperate need of a full forward. Barry Hall’s absence saw them slip from 10th to 15th this year. Additionally the Bulldogs need to bolster their midfield stocks, with Daniel Cross and Matthew Boyd both reaching the end of the careers.
Trade Bait: Jarrod Grant
Melbourne 16th | 4-18
Season Overview: A tough season for Melbourne both on and off the field with the death of a club champion, racial and assault scandals and remaining winless up until round 10. The Demons eventually broke through however, in a shock win against Essendon. Additionally the acrobatics of Jeremy Howe provided demons supporters with a smorgasbord of highlights, in an otherwise dim season.
Best & Fairest: Nathan Jones
What they need: The Demons have pitfalls all around the ground, but must start by finding a star midfielder in this year’s draft. Additionally Jack Trengove and Jack Grimes, need to justify their selection as co-captains in leading what is a very young and inexperienced team.
Trade Bait: Cale Morton
Gold Coast Suns 17th | 3-19
Season Overview: It took until Round 16, but the Suns finally broke their duck with a win after the siren against Richmond. In the remaining 7 rounds Gold Coast would get the points against newcomers GWS and Carlton eventually finishing with 3 wins, 2 wins less than their opening season.
Best & Fairest: Gary Ablett.
What they need: The Suns high draft picks need to deliver on their potential during their third year. If this is accomplished the Suns should be a reasonable chance to win 7-8 games in season 2013.
GWS Giants 18th | 2-20
Season Overview: In there maiden season, it was always going to be a tough ask for the Giants. And while there were certainly some lopsided scoreboards, Sheedy’s boys on the whole gave a good account of themselves. Toby Greene was a standout performer from the draft class of 2011, while Captain Callan Ward was the definition of consistency for the Giants.
Best & Fairest: Callan Ward
What they need: Time to develop.
By Callum Godde.