Back in November of 2015, I wrote this piece on the topic of close games in response to the claims being made then about the ability of good teams to win close games.Read More
In a comment on the previous posting, Mitch asked if we could take a look at each team's performance by era, his interest sparked by the strong all-time performance of the Blues and his recollection of their less than stellar recent seasons.
Here's the data:
So, as you can see, Carlton's performance in the most recent epoch is significantly below its all-time performance. In fact, the 1993-2008 epoch is the only one in which the Blues failed to return a better than 50% performance.
Collingwood, the only team with a better lifetime record than Carlton, have also had a well below par last epoch during which they too have registered their first sub-50% performance, continuing a downward trend which started back in Epoch 2.
Six current teams have performed significantly better in the 1993-2008 epoch than their all-time performance: Geelong (who registered their best ever epoch), Sydney (who cracked 50% for the first time in four epochs), Brisbane (who could hardly but improve), the Western Bulldogs (who are still yet to break 50% for an epoch, their 1945-1960 figure being actually 49.5%), North Melbourne (who also registered their best ever epoch), and St Kilda (who still didn't manage 50% for the epoch, a feat they've achieved only once).
Just before we wind up I should note that the 0% for University in Epoch 2 is not an error. It's the consequence of two 0 and 18 performances by Uni in 1913 and 1914 which, given that these followed directly after successive 1 and 17 performances in 1911 and 1912, unsurprisingly heralded the club's demise. Given that Uni's sole triumph of 1912 came in the third round, by my calculations that means University lost its final 51 matches.
At this time of year, before we fixate on the week-to-week triumphs and travesties of yet another AFL season, it's interesting to look at the varying fortunes of all the teams that have ever competed in the VFL/AFL.
The table below provides the Win, Draw and Loss records of every team.
As you can see, Collingwood has the best record of all the teams having won almost 61% of all the games in which it has played, a full 1 percentage point better than Carlton, in second. Collingwood have also played more games than any other team and will be the first team to have played in 2,300 games when Round 5 rolls around this year.
Amongst the relative newcomers to the competition, West Coast and Port Adelaide - and to a lesser extent, Adelaide - have all performed well having won considerably more than half of their matches.
Sticking with newcomers but dipping down to the other end of the table we find Fremantle with a particularly poor record. They've won just under 40% of their games and, remarkably, have yet to register a draw. (Amongst current teams, Essendon have recorded the highest proportion of drawn games at 1.43%, narrowly ahead of Port Adelaide with 1.42%. After Fremantle, the team with the next lowest proportion of drawn games is Adelaide at 0.24%. In all, 1.05% of games have finished with scores tied.)
Lower still we find the Saints, a further 1.3 percentage points behind Fremantle. It took St Kilda 48 games before it registered its first win in the competition, which should surely have been some sort of a hint to fans of the pain that was to follow across two world wars and a depression (maybe two). Amongst those 112 seasons of pain there's been just the sole anaesthetising flag, in 1966.
Here then are a couple of milestones that we might witness this year that will almost certainly go unnoticed elsewhere:
- Collingwood's 2,300th game (and 1,400th win or, if the season's a bad one for them, 900th loss)
- Carlton's 900th loss
- West Coast's 300th win
- Port Adelaide's 300th game
- Geelong's and Sydney's 2,200th game
- Adelaide's 200th loss
- Richmond's 1,000th loss (if they fail to win more than one match all season)
- Fremantle's 200th loss
Granted, few of those are truly banner events, but if AFL commentators were as well supported by statisticians as, say, Major League Baseball, you can bet they'd get a mention, much as equally arcane statistics are sprinkled liberally in the 3 hours of dead time there is between pitches.