Premierships are rare, every team wants to win one, trains an entire preseason and plays an entire season in search of one… but only one team achieves it every year. This begs the question, what exactly is a dynasty? The word gets thrown around a fair bit, but what really makes one? Looking back at some of the past few premierships. The Western Bulldogs of 2016 won a premiership from 7th position to claim the holy grail, but it was just that… a premiership. In 2015, they enjoyed a solid season and made a finals appearance, but were bundled out in the first week by Adelaide, and subsequently missed the eight in 2017 and 2018. So no, that is not a dynasty because it is just one single flag.
Looking back to the late nineties when North Melbourne and Adelaide won four premierships together (North in 1996 and 1999, Adelaide in 1997 and 1998). Particularly with the Kangaroos, they went through a sustained period of on-field dominance, playing in seven consecutive Preliminary Finals from 1994-2000, including two Grand Finals for three premierships. However, due to the fact they only won two of possible three Grand Finals, it cannot be called a dynasty. A fantastic period yes, but a dynasty? No. Adelaide are even less an example, because although they won two remarkable premierships in a row despite being underdogs on both accounts, they finished 12th and 13th on either side of the flags (1996 and 1999). So while the back-to-back titles against unbackable odds was an incredible achievement, it is still not a dynasty.
Now, what can be considered a dynasty? For one, the Brisbane Lions of 2001-2004. Particularly for a non-Victorian team, to qualify in four consecutive Grand Finals, having to travel interstate every second week and still win three premierships in a row is the stuff of legends, and is still certainly the greatest three-peat of all time. Despite the fact they couldn’t quite complete the four-peat in 2004, this is absolutely considered a dynasty. Not only did the Lions qualify for finals and Grand Finals, they actually won them and took their opportunities more often than not. Geelong of 2007-2011 is another one, in five years they finished a home and away season either first or second, made the preliminary final on every occasion, making four Grand Finals and winning three. Despite not winning any of them consecutively, this is still a dynasty because they won three within a small timeframe. Hawthorn of 2011-2016 is the last of the recent dynasties. A heartbreaking three point loss in the Preliminary Final against Collingwood, backed up by four Grand Finals in a row for three flags in 2013-2015. This is the last true dynasty we have seen… until possibly now.
The Richmond Football Club, after finishing 13th in 2016, have come from seemingly nowhere to win two premierships since and if they are successful in this year’s crazy season… will officially create their own dynasty. The flags coming in 2017 and 2019, they need just one more to claim it. A dynasty is lucky number three, if a club wins three premierships within a 4-7 year bracket, it is a dynasty. One or two is great, no doubt… but it is not a truly sustained period of success. In reality, Richmond could have and should, be going for their fourth premiership in a row. They were the surprise packet in 2017 and 2019 they were continuing on… but 2018 they were truly the best team in the competition and the Preliminary Final loss to Collingwood was an absolute choke of the highest quality. But if they win their third flag in four years, it will officially enter the rare mould.
With a Qualifying Final battle against Brisbane, whom they boast a great record over, could be the first step in achieving that rare feat. Time will tell.