The true key to AFL premiership glory

What is the biggest guide to which club will achieve premiership success in the AFL this season?
Most people would suggest winning form is the key. While those more superstitious might say that luck on the day is all that is needed?
Well, it is neither of the above, nor is it anything else that can be based on the usual hyperbole that surrounds the climactic game of a long season.
So what is the magic ingredient? Believe it or not, it is the presence in the side of a player who has achieved the ultimate success at another club.
Yes, that’s right a player who achieved every footballer’s dream at a club other than the one at which he is currently playing.
Case in point, in 2009 Collingwood had no premiership players in its side and lost the preliminary final to eventual premier Geelong.
Come 2010 and ruckman Darren Jolly was getting first hand to the ball and directing it to gun midfielders Dane Swan, Scott Pendlebury and former Saint Luke Ball.
As a result, Collingwood (eventually) won its first premiership since 1990, albeit against a St Kilda side that featured Adam Schneider and Shaun Dempster, both of whom won flags with the Swans in 2005.
In 2009 and 2007, Geelong had Cameron Mooney in its side, the ‘Big Hairy Cat’ having won a flag previously at North Melbourne (although he had little impact on that particular game).
Hawthorn’s 2008 flag was achieved with superboot Stuey Dew, who was an important cog in Port Adelaide’s inaugural AFL flag, playing a role.
Team–mates of Dew’s in the Power’s 2004 premiership were Gavin Wanganeen (Essendon, 1994), Byron Pickett (North Melbourne, 1999) and Damien Hardwick (Essendon, 2000).
Since Darren Jarman became a dual premiership player with Adelaide in 1997/98, all but three flag winning teams have won with a star who had taken a title at another club (North Melbourne in 1999, Essendon in 2000 and West Coast in 2006).
Jarman, of course, won his first flag with the Hawks.
Prior to that, you have to search deep into the record books to find a player who had recorded the feat.
Other players to have tasted success at two clubs in this period were former Fitzroy player Martin Pike (North and Brisbane), Blake Caracella (Essendon and Brisbane) and Jason Ball (West Coast and Sydney).
Adding to that, using Jarman as the starting point, each of the three clubs that won the premiership without a flag winner from another team had at least one player from their club’s last premiership in the side.
In 2006, Drew Banfield’s longevity paid off when he added to his 1994 premiership, while in 2000 Essendon had Dustin Fletcher, Dean Wallis, Michael Long, Joe Misiti, Mark Mercuri, James Hird and Darren Bewick from 1993.
While the Kangaroos had Wayne Carey, John Blakey, Mick Martyn, Anthony Stevens, David King, Peter Bell, Glenn Archer, Brett Allison, Craig Sholl, Matthew Capuano, Corey McKernan and Adam Simpson in ther most recent success.
Collingwood in 1990, West Coast in 1992 and North Melbourne in 1996 are the only teams that have won the flag in the AFL era without a past premiership player involved.
To this year’s finals teams and, notably, each of the top eight clubs have premiership players on their lists.
But working on the vital ingredient being a premiership player from another club, you can write Essendon and West Coast off this season.
Looking through the other six clubs in the mix and there are seven players currently on lists who fulfil the criteria. They are: Jolly, Mooney, Hawthorn’s Shaun Burgoyne (Port Adelaide), Carlton’s inspirational leader Chris Judd (West Coast), Schneider, Dempster and Sydney’s Mark Seaby (West Coast).
Interestingly, Brisbane premiership player Daniel Bradshaw announced his retirement from the Swans part way through this season, while Seaby has played few games in 2011.
It is also worth noting that Mooney is in doubt after missing last Friday’s night thrashing of the ‘Pies, having played in the senior side intermittently this season.
Could his possible absence affect the Cats chances? Unlikely but it would go against the current trend.
So, the question to be answered now is which player from the above list will add to his collection of premiership medallions in 2011? Only time will tell.

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