Who wins the grand final?

Although the Geelong Football Club was formed 15 years before the South Melbourne (now Sydney) Football Club, both teams were foundation members of the (then) VFL when it commenced in 1897.

Therefore they have had 127 years of competition against each other.

Are they ‘traditional’ rivals? There has been only seven combinations of clubs that have competed against each other more often than the Cats and the Swans but – given that they have only crossed swords in the finals five times in that 127 years and it is finals that build tradition, and they have never met in a grand final – it is hard to think of them in that way.

Remarkably, in 228 encounters to date, the two teams have never played a draw, and in a final such a result is no longer possible, so the record will continue.

Do you base their chances of winning on the outcomes of their final efforts against each other, on their recent games against each other or on recent form against the same opposition?

Whatever statistic you use, it is interesting to note that in all grand final history, it has the been played between two clubs which had a nine games or more winning sequence on the day.

Let’s start with the two teams’ (limited) finals experience against each other: it was 18 years after the formation of the league before the two clubs faced against each other in a semi-final, in 1914, and South Melbourne won by seven points (Geelong 0, Sydney 1).

Another 20 years later (1934) the two teams met for the second time in a final (this time a preliminary final) and South Melbourne belted the Cats by ten goals (Geelong 0, Sydney 2).

By the time they met again in a final, it was 71 years later (2005) and South Melbourne had relocated to Sydney and won the semi by three points – the smallest margin in finals competition between the two clubs (Geelong 0, Sydney 3) .

Eleven more years passed and the two clubs met in their second preliminary final, with Sydney again recording a comfortable win by 37 points (Geelong 0, Sydney 4).

One year later (2017), the clubs met in their most recent finals encounter, and this time the Cats broke through to score their first finals win against Sydney, by 59 points (Geelong 1, Sydney 4).

This year and in 2021, Sydney won their matches during the year, although on both occasions Geelong had ten or more extra scoring shots (Geelong 0, Sydney 2).

However, if we go back one year further (2020) when both sides kicked nine points, the Cats managed an additional goal to run out winner by six points (Geelong 1, Sydney 2).

What other methods of predicting can we use, given both teams runs of victories? Well, the only other grand final that the two competing teams went into with such compelling runs of success was in 2009, when Geelong beat St Kilda by 12 points.

Is that an omen? Or should we make a case for the two teams’ chances by comparing their ease of victory over the one team that both clubs beat in the finals, Collingwood?

Geelong won by six points whereas the Swans won by only one, so does that mean the Cats are a five-point better side?

I’ll leave that for you to judge. I’ll wait until Saturday night!

Good luck to both teams.

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