Exploring the AFL’s Biggest Historical Upsets

Exploring the AFL’s Biggest Historical Upsets

November 26, 2020 Off By Dan James Pantone

The AFL has had its fair share of legendary upsets over its many years of history. Naturally, these upsets have been just as memorable as the League’s numerous highs, especially for its die-hard fans!

These are the top 5 most memorable upsets in AFL history that every fan should know about.

#1: Carlton vs. Fitzroy – 1916

1916 was a very odd year for the AFL, and it brought about a truly unexpected ending as well. By the end of the season, there were only four teams left, and the VFL decided to stick with this final four. After a good start, Fitzroy realised that they might as well lay low until the action of August had arrived.

This move lulled spectators and competitors alike into a false sense of security, creating the perfect opportunity for the team to win every finals match against table-topping Carlton. There was no greater plan behind these results; they were simply the culmination of a terribly strange year in the AFL’s history.

#2: Richmond vs. Carlton – 1972

Carlton has shocked the AFL community many times, and 1972 came as a notable surprise. The team had not beaten Richmond in a final since 1920, and entered this game with ten straight losses to their name. Carlton’s coaching team decided to pull out all the stops at the last minute, shocking everyone with the highest grand final score in history of 28.9.

#3: Collingwood vs. Carlton – 1970

This is arguably the most iconic of all AFL upsets. In the 1970 season, Carlton had managed to come within ten points of Collingwood by the time the semi-finals had swing around. They had easily beaten St Kilda in the preliminary finals as well.

Everyone was aware of Carlton’s loss to Collingwood at Victoria Park in the Round 19 match, but it was their shocking half-time margin that triggered a post-match uproar that never truly died down.

#4: Fitzroy vs. Melbourne – 1900

In the VFL’s early days, its greatest challenge was figuring out how to complete its seasons. The traditional final match used to determine the season’s outcome had begun to meld into all codes, but deciding how to reach that culmination was proving rather tricky.

The 1898/1900 season also offered another predicament: a full round of Home and Away matches counted for practically nothing, and only the very top team benefited in any way. Coming last and coming second were essentially equal, leaving Melbourne (at sixth) to win all three post-season sectional games before defeating first-place Fitzroy in the finals.

#5: Melbourne vs. Collingwood – 1958

Unlike Collingwood at the time, Melbourne were the reigning triple premiers and had easily beaten their rivals in the 1955 and 1956 grand finals. In 1958, they seemed like the obvious future winners, even to betting experts.

By quarter time, Melbourne was leading by three goals before Collingwood brought the heat with two quarters of rainy weather football, essentially stealing Melbourne’s record-reaching fourth premiership title from underneath them.