The AFL Grand Final is the culmination of the Australian Rules AFL premiership. It is very significant to Australian culture, with several associated activities and traditions, and is arguably the most popular sports event in the country.
Most AFL clubs have played in at least one Grand Final, except the University Club that was a League member for a very short time, and the Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney Clubs that have been added relatively recently. Adelaide remains the only club to have never lost a Final it was contesting.
A Brief History
The AFL Grand Final is one of the oldest Grand Finals in the world, and has influenced many others such as the European Rugby Super-League Final. The structure of the Final evolved over time, as the Victorian Football League (the AFL’s predecessor) experimented with competition formats. Rather than acknowledging the team at the top of the season ladder as the premier, the VFL decided on a finals series to generate more interest and revenue. This was one of the changes to the game format that would become known as Australian Rules football and the great past time that is AFL betting online.
Although the VFL was satisfied with the Grand Final incarnation it settled on at this time, the public remained ambivalent until the event was permanently moved to the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1902. There was a huge surge in attendance and in 1908 a new record of 50,261 spectators was set. During the First World War, audience numbers plummeted and the public seemed to disapprove of the game continuance although servicemen themselves did not and many attended the 1918/19 Grand Final in uniform.
After a few more experiments, the golden age of the Paige Playoff System began in 1931. In this system, the semi-finals are followed by a preliminary final and then a Grand Final. The somewhat confusing right to challenge that had existed before was abolished, and everyone was satisfied with the new and improved format. The entire premiership and the Grand Final in particular continued to grow in popularity, and was an important distraction and morale booster during the dark days of the Second World War.
The Grand Final returned to the Melbourne Cricket Ground after the War, during which it had been requisitioned by the government, and the facility was refurbished in preparation for the 1956 Olympics when it was used as a main stadium. The new extra capacity shattered attendance records again, and the VFL introduced a ticketing system for the first time.
A few teams monopolized the Grand Final in the 1950s, but in the 1960s there was much more varied competition. Over the next few decades the premiership went through phases of being dominated by a few clubs and of having divergent winners, and in 1990 it became a truly national completion when the VFL was transformed into the Australian Football League. This has served to create lively competition with no one club monopolizing the winning position.
The AFL Grand Final Today
The AFL Grand Final continues to go from strength to strength, and is broadcast over television, radio and internet channels to fans who are unable to get to the stadium as often as they would like to. The game is always held on the last Saturday in September or the first one in October, still at the Melbourne Cricket Ground which is now its undisputed home. The winning team is awarded the AFL Premiership Cup and Flag, and every player in the team is given a gold Premiership Medallion. New records are still being set, and fans are still being entertained.