That Elusive Flag

TEAM TALK with JORDAN by Jordan Sennett Perez

Over the past number of years, intrigue has increased around Lance “Buddy” Franklin’s huge move from Hawthorn to Sydney on a record 9-year deal worth roughly a million a year. Many would say that Franklin’s career at Sydney has been a failure due to the fact that he hasn’t won a flag with them. Many others have said that he’s only gotten better, and his individual resume has propelled him well into the conversation of one of if not the game’s greatest player. Franklin however, still one won two premierships with his old club so measuring his success at Sydney can only go so far because will always say “well at least he’s won a flag”. There have been many players who have been hailed as some of the greatest players of all time but have never won a premiership. Players such as Nick Riewoldt, Patrick Dangerfield, Nathan Buckley, Matthew Pavlich and Robert Harvey just to name a few. All of these players have an amazing list of accolades with multiple times All-Australians, Brownlow’s and even Norm Smith’s with Nathan Buckley famously winning the award in the 2002 Grand Final where he captained Collingwood to a heartbreaking loss to Brisbane.

There is often the conclusion that these players are almost underrated in a way when comparing them to a player who might not be as gifted as a footballer but is incomparable when it comes to winning premierships. Take Luke Hodge for example, a stalwart of the Hawthorn Football Club one of the best players the game has seen especially when it comes to finals. His resume speaks for itself, 2 Norm Smith medals, 4 premierships and 3 of them as captain. That aside and looking at him as just a pure footballer, Hodge does not come close to someone like Robert Harvey.

Harvey, with back-to-back Brownlow’s, 8 All-Australians and a number of other individual awards, but no premierships, not a single one. The only time Harvey came close to winning a flag was in 1997 against the Adelaide Crows in which his team (St Kilda) lost after leading for most of the afternoon. He then came agonisingly close in 3 losing preliminary finals before retiring at the conclusion of the 2008 season. Nathan Buckley and Nick Riewoldt both played in successive losing Grand Finals and both were captains of their respective teams. Both were phenomenal players in their own right but at times get overlooked when in the conversation of the game’s greatest players that of course includes premierships. Luck does play a part too like a player such as Joel Selwood who has evolved into a fine player and one of the best of the modern era but has also been fortunate to play in a team which has regularly challenged for the premiership and by just his fourth year of playing, he had already played in 3 consecutive grand finals winning 2. The question mark will forever hang over players listed above as the big zero in the list of premierships won unfortunately outweighs all of their individual achievements. Many of them have said that they would trade all of their awards for a flag just one, just to experience what it’s like actually winning a premiership. That being said premierships should not be the only way to measure if a player is good or not. Footy is a cruel and tough game though and winning premierships is that much harder.

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