AFL finals 2004 - then there were six
Sunday, September 05 2004 @ 11:28 am ACST
Contributed by: Brett Northey
After 22 hard rounds of football, eight teams were left to contest the major round. The first week of finals saw triple-premiers Brisbane tear the inexperienced St Kilda apart in Brisbane, while Port Adelaide went part way to getting the finals jinx off its back, comfortably accounting for Geelong in Adelaide. Both winners get a week off, while the losers play the winners of the elimination finals, Essendon and Sydney. The Bombers defeated Melbourne in a thriller at the MCG, and Sydney were too good for the West Coast Eagles in Sydney, in a match that was almost delayed near half time, as a fierce electrical storm swept past Telstra Stadium (the main 2000 Sydney Olympics venue).
So now six sides remain. Brisbane have reinforced their standing as red hot favourites, but Port have shown signs that, after two seasons of being minor premiers but crashing out when it counts, they may be ready to mount a challenge.
The bottom eight, out of finals contention, would all be disappointed by their years, although Carlton started the season with low expectations and a young side, so would look to 2005 with optimism, after finishing in 11th spot, two games out of the finals. Immediately above them were North Melbourne, who were devastated by an unexpected loss to the lowly Western Bulldogs, missing the finals by two games as well. Similarly disappointed were Fremantle, who had a finals berth all but wrapped up, only to lose their last four games to miss the top eight by one win.
Adelaide and Collingwood fell from grace, from 6th and 2nd, to 12th and 13th respectively. In Adelaide's case, they lost patience with coach Gary Ayres and chose not to renew his contract, and he left the club mid-season with Neil Craig (formerly the assistant coach, and a 300 game SANFL and state player) acting as care-taker, before being appointed for three years. It was a big fall for the Magpies, after back to back grand final heart-break to Brisbane.
The Western Bulldogs, Hawthorn and Richmond battled it out for the wooden spoon (bottom spot), with the Tigers taking the "honours". All three clubs dumped their coaches, with Peter Schwab making room for an as yet undecided replacement at the Hawks, Danny Frawley going for Terry Wallace (ex-Bulldogs) and the Western Bulldogs giving Rodney Eade (formerly at Sydney) a chance, at Peter Rohdes' expense.
Check out the official AFL website for all the details.