THE FESTIVE season is upon us and clubs have been furiously writing to Santa about what they'd like most in 2024.
While a premiership cup is high on the agenda for most teams, others would simply love nothing more than a healthy list heading into next season.
Will your club's Christmas wish come true?
We won't mention THAT Ben Keays incident, but the heartbreaking loss to the Swans continued a worrying trend for the Crows last season – an inability to win the close ones. Of the six games Adelaide played in that were decided by 10 points or less, Matthew Nicks' side won just one of them. Two heartbreaking losses to Collingwood and narrow defeats to Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney showed the Crows' ability to challenge the best sides in 2023 but left them with a sense of what could have been. If they can at least square the ledger in close games in 2024, a return to finals will be on offer. – Martin Smith
Following a season in which nearly everything went right, Chris Fagan's men aren't wanting for much. But if the Lions had to beg Santa for something special, a speedy return to form for former Adelaide defender Tom Doedee after his ACL rupture would be close to top of the list. Concussion issues prevented now-retired backman Marcus Adams from taking the field at all in 2023, so a fit-again Doedee would give the Lions more options in the back half. Oh, and a flag would be nice, too. – Michael Rogers
After waiting 10 long years to taste finals action again, the Blues made the most of the opportunity to reach the penultimate weekend before falling to Brisbane by 16 points. So a trip to the Grand Final in 2024 isn't too much to ask, is it? Michael Voss' team looked down and out with just four wins and a draw up to round 13 last season, before a remarkable run of nine consecutive victories saw them storm into September. If the Blues can continue a similar vein of form into next season, a first flag since 1995 could well be in the offing. – Brandon Cohen
Back-to-back flags will most certainly be top of the wishlist for the Magpie army, but history shows the Pies are going to be up against it. Only three teams have managed the feat since the turn of the century - Brisbane, Hawthorn and Richmond - and Geelong's incredible demise this season only further proved what a mammoth task it is to back up premiership success. But if any side can pull it off, the Magpies might just be the ones to do it. Collingwood's squad boasts plenty of depth and there's no shortage of youngsters hungry to get in on the action too. Former first-round picks Ed Allan, Finlay Macrae and Reef McInness are pushing hard for selection, while recruit Lachie Schultz is set to be a dangerous addition to the Magpies' attack. – Alison O'Connor
It would just about be a Christmas miracle. After playing a grand total of 41 combined games since being drafted in the top 10 in 2020, Zach Reid and Nik Cox featuring far more frequently in 2024 would be a major Christmas present for Essendon fans. Reid has played just eight AFL games and missed the 2023 season, while Cox has featured just 11 times across the past two campaigns after playing 22 matches in 2021. They can become two important players for the Bombers, but first must be fit regularly. – Dejan Kalinic
A modern-day great, the Dockers - and the League - haven't seen enough of superstar Nat Fyfe over the past two seasons. Fyfe has played just 16 games since the start of 2022 and was limited to nine matches this year. A three-time All-Australian and two-time Brownlow medallist, Fyfe is a star and, given the Dockers could use a boost in firepower, his fitness will be an important factor in how they go in 2024. Fyfe last played at least 20 games in a season in 2019 and Freo would love that many from the 32-year-old next year. – Dejan Kalinic
After winning the premiership in 2022, nothing went to script for the Cats in 2023. Geelong became the first reigning premier to lose its opening three matches since 1976 and things didn't get much better from there. Long-term injuries to Cam Guthrie (six games) and Jack Henry (11) robbed the Cats of star power, with three straight losses to end the season ultimately resulting in the club finishing 12th and missing the finals for the first time in eight years – and just the second time in 13 years under Chris Scott. Still with one of the oldest and most experienced lists in the comp, all Cats fans want from Santa this year is a return to September. – Brandon Cohen
It sounds obvious, and could well have been on Gold Coast's wishlist every year of its existence, but playing finals is the No.1 goal. The talent is there, but that's been said of the Suns before. Can the Dimma touch and more development of their young stars be the difference in 2024? Watch this space. – Martin Smith
The Giants' finals chances looked all but dead after round 10 last year, with just three wins from 10 games. That they rallied to miss a Grand Final berth by a solitary point in a thrilling prelim loss to eventual premier Collingwood is a huge credit to Adam Kingsley and his players. Imagine what they could have done with a couple more early wins? To that end, a fast start to 2024 would do nicely, kicking off with a revenge victory over the Magpies at Giants Stadium to open the season. With early clashes against North Melbourne, West Coast and Gold Coast to follow, GWS is a good chance of delivering some early-season cheer to the orange faithful. – Michael Rogers
The Hawks would dearly love to get a full season out of Mitch Lewis. The 25-year-old is an integral part of the forward structure, but a series of injuries has restricted him to only 66 games over six seasons. To highlight his importance to the side, Lewis booted 36 goals for the year – including a career-best six against West Coast in round 10 – despite missing eight games. He also averaged career-highs in disposals (12.8), marks (5.7) and score involvements (6.4). Lewis missed the final two games with a mid-foot sprain and is now nearing a return to full fitness. – Brandon Cohen
Is it too much to ask to win a final? Sounds simple enough, but with four straight finals losses since Melbourne's drought-breaking 2021 premiership triumph on the road, the Demons faithful are getting a little restless. They're desperate to witness success at the 'G after narrow finals losses to Collingwood (seven points) and Carlton (two) brought a grinding halt to those dreams this year. Harnessing its supremely talented list and getting the job done on the big stage is now Melbourne's biggest hurdle, and every Demons fans' biggest wish. – Alison O'Connor
After a horror few years for North fans, simply enjoying going to the footy again will be a big win in 2024. Seeing the likes of Harry Sheezel, George Wardlaw, Colby McKercher and Zane Duursma should warm the heart, as will Nick Larkey and Cam Zurhaar up forward. Not even the most one-eyed Roos fan would be expecting finals next year, but signs the club is on the right track are much needed. – Martin Smith
Hitting form at the right time of the season and giving Ken Hinkley a much-deserved premiership is top of the list for Port Adelaide in 2024. The Power looked to be a genuine premiership threat again this season on the back of a remarkable 13-game winning streak, but a late-season stumble saw them finish third and bow out of finals in straight sets. It continued a worrying trend for the side under Hinkley's tenure, with their finals record now at 5-7 and 0-3 in prelims from his 11 seasons. The Power were busy during the Trade Period, stocking up on key defenders Esava Ratugolea and Brandon Zerk-Thatcher as well as ruckmen Ivan Soldo and Jordon Sweet, and look to be all-in on that elusive premiership in 2024. – Alison O'Connor
A clean bill of health for the premiership veterans is a clear No.1 on new coach Adem Yze's annual letter to the North Pole. With a fit Tom Lynch, Dustin Martin, Dylan Grimes and Toby Nankervis at his disposal, Yze will have experience and skill on every line. If any of those stars fall over, however, Richmond's depth rapidly falls away and the club could quickly find itself in on-field strife. The Tigers will be keen to find out what their next generation of youngsters can deliver at the highest level and it'll be hard to gauge if they don't have the old warriors alongside the kids. – Michael Rogers
After an injury-plagued 2023, a healthy playing group will be top of St Kilda's wishlist this Christmas. The Saints entered the 2023 season with 14 players on the injury list, but managed to defy expectations early in the season with a cobbled-together team. Despite Max King playing just 11 games in 2023 due to shoulder injuries, and other key cogs Jack Steele, Seb Ross and Tim Membrey missing chunks of the year, the Saints kept it together enough to play finals in Melbourne for the first time since 2011. If the Saints pulled that off with a young, inexperienced list, Ross Lyon and co. will be keen to see what they can achieve with a healthy list in 2024. – Sophie Welsh
The dream for Swans fans would be for Sam Reid to stay fit for the whole season. So important has Reid been to Sydney's structure that the Swans picked him for the 2022 Grand Final, which John Longmire later conceded was a mistake due to the injury he carried into the game. That match remains the most recent Reid has played at AFL level after his 2023 was ruined by yet another injury but he's back on the rookie list for 2024. When fit, the versatile tall can be a matchwinner. Getting him on the park will be the main challenge. – Martin Smith
High on every West Coast fan's wishlist will simply be to not have another season like the past two years. Five wins from those 45 games is horrible reading. The reasons for the dramatic slide are many and well-documented. But there is light at the end of that very dark and long tunnel. The arrival of 'generational talent' Harley Reid as the No.1 pick has fans salivating, while the impressive debut seasons of Reuben Ginbey and Elijah Hewett point to a brighter future. If Reid is as good as advertised, the Eagles could have their first Rising Star winner since Ben Cousins in 1996. – Brandon Cohen
A few prized signatures would make it a very happy Christmas for the Bulldogs. Star ruckman Tim English, gun young forward Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and midfielder Bailey Smith are all out of contract at the end of 2024 and re-signing any, or all, of them would be a major boost for the Bulldogs. English was an All-Australian this year, Ugle-Hagan kicked 35 goals in 2023 and Smith has shown what he is capable of, although he will miss the 2024 season due to an ACL injury. – Dejan Kalinic