WITH finals footy set to kick into high gear this week, AFL.com.au's staff writers look back at your club's September history, reminisce over the successes, and remember the ones that got away.
Grand Finals: Three
The one that got away: 2017. The Crows were red-hot favourites for the Grand Final after winning the minor premiership, but were no match for Richmond when it mattered.
Summary: The Crows have always been around the mark, having reached the finals in 15 of their 28 seasons. After the heartache of 1993's preliminary final collapse against Essendon, when they coughed up a 42-point half-time lead, the Crows went back-to-back in 1997 and 1998. They then had to wait 19 years for their next Grand Final appearance, going down to Richmond by 48 points in last year's decider after finishing the home and away season on top. It was their first minor premiership since 2005. On that occasion, the Crows lost to fourth-placed St Kilda by eight points in the qualifying final at Football Park. That left the Crows with a daunting trip to Perth to face West Coast in a preliminary final with the Eagles getting up by 16 points. - Lee Gaskin
Andrew McLeod owned the biggest day in footy for the Crows in 1997-98. Picture: AFL Photos
Premierships: 11 (eight as Fitzroy, three as Brisbane)
Grand Finals: 17 (13 as Fitzroy, four as Brisbane)
The one that got away: 1903. Captain Gerald Brosnan had a chance to live out the boyhood dream with a kick after the siren to win Fitzroy the flag, but alas he missed, and Collingwood made it back-to-back premierships with a two-point victory.
Summary: Fitzroy was a powerhouse in the early days of the VFL, winning seven flags in its first 25 years and making the decider on 12 occasions. It was slim pickings thereafter, with just the 1944 premiership to celebrate before the Lions merged with the Brisbane Bears at the end of the 1996 season. As a merged entity they flourished, making the preliminary final in 1999 before winning three straight premierships from 2001-2003. It was a golden era for the club, sporting Brownlow medalists Michael Voss, Jason Akermanis and Simon Black. The Lions have not made the finals since 2009. - Michael Whiting
Grand Finals: 29
The one that got away: 1980. The Blues won three flags in four years during this period, but this was the one that eluded them. Back-to-back losses in the finals to Richmond (42 points) and Collingwood (50 points) kept Carlton from adding to its trophy cabinet.
Summary: Carlton remains the joint-most successful club in AFL/VFL history, sitting alongside Essendon with 16 premierships. However, the Blues' recent inability to add to their trophy cabinet is worrying. Having not won a flag since 1995, Carlton is now the holder of the equal third-longest premiership drought in the competition. Only Melbourne and St Kilda have had to wait longer for a flag. Carlton's most successful period came between 1979 and 1982, where the Blues won three premierships in four years under Alex Jesaulenko and David Parkin. – Riley Beveridge
It's been a long time since Carlton fans got to enjoy September celebrations. Picture: AFL Photos
Grand Finals: 43 (including two draws)
The one that got away: 1970. The Magpies finished two games clear atop the ladder before becoming victims of the greatest comeback in Grand Final history, surrendering a 44-point half-time lead to go down to Carlton by 10 points.
Summary: For more than 50 years the Pies sat at the top of the premiership table, winning 13 flags to 1958 – three more than nearest rival Essendon. This included eight premierships under the legendary Jock McHale, who lifted the club to a record four in a row from 1927-30. However, in the past 60 years the Pies have dramatically underperformed, claiming just two premierships – in 1990 and 2010 – and losing 11 Grand Finals, after being in winning positions in six of them, giving rise to the 'Colliwobbles' taunt. - Ben Collins
Grand Finals: 29
The one that got away: 1999. Essendon finished on top of the ladder, smashed Sydney in the qualifying final then fell to arch-rival Carlton in the preliminary final by a point. They had beaten eventual premiers North Melbourne twice that season.
Summary: Essendon claimed its 16th premiership – equaling the record of Carlton – in 2000 with the most dominant single season in football history. The Bombers, under coach Kevin Sheedy, lost just one game on the way to a commanding Grand Final victory over Melbourne. It has been a long time for Bombers fans since that day, and if the Bombers don't win the premiership in 2019 it will equal the longest stretch in their history between premierships (alongside the 19-year gap between the 1965 and 1984 triumphs). – Callum Twomey
Grand Finals: One
The one that got away: 2015. Started the season 9-0 and finished on top of the ladder but blew a home preliminary final against an ageing Hawthorn.
Summary: Fremantle is still searching for an elusive maiden flag and fans will have to be even more patient while the club rebuilds. The Dockers were unfortunate in the sense that their most successful era coincided with Hawthorn's rise as one of the greatest teams in history, presided over by master coach Alastair Clarkson. Freo's endeavour in the 2013 Grand Final couldn't be faulted but execution was lacking, an all-too common theme, and kicking 1.6 to half-time was never going to get it done. The Hawks were too good, but the Dockers missed a golden opportunity two years later, falling in a home prelim by 27 points. - Travis King
The Dockers made their sole appearance on Grand Final day five years ago. Picture: AFL Photos
Grand Finals: 17
The one that got away: 2008. One home and away loss for the season, comfortable qualifying and preliminary final wins, then the Cats went missing when it counted. Players have since spoken of how they expected it to just happen for them.
Summary: The Cats' curse was put to bed in 2007 with a record 119-point win over Port Adelaide. Their four appearances prior were lost in the space of seven seasons between 1989-1995, with club champions Gary Ablett snr, Garry Hocking and Paul Couch featuring in all four matches. Not even a Norm Smith Medal and nine majors from Ablett in 1989 could pull his side over the line in a match regarded as one of the greatest Grand Finals in history. Stretching back to 1967, when they suffered a nine-point loss to Richmond, the Cats failed to play in a decider for 22 years. The previous victory in 1963 was coached by Bob Davis, who featured in the 1951 and 1952 triumphs and 1953 loss as a player. - Mitch Cleary
Grand Finals: Nil
The one that got away: 2014. Entrenched in the top eight and bound for their first finals appearance, everything went awry when Gary Ablett dislocated his shoulder in round 16.
Summary: Eight years into their existence it's been a lean beginning for the Suns. On a slow build in the early days, they looked like making a breakthrough in 2014 before Ablett's injury. It's one of the great "what-ifs" of modern AFL, with the team limping to one win from the final seven rounds that year and inaugural coach Guy McKenna being sacked. Rodney Eade came on board, but injuries mounted and the high-end talent sought greener pastures, with Dion Prestia, Jaeger O'Meara, Adam Saad, Ablett and now Tom Lynch all departing. They look many years away from making the top eight, let alone winning a flag. - Michael Whiting
Gary Ablett's 2014 shoulder injury changed everything for the Suns. Picture: AFL Photos
Grand Finals: Nil
The one that got away: 2016. The Giants beat minor premiers Sydney to win through to the preliminary final, but lost to the Western Bulldogs in a thriller, with the suspended Steve Johnson watching on.
Summary: The Giants have made it to the preliminary final for the past two years but haven't been able to make it to the last day of the season, losing to the eventual premiers on both occasions. They finished fourth after the home-and-away season in each of those years to give themselves a double chance, but if they are to make it to the club's first Grand Final, they'll need to do it from seventh in 2018. – Adam Curley
Grand Finals: 18
The one that got away: 1984. The Hawks shouldn’t have lost after leading Essendon by 23 points at the final change. Many of the players involved still can’t bring themselves to watch that horrid final quarter.
Summary: Yes, there are teams that have won more flags, but you would have to be well over 100 years of age to have been alive to experience any club winning more premierships than the Hawks. Whatever your definition of the 'modern era' is, be it five, 10 or 20 years, post name change to the AFL or even the last 50 years, the Hawks are the most successful club by a mile. All 13 flags have come since 1961, a success rate that few clubs in any sport, let alone ours, can match. Their supporters have been truly blessed. - Ashley Browne
Hawthorn fans have seen a lot of this in recent times. Picture: AFL Photos
Grand Finals: 18
The one that got away: Melbourne finished three games clear on top of the ladder in 1958 but lost to Collingwood by 18 points in the Grand Final. Having smashed the Pies by 45 points in the second semi-final, it seemed a near formality the Demons would equal the Pies' four-in-a-row record from 1927-30. But they were thwarted by a young Magpies side.
Summary: Melbourne holds the longest current premiership drought in AFL history. Their last premiership victory came in 1964, when legendary coach Norm Smith won his sixth VFL premiership. The Demons have appeared in just two Grand Finals since, in 1988 and 2000. Smith was infamously dismissed from his coaching job the following year, sparking the so-called Norm Smith 'curse'. The Demons rank fifth in the AFL for most premierships won, behind Essendon, Carlton, Collingwood and Hawthorn. Melbourne has a 67 per cent winning percentage in Grand Finals, with Smith behind only Jock McHale for premierships coached. – Ben Guthrie
Grand Finals: 10 (including 1977 replay)
The one that got away: North finished on top in 1998, had won 11 straight matches and registered 21 shots to Adelaide's seven in the first half, but only six were goals. A 24-point buffer was gone by three-quarter time, and five Darren Jarman goals sealed the Roos' fate.
Summary: Two of North Melbourne's four flags came in 1996 and 1999 under legendary coach Denis Pagan, a former player who graduated from his glorious under-19s coaching success. The Kangaroos made nine under-19s Grand Finals in a row from 1983 to 1991 for five premierships. Pagan then enjoyed a golden era at senior level in charge of players including Wayne Carey, Anthony Stevens, Glenn Archer, Corey McKernan, David King, Craig Sholl, Wayne Schwass, John Longmire, Mick Martyn and later Brent Harvey. North's ability to rebound from the 1998 Grand Final heartache to win the 1999 premiership cemented its status as the most successful club of the '90s. The Roos reached seven straight preliminary finals between 1994 and 2000, so probably should have capitalised even more. - Marc McGowan
The Roos paid a heavy price for their inaccuracy in the '98 decider. Picture: AFL Photos
Grand Finals: Two
The one that got away: 2014. Trailing by 23 points at three-quarter time in the 2014 preliminary final against Hawthorn, the Power stormed home, but fell three points short.
Summary: The Power's golden period was between 2002-04 when the club claimed three straight minor premierships. However, their strong patch was at a time when Brisbane was at the peak of its powers, completing a historic three-peat from 2001-03. The Power broke through for their first and only AFL flag in 2004 with a 40-point victory over the Lions. Their second Grand Final appearance in 2007 was far less memorable, getting belted by 119 points by an all-conquering Geelong. It's been slim pickings since then, apart from their three-point loss to Hawthorn in the 2014 preliminary final. - Lee Gaskin
Grand Finals: 22
The one that got away: 1982. The Tigers won the minor premiership with 18 wins and went on to beat Carlton in their first final. But, two weeks later, the Blues turned the tables to win the decider by 18 points.
Summary: The Tigers have enjoyed pockets of success; when they make Grand Finals, they seem to do it more than once in the one era (in the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1967 and 1969, 1972-'74, and 1980 and 1982). However, they have just an even 50 per cent strike rate when it comes to winning them. Their 2017 premiership was their first since 1980, but given the demographic of the current list, the fitness of the team and its dominance this season, Tiger fans should be confident they're entering into another rich period of finals appearances that they'll hope delivers more flags, more often. – Jennifer Phelan
Grand Finals: Eight
The one that got away: There are contenders here, but 2009 sticks out. As minor premiers, the Saints lost just twice in the home and away season, both times by under a goal, but missed chances in the Grand Final against Geelong proved costly.
Summary: Even St Kilda's one flag was hard work, as it scraped over the line by a point against Collingwood in 1966. It had a tighter tussle with the Pies in a decider though, in 2010. The Saints agonisingly drew with the Pies before losing the replay convincingly, with a bounce that didn't fall Stephen Milne's way in the tie stopping the Saints from pulling off an upset. Coming so close but falling at the final hurdle has happened on several occasions; Darren Jarman's magnificent performance for Adelaide in 1997 tore the hearts out of St Kilda fans. – Dinny Navaratnam
A bounce of the ball denied St Kilda in their 2010 GF draw with the Pies. Picture: AFL Photos
Grand Finals: 17
The one that got away: 2016. The minor premiers lost their first final to GWS which forced them to fight their way through to the Grand Final, which they did before losing to the Western Bulldogs.
Summary: The Bloods have a terrible overall record in Grand Finals and have lost four of their past six deciders, including their last two in 2014 to Hawthorn, and to the Western Bulldogs two years later. They went 72 years between flags from 1933 until the Paul Roos-led Swans won a classic over West Coast in 2005, then dropped a heart-breaker to the Eagles in the rematch the following season. They managed to upset the Hawks in 2012 under John Longmire and have never missed the top eight under his guidance, meaning they're always a contender. – Adam Curley
Grand Finals: Six
The one that got away: 2005. Losing a Grand Final by less than a kick is gut-wrenching, especially after leading a low-scoring contest against Sydney by 10 points early in the fourth quarter.
Summary: The Eagles debuted on the big stage in 1991 in the only Grand Final at Waverley and were belted by 53 points after only trailing fading force Hawthorn by 10 at three-quarter time. That experience hardened Mick Malthouse's men, whose redemption against Geelong the next season was a landmark moment for the national competition as they became the first non-Victorian team to win the flag. The WA powerhouse backed up with a second premiership over the Cats in 1994. Their epics against famous rival Sydney in '05 and '06 resulted in one flag apiece – a fair result after thrilling contests – but West Coast's last Grand Final appearance was forgettable to say the least, a 46-point humiliation against Hawthorn in 2015. - Travis King
The Eagles won their third flag by the barest possible margin in 2006. Picture: AFL Photos
Grand Finals: Three
The one that got away: 1997. Leading eventual premiers Adelaide by 22 points at three-quarter time in the preliminary final, the Bulldogs failed to kick a goal in the final term to enable the Crows to storm home and snatch a thrilling two-point win. A year later, the Crows beat the Dogs in a preliminary final rematch by 68 points en route to back-to-back flags.
Summary: Despite securing a drought-breaking premiership two seasons ago, the Western Bulldogs have become known for falling at the final hurdle. Between 1953 and 2010, the club played in 10 preliminary finals for just one win, including a luckless run where they lost three in a row (2008-10). Their overall preliminary final record is just 2-9. While the Bulldogs' faithful reminisce over the 2016 grand final victory, many would think equally as fondly of the preceding week's upset win against the Giants at Spotless Stadium, when recently-retired Clay Smith booted a match-winning four goals. – Adrian Johnson