MINOR PREMIERS THAT MISSED THE
The finals system ensured that the leading team after the home-and-away rounds - often referred to as the Minor Premiers - would always play in the match that decided the premiership. The system worked as follows:
SEMI FINALS - 1st vs 3rd / 2nd vs 4th
If 1st won they advanced to the Final.
If 1st lost they advanced to the Challenge Final and played the winner of the Final.
FINAL - winner of First Semi Final vs winner of Second Semi Final
If 1st won they were declared premiers (in such cases the Final has become known retrospectively as the Grand Final).
If 1st lost they advanced to the Challenge Final for a re-match against the winner (in such cases the Final has become known retrospectively as the Preliminary Final).
Only played if the minor premiers lost at the semi-final or final stage. The winner of this match was declared the premier (this match has become known retrospectively as the Grand Final).
The introduction of the Page-McIntyre finals system in 1933 removed the minor premier's right of challenge and replaced it with a double chance. Under the old system the minor premier's reward for losing their semi-final was a week's rest and a place in the deciding match. The new system still provided the minor premier with a second chance but not an automatic shot at the title: if they lost their semi final they participated in a preliminary final the following week and they needed to win that match to advance to the Grand Final.
Thus, the new system created the possibility of the minor premier missing the Grand Final if they lost their semi-final and preliminary final matches. The following are the minor premiers who failed to make the Grand Final during this period:
In any competition, missing the Grand Final after finishing in first place represents a wasted opportunity to win the premiership. However, the added impact of missing the Grand Final in VFA Second Division was also missing out on a chance of promotion to First Division. Listed below are the five teams that threw away a shot at promotion, along with details of when they received their next opportunity:
1962 - Preston: won promotion following year.
1966 - Northcote: next chance of promotion: 1982 (won the Grand Final that year but were not promoted, the club folded in 1987).
1971 - Caulfield: lost the Grand Final in 1972, won promotion in 1973.
1976 - Frankston: won promotion in 1978.
1982 - Oakleigh: lost the 1984 and 1985 Grand Finals, then won the 1988 Second Division title; rejoined the top-flight when the divisions were merged in 1989.
1987 - Werribee: rejoined the top-flight when the divisions were merged in 1989.
The VFA-VFL switched to a Final Eight in season 2000. Under this system the minor premier has to play at least two matches to qualify for the Grand Final. Their reward for finishing in the top four is the double-chance: if they lose their first match, they get a second chance via a semi-final in Week 2 but they must win all matches from that point to advance to the Grand Final.
It is possible for the minor premier to miss the Grand Final in three ways:
1) win 1st Qualifying Final in Week 1; advance directly to 1st Preliminary Final in Week 3 - lose this match and they are eliminated.
2) lose 1st Qualifying Final in Week 1; win 1st Semi-Final in Week 2; lose 2nd Preliminary Final in Week 3.
3) lose 1st Qualifying Final in Week 1; lose 1st Semi-Final in Week 2.
The table below shows the VFA-VFL teams since season 2000 that have finished first then missed the Grand Final:
Written and researched by David Eastman
First published 4/5/2014
Page last updated 6/10/2019