The AFL Grand Final is the biggest event in football and one of the biggest in Australia, and every year players and teams etch their names into the history books through their performances on footy’s biggest day. The last ten years have seen a multitude of hugely memorable games and performances, and these are the four most notable AFL Grand Final records from the last decade.
1. Dustin Martin — 3 Norm Smith Medals
This one stands alone not only as the most impressive individual performance of the decade, but in the history of the game. Prior to Dusty, no player had ever won the Norm Smith Medal for the best player on the ground in the AFL Grand Final on more than two occasions. Entering 2017, Dusty hadn’t even played in one yet. He promptly went on to win it that year, then again in 2019, and as if that wasn’t enough he again took the award in Richmond’s third Premiership in the last four years in 2020. Three Norm Smith Medals in four years is an incredible feat considering no other player has ever won it more than once, and judging by the 2021 AFL grand final odds it’s not out of the realms of possibility that he does it again this year.
2. Jordan Lewis & Matt Crouch — Most possessions in a Grand Final (37)
Simon Black still holds the record for the most touches in a Grand Final in history after he accumulated 39 in the Lions’ third consecutive Premiership in 2003, but Jordan Lewis and Matt Crouch both slotted into second place in the past decade. Lewis’ dominant performance came in 2014, the second Premiership in Hawthorn’s famous three-peat between 2013 and 2015. Crouch’s impressive performance came just a few years later in 2017, but unfortunately for him it wasn’t enough to get his Adelaide Crows over the line.
3. Western Bulldogs — Premiership from lowest ladder position (7th)
In 2016, what felt like the entire AFL world got behind the young Doggies as they won close game after close game en route to an extraordinary, drought-breaking Premiership win. They finished in seventh on the ladder that year and were given little chance of going all the way, but a commanding win over West Coast followed by much closer wins over Hawthorn, GWS and finally Sydney saw them achieve what seemed like the impossible. It was the club’s first Premiership since 1954 and with just two in their history they are certainly not the team with the most Grand Final wins in the AFL, but the 2016 triumph was one of the most memorable. They were the lowest team on the ladder to win the Grand Final in history, let alone the past decade, and it’s likely to be a record they’ll hang on to for many years to come.
4. Marlion Pickett — AFL debut on Grand Final Day
When Marlion Pickett was picked up in the first ever mid-season draft by the Tigers in 2019, few would have guessed what was to come over the coming months. Sustained high-level performances in the VFL saw him knocking on the door of the senior side come finals time, and incredibly he was given his debut in front of 100,000 fans on Grand Final Day, becoming just the sixth player in history to do so and the first since Ken Batchelor way back in 1952.
Grand Final Day is where many champion players and teams are made, and there have been more than a few made over the past decade. Dustin Martin undoubtedly takes the cake, having etched his name into history as arguably the best finals player ever, but all of the above few have broken records in one way or another over the past ten years.