While the AFL is on COVID-19 hiatus, David Schout is reliving some of the most notable upsets and bad beats over the years. This week, a stunning upset from 2014.
St Kilda and Fremantle were due to face off this weekend, in what would have been Round 10 of the 2020 AFL season. And while we’re still three weeks away from the season recommencing, we’re sifting through the archives to find clashes from the past that surprised both bookies and punters alike.
By the time Round 18 rolled around in 2014, Fremantle were considered huge premiership hopes. Having pushed Hawthorn all the way in the previous year’s Grand Final, this was the year many thought coach Ross Lyon might finally hold the premiership cup aloft. And, by this stage of the AFL season, they could hardly have been tracking better. Sitting on equal points with ladder leaders the Swans, Freo had won eight on the bounce. And with Sydney playing fellow premiership hope Hawthorn that same weekend, the Dockers fancied their chances in concluding the round atop the ladder.
For the Saints, it was a wholly different case. Languishing on the bottom as AFL wooden spoon favourites, they’d incredibly lost 11 in a row. Another defeat would equal their worst run of form since 1986.
Unsurprisingly, the Dockers started as $1.04 favourites while the Saints were way out at $12.30 by the first bounce. Such was the disparity between the teams, the bookies gave Alan Richardson’s side a 56.5-point head-start in the handicap markets.
Shooting out of the blocks
The Saints started strongly, booting the first four goals of the game at Etihad Stadium. It took until the final minute of the opening term (when Dockers utility Chris Mayne slotted through) for the visitors to finally get on the board. But the Saints weren’t done. A five goals to two second quarter extended their lead to 40 points at the main break. Pre-game, they were $26 to lead at both half-time and full-time.
Foot on the pedal
Unlike many games we’ve covered in recent AFL Best Bookie Beats, there would be no comeback. No tight finish, and few nails bitten. Instead, it was simply a day of joy for the Saints. The third term saw them pile on six more majors to lead, incredibly, by 68 points at the final break. Keeping in mind St Kilda were paying $101 to win by 40+ points prior to the first bounce, this was an astounding turn of events. Richardson’s side would run out 58-point victors.
— AFL Photos (@AFLphotos) July 19, 2014
The old guard
Perhaps most pleasing for Saints fans – in a season where they had little to cheer about – was the performance of the old guard. Veteran Nick Riewoldt would boot four goals (earning himself three AFL Brownlow Medal votes), while Leigh Montagna and Lenny Hayes picked up 27 and 24 disposals apiece, the latter with nine tackles.
— SuperFooty (AFL) (@superfooty) July 19, 2014
Great stuff from the Saints after a painful year. Some games are pure exhilaration, they must be flying right now.#AFLSaintsFreo
— Geoff Lemon Sport (@GeoffLemonSport) July 19, 2014
Round 18 of the 2014 AFL season, July 19
St Kilda 4.3 9.6 15.14 17.16 (118) def
Fremantle 1.1 3.2 5.6 9.6 (60)
STK: N Riewoldt 4 R Stanley 3 F Ray 2 L Dunstan 2 A Schneider B Murdoch C Shenton D Armitage L Montagna T Curren
FRE: M Pavlich 2 N Fyfe 2 A Morabito C Mayne D Pearce M Barlow M Taberner
Brownlow Votes: 3 Nick Riewoldt (STK), 2 Rhys Stanley (STK), 1 Leigh Montagna (STK)