Tanti’s Take: As GNFL finals near, could it be another year when percentage plays a big role?

Victor TantiGeraldton Guardian
Towns and Mullewa in a file image.
Camera IconTowns and Mullewa in a file image. Credit: Arctic Moon Photography

Percentage may seem a stat for trainspotters, but it matters sometimes.

If there’s a tie for second after the qualifiers, percentage decides which team plays the second semifinal and gets the double chance.

In 13 of 60 completed Great Northern Football League seasons, percentage decided second spot, and in six of those 13 years, the team that made the second semi won the flag. In 1962, Brigades and Rovers had identical win-loss records of 9-3 before finals, but Brigades’ better percentage gave them a second semifinal berth, and they went on to win the premiership.

In 1971, Brigades and Northampton each had 11-1-6 records. The Hawks pipped the Rams for second, and later beat Railways in the decider, despite trailing by a record 28 points after three quarters had been played.

In 1979, Northampton were second due to Railways’ marginally worse percentage, and won the flag.

Railways did the same in 2010, when they denied Brigades second spot.

Towns did it twice in three seasons, in 2012 and 2014, against Mullewa both times. They went on to be premiers in both campaigns.

Of course, in finals, you never know. In 1985, Norths were second with a slightly superior percentage to Railways, but the Blues won the flag anyway.

To close, in 1988, three teams finished atop the ladder.

Percentage meant Mullewa were first, Rovers were next, and Railways were third. Which of them won the flag? None of them — Mick Thompson’s Brigades did.

His team was one of only two to actually win from fourth — the other was Towns in 1993.

But Thompson’s men were, uniquely, the only premiers to go into a finals series with a negative percentage — more points scored against than for.

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