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Stat proves how much everyone loves Demons

Melbourne defeated the Western Bulldogs in the 2021 AFL Grand Final. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Melbourne can certainly draw a crowd in Perth.

While the impressive crowd of 61,118 at Saturday’s Grand Final was well below what the MCG can manage, it ranks as the second best for a sporting event at Optus Stadium.

Capacity for contests played on an oval at the venue is 61,266.

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The Demons have now played in front of the three biggest AFL crowds at the stadium since it opened at the start of the 2018 season.

The other two are the 2018 Preliminary Final when they were smashed by West Coast in front of 59,608 fans and the game two weeks ago when the beat Geelong to make the Grand Final in front of 58,599.

With the exception of the game against the Eagles, the crowd was clearly shouting for the red and the blue in the other two games.

All three games of those games were finals, but Melbourne doesn’t do a bad job attracting a crowd at Optus Stadium for home and away games, either.

The Demons have averaged 46,190 in three non-finals games, behind only Richmond (46,345 in five games) and Essendon (48,591 in five games).

This year’s Grand Final crowd more than doubled the number that watched Richmond beat Geelong at the Gabba last season (29,707) and wasn’t far behind the previous attendance for a grand final played away from the MCG – the 75,230 that watched Hawthorn beat West Coast at Waverley Park in 1991.

The Demons punished the Bulldogs in the second half. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
The Demons punished the Bulldogs in the second half. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Saturday’s crowd wasn’t the smallest to witness the Demons fight for a premiership, though. In 1948, Melbourne beat Essendon by 39 points at the MCG in front of just 52,226 fans. It was a replay, played in wet conditions. The week earlier, 86,198 people had watched the draw.

In 1926, only 59,632 were at the MCG to watch the Demons beat Collingwood and in 1900 just 20,181 attended East Melbourne Oval when the Demons knocked off Fitzroy.

The biggest crowd to watch Melbourne claim a premiership cup was in 1956, when 115,902 saw the Demons beat Collingwood in consecutive grand finals and the second of their threepeat under coach Norm Smith.

The last Melbourne premiership, also won against the Magpies, at the MCG in 1964, was watched live by 102,471 people.

Optus Stadium’s capacity increases to 65,000 when a sport is played on a rectangle ground.

So the record for the biggest crowd there for a sporting event remains at 61,241, who crammed in for the 2019 Bledisloe Cup, when the Wallabies beat the All Blacks 47-26.

That same year, 59,721 people watched Queensland and New South Wales contest the second game of the State of Origin series.

Bayley Fritsch booted six goals in his side’s win. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
Bayley Fritsch booted six goals in his side’s win. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

No minor achievement

Melbourne’s 74-point victory over the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night was just the seventh premiership win by a minor premier since the start of the 2000s.

The last side to achieve that feat, before the Demons at Optus Stadium, was Hawthorn in 2013, at the start of its reign, when it beat Fremantle.

The previous seven McClelland Trophy winners all failed to go on to hold the cup aloft.

That Hawks’ win was also the only one of their trifecta of flags achieved under Alastair Clarkson between 2013 and 2015 that came after they finished on top of the ladder after the home and away season.

It was also the only flag won from top spot on the ladder since the AFL became an 18-team competition in 2012.

Richmond’s recent title wins were all achieved from third place on the ladder.

When Brisbane claimed a threepeat between 2001 and 2003, the first two were achieved after finishing the season in second spot; the third was claimed from third place on the ladder.

The other sides to have won the premiership after finishing the home and away season on top of the ladder were Essendon (who beat Melbourne in 2000), Port Adelaide (2004), West Coast (2006), Geelong (2007) and Collingwood (2010).

Now, seven sides have won the title, since the 2000 season, from each of first, second and third spots on the final ladder. More sides have lost the grand final (eight) from top spot than have won it.

The Western Bulldogs remain the only side to have managed to claim the premiership after finishing the qualifying rounds outside the top four.

They landed in seventh spot in 2016 when they won their first flag since 1954.

They were looking to repeat the feat this season, from the much improved fifth position, but fell one win short.

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