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Eddie out to end drought

AFL Media  September 28, 2017 10:30 AM

Eddie Betts in action at Adelaide's Grand Final open training session - Eddie Betts

Eddie Betts in action at Adelaide's Grand Final open training session

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Interviewed on Channel Seven after Adelaide's Preliminary Final win over Geelong, superstar forward Eddie Betts was more emotional than most.

"I'm speechless. Thirteen years. Thirteen years and all you want to do is play in a Grand Final and I'm finally there," Betts said.

Betts has played 276 games since his debut in 2005 (including 184 for Carlton), and on Saturday will end the sixth-longest wait before reaching a first Grand Final.

Only Paul Roos (313), Shane Crawford (304), Paul Williams (293), Matthew Pavlich (290) and Matthew Boyd (281) played more games than Betts before playing their first Grand Final.

At the other end of the MCG when Adelaide and Richmond clash in the 2017 decider will be Richmond's mercurial forward, Jack Riewoldt.

Though not as long as Betts', Riewoldt's 224 games before a Grand Final makes his own wait the 14th-longest of all time.

"It's a dream come true to get through to an AFL Grand Final. I was here when you were, Richo [Matthew Richardson], and we've been through some tough times as a club, and our supporters are just amazing," Riewoldt said. 

The Chaser: Graham's dream first season

By contrast, Richmond youngster Jack Graham is surely living out his childhood dream, in line for his first Grand Final in just his first AFL season.

If named, Graham will be playing in just his fifth AFL match on the last Saturday in September

The North Adelaide product was selected with pick 53 in last year's NAB AFL Draft, and broke into the senior side in round 22. He has proven himself to be a tackling machine; the big-bodied 19-year-old averaging eight tackles a match. 

If the Tigers salute, Graham will join an elite group. Only 19 other players have won a premiership in fewer games, 17 of which played before 1966.

The last player to win a flag from fewer career games was the Brisbane Lions' Richard Hadley, who played in the 2003 premiership in just his fourth game. However, it was his third year on the Lions' list, unlike Graham's debut season. 

Last year, Bulldogs Zaine Cordy (10 games), Josh Dunkley (16) and Toby McLean (18) had only played a handful of games each before winning a flag. 

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Impress your mates on Grand Final day

  • Adelaide's Crouch brothers, Matt and Brad, could become the 24th pair of brothers to play in a premiership together, and only the fifth pair since 1990. The most recent brothers to share a flag were Gary and Nathan Ablett for Geelong in 2007.
  • Richmond coach Damien Hardwick could be just the fourth person in history to be part of a premiership at three clubs, after legendary figures Ron Barassi, Leigh Matthews and Mick Malthouse. Hardwick won flags at Essendon and Port Adelaide as a player.
  • If Adelaide win, coach Don Pyke will set a record for the sixth-longest gap between flags as a player and a coach. Pyke won a Grand Final with West Coast in 1992, 25 years ago.
Text: Sarah Black | Designs: Kahla Emonson | Stats: Cameron Sinclair