Premiership clock: Is your club ready to strike?
TICK, tick, tick. Hear that? It's the premiership clock, and stars across the competition are monitoring it. Closely.
Just ask Geelong champ Patrick Dangerfield, who's yet to taste the ultimate glory as he enters his 12th AFL season.
He's not alone - the likes of superstars Gary Ablett (Snr), Nathan Buckley and Robert Harvey are among the game's list of champions who failed to reach footy's highest peak.
Dangerfield, who's accomplished almost everything there is to achieve in the game from an individual standpoint, on Wednesday revealed he knows his time is starting to run out. Is it for the Cats?
Recent seasons have shown clubs are capable of making a giant leap to premiership glory. Given that history, it's with great caution that experts and punters alike try to predict what might unfold in 2019.
Below, we've rated where we think every AFL club sits on the premiership clock.
ADELAIDE - 10 o'clock
WE SAY: Still have the talent to well and truly be in the premiership conversation. Forget their horror 2018. If Don Pyke's squad can get back to being the confident, free-flowing side of 2017 then their stars are all young enough to take them back to the business end of the year.
BRISBANE LIONS - 5 o'clock
WE SAY: The Lions' build is well underway, and they're on the rise. Haven't played finals since 2009, but one feels that will change under Chris Fagan. September might be too steep a rise in 2019 but some exciting youngsters and the good vibes surrounding the coach suggest this team is trending upwards.
CARLTON - 3 o'clock
WE SAY: The rebuild is on. It'll take time, Blues fans. List manager Stephen Silvagni said Carlton needed to go to the draft three times. They've now done that, and all at Princes Park - perhaps none more so than Brendon Bolton - will be hoping the kids are all right. After their bold draft night move, they're banking on a rise in 2019. But surely finals are a stretch.
COLLINGWOOD - 11.30 o'clock
WE SAY: When you leap from 13th to a grand final - and only lose in the final two minutes - then there's every reason to believe the Pies can go one better next year. Injuries again played their part in 2018 but Nathan Buckley's team, filled with emerging talent, defied that to almost pull off a memorable win. It's now a whole new ball game but there's no reason why Collingwood won't be a major player again.
ESSENDON - 11 o'clock
WE SAY: Believe the hype? If Joe Daniher returns, there's another 60 goals you can pencil in for the Bombers. Then there's the arrival of Dylan Shiel, whose line-breaking pace should add an extra dimension to the ball-winning ability of Dyson Heppell, Zach Merrett and co. Loom as the big mover of 2019.
FREMANTLE - 6 o'clock
WE SAY: Who's closer to September glory - Brisbane or Freo? That was a much-debated point in the office as we assessed this list. Nat Fyfe still leads a blossoming midfield that includes Andrew Brayshaw and Adam Cerra - but has lost Lachie Neale. Jesse Hogan is the man who can really get the Purple Haze firing. The Dockers will be tough to beat at home, but they appear some way off challenging the AFL's best on a consistent basis.
GEELONG - 9 o'clock
WE SAY: Another year of being around the mark for the Cats, or is the club's incredible run of consistency set to end? The Cats' best players, Joel Selwood, Dangerfield, Gary Ablett and Tom Hawkins aren't getting any younger. On a positive, next year Geelong plays nine matches at its home fortress, so one would expect they can scrounge enough wins to be thereabouts again. But others loom larger.
GOLD COAST - 1 o'clock
WE SAY: Gary Ablett is gone. Tom Lynch is gone. Steven May ... you know the drill. The Suns finished 17th last year and then lost their two, if not best, then arguably most important players. As a result, it's back to square one for second-year coach Stuart Dew. The likes of Izak Rankine, Jack Lukosius and Ben King add excitement, but probably not many wins for some time yet.
GWS - 9 o'clock
WE SAY: Like a couple of rivals around the same mark, it's tough to know if the Giants are coming or going. The depth of talent means they should win their share of matches in 2019, but how far can they go? And what if they cop a similarly horrendous run with injury? The talent is there, but there's still plenty of questions if the belief
HAWTHORN - 9 o'clock
WE SAY: Might have been over-achievers in 2018 but you can never write off an Alastair Clarkson-coached side. There is still plenty of experience on the list as well as some talented youth. If Port Adelaide recruit Chad Wingard can return to his best football, the Hawks could again surprise.
MELBOURNE - 11 o'clock
WE SAY: In it up to their eyeballs in 2019. Expect the devastating preliminary final loss to West Coast to spur them on. Jesse Hogan (Fremantle) is gone but fellow key forward Sam Weideman showed signs late last year that he can fill that void. The addition of Steven May and the return of Jake Lever from injury will strengthen the backline enormously.
NORTH MELBOURNE - 8 o'clock
WE SAY: Could easily make finals but hard to see the Roos pushing for a flag next season. The inclusions of Jarred Polec, Aaron Hall, Jasper Pittard and Dom Tyson help add depth to a side which won 12 games in 2018 and lost a further four by 10 points of less.
PORT ADELAIDE - 7 o'clock
WE SAY: Still plenty of question marks over the Power, who were far from a powerhouse in 2018. As has been the case in recent years, they scored good wins against the teams they should have but didn't beat many of the competition's better sides. Jared Polec (North Melbourne) is gone but Hamish Hartlett is a virtual recruit for the midfield group, having played just five games last season before tearing his ACL.
RICHMOND - 11.30
WE SAY: Early favourites with the bookmakers to secure a second premiership in three years in 2019, and with good reason. The Tigers didn't produce many bad games in 2018 but didn't turn up to play on preliminary final night. Tom Lynch (Gold Coast) should add plenty to an already potent forward line, in a side that has reached the pinnacle before and is primed to pounce again.
ST KILDA - 4 o'clock
WE SAY: Season 2018 was a train wreck as the Saints finished third-last on the ladder and there are few signs pointing to a significant jump up the table. Sydney recruit Dan Hannebery will help if he can get fit again and there are some talented kids coming through but this St Kilda side is still a long way off.
SYDNEY SWANS - 7 o'clock
WE SAY: Out: Dan Hannebery. Over 30: Lance Franklin, Heath Grundy, Kieren Jack, Josh Kennedy, Jarrad McVeigh, Nick Smith. Yes, the Swans have some talented young players coming through but they are seemingly on the slide, especially if they can't find more regular avenues to goal aside from Buddy.
WEST COAST - 11.30
WE SAY: The Eagles proved the doubters wrong in 2018 to win the premiership and don't look like dropping off anytime soon. Keep in mind their No.1 ruckman Nic Naitanui and their best midfielder Andrew Gaff missed the finals campaign. West Coast's spine is as strong as any and their list profile right in the premiership window once again.
WESTERN BULLDOGS - 7 o'clock
WE SAY: Young side with plenty of upside which showed in 2016 it is capable and can come from nowhere to win a flag. However, goalkicking power remains a key weakness. Can Tom Boyd and Josh Schache step up?