It’s a new seasons and many, many fans are wanting something special from their AFL club in 2024.
Some of the New Years resolutions made in late December will be fulfilled by their clubs. But for many, the optimism will unfortunately fade, as the season unfolds.
For supporters of clubs like GWS and Carlton, most of their wishes came true in 2023, making unlikely charges all the way to Preliminary Finals week, after missing the finals the year before.
Obviously, no supporter base was more ecstatic with last season than Collingwood’s — they hoisted the premiership cup. And while they’re favoured to defend their title, the Pies are no lock to do so.
Plenty of fans will have their AFL New Years resolutions centred around doing what only Collingwood did in 2023, but that isn’t realistic for all 18 sides.
So we’ve gone through all 18 AFL teams and identified something achievable for 2024; improving certain areas of their game, pushing for finals or, perhaps, chasing that elusive flag. So let’s dive in.
Every AFL club’s New Years Resolution for 2024
Here’s what we think every AFL teams New Years resolutions will be in 2024 in a realistic way, trying to avoid exactly what every team wants – a premiership – because that’s not realistic for a majority of the league.
Make the push for finals
It’s one of the great understatements in the AFL to say the Crows were stiff to not make the finals in 2023, after being robbed of a win against Sydney by the goal umpire late in the season — but unfortunately for Adelaide fans, you’ve got to put that one behind you.
The Crows have built a great young roster, with experience sprinkled throughout, and now seem primed for their first finals berth since they’re heartbreaking Grand Final loss to Richmond way back in 2017.
In addition to ending their growing finals drought, Adelaide need to find their key forward replacement for Tex Walker — the 33-year-old has only signed a one-year extension for this season.
Just one more win!
It’s fair to say that most Lions supporters are hoping 2024 will be categorised as a redemption – or revenge – season, after falling short of their first premiership in two decades.
Their side has stayed practically the same, with reigning Brownlow Medalist Lachie Neale again expected to have an incredible year that will hopefully take Brisbane over the top in the post-season.
Brisbane’s known for their outrageously good midfield and attacking options, but the new addition of Adelaide’s Tom Doedee to their backline could be that missing piece.
Find some consistency
2023 was a huge step in the right direction for the Carlton Football Club, breaking a decade-long finals drought, appearing in a prelim and having their incredible core group of players finally string together some elite performances.
But what is preventing them from having premiership success is their lack of consistency, both throughout periods of the year and also throughout four quarters of a game.
After a red hot start to 2023, where Carlton were 3 wins and a draw through four games, they slumped to four wins and eight losses, before winning nine straight after that.
So Carlton fans will no doubt have finding consistency at the top of their New Years resolutions in 2024.
Just do the same thing
What more can you wish for Collingwood fans besides wanting your team to do exactly what they did last season, again?!
The Pies have lost some role players such as Jack Ginnivan and Taylor Adams during the trade period but have added one of the league’s best small forwards in Lachie Schultz to an already stacked forward line.
One thing they will have against them in 2024 is being everyone’s top the target as when you’re trying to go back-to-back it tends to bring out the best in your opposition every game, as they try to prevent you from doing so.
Put together a complete season
Brad Scott’s first year at ‘The Hangar’ took Essendon up four spots on the ladder from their previous season, and have made improvements to their roster during the off-season that could see them make a return to the postseason.
During free agency the Bombers added Ben McKay, Jade Gresham, Todd Goldstein and Xavier Duursma which brings some much needed depth to the club.
But their main problem – and what will be at the top of their New Years resolutions list – is putting together a complete season, meaning, stop fading out as the season progresses.
After a strong start in 2023 which had Essendon in the top four after six rounds, they began to fade out, treading water until it was no longer possible for them to reach the finals. If they are to become a finals contending side, then this constant lack of consistency needs to end.
Find some stability
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to have stability in professional sports with social media’s impact on teams, the growing control that players have on where they play and the amount of young talent coming through that continual makes struggling teams improve.
For Fremantle, their lack of stability over the past few years has made it hard for them to truly become premiership contenders. This off-season has been no different with unwanted player movement with Liam Henry, Lachie Schultz and Joel Hamling all leaving the club despite Fremantle wanting them to stay.
And with head coach Justin Longmuir entering the season off-contract for 2025, the club needs success (i.e. making the finals) to avoid more unwanted disruption such as needing to bring in a new coach.
Start looking towards a future without Hawkins and Dangerfield
2023 was the first time in a long time that people in the AFL community started questioning where this Geelong team is going moving forward — crazy considering they entered the season as reigning premiers but it was a failed season in essence, missing the finals.
Their core group of players are ageing – some already retired – with Tom Hawkins and Patrick Dangerfield only having one, maybe two years at best left in them.
Geelong’s number one priority for 2024 should be identifying the future nucleus of the side, and making sure they locked in long-term to maintain the clubs exceptional standards.
Gold Coast Suns
End the finals drought now!
With the appointment of three-time premiership winning coach Damien Hardwick, the question surrounding whether the Suns are ever going to end their growing finals drought has become a matter of when they will do it now.
Hardwick’s experience in the modern game is undeniable, and with the group of players currently on the Gold Coast roster – of which the former Tigers coach believes holds 80% of the club’s first premiership winning side – they are finally poised to break the length finals drought.
All that is required is for the players to buy in to whatever Hardwick needs them to do, because he’s bring premiership winning knowledge and without that, they could easily just remain a team that continues to fall at the final hurdle.
Build upon last season
Who could have envisioned the Giants not only making the finals, but playing in a prelim final?
It’s hard to wish for anything more besides going one game further and playing for a premiership on the last Saturday in September, but getting a higher positioning on the ladder come finals time is crucial.
GWS finished 7th after 24 rounds last season, meaning they played their entire finals campaign away from home. In the postseason, it can not be more critical to have home ground advantage and that may have played a part in falling to Collingwood by a point in the preliminary final.
What GWS fans will be wishing for in 2024 is a better start to the year, losing three of their first five games, and finding more consistency and belief that they can do it against the best.
Continue developing young core
Hawthorn hosts an incredibly exciting young roster that under the tutelage of head coach and club great Sam Mitchell, could be turned into anything.
Although 2023 wasn’t a year full of wins, Hawks fans need to remain patient as their young stars continue to develop. It also helps when you can trade for more talent such as Jack Ginnivan, now a premiership winning player.
Health as always for young side like Hawthorn’s is essential, with the duo of captain James Sicily and forward Mitch Lewis only able to play 11 games together all season, winning six of them.
Remember how to win finals
They’ll be playing football into September once again this season, but what needs to change is finding a win in the postseason.
Since winning the premiership in 2021, Melbourne haven’t won a finals game despite playing four of them since. Their lack of consistency is appalling considering the stacked roster they have.
One thing that could be affecting them off the field are the Clayton Oliver-related distractions that caused the club to force him to choose between conforming to their standards or walking away.
Luckily for Melbourne, he chose to stick around and hopefully that will be the secret ingredient to another premiership run in 2024.
Stop being so terrible
2019 was the last time North Melbourne finished a season outside of them bottom two, and Roos fans’ New Years Resolutions will simply be to end this half-decade of pain.
It would be a miracle if North Melbourne were contending for finals in 2024, but last season saw the team take some steps in the right direction, identifying some great young talent in Rising Star winner Harry Sheezel and gun tall forward Nick Larkey who could be core players going forward.
With so many rookies being carried the season, they once again look too young and too inexperienced to push for finals in 2024, but as long as there are some improvements things should be fine long-term.
Turn Rozee-Butters combo into the best in the league
Port Adelaide fans will be wishing this New Years that Conor Rozee and Zak Butters continue on the path they’re on to become the most feared midfield combo in the AFL.
But in order to do so, they ned to prove they can dominate teams when it’s needed most — the postseason.
It’s that simple for Port.
Find identity going forward
2023 saw the changing of the guard at Tigerland with Damien Hardwick, Jack Riewoldt and Trent Cotchin all moving on from the club — but the question remains as to what’s next?
With very little movement during the trade period and no early draft selections, not much has changed surrounding a team that only managed 10 wins.
The one thing all Tiges fans are hoping for in with their New Years Resolutions is for a clear identity of the club moving forward and finding a way to rejuvenate their squad, similar to how GWS and Collingwood have done.
Learn to finish seasons stronger
Ross Lyon’s return to St Kilda could definitely be categorised as a successful move for the club as Lyon helped the Saints return to the postseason for the second time since 2011.
After a season spent build structures and systems to bring St Kilda back to premiership contention, 2024 looms as a season where the club can learn to finish the year stronger.
St Kilda fans will wishing that in 2024 they’re not teased by a strong start and middle of the season before being let down as September approaches.
Capitalise on their strong roster
The ever consistent Sydney have got to find a way to secure a premiership in the next few season before club greats such as Luke Parker, Jake Lloyd and Dane Rampe decide to retire.
The Swans know how to make the postseason but on the biggest stage – a Grand Final or elimination game – they go begging.
Their young core, if kept together, will be a formidable team long-term but they still need to find exactly who is going to be their star key forward to replace Buddy Franklin who had a knack for changing the momentum in games.
West Coast Eagles
Nurture Harley Reid
Do whatever you can. Wait on hand and foot if you have to. But the most important thing for West Coast is to just make sure Harley Reid wants to be at the Eagles.
After Reid initially hinted at wanting to stay in Victoria, the Eagles still drafted him and need to make sure it’s as smooth a transition as possible for Reid otherwise they run the risk of having a ‘Jason Horne-Francis situation’.
Find more help around Bontempelli
Losing one of their most electric players in Bailey Smith to start the pre-season wasn’t ideal, but the Western Bulldogs have too strong of a roster to be as inconsistent as they are and need to find a way without him.
After sitting 5th on the ladder after Round 19 in 2023, the Dogs lost three of their last five games to end up missing the finals — including losses to GWS, bottom three side Hawthorn and last placed West Coast.
Marcus Bontempelli needs more consistent help around him to stop the outcome of games being so heavily reliant on how good of a performance he had.