The Most Successful AFL Clubs

graph of the historically most successful afl clubs in australian rules football, over time

Is Carlton, Essendon, or the Collingwood the most successful AFL club of all-time? A rubric was developed to determine which team has been the most historically successful. The points rubric awards progressively more points the further a team went in the finals series. The results suggest that Collingwood is clearly the most successful in Australian rules football.


16 pts. – Premiership Winner
8 pts. – Reached Grand Final
4 pts. – Reached Semi-Final (before 1994) / Preliminary Final (after 1994)
2 pts. – Reached Elimination Final (before 1994) / Semi-Final (after 1994)
1 pts. – Reached Elimination Final (after 1994)


1. Collingwood – 609 pts.

The Magpies are one of the oldest and most successful AFL clubs, having won 15 premierships in their history. They have also finished a record 28 times as runners-up, making them the team with the most Grand Final appearances. Expect for the 1990’s, the club has found relatively consistent success throughout the decades. As a result, Collingwood has a large and passionate supporter base, and their home games are always well attended.

2. Carlton – 504 pts.

Carlton Football Club have won 16 premierships, tied with Essendon for the most in league history. The team’s glory years were in the 1970s and 1980s, when they won six premierships. Some of the game’s greatest players, including John Nicholls, Stephen Kernahan and Chris Judd, have played for Carlton. However, since the year 2000, the club has hit a rough patch, failing to even make the finals series in most years.

3. Essendon – 471 pts.

The Bombers are tied for the most premierships in AFL history, with 16. The team has also went to the Grand Finals 14 times, the second most in the league. Essendon was especially good in the 1910’s and 1940’s. The club won 3 premierships in each of these decades. However, like Carlton, Essendon was struggled recently. The team has not even made it past the Elimination Finals since 2007, after long-time coach Kevin Sheedy’s contract was not renewed.

4. Geelong – 396 pts.

Following the top three AFL clubs, Collingwood, Carlton, and Essendon, there is a significant drop in historical success. Geelong Football Club is the next in line, having won 9 premierships in their history. Unlike Essendon and Carlton, the Cats have had a lot of success recently. The team won the Grand Final in 2022. They have also been premiers on 3 other occasions since 2000. Some of the game’s greatest players, including Gary Ablett Jr and Patrick Dangerfield have been part of Geelong’s team.

5. Richmond – 376 pts.

Yet another team on this list from Victoria Province is Richmond Football Club. It is one of the most successful AFL clubs in the last decade, having won 3 premierships since 2017 and 13 in total. The Tiger’s recent success has been driven by their strong team culture and the leadership of coach Damien Hardwick. However, the club has endured long patches of futility over the years as well. The 1950’s and 1990’s were particularly poor.

graph of the historically most successful afl clubs in australian rules foorball

Source: AFL Tables

For the full table of all AFL / VFL clubs ranked and a breakdown of success decade by decade please see:

Historic Ranking Table of All AFL / VFL Clubs

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