Finishing on top of the table is only half the battle in the A-League.

What follows is an exciting and at times cruel finals series which has often brought the best out of the league.

Eight of the 13 Championships have been won by the Premiers of that season – with the league leaders having only missed the Grand Final twice.

Yes, sometimes the best team does not always win and with this being said – here are some of the best sides to not lift the trophy on Grand Final night.

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Sydney FC 2017/18

One still fresh in the mind for Sydney FC supporters.

The Sky Blues finished 14 points clear on top of the table and were favoured to claim their second successive Championship.

But the Sky Blues – despite being regarded as one the greatest A-League teams ever – were defeated in a thrilling semi-final against Melbourne Victory.

This was ultimately Graham Arnold’s final match as Sydney FC head coach where he had players like record goal-scoring machine Bobo and Johnny Warren medallists Adrian Mierzejewski and Milos Ninkovic at his disposal.

Victory – who finished 27 points behind their rivals in fourth – would go on to claim their fourth Championship and stun the Australian football scene.

Adelaide United 2005/06

After finishing seven points clear on top of the table in the league’s inaugural season – the Reds failed to even advance to the Grand Final.

Adelaide would be the only side to win the Premiers plate and not advance to the Grand Final until Sydney FC in 2017/18.

The Reds went out in the finals series to an early Tom Pondeljak goal for the Central Coast Mariners at Hindmarsh Stadium – denying the Reds of the chance to be crowned the inaugural Champions.

Luck would continue to evade the Reds who would go on to lose two Grand Finals and an Asian Champions League final before lifting their first piece of silverware.

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Western Sydney Wanderers 2012/13

The new kids on the block soon became the league’s newest premiers – finishing on top of the table in their inaugural season and creating plenty of noise.

With former Socceroo Tony Popovic at the helm the Wanderers lifted the Premiers plate after a convincing home win which had fans dreaming of the ultimate prize.

The Wanderers would advance to the Grand Final after defeating the Brisbane Roar in a packed home semi-final, but in their way of completing a first season double were the perennial bridesmaids – the Central Coast Mariners.

Known for falling short in the big dance – the Mariners made no such mistake this time around and spoiled this Wanderers party to lift their first Championship.

Central Coast Mariners 2007/08

As controversial as the 2008 A-League Grand Final was – for the Mariners it was the one which got away.

After finishing the 2007/08 on top of the table the Mariners qualified for their third Grand Final in two years.

While Mariners fans would blame the referee for preventing the match from going into  extra-time – the result hurt for the home side who had won the Premiers plate and had been the best team all season.

 

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Melbourne City 2015/16

Forever the league’s underachievers – the closest Melbourne City came to winning a league silverware came in season 2015/16.

Sitting on top of the table at Round 25 – City would lose their last two matches to drop down to fourth – five points shy of first.

This side boasted stars like Aaron Mooy, Bruno Fornaroli and Thomas Sorensen but only made it as far as the semi-finals where they were dismantled by the eventual Champions Adelaide United.

City would go on to win the FFA Cup two seasons later but league silverware alludes them still.

Newcastle Jets 2017/18 

Sydney FC’s elimination in the finals series blew the door open for the Newcastle Jets who had come from no hopers – the season before – to contenders.

In what was one the most anticipated Grand Finals in recent history, the match was sold out within hours with the Jets only needing to lift the trophy to complete the fairy tale.

Though one Melbourne Victory goal and VAR malfunction later and it was the visitors who were lifting the Championship in front of their passionate travelling fans.

The Jets dominated the match and should have scored on multiple occasions but were denied by one Lawrence Thomas – who finished the match looking more like a mummy than a goalkeeper.

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Athos Sirianos
athos@footballnationradio.com.au

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