Dons, Lions in AFL wooden spoon duel

In 2002, Carlton won their first wooden spoon in 105 years of VFL/AFL footy.

In 1999, Collingwood claimed just the second in their illustrious history.

And this year, it could be a fate that befalls Essendon for the first time since 1933.

Sunday’s clash between Essendon and Brisbane shapes as the 2016 wooden spoon decider.

The Bombers and Lions have been far and away the worst sides this season.

Each has a sole win in 16 matches.

Essendon’s triumph came in round two against Melbourne while Brisbane’s four points were earned against Gold Coast two weeks later.

While the Bombers’ form has improved to passable, the Lions are plumbing new lows.

Both are on club-record losing streaks.

But if an Essendon side missing 12 key players due to season-long doping bans have circled this fixture as one to get up for, they aren’t saying so.

Young forward Joe Daniher said the spoon wasn’t “at the forefront” of Essendon minds.

“We’re trying to build a brand of footy that’s going to hold up for a long period of time,” he told reporters on Monday.

“Not just the remainder of this year or next.

“We want something that’s going to be sustained. It’s really important that we start building that now and I think we’re on the right path in doing so.”

The problem for the Dons is that very rarely do bottom sides successfully make the jump to winning flags.

The AFL rewards the worst team in the competition with the No.1 draft pick but a look at the history books shows the importance of avoiding last place.

Only one side in the last 40 years has turned last place into a premiership within a decade of bottoming out.

That was Brisbane in 1998, a season when the Lions still managed five wins and a draw – the best return of a last-placed side over that same 40-year stretch.

If there’s good news for Essendon it could come from the Brisbane camp.

Key defender Daniel McStay has been ruled out for the season with a broken ankle, Stefan Martin could be laid out with a rib complaint and coach Justin Leppitsch talked of a “painful” pathway ahead for Lions fans.

The second-year coach suggested the competition was rigged against his side after a disheartening defeat to GWS Giants.

“They were just too good,” he said.

“The Giants had the benefit of a lot of really high talented first-round picks and an extended salary cap.

“We’re not afforded those luxuries.

“Everyone knows about our debt issues. No one counts the debt that the two new clubs put into the competition but we’re reminded of (ours) every day.”

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