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Pre game preparation on the rush to flush this AFL grand final day

Melbourne Water will deliver one of the most highly anticipated AFL Grand Final statistics after the big game between Geelong and Sydney on Saturday – the flush factor.  

The ‘flush factor’ is the percentage increase in water use from mass toilet flushings. Historically, unusual patterns and peaks emerge on grand final day at the end of each quarter of the game (see table below). Interestingly, the data even shows the closer the game, the more willing fans are prepared to hold off or hold on until there’s a break in the play.   

Melbourne Water Water Operations Centre Lead, David White, said the excitement is building for the first AFL grand final in Melbourne for two years, but he is even more eager to see whether Sydney can beat its previous flush factor record.  

“Sydney is already in the top spot in the flush factor tally by a long way for the emotion packed thriller against the Western Bulldogs in 2016,” Mr White said.  

“Bulldogs fans had waited a long time for a shot at glory and managed to secure their first premiership cup win since 1954. The flush factor was a unique measurement of the drama that unfolded at the MCG, with a 101% change in flow levels at the end of the match compared to a normal Saturday afternoon.”  

graph of flushing on grand final day

Melbourne Water has been monitoring the flush factor since 2008. It shows peaks at the end of each quarter, but some games simply don’t generate as much buzz. Richmond’s 89 point thrashing of Greater Western Sydney in 2019 sits on the bottom of the table. 

“This result demonstrated footy fans didn’t mind missing a few minutes of the action when it’s not a close game,” Mr White said.  

“As for Saturday’s clash, as any coach will tell you, anything can happen on the day.” 

Grand Final rankings from 2008 -2021 based on Flush Factor 

Rank 

Teams 

Year 

Flush Factor (% Change in Flow) 

Western Bulldogs def Sydney 

2016 

101 

Collingwood St Kilda Draw 

2010 

50.8 

Sydney def Hawthorn 

2012 

38.8 

West Coast def Collingwood 

2018 

36 

Geelong def St Kilda 

2009 

35 

Hawthorn def Geelong  

2008 

30 

Hawthorn def Fremantle 

2013 

29 

Richmond def Adelaide 

2017 

29 

Geelong def Collingwood 

2011 

28.4 

10 

Melbourne def Western Bulldogs  

2021 

27.9 

11 

Richmond def Geelong 

2020 

25.5 

12 

Collingwood def St Kilda 

2010 

17.7 

13 

Hawthorn def West Coast Eagles 

2015 

16.4 

14 

Hawthorn def Sydney 

2014 

15.9 

15 

Richmond def GWS 

2019 

13 

  

 

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