The McClelland Trophy is an Australian rules football trophy, which has been awarded each year since 1991 by the Australian Football League (AFL) to the team finishing first on the ladder after the completion of the home-and-away season, before the finals are played. Between 1950 and 1990 it was awarded to the club that performed the best across the three levels of competition; seniors, reserves and under 19s.
Prior to 1991, the trophy was presented to the team with the best overall home-and-away record across the three levels of VFL/AFL play: seniors, reserves and under 19s. Seniors wins were worth ten points, reserves were worth four, and under 19s were worth two (with the values halved for drawn games).
From 1991 the criteria for winning the McClelland Trophy was changed to its current status, being awarded to the team finishing on top of the AFL ladder at the end of the home-and-away season. At the end of 1991, the Under 19s level of the league was replaced with a separate junior competition now known as the TAC Cup, while the AFL Reserves competition was scrapped at the end of 1999 in favour of an alignment with the Victorian Football League and other state leagues.
The award is relatively low key, with no prize money: although finishing on top of the ladder ensures a slightly advantageous draw in the AFL finals series, the main goal of all teams is to win the AFL Premiership, by winning the grand final.
Unofficially and colloquially, winners of the McClelland trophy are also given the title "minor premiers".
|Team||All grades (1951–1990)||Top of Ladder (1991–present)||Total||Most Recent Win|
|Greater Western Sydney||N/A||0||0|
- Richmond won the trophy four times in a row from 1972 until 1975, the most consecutive of any team.
- Collingwood (1964–1966), Hawthorn (1984–1986, inc 1985 tied), Essendon (1999–2001) and Port Adelaide (2002–2004) each won it three times in a row.
- Thirteen of the 41 McClelland Trophy winners between 1951 and 1990 went on to win the premiership in the same year.
- McClelland Trophy winners have missed the grand final seven times since 1991: Essendon (1999), Port Adelaide (2002, 2003), Adelaide (2005), Fremantle (2015), Richmond (2018) and Geelong (2019).
- "McClelland Trophy! A New Look". Football Record (30/31 March/1 April 1991): 3.
- Lovett, Michael, ed. (2005). AFL Record: Guide to season 2005. Melbourne: AFL Publishing. p. 738. ISBN 0-9580300-6-5.
- "Peter Pianto wins Trophy". The Age. 23 July 1957. p. 16. Retrieved 15 November 2009.
- Stevens, Mark (18 July 2007). "Cats should be rewarded". Herald Sun. Retrieved 15 November 2009.
- Wilson, Caroline (13 November 2009). "Saints struggle for profit despite successful season". The Age. Retrieved 15 November 2009.
- Wilson, Caroline (24 August 2003). "Only one trophy good enough for Port". The Age. Retrieved 15 November 2009.
- Ralph, Jon. "Long break no-go for minor premiers, says AFL". Herald Sun.