Secondary teams, secondary leagues
The year is 2005. I’m in Port Melbourne, at the local oval to be precise. For most South Australians, a football trip to Melbourne would involve watching two AFL teams at the MCG or Docklands. Not for me.
Instead, I travelled to watch the state game between the SANFL and VFL. At this point I hadn’t realised just how much AFL reserve teams detract from the quality of a football league.
The year is now 2012. Over the past year, the issues dividing the SANFL community and the AFL community of South Australia have on a multitude of occasions reared their heads. In 2005 I had the belief that the VFL was of similar quality to that of the SANFL because SA only won by a point. I no longer believe this to be true.
Last year, I again travelled to Victoria, except this time I watched a regular, non-representative game of VFL football between two teams who I expected to be among the best in the league. To be perfectly honest, I was disappointed by the game.
The skills weren’t as good as that of the VFL representative team in 2005 – not that I was expecting them to be as high quality. I did expect them to be better than they were. So many AFL teams and VFL teams are aligned now, which gave me the belief that the positions of these teams’ parent clubs in the AFL showed in the players made available to the VFL teams.
Last year, the eventual premiers of the VFL were Port Melbourne, an unaligned team who could match it with some teams of the SANFL. This perhaps means that if all teams had remained unaligned the league would be stronger than it is today.
I thought about how the SANFL could suffer with the introduction of reserves (aligned) teams into the league. While we would only have two of these teams in the SANFL (one being the Port Magpies), the amount of competition provided by them would be minimal at best.
The proposals which have been reported have included every Crows or Power player playing for a Crows or Power reserve side in the SANFL. This is not dissimilar to the VFL at the moment, except on a smaller scale with only two teams.
In Victoria, younger players reach the AFL through the TAC (Under 18s) Cup and in many cases have no real affinity to a VFL club. This is not the same in South Australia. Take Hamish Hartlett, born in South Australia and played with West Adelaide from a junior level. It is unlikely that he would want to leave his club as an affinity would be felt.
The same applies to Daniel Stewart, who came from Queensland to North Adelaide and then was drafted as a rookie by the Port Adelaide Power – even he would feel a certain attachment to North and wouldn’t want to leave to play for the Port Magpies.
No matter how I look at all of the arguments, Crows and Power reserves in the SANFL would only detract from the quality of the league.
Personally, I want the league to remain with the same quality as it has currently and not relegated to memory like the VFL now is. It is for reasons such as largely one-sided games that the SANFL must not introduce reserves teams.