You call that a Wildcard? This is a Wildcard

Ben Pobjie Columnist

By Ben Pobjie, Ben Pobjie is a Roar Expert

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    A wildcard weekend in the AFL? Sure, why not? It’s a great idea!

    After all, the season is already set up so that after playing 22 rounds, the team with the eighth-best performance is given a chance at the premiership – why not extend that to the tenth-best?

    Nothing could enrich the competition more than allowing teams that aren’t even in the top half of the ladder contend for the flag.

    Unless that is, it’s the idea that the wildcard round could feature the eighteen teams split into three pools, with the winner of the bottom pool given a chance at a wildcard finals entry.

    That would mean you could get the thirteenth-best team playing in the finals, and I don’t think any true footy-lover could begrudge that finals spot to a team that has toiled hard all year to finish a whole five places above the wooden spooners.

    The great thing about all these proposals for fixture revamps is that they achieve such a wonderful balance between absolute scrupulous fairness, and responsiveness to the huge groundswell of support for fixture alterations.

    The AFL does, after all, have a responsibility to its fans, and if those fans keep marching in the streets demanding the finals system be drastically changed, what other option do they have?

    Gillon McLachlan press club speech

    (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

    My only worry is that maybe the AFL is being too conservative in its ideas for spicing up the season. Surely Gillon MacLachlan is willing to think outside the box and consider some more innovative proposals. Such as:

    The Reverse Finals
    Finals are too predictable when they feature the best versus the best. In this formula, the team at the bottom of the ladder at the end of the home and away season is given an automatic berth in the grand final, while the team that finishes first is expelled from the competition permanently. It gives an added frisson to traditional end-of-season tanking efforts.

    The Endless Finals
    It’s pretty obvious that the finals are the most exciting time of year for fans, so why restrict them to one month a year?

    In this system, the home and away standings are determined by coin toss, then we play elimination finals for two months, preliminary finals for two months, and then five whole months of the grand final played every weekend.

    The Susquehanna Crosshatch Sideslip
    Under this system, at the end of the home and away season, all teams are sorted into nine pools based on a weighted average of their scoring percentage combined with goalkicking accuracy.

    These pools then play each other, then the winners play the losers of every other pool and the losers play the winners. In the event of a tie, the tying teams have a bye which must be spent in Arizona.

    After these rounds, the team on top of the standings is given a spot in the grand final if they want it, but they have to play with only seventeen players.

    Or they can choose “what’s in the box”, which could be a preliminary final against the wooden spooners, or a drugs scandal.

    Teams 2-7 play off to decide who has the best seats in the grand final replay, which occurs one week after the grand final, whatever the result.

    Teams 8-11 are designated “jokers”, and may run on to the field at any time during the grand final as a general disruption.

    Teams 12-18 must swap their biggest and smallest players for each other and then play an entire full-length season amongst themselves.

    Meanwhile, the minor premier and the team that finished fourth play the grand final except in a leap year, which means it’s team 2 versus team 6.

    Any set shot that hits the post in a grand final wins a car. The premier is whichever team raises the most money for charity.

    The Violent Finals
    The finals are played as usual, but there are no restrictions on foul play and you get three points for drawing blood.

    Super-Season
    In order that the inequities of the home and away season are removed, every team now plays every other team three times, making the home and away season fifty-one weeks long. The players still standing then form two teams and have a kick around at a local park on the other weekend.

    Super-Season Mk II
    In order that the inequities of the home and away season are intensified, Collingwood, Carlton, Essendon and Richmond rotate through each other every week, West Coast and Fremantle play every game in Launceston, Brisbane isn’t told where it’s playing till 11am on the morning of the game, and Hawthorn gets to take any Bulldogs player it feels like for free.

    At the end of the season is the grand final pre-game entertainment, after which everyone goes home.

    The Finals-Tacular Entertainment Extravangazathon
    Under this system, the finals format stays the same, but every finals match is three times as long, to triple the entertainment for fans. The grand final takes place over three days, with the middle day consisting of the national draft being conducted in the middle of the MCG.

    Now that would be finals footy!

    Ben Pobjie
    Ben Pobjie

    Ben Pobjie is a writer & comedian writing on The Age, New Matilda and The Roar, whose promising rugby career was tragically cut short the day he stopped playing rugby and had a pizza instead. The most he has ever cried was the day Balmain lost the 1989 grand final. Today he enjoys watching Wallabies, Swans, baggy greens, and Storms.

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    The Crowd Says (34)

    • Roar Guru

      May 19th 2017 @ 8:26am
      Wayne said | May 19th 2017 @ 8:26am | ! Report

      Keep the current top 8 system. But every final is a best of 7 series (like NBA/NHL) played within the space of 2 weeks. That will keep broadcasters happy. Imagine Bulldogs v GWS Game 7

      • May 19th 2017 @ 11:30am
        Pauly said | May 19th 2017 @ 11:30am | ! Report

        Would make players, coaches and fans fatigued. You can have too much of a good thing.

        Furthermore, having a best of 7 (or 5 or even 3) series is as much a part of the sporting culture here as promotion and relegation. Not sure fans would get behind it, especially if fixtures were held midweek. Works well for basketball abd ice hockey because those venues can only hold so many and works for baseball as it’s not that strenuous on the body.

        • May 19th 2017 @ 12:35pm
          Alchemist said | May 19th 2017 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

          I think you missed the point, Pauly.

      • May 19th 2017 @ 5:19pm
        Ben said | May 19th 2017 @ 5:19pm | ! Report

        I believe the AFL are also looking at a system where the 2 grand final teams can choose 2 players from any eliminated team to draft into their team, except if there is no-one they want they can take them from the opposing team.

    • May 19th 2017 @ 8:35am
      I ate pies said | May 19th 2017 @ 8:35am | ! Report

      This is obviously facetious, but I bet someone from the AFL is jotting down some of these ideas this morning.

    • Editor

      May 19th 2017 @ 8:54am
      Josh Elliott said | May 19th 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report

      That’s not a wildcard, it’s a spoon…

    • May 19th 2017 @ 10:05am
      Milo said | May 19th 2017 @ 10:05am | ! Report

      Nice work but oh god… Im over wildcards already…

      Agree with Rohan Connolly last night on Marngrook when he basically lost it and gave it to the AFL for making up this BS. FFS WTF Gill?

    • Roar Guru

      May 19th 2017 @ 10:09am
      TomC said | May 19th 2017 @ 10:09am | ! Report

      The solution is to adopt the Argentinian system of Apertura and Clausura (opening and closing) dividing the season into two championships, each of which can have its own set of finals.

      Twice as many finals. Twice as much grand final entertainment. Twice as many feel good stories of a battling Victorian club conquering all the odds.

      • May 19th 2017 @ 10:14am
        Milo said | May 19th 2017 @ 10:14am | ! Report

        No, way too unfair on us Vic sides. We need to split the teams into nine groups of two. That way at least one Vic side will win a GF.

        • Roar Guru

          May 19th 2017 @ 11:28am
          TomC said | May 19th 2017 @ 11:28am | ! Report

          Hm. That’s a good point.

          Also if you grouped all the non-Melbourne teams into a conference of nine, and then allowed a final eight plus wildcards, my Lions might be a chance at a wildcard spot.

          • May 19th 2017 @ 1:02pm
            Bee bee said | May 19th 2017 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

            No. Still no chance.

          • May 21st 2017 @ 6:23pm
            Steve009 said | May 21st 2017 @ 6:23pm | ! Report

            2 conferences: a conference comprising of all the Victorian teams, we could call it the VFL, the other conference would comprise of the non Victorian clubs called the AFL.

            Each conference would play separate of each other for their regular seasons, with each team playing a home and away game against the other teams in their conference. This would increase Blockbusters and remove the nuisance of travel all together for Victorian teams.

            Seperate top 4 finals for each conference with the winner of each conference coming together to play in the world championship game to be held at the neutral new home of football, Shanghai. Victorian’s with grand final tickets would be awarded free flights and accommodation.

            If however the Victorian team does lose in the world championship game, the game would then be replayed at the MCG a week later.

    • Roar Rookie

      May 19th 2017 @ 10:10am
      josh said | May 19th 2017 @ 10:10am | ! Report

      Keep the top 8 as it is, but make the finals automatic knockout. In that if you ever lose a finals game, you can no longer play in the finals ever again. That way only the true best team will emerge.

      This way it also gives teams outside of the top 8 a real chance to qualify.

      • May 19th 2017 @ 11:34am
        Pauly said | May 19th 2017 @ 11:34am | ! Report

        And thereby removing any reward for consistency during the season.

        • Roar Rookie

          May 19th 2017 @ 12:22pm
          josh said | May 19th 2017 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

          Finals aren’t about consistency in the regular season. The y are about winning. If you win, you continue.

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