All AFL clubs should make at least five interstate trips

Ben Somerford Roar Guru

74 Have your say

    Darren Jolly of Collingwood celebrates a goal during the 2010 Toyota AFL Grand Final replay between the Collingwood Magpies and the St Kilda Saints at the MCG, Melbourne. Slattery Images

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    Every year we hear the same gripes about Collingwood not travelling enough when the AFL fixture is announced. Well, with the 2012 AFL regular season draw to be revealed on Friday morning, there’s already some of the familiar grumblings.

    The AFL has deliberately leaked parts of their draw for 2012 ahead of the official announcement, including news that the Pies won’t be required to make the long trip to Perth at all during next year’s regular season.

    However, what has been overlooked in all this is that Collingwood will actually make five inter-state trips next year.

    Indeed, as the AFL becomes more of a national competition with the introduction of Gold Coast and GWS, clubs will need to get used to travelling interstate. As a West Australian, it’s a topic which has long been close to me (pardon the pun).

    The fact that West Coast and Fremantle have had to make 10 interstate trips per season in comparison to some clubs who’ve previously only made three, has often seemed incredibly unfair. Ex-Dockers coach Mark Harvey was one who voiced his dissatisfaction with the situation in the past, although his grievances were mostly ignored as there’s no simple solution to the discrepancy.

    While the AFL say publicly their number one aim with the fixture is ‘fairness’, they unashamedly admit that ‘maximising crowds’ plays a huge influence and as a result the AFL will always want to schedule the big-drawing Victorian clubs predominantly in Melbourne.

    The likes of Collingwood, Carlton or Essendon will never be sent to trial games in Darwin, Tasmania, Canberra or Cairns for this very reason, hence the majority of their fixtures will be in their home state. In 2011, the Pies and Blues made only four interstate trips (Collingwood’s first in Round 14), while the Bombers made five.

    However, there is a strong argument that for the AFL’s fixture to actually meet the supposed top criteria of ‘fairness’, then all clubs should be required to have five interstate trips per season. That would be a non-negotiable.

    And with 10 non-Victorian clubs in the AFL in 2012, that makes a lot of sense.

    Of course, there’s sure to be several other talking points of the 2012 AFL draw, including who faces expected easybeats GWS and Gold Coast twice, thrice or even four times.

    According to those who’ve been privy to a glance at the fixtures, Adelaide are the lucky side who get four cracks at the newboys, which should result in 16 points.

    On the topic of GWS, there’s also the discussion about the AFL’s newest franchise opening the 2012 season with a stand-alone fixture – up against the NRL’s opening round – where they would face city rivals Sydney Swans.

    I’ve previously stated I don’t think the idea is a sound one, but all will be revealed when the AFL makes public the draw on Friday.

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    The Crowd Says (74)

    • October 27th 2011 @ 8:18am
      Lucan said | October 27th 2011 @ 8:18am | ! Report

      The AFL have advised that all Victorian clubs will travel a minimum of 5, and maximum of 8 times. Collingwood travelling 5 times is still the bare minimum.

      Another “travel” aspect that needs to be addressed are the Tasmanian games. It is massively unfair when the WA teams only get a handful of games away to Melbourne sides, that these matches are actually played even further away.

      Like the “minimum/maximum” travel claim from th AFL, I’d like to see them introduce a minimum number of MCG games for each club. 5 of 22, would be a fair minimum, IMO. Afterall, this venue is the jewel in the AFL crown, and the home of Finals football. All clubs should get a decent crack during the home & away season.

      • Roar Guru

        October 27th 2011 @ 10:27am
        The Cattery said | October 27th 2011 @ 10:27am | ! Report

        I agree with the view that it is unfair to expect WA teams to get to Tassie when they are travelling so much during the year.

      • October 27th 2011 @ 7:20pm
        Timmuh said | October 27th 2011 @ 7:20pm | ! Report

        When the AFL live up to their promise and charter a flight to Tasmania (never seems to happen for Freo) the extra time in the plane is minimal; almost made up for with less time on the bus once on the ground. Not ensuring direct flights are available to any game is a complete dereliction of duty on behalf of the AFL. Its not like the league is at immediate risk of running at a loss.

    • October 27th 2011 @ 8:55am
      TomC said | October 27th 2011 @ 8:55am | ! Report

      I agree with the principles of this article, but there’s a couple of things that need clarifying.

      ‘The likes of Collingwood, Carlton or Essendon will never be sent to trial games in Darwin, Tasmania, Canberra or Cairns for this very reason, hence the majority of their fixtures will be in their home state.’

      In almost all instances, the games in those venues are played between Melbourne teams who sold hold games to them and other interstate teams. Very rarely is a game between two Melbourne teams played outside Melbourne. Never (so far as I’m aware) are teams forced by the AFL to play home games outside of their city.

      ‘The fact that West Coast and Fremantle have had to make 10 interstate trips per season in comparison to some clubs who’ve previously only made three, has often seemed incredibly unfair.’

      Perhaps it goes without saying, but interstate teams have the luxury of facing opponents that have to travel interstate more often. ‘Incredibly unfair’ seems like an overstatement.

      ‘On the topic of GWS, there’s also the discussion about the AFL’s newest franchise opening the 2012 season with a stand-alone fixture – up against the NRL’s opening round – where they would face city rivals Sydney Swans.’

      Iagree that is a poor decision. The AFL runs the risk of making the new team look like a laughing stock.

      • October 27th 2011 @ 9:23am
        Chris said | October 27th 2011 @ 9:23am | ! Report

        In regards to the last point about GWS playing the Swans in their first game of the season being a poor decision – why?

        GWS will get thrashed by almost every team in the AFL, so why not try and maximise the crowd? I think its a good idea.

        • October 27th 2011 @ 9:32am
          stabpass said | October 27th 2011 @ 9:32am | ! Report

          Yep, get the crowds and ratings before they turn belly up, ……. maybe that is the AFL’s thinking.

          Although GWS seem to have gone for far more experience than the GC, it will be interesting.

          They could suprise early , but you can guarantee that by the end of the season that they will be struggling to the finish line.

    • Roar Guru

      October 27th 2011 @ 10:28am
      Ben Carter said | October 27th 2011 @ 10:28am | ! Report

      Hi Ben – I don’t care which club we’re talking about (in this case Collingwood’s no need to go to WA in 2012), but I seriously cannot believe that there are footy die-hards who still blindingly accept the “fix”-ture every year as-is. It is simply unfair, and never is. It’s impossible for it to be so with 18 teams across 22 weeks. Yet this is the same sport whose controlling bodywould love to have everyone believe is the top-flight domestic professional competition in Australia (and in the eyes of some fans, the greatest thing in the known universe).
      And before I get verbally lambasted from pillar to post – I am not (yet again, NOT) here to have a go at footy as a game in itself. What the players do on the field to put the ball through the sticks is perfectly fine, fun, skillful, etc, etc). I am merely debating the administrative framework within which such games are held and presented to the paying public.
      Either 18 teams with each playing the other once, or everyone plays each other twice. It’s NOT that hard. The EPL manage it with 20 teams every year (and some clubs play ECL games as well). And no I am NOT stating that the world game is any better or worse as a game than footy. I’m talking about the administration aspect. Just saying that obviously an equal and fair set of matches can be organised.
      Or you go the US route, with conferences/divisions etc – where everyone knows you may not play against some teams for years on end, but at least its clearly stated as such.
      I would just be intrigued to know from the AFL HQ what their thoughts are on WHY they think people accept an unfair schedule every single season. Not “cos footy is simply the greatest thing ever”, but WHY, as sports fans, is it accepted? If it’s the best thing in the country (nay, the world supposedly), then why couldn’t its own fans demand that it be improved?

      • Roar Guru

        October 27th 2011 @ 10:32am
        The Cattery said | October 27th 2011 @ 10:32am | ! Report

        From the moment we moved to 14 teams in 1987, we were forced to move away from a draw that had everyone play everyone else home and away.

        The footy season has to be completed in 27 weeks, with four weeks for finals – and that’s that, there ain’t no point in crying about it – footy is squashed in by cricket, but even without cricket, the players’ bodies can only handle about 26 games per annum.

      • October 27th 2011 @ 10:47am
        stabpass said | October 27th 2011 @ 10:47am | ! Report

        ATM it is a impossibility for every team to play each other twice, without a huge re-jig of how the game is played (timeof game/contact etc), without even mentioning cricket grounds, it is also stupid to play only 18 games a season.

        So we have what we have, you have a point, but !!, why shouldn’t the AFL have a right to maximise crowds, and should we not have 2 derbys a year in Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane and now Sydney etc etc.

        Would you like to go and see GCFC V Nth Melbourne twice a year or GCFC V BL twice a year ?.

        Pretty easy answer for fans and sponsors and TV.

      • October 27th 2011 @ 11:51am
        Ian Whitchurch said | October 27th 2011 @ 11:51am | ! Report

        “Or you go the US route, with conferences/divisions etc – where everyone knows you may not play against some teams for years on end, but at least its clearly stated as such”

        Speaking as a Seahawks fan, strength of schedule and strength of divisioncan give you a very easy run to the playoffs in the NFL. We made the playoffs last year with seven wins, and we went 4-2 inside the division, and 3-7 outside it.

        Actually, any NFL team that got to play SF, Arizona and the Rams twice would probably have made the playoffs last year. It was a totally unjust schedule.

    • Roar Guru

      October 27th 2011 @ 10:28am
      The Cattery said | October 27th 2011 @ 10:28am | ! Report

      All vic teams playing a minimum of 5 interstate games per season, with some one or two more, is certainly a step in the right direction to getting a fairer draw (at least fair as is possible with 18 teams and 22 rounds).

    • October 27th 2011 @ 11:27am
      Tom said | October 27th 2011 @ 11:27am | ! Report

      Collingwood will be travelling to wa according to their website.

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    • October 27th 2011 @ 11:33am
      stabpass said | October 27th 2011 @ 11:33am | ! Report

      I dont have a problem ( to a degree) with the AFL attempting to maximise crowds, and growing the game off the back of huge weekly derby’s, in particular with Coll, Ess, Car Rich, etc in Victoria.

      Its what the fans, sponsors, TV want, it’s not like Collingwood V Carlton every week, but you can guarantee that every state will now have 2 derby’s a year, and the big 4/5 Vic clubs will play each other twice.

      Like any good business, you play your longest and strongest when you need to, and you play to win.

      Would other sporting comps around the world do the same thing, if they were in the same position. (hamstrung by venues/length and type of game)

      • October 27th 2011 @ 11:50am
        Australian Rules said | October 27th 2011 @ 11:50am | ! Report

        I agree.

        Every advantage should be given to GWS in the first few seasons. They do not have the benefit of other clubs with 100+ years of history and fan base. The AFL should rightly “minimise the pain” for fledgling clubs by structuring a draw that, not necessarily favours them, but at least provides a platform to host games of interest (i.e. derbies) and thus maximise crowds, media exposure and commercial interest.

        • October 27th 2011 @ 11:54am
          Ian Whitchurch said | October 27th 2011 @ 11:54am | ! Report

          After their win against Port Adelaide and their derby win against Brisbane, the most important games for Gold Coast were the ones against the top sides, the games you would expect to “maximise the pain”. They stuck with Geelong for a half, beating them for contested footy, and failed to get destroyed by Collingwood.

          Similarly, I hope GWS plays Sydney twice each year, as the thumpings in the early years will build up a nice bank of hatred and resentment that will make these games classics in years to come 😉

          • October 27th 2011 @ 12:00pm
            stabpass said | October 27th 2011 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

            On the other hand, sometimes it is hard for teams such as Collingwood, Geelong to get up for games against the lowly GC/GWS, who may be pumped for the game of their life, so, yes it may work both ways.

        • October 27th 2011 @ 12:03pm
          Lazza said | October 27th 2011 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

          The EPL doesn’t minimise the pain for newly promoted clubs? They just have a fair and equitable draw. I’m starting to wonder if AFL is a serious sport, the top 5 clubs will only play the new boys once so they don’t get embarrassed?

          The difference between 4th/5th can mean playing in a Grand Final or not. The difference between 8th/9th can mean the sacking of a coach but we have to pretend that the lopsided draw doesn’t effect your final position on the ladder?

          • October 27th 2011 @ 12:09pm
            Ian Whitchurch said | October 27th 2011 @ 12:09pm | ! Report


            Uneven draws happen all the time in Association Football, where you have group stages going into a knockout. There is even a phrase for it – “Group of Death”.

            • October 27th 2011 @ 1:06pm
              Lazza said | October 27th 2011 @ 1:06pm | ! Report

              They’re CUP tournaments not a LEAGUE. A league by definition means a fair and equitable draw for most sports anyway.

              • October 27th 2011 @ 1:14pm
                stabpass said | October 27th 2011 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

                Really … the EPL may have a fair and equitable draw ……. i really dont know, as i dont follow it closely, but i do know that as a whole, the EPL is not fair and equitable as only a couple of teams end up winning it, and most teams know they will never have a shot, unless they are bought by a billionaire.

                What are the bulk of the EPL teams playng for ?, can a draft and salary cap used through good management be used to climb the ladder, and have a shot at the title.

                People in glass houses …….

            • October 27th 2011 @ 2:14pm
              Lucan said | October 27th 2011 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

              Such a “Group of death” occurs with an actual “draw”, where teams are RANDOMLY selected. Everyone has equal chance of being selected in the “group of death”, or avoiding it.

              The AFL fixture is done behind closed doors, with each club’s wishlist presented and taken into account to maximum attendances and gate takings.
              Accepting the AFL is handicapped by the 22 week season, they could still choose to go with a truly random draw, it would be much more fair than what we have, but would still be short or true “equality”.

          • Roar Guru

            October 27th 2011 @ 12:09pm
            The Cattery said | October 27th 2011 @ 12:09pm | ! Report


            Perhaps you should be on the soccer boards advocating that the A-League follow the EPL model closely.

            The AFL follows its own model.

            • October 27th 2011 @ 1:09pm
              Lazza said | October 27th 2011 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

              However flawed? Even AD has admitted the draw is not right but can’t do anything about it till the next round of TV rights comes up. Why it wasn’t addressed for this round is beyond me since we’ve known about this problem for years.

          • October 27th 2011 @ 12:12pm
            stabpass said | October 27th 2011 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

            Yep, different sports, different amounts of scoring, as the saying goes in soccer ‘park the bus’, in Australian football you cant do that, you cant play for a draw, you are found out, you cannot hide.

            Also ground constraints, the physicality and time of game constraints, soccer does not really have these.

            Everyone would love a fair draw,where everone plays everyone twice, but ATM is it just not possible.

            • Roar Guru

              October 27th 2011 @ 12:22pm
              Ben Carter said | October 27th 2011 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

              I suppose essentially, Lazza should be free to question whether the match schedule format used by the AFL is the best it can possibly be. This doesn’t need to be turned into a “which game is the best” if we’re supposed to be just discussing the controlling body’s collation of fixtures. As for the A-League following the EPL’s model Cattery – I’d love to see that happen. Either play each other twice (a la the EPL) or four times. Three at the moment in the A-League is a tad weird I’ll admit…

              • Roar Guru

                October 27th 2011 @ 12:30pm
                The Cattery said | October 27th 2011 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

                It’s pointless mentioning the EPL though. They run a championship format, the team that finishes top at season’s end is the champion team.

                The AFL has never been run on a championship format, it has always determined the premier via finals after the regular season – so you can’t make the comparision between the EPL and AFL – it’s pointless.

                In the AFL, if you can’t make the top 8, then it’s impossible arguing that that was due to an unfavourable draw – you’re clearly nowhere near the requisite standard to challenge for the premiership, period.

                Once you make the top 8, you beat the team before you to progress – the draw has absolutely nothing to do with anything.

                Last year the bulldogs and lions played the Suns twice and finished near the bottom.

                How many times did the grand finalists play the Suns? Once each.

                The draw had absolutely zero bearing on who made the grand final – zero.

                People overstate the argument – they have nothing.

              • October 27th 2011 @ 12:42pm
                stabpass said | October 27th 2011 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

                Lazza says “I’m starting to wonder if AFL is a serious sport”

                Of course he is free to question, he is quite free to take pot shots, which is quite clearly what he was doing, the reasons for the draw being what it is are IMO, quite clearly answered, and pretty easy to understand.

            • October 27th 2011 @ 1:18pm
              Lazza said | October 27th 2011 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

              Did you see our magnificent Wallabies upset South Africa in the RWC? That’s impossible in AFL, you just get embarrassing blowouts. State of Origin died because one dominant State used to win all the time. AFL may be different but I don’t think this is an advantage at all.

              Yes I do understand about ground constraints. Those 25 people that follow State cricket need the ovals to be free so a conference system is the only viable option. Not truly fair and equitable but certainly an improvement on the current joke concept.

              • October 27th 2011 @ 1:21pm
                Ian Whitchurch said | October 27th 2011 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

                Like the embarresing blowouts Port Adelaide, Brisbane and Richmond inflicted on Gold Coast, right ?

              • October 27th 2011 @ 1:25pm
                stabpass said | October 27th 2011 @ 1:25pm | ! Report

                Dont agree with your post, SOO died because there was no real need for it, as WA and SA had their own teams in a national comp, blowouts can be embarrasing, no doubt about it, but the underdogs can also win.

                I dont think the wallabies winning was that great a suprise, it would not have been embarrasing if they had lost.

                There is a great synergy and respect between Australian football and Australian cricket, from grass roots levels up, and historically they have 6 months each.

          • October 27th 2011 @ 12:33pm
            Australian Rules said | October 27th 2011 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

            GWS are a very different animal to newly promoted EPL Clubs, which have history, fans and a culture to take to the Big Dance.

            The AFL is different – the draft and salary cap, plus more picks for new teams, are deliberately in place to make the competition more even (or potentially even). The EPL may have 20 teams but it’s only ever the same 3 or 4 that can ever win it.

            • Roar Guru

              October 27th 2011 @ 12:38pm
              Ben Carter said | October 27th 2011 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

              Hi AR – again I stress I’m not entering a discussion here about who may win the EPL (or any other competition), only whether the AFL’s present weekly match format is really the best it can be, perhaps even given its obvious calendar constraints… Could it be improved? Yes, I think it could. As stated above, an agreement that everyone must/should travel outside their own state ‘x’ times a year would be a start…

            • October 27th 2011 @ 1:26pm
              Lazza said | October 27th 2011 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

              Where’s the equivalent of little Bolton or Wigan in the AFL? These small clubs may not win the EPL title but under an AFL or NFL system they wouldn’t even exist. They’re too small, have too few fans and wouldn’t get a start in those leagues. At least they can play in the big time and may win a cup competition if they’re lucky.

              All systems have pros and cons. The discusion here is about the draw though. Those small clubs that get promoted don’t get special deals with the draw to help them be competitive.

              • October 27th 2011 @ 1:34pm
                stabpass said | October 27th 2011 @ 1:34pm | ! Report

                That would be GC, GWS, Port Adelaide, Nth Melbourne, WB, etc they are quite small clubs, who dont have great fan bases, generous benefactors, but they will have a genuine shot at the flag, through good management, drafting etc.

                By all rights the WB should have done a lot better with the team they had a couple of years ago, but went backwards.

                Will Bolton/Wigan ever really have a realistic shot

              • October 27th 2011 @ 1:37pm
                Ian Whitchurch said | October 27th 2011 @ 1:37pm | ! Report


                They are called Port Melbourne, and they are happily playing in the VFL.

                Alternatively, they are called the Northern Territory Thunder, and are happily playing in the NEAFL.

                You’re forgetting the major special deal the AFL gives all the smaller and poorer clubs – everyone has the same salary cap and the same list size. Its part of why the AFL isnt like that degenerate pretense of a league that is the EPL, where I can tell you, a year in advance, five of the six top sides.

                Similarly, in breaking news, Barca and Real will be slugging it out in next years La Liga, and in the SPL Celtic and Rangers will be fighting it out for the title.

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