Every year around this time, I manage to get locked into a debate with someone about why the AFL doesn’t have State of Origin.
The discussion – we won’t call it an argument – tends to arrive after the NRL has enjoyed a blockbuster Origin clash which rated its socks off.
And here we are again, this time following the State of Origin clash at the MCG last Wednesday where – forget about the massive number of national viewers – the Melbourne television audience was 491,000, coupled with a 91,513 crowd.
Combine this with disjointed rounds in the AFL competition as each team receives its annual bye, and from some quarters the calls have again arisen about looking at an AFL Origin clash or clashes on a standalone weekend.
I suggested a few years back on this site that maybe it was time to bring Origin back to AFL, and I was shouted down. Not surprising, having tried it in the past, and watched the format wilt and die.
We must remember that Origin was in fact AFL’s game, and way back in 1977 Western Australia and Victoria played the first Origin game a week after North Melbourne beat Collingwood in the grand final replay.
The concept expanded unsuccessfully and lasted until just before the turn of the century, when it was decided to finally give it away. While a comeback has been hinted about regularly since, it has never really been likely.
The reasoning is logical – the fans don’t care about state rivalry, they care only about their clubs, which is all well and good and I totally understand that.
Another logical reason is that the whole two tribes thing – Queensland and NSW. The argument is that because AFL is ‘national’, the two tribes philosophy doesn’t work.
But wouldn’t something different be worth a try? Humour me please…
Forget about a four-team competition. Forget about Victoria versus Western Australia as it originally was. Please, forget about The Allies. How about, an Us versus Them.
Everybody loves Us versus Them, no matter what the contest.
Forget about their origins. Forget their birthplaces, forget about where they first played elite footy. Make it about where they are right now. The Us – players currently playing for the 10 Victorian clubs, six of those being original VFL clubs from 1897, plus Hawthorn, North, Richmond and the Bulldogs. Why Us? Because it was their competition first.
The Them – made up of players currently playing for the other eight ‘interstate’ (as they have always been known) clubs.
Now stop shooting it down and laughing at the concept.
As a footy fan, and also a Sydneysider, I’d certainly go watch and support a team made up of players based out of Victoria.
Look at the list you have to choose from.
Nat Fyfe, Rory Sloane, Scott Thompson, Aaron Sandilands, Lance Franklin, Matt Priddis, Will Schofield, Chad Wingard, Travis Boak, Jeremy Cameron, Gary Ablett jnr, Sam Reid, Kieren Jack, Jarrad McVeigh, Michael Walters, Stephen Hill, Michael Barlow, Nic Naitanui, Luke Parker, Dan Hannebery, Patrick Dangerfield, Kurt Tippet, Taylor Walker, Callan Ward, Dylan Shiel, and of course, Josh Kennedy and Josh Kennedy.
The fact that three out of Victoria teams sit atop the ladder right now might mean the Them team are loaded, but the Us team have plenty to pick from as well.
Trent Cotchin, Brett Deledio, Dustin Martin, Alex Rance, Marc Murphy, Bryce Gibbs, Robert Murphy, Jake Stringer, Tom Boyd, Joel Selwood, Steve Johnson, Tom Hawkins, Jobe Watson, Dyson Heppell, Tom Lonergan, Harry Taylor, Jack Ziebell, Brent Harvey, Drew Petrie, Luke Hodge, Jordan Lewis, Jarryd Roughhead, Cyril Rioli, Shaun Burgoyne, Sam Mitchell, Jack Gunston, Isaac Smith, Steele Sidebottom, Nick Riewoldt, Scott Pendelbury, Dane Swan, Tyson Goldsack, Nathan Jones and Jesse Hogan.
Sorry, but you can’t tell me you couldn’t find two sensational teams among those players to compete in an Us versus Them contest?
Can’t, or don’t want to.
Forget the ‘not broken don’t fix it’ notion, why not add something to it?
OK, off you go, shout me down again.