21 insights into the 2018 AFL fixture

Ryan Buckland Columnist

By Ryan Buckland, Ryan Buckland is a Roar Expert

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    It’s Christmas in October. The beginning of the end this football year gets underway with the release of the 2018 AFL fixture, and there is much to discuss.

    As ever, the league’s most potent policy tool – its power to determine who plays who, where and when – has stirred plenty of instant reaction and debate. Winners, losers, the facile stuff has been sorted out already. This tradition, in its third year, is a little different.

    We will sort through the entrails and the titbits that may be missed on a first glance. We will work out how it all fits into the macro state of the league following the changed state of play post-trade period. Above all else, we will find the interesting stuff and chop out the rest: all killer, no filler. Fingers crossed.

    Releasing next year’s fixture in late October is ostensibly the league’s way of softly launching into the new football year. While that technically comes on 1 December, all we have left to come is the three delisted free agency periods – which promise to be busier than ever – and the draft. Final 2018 lists are lodged on 30 November, and then that is that.

    So, with an eye to the year ahead, here’s 21 insights into the 2018 AFL fixture, gleaned from an evening with little more than spreadsheets on the screen and a cold beverage in hand.

    The Essendon redemption arc continues, but hold fire on the perception they’ve got it easy
    Essendon get another hand up from the league. That seems to be one of the many consensuses reached following the release of the fixture.

    The Bombers play two opponents from their bracket of six (under the league’s weighted rule, which… look, Google it) and two from the bottom tier, with their lone top-six double up coming against the premiers Richmond. The Tigers happen to be the lone finalist the Bombers face twice, a fact which has been spun into a web that stretches all the way to Essendon making a run at the top four.

    That’s possible. But anything is possible right now. Did you not learn anything about randomness and unpredictability over the past two seasons of football? We aren’t living in a Hawthorn fever dream anymore! And besides, the season is four months and three weeks away.

    Josh Begley Essendon Bombers AFL 2017

    (Photo by Jason O’Brien/AFL Media/Getty Images)

    Anyway, things are not as rosy as they perhaps seem on the glossy veneer of the AFL’s fixture handbook.

    Essendon has what appears to be the toughest run of opponents in home games in the league. The Bombers’ average home opponent had a Pythagorean win total (adjusted for schedule strength) of 12.3 wins in 2017 – more than a win above the league average (11.2 wins). Only two other teams have a total above 12 for their home opponents (Hawthorn and West Coast).

    Now, you can spin that one of two ways. On one hand, having a tougher slate at home is beneficial because it means you get the benefit of any home ground advantage that exists. That should lean against the difficulty of the opposition. On the other hand, anything that makes holding your ground at home more difficult can make accumulating the 12 or 13 wins required to make it into the final eight more difficult.

    In the case of West Coast, a tough home slate is probably fine. Everyone bar Fremantle has to travel to play the Eagles at home, and the Eagles can avoid playing the better sides away from their comfortable – new in 2018 – surrounds. For Essendon, there’s a wrinkle.

    One of their home opponents is MCG tenant Richmond, a second is Geelong (effectively a neutral game), and a third is the Etihad Stadium specialist St Kilda. The Bombers also host the Adelaide Crows (in the second game of the season), who have made the undercover oval their home away from home in recent years. That complicates matters.

    The second cause for pause is Essendon’s fixture leading up to and immediately following this year’s Anzac Day game. The important day is a Wednesday this year, and with the league’s insistence on a mid-season bye means the end of April and beginning of May is mighty awkward for the Bombers.

    Essendon plays on 25 April, 29 April and 5 May – three games in just ten days. Collingwood gets an extra day’s rest at the back end for some reason, playing a Sunday in Round 8 rather than a Saturday as the Bombers. It’s a brutal stretch.

    Finally, Essendon have been scheduled to travel to Perth twice, and Sydney, Adelaide, the Gold Coast and Brisbane once each. Along with Melbourne, they are the only two Victorian teams that travel to two states twice to play away games. None of the journeys are on a six-day break, however.

    Essendon might have escaped the wrath of multiple match-ups against last year’s finalists, but there are plenty of gremlins lurking in their slate. With a sizeable turnover of their best 22 from this season to the next, let’s hold fire on calling the Bombers anything more than a finals contender for now.

    David Zaharakis Essendon Bombers AFL 2017

    (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)

    The farcical Friday night rationale
    It’s Year Three of the ‘Friday night is a reward for good football’ era. Since taking over at AFL CEO, that has been Gil McLachlan’s mantra for football’s prime time, and after last year’s fixture dropped it became a reality. This year, the illusion has been shattered.

    Say what you will about Carlton, they do not deserve a single Friday night fixture as a reward for good football. That they received four of them boggles the mind.

    We have history, the Carlton Football Club and I, so I will lean on the rest of the football punditry to back me up here. Carlton’s four Friday night games have been met with universal bemusement, particularly given many other clubs – like the Showtime GWS Giants – have been left in the cold.

    It is one of the only blemishes on an otherwise solid – at face value, with plenty of reading and thinking still to be done – attempt at fitting 198 games of football into 23 rounds. New scheduling boss Travis Auld should feel proud of his first fixture.

    He should not feel proud about the rationale he offered for Carlton’s re-ascension to the Friday night throne to Melbourne radio yesterday. When pushed on the issue, Auld offered this pithy response:

    That’s fine, if it were true. Anzac Day falls in Round 5 this season. Carlton’s Friday night games are Round 3 (cross), Round 6 (tick), Round 11 (double cross) and Round 17 (quintuple cross). There is also the tacit admission that, because two other big Victorian clubs were not available, Carlton was the only team that could fill some kind of big Victorian club breach. *Blows an enormous raspberry*. The VFL died more than a quarter of a century ago.

    Just tell us the truth guys. We can take it. We understand there are competing priorities: TV ratings, gate revenue, showcasing the best teams, picking the marquee match ups. Don’t hide behind a paper thin rationale that anyone with a shred of independent thought can see straight through.

    Outside of this, the league has mostly kept to its word regarding Friday nights. Last year’s grand finalists, Adelaide and Richmond, play in the time slot five times each, as does Sydney. 2016 premiers the Western Bulldogs get four attempts, as do the fast-paced St Kilda and Essendon.

    No Queensland team gets a look in once again, and neither do the Fremantle Dockers.

    If we add in the Thursday night games, which everyone seems to love unless their team is playing, 15 of the 58 slots are taken up by the premiers and the runners-up. That’s good. Carlton in the early week slots as much as Greater Western Sydney, Melbourne and Port Adelaide combined? That’s not good.

    Marc Murphy Carlton Blues AFL 2017

    (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

    The Port Adelaide push is on
    Port Adelaide’s frantic off-season gambit appears to have coincided with a reasonably kind slate of games for 2018.

    The Power have a very solid set of double-up opponents next season: Adelaide (duh), Essendon, Fremantle, West Coast and the Western Bulldogs – the latter of which is at a neutral venue.

    Port Adelaide played Essendon at Docklands last year and were beaten quite handily, but otherwise have a more-than-decent record there in recent years. Two trips out west will not phase them either, given the newness of Perth Stadium.

    Port’s schedule looks to be relatively well spaced out, too. Their toughest stretch by way of opponents is Round 12 to 14, where the Power host Richmond, the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne in consecutive weeks.

    They face 2017 finalists back to back just twice: West Coast then Adelaide in Round 7 and 8, and Adelaide then West Coast in Round 20 and 21 (both at Adelaide Oval).

    Finally, their away slate looks relatively soft from here. Their average away opponent had a Pythagorean win total of 10.3 last season, the second-lowest behind Essendon.

    Thought 2017 was a flash in the pan? It is time to reconsider that position. Port Adelaide has a fixture amenable to the maintenance of the status quo at an absolute minimum, and with the potential to power them to an extra win or two.

    Ollie Wines Port Adelaide Power AFL 2017

    (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

    West Coast’s Victoria phobia, and obscure fixture
    Port Adelaide’s elimination final conqueror has a weird quirk built into its 2018 fixture. West Coast travel to Victoria just four times next season, down from seven trips in 2017.

    Indeed, the Eagles play the fewest games in Melbourne and its surrounds of any team in the league – including Brisbane (six), Gold Coast (five) and Greater Western Sydney (five), who’ve often been asked to travel to unusual locations to play Victoria-based opponents.

    Instead, the Eagles will head to New South Wales and South Australia twice, and Queensland and Tasmania once, to complete their road trips for 2018. The great irony in all of this, of course, is the Eagles performed so patchily in Victoria last season you wonder whether they’d tried – in vain – to smuggle some fruit across the border or something.

    The Eagles have also been condemned to the Sunday graveyard shifts a dozen times – another ignominious outcome. No other team plays more than ten games in the relative obscurity of the week’s end. Just three of these games are on national TV too. Meanwhile, a delay in the construction of the pedestrian bridge (that no one will use, but that’s another story) from the East Perth foreshore to the New Perth Stadium means the Eagles have been all but scrubbed from the Thursday-Friday rotation for 2018.

    It’s the kind of fixture you would expect one of the league’s also-rans to have been afforded. Gulp. I hope perception does not match reality.

    The New South Wales gauntlet
    Both Greater Western Sydney and the Sydney Swans have once again been given a tough run to the last week of the year. The pair are the only two teams to have been scheduled twice against three of last year’s top six, although that’s really two because of the constitutional requirement to play two derbies a year.

    GWS get a double up against the West Coast Eagles and Adelaide Crows in addition to the Swans. The Giants also have the Saints twice, a team which can and has certainly matched them for pace in recent times, and round out their double ups against the double barrel Brisbane Lions. The Giants are also once more pinging their way across ten different playing fields, including Geelong, Launceston, the Adelaide Oval, New Perth Stadium and Gabba.

    Sydney, by contrast, get whacked by the double-edged sword of prime-time football. The Swans have eight six-day breaks, required to facilitate their seven Thursday and Friday night games spread throughout the year.

    Unlike Adelaide and Richmond, who have theirs in clumps that reduce the incidence of short weeks, Sydney have a tougher slate of double-up opponents than the Giants too: Geelong (at Kardinia Park), Hawthorn, North Melbourne and West Coast, in addition to the Giants match-up.

    Neither team has made an addition to their playing list to this point in the off-season, content to hit up the draft (in the case of Sydney) and delisted free agency pool (I suspect in the case of GWS) over the coming month. They didn’t need to do anything. The league knows the two teams north of the border (not really far north of the border) are both primed for a tilt at the premiership, and have seemingly acted accordingly.

    Phil Davis GWS Giants Lance Franklin Sydney Swans AFL 2016

    (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

    Show me the money
    Richmond won last year’s premiership, and when annual report season kicks off in the coming months, we will see just how lucrative a big four premiership is in the hyper-commercial world of the AFL in 2017. The Tigers’ commercial success looks set to stretch into the first two months of 2018.

    How’s this for a dream start for the bean counters?

    Carlton (home)
    Adelaide (away)
    Hawthorn (home)
    Brisbane (home)
    Melbourne (home)
    Collingwood (home)
    Fremantle (home)
    North Melbourne (away)

    Six of Richmond’s first eight 2018 games are at the MCG, including home games against the big-drawing Carlton, Hawthorn and Collingwood. Given the hype, each will draw more than 70,000, if not more.

    Beyond the dollars and cents, that’s as kind a start to a season as a reigning premier could hope for. The Tigers will start their preparations a month later than the rest of the competition, but outside of the trip to Adelaide Oval in Round 2, Richmond, as we know them to exist, should start as favourites across the board.

    An eight-week stretch from Round 9 through Round 17 is when we will get a real indication of where the Tigers fit into the 2018 hierarchy. They may hit this point at 7-1, but then have to face – in succession – West Coast (away), St Kilda (home), Essendon (away, but at the MCG), Port Adelaide (away), Geelong (away, but at the MCG), Sydney (home, but at Etihad), Adelaide (home) and Greater Western Sydney (away). It is as brutal as the first eight are kind.

    The Tigers then play five of their last six in Victoria, including four at the MCG. All things considered, if Damien Hardwick and his crew sat around a table, smoking cigars and drinking expensive scotch, and their minds fleetingly turned to a premiership defence, the fixture they’ve been handed is about as favourable as they could have imagined.

    Dustin Martin AFL Richmond Tigers Grand Final 2017

    (Photo by Cameron Spencer/AFL Media/Getty Images)

    Rapid fire round
    That is by no means an exhaustive list. We didn’t talk about Geelong much at all, despite the Cats entering 2018 with as many chips in the middle of the table as any team in the league, for example. So, let’s round off with some quick hits.

    * * *

    Geelong’s wish for more home games at Kardinia Park has been granted, but has brought with it a significant consequence. The Cats play five of last season’s bottom six at their home ground, with their lone peers the Giants and Swans in consecutive weekends.

    Like Essendon, you can spin the home ground thing both ways, but all told I would imagine the Cats were hoping to throw an extra team or two from the top of the ladder into their meat grinder.

    As a result, Geelong’s away schedule is the stuff of nightmares.

    * * *

    The Off-Broadway brigade might make the AFL look a little foolish come the middle of the year. While the wins are yet to follow, the Brisbane Lions showed patches of blistering play in 2017, and with more time into their youngsters plus some astute additions, they’ll become more consistent in 2018. Watch this space.

    Ditto Fremantle, who get some quality back from the injury list and have the planet smasher Nat Fyfe on deck for a full preseason after a 20-game 2017. Both sit atop my study list for the off-season.

    Nat Fyfe Fremantle Dockers AFL 2015

    (AAP Image/Tony McDonough)

    The AFL, to its credit, has thrown the vocal segment of traditionalist Victorian football fans a bone on Saturday afternoons late in the season. In Rounds 19 through 21, the league has fixtured Richmond versus Collingwood, Hawthorn versus Essendon and Hawthorn versus Geelong in the early Saturday afternoon time slot at the MCG. All three are match-ups that would be at home on a late Sunday or Saturday night. We’ll see how they perform as crowd-drawers.

    * * *

    The AFL Players Association is cock a hoop regarding the halving of six-day breaks and consecutive six-day breaks in this year’s fixture. The players bargained their way to formal consultation regarding the fixture in this year’s collective bargaining agreement negotiations, and have won a significant concession from the league.

    They are yet to convince the league of the merits of a second in-season bye, however.

    * * *

    This year’s China game has been bumped from Channel Seven’s coverage, and is instead a Foxtel game on a Saturday afternoon. This means it will not be shown in Victoria, New South Wales or Western Australia on free-to-air TV. The motivation for this is unclear; we’ll see what happens when the 2019 fixture rolls around and it either stays put or moves back to the national broadcast.

    * * *

    Hawthorn has been given the Collingwood treatment. The Hawks travel outside of Victoria (loosely defined so as to include Hawthorn’s four Tasmania home games) just four times in 2018. Two of those trips are to Brisbane and Fremantle. The Hawks have just five six-day breaks, too. They are another team for which we should keep a close watching brief during the preseason.

    * * *

    Melbourne and North Melbourne play once next season. Given the recent history, this is excellent news for the Demons, and not so great for the ‘Roos.

    * * *

    Finally, to Collingwood. Their fixture has been analysed to death in the media, with the consensus settling on the thought the Pies have been afforded an opportunity to push for the eight. All things being equal, that would require a 2.5 win jump and a sizeable percentage boost. The fixture alone is unlikely to do that, particularly given how tightly bunched the middle of the ladder turned out to be in 2017.

    Scott Pendlebury AFL 2017 Collingwood Magpies

    (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

    All we can do right now is talk in directional terms. So much can happen in the five months between now and the opening bounce. However, last year’s fixture column was instructive on reflection. In that, we noted:

    • Melbourne needed to win three or four of their double-up games against North Melbourne and St Kilda to play finals. They won two, and missed the finals.
    • Adelaide had a kind fixture amenable to a deep finals push, based on playing their hardest opponents at home and weakest opponents away. That one hit too.
    • We thought Richmond’s double up slate looked tasty. It was.
    • We thought Hawthorn had been roasted by HQ in their 2017 fixture. It wasn’t just the fixture that conspired to end the Hawks’ premiership era, but it didn’t help.

    There were more hits and misses, suggesting this isn’t all hot air and faux analysis. I hope that’s been the case for the season at large.

    That’s a wrap for me for now. See you in December.

    Ryan Buckland
    Ryan Buckland

    As an economist, Ryan seeks to fix the world's economic troubles one graph at a time. As a sports fan, he's always looking one or two layers beneath the surface to search for meaning, on and off the field. You can follow Ryan here.

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    The Crowd Says (109)

    • Roar Guru

      November 1st 2017 @ 9:44am
      TomC said | November 1st 2017 @ 9:44am | ! Report

      Also, only five games for Brisbane in Melbourne.

      • Roar Guru

        November 2nd 2017 @ 9:49am
        JamesH said | November 2nd 2017 @ 9:49am | ! Report

        I find it bizarre that the Giants, Crows and Swans each have a paltry two games at the MCG. I thought that those clubs would have asked the AFL to give them as many away games as possible at the G, given their recent efforts in finals there. They have to learn to win regularly at the home of footy if they want to be premiers.

        They could feasibly have played away there against any of Hawthorn, Richmond, Melbourne and Collingwood, and potentially Essendon, Carlton and Geelong (since they get some home games at the G each year too). 3-4 games out of that group should easily be doable.

        • November 3rd 2017 @ 8:35am
          Mark said | November 3rd 2017 @ 8:35am | ! Report

          Sydney got 4 MCG games last year.
          On reflection this may have excessive given that we played Carlton there in a game that drew only 32,678. Carlton playing an interstate side would usually play at Etihad.
          This is countered in 2018 by playing Richmond at Etihad. In the corresponding fixture in 2017 there was a crowd of 58,721. Granted this year was Saturday arvo and next year is the relatively untested (in Vic, at least) Thursday night but it’s still hard to make sense of these anomalies.

          • Roar Guru

            November 3rd 2017 @ 8:58am
            mastermind5991 said | November 3rd 2017 @ 8:58am | ! Report

            Apart from the traditional Richmond vs Carlton season openers and this year’s Richmond vs Collingwood match, the last time I can recall there being a mid-season Thursday night match in Melbourne was between Carlton and the Brisbane Lions at Etihad Stadium in 2010 (it was supposed to have been Brendan Fevola’s “homecoming” of sorts but he didn’t play in that match due to injury).

    • November 1st 2017 @ 9:49am
      Geoff Schaefer said | November 1st 2017 @ 9:49am | ! Report

      This fixture is a real positive for Crows’ fans, finally getting a home game against Carlton. This means we get a first hand look at the Carlton players who will join the Crows in the next few years. It’s a bit like the local butcher doing a home delivery.

    • November 1st 2017 @ 10:01am
      Macca said | November 1st 2017 @ 10:01am | ! Report

      I am really struggling to see why it is such a big deal the blues get 4 Friday night games;

      1) The blues are 1 of 7 teams that have that many or more Friday night games, I wouldn’t say it a “a lot”
      2) 3 of the 4 games are away games for the blues, which points to opposition clubs requesting the play the blues on a Friday night – probably because the draw a big crowd but will probably lose meaning a win win for the opposition
      3) This takes it to 5 Friday night games in 3 years so I wouldn’t be surprised if the AFL is playing a bit of catch up
      4) The blues won 6 games last year – all by under 4 goals and 4 by under 2 and lost another 8 after being in front in the last quarter – the idea that the blues could be involved in a decent game in 2018 isn’t completely absurd.
      5) The blues have got a lot of criticism for an overly defensive game style – but given players like C Curnow, McKay, Fisher, Pickett, Cuningham, SPS and J Silvagni will all have another pre-season under their belt it isn’t too hard to believe they will start to flick the switch to a more attacking style (which did emerge at times during 2017) in 2018

      And finally I simply don’t understand why Friday night has become such a prestige slot that only the very best deserve to play – if you can’t tolerate a couple of dud Friday night games a year you might want to take a look at your priorities in life.

      • Roar Guru

        November 1st 2017 @ 10:18am
        TomC said | November 1st 2017 @ 10:18am | ! Report

        Reading this post, I think you’re actually working really really hard to not see why it’s such a big deal.

        Of course you understand why Friday night is a prestige slot. It’s the highest rating game of the week and gives the best exposure to the club and its sponsors.

        This isn’t really an arguable point: big Melbourne clubs with big fan bases tend to go better access to better timeslots. And so too have Carlton this year. We can be pretty sure that the AFL weren’t thinking about how exciting Pickett, McKay, and Cunningham might be when they drew up the fixture.

        Powerful Victorian clubs enjoy certain privileges that the rest don’t get. There’s no point denying it.

        In the interests of avoiding another tedious exchange, I’ll state right now this will be my last post on this subject.

        • November 1st 2017 @ 10:40am
          Macca said | November 1st 2017 @ 10:40am | ! Report

          “Powerful Victorian clubs enjoy certain privileges that the rest don’t get” That must be why the blues have had 1 Friday night game in the last 2 year and including the 4 this year they will have had 1 HOME Friday night game in 3 years.

          Also given the blues are 1 of 7 teams to have 4 or more Friday night games and from memory there is another 3 or 4 with 3 for the year I am not sure how you think it is only the “powerful” Victorian clubs who get the privilege that has been afforded to the blues.

          Finally 3 of the blues 4 Friday night games are against St Kilda, the Bulldogs and the Swans (all away) – it is pretty clear it is not the blues who have been done the favour.

          • November 1st 2017 @ 10:59am
            Macca said | November 1st 2017 @ 10:59am | ! Report

            I should also point out that given the blues have the second most 6 day breaks in the comp next year (I expect a lot of the down to Friday night games) I again suggest it isn’t the blues who have been done the favour.

        • Roar Guru

          November 1st 2017 @ 10:42am
          TomC said | November 1st 2017 @ 10:42am | ! Report

          Actually, that was a little childish of me to state that it would be my last post. People should feel they have the right to respond. Apologies for that.

          • November 1st 2017 @ 10:44am
            Macca said | November 1st 2017 @ 10:44am | ! Report

            No worries.

        • Roar Rookie

          November 1st 2017 @ 12:14pm
          Seano said | November 1st 2017 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

          Not exactly true. Powerful Victorian clubs do get some benefits. But to say that other clubs cant get them is false.

          The hawks were a rubbish club but they fixed there admin, fixed there club, grew there fans and now they get there privileges.

          All the rubbish clubs have to do is not be rubbish.

          Carlton cant win a game but they can draw a decent crowd, better than the saints or dogs in grand final years.

          The AFL isn’t a charity, fix your club reap the benefits.

          • Roar Guru

            November 1st 2017 @ 1:49pm
            TomC said | November 1st 2017 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

            ‘All the rubbish clubs have to do is not be rubbish.’

            I know, right?

            I’ve been saying the same thing about poor people for years! If they stopped being poor, all their problems would be solved.

            • Roar Rookie

              November 2nd 2017 @ 11:29am
              Seano said | November 2nd 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

              That’s what i did.

              I hated being poor so I stopped being poor.

              I grew up in a town that has been labeled the ice capital of Australia by 4 different national Tv shows. Most people went straight from school to Centrelink and are still doing that 21 years later.

              I left and moved to many different cities and now my life is good and my kids go to a fancy school even though I never got to go to uni and can barely write and don’t understand grammar.

              That’s why I have no sympathy for going home sooks during trade week.

              Toughen up, plenty of money to make if you want it.

              • Roar Guru

                November 2nd 2017 @ 2:07pm
                TomC said | November 2nd 2017 @ 2:07pm | ! Report

                So we’re doubling down on the unhelpful advice, I see.

                Whatever you background is – and I’m always sceptical of personal info released by anonymous accounts on the internet – telling people or clubs just to be more successful is a waste of time.

                And taking your own personal experience and applying it to everybody else, regardless of their own circumstances, is simply daft.

              • Roar Rookie

                November 3rd 2017 @ 11:17am
                Seano said | November 3rd 2017 @ 11:17am | ! Report

                Working hard, getting out of your comfort zone is bad advice?

                Spare me.

          • November 1st 2017 @ 2:51pm
            Hungry Jack said | November 1st 2017 @ 2:51pm | ! Report

            What a rubbish comment, Seano. Over time all clubs will be ‘rubbish’ at some stage. You think that can change in an instant? Your Bombers still have a long way to go. could even go backwards before any real improvement is achieved.

            • Roar Rookie

              November 2nd 2017 @ 11:25am
              Seano said | November 2nd 2017 @ 11:25am | ! Report

              Hungry Jack, if you read my post it has nothing to do with on field performance that makes a rubbish club. Carlton still engage there fans and can draw a crowd so they get Friday’s.

              The dogs win a flag and still have admin fighting.

              It’s the back room that makes clubs great or rubbish.

            • November 2nd 2017 @ 2:49pm
              Harsh Truth Harry said | November 2nd 2017 @ 2:49pm | ! Report

              what club do you support HJ and I will give you Harry’s Harsh Truth summary of that club?

          • November 1st 2017 @ 4:59pm
            Harsh Truth Harry said | November 1st 2017 @ 4:59pm | ! Report

            yes…Melbourne football club should also heed your words Seano

          • Roar Guru

            November 2nd 2017 @ 12:55pm
            Peppsy said | November 2nd 2017 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

            Hawthorn are hardly reaping any reward right now. Only 2 Friday games and possibly the hardest draw relative to position.

        • November 1st 2017 @ 9:26pm
          Col in paradise said | November 1st 2017 @ 9:26pm | ! Report

          Agree totally – but happy blues get four Friday night games as means I have got four Friday nights back to go out !!!!

      • Roar Guru

        November 1st 2017 @ 11:15am
        Paul D said | November 1st 2017 @ 11:15am | ! Report

        as you point out, most of Carlton’s Friday matches are ‘away’ games against other Melbourne sides, but I think it’s the haste with which the fixturing team has thrown Carlton back into Fridays after a brief season out in the cold that sticks in people’s craws. The Lions haven’t had a Friday night game since 2015 I think, although admittedly it was absolutely dreadful, against Collingwood, we were down 60-6 at half time or something

        Carlton is fast becoming the Mitch Marsh of AFL footy – everyone keeps saying there’s potential but we wish you’d go away and work on it out of the limelight and not clog up the elite level while you’re doing it

        • November 1st 2017 @ 1:35pm
          Macca said | November 1st 2017 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

          PaulD – just to clarify the blues didn’t have a Friday night game in 2016 and got 1 in Adelaide in 2017 – so not exactly “a brief season out in the cold”.

          But again the issue no one is requesting Friday night games against Brisbane, the Suns or even GWS – they want a team that will draw a crowd, the blues do that. The fact the blues draw a crowd and are likely to lose as well is an added bonus.

          • Roar Guru

            November 1st 2017 @ 2:59pm
            Paul D said | November 1st 2017 @ 2:59pm | ! Report

            I’d have liked to see the first QClash pencilled in for a Friday night – it instead got whacked in at 4:40PM on a sunday arvo which is about the worst timeslot possible for Suns fans travelling to the Gabba for the game

            It’s about the only entertaining game the Queensland sides regularly play, and could have done the job of giving both a bit of exposure nationally

            • November 1st 2017 @ 3:25pm
              Macca said | November 1st 2017 @ 3:25pm | ! Report

              PaulD – Brisbane and the Suns could be 1 & 2 on the ladder for 3 years running and I don’t think you would see that match up on a Friday night.

              4.40 on a Sunday does make you wonder how serious the AFL are about the Queensland market though – ridiculous time.

            • Roar Guru

              November 1st 2017 @ 3:51pm
              Col from Brissie said | November 1st 2017 @ 3:51pm | ! Report

              Paul, will be a long time before that happens up here. Neither the AFL or the Broadcaster (Channel 7) are going to want to go head to head against Friday Night Rugby League Games.

            • Roar Guru

              November 4th 2017 @ 1:26pm
              Paul D said | November 4th 2017 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

              Yeah, that’s wishful thinking on my part

              Saturday arvo/evening is our best timeslot

    • November 1st 2017 @ 10:50am
      Brian said | November 1st 2017 @ 10:50am | ! Report

      If Friday night is such hot property why not just play 2 games?

      • Roar Guru

        November 1st 2017 @ 11:22am
        Cat said | November 1st 2017 @ 11:22am | ! Report

        What makes it a prime fixture, at least partially, is the lack of competition from any other afl match being played. Almost all other time slots have overlap where you can choose to watch ‘the better game’. Thursday/Friday you don’t get that choice.

      • November 1st 2017 @ 11:26am
        The Original Buzz said | November 1st 2017 @ 11:26am | ! Report

        TV rights. Only one game shown nationally on Friday nights to give clubs exposure. Saturdays and Sundays are different as Channel 7 shows the local games.

      • Roar Pro

        November 1st 2017 @ 2:58pm
        anon said | November 1st 2017 @ 2:58pm | ! Report

        I have been thinking that for years. Play them back to back.

        6:00pm start in Melbourne followed by 9:00pm (7pm local time) game from Perth. Even an 8:30pm start in Adelaide is not too late for a game.

        • November 1st 2017 @ 4:11pm
          Hungry Jack said | November 1st 2017 @ 4:11pm | ! Report

          Yeah but who wants to watch Freo/WC all the time? Eastern states wouldn’t be interested, and fair enough!

          • Roar Pro

            November 1st 2017 @ 4:49pm
            anon said | November 1st 2017 @ 4:49pm | ! Report

            Friday night games start at 7:50pm local time. Even a 8:30pm local time start in Adelaide is not too late. Game will end at 11:15pm.

            You could even have a 6pm sharp start time in Melbourne, which will finish at 8:45pm-8:50pm.

            At 8:50pm go straight to the game in Adelaide or Perth. Game will finish just after 11pm in Adelaide and just after 9:30pm in Perth.

            • November 1st 2017 @ 11:14pm
              Brian said | November 1st 2017 @ 11:14pm | ! Report

              Especially Round 1 & 2 which are pre-daylight savings.
              You could play a 7pm start in Melbourne followed by a 7pm (10pm AEST) start in Perth.

              Particularly this year with the new Perth stadium it would have made quite the Friday night start to Round 1.

          • November 1st 2017 @ 4:52pm
            SleakSquid said | November 1st 2017 @ 4:52pm | ! Report

            Move half the Vic teams to WA. Easy solution.

        • November 1st 2017 @ 4:34pm
          Slane said | November 1st 2017 @ 4:34pm | ! Report

          This is your best post by a country mile.

    • November 1st 2017 @ 11:10am
      Harsh Truth Harry said | November 1st 2017 @ 11:10am | ! Report

      The greatest travesty is gifting Carlton those Friday night games. Their brand of football under Bolton is the worst the league has seen since Paul Roos protected Melbourne’s percentage and his reputation in his first years at the Demons. Bolton is doing the same. They are truly an awful team to watch, the worst points for total in the comp this year and do not deserve Friday night games becasue we all turn off from both their brand and when they are clearly going nowhere under Bolton and SOS who have built a negative mindset list going nowhere.

      • November 1st 2017 @ 1:45pm
        Macca said | November 1st 2017 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

        Hopeless Harry – Your Melbourne comparison is a good one – in 2015 Melbourne kicked a total of 1573 points (71.5 ave) 2016 it was 1944 (88.36) and 2017 it was 2017 (91.5) – teams evolve.

        Carlton in 2017 kicked 1594 points (72.45) – if they are truly like Melbourne they too will evolve.

        Your own example argues against your point.

        • November 1st 2017 @ 3:18pm
          Harsh Truth Harry said | November 1st 2017 @ 3:18pm | ! Report

          The reference to Melbourne is to demonstrate how coaches protect their reputations by orchestrating awful defensive brands that can, in the right weather get the odd win. Bolton should be a jockey not a coach and all he is doing is protecting his brand. Carlton aren’t evolving or if you are it’s been a 23 year evolution! yet you’re still bottom 4!

          • November 1st 2017 @ 4:56pm
            Macca said | November 1st 2017 @ 4:56pm | ! Report

            a 23 year evolution is better than a 13 devolution your blokes have endured Harry.

            You might have thought that was what you were saying about Melbourne – but once again the evidence doesn’t support your claim.

            Are you going to ever present that “challenge” you talked about – so far I have found you less challenging than an Essendon finals team.

        • November 1st 2017 @ 4:35pm
          Slane said | November 1st 2017 @ 4:35pm | ! Report

          That’s a massive logical fallacy.

          • November 1st 2017 @ 4:44pm
            Macca said | November 1st 2017 @ 4:44pm | ! Report

            Slane – I said “if they are” – that doesn’t indicate that they will, just that “if they are” truly following in Melbournes footsteps those footsteps lead to an increase in scoring.

    • November 1st 2017 @ 11:19am
      Mattyb said | November 1st 2017 @ 11:19am | ! Report

      These Travis Auld comments really paint a sad picture to how increasingly Victorian centric the AFL is becoming.
      It’s almost unfathomable that Carlton are playing four Friday night games with their AFL history and his reasonings are surely unacceptable,

      • November 1st 2017 @ 1:38pm
        Macca said | November 1st 2017 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

        Mattyb – perhaps if your team hadn’t requested the blues as Friday night opponents they might not have got that many games.

        I understand that even the simplest of things are “unfathomable” to you but given the number of teams who have 3 or more Friday night games it surely isn’t that hard to believe a team that averaged the 4th highest crowd in the home and away season and has only had 1 Friday night game in the last 2 years got 4.

        • November 1st 2017 @ 1:51pm
          Mattyb said | November 1st 2017 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

          Keep up the police work Macca,where would the blues be without you patrolling the internet?

          • November 1st 2017 @ 3:19pm
            Macca said | November 1st 2017 @ 3:19pm | ! Report

            Mattyb – if you could actually defend your statements when challenged you would see I am not policing – it is only your own failings that make you feel that I am preventing you from stating an opinion.

          • November 1st 2017 @ 3:20pm
            Harsh Truth Harry said | November 1st 2017 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

            I wish the Bombers could play the Blues 12 times a season…that would give us 11 wins…they may fluke one in slippery conditions that suit the most negative self protecting coach in AFL history…Brendan “the jockey ” Bolton.

            • November 1st 2017 @ 5:19pm
              Mattyb said | November 1st 2017 @ 5:19pm | ! Report

              Harry,I think we will get some idea if Bolton can coach ihis year to be fair. With the current board situation the club won’t accept going backwards yet again,whether Bolton decides to develop a proper game plan or continue with his negative approach though will be an interesting part of the season.
              If the blues cop some Friday night thrashings Bolton could be in strife. It is a little strange he hasn’t been offered a proper contract after Triggs dismissal but that does point to where he’s currently at in the eyes of the current board.

              • November 2nd 2017 @ 9:03am
                Macca said | November 2nd 2017 @ 9:03am | ! Report

                Mattyb – could you please enlighten us as to what the “current board situation” is?

                As for ” we will get some idea if Bolton can coach ihis year” if you haven’t realised he can by now you aren’t paying attention.

                2016 you claimed they had the worst list in the league and wouldn’t win a game – they won 7.

                2017 you again had them finishing last – they won 6 games, and significantly reduced their losing margins and were in front in the last quarter in 8 losing games while dropping the experience and age of the playing group (and the 22 in particular).

                How is this possible if Bolton can’t coach?

              • November 2nd 2017 @ 9:55am
                Harsh Truth Harry said | November 2nd 2017 @ 9:55am | ! Report

                But Mattyb how can this once proud club be the shambles they are now? What happened to them? They just finish bottom four all the time now and will most likely collect another wooden spoon in 2018. Why is it that even with AFL equalisation measures and their high draft picks from being failures constantly they are the ONLY club who never improve?

              • November 2nd 2017 @ 3:26pm
                Maurice said | November 2nd 2017 @ 3:26pm | ! Report

                Malthouse sent them back about 10 years

            • November 1st 2017 @ 5:22pm
              Hungry Jack said | November 1st 2017 @ 5:22pm | ! Report

              And that is the only way Essendon play finals next year, Harry!

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