Home ground advantage means more for, and to, some AFL teams than others

Ryan Buckland Columnist

By Ryan Buckland, Ryan Buckland is a Roar Expert

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    I’m not saying Richmond are no good outside of their home state. But it is clear the Tigers enjoy a home-ground advantage at the MCG that rivals any other team’s.

    We know this because in their past 34 games, stretching from Round 1 2017 to yesterday’s loss to West Coast, Richmond have won 18 of their 20 games at the MCG. They have won three from five at Etihad Stadium, and four from nine at all other venues (including one game at Kardinia Park).

    Over that stretch, Richmond have scored 97 and conceded 65.1 points per game at the MCG. This compares to 88.2 for and 87.4 against at Etihad Stadium, and 90.9 points for and 88 against at all other venues.

    Before any Richmond fan wants to throw down, one may do this very basic arithmetic for most any team in the AFL and get more or less the same result. For instance, West Coast over that stretch: 14-4, 98 points for and 77 against at both Subiaco Oval and Perth Stadium; 7-8, 84.2 points for and 89.6 against away from there.

    Who’s the flat-track bully? Everyone prefers conditions they are used to; I don’t much care for working interstate when I have to either.

    Separating home ground advantage from underlying team performance is like untangling Christmas lights with chopsticks. An upcoming book, Footballistics: How the data analytics revolution is uncovering footy’s hidden truths (which I was fortunate enough to have been involved in), has a crack at it. Yesterday’s top-of-the-table match between West Coast and Richmond – played, for the record, at the former’s home ground – loomed as an opportunity to test the skill-over-advantage hypothesis.

    Fortunate enough to be at the game (with my four-year-old Tigers-supporting daughter, that’s another story for another time), I saw aspects of both. That was, I saw glimpses when I wasn’t blinded by the mid-afternoon sun (despite paying what I’d consider a tidy sum for the privilege, also another story for another time).

    West Coast were irrepressible in attack, controlling the ball with both deft and daring kicks and a hard edge when it mattered through the middle. Their zig-zag, kick-heavy ball movement did to Richmond as it has done to their previous seven opponents: it kept the ball away from suffocating zones and made the Tigers play the game on West Coast’s terms.

    Jack Darling celebrates a goal

    (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

    Richmond laid just 42 tackles, an extraordinarily low number (their lowest in 2018) made even more extraordinary by the fact West Coast had the ball for 49 per cent of the game. Adjusting for that, Richmond laid 35.3 tackles per 50 minutes of possession, 46 per cent below their season-long mark.

    The Eagles, by contrast, laid 62.5 tackles per 50 minutes of possession. One more: 17 of Richmond’s 42 tackles came inside their forward 50, meaning just 25 were laid in the middle of the ground or behind centre. Again, extraordinary.

    The final margin would imply it was all one-way traffic. However, the second quarter was played in stark contrast to the other three. Richmond were able to win more than their share of stoppages, and got their renowned forward press tuned up perfectly for the narrower wings of Perth Stadium.

    Watching Alex Rance, Nick Vlaustin, David Astbury and Dylan Grimes go to work behind the ball was something to behold. Rance in particular was a delight to watch, influencing the play with his turn of pace and atomic clock timing, even though West Coast avoided kicking to his man more often than not.

    Richmond had 23 inside 50s to four that quarter and touched the ball the same number of times. A stoic defence from the Eagles meant the Tigers only managed seven scores, while the home team countered effectively enough to score twice from its meagre four entries.

    That was perhaps the most pleasing aspect of the game for West Coast fans. Slashing and dashing their way to 130 points was nice, but mash that together with the team’s ability to resist Richmond’s press and the whole package was on display. The cherry on top had to have been the ten-scoring-shot-to-six last quarter, the time in the game when Richmond have been running up points for fun against opponents in 2018.

    Jack Darling

    (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

    West Coast have been crunched into second favourite for the premiership on this weekend’s games. Round 9 included mostly troubleless wins by Adelaide, Sydney and Port Adelaide. They find themselves in the top six in both actual ladder terms and premiership market terms, behind Richmond and West Coast.

    The sixth team, Geelong, was taken down by a suddenly-inspired Essendon – seriously, is it going to take a coach being removed to motivate this group of professional athletes every week? – but that has been this team’s way for the entire Patrick Dangerfield era. None of these teams call the MCG home for most of the year. Richmond, deservedly sitting as market favourite, are the lone side which fits that description.

    How much of one is to do with the other? Are Richmond that much better than the remainder of the competition that they should be favourites for the flag? Or is the fact so many of this year’s contenders are based outside of Melbourne boosting the Tigers’ chances exogenously? Here we are with those Christmas lights again.

    There is one salient fact here: Richmond plays 14 of their 22 games at the MCG this season. West Coast, Sydney, Adelaide, Geelong and Port Adelaide play 15 combined.

    No matter your stripes, that has to play out in an advantage to Richmond. So it is that home ground advantage means more for some teams than others. And, perhaps, it means more to those teams than others.

    West Coast’s Round 9 win over Richmond wasn’t meaningless by any stretch. Beating the reigning premier by eight goals, wrestling the game onto their terms, is a great achievement. But with the MCG situation being what it is, there is no doubt it could have meant much more.

    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 (154)

    • May 21st 2018 @ 6:49am
      Bob said | May 21st 2018 @ 6:49am | ! Report

      The eagles three flags have all come against sides who don’t call the mcg home. It’s a ridiculously unfair advantage for Richmond and other vic clubs that the gf is played at the mcg every year.

      • May 21st 2018 @ 6:52am
        Rod said | May 21st 2018 @ 6:52am | ! Report


      • Roar Rookie

        May 21st 2018 @ 9:20am
        Pedro The Fisherman said | May 21st 2018 @ 9:20am | ! Report

        Agreed. The recent MCG deal shows that it is still the expanded VFL competition. The MCG for the GF (and other blockbusters) is OK given its capacity BUT make sure no side calls it home!

        • May 21st 2018 @ 9:46am
          Mattyb said | May 21st 2018 @ 9:46am | ! Report

          The sooner the league becomes an AFL rather than an expanded VFL the sooner the game has a chance to grow nationally.
          Just like VFL Hawthorn were thrashed away by non VFL West Coast and still were gifted a home GF we are now seeing VFL Richmond being thrashed by non VFL contenders away from the MCG on a regular basis.
          The game needs to award it’s premiership to a legitimate premier,in a legitimate match up.

      • May 21st 2018 @ 9:42am
        Perry Bridge said | May 21st 2018 @ 9:42am | ! Report

        Some non-Vic clubs get more access during the regular season than a club like North Melbourne has (in recent years) – which is ironic given up to 1999 North was a co-tenant.

        The MCG is one part of the equation – however – finals in Melbourne at the MCG in mid/late September – is far, far less like what the teams were conditioning to back in May-mid August. The warmer weather of September is a huge advantage to effectively all the non-Vic clubs.

        • May 21st 2018 @ 10:21am
          Davico said | May 21st 2018 @ 10:21am | ! Report

          Sorry are you seriously saying the Vic teams are at a disadvantage playing at the MCG during Sept due to the weather?

          Wow I really have heard it all now! This pretty much sums the Vic bias for me!

          • May 21st 2018 @ 10:35am
            Mattyb said | May 21st 2018 @ 10:35am | ! Report

            With Victoria being the Garden State there is far more pollen in the air than in other parts of Australia which could cause non VFL clubs to have the sniffles or hay fever during spring months,some of this pollen is also unique to Victoria meaning non VFL clubs have a lower immunity
            I’m not sure the weather in Victoria during Spring is a solid argument though..

            • May 21st 2018 @ 12:52pm
              Perry Bridge said | May 21st 2018 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

              Just thought I’d chuck something else in there……

              It’s all a bit silly really.

              The Crows played like Cows last year. Hard to blame the venue for that. The Crows are 2-1 from 3 GFs all against Vic opposition.

              And that’s fair enough that I bring those Crows games in ’97 and ’98 – when they were perhaps under dogs in both cases – into it – as the reference having been made to West Coast being 3-1 vs non-Vic on GF day, and 0-1 vs Vic teams but that was at VFL Park!!

        • May 21st 2018 @ 1:18pm
          Rod said | May 21st 2018 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

          Are you being serious?

      • Roar Guru

        May 21st 2018 @ 9:46am
        JamesH said | May 21st 2018 @ 9:46am | ! Report

        And it won’t change until every footballing capital city (Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide) has a state-of-the-art oval stadium capable of seating at the very least 60k. Only Melbourne and Perth hit that (Perth only just). Then you need to factor in the likelihood that Hobart will end up with a side at some point, yet will never have a stadium capable of seating more than 40k.

        When the AFL can attract 90k in footy’s traditional heartland they don’t have much incentive to change the status quo, irrespective of fairness.

        • May 21st 2018 @ 10:19am
          Davico said | May 21st 2018 @ 10:19am | ! Report

          Think you will find there is an 80k plus stadium in Sydney too.

          • May 21st 2018 @ 12:36pm
            TheBigFish said | May 21st 2018 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

            Was….redevelopment will see it rectangular.

          • Roar Guru

            May 21st 2018 @ 12:43pm
            Peppsy said | May 21st 2018 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

            Think you’ll find not even Sydney wants to play there

          • Roar Guru

            May 21st 2018 @ 2:32pm
            JamesH said | May 21st 2018 @ 2:32pm | ! Report

            ‘Oval’ being the key word. And if ANZ Stadium is your argument for sending the GF interstate, you’re losing.

        • May 22nd 2018 @ 9:20pm
          Fergus said | May 22nd 2018 @ 9:20pm | ! Report

          I really don’t get the 60k argument.

          The reality is the Afl and most of it’s fans are perfectly happy to let teams based in different states play finals at home but then come grand final day all of a sudden that extra 50-40000 counts? I just don’t get it, if seating is that important why let teams play finals anywhere but the G, why let GWS host a final at its home venue?

          besides a fair few grand finals at the g less people can attend then want to anyway so why 100000 missing out is that much worse then 50000 i don’t know.

          Personally i think there would be much more engagement with the grandfinal if the best team actually got the home ground advantage. They earned it after all. The current situation is also at odds with the AFL’s equalisation measures.

          All that being said i can’t see the grandfinal being held in Tassie or Queensland any time soon but can’t think of any good reason not to allow SA, WA and NSW to hold the grand final.

      • May 21st 2018 @ 9:48am
        DB said | May 21st 2018 @ 9:48am | ! Report

        What are you talking about? Geelongs home ground is the MCG – just ask Richmond supporters

      • May 21st 2018 @ 11:26pm
        Rob said | May 21st 2018 @ 11:26pm | ! Report

        Teams to have beaten an MCG home tennant since 1987 (introduction of Brisbane and West Coast)

        1988 Hawthorn beat Melbourne.
        1998 Adelaide beat North.
        2000 Essendon beat Melbourne.
        2002 Brisbane beat Collingwood.
        2003 Brisbane beat Collingwood.
        2011 Geelong beat Collingwood.
        2012 Sydney beat Hawthorn.

        Honorable mentions
        1992 West Coast beat Geelong.
        1994 West Coast beat Geelong.
        1997 Adelaide beat St Kilda.
        2001 Brisbane beat Essendon.

        Eagles supporters are a bunch of sooks – its very doable they just havnt done it.

        • May 21st 2018 @ 11:38pm
          Don Freo said | May 21st 2018 @ 11:38pm | ! Report

          They’ve done it 3 times. The people complaining here are not WC fans. They are mainly fans of other clubs.

          I say leave it at the G. It doesn’t make any difference.

        • Roar Rookie

          May 21st 2018 @ 11:51pm
          Mattician6x6 said | May 21st 2018 @ 11:51pm | ! Report

          Sooks really, 6 gf for three premiership over 28 years, multiple preliminary finals as well as fairly permanent final appearances.
          We love it at the g cause law of averages says wce are likely to win again sooner rather than later.

        • May 22nd 2018 @ 8:25am
          me too said | May 22nd 2018 @ 8:25am | ! Report

          none of essendon, st kilda, north, and geelong are MCG tenants.

    • May 21st 2018 @ 8:01am
      I ate pies said | May 21st 2018 @ 8:01am | ! Report

      Let’s not start this argument yet again. The only advantage that Richmond have is that the grand final is played at the MCG. If it they manage to make it to the grand final it’s an advantage; otherwise it’s not.
      Meanwhile, West Coast get the advantage oft he most shocking umpiring bias in the league. For example, at one point in the third quarter a Richmond player took a mark on the wing, McGovern overstepped the mark by 2 metres, you could hear the umpire saying “back two metres” to him, he didn’t move and eventually the Richmond player was called to play on. The umpire obviously didn’t have the guts to call the 50 metre penalty that was plainly there that would have put Richmond in a scoring position at a pivotal point in the game. Then of course, West Coast got the ball and kicked a goal straight away. I was staggered that the umpire actually told him to get back and then just ignored him to the point of making the other player play on.
      That sort of thing happens all the time in Perth. Another example – Darling getting a free kick for holding the ball at the top of the goal square. The Richmond player was tackled as he got the ball, but the umpire did what the crowd told him to do and gifted West Coast a goal.
      It goes on and on like this, every week, in Perth.

      • Roar Rookie

        May 21st 2018 @ 9:22am
        Pedro The Fisherman said | May 21st 2018 @ 9:22am | ! Report

        And the Perth sides receive exactly the same treatment when playing in Melbourne, as do the other “interstate” teams.

        • May 21st 2018 @ 9:50am
          I ate pies said | May 21st 2018 @ 9:50am | ! Report

          No they don’t. Long term data supports this.

          • Roar Rookie

            May 21st 2018 @ 10:27am
            Pedro The Fisherman said | May 21st 2018 @ 10:27am | ! Report

            So you are suggesting that all interstate teams receive more free kicks than their opponents regardless of where the game is played? Where is the data supporting that premise?

            • May 21st 2018 @ 11:32am
              I ate pies said | May 21st 2018 @ 11:32am | ! Report

              No I’m not, and you know it. I’m saying that the home ground advantage for non-Victorian teams in Perth and Adelaide is greater than the home ground advantage for all other teams because of the terribly biased umpires in those towns. I provided examples from the weekend where the umpires seemed afraid to make a decision against the home team. This favouritism is not replicated anywhere else.
              Long term data supports this theory.

              • May 21st 2018 @ 12:51pm
                Steve said | May 21st 2018 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

                The earth is flat…long term data supports this

              • May 21st 2018 @ 2:29pm
                I ate pies said | May 21st 2018 @ 2:29pm | ! Report

                Steve, long term data doesn’t support the earth being flat. What a ridiculous post.

              • May 21st 2018 @ 3:07pm
                Steve said | May 21st 2018 @ 3:07pm | ! Report

                So stating something and then claiming long term data supports it doesn’t make it true…hmmm, whoda thunk it!

              • May 21st 2018 @ 4:57pm
                Mikey said | May 21st 2018 @ 4:57pm | ! Report

                I ate pies – I have been searching for this long term data you refer to but can’t find it. Where exactly can I find this data?
                You gave some examples from your observations of the game yesterday but that doesn’t constitute “proof” That is just your opinion seen through the vacuum of your pre-conceived prejudices.

                I would suggest that if this data your refer to does exist then umpires would now be doing the opposite to what you are asserting.. They get paid (and keep their jobs) on their ability to umpire the game as fairly as they can. Sure they make mistakes and some umpires are better than others, but that doesn’t mean they are deliberately favouring one side over the other.
                If data existed that “proved” they were favouring the home side then I am sure this would be discussed and addressed at their performance reviews. If they kept doing it they woudl lose ther job.

              • May 21st 2018 @ 11:30pm
                Rob said | May 21st 2018 @ 11:30pm | ! Report

                Its out there – i remember seeing it published last year… its mainly West Coast BUT these stats probably coincide with the seasons they dropped their knees in tackles and got a huge amount of high frees

              • Roar Rookie

                May 21st 2018 @ 11:35pm
                Mattician6x6 said | May 21st 2018 @ 11:35pm | ! Report

                Geez think your referencing the dermie article, I’m sure the ghost writer put in hours to bang that tripe out, also was produced in 2012 if I remember, basically it was a rant about shuey and Scott selwood.

              • May 21st 2018 @ 6:02pm
                Kiama Chris said | May 21st 2018 @ 6:02pm | ! Report

                Very interested in which umpires come from/live outside Vic. Certainly none that umpire in NSW. Silly comment.

          • May 22nd 2018 @ 9:08am
            Lroy said | May 22nd 2018 @ 9:08am | ! Report

            That myth about the Eagles and home town umpiring decisions has been debunked numerous times.

            A South Australian professor wrote a thesis that conclusively showed Victorian teams received more free kicks home and away against interstate opposition and his conclusion was that it was a parochial bias. Ergo, Victorian umpires tended to look more favorably upon Victorian teams than non Victorian teams.

            That’s why we need more South Australian and West Australian umpires. And during finals, preliminary and grand finals especially where interstate teams play Victorian teams, the umpiring panel should be from a neutral state.

      • Roar Rookie

        May 21st 2018 @ 9:36am
        Lamby said | May 21st 2018 @ 9:36am | ! Report

        Except this is a meaningless Rnd 9 game. You get the advantage in the GF

        The Crows play like an away side in a GF and suddenly the Media and Richmond supporters question the player’s integrity. When Rance gets taken apart by Jenkins away from home there is crickets.

        • May 21st 2018 @ 9:51am
          I ate pies said | May 21st 2018 @ 9:51am | ! Report

          Is that the best you’ve got? Some whinging Adelaide supporter finds a light hand on a shoulder as evidence of bias?

        • May 21st 2018 @ 9:51am
          GJ said | May 21st 2018 @ 9:51am | ! Report

          When Rance gets 4 kicked on him in the first half by a perennial whipping boy, he gets shifted onto an 18 year old second gamer. And still has limited impact

        • Roar Guru

          May 21st 2018 @ 9:55am
          JamesH said | May 21st 2018 @ 9:55am | ! Report

          I’m a bit torn re that video. On one hand, there does seem to be a few questionable calls or non-calls. On the other, the creator doesn’t appear to understand some pretty essential rules. Just within the first couple of minutes:

          – Betts was not within 5m of the ball when he took Rance out of the contest. The ball only takes a fraction of a second to fall 5m from a kick so it was clearly further away than that.

          – If a player decides to take the advantage when it turns out not to be advantageous, tough.

        • May 21st 2018 @ 10:06am
          Brian said | May 21st 2018 @ 10:06am | ! Report

          The GF umpiring was poor but should not determine how the league is run.
          Ryan is incorrectly assuming teams play better at home because they are used to the conditions. The truth is teams play better at home becuase of crowd noise and human psychology, the umpires favour the home team.

          This should not happen on GF day because you have a much more neutral crowd and hopefully the best umpires. That it happened last year was unfortunate.

          However if Richmond do make it to this year GF they will have much less support then last year from the crowd and much less umpire bias.

          • May 21st 2018 @ 12:02pm
            Joe B said | May 21st 2018 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

            The Sydney Swans also experienced the neutral crowd, and neutral umpiring when they played the Western Bulldogs the previous year.

            Home ground advantage also means no travelling, and sleep in your own bed.

      • May 21st 2018 @ 9:55am
        Lroy said | May 21st 2018 @ 9:55am | ! Report

        I guess you missed the last 2 grand finals where the visiting sides were crucified by the umpires, frankly it was so bad those umpires should never be allowed to adjudicate another game again.

        • Roar Rookie

          May 21st 2018 @ 10:22am
          Lamby said | May 21st 2018 @ 10:22am | ! Report

          Except, the umpires in the 2016 GF (where the media and umpire panel said they were ‘poor’)
          Matt Stevic, Simon Meredith and Scott Jeffery.

          Umpires in the 2017 GF:
          Matt Stevic, Simon Meredith and Shaun Ryan.

          So 2 of the 3 umpires who did such a bad job in 2016 were allowed to do an even worse job in 2017. WTF?

          • May 21st 2018 @ 11:33am
            I ate pies said | May 21st 2018 @ 11:33am | ! Report

            Whinge, whinge, whinge. The better teams won on the day(s).

            • Roar Rookie

              May 21st 2018 @ 11:53am
              Mattician6x6 said | May 21st 2018 @ 11:53am | ! Report

              IAP-Best teams won agreed, but your whinge about wce is well a continuous whinge.
              Even if wce won the wooden spoon you’d still whinge that unfair umpiring lead to it.

              • May 21st 2018 @ 12:42pm
                I ate pies said | May 21st 2018 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

                Yeah true. I just find the bias incredibly frustrating…another example; on Friday night the Dogs had about 65% of the possession in the first quarter but the free kick count was 8-2 in favour of Adelaide. The umpires ignored obvious free kicks to the dogs and umpired like it was a wet weather game, but gave Adelaide holding free kicks that would be soft in the dry.

              • May 23rd 2018 @ 6:42pm
                Fairsuckofthesav said | May 23rd 2018 @ 6:42pm | ! Report

                Bit rich given the Dogs have made an artform out throwing the ball.

          • May 21st 2018 @ 12:08pm
            sammy said | May 21st 2018 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

            Grand final umpires should be selected from neutral states to limit as much as possible any home state bias. That should be a given as it takes one query out of the equation

            • Roar Guru

              May 21st 2018 @ 2:41pm
              JamesH said | May 21st 2018 @ 2:41pm | ! Report

              I don’t think that will help. The suggestion isn’t that the umpires themselves are biased towards a particular side, but that they are influenced by the home crowd.

              • May 21st 2018 @ 6:00pm
                sammy said | May 21st 2018 @ 6:00pm | ! Report

                I am not sure I agree. Yes there is some home crowd factor, but take last year – an SA team v a vic team and we have no SA umpires and 3 vic umpires. There is still a tribal state based rivalry – particularly with SA and Victoria and when you have neutral state umpires, it takes at least that factor out of it

        • May 21st 2018 @ 11:34pm
          Rob said | May 21st 2018 @ 11:34pm | ! Report

          As a neutral supporter who couldnt have given a stuff about the result of last years borefest – a team that plays as crap as Adelaide did is always going to give away more free kicks… and dumb free kicks. You can only sook about the umps if you get close not thrashed

      • May 21st 2018 @ 10:17am
        interstater said | May 21st 2018 @ 10:17am | ! Report

        Agreed, Richmond have to make the GF for it to be an advantage.

        But don’t go on about home/away free kicks. It’s well known & documented that home sides in all sports (on average) get good calls from umpires – which includes Vic teams hosting interstate teams!

      • Roar Rookie

        May 21st 2018 @ 11:11am
        Mattician6x6 said | May 21st 2018 @ 11:11am | ! Report

        Re: darling free
        Astbury I believe it was received the hand ball, heard footsteps. Fumbled, regained controlled possession and was tackled.
        He had prior and free was given.
        I won’t change your mind and it gets more obvious as the dogs don’t produce this will be your pet subject each week.

        • May 21st 2018 @ 12:43pm
          I ate pies said | May 21st 2018 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

          Come off it. Watch it again. He never had possession before he fumbled it. As soon as he took possession he was tackled.

          • Roar Rookie

            May 21st 2018 @ 4:32pm
            Mattician6x6 said | May 21st 2018 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

            Nup, watched game again and was a free, would be a free anywhere. Simply put there are Vic based sides who by lack of support never get intimidating crowds, unfortunately these are also the sides the afl tends to fixture wce to play in Vic, not our fault vic sides lost competitive advantage with closure of more suburban grounds, I would argue money should be invested in refurbishment of agreed ground so then the bullies, saints etc could fill it and create a hostile environment. Look at how your mob did that in 2016 at spotless, and then look at etihad. Hard to create atmosphere in a cavern.

            • May 22nd 2018 @ 9:26am
              I ate pies said | May 22nd 2018 @ 9:26am | ! Report

              Nope. You’re wrong.

              • May 22nd 2018 @ 4:02pm
                Doctor Rotcod said | May 22nd 2018 @ 4:02pm | ! Report

                Nope,you’re wrong.Watched it three or four times.He had possession,took a fumbling step,got tackled,free(most days)

    • May 21st 2018 @ 8:21am
      Liam said | May 21st 2018 @ 8:21am | ! Report


      It’s a little specious, though, to argue the value of a home ground advantage at the MCG versus having one in Perth without calculating how often that home ground advantage comes into play. For example, Adelaide’s home ground advantage is negated once/twice a season, as they only host a single co-tenant at their home ground; it’s part of what makes a derby so much more appetizing as a spectacle. Aside from those 1-2 games a season, every home match comes with that advantage available to Adelaide. If we calculate how many home games Adelaide played against opposition last year for whom their home ground advantage applied, you would get the Giants, Bombers, Tigers, Demons, Dockers, Saints, Hawks, Dogs, Cats, and the Swans; 10 matches, for 1 loss at home.

      Collingwood, on the other hand, played 14 games at the MCG last year, with their games coming against opposition who are either interstate/their home ground is at Etihad being the Dogs, the Cats (which barely counts, because Geelong play some of their home games at the G), the Lions, the Power, the Crows and the Cats again. Six games where their home ground advantage is in play, and it’s arguable that Geelong doesn’t quite count, as they occasionally play home games at the G. Their record in these matches was 2 wins, 3 losses and a draw; hardly the same kind of mileage Adelaide gathered from their home ground advantage.

      It’d be interesting to do this kind of breakdown competition wide, but I don’t have that kind of time, and only including a single year is not allowing for statistical anomalies, but let’s make one thing unambiguous. Home ground advantage is, as is proven by this article, a real phenomenon, but to use such a claim as a reason to take the grand final away from Melbourne whilst still preserving the home ground advantage enjoyed by some interstate sides is a self interested argument to make.

      PS: not what I’m saying you’re saying, Ryan, just getting in before the majority of the comments – and some already penned – start to do exactly that.

      • May 21st 2018 @ 10:22am
        interstater said | May 21st 2018 @ 10:22am | ! Report

        Good comment Liam – much better than “well build a bigger stadium” comments.

        Interstate teams play much more Home AND Away, while Vic teams play a lot of neutral games.

        But, the GF in Melbourne is a clear advantage for a Vic team that makes it, if playing an interstate side. That’s obvious.

      • May 21st 2018 @ 10:53am
        Johnno said | May 21st 2018 @ 10:53am | ! Report

        Comparing Collingwood record to Adelaide in 2017 doesn’t make a lot of sense.

        • May 22nd 2018 @ 11:08pm
          Liam said | May 22nd 2018 @ 11:08pm | ! Report

          I was looking for a side that had a substantial history of playing games in Melbourne, at home, in front of big crowds. Collingwood seemed to be a decent choice.

          And seeing as that was your objection, I recognised the limits of my analysis in my post, via the paragraph towards the end.

      • May 21st 2018 @ 12:17pm
        Mattyb said | May 21st 2018 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

        Liam,I agree with what you’re saying there.
        I think this problem arises from the fact we have to many VFL sides in the competition,10 is simply to many and makes little sense when the majority of support is for the bigger clubs while the smaller VFL clubs need to be propped up by the rest of the competition,with little long term gain.
        It still won’t be perfect,but if we reduced the VFL clubs to a more sensible number of around 6 this situation would be alleviated somewhat.
        Having an expanded VFL rather than a true AFL is a big part to many of the competitions current failings.

        • May 21st 2018 @ 6:08pm
          Kiama Chris said | May 21st 2018 @ 6:08pm | ! Report

          The AFL will not reduce the number of teams. The TV deal.is based on providing a certain number of games. This is a big part of why GCFC and GWS were created. Crowd support is important but still secondary.

        • May 21st 2018 @ 11:41pm
          Rob said | May 21st 2018 @ 11:41pm | ! Report

          Problem is you joined the VFL. The AFL is not some “super league”… its the VFL with a new inclusive name. Im not sure you can really demand profitable clubs just leave the league to make it fairer to the non Victorian sides that CHOOSE to join a Victorian based competition…

          • May 22nd 2018 @ 11:34am
            Mikey said | May 22nd 2018 @ 11:34am | ! Report

            Hey Rob – the only reason the VFL allowed interstate clubs to join was because many clubs in the VFL were going broke and would have folded without the injection of cash from the interstate clubs. Several of these Vic clubs are still benefiting/being propped up by the national comp.
            People talk about the cost of the Northern expansion clubs but having these teams added millions to the last broadcast deal – Those extra millions are now being used to help struggling Vic clubs survive. .
            So while you are correct in saying the interstate teams “chose” to join the VFL, you are kidding yourself if you don’t acknowledge it was a win/win for both parties.

            And I think 30 years down the track, you need to get over the idea that this comp is still really just an expanded VFL. If all the interstate clubs decided to break away and form their own league the VFL would last about 5 minutes.

        • May 22nd 2018 @ 9:40am
          Perry Bridge said | May 22nd 2018 @ 9:40am | ! Report


          Reducing the VFL clubs to a more sensible number is more a logic to apply to the NSWRL clubs in the NRL – but hey – they kinda did that post Superleague anyway.

          The AFL has a massive strength in the ‘home’ states – and the rating/attendance/participation fortresses that are Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide are much stronger home markets than either Sydney or Brisbane is for the NRL.

          It would be dangerous to cut away at the VFL heartland of the AFL simply because even the lesser clubs are running around 35-40,000 members and that is the envy of every other code in the country.

          A game like soccer is big, in Sydney and NSW and Nrthn NSW. It might be able to claim #1 on participation by some stats and interpretations – but it’s Australian heartland is Sydney which is the NRL fortress and the AFL has a solid incursion.

          Point is – if the AFL cut back on clubs in Melbourne you then disenfranchise many thousands of fans/supporters and create a vacuum to allow the other codes in. No way is that a good idea just to appear more ‘fair’. The reality is that Polly Farmer and Barry Cable and Malcolm Blight etc headed to the VFL to test themselves in the best league. Don’t sweat it.

          I’m actually a big fan of further expansion – go 20 teams and 2 conferences – have more players playing and create more opportunities. Set up a Pacific Academy in Fiji and see the talent that can come through.

      • May 21st 2018 @ 12:21pm
        sammy said | May 21st 2018 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

        But going on from this, Richmond this year play 14 games at the MCG and 3 games at Etihad – that is 17 of 22 games where they don’t have to leave the comfort of victoria to play. The crows get 11 home games but have to travel interstate 11 times and winning games interstate is a lot harder than winning games in your own state with the travel effect. So you could argue that yes richmond have to play co tenants and etihad tenants more often than the crows have to play a co tenant of Adelaide oval, but the travel the interstate clubs have to make negates this disadvantage. It is then in the finals where an MCG tenant that has performed well in the H & A season gets a massive advantage as the GF is on their home deck – earnt or not and with all the benefits of home ground advantage for the team and the supporters and the umpiring, it means the interstate team has to be clearly the better team than the MCG tenant on the day to get the win as if both are evenly matched talent wise, the other factors influence the result

        • May 21st 2018 @ 2:41pm
          Neil from Warrandyte said | May 21st 2018 @ 2:41pm | ! Report

          Crows travel 10 times, not 11, unless you consider they have to travel when playing against Port.

          • May 21st 2018 @ 3:17pm
            sammy said | May 21st 2018 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

            tis a short trip against port, but yes 10 times interstate. still double that of the tigers

        • May 21st 2018 @ 11:45pm
          Rob said | May 21st 2018 @ 11:45pm | ! Report

          But Adelaide CHOSE to join a league where they at the time were the only team in that state. And from memory you only exist because Port wanted to join and you didnt want them too. If you dont like it theres heaps of leagues in SA you can play in…

          • May 22nd 2018 @ 8:41am
            Sammy said | May 22nd 2018 @ 8:41am | ! Report

            It is either a NATIONAL comp or it is not. Currently it is a quasy VFL comp trying to pretend to be a national comp but failing on a number of fronts

        • May 22nd 2018 @ 11:14pm
          Liam said | May 22nd 2018 @ 11:14pm | ! Report

          There is an anomaly like that every few years; in the season where West Coast made the grand final, I believe they had a similar kind of statistic, if not quite that absurd.

          In an ideal world, home ground and travel distance wouldn’t play a role in the determination of a result, but this isn’t an ideal world. All my post extends to is to point out that only dismantling the advantage that MCG tenants get if they make it to the grand final – or if they come top 2/4 – is unfair if you consider the seasonal advantage drawn from a greater home ground advantage during the home and away year.

          The way I’ve always seen it is that it’s easier to win a Grand Final for a victorian side, but it’s harder to get there.

    • Roar Guru

      May 21st 2018 @ 8:29am
      Rick Figjam said | May 21st 2018 @ 8:29am | ! Report

      And the No $#!t award goes to….. Ryan!

      I don’t need a book to tell me the Melbourne Cup is Australia’s greatest sporting handicap, because it isn’t! The AFL Premiership is.

      Bob has alluded to this above, and I was going to write about this at some stage, but today appears as good a time as any.

      For those who believe the MCG home ground advantage means nothing due to the amount of interstate teams that have won, relative to MCG tenants, well understand this: The Hawks are the most successful team in AFL history with 5 Premiership Cups. Not one did they win against a MCG tenant. In fact, the only Grand Final they didn’t win at the MCG was at Waverley Park in 1991 against guess who…. the Eagles. I won’t add further fuel to the fire by letting everyone know whose training ground this now belongs to, along with which team played the most amount of H&A games at this venue in 1991!

      What is success? Premiership Cups? Well, to some, yes. However, success comes in many forms with the Cats having the highest win-loss ration of any team in AFL history. They’ve also been in the most amount of Grand Finals in AFL history, winning two of their three Cups against non MCG tenants. Guess which team is the second most consistent…. the Eagles – winning all three of their Cups agaisnt non MCG tenants along with an impressive win-loss ration during the H&A period.

      What do these two clubs have in common? Home ground dimensions (well not any more with Optus stadium) with both having long, yet skinny decks relative to the MCG.

      The Lions bucked the trend when they famously won their triple. However, does anyone want to guess which ground has the most similar dimensions to the MCG?

      Anyone who wants to argue this means little, needs to play footy at the elite level. Anyone who wants to argue to just train on wider grounds needs a reality check. You can’t just train to wider conditions, especially against modern zones that evolve from week to week. The Hawks and Richmond enjoy the benefit of drilling their highly impressive zonal defences, and attack, week upon week at match intensity level. This is known in the sporting world as a hanicap; especially on Grand Final day if one of these teams is involved against a non MCG tenant.

      1. Rotate the Grand Final. This won’t be happening anytime soon so let’s move on.
      2. Change the MCG dimensions on grandfinal day to Etihad Stadium’s dimensions. It’s the only purpose built AFL stadium in the country and represents a good balance between all AFL grounds around the country.
      3. All interstate teams are given an extra 10 thousand tickets for their fans. If they’re not taken, they’re open to the public.

      Just a few quick and simple solutions that could be implemented immediately by the AFL to help mitigate against inequity.

      Do we really want to see another try-hard Hawks team belted by 10 goals in the finals away only to then beat the same team, 3 weeks later, in the Grand Final on their home deck? Do we really want to continue watching a Richmond team losing miserably away, yet pretend they’re the best on Grand Final day at their home?

      Come on. It’s starting to happen already. The Vics, of course, are oblivious to this fact, but the integrity of the competition, along with Grand Final day is coming into question.

      • May 21st 2018 @ 8:53am
        Fairsuckofthesav said | May 21st 2018 @ 8:53am | ! Report

        Very good argument. Trouble is Vics have their heads in the sand on this. It is still an extended VFL as it is a ‘national comp’ on the former’s terms. Wasn’t that long ago that interstate teams had to play a home final at the G. Shows that the journey to overcome Vic hegemony is a long one.

        • May 21st 2018 @ 9:54am
          I ate pies said | May 21st 2018 @ 9:54am | ! Report

          We don’t have our heads in the sand, we just don’t care. It’s our game, our competition, our tradition so it’s our ground for the grand final. You ring-ins can sook all day if you like but it won’t an iota of difference.

          • Roar Guru

            May 21st 2018 @ 10:23am
            Rick Figjam said | May 21st 2018 @ 10:23am | ! Report

            I understand your frustration in knowing your team is not the best. You’re the person I feel for the most.

            The AFL needs to amend this issue before it’s too late.

          • May 21st 2018 @ 10:26am
            Davico said | May 21st 2018 @ 10:26am | ! Report

            Fine take it back and see home much money you can generate for the game without the other states watching.

            The sport would be a dead duck within 20 years

          • May 21st 2018 @ 10:27am
            interstater said | May 21st 2018 @ 10:27am | ! Report

            It seems I gave Vics too much credit.

            I thought a lot of Victorians just didn’t understand, but it seems you understand but have no interest in making the competition fair.

            • May 21st 2018 @ 11:34am
              I ate pies said | May 21st 2018 @ 11:34am | ! Report

              Spot on.

          • May 21st 2018 @ 10:28am
            DJW said | May 21st 2018 @ 10:28am | ! Report

            Except if it wasn’t for the ring-ins a number of your clubs would of gone bankrupt…

            • May 21st 2018 @ 11:34am
              I ate pies said | May 21st 2018 @ 11:34am | ! Report

              If it wasn’t for my club, and the rest of the VFL, you wouldn’t have a club.

              • May 21st 2018 @ 12:01pm
                GJ said | May 21st 2018 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

                Personally, I would still be happily supporting Norwood

              • May 21st 2018 @ 12:22pm
                Brendon the 1st said | May 21st 2018 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

                Yeah umm, my club Port Adelaide existed before the VFL so you keep on telling yourself that.

              • May 21st 2018 @ 12:45pm
                I ate pies said | May 21st 2018 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

                The SANFL doesn’t count. The footy world revolved around the VFL.

              • May 21st 2018 @ 2:00pm
                GJ said | May 21st 2018 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

                Because you say so? Odd comment

              • May 22nd 2018 @ 8:34am
                Smee said | May 22nd 2018 @ 8:34am | ! Report

                Dude, are you 12?
                This is the best you can come up with?
                Its not too far off ‘my dad can beat up your dad’ as an actual argument.

              • May 22nd 2018 @ 4:27pm
                Matto said | May 22nd 2018 @ 4:27pm | ! Report

                Nah wouldnt’d be 12. Id guess about robert walls age.

              • May 22nd 2018 @ 9:26am
                I ate pies said | May 22nd 2018 @ 9:26am | ! Report

                Dude, it’s true.

      • May 21st 2018 @ 10:46am
        Brian said | May 21st 2018 @ 10:46am | ! Report

        Oh Rick you really could do better

        • Roar Guru

          May 21st 2018 @ 11:09am
          Rick Figjam said | May 21st 2018 @ 11:09am | ! Report

          Any advice on how, The Best, can become even better?

          • May 21st 2018 @ 12:27pm
            Mattyb said | May 21st 2018 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

            I thought your suggestion was reasonably solid Rick.
            It certainly takes the middle ground approach which i think is the best way to tackle the problem. While the competition is to Victorian centric we still need a solution that keeps the VFL clubs happy to some extent.

      • Roar Guru

        May 21st 2018 @ 12:52pm
        Peppsy said | May 21st 2018 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

        I don’t see how Hawthorn having a bad week in the first final, and then dominating the rest of the finals, is an argument for the unfairness of the MCG. They’d already beaten West Coast in Perth that year, so its not like Hawthorn were clearly worse if the GF was played in Perth instead.

        • Roar Guru

          May 21st 2018 @ 1:13pm
          Rick Figjam said | May 21st 2018 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

          How does the West Coast having a bad game on GF day mean they’re not the best? This is the problem with a Finals system where the Premier is decided over one game instead of the season like the EPL.

          I have no issue with the format, but I do have a big issue with the equality within the format.

          • May 21st 2018 @ 6:07pm
            Brian said | May 21st 2018 @ 6:07pm | ! Report

            1991 not a great example Hawthorn beat West Coast in week 1 of the finals in Perth so deserved to play the Grand Final in its home state. Given the MCG was unavailable Waverley was clearly the best stadium available in Hawthorn’s home state

            • May 21st 2018 @ 9:34pm
              Doctor Rotcod said | May 21st 2018 @ 9:34pm | ! Report

              You do remember,of course that due to AFL fixturing,the Eagles travelled five times in six weeks?
              Before your time probably or else you’d take it into account before posting a specious and fact-light comment.

              • May 21st 2018 @ 9:50pm
                Brian said | May 21st 2018 @ 9:50pm | ! Report

                That’s not true at all. West Coast played at home in round 22 and 23, had an away game in round 24 then hosted Hawthorn in Perth in the first week of the finals.

                They did then travel but that was because they lost the first final to Hawthorn. That was and is still the point of top teams meeting in the first week. They hardly traveled because of some bias. They traveled because they lost at home in Week 1.

                Its just false to think that somehow West Coast were cheated when Hawthorn beat them twice comfortably home and away in September.

      • May 21st 2018 @ 1:05pm
        Kane said | May 21st 2018 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

        Not sure about No.3. 10,000 x 8=80,000. The G holds about 100,000. 10,000 tickets to each team contesting the game isn’t many.

        • Roar Guru

          May 21st 2018 @ 1:14pm
          Rick Figjam said | May 21st 2018 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

          I’m talking about 10000 extra tickets to non Victorian teams. Vicrorian teams will always have more fans attending for various reasons. This would at least mitigate somewhat against this advantage.

          • May 21st 2018 @ 5:59pm
            penguin said | May 21st 2018 @ 5:59pm | ! Report

            You missed the 2 out of 3 argument. First at MCG, second interstate, third back at the MCG. Or 3 at the G.

      • May 21st 2018 @ 11:49pm
        Rob said | May 21st 2018 @ 11:49pm | ! Report

        OR West Coast can leave the MELBOURNE BASED LEAGUE THEY CHOSE TO JOIN and play in one of the many leagues nased in WA. Maybe not the Upper Great Southern though. You wont like travelling to Williams.

      • May 22nd 2018 @ 8:31am
        Smee said | May 22nd 2018 @ 8:31am | ! Report


    • May 21st 2018 @ 8:59am
      Rex said | May 21st 2018 @ 8:59am | ! Report

      Once again its proven – Richmond cant play outside of their comfort zone ground. Port will clean them up next time they are forced to travel more than the 4 km down the road to Etihad.
      Luckily for them the VFL have insured they dont have to worry about travel too much!

    • May 21st 2018 @ 9:29am
      me too said | May 21st 2018 @ 9:29am | ! Report

      Posted this on another thread about the MCG advantage

      Since the Cats returned the Premiership to Victoria in 2007 only one interstate team (and no etihad team) has beaten an MCG tenant in either a prelim or a grand final – the Swans in 2012.
      GF record in that time for MCG teams is 6 wins from 8. Interstaters 1 win from 6, Etihad clubs 1 win from 3.

      Of the long run of interstate premierships before that only the Lions beat an MCG tenant at the G. The Eagles beat the Hawks at Waverly.

      The G is simply too big an advantage for home teams and the AFL needs to find a way to equalise it.
      I suggest all vic clubs call Etihad home and all play an equal amount of G games, whilst interstate teams are given an equal amount of games at both Melbourne stadiums. The very big blockbusters can remain, but the vast majority of game crowds would fit into either stadium.

      • May 21st 2018 @ 9:53am
        Lroy said | May 21st 2018 @ 9:53am | ! Report

        Eagles actually lost to the Hawks at Waverly, must have been the Cats the following year 😉

        • May 21st 2018 @ 11:00am
          me too said | May 21st 2018 @ 11:00am | ! Report

          sorry, that’s right – the hawks home ground was of course…Waverly.
          So that just leaves the lions and swans as the only interstate victors against MCG clubs.

          • May 21st 2018 @ 11:51pm
            Rob said | May 21st 2018 @ 11:51pm | ! Report

            Adelaide beat North in 1998 – north called the MCG home back then.

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