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The official AFL 'watchability' ladder

Roar Rookie
12th November, 2018
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Roar Rookie
12th November, 2018
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What makes for entertaining football is entirely subjective.

You might like to see a lot of goals, a tight contest, a close struggle where neither team gives inch, an open, free-flowing contest from end-to-end etc… You get the picture, there is no objective measure.

With that in mind, what follows is an entirely subjective ranking of which teams I would sit down in front of the TV and be happy that they were playing.

Introducing my ‘watchability’ list (way too early) for 2019.

1. Collingwood
Now, I am not a Collingwood supporter, I can’t stand them as much as the next person. However, it cannot be denied that they played inspired football in 2018.

They have individual stars, Scott Pendlebury and Jordan De Goey the two brightest. But more than that, they seemed to play at a higher tempo this year.

They played with dare and verve (a fantastic word), and it was genuinely exciting to see. It’s always fun watching the lumbering Mason Cox, and his preliminary final was one of the most extraordinary things I’ve witnessed in football.

However, Collingwood instantly drop to 18th once Eddie is shown on screen.

2. Adelaide
Perhaps I am remembering the Adelaide of 2017 here, but there is something exhilarating about watching the Crows go to work on Adelaide Oval and I’m backing them to get back to it in 2019.

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You really hear the crowd through the TV, and seeing Rory Sloane’s mop of hair farming out yet another handball to a running player who kicks it long is just aesthetically pleasing. Eddie is amazing to watch, and Tex, although not well-regarded among some, is fun to watch just for the way he carries on.

3. Melbourne
A bolter. Melbourne of three years ago under Paul Roos bored me to tears. Watching Nathan Jones huff and puff his way through the middle before spraying a 30-metre pass was just awful to see.

But they are changed now. Viney plays with passion you can actually feel, Oliver is the slickest in the game and the big man Max Gawn is a colossus. Their forwards are exciting, who’d have thought I’d enjoy watching Jake Melksham play football but here we are.

Their backline may be more reliable this year, which could impact on their watchability as it was edge of the seat stuff wondering what the heck Sam Frost and Oscar McDonald were going to do next.

4. West Coast
It used to be two words: Nic-Nat. Or is that one word? Anyhow, it’s now two words: Flyin’ Ryan. That guy is my favourite player in the game – bar none.

He flies for everything, is absolutely electric whenever the ball is near and I’d go to a game just to watch him. The rest of West Coast is a bit ho-hum, probably due to how methodical they are, great for consistency of performance but not always great to watch.

But Flyin’ Ryan has them top four watchability.

5. Brisbane
Bit of a risk here, but in terms of pure football the Lions just might play the purest. They’re quick, have an exciting batch of forwards (Charlie Cameron etc.) and take the game on.

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The thing is, they can be abjectly terrible in defence, so there’s always a chance you can turn on a Brisbane game and it might just suck because of how many mistakes they make. But hey, could be fun right?

6. Geelong
A real yo-yo team in terms of watchability. Some weeks, they’ll play high-scoring belters against other good teams, often falling five-plus goals behind before steaming home.

Other weeks, they’ll play the slowest football known to man, struggle to beat teams that they really shouldn’t struggle against, and the games will be the worst thing to watch since The Footy Show circa 2013 onwards.

But the fact they were involved in probably four of the best games of the year (Hawthorn, Bulldogs and the Demons twice) has to give them a guernsey high up. And you cannot deny they have star power in terms of players.

7. Essendon
Please please please footy gods let Joe the Mo Daniher get back to his best in 2019. He’s the whole package of watchability, massive marks, wonky kicking, and then antagonist to boot.

He just seems to enjoy playing footy and makes me smile watching. The rest of the bombers I find a bit plain.

Adam Saad I like, Jake Stringer can be fun but Devon Smith and Dyson Heppell? Boring. Hopefully Shiel adds something.

8. GWS
Look, their football can be brilliant to watch. Callan Ward is a beast, and Josh Kelly is so smooth I feel like Bruce watching Cyril.

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However, they simply cannot feature high up as I just don’t really care about them. They don’t really have any supporters, and you just don’t get that big game feel when watching them play. But put them in 16 other guernseys, and they’d be pressing for number one.

9. Richmond
Ok, this selection has been affected by personal bias. I cannot stand Richmond. I don’t like their players, I don’t like their administrators (a bit niche but I admitted my bias right) and I cannot stand their supporters since the flag.

It was absolutely brilliant seeing Collingwood rinse them, made only sweeter by the fact Collingwood then got done a week later.

However Dusty Martin is a star, and while I’m certainly childish, I do begrudgingly acknowledge his brilliance. I’m so-so about their style, their forward press can feel a bit plain, even if it is wildly effective.

Dustin Martin

Dustin Martin of the Tigers celebrates on the final siren (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

10. Western Bulldogs
Risk. Big risk. If the Bulldogs of the first half of 2018 turn up next year, I’ll check myself in. Yet they showed signs late that they were getting back to the Doggies of 2016.

They’re quick, they’re a bit out of control and they kind of don’t conform, which I love. Plus, Marcus Bontempelli. I’m backing he’ll get back to being a star, and one we all love watching.

11. Sydney
Buddy Franklin. Without Buddy, I’d have the Swans bottom couple for watchability. The SCG sucks, its always dewy and the football is just no fun to watch. But Buddy is always capable of turning it on.

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Honestly I’d struggle to name another Sydney player who makes it fun to watch their games. Also, and this isn’t really their fault, but we have to put up with BT yelling LLLLOOOYYYDDD 40 times a game every time Jake gets one of his cheap possessions. Spare me.

Lance Franklin

Lance Franklin of the Swans is one of the more high profile AFL free agents. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

12. Port Adelaide
What the heck happened to this team? They used to put on a show, slashing and dashing their way through the Adelaide Oval, kicking long to the ‘Hoff and the Chad.

Now the Chad is gone, and all their players are the same. Robbie Gray is awesome though, hopefully Jack Watts can focus on footy not swimming this year and they might improve their watchability.

13. North Melbourne
They’re an honest enough team to watch. Ben Brown is cool, and Higgins’ style of play is aesthetically pleasing. But they’re still very “meh”.

Games at Hobart aren’t all that fun to watch, the conditions always seem to make the skills poor? But I’m afraid they’re kind of irrelevant – don’t score highly on the big game meter which increases watchability.

14. Hawthorn
Tom Mitchell compared to Nat Fyfe, Pat Danger and Dusty – who would you rather watch play football? He might be a great player, but there’s not a whole heap of razzle-dazzle to titch. And that kind of mirrors Hawthorn.

A genius coach keeps them competitive, but now Cyril has gone, there’s not much excitement created at Hawthorn games. Like North, you know what you’ll get watching Hawthorn, but for me, it isn’t very exciting.

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15. Fremantle
Ross Lyon teams play ugly football. It’s hard to watch, and feels like a shame because players like Fyfe, Michael Walters and the Hill brothers are more than capable of turning on a show. But as it is, they play lockdown footy and are so scared of conceding they completely forget how to score.

But they gain a few watchability points for completely embarrassing Carlton at Docklands this year. That was so funny.

16. St Kilda
Unfortunately for Sainters, this club is the second most irrelevant in the league. Who is the best-known person at St Kilda? Probably Billy Slater, or Nick Riewoldt (is he doing something there?)

Their football often borders on incompetent, which is fitting because so do their off-field moves and coaching appointments. Jade Gresham keeps them above Carlton.

17. Carlton
This team is so bad to watch. They are undoubtedly worse than Gold Coast to watch from a football aesthetics point of view, but still, I’d rather watch Carlton than Gold Coast because they are at least a club with history.

Charlie Curnow looks cool, and Patrick Cripps is impressive to watch, but sometimes I wonder if he’s just sort of benefitting from being the only half-competent player in that midfield.

Carlton fans won’t like that I’d imagine. But seriously, Carlton cannot score and play ugly footy. Brendan Bolton looks more suited to Flemington than Princes Park.

18. Gold Coast
Fold the club. Move them to Tassie. Can anyone name a Gold Coast game that has been of any consequence? Every time I hear about the ‘QClash’ I want to vomit a little.

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Everything is just so plastic it’s like watching Geordie Shore. Actually, Geordie Shore would rate well above Gold Coast in terms of watchability.

So there you have it Roarers, what do you think? Who would come out on top of you watchability ladders?