AFL National Reserves Competition?

There is uproar over here in South Australia with the Crows reserves in the preliminary final of the SANFL competition this weekend. Likewise Peel Thunder (the Dockers reserves) and the Sydney Swans reserves played the GWS reserves in the Grand Final of the NEAFL competition. This was after Sydney had thrashed Aspley and GWS likewise against Sydney Uni in the preliminary finals.

GWS subsequently won by four points – their first trophy as a club.

The VFL is a mixture of mostly AFL reserves sides with a few standalone clubs which, in fairness, Port Melbourne in particular have done well over the last few years.

On an SANFL basis I will list the pros and cons of the AFL reserves sides being in the competition (please add your thoughts in the comments.)


1. The SANFL sides get to test themselves out against AFL players. In particular a gun returning from injury eg. Taylor Walker returning after his knee injury and may help the SANFL players’ chances of getting drafted.

2. The Crows in particular pay a dividend back to the SANFL and each club receives
$50,000 and the Crows also play all their games away so the SANFL clubs receive another couple of home games (why is there not the same rules and regulations for Port Power ???).


1. It is not a level playing field eg. a Friday night game the SANFL player works all day and then has to play while the AFL full time footballer can have his massage and rest during the day and play that night.

2. SANFL salary cap for each side is basically about the individual AFL contract of $300,000 – $350,000. So Nathan Van Berlo playing SANFL this year would be on a higher wage than the entire opposition (that is not having a crack at VB merely stating a fact).

3. AFL sides’ aim is to try and win the AFL premiership. Winning the SANFL flag is not their main goal eg. The Crows are playing this Saturday night. If they win but cop an injury or two players will be withdrawn from playing in the SANFL preliminary final.

4. Minor round SANFL game the main aim is to prepare players for AFL duty eg. Riley O’Brien is getting beaten in ruck by Sam Baulderstone. The Crows will quite often be happy with this as O’Brien is learning and getting ready for the next level – winning is not the main goal.

5. If the Crows win Saturday night Paul Seedsman and Ricky Henderson can play in the SANFL final on Sunday as the AFL side are still alive. Lose and as they have not played enough minor round games they are ineligible.

I have listed factual points above, ok, for people not aware of my own position.

I firmly believe an AFL reserves competition is a MUST for the good of the game. People say what about the cost, that the AFL can’t afford it and it is a waste of money. What a load of CRAP – the AFL have just negotiated a $6.5 BILLION media deal. In general the Afl reserves costs are meant to be $3 million max – geez chicken feed. Especially considering how many millions have been poured in to Gold Coast and GWS and now the starting up of the women’s competition.

SANFL players are privately seething about the strength of the Crows side. There has been talk of making a rule re. how many AFL listed players there can be in each AFL reserves side. Surely that defeats the purpose of having a reserves side.

Hey Rulebook, there wasn’t this hullabaloo when your beloved Redlegs were playing cough cough Port Magpies in the 2014 Grad Final. No that is a fair point – while in reality we all knew the Magpies had died and that it was the Port Power reserves, at least it was still bloody Port. No the fact it is the Crows has made it worse.

I hate that in that I am a one-eyed Crows AFL supporter and can be barracking for a player one week and then they are the mortal enemy the next. And, make no mistake, footy followers and players are just as dark in WA, NSW and Queensland.

The SANFL clubs spend a large amount of money on game development eg. Norwood in the Eyre Peninsula not only working the zone with clubs identifying players. Then if the player is down here in Adelaide organising to get the players to training quite often from schools spread all over the state this costs plenty of bread and honey. If this has to be cut back, obviously the game at ALL levels suffers in the end.

In summary the negatives in my opinion far outweigh the positives of having AFL reserves sides in a suburban state-based competition. How in the hell the AFL cannot work that out and make sure state-based clubs and completions are well funded and supported has me stuffed!

After all, unless there are strong feeder completions underneath there cannot be an AFL competition, WAKE UP AFL (I invite your response for what is arguably the biggest current footy issue ) remember the VFA has already effectively been killed off to a large extent.

Please share the article the topic is vital.

Agree or Disagree ?


  1. Knee jerk reaction . Going by theory of money earned that means that Australian Cricket test team should have thrashed Sri Lanka in th test series? Steve Smith + Dave Warner would earn more than the Sri Lankan test team. Centrals should have been banished from SANFUL after winning 9 flags in 12 years, yet still they are still here. If you want to get rid off port + crows from sanf they cant expect to get any money from adelaide oval afl games and then they become part of SA amateur leauge. SANFL is a recruiting ground for AFL + avenue for other players to play in best comp outside AFL regardless of other jobs they have

  2. Rulebook – I can see both sides of the argument. Yes I agree an AFL reserves comp. is the way to go & yes agree it can’t be for financial reasons. But, if Eutopia ensued, where would the SANFL be in 5 years without Crows & those Port mongrels!? As a person who played 9 years at SANFL level pre & post Crows, I suggest it would become an insignificant comp in time . & standard wise much worse off. In fact eventuality possibly non-existent as we will have the AFL & then the SANFL/Amateur League level as one or separately but equivalent standard.
    I suggest those that desperately want the Crows & Port out of the SANFL look beyond the Crows having a freakish injury free year & look longer term how it could look without them. My beloved Norwood I watched in 2014 just beat a very strong Port in the GF. A well coached & great team will always beat a team of individuals.
    I think calm & rational heads needs to prevail before SANFL supporters etc shoot themselves in the foot!!

  3. Ideally that would be the case but the evolution of the game has created different situations in different parts of the country. Aligned clubs are much better resourced and supported and therefore tend to be stronger.

    In WA and SA the AFL clubs in those states help to prop up the local competitions through annual dividends as per their license agreements. The crowds at the WAFL and SANFL games are often no different to that at suburban fixtures. Without AFL money coming in they would struggle to continue. The AFL wouldn’t fund a reserves and state based competitions.

    In Victoria the VFA was dying in 1995 when the AFL took it over. In 1983 there were 24 clubs and within 12 years they had lost Berwick, Brunswick, Camberwell, Caulfield, Dandenong, Geelong West, Kilsyth, Moorabbin, Mordialloc, Northcote, Oakleigh, Prahran, Sunshine, Waverley and Yarraville. Since then Preston and Springvale have also disappeared by stealth, Frankston have recently entered administration and Coburg are on their knees. The Victorian clubs are not obliged to assist other VFL clubs so only Port Melbourne and Williamstown are independent and strong due to their owning a number of hotels with poker licences. A reserves competition would kill off the remainder of the VFL.

    Up north the AFL plough huge amounts into the NEAFL to try and grow the game there. There are very small crowds and without the AFL that competition would fold.

    A national reserves competition would kill off second tier football in the eastern states and would cost a similar amount financially as to what it does currently to prop up the VFL and NEAFL. It creates uneven playingfields at second tier level but at least it retains a second tier for players who aim to play at a higher level and would never get noticed at suburban level.

    Personally I would love to see a return to the original VFL, 12 clubs on suburban grounds with the Reserves as curtain-raisers but the competition was going bankrupt with that setup. I understand and support your argument but it would never be in the best interests of the AFL unfortunately.

  4. Would clubs like East Perth, West Perth, Norwood, Port Melbourne, Williamstown and South Port put their hands up to play in the National Reserves?

    Would be interesting to see if new AFL clubs would use the national reserves as a route into the senior AFL ala Central Districts. Maybe a Tasmanian team could spend a few seasons in the reserves?

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Totally agree there should be a national reserves comp. The SANFL & WAFL especially have been very much compromised.

    Whether they should be curtain-raisers is a different matter. Understand the need to preserve the surfaces of AFL grounds. Personally I absolutely love watching the Collingwood VFL team play at Victoria Park before heading to see our AFL team play at the MCG. Would like to see that happen more often.

    But a national reserves comp would have big ramifications for VFL clubs. The AFL has totally destroyed the old VFA. Williamstown & Port Melbourne are strong clubs. Werribee, Sandringham & North Ballarat do well. I’d fear for the rest.

    I was a big fan of the VFA. Barracked for the Preston Bullants. Would watch the match of the round every week. So many characters in the old VFA. The 1990 GF, where Billy Swan (father of Dane) kicked a 60m goal to win the game for Williamstown over Springvale is right up there with the best games of footy I’ve ever seen. Yet now my team, the Bullants, are now called the Northern Blues. Wearing Carlton guernseys, playing most games at Princes Park. Only a few games at Preston’s Cramer St Oval. They’re nothing to me now. I just have my memories of the great Jamie Shaw kicking bags of goals at the venue, as well as my 4/60 off 18 overs at Melbourne Country Week as a 16 year old off-spinner at that venue.

    Any comp where not everyone is hellbent on winning the major prize is not a worthwhile comp!!

  6. I think this is a one off situation – the Crows have virtually no injuries and therefore no top-up players in their SANFL side so it is unusually strong at this point in time. This is the first year the Crows have made the finals and they finished 4th in the regular season so clearly not dominate during the regular season where they had injuries covered with top-up players from as low as Div 3 SAAFL . If they were so superior then you’d expect them to dominate the whole season and finish top.
    While I think that a National reserves competition makes sense and I agree with the fact that the funds should be available, I do have a question as to where the additional players come from? The AFL list has 42 plus rookies – just enough for 2 full teams with no injuries. Where do the top-up players come from? If it is from the SANFL then aren’t we just weakening that comp anyway and questioning the credibility in a different form?

    I think that one of the conditions for the Port Adelaide entry into the AFL was that they maintain the Magpies in the SANFL hence were not required to pay a fee to stay in the competition they were already in. Plus the Power were basically broke at the time. I think that that it would be a shame not to have the Magpies in the SANFL – a loss of significant rivalries with many clubs but Norwood in particular would be the poorer without the Maggies to beat every now and then.

    I don’t know enough about the other State comps to comment.

  7. I love the financial argument against a national reserves competition. A national reserves comp would actually save the Giants (and Swans & Suns & Lions) money.

    At present, when our senior team is in Perth or Adelaide or Melbourne, our reserves could be in Brisbane or Darwin or Wagga, with a full set of runners, physios, medical staff, coaches support staff etc and paying for hotels and buses and whatever. Send both teams to a single location you could cut down the support staff and get a better deal on hotel rooms and stuff.

    Vic & SA & WA reserves teams never have to travel at all. Ever. Not only do we travel, we often have to travel in different directions at double the cost.

    It’s also not of a standard that the VFL or SANFL is so the development of players becomes an issue. Who cares if you rack up 40 disposals a game and kick 5 – it’s only the NEAFL

    So we’re spending all this extra money on a lesser competition.

    Bring on a National Reserves Competition as soon as possible please.

  8. Iam not a fan of afl in sanfl , but alot of thought is needed , be careful for what we wish for , ? I have are we sanfl suppoters ready to be a 3rd rate comp , with afl ressies sides cleaning up the best of the sanfl players as top ups it will happen . I dont have the answer just my thoughts

  9. Lots of good thought provoking comments here,.
    While I agree there should be a reserves comp in the AFL I think it should probably just be the Vic teams, the SANFL will suffer too much without the two AFL clubs, The Crows SANFL team has had a good year due to lack of injuries, look at the number of players playing in the team that would get a regular game in at least 8 current AFL teams, wait a few years and then see where the SANFL is heading before pushing the two teams into a national comp
    Just my thoughts cheers

  10. Malcolm why have the SANFL crowds dropped off so dramatically the last, what, 2 years? Is that related to the presence of the Crows & Power in the SANFL? If so how? And if so how does that inform the approach going forward? What is the end objective? To provide life support for the SANFL or to have a legitimate, vibrant 2nd-tier comp? Those really engaged in footy clubs understand – at a visceral level – that it is the exposure to the raw humanity that motivates them. In the midst of giving they sustain and enrich themselves. It’s a beautiful thing. You can touch this at some AFL games but you are necessarily somewhat removed. I fear for the country clubs that have historically sustained their town / region and which are dropping off. Why? And what’s the AFL doing about it? The SAAFL touches over 10,000 young men & women – I’m talking players only – every weekend. Add to that number admin, support, etc. and you see how broad the reach is there. How does this inform the SANFL debate? Important issues, I agree.

  11. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Mariusz and others to me it is NOT whether crows or the power are winning its the fact that winning a SANFL flag is NOT there main goal winning a Afl flag is just like the exact same situation happens at SANFL reserves level it is the INTEGRITY of a 140 year old competition it is about players and clubs being on a far more level playing field..Thanks Ducks and as some 1 who played in both eras at the level I appreciate and understand your perspective unfortunately it is becoming a competition where the traditional SANFL followers are losing interest by the minute and while I well and truly see your long term point re where the competition will stand in the scheme of things it is happening now which I detest and yes to some extent are disulionsed with.Mark ( every ne ) I wrote this article as I love the SANFL and am interested in every ones thoughts.aussie80s a excellent post and one which is hard to argue with especially financially ironically a number of SANFL clubs are close to there death bed financially as it is,
    Glenelg being the latest yes clubs should not spend out of there means but common sense financially and footy clubs do not go hand in hand as we all no I realise there are no simple answers but the lack of support financially from the Afl in general is a disgrace.William that is a interesting discussion point also again comes down to bees and honey and Afl support and long term planning..Luke re curtain raisers yes it presents problems if it is wet bug overall curtain raisers have been played since Adam and Eve were eating apples bring em back I say ! the warm ups are the same for both sides and is fair.The destroying of the old VFA comp is a sporting tragedy and while clubs are well and truly at fault for over spending and poor business models and let’s face it the VFL competition was headed in exactly the same direction before the interstate licence fees and then the subsequent tv and media rights rescued the obpverall game ( well bowled by the way) to me your last sentence is the crucial one in the whole debate..
    Charle P ( also a noted off spinner) agreed the crows lack of injuries is more than likely a one off but the fact the crows got better organised this year re there top ups and while having few injuries they have still played a significant role in the crows overall achievement as I have said tho that to me is not the main issue integrity and level playing field is.Charlie your point re weakening the competition any way re having to find extra players for afl reserves is well and truly valid again at least it becomes a level playing field which to me is the main thing.Steve thank you and your point is well made and which very few people are aware of and is well and truly a argument in the yes basket for a national reserves competition thank you for bringing this to the table.Rob and Coke both well reasoned and valid re the debate and calm reasoned debate is exactly what is needed in the current footy landscape thank you

  12. Chad Mclaren says

    Yes I think its time for the AFL Reserves (again). Simple the reserves play before the senior team each week. The AFL fly all the teams around for the NEAFL, and now its become a joke with the Swans and GWS playing off in the Grand Final! So we may as well get a more relevant competition, pay for a few more seats on the plane, all the reserves players play for their clubs and everyone stays together. Fans get to see the up and coming players at the club play before the senior game. I dont think we are reinventing the wheel here!

  13. Chad Mclaren says

    Further thoughts , the SANFL will still be a development league for the AFL, so regardless of AFL reserves sides in the competition there will continue to be funding from the AFL. I look at the big picture and not necessarily the Crows dominance in this years finals series. The different models for AFL reserves sides in their ‘local’ competitions across the country is very unprofessional and messy. Why wouldnt the AFL want to create a level playing field for all clubs?

  14. 9am AFL Reserves game. 11.30am AFL Women’s game, 2.30pm AFL game. What a day at the footy!

    The spirit of the argument is right RB. There is a concern of the long term impact on local comps. I don’t know enough about the mechanics of the relationships to give a firm view.

  15. Michael Swain says

    The main purpose of the AFL reserves in the SANFL is to have their Reserve’s playing for their AFL sides. The main purpose of the 8 SANFL Club’s is to Win the Premiership. So let the main purposes of both these be acheived! Let the AFL Reserves clubs play against the 8 SANFL Teams throughout the Minor round only! Make the SANFL Last Round of the Minor Round to Align with AFL Preliminary Weekend. SANFL Final’s series to start on Friday Night on the AFL grand final weekend with only the 8 SANFL club’s to be competing.

  16. Dennis Little says

    Amateurs V professionals one player can earn the whole salary cap of an SANFL team shame on the club directors that let this happen to a once great competition and who also wiped out the Port Adelaide debt they have effectively killed our comp.

  17. Dennis Little says

    Malcolm the only way SANFL will survive is for the crows and power reserves were included in a national competition and play on the same day as the seniors at the same venue,this would also alleviate the cost of playing one off games.AFL and SANFL need to do less backslapping and look at grassroots football administrators need to look at underage football where their commodities come from .

  18. Afl reserves is needed. At least this would give us a level playing field instead of professionals against amateurs. My club is experiencing a decline in membership mainly from long termers. Not enough youngsters signing up. Sponsors taking their money elsewhere as well. As for the extra “4000 “each week,well that never happened. Eliminating the bye, including the state game,we had five this year.

  19. The undisputed world’s greatest football club, aka AUFC, has a history of bending spoons and knocking off rich amateur clubs. The Crows & Power reserves are not undefeated. The Crows are just enjoying a run with few injuries and admittedly access to much greater resources. The sporting gods will level this out and more importantly a good team will emerge to knock them off. Gods, a tweaking and enforcement of the finals eligibility would be a start.

  20. Great reading. Thank you..
    I believe SANFL crowds have been dropping off since the birth of the Adelaide Football Club in 1991..
    No, i havent done any research, but ive been going to SANFL games for over 25 years and you do notice these things.
    Wouldn’t this have a negative financial effect on all the SANFL clubs.?
    Explains why the Bays and, not so long ago, Westies have had tough times.
    who will be next.?
    Well, hopefully no one.
    If we can continue to have AFL reserves in the a price of $50,000 for each club.. then wouldnt that make life a little easier for each club.?
    I personally think it should be more. We need to cover the loss of income from the 30,000+ spectators that dont come out to support their SANFL clubs anymore, for what ever reason.
    Just on that, i really am discusted by the lack of Crow supporters at the final games for the last 2 weeks…
    50,000 supporter base.. I doubt there would have been 500 at either game..
    I dont know the answer. Maybe promotion/advertising of the SANFL a lot more than we do now.

    Anyway…Go the Double Blues..?

  21. Michael Power says

    Port Adelaide pays how much can have an academy side plays games at Alberton . If no afl seconds Comp then cut port Adelaide back or give Adelaide the same right excluding the oval they should be forced to play all SANFL teams at that teams oval

  22. To suggest this is a rare occurrence, it has happened twice in the first three years of the SANFL with AFL reserves. Port had 19 AFL listed players in the 2014 Grand Final (the effort from Norwood in that finals series was out of this world) and the baby Crows had all of their 21 on an AFL list on the weekend. Both teams tipped South Adelaide out of those finals series. Then you have last year where Port finished second but, because the AFL side was not in the finals, did that thing that’s not called tanking but is not really caring whether you win. Ok, I still won’t complain about Port losing finals…

    My concern is about the extent football matters to people. The AFL reserves sides take the lion’s share of the interest in the SANFL, including most of the TV games that the SANFL pays to be telecast. Any time their participation has the appearance of compromising the competition, whether it be a fully professional organisation thrashing a good state league team or not caring about the result (let’s face it, it’s not a priority), people care a little less. The AFL is externalising indifference and the state leagues, desperate for the scraps from the table so they can actually put money to developing junior footy, are copping that indifference.

    But that’s all just a whinge on my part. The AFL couldn’t give a stuff. The argument for a National Reserves comp needs to be a financial one. Is there a way to make $ from it in terms of more TV product to sell or something else? I just don’t know. I’ll keep going down the Parade because that’s the way I like my footy. But I don’t think I’ll bother with the AFL reserves sides are playing next year. I’ll start caring when they do.

  23. Malcolm, very well presented and balanced argument for a National Reserves Competition.

    Crowds have certainly dropped. I don’t go as often now, and have only been to 1 game against an AFL Reserves Team, albeit a Grand Final. The SANFL programming has been diabolical, in what appears to be an attempt to align a shorter SANFL season with a longer AFL season.

    No-one wants to acknowledge that the Crows submission to play in the SANFL was flawed form the start.

    We had crowds of 4,000 Crows supporters spruiked about, then watered down to 2,000 in a financial Feasibility. No-one read the fine print.

    The Crows right from 2014 (after entering) have claimed that this 2,000 was a crowd average for their games…….not the number of Crows Supporters that would go in addition to the opposition supporters.

    So here we are with what they promised.

    But in reality, these Crows games with an average of 2,000, have replaced many traditional games, that would attract 3,000 to 6,000 supporters. We had a 20 round season, where certain Clubs would play each other 3 times.

    Plenty of times Norwood would play Sturt, North or Glenelg at The Parade and get a 5,000 plus crowd. (Twice in one season). They’ve now been replaced with games against the Crows that get 2,000.

  24. totally agree with you Rulebook, it is time for an AFL reserves comp. Play before the main game. The ovals are pristine and should hold up, god they are constantly worked on these days. ANd big deal if on the odd occassion the ground is a little muddy – it is a winter sport. I prefer the SANFL even though the standard has fallen from pre AFL days, but we all knew that was going to happen. The Crows and Power in SANFL have not added to local crowds and they do not play in the comp to win the flag – that is regarded as a bonus, it is all about players gaining touch or fitness and the focus is the AFL obviously. The AFL has plenty of coin and should be putting more into the state levels to support it. Look at cricket, I mean these days you get nobody at first class games and do the ACB care? They are rolling in money also.

  25. Yeah AFL needs a national reserves comp I reckon. Crows and Port are all about developing their young players and less about winning anything. Also pretty unfair playing field.

  26. There must be an AFL reserves comp.
    NEAFL – As mentioned earlier the AFL linked teams travel constantly anyway but often play on inferior hard or poorly drained grounds, this causes injury. Way too many byes. Its a dogs breakfast of a schedule. The only good thing about the NEAFL is watching the indigenous lads from the Thunder.

    Agree that that AFL reserves teams play for different reasons to the local club teams. The Lions constantly playing people out of position to improve or test their defensive/attacking/inside skills. The local club teams play people to their positional strengths to win games. It is a compromised competition whether the AFL linked teams finish first or last.

    As a Double Blue supporter – I cant believe I’m saying this – I would much rather win or lose a Prelim or Grand Final to Norwood than the Crows or Power.

    Dips, your game day schedule has merit and I think the AFL grounds are so well maintained that most would cope with the wear and tear.

  27. If a National Reserves Competition can be financially viable, then your proposal has some merit (replacing the duplicity of state-based leagues with one national reserves competition instead.)

    However, I have reservations that we’re at this stage…yet.

  28. Simple solution. Play the AFL Cancers in our Reserves competition. They get to keep their side together and the League comp goes to a sixteen round play each other twice season with INTEGRITY!!!

  29. I miss the days when I could go see the u/19s play, then the reserves and then the main game. It’s probably the main reason I stopped attending footy games. I want value for money so give me a curtain raiser and I’ll start attending more often. My wife loves going early to NRL games so she can watch their curtain raisers. Until then, I’ll keep my season ticket to my couch!

  30. After reading this and all the comments my brain hurts. I think Aussie80’s summed it up best in that the various states are all in different stages of development and operating in unique circumstances. Then there are so many parochial interests and complications within each scenario – not to mention the financial viability of clubs, competitions and that of embarking on a national reserves (most sports – even the A-League – find it difficult to keep one pro national comp afloat).

    It’s no wonder the whole issue seems to have been filed in the too-hard basket.

    All I would suggest to those invested in the football state leagues is to do everything they can to sort themselves out and create strong, viable competitions. Otherwise they risk big brother coming in and stripping them of their meaning and history with some bastardised cure-all that appeals only to ‘the industry’ and bugger all fans.

  31. The suggestion by Michael Swain perhaps is worthy of more thought.
    Let Crows and Port play the SANFL minor round but not finals as he said.
    At the same time revert SANFL Finals to a top 4 but with 1 v 4 and 2 v 3 on AFL Semi final week and then a SANFL Grand Final on AFL Preliminary Week. The 1v 4 gives the minor premiers a reward for being top.
    The shorter SANFL Final series may not be so welcome but perhaps the above suggestion may be a better way of overcoming the current problems and keep all parties happy?

  32. If every AFL side had a reserves team, they’d have to significantly expand their lists, well beyond 50. So that would mean taking even more good players out of the state leagues only to have those players running around in the Crows and Port magoos in games no-one really cares about. Port v GWS reserves at 11.30? No thanks. The ‘problem’ has only arisen this year because a/ the Crows are in the AFL finals and b/ they’ve had hardly any injuries all year, so the SANFL team has been very strong. That combination of circumstances are once-in-a-decade stuff. Do we fundamentally overhaul the structure of the entire sport because of one outlier year? Best solution is a cap on number of AFL-listed players allowed in SANFL team, maybe 11 (half the side). That would mean that even in an unusual year like the Crows have had, they wouldn’t have as much overflow talent in the SANFL team.

  33. I dont understand how the Crows are doing so well if they are not trying to win ie. it is not their main objective. The games i went to looked like normal football games to me. Occasionally yes they will pull a player out or keep playing them when they should be dropped but surely this is not a major issue and is actually a hinderance to them winning the flag. I get the feeling that SANFL club supporters want to change the rules so they can never win the flag. Before these teams were in the SANFL i bet there were players who just were playing to get back on an AFL list not really to win the SANFL flag for their team.

    Normally the crows and power should have twice as many players injured because they have injuries to their afl players and sanfl players twice as many to get injured and the topups are no world beaters so years of dominance are unlikely.

    Pulling out 40 players from the local comp will lower the standard if the AFL teams leave which would discourage spectators even further.

    The fact that Centrals dominated for years has diminished the sanfl spectator numbers over the last 10 years. What is the statistical chance of 10 premierships in a row with an even playing field (equal salary cap), not high i would have thought.

    I think some Crows supporters who dont follow a sanfl team much are put off going to the games in greater number by the atmosphere where you feel almost ashamed to applaud for fear of being heckled by some died in the wool sanfl club fan who hates afl and what it has done to the game.
    I do understand that it prickles the ego of some of the sanfl players when Milera or Menzel is too good for them but that is sport eventually someone will be too good for you if you play long enough. It would be frustrating

  34. If the SANFL clubs think their competition is a better one without the Crows and Port, why are we having this discussion ? – Get rid of them
    If those that believe the SANFL is compromised, stand for election on the Commission and make a difference. The SANFL clubs are in effect in owners of the SANFL so take the arguments up with your respective SANFL Clubs but short of that, stop f*cking whinging.

  35. Stephen Parker says

    Malcolm an interesting topic. My opinion is that the SANFL needs the Crows and Port reserve sides in the league competition. The Crows recent run of few injuries and good form has now tested the public’s tastebuds. Port doing well in the SANFL finals would not get as much whingeing. The AFL Crows will determine the fate of the SANFL Crows over the next 2 weekends. As firstly a Sturt supporter and secondly a Crows supporter I am barracking for Sydney Saturday night! Anything to help Sturt get over the line. I don’t think the Crows Reserve side will beat the Eagles in the Grand Final this year. The Eagles are a very good team. After last year, the Eagles will not let another GF slip no matter who the opposition is. I was surprised how poorly South played last weekend against the Crows.

    I am a firm believer that a major structural change such as placing the Crows and Port reserve sides in the SANFL league competition should be tested over a long period of time (10 years). Forming a National AFL Reserves competition now would be a poor knee jerk reaction.

  36. Malcolm Ashwood says

    A bit rough when work interfered with the Knackery agree,Chad thanks,Dips.Michael definitely some merit in the idea just not sure how there for virtually trial matches against the Afl clubs would be received.Dennis and Gary thank you.Daddsy nails it in reality if people get frustrated and lose there passion re doing the work the comp collapses any way.Harty agre especially re more money.Michael yes how,Port are allowed to have far better conditions than the crows is another article in itself.Dave as usual spot on ! Jags,,Campbell and Daly correct weight and all clear.Grando agreed I think Browny is spot on it needs to be tied in re the media deal.Fester I love your passion for SANFL and the legs but nup 30 goal wins every week complete waste of time.Tim agreed I was likewise always at the curtain raisers as well.
    Chris agreed re the blacks( I reckon you might feature next week but as JD alludes to it is a very complex issue.Paul certainly deserves consideration.CL yes but the comp would have integrity which it is lacking now that is the key point.Byron it is not the players it is the fact that it can not be a focus of the crows re winning eg VB came off in a game agains the roosters on a Sunday as the crows were playing on the Saturday and he was likely to play Afl so they were worried about his workload,VB didn’t want to come off.King interesting perspective but not easy for a Benny barbecue to get on a SANFL board as we no there is more politics in sport than in politics if people keep voting with there feet and leaving the SANFL it will force the crunch just not sure if the Afl have enough nous to prevent this happening
    thanks folks this is a vital and emotional topic with not a right or wrong bug it needs sensible debate which is happening courtesy of the Knackery as a writer thank you for the opportunity it is something I greatly appreciate and do not take for granted.

  37. If/when Crows and Power enter a PROPER AFL reserves competition, may I suggest that Chaplin be captain of one of the sides?

  38. Good points, Rulebook – I can understand the mixed emotions that must be in play for supporters of the Crows and a local “non-Crow” SANFL team.

    However, I am in the camp of being careful about a knee jerk reaction to an unusual scenario regarding the Crows having a great run injury wise. But even with that, why should it be considered a catastrophe if they were to win the flag? I was more bored/bothered by Centrals’ long run due to salary cap differentials…. Surely, if it is to truly be a competition then all teams would have a chance of winning. As yet neither Port nor Crows have won a SANFL flag, and in Melbourne the AFL affiliated sides do not dominate the VFL – the integrity of the competition is balanced by the more experienced teams versus the AFL listed kids in general. I think it (Port Adelaide or Adelaide winning the SANFL flag) will happen but there is nothing wrong with that – I’ll agree with the concern if and when we start to see both Port and the Crows regularly atop the SANFL ladder (such as we see in the NEAFL). Until then, my view is “nothing to see here, move along…”.

    Further, I suggest that if Port Adelaide and the Crows were to leave the SANFL then that would be the end of the SANFL as we know it – we already have a number of clubs on life support and the financial hit of losing two of the larger drawing crowd teams would be the death knell IMO. I know for one that this Port supporter will no longer go to the occasional game at wonderful Alberton Oval…

  39. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Skittle interesting point I don’t reckon it is a knee jerk reaction re integrity tho and cmon,Rabs,Chaplin is allowed to play scum as long as he brings the cartons each week no need to obliterate the crows or power ! Thank you

  40. So the upshot really is there needs to be a business plan of the whole industry throughout the country from the very top to the very bottom, as would happen in any business. But we all know that will never happen and the AFL doesn’t truly worry about the whole picture,l and the AFL only really worries about their comp. and the elite youngsters coming through!! That means a summit with all leaders in the one room from the AFL to all state leagues to all amateur leagues … Even affect on junior leagues. All views heard and thrashed out and the consequences of all decisions understood by all leagues moving forward. At the end of the day the AFL comp. / industry earns the media rights from the show that is put on and the business returns for this media investment back to them via advertising …. Right now it appears to me to be very segmented and non-inclusive. Anyone in business knows that’s a recipe for disaster. Daddsy’s post earlier today, to summarise, if I’m allowed to have that license and have interpreted him correctly ( sorry if incorrect Michael), is about “club culture” and ” volunteering” time for personal reward two-fold back, which I understand and agree with, but there is a major consequence if that’s what you want now. As per my comments last night, if that’s what you want for the SANFL now ie like it was in the 1970’s-1990’s when I played and experienced and fully appreciate and loved it, then fine. But all need to understand the SANFL will be the approx. the same standard as the Amateur Leagues in a short period as player payments and club expenses will be on a par due to loss of income. Still a terrific standard and not denigrating it, but not as good clearly .Unlike now. So let’s say have a scenario with the SANFL with the 8 teams ( minus Crows and Port, as if no Crows then can be no Port obviously which immediately takes something significant away from the competition 140 years or so history of not having such an influential and successful club that has helped make the SANFL what it is) and loss of income as a result from dividends etc etc with a significant less salary cap and other outgoings in keeping depending on the dramatic income loss. My question Rulebook and Daddsy – if the crowds are less the last two years in the SANFL with the Crows and Port involved as stated – if hypothetically the scenario above occurs what will the crowds be then? Will more Norwood, North, Sturt … fans come back on Saturday arvo to watch their team again? Will they be happy to watch the standard of footy on show every week? Will more people volunteer their time because the club culture is better questionably? Will clubs more likely to survive than now – maybe? Off course the AFL don’t care truly about the SANFL. But we also can’t live in the past. Yes, the 1970’s-1990 had the best of both worlds we all loved. But let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot for the thirst to experience this again. As I said, calm and realistic heads need to prevail moving forward in the SANFL. Otherwise I can see in 10 years sites like this stating “if only…” And my 9 week old son asking me when he’s 12, who Norwood was when he asks me who I played footy for!!

  41. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Ducks outstanding and all totally valid questions and areas in which the Afl have been palpable failures
    only disagree with one point yes in fantasy it is still the redlegs v magpies in reaility we now play the power reserves the magpies are dead thanks,Mark

  42. If the Crows win the SANFL premiership there wil lbe no celebtations at the club etc. and a SANFL club misses all that revenue.
    On the other hand the AFL club most often will struggle with injuries etc this season is an aberration.
    A reserves comp is a must but the current set up is not a disaster.

  43. Paul Ploenges says

    Having been involved directly with SANFL for the last 21years, I reckon 2 games where a professional outfit vs amateur teams is too quick to declare everything is over for a competition that has been around for many years with many challenges.
    At first I wasn’t a fan of the 2 outfits in our competition, but have settled for it being the best to challenge the 8 sides to be better.
    I am a South Adelaide tragic and hurt from last week but we were in the game and challenged them enough to be able to find a way.
    The 8 teams need to find the way through hard physical close to the rules footy. This may make the professionals think a bit more.

  44. On you Rulebook. A corker.

    I’m with you. I’ve got two mates who are borderline Sydney players. When they are not in the Swans team they go down to a level where they and the Giants win by 20 goals each week. It neither makes them close game tough, or is fair on the amateurs from the other clubs.

    Same with a good mate who plays for Coburg. I went and watched them play against the pros from Richmond. It’s like his club is just there to act as fodder for the AFL boys. But they are a young club, and playing against opposition of that level would very much help those who want to be drafted. They would be seen by scouts every week.

    It’s tricky, but as a lover of local footy I think the cons outweigh the pros. The AFL should stop using the next level down as its own play thing.

  45. Lorraine Munday says

    The Crows have had a remarkable run this year with very few injuries , to say they shouldn’t be in the SANFL is ridiculous , next year may be entirely different , credit must go to Brett Burton and his staff , they have kept the Crows fit and well ,look to past times when Port were winning every year , then there was Sturt year after year , but I don’t remember anyone saying they should be kept out of the SANFL because they were too strong , just give credit where it’s due .

  46. Nicely balanced piece “Rulebook.” Both WAFL & SANFL competitions are essentially feeder or development leagues now. Having your own Reserves team with your staff can only help the transition from Reserves to AFL.
    In the West, Subiaco have dominated for the last decade in the WAFL and allegedly, rorting the salary cap by about 300k each season. East Perth (West Coast) and Peel (Fremantle) are both competitive but struggle for consistency with the constant changing of personnel.
    The SANFL needs to liven up their comp – for a start they should start playing for 4 points and not 2. We may need to see another merger similar to Torrens & Woodville that has been incredibly successful.
    A good WAFL or SANFL player does his chances no harm performing well against professional in September.

  47. Another comprehensive and fair/balanced article mate. Hard to disagree with anything you’ve said. Two points that resonate with me are…

    The fact that the AFL reserves teamsvhas made me come to resent the crows, who I’ve previously supported passionately.

    Great point about the TV deal. The money would be there. AFL reserves not a priority. The priority is the women’s league. Great for the women out there that want to play, don’t get me wrong, but the motives of the AFL are hardly gender equality. The motive is that women, more to the point, mothers, often ultimately decide whether their sons play footy or soccer (often, soccer seen as the safer sport). The AFL have been very open in the past about lifting female engagement rates (by engagement, the AFL mean playing and watching) in the game for this very reason. The second reason, more female engagement means more memberships, tv viewers and ticket sales. Ultimately with the AFL, the almighty $$ always wins.

  48. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Tangentially related to this Book, why so many byes in the ten team SANFL? Madness.

    I remember in the Crows early years having a SANFL match as the curtain raiser. Surely there is scope for more AFL curtain raisers, even if they have to finish a hour before the main event.

  49. Neat and Tidy says

    Victorians will disagree but we’d all be happier if there was no AFL and stronger VFL, SANFL, WAFL

  50. Terrific post Rulebook. One of your best. And the comments are thoughtful and should be compulsory reading for the administrators of the AFL and all the State Leagues. I know the WAFL is about to embark on a major strategic review – paying a squillion to some international consulting firm. I reckon they should have engaged Rulebook & Associates.
    Like JD my brain hurts when I think of all the implications. My gut tells me that while Rulebook is correct about compromised integrity and fairness, his National Reserves “solution” would create more problems than it solves. Politics and public policy is littered with unintended consequences.
    I have a peripheral involvement with the WAFL through my nephew at the financially struggling Swan Districts. The way in which the club brings together the local community and families is amazing. Mary and I have unexpectedly formed lasting friendships. And young men (and their girlfriends and sisters) find mentors and meaning at a time when many are alienated, angry and tempted by the transitory escape of drugs, booze, gambling, crime etc. Local footy clubs (and their associated netball entities in country areas) are the biggest source of social cohesion and mental health resilience in our community. Fewer social workers – more sporting coaches. Should be a political rallying call for any aspiring populist. Its the participation and the connections – not the sporting skill that matters.
    So I echo everything Daddsy said, and would be fearful of anything that might unintentionally drain away resources and money. My gut tells me that a National Reserves comp would do that.
    We all eventually learn to live with the compromises we can’t afford to live without.
    More power to your arm Rulebook.

  51. professional v semi pro is a as wide apart as it has everbeen. yet junior development is really left up to amature league clubs. then the cream of those kids are further developed by state league clubs then the A F L pick the cream of that lot in the draft.
    if the A F L want this system then it has to provide the funds to the grass roots to do this. the clubs needs to provide the coaches & facilities to better develop the kids
    my concern is that the AFL players want more cut from the AFL Revenue which will obviously affect the funds avalible down the line
    my point with this, is this will open the gap up between the AFL clubs reserves teams & state league clubs will open up even further.With the reduced money avaliable at state league level the dominance will become more &more
    If The AFL dont address this the whole standard of A F L football will fall with the lack of junior skill development along with participation rates through the junior grades
    i give it 4-5 years if nothing is addresed

  52. Agree – go the Blues.

  53. Unfortunately the SANFL is Dead man walking either way! All you see on Tv & Newspapers are AFL crap as kids grow up they are going to pick an AFL team to support & if their parents are financial enough they will go see their team every 2nd weekend, true SANFL supporters could follow their team every week & in my case it has always been a family event so my kids support the club as well & it’s also a financial issue as our whole family can go to an SANFL game & even with drinks & food not have to remortgage the house like you would if we were to go to the AFL. The SANFL has been dropping in supporters since the Crows were formed & with the inclusion of the other AFL sides now reaching 18 there is less talent running around in state league teams, so the guys in the SANFL are either young hopefuls trying to get into the AFL or ex AFL players still wanting to play at a recognised level & not just wanting to chase the money by going country where they train less & get paid a heap more! The AFL has ruined the SANFL & unfortunately without strong leaders who actually care about the football not just the money in their pocket I can’t see it surviving

  54. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Tiger unfortunately the information both being gathered here and privately the SANFL is bordering on a disaster and spot on re revenue.Wow Ploenges with the still huge demands re time and not financial reward the chance like the legs were to experience and to strong physically for a Afl side is rapidly dwindling also.Old dog the lack of care and concern for grass roots footy the Afl have is both a disgrace and totally bewildering..Lorraine I have more problem with the crows not having winning as there priority than actually winning,interesting thoughts,Lachlan and worthy of furtherdebat.Brad deep down I couldn’t agree more the competitions directly underneath the Afl should be its number one priority.Swish if there is going to be the break between games you could have a area where just the SANFL spectators sit and then are ushered out there were problems in people only wanting to be at the SANFL game and not be at the Afl game as the cost des restrict some people that is the only thing against curtain raisers.N and T yep traditionalists would certainly agree.PB thank you what is certain is the current system is just so wrong.
    also the mentor angle and helping young people is vital for the good of society also..Phillip how again the Afl don’t give more help to junior clubs is bitterly disappointing and yes it is a crisis.Mick unfortunately I totally agree at least we are discussing these huge problems thank you

  55. This was my point, perhaps in future years, the AFL reserve teams whose senior teams are still in contention play each other. Eg last week the Crows would of played the Swans or GWS at a SANFL ground this week Sydney could of played Footscray. Starting from the last round of the AFL season. In this situation the SANFL this year would have semi finals rather than a final five. These would be games of no consequence, merely match practice for reserves.

  56. Martin Rumsby says

    Clearly an issue to stir the passions of football supporters, Malcolm. I can add little to the comments already made except to say that Mark Ducker’s posts make a lot of sense to me.

  57. Afl reserves comp is the only way to go. Obviously they play on the same day before the seniors. As you point out, the afl can easily afford this.

  58. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain. Sitting back and lazily accepting the status quo out of misplaced fear will get the competition nowhere. In the long term, people will not accept or support a competition without integrity – they won’t, and more and more people are waking up to this. If the AFL clubs leave as they should, the SANFL’s task is then to highly and heavily promote the living daylights out of the league framing it as a high quality grassroots suburban competition that is different to the AFL – differentiation is the key. This work was started before the debacle of 2013. Strengthening the profile and respect of its players and highlighting their hard work and dedication as people to admire is paramount. It also needs to strengthen its relationships with its country leagues and clubs, truly respect them and what they stand for, not arrogantly treat them with disdain. The days of the SANFL being the premier competition in this state by dictating the terms are over. The league and its all its clubs also need to demonstrate some genuine humility, respect for and connection to their supporters. No more distance, no more arrogance. Unity is also strength and this means the clubs working more professionally together off the field rather than focusing on petty jealousies – the fierce rivalry can stay where it belongs – on the field. And the SAFC need to be brought to heel and reformed. All promotion of the league must be forward thinking and embrace the media of the 21st century. A better online and media presence backed up with the necessary dollars, live streaming of games, a TV deal if it is in the league’s interest and a consistent and steely pride and confidence in the competition that celebrates, values and honours its history is the key. Our eight clubs have worked their arses off to survive as long as they have, seven of them have been around for over 100 years – that doesn’t happen by accident. The SANFL has much to be proud of over the last 140 years and we have much to look forward to in the future if we believe in what the competition should always stand for – honesty, integrity, hard work and community. You’d be surprised how many people would get behind that.

  59. Scott Deverson says

    Yes, absolutely, kick them out. I don’t care if the competition evolves into a new ‘SAFA’ competition. At least it will be equal & fair for all. It will mean that the Clubs will return to what they were originally, right up to the early ’80s – Community based Footy Clubs. If players want money, they’ll go to the Country (as many already are) to get paid $800+ a game. At least our competition will have integrity – which it does not now.

  60. Michael Power says

    I think people saying people complaining about the crows or port don’t see the big picture . I stopped complaining as I was threatened to be left at oval ave with no home lol . My kids lol .
    For others the big picture the VFA which was turned into the VFL by the AFL their fans whinged years before we got stuck with AFL teams . The WAFL is the same I think .
    So three state leagues are moaning and dying that’s the big picture .
    Last weeks Crows game I was there waiting for the Eagles . Crows fans were there yep next game some stripped off crows colours for Sturt colours some stripped off Crows colours for Eagles colours .
    The big picture the state leagues in three states are dying I will not support my AFL team in the SANFL I will only support my SANFL team buy products be a member that’s all oh and give any other team playing them hell AFL rejects or real SANFL clubs .

  61. What the AFL needs to do is increase funding to the standalone 2nd Tier league clubs and increase their salary caps. This way they will be able to attract the star players back from the country and suburban leagues.
    It will be interesting what will happen to the standard of the VFL once the statewide salary cap comes into place.
    If teams can get better players ,standards will increase and then the spectators will come.

  62. Rulebook it is hilarious in how much better and balanced your article is compared to M Rucci and your doing it for fun and he is getting well paid !

  63. Agreed. This is a topic whose time has come again. The AFL clubs need reserves teams to better develop their players. Putting these teams in the local state leagues was the cheap solution at the time. There is no doubt it has helped the AFL clubs but it has compromised the various state leagues. My rough calculations suggest teams would have to get on a plane about 130 times at a cost in airfares of about $700K. This is a low price to protect the integrity of the state leagues. A detailed analysis by the AFL should be performed.

  64. Could the stewards please visit the SANFL Crows change rooms, take swabs and check betting sheets.

  65. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Damian as I have said above don’t think the afl teams games can become effectively trial games.thanks,Martin agreed.JS spot on integrity is the main issue and the SANFL have to become far smarter re promotion.and the number of people that are turning up at SAAFL games support that..
    Thanks Scott.Michael well put how the afl just don’t get it is mystifying to say the least.Dmak thank you and agreed.Smithers I appreciate your comment and I think Michelangelo has certainly written better articles.Danny couldn’t agree more.Mick the crows level of desperation and intensity was certainly lacking mind you a atrocious display of umpiring did not help there cause it was bizarre at times thank you

  66. Had to happen for the AFL sides. This year has been unusual due to low injury count but Im sure most were happy to see Sturt triumph on the weekend.

  67. Sadly at the moment I don`t see an answer to this. I feel with the crowds down wether the 2 AFL reserve sides are in the SANFL or not wont make a lot of difference because most people cant afford to go to both SANFL and AFL of a weekend.

    It is wrong, to a degree, that we have professionals in the SANFL but its not all that unusual in some sports, I love tennis and there are still non professionals playing in a lot of the tournaments, not many I agree.

    The one thing I don`t like about the Crows and Port in the SANFL is that it has taken away that “local” feel. I know that now I live in the country, and have done so for over 30 years, I don`t go to the games but if in Adelaide I still would go to my Eagles games.

    Change is always difficult, and I find it hard to adjust now with age catching up. Oh boy I`m 70 in a couple of months, where did the time go! I guess we just have to live with this and hope we can still keep the greatest competition outside the AFL going strong and also maybe work out some way to even up the field.

  68. The salary cap argument is a bit of a poor argument. There are many sports where teams compete against teams with massive salary caps, and even in some cases in leagues where they don’t even have salary caps. You just have to look at Bradford City playing against the biggest premier league teams with players in 7 figure salaries in the FA cup.

    Maybe we need a national second division and third division and do something similar to the FFA cup in the soccer?

    I also believe that having a reserves comp is a really bad idea. Financially wise, what is going to happen 20 or 30 years now? We’ll be back to where we started here, arguing the pros and cons to retaining a reserves comp. What we need is to figure out a plan? Maybe the have the reserves side only have 12-14 players that are AFL listed?

  69. I see what the crows are doing. They are helping bring in top up players and if they do well they are picked up by SANFL clubs the year after which helps create a stronger league. They are also creating strong leading player in the comp if and when they get delisted and go back to the sanfl. They are doing their bit for the sanfl but traditional clubs have a fear factor and just winge when the crows have a good season with injury.

  70. IF the AFL are serious about a level playing field then they need to do 2 things, have a reserves comp & a level fixture either 17 or 34 games. Reserves football before the main game will most likely get more people going & will spread the crowd entrance over a longer period of time which will eliminate those who seem to miss some of the 1st quarter when rocking up just before the bounce at blockbuster games

  71. The AFL should be a 12 team comp with each side playing each other twice. 6 Melbourne clubs need to be cut and a new VFL comp created with the 8 that no longer in the AFL. (Fitzroy, Richmond, South Melbourne, North Melbourne, Footscray, Essendon, Geelong and St Kilda.) Collingwood Carlton Melbourne Hawthorn being the clubs remaining in the AFL. (You can change Essendon Geelong for Melbourne and Hawthorne if you want)
    Whatever the chosen clubs a 12 team National reserves comp and a 12 national womens comp would have similar teams. Grass roots feeder leagues in each state and grass roots country league team given significant $$$ to develop our future champions.

  72. Michael Leask says

    The AFL have a lot to answer to for the way they have stuffed up state league footy while i sympathize with SANFL fans with the way the AFL has pushed full AFL reserves teams on the comp but its got nothing on the way they destroyed Victorian footy with the hybrid themed VFL comp with its 4 stand alone former VFA clubs , % Aligned teams and 5 out and out AFL reserves teams with no concessions to the 4 clubs without access to current AFL listed players who have to compete on a $180K salary cup which is across the board , While i say the AFL has to form a full AFL reserves comp a lot of consideration will be needed for the state leagues in order for them to survive

  73. Malcolm Ashwood says There is a lot of angst around the country surely the Afl must listen !

  74. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Raj agreed,Jill I think people are voting with there feet and returning to SAAFL footy re the local and tribal element.Matt D disagree the salary cap point is vital also the fact it is professional footballers against part timers it needs to be a far more level playing field I am more convinced than ever after,Sunday there must be a national reserves competition.RM that is one of the few favorable reasons to have the crows in the como and I hope the redlegs pick up Shoenmakers for next season.Glen spot on,Robert good in theory but it won’t happenMichael I could not agree more there is a lot of angst all over the country re what is happening to ALL other state leagues

  75. Don’t agree Rulebook. The results do no back your arguments. While the Gianst won the NEAFL this year they have been bundled out in the finals for the last 2-3 seasons after performing well during the home and away season. Ditto Sydney. In the meantime Aspley have picked up two flags and the NT Thunder one last year.

    Crows in the SANFL for the past 3(?) seasons and made the finals once and Port have not done much more. Similar in the WAFL with neither East Perth or Peel winning a GF.

    The only thing they should do with the Crows SANFL side is get rid of that stupid jumper they wear and let them wear the proper Crows guernsey ( no gay clash strips allowed either)!

  76. As a lifelong Williamstown resident and supporter of the local VFA (now VFL) club, I fear for the future of the VFL comp. I have been told that the Melbourne AFL clubs do not want to play against stand-alone clubs – they want to construct their own Vic-based reserves comp. Where this would leave Williamstown, Port, North Ballarat etc is anyone’s guess? It appears that Frankston, broke and having struggled for a number of years, are gone.

  77. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Picks em the last 2 years,GWS have been out of the Afl finals so players withdrawn from NEAFL and sent off for surgery and rest hardly respecting the integrity of the competition.I am more concerned with the integrity side of the debate than looking at the end of season premiership tables mind you I am in complete agreeance re the guernsey.Smokie thank you I feel you have pointed out beautifully what in effect the afl do throw out a bit of burley so a couple of fish might be caught but not enough to keep the industry growing and thriving

  78. Peter Crossing says

    In terms of a national reserves competition it would probably be a good thing for the ACT competition.
    The NEAFL has done the ACT no favours. The goalposts seem to keep changing and the one ACT participant (Canberra Demons in name but basically Eastlake) “encourages” players from the other local clubs to change affiliation.
    The ACT comp has become very one-sided.

  79. As I’ve mentioned to you this remains a very vexing question. The most important one being, in my view, what does the SANFL see of itself in 2017, and going forwards in the next 10-20 years? This debate, even on this page is firmly rooted in notions of what the SANFL was, rather than what it is, and what it will become.

    An important statistic to remember is that people who were 10 years old upon the entry of the Crows in 1991 are now 35 years old. The AFL has been, for the most part, the only game in town for people from the ages zero to 35 and naturally this will only expand as time goes on. This has ramifications in the overall aging supporter base of the SANFL and almost as importantly in the corporate sphere. We are rapidly approaching the day where CEOs and Managing Directors do not have either a passion or nostalgia for the SANFL.

    Proponents of the SANFL promote its virtue as being a more real, traditional type of football viz a viz the sanitised and corporatised AFL. However, if this is indeed the case then the SANFL faces another encroachment on it’s right flank from the Community Football Sector. It has been a constant mire of the last decade of SANFL Clubs bemoaning the drain of talented footballers to the Community Leagues for either cash incentives along with a desire to make less of a commitment.

    Given the days of talented junior footballers aspiring to play 200 League Games for Sturt are gone, now that it’s all about getting drafted, this trend in all likelihood will only accelerate. For young men of promise it is a tough sell to do a professional preparation for a semi-professional League.

    Above I have painted a substantially gloomy picture for a historical and proud League. Condemned to irrelevance from generational obsessions with the AFL and an increasing more professional community football structure.

    In my view the only thing which will prevent the SANFL becoming a tier of the C9AFL in the next 20 years is the maintenance of AFL Reserves Teams. Having AFL players testing themselves in the SANFL competition gives the predominant force (the AFL) the incentive to maintain the strength of the SANFL and to keep it at a decent level of professionalism.

    Taking out the AFL players from the SANFL will essentially suck all interest out of it until the last, aging supporter of the traditional clubs pass, and hopefully they turn the lights out before they do.

  80. I love your comment, James, because you have boiled the issue down to its rich stock. Does the presence of AFL reserves sides add interest or subtract it? Does it add meaning or subtract it (noting that meaning can only be invested by individuals but interest can be measured by bums on seats and eyes on screens)? My personal perspective is that it adds short term interest at the expense of most remaining meaning. It means the number of those interested in the SANFL, rather than the two reserves teams playing in it, will effectively drop off a proverbial cliff rather than steadily decline across the generations. In short, it accelerates the SANFL’s descent into nothingness. Not sure there’s anything we can do about it but it sure makes me sad.

  81. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Peter it is certainly a debate which is affecting footy all over the country,James a superb and very well put perspective and Dave has answered brilliantly with exactly how I feel this is as a important footy question as there has been in a long time and with no clear answer what is a fact tho is people are losing interest by the sccond in its current format personally integrity is the non negotiable factor thank you !

  82. James has hit the nail on the head re the age demographic. For those of us who were ‘part’ of the glory days of the SANFL it resonates.

    For a kid with a fleeting connection with a SANFL club – it may sit somewhere in their psyche between their AFL, school or local club team.

    If it gets down to just $$$, SANFL has to stay with the AFL reserves sides otherwise they will slowly die off and sell their valuable real estate just to keep the clubrooms open – a place where oldies can relive the golden days whilst playing the pokies, having a light beer and a countery! I don’t think they even do Bingo anymore???

  83. Yep fair points and rationale for keeping the AFL sides in the comp.

    In my humble opinion and as a SANFL tragic, comp is dying is a bit extreme Book. It’s evolving and no doubt faces challenging times ahead that will require very capable management to grow or even maintain relevance, but if you popped your head in to Unley Oval on a Sat arvo this year you would have seen a great community atmosphere with kids and families galore, together with plenty of oldies granted – not the crowds it used to be but it is what it is. If Norwood stopped scheduling so many 7:40 games they might get a few more kids along too!

  84. Good stuff SB – it’s all about how much can the SANFL clubs survive on – will AFL $$$ be made available to offset dwindling numbers as clubs embrace the family/community mantra. Kids get in for free don’t they?? Interesting times ahead.

    Until dementia sets in, at least I have plenty of memories of standing behind the cheer squad, surrounded by lots of floggers – wearing duffle coat or lumber jackets, Lee Jeans and the blue adidas Romes to watch Kenny Whelan take hanger after hanger

  85. bring back the torp says

    The VFL/AFL had killed off the thriving, proud and community/ tribal VFA about 1990, after televised Sunday AFL games commenced in the 80’s- ending the VFA’s high rating and financially lucrative Sunday football game and television monopoly. VFA crowds boomed in the 70’s (some Div.1, H & A games up to 10,000, finals up to 30,00 occasionally). Throughout VFA history post 1897, its crowds were generally about 20-30% of the VFL. Crowds were also very strong in the 30’s and late 40’s.

    Pro rata crowds to population, Melbourne football has been DECLINING. In 1970, the VFL (6 Sat games) averaged about 130,000 pw – and the VFA averaged about 30,000 pw. (total 160,000) Melb. population about 2,200,000. In 2016, 5 w/end AFL games in Melbourne, average crowd pw about 195,000 -VFL total 5000pw? (Total 200,000) Melb.population 2016 about 4,500,000.
    I understand there are similar pro rata declines, crowd to population, for Adelaide, Perth, and Tasmania senior competions from 1970 compared to 2016, but dont have precise figures. A Grand Final in Adelaide about 1965 had 52,000 spectators -and Adelaide’s population then was about 600,000. The TFL Grand Final in Hobart in 1970 had 24, 413 spectators, the Hobart population about 150,000.
    It now appears that the proud SANFL & WAFL & Tas. comps., a hugely important part of OUR football culture and passion, maximising player participation etc, are on the same declining trajectory. Per capita, soccer and basketball grassroots player rates have increased greatly, overtaking football in the southern states. But the ever increasing army of AFL administrators advisors, media staff, coaches, coach assistants, physios etc and 700 elite players are now being paid salaries far above CPI increases, and also well above average wage increases of the general workforce. And the AFL players are now demanding a significantly higher remuneration. Perhaps community clubs should get transfer fees -we created the nursery and their opportunities.

    The AFL claims it is the “guardian of the game”. It is doing a very good job (ie increase player participation rates) in female football, and in the NT; and a good job in the middle class areas of Sydney, and in all classes in S/E Qld. The GWS and GC are wise investments.
    However, in the ACT. football was the most popular code until the 80’s -but now is behind the NRL, and probably equal to rugby and soccer on most metrics (after intro. of the Raiders and Brumbies).
    Re Tasmania, whose state team beat both a Victorian team in 1960 & WA team in 1970, and also produced Baldock, Howell, Stewart, Lawrence, Hudson, Hart, Crosswell, Jones in the 60’s -then Sproule, Lynch, & Eade later. It is now disfunctional, declining Senior crowds, no stars drafted since 1990, except for M. Richardson. Any Tas. draftees now a rarity! The AFL’s shame! Tasmania has been shafted. Imagine the result if a Tasmanian state team played Vic., WA, or SA state teams now.

    I believe there should be a national conference to address the crucial issues of revitalising crowds and prestige of the 2nd tier adult male competitions; declining pro rata AFL crowds; and declining player participation rates (per capita, cf. soccer and basketball player rates, which are booming) in Vic., WA, SA, and Tas. The reduction in tribalism and local football/ community consciousness impacts on all areas of football. Live football AFL TV coverage is far more pervasive now cf. 1970.

    A suggestion from left field. For the 2nd tier football competitions, how feasible and popular would it be for games to be played on Sat. or Sunday mornings; or under lights mid week, or early Sunday evening? To obtain “clear”media air, better live TV coverage (essential NO direct competition from a live AFL match local or interstate), better attendances – and therefore greater financial/commercial returns for 2nd tier clubs and players?
    A more radical suggestion – play the 2nd tier competition in AFL off season (if enclosed grounds can be found, evening games only in hottest months). Clear media air, NO AFL competition!
    Can we learn from British semi -prof. women’s soccer -initially played during the men’s EPL season, and it attracted pathetic crowds, very poor TV ratings. After it moved to the summer, the women attracted respectable crowds, and good TV ratings.
    This lesson has been learnt by the AFL. It will be playing the AFL women’s competition in the AFL off season to monetise its value to sponsors and broadcasters. It gives the women clear media air, with no competition from the AFL, which will also maximise TV ratings, crowds and general interest in the women’s game. The two live televised AFLW exhibition games, with no concurrent AFL games, have both attracted massive TV ratings, and crowds up to 6,500. The AFLW game on Sept. 3 attracted the highest Sat night rating for the year, 750,000 average -and peaked at 1,050,000.
    Female player numbers are booming in Vic. & Qld, and the 2017 televised AFLW will promote another surge in female player numbers (SA has been pathetic, a long way behind in recruitment).

    The VFA was also severely damaged by very poor business/spending decisions in the 80’s, which also contributed to its demise (In the late 30’s, it recruited Nash and Todd in their prime, paying wages VFL clubs could not surpass). 2nd tier competions, if they are to survive and prosper, will need to be
    fiscally prudent, transparent, and disciplined.
    Victoria has introduced a Player Points System for the metro & country leagues, where recent decorated/accomplished players are automatically allocated a certain number of points according to a published formula -and clubs are unable legally to recruit beyond a certain number of points. This is designed to stop clubs trying to “buy premierships”-which often causes clubs to be become bankrupt after a few years, causes high player turnover and resentment, and is designed to even up competitions. A more level playing field where, over a cycle, all clubs can aspire to making a grand Final.

    2nd tier football is of paramount importance to the long term health of the game – both at the grass roots, and for the AFL itself. In an era where community identity and participation is being eroded across a range of areas, community football was a “glue”that gave added meaning and a sense of belonging to many people. We must fight for it.

  86. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thank you bring back the toro for this outstanding comment quite correctly the site has made this comment in to a article in itself I will reply properly to it later on

  87. 50k from the crows is nothing. Norwood are approx 800 members down on last year .
    This 50k would barely cover the loss. Other clubs losing money in the same fashion I would imagine. So how much better off is the SANFL with these afl sides in the comp?

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