AFLW: The first 100 games

US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt coined the term “first 100 days” back on July 24, 1933. FDR was keen to highlight how much his administration had achieved (the enacting of 13 major laws) in the 100 days that had elapsed since he took office on March 4 that year.


Since then the milestone has been used widely as a benchmark to judge the early period of a newly installed government or leader.


From a sporting viewpoint, 100 days is not a practical time frame by which to measure progress and achievement, but perhaps 100 games is.


Last Saturday’s Brisbane v Adelaide game was the 100th AFLW premiership match, coming five days after the third anniversary of the first, the famous Carlton v Collingwood game that saw thousands of fans turn up, and many turned away, and the Blues’ Darcy Vescio stamp herself as an instant star with a match-winning four-goal performance.


What can we glean from the first 100 AFLW games? Notwithstanding a small group eager to point out each and every weakness in the competition (and there certainly are some weaknesses), AFL Women’s — originally slated by the AFL to debut in 2020 — has been a great success. Crowd numbers have been good, highlights many, and scoring has been steadily increasing.


Scoring, or the lack of it, has been the focus of many critics, particularly on social media. And certainly, when lined up against the AFL’s elite men’s competition, there’s a clear discrepancy in the raw numbers. “Raw” because a factor that’s often overlooked when making a comparison between the highest level of the men’s and women’s is that the average length of an AFLW match is 70 minutes, compared to an AFL men’s match, which runs to 120 minutes on average.


Of course, one might question whether it’s fair to compare the two at all. Apples and oranges and all that.


On the other hand, number nerds like me can’t help ourselves. We love trawling through figures looking for patterns and relationships. In that spirit, here’s a comparison of some of the vital statistics in the elite women’s and men’s competition. But given the AFLW has only 100 games of statistics to draw on, it seems only fair to compare it the first 100 games of the AFL’s forerunner, the VFL.


When restricting analysis to the first 100 games of both competitions, the comparisons seem a little less farfetched, and quite interesting.


Let’s go straight to the aim of the game: scoring. In the first 100 games of the VFL (a milestone reached in the 10th round of the second season in 1898), the average score per team per match was 39. After 100 games of AFLW, the average score in the women’s game has been 34. The difference is just under one goal per team per match — and that’s not allowing for the AFLW’s shorter games. Adjusting to 120-minute game, the AFLW average would be 59. That’s over three goals more than the average of the first 100 men’s games.


The VFL scores of 1897 and 1898 were slightly skewed by several matches involving St Kilda, whose extreme relative weakness at the time resulted in some very high opposition scores. As such, a comparison of the median scores is perhaps a better approach. That method yields a median VFL men’s score of 36 and a median AFLW score of 33, a difference of just half a goal (again not adjusting for the longer men’s game).


It’s also interesting to note that the most frequently occurring score in the first 100 men’s games was 16, registered eight times. That’s less than half of the most common score in the AFLW’s first 100 games: 34.


Speaking individually, it took until the 70th VFL match to produce a seven-goal performance (Geelong’s Eddy James against St Kilda) while Bulldog Brooke Lochland’s seven-goal bag against Carlton came in the 41st AFLW game.


377 men debuted in the first 100 VFL matches in an eight-team competition), while 412 women have taken part in the first 100 AFLW games (eight teams, rising to 12 by the conclusion of the 100th match).


Attendance figures are generally unavailable for the first 100 men’s games, so crowd comparisons to the AFLW are somewhat fraught. What is certain, though, is that none of the men’s crowds came close to the 41,975 that attended last year’s Round 2 match between Fremantle and Collingwood at Optus Stadium or the 53,034 that witnessed the Crows’ 2019 Grand Final demolition of Carlton at the Adelaide Oval.


Whether these comparisons tell us much is debatable, even if they do generate some interesting discussion. As an avid footy follower virtually since I was born in 1965, I would love to be able to transport myself back in time and plant myself at the MCG, Princes Park or the East Melbourne Cricket Ground to witness the fledgling days of what would become Australia’s dominant football competition.


I won’t be here to see how the AFLW competition looks like in 120 years, but I’m loving soaking up every minute of it now, knowing that I am witnessing (long overdue) history in the making.



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About Andrew Gigacz

Well, here we are. The Bulldogs have won a flag. What do I do now?


  1. INteresting analysis Gigs.

    And in Footy Score Lotto, what’s leading? Two 6.3.39s in Round 2.

  2. Thanks, JTH. 6.3 has come up three times this year to take the 2020 lead, but the overall lead since the dawn of AFLW belongs to 4.3. St Kilda registered it today to take its total since the first season to 9. In equal second place are 5.4 and 6.4. They’ve each come up 7 times.

  3. Great stuff Gigs, and a tonic we need to calm the nerves for those concerned that the AFLW is the end of the world as we know it. Nothing really to read into the stats/data other than let it be and enjoy the ride. I look forward to more Gigs stats and did you knows as the season and game continues to grow.


  4. Yvette Wroby says

    Hey Gigs love the way your brain works. Are you saying that the women’s game is higher scoring, more beloved in attendance and in its first 100 games has set higher records in some beloved footy metrics? Been really happy to be part of this 100 games than being around in an era when girls and women were accepted as spectators ( and paid memberships and attendance fees) but not allowed on the turf as footy players…I love the fact that so many females love playing. And we get to ponder it all.

    Loving the season and it’s so different each year. Can’t wait til your next statistical countdown.

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Really enjoyed these stats and facts Gigs. Wonderful that we’ve got to witness the start of it. Great to see good crowds, while from what I’ve seen this season the standard has gone up, even with new teams.

    Always love a reference to the East Melbourne Cricket Ground!

  6. John Butler says

    Onya Gigs. A really useful exercise for providing perspective.

    Like Luke, I love an EMCG reference. :)

    Keep ’em coming.

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