Away and away

On the talk Geelong should’ve had a home final against the Tiges – forget that (well, except I’ll have more to say about it later), but how about a greater allocation of home and away games at Kardinia Park?

Despite misconceptions by many, there were only seven Simonds Stadium matches in 2017. On a good year we get eight.

How does that stack up against other clubs and are we comparing apples with apples?

Here’s a run-down of home games and their location this year, bearing in mind variables that some teams might have more games at the ‘G depending on their success. I included venues that were accessible by away team fans.

ES = Etihad Stadium etc.

Adelaide, Port, Perth & Freo: 12 at home venue (2 of which were against co-tenants)

Brisbane: 11 G, plus 1 at Gold Coast

Carlton: 6 ES, 10 MCG

Collingwood: 14 MCG, 3 ES

Essendon: 9 ES, 7 MCG

Geelong: 7 SS, 4 ES, 5 MCG

Gold coast: 11, plus 1 at Gabba

GWS: 8 SPO, 3 UNSW, plus 1 at SCG

Hawthorn: 11 MCG, 2 ES, 4 US

Melbourne: 12 MCG, 4 ES

North Melbourne: 13 ES, 3 BA, 1 MCG

Richmond: 11 MCG, 4 ES,

St Kilda: 14 ES, 2 MCG

Sydney: 11 SCG, plus 1 SPO

Western Bulldogs: 11 ES, 2 MCG, 1 in Ballarat

 

Richmond and Bulldogs also played 1 match at Geelong – as far as I know, neither were complete sell-outs. I didn’t attend either game, but there’s also, usually, available standing room in the Ablett Terrace – a little mentioned fact when talking about lack of space.

Geelong and the non-Victorian sides have a distinct home ground advantage, as do North and Hawthorn to some extent when playing in Tassie. Though, Melbourne clubs also have the advantage when hosting teams from interstate.

However, Geelong plays 4 home games where the venue is the home ground of the team they are playing.

There are anomalies, though, that mean support is not always one-sided. Geelong has Melbourne-based supporters to back up the travelling ones; Sydney and Brisbane have traditional fan bases in Victoria (7 and 6 Melbourne games respectively). Even the Perth and Adelaide clubs have sizeable expat populations in Melbourne.

Factoring in all that, the MCG (and to some extent Etihad) is the most neutral of all AFL venues, even though it favours some clubs more than others, and good reason why it’s probably the fairest place to stage the Grand Final, not to mention capacity factors and attendance by non-aligned supporters who often go for the underdog or just want to see a great game.

Leaving aside arguments why Melbourne clubs left their home grounds to reside at Etihad or the MCG (there are likely many), the fact they relocated has resulted in resentment from some of their fans (and probably, officials) that Geelong still has its own stadium. It also leads to contradictory arguments – Geelong is a distant Sleepy Hollow Hicksville, or another Melbourne club, depending on perspective taken or point being made – derided by some for not wanting to journey along the highway to Melbourne when those critics don’t want to make the trip to Geelong. Though, 80 k’s pales into insignificance when compare to those having to traverse the continent.

 

One thing in life is certain – we’re all hypocrites.

The fact is, however, Geelong has always been a separate entity, even if that distinctness has become blurred along with the expansion to a national competition. I reckon 9 Geelong games at Simonds is a reasonable minimum, especially when considering ground developments and the possible economic benefits to the town.

As for that home final, I and many Geelong people were happy to play against the Tiges at the ‘G, though it should’ve been done in a way that favoured the highest placed team with scheduling and ticketing allocation. It wasn’t – Friday night game, a ticketing process open to error and abuse (apparently some Richmond fans were purchasing tickets pretending to be Geelong fans, and spreading the word via twitter – not their fault, I hasten to add – that lies with the AFL and Ticketek), and even having to wear our away dacks. I doubt addressing any of that would have affected the result – Tiges were too good – but it could’ve improved matters of fairness.

 

Cats fans will be reminded of the famous shafting of 1997. That year we finished the home and away season in second place behind St Kilda on percentage and were ‘rewarded’ with a Friday night final against North Melbourne at the MCG, then the Roos home ground (neutral Waverly was available the next day). We were next sent to Adelaide to play the Crows despite finishing well above them on the ladder. Out in straight sets.

But all teams have their sob stories. Brisbane had to play a home prelim against the Cats at the ‘G one year.

As coincidence has it, we’re playing Adelaide at their home ground in Friday’s prelim, but there’s nothing unfair about this scheduling.

 

Comments

  1. Paul, I’d like to see both Preliminary finals played at the MCG, with the ‘home final’ argument confined to the first 2 qualifying and elimination weeks of the finals. Exceptions for any occurrence of same state teams in a prelim.

    Yes it is a disadvantage to interstate teams (though more so to fans who must travel) , but I’d contend an advantage to a team that wins and qualifies for the Grand Final. How many interstate sides have come to the Grand final, after not darkening the doorstep of the MCG in December, only to lose, and to lose badly (I give you Port Adelaide, Fremantle, WC eagles and Sydney in 2015 as recent examples). The experience of the cauldron a week earlier might be a valuable primer for the big day,

  2. If the AFL was consistent the Adelaide v Geelong final should be played at the MCG – to fit everyone in!!

    I still maintain the Geelong V Richmond final at the MCG was wrong. All it did is allow another 55,000 Tiger supporters in!!!

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Paul – The 1997 North Melbourne v Geelong game was played on a Sunday night @ 7pm, strange but true.

  4. Paul Spinks says:

    Ken – it’s true they don’t get exposure to the ‘G, though it might mean they just exit a week earlier – depends who they’re up against. Could be hard to sell.

    You weren’t alone, Dips. I even had moments, especially in reaction to the outrage that Geelong should dare to think it, and following on from the spew about the H & A bout against the Tiges.

    Mark, you’re dead right. There was something nagging me that Friday night didn’t seem bad enough. So, if I recall correctly, Waverly was vacant that arvo.

    Hope there’s not too many other errors in this piece. Attention has been distracted looking after a sickly moggie that had been deteriorating during the day. Not a nice feeling when it isn’t your pet, so I’m not making light of it. However, she was 21 years old with amazing feats of endurance. Won’t countenance talk of bad omens.

  5. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Hi Paul, The 1997 finals were scheduled thus:

    WB v SYD (MCG) Sat 2:30pm
    ADE v WC (FP) Sun 2:30pm (Rescheduled from Sat night due to Princess Diana funeral)
    STK v BRI (WAV) Sun 2:30pm
    NM v GEE (MCG) Sun 7:00pm

    Thanks to http://australianfootball.com/seasons/season/afl/138/premiership%2Bseason/1/1/1997#second-qualifying-final

  6. From my Croweating perspective, Paul, Geelong has played home games at the MCG, when it suits them, for years so I don’t see hosting finals there is an issue. Any suggestion that the MCG is a neutral venue for interstate sides is laughably Victorian but, then again, we asked to join your comp so such is life.

    From my understanding, 1997 was not a shafting – it was a deliberately perverse outcome of the McIntyre system that the two lowest ranked winners would host the two highest ranked losers in week two. Effectively the top two teams were given a guaranteed double chance and advantage (by playing 7 and 8) in week one and were considered to have exhausted any claims to precedence if they blew it. The system really only made sense when there were no upsets in week one. It is one of the many reasons why it was scrapped soon after.

  7. Paul Spinks says:

    Thanks for your comment, Dave: –

    Though I think I said the MCG was the most neutral of venues, which is a bit different.

    Also, was ok about the home MCG game, just saying it should be scheduled etc in a way that suits the highest place team. Likewise in 1997.

    From my Geelong perspective I still see the league as a club comp,

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