Crio’s Question: Will AFL reserves ruin SANFL, WAFL?

The South Australian Football Commission has formally presented a model by which the Adelaide and Port Adelaide football clubs could enter teams in the SANFL competition in 2014. Click here.

In WA, there are serious misgivings about a competition reshuffle.

Who has information and opinions on how best to compromise – providing the AFL cash cows with what they want whilst preserving the status of the iconic SANFL and WAFL comps?


  1. Peter Schumacher says

    I find this a difficult one. probably for the same reasons that all footy followers do, that is, it has to mess up the local comp yet from the in this instance Crows and Power clubs it makes really good sense to test players int their own seconds teams.

    I just wish that we could go back to the idea of having seconds curtain raisers.

    I must admit that I don’t see the “dead hand” of the AFL behind this,

  2. Nathan Bassett’s response (as Norwood coach) reported in the H-Sun.
    Can’t see that working, but clearly it is a delicate issue – the system cannot remain as it is.

  3. Ben Footner says

    Agree with Peter, a tough situation.

    Adelaide and Port are currently the only sides in the AFL without a reserves set up.

    A lot of passion and emotion around this topic as well. Only the most passionate and die hard supporters still support their SANFL sides, and this shows in the nature of the debate at the moment.

  4. mickey randall says

    I support the Crows and Glenelg in the SANFL but think that AFL reserves teams will destroy the local competition. I don’t want to see Port v Crows in the SANFL grand final as an annual event.
    Also not convinced that Crows listed players who are fronting up in the SANFL have to play together. Can it really make that much difference to the AFL teams’ performance?

  5. Mark Doyle says

    AFL Reserves teams for West Coast, Fremantle, Adelaide and Port Adelaide will NOT ruin the WAFL and SANFL competitions. The inclusion of professional AFL footballers in competitions such as the WAFL, the SANFL, the VFL and the two conferences of the NEAFL will enhance the standard of football.
    The real issue is that most AFL Clubs want their own reserve grade teams so that they have total control over their listed AFL players; there are three Victorian AFL clubs with their own reserve grade teams and another two or three clubs are planning for a similar structure. The four AFL clubs based in NSW and QLD have their own reserve grade teams in separate conferences of the NEAFL. This structure provides a good pathway for blokes who are keen to pursue a career as a professional AFL footballer.
    If any bloke who is not interested in playing professional football and wants to play a good standard of semi-professional football, his best option is to play in either the A grade amateur competitions in Perth, Adelaide or Melbourne or the Victorian regional competitions of the Ovens & Murray League, the Goulburn Valley League and the Geelong Football League.

  6. It comes into full force in the WAFL next season when all players on the Fremantle list will play for Peel and all West Coast players will be aligned to East Perth.

    It’s been tried before. In 1999 it was Fremantle-South Fremantle and West Coast-Claremont. South made the grand final but were beaten by West Perth, who to my neutral eyes, looked more of a team. South fans might have forgotten that Peter Mann (Claremont), Justin Longmuir (West Perth), Antoni Grover (Subiaco), Garth Taylor (Swan Districts), Ashley Clancy (Subiaco), Tony Delaney (Claremont), Paul Maher (Perth) and Michael Clark (Swan Districts) played for them in that grand final.

    Claremont hated their alignment.

    In 2000 the system was watered down and only interstate recruits had to go to the aligned clubs. East Perth were now the West Coast club. East Perth won the WAFL premiership in 2000 and 2001 (when South Fremantle also made the grand final). A inquiry was held and the alignment system was found to be unfair and was abandoned. East Perth won the premiership again in 2002 without the alignment.

    I’m not sure about the aligned clubs dominating. Last week three Eagles players were fit enough to play in the WAFL and I remember the last round in 1997 when the Dockers had one player left.

    My biggest concern is that I’m an East Perth supporter and won’t be able to bring myself a yell “too high” when Adam Selwood ducks into a tackle.

  7. mickey randall says

    AFL footballers currently play in the SANFL but are spread across the nine clubs. Concentrating all of them in Port and Crows reserves teams will result in a disastrously uneven competition. It will be the two AFL reserves teams, daylight and then the SANFL teams.

  8. Won’t change much for the Bays then Mickey!

  9. Stan the Man says

    The important issue is the ownership of the 2 SANFL licenses (Crows and Power). The AFL wants them back for peanuts. The SANFL is BROKE to the tune of more than $35million. This sell back of the 2 AFL lisences has to be sorted out first. The Crows proposal is mickey mouse stuff – now they want to go the the Amateur league ???. The Power proposal of keeping the Magpies in tact was thrown out. There is a bit more water to go under the bridge before this one is sorted out. When the AFL gets back the 2 lisences – then they can play in the VFL – or better still in there own reserves competition. Surely they have the $$$ to set one up – they keep pumping heeps into GWS etc grab some of that money to do so !!!

  10. Thanks Stan ( and Les and others). I don’t understand the politics and economics which is why I asked for this forum. The WAFL situation doesn’t please me. I thought there might be some merit in the SANFL – Port logically to the Maggies and Adelaide eliminating the bye. It meant I would not have to barrack for “their” players in my team. But, obviously, the issues run far deeper.

  11. I don’t think it will make any difference to the Bays unless Crows drop Douglas and Power drop Boak.

    To me it makes sense. The local clubs rarely get the good AFL players and when you look at the 15 guys on a list who aren’t getting an AFL game, they’re not going to trouble reasonable SANFL clubs, because they’re young and inexperienced and many cannot even get a game in the SANFL league teams.

    The main issue for local clubs will be to retain support/membership. Being uncompetetive against Power and Crows reserves teams will not be an issue.

  12. Ben Footner says

    I think the proposal currently before SANFL clubs is streets above the ‘alignment’ model.

    I also don’t think the SANFL can continue to operate as is – a slow painful death awaits otherwise. Eventually there will be no die hards left to save the clubs when they go into administration, and then what?

  13. mickey randall says

    Crio- i expect the Bays to break their 10 game losing streak sometime before Easter!

  14. Ripsnorter says


    I think having the reserves play in the local competition is a good thing. The obvious benefit for the AFL sides is that they get to play their younger guys in the positions and teach them the game plan that the senior coach wants.

    The benefit to the WAFL and SANFL is more interest in the leagues in terms of media and crowds that would go to those particular games and therefore helping with revenue.

    The argument over here in the West is that these clubs would dominate the WAFL, however I think the VFL model has proven that the AFL reserves clubs are good when the whole club is fit but very young and fragile once the injuries hit.

    Most young good players at WAFL / SANFL / VFL will not want to play for a AFL reserves side if they are not on their list as their week by week football is extremely uncertain thus meaning good players at this level are more likely to go to a team with no AFL affiliation. Thus keeping the competition viable as the reserves team’s primary function is to develop players and support the senior side and to not win at all costs as other teams main objective will be.

  15. Stan, I’d thought that you were joking about the Crows going in to the Ammos, but…

  16. Bays will beat Port in the last minor round game this year at the Bay, probably their only other win for the year.

  17. Send that date… might try to do a Bay Oval, Broady, BBQ Inn, crash at Mum’s Quaddy

  18. Crio

    Weekend of September 7th.
    They haven’t got times yet due to potential AFL finals times but likely to be a night game on the Friday or Saturday. Also likely to be the Kris Massie (coach) farewell. They got done at Alberton last week by 3 points after leading in the last quarter, so not too far away.

  19. hmm… Sept 7 = Craiglee Stakes (newly G1), Bobbie Lewis, Let’s Elpoe, Danehill – one of my fav days at HQ.

  20. I don’t think a game at the Bay is in the same league, maybe next year.

  21. Skip of Skipton says

    The SANFL proposal looks good to me. As for the WAFL, I don’t like the West Coast Eagles taking over a traditional club like East Perth. The Dockers taking over Peel is OK because they are a new addition that hasn’t been competitive, and are in their geographic zone.

  22. I don’t know about the SANFL but this proposal won’t ‘ruin’ the WAFL. That happened in 1987 when the WA Football Commission entered The Eagles into the VFL. That move placed its own competition in peril. Crowd numbers literally dropped from 25,000 in 1986 down to two to three thousand the next year. And the media and sponsor dollars followed The Evils. The WAFL carries on, a ghost of its former self (that self thrived for close to 100 years by the way).

    Australian Rules is in need of a paradigmatic change, including (and this is long overdue) a change to the number of AFL sides operating out of Melbourne and a fair and even draw in the next iteration of the AFL. A change of that nature should include a restructure of state based leagues and better financial distribution from AFL to support their survival.

  23. Part of the attraction of any competition are the great rivalries built up over years. The old VFA was great for that but the current VFL is mostly uninspiring as there is no rivalry between Geelong seconds and Coburg Tigers. So long as the reserves in sanfl and wafl don’t destroy the rivalries or even create some new ones it might work.

  24. Noel, I’m not criricising any options. Thanks for your input. The past was great. The present is uncertain. The future???
    I barrack for the Bays in SANFL. Bulldogs in AFL. Cronulla in NRL.

  25. Geez Rick that was a grumpy post. Death in the family?
    Paradigm and iteration in the same para? Being locked in strategic planning sessions all week can do that to you.
    Doubtless it is all the Eagles fault. The VFL was much better when it just had interstate feeder leagues – Blight, Cable, Platten etc etc.
    Next year all the Eagles players go to East Perth and the Dockers go to Peel. It will all depend on the local league taking the WAFL comp seriously. I think there is more risk of them seeing it as developmental and internal dissension between the AFL list and local players. When Claremont had all the Eagles list players back in the late 90’s they were rubbish because of infighting between the player groups.
    It remains to be seen how it works but I dislike it on principle as more AFL imperialism.

  26. Rocket Nguyen says

    What a mess! All self-serving stuff by the AFL clubs in Perth and Adelaide who don’t seem to care a tinkers for the game. The Adelaide proposal is a disaster – but the Perth one is even worse. Absolutely no respect for the traditions of the WAFL and SANFL. Or the game for that matter.

    The SANFL probably produces the most drafted players for all AFL clubs. That will diminish under the new model.

    Professional teams in a State league doesn’t work – look at the NEAFL. Next year it will become one conference instead of two. Currently if a player goes well for Sydney Uni he can be co-opted by the Swans or Giants reserves to play against Uni!

    Put all the interstate reserves teams in the same comp.!

  27. Malcolm Ashwood says

    I am disgusted and so angry with the AFL for not instigating a AFL National Res Comp as of next season re SANFL it is no longer a fair dinkum competion the AFL sides will have developing Players there Number 1 Aim winning a long distance back
    It is stupid and incompetent admin by the AFL in that if you kill off all the state Feeder comps eventually you will do untold damage at the AFL level
    AFl are pathetically short sighted in spending millions re Gold Coast and GWS and yet
    Won’t have a National Reserves competion Shame Shame Shame !

  28. It’s unfortunate that this is necessary, but it is… With the powerful Vic AFL teams having established their own/controlled reserves teams (and destroyed the culture of the VFA in the process), the Eagles/Dockers/Crows/Power have been left with no option to emulate this, in order to give themselves a level playing field.

    For the last 2 decades, the AFL’s approach has been to maximise the revenue (and media & public focus) at the elite level, to keep all own their clubs intact, and to hell with all the clubs that have had to merge/fold/demote at lower levels of the game.

    I would prefer we raised the Draft age to 20, perhaps let every AFL club take 1 younger player from their local area as an annual pre-draft pick, with everyone else playing for their home state-league club until they turn 20, and bolstering those state leagues into the bargain. But clearly that doesn’t suit the interests of the powerful.

  29. The attention is on the WAFL and the SANFL – fair enough. But as a Victorian I want the VFA to be my state league, without any clubs tied to the AFL.
    I’m not sure what the solution is. The AFL WILL NOT set up a national reserves comp. Perhaps AFL players sent back to the second tier would be randomly assigned a WAFL, SANFL, VFL or NEAFL side as appropriate?

  30. Thanks for reigniting this discussion David.
    We went to Whitten Oval this arvo for Footscray v Essendon – just wonderful. Lots of people/memories/kids kicking the footy.
    It is probably a good time now to review the SANFL and WAFL changes.
    Les has been keeping us up to speed on WAFL.
    SANFL changes were controversial, but something – if not this – had to be done. Port seem dangerously strong. My Bays are a new kind of awful, but that’s not a new problem.

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