Football Intelligence


by Peter Edwards

Hold the press Melbourne and Richmond supporters. There may be a ne’er previously considered reason for why your teams have not performed to expectations, and which at the same time, may explain why the Cats have defied the popular opinion of most AFL pundits.

Go home tonight and pen a letter to the coaching and recruiting staff demanding that all listed players sit an IQ test.

Apparently, a recent study has shown that 25% of AFL players have literacy and numeracy skills below Year 10 standard. According to Stephen Alessio, the AFLPA GM for Player Development, “players are selected for their physical attributes” rather than their academic record. He also suggests that a low level ability with words and numbers may “prevent a player from understanding team tactics.”

If my theory is correct, the Demons and Tigers will have a higher number of the poorly educated 25% in their lists which will indicate that their erratic performances are not because they are not talented, but because they have no idea what the coach is telling them.

In contrast, the Collingwood and Geelong lists are likely to be full of Rhode Scholars.

I can hear recruiters at the draft camp next year.

“Vertical leap. Broke the record. Check. Beep test. Broke the record. Check. Reflex test. Broke the record. Check. Strength test. Broke the record. Check. English test. Dumb as dog shit. Pass.”

Related anecdotes:


In 1996, Alan Joyce was sacked as coach of Footscray. One of the reasons circulating at the time was that his game plans were too complicated. He expected players to be “rocket scientists” when they were “just footballers”.

Was Joyce a visionary – a man with the right ideas in the wrong time? How times have changed.

What tactics?

It has been said by anyone who coached and played with Gary Ablett Senior that he walked to the beat of his own drum. I remember one story where Malcolm Blight would lay down the team instructions for a game, and Gazza would break them all within minutes of the game starting.

In the end it was recognised that giving Ablett instructions was futile so whilst they were given to 19 players, Gazza was told to “just play footy”.



  1. The Cats Vs Richmond match yesterday was definitely a game of two halves – bearable and laughable.

    The skills on display in the second half were so poor that it must have been due to fatigue.

    But the poor old Tiges game plan was so baffling that I think they confused themselves. Either they had no idea what the coach’s instructions were, or the coach’s game plan is inspired by grifters and magicians.

    So many times on the half back line, the Richmond players ran around in circles handballing to themselves before finally going forward. It was like watching a shell game (3 cups and a pea).

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