Footy’s Real Origin

The AFL is, as we know, a tad envious of rugby’s State of Origin. Because it gets big crowds. Passionate crowds. And people care about the result. The players care about the result. Heretically, more than they care about their club’s results. And, unlike the AFL when players say they’d like to revise state of origin football, the NRL says Origin is what rugby league is all about in Australia. So blow that crazy curly whistle and let the big blokes smash the living crap out of each other.

The AFL might seem to be the stick in the grass (formerly mud) when it comes to state of origin footy, but we know it’s the clubs’ football departments. They don’t want to risk their best players in a game that isn’t worth premiership points. They can’t win sponsor dollars, members and prime TV timeslots (or even matches and finals) if their best players have gone down in a state of origin fixture. The examples of former Hawthorn stars Tony Hall and Jason Dunstall – not to mention Jonathan Brown playing despite injury and the threat of being goalposted by his coach, Leigh Matthews – are all the evidence clubs need to dismiss state of origin. But if they do need more, they pull out our almost national competition (looking forward to the Hobart Devils and the Darwin Cyclones): interstate rivalries, the clubs say, aren’t what they used to be. Teams from different states play each other every week. We get enough interstate rivalry.

The football departments have a point. Well, as I’ve said, two points. And it’s their second point that holds the key to providing an AFL origin concept that could generate a bit of excitement. Because this concept taps into where AFL supporters’ hearts are: in their clubs.

What we need is a Club of Origin round. Every season. Right in the middle. For full premiership points. Read it clear: four points.

Here’s how it works: for just one round each club will be able to select from its entire list and those AFL-listed players who first played for their club. But any player that currently lines up for them yet originates from another AFL club cannot be selected (even if he is not selected in that round by his club of origin. So the concept builds in a bye for some players, which is a noyce bonus).

So come Round 12, 2016, Geelong could slip back into their side Ablett (Suns), Mumford (GWS), Chapman (if he hasn’t retired) (Ess), Taylor Hunt (Rich), Jeremy Laidler (Swans) and Travis Varcoe (Pies). Carlton could bring in Josh Kennedy (Eagles), Eddie Betts (Crows) and Jarrad Waite (Roos) (i.e. three of the league’s major goal kickers). The Bulldogs could probably find slots for Callan Ward and Ryan Griffen (GWS) (maybe), Jarrod Harbrow (Suns) and Adam Cooney (Ess).

These and other stars like them – Gibson back to North, Dawes back to Collingwood, Burgoyne back to Port (in fact, most of Hawthorn and Sydney back to where they came from) – would be where they belong. We supporters could pretend for a week the players are as loyal to the clubs as the AFL, the clubs and the media that worry about Bill Shorten’s allegiances demand us to be. And it would all happen for the sacred four points. What’s more, the players themselves would get to have a little remember when and those were the days reunion.

Come on AFL and clubs, this is footy’s real origin. Give those kids with last year’s favourite player’s number sewn to their backs a reason to smile.





  1. Rabid Dog says

    A brilliant concept, but unfortunately (i) half of the players that left their original clubs don’t want ever to go back; and (ii) the other half, the clubs don’t ever want them to darken their doors again!

  2. Yep, my tongue is pretty well in my cheek with this one Rabid D. Can you imagine Griffen trying to line up for the Dogs, for e.g. .. And I know Tony Birch will accuse me of fostering unhealthy, unrequited love for Eddie and Waite again if he reads this article.

  3. Dave Brown says

    Tippett back at the Crows – may not make it through warm-up. Brilliant!

  4. Earl O'Neill says

    Great idea. The key to Rugby League State Of Origin is that there are just two states. No carnival, no playoffs, just Cockroaches vs Canetoads. The price paid for covering every other state and territory.

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