Brendan Schwab’s proposal for the creation of two divisions in the AFL, with promotion and relegation, though unlikely to gain much support, was nonetheless motivated by the very reasonable concern that an 18 team competition will produce too many meaningless matches in the latter half of the season.


A quick mid-season report on the state of the competition in 2011 seems to prove Schwab’s point.  The ladder you see now is pretty much what you’ll see at season’s end and the remaining 12 rounds will therefore be largely a formality.  There’s been some great footy played in the first half of the season, but the intrigue surrounding the credentials of the teams has now been revealed.  It won’t be until the finals that the remaining questions about this season are answered.


Consider the following:

  • The top 2 teams – Geelong and Collingwood – are set in stone.  They may drop the odd game here and there, and their end-of-season clash may decide top spot.  But the only real interest here is whether any significant injuries arise between now and September that may influence their performance in the finals;
  • Hawthorn and Carlton will finish top 4, but with a clear gap below the top 2.  Both are playing solid, consistent footy and are demonstrating a self-belief that’s getting them through some tough games.  But Hawthorn is flaky, particularly with Roughead, Gilham and Stratton missing, and although they’ve been consistent, Carlton is not yet in the same class as the Cats and the Pies;
  • Sydney and West Coast will host elimination finals, will most likely win these, and then bow out the next week.  Sydney has probably been the most consistent side in the competition over the last 7-8 years, with an unerring capacity to finish at about this point on the ladder.  They always beat the rest but they can’t beat the best.  The Eagles have improved dramatically, but they’ve now found their level;
  • Freo and Essendon will make up the numbers in the 2011 finals, but will play no significant part in the Premiership race.  Both have talent but recent weeks have exposed a fragility and lack of depth that will prevent them matching the higher-placed teams.  If there’s to be a change to the current top eight, it’ll be the Bombers that drop out;
  • The only team realistically capable of sneaking into the eight is St Kilda.  But  they’d probably need to win 7 or even 8 of their last 11 to get in and although they’ve improved in recent weeks, I doubt they’re playing well or consistently enough to do so.  I don’t see this changing over the next three months;
  • Richmond and Melbourne are improving young teams and their two meetings between now and September will be intriguing.  But young teams are notoriously hot and cold and the Tiges and the Dees are certainly showing enough inconsistency to dismiss any serious challenge for the finals.
  • Forget the rest.  They’ll scrounge the odd win here and there, but from this point forward, it’s planning for 2012.


Of course, what usually happens when I make such definite predictions is that something totally left-field occurs and I’m left looking like a goose.  But if anyone else figures that there are some credible alternative scenarios to the above, I’d certainly like to hear them.


About Sam Steele

50 years a Richmond supporter. Enjoying a bounteous time after 37 years of drought. Should've been a farmer!


  1. I think everyone bar the Pies are a little flaky, even the Cats. They’re playing well and are winning the close ones but I don’t think a win there is a given in the first week playing either Carlton or Hawthorn. Notwithstanding their loss to Geelong I think that Collingwood will win the flag easily.

    I reckon the positions 2-7 are the most even of any season I can remember.

    The remainder of the 8 is interesting; I reckon the Bombers might drop out, to replaced by St Kilda. Freo may improve as they get players back but losing Mundy for almost the rest of the season is a big blow. .

  2. Dan Crane says

    Good report Sam, it does seem to be taking shape for sure. and there is a huge case for divisions to be set fur sure. As for flakiness, for all their bluster and ability to run through teams even the maggies are vulnerable. Adelaide, Richmond, Essendon etc have all had periods of dominance against their ”run around the boundary style. collingwood just know how to win, as do the mighty cats.

    i reckon carlton are the big danger to cats and pies and the tigers and kangaroods are good enough for 7th/8th if freo and bombers keep sliding….

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