Missed opportunity with disjointed AFL-VFL fixtures

A common lament of rusted-on football supporters who make the effort is arriving at games with nothing to do but twiddle their thumbs, watch the grass grow and be blasted by promotional crapola.

Gen Y’s and millennials wouldn’t remember the days of the curtain raiser, when there was a reason to turn up early to secure a good spot (which had the positive side effect of mitigating crushes at the turnstiles just prior to bounce down).   Not only that, whether it was the next big thing or some skinny kid from the local area, fans could track the progress of new recruits and feel a greater connection to their football club (as opposed to entertainment franchise).  When a player made his debut you actually knew a bit about them and what they might offer.

Now?  To all but the top end of the fanatic scale they’re just a name and a number.

TappingWith the VFL morphing back to something akin to the old reserves competition (with historically significant Association add-ons), interest has definitely been on the rise.  I’d vouch some are attending as many or more of their club’s VFL games as AFL.  It’s not surprising really.  The best elements of suburban footy such as having a kick on the ground with the kids and listening to the coach’s address at the breaks, freedom to view the game from any vantage point and the negligible cost all add up to an afternoon well spent.  The only difference is the quality of the football is even better.  All this surely cannot last.

Which brings me to a point of curiosity about how the AFL and VFL competitions have been fixtured this year.

Every man and his dog welcome

Every man and his dog welcome

I’d be interested to know whether other club supporters have experienced the same but Collingwood have only twice played the same AFL / VFL counterpart on the same day and at times whereby fans of both clubs could actually attend both clashes.  The most recent encounter must have occurred with a blue moon in the sky as Collingwood played the Northern Blues at the MCG prior to the main game.  Only problem was the match finished an hour before, rendering the initiative a tad pointless.

DJEven stranger is that on three occasions the Magpies have played a Victorian based club the week after they have met their VFL reserves or affiliate team, and on another three occasions have played on the same weekend but on a different day.

Granted there’s a lot of permutations to factor in but is it lazy fixturing, coincidence, lack of awareness or all of the above?  It seems the value of nurturing a bond between supporters and their own players hasn’t registered.  Between that and fantasy football competitions, the notion of players as cattle or commodities is widespread.  It’s arguable this is one of a number of reasons for diminishing passion and greater prevalence of fair weather fans and theatre goers.

And it’s not just about appeasing old farts stuck in the past.  After all, they are the ones who often bring their kids – who incidentally love the opportunity to experience football up close, to meet and have photos taken with players after the game, have a run on the ground and all the other things once taken for granted.

QF 2014

Collingwood v Sandringham, Elimination Final; not an issue in 2014

Personally, the one shining light in another underwhelming AFL campaign has been the performance of Collingwood’s VFL side which has now won a dozen games on the trot.  With a top two position secured, now the question is where the Qualifying final will be played.  Victoria Park and Holden Centre have been ruled out (Yarra Council has cited “timing and logistics” as reasons).  Princes Park has been suggested, a field that Collingwood’s VFL team never grace with their presence.  Yep, a Collingwood home game at Carlton’s home ground is on the cards.

Strange days indeed.



About Jeff Dowsing

Washed up former Inside Sport and Sunday Age Sport freelancer. Now just giving my stuff away to good homes. Not to worry, still have my health and day job. Published & unpublished works fester on my blog Write Line Fever.


  1. Cat from the Country says

    What has country footy learned that the mighty AFLhas not?

    In Football and Netball, all grades play in the same town on the same day.

    Now there is a novelty!

  2. Jeff there are just so many more positives than negatives as for Afl teams warming up on the ground before hand geez every one survived in the past in fact now days we don’t play on the mud heaps we used to even more reason to bring back the curtain raiser

  3. Yep Rulebook, the grounds can certainly handle the extra traffic these days. But if denying the pre game warm-ups is a bridge too far, Melbourne is blessed with Punt Rd Oval & Holden Centre a couple drop punts away from the MCG and Vic Park is just up the road.

    Cat – the AFL and clubs often refer to the ‘football industry’. It would be nice if the notion of ‘football community’ was talked up and supported with initiatives that reflect those which are the bedrock of country sport and life. This article published last week is a must-read;


  4. I see about one AFL game a year (and that’s because I’m an MCC member & pay $500 for the privilege!) but never miss a Williamstown VFL game, love it & you don’t have to re-mortgage the house to attend.

  5. kath presdee says

    Over the past season and a half I’ve enjoyed catching the third and/or fourth quarters of the UWS/WSU Giants NEAFL games at Spotless Stadium before the main game. We usually only get the second half because the NEAFL game is required to be over at least one hour before the main game to allow for warm-ups and the like.

    I quite enjoy seeing the young guns and some teams – like NT Thunder – are well worth a watch in their own right.

  6. It cannot be that difficult, Jeff. Surely??

  7. Exactly, bring back the curtain raisers and get rid of this advertising shite

  8. Luke Reynolds says

    Would be happy if every Pies VFL game was played at Victoria Park, with an hour and a half break before the AFL team plays at the ‘G.
    The atmosphere at the Holden Centre for the VFL games before AFL games at the ‘G have been great, but would love for Vic Park to remain a priority.
    Fixturing can’t be too hard. Reckon I could do it easily.

  9. Luke Reynolds says

    As for curtain raisers, I was at the Collingwood v Carlton game at the MCG last year where Collingwood’s VFL team played the Northern Blues. With a very lengthy break before the main game. Didnt work. Too long waiting, would have been far better to play at Victoria Park or Princes Park with the same timeframe.

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