The 2014 ‘Mopsy’ Fraser Cup – Round Thirteen

Greetings Tipsters


Last weekend, Richmond at the MCG drew little more than half the crowd that the SCG attracted. Yes, but, I hear you say, the SCG match was a mighty clash of Frontrunners while the Tigers are crapulous. But aren’t Richmond meant to be one of Victoria’s traditional Big Clubs?


Like Essendon and Carlton?


Sometimes I think I’d like to have Gillo’s job. I haven’t ridden a horse since I was 15, but I can ride a motorcycle. I’m not connected with the high and mighty of society but am on first name terms with legendary obscure musicians. I’m not married to an heiress but Perky Girl has a fabulous sense of fun. I didn’t play in the VAFA but have sat in the outer most every time I’ve been to the footy and in 1997 I wrote a season review about club culture and the future of Melbourne teams.


Some things are different now, teevee money f’rinstance. There’s enough cash to keep everyone afloat – but if times got tight, who would the AFL pull the plug on first? The Bulldogs or The Monaros? Clubs are run much more efficiently now, they have to be, especially in Melbourne.


There are still nine teams in that city, fishing a crowded pool of sponsorhip and exposure. There are now two more teams and eighty more players in the AFL. In ’97 I questioned whether 16 teams was spreading the honey too thin.


Is the AFL cracking at the seams? If Zeus was the Steve Waugh, will Gillo be Ponting at the Ashes?


We’ve long since gotten used to North, Footscray and St Kilda being the strugglers. A relatively small support base and a lack of success – mostly, North’s dream run in the late 90s didn’t translate to much – means that these clubs will not be attractive to sponsors or teevee.


Maybe it’s time we considered Carlton, Essendon and Richmond as strugglers (combined, 64 seasons without a premiership). It aint as if any of them will be threatening for a flag in the next few years. Raising the question, is that good for football?


Clubs are more likely to take risks now – cf, Essendon – because there is so much at stake. But look at the current ‘Power Clubs.’ Hawthorn, Geelong, Sydney have won seven of the last nine flags. All were struggling at the turn of the century – remember Hawthorn being the junior partner in a merger with Melbourne?


From being somewhere between mediocre and crap these clubs got themselves together. All had support zones – Melbourne’s east, Geelong and environs, the parts of Sydney you’d like to live in – they developed sound administration, put together a good football department and drafted and recruited cannily. They remade the culture of the club and it has paid off handsomely.


In ’97 I commented favourably on Geelong’s status as a one-team town. It took them another ten years for that to work. Hawthorn and Collingwood aside, where does that leave the Melbourne clubs?


Carlton, Essendon, Footscray, Melbourne, North, Richmond, St Kilda. The pathway toward success has been trod but do they have the resources, the nous, the nerve to walk it? Frankly, none of these teams look like doing much more than threatening for a finals berth in the next few years. Maybe one, perhaps Melbourne, might make it to a prelim final.


I’d like to be proven wrong. But nothing in the last 17 years has suggested so. Which raises the Big Question – can the AFL survive if the interest of fans in Melbourne declines? Will, f’rexample, St Kilda fans troop along to the Terrordome to watch their team go in as serious underdogs against Gold Coast? I like the concept of spreading the game, but what do they risk losing? Will the spirit survive another Fitzroy? Will it survive teev schedules?


By 2032, Bulldogs coach Tom Liberatore may be bemoaning the lack of numbers at games. “How is the club supposed to make money on home matches when we’re scheduled to play at 0915 on a Thursday?”


Cheers Tipsters


P&C, a Stop Privatisation Of Footy Production, a division of Trans-Dementia Inc.

Brought to you with the assistance of Rod Stewart’s early 1970s albums.

About Earl O'Neill

Freelance gardener, I've thousands of books, thousands of records, one fast motorcycle and one gorgeous smart funny sexy woman. Life's pretty darn neat.


  1. Dear Earl,
    Greetings from the West. Concise and to the point as always.
    Them homesick blues and radical views haven’t left a mark on you, you wear it well.
    A little out of time but I don’t mind.
    Anyway, my coffee’s cold and I’m getting told that I gotta get back to work. So when the sun goes low and you’re home all alone think of me and try not to laugh.
    Peter B

  2. Earl O'Neill says

    Rod’s Top Twenty is gonna be a killer of a compilation.

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Good read Earl and it certainly appears that those 7 Victorian clubs are a distance away from challenging for the holy grail and it will be interesting to see how supporters cope with in all likelihood of , Gold Coast and purely with the talent on there list you would think , GWS racing by ( will the afl have the common sense to get rid of there idiotic pricing structure of games would help re crowd wise )

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