The most over-used word in footy


By Domenic Favata

Game-plan, formation, style, press, composition, makeup, form, arrangement, configuration, format, ‘spine’, framework, order, STRUCTURE- the most overused word in footy.

Exactly what is a structure fellow sports enthusiasts? I believe it is the way a team sets up when they are not in possession of the ball, how they press and zone all over the ground. It could also be the way the team lines up, how their so called ‘spine’ works and how each player fits into the team via a role. A classic example of a great structure would be Collingwood, they have so many ‘role-players’ who aren’t star players themselves (L. Brown, Maxwell, Fasolo, Dawes, etc), but perform terrific in a great structured team. I believe it is a bit of both of these elements.

Most importantly, how does everyone else define structure?


  1. Colin Tegg says

    My understanding FWIW is ‘how the team sets up at stoppages’.

    I think it was Paul Roos on OTC who described the swans structure (when he was coach) at midfield bounces. Both half-forward flankers went straight to the ‘stoppage’. One would position themselves behind the pack, and the other would position himself in front of the pack.

    Similar situations would cover
    – when the opposition have a free/mark outside 50
    – kick ins (both teams)
    – centre bounces
    – boundary throw-ins (varying according the field position)

    In Collingwood’s 2009 season book, Side By Side, Neeld said “Structures are more important than match ups”.

    In the ‘Zaharakis match’ Malthouse said that Collingwood players, in the excitement of a near-certain win, forgot their structures at some key stoppages, enabling Essendon to break away from them unimpeded, convert advantage into goals, and snatch the game.

  2. I always thought “yeah -nah” was the most used word in footy interviews.

  3. ‘Theabilitytobeableto….’ is the phrase in footy most used by Stan Alves, with ‘andstufflikethat’ coming in a close second.

    When Stan confines his word-selection to the other 1.7 million choices in the English language, he’s a damned good commentator.

  4. I’ll tell you one thing. If you don’t stick to your structures, you’re buggered.

  5. It’s like trying to find the meaning of life!! But just to add to the confusion, one of my mates asked me on Satdee night “who’s on McGrath?”, as he kicked his second goal. I responded with “nobody, we’re just structuring around him”.

  6. I would’ve thought that the playing group would, at the end of the day, determine where a club was going, going forward, in terms of structure. You’ve got your Alan Tooveys and your Alex Fasolos and your James Kellys of the world who can essentially “swing” into these positions that suit the forward press, or the “reverse offence,” as I like to call it, and they are not only quality footballers but quality people around the footy club.

    I’m looking forward to the Post-Structuralist era of football, which will be more or less the same as the current era, except with more analysts.

  7. @Ed – I’ve heard that swingers prefer forward presses and committ reverse offences.

    As far as “structures” go, it’s been a recognised as critical to defense for millenia. Examples:

    Spartans and the Phalanx.
    Romans and the Tortoise.
    The British and the Line.

    Remember in the movie Braveheart when the Scots taunted the British by bearing their backsides? One cocky Scot forgot about the defensive structure and found himself with an arrow through a butt cheek.

    Structures also play an important part in offence. My favourite is the Bull formation developed and implemented by Shaka Zulu.

  8. Richard Naco says

    Some times, really, u can talk until reality evaporates?

  9. The most absurd example of a team “structuring up” and consequently ballsing it up was when the Roos refused to tackle Gary Ablett a few years ago (think it was the 2008 season). Ablett cut them to pieces – but the Roos held their structures till the end!

  10. I’ll take that as a statement, Richard.

    Dom, for me structures are just how your team plays. I don’t think it’s even a new phenomenon. Teams have been playing with structures for years. In fact, I think “structures” were more prevalent back in the day, when the game was less rollicking and more “kick-pack-mark-kick-pack-mark.” I guess it alludes to the importance of gameplan over individual – more of a tactical NFL style approach. But, again, I don’t think this is neccessarily a recent development. Maybe I’m just a contrarian.

    Footy seems to breed simplistic language and concepts. Perhaps it’s not even just footy, perhaps it’s just modern culture in general, where people won’t even try to digest anything that isn’t in dot point form.

    While we’re at it, “playing group.” What the hell kind of term is “playing group?” Why not just “Players?” I mean, it’s not as it they are forever being confused with the “Coaching group” or the “Boot studder Group.” Nick Maxwell & Rooey are two captains that always seem to throw it around. I think that perhaps when players graduate to the “leadership group” (…there’s a clue) they feel the need to get a bit more erudite, cerebral, if you will, during their interviews.

    Personally I like it when they just stick to hyperbole such as

    “It was war out there today.”

    Fight ’em on the beaches, Nick.

  11. John Butler says

    I would have thought Port Power were experimenting with a deconstructuralist method at present.

    Seems to work well.

  12. History repeats so they say. When footy first started, it was rolling “scrums” of 40 a side with a playing field measured in kilometres rather than metres.

    I have not been able to find any evidence since, but I once read an article by a Geelong historian who said that it was Geelong in the early 1900s who were responsible for positional play.

    Apparently, the captain/coach of the time made his players line up in set positions both behind AND FORWARD of the ball.

    It’s now back to rolling “scrums”.

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