Georgie Parker: Eagles and Dockers can still benefit from AFL’s unbalanced fixtures

Georgie Parker
The Nightly
3 Min Read
‘It’s easy for Eagles and Dockers fans to cry foul about an unbalanced fixture, but don’t forget it’s a double-sided coin.’
‘It’s easy for Eagles and Dockers fans to cry foul about an unbalanced fixture, but don’t forget it’s a double-sided coin.’ Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

The only thing the AFL loves more than itself is creating PR about itself.

They’re the best in the business at it, whether its the continuous changing of the rules or drip-feeding us the season, they have us all under their thumb year round. And we eat it right up like kids eating cheap lollies at Halloween.

This week’s chatter is around the announcement of round ‘zero’, which is AFL’s obvious attempt to capitalise on NRL’s absence in the northern States when they head to Las Vegas to start their season.

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So, bring out the pitch forks because the conversations about the unfair nature of the competitions started rolling in like clockwork.

The thoughts and feelings around the fixture are deeply dependant from where you’re from. If you’re from Melbourne and support the powerhouse club Collingwood, being interstate for the first game of the season seems to be as bad as Meat Loaf’s grand final performance.

If you’re from Perth though, supporting another powerhouse in West Coast, in come the comments around Collingwood “never travelling, so stop the whining” and “welcome to our life!”.

So, in terms of actual matches, not finances, who has the biggest advantage with the fixture? Here are my thoughts.

To feel content with the fixture, we all need to remember the fixture itself will never be equal. We have 18 teams, and a 24 round competition. Until it either goes to 34 games, or drops to 17, it will never be even, so wrapping your head around that is the first step to fixture happiness.

Now I’m saying this as an Adelaide Crows fan, but we, an ‘interstate team’, until the grand final, have a much bigger advantage than Melbourne teams.

It’s pretty simple in my eyes. Home grounds at interstate grounds (Adelaide Oval, Optus Stadium, Gabba etc.) are much more valuable than Melbourne clubs, because it is a pure home ground.

A fixture utopia cannot exist. Unfortunately, it’s the nature of the national and uneven spread of the competition.

It’s a hostile environment with a hugely one-sided crowd, on a ground with different dimensions that one team plays on half the year, while the other, plays on once a year, if that. If you’re any good, it should equal a fair amount of wins next to your name before the opposition even arrives. This is not the case with Melbourne clubs due to the number of teams in the State.

Travelling, particularly at the end of the year is tiring, sure, but for the likes of Adelaide, Brisbane, and particularly West Coast, playing at home is easily the bigger advantage. I would take this and travel every second week in a heartbeat.

Then comes finals, where a preliminary final is worth its weight in gold at these grounds, for the same reasons. Only until the grand final would I rather be a Melbourne club, but, even then, you have to win a preliminary final first to make a grand final, so, where would you rather the advantage?

There’s a lot of hostility towards the big clubs with teams like Carlton and Collingwood copping it the most, but do you know who I think has the biggest advantage in the competition and just hides under the radar? Geelong. The Cats gets a huge home ground advantage and still only have to leave the State six times!

They get their time on the MCG so finals aren’t such a shock, and their supporters can still get up to watch their MCG games easily. Ultimately, if you’re going to yell at anyone, yell at Geelong, but don’t yell at them either, because they don’t even get a home prelim!

A fixture utopia cannot exist. Unfortunately, it’s the nature of the national and uneven spread of the competition. You may say it’s unfair, but it’s as fair as it is going to be, so let’s all relax and enjoy the perks of each city.

Melbourne will most likely always have the grand final, Adelaide, will have Gather Round (for now), and Perth, well, you have nice beaches, and a ripper of a home ground advantage.

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