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Author Topic: Australia's footy wars
Antonio Gramsci
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Funny the FA never thought of the Cleveland solution when it let the Dons move to MK.
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ursus arctos
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It was only a series of legal challenges by the city of Cleveland and fans that led the NFL to accept that "compromise". As Reed notes, they had already allowed Robert Irsay to stuff the Baltimore Colts' legacy into the moving trucks that rumbled west to Indianapolis after midnight.
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Posty Webber
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quote:
Still, all those clubs crammed into the greater Melbourne area is amazing.
We were the same in Sydney up until fairly recently.

When I was a wee tyke, the NSWRL consisted of Norths, Souths, Easts, Wests, St George, Parramatta, Canterbury, Manly, Cronulla, Balmain and Penrith, all from Sydney, plus Illawarra and Canberra (near by). And before that you had Newtown too.

It's the traditional, territorial fire-in-the-belly that drives most of the 'League and Aussie Rules fans in Oz.

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ursus arctos
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The question of why some cities (London, Buenos Aires, Melbourne, etc.) were able to maintain a relatively large number of top flight clubs while others were not is a very interesting one to me, and one for which I believe there is no single definitive answer.

To go back to Reed's original comparison, New York was (and is) able to support three baseball clubs; what "drove" the Giants and Dodgers west was simply the fact that the riches available to Stoneham and O'Malley from the unexploited territory of California were so much greater than they would make by staying in NYC. In other cases, there has been overt political pressure to consolidate clubs, perhaps most obviously in Mussolini's Italy (Roma, Fiorentina and Bari are each the result of amalgamations of a number of older clubs that were strongly encouraged by the Fascist authorities, who believed that the ideal competition would be one in which each city had a single (or at most two) clubs)). In other cases, consolidation has been driven by economics, with Belgium being a particularly stark example (as indicated by the fact that before going bankrupt, disappearing into what is now FC Brussels and then being reborn in the lower reaches of the Belgian pyramid, Steph's beloved RWD Molenbeek traced their heritage back to each of Racing de Bruxelles, White Star and Daring Club de Bruxelles (with the first two having merged earlier to form Racing White)). In other cases, it appears that a deciding factor may have been the fact that major metropoles with populations capable of supporting multiple clubs simply weren't "football cities" for whatever reason; I would put Paris and Berlin in this category.

The reasons underlying the survival of multiple clubs in certain cites seem equally varied. Metropoles that dominate their country in terms of population and economics seem to have an advantage here, with Buenos Aires and Montevideo being perhaps the best examples, and Budapest and Prague being worthy of mention. Other cities saw clubs that were able to become established during a period when internal travel and communication were much more difficult than they are currently, with the result that the principal competitions were regional or even municipal, instead of national (the Rio and Sao Paulo teams, and their Mexico City counterparts, for instance, with the development of the Australian teams (and codes) being similar). The Mexican case may be especially instructive, as the recent trend has been for teams to leave the "over-crowded" capital region for "virgin territory" (Atlante to Cancun, Necaxa to Aguascalientes, etc.), in a pattern that will be familiar to the Aussies on this thread. And the Soviet Union gives us a counterexample to Italy, with political factors supporting fragmentation rather than consolidation, with various ministries each believing they needed a team (and sports club) of their own, thus Spartak, CSKA, Dynamo, Lokomotiv, Torpedo, etc., in a pattern that was echoed to a lesser extent in other Warsaw Pact countries.

London is an entire story of its own, with the single most important factor to me being England's unique ability to support close to 100 fully professional clubs for more than a century (though London's relative economic dominance, position as the seat of Empire, system of local government and preservation of "local" identity all played roles as well).

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Melbourne Arab
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It's not just the number of teams in Melbourne that's remarkable but the size of the crowds.

The best supported of Sydney's NRL teams, Wests Tigers, averaged 17,098 in 2007; Sydney Swans, funnily enough, averaged 35,632.

The worst supported club in Melbourne, North Melbourne, averaged 28,292 (and that figure was distorted by playing 3 home games in a very small stadium on the Gold Coast). The biggest, Collingwood, averaged 54,898.

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Nathan HelenaHandcart
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There's a guy opposite me at work who is paid half by the AFL and half by Sport England to develop and promote Aussie Rules in the UK - schools competitions in London, and a national league for mainly aussie expats. He kept leaning over and trying out teams names on us.

As for London, there's a theory that because there have been so many clubs (and you need to remember that until the 60s, teams like Tooting and Dulwich could get 10,000 fairly regularly for big matches) is why they've proportionately struggled compared to the NW, which is an amazing powerhouse in English football.

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jason voorhees
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This thread is turning out quite nicely, a lot of great posts (esp. ursus'. But thanks for making me a complete ignoramus about Necaxa - I was wondering why they were playing in that rinky-dink stadium instead of the almighty Azteca the past few years.)

That's exactly what's needed to grow the AFL, Nathan.

However, what just hit me in terms of obstacles of NFL and AFL is the size of rosters. Basketball has done well to get worldwide players because

(A) Even 1 on 0 is amusing for an hour because all you need is a hoop/basket/peach basket/holeless milk crate/ and a ball/sockball/rubberband ball/etc. The act of shooting something through something is a challenging skill that one can do on their own. That guy Kevin Pittsnogle (whose incredible 3-point shooting brought West Virginia to the Final Four two years ago) spend years shooting at a metal hoop on top of a gravel pit at his trailer park. He couldn't dribble a ball to save his life (as dribbling on rocks doesn't work too well and is too challenging, and this probably kept him out of the NBA,) but he could catch a pass and shoot 3's all night long.

(B) All you need is 2 people for a 1v1 game. Same for football. The problem of gridiron and AFL is you need a lot more than 2 people. In gridiron you need at least 4 to have anything resembling a fun game, and you only need a backyard or a few cubic meters. So while basketball and football do better in terms of small fields/courts and numbers of participants, gridiron isn't that far behind in terms of numbers and size of pitch (as 10-20 meters is big enough to have a decent game.)

So AFL's major obstacle in terms of getting people to play would seem to be the size of a field, and number of participants. Of course I stand to be corrected, but I can't imagine a game of 1v1 - and because of the distance of kicking it's impossible to see this being played in a crowded area. While playing basketball by yourself can get annoying after chasing a ball a few feet after you shoot it, I can't imagine chasing a ball a hundred yards after you kick it.

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Trimster
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Yes, the number of players in an Aussie Rules team can be a bit of a stumbling block....

In some rural regions of Australia the local game is struggling because the general decline in rural population means that some clubs are having trouble finding 18 players every week.

But the AFL don't care much about the game at grass roots level...

Aussie Rules played with just a small handful of players is just not possible, and it looks crap. At grassroots level it is all about big mobs of players charging after the ball and flattening anyone who gets in the way... at least thats what my memories of playing the game involve.

I know AFL on TV today looks a lot different to that. The difference between elite AFL and grassroots Aussie Rules is enormous.. probably greater than that between, say, an amateur soccer match and a professional league soccer match.

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Melbourne Arab
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quote:
the difference between elite AFL and grassroots Aussie Rules is enormous.. probably greater than that between, say, an amateur soccer match and a professional league soccer match
I think that's a fair point. The AFL season is very short so the players spend about 4 or 5 months on preseason training and they do acquire impressive levels of fitness and conditioning which an amateur couldn't possibly get anywhere near.

I recently found myself standing beside St Kilda's new ruckman Steven King I don't think I've ever felt so inadequate as a member of the male sex. King is 6'6"tall and 17 stone of pure muscle an extraordinary physical specimen. His wife is a 6 foot tall former model. I've never felt like that whenever I've met Dundee United or Melbourne Victory players.

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Jamzinho
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MA, is King signed from Geelong?

I see St Kilda have made it through to the NAB Cup final, against my Crows. Do you take this competition seriously? It is after all the only chance to win something outside of the Premiership!

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Melbourne Arab
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Yes, Jamzinho, it's that Steven King.

I'll only take the NAB Cup seriously if we win it.

Friday night's game against Essendon was brilliant - I'm getting to the stage now where I seriously believe this could be St Kilda's year (not for the NAB Cup, for the real thing).

Adelaide were very impressive tonight against an almost full strength Hawthorn.

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Willie1Foot
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Posty ------ PM in your inbox
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Trimster
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Shall we start a separate "AFL 2008" thread, and keep this one for inter-code conflict stuff....?
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