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Old 08-14-2016, 04:44 AM   #541
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Yeah the only exceptions w/r/t city-wide monopolies are the enormous metropolitan areas; Los Angeles has two NBA and MLB teams, New York has two teams in every major sport.

On a slightly different tack, the cramped nature of the AFL's team distribution is one of the only things I don't overly care for about the league. It's unique and I realize there are only so many major cities to choose from, but I subconsciously find myself rooting for teams outside of Victoria when it comes down to it. Seeing that Gold Coast and Sydney have received the last two teams and women's AFL received such an even distribution, this is obviously something the league wants to adjust as well.
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Old 08-14-2016, 05:10 AM   #542
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Even still though, those two per sport have nothing on our nine

Yes. It's a product of its own history. It was formed in Melbourne, the first established league was the Victorian Football Association in 1877, which was replaced as the top-flight league by the Victorian Football League in 1897. It wasn't until 1982 that an interstate team joined the VFL (South Melbourne moved to Sydney). In 1987 the league got two more interstate teams (Brisbane Bears, West Coast).

But it wasn't until 1990 that it became the Australian Football League. 91 saw Adelaide join, 95 Fremantle, 97 Port Adelaide and Fitzroy merged with Brisbane, 2011 Gold Coast and 2012 GWS.

So the unfortunate thing about the distribution is that it happened totally organically and despite efforts by the league to change that, as you point out, it is hard to overcome 150 years of history.

The other very important factor that has influenced it is that there is no one football sport that is truly Australia-wide - Aussie rules is a uniquely Victorian sport, so all its growth came from that. It was impossible to have it more even because in New South Wales and Queensland rugby league is the number one football sport, not Aussie rules.

So it's very unique in this way, the AFL, and not at all comparable to American sports. The way it's set up now is a product of its own history.
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Old 08-14-2016, 05:42 AM   #543
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Travis isn't entirely wrong on the class thing. Richmond up until very recently was deeply working class, and I think the start of the affection for the club began before gentrification had changed the suburb's character - when your suburb's main landmark is a clocktower on a discount shop, it's easy to cast the footy team as working class battlers. I'd say Richmond only really ceased to have any claim to be a working class suburb when Dimmey's shut down.

And I know at least two people whose support for Richmond is premised on them being a team of the working class. The geographic thing in Melbourne has weakened, but it's still true that the Doggies are the most popular team in the western suburbs (and Footscray may be gentrifying but it has a long way to go yet before it does a full Carlton or even a Richmond), Essendon in the northwest, and Hawthorn out east. It's obviously weaker for some other clubs though; I've never noticed a particularly strong concentration of Roos fans in North Melbourne or of Blues fans in Carlton.

I could go full boring-sports-history about the drift of sports from Melbourne's inner to the outer suburbs after WWII but I'll spare you guys.

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So the unfortunate thing about the distribution is that it happened totally organically and despite efforts by the league to change that, as you point out, it is hard to overcome 150 years of history.

The other very important factor that has influenced it is that there is no one football sport that is truly Australia-wide - Aussie rules is a uniquely Victorian sport, so all its growth came from that. It was impossible to have it more even because in New South Wales and Queensland rugby league is the number one football sport, not Aussie rules.
Some great sporting what-ifs come back to WWI. Australasian Rules, as it was then known, was seriously gaining in NSW, Queensland, and New Zealand (see the 1908 intercolonial carnival). WWI put paid to that - it also nearly killed rugby union in Queensland. And on that note, the US, or at least its western states, may have become rugby territory. It was the preferred sport at a whole bunch of universities up until the war. It was only in the 1920s that gridiron achieved ascendancy.

But I do think it's a tremendous shame in the late eighties that the VFL chose to become the AFL rather than joining with the other state leagues to fed into a newly-created national league. Victoria still would have got the most teams in that sort of scenario, but you could have had much more even representation.
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Old 08-14-2016, 05:56 AM   #544
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Hmm I still think it would be about 90 per cent based on success - this fondness that people have for random teams they don't follow I mean.

I'm probably not the best person to talk about it, only being 25. And I may be wrong and you may be right - perhaps some of that affection began before gentrification, before the AFL, back when they were still playing at Punt Road Oval. But I would say that that would be a very small percentage compared to the success of the club. I mean there was affection for Hawthorn when they sucked in the late 90s and early 00s, and Hawthorn the suburb is probably the most affluent of the Melbourne-based club's suburbs. Affection for Melbourne, despite their name being our capital city and based in the middle of town. There's no extra affection for Collingwood given that suburb's socioeconomic background, the fondness for them has not changed with gentrification.

Personally I just think that the geographic thing has almost entirely ceased to be in the AFL. I don't think it's correct to say that the Doggies are the most popular team in the western suburbs; I don't have any evidence, aside from anecdotal: if I added up all the teams my western suburbs friends support, it would be a random, even split.

I'd like the historical WWII suburbs stuff!!! I'd also love to read more on sport in 1900-1920 if you've got some links.

Yes, I wonder if that was a serious consideration of whether the VFL just said "bugger the rest of you". Any links? Books?
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Old 08-14-2016, 06:01 AM   #545
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It's a weird to feel that you could have beaten Fremantle by a bit more than 72 points in Perth, but here I am ... odd.
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Old 08-14-2016, 06:24 AM   #546
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I'm probably not the best person to talk about it, only being 25. And I may be wrong and you may be right - perhaps some of that affection began before gentrification, before the AFL, back when they were still playing at Punt Road Oval. But I would say that that would be a very small percentage compared to the success of the club. I mean there was affection for Hawthorn when they sucked in the late 90s and early 00s, and Hawthorn the suburb is probably the most affluent of the Melbourne-based club's suburbs. Affection for Melbourne, despite their name being our capital city and based in the middle of town. There's no extra affection for Collingwood given that suburb's socioeconomic background, the fondness for them has not changed with gentrification.
Point taken re: Hawthorn - now there's a good case of enormous success breeding hatred. I also recall a much greater neutral fondness for Geelong until the late 2000s than there is now.

Collingwood though is obviously going to be an exception to any ebb and flow of support and success, given their rep as the team everybody else loves to hate.

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Personally I just think that the geographic thing has almost entirely ceased to be in the AFL. I don't think it's correct to say that the Doggies are the most popular team in the western suburbs; I don't have any evidence, aside from anecdotal: if I added up all the teams my western suburbs friends support, it would be a random, even split.
You'd have far more anecdotal evidence to draw on than me about the western suburbs, but certainly my feeling has been that if you want to find a Doggies fan, you don't have to look far in Footscray or Sunshine or wherever. Good fucking luck if you want to find more than a handful down in, say, Kooyong though.

I would've said before how strange I find the general erosion of geographic bases of support for Victorian AFL teams. The fact I could move to Brunswick and not be expected to support any particular team is weird to me. The fact other newcomers to the sport have had a variety of teams recommended to them is also weird. One of my colleagues basically got allocated North Melbourne; I can't think where else this would happen.

If you move to Wellington and are new to rugby, you fucking support Wellington. You don't get a say in the matter. Even in Auckland, which has three teams, the geographic split is firm. You don't go for North Harbour unless you live north of the bridge. Simple. Though the strange thing about some New Zealanders is the ready acceptance that if you move somewhere, you pick up the local team. I've even seen public figures asked with some surprise "you've lived in Auckland for a decade, why do you still go for Wellington?" I think in Australia if you moved from Melbourne to Perth and ditched whatever Victorian team you support for West Coast or Freo, other footy fans would lose respect for you.

Quote:
I'd like the historical WWII suburbs stuff!!! I'd also love to read more on sport in 1900-1920 if you've got some links.

Yes, I wonder if that was a serious consideration of whether the VFL just said "bugger the rest of you". Any links? Books?
I'd like to know more myself about the VFL's nationwide expansion and if anybody gave any thought to a truly national league. I suspect it was always a non-starter though since the VFL was so much more powerful and wealthy than the other state leagues, and the enmity between the VFL, SANFL, and WAFL.

And I recently helped out with research for a forthcoming history of the City of Melbourne Bowls Club. It's really striking how heavily all the traditional inner city clubs suffer after WWII as there is a strong population drift from the inner suburbs to new suburbs out of the city. Hell, you could say it starts as early as the 1920s once the possibilities of electrified commuter rail are realised, or the 1930s as the motorcar makes it easier to live further out. But it's after the war years that you start to see the traditional clubs' results and membership figures really take a hit, while the number of new clubs in middle and outer suburbs explodes. I have detailed info for bowls but it's true for really any sport that is more participatory than spectator. The City club by the 1970s could field less than half the teams it could only a couple of decades previously, and those teams performed poorly, while the finalists in most years were relatively young middle/outer suburban teams.

Likewise, in the AFL the fanbase for all of these inner clubs moved out of the city. Because the sport was already dominant and spectator-driven, there was no need for the clubs themselves to shift with their fans, nor was there a possibility that new outer suburban clubs would usurp the traditional clubs (note this did happen to an extent in the VFA). They could still draw in young talent based on the zoning system that took in new suburban clubs. Of course, some clubs did move their headquarters to be closer to some of their fans. But this is probably why the geographic bases of support has been so weakened. In 1930, most fans of a club would have lived within walking distance of the team's ground. In 1980, they were kids of people who had moved here, there, and everywhere throughout Melbourne.
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Old 08-14-2016, 07:04 AM   #547
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Though I may not be contributing much to this conversation I inadvertently ignited (at some point I need to be quiet and listen), rest assured that I'm reading along and am quite fascinated by the league's history.
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Old 08-14-2016, 07:14 AM   #548
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It's very interesting indeed, and Australian rules is certainly unique in this regard, I agree that it would be odd to move from Melbourne to Perth and dump your Melbourne team. The most interesting thing I think is how people come to support teams in the AFL; I think in Victoria it's totally unrelated to where you live (unless maybe Geelong). I picked Geelong because we had a cat pillow. My dad is Hawthorn - his father was Fitzroy and he has never lived in Hawthorn. My brother's team chopped and changed depending on who his best friend was at the time. (I digress, however. I'd love to hear from Vlad and Bonnie on this - if you grew up in QLD, SA, NSW or WA you'd probably be very inclined to pick one of your state's teams. Then I imagine it just comes down to taste in the choice between the two teams...?)

It's interesting you bring up the VFA - in my glory days of being a suburban sports reporter I fell in love with sub-AFL football; I had a dream at one point of doing a history of the VFA/VFL. Suburban leagues are very well-followed, and there is greater passion there than there is in the VFL, by a pretty long way. (This is mostly because of the amalgamation with AFL reserves. Suburban teams either got swallowed whole or compromised by their AFL affiliates which killed off a fair whack of local interest, because the competition became compromised; clubs with an alliance like Werribee or Sandringham are in the worst spot because their AFL arms prioritise AFL player development over results, whereas the club stalwarts would prefer success.) Which is sad. But there's been a turn against it, Port Melbourne remains stand-alone, as does Williamstown, and they are two very, very proud football clubs. I love their history, watching football at their grounds, their fight against the AFL's homogeneity.

It's hard to believe now but the VFA was extremely strong from the 30s through to about the 80s. There are several players whose names will be a mystery to AFL fans, but they were every bit as big as Buddy Franklin back then. Fred Cook only played 30-odd AFL games because he got more money playing in the VFA. There's just so many great stories. Another example is the bitter Port Melbourne-Dandenong rivalry; in the 70s that's what you did on a Saturday, go watch those games. In every way it was the equal of the Collingwood-Carlton rivalry.

All in all this is the most I've enjoyed posting on this forum in ages, so thanks for starting the discussing LM
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Old 08-14-2016, 08:13 AM   #549
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Yeah outside of Victoria support becomes much more traditionally geographic. Obviously anybody from Queensland who wanted to barrack for a local club had only one choice until 2011 - though many whose parents had a pre-Brisbane Bears team often acquired that team, especially if they grew up outside Brisbane (see my Essendon-supporting mate, who got them from his dad). Nowadays it's pretty clear who you'll go for if you live in Brisbane or on the Gold Coast, and the rest of Queensland is a bit of a toss-up though I think Gold Coast have made better inroads up north from what I've heard. I understand it's pretty straightforward in WA and SA as to which team you support? Vlad or Bonnie can correct me if I'm wrong but I understood Port's support was concentrated in the suburb itself, nearby parts of the city, and through rural northern SA.

It seems to me that most Victorians I meet acquired their team through a parent. Though I hope Alison one day posts her story of how she came to be a Hawthorn fan!

I should really watch some of the suburban leagues. It's a right shame what happened to the VFA. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I recall that it was the VFL played on Saturday and the VFA on Sunday. The VFA was always going to struggle once the VFL went national and fully professional, but to have its purpose so muddled is a travesty. Sure, align the clubs so that VFA/VFL clubs can feed into their AFL affiliates and provide a clear path for young talent, but run a separate reserves competition too!

And you know who I really envy in the history discipline? The few people who have successfully made a go of being sport historians. Fuck, I'd jump at that if I could.
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Old 08-14-2016, 05:57 PM   #550
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I went through a wave a few years ago where I became intrigued and somewhat frustrated about how the VFA clubs had been so extinguished from the memory of football supporters.

I remember when I was a kid, watching Dandenong, Oakleigh (they wore bright purple and gold! - looked quite stunning to me as a 6 year old) and the Prahran Two Blues play on ABC TV with Peter Gee and Phil Cleary. I loved the old VFA, even though it was it was clearly struggling to maintain relevance.

A couple of years back I trawled some of the op shops in my old home town of Prahran, looking for some sort of evidence that there used to be a local VFA club that represented the town. Was hoping to find (ideally) old guernseys or scarves, but would have been happy to settle on membership cards or badges. The best I could find was a fistful of VFA Recorders, which weren't specifically for Prahran home games.

I remember me taking a tram through Preston, hoping to identify any shopfronts or older buildings that adopted "Preston" colours in acknowledgement of their VFA team. There used to be a little bit of this in Frankston, in support of their Dolphins.

It shatters me that the old VFA that was a successful, well supported and high quality competition in it's own right has been erased from the collective memory. Northern Blues carries very little of the Preston Bullants into it's current identity

That there is a little info/detail about Oakleigh, Camberwell or Dandenong online is unfortunate. There is however a stellar Facebook page "VFA - Halcyon Days" that captures a lot of photos, statistics relating to the old VFA. They have quite a bit of content there now. Worth a look, great page!






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Old 08-14-2016, 10:18 PM   #551
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I should really watch some of the suburban leagues. It's a right shame what happened to the VFA. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I recall that it was the VFL played on Saturday and the VFA on Sunday. The VFA was always going to struggle once the VFL went national and fully professional, but to have its purpose so muddled is a travesty. Sure, align the clubs so that VFA/VFL clubs can feed into their AFL affiliates and provide a clear path for young talent, but run a separate reserves competition too!

And you know who I really envy in the history discipline? The few people who have successfully made a go of being sport historians. Fuck, I'd jump at that if I could.
The VAFA is a bit of an oddity. Well-followed, but it is almost exclusively the domain rich, white, private-school people. Great standard of play, amateur (so players aren't meant to be paid). The Fitzroy that was crushed at the end of 1996 still exists - they play in the Premier B grade (seriously, it's the same club, not just in name).

Melbourne's other metropolitan leagues vary in quality, with the EFL being the best. Then you go out to the country... there are some VERY good footballers out there. There's a lot of money and influence and politics in country leagues, and those leagues are the absolute heartbeat and lifeblood of those communities. I would say the best day of my career so far was covering the RDFL grand final day a few years back - we did the U18s, reserves and seniors back-to-back, out at Lancefield. Those people bleed their local football.

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I went through a wave a few years ago where I became intrigued and somewhat frustrated about how the VFA clubs had been so extinguished from the memory of football supporters.

I remember when I was a kid, watching Dandenong, Oakleigh (they wore bright purple and gold! - looked quite stunning to me as a 6 year old) and the Prahran Two Blues play on ABC TV with Peter Gee and Phil Cleary. I loved the old VFA, even though it was it was clearly struggling to maintain relevance.

A couple of years back I trawled some of the op shops in my old home town of Prahran, looking for some sort of evidence that there used to be a local VFA club that represented the town. Was hoping to find (ideally) old guernseys or scarves, but would have been happy to settle on membership cards or badges. The best I could find was a fistful of VFA Recorders, which weren't specifically for Prahran home games.

I remember me taking a tram through Preston, hoping to identify any shopfronts or older buildings that adopted "Preston" colours in acknowledgement of their VFA team. There used to be a little bit of this in Frankston, in support of their Dolphins.

It shatters me that the old VFA that was a successful, well supported and high quality competition in it's own right has been erased from the collective memory. Northern Blues carries very little of the Preston Bullants into it's current identity

That there is a little info/detail about Oakleigh, Camberwell or Dandenong online is unfortunate. There is however a stellar Facebook page "VFA - Halcyon Days" that captures a lot of photos, statistics relating to the old VFA. They have quite a bit of content there now. Worth a look, great page!
Yeah, it's really sad what has become of the VFA. Still exists, of course, but you're right - the very proud clubs that were Preston, Prahran, Dandenong, Oakleigh ... it's as if they never existed. Very, very sad considering how big they were.
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Old 08-14-2016, 10:38 PM   #552
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As if I couldn't love NicNat any more... FUCK we had no right to win that game but oh lord maybe we might actually do something in the finals now with that bit of inspiration.

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Fuck I hate Melbourne. Hope they end up ninth. But geez if North miss out on the finals it will be the most epic North choke in the history of epic North chokes.

I wonder if Bonnie is even still alive after that heartstopping snap by her boy Nicky to win it for West Coast. What an ending!
I've always had something against Melbourne too, going back to an embarrassing upset they gave us way back in 1998 when I was expecting us to thrash them. I never forgive or forget. I drew a dartboard of every non-Eagles team and had them in the middle after that, true story.

I was actually driving at the time listening to the radio, had to pull over, was so close to just turning it off after the Giants got that goal with a minute left, and I couldn't believe those last few seconds, I was basically screaming and had to do everything in my power not to just toot the horns like a lunatic. Easily the highlight of the year.

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Aussie rules is a uniquely Victorian sport


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Vlad or Bonnie can correct me if I'm wrong but I understood Port's support was concentrated in the suburb itself, nearby parts of the city, and through rural northern SA.
Yep, probably knew more Port supporters than Crows supporters in the country, or it was more or less equal. In the city generally most people outside of the western suburbs go for the Crows.

Just leavin this here

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Old 08-14-2016, 11:26 PM   #553
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BONNIE!!!!!

Haha, sorry, but it really did start in Victoria

That pic isn't showing up grr, do you have a link?
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Old 08-14-2016, 11:36 PM   #554
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Old 08-14-2016, 11:38 PM   #555
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hahahahaha
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