WITH 18 teams in the Australian Football League, how do you pick who to barrack for? Tim Morgan gives you his rundown of what you need to know before making that all-important choice.
If you’re an international student looking to embrace Australian culture, why not try watching the Australian Football League (AFL)?
The AFL is a uniquely Australian competition between 18 teams, 10 of which are from Victoria, with the other eight from four other Australian states.
Deciding who to go for can be a tough decision but here I’ve broken down the League’s 18 teams to help you figure out who to follow from 2012 onwards.
The Good: They have the strongest supporter base and financial strength off the field, and have been one of the AFL’s most successful clubs
The Bad: They may have the largest supporter base but they’re also the most hated team. No ifs and buts with Collingwood, you’re either with them or against them
The Ugly: Their cheer squad
The Stars: Dane Swan, Scott Pendlebury, Travis Cloke
Training Ground: Lexus Centre located in the heart of the city opposite Richmond station
The Good: They’ve won 16 premierships, more than all but one other team (Essendon)
The Bad: Their last premiership was all the way back in 1995 and since then, highlights have included sanctions for salary cap breaches and finishing the season at the bottom of the league table thrice
The Ugly: Recently had a slogan “They know we’re coming”, so confidence/arrogance goes with the Carlton brand. Although at the moment, it seems justified as they’re fielding one of the best midfields in the competition
The Stars: Chris Judd is the standout though Marc Murphy is closing the gap. Also, Eddie Betts provides excitement
Training Ground: Visy Park located on Royal Parade only a short distance from Melbourne University
The Good: They’ve also won 16 premierships, more than all but one other team (Carlton)
The Bad: They haven’t been champions since 2000 though they were rather impressive that year, only dropping one game. It’s hard to get a read on the Bombers as they can be erratic, but definitely a safe pick
The Ugly: They’re usually involved in some brutal clashes with arch rivals Collingwood, Hawthorn, and Carlton. One brawl with Hawthorn saw 18 players fined a total of AU$70,700, and five players missing a combined 16 matches through suspension
The Stars: Jobe Watson, Dustin Fletcher, Michael Hurley
Training Ground: Windy Hill in Essendon
The Good: They’re at the tail end of their dynasty that has seen them play in four of the last five Grand Finals, winning three of them
The Bad: You can’t argue with their on-field success, although the very fact they play a fair portion of their home games in Geelong can’t be a positive
The Ugly: Up until last year, it was Cameron Ling . Apart from that, it’s pretty smooth sailing at the cattery.
The Stars: Joel Selwood, Jimmy Bartel, Stevie Johnson – the list could go on and on.
Training Ground: Kardinia Park in Geelong, also the location of their home games
The Disclaimer: This is my side so please excuse any hint of bias
The Good: They won a premiership in 2008 and can boast one of the most dynamic forward lines in the AFL
The Bad: Lost nine straight times after being the last team to beat Geelong in a Grand Final
The Ugly: The Hawks went from being known as pretty boys to the enforcers of unsociable football. Either way, their supporters demand improvement over last year’s preliminary final loss.
The Stars: Lance Franklin, Cyril Rioli, Sam Mitchell
Training Ground: Waverley Park in the southeast suburbs
The Good: The oldest club in the AFL – this is one club for the traditionalists
The Bad: They’re showing their age. Have yet to win a game this year
The Ugly: Yes, it’s worse than a winless season. With a loss of a major sponsor, one player facing court over a machete attack and the passing of legendary president Jim Stynes – things currently aren’t looking good down in Demon land.
The Stars: Mitch Clarke, Jack Trengove
Training Ground: Olympic Park, just next door to the Lexus centre
NORTH MELBOURNE KANGAROOS
The Good: Young team on the rise renowned for their team spirit. North fans must know about the mythical shinbone of spirit which encompasses North’s renowned fighting spirit.
The Bad: They only have four premierships in the trophy cabinet but got value for money in 1977 when they drew in the Grand Final and had to come back a week later for the replay.
The Ugly: Despite their own reputation for fighting back, North hold the record for giving up the biggest margin, losing to Essendon after leading by 69 points, 10 minutes into the second quarter.
The Stars: Brent Harvey, Daniel Wells, Andrew Swallow
Training Ground: Arden Street located very close to Visy Park
The Good: Richmond have the most passionate and resilient fans known to man
The Bad: Last premiership was in 1980
The Ugly: Even when they’re up, they’re never quite there. They’ve finished ninth (one place out of the finals) six times in the last 19 years and haven’t played in the finals since 2001.
Training Ground: Tigerland is located on Punt road right next to the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
ST KILDA SAINTS
The Bad: Their only premiership was in 1966 when they beat Collingwood by a point
The Ugly: Most of St Kilda’s off-seasons keep the sports editors happy with plenty of controversy and scandals.
The Stars: Nick Riewoldt, Lenny Hayes, Nick Dal Santo
Training Ground: St Kilda now trains out at Seaford near Monash University’s peninsula campus
The Good: They’ve won half of the AFL Grand Finals they’ve been in
The Bad: They’ve only made two Grand Final appearances, winning the premiership in 1954 when they defeated Melbourne
The Ugly: They’re the perpetual bridesmaids with preliminary final losses in 2008, 2009, 2010.
The Stars: Matthew Boyd, Easton Wood, and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who once said she was more likely to play full forward for the Bulldogs then lead the country. Australians are still waiting for her to do either.
Training Ground: The Whitten Oval located in the inner-western suburb of Footscray near Victoria University.
It must be noted that despite the intense rivalries that exist between the Victorian teams, most are unanimous in their disdain for interstate teams seeking the premiership. But to be fair, here are brief summaries of the final eight teams that make up the AFL.
Sydney Swans: Sydney’s probably the only tolerated interstate team as they were originally South Melbourne. The South Melbourne/Sydney Swans franchise has won four premierships. They’re also known for a contested style of football which has earned them much respect.
West Coast Eagles: They’ve long been the kings of the west. The Eagles have amassed three championship trophies since 1986 and are well on their way to another one this year. They’ve also been having some off-field issues (a quick search about Ben Cousins will tell you why).
Brisbane Lions: They have a lineage more confusing than the royal family, involving a merge and a re-location. They’re one of very few clubs to go back-to-back-to-back, winning three premierships from 2001 to 2003.
Adelaide Crows: They’ve won two premierships and made the top eight 11 times in their 21 year history. They’re a financial powerhouse and the toast of town in the City of Churches.
Greater Western Sydney Giants and Gold Coast Suns: The former entered the AFL just this year while the latter has only been around for a year. They’re the competition’s whipping boys at the moment but have a pool of young talent deeper than the Pacific Ocean.
Fremantle Dockers: They arguably have the worse AFL theme song. They’ve yet to win a premiership since their induction in 1995 but they look like they’re coming good – though they have disappointed fans before.
Port Adelaide Power: They have a premiership cup but are definitely in the shadow of cross-town rival Adelaide.
Know the teams but still confused about the game itself? Check out our Beginners Guide to Footy here.