September 29, 2003


Hostile reaction to last week’s column for The Australian continues to build:

Just in response to Tim Blair's preposterous and partisan attack on rugby league: when will these AFL types stop bleating about and attacking league, a game enjoyed by millions of Australians?

As for his thesis that league is propped up and that AFL gets by on money from crowds – well that's just nonsense and untrue. The AFL wouldn't be operating today if it wasn't for the millions it earns from TV rights.

It must have really cut him up, by the way, to know that the league outrated the Swans on telly by hundreds of thousands of viewers. NSW and Queensland are league (and union) states and that's not going to change.

An AFL tragic like Blair attacking league has all the surprise and legitimacy of an attack on the unions by Tony Abbott. When will these AFL people be happy? Let other people enjoy their codes. The nationalisation of football codes smacks of homogeneity and as a Queenslander who loves the passion and tradition of rugby league I say vive la difference.
P.S. Brown
Wilston, Qld

Like many Victorians, Tim Blair mistakenly associates higher crowd figures with an overall superiority of his code compared to rugby league. In reality, Australian rules football is a game with soaring kicks, a lot of manoeuvring of players well away from the ball, and rapid shifts in the position of play. All of these factors make it a game which is best appreciated by live attendance, and television cannot do it justice.

League on the other hand has most play centred on the ruck area, and the skills are difficult to appreciate from a distance, so this game is more suited to viewing on television, rather than from the grandstands.

This may explain the differences in attendance, but as for watching either game, I'd rather walk around a restaurant with a Campari and soda.
Geoffrey McCowage
Annandale, NSW

Tim Blair talks a lot of sense in his article about the NRL clubs and poker machines. NRL clubs are living beyond their means by paying players more than they are worth. If the crowds are turning up by all means pay them well but it's just crazy relying on poker machines for revenue.

Blair then claims that the AFL "is the largest, most successful football code in Australia". I cannot agree with him.

Despite the big crowds for the two recent AFL games at Stadium Australia (where the AFL conceded many turning up were first timers), AFL doesn't hold much interest for Sydney-siders. I think the Swans average about 20,000 people for SCG home games, not many considering it's the only AFL team in this city.

There's no doubting the AFL is successful – you'd be wrong in suggesting it is the most successful.
Chris Jack
Dee Why, NSW

Yawn. Tim Blair trying to hype the AFL. Sydney isn't listening (apart from a few yuppies who trudge along to watch the Swans if they win a few games). This town's got a league grand final to look forward to and than a rugby World Cup to host. The AFL is irrelevant.
Richard Wright
Sydney, NSW

Speaking of the league grand final, my local team is in it again. Go Roosters! Don’t be boring!

UPDATE. The Grand Final was Australia’s most-watched sporting event of the year.

Posted by Tim Blair at September 29, 2003 07:25 AM

Uh oh. Tim's given the Roosters the kiss of death.

Does this mean the Panthers are now specials?

Posted by: The Mongrel at September 29, 2003 at 10:32 AM

Four words only:


Posted by: Powerman at September 29, 2003 at 10:49 AM

NRL's true slogan for the last few years.

"Where's my team?"

Posted by: LD at September 29, 2003 at 11:00 AM

Football is all shite.

Posted by: Toryhere at September 29, 2003 at 11:46 AM

None of these pathetic "sports" can compare with soccer.
AFL requires some rudimentary skills, but the rugby codes could be played by trained gorillas.

Posted by: Skinny Hippo at September 29, 2003 at 12:21 PM

Now, Tim, after all that rancor, don't pretend you're a League follower, by coming out in support of the Roosters.

The reality is that many Victorians are bitter and twisted, filled with hostility and spite when it comes to the other States, especially NSW and QLD, and even more so about Sydney; and their parochialism shows in their attacks on League or their crowing about AFL. You don't hear that jealousy and sourness expressed by Sydney and Brisbane people about Melbourne, the way the Victorians dish it out.I have only one comment to make to them: Grow up and join the rest of us in Australia!

Posted by: Freddyboy at September 29, 2003 at 12:23 PM

"You don't hear that jealousy and sourness expressed by ...Brisbane people about Melbourne."

You're having us on, aren't you Freddyboy?

You've never heard the special sibilance a Queenslander puts in when they say "Ssssoutherner." It's like a snake striking, except with less sweetness and love.

Queenslanders aren't even sure they're part of Australia yet!

Posted by: The Mongrel at September 29, 2003 at 12:49 PM

We are on the cusp of a genuine footballing fairytale, with the Panthers only one game away from doing something that only one team in league history has ever done - from last to first within two years.

How on earth could AFL compete with that? And I might add that having the cast from Australian Idol singing at the G on Saturday was the final indignity...

Posted by: Chambo at September 29, 2003 at 02:56 PM

Gee Freddyboy as you are referring to Victoria,
"Grow up and join the rest of us in Australia!"

let me see, the last time I looked:



I think you might have it the wrong way around.Those other 3 should join the rest of australia don't you think?

Posted by: nic at September 29, 2003 at 04:02 PM

Hey Nic, what I'm referring to is the Victorians'adolescent attitude towards the rest of Oz, but since you mention the football, you'd have to accept that the AFL's penetration in NSW and QLD as minimal (despite the Lions). But who cares? Victorians need their AFL as a security blanket to hang onto, because they haven't got much else. Ha hoo!

Posted by: Freddyboy at September 29, 2003 at 04:20 PM

Chambo said...
"And I might add that having the cast from Australian Idol singing at the G on Saturday was the final indignity... "

Well it could have been worse. Remember Billy Idol at the League GF.

Posted by: unit at September 29, 2003 at 04:41 PM

Let's not forget Casey Chambers singing a Cindi Lauper song for the rugby. I thought men played that game?

Posted by: Yobbo at September 29, 2003 at 04:46 PM

Bread and circus's Tim... careful...

Posted by: Mick at September 29, 2003 at 04:54 PM

Tim: I put it to you, sir, that you are a great big liar. You know full well that you fudged that figure about the AFL grand final. EVERYONE knows the most watched sporting event of the year was the Men's semi-finals of the Ipswich roller-dancing championship. Pull your socks up Timothy.

Posted by: Caz at September 29, 2003 at 04:59 PM

I'd never really sat down and watched an Australian Rules game before, but after reading Tim's posts this week I gave it a go on Saturday. A couple of things immediately struck me:

1) It's hopelessly over-staffed. How many people are on a team? 20 or something? This could easily be cut by at least a third. Then there would be more space and fewer big aimless melees in the middle of the pitch.

2) The pitch. Far too big. Spectators at one end need astronomical telescopes to see what is going on at the other. Make it smaller.

3) The goals. Also far too big. Fair enough, those two posts in the middle are all right, but what about the ones on the outside? Why should bad play be rewarded? This is a prime example of welfare state sport. If you miss, you should get nothing, not a consolation prize. That way, everyone would be encouraged to raise their standard of play.

I know its probably too late in the day to get the rules changed for next season, but I'm sure you'll be able to rationalise the sport in time for 2005.

Posted by: Martin Adamson at September 29, 2003 at 08:38 PM