AFL team rivalries

AFL team rivalries

AFL team rivalries are matches in the Australian Football League which typically draw large crowds and interest regardless of both teams positions on the ladder. The AFL encourages the building of such rivalries, as a method of increasing publicity for the league, to the point of designating one round each year as "Rivalry Round" where many of these match-ups are held on the one weekend.Lonergan, Dan; [ AFL arch rivals - a thing of the past] ; 2007-04-13] Whilst some rivalries, such as between teams from adjacent areas are still strong, the designation of an entire round of fixtures as Rivalry Round is often criticised due to some arbitrary matchups, or ignoring stronger, more recent rivalries. Baum, G; [ Footy's drowning in a sea of medals] ; The Age; 2008-04-12]

With a 22 round season and 16 teams, the AFL fixtures are not equal with each team playing seven other teams twice and eight teams once. Choosing to play certain games twice, such as the local derbies and blockbusters (games between the "Big 4" Victorian clubs of Collingwood, Carlton, Essendon and Richmond, are known as "blockbuster" games), results in a skewed fixture which is rarely evened out over time.

Rivalry Round

Since 2003, the AFL markets one weeks fixtures to be Rivalry Round. In 2007 it was held in Round 3, with the following results and a total attendance of 344,536, the 4th highest attended round of all time.

In 2006, the Rivalry Round was held in Round 6 and had the following matches with a total attendance of 340,193, the highest attended round of the season.

In 2005 it was held in round 3, with a total attendance of 346,177, at the time the second highest round attendance of all time.

Traditional rivals

Carlton v Collingwood

Arguably the greatest and longest standing rivalry in the competition. Two clubs in close proximity, fuelled by the rivalry between white (Carlton) and blue collar (Collingwood) suburbs. The rivalry is intensified because the teams have met in six memorable Grand Finals (Carlton winning five, Collingwood one), including Carlton's 44-point comeback in 1970, and the famous Harmes-Sheldon goal in 1979. Games between these two clubs regularly attract large crowds regardless of whether they are both at the bottom of the ladder or not. Carlton remains the only team to have won more mutual games against Collingwood.

Richmond v Collingwood

Arising from the fact that the two areas neighbour each other, and that Richmond supporters often mocked Collingwood supporters whom they thought were "feral". In addition, Richmond and Collingwood were both highly successful in the late 1920s to the early 1930s, meeting each other in several grand finals. Both clubs continue to draw large crowds to their meetings in each season, and the two were the subject of a 'recruiting war' throughout the 1970s and 1980s, with David Cloke, Geoff Raines, Brian Taylor, Wally Lovett, Phillip Walsh, Steven Roach, Gerald Betts, Neil Peart, Peter McCormack, Kevin Morris, Craig Stewart, Ross Brewer, Michael Lockman, Rod Osborne, Allan Edwards, John Annear, Noel Lovell and Bob Heard all exchanging clubs, as well as coach Tom Hafey (moving to Collingwood in 1977 following four flags at Punt Road). Even in the 1990s, the two clubs shared a large number of players, with a trend of ex-Tiger ruckmen arriving at Victoria Park, including Matthew Francis, Robert Schaffer, Brad Smith and Steve McKee.

Melbourne v Collingwood

Traditional White collar (Melbourne) vs. Blue collar (Collingwood) rivalry additionally fuelled by a narrow loss to Collingwood which stopped Melbourne from winning a fourth flag in a row in 1958. Half of Melbourne's twelve premierships came against Collingwood, and the pair have met in seven Grand Finals, the most of any pairing . Since 1999, they have met each other on the Queen's Birthday public holiday Monday in June, with Melbourne hosting all bar the 1999 clash.

Essendon v Hawthorn

The clubs contested the Grand Final three years in a row in the 1980s. More recently, the 2 clubs vied off in a Preliminary Final in 2001 controversially won by Essendon, while in late 2004, there was the infamous "Line in the Sand" brawl after half-time, resulting in many Hawthorn players being suspended. While Hawthorn lost that game, they have won three of the four subsequent contests. Games between the 2 clubs are spiteful affairs which draw large build ups in the weeks leading up the games.

Richmond v Carlton

A rivalry based on close geographical proximity and large supporter bases. The rivalry intensified as both clubs contested several Grand Finals between 1969 and 1982. Particularly the 1972 Grand Final where Richmond scored the highest score recorded in a Grand Final, only to be bettered by Carlton in the same match. The following year Richmond won the 1973 Grand Final in an even more physically bitter contest than in recent encounters between the two sides. In 1982 Carlton got their revenge by defeating Richmond in their last Grand Final appearance.

Essendon v Carlton

As is the case with two successful sides in any competition, fans of each club love to defeat the other. The two clubs share the record for the most premierships with 16. In recent times, Carlton famously upset the heavily favoured Essendon side by 1 point in the 1999 Preliminary Final. Essendon also led Carlton by 48 points deep in to the second quarter of their Round 3 2007 match at the MCG, only to be overrun by Carlton in what would go down as their greatest ever come from behind victory. Full Forward Brendan Fevola was the star with 8 goals.

Essendon v Collingwood

Arising from the drawn inaugural MCG ANZAC Day clash and Essendon's loss to Collingwood in the 1990 Grand Final. Games between these sides draw large crowds, with the ANZAC day match generally being the largest crowd each year outside of the finals. The two clubs have met in four grand finals, winning two each.

Essendon v Richmond

A rivalry simply born out of the fact that these 2 clubs are both part of the "Big 4" clubs in Melbourne as the highly supported teams. In every contest between the two teams there is a good attendance no matter what the circumstances. The teams have met three times in Grand Finals. A highlight between these two clubs was the 1974 Battle of Windy Hill, where a massive brawl occurred at half time during a regular season match. Richmond won in a stirring come from behind finals performance in 1995, beating Essendon in a bruising encounter. Since 2004, matches between Essendon and Richmond have been a celebration of Aboriginal players and their contribution to the league.

North Melbourne v Hawthorn

North and the Hawks have been traditional rivals since their VFA days, and their dominance in the 70's sparked the rivalry which is still going today. The three Grand Finals they played in were all heated especially the 75 and 76 Grand Finals. Thousands flocked to Arden St and Glenferrie to watch these two then powerhouses at work.

Hawthorn v Geelong

Hawthorn and Geelong met in what is considered in one of the greatest Grand Finals of all time in 1989. Geelong seemingly played the man resulting major injuries for several Hawks players, but Hawthorn was in control of the game, leading by approximately 40 points for most of the match until the last quarter when Geelong almost managed to come from behind to win, falling short by just 6 points. Geelong's 1963 Premiership was won against Hawthorn, their last until 2007. In the 2008 Grand Final the Hawks upset the heavily backed favorites Geelong and deny them a premiership that throughout a season that was almost seen as a formality due to the Cats dominance. It was the first all Victorian Grand Final for 8 years, and was the first game to draw a crowd over 100,000 for 22 years.

=Local derbies=

West Coast v Fremantle

Commencing in 1995, the Western Derby is the talking point of most of Western Australia for two weeks each year. The Eagles won the first 9 derbies before Fremantle finally won the second derby in 1999. Whilst the coaches and players always say that it is just another game, most supporters would disagree.

Adelaide v Port Adelaide

Unlike the Eagles who hold a commanding lead over the newer team, the early Showdown clashes were dominated more by Port. After Showdown XXV in Round 16 of the 2008 season, Port Adelaide hold a narrow lead with 13 wins and Adelaide with 12. Following Showdown XI players from both sides were involved in a fight at a local hotel.

In the upcoming years, there are plans for a Gold Coast Team, meaning that they will also have a local derby against the Brisbane Lions.

More recent rivals

Port Adelaide v Collingwood

The rivalry with Port Adelaide and Collingwood stems from the fact that the Power were also known as the Magpies in their local SANFL competition before switching to the Power when fielding a team in the AFL in 1997 (the Port Adelaide Magpies remain in the SANFL today). Feelings were heightened when Port midfielder Kane Cornes 'flipped the bird' at Nick Davis following the Power's close fought five point victory over the Magpies at AAMI Stadium in round nine, 2002. Alan Didak also 'flipped the bird' at the Port Adelaide fans in round 19, 2006.

An ongoing battle between both the Port Adelaide and Collingwood football clubs is over Port Adelaide wearing the colours black and white. Port Adelaide was established in the SANFL in 1870 and, like Collingwood, were know as the Magpies and wore black and white. As Port Adelaide won a license to enter the AFL in 1996 they had to agree not to overshadow the branding of the Collingwood football club by using the name "Magpies" and using only the colours black and white.

Brisbane v Sydney

Two frontier states for the AFL, the AFL uses the Rugby League State of Origin rivalry between Queensland and New South Wales to draw crowds to games between these teams.

The most recent Brisbane/Sydney clash was round 22 2008. The Swans won comfortably by 61 points. Lions coach Leigh Matthews resigned the following Monday, and in turn was replaced by former Lions triple-premiership winning captain Michael Voss.

Brisbane v St Kilda

These two teams created history in 2005 when new Saints captain Nick Riewoldt seriously broke his collarbone in a collision with three Lions defenders. Midway through the third term, Riewoldt crashed into Jamie Charman going for a mark, then, moments later, heavily landed on his right shoulder. Moments later, defenders Chris Scott and Mal Michael crashed and bumped his right shoulder while Riewoldt was in the hands of St.Kilda trainers. The Saints then got their revenge in Round 22 of the same season, 2005, when they hammered the Lions by 139 points at Telstra Dome (the match where Stephen Milne booted 11 goals), ensuring Brisbane missed the finals for the first time since 1998.

This fixture has always been played on the Thursday before Good Friday since 2005. In 2008, the fixture was played in May. The match was controversial with many St.Kilda players seeming disinterested. After the match, St.Kilda coach Ross Lyon labeled his team 'soft'. [ [,21985,23756946-19742,00.html Ross Lyon labels players mentally and physically soft] ]

Geelong v West Coast

They met in 2 grand finals in the early 1990s. This rivalry was further sparked when the Eagles beat the Cats by 3 points in Round 10,2006 after trailing by 54 points mid-way through the third quarter.

Round 13, 2008 witnessed a 135-point thumping handed out to the West Coast Eagles by Geelong. Geelong also won the return match (round 22, 2008) but this time it was by 99 points.

Geelong v St. Kilda

This rivalry began in 2004, when the two sides were officially touted as the next power sides, as both had a good young list. The rivalry grew as both sides met in the Preseason Cup grand final, when verbal wars began between coaches and players, including Geelong's Paul Chapman, who said, after St. Kilda won the grand final, that Geelong was still a better side, leading to a smashing ten goal win the following week for St. Kilda over Geelong, as the season began between the two sides. Both sides made the preliminary final that year, and continued to fight over who was a better side, until in 2007 Geelong won the premiership race. Their rivalry continues to grow.

Melbourne v Geelong

The first 2 clubs in the league. Melbourne CEO Steve Harris once made comments about how Melbourne people never like to travel to Geelong, with this rivalry being manufactured by the AFL in the recent AFL Rivalry Round concept. In Round 21, 2006, the teams played out a thrilling draw at Skilled Stadium, the first draw between the teams since the 1920s, confirming both Melbourne's position in the top 8 and Geelong missing out on the finals for that season.

Brisbane v Essendon

The two sides who clashed in the 2001 Grand Final, has since developed into a great rivalry thanks to respective coaches Leigh Matthews (Brisbane) and Kevin Sheedy (Essendon), with several famous clashes already. Earlier in 2001, with Essendon riding high having won the 2000 Premiership, Leigh Matthews famously quoted from the movie "Predator", stating that "if it bleeds, we can kill it". During a Round 17, 2006 clash between the two sides, a James Hird display led to Essendon breaking a 15-game winless streak (they had drawn against Carlton the previous week), which all but ended any possibility of Brisbane making the finals.

Brisbane v Collingwood

The Brisbane Lions defeated Collingwood in the 2002 and 2003 Grand Final, which caused Grand Final Rematches and great rivalry between the two teams. This continued onwards with many Lions fans disliking Collingwood, and their President, Eddie McGuire. In Round 17 2007, 12th placed Brisbane stunned 6th placed Collingwood by 93 points at the MCG (Collingwood's home ground), this remains the greatest ever margin in a match between the two clubs.

Brisbane v Port Adelaide

The two sides who dominated the AFL from 2001-2004, they had identical winning percentages over the four years. The Lions won three consecutive titles (2001-2003), while Port developed a reputation as chokers in big matches until they won the 2004 title, defeating Brisbane in that decider. Matches between the two are always hard fought encounters. The two sides have also drawn on two occasions, in 1997 and 1998. [ Rivalry to heat up Lions-Power clash] ; 2008-04-12]

West Coast v Essendon

The rivalry started when Essendon coach Kevin Sheedy celebrated his team's 2-point victory in Round 16, 1993 by running down from the coaches box to the ground waving his jacket around his head. Ever since, the fans of the victorious team in these clashes celebrate the victory by waving their jackets, scarves, or whatever other paraphernalia is handy. Occasionally fans of other league teams (infamously Richmond after the 1995 semi-final) wave their jackets (or scarves) after their team defeats Essendon. This tradition however, has become increasingly rare. In a match in 2000, Essendon's Mark Johnson was felled shortly before half-time (no video footage of the incident exists). This prompted Kevin Sheedy to march onto the field, yelling at West Coast's Mitchell White and making throat-slitting gestures. Sheedy later claimed that a "seagull" had flown into Johnson's eye, and was fined $7500 by the league for his actions.

Kevin Sheedy's last game as Essendon's coach was also against the West Coast at Subiaco Oval on 1 September 2007. After the game, Sheedy was presented with a framed jacket that was specially made for the occasion with one half made in the Red and Black of Essendon and the other half the Blue and Gold of West Coast.

St Kilda v Fremantle

Likely to become rivals after the siren mistake in Round 5 2006, the third game in succession between these sides to be decided by less than a goal in controversial circumstances, the previous being the Whispers in the Sky controversy, and a contentious holding the ball decision paid to give St Kilda the winning point.

Hawthorn v Melbourne

In 1996, both sides were involved in merger talks. The merger would have led to the birth of the Melbourne Hawks, never eventuated. The incident is most well remembered for the "merger match" in the final round that season, a game which attracted 63,000 fans (the highest home-and-away crowd attracted by either team since Round 6, 1992) and finished in a one-point Hawthorn victory that earned them eighth place on the ladder. Hawthorn and Melbourne also played on Easter Monday at the MCG. This match might become a traditional match for the Easter round. In 2008, Hawthorn thumped Melbourne by 104 points in the season opening round. Later that season, in Round 9, Melbourne farewelled club legend David Neitz against Hawthorn. Hawthorn were massive favourites, but Melbourne unsettled them playing aggressively, with Hawthorn only pulling away late to win by 19.

West Coast v Sydney

One of the most recent, and more thrilling rivalries to develop. In the nineteen months between September 2005 and March 2007, the sides met six times, including both Grand Finals and two Qualifying Finals; the final margins of these games were: 4, 4, 2, 1, 1 and 1.

Due to these close games, the Sydney vs West Coast pairing now holds the following records:
* Lowest total points difference across six games: 13 (next lowest: South Melbourne vs Melbourne, 28 points, 1898-1900)
* Lowest total points difference across five games: 9 (next lowest: Hawthorn vs Collingwood, 19 points, 1958-1960)
* Lowest total points difference across four games: 5 (next lowest: Footscray vs Hawthorn, 7 points, 1931)
* Most consecutive one-point games: 3 (six pairings share with two)

In round four, 2008, Barry Hall made headlines when he punched West Coast's Brent Staker in the jaw. Staker's parents have since called for Hall to be suspended for the remainder of the season but Hall was only suspended for seven weeks. Sydney won this match 16.11.(107) to 5.15.(45); their biggest win over the Eagles since 2000. Another classic was played out in round 11, 2008 when Sydney overturned a 36-point halftime deficit to win at Subiaco Oval, their first at the venue in any home-and-away season since 2001.

St Kilda v Sydney

During the 2006 off-season, former Swans assistant coach Ross Lyon took over as the Saints' head coach (replacing Grant Thomas, who was sacked a month earlier), and has strengthened the Saints team. When these two teams met in round 7, 2007, the Saints defeated Sydney by 26 points, in the match billed as Master v Apprentice.

Other notable matches between these two include a two-point thriller in the 2008 season opening round at the Telstra Dome and another two-point thriller in the wet at the SCG in round 11, 2006 (both going the Saints' way), a preliminary final win to Sydney in 2005 (the match notable for Barry Hall's fist to Matt Maguire's midriff), a huge win to St Kilda in round 10 of the same season, another big win to the Saints in the 2004 elimination final, and Sydney's 36 point win in round 11, 2004, to bring an end to St Kilda's 10-match winning streak. There was also a heartstopping draw in round 5 of the 2002 season.

Sydney v Collingwood

Since 2003, these two teams have fought out the "Annual Blockbuster" (held at Telstra Stadium) in front of very large crowds. Since 2004, the honours have been divided (Sydney 2 wins, Collingwood 2 wins). Sydney won by six points in 2004 and one point in 2005. However, a finals-bound Collingwood has won the past four matches by convincing margins.

Geelong v Port Adelaide

This rivalry started late in the 2007 season when Geelong looked set to win a 16th consecutive match. However, when they played Port Adelaide in round 21 at Skilled Stadium, Port's Domenic Cassisi kicked the winning goal with six seconds left to hand Geelong its first defeat since late April 2007. However, five weeks later, Geelong smashed Port Adelaide by 119 points (the record for biggest AFL Grand Final win) in the 2007 AFL Grand Final, with forward Steve Johnson winning the Norm Smith Medal for his five goals.

In round one, 2008, Geelong won by nine points in the Grand Final rematch.

Past rivals

St Kilda v South Melbourne

These clubs shared the same geographical area until the Swans moved to Sydney. These teams played for the 'Lake Trophy'.

Collingwood v Fitzroy

As with St Kilda and South Melbourne, these clubs shared the same geographical area until Fitzroy folded (and was absorbed by Brisbane) and began a new rivalry with Collingwood from successive Grand Final encounters.


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