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SANFL cements premier state league status

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The South Australian state league team representing the SANFL has cemented the league's reputation as the best competition outside of the AFL. The interstate match yesterday at Adelaide Oval was SA's tenth win from their last eleven matches, and the emphatic nature of their victory over the Big V should put the debate to rest, at least until the next time the two states meet.

Players from around Australia overlooked in the national draft look to the state leagues in a bid to gain the attention of recruiters, and the status of which league is best has been hard fought for the past decade or so (see Bragging rights for "next best" unresolved). Since the demise of State of Origin, interstate footy has become the domain of the state leagues, and the battles are fought in a cycle, with Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia alternating, with games against other states such as Queensland also in the mix.

When the SANFL last met the VFL, in 2005, the South Australians won by 4 points in Melbourne. Yesterday the result was far more convincing, with SA up by 65 points at the final siren, thanks largely to a nine goal to none second quarter. Best for SA included Clint Alleway (Fos Williams medallist) while Robin Nahas was best for the Vics, winning the Frank Johnson medal.

South Australia (SANFL) 25.11 (161)
Victoria (VFL) 14.12 (96)

Tasmania's players in the VFL are also eligible for the Victorian side, but none were selected. This follows on from another blow to the Apple Isle, with plans for a statewide league to reunite the game there coming unstuck - see Hitch for statewide footy league. Unity in the state must surely be needed to give their AFL bid its best chance - decades of disharmony are probably the biggest reason AFL footy has so far passed them by.

The next interstate match sees Queensland looking to show the improvement in the game in their state, playing probably the third best league in WA. Back in 2002 the Sangropers defeated the Queenslanders by 111 points. The match is next week and to be played in Townsville, the unofficial capital of northern Queensland.

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SANFL cements premier state league status | 5 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
SANFL cements premier state league status
Authored by: flyinghigh on Tuesday, June 10 2008 @ 10:33 pm ACST

well done to SA on that win...but interms of best league outside the afl..I have lost interest of the local leagues positions..if WA was playing VIC or SA in a real sog match im all for it...the leagues below the afl r just now second rate and its been a long time since theses leagues have been feeder leagues..the league players r just good league players or just retired players and by the time the best juniors come through the league they have already been keenly watched by afl scouts for a few years and/or on afl lists...give me afl sog or the under 18 nab cup to show who is the best in producing afl talent not a second tier comp with players picked from all over the country

SANFL cements premier state league status
Authored by: Brett Northey on Wednesday, June 11 2008 @ 12:27 am ACST

With all due respect I see that as a bit of a problem for our game. Most people don't really care unless it's AFL. That's why it's hard to get attention for international footy, and that's why all the money is in the highest level of the game.

Fortunately second tier leagues do still continue at good levels, as well as amateur and country footy etc. They continue to make up the fabric of the game, but one wonders how long with so little attention paid to them. How do they attract sponsors, how do they keep players involved, how do they provide a place for the 99.9% of players that don't play AFL?

The U18's is important to see how well states are feeding players into the AFL, but if there is nothing beyond that then it would be very sad. One could easily imagine millions poured into junior development to scout and catch the best athletes and train them up for the AFL, without there actually being any culture or wider participation in football.

There has to be more to it than that. In fact in South Australia I would say football is less healthy than it was in the 1970s. Everyone had a team then, and each week your team would play someone else's. But as has been well documented, the drain to the VFL was slowly killing it, and the game started to wane. The Adelaide Crows were born of the SANFL to play in the AFL, and Port Adelaide also joined, and the game was revived to a great degree.

But is it as healthy as it was in its prime in the 1960s or 70s? I doubt it. Crowds are decreasing each year, there is saturation soccer coverage, drive past the local schools in Adelaide and there are grounds with footy goals and soccer goals, and grounds with just soccer goals, but never footy goals only. We're also seeing the slide in the Under 18s. They rarely beat the WA or Vic sides, and were even down at half time against Tasmania (a great footy state, but with a very small population).

I don't want to paint too grim a picture. Aussie Rules is growing rapidly in the biggest population zones of Australia, and remains very healthy in many other areas. But a key in new areas is to grow the foundation, to build strong well known local leagues. And the challenge for existing state leagues to maintain their relevance. If Tassie had a united strong state league 15 years ago they would have an AFL side now.

WFN will continue to shine a light (however large or small) on the wonderful world of footy, both at AFL level and below. Never forget the foundations.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

SANFL cements premier state league status
Authored by: Brett Northey on Wednesday, June 11 2008 @ 01:27 pm ACST

I should also mention that while flyinghigh's point that most players in state leagues are not likely to play AFL is generally true, there certainly are exceptions. Firstly quite a few of the SA U18s boys drafted each year have already played some SANFL level - guys like Carlton's Bryce Gibbs had a full year there.

But also slightly older recruits do get drafted from the state leagues - for the SANFL players like Alwyn Davey (Darwin to South Adelaide to Essendon), Matthew Stokes (Darwin to Woodville-West Torrens to Geelong premiership) and Trent Hentschel (Darwin to Woodville-West Torrens to Adelaide). For the VFL, Aaron Edwards went from Frankston to North Melbourne.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

SANFL cements premier state league status
Authored by: flyinghigh on Wednesday, June 11 2008 @ 07:42 pm ACST

well put there brett..I love my afl and no other sport could ever come between it but sitting bak and reading ur reply I realised that we need these state leagues to be strong and for the guys that carnt make to the afl its the next best thing...talking about local leagues droping off I use to love Swan districts when I was growing up and when the eagles came out i supose i got caught up in the hype and now its all eagles...it made me realise that i havent been to a wafl match since 1991...here i am thinking that its a pity that the local leagues have droped off and its us the real fans(the crowd and supporters) letting it down...il go to a match this yr and when i do il e mail u

SANFL cements premier state league status
Authored by: Brett Northey on Thursday, June 12 2008 @ 06:54 pm ACST

No worries flyinghigh. We'll turn the tide one person at a time. 8)

Now I've made myself feel guilty - I'd better get along to see Sturt in the SANFL (flying high themselves this year) and my club Adelaide Uni.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN