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Hi folk,

Background: Canadian who stumbled across Footy on Fox Sportsworld a few years ago and liked it. Never been to Oz, nor to a footy game other than on TV.

I was just wondering where the Western Bulldogs were from. I was thinking somewhere in Western Australia but not on the coast. Found their address, looked it up using Google Maps and was surprised to discover they were just west of the center of Melbourne. Wow! I guess you wouldn't want to go too far west. Image removed.

In an effort to see more of Melbourne, I zoomed out the view. My roving eye then spotted Hawthorn, Essendon, St. Kilda, Richmond, Carlton, and Collingwood. And there may be others I missed. Not to mention Melbourne itself. Good grief! Is this the AFL or the MFL?!?

Well, at least I know the Sydney Swans and the Brisbane Lions are in Sydney and Brisbane, respectively. They are, aren't they? And I know where Adelaide and Port are located. And I'm pretty sure that West Coast is on the, um, west coast. Still searching for Geelong and Freemantle, and I think there's a few others still on the missing list. Anyone got a map of Australia with the clubs pinned on it?


Posted by Swans500 on May 13, 2008 will get a bit of response to your letter I would think, but, I am from Oz, so here goes.

Melbourne is the capital of the state of Victoria, and that is where Aussie Rules was conceived 150 years ago or so. The game spread to the other states, but in the early 20th century New South Wales (Sydney) and Queensland (Brisbane) took a preference to Rugby League. Footy continued to grow in West Oz (Perth) , South Oz (Adelaide) and in Tasmania.

Because Melbourne was/is 4 times larger than these other cities it had its own suburban league....the VFL. Perth and Adelaide had their own suburban leagues, though weaker in strength than the VFL. This was the case until the early 1980s when the South Melb Club was transplanted in Sydney to become the Sydney Swans. Similar occured in Brisbane. A little later....home grown teams from the other "footy" states were formed....West Coast  Eagles from Perth and the Dockers from Fremantle, a Perth port suburb. Adelaide Crows and Port Adel , a port suburb of Adelaide. Thus....the AFL.

The abundance of the original Melbourne suburban clubs stems from its origins and a ratio of population still.

Sydney Swans and Brisbane Lions still play second fiddle in their states to Rugby, but TV coverage and expanding populations have made their existence viable.


Posted by admincms on May 13, 2008

Hi Rob,

A few references: and

You'll find most of the background to explain all of this in those links to our Footy FAQ.

The Western Bulldogs are in the western suburbs of Melbourne and were previously known as Footscray.  It's not one of the best choices in the world of sport for a club name but it's what it is.  The West Coast Eagles are based in Perth.  Fremantle is nearby in a Perth suburb.  Adelaide and Port Adelaide are in Adelaide and environs.  Brisbane is in Brisbane, Sydney is in Sydney.  Both of the last two will have "local" stablemate clubs by 2012 (Gold Coast and a western suburb club in Sydney).  All of the others are in Melbourne or the surrounding area:  Geelong is about 30 km out from Melbourne around the bay.    This reflects the origins of the AFL as the Victorian Football League or VFL.

The AFL has more clubs in one concentrated metro area than any other major sporting league in the world.  As an American, this would be analogous to the NFL putting a third of it's teams in NYC or LA.  The result is that some of the Melbourne area clubs are increasingly fighting for survival as they divy up the same pool of fans and sponsors.  You could start a whole thread on whether they will all survive, particularly after the AFL expands in 2011-2012.

AFANA Chairman and Site Admin

Posted by rstevenson on May 13, 2008

Thanks Rob and Dennis for the explanation.

The incredible concentration of teams in Melbourne just came as a great surprise to me, being more used to baseball and hockey leagues, where they wail and moan about cutting up the market too much if the cities with teams are too close together. About the only metro areas that can support more than one team (in one sport) are the really huge ones like NYC.

For example, there's regular pressure to put an NHL expansion team into Hamilton, Ontario -- part of the largest urban conglomerate in Canada, within reach of about 10 million fans (well, population anyway). They worry because Hamilton is thought to be too close to Toronto and Buffalo, not to mention Detroit.

I should have known -- things are always different in the Land Down Unda. Image removed.

Rob (no relation)

Posted by Beaver on May 16, 2008

I had the same confusion.. except I was DOWN THERE when I found the game.. An aussie friend of mine convinced me to watch a game and I was hooked.  Now I chose carlton...  dunno why...  my friends team and I was hooked.  got to go watch a practice at there HOME oval... was very cool..  been a fan for 4 years.. love the game...  but trying to explain to friends here in the US the game is always fun.  I hosted a Grand Final party last year was a kick watching all my friends who have no idea how the game works trying to cheer for a random team....

So I sent everyone this link to give them a taste....:



Posted by mcpish on May 17, 2008

Hi, I'm another Canadian fan.  I live in Winnipeg, MB.  Never been to Oz either but I've been a big fan of Aussie Rules for about the past 5 years.

My whole AFL fandom has really increased my knowledge of Australian geography, culture, etc, over the last few years.  

The whole idea of the AFL being so concentrated in Melbourne is something that I find historically interesting too.  You'd never see that in North America.  Anytime they want to add teams to leagues here there is always this talk that they can't support any more teams in certain markets.  As a Canadian, I'm sure you're aware of the CFL.  There's always talk been talk about adding more teams.  (Heck there are only 8 teams in the CFL)

Places like Halifax or Moncton or some other smaller markets are always discussed but in this country it's always assumed that there isn't a big enough market for a lot of teams.  Whenever I get into debates with people about this issue I always end up saying at some point, "look those markets are not too small to host a CFL team, did you know that in Australia they have about 6 teams in a single city in thier domestic football league.  Australia has 10 million fewer people in terms of population yet their domestic football league has 16 teams (soon to be 18).  They pay their players more than the CFL too.  How on Earth then can people say that the CFL can't easily have teams in places like Halifax, Thunder Bay, Saskatoon, or Quebec City?."   Unfortunatly, due to the ignorance that most North American's have of Australian Sports, most people are completely obliviious to this.


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