AFL Round 1, all the panicking and the attendances numbers

This year I want to pick the brains out of some AFL stats. I will try and pick a bit of a hot topic and check the relevant stats associated with them. This weeks hot topic has been the emphasis on the importance of winning Round 1 and if you are a North Melbourne, Richmond or Bulldogs supporter according to the media you might as well pack your bags and head to the snow with the Melbourne supporters now! But really is winning Round 1 all that important? Also I take a quick look at the Round 1 attendance levels.

Importance of Round 1
Gee there has been some serious discussion this week about the importance of winning round 1 and if you don’t you must be panicking. A quick flick through The Age online and North Melbourne have had to confront media and play down a “panic”…. Richmond have had to play down a panic… and even the Bulldogs have had to confirm that they too are not panicking!

So how important is it to win round 1? Well I have had a look at the last 50 years of round 1, 2 and 3 results to see how the premier of that year performed. Of the 50 round 1 matches only 33 were won by the eventual premiers or 66%. Round 2 seemed to be a better link with the eventual premier winning round 2 39 of 50 times (78%). Interestingly the trend of the last 10 years is that generally the eventual premiers for the year wins round 1, although when you look back to late 80’s / early 90’s there was a string of 8 losses in round 1 by the eventual premiers. One little nugget of interesting analysis relates to North Melbourne who lost rounds 1, 2 and 3 in premiership years 1975 and 1999, perhaps a good omen for this year if they can back up their round 1 loss to Essendon with another to the Bulldogs?

You can see the round 1, 2 and 3 data by clicking here.

Round 1 Attendances
The AFL has been criticised over the last week for the poor scheduling of round 1. The split round was majorly compromised due to the tentative bookings of the GABBA, SCG, MCG, Blundstone Oval and Adelaide Oval by Cricket Australia for the Sheffield Shield finals and by a desire for the AFL to start the season the same time as the NRL. Clashes with the Grand Prix in Melbourne, limited venues and unpopular time slots including Sunday 7:40pm and Thursday night down in Geelong saw crowd numbers well down. The average crowd for the round was a mere 27,256 well down on the 40,035 average experienced over the last 10 years. In fact this average crowd figure is the lowest since 1990 when the average round 1 crowd was 24,569. Delving deeper into the numbers:

  • The Geelong game, Jimmy Bartel’s 250th, drew a crowd only fractionally bigger than the lowest attended Simonds Stadium crowd of last year (23,622 vs. 23,172)
  • The Carlton vs. Port Adelaide game drew 5,476 less people than the corresponding game last year in round 8
  • Collingwood’s game against Fremantle drew a crowd of 37,571 which is relatively similar compared to last years 3 matches at Etihad Stadium where their average crowd figure was 37,788
  • On a positive note that GWS game drew the largest crowd every at Skoda Stadium with 17,102 which surpassed the last AFL premiership game record of 12,314 between GWS & Richmond in round 22 2013
  • For a quick snapshot to see how this years average round 1 crowd compared against other years, I have put together a graph showing all the round 1 average attendances over the last 35 years.

    Matt.

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