Thursday, 21 November 2013

It Just Ain't Right

Progress on the Statistical History of Victorian Football remains slow but steady. I found a few more Best and Fairest winners and Top Goalscorers lists in the Annual Reports archive on the FFV website, but a gap still remains between the end of the VSF Yearbook era and the start of the current FFV's results system a couple of years ago.

In adding all the new tables to the project, the 2013 ladders for the various State League Division Fives had me shaking my head and mumbling the title of this blog post over and over again.

State League Division Five North had 14 teams competing. Division Five West had 16. Division Five South had 14 and Division Five East comprised of 15 teams. I will now digress for a moment.

The above is a picture of the classic Commodore 64 game, International Soccer. It came not on a CD, or a disc, or even a cassette tape, but on a cartridge inserted into a slot in the primitive early "home computer". Graphics were chunky, and the screen did not allow for a full team of eleven, but it was football.

Unlike modern games, the options were limited. You could play a game against the computer or a human opponent and that was about it. It did not run a league for you, which is where I start to bring this back around to the point.

When I was a young 'un, I ran my own International Soccer league. We all had two teams each to make an eight team league, the clubs named after ourselves (Markham Hotspur took the title). I typed up a results and ladder sheet on an olde fashioned typewriter, which had a ribbon of ink. To do the fixtures I took a blank piece of paper, and wrote 1v2, 3v4, 5v6 and 7v8 on it. I then rotated the numbers for each round, and then reversed the fixtures. Assigned a team name to each of the numbers and that was that. It was not rocket science, even for a Year 7.

Now in an eight team league, if everyone plays each other once home and away, it gives you a fourteen game season. If  you have twelves teams in your League, it's a 22 game season. So when I looked at the number of games played in the State League Division Fives this season, only 22, I knew it just ain't right.

In football/soccer a league season involves every team playing each other once both home and away. Anything else just ain't right.

To be the Champion, you are the team that sits atop the table AFTER every team has played each other twice. If some teams didn't play each other twice, it just ain't right. Promotion and relegation is unfair should every team not play each other twice, because it just ain't right.

The VPL season of 2007 wasn't right either.That was because the introduction of the AIS and an administrative error from the FFV leaving it prone to legal action from whomever it relegated out of Sunshine Georgies or Essendon Royals left the competition with an extra number of teams in a time of drought which hindered the ability to start the season earlier. It still was not right.

The FFV does the game and clubs a disservice by restricting competitions with 14, 15 and 16 teams to a 22 game league season. A league competition is not fair unless each team players the others twice. It goes against the Integrity section of their stated Core Values, which reads:

Integrity - The affairs of the FFV will be unconditionally embedded in honesty and fairness.

In an effort to make their competition more fair, the clubs of State League Division Five East Reserves opted to play each other just once. I hope they got a discount in their affiliation fees for their rather short 14 games season, as that would only be fair.

Surely the FFV could start the season for these league earlier, or extend them to allow for the extra two, three or four rounds to make the competitions fair? Everyone knows the AFL game has a compromised draw, but there is no need for the FFV to copy them in limiting leagues to a 22 game season. Our football is a game where plenty of clubs around the world can play two games a week for periods of time, unlike the AFL which is restricted to a 22 game regular season by their Player's Association. 

 There is plenty of time for the FFV to sort out this situation for next season, hopefully they will make it right and make the competition fair for everyone.

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