Round 4, 2017

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A week can be a long time in footy, and this weekend is a long one with games being played over five days.

The Kangaroos will take on the Doggies on Good Friday in a ‘blockbuster game’, in part, supporting the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal. The Appeal traces its beginning to The Sporting Globe with journalists arranging a sports carnival for charity in 1931. In 1932 two organisers decided to hold another to raise money for the Children’s Hospital.

Just like our season at the moment, in round 4 of 1932, football was declared to be full of ‘surprises!’ with ‘weaker teams … fighting every inch of the way, and the public like it’. (p3)

We are yet to fully study the recruitment policies and practices of clubs and the league in 1932, but it was noted ‘[as] anticipated, there has been remarkable improvement in the play of those sides who have occupied a low position on the premiership list in recent years’. Mobility in club success was identified as ‘a great thing for the game’ as it ‘adds sparkle and interest to … contests’. (p3) Echoes of the present again, as Hawthorn occupies the bottom of the ladder (much to the delight of St Kilda fans in particular).

At the beginning of round 4, South Melbourne and Geelong were ‘alone at the top of the tree undefeated’ and ‘Chatterer’, author of the column, noted this as ‘not uncommon’ for Geelong but rare for South Melbourne. For ‘the Southerners’ one had to look back to 1918 to see such early success in the season, which saw them ‘win the premiership in grand style, defeating Collingwood … by five points’. (p3)

While ‘Chatterer’ didn’t employ a detailed rigorous statistical analysis, we can turn to The Arc Footy Graphed to see what more recent numbers suggest is likely to happen with a 3-0 win-loss record.

Today, the undefeated Crows, Tigers and Cats are all sitting ‘at the top of the tree’ with 3 wins, and so the probability of these teams playing finals in 2017 is 81.5%. The scenario for the Swans, Kangaroos & Hawks, yet to win a game, looks a bit grimmer – the probability of them making the finals is 10%. Looks like being at conferences or archives in September won’t impede some people’s footy supporting.

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