Modelling the Total Score of an AFL Game

Over the eight seasons from 2006 to 2013 an average AFL game produced about 185 points with a standard deviation of around 33 points. In about one quarter of the games the two teams between them could only muster about 165 points while in another one quarter they racked up 207 points or more.

Read More

How Many Eras of VFL/AFL Football Have There Been?

Most sporting codes with a history of any significant length will eventually be described in terms of having passed through a number of eras, one or both ends of which are usually defined by some relatively obvious characteristic that forms the basis of the discussion.

Read More

Does Crowd Size Affect Game Outcomes?

Based on empirical evidence we know that there is a home ground advantage in AFL which, in part, might be attributable to the pro-Home team leanings amongst the majority of the crowd. In this blog I want to explore a slightly different question about the effects of the crowd: specifically, does the size of the crowd matter too?
Read More

The Increased Importance of Predicting Away Team Scores

In an earlier blog we found that the score of the Home team carried more information about the final game margin than did the score of the Away team. One way of interpreting this fact is that, given the choice between improving your prediction of the Home team score or your prediction of the Away team score, you should opt for the former if your goal is to predict the final game margin. While that's true, it turns out that it's less true now than it once was.
Read More

Measures of Game Competitiveness

All this analysis of victory margins, and a query from Dan about a recent blog post, has had me wondering about victory margin as a measure of the competitiveness of games. Within a given era - say 10 years or so - during which the average points scored per game won't vary by too much, victory margin seems to be a reasonable proxy for competitiveness, but if you want to consider a broader swathe of AFL history, it strikes me as being deficient.
Read More

A Little AFL/VFL History

Every so often this year I'll be diving into the history of the VFL/AFL to come up with obscure and conversation-stopping facts for you to use at the next social event you attend.

For example, do you know the most common score in AFL history? It's 12.12 (84) and has been a team's final score about 0.88% of the time (counting two scores for each game in the denominator for that percentage). What if we restrict our attention to more recent seasons, say 1980 to 2008? It's 12.12 again (84), only now its prevalence is 0.98%. Last year though we managed only a single 12.12 (84) score, courtesy of St Kilda in Round 14.

While we're on the topic of scores, which season do you think produced the highest average score per team? It was 1982 and the average was 112.07 points. The trend since that season has been steadily downwards with the nadir being in 1997 when the average was 90.37 points.


From season averages to individual game scores, here are a couple of doozies. In May of 1919, Geelong took on St Kilda in a Round 5 clash at Corio Oval. The first quarter failed to produce a goal from either team and saw Geelong lead 0.6 to 0.2. St Kilda found their range - relatively speaking - in the second quarter to lead 3.4 to 0.9 at the main break. One need speculate only briefly about the thrust of the Cats' half-time speech from the coach.

The speech clearly didn't help, however, as Geelong continued to accumulate only singles for the remaining two quarters, finally emerging goal-less and defeated, 0.18 to 6.10.

Just over two years later, in July of 1921, St Kilda swapped roles and matched the Cats' ineptitude, eventually going down 0.18 to Fitzroy's 6.8 in front of around 6,000 startled fans.

If you're looking for more sustained inaccuracy you'd be after the South Melbourne team of 1900. They managed 59.127 for the entire season, a 31.7% accuracy rate.

In contrast, in 1949 the Hawks put on a spectacular display of straight kicking at Glenferrie Oval, finishing with 7.0 for the game. Regretably, their opponents, Essendon, clearly with no sense of aesthetics, repeatedly sprayed the ball at goal finishing 70 point victors by bagging a woefully inaccurate 16.16.

Again, turning from the single game to an entire season, plaudits must go to the St Kilda team of 2004, who registered 409.253 or 61.8% for the season. But, as the Hawks discovered, accuracy does not preordain success: St Kilda went out in the Preliminary Final to Port by 6 points.