STATE league football is currently on its deathbed thanks, largely, to the dominance of the AFL and the integration of reserves sides into said competitions.
Locally, having Port Adelaide and Adelaide’s AFL players incorporated into the SANFL is harmful to the competition’s
integrity, and skews the playing field.
The same has happened in Western Australia, in the WAFL, with Peel Thunder (Fremantle reserves) and East Perth (West Coast
reserves), while in Victoria the VFL has 10 of its 15 clubs as reserves sides.
State league football should be a level playing field and the best pathway for a footballer to get into the top competition and, because of this, the AFL needs to implement a reserves competition.
With an AFL reserves competition, the SANFL, VFL and WAFL could start attracting better crowd numbers and return to good, old-fashioned, strong football.
The SANFL has been fortunate that neither the Crows nor Power have claimed the premiership since entering the fray, unlike
the WAFL in which Peel Thunder is back-to-back premiers.
A large portion of WAFL traditionalists have said that the competition is dead after the ‘Fremantle reserves’ won the premiership.
As a fan of all levels of football, I would absolutely hate for this to happen for the SANFL, despite the fact I’m a Port Adelaide supporter.
Another benefit of an AFL reserves competition is that it would help the north eastern states.
Let’s face it, the east coast’s NEAFL is a poor competition for something that is supposed to represent two states and two territories.
AFL reserves sides in the NEAFL (Brisbane, Sydney, Gold Coast, Greater Western Sydney) defeated NEAFL clubs by 100-plus
point margins on nine occasions during the 2017 season.
That doesn’t help develop the AFL players in that competition, and doesn’t help the sides that are being mauled on a regular basis.
For the future of state league football across the country, the AFL must remove the AFL reserves teams from their state league
competitions and use them as double-headers for the AFL premiership fixture.
The AFL must act, because I don’t want to see the SANFL continue heading down this path.