Questions from a Queenslander: Why are the grounds different sizes?

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MY other half went to sleep watching the footy.

Understandable, I guess, if you’re in your own home with the heater on and the couch is just a little bit too comfy.

But this was in the top-tier at the Gabba. During the game.

Such is life with a Queenslander.

When she isn’t asleep, though, the Queenslander does make an effort to find out more about the game.

“Why don’t they throw the ball instead of handballing?”, “Why don’t the jerseys (sic) have sleeves?” and “Can we watch something else?”.

It’s great.

So in an attempt to quench the inquisitiveness, The Hickey Stand will try to tackle some of the more difficult questions in this new series – Questions from a Queenslander.

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WHY ARE AFL GROUNDS DIFFERENT SIZES?

They just are FFS.

Alright, I’ll try to explain.

It’s understandably confusing for any sports fan that follows just about any other game. Pitch sizes in soccer, league, union and American football tend to be standard across the board.

But there is one other sport that shares the AFL’s messed up ground sizes…cricket.

As most people know, Aussie Rules was invented as a way to keep cricketers fit during winter.

The first organised game (as depicted above) – in a paddock next to the MCG – was on a rectangular patch of dirt with trees scattered throughout.

Footy games weren’t allowed on the hallowed turf because the MCC feared a mix of the heavy boots of the players and the shitty Melbourne winter would desecrate it to the point that it wouldn’t be ready for cricket season.

Then, as is the tradition of the MCC, money talked.

They realised they could make fat stacks charging admission at the ‘G to the increasingly popular game, and the rest – as someone probably once said without realising how often it would be regurgitated – is history.

Footy was played on already developed cricket grounds, and – as a result – there was no standard size. It also allowed developers of purpose-built grounds in the future – as old as Kardinia Park and as new as Docklands – to say “fuck it, just make it fit”, resulting in some of the dimensional quirks listed below.

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KARDINIA PARK

Dimensions: 170m long, 117m wide

GEELONG’S home ground is the result of pesky infrastructure getting in the way.

The wing on the left of the picture above is significantly thinner than the opposite wing because Moorabool Street had the audacity of existing.

It meant that as the stadium developed around the ground, playing space was sacrificed for the sake of seats.

It also means visiting teams have a nasty habit of kicking the ball out on the full more than any other ground in the league – although that may have something to do with Geelong’s piss poor weather and intimidatingly silent crowd.

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SCG

Dimensions: 155m long, 136m wide

THE shortest ground regularly used in the AFL, the SCG’s size represents the city’s interest in the game.

As can be seen in the picture above, the 50m lines almost intersect the centre square. Subiaco Oval – the longest ground in the league – is a full 20m longer than the SCG.

The dimensions were obviously dictated by the fact it was an established cricket ground first and there was no other appropriate option for footy. But, ya know, size ain’t everything.

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WAVERLEY PARK

Dimensions: 200m long, 160 m wide

LIKE the VFL’s version of the Volkshalle, Waverley Park was audacious, massive, and ultimately a failure.

With no limits on playing surface – and with a veritable shit ton of space – the VFL decided bigger was better and put one set of goals in Springvale and the other in Ferntree Gully.

Originally planning to build a stadium that would accommodate 157,000 people, it was eventually realised that bigger wasn’t better, and the ground saw it’s last game in 1999.

Waverley is now a storage facility for the massive egos of Hawthorn fans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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