Cornered in the search for goals

Recently in his (often amusing) South of the Border South Melbourne FC blog, Paul Mavroudis asked this question – and he probably wasn’t the first:


Research on both the pro and amateur game suggests that the worth of a corner isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. (Personally, I think the research has some weaknesses – there are some fairly easy ways to quantify the success of the short and long corner and they haven’t really been attempted here. But this isn’t the New Statsman blog, so I’ll close Excel just for the moment and press on.)

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Review completed. Now let’s review the review rules

With a minute left in the end of the AFL’s round 22 Hawthorn – Geelong game, Paul Puopolo took a quick snap across the face of goal. Did it touch the behind post? Did it go straight through? Viewers were lucky enough to be subjected to the sight of an extended conference and then a review, to decide the, ahem, critical matter of whether Hawthorn won by 23 points, or 22.


No matter how many camera angles were provided, no one could work out why this review was worth waiting for.

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A very special 4 minutes

In a public relations coup which would make our own FFA envious, UEFA recently forced Legia Warsaw out of the Champions League after they fielded an ineligible player in their third round qualifying tie with Celtic.

I guess that’s what sports associations do – although the reason for Bartosz Bereszynski to be ineligible was a little odd – but it does look a trifle silly when you hear that he played the last 4 minutes of the 180 in a two-leg tie, entering with Legia leading 2-0 on the night and 6-1 on aggregate. You have to wonder if Legia would have lost the tie in those last 4 minutes had they instead fielded a lesser-skilled eligible player, or a player from their reserves, the physio, a half-drunk fan, no-one at all, or withdrawn another few players for good measure.

A solid head clash is the first step towards generating player eligibility rules.

A solid head clash is the first step towards generating player eligibility rules.

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It’s about time! (Part 1)


Mike Fitzpatrick, not a fan of being told how to spend his time.


Alex Ferguson, not a big fan of being told anything.








In May 1994, 40,000 fans saw an Essendon team featuring James Hird, Dustin Fletcher and Mark Thompson play Carlton (Greg Williams, Steven Silvagni, Anthony Koutoufides) at Waverley Park. At three-quarter time, the Bombers led 7.7 to 4.14 and, in a real rarity, the Waverley Park architecture was more attractive than the game it was hosting.

But, as the final quarter progressed, the game gradually became a classic – of a sort. The Bombers held on to a one-point lead – 9.9(63) to a regrettable 7.20(62) – and as the final seconds dwindled, a sequence of throw-ins started, which the Bombers repeatedly smashed back over the boundary line. The Bombers wound the clock down to zero and when the siren went, they and their fans celebrated whilst the Blues and their fans were, I imagine, pretty annoyed.

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Why am I here?

They ought to change that rule!

It’s a complaint heard from spectators of many sports – sometimes when their teams are losing, but also when they’re frustrated when they see something on the field that they perceive as contrary to the spirit of their sport, or at least not a legitimate part of it.

This blog aims to explore what constitute the fundamental aspects of individual sports, how sports can change their rules to improve what we see, how these changes reflect prevailing cultures in sports and the societies which surround them, and how attempts to change can go awry. Continue reading