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  • Writer's pictureJack Turner

AFL Rivalries - Who your team loves to hate

Recently we put a poll on Twitter, Facebook and sent it out to some general footy fans, and had more than 1000 AFL fans get back to us with who they love to hate. Or just hate to hate.


While this has been done plenty of times before, what we wanted to know was specific teams' fanbases rivals and enemy clubs and how that differed from team to team.


Typically a "who do you hate the most" survey turns out the same results. At the top is Collingwood, followed by Carlton or Essendon. Historically the most successful clubs, and have the biggest (and therefore most annoying) fanbases. Then the next three clubs are typically (in any order) Hawthorn, Geelong and Richmond. Large clubs. Modern success. Makes sense. Then it's usually Sydney, West Coast and Port Adelaide, and open slather from there down.


This was no different for our survey.

Us Against Them Ladder. Overall list of most hated or disliked teams in the AFL led by Collingwood

What we really wanted to know was which club was passionately against other clubs. Sure, everyone hates Collingwood, but who hates Freo more than the average fan? Are the state-based rivalries as big as they're cooked up to be, or are the fans not as invested as the clubs and media are? This survey had the same shortcomings of a typical poll;

  • People lie on polls because they think they should or for fun because they can

  • The responses were on an honour system, and the form could theoretically have been filled multiple times

  • Big clubs had a much larger vote and were therefore more representative

  • People who will fill an online poll will tend to skew younger, and deep seated rivalries might not be as represented as if you surveyed random fans on game day


So what did we learn? Who can fans of your team not stand?


What we found was a combination of the expected (Cats and Hawks can't stand each other. Carlton and Collingwood had each other as public enemy number one. Nobody was too worried about Gold Coast) and the surprising (West Coast care more about Collingwood then Fremantle, St Kilda hate themselves sixth most, Fremantle have a bone to pick with Geelong).


The top 5 for each club (or four or six depending on % totals) can be found here:




How One-Sided is Your Club's Rage?


An even more fun representation of this data can be seen here (thanks to @EmlynBreese from Credit to Dubois for making this great visual) where you can track each team's back and forth.



Here you can see just how reciprocated bad feelings are between teams. To use this Chord Diagram, simply filter by clicking an individual connection, or by clicking a team's colour to see all of their connections. It is interesting to see some old rivalries still held by one club, but long forgeotten by the other. For example, the 84% of North fans who can't stand Essendon, but that only 9% of Essendon fans still consider North one of their big three.


St Kilda and Geelong is an even more recent rivalry that has only maintained any connection in one direction, with 43% of Saints fans maintaining the rage, but only 7% of Geelong fans returning the favor, preferring more recent rivalries like Collingwood and Richmond, and the ever-enduring Hawthorn battle.


What else did we learn about AFL rivalries?


We unintentionally left clubs ability to choose themselves open, and it resulted in the quite funny result of clubs being rather frustrated at their own team. Least surprisingly St Kilda, Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs, and perhaps most surprisingly Sydney.


Most Self Loathing Ladder. Which AFL Fans hate their own club the most? Led by St Kilda


How about if we sort by average percentage, rather than total percentage? Overall, the big clubs are going to outweigh the smaller clubs votes - so the vote of a Gold Coast fan, a Giants fan or a Saints fan won't be worth as much as a vote from a Collingwood fan.


Us Against Them Ladder. Overall list of most hated or disliked teams in the AFL led by Collingwood

Most of the list stays the same, But we see Essendon's % drop significantly as much of their hate comes from the two teams above them, and Port recieve a healthy boost thanks to many smaller teams clearly not being a fan.



For more weird stats, or for more of our stuff, head to @thebackpocket on Twitter or check out our weekly show wherever you get your podcasts.


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