Unlike the plummeting crowd numbers in the NRL, the number of people streaming through the turnstiles in the AFL is as high as ever, reflecting well on the various grounds used for elite Aussie Rules. This is especially true in Melbourne, where despite a glut of clubs sharing two stadiums not far outside the CBD (or perhaps because of it), Melbournians turn up in droves to watch the footy.
From a betting point of view, punters who take into consideration the subtle nuances between each ground are sure to have an advantage when it comes to placing a bet. With each ground a slightly different and imperfect oval shape, some grounds accommodate attack-minded teams, while other grounds benefit more defensive teams. For example, the Adelaide Crows have perfected the style of play necessary to dominate at the narrow Adelaide Oval in the past few seasons. By flooding their own defensive half, they absorb pressure and strangle the opponent into making a mistake, before counterattacking with pace, often getting out the back of the opposition's defence.
A fundamental difference between the grounds used in the AFL and NRL is that the AFL has long made the transition from the smaller, traditional suburban grounds into the bigger, modern stadia. This is especially the case in Melbourne, where the closely clustered clubs- geographically speaking- share the MCG or Etihad Stadium as their home ground. Five teams play their home games at Etihad Stadium, while six teams call the MCG home. Both of these grounds are the envy of Sydneysiders due to their ease of access by public transport, and convenient location to surrounding bars, pubs and restaurants.
However, while many teams only play their home games in large stadia, clubs are increasingly taking home matches to other parts of the country. Both North Melbourne and Hawthorn play home games in Tasmania, while as of 2017, the Western Bulldogs have begun moving some of their fixtures to the diminutive Mars Stadium in Ballarat.
While the move away from traditional home grounds has galled some purists, it has no doubt been a success in the AFL. What every fan will agree on is the need to establish a strong home record to lay the foundation for a charge into the top eight. Click on the pictures to read a short bio of each ground used in the AFL season, including stats on the respective capacities and home teams.