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Country Zoning



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Finally some statistical evidence for what has until now been based on anecdotal evidence only. There have been a number of posts on 'Land on this topic over the years but only now are there numbers to support the story.

Note that this only covers country zones that were fruitful at the time but the dorks' zone would today be mostly considered metropolitan (Mornington Peninsula, Berwick).

It is the main reason that the dorks got ahead in the footy world. When gifted the calibre of players from their zone to the exclusion of all others (not just 100 gamers but 300 gamers) it is clear that zoning was unfair. Lolly blues did second best.

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Interesting article, but I remain unconvinced. For example, I find it hard to believe that somehow Bendigo had better talent available than Ballarat. I suspect the capability of clubs to nurture their zones was a significant issue. In other words, I suspect if Carlton had been given Ballarat and St Kilda had Bendigo (ie, the reverse of what they had), Carlton would have produced more talent from Ballarat than St Kilda would have from Bendigo.    

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The champions St Kilda got from Ballarat were Lockett and then Frawley. Not much for nearly 20 years.

From Bendigo the lolly blues got Southey, Ashman and a couple of others but, from their pre zoning success in the late 60s, they had the money and the George Harris cheek to raid WA and SA sides to collect Kernahan, Bradley, Bosustow, Dorotich to toughen their squad. Nobody wanted to go to the sainters.

 

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This is all a bit before my time. Two questions:

1. Where was our zone? 
2. How else did clubs find players if not via the zone? Could you just find a player and sign them up?

 

 

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5 minutes ago, DeeGee said:

This is all a bit before my time. Two questions:

1. Where was our zone? 
2. How else did clubs find players if not via the zone? Could you just find a player and sign them up?

 

 

I just finished the chapter of the book answering these questions on the train home!  Our zone was Goulburn Valley.  

Prior to that we were quite successful with our recruiting because Jim Cardwell would travel around Victoria and use the MCC as leverage to attract talent (despite Melbourne being a low paying club).

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I always thought that St Kilda got absolutely dudded by zoning in that some of their big names in 66 came from what was now Hawthorn territory.

I think the argument that it is up to the club to nurture players has some merit, but it cannot be denied that the club had much more success when the draft came in place of zones.

Leon Baker I think came from our zone and played in the 84 premiership for Essendon but from memory the Dons picked him up playing in Darwin.  So I dont think too many from our country zone got away.

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30 minutes ago, DeelightfulPlay said:

I just finished the chapter of the book answering these questions on the train home!  Our zone was Goulburn Valley.  

Prior to that we were quite successful with our recruiting because Jim Cardwell would travel around Victoria and use the MCC as leverage to attract talent (despite Melbourne being a low paying club).

Cheers - thanks for that. So who came to us from that region? Was Garry Lyon via the zone?  Yze is from that area but he must have come via the draft.

is there a notable MFC supporter base in that area now? I lived in the Wimmera years ago and there are a heap of Essendon supporters there, which I think is due to the zoning.

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I knew there were zones to distribute the player pool up until the draft, but didn't realise the way they were divided up to the clubs.

Explains everything as to why Melbourne weren't successful through the 70's and early to mid 80's.

No wonder there is so much hatred for Carlton and Hawthorn to an extent.

 

Edited by YesitwasaWin4theAges
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44 minutes ago, spirit of norm smith said:

Yes we had Goulburn Valley.  We had to convince blokes that lived and worked 3 1/2 hours away.  Cats were the luckiest. All their local region naturally was allocated to them as well as down the surf coast to Warrnambool.   

Friggen Geelong always kissed on the twigg. Still hiding players away too.

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49 minutes ago, spirit of norm smith said:

All their local region naturally was allocated to them as well as down the surf coast to Warrnambool.

The Hampden League was allocated to Fitzroy, not Geelong.

I was growing up in Portland when zoning was introduced.  Imagine my dismay when our league (Western Border) was given to Collingwood!  It wasn't a fruitful zone however, with the only decent player from the area being Billy Picken.

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Goulburn Valley League was the main zone, but every team also got a collection of minor country leagues. Ours were the Kyabram, Picola, Riddell, Echuca, Tungamah, and Benalla leagues.

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12 minutes ago, Demonstone said:

The Hampden League was allocated to Fitzroy, not Geelong.

I was growing up in Portland when zoning was introduced.  Imagine my dismay when our league (Western Border) was given to Collingwood!  It wasn't a fruitful zone however, with the only decent player from the area being Billy Picken.

Ricky Barham who played about 150 games for them lived down the road from me in Hamilton but you are quite correct, Billy Picken was the standout.

Mind you, a number of good ex VFL and SANFL retired in the district (i.e. bought a pub and coached the local team) and the Western Border team was occasionally quite strong.  Part of the problem for Collingwood may have been that there were 6 SA teams in the competition.

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It's says we had only 3 country zone players play 100 games. Would they be Lyon, Grinter and Tingay? Didn't Schwarz come from Sunbury which was part of the Riddell League?

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18 minutes ago, YesitwasaWin4theAges said:

Friggen Geelong always kissed on the twigg. Still hiding players away too.

How can Geelong "hide players away"?

Any player that nominates for the Draft may be selected by any one of the 18 clubs.  It's up to the recruiting staff and scouts to identify which of these players is worthy of being drafted. 

Blokes like Tom Stewart and Tom Atkins were there for all to see.  Geelong decided to draft them.  

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4 hours ago, tiers said:

The champions St Kilda got from Ballarat were Lockett and then Frawley. Not much for nearly 20 years.

From Bendigo the lolly blues got Southey, Ashman and a couple of others but, from their pre zoning success in the late 60s, they had the money and the George Harris cheek to raid WA and SA sides to collect Kernahan, Bradley, Bosustow, Dorotich to toughen their squad. Nobody wanted to go to the sainters.

 

Yes zoning was part of the story but the money and ability to raid the best talent from SA and WA set the outcomes throughout the 70’s and 80’s. Didn’t Norm Smith in Red Fox identify this as an issue in the 60’s but his pleas to the MCC Board to be able to pay players from interstate fell flat. To the Board it was a privilege to play for the MFC on the G and be offered an MCC membership! Thus consigning us to oblivion for decades while Geelong, Carlton, Hawthorn and Richmond reaped the best interstate talent to dominate the VFL. 

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9 hours ago, mo64 said:

It's says we had only 3 country zone players play 100 games. Would they be Lyon, Grinter and Tingay? Didn't Schwarz come from Sunbury which was part of the Riddell League?

Schwerter was a metropolitan zone kid. The three 100 gamers were Keenan, Grinter and Lyon. Connolly would have joined them but for his knee.

Tingay, like Yze, was from our old country zone but was actually drafted a couple of years after the country zones were abolished.

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I have read Between the Flags and if you care to fully read it, I think you will find that it well covers/addresses all the circumstances, comments and questions above - the author dives deeply into all the contributing factors and backs it up with numbers and references. If you want to understand all that better, as well as post-zoning events and factors, and re-celebrate our more recent better times., I can thoroughly recommend the book.

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11 hours ago, Demonstone said:

How can Geelong "hide players away"?

Any player that nominates for the Draft may be selected by any one of the 18 clubs.  It's up to the recruiting staff and scouts to identify which of these players is worthy of being drafted. 

Blokes like Tom Stewart and Tom Atkins were there for all to see.  Geelong decided to draft them.  

They knew what they were doing.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm deep into the book Between The Flags and it really is beautifully written as well as being so informative.

I was always of the view that the MFC were diddled by country zoning - especially the decision made not to rotate the zones as originally planned. This really settled our fate and unfortunately, the complacency and lack of commercial acumen of our board and our leadership of the time had a lot to answer for.

In many ways, the conservative nature of the club which served it well as it rose through the fifties and into the sixties, failed it in the decades to follow.

For a better understanding of the issues and also many other aspects of our wilderness years I heartily recommend Between The Flags. A poster on another thread about the book has posted the following information about where to find the book:-

Between The Flags will be on sale at Camberwell Market throughout August - On August 14 (basking in the glow of a return to the winner's list hopefully) at Stall 23; August 21 at Stall 24 and August 28 at Stall 64 (near the donut van).

The best thing about market sales (at Bentleigh and Camberwell so far) has been meeting other fans and sharing stories of our mutual passion for the Demons.

For those who can't make it to the market, the book is also available from Readings; The Avenue Bookstore (where it's made the non-fiction best seller list); Beaumaris Book; Ashburton news extra, and now, for rural fans from Collins Booksellers in Shepparton (the heart of the Demons' old country zone), and from Bookish in Hargreaves St Bendigo.

Looking forward to catching up with anyone able to make it to the market between 7am and 12.30pm.

BTF is also available online at https://www.betweentheflags57.com.au

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1 hour ago, Whispering_Jack said:

 

Between The Flags will be on sale at Camberwell Market throughout August - On August 14 (basking in the glow of a return to the winner's list hopefully) at Stall 23; August 21 at Stall 24 and August 28 at Stall 64 (near the donut van).

BTF is also available online at https://www.betweentheflags57.com.au

Of course it would be Stall 64!!!

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