port adelaide win
The 2014 AFL season hallmarks a new beginning for the two South Australian-based clubs in Adelaide and Port Adelaide.

Their move from AAMI Stadium at West Lakes to Adelaide Oval, just a few minutes from the city centre, should create a new dynamic for clubs travelling to play at this new AFL venue. Prior to this season, Adelaide Oval has only ever hosted one match for premiership points – this was in round 24, 2011 where the Power defeated Melbourne in front of 29,340 supporters.

The question lies: will this move be beneficial on field for both the Crows and Power, and how long will it take for these clubs to create a distinct home ground advantage? Second to this, how much does the home state venue provide an advantage for the eight AFL clubs not based in Victoria?

In 2013, there were 80 premiership matches played by the eight non-Victorian clubs against travelling opposition, excluding home state derbies, and surprisingly only 42 matches were won by the home side. Admittedly these figures are a little distorted by Greater Western Sydney’s home record of one win in 10 matches. However, excluding the wooden spooners, the figures still show a win loss ratio for the home clubs of 41-28 with one draw.

Two clubs that performed exceptionally well in 2012 in Adelaide and West Coast failed to fire at times last year against travelling opposition, ultimately costing them enough wins to achieve a finals place. In fact, West Coast had a better record when travelling (6-4) than they did in Western Australia.

The summary of the 2013 seasons matches against travelling opposition from each non-Victorian club is as follows.

Adelaide at AAMI Stadium had five wins and five losses. Brisbane performed better in its games at the Gabba with seven wins and four losses. Port Adelaide also performed well with six wins in 10 games, while Gold Coast managed six wins from 11 games. Sydney recorded six wins, three losses and a draw in its matches at the SCG and ANZ Stadium.

Fremantle was the best performed team in 2013 winning nine of its 10 matches at Patersons Stadium while losing just the one match to Essendon by four points in round three. The two teams with losing records at home in 2013 were the Eagles (3-7) and the Giants (1-9) with an abnormally large average losing margin of 72 points.

So, what do these results actually prove?

In 2013 only three non-Victorian based clubs played finals football, with Fremantle finishing third in the home and away season on its way to its first ever Grand Final berth. The Swans backed up their 2012 premiership finishing fourth en route to a preliminary final, and Port Adelaide in a breakout season qualified seventh. Their finals series was even more impressive, surprising the Magpies in their elimination final, before falling gallantly to Geelong in an MCG semi final.

In short, interstate travel for AFL clubs is still a challenging task, with more games being lost by the visiting team. However, winning is certainly not an impossibility with nearly a 47 percent strike rate for teams travelling interstate in matches played outside of Victoria in 2013. It appears that the notion of an interstate trip being a guaranteed loss is no longer the case, with many clubs developing better techniques and strategies to overcome the challenges of road trips in order to give their teams more of a chance to come away with the four points.

In this approaching 2014 season, with the home advantage of AAMI Stadium now gone forever for the Crows and Power, one wonders how long will it take for the Adelaide Oval become a new fortress for the South Australian clubs, if at all. It remains to be seen whether the interstate raiders travelling to Adelaide will see it as a golden opportunity to record a vital away win, where the home clubs have yet to develop a significant advantage.

It seems the coming months will answer this question.