Why is finals footy different?

We hear it all the time. I’ve even written it. Finals football is a different beast.

But why is it different? What changes?

Contested ball

You can write it until your pen runs out of ink; contested ball is key in finals. Midfield supremacy is important all year round, but finals games are won and lost in the middle. Take the QAFL on the weekend for example. Both games were decided when a team got on top in the contested stats. The Gorillas won clearance after clearance in the third quarter to break the game open, and the Panthers changed the tempo of the game and skipped away when they started to control the middle.

Getting your hands on the footy first goes a long way to winning a game in September.

during the AFL QLD Womens Grand Final match at Cooparoo, Brisbane on September 20, 2014. (Photo: Bradley Kanaris/AFL Media)

(Photo: Bradley Kanaris/AFL Media)



When the meaning of games goes up, so does the pressure. Teams are playing to advance to next week, to stay alive, to book grand final spots, or even win a flag. Players leave nothing out there in September; they will do anything to get the win. There is the mental pressure of the high stakes, and the physical pressure of players throwing everything they have at the contest.

smotherPhoto: Highflyer Images


Perceived pressure

Even when you’re not under pressure, you’re under pressure. The heat that finals football brings makes players feel like someone is always breathing down their neck. You’ll commonly see players rush, throw the ball on the boot, or use a quick release handball when they have a bit more time to sum things up.


percievedPhoto: Mayne Football Club



A September game of football looks different to a May game of football. It’s tougher, it’s harder, it’s more contested, and there are a lot more numbers around the football. More often than not, finals games are a lot more stop start. It’s less of the end-to-end stuff, and more of the competition in the middle. The scoring might not be as high, but the contest is great to watch.


numbers on ballGood luck finding space in there. Photo: Highflyer Images

By Andrew Wiles@andrewjwiles


Our Supporters