What does the average age of your AFL team tell us about the chances of success in 2023?
Once again, Geelong will enter the 2023 season as the oldest team.
Despite the retirement of 35-year-old Joel Selwood, 355-game captain, and the addition of young players Ollie Henry, Tanner Bruhn and Jack Bowes during the trade period, the Cats squad has an average age of 25.5 and has a average of 92.4 games this season.
In recent years they have been labeled too old and many, including myself, predicted that the abyss was coming.
Coach Chris Scott ridiculed his critics last year, and Geelong has shattered the old theory that the AFL is best suited for players under 30.
They will once again have 12 players in their squad, more than 30 (three more than any other team), but will still start to rage as premiership favourites.
There is a lot to analyze from the information. Unsurprisingly, Hawthorn is the youngest team in the league by some margin – the average age is just 23.1 years. The Hawks cannot avoid the on-field pain that comes with such inexperience, and the club has just three players who have played 150 games or more. With such an inexperienced group, it will be impossible to avoid the inevitable carnage on the field that will result.
Essendon’s new coach, Brad Scott, quickly threw cold water at all finals expectations when he took over in September. He’s been wearing that theme all through the preseason. It’s easy to see why.
The Bombers are the second youngest team in the league at 23.9 and the average number of games played is just 56. Data on Scott has not been lost.
“With the demographics of this list, talent is just speculation if they’re 18 or 19. I’m impressed with the possibilities on our list, but the reality is, and the facts are, they’re very young, and they’ll take time to develop and therefore the team will need some time to get good.” he said.
The 2023 version of the Baby Bombers will not break the finals drought this year.
Impressively, last year’s grand finalists, Sydney, are the fifth-youngest team, with an average age of just 24. Maybe they performed better.
The Swans have speed and powerful ball users, players such as Gulden, Warner, Stephens, McDonald, Hayward, Florent, Campbell and McInerney have yet to reach their potential. Still, it may take a few more pre-seasons and exposure in major competitions before this young group is ready to go all out.
Similarly, Fremantle, who won a final last year under its exceptional coach Justin Longmuir, is the fourth youngest team in the league. Too much experience went out the door in the off-season, and the big money game for speculative striker/ruckman Luke Jackson is no guarantee of scoring. Fremantle must score and risk missing the eight in 2023.
Pressure is on the Western Bulldogs, the second oldest team in the league. The playlist has been stacked and they have been supplemented with seasoned veterans such as Rory Lobb and Liam Jones to close gaps in the trading period. Anything outside of a top-four finish will be a bust for newly signed coach Luke Beveridge and his aging roster.
Then we arrive at the teams in the flag winning sweet spot. Brisbane, Richmond, Melbourne and Collingwood fit into this category. All four teams have an average age of 25 years and most recently their players have seen major finals. All four teams are almost certain to finish within eight and probably higher.
How much should we deduce from each team’s age and experience and how many clubs can we write off on birth certificate numbers alone?
AFL teams by average age in 2023
Geelong – 25.5 years
Western Bulldogs – 25.4 years
Brisbane – 25.1 years
Richmond – 25.1 years
Melbourne – 25.1 years
Collingwood – 25.0 years
Gold Coast – 24.8 years
Carlton – 24.7 years
West Coast – 24.5 years
St Kilda – 24.4 years
Port Adelaide – 24.4 years
GWS – 24.2 years
North Melbourne 24.1 years
Sydney – 24.1 years
Fremantle – 24.0 years
Essendon – 23.9 years
Adelaide – 23.8 years
Hawthorn – 23.1 years