Which AFL team should you support?
The Australian Football League season is fast approaching, but you still don’t know who to root for?
We at AFL Canada have done the hard work for you and decided you should root for, based on which Canadian team you already follow. Results may vary.
BC Lions – Brisbane Lions
It has been a rough couple of years for the BC Lions and fans of Brisbane know that pain even greater. But both sides are primed for a comeback and now is the perfect time to get on the Lion train. The two closest major cities between Australia and Canada also share the same moniker – so you don’t have to learn any new chants!
Calgary Flames – Fremantle Dockers
Fans of the Flames know the Dockers’ pain of being the less successful brother, trailing the Oilers 5-1 in Stanley Cup championships in the intra-provincial rivalry. As the younger of two teams in Perth, the Dockers are yet to taste a title, but have had to watch their West Coast big brothers win four times. But will it be the little brothers’ time to win the next one?
Calgary Stampeders – North Melbourne
The Stampeders share a unique record with the North Melbourne Kangaroos. The Stamps are the only CFL team to have completed an undefeated season. The Kangaroos aren’t the only professional Australian football team to complete the feat, but they are the only team to have done it three times! Despite several attempts to relocate the ’Roos, their loyal fanbase have kept them firmly in North Melbourne. Plus, Calgary’s amateur Australian football team are also the Kangaroos, so you only have to buy the one lot of merchandise.
Edmonton Eskimos – Hawthorn Hawks
Both of these teams have been massively successful and have a rusted-on supporter base from that time – particularly through the 70s and 80s. Having both won their last title in 2015, that winning feeling has never been far away and has helped them consistently play in front of some of the largest crowds in the league. Fun fact: Both teams hold the record for the most consecutive post-season appearances in their league.
Edmonton Oilers – West Coast Eagles
The more successful, slightly older brother in a two-team region. Like the Oilers, the Eagles were the first team on the scene and have used that earlier advantage to win more titles, identically leading their intra-provincial/state rivals by four championships. Plus, the Eagles are the reigning premiers, so there’s no better time than now to get on board!
Hamilton Tiger-Cats – Richmond Tigers
The parallels are pretty obvious here. You don’t even have to buy any new merchandise! But the parallels don’t stop there and both teams are some of the most passionately supported. Both teams had some dark times through the early 2000s, and some frustratingly close campaigns in more recent years. It was only in 2017 when Richmond finally broke its 37-year drought. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of 100,000 fans roar “Yellow and Black” after a title win.
Montreal Alouettes – Adelaide Crows
Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, is home to a different breed of Australians. They speak a little bit different, not an entirely different language, but definitely different. Known as the “City of Churches”, there’s definitely a connection with the “City of a Hundred Belltowers”. And as the only birds in the CFL, it just makes sense to support the Crows.
Montreal Canadiens – Port Adelaide
The two most successful teams in two countries. While the home towns of the Power and the Canadiens share many parallels (see Alouettes), both teams are steeped in history and success. With 24 Stanley Cups, les Canadiens have dominated the NHL. Equally, Port Adelaide has proven themselves the most successful professional club in Australia with 37 professional premierships. While the majority of those premierships were before the Victorian Football League’s evolution into the Australian Football League, they proved themselves the best team in Australia, winning the Championship of Australia a record number against national competition.
Ottawa Redblacks – St Kilda Saints
While the Redblacks only played their first CFL match in 2014, they carry the history and lineage of professional Ottawa teams wearing the black, white and red back to the 1870s. The Saints’ heritage dates back to 1873, predating Ottawa by three years. The Redblacks’ incarnation and Saints have won the solitary title each, but with the same convenient colour scheme, you won’t have to buy any new merch by the next time you cheer as the Saints again go marching in.
Ottawa Senators – Greater Western Sydney Giants
The Senators are often overshadowed in Ontario by the more established and more (historically) successful Leafs. The Giants are the newest club in the AFL and striving for recognition in the shadows of the Sydney Swans. While neither side is yet to win a title, they have both come excruciatingly close. The Giants are also the only team to play in the Australian capital of Canberra – where all the Senators work.
Saskatchewan Roughriders – Geelong Cats
Situated in regional cities, Both Saskatchewan and Geelong draw their support from regional cities of little more than 200,000, yet have some of the most passionate bases in their respective leagues. The enthusiastic fans make their home grounds an imposing task for any opponent. Despite being some of the oldest teams in the leagues, they haven’t traditionally been successful, but have more than made up for it with multiple title wins in the 21st century.
Toronto Argonauts – Melbourne Demons
These are two clubs that just ooze history, but don’t get the credit they deserve. Established in 1873 and 1858, respectively, these teams are the oldest professional sports clubs on their continents and have each won their fair share of titles in that time. But their history, success and their position at the centre of large cities still hasn’t attracted the large crowds you would expect for such clubs.
Toronto Blue Jays – Western Bulldogs
While not everybody may follow the Blue Jays with a passion, everybody wants to see them win, at least a little bit, and the Bulldogs are exactly the same. Each with two titles, the two teams haven’t seen a lot of success, but boy when they do, everyone gets behind them. Everybody loves an underdog, after all. With the red, white and blue uniforms, you don’t need to buy any more merchandise.
Toronto Maple Leafs – Collingwood Magpies
Do you like to be so successful and so popular, you’re universally distained by everybody else who doesn’t share your popularity or success? Then Collingwood is for you. Like the Leafs, Collingwood is either loved or hated. Also like the Leafs, the Magpies were one of the original teams to join the league, which has given them ample time to pile up the titles – amassing 15 premierships.
Toronto Raptors – Sydney Swans
To have the support of an entire city (well most of it) is truly a remarkable thing, and when these teams are flying, so are the supporters. The first attempts at their leagues’ ventures north of the border, these teams are showing those down south how clubs should be run. Also, Sydney’s colour scheme is the same as the Canadian flag and the team was home to Mike Pyke, a Vancouver Island-native who made the switch from Canada’s national rugby union team. Do you really need more reason than that?
Vancouver Canucks – Gold Coast Suns
Despite being full of talent, neither of these teams have been able to gel to actually win a title. Is it the coastal lifestyle? Is it living in the “Hollywood” of their respective countries? The Gold Coast may be the new kids of the block, but don’t underestimate them, their time will come, and when it does, you’ll be glad you jumped on board.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers – Carlton Blues
As two of the most historically successful teams in their leagues, older fans will have fonder memories supporting their teams in blue. Their millennial fans? Not so much. The Blue Bombers and Blues have won the third most and equal most championships, respectively, but their fans haven’t had much to celebrate since the nineties. But with the historical strength of these clubs, it’s only time before it happens again, right?
Winnipeg Jets – Essendon Bombers
Due to the club’s proximity to Essendon Aerodrome, the team became known as the Bombers during the Second World War and it is a name that has stuck ever since. Serving as a primary hub for the Royal Canadian Air Force, Winnipeg shares an aerial military history that has trickled to its sports teams and both teams proudly wear a Jet on their logos. But where they differ is in success. Winnipeg hasn’t yet tasted any major success, but Essendon sure has, winning an equal high 16 AFL/VFL premierships. So if you’re tired as a Jets fan without success, feel free to bask in the glow of Essendon’s. Also, Essendon is home to the only Canadian-born currently playing in the AFL – Andrew McGrath.