Hawthorn’s waning dominance and uninspiring opposition were the two factors Alastair Clarkson cited for his team’s declining crowds in Launceston.
The four-time premiership coach admitted attracting an all-time record-low UTAS Stadium crowd of just 9007 for Saturday’s visit of Gold Coast was cause for concern.
The figure is well below the previous worst figure of 10,121 for the same two teams in 2016 and follows equally concerning crowd figures as low as 7194 for North Melbourne in Hobart this year.
“There’s no doubt that your own ladder position plays a part,” Clarkson said.
“When we were in the top four and perhaps playing a more exciting brand of footy than what we presented [here], it’s not going to bring too many people through the turnstiles when you can’t put on a really good display.”
Clarkson, who has overseen 14 seasons of Hawthorn playing in Tasmania, also said rostering was an issue.
“The sides that we play down here on a regular basis are the inter-state sides and quite often they just haven’t got the drawing power of some of the Melbourne-based sides.
“If we were to play Richmond or St Kilda or Collingwood this would be a sellout but we need to play those sort of games from the AFL’s point of view at the MCG where it does generate a crowd of 70 or 80 thousand people.
“It’s difficult. Gold Coast, I’d be surprise if they’ve got a big following down here, so it’s difficult when you get drawn against some of these sides.
“It doesn’t suggest we shouldn’t be trying to entice more people to come to the footy but we’ve got to take the good with the bad sometimes and understand that the fixturing will sometimes mean if it’s not a big-drawing club we won’t have a huge crowd here which is sometimes par for the course.”
However, Clarkson said AFL is still out-performing Australia’s rival domestic football code.
“Having said that we had more supporters at one game in Sydney last week than the NRL had for all four of their games.
“So we bemoan that we only had around 10,000 for this game but that’s a high crowd in the NRL.”
Clarkson was referring to the 36,402 crowd that watched Sydney Swans host West Coast Eagles at the SCG on the same weekend that Parramatta Eels (8047), Sydney Roosters (10,078), Wests Tigers (10,237) and Cronulla Sharks (14,587) all played at home.
Saturday’s attendance in Launceston came despite an initiative to allow kids to get in free.