Footy tipping: Do you have to pick your team every week, or not?

Here’s a tip: picking an AFL winner is a mug’s game.

You’re either a sucker who can’t bring yourself to pick against your team, or a ruthless operator prepared to sell your club out for a precious point. But we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Being a passionate fan of a struggling team can undo a season’s tips.Credit:Getty Images

Each year, AFL tipping competitions provide plenty of water cooler conversation and hard-earned bragging rights for those on a hot streak. As we approach round one, this season will be no different.

The Monday morning post-mortem will be the highlight of your week or send you scurrying for the photocopier to avoid that non-footy fan who fluked nine winners.

It’s a bit like those who forget their tips but scoop the pool after being paired with a media outlet’s “Kiss of Death”, which picks likely losers but occasionally gets it right.

Tipping really does take all types, from calculators who analyse market odds, game location, injuries, weather, past results and team balance, to slackers who take all the home teams every week.

Then there are the bosses, politicians and celebrities who tip solely to boost their profile or street cred but are generally clueless.

Former prime minister and Collingwood “fan” Paul Keating was a classic. In the 1990s when I ran the press gallery AFL tipping, if he did well, we’d report: “Paul Keating’s advisers were on the ball this week”.

To his credit, Keating’s nemesis Peter Costello did his tips as a passionate Essendon fan, including in the week of a leadership spill. That’s the beauty of footy tipping. It really is a great leveller.

Credit:Matt Golding

All tipsters have their quirks, and loyalty, it seems, is easier if your team wins. A Richmond friend has a bob each way. “When the Tigers are doing well, I will always tip them, but when we were crap, I would tip against them but happy to be wrong,” he explains.

This friend backs following footy experts with a proven track record, and tipping who he thinks will win rather than who he hopes will win – take note, Collingwood haters.

“I have been in a tipping comp with five other mates for the last 30 years and have won a few of them,” he says. “Tipping is a great conversation starter.”

A Melbourne mate agrees – if she remembers to submit hers. “I simply forget, especially when rounds can start on Thursday, Wednesday and do they even start on Mondays?” she laments.

When she does do them, she tries not to overthink things and mostly sticks with her Dees.

“Once upon a time it was a golden rule not to, but since some very lean years I got tired of losing a tip to my not-so-golden team,” she admits. “It’s a win/win. Either [you] win the match or win the tip.

“Tipping is incredibly important. It engages everyone even if they don’t know a thing about footy. We can all celebrate with the footy-tipping bunny when they get a perfect score!”

Each year brings fresh optimism and the promise of success … until round one when you flop with two winners.

Not so the gambler, who is solely motivated by money, or the pragmatist, who often tips against their team but insists they’d rather lose a tip if their team wins. Yeah right!

You’d also be wise to watch the kids, who can be equally ruthless. My son used to base his tips solely on match odds – and usually beat me.

Meanwhile, we’re all guaranteed a laugh from the boaster, who knows it all and lets you know it – all year. They have “unparalleled knowledge of the game”, until they finish third last.

And whatever you do, ignore the insider, who knows someone who knows someone who knows someone that knows a particular team will be “on” or “off” this week.

Possibly the worst combination of types, I’m a loyalist and over-organiser who tips well in advance. I’ll then accuse my pragmatist husband of accepting “blood points” when our team loses.

“Why bother if you don’t try to win?” he says. Well, he does have a point.

Loyalty often comes at a price, except when your team wins in a big upset, and I spend the rest of the week telling anyone who’ll listen I was one of the few who got it right…

We’ll leave the last word to 3AW’s 2022 AFL tipping winner Jenny, a proven performer who rarely tips against her Demons.

Jenny told 3AW the secret was making her selections every Monday after each round and not wavering after that. She learned her lesson after listening to a sports journalist on the radio.

He gave his thoughts on a match, prompting Jenny to change her tip, and sure enough she got it wrong. “I never did that again,” she said.

Cheryl Critchley is a Richmond member and former AFL Fans Association president.

See how The Age’s experts are tipping this week.

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