City of Champions: The 2012 Sports City Power Rankings

Filed in Other by on January 10, 2013

Which city had the most sporting success in 2012? In the following list we look at the performance of the 14 cities with a team in one of the eight major sporting leagues (NRL, AFL, S15, A-League, NBL, ABL, Big Bash League/Sheffield Shield and ANZ Championship) and see what they achieved in 2012.

14. Gold Coast
Viewed as a major growth area by the major football codes in Australia, there has been much hope for sport on the Gold Coast. There was little joy in 2012 though with the Suns running second last in the AFL, the Titans again struggling in the NRL and the A-League side finishing last before being kicked out of the premiership. It was a horrendous year on the holiday strip with the only saving grace being the NBL's Blaze, who lost in the first round of the playoffs.

13. Newcastle
Expectations were high when Nathan Tinkler took ownership of both the NRL's Knights and the A-League's Jets but those expectations were nowhere near met when Wayne Bennett's team ran 12th and the Jets ran seventh. Making matters direr was Tinkler's financial situation, that has been a distraction to the Knights and a threat to the existence of the Jets.

12. Wollongong
St George Illawarra missed the finals for the first time in a half-decade when running ninth in the NRL in Steve Price's first year while the Hawks ran third last in the NBL after making the Grand Final two seasons previous. Outside of a successful farewell game for Dean Young and Ben Hornby, there wasn't much to cheer in the Gong. The town also said goodbye to Hawks legend Mat Campbell, who retired after 17 years in the NBL.

11. Cairns
Cairns' only professional sports team, the Taipans of the NBL, ran a credible fifth in a very non-eventful year. They missed the playoffs on percentage.

10. Canberra
Canberra has teams in the NRL, Super 15 and ABL with their best performer undoubtedly the Raiders, who overcame a slow start to not only make the playoffs but record their first home finals win in over a decade. It was not an easy year for the club though, who lost star Terry Campese early and saw David Furner nearly fired. The Brumbies ran seventh and just missed the Super 15 playoffs. The Cavalry ran last in the ABL.

9. Gosford
Gosford swings on the Mariners, who topped the A-League ladder in the regular season but failed to make the Grand Final. The Mariners brought a host of young talent through and laid the groundwork for their fine start to the 2012-13 season.

8. Geelong
After winning the Grand Final in 2011, a first round finals exit at the hands of Fremantle was disappointing. But the Cats did go 15-7 and were feared for much of the year, contributing Tom Hawkins to the All Australian team.

7. Hobart
Participate on a national stage in only cricket but finished runner-up in the Sheffield Shield while the Hurricanes made the finals of the Big Bash League. It was a good year for a one-team town that has a small population. Two repatriated New South Welshmen starred in the Shield final push with Jackson Bird topping the wicket tally and Ed Cowan leading the run scoring.

6. Adelaide
The City of Churches have seven teams across six of the eight major sports but failed to win a title in 2012, their best result being the preliminary final showing and NAB Cup victory of the Crows. Adelaide United had the next most notable achievement – they ran ninth in the A-League but did manage to make it to the quarter-finals of the Asian Champions League. The Thunderbirds (netball) and the Bite (baseball) both made the finals of their respective leagues but there was more disappointment than good with the 36ers running last in the NBL, South Australian cricket an embarrassment in the BBL and Sheffield Shield and Port Adelaide running 14th in the AFL, including a loss to eventual wooden spooners Greater Western Sydney. A disappointing year for Adelaide, whose only title since Port Adelaide's premiership in 2004 was the Thunderbirds' win in 2010.

5. Townsville
The North Queensland outpost has just two national teams but both performed well in 2012 with the NRL's Cowboys making it to the second week of the finals and the NBL's Crocodiles making it to the playoffs. Considering the travel burden Townsville teams must endure, it was a credible effort by both teams.

4. Brisbane
In a year that promised much for Brisbane, two titles must be considered a little disappointing. There was still plenty to cheer in Brisbane: the Roar were the dominant A-League team and the Queensland Sheffield Shield team won their first title since 2006. The Broncos, however, were eliminated first week of the finals, as were the Reds, who entered 2012 as one of the pre-season favourites. With the Lions a joke in the AFL, the Firebirds missing the playoffs in the ANZ Championship and the Bandits struggling in the ABL, it was a year of underachievement in the Queensland capital.

3. Perth
Perth won just one premiership in 2012 but it was their consistency across the board that nosed the town ahead of Brisbane in the power rankings for the year. While the ABL's Heat brought home the only silverware – after a dominant season where they were the only team to finish with a winning record – Perth teams rarely disappointed. The popular Wildcats lost the NBL's final series to New Zealand, the Glory lost the A-League Grand Final to the Roar and the Scorchers made the decider of the Big Bash League, all excellent showings. Both West Coast and Fremantle won AFL finals matches. Only the West Coast Fever and the Western Force missed the finals, the latter running second last. While Perth would have hoped for more trophies, the honest showings of the majority of the city's teams would have pleased the faithful.

2. Melbourne
While the Storm provided one of the great stories of redemption in 2012 by claiming the NRL title, the city could not keep its mitts on its own AFL premiership with the Sydney Swans pinching the decider from red-hot favourites Hawthorn. The Hawks, along with Collingwood and North Melbourne, were the only Melbourne teams to make the AFL finals. No other titles, however, proved the difference with lost finals by the Heat in the ABL and the Vixens in the ANZ Championship the best efforts by Melbourne teams. The Heart in the A-League and the Stars in the Big Bash League were the other two Melbourne teams to make the finals. Most disappointing was perhaps the Victory in the A-League, who missed the playoffs for the first time in four seasons. The Renegades (seventh of eight in the BBL) and the Rebels (13th of 15 in the Super 15) were the embarrassments of the city.

1. Sydney
The victory of the Swans, success in the Big Bash League and a better showing in the NRL than Melbourne had in the AFL gives Sydney the No.1 spot for the top sporting city of 2012. The Swans' performance all year was magnificent and their Grand Final win memorable. Only the, at times, embarrassing performances of new boys GWS marked Sydney down in AFL terms. While the city saw the NRL trophy head south again, three Sydney teams did make preliminary final weekend with a fourth making the finals. Sydney teams did account for the bottom two sides in the NRL as well. The victory of the Stars in the Big Bash League was big in a city that likes winners – and they went on to further glory in the Twenty20 Champions League. Other solid teams were Sydney FC in the A-League and the Blue Sox in the ABL while the Swifts just missed the playoffs of the ANZ Championship. The Thunder, on the other hand, ran last in the BBL while the Waratahs and Kings both blew hard all season. Sydney was more hit and miss than Melbourne but in the end exhibited more success when it counted.


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  1. Anonymous says:

    If you feel the need to include the ABL, you have to include the AIHL – in which Melbourne Ice won their 3rd straight title over the Newcastle North Stars.

    Might just push Melbourne into 1st position, and bring Newcastle up a few places.