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By Ben Pollard

The SMJFL was the most competitive junior football league in metropolitan Melbourne in 2012, according to an AFL Victoria report.

The Junior Grading System Research Paper analysed the results of every match played from under-10 to under-17 level in metropolitan Melbourne. It found the SMJFL averaged the lowest winning margin of eight junior football leagues.

The SMJFL displaced the Yarra JFL as the top-ranked league for the first time since 2009 and also achieved the greatest improvement in average winning margin this season, dropping 15 points from its 2011 average.

For all average winning margins and rankings from 2009-2012, please see the results table below.

SMJFL general manager Jake McCauley said the result was great news for everyone involved in the league.

“It means we have the most even overall competition in metropolitan Melbourne,” he said.

“That’s fantastic for our clubs and parents and supporters, because while we want to provide football for all juniors, we want to make it competitive as well.”

McCauley said the result was proof the hard work put into the SMJFL grading process was paying off.

“This couldn’t have been achieved without the support of all the clubs and their honesty throughout the grading process,” he said.

“It’s also testament to the hard work of (former SMJFL general manager) David Cannizzo and (SMJFL football operations administration officer) Adam Sparrow at the start of the 2012 season.”

However, McCauley acknowledged luck probably influenced the result to some degree.

“We can do as thorough a grading process as possible and the clubs can be as honest as possible, but in a junior competition, players develop at different ages and team dynamics change yearly,” he said.

“So while probably 80 per cent of the grading is measurable or controllable, it’s probably 15 or 20 per cent that we’re in the lap of the gods.”

McCauley said the SMJFL needed the continued support of its clubs to maintain the league’s competitiveness.

“We need them to be transparent and honest with where their teams are at and where they think their teams should be graded,” he said.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the clubs on the grading process, so we can continue to provide as even a competition as possible.”