The unfortunate aspect of country football leagues in the past has been the unevenness of the competitions.
How often do we hear about a 300-point loss and a team kicking no goals in a game? There's always a couple that pop up each season and circle in the news for a week or two.
In the 2019 Central Highlands Football League (CHFL) season there were four teams that won three games or less from their 16 matches.
Clunes was the worst of them, going 1-15 for the season. It's already on track to improve greatly on that record following its 53-point win over Creswick on Saturday.
The Magpies led at every change, running away 10.18 (78) to 3.7 (25) winners.
The side who finished just one spot above them with a 2-14 record in 2019, Carngham-Linton, nearly pulled off the upset of the round, going down by a goal to Beaufort.
Playing under the new lights at Linton, the Saints put up an almighty fight, kicking 5.7 to the Crows 4.1 in the second half to nearly pull off the comeback win.
While not the end result it had hoped for, the competitive nature of the game bodes well for the remainder of 2021.
The average margin in round one was 23 points, three games decided by a goal or less. In comparison, the average deficit in round one 2019 was 53 points, in 2018, 35 points and 2017, 56 points.
In 2019 five games were decided by 80 to 89 points and 27 decided by 100 points or more.
That's not a knock on the CHFL, we've already seen four AFL games decided by 50 to 59 points, two by 70 plus and a 128-point belting of North Melbourne by the Western Bulldogs.
It's a part of sport, margins are a result of the ebbs and flows of player exodus from clubs and sides rebuilding with a young group.
It is exciting however, to see a more even competition seemingly building, a welcomed sight after the 2020 year everybody endured.
Does it mean there won't be significant margins throughout the year? Of course not, every country league will experience plenty. The general lift in evenness throughout the competition is great to see though.
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