Dirty play. Two footed tackles, trying to kick the other team out of the game. Some teams like to bully the other and not care about the cards they get, and some don’t. So, which A-League team is the dirtiest?

Before we get into the juicy stats, let’s establish a few things. To make sure all teams are in a level playing field, I’m using stats starting from the 2012/13 A-League season, up until round 23 of this season. Second, these stats came from ultimatealeague.com for previous seasons, and the official A-League site for this current season.

Finally, cards are not the best indicator on how dirty a team plays as refs miss things, while some major incidents such as a headbutt probably deserve more than a red, and are hence more “dirty.” However, they are the best indicator we’ve got so I’m using them.

With that in mind, let’s dig into the hard data, starting with all time yellow cards accumulated.

In terms of dirtiness, the first thing to note is that with 457 yellows and 450 respectively, it’s Melbourne City and then their neighbours Victory who lead the pack. The Wanderers come in third with 436 yellows in this time period. Cleanest in this regard is Brisbane on just 371 yellows over the past seven years, while second cleanest are the Mariners with 381.

Interesting tidbits:

  • Sydney FC and Adelaide United have collected the exact same amount of yellows in this time period, on 422 each.
  • Brisbane and the Central Coast Mariners are the only teams to have collected less than 400 yellows

However, the big differences shrink quite a bit when you instead look at the average amount of yellow cards per season.

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Season by season, Melbourne City on average only collect a single yellow card more than the Victory, with City’s average at 65 and Victory’s at 64. In fact, aside from Brisbane and the Mariners, all of the other teams are fairly close with how many yellows on average they get a season. Just six and a half yellows a season seperate Wellington from Melbourne City.

But what about red cards, I hear you ask? Well fear not, I have a graph for that too!

This is where thing get really interesting. CCM, who were the second cleanest team with yellows, have by far and away the most red cards with 29. That’s four more than their nearest rivals, Melbourne City who have received 25 red cards over the past seven years. Brisbane, Adelaide, and Wellington are the cleanest teams in this regard with each team having collected 18 red cards.

Interesting tidbits:

  • Western Sydney have received both the third most amount of red cards and yellow cards
  • Melbourne Victory and the Newcastle Jets are equal 5th in this regard with both teams having collected 21 red cards

So what does this mean in average red cards gained per season? Well, I have a graph for that too.

You really realise just how many red cards CCM get each season with this graph, as they are somehow managing to get an average of four per season. Utterly mind blowing when you consider how few yellows they get.

Other than that, there’s not a whole lot else that this graphs shows us that previous one didn’t.

So what can we deduce from all of this?

  • With the highest amount of yellow cards, and the second highest amount of red cards, I think calling Melbourne City the dirtiest team in the A-League is fair.
  • Brisbane are easily the cleanest team in the A-League, with the lowest amount of yellows attained and equal lowest amount of reds.
  • Central Coast have a red card problem.

Featured image: Ngau Kai Yan

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The Football Sack's resident teen kiwi football nut. Loves everything football except defeats.