Take football. I mean the round-ball game, which some people call soccer. A couple of weeks ago, Sydney lost the major semi-final to Melbourne, while Wellington won over Newcastle. It's a bit odd that Wellington, which is in New Zealand, is in the Australian national competition, the A-League. It is even stranger because New Zealand isn't even in the same continent as Australia, at least as far as FIFA is concerned. Australia is part of Asia, and New Zealand is in Oceania. So even if New Zealand were to win the A-League, they wouldn't get the Asian Champions League place that would normallly go to the winner.
Then we have this concept of major and minor semi-finals. Back in England, it all seemed pretty simple. You'd have eight teams in the quarter-finals, four in the semis and two in the final. Here we had six out of the ten teams in the competition go into the finals series. The top two, Sydney and Melbourne, played their major semi-final over two legs. Then third played sixth and fourth played fifth in an elimination final. The winner of those two matches, Wellington and Newcastle, then played the minor semi-final.
Given that Sydney lost their semi-final, an Englishman would generally assume it is all over for them. Not so, as they went on to play Wellington in something called the preliminary final. Sydney won that, and this weekend they go to play Melbourne in the Grand Final. By chance, the last round of the pre-finals competition also had Sydney playing Melbourne which actually decided what is called the 'minor premiership', (ie who actually finished top of the table), won by Sydney. So Sydney played Melbourne on Feb 14th (and won), 18th (lost), March 7th (drawn) and now March 20th..
Sydney secured their Asian Champions League spot by becoming minor premiers. With Sydney already having their spot, and Wellington ineligible, Melbourne were guaranteed the second spot as soon as Newcastle lost.
If you think that is confusing, the pre-finals competition isn't much simpler. With only ten sides in the competition, each played the other three times rather than having one home and one away leg. I believe Perth were complaining that, for the second year running, they had to put up with more away games than home.
That is still simpler than the AFL though. A few years back I was working for a firm that sponsored one of the Melbourne based sides. That side played half its home games in Tasmania (a different state of Australia), and didn't actually come to Sydney at all since that year didn't include an away leg against the Sydney side. The NRL Rugby League competition is pretty similar with the main competition being too short for all teams to play the all others both home and away.
As the top-flight soccer competition draws to an end, those players hoping for World Cup berths need to find somewhere to play for a few weeks so they don't get too rusty. Portsmouth perhaps ? Meanwhile, for my two kids, the soccer season is yet to start, but they've both started training for their appearances in the Green and Gold of Penno.