AH, tribunals are all the rage at the moment aren’t they? The wonders of Schofield on Oliver and Houli on Lamb last week, this week it gets better with the indiscretions of Tomas Bugg and Ali Fahour, albeit in very different circumstances.
The heat dissipated very quickly in the Bugg case, pretty cut and dry and to be fair he played it well in the aftermath, but wow hasn’t the Fahour case taken everyone by storm.
Let’s get stuck in.
1. So Ali Fahour, the man of the moment, one week providing a character reference for Bachar Houli in the most absurd tribunal story in recent memory, days later playing local footy ends up committing an act worth a 14 week suspension, which tips him over the threshold and in essence bans him for life. Not a super look in the slightest. He immediately stood down from his league post and too right, his position was untenable.
2. Sure though, a thug act, no question. However, as ex-AFL player and teammate Patrick Karnezis pointed out, Fahour was highly aggrieved by the sickening treatment ex-Saint and West Preston spearhead Ahemed Saad was receiving, choker holds and punches from many opponents at once, and he reacted emotionally. And further, no-one really knew of Fahour before this week, and to repeat no-one can defend the act, but where for anyone else it’s the end of your footy season, potentially the end of your local footy career, Fahour has lost his job, will have a professional tarnish that will follow him plus days of massive public ridicule to deal with. Must reiterate, can’t defend the action in the slightest, but I have some empathy for him in the position he finds himself in this morning.
3. Although one thing before we leave the Fahour story, we noticed a funny little connection that must be just the world’s greatest coincidence. Australia Post are one of the largest backers of the AFL Diversity Program, they tip in plenty of corporate support which is great. Now their outgoing chief executive was Ahmed Fahour, he was at the helm for many a year. Would you like to take a guess at who Fahour’s brother is?
4. Tom Bugg getting six weeks was the right whack, parden the pun. But he is in their best 22 come the end of the year. The Demons look a lot better this year because of the roles so many are fulfilling and Bugg, whether up forward or indeed down back has been very useful. Only Melbourne in ripping form looking to keep an unchanged lineup keeps him out of returning, at most with one game in the VFL prior to for touch.
5. Melbourne will still be alright despite the failure last Friday. This is such an up and down season, and we’ll touch on the greatest example of that, the Swans, next. They’ll still finish there and thereabouts and ultimately, this is an even better year to win from 7th than last year so it’ll be how they’re going in a month or so’s time, and the Dees are good enough to a serious threat then.
6. How about those Bloods? 0-6 start and now the hottest team in the competition. They surely play finals now because of how inconsistent the teams in and around the eight are; all the moons have aligned for this remarkable turnaround. If they are fit come September, who beats them, not many..
7. Right, the time has come to acknowledge Richmond are doing good things. We still maintain the right to question them in clutch games, close games, which September is all about, but they’re playing well enough to deserve finals, which is a staggering thing itself and further evidence of the whacky season we find ourselves in. Credit to Damien Hardwick for producing a team, that despite the tools at his disposal, should not be doing as well as it is – the direct opposite of Nathan Buckley’s position ironically.
8. Now Geelong though, admirable performance in Sydney Saturday night, a straighter finish from Tom Hawkins and it’s a massive result against the best team in it up there. But, as we will touch on the Giants in a second, this season still flatters the Cats. Sure, their record is their record and no-one can deny that, nor will it be changed by some weird-arse rule that moderates performance so the finals better reflect where teams ‘should’ finish. But to be nine wins and a draw after 14 rounds is far too complementary to a side that should in a final Dangerfield and/or Selwood have their influence negated, they would be well up against it to remain competitive.
9. The Giants are doing super well considering their injuries. I mean, shock horror, they have all the depth in the world to remain top of the ladder, but the key will be if they are able to get some of those big names back in their tilt for their first flag. They have had by far the most games lost to injury by best 22 players, well over 50, and have amassed ten wins to date without the influence, largely, of Coniglio, Deledio, Buntine or Griffen, and have Greene, Himmelberg, Hopper, Kennedy, Williams and Taranto still yet to return to peak fitness. This team “if” it gets fit will be scary good.
10. Tom Boyd is another footballer to publicly step away from the game because of clinical depression, joining Travis Cloke as the second in recent times at the Bulldogs alone. For this, let’s just quote Paul Marsh, AFLPA CEO, on the matter:
“The benefits of being an AFL player – purpose, social connectivity, good income, and physical fitness – can be offset by stressors such as performance anxiety, media and public scrutiny and injury.
“Despite their exceptional physical capacity and skill, and the status bestowed by AFL life, underneath it all they are just like the rest of us.“
11. Really interesting result last Sunday lunchtime at Etihad. Firstly, great result by Chris Fagan and the Brisbane Lions, you can genuinely see a way out for those blokes. They have good kids, they are well led by Fagan and his coaching staff, and yes, they are coming from a long way back so don’t expect too much too soon, but there was some real validation in their narrative. As for the Bombers, a bad loss, a cross on their season and build, but I maintain, next year a finals lock, 2017 is all about gelling the pre-suspension Essendon with the fruit of last year.
12. Oh dear Collingwood. Guarantee that the Pies’ hierarchy, out of the bye, buoyed by a good month of football that had they won on Queen’s Birthday would have changed the story on their season massively, would have expected at least one win, if not two, out of the Port Adelaide and Hawthorn games. Did not give a yelp against the former and then were plain disappointing versus the latter. What does this mean? As we said last week, if Buckley dropped the next three, he was in extremely hot water. Status update, he has Essendon this week and Gold Coast up north in nine days time – lose both and it’ll be boiling over.
13. Brownlow watch, if you watch enough footy and/or consume copious amounts of commentary and media on the game, it’s a two horse race between Patrick Dangerfield and Dustin Martin, and it may well be. But whilst the $20+ to win might be a long shot as it stands right now, the season Gary Ablett continues to put together has him right in the frame for a place finish, a wager all good bookmakers offer, and one that presents good value.
14. A couple quick updates on some players, firstly Jake Lever, we hear the Dogs are extra keen, they always were sniffing around but as of now believe he is gettable. The Crows, and Dees for that matter, still think he will re-sign in Adelaide. Bulldogs getting some good oil or upping their offer in reaction to their season, not sure.
15. Jacob Hopper, on the exit at season’s end most likely, a very handy on ball addition for any Victorian team, it appears it’s a two-horse race between Carlton and Geelong.
16. Absolutely amazing to see Alex Johnson have a kick for the Swans reserves in Canberra on the weekend, and to see him salute with a sausage roll too was great. When appropriate, his return to the big time will be quite something as well, as if the super-hot Swans need anything else to motivate them right now!
17. Four big games this week, firstly Friday night, the Bullies head over to take on the Crows. Adelaide has had a soft period, the loss to the Hawks at home and then doing just enough against the Blues last week. This might be the soft period they need to have before resurging for a finals tilt later, but they are vulnerable for a Dogs side to get back to winning ways and show that they aren’t doing a 2009 Hawthorn. Don’t be surprised.
18. Maddie’s match on Saturday night is a fantastic celebration for a family uniting towards a terrific cause. That both Nick and Jack Riewoldt, brother and cousin respectively of Maddie, are driving this so well is beyond super. And once the ball is bounced, it’s a mega challenge for the Saints, on the fast Etihad track they are capable of slipping up the more fancied Tigers. Will be a cracker.
19. Carlton take on Melbourne Sunday afternoon and it’ll be an interesting case of how the Dees are going. Is there a small sign of wavering under the expectation of becoming a good side, because the Blues will nobble them if they aren’t careful. What Simon Goodwin will want is a resounding response to failing last Friday and re-righting the ship towards the big clash in Darwin the week after against Adelaide.
20. And finally this round we have Port Adelaide taking on West Coast in Perth. Who would have thunk it last weekend, the Eagles winning in Melbourne, the Power losing at home. All of a sudden, West Coast wins on Sunday and they’ve had a really insightful fortnight that really turns their season’s outlook around, and for Port it’ll become question marks galore. But alternatively, it’s a great chance for the Power to show that they are indeed serious by winning at what’s usually one of the hardest tasks in footy – the Eagles at Subi. Will be fascinating.