TO be a Telco.

Optus, outbids Fox Sports for the World Cup games SBS can’t afford (and couldn’t you just tell Fox Sports and the Herald Sun are the same company, biased criticism much?) and then streaming, totally erroding any financial windfall they might make from the tournament.

Outraged customers looking to change providers in disgust look at the main alternative in Telstra who yesterday shed one in every four employees, announcing this not in person but by via internal webcast, that to make thins worse, yep, you guessed it, had playback issues as well.

When all of a sudden Dodo Mobile is looking like a genuine quality option, you know you’ve got issues.

But at least your not Don Pyke.

Onward!

1.    Putting our hand up, Ollie Wines firstly. Had heard some whispers he was not sticking around at Port. What does he then do? Re-sign for four years. So happy to put the hand up there, and for Carlton fans sorry, Wines non grata for you lot next year.

2.    As for Carlton, wow, didn’t they come from everywhere for the Blues after a goalless half. Now yes, let’s scrutinise the fact a football team in 2018 went an entire half of football without scoring a goal, not good enough. But to say they are lost, derelict of direction and without a brand or future, hang on, what about the fortnight before their bye? Yes, there were back to back losses to Geelong down the highway and then Sydney up there, but isolating how they actually played in those performances you’d suggest Bolton and his charges were showing signs of steady, dogged progress. Pushed Geelong a long way and were not embarrassed at all at the SCG losing by five snags. So, you can’t isolate the first half against Fremantle without balancing the positives of the previous four halves of football that were absolutely a pass. 

3.    Their victors on Saturday, Fremantle, interesting, this is a very committed rebuild after all and yes, their performances will be up and down, but we giving them a tick. We thought this team was better than it was and gave them finals’ hope. No dice, but the kids, Brayshaw, Cerra, Cox, Blakely, Langdon, Giro, there’s a lot to like. So, 2018 will be a good year after all, just completely differently to how we envisaged.

4.    So, in the fallout to Carlton, and Gold Coast, the bottom clubs, “oh, we need to help them, the bottom clubs can’t get off the bottom and its unfairly set up to advantage the top clubs”. How about no, it is totally fair, let’s not give poor performance an out? Richmond looked a mile off it as recently as 18 months ago. The last time the Tigers’ had a stinker, guess who smashed them? St Kilda. That was only a year ago. Is it easy to bottom out and then become a top four team? Not at all. Is it impossible though with the league’s current set up? Not at all. Don’t look at giving the bottom teams concessions, how about they get their house in order, make a succession of good decisions on field, off field, and then let’s see. Look at Melbourne. Where were their extra picks? They got there. Everyone else can too.

5.    And whilst we’re on changing the game, we had the AFL trialling some potential new rules with Hawthorn recently and then this week with Brisbane. The Lions were trialling a couple things most notably that at every stoppage both teams needed to have a set number of players deep forward and deep back. That won’t work at all – every stoppage we’ll wait eight or nine seconds for players to get into their zones, that won’t make things worse much? We need some clear thinking about the repercussions, flow on effects or biproducts of some of these ingenious ideas. People.

6.    Said it before, all we need to do is a couple of things: ruck nominations and incorrect disposal. Get rid of ruckmen having to nominate for a stoppage, just throw it up quickly and if any team sends more than one ruck up in the contest, free kick against. Umpires spend too much time looking for nominations and waiting for everyone to set up, no, get on with it, just penalise any third-men up. And if you’re tackled, prior opportunity or not, unless the ball is dislodged or stripped from your grasp, you must dispose of it correctly. If its pinned to you, we bounce. But if you drop it, go for a kick or handpass and stuff it, free kick against, get the game moving. Easy. Gil, I’ll have my invoice in next week.

7.    Last one on all this doom and gloom – Wayne Schwass said somewhat in passing on Triple M’s Sunday broadcast that he would scrap the two expansions teams to solve the game’s dwindling aesthetic. Most read that in reaction to the off-field viability of the Suns and Giants to survive commercially, but for mine it’s to do with the talent pool. Said it before – just perhaps the extra 44 players that play each weekend dilute the standard just enough that it gives us an extra poxy game or two a week. Think about it, the fears for the game’s standard started just about the time we expanded. Coincidence? No dice.

8.    How lucky were the Saints? They were staring down the barrel of the worstest timeline and I had communications from even overseas stating that ol’ Richo could be handing his pass back in as early as this week. Then their opponents had to head to their cars at three-quarter-time to extend the parking meter and the Saints rolled in a massive come from behind victory. Just. Make no mistake though, no euphoria in this win, it’s a classic case of the wallpaper covering not just cracks but walls totally missing, we need tarpaulin and a building permit to this St Kilda house asap.

9.    So, the Suns. Firstly, they need to find car-parking that carries them through the full four quarters, they can’t afford to keep having to miss the final terms. They’ve been awful all year really but the last four games, their final quarters have gone 0.0, 0.1, 0.1 and 0.0. I eagerly await the Al-Jazeera documentary where they uncover the spot-fixing of final quarters by colourful Surfers Paradise racing identities. Seriously.

10. Another team going poorly but wow, what rotten luck, the Doggies. Their injury list is as long as the list of ‘constructive criticisms’ on the Optus Sport Facebook, leaving them as much hope into the second half of the year as Optus Sport has of winning a Logie for Outstanding Coverage of a Sports Event. Shame, there’s obviously a bit to work on down the Whitten Oval but this is getting overlooked for a year of just rubbish luck.

11. So, with a few teams on the bus to struggle town, you’re going to need fourteen wins to make the eight this year. There’s going to be a team go 13-9 and miss, it’s ridiculous. Fifteen wins and percentage for fourth, but fifth through eighth could all be on fourteen.

12. If you gave me a dollar to put on a bet for fourth, in the belief West Coast, Richmond and Sydney get the top three spots, I’d be going Hawthorn. They have ten games left and could end up going nine-one. Six easy games, another they should be winning against the Bombers, then two others they could definitely get, especially as they have matched up well with Geelong for a decade now and the Giants aren’t the terrifying prospect of the last couple seasons. They are in this big time the Hawks.

13. Their opponents last weekend whilst we were all immersed in the World Cup, the Crows, oh wow. Unlike the Doggies, they’ve had injuries too but they are not decimated. 14 of the Grand Final team played the Hawks on Saturday, plus of course Bryce Gibbs who they got in the off-season. They then should be a hell of a lot better than a scoreless third term capped off by one goal in the last. Awful.

14. Someone who got Norm Smith votes last year and is just having an even better year so far – Shane Edwards. He is almost, arguably, their most important midfielder. Yes, Dustin Martin, I know him, Trent Cotchin, him too, both Brownlow medallists, but Edwards is more effective than both when he has the ball. Leading the league by a street in score involvements and top three for goal assists, when he gets his hand on the ball, perhaps not as mesmerising as Martin’s strength or Cotchin’s grunt, but the Tigers are a better chance of scoring as a result, and it’s a scoring business we’re in. Sell all your shares and put them on Titch.

15. Last two weeks Port Adelaide have looked very good, and one on field move might be a bit of a catalyst – Chad Wingard into the guts. Back to back 30 touch games, averaged seven inside 50s, seven clearances, eight tackles, having a real influence. He is a star and not just a flashy forward, and if that’s a level he can maintain, the Power, in the hunt for that fourth spot.

16. Another gun to highlight interstate, Elliott Yeo. If the Eagles win the flag this year he is my tip to put on a Norm Smith type performance. Second at the club in disposals to Andrew Gaff (25 a game to 30) but having such a better year. Leading the Eagles in tackles, inside 50s, goal assists, contested possessions and third in clearances. In the league’s top team, he is their best player, deserves greater plaudits.  

17. The Dees were no good a fortnight ago, shown up by the Pies. But there’s been a long belief that ‘Premiership standard’ was for teams who average more than 100 points in attack and less than 86 points in defence. The Dees are the only team to this point hitting both briefs. Richmond, West Coast and Collingwood are the next closest, hitting the mark for defence but just shy of that 100 points a game mark. But the Demons, enigmatic at best, perhaps good enough after all when the whips are cracking?

18. Couple quick ones on the trade side of things, Rory Sloane, if he is to leave, its Hawthorn, and maybe right now its 50-50. I’d still have him staying but the Hawks are keen to have a look at the Crow it seems.

19. Marc Murphy, surely, he stays and sees this out, he is 31, but North should have a look if he is open to a move, a much better fit than Geelong. Or if Hawthorn think they’re close, and don’t get Sloane, could do worse. But not the Cats. Stop it.

20. And finally, ruckmen and Lewis Taylor aside, why are ‘footy socks’ still long? Seriously, even Max Gawn is a ruckman whose going short with the rolled down sock. I get its tradition and how its always been done, but each week in the AFL 396 players grab their socks to put on and almost all of them don’t even pull them up, its bizarre. Not important, doesn’t solve a thing, but just seems silly.

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