THANK you Croatia.

Whilst this column had no vested interest in the result of Monday morning’s final, and whilst sad for Croatian fans we aren’t devastated personally.

But for preventing the utter implosion of society as we know it if the English got to the final obstacle, had made the final with a chance to win it all, we can’t be more appreciative.

Avoiding that though has given no solace to those heavies at Princes Park, that pain and suffering doesn’t look like remedying itself anytime soon..

1.       The Pies have done well this year to have the record they do with the injuries they’ve endured, particularly as mentioned last week being number one in the league for games lost. Last Sunday, when it really mattered, fielding a few players that probably didn’t deserve or warrant a game but were out there because so many others were unavailable through injury might have cost them in the end.

2.       As a result we see Jeremy McGovern getting all the plaudits for a great game. He played on Brody Mihocek in a forwardline that was basically centered around a first-year player who isn’t a tall forward but through makeshift design being asked to play like one. If McGovern didn’t take a tonne of marks last Sunday you’d drop him to the WAFL, let’s be steady on the enormous praise.

3.       The real key for the Eagles on the day though was the return of half of their forward line at once. West Coast’s record in 2018 when all of Kennedy, Darling and LeCras play is nine wins from nine games. When one or more of the three miss is three wins from seven. Percentage-wise, with all three 143.79%, 99.14% otherwise.

4.       Sling tackle on Robbie Gray, can’t do much differently, pin arms crucial to not allowing the tackled player to get a disposal, was he too firm, perhaps, was it holding the ball, absolutely. Do we get to a stage where duty of care means you must allow the player you’re tackling a free arm? We don’t want players knocked out, but from a technique perspective, I’m not sure what the perfect alternative would be? Yes, there was a sense of sling about it, but it wasn’t the old fashioned rugby league pick up and turn, it was all in essence, especially in real time against the harshness of slow mo, one motion. Hate the injury, but if it was Sam Gray, and not Robbie, and he got up instead of being concussed, its not even a fine.

5.       Speaking of which, how many fines?! We like less suspensions, sure, but if you just measure on reports that result in sanctions, given the amount of fines being handed out each and every week the sport’s never been dirtier? Or are we just going too silly with $1000 here and $2000 there? The latter for mine.

6.       “Geelong champion Jimmy Bartel says the AFL should consider having an “independent list analyser” in a bid to fast track rebuilds.“

“I think there should be someone in the AFL football department, they got teams of thousands down there at HQ, that should be almost an independent list analyser of clubs because that’s where clubs get themselves in biggest trouble”.

Jim. No.

7.       James Sicily injury, who is an AA lock to this point, will really hurt the Hawks. Yes, their run home is soft, but still, he has a massive influence with or without the ball. Top five on their list for influence on their results.

8.       Port are cosy with the two extra wins on those outside the eight, but Paddy Ryder out for a little while is going to hurt. They aren’t scoring enough, and none of their final seven games are gimmies. A ripe chance to fall out, danger games are the Doggies down in Ballarat followed by the Showdown in Rounds 19 and 20 respectively.

9.       “Advanced negotiations have brought 100m and 200m world record holder Usain Bolt to the brink of a shock trial with the Central Coast Mariners, with the promise of a season-long contract on offer if he proves himself in a six-week audition”.

What? Oh gosh.

10.   “It would be easy to sneer, and to suggest that marketing expediency has apparently superseded football decision making. Yet the fundamental problem that the A-League has is its abandonment by great swathes of Australian general sports fans.”

Incorrect. It’s the abandonment by the pure football fan, who supports Barcelona, who switched to Optus just to get the EPL, who has already bought a Juventus Ronaldo jersey. And this does nothing but widen that divide.

11.   Saints Blues got almost 34k to Friday night, not bad really after all. Dees Bulldogs the next day, at the MCG, decent afternoon weather-wise, not on free-to-air, just over 30k. Sure, some cheaper tickets helped Friday, but with Melbourne 10-6 they would be most disappointed.

12.   Stephen Silvagni took the points on Footy Classified. Caro went down a route of relying on the phrase “ it’s my understanding” which she can’t or does not need to prove, put her on a hiding to nothing and SOS was more than happy to make sure for of that. And Lloyd was more than competent asking the question, but was found out when the interviewee, who had clearly prepared better than the panel, answered said questions with a question back. Whether you blame the Silvagni list management regime or not, he had an answer for everything and absconded any heat the media would like to pile on his role in the club’s situation.

13.   Mind you, Carlton are a live chance to finish the year with one win, and other than the expansion teams in their embryonic years, that’s just unheard of, so something has to give, or some internally have to royally cop it.

14.   Whack Tom Mitchell time of the week, 43 touches in the loss to Brisbane on Saturday. Seven tackles, five inside 50s, two clearances. Influence? Bout the same as someone with half the disposals? Meanwhile Dayne Beams, 33 touches, eight inside 50s, seven clearances, four rebound 50s. Interesting, the coaches votes. Beams and Hugh McCluaggae (29 touches) got seven votes each, Stefan Martin (17 touches, 33 hitouts), Josh Walker (20 touches, kept Roughead goalless) and Jaeger O’Meara (27 touches) got five each. Not a single vote for Mitchell.

15.   That award’s becoming a race in three, Max Gawn with a perfect 10 from the coaches against the Bullies (17 touches, 41 hitouts, seven marks) is leading by three from Patrick Cripps, Shaun Higgins in third a further six votes behind.

16.   Rising Star, probably a race in two, Jaidyn Stephenson and Ben Ronke. The Pie has 25 goals from 16 games, the Swan is arguably bettering though with 21 from 11. Alex Witherden is coming home with a wet sail however, 31 and 27 touches the last two weeks, he keeps up the leather poisoning he could pinch it.

17.   Nic Naitanui is influential in the same way Cyril Rioli was (how strange to use past tense for him already?) in that he mightn’t record the numbers of his peers but what he does with it is so much better it compensates. However, where the Eagles can probably survive is that Scott Lycett is a bonafide no.1 ruck in his own right. Nathan Vardy and Fraser McInnes are reasonable enough no.2 guys if they chose to play the same system. They’ll be just fine, he is nowhere near as important to their chances as good a player he is in isolation; the ‘net loss’ is minimal. The loss of Naitanui to say a Vardy is somewhat offset by the better utilisation of Lycett.

18.   Buddy 900 goals, only happened eight other times. Last time was Matty Lloyd in 2009, who he is only 24 goals away from and could within reason catch before the year’s out. He catches Leigh Matthews in 13 goals time.

19.   Steve Hocking is going hell for leather with starting positions, it being that there are three pairs in each fifty for every stoppage. I implore you all, next time you attend the footy, when there’s a stoppage, if the ball is somewhere in neutral territory, look to see how many are inside 50, its almost six at each end as is. So that will do nothing. The key one though is if the ball is inside 50, you are sending six players who might be on centre wing or even closer all the way back to the other 50.

And when it comes to that, I’ve said it before, but let me quote ripper footballer Dayne Zorko, part of a recent trial of said rule, on why that’s crap: “waiting for the forwards and defenders to head back to the box, that was eight or nine seconds that the game probably could’ve played for.” Nathan Buckley this morning too said the constant waiting for pairs to get back into position at every stoppage would be a “blight on the game”. So you’ll free up the wing from congestion, but we’ll extend quarters by a minute or two as a result. Yeah, real winner Steve!

20.   Such a shame. We really live in a multicultural society full of new generations and diaspora from all corners of the globe so who cares if Allir Allir was born in Kenya and not Keilor and Majak Daw was born in Sudan and not Sandringham. But yes, cool, there are positives in terms of glass ceilings, I get that and don’t refute them, yet why make the fuss? Chose to not take the lens of seeing the ethnicity over the skillset and just celebrate or critique them regardless. But even then, to cop yesterday that “there is real concern about Sudanese gangs … you’d have to be walking around with your hands over your ears in Melbourne not to hear it.” Not from Shannon Noll, this is from the top office, esteemed Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull. You overlay that with the wonderfully consistent work of social progressionist and friend to all Home Minister Peter Dutton who tells us that Melburnians are “are scared to go out to restaurants of a night time because they are followed home by these gangs…. we just need to call it for what it is, of course it’s African gang violence.”

Peter Dutton needs to spend less time looking like the product of a peeled King Edward potato that had awful yet successful sex with Voldemort’s racist, inbred cousin and worrying about whether I’m concerned Allir Allir is going to follow me home. Why? Firstly, he lives in Sydney, and I don’t. Secondly I’m not that sure it would be in that young man’s interest, we’ve never met, I didn’t invite him, I’m confused. Or that Majak Daw might rob me this weekend in some back alley of the city.  He won’t, I don’t think he is that way dispositioned, no more so than anyone else from any background for that matter. He is more interested with getting a kick, so is Allir Allir, and Bachar Houli and Clayton Oliver and Chloe Molloy and whoever else you want, Peter.

Now Peter, Mr Potato, moron, mistake, whatever your real name is, I went to a restaurant last night and I was totally fine. Statistically my de facto partner was in far more danger when I headed home than I was of anyone with ancestral African links following me or causing me serious harm. Peter. Stop it. You’re an embarrassment and quite frankly putting me off baked potatoes, which are delicious..


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