NOT often this column starts with a quote from The Australian. No, it’s not going to be about immigration or how we need to save the white African farmers, its ok, but Peter Lalor has had a shocker.

The laws of the land do not stop at the boundary line of a football oval, but you would be forgiven for thinking that they did… Why shouldn’t players be done for assault?

Hmm ok, so when Shane Mumford annihilated Mitch Duncan in Canberra two years ago, a tackle come bump, right up the middle but not high, that would be assault as well? Not as grievous as Gaff on Brayshaw but where’s the line, Peter?

Someone gets sold candy and looks as foolish as Donald Trump at a spelling bee, can they sue for character defamation? Players can file VCAT cases when delisted for unfair dismissal? What about journos who make silly and prosperous statements about pressing charges in a contact sport, that’s fraud surely against those who are paying money for allegedly ‘quality journalism’ as Australian subscribes?

Never mind, Peter writes for a publication with a readership smaller than the Mr. Men books so he is just unlucky we even noticed.

Moving on.

1.       Ok, onto Mr Gaff properly. So this has been written bits on Monday, bits on Tuesday, but before the verdict. Jeremy Cameron with his hit on Harris Andrews, he had priors, it was in play but did a fair bit of damage, he got five weeks. Tom Bugg, last year on Callum Mills, it was behind play, Mills was concussed and sat out the rest of the game but returned the following weekend, Bugg got six. For mine, Gaff, despite his pristine record and exceptional character, given it was behind play and did more damage than Barry Hall on Brent Staker, it starts at seven. Either way he doesn’t play again this year, no matter the Eagles season and finals from here.

2.       Rated Ross Lyon’s presser, we’ve sorta forgot him a bit over here on the eastern seaboard but was awesome at St Kilda, has brought Freo as a club into relevance and is now trying to rebuild as quickly as he can. He was emotional, raw, super empathetic to the Brayshaw family and if you’re a Dockers fan you’d love to fall in behind him on the road ahead, just terrific.

3.       West Coast in Perth. Wow. Gaff will get one of the biggest suspensions in recent times and the Eagles CEO comes out the next day, calls a presser, and tries to hijack the narrative with a drive-by for Ross Lyon. My view was that Lyon was brilliant but even if you found his comments post-game fractionally too emotional, Trevor, just don’t go there, this is about your player’s actions, not about deflecting. The Eagles are as arrogant a sporting club you’ll find, especially at home, they can’t be touched, or at least think they can’t be.

4.       Red cards come up again. The NRL has the ability to send players off, and rarely does, so let’s not give the umpires another thing to stuff up, because to wrongly or unfairly use a red card in our spot would be so much worse than to not have the option for that once in a blue moon event in the first place, let me assure you.

5.       If there are people out there, managers, who are prepared to get up on radio and say ‘Don’t go to the Gold Coast’, we’ll have them in court as quick as we can.”

That’s Mark Evans, Suns CEO, on reports that player managers are, as per their position description, providing advice and counsel to their clients, vis a vis that a move to the Suns is, correctly too, a poor one. So Mark thinks he can take those managers to court? To you Mark, we just have one word – lolz.

6.       Tom Lynch exercises his right and will return to Melbourne. Fair enough. But for the Suns to put up some players internally, in a confrontational sort of exit, criticising and demeaning Lynch for his decision is bad enough. But to put up young players, most notably Lachie Weller who did the exact same thing in ditching Fremantle to head back home only ten months ago, is so ironically laughable it’s gotta be a for a prank show on Channel Ten or something. This is a serious AFL club?

7.       So the Crows win by a whisker because the goal umpire missed Josh Jenkins’ snap grazing the post and the score review showed nothing conclusive to go against the initial call. What do we do? Snicko or hot spot perhaps? Or better still, whatever the tennis use for a let on a serve, have that tech installed in all goal posts from perhaps above the padding up, whooshka. But get it right though, the camera angles at present are still a half pregnant solution.

8.       Whilst we’re fixing the game, advantage rule, don’t blow the whistle until there’s no longer an advantage. Like Rugby Union, where the ref puts his hand up to signal a penalty, only then going to the whistle to stop the play. So, for footy, the umpire sees a free kick but the team still has possession, he then puts his arm out to signal a free kick but if the advantage isn’t there, only then would the umpire blow the whistle. Simple. Next.

9.       At the very least, the 6-6-6 format after goals will be adopted…

“…the bigger picture — and that’s to spread the ground and stop 30 players congregating within 30m of a stoppage in the 50m arcs.”

That’s from old mate Robbo in his Monday blurbs.

We had a terrific game of football on Saturday afternoon between the Hawks and Bombers whilst the AFL had erections for rule changes watching Coburg and Werribee trial the new ideas.

But to Robbo’s point that the main rule change at play, the very satanic 6-6-6 starting positions will ‘spread the ground and stop players congregating’ is laughable. Once the ball is bounced after a goal, those starting positions go to the proverbial and then there’s nothing to stop said congregations around the pill. Unless you’re locking players to zones like netball people like Robbo need to start thinking things through.

10.   Something about this state of the game talk – we’re changing the rules drastically. Why? Because of two main things – crowds are down and free to air television ratings are too. Firstly crowds, let’s have a look at them properly broken down. Perth has a new stadium and its getting filled, that’s a big tick. Adelaide, same thing just five years ahead, another tick. Geelong is expanding the size of Kardinia Park and filling it too, so that’s three new or expanded grounds getting bums on seats. Good. The big ticket though is crowds at the MCG or Marvel.

And we’ve done the numbers on that: ten years ago crowds between Victorian clubs at those two grounds were 1% higher, which equates to about 1000 people less per game. That’s nothing. The bigger picture shows it being greater but that’s when you take into account Melbourne clubs hosting the GWS or the Suns, which of course will impact numbers. So we’re losing our shit on 1%? When membership across the board is way up too?

Also Fox Footy subscriptions are up, about an extra 100,000 people are watching football each weekend on Foxtel than ten years ago, so wash that against the 1000 less at the ‘G or Colonial and I’m pretty happy.

That Foxtel figure might also eat into those FTA figures somewhat but let’s look at Masterchef. Each of the ten seasons’ finales has been the number one ranked show in the ratings, but the audiences in raw figures have dropped over 60%. Season One and Two had finales over 3.5 million each time, last week’s finale, still arguably as ‘popular’ relative to those who watch television, only 1.3 million.

So are footy ratings down because the goal square isn’t long enough or because we just aren’t watching free to air like we once did?

And lastly on that TV angle – if the ratings are down, why do we think it’s all down to the rules and not because we schedule crap games in prime slots, or perhaps the production of Channel Seven and how good that is compared to Fox Footy’s, or what we got with Channel Nine which was unquestionably far better presented?

11.   Right, some onfield stuff? No, not yet, AFLW. Just shocking PR. Firstly, the comp isn’t ready to be expanded; clearly, the league can’t schedule any more games. So the mistake sits with premature expansion from 8 to 10 teams before you worry about the patronising decision to limit the games for the next season. But to have such disengagement between Town Hall and the women’s game biggest stars is just such a bad look. The only way to fix it, given they can’t renege on expansion now, is to cop it on the chin and play the extra games and go up against Big Bash and tennis. Even though, as they’d well know, that will only increase the loss they write off each year to run the women’s game – it’s a mile off breaking even but they are too far in now.

12.   Some onfield stuff now? Yes, finally. The Giants first. Even though it was only the Blues, the fact they played with 18 for so long and then even a man or two short onfield and could score so easily was a testament to not just their talent but their fortitude. A lesser side would almost let the Blues win that final term, just shut up shop and get back to Sydney to lick their wounds. But they are that good they got the margin over 100.

13.   If they can get some names back and be reasonably fit come September they would be the ones to trouble the Tigers, even on the ‘G. But it’s their injury list, and the Pies one as well to be fair, that might be the clincher for Richmond going back to back. All three reasonably fully fit would go toe to toe deep in September, but Richmond being the healthiest gives them an almost unassailable advantage.

14.   Port Adelaide can’t score. Pretty handy thing in this game to be able to score more than your opponents and the last month or so they’ve barely managed a good half time score let alone a winning full time one. Big problems there and it’s not an easy run home. Could miss the eight which given their draw post-bye would be unacceptable.

15.   Great to have Nathan Freeman debut on the weekend, Alex Johnson get back after not playing since the War, funny seeing him play without panty hose and a cap, Brodie Smith got back after the tragedy of the knee injury during last year’s finals and Aaron Vandenberg as well, his last game was against Fitzroy so good to see him back out in the red and blue too.

16.   Ben Stratton is the best defender in the game. Locks down on a variety of players as good as any, but also takes the intercepts as well as any too. A less flashy Alex Rance with the intercept prowess close to Jeremy McGovern. Just without the fanfare. The Hawks could go deep and his influence is pivotal.

17.   Still hoping for another Richmond-Clarkson matchup at some stage. Hawthorn are not a top-four side by any stretch but have the best coach most of us have ever seen – after that Round 3 sighter he has had months to plot his plan. He may be a star or two short, but Clarko elevates teams to levels such he might not need it. If he gets his chance at Richmond in September, underestimate his coaching brilliance at your own risk.

18.   Saturday afternoon football, whilst it doesn’t help the broadcaster (see above), has been elite. We’ve had the big game between Richmond and Collingwood followed by an epic last weekend and we’ve got the Hawks and Cats to write another storied chapter this week. Had these three games been the Saturday night timeslot instead I would have needed a different topic for thought number 10.

19.   Alex Di Minaur. Remember him? Teenager, who got hot in the early parts of the summer of tennis eight months back, caused a stir before doing nothing, non-surprisingly, at the Australian Open. However he has had a very decent year since then for his age and that peaked last week when he made the final of the Washington Open losing in straight sets to world no.3 Alexander Zverev. He is now ranked inside the top 50 which for a 19-year-old is a phenomenal achievement. And crucially, where the likes of Kyrgios and Tomic have resembled the brat of Lleyton Hewitt early in his career, Di Minaur already resembles the tenacious fighter of Hewitt in the peak of his career, so the signs are good. Remember the name.

20.   And we finish with the A-League, where the Melbourne Victory had a fair coup this week signing Japanese star Keisuke Honda. Well, he has retired from international football so on the back end of his career very much but still, for the Victory he should be handy. But it seems in the formulation of the deal that Fox Sports has either been a key powerbroker or perhaps even a financial backer to acquire his signature. Given the league tried to recruit Fernando Torres itself before having a club actually committed to even having him, and then possibly allows the broadcaster to play a part in club signing players, perhaps this is the gimmicky tournament Daisy Pearce was talking about. My word…


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