NO-ONE likes waiting around 

Here we are, after a cracking crescendo to the end of the home and away season, where permutations and calculations saw an enthralling final eight set, and now we’ve got a week off.

The end of season bye came in not just because the AFLPA wanted more rest in-season for its union, but too the AFL saw an integrity issue with the final round and stars being rested.

Yet last Friday Essendon rested some of their players still, and from all appearances, with no disrespect to Hawthorn, West Coast rested all their team too, so what’s the point Gil?

Ah well, get in the garden, Father’s Day as well, it’ll be Thursday night in Perth before you know it. We hope.

1. Bit of a mixed bag this week, no footy for the last weekend in August, we’re a bit lost, but let’s start with West Coast. Last three games against good teams they’ve lost now. And two of those games were at home, the narrow loss to a then spluttering Collingwood and then one out of the box to a Hawthorn team who finished ninth. Not the kind of form you’d want in attempting to defend your title, especially when it now requires four wins to do it.

2. So some still pick West Coast to go all the way, based on what we know about their best footy. But we must realise it’s less about the talent and some about the path there. To win the whole thing, weeks two through four would mean either three wins in Melbourne against Geelong or Collingwood, then Richmond, then Geelong or Collingwood, or, week three might be in Brisbane followed up by Richmond the week after. For a team that served that up against the Hawks, when top four was on the line, they ain’t doing any of that.

3. Brisbane has a tough assignment too. One point win over Geelong at home and then Richmond was always comfy despite the stats and the margin. So first week is no gimme, but do that they’d earn a home prelim against Geelong or Collingwood, maybe West Coast, before copping Richmond at the MCG again most likely. Somewhat plausible but I don’t see three wins in them. If they lose first week they’re done and dusted, especially if the Tigers can beat them up there, they’d be cactus if they come down and play them again, or a hot Cats or Pies, down here.

4. Just a random one, you know you’re talking to a Victorian, South Australian or Western Australian when they speak about the speed of the wind prevailing in a measurement of goals. “Hey, go put some washing on, it’s about a four-goal breeze out there”. Love it.

5. The Pies looked really nice against the Crows, but it was the Crows and we’ll get to them. Aside from that, awful when it mattered against the Giants, not on the Tigers’ level and the Bombers win was unconvincing. If you back them in it’s on potential but the evidence on form is still a massive question mark.

6. Mind you, overall, the Maggies are 7-4 against fellow top eight teams, which ranks first, the Cats are 5-3, Tigers are 5-4. Both the Eagles and Lions are only 4-4.

7. I know this might not be the best version of the Giants we’ve seen the last four or so years, but geez they’ve been stiff. Could argue in 2017 and 2018 they were the second best team in it, only narrowly beaten by the eventual premier in the prelim. Too, they lost Cal Ward in the Dogs prelim early and Dylan Shiel in the Tigers prelim as well, so bit of sliding doors then who knows? Last year, narrow loss to the Pies in a semi-final. So in reality, whilst Cameron cops it for his record, the GWS really have been mighty close.

8. Gee Chris Scott keeps banging on about venues. Let’s be clear. Last five years Geelong has had 11 home games at the MCG, outside of finals. You’d think going by his rhetoric they’re an 11-home games a year team down the highway. If it’s good to host home games there during the year, I don’t think you can labour the specific.

9. Further, oh, it’s the Pies home ground, well yes that’s true. But in terms of home ground advantage, 100% of Geelong home games at GHMBA are home games, they are its only tenant, whereas only 57% of Collingwood home games at the MCG are true home games, the other 43% are against fellow-MCG tenants, neutral games in essence. For Victorian teams, there’s hardly any home ground these days anywhere, no advantage to be captured during the home and away, unless you’re Geelong of course.

10. Don Pyke might be in the gun. Two schools of thought. First, it’s not yet two years since they played in a Grand Final. Furthermore, he has two years to run on a contract. But. Second school of thought, which I starting to subscribe to, is that despite all of that in his favour, has he ever regained the players properly since the 2018 pre-season? Have they looked any good since the 2017 granny? Think about the last two weeks, with finals implications on the line, they’ve looked putrid. The last Showdown is telling too, Port hammered them by ten goals no less. We may let him go into 2020 but then see more of the same and the decision makes itself. So if that looms, might as well act now and get the restart that playing group obviously needs.

11. And also, Adelaide, by far the oldest list in the comp as well, so when you’re finishing 11th with that hanging over your head, lots needs to happen. Lots.

12. If the Suns get handed pick two as a concession that’s a farce. It would firstly not be an objective reaction to assessing their situation, but secondly it would be not only incredibly overs for a club that doesn’t deserve, nor do well with drafting and development of players anyway, but it would be a contrived result based on a specific regards the upcoming draft pool. The top two standouts this year are two best mates from Melbourne, Noah Anderson and Matty Rowell. Both go to school at Carey, both in the Oakleigh Chargers program, both elite midfielders with different skillsets that as a package deal, as best mates, look immense. So for the AFL to deliberately land, potentially, on a concession to hand them pick 2, so they can grab both boys in the hope they are more likely to stay up there because they’re with each other, just stinks. Would hate it.

13. Speaking of the Suns, they say they got over 7,000 to the Suns-Giants game on the weekend. No chance. No more than 3,000 paying attended, tops, with a couple thousand freebies chucked in for good measure. Poor Stuey Dew, will likely be 1-10 or 2-9 by the bye next year, and we’ll still have no strong answer to the question ‘is he a good coach?’ or not. For all we know he is Van Gogh without any access to paint.

14. Steve Coniglio re-signs for seven years. That wouldn’t happen at the Suns. If he was on the Gold Coast he could be lured elsewhere for a can of Sprite and a Curly Wurly. But taken unders to stay in Sydney, speaks volumes of getting that franchise right, and embedded. Big difference to the Gold Coast where Jack Martin was so eager to tell the club he was leaving he almost told the runner Saturday night.

15. And with all this trade stuff heating up, my Lord, how many numpties now throw darts at anything or have five bucks each way on every horse in the race, then letting us all know about it when a couple of the tickets in their pocket are winning ones? Its bad journalism. You know what we should demand in footy media? You know what proper trade-breaking, player movement coverage looks like? One word. “Woj”.

16. Like this one – a leading psychologist (as opposed to those back of the peloton, off the street psychologists that are never quoted) has said that “not keeping score in junior sport is part of the ‘wuss-fication’ of an entire generation, with young kids not learning how to be resilient”. Knock me down with a feather, halle-bloody-lujah!

17. All-Australian tonight, my team will be somewhere, but also the Rising Star is soon as well. Could google when it is but I’m not bothered, and we know Sam Walsh just wins, will be a gem for that club. My 5-4-3-2-1 if I was voting, if I’m honest: 5-Connor Rozee, 4-Sam Walsh, 3-Sydney Stack, 2-Cameron Zurhaar, 1-Mitchell Lewis. No judge will do anything like that, but that doesn’t make them right. I think Walsh is a gun but I just think Rozee is a special, special talent Victorians don’t appreciate enough. Zurhaar is a beast and helped win North two or three games by himself, and Lewis is the Hawks’ Roughy replacement, as a 20-year-old – yeah I’d be happy with that.

18. Why are we naming an All-Australian squad of 40 the week of the final 22 being announced? Makes no sense at all. Why stop there? Why not name a 60-man shortlist then, last week? A top 100 after Round 16. Or, maybe after each Round, Hunger Games-style, tell us five blokes definitely not making the All-Australian. Or, maybe just maybe, we don’t worry about all of that and just tell us the team on the night? Don’t know. Maybe too radical.

19. Legends game this Friday night, and its AFLX which caused a massive stink. Hate to say it though, it might, might, actually be better. Think about it, all AFLX really is, is on a smaller ground, doesn’t need tackling and the ball moves around quicker. Sounds like the perfect ingredients for older blokes who aren’t keen on amassing big GPS numbers on a standard-sized oval. Don’t like AFLX at all for normal players, but for the legends, made for TV, for charity, I think it maybe works out for the best?

20. In this bye week I’m allowed – want to give a shout out to Roy Laird. Who? Last weekend he coached his 357th and final game for Central District in the SANFL after 17 seasons. He coached the Doggies to seven premierships and two runners up, the only success for Centrals in their history, won 22 of the 30 finals he coached and finishes with a 66% winning record. Freak. It’s been too long to get Centrals into this column so this week, we say well done and good luck to one of the greatest coaches the SANFL, and footy in general, has seen.


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