FAR too many assumed we’d be having the biggest grand final in over 30 years this time last week.
Half-time Friday night we all thought we’d got it wrong but alas regular programming prevailed and they then expected Saturday to be the breezier of the two prelims .
Now we have third playing sixth in a Grand Final no-one saw pre-season, mid-season, to start the finals or even last week when it was a one in four chance.
Expect the unexpected they say. And they are usually right on that.
- Tigers just win, by five goals plus. As soon as that siren went Saturday, and thousands of male Collingwood supporters suddenly sprouted innies, thousands of Richmond fans grew really firmly in the trouser knowing it was only the expansion kids ahead of them next week now. Giants have won two games by under a kick in the dying minutes, once lucky, twice you’re kidding yourself, three times though, yeah nah.
2. Actually, lets knock out some Brownlow before getting back to the on field. Interesting year, probably the greatest field of live chances going in for some time. So much analysis available these days that someone out there will get it right but about a dozen others, whilst looking super schmick with their spreadsheets and formulas, will be way off. This column has no idea although liked Fyfe for a while. Gets 2 or 3 votes in each Dockers win. Nice platform.
3. Otherwise, three randoms to watch – Boak, Yeo and Treloar, could easily podium. And a real smokey from the clouds? James Worpel. One for the exotics.
4. Back to on field, let’s go back to Friday. Cats missed a Scott Selwood type in the midfield. Getting ahead was one thing, and they did that well to their credit. But when it got tough in the second half, when the Tigs were coming, they lacked grunt and determination like the Giants showed in the final term Saturday, to get the job done. And to be honest its plagued them since the bye too. Can look flashy, can score, but when it needs to get ugly for 15-20 mins, think back to the first half of the first final too, no dice. Kinda like when its past 2am on a Bucks night, usually phantom, usually pass out, usually Ryan Babel.
5. Alrighty, Saturday. Yikes. Wet weather clearly didn’t favour the Pies. No excuse but it mattered. Why? Well would you like to know who trained in a down pour midweek? The Giants, in their main session. Probably the best training session in that football history given the conditions that eventuated.
6. So – and thanks to Rohan Connolly for this, who I’m shamelessly stealing from – between 2008 and 2015 only one Qualifying Final winner of 18 lost a prelim final. The last four years where we’ve had a pre-Finals bye, it’s a 4-4 record. Look at the Pies, didn’t turn up until three quarter time, the Tigers at least turned up after half time. Plus last year, the Pies had no right in their matchup with the Tiges and jumped them something shocking in that first half. Might be something to it. Might not be wrong, but there’s something to it.
7. If you look at the Pies, Tigers and Giants, on balance this all looks about right. Richmond since 2017 probably deserve at least one flag and a go this weekend at a second. The Giants these last four years probably deserve a Grand Final appearance for their body of work. And Collingwood these last 18 months, a toss of the coin Grand Final result probably sits about right for them too.
8. Difference between Richmond and Collingwood? One covered their injuries a lot better and was better set up for the pointy end as a result. Injuries aren’t the reason the Pies lost Saturday or that they would have been underdogs to Richmond had they won, but it’s the reason Richmond has a better list and is likely to win a second flag in three. Case in point – Richmond’s reserves win the Grand Final a week before their Seniors probably win as well, the Collingwood reserves didn’t even make the VFL Finals.
9. Bucks getting questioned a bit in the media, ‘oh, that’s 22 years now without a flag, ho hum indeed’. Relax. On that basis we should give Bob Skilton a call, interrupt his midday movie to let him know despite his three Brownlows and everything else he means to South, his Hall of Fame Legend status is getting revoked coz he never won a flag. And that his spot will be taken by Tom Barrass instead, because he has actually won one. That Buckley hasn’t got a flag isn’t news, it might be factual but its not a story. The idea that obviously would clearly yearn for one is also factual, but not a story. Please be serious.
10. Matt De Boer was excellent on Saturday but then again the Collingwood mids weren’t requiring a tag to be kept quiet. Does he got to Dusty and try and ruffle him again like he successfully achieved last time in Sydney? Won’t matter, Martin goes forward and kicks four on him in that case. Whether Martin gets shut down in the midfield by De Boer or not won’t prevent a Tigers’ flag anyway, lets not bother about that discussion all week.
11. Norm Smith tip – no Tiger is in better nick than Shane Edwards, otherwise Bachar Houli for a little value with you preferred corporate bookmaker. But Titch onball will be as dangerous for Leon Cameron as nailing your Tinder date in Bali. You better put a clamp on that otherwise you’re in big trouble.
12. Marlion Pickett was BOG in the VFL GF yesterday. We know that the Tigs have held over Jack Ross and Kamdyn McIntosh in lieu of the incredibly-stiff Jack Graham being doubtful to get up for Saturday. But back on May 28th we said this lad, who was playing for South Fremantle four months ago “would be best 22 by year’s end”. We’ve left it late but whilst McIntosh might be the safer play, Dimma will go very close to debuting the Western-Australian in the hope his mercurial style might just be perfect for an occasion like Saturday. If he’s picked, remember where you heard it first. Or read it first, even.
13. Presume Kevin Sheedy is on standby to present the cup to Phil Davis and Leon Cameron should the Giants salute, the link to Richmond notwithstanding. The GWS best and fairest is the Kevin Sheedy medal, and unless you’re looking to Chad Cornes or Izzy Folau it has to be Sheeds. On the Tigers side, I think about Dale Weightman, otherwise Matty Knights or even Chris Newman if you want to go more recent.
14. So yes, Richmond has been the pick for a while and it remains the pick. They are beatable though. Last four games their opponents all had strong chances they didn’t take. Eagles down here, in the wet, stuffed it and lost by a kick. Brisbane the week after got spooked but did a lot right but too late. First final, Brissy again, they kick straight they’re in it up to their eyeballs and then Geelong was leading by 21 points at half time, kick straighter its over five goals and the Tigs are staring down a repeat of last year. They’re not invincible, but it was only ever going to be a hot Essendon or hot Collingwood who stood a chance this finals series. Yet the Bombers lasted as long in September as Saturday Night Rove and then the Pies made a mess of it like The Veronicas on a Qantas flight.
15. This column gets it right far more often than most and has banged on about the Clarkson-assistants theory for some time. This week’s Grand Final coaches, both ex-Hawthorn assistants. It will mean that after this weekend the last seven premierships will have been coached by Al Clarkson or one of his ex-assistants. Incredible. By this column, that is.
16. More people in Sydney watched the Giants on free to air Saturday afternoon than people in Melbourne watched the Storm on free to air that night. What do we make of that?
I love Victorian footy as much as the next Ted Whitten. This column still lapses occasionally and refers to Fitzroy instead of Brisbane, and it’s only been 20+ years. And whilst this column’s position on the Gold Coast experiment is well documented, the idea of a team in Western Sydney has always made sense to me. The population out there alone is more than Perth, Adelaide and Geelong combined.
So to see GWS successful, largely on their own merit now (Gold Coast with the same concessions stuffed it, and you didn’t see Toby Greene playing on Saturday did we), is a good thing for the comp. Leave Gold Coast and Tassie aside, mind you.
17. Speaking of Victorian footy, can we just kick the AFL reserves team out of the VFL into a legit reserves comp, and let Williamstown and Port Melbourne and Werribee actualy duke it out for a proper VFL title? Williamstown are long-storied VFA club who were looking for their 15th flag in 155 years of history. They lost to a team who sat out two of their players because they might be needed this coming weekend in a different comp. Don’t like it. Split the AFL reserves from the VFL. And the SANFL…
18. Great to see Glenelg, another historic club in this country, win its first flag in 33 years. And yes they were playing Port Adelaide, their biggest rival, but half the opposition Sunday were Port Adelaide’s reserves, not SANFL players, so it’s a similar story. Great for the Bays to get up, but let the SANFL Magpies be just that, and then Port and the Crows can have separate reserves teams playing reserves footy.
19. Speaking of Williamstown, feel for Willie Wheeler. Just a knockabout VFL footballer who had the win on his boot twice in the last term, so to lose by under a kick is devastating.
20. Still not bothered by trade chatter. It’s all glorified brainstorming and suggestion permeating from the Herald Sun lunch room. When something remotely close to an actual story emerges I’ll get interested. Until then I’ll pass on Ralphy and Sammy and Jay-Z getting far too eggplant about what boils down to guesswork or stuff they dreamt about the night before when their partner slept at her friend’s house once again.