Majak Daw gave us the story of the year whilst coaches and WAGs breached the hub protocols. But with games every night who has time to get bogged down in all that.
1. The Majak comeback story was wonderful. The recovery is both joyous and inspirational. But my favourite part of it all on Saturday was Dermott. The five-time-day, five-time-night was accidentally heroic and broke a glass ceiling. He is a former-footballer of significant repute. He is too a media commentator with a platform. And unlike forever and a day where we say Majak had ‘a fall’, or we cover Shane Tuck’s death as ambiguous but chuck in the Lifeline details at the bottom, or talk about Danny Frawley’s mental health battles yet call his death a “car accident”, Derm called a spade a spade. He spoke openly and with unbridled rawness about how Majak tried to end it all but now has a chance to “reclaim his life”. Derm lost his father and brother to suicide, so could be no more versed in the subject, yet to see a man known for his toughness and masculinity speak so emotionally and honestly about something we don’t talk about or acknowledge enough was nothing short of constructive and immensely healthy to all who were watching.
Riddle me this. Suicide is the biggest killer of men in the country. Promoting strong mental health is all about being open and honest. Talk to someone. Have a conversation. Don’t hide your feelings. So perhaps we need to follow Derm’s example, that when it’s appropriate and respectful, don’t hide or lie or tell half-truths like it’s a taboo secret we can’t talk about. Because how hypocritical is it to withhold what happened to Shane Tuck or Danny Frawley yet expect thousands of struggling people out in the community to do the opposite and no longer withhold how they’re feeling?
2. Eddie McGuire. On one hand you all want him to shut up, probably. Pick the Collingwood presidency or be in the media, not both. Or be stronger on Collingwood when they stuff up. But regardless of your position, he when wearing his media hat does the very best thing by his employers, in offering opinion and commentary and having as much talent for the craft as any in this country. And then as a Pies member, he has been arguably the best thing to ever happen to the club off the field. If people still want to have an issue with his comments or conflicts, easy, pick up the remote and change the channel. Job done. Next.
3. How braindead is the MLB? Unlike the NBA and NHL who realised the only way to play was setting up teams and matches in bubbles, Baseball thought they could rawdog it by just playing in front of empty stadiums. No wonder it took just the first week for the Miami Marlins to rack up dozens of infected players and cause chaos among the league. Dead set who thought the Marlins could play in Florida? Its like if the AFL thought to not send the Victorian teams to Queensland and instead set them up in Broadmeadows where they could train on the back lawn of the Epping Old Folks Home. You can’t make this shit up.
4. Hmm, Mitch Cleary. Journo for AFL.com.au who posted Brooke Cotchin’s name in relation to the Hub breaches and got stood down for all of 24 hours. Media went bananas. “Free Mitch!”. But, as it turns out, it was an editorial decision to not name anyone, for whatever reason, good, bad, indifferent. So I have no issue if he went against the instructions of his seniors, those instructions reasonable or dumb. Damien Barrett’s response this morning, fellow AFL.com.au journo, was that “it was the right decision”, it was an “unfortunate event” but that Cleary was “unaware of an arrangement to not name partners involved”. Very diplomatic.
5. However, the bit that continues to baffle me is how we have a media platform, preaching its independence, working out of the AFL. It’s like if a movie studio employing its own team of critics who could independently review the studio’s films unencumbered. Somewhere it is just going to break down. Or get uncomfortable. I know many other media platforms have other interests, but where I disagree with Barrett who claims everyone’s conflicted, AFL Media is more compromised than most, and that’s the sticking point.
6. Betcha one thing that the AFL will be taking notice of as it seeks to extract every dollar it can in the coming years – primetime football; Seven has loved putting games on in key TV timeslots. There’s a reason why the NBA and NHL are almost exclusively a night time experience and why the biggest games in Europe are now all at night, even mid-week for European shit. That doesn’t mean that we’ll see regular Monday or Wednesday night footy next year, but lock in Thursdays every week, lock in far more Sunday night prime time games and you know what, yep, we’ll have some Monday nights too.
7. And also, don’t forget, if the AFL wants to hit the Grand Final on the 17th of October plan, we’re going to need to continue condensed, footy-bonanza scheduling. This season will have 18 rounds with the byes being inserted, so come the end of what’s currently scheduled we’ll still have 49 games to fixture over 5 weekends. Otherwise the Grand Final needs to be the pushed back another week or two at least.
8. Holding the ball has lost its way. What was initially a wonderful rule, a rule that was the innocent front man singing along with all his brothers about how the alphabet is just as easy as counting, has now turned into a rule that is spending far too much time with Macaulay Culkin and should not be having this many children over for sleep overs. Easy fix, can we work out what the interpretation was for the umpires last season and just revert back? Seemed like we had it working ok just five minutes ago.
9. Past the halfway mark, who do we like for top four? In no order I think Port and Brisbane now end up with the double chance, done too well for too long not to. I also think St Kilda makes it, why not, and then to round it off I think the Giants end up there too. But I wouldn’t be shocked come Prelim finals that one of Richmond or Collingwood feature. Or both.
10. So St Kilda. Why not? Midfield works. Ruck combo working really well. Fowardline is effective, no-one scores better than the Saints, yet the backline looks compact, well-gelled and able. They might be a mid short, but getting Hannebery back eventually might just be the final piece. In reality, how far off the Eagles are the Saints, especially on neutral, Queensland turf? Exactly. Ratten can coach too.
11. Although, we say they’re a mid short, but in reality West Coast won a flag off one superstar in the guts and some good talent around him. Bradley Hill looks sublime in the Saints setup, but someone creeping up on him for relevance, Jack Steele. 15th in the comp for disposals, but 14th in goal assists and second for tackles. Alongside Billings who looks more assured in the middle with every week, a settling Zak Jones, and Gresham and Ross who can now be more role players than the main dudes, this is all coming together nicely. Too soon? Perhaps, but the mix is right.
12. Let’s not be morons about this, West Coast have had two good weeks after being tremendously awful up until then. The Collingwood win was perfect footy, kicking 18.3 against a team who then lost to Fremantle a week later. They then almost lost to a Geelong team missing some key names. I concede right now they may not have a tonne of stiff competition, but currently the Eagles team doesn’t warrant the complete orgy of commendation going round. Won’t make a Prelim.
13. Now Melbourne. Oh dear. This is looking ominous. 2018 continues to present more and more as an outlier so as I’ve said it’s a matter of when not if for Goodwin. Now some are going the early crow and suggesting if it has to happen then you pay him out early and wear it now. Unless it gets really bad I don’t think that’s right. But the Dees have not been good at all this season, the Hawks win was more about Hawthorn shitting the bet, they barely beat Carlton and Petracca beat the Suns by himself. This is a bottom-four team again make no mistake.
14. Worst stat on the Dees right now? They are league leaders for conceding the most uncontested possessions to opponents per game. Worse than Adelaide. So no team gives up easy touches to players on their own than Melbourne. That’s down to effort, or game plan, or both. Either way, that’s coaching.
15. Where’s Collingwood at? On a normal day it’s a tough loss to West Coast two weekends back, but Eagles played so brilliantly it was a mauling. Then, Freo plays its best footy of the year by far and the Pies fell short again. Could easily head down a path of mediocrity and limp into the finals, but have three very winnable games coming up where returning to some sort of form would have them still nicely placed to win finals in two months’ time.
16. Hawthorn, what an interesting case-study. Eulogies for Clarko’s tenure were being prepared at quarter time last week but something clicked and whooshka, maybe they’re good again? Nah they’re not. Just because your boyfriend bought you flowers and made you feel special for 15 mins doesn’t undo the weekend where he came home drunk every night and washed his hands in the toilet and pissed in the sink. Hawthorn in 2020 is your alcoholic boyfriend. Don’t be fooled by his charm when he occasionally sobers up.
17. Port Adelaide let Paddy Ryder go because they got Scott Lycett, who is no Dean Cox but certainly very good. However, Lycett out on the sidelines for five minutes has unearthed Peter Ladhams. Before last night he was averaging 18 touches, 13 hitouts and five clearances over the last three weeks. Then in the win over the Dogs he collects another 18 touches but 32 hitouts as well and a goal. Kid’s a freak, Lycett was playing well beforehand but Hinkley now has a problem.
18. Hmm, does something in European football need to give? Probably, I mean the big five leagues, winners, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Juventus, Bayern and PSG. Sure, Liverpool broke a long drought, but this is the winningest team in English football and won the European Cup six times, hardly a minnow. Juve has now won nine in a row, Bayern eight in a row and Real Madrid or Barca have won the last six La Liga.
19. Stuart Broad an all-time great? Give me a spell. Sure, the things he did to David Warner last Ashes were stuff of legend, but flip the tables, Mitch Johnson was doing that to every Pom a series or two before that. Broad’s good with a Duke in five-degree, cloudy English weather, but comes out here and bowls like he chose the wrong sport. 500 test wickets seems like a lot, it used to be, but if Broad can achieve it then we need to recalibrate our standards.
20. If Hamilton in a Merc can win with three tyres, then F1’s lost me. Sure, great drive, but back in my day, if you only had inflated tyres on 75% of your car, you’re not looking good to finish, let alone win. Last lap, I know. But on a serious note, Danny got an encouraging fourth, and Lando Norris in fifth behind him showed that the McLaren, Danny’s whip next season, is definitely in the mix for podiums on a regular basis.