I decided this season that I would try and keep these reviews reasonably relevant to football and Supercoach. I’ll admit I was worried I would be unable to find something to write about most weeks but I needn’t have worried.
Clearly the inmates are running the asylum at AFL House!
There have been so many weeks where the AFL’s management of the competition has dominated the headlines, mostly due to the discussion of new rules, the changing interpretation of old rules and irregular tribunal decisions. The actual football, which should be the highlight of the AFL, has taken a back seat to the governance. Which is both sad and wrong!
The argument most people have for the AFL’s meddling is the poor quality of the football. “Football is broken!” the media screams in bold headlines causing the overly reactive AFL power-brokers to attempt to spruce up the aesthetics of our game.
And does this actually improve anything?
Was there really a problem in the first place?
Here are three questions that the AFL needs to answer before meddling:
- Are crowds and TV viewership down compared with the “Good ole’ days” (somewhere between 1920 and 2000, depending on who you ask).
- During these Golden Eras of football, were there one sided results between the best and worst teams?
- Will rule changes definitely improve the aesthetics and crowd attendance of matches?
From my limited perspective, the answers appear to be:
- TV viewership is pretty high and crowd attendance as an average is as good as it has ever been. The worst attendance numbers generally involve the Gold Coast and GWS Giants games which were the result of AFL meddling to grow the game in NRL strongholds. So, this is not really an issue.
- For me as a Hawks’ member, the 1980s were the “Golden Era” of football because the Hawks were sublime and there were personalities (and mullets) in the game. However, teams were still getting flogged. Essendon and Hawthorn dominated the decade with brief cameos from other clubs. Just have a look at the St Kilda results for the decade and you’ll enjoy some pretty bleak reading! Yet everyone speaks of how level and beautiful the competition was back then. All we are doing is blocking out the dud games, probably because we didn’t watch them, and remembering the iconic matches like the 1989 Grand Final. For some reason the media want every match to be watchable even though most football viewers only want to watch their team and perhaps the blockbuster match for the round. Even in the 1980s, nobody wanted to watch the cellar dwellers play, so why would we want to watch them play now?
- Has the exclusion zone improved the flow of the game? Has the 30 second shot clock improved the look of the game? Has the third man up rule improved anything? Not at all! The impact has been minimal or even detrimental. Just look at the Cats versus Demons match on Saturday!
So will zoning improve the look of the game?
That is a tough question and one that requires a huge amount of simulation and trial before implementation. With little thought, I can come up with many problems with zoning but I can also see benefits. The simple fact remains: We need to see it in practice to know for sure if it is a good or bad thing and Hocking does too!
SUPERCOACH STUDS AND DUDS
Just to reiterate my point about the quality of footy in the 1980s and 1990s, I have added a few old scores to highlight my point. Low scores and big margins were common in the 1980s!
RICHMOND 16.15 (111) def ST KILDA 8.9 (57)
Round 9, 1984: RICHMOND 24.8 (152) def ST KILDA 12.16 (88).
Richmond defeated St Kilda at the MCG. At the time Richmond were 5th on the ladder and St Kilda 10th and both teams missing the top 5 for the season.
Dustin Martin (Ric) 139 – You know a team is ready to go back-to-back when their best players haven’t bothered to turn up for half the season yet they still sit on top of the ladder. Dusty is just warming up now with finals around the corner, finding plenty of the contested ball in the last few weeks. This week he won the most contested possessions on the ground with 13 from a total of 30 possessions and he kicked a goal. Now if he could just stop committing 6 clangers and record more than 1 tackle and he’ll record a massive score.
Jack Steven (StK) 52 – He kicked a brilliant goal from mid-air and that was about all he did well. With 23 disposals but just 6 contested possessions and 8 clangers, Steven had a match to forget. I guess that is in keeping with the Saints who are having a season they will want to forget as soon as Mad Monday arrives (if not before)!
THE NEXT STEP
Jayden Short (Col) 114 – If you are a Supercoach who knows how to how to play the game, you will be watching for these youngsters who are stepping up late in the season. They are highly likely to continue this form in 2019 and become the next generation of premiums in our teams. Short is a prime defensive candidate. Since moving to defence he has been on fire, finding plenty of the ball and using it well. This week he gathered 26 possessions, 6 marks and 8 inside 50s and only committed 1 clanger. Watch this space!
COLLINGWOOD 20.10 (130) def NORTH MELBOURNE 9.10 (64)
Round 12, 1985: NORTH MELBOURNE 14.17 (101) def COLLINGWOOD 9.10 (64).
North defeated the Pies at Pie Park (Victoria Park) despite Collingwood giving them a hiding at the MCG in Round 1. North went on to scrape into the finals in 5th place while the Pies finished 7th and missed out.
Jordan De Goey (Col) 147 – Playing a predominantly forward role, De Goey is a bit inconsistent but his quality is undeniable. He only managed the 19 touches this week but with 4 goals, 6 tackles and not a single clanger, De Goey was clearly best on ground. As long as he stays out of trouble, the Pies will be ecstatic De Goey re-signed with them.
Jack Crisp (Col) 64 – The Full Packet was the talk of the town during the week after a long run of solid form and naturally he had a down week. Crisp was barely sighted with just 11 possessions but at least he got good value for his possessions as he did not commit a single clanger. The only concern is whether Sam Murray returning to the team has affected his scoring or if this was just a poor week.
THE NEXT STEP
Jed Anderson (Nor) 86 – Anderson is similar to Shaun Higgins in that he has talent but injuries continue to strike him down. This season he has managed 15 games for 10 scores over 80 and a high of 113 SC points and he seems to be spending plenty of time around the ball. If he can remain fit, expect him to push his average above 90ppg although De Goey would be my preference as a break-out contender for 2019.
GOLD COAST 12.16 (88) def SYDNEY 8.16 (64)
Rd 2, 1989: BRISBANE 19.23 (137) def SYDNEY 9.10 (64)
Brisbane enjoyed their second ever win against the Swans, this one at Carrara ahead of 12,000 people, in a direct reversal of their first meeting with the Swans in Round 11, 1987 when they lost 137-64. Unfortunately they fell away over the season and finished second last… ahead of the Tigers!
Aaron Young (GC) 128 – Here is our weekly Perfect 9 long shot! In the first two matches of the round many coaches would have selected Martin and De Goey but you deserve a prize if you selected Young. You also deserve a prize if you tipped the Suns! In this low scoring affair, Young deserves his top SC score as he kicked 4 goals, grabbed 2 contested marks and assisted with another goal. And he costs less than $1,000,000 per season!
Lance Franklin (Syd) 61 – Buddy was held goalless by Rory Thompson and was barely sighted after quarter time. Many of us had this match ear-marked as a ‘soft spot’ where Buddy would kick a bag but sadly his bags have dried up this season. At least he costs less than $1,000,000 per season! Wait a second…
THE NEXT STEP
Touk Miller (GC) 113 – Miller is doing some run-with roles this season but has still managed 6 tonnes in his last 10 matches. Against one of the better midfields around he racked up 25 possessions, 5 tackles and 1 goal. And if he doesn’t take the next step, watch Aliir Aliir who was one of the few Swans who appeared competent for 4 quarters on Saturday.
ESSENDON 13.21 (99) def FREMANTLE 11.4 (70)
Rd 13, 1989: ESSENDON 3.10 (28) def FOOTSCRAY 3.5 (23)
Who said there were no low scoring games in the 80s? Ahead of 13,000 fans at Windy Hill, the Bombers held off the Dogs as Michael Werner starred with 2 goals from 6 possessions! Quality footy! Windy Hill was well named!
Orazio Fantasia (Ess) 133 – The man with the sexy name slotted 5 goals, gathered 19 possessions and grabbed 9 marks in a best on ground performance, made all the more important by McKernan’s early hamstring injury. You get the impression that he needs to stay fit if the Bombers are any chance of featuring in the finals.
Michael Hurley (Ess) 76 – Hurley started like a house-on-fire and rumours that he was back in form appeared accurate, but he faded badly. He used the ball well but only recorded 17 possessions, mostly uncontested and took a surprisingly low 4 marks, none of them contested. Perhaps we should look elsewhere for our D6?
THE NEXT STEP
? – You know what? I can’t find a player who statistically looks ready to step up. McGrath and Parish are still very inconsistent and Cerra looks to have a fantasy-friendly ceiling but is still young. Pass! Tell me if I’m wrong Bombers and Freo fans!
ADELAIDE 13.15 (98) def BRISBANE 13.10 (88)
Round 14, 1991: ADELAIDE 23.18 (156) def BRISBANE 13.12 (90)
In their first ever meeting, the Crows gave the poor old Bears a hiding at Football Park. The Crows were competitive all season but fell short of playing finals while the Bears finished dead last behind Fitzroy.
Hugh Greenwood (Ade) 133 – Greenwood played the complete game, gathering 17 possessions and not committing a single clanger despite 14 of those being contested. He also grabbed 3 contested marks, placed 4 tackles and kicked 4 goals.
Mitch Robinson (Bri) 34 – After such a great game last week, Robbo just didn’t get near it on Saturday night. At his home ground, he gathered just 11 possessions at 45% DE and 4 tackles. That means he had more effective tackles than he did effective possessions! Considering how important he is to his team, it is amazing Brisbane got so close to a win!
THE NEXT STEP
Alex Witherden (Bri) 131 – He has scored a little inconsistently this season, throwing up 4 scores under 70, but he has also scored over 90 points on 8 occasions and has just recorded his highest score for the season. With the Lions on the rise, Witherden will find his way into many teams in 2019 and possibly a Rising Star award this season.
GEELONG 16.4 (100) def MELBOURNE 14.14 (98)
Round 12, 1989: GEELONG 13.11 (89) def MELBOURNE 2.8 (20)
The Cats smashed the Dees at the MCG, surprising considering the Cats finished the regular season 3rd and the Dees 4th. Sadly for the Dees, the Cats smashed them again in the semi-final!
Tom Hawkins (Gee) 140 – In 2011 I thought Hawkins was going to prove an unstoppable force but he has turned into more of a farce. He is a huge unit and he should be ripping games apart but he goes missing for months at a time. In a nice change for Geelong fans this week, Hawkins turned back the clock to 2011 with 7 goals straight, 2 goal assists and 4 contested marks and practically won this match off his own boot. Well done, Dees, for playing Hawkins back into some form!
Jesse Hogan (Mel) 72 – While Hawkins starred, Hogan was disappointing and has been for a few weeks now. He has not recorded back-to-back tonnes since Rounds 10-11 and has recorded 4 scores under 90 in the last 6 weeks. With the Dees facing a relatively tough run home, you wonder if Hogan should be little more than bench cover for the Supercoach finals?
THE NEXT STEP
Clayton Oliver (Mel) 127 – Yes, I know, this is not a ground-breaking selection! We all know he’s a proven premium midfielder, but I think Oliver could take the next step to be the uber premium at the top of the midfield pool in 2019. I’m talking 120-130ppg, folks. He is starting to kick goals and he rarely records a bad SC score and yet he doesn’t even play all four quarters on a consistent basis. He has now scored over 120 SC points on 10 occasions this season and, barring injury, he’s starting in Thommo’s Tribe in 2019.
HAWTHORN 18.16 (124) def CARLTON 7.10 (52)
Round 10, 1985: HAWTHORN 22.15 (147) def CARLTON 9.14 (68)
In front of 25,394 people at Princes Park the Hawks gave the Blues a lesson in football on their way to the 1985 Grand Final… where the Bombers absolutely hammered them!
Tom Mitchell (Haw) 192 – Another 46 possies, 6 clearances, 9 marks, 9 tackles, 2 goals and even a contested mark. Which begs the question: Did any of his possessions mean anything? Because surely anyone can rack up 40+ possessions every other week!
Ed Curnow (Car) 89 – Mr Ed is doing ok but his form has well and truly dropped from the heights of the first half of the season. In fact, his SC scoring has suffered ever since he maliciously touched an umpire, although this ho-hum score may have more to do with tagging Isaac Smith on Sunday.
THE NEXT STEP
James Worpel (Haw) 110 – He hasn’t appeared at AFL level since Rd 9 but he appears to have a decent SC game, especially seen with his ball-winning ability at VFL level. There is room in the Hawks’ midfield but his price could rise too much if he has many more big games like this (32 possessions at 87% DE) before season’s end.
WEST COAST 14.16 (100) def WESTERN BULLDOGS 6.10 (46)
Round 3, 1990: WEST COAST 18.14 (122) def FOOTSCRAY 7.17 (59)
After their inception in 1987, the Eagles became very good very quickly and had little trouble accounting for the Dogs at the Kennel (Western Oval) in front of 14,842.
Elliot Yeo (WC) 128 – A regulation 28 possessions for the man who has finally discovered consistency. He has amazingly recorded just 2 scores under 90 points for the entire season, unheard of stats for the human yo-yo (don’t mention the 27!). The only sad fact is that Yeo may well lose his DPP status next season and become a pure midfielder.
Jackson Macrae (WB) 74 – After Macrae returned from injury last week and immediately pumped out 131 points, a few coaches got excited and captained him this week. Bad idea! He was tagged by the Eagles (who successfully shut down the Pies’ midfield last week) and held to 22 possessions and 5 clangers. Now he’ll be even cheaper in 2 weeks!
THE NEXT STEP
Hayden Crozier (WB) 95 – He started the season like a dead-set disaster area, averaging 47ppg in his first 6 matches, but Crozier has finally found his feet. This week he gathered 29 mostly uncontested possessions and committed just 2 clangers. He has now averaged 98ppg in his last 6 marches and looks to have found himself a handy role floating across half-back.
GWS 11.14 (80) def PORT ADELAIDE 8.10 (58)
Round 1, 1997: COLLINGWOOD 26.10 (166) def PORT ADELAIDE 13.9 (87)
After the sad culling of Fitzroy after 1996, Port joined the league in 1997. While they were trounced by the Pies at the MCG in front of 51,883, Port were remarkably competitive, only missing out on finals on percentage.
Stephen Coniglio (GWS) 143 – As an owner, Coniglio has been very frustrating of late as he has consistently racked up healthy possession counts yet scored poorly due to disposal errors. This week he sorted out his sh#t and recorded 25 possessions, 8 clearances, 8 tackles, 1 goal and just 1 clanger. Fingers crossed he can play like this during the SC finals.
Tom Rockliff (Por) 66 – Ah, the trials and tribulations of the Rockliff owners! This week he gathered 20 disposals and 11 tackles which gave him a Fantasy score of 106 points but a SC score of just 66 due to 5 clangers and a 55% DE. So who’s picking him up next season… or ever again?
THE NEXT STEP
Tim Taranto (GWS) 98 – Taranto’s scores have fluctuated this season, mostly as a result of his role. When midfielders like Kelly have been out injured he has scored well through the midfield but when all the mainstays are playing he is pushed into lesser roles. But that should change as Taranto enters his third year. His quality is undoubted and he will explode much like Kelly did when he is given the opportunity.
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