STUART Bailey can thank the reverse trades button for claiming the $50,000 overall prize in Australia’s biggest fantasy competition.
But his first thanks have to go for his workmates at a Mulgrave printing business, who talked him into signing up in March.
“I wasn’t going to play this year and the guys at work talked me into it for their league,” Bailey said.
“I picked my team probably quicker than I ever have before and I didn’t pay much attention until I hit the No. 1 ranking. I usually just play for my league, I didn’t think I’d ever get that close.”
Bailey, who finished about 20,000th overall last year, made a lot of the same mistakes that thousands of other players fell into.
He started with Aaron Sandilands and Jarrod Witts in the ruck, which proved a key to success in 2017, but his Round 1 team also featured Jaeger O’Meara, David Swallow and Jarryd Roughead.
Crucially, he didn’t hesitate to get rid of them when it became clear they were likely busts.
O’Meara and Roughead were gone after three rounds, replaced by Marc Murphy and Will Hoskin-Elliott.
Swapping Swallow to Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca to Elliott Yeo also proved inspired moves.
But the crucial moment came after Bailey’s team, the Big Kabosh, jumped to No. 1 overall about Round 8.
He had previously paid no attention to the bye rounds but realised he would have only 13 players available in Round 10.
“I had two rounds to start getting players in to get me through the byes and everything snowballed from there.”
Possibly his best — and luckiest — move was to bring in Carlton ruckman Matthew Kreuzer when Sandilands missed his first game through injury in Round 10.
“I was mucking around with trades before I left for a trip to Tasmania that weekend and I actually forgot there was a Thursday night game that week. I went to reverse it but it was already locked in.”
Kreuzer had averaged 98 points to that point and was available for $487,800, just $23,000 more than Sandilands.
He scored 146 points that week and was one of the form players of the second half of the season, finishing with a 110 average.
The planets aligned again when Patrick Dangerfield was suspended for a week in Round 20.
Bailey wanted to upgrade a bench player to Joel Selwood as cover, but fell $4000 short. So he settled for Dayne Beams.
The Brisbane fan then watched Beams fly home with two scores above 130 in his final four games. He also traded Witts to Max Gawn the week the Melbourne big man scored 160.
“That was another lucky move,” he said.
“I was just a bit blessed, I think. I don’t know how it happened.”
Bailey plans to use the $50,000 prize to upgrade his 1994 Toyota Camry and to travel around Europe. But not everything went to script.
“I lost the work league. My highest score of the year was 2580 and someone came out of nowhere and scored 2582 to knock me out in the prelim. The guys at work enjoyed that a lot.”
2017 SUPERCOACH CHAMPION
(wins $50,000 + $5000 for his local footy club)
Stuart Bailey (The Big Kabosh)
Kyle Shepard (Tyrannosaurus Tex)
WINNING SCHOOL ($10,000)
Cobram Secondary College
52,596 The Big Kabosh, Stuart
52,084 Tyrannosaurus Tex, Kyle
51,935 Champ, David
51,930 Aydan, Aydan
51,900 The Mud Crabs, Kyle
WEEKLY TOP SCORES
2724 Tean Aiden, Aiden
2678 The Cash Cows, Lucy
2664 Alpha Canis Major, Dirt
2655 Katecats, Kate
2652 22112, Leigh
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: LANCE FRANKLIN
Franklin was unstoppable against the Blues on his way to a massive 10-goal haul, piling on a round and season-high 183 SuperCoach points. He won 15 of 25 disposals inside the forward 50, gaining a game-high 649m. Franklin finished with 12 scoring shots, two score assists and 16 score involvements — seven more than any other player on the ground.
CHAMPION DATA MARKET WATCH
Dangerfield broke the all-time contested possessions record for a season on his way to 163 SuperCoach points against the Giants. He won 24 of his possessions in a contested manner, also recording nine stoppage first possessions and 10 clearances. Dangerfield also chipped in with one goal.
Merrett finished the season off in style against Fremantle, collecting 135 SuperCoach points. He amassed 31 disposals and hit the scoreboard, booting a career-high four goals. He finished with 24 uncontested possessions, four clearances, four tackles and six inside-50s from 74 per cent game time.
Shaw’s miserable year ended with a season-low 50 SuperCoach points against the Cats, suffering his 15th price fall along the way. He finished with 14 disposals, of which just five were recorded after halftime, hitting the target 67 per cent of the time by foot. Shaw could manage only one contested possession and one tackle for the match.
YOUNG GUN: LUKE RYAN
Ryan reached three figures for the third time this season in the final home-and-away round, helping himself to 105 SuperCoach points against the Bombers. He hit the target with 15 of 17 disposals, finishing with six intercept possessions, seven contested possessions and four tackles from 86 per cent game time.
(Originally appeared in Herald Sun on 30/8/17. Written by Al Paton)
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