Welcome to the Round formerly known as the Easter Long Weekend, which by Royal Decree is now known as ‘Leg One’ of the FESTIVAL OF FOOTY, from now until the 28th of April, with only ONE DAY OF REST BETWEEN THE ROUNDS!
Beejeezus, I’ve gotta do the Tithbits and the Round 6 Preview on the Same Day?
Anyway, Round 5 doesn’t finish until next Monday, so why not take a look at everything 5 days in advance!
Brisbane vs Collingwood @ The Gabba, 7:35pm AEST
Ah, what a callback to the early 2000s, when the Lions and Pies played in front of bumper crowds the Gabba on an Easter Thursday in 2003 and 2004, which, much like the 2002 and ’03 Grand Finals, were both won by the Lions.
Lions for a number of years were the de facto team on Easter Thursday, up until 2012, which included games like when the Scott boys beat up Nick Riewoldt in 2005, and the Fev vs Carlton game in 2010, which was the last time the Gabba had a sellout prior to Thursday if ticket sales are any indication.
The Lions’ loss of the fixture mysteriously coincided with them falling off the arse end of the earth, and being stricken from the prime time slots by the AFL.
The other big side plot is the return of a former Brisbane player who fled to Collingwood, and is sure to receive plenty of boos from the Lions faithful, many of whom are now right back on the bandwagon.
Of course, it’s Nathan Buckley.
And Dayne Beams is also back with his former team to play his former team, although most of the Gabba crowd rediscovered what Australian rules was on March 23rd, so he should escape ‘Perth’ levels of booing.
To quote Big Kev:
North Melbourne vs Essendon @ Marvel Stadium, 4:20pm AEST
One of the many things that Jesus tried teaching humanity was to help the less fortunate, and that’s what the AFL did back in 2017 by giving North Melbourne the Good Friday game.
The only thing that I remember about last year’s Good Friday game was how utterly awful the 1st half was between the Roos and St Kilda- both teams kicked 2.10 to the half in one the greatest displays of bad goalkicking ever seen, the footage of which was accordingly wiped by Channel Seven and the AFL.
Fortunately, North found their kicking boots in the 2nd half and went on to win by 52 points, and it was only fitting that the Saints got crucified on Good Friday, while in the true spirit of the day we all had to suffer through the game like Christ being surrounded by the Romans.
This year, the AFL have picked a slightly bigger and more traditional rival for the Roos than St Kilda, and that’s the team that made sure the Roos didn’t get into the VFL in the 19th century- Essendon.
An image that summed up the Bombers vs Roos from 1999-01.
The precedent of this fierce rivalry is entertaining, free flowing, high scoring shootouts, as we saw time and again during the period from the late ’90s up until Round 16, 2001, and made a comeback in Round 15 of last season (Bombers 125-108), when all this whinging from the league office about low scoring led to them ruining the game even further.
A common theme about those high scoring games is that the Dons won most of them, so that’s probably an omen.
West Coast vs Port Adelaide @ Optus Stadium, 6:10pm AWST (8:10pm)
After deciding to do what the NRL did years ago and branch out to Good Friday Night, the AFL picked the right team to try and get a crowd for this occasion- West Coast at Optus Stadium, right next door to the only licensed venue in the state that’ll be open on Friday. It should be a blast.
If only they had the Good Friday races at Belmont instead of Ascot, then patrons could’ve had a 5 hour warm-up before the game.
Anyway, Port come in off a humiliating loss to Richmond sans the ‘Big 4’ at the AO, although Port seem to love humiliating themselves in the 21st century- 119, the Tarps, pre-game INXS gimmicks, losing to the Gold Coast, and losing after the siren to the Eagles… twice.
Meanwhile, West Coast managed to win yet another ‘Derpy’ against the Dockers in a game that made fans question the point of the existence of the human race.
If that Derby was a Channel Nine broadcast back in 1992, Kerry Packer would’ve been screaming into the phone to “Get that **** off the air!”, and pulled for a re-run of Cheers.
My only disappointment about this latest installment of the Eagles vs Port is that it isn’t at the Adelaide Oval, so we miss out on enjoying the next edition of ‘Eagles Player Kicks Goal After The Siren Against The Power’.
GWS vs Fremantle @ Manuka Oval, 1:45pm AEST
Freo are doing what I did in October 2005, and that’s visit Canberra.
One word: Questacon.
I like how when the Giants play in Canberra, they include an orange silhouette of the Black Mountain Tower on their jumpers.
I’ve always wanted Hawthorn in Launceston to wear a similar jumper, with something well known from the city on the front… like the silhouette of the Boag’s Brewery.
It wouldn’t even be their worst jumper design.
Anyway, the Giants’ win in Sleepy Hollow was made even more impressive by losing their ‘Cement Head’ captain Callan Ward for the year, while Freo could plausibly regain their captain in Nat Fyfe from concussion the week, and has the chance to become the latest Brownlow medalist to be fined for striking his former teammate Matt de Boer.
Sorry, I meant 2016 Peel Thunder premiership hero and Best & Fairest Matt de Boer.
The Giants haven’t lost in Canberra since 2015, including defeating Freo there last year, so to use some famous last words, they’re a safe tip.
Melbourne vs St Kilda @ The MCG, 4:35pm AEST
I’m demanding that in the future, both teams play off for the Carl Ditteritch Headband, in honour of Big Carl, who was reported some 19 times, and managed to miss the Saints’ only flag in 1966 when he clubbed Fitzroy’s
Daryl Peoples in Round 17, and copped a 6-match ban.
Funnily enough, that was the last game at Brunswick Street.
The Blonde Bombshell Headband. It has a ring to it.
Back to 2019, and Melbourne finally got on the board in 2019 against Sydney last Thursday, their first win in Sin City since 2006, and it seemed to be on the back of a few factors: Nathan Jones, Max Gawn dominating the hitouts, massive improvement in the backline, and finally getting results for repeated Inside 50s.
Meanwhile, St Kilda eeked out another close win, this time against Hawthorn, to stay ahead of the ledger (Say, he was a Saints fan too) at 3-1, and as the Hawks were shot down by the wayside, the Saints took an age to finally get ahead in the final quarter and actually win, although in fairness, St Kilda as a club have always found the concept of winning to be difficult.
If an improved Saints weren’t hard enough for the Dees, they’ve got a short turnaround for ANZAC Eve on Wednesday against Richmond, but that’s the price you pay for a marquee game.
The way our tips have all gone this season, you may as well pick the Saints.
Richmond vs Sydney @ Marvel Stadium, 7:25pm AEST
Prior to last weekend, I looked at Richmond’s fixture and assumed they would be a moral lock to start 1-4, while the Swans would be able to eek out a win against the Dees and somehow smuggle their way into the finals, as per usual.
Oh, how the turns have tabled!
Tom Lynch legally changed his name to ‘Tiger Tom’ after banging home 6 goals, Dylan Grimes marked everything in sight in the last quarter, and Shane Edwards is the inspirational leader the Tigers have needed since Roger Dean.
It’s not a coincidence that they’re unbeaten in his time as captain.
As for the Swans, after looking good against Carlton (Key word being Carlton), they led by 22 points in the 2nd term against Melbourne, only to get steamrolled by the Dees’ big men, and their bald man in Nathan Jones.
Buddy looked like a 32-year-old who’s played close enough to 300 games, and other than that they looked lethargic, which is the sort of performance that has defined the Swans since the middle of last season.
Kieren Jack, son of Garry, plays his 250th game for the Swans, and it comes at a time where the team’s performance is on par with Kieren’s relationship with his parents.
This is the Swans’ 3rd game at Marvel in 5 Rounds, and this will be the game where we all find out if their season is as smoked as a ham on Christmas.
Western Bulldogs vs Carlton @ Marvel Stadium, 1:10pm AEST
The Doggies were right in it against Collingwood on Friday night, but tailed away (Is that a pun?) in the last quarter, in a forgettable game in which the only highlight was Hayden Crozier putting up a contender for mark of the year, followed by him stuffing up his kick to Easton Wood in the centre square.
In a similar manner, the Bluebaggers looked set to finally win a game last Sunday against the Suns, only for Mitch McGovern to realise that defenders should hang around the goal line in the dying seconds, shortly after Jack Bowes snapped a goal that sailed over his head and rolled through for a goal with 10 seconds left.
No.1 pick Sam Walsh finally got his Rising Star nomination after 4 big performances, although the fact that he immediately looks like Carlton’s second-best performed player behind Crippa probably indicates why the Blues haven’t climbed over the ‘Won a game’ hump yet.
Brendan Bolton’s last 33 games as Carlton coach: 3 wins, 30 losses.
Mark Neeld’s 33 games at Melbourne: 5 wins, 28 losses.
If Bolts wanted to protect his legacy, he should’ve retired from coaching after his perfect 5/5 at Hawthorn in 2014.
All I can say about this game is… enjoy the Easter Egg hunt.
Adelaide vs Gold Coast @ The Adelaide Oval, 4:10pm ACST (4:40pm)
The Crows will be needing a new nickname after the fans burn down West Lakes in a few weeks, and they should go no further than that Snickers commercial from the 90s.
Eddie Betts celebrates his 300th game, and he’s going into the game in top form, like most of the Crows forwards, with a mere 6 goals in 4 games, which is probably a nice reflection of the cliff the Crows have fallen off since the 2017 Grand Final.
Last season, the ‘Cows’ allowed The Manson Family to run their pre-season camp, had to give a mid-season press conference on what happened during said camp, were smashed by injuries during the season…
Which is still better than where they’re at now.
Meanwhile, the Suns are all aboard with the rebuilding power of ‘Dewdaism’, with their 4 games decided by a grand total of 11 points, which is some kind of league record, and thanks to Jack Bowes, they’re 3-1 and potentially one more crazy win from the Top 4.
They Suns are like Hawthorn in 2016 in how they find ways to win, and they’re a tad more likeable than the Hawks were.
I hope the Suns do win again, because lord knows how utterly vitriolic the reaction in the City of Churches could be.
All I know is, it’s been a bad week for Churches burning down.
Hawthorn vs Geelong @ The MCG, 3:20pm AEST
I see and hear people go on about how these Hawks-Cats Easter Monday games are great spectacles every damn year.
BULLCRAP- THEY NEARLY KILL ME EVERY DAMN YEAR, YOU PEOPLE HAVE NO IDEA OF THE PAIN EASTER MONDAY GAMES CAN CAUSE.
The Hawks have only won this Easter Monday clash twice in the 9 years it’s been going- 2015, and last year, by a point.
It’s fair to say Geelong have dominated Easter Monday, and it’s probably because their attitude towards the Hawks since 2008 is akin to Gollum after Bilbo stole the ring from his cave.
And while ‘Jaeger’ is back, when you look at the outs for the Hawks, the first thought is that Pussies will probably win again, and probably by a monster margin.
Captain Ben Stratton is concussed and won’t be able to DJ in Fitzroy this weekend, James Frawley out with a hamstring, Liam Shiels and Shaun Burgoyne are still hamstrung, Mitchell not there…
If Hawthorn manage to not lose by at least 12 goals, Jeff Kennett should give the entire team medals for courage.
St Kilda did that once in 1933, after they won a game against North Melbourne with 15 fit players.