AFL

JT’s Meaningless Preview: The AFL, Round 22

One of the many legendary Polly Farmer stories- Handballing through a half-rolled car window (Photo: Bob Buchanan)
(Twitter: Russell Jackson)

It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable ‘Crap on Essendon’ week, but at the same time, it’s been a rough week for WA ruckmen.

First, Aaron Sandilands retires, and then 24 hours later, we lose the greatest and most influential ruckman to ever play Australian Rules Football- Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer.

One day I’d like to see the WA Government build a statue of Polly at Optus Stadium, next to his own Freeway, executing an action that took him to his rightful status as a Legend of the game.

Firing a handball to a statue of Barry Cable 50 metres away in stride.

Anyway, what an amazing masterstroke of fixturing by Gil and the fellas- 1st is playing 2nd, and 3rd is playing 4th!

Friday

Melbourne (17th) vs Sydney Swans (15th) @ The MCG, 7:50pm AEST

If you know your history, Norm Smith coached both Melbourne and the Swans, when they were still in South Melbourne.

This is without a doubt, the greatest Friday night match-up since the epic fight between a 15th placed St Kilda and an 18th placed Carlton in Round 17, 2018.

The Saints won by 64 points, and I wouldn’t be shocked if the margin was something similar either way tomorrow.

Both of their seasons may be over, but neither club is done generating some much needed news material for the Fourth Estate.

Melbourne sacrificed another assistant coach, as they get ready for Darren Burgess to slaughter the playing group throughout the summer, in what should be the most brutal treatment of a group of Australians since the last season of Big Brother, and for the Swans, a guy you sometimes forgot existed in Nick Smith announced his retirement, and at the very least, he’s going to retire with a share of the record (With Tom Lonergan) for the most career games without a Brownlow vote- 191.

I can see Simon Goodwin gaining some more real positives from this one… even though nobody else will.

Saturday

Carlton (16th) vs St Kilda (13th) @ The MCG, 1:45pm AEST

TRAINING WHEELS STATUS= OFF.

The Teague Train has officially arrived at Permanent Appointment Station, with The Ratten Rattler from Moorabbin fast approaching, in what should be a spectacular collision, in which many on-lookers probably end up with gruesome injuries.

What a simple, common sense decision by the Carlton board- Not since Ratts lost every single game as a caretaker in 2007 have they had the bleedingly obvious choice for their next coach staring in front of them, and acted upon it.

Now, some laser brains may bag Carlton for not assessing all of their available options for coach, but when one of your few available options is Crazy Vossy, it’s a pretty easy decision to keep Teague full-time.

The other addition to all this good news is that Patrick Cripps is raising the bat for his 100th game, of which he’s lost 75, and Dale Thomas also records his 100th game for the Blues, who instead gave him a “Thanks and piss off by 2020” message.

In the old days, the club asked The Carlton Crew to delist players for them… Which explains why Val ’37 Cans’ Perovic hasn’t been seen since 1985.

Meanwhile, as previously mentioned, the Saints are well on the way to completing the 2019 ‘Caretaker To Permanent Coach’ Treble, thanks to Josh Bruce’s last minute winner against Freo, and the return of Jack ‘Thicc Boi’ Steven, who kicked 3 very crucial goals, despite admitting his fitness was ‘slightly off’.

A shame, because this game will be devoured by the one taking place 25 minutes after it.

Brisbane Lions (2nd) vs Geelong (1st) @ The Gabba, 2:10pm AEST

If I’ve done the math, this is the latest date for a 1st vs 2nd match-up in a season since 2012, when Sydney took on Hawthorn at the SCG, also in Round 22.

Timing it for the same weekend as The Ekka- Outstanding work Gil, that’s some foresight that even Darth Sidious and Lord Fagan would marvel at.

The Feline Furor is the biggest match of the season, and it’s the Pussies from Sleepy Hollow who have won every single matchup since 2013, with Brisbane’s last win coming in the very bloody memorable ‘Miracle On Grass’ from Round 13, 2013, with a 52 point comeback being capped by 200-gamer Ash McGrath launching a rocket from 50 out after the siren.

Just showing how long ago that was- Simon Black played his 320th game, Elliot Yeo was in Lions colours, Jed Adcock was still rolling around, and former Melbourne stalwart Brent Moloney racked up 22 disposals and kicked 3 goals.

Of course, that Lions team also included Dayne Zorko. before he developed the confidence to tell people to “Come and Zork me baby”.

The form of Lord Fagan’s disciples is self-explanatory, while Cats had their latest sudden return to form, by shutting down North Melbourne and restricting them to their lowest score ever, most likely in an act of vengeance for the Roos getting rid of Brad, and denying us the annual Scott Sook-Off.

The funny thing is, the Cats won by 55 points… and they recorded the lowest winning score of Round 21.

I imagine the Cats will also have some kind of tribute for Polly Farmer, given he’s ONLY their greatest ever ruckman, and their greatest ever No.5.

Either way, regardless of whichever Feline team wins this ball chafer of a contest, the Cats still have the best chance of finishing Top 2… and everyone laughing at them, when they have to play Richmond in a ‘home’ final at the MCG.

Adelaide (9th) vs Collingwood (5th) @ The Adelaide Oval, 4:05pm ACST

I remember not even a few years ago when Collingwood playing the Crows at Footy Park was like pencilling a win for the Woods, but now, we find ourselves in a weird position where the Pies are only a game off 4th spot, and yet by any measure, they’re the outsiders.

Against all prognostications of doom (Including from me), despite losing their spot in the Top 8 to their hated rivals the day before, the Crows didn’t get discombobulated by the Eagles in Perth, even after Rory Sloane was sniped out of the game by Matt Crouch after Half Time- Unsurprisingly, the Eagles slammed on 4 very quick goals after that, which proved the difference.

The other big positive was the 19-year-old Fogzilla up forward, who kicked 5 goals, and as a result, the Round 21 Rising Star nominee did come from a game the Crows played in…

It just happened to go to Oscar Allen.

On the flip side, despite winning their last two games, conveniently against the Bottom 2 teams, the Pies are still in the battle for the Top 4, but off-field, they’re fast approaching salary cap problems, as they struggle to not only re-sign Brayden Sier, but his exact basketball loving double, Phill Inn.

Since it is the Crows’ last game of the year at the Adelaide Oval, I reckon Don Pyke should try something that Bucks and the Pies won’t be expecting…

THE POWER STANCE.

Pictured: Tex Walker demonstrates the Power Stance

North Melbourne (15th) vs Port Adelaide (8th) @ Marvel Stadium, 7:25pm AEST

After kicking a mere 1 goal at The Cattery, North suffered another major blow this week. when rookie Tom Wilkinson decided to abandon his lifelong dream of playing league football, and partner Paul Roos’ son Tyler on the revival of The Amazing Race Australia.

That should really sum up the relevance of North Melbourne- Even their rookies would rather pursue failing a challenge in the Khyber Pass than play for their VFL team.

Meanwhile, Port frightened everyone last week against the Swans, when they displayed something they hadn’t displayed in months- Consistency.

They’re back in the 8, hilariously, at the expense of the Crows.

Crazy Ken made another big call in dropping prized recruit Scott Lycett for Peter Ladhams, and he worked superbly with Paddy Ryder, and this week, they go up against the Roos’ All-Australian Hebrew, Todd Goldstein.

I’m not sure why Port still call him Ladhams, despite the fact he is obviously grilled.

If Sam Gray ends up playing- And I think he will- Then Port will probably win in a canter, because that bugger loves killing the Roos.

Fremantle (12th) vs Essendon (7th) @ Optus Stadium, 6:10pm AWST

THE ANCHOR IS BACK… for a week!

Of course, there’s a very simple reason Freo kept that bad boy hidden until now, because their first home game way back in Round 2, 1995 was against Essendon on a Friday night at The WACA.

Surely the Dockers can go the whole hog, and replace the banner for this weekend with that inflatable shipping container?

That was bloody classic, and then of course they had that classic anchor dragging ceremony in the early 2000s that confused the crap out of everyone.

All of these mentions of Anchors should make Dockers fans nostalgic for the days of Spider Burton, Kingsley Hunter, Daniel Bandy, and of course, CLIVE.

It’s going to be a deadset blast, especially once you throw in Michael ‘Sonny’ Walters playing game 150, and of course, Aaron Sandilands playing his final game in front of whatever remains of Freo’s membership base for 2019.

None other than skipper Nat Fyfe looms as the perfect choice to carry Big Sandi off after the game in front of the Dockers faithful, because after carrying 21 teammates for the last 5 years, he’s become adept at carrying heavy weights on his shoulders.

On the flip side…

THIS WEEK, ON… THINGS TWEETED MOMENTS BEFORE DISASTER.

Stolen from /u/Batthew99

Absolutely nothing of note happened after that.

If Freo win, it’ll be win No.250 in their history…. on their 25th Anniversary!

Sunday

Richmond (4th) vs West Coast Eagles (3rd) @ The MCG, 1:10pm AEST

The battle between the two most recent Premiers, and the two teams Mark Merenda played for, and you know this game’s big, because Fox Footy are starting their broadcast at 12:30 Eastern.

Usually they spend the whole morning pretending there isn’t a 1:10 game.

For the first time since Malcolm Turnbull still had job security as PM, Richmond and West Coast will face off, although in something supposedly resembling a blow for the Tigers, Trent Cotchin will miss another week in his hamstring recovery, obviously because the Tigers didn’t want to risk him aggravating anything on the 4 hour plane trip from Punt Road to the MCG.

Dusty is set to go, and the guy that took 5 games to win a flag Jack Graham is back in vogue, after he became the first player to kick 4 goals and lay 14 tackles in the same game, all of them on Patrick Cripps, although if he’d used a milk crate, then it all could’ve been much easier.

The Eagles did exactly what they had to do against the Crows, and they now find themselves with the exact same win-loss record as they had at this time last year before the run to the flag: 15-5, although their percentage was slightly better in 2018.

That win came despite Josh Kennedy receiving the devastating news that he’d failed to take a mark in a game for the first time in recorded history… I’m sure he’s had a terrible week’s worth of sleep since.

Believe it or not, i’m walking on air, I reckon the Eagles can get the job done.

Which means they’ll get ripped to pieces.

GWS (6th) vs Western Bulldogs (10th) @ Spotless Stadium, 3:20pm AEST

The Giants were piss poor last Friday Night, and they played like they’d never played in snow before, which is a damning indictment on a supposed Top 4 contender, and you’d think that a team that resemble Orange Soviets would go very well in the snow.

It was a recreation of the Winter War, and Hawthorn were the Finns.

I think it goes to show that their dominance against the Hawks was entirely decided by the presence of either Tom Scully and Jono ‘The General’ Patton.

The other tough news this week is the retirement of Brett Deledio after another Old Man’s Injury, which means that in the span of a few days, the No.1 and No.2 Draft Picks from 2004 have both retired.

What an unlucky bugger Lids was- Suffers for 12 years at the Tigers, decides to piss off out of there, and then the year after he leaves, they erase 37 years of Richmonding things.

The Doggies are well and truly in the shitfight for 8th spot, and they got their percentage problem somewhat sorted thanks to Essendon being Essington, and just like they did in the 2016 Prelim, they have to go to Sydney and knock off the Giants, who will probably regain Josh Kelly, supertagger Matt de Boer, plus Harry Himmelberg.

The Doggies’ midfield used to be akin to Fluffy from Harry Potter, in that they were both three-headed beasts, but with the emergence of Josh Dunkley, the Dogs have evolved to be four-headed, comparable to the Blue Meanies’ dog from Yellow Submarine.

That dog was very threatening to The Beatles, until John and Paul sang ‘Hey Bulldog’ and confused it, mainly because it didn’t realise there were two Scousers that could sing.

Anyway, if Footscray’s Four-Headed Bulldog can get the job done on Sunday, well, that remains to be seen.

Hawthorn (11th) vs Gold Coast (18th) @ Marvel Stadium, 4:40pm AEST

HEEEEEEEERE’S ROUGHY!

As a result of the Docklands factor, this game would’ve attracted around 10,000 patrons before Roughy delivered the news of his retirement.

Now it’ll probably attract 11,000, because most of our fanbase is the very definition of the word ‘apathetic’.

But on to the ginger prince, and there’s so many Roughy moments to choose from, but I’ve got to throw in when he dismembered Dan Hannebery in the 2014 Grand Finals, not even 5 minutes after Luke Breust first attempted to assassinate Hanners.

WASTED.

Roughy kicked 5 in that Grand Final, and remains the last player to kick at least 5 goals in a Grand Final… True story.

This entirely appropriate love-in for Big Red makes you forget two other major milestones for the Hawks: This could very well be Shaun Burgoyne’s last home game for the Hawks (He moves into 7th on the all-time games list), and it’s also Al Clarkson’s 350th game as coach.

On the flip side, of course, Stewie Dew played in Roughy’s first flag back in 2008, and it’s very easy to forget that fact.

If you’re a Cats fan.

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