“Welcome to AFL 2020, where the thrill is knowing whether your next match will happen.” – /u/AdenintheGlaven
Ladies, gents, Queenslanders, strap yourselves in, and get set for the strangest season since the fabled year of 1916, when Fitzroy completed the legendary Wooden Spoon Premiership double, thanks to the well-documented stupidity of Europe.
17 games, 16 minute quarters – Now the AFL have a convenient excuse for low scoring.
If you want a rough idea for what Thursday night could feel like to watch, just take a look back at ANY VICTORIAN DOMESTIC CRICKET GAME AT THE ‘G FOR THE LAST 1000 YEARS.
Mostly, you’ll get great moments like this:
The scenes when the players have to send a search party into Bay 13 to get the ball for a throw in.
On the plus side to all of this, crowd behaviour is going to be better than ever.
Richmond vs Carlton @ The MCG, 7:20pm AEDT
Ah, cheap humour.
Who’d have thought after the joy of Brendan Bolton’s tenure, that we would see a game where Carlton kick more goals than the crowd attendance.
Turns out the Bluebaggers named the wrong David as the Coach of their Team Of The Century.
Meanwhile, all this talk about viruses and pandemics has made me forget that Richmond won their 2nd flag in 3 seasons in 2019.
Did you know Richmond won the 2019 flag?
I completely forgot.
After realising his knee injury made absolutely no difference to the Tiges steaming to another flag, Alex Rance abruptly retired, with theories abound of him buggering teammates’ partners, to the Jehovah’s Witnesses enticing him to pull the plug.
Despite that, there’s plenty of continuity from the 2019 premiership team, only Brandon Ellis (Gold Coast) and Bachar Houli (Old man’s injury) won’t be playing Thursday, replaced by Jack Graham and Sydney Stack.
it’s easy to forget it Graham hadn’t ripped his shoulder out and heroically played out the Prelim, he would’ve been a 2x Premiership player, and Marlion Pickett wouldn’t have a 1:1 games per Premiership medal ratio.
Meanwhile at Lygon Street, Patty Cripps quite literally just turned 25, and it’s only taken the Blues 3 years to realise that Crippa’s back and shoulders are about to give out from carrying this sad sack of a team.
They rectified this issue in November…. And used their Lygon Street contacts to remove Stephen Silvagni.
On the player front, the Blues picked up Jack Martin for peanuts, Jack Newnes pulled a reverse Aaron Hamill and willingly went from St KIlda to Carlton, and after 6 years in Adelaide, there was the glorious return of Mr Big Shorts, Eddie Betts!
…… Who promptly did his calf in the Marsh Series.
Old man picks up old man’s injury – More at 11.
Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay also won’t be there, leaving Levi Casboult and Mitch McGovern as the key forwards, but the massive positive is co-captain Sam Docherty got through a pre-season without his ACL folding like France in wartime, and he’s set for his first game since 2017.
It’s been that bloody long that you forget that Sam was an All-Australian that year.
Anyway, let’s see how many quarters we can get through before someone coughs or sneezes on someone and the league gets locked down!
Western Bulldogs vs Collingwood @ Marvel Stadium, 7:50pm AEDT
For the purposes of keeping things limited to 100 people, does Marvel Stadium count as an indoor venue?
I mean, it does have a roof.
Scott Pendlebury nearly gave everyone a minimum 2 week holiday after going down with a cold-like illness, but he was able to use his basketball background to glide past a potential COVID-19 infection, to the delight of basically everyone.
The best 2 word message by an athlete since Michael Jordan typed “I’m Back” on a fax.
The Pies could easily have been the team sacrificed to the Manson Family by the Tigers on Grand Final Day 2019…. but, they only kicked 3 goals against GWS for the best part of 2 hours, and wouldn’t you know it, they gave up too much a headstart and lost by 4 points.
All those touched off the boot behinds really didn’t help, either.
Due to the spate of injuries, Tyler Brown will debut, joining his brother Callum as sons of Gavin Brown to play in the Black & White.
The Doggies really figured things out in the final 1/3 of 2019, led by the midfield musketeers Lachie Hunter, Josh Dunkley, Jack Macrae and new captain Il Bont.
Thanks to wins like the 21 goals in a row against Essendon in Round 21, the Doggies ended their short finals drought since the 2016 flag, before GWS turned the screws on them in that Elimination Final.
You would expect them to continue improving, after picking up St Kilda forward Josh Bruce, and former Showdown Medalist Alex Keath, best remembered for having his Big Bash career ended by Shane Warne’s incompetent captaincy during a rain-affected Semi Final at the WACA in 2013.
He got carted for 27 off his first over by Shaun Marsh.
It was his debut.
The Stars also had the option of playing Clive Rose over Alex.
They ended up losing off the last ball because Warnie put too few fielders inside the circle.
Only the Stars could do that.
Anyway, Alex should go a bit better on Friday.
Essendon vs Fremantle @ Marvel Stadium, 1:45pm AEDT
Ah, the fabled Kepler Bradley Cup.
They did try changing it to the Scotty Gumbleton Cup, but there’s only one Kepler.
As we tick past 5,674 days since the ‘Bombres’ won a final, John Worsfold confirmed he’ll be ejecting from the pilot’s seat after 2020, and handing the controls over to Ben ‘Truck’ Rutten.
Fancy that – A Truck leading Planes.
Aside from that, the Bombers are still the Bombers, giving us all a laugh as they try and push into the upper echelon after 20 years, and the other big story was Joe Daniher’s attempts to follow in uncle Terry’s footsteps and become a Swans legend, but alas, those trade talks died in the arse after about a week, although Joe won’t feature on Saturday anyway, thanks to his troublesome groin.
Meanwhile, Freo have a new coach in Justin Longmuir, best remembered for crapping on St Kilda after the siren in 2005, and they have 2x Brownlow Medalist Nat Fyfe, Sonny Walters, and….
Actually, who else do Freo have?
The West Australian never seem to cover them unless they’re getting pissed or arrested at a music festival.
Adelaide vs Sydney Swans @ The Adelaide Oval, 4:05pm ACDT
Bird mascots and low expectations are the theme for the Crows and Swans in 2020, and quite honestly, I couldn’t care less.
Also, what a great time for Rory Sloane to play his 200th game – His mad mates from Upwey-Tecoma would be there, but, you know, viruses.
Gold Coast vs Port Adelaide @ Metricon Stadium, 6:25pm AEST
The people of China are doing it tough right now (Seems to have been a recurring theme for the last 72 years), and they’d love nothing more than seeing their favourite team get a win over the Pear.
Meanwhile, another year arrives at Alberton, and Kenny Hinkley is still living off the glory of 2013-14, despite achieving nothing more than a loss after the siren in an Elimination Final.
Then again, if Brad Scott can survive for just under 10 seasons, Kenny still has a few seasons before Kochie cracks it and replaces him with the Cash Cow.
Port Adelaide are apparently celebrating their 150th anniversary, although given that South Australians use a different calendar to the rest of Australia, some donkey emblazoned the foundation year as 1820, a mere 16 years before the Province of South Australia was proclaimed.
Adelaide, where beanies qualify as polo tops.
Clearly both dates are incorrect…. The last time I checked, the Power were founded in 1996.
So, happy 24th anniversary Port.
GWS vs Geelong @ GIANTS Stadium, 7:25pm AEDT
As we’re all aware, the two teams who stand to benefit the most from an invisible crowd are the Gold Coast and GWS.
I think that was part of the reason why the Giants got blasted back to 1559 in the Grand Final – They’d never seen that many people in the same place at once.
It had nothing to do with 3/4 of the team being physically cooked.
As they continually lose established players, the Giants have made a knack of plucking out weirdos from nowhere – Tom Green will make his debut, not to be confused with everyone’s favourite Alfred E. Neuman lookalike, who is named Toby Greene.
Sure, their initials are both ‘TG’, and their surname sounds like the colour of Kermit, but I think we’ll have no problems telling them apart, given one of them will be attempting to remove limbs off Cats players.
Geelong are still Geelong, picking up players like Josh ‘Joe The Goose’ Jenkins, and Jack Steven (The Boy From Lorne on the Great Ocean Road) while Tim Kelly finally escaped after a 2 year sentence and got a one way ticket to West Coast.
Based on every Cats season since that 2011 flag, I see them as being akin to West Coast of the late ’90s – They’ll make the Top 8 because they’ll win more than enough games at home, and they’ve still got some really good top end players, but the B-Graders just always fall away in September.
North Melbourne vs St Kilda @ Marvel Stadium, 1:10pm AEDT
A game between North Melbourne and St Kilda at Docklands with nobody there to see it.
So, business as usual then.
The only interesting thing I’ve heard from North this offseason was Majak Daw looking all set to return to the AFL after the events of December 2018 Bloody great news by the way).
Other than that, the club made a brave new venture, and you know what it was?
They added PINSTRIPES to the guernsey, because, as Frank says in Catch Me If You Can, the reason the Yankees always win = Because people can’t stop looking at the pinstripes.
Much like North as a club, you’d hardly know they were there if you looked from afar – That said, their Women’s team are pretty prominent right now.
After 8 years out of the finals (Still below average for St Kilda), The Saints changed things up and pumped themselves full of hot air, recruiting names like Brad Hill and Paddy Ryder, as they and reverse 146 out of 147 years of futility.
They’ll look good for a couple of weeks, but by the end of the year, you ultimately realise the harsh truth.
It’s St Kilda.
Nothing positive ever happens to St Kilda.
Hawthorn vs Brisbane Lions @ The MCG, 3:20pm AEDT
Ah, Hawthorn at 3:20 on a Sunday at the MCG.
As is tradition.
It was once the Brad Scott Cup, it was the Jordan Lisle Cup, it was the Luke Hodge Cup, and now, it’s the Grant Birchall Cup.
He was out for that long that 95% of the universe thought he’d retired.
The last time Hawthorn and Brisbane played each other at the MCG was Round 12, 2012, which still doesn’t seem as weird as the two teams not playing at the Gabba for 8 years.
Last year’s Round 8 game against GWS has hopefully thoroughly prepared the Hawks for playing in the howling, lifeless bowl of wind that is an empty MCG, while Brisbane have had a decade’s experience of playing in front of an empty Gabba to draw on.
The other big advantage the Lions have is that they quite literally have nobody on the injury list.
Still, let’s see how we go.
West Coast Eagles vs Melbourne @ Optus Stadium, 3:20pm AWST
The COVID-19 pandemic changes by the day, and Tuesday saw the WA Government being urged to lock down the Nulla-borders to stop people from coming in to the state so we can flatten the curve.
Obviously the Doctors all saw the Dees’ improvement in the pre-season, and they don’t want to risk the threat of the Eagles losing in an upset.
I think the lack of crowds will be most prevalent at Eagles games- How will we know if the “green maggots” have awarded the opposition a free kick if the nutjobs at the City End aren’t there booing?
We’re all taking it one game at a time in 2020.
Mainly because we don’t know if next round will go ahead.