AFL

Meaningless AFL Preview: Round 5, 2020

If Mark Stevens is around the mark, then the AVFL is on after this weekend.

So on that note, here’s a musical tribute to Victoria’s upcoming exodus:

Seeing as I have no idea what the teams are going to be right now, I may as well revive something I tried in the Round 2 Preview last year – Creating imaginary Cups named after players who represented both teams in all 9 games this weekend.

With the ever changing nature of this COVID reality, which was none more prevalent than the announcements on Monday, the Queenslanders are suddenly finding that life is apparently once again great in the Sunshine State.

Not only are stocks in the Lions and Suns booming, now with the fixture changes, not only do they get to witness the rematch of the 2004 Grand Final between Brisbane and Port, they also get to witness the 2005 and 2006 Grand Final rematch between the Eagles and Swans!

Plus, with the way the game is devolving as a spectacle and scoring dries up like the Simpson Desert, there’s a good chance Saturday afternoon could make the ’05 Grand Final look high scoring.


Thursday


Carlton vs St Kilda at Marvel Stadium, 7:40pm AEST

After the Queenslanders realised that even they couldn’t let Victorians into the Sunshine State (Which is a win-win for both states), the AFL had to shuffle the deck of cards they call the fixture, and thus, from the two most recent premiers, we get Carlton and St Kilda, formerly on a Saturday at the MCG, thrust into the bright lights of prime time at Docklands, which could be a massive boost for the Saints.

Some will rightly point out that this is Brett Ratten coaching the Saints against his formerly beloved Bluebaggers, but I’d also point out that a legend of our game in Alex Jesaulenko also played and coached both clubs, after he was shafted to Moorabbin from Princes Park months after he’d captain-coached the Blues to the 1979 Premiership.

Some other great contributors to both clubs include Mad Monday legend Val Perovic, Ken Sheldon (Who coached St Kilda), Alex Marcou, Mark Arceri, Dean Rice, Matthew Lappin, Aaron Hamill, Sam Rowe, and Cain Ackland.

Ah, who can forget the Cain Ackland Highlight video:

Another shared player who will be featuring on Thursday night is former Saint Jack Newnes, who will be looking to extract a pound of flesh from his old club, after they curiously delisted him from the Jack-off they’ve got going on at Moorabbin.

In a time of keepings off and playing boring contested footy, the Ratten-coached Saints have fully embraced the run and gun style of play, which has been on full display in their 2 games at Marvel since the restart, where they ran over the Dogs and Tigers with a bit of flair, taking full advantage of the perfect conditions under the roof.

The one thing I’ve enjoyed the most about watching the Saints – Seeing them bloody well kick straight at goal.

Dan Butler in particular.

‘THE BIIIIIIIIG BENDER!”

Saturday really was the day for big benders from left half-forward, given Levi Casboult kicked a goal from a near identical spot for the Bluebaggers that evening.

Speaking of the Blues, they became the first team in 64 years to play in 3 consecutive games decided by fewer than 3 points – The last team ironically being St Kilda – And in a possible sign they’ve turned the corner, they actually won the last 2 of them, when Carlton teams of recent years would’ve certainly found a way to lose, which they almost did against the Bombers, despite clearly being the better team on the night.

The return of Sam Docherty from years of ACL tears has made the Blues much better defensively, which isn’t surprising given he was an All-Australian before his knee problems, but the main driving force seems to be the determination of young old man Kade Simpson to avoid joining Kevin Murray on a record 208 defeats as a player.

Case in point – Simmo’s brilliant Golden Fist nomination at the end of Saturday night’s thriller after leaving his man, which led directly to David Cunningham kicking what turned into the winning point, all before Liam Jones provided the game-winning falcon:

I can just picture Spud going “BANG!”

Anyway, the Jezza Cup should be a good contest with the form these teams are in.


Friday


Collingwood vs Essendon at the MCG, 7:50pm AEST

“McKenna scandal update, Conor sleeps nude in an oxygen tent, which he believes gives him sexual powers!”

Instead of meeting in Round 6 this year, Collingwood and Essendon meet in their usual slot of Round 5.

Another 2020 surprise.

When you think of great players who have played for the Magpies and Bombers in modern times – Rotten Ronnie Andrews, Fabulous Phil Carman, ‘The Incredible Hulk’ Rene Kink, Blake Caracella and Scotty Cummings, one player truly springs to mind.

Mal Michael.

In between his appearances on ANZAC Day for both clubs, Mal will be remembered forever for doing the anti-Nathan Buckley and escaping from Collingwood to Brisbane in 2000…. Which helped propel the Lions to the Threepeat.

Back to the present day, and the Pies were probably more shattered at losing Jeremy Howe for the season than losing another close game to GWS that they had every chance to win, and it got even better as the news of Steele Sidebottom and Lynden Dunn’s weekend jaunt continues to filter through the news cycle.

So, in supposed linear order – Sidebottom and Dunn went on a Saturday Uber ride to visit a shattered Jezza Howe to help him drown his sorrows, then Dunny went home, while Steele carried on to a heady overnight stay at Daniel Wells’ house, then on Sunday morning, a half-pissed and half-naked Steele probably realised that players can’t rideshare or visit club staff members that are outside of ‘the bubble’, his phone battery was flat, so he somehow got in touch with the public Uber service for a ride home.

In this case, the Uber was painted white with chequered blue squares down the side, and it had sirens.

Still, the officers did give Steele 5 stars.

Considering what’s coming his way, after Steele serves his lengthy suspension and gets to play in front of crowds in Perth or wherever the hell the next hub is after that, I’d like to see some cheeky buggers whip up this classic chant when he’s got the ball.

In a couple of years, we’ll all look back and have a good laugh.

Steele may be a quality player, but compared to Howe, he won’t be that big of a loss for the Pies.

After all, Matt de Boer made sure Steele didn’t play last Friday night.

Meanwhile, the Bombers were back in action against mutual enemy Carlton, and the team known as Essington reminded everyone of what they had missed out on, in an often mind-numbing game that had plenty of intent, but none of the skill.

The Dons were definitely underdone, but they were 2 goals up against the run of play in the last quarter, before ultimately, in a classic Essington moment, they fell a Liam Jones falcon short of victory, as his direct opponent Cale Hooker stood a metre over the goal line watching it all.

Obviously the downside was Zac Merrett being suspended for a gut punch to Jack Silvagni gone horribly wrong, but on another note, Conor McKenna has now been released from self-isolation (After just on 9 days), and the AFL did hand him his COVID suspension, which he served during the weekend, meaning he is free to play if the Bombers bother to pick him.

Yet another tough game where I have no idea who will win.


Saturday


West Coast Eagles vs Sydney Swans at Metricon Stadium, 1:45pm AEST

Carrara will serve as the second neutral venue for a West Coast-Sydney game.

The other was of course the MCG… in 2005 and 2006.

Aside from those epic encounters between 2005-07, which should be regarded as the peak of any rivalry in the modern game, the Swans and Eagles have a rich shared history of players, from Scott Watters to Matty Spangher, Mitch Morton, Mark Seaby, and recently Lewis Jetta, who won flags for both teams (And will feature prominently on Saturday), but everyone remembers an underappreciated ruckman who represented both clubs in Grand Finals.

JASON BALL.

Callum Sinclair also goes alright.

On paper, the Swans are West Coast’s greatest enemy, not based on the fact that they’ve beaten the Eagles silly for 12 years, but for the fact that they actually show effort, which is the complete antithesis of the Gold Coast Eagles, who keep playing like they’re simply waiting out the days until they can triumphantly board a flight out of the joint back to Perth.

I hope the AFL sends them and Freo up a box of commemorative t-shirts with “I survived the Gold Coast Hub and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.”

Obviously the big disappointment for the Eagles is that they’ve lost a shot at getting a free swing at a struggling Richmond, while the other big thing for the Swans is after spending 4 days working on a gameplan for Melbourne at the SCG on Sunday afternoon, they now get the advantage of not having to play at the SCG, and they get to play at Carrara, where they haven’t lost in 28 years.

With the way are Swans are going at home, that canned game was a guaranteed 4 points for Melbourne.

If this game were in 2006, I’d feel a bit more excited – Still, we should get plenty of female viewers, given it is Luke Parker’s 200th game.

Geelong vs Gold Coast at GMHBA Stadium, 4:35pm AEST

There’s been a decent handful of high profile of shared players between the Cats and Suns, one of whom brings up a major milestone on Saturday, but there’s one current Sun & former Cat who deserves a nod.

2014 Grand Final Sprint winner Jordan Murdoch.

But, stuff Jordy, because he’ll be on the emergencies list watching a huge moment in the history of the game, as former Suns captain Gary Ablett Jnr plays his 350th game in front of an empty Cattery, and recklessly courageous and inspiring Cats skipper Joel Selwood plays game 300′ while simultaneously aiming to make it 297 games requiring Elastoplast for a head wound.

Since Joel rocketed into footy in 2007, he’s only played in 218 wins from 299 games, which is one of the best guides for how long this Cats run has gone for.

Also, up until 5 years ago, despite being around since 1859, Geelong only had two 300 game players – Ian Nankervis and Sam Newman, who were both finished after 1983.

In the years since, there’s been Corey Enright, Jimmy Bartel, and now Selwood.

In addition, every Cats player will also bring up the milestone of playing in the same game as Matt Rowell, who has produced the greatest opening 4 games of a career since Mark McGough won the ANZAC Medal in his second game aged 17.

Josh did that after a couple of years and about 150 games.

Matt Rowell did it in 4 games.

Matty is probably benefiting from a case of C.Judd 3 Votes syndrome after his Freo performance, but still, the crazier follow-up to that Perfect 10 stat:

Rory Laird 2, Wayne Milera 1

Sounds about right.

The big question for the game is directed at Scotty, regarding who he has playing on Rowell.

Do you do the boring arse thing and put Cam Guthrie on him and tag him out of the game, or do you give the people what they crave most, and slot either Selwood or Dangerfield on him, in an attempt to go one better than Nat Fyfe lining up on the living legend last weekend:

Matt Rowell? Matt Rowell.

Rowell on Danger would be more entertaining than any moment of the Cats-Demons game last Sunday.

And the other one, if the game does go ahead – Which it almost certainly will – The Suns will be locked in to travel across Australia for a month to avoid doing a 14 day quarantine if they flew straight home, under the state government’s restrictions intended to protect the Banana Benders.

In short, they’ll probably just go straight to Sydney and play the Swans and Giants in Rounds 6 and 7.

Being realistic, this game is at Kardinia Park, so the Cats will probably win, but I suppose we can only hope that Stewie Dew and his followers of Dewdaism can keep it competitive.

After all, it worked for Carlton.


Western Bulldogs vs North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium, 7:40pm AEST

In a game that will probably feature former Bulldog Shaun Higgins, the old Scraggers and the Shinboners will do battle in front of their usual tiny crowd for…

The Jose Romero Cup.

Of course, Jose was a groundbreaker for multiculturalism (Mainly for Hispanic players) in footy during the 1990s, given he was born in Chile during the Pinochet era, and immigrated to Australia at age 7 – He wound up winning the Doggies Best and Fairest in 1996.

Staying on the subject of tough little nuggety players, the Dogs have started looking like the team people expected them to be this season since Tom Liberatore was brought back into the team, and simultaneously, North have sorely missed Ben Cunnington’s grunt in the midfield as he deals with back problems.

Sure, the Roos made a massive comeback in the final 10 minutes, and only lost by 4 points to Hawthorn, but they once again didn’t look themselves for 3/4 of the game without Cunners butting heads in the midfield, which was also evidenced by their leading forward targets being Ben McEvoy and James Sicily, resulting in the Roos going scoreless for the equivalent of a half of play.

Once Todd Goldstein started dominating the clearances on his lonesome, the run-on started, and if Feathers Cunnington had have been there, they would’ve started playing a bit earlier than halfway into the final term.

He might play on Saturday, but another problem is Jack Ziebell’s hamstring injury, and Robbie Tarrant has to pass a fitness test, and if either of them don’t play, North are basically going have to dig a deeper trench than usual and prepare for a long night.

As it stands now, this will be the last game of Lachie Hunter’s drink-driving suspension, so suddenly, everything looks to be coming up Doggies.

Brisbane Lions vs Port Adelaide at Fagan’s Fortress/The Gabba, 7:40pm AEST

The game of the round.

A historical rematch of the 2004 Grand Final, and a battle for the coveted…

JARED POLEC CUP.

Unfortunately Jared can’t be on hand to present the cup this year due to travel restrictions, and because he’ll probably be playing for North Melbourne at the same time this game is on.

On to the game, and it looks a great spectacle between two Top Four teams.

After years of disappointment and underachieving with Ken Hinkley, Port have looked determined and focused in every quarter of 2020, resulting in them being the last unbeaten team, with a percentage so big they could use it as a parachute in the event of a loss.

Not only are they the only team on the Gold Coast hub to win a game (Which will probably change Sunday), they’re pretty much the only team to get a decent performance out of a key forward this year, with Charlie Dixon’s bag of 6 goals against the Eagles putting him up above Harry Perryman

For the first time in a good 6 years, it appears Port are well and truly behind the idea that YES WE KEN.

So on one hand we have YES WE KEN, versus the divine power of Faganism.

Probably should carve off Lewis Taylor

After last week’s win, and furhter back to the Eagles win, the Good Lord Fagan will need to find a more relatable parable about kicking goals instead of behinds, because deary me, 33 scoring shots to 11 against the Crows, and the Lions only won by 37 points.

If there was a Bad Beats Australia edition, I’d submit my bloody entry – I had Brisbane at the line by -37.5, after it moved from -36.5 a mere 5 minutes before the bounce.

If you don’t understand line betting, that -37.5 WAS A POINT FROM BEING CORRECT.

I’M STILL ANGRY DAMMIT.

Last year, both meetings went the way of the Lions – In Round 3, they stormed home after going 10 points behind in the last quarter, as Lachie Neale racked up 43 disposals and Connor Rozee kicked 5 goals in a losing side, earning him a Rising Star nod, and in Round 17, Kenny Hinkley reached the peak of stupidity by trying to intimidate Neale with Cam Sutcliffe beating him up at every turn.

The Lions kicked 7 goals in the opening 22 minutes, and won by a lazy 8 goals, in what was their first win at the Adelaide Oval.

If Port are going to get beaten in 2020, this will probably be it, although the Lions might be pushing crap uphill without Dayne Zorko.


Sunday


Adelaide vs Fremantle at Metricon Stadium, 1:05pm AEST


LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, STRAP YOURSELVES IN, BECAUSE IT’S TIME FOR….

SPOONBOWL 2020!!

THE WINNER GETS PRAISE.

THE LOSER GETS PICK 1.

The winners will also receive the Jono Griffin Cup, named after the greatest representative of both Adelaide and Fremantle.

We can’t forget that the great Andrew McLeod had the chance to get drafted by Fremantle in their inaugural draft back in 1994, only to go for he and his dad to be flown over to Perth for an ill-fated meeting, when nobody at the club had seen him play in the SANFL mere weeks after he’d played in a Port Adelaide premiership, and long story short, Freo traded Bunji to Adelaide for Chris frikkin’ Groom.

Classic Freo.


Richmond vs Melbourne at the MCG, 3:35pm AEST

The traditional MCG tenants somehow get the free to air slot on Sunday afternoon, and in what is usually the ANZAC Eve game, they’ll instead be playing for the…

Ben Holland Plate.

After giving their fans enjoyment by not playing in Round 3, Melbourne were back at their best in Round 4, putting in a Melbourne performance against Geelong, a game that was just so tedious to watch that you forget Adam Tomlinson had a shot in the last minute to pinch a win for the Dees.

The Dees may very well have been ahead before that moment, if they’d noticed Patrick Dangerfield casually standing next to Luke Dalhaus on the edge of 50 in the 3rd Quarter.

Dangerfield only went on to kick the easiest goal of a low scoring game.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 appears to have turned Richmond back into Richmond, as if they were the carriage from Cinderella being turned back into a pumpkin by the Fairy Godmother.

The Hawks choked them to death, and the Saints burned them alive with leg speed, and right now, they don’t quite have an answer besides dropping players.

When the idea about Victorian teams in hubs was raised, Trent Cotchin was say that while the Tigers were prepared to go to a hub, some players were a “genuine chance to not go into hubs”, simply for reasons like partners giving birth or for other individual reasons, which are a tad more important than footy.

Obviously the context is important in that statement, because when you see a Richmond captain talking about players not wanting to travel into hubs for several weeks, you just think it’s typical Richmond, pissing and whinging about having to travel more than 300m to play a game:

Also, it’s good to see the AFL finally put struggling teams in a time slot when nobody will bother to watch them.

Wait a minute…


GWS vs Hawthorn at GIANTS Stadium, 6:10pm AEST

It’s easy to see how this game is going ahead despite all the restrictions against against Victoria… Hawthorn are clearly a Tasmanian team, as they play home games in Launceston.

In the last of the shared players crap, the Hawks and Giants have turned exchanging injured players in trades into an art form.

Stephen Gilham, Jono O’Rourke, Tom Scully, but my personal favourite, especially now that he’s in the brown & gold….

Johnny ‘The General’ Patton

What a smile.

I thought it was funny that after watching Tom Scully tear shreds off the Hawks for 4 years, the moment the Hawks traded for him and got him back playing in 2019, they knocked off the Giants twice in a year for the first time.

Of course, the other facet to that was that they actually beat GWS on the road for the first time, in the memorable Snow Bowl in Canberra, which was the peak of Alastair Clarkson’s macho ‘No Sleeves’ mentality.

The effect of the Canberra win means we’ve still got the odd quirk where the Giants haven’t defeated the Hawks in Victoria, and the Hawks haven’t defeated the Giants in New South Wales.

That game will also be far more interesting than whatever both teams dish up on Sunday.

Speaking of 2020, the Giants managed to once again rip the heart out of Collingwood to get their year going again, despite suffering the usuaul major injuries to key players, namely Phil Davis, their captain and No.1 key defender, while the Hawks are 4th, despite putting in 3 awful final quarters since the season restarted, which were probably all the fault of the umpires not paying them any free kicks in the final 16 minutes, and not the fact that they’re a bit old and not 100% match fit.

And yes, I was correct – THE HAWKS ARE SOMEHOW 4TH, DESPITE BEING PLAINLY AVERAGE.

After Sunday evening, if they’re still 4th, I’ll be shocked.

Anyway a sure things for Sunday – Toby Greene won’t get a single free kick despite getting coathangered on 5 separate occasions, probably all while trying to weave his way around James Sicily, and the Hawks will rack up about 60 tackles and not get a single incorrect disposal or holding the ball free kick.

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