Ladies and gentlemen, young boys and girls, it’s time for the 20 day FESTIVAL OF FOOTY, apparently the AFL’s answer to the Big Bash, and to use actual Big Bash moments, right now, it feels like this:
And by at least Round 11, it’ll feel like this:
I can’t wait to be sick of it by Friday.
Western Bulldogs (6th) vs Richmond (9th) at Metricon Stadium, 7:10pm AEST
They love their Wednesday night footy on the Gold Coast.
The Doggies have won 4 out of their last 5 games to get themselves into the Top 4 hunt, the Tigers probably should’ve won in Sydney last week, but goalkicking and Toby Greene brought them undone, and such is the weirdness of this season, that after threatening the Top 4 one week, the Tigers have been dropped to 9th.
While Trent Cotchin is finally back, the Tigers have a simultaneous problem of Nick Vlaustin being unavailable, and Jack Riewoldt and Tom Lynch being horribly out of form, which is showing in the premiers barely averaging 54 points a game since Round 2.
There’s plenty of similarities between Riewoldt and Ben Brown: They’re both tall, they’re both from Tasmania, they’re both horribly out of form, although Ben Brown gets no sympathy because he’s not wearing a Richmond guernsey.
In this age of Richmond success, one team above all others has given them grief – The Bulldogs.
As far back as 2014, the Dogs have won 5 out of the last 6 clashes against the Tiges – The only one the Dogs lost was effectively a dead rubber in Round 23 of 2018, when Brad Lynch had a shot at goal to win in the last minute, and succeeded in hitting the post.
Brad may never be seen in an AFL game again.
Don’t be shocked if the Dogs do them in again with the keepings off gameplan, and for absolutely no reason, here’s the fabled Matthew Knights – Tony Liberatore brawl of 2001.
Melbourne (13th) vs Port Adelaide (1st) at the Gabba, 7:40pm AEST
Just when Port’s mini slump couldn’t get any tougher, the AFL give them a chance to return to their stronghold of South East Queensland, but instead of getting a routine win at Carrara, they tease them with another game at the Gabba, where they can only win by goals after the siren.
Despite still being on top, Port are getting the tough questions asked about them again, given they one again lost to a Top 8 team, which is a recurring theme during Ken Hinkley’s tenure since 2014, and in a familiar story over the past 18 months, Melbourne were right in the hunt against a top team in the Lions, so much so that they were finishing right over the top in that last term, but of course it is the Demons, so despite kicking the only 3 goals of the quarter, they lost.
Harley Bennell missing when he was clean through on goal, which led driectly to a Charlie Cameron Goal, Mitch Hannan sending a kick Inside 50 to Bailey Fritsch out on the full that led to Fritsch giving away a game-destroying 50m penalty…..
Yep, it was a Melbourne game alright.
Given the way Port’s Peter Ladhams was terrorised by Ryder and Marshall last week with no Scott Lycett to save him, surely Max Gawn is going to put him in a similar horrible position all evening, and with the way the likes of Petracca, Oliver & Viney have been going lately, Melbourne are going to take more real positives from this game.
Probably not a win, but some real positives.
Carlton (11th) vs Hawthorn (15th) at Optus Stadium, 3:40pm AWST (5:40)
3:40pm on a Friday, after originally being set for 3:40pm on a Thursday.
Truly a fantastic time to stage a game in Perth, right alongside organising an international Twenty-20 match for 4:10 on a Friday afternoon.
As per usual, I’ll be there suffering through it.
Honestly, I should be happier than a dog with two dicks that myself & The Rocket are getting an opportunity to actually attend a sporting event right now, given 99% of the Earth and one particular state in Australia can’t experience the same joy, but fair dinkum, Hawthorn haven’t exactly given me much to look forward to, especially with the way they meekly trundled through their New South Wales hub and produced an imperfect 4 defeats from 4 attempts.
Still, they say blessed are the meek, but whoever said that never saw this Hawks team play.
Meantime, the Blues evened up their record at 4-4 with the tough win against North Melbourne, minus Harry McKay and losing Mitch McGovern again, and with the Top 8 still well in sight, the Teague Train has rattled cross country to Perth to set up camp in Patty Cripps’ home state.
Of course, the last time the Blues played in Perth, this happened:
Something my good friend Nunz knows all too well is that the Blues have a mere 1 win against the Hawks in the last 15 years (In all it’s 16-1 Hawthorn), and they had every chance to make it 2 in Round 6 of last year, but they absolutely crapped the bed in Tassie and blew a 33 point lead to lose by 5 points.
On the balance of probabilities, it’ll be twice in 15 years come Friday evening.
Essendon (7th) vs Brisbane Lions (2nd) at Metricon Stadium, 8:10pm AEST
The second part of the double header, and Wild fact time, this is the first time Brisbane have played a Friday game in Australia since 2013.
I say in Australia, because they played St Kilda in Wellington on ANZAC Day 2014.
That goes to show how long it’s been since the Lions were even considered relevant enough to get a weekday prime time game, but here they are,
It’s definitely a big night for Brisbane, especially for that loveable hard nut Mitch Robinson, who reaches his 200th game, something that looked nigh on impossible after Carlton delisted him in 2014, and funnily enough, Robbo also concurrently becomes the latest player to play 100 games for 2 clubs, given he played exactly 100 for the Blues.
I like how the Lions don’t have to leave Queensland, but they’ve played too many home games since the restart, and have to balance it out by reverting back to the Brisbane Bears days by playing at Carrara.
It’s like the AFL managed to find the midway point between “You don’t have to leave Queensland for the rest of the year” and “You can’t play at the Gabba”.
An intriguing contest between the one-time Grand Final opponents – The Lions coming off becoming the first team in 2020 to win a game while sitting 2nd (The power of Fagan), but they’re an injury to Oscar McInerney away from having no ruckmen, while the Dons coming off barely beating the bottom team, but they’re an injury to Jacob Townsend away from having no tall key position players…..
Gee, you just get the feeling the Bombers are going to randomly turn up and pump the Lions, don’t you?
North Melbourne (17th) vs Adelaide (18th) at Metricon Stadium, 2:35pm AEST
Well, this is technically SPOONBOWL 2.0, but considering North are 2 games ahead of the Crows, it’s not quite as intense as an actual Spoonbowl.
Anyway, I’ll paraphrase Malcolm Blight, who coincidentally had a great association with the Roos and Crows, in saying that I couldn’t give a rat’s tossbag about this result, but I’ll pay attention for what could be the feelgood footy story of the year:
Majak Daw will play an AFL game for the first time since Round 23 of 2018, after a long, dark journey that started with him shattering both hips and his pelvis after jumping off the Bolte Bridge into the Yarra just before Christmas 2018, and in all honesty, he’d have been back weeks ago, were it not for a ruptured pectoral muscle that almost ended his season in May.
What an effort.
St Kilda (4th) vs Sydney Swans (14th) at the Gabba, 5:10pm AEST
There’ll be plenty of colour in the 5th edition of the AFL Pride Game, promoting inclusion between the LGBTIQ+ and sporting communities, and if there’s one thing the Saints and Swans have plenty of experience doing, it’s including players who have played for both clubs.
Silvio Foschini, Paul Morwood (Who both helped destroy zoning in the VFL), Adam Schneider, Sean Dempster, Trent Dennis-Lane, Anthony Plugger Lockett, Barry Hall, and currently Tim ‘The Skunk’ Membrey.
Heck, Saints legend Ian Stewart even coached the Swans.
And who can forget, the most notorious incident in living memory occurred in a Saints-Swans game… Peter Caven callously running into Plugger’s elbow while the big fella ‘protected himself’ in a marking contest.
Going back to 2012, the Swans have won the last 10 games against the Saints by an average of 56 points, but to state the obvious, times have changed and fortunes have swung in opposite directions, and I’d think the Sainters are looking pretty good to end their third hoodoo in as many games, after defeating both South Australian teams for the first time in 9 years in the span of 5 days.
Let’s just hope Brett Ratten doesn’t say anything negative about the Swans, or else he’ll have to apologise to an angry Horse.
Of course, the backdrop is the Swans (And the Giants) have had to leave New South Wales two weeks ahead of schedule, ahead of the Perth hub next month, after Annastacia Palaszczuk declared Greater Sydney a hotspot risk for Banana Benders, with no idea when they’ll come back.
West Coast Eagles (5th) vs Geelong (3rd) at Optus Stadium, 6:10pm AEST
The first edition of the Tim Kelly Cup, which as of Tuesday night will feature Elliott Yeo after the first-ever successful application of the “It just slipped up” defence at the Tribunal, but unfortunately for Geelong, we may not be seeing Tom Hawkins, who got suspended for the 6th time in at least 5 years for striking Luke Ryan with an elbow, pending a Tribunal hearing this evening.
If Tomahawk doesn’t play, well, unfortunately for a Cats team minus Ablett, Selwood and some other faceless players who no-one pays attention to, 6 goals in a game might not be enough to bag another percentage boosting win, especially against an Eagles team at full-strength who are coming off kicking the biggest score of the year.
Gold Coast (10th) vs GWS Giants (12th) at Metricon Stadium, 3:35pm AWST
As we all expected 9 years ago, the Gold Coast Suns are above the Giants on the ladder.
Not for long though, because after doing their trademark spurt back into form, Toby Greene and friends are also fleeing up to Queensland for 2 weeks to cause some mayhem, and I think Stewie Dew’s discipiles could be in for a bit of a rough afternoon.
Fremantle (16th) vs Collingwood (8th) at Optus Stadium, 4:10pm AWST
Previously, on Collingwood vs Fremantle – The Magpies lose to a WA team with a late goal at the MCG… again.
After what happened in Round 9, do either of these teams even have enough players left?
Pendlebury is gone with a quad, Darcy Tucker had an almighty hamstring tear, Michael Walters might be missing due to a hamstring problem….
Fair dinkum, the game between the injured players from both teams would be a great hypothetical contest.
I’d expect this game to just be Caleb Serong and Steele Sidebottom running around on their own playing a 2 hour game of backyard footy.
Then again, I’d back Steele in that situation, given he’s had plenty of experience training on his own in the last 4 weeks.