My random fact for the Anzac Day Clash:
This year will mark 10 years since Scott Pendlebury won the Anzac Day Medal with dreadlocks.
Yes, that’s right young’uns, Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury, basketball background and all, grew dreadlocks to start the 2011 season, and it looked rather interesting.
Gryan Miers, take a back seat son.
GWS Giants vs Western Bulldogs at Manuka Oval, Friday 7:50pm AEST
Another fantastic edition of the Griffen-Ward-Boyd Cup, this is the sixth time the Giants and Bulldogs have played in Canberra – By comparison, they’ve only played 4 times at Giants Stadium, including both finals in 2016 and 2019, and 4 times at Docklands.
It’s also the second time they’ve played one another on a Friday night in Canberra – The first was back in Round 6 of 2017, which was also the first time the Giants were fixtured on Friday Night Football in their short history.
The Bulldogs currently sit at No.1 in both Points For and Points Against through the opening 5 rounds, powering them to their first 5-0 start since 1946, when they won their first 9 games, which still stands as the Bulldogs’ longest winning streak.
To provide some context about 1946 for Footscray, Ted Whitten was still 5 years away from making his debut, and 1954 Premiership Captain Charlie Sutton was in his first season back from 3 years of active duty, having played 8 games in his debut year of 1942.
The Dogs’ percentage of 178.6% is also the best after 5 games in the club’s history, some 5% better than their Premiership year in 2016.
And, reflecting one of the first genuine rivalries the Giants have developed with another club outside of the Swans, the head-to-head in what has been dubbed ‘The Great Western’ is only 7-6 the way of the Giants.
Geelong vs West Coast Eagles at GMHBA Stadium, Saturday 1:45pm AEST
In a fact not forgotten by Eagles fans, West Coast have only won once at Kardinia Park this century – The memorable 54-point comeback from Round 10, 2006, which remains the biggest comeback in Eagles’ history.
The average winning margin for the Cats in the 6 games at Kardinia Park since then is an even 10 goals.
Geelong captain Joel Selwood is 6 tackles away from surpassing former Eagle Matt Priddis’ record of 1629 career tackles -Tackles were first recorded as a statistic in 1985.
Two Cats will also bring up milestones – Luke Dalhaus plays game 200, having played 154 for the Western Bulldogs (Including the 2016 Premiership) to go with what will be his 46th game for Geelong, and Rhys Stanley plays his 150th AFL game, comprising of 92 games for the Cats and 58 for St Kilda.
If Jeremy Cameron does play his first game for Geelong alongside Tom Hawkins, it’ll mark the first time any team has featured 2 Coleman Medalists in their line-up since Hawthorn in the 2013 Finals, when they had Jarryd Roughead (2013) and Lance Franklin (2008 & 2011).
With the Eagles winning by 9 points in Round 9 at Optus Stadium last season, they reclaimed the lead in the head-to-head count against the Cats 27-1-26, making them one of only four clubs with a winning record against Geelong; Essendon, Carlton and Collingwood are the others.
And, the home team has won every contest between the Eagles and Cats since 2014.
Gold Coast vs Sydney Swans at Metricon Stadium, Saturday 1:45pm AEST
Despite winning against the Swans at the SCG last season (And in 2018), the Suns have still never defeated the Swans at Carrara/Metricon Stadium, with the Swans having won all 5 contests between the teams on the Glitter Strip.
This is also despite the fact that the Swans were winless from their 3 visits to the Gold Coast in 2020 (West Coast, Carlton and Geelong knocked them off), with the loss to the Eagles in Round 5 marking the first time they’d lost at the ground since the Brisbane Bears defeated them by 59 points in Round 23 of 1992.
In all, the Swans lead the head-to-head 9-2.
Carlton vs Brisbane Lions at Marvel Stadium, Saturday 4:35pm AEST
Boyd Woodcock’s goal for Port Adelaide late in the 3rd Quarter on Saturday evening brought up another milestone in the history of the Carlton Football Club – It was the 200,000th point the Blues have conceded in their VFL/AFL history.
As for the most memorable of those 200,000… Well, a certain 6-pointer by Malcolm Blight would go close:
It now means Collingwood and Geelong are the only remaining founding VFL clubs who haven’t cracked the 200,000 points conceded mark, although both of them are now inside of 1,000 points to go.
Meantime, despite their 2-3 record, the Lions have won all 5 of their final quarters this season – Richmond and Melbourne are the only other teams to win all 5 of their final quarters, with no other teams winning more than 4 thus far.
It’s the first time the Lions have pulled that off since the merger, with the Brisbane Bears achieving it in 1996.
And, the long tall Lion Eric Hipwood brings up his 100th game, although some would contend that he’s currently the No.1 seed at the Barcelona Open.
Still, I haven’t seen Eric scratch his backside before he has a shot at goal.
Melbourne vs Richmond at the MCG, Saturday 7:25pm AEST
The sixth Anzac Eve Clash of the original MCG tenants, with the new addition of the Frank ‘Checker’ Hughes Medal for best afield, named after the player & coach who served on the Western Front, and later guided Richmond and Melbourne to premierships in the 1930s and ’40s, and briefly coached Melbourne again for 1 game when Norm Smith was sacked in 1965.
As the legend goes, Checker gave Melbourne their lasting nickname of Demons, at a time when they were known as the Fuschias, thanks a rant that supposedly contained the sentence:
“You are playing like a lot of flowers. Lift your heads and play like demons!”
In the milestone of the round, Nathan Jones will become the second player in the 162-year history of the Melbourne Football Club to play 300 games, joining his former captain David Neitz, who reached the milestone in Round 20, 2007, a game that a 19-year-old Jones played in.
Jones is the 92nd player in VFL/AFL history to play 300 games – Collingwood’s goalkicking Legend of the Game Gordon Coventry was the first, in Round 15 of 1937, and oddly enough, Jones will also claim the record for the fewest wins by a player in their first 300 games, currently held by Kade Simpson with 109, with Jonesy having played in only 98 wins from 299 games.
Still, the milestone that will get a smidgen more attention from Channel 7 is Dustin Martin’s 250th game, having missed just 8 games since he debuted in 2010, and Dusty’s milestone also means all four multiple Norm Smith Medalists in history have played at least 250 games; Luke Hodge played 346, Andrew McLeod played 340, and Gary Ayres played 269.
It also means every player in history to win the trifecta of a Premiership, Brownlow Medal and Norm Smith has played at least 250 games; Simon Black, Jimmy Bartel, Greg Williams, James Hird and Chris Judd are the others.
Capping off MILESTONE MANIA 2021, Daniel Rioli and Angus Brayshaw will also play in their 100th games for the Tigers and Demons, but considering the circumstances, they’ve taken a back seat.
As we all know, Melbourne have started 5-0 for the first time since 1994, but the last time the Dees started a season 6-0 was back in 1965, when they won their first 8 games before the club’s committee sacked Norm Smith at the end of July, which ripped the arse out of the club and led to them missing the finals for 22 consecutive years.
The Dees also became the first team since Collingwood in 2011 to win their first 5 games by at least 3 goals – In what may be an omen, the last 4 teams to pull that off won the minor premiership:
As previously alluded to, both teams have won all 5 final quarters they’ve played in 2021, which means something will have to give on Saturday night…
And finally, most importantly, the Tigers have won the last 5 meetings against the Dees, and last week, the Tigers’ 86-point win against St Kilda was their greatest winning margin at Docklands Stadium from 93 games at the ground, surpassing their 82-point win against Brisbane in 2006.
Fremantle vs North Melbourne at Optus Stadium, Saturday 6:15pm AWST
Fresh off only their second win at the Adelaide Oval in 10 attempts, Fremantle host the 25th Len Hall Tribute Game, named after WA’s last surviving Gallipoli veteran Len Hall, who was also the last surviving Australian Light Horsemen to ride alongside Lawrence of Arabia during the Arab Revolt.
Some more facts about the man himself – Len was born the day after the inaugural round of the VFL (May 9) was held in 1897, he was able to attend the game named in his honour in 1996, when Fremantle defeated Melbourne, and he died on February 24, 1999 at the age of 101.
The Dockers and Kangaroos have played twice in the Len Hall game – North came from behind to win by 13 points in 2014, and Freo won by 5 points in 2017 thanks to a late goal by Shane Kersten.
And, assuming David Mundy plays and Fremantle win, it would mark his 171st win from 338 games, surpassing Matthew Pavlich for the most by a Fremantle player.
Hawthorn vs Adelaide at University of Tasmania Stadium, Sunday 12:30pm AEST
The last time the Hawks played on Anzac Day itself was against Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval in 2015, whereas the Crows haven’t played on our national day of commemoration since 1999, when they defeated Sydney at Football Park by 81 points.
On another note, this game will mark 20 years since York Park hosted it’s first AFL game, ending a 9-year wait for an AFL game played in Tasmania after Fitzroy’s venture to Hobart ended in 1992.
As fate would have it, that inaugural game in Launceston in 2001 was also Hawthorn against Adelaide in Round 6, with the Hawks winning by 13 points, although it was a premiership Hawk & Crow in Darren Jarman would be voted best afield with 39 disposals and 3 goals.
Going further back, this round also marks 30 years since Hawthorn’s first league game in Tasmania, against Fitzroy at North Hobart Oval in Round 6 of 1991, when the Hawks kicked their club record score of 36.15-231.
The Hawks currently sit on 49 wins from 64 games at York Park, with their winning percentage of 77.34% the best by any club at any ground with a minimum of 50 games played.
They’ll need every bit of that home away from home advantage, because 2021 marks the first time since 2005 that the Hawks have sat in second-last on the ladder after Round 5, which just happened to be Alastair Clarkson’s first season as coach.
All up, the Crows have only won once from 5 visits to Launceston – Round 15 of 2005 against the Hawks, although they haven’t played there since 2010, and they have lost twice in Hobart to North Melbourne (2014 & 2017) in the 11 years since.
Finally, although they hold a 3-2 record, oddly enough, they still haven’t 3rd Quarter in 2021, the first time a Crows team hasn’t won a 3rd Quarter through 5 games since 2004, which would prove to be the last year of Gary Ayres’ tenure as coach.
Collingwood vs Essendon at the MCG, Sunday 3:20pm AEST
The supposed feature event of the weekend, the 26th annual Anzac Day clash between Collingwood an Essendon, and after the Dons led 6-1-4 after 2005, the Pies have taken a commanding 15-1-9 lead, but that said, Essendon has tended to win Anzac Day clashes once every four years – Their last 4 wins on Anzac Day have come in 2005, 2009, 2013 and 2017.
If the omens hold up, then we could be seeing a Dons win on Sunday.
Finishing off with a few coincidences: Essendon has a 2-3 record in 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Quarters in 2021.
And, both teams have 1-4 records and will wear predominantly black guernseys on Sunday:
Still, it should be easy to tell them apart, given one of them will end up 5 goals down on the scoreboard.
Port Adelaide vs St Kilda at the Adelaide Oval, Sunday 6:10pm ACST
The final game of the round in a rare Sunday evening timeslot, and this will mark the first time both Port Adelaide and St Kilda have played on Anzac Day since 2015.
On that Saturday, St Kilda hosted Carlton in what was the last game of the New Zealand experiment in Wellington, with the Blues claiming what would turn out to be Mick Malthouse’s 406th and final win as coach, and that evening, Port Adelaide defeated Hawthorn by 8 points, after leading by as much as 58 points in a spellbinding 1st Half:
The only other occasion the Saints and Power have played one another on the Anzac Day Round was back in 2010, on a miserable Saturday night at Football Park, in which Port upset the Saints by 10 points after holding them goalless in the last quarter, with the Saints’ last goal of the game coming from Stephen Milne, which ended up as a finalist for Goal Of The Year:
And, one to cheer the Saints faithful up – Prior to 2020, St Kilda had never won at the Adelaide Oval, nor had they defeated either Adelaide or Port Adelaide since 2011.
In the space of 5 days in July, they defeated them both in the City Of Churches.