THE WRAP – Finals ROUND I
THE changing of the guard Round
WHERE LIFE IMITATES FOOTBALL
What a round it’s been in Footy Wrappers. On Friday night The Hawks took The Swans and The Season by the scruff of the neck, and if you’ve never seen a terrier ragdoll a rabbit before, you have now.
And if you’ve never been to Buckingham Palace with Alice, you have now. Because on Saturday saw the changing of the guard. The Boa Constrictors throttled the life out of The Handbags to send them back to the semis. And the Power From Port emphatically announced that they are The Team To Beat From South Australia.
Come Sunday and The Striped Marvels did it again. They snatched Defeat From The Jaws of Victory to let The Bluebaggers make something of their otherwise uncommendable season. (Richmond avoided 9th this season, but were beaten by the side that did. Is there a message there Wrap? – Ed)
So Roosie’s taken on the Poison Chalice. At least we know where Essendon’s lazy two mill is going over the next two years.
Remember we talked this time last week of The Light on The Lonely Little Dung Heap out where The Maribrynong Meets The Mountains? Keep that smoked glass handy. There’s an eclipse viewing that you may wish to tell your grandchildren you witnessed. On the 2nd day of September Anno Domini 2013 a Supreme Court affidavit was sworn on behalf of a Dr Bruce Malcolm Reid as the plaintiff and naming the AFL as the defendant. All lovers of Truth, Justice & Our Great Game should watch this space.
But enough of my gabbin’. Let’s see made their run in Round I of The Finals.
The Bloods v The Mayblooms. There were some Squawkers who were nearly vomiting with nervousness in the lead up to the game. Pre-match talk had been of The Swans’ superior forward aerial strength with White, The Mummy, Le Canadien & Big Kurt our marking and/or out crashing the undersized Hawthorn defence. It didn’t happen. Orchestrated by Captain Courageous and ably supported by Burchall, Lake & Gibson, the defence never missed a beat all night. With Lewis & Poppy prepared to go in where angels feared to tread, and The Everyready battery man Slammin’ Sammy Mitchell, Guerra & Burgoyne giving huge drive as they opened up the play, The Mustard Pots ran The Lakers to a standstill.
Nor were The Sydney defenders able to dominate the Buddy & Cyriless attack. If one soldier goes down another one steps up to the line to take his place. Eleven of them in fact. Deadeye Gunston nailed 3-1 and the Coleman Medallist drilled a couple himself and created three more. The match was there for the taking at the Long Break. It was Paid-up Proud & Passionate who came out and took it. The Swans scrambled 3-2 in the 2nd Half. The Reigning Runners Up slammed on 11-8 in the same period. Make so mistake; this was an Emphatic Victory.
Could The Bloods go out in straight sets? Based on last night’s performance it would come as no surprize. The Family Club, with an honest workmanlike first half, beat them at their own game. Then they came out and put the result beyond doubt in the Championship Quarter when they made The Swans play on their terms. After recent floggings by both The Cats & The Hawks, some Students of The Game are suggesting that Sydney don’t have a plan B. The Mayblooms are straight into their 2nd successive Preliminary Final. The Bloods have to do it all again, albeit up in Sin City. This time against The Famous Old Dark Blues.
Les Chats Noirs contre Les Hommes d’Ancrage. As The Mad Abbott has taken over Canberra, the Sleepy Hollow Millionaires have taken over Flat Town. This was the match that was tailor made for The Catters. Playing in front of their Adoring Kardinia Park Faithful, they were expected to bounce back from the narrow squeak they put in against The Boys From Old Fitzroy last week. The closest they got to a dead cat bounce was in the opening 10 minutes when they bombarded to goals for four of their most costly behinds of the season. You could say that the four points that could’ve should’ve been 24 points cost them the match, but that would be grossly unfair to their opponents.
Rossy Lyon, shrewd tactician that he is, had identified the Geelong playmakers, and made sure he put them under pressure. Crowley & Ballantyne got inside Stevie J’s head at every opportunity. The Handbags really haven’t been able to rely on rucking dominance since Bradley Ottens hung up The Hoops. Big Laurie – all 6’11” of him – fed opportunity after opportunity to Michael Barlow & The Stevedores’ on-ballers. Not that it was an armchair ride; Barlow & Fyfe between them had 34 contested possessions. Every time The Moggies went near the ball they were belted. Some of the physicality was old school stuff from the 20th Century. It worked then and it worked on Saturday. However, the MRP may be of the view that what was allowed on the 20th Century should be more closely monitored in the 21st Century.
The Pivotonians certainly didn’t shirk it, as you would expect from a team coached by one of the Scott Twins, but the close attention did restrict their free flowing game. They had a couple of bursts of energy at the beginning of each half, but ran out of steam as The Barry Crockers first absorbed the pressure then returned to strangling the life out of The Opposition. With The Pav & Mayne providing marking targets, they were able to kick the winning score.
Not all the physicality was in pursuit of The Pigskin, and MRP may have to stay back on Monday night to make sure some form of Finals’ Justice is not only done, but seen to be done. The Icon Zac is one who will have to explain his actions on video link-up on Tuesday night for openers.
The Indigo Miasma – no one will convince us that the Fremantle Jumpers are actually purple – slip home to prepare themselves for the winner out of Sydney & Carlton. The Moggies face This Year’s Big Improvers – The Power From Port.
The Woodsmen v The Tealers. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Has this shaken the natural order of things? Anyone else get the sense that The Collingwoods were waiting for some big wind to pick them up and carry them across the River Jordan? Instead it carried them to the River Styx and dumped them right in the high diddle diddle. We’re not going to name names, but Bucks was far from happy with the effort. Watch for the names Collingwood puts on the trade table this time around. It’ll give you some idea of whose name went in the book on Saturday night. And with Eddie’s head ready to explode by game’s end, you wouldn’t expect Coach Figjam to have much trouble getting him to sign off on who won’t be at the Westpac Centre next year. (There’s any number of gaps to fill in that Carringbush line up – Ed)
But let’s not forget the Victors. Coach Ken has Port Adelaide believing in itself again, and regardless of how they go against The Moggies next week, The Coach & his team, along with the Administration and The Rusted-on Alberton Oval Faithful have worked miracles. Oozing Self Belief and with the whole out performing the sum of the parts, they seized the day when it was there to be seized. They’ll only get better. The list isn’t old by any means; in fact it’s amongst the youngest going around. We’re tipping that a trip to the Picturesque Adelaide Oval to play The Tealers next year is going to be The Road Trip From Hell.
Struggletown v The Silvertails. With nearly 95,000 at the ground and The Whole Football World watching on the now not so small screen, The Long Suffering Punt Road Faithful got ahead of themselves again on Sunday. Bursting into the Richmond clap clap clap chant in the second term – when The Tiges piled on 7-2 to 4-2, four of those goals in a five minute burst – they thought they had the game by the scruff of the neck. (Someone should explain to them that it’s a chant usually reserved as a prelude to the Fat Lady’s appearance – Ed) When Shane Edwards kicked the 1st major of the Championship Term they were over five goals up and full of run. What happened after that? They had their chances to ice this one but, as they have so often this season, they lost their way in that fatal Third Stanza. Allowing The Bluebaggers to pile on 6-2 to 2-3 was a where the match, as it stood at that point, was lost. The Blues closed the game up, won the contested possessions. Judd threw off any injury worries, Murphy & Gibbs put in blinders, Jarrod Waite got on the end of some Eddie Betts magic and the whole forward line lifted. (Eddie didn’t do his job prospects any harm either – Ed)
But where the match was really lost was in the Opening Stanza when The Tiges had the upper hand. Swarming all over The Silvertails they just couldn’t pile on a contest-sealing lead.
Did they fire off all they had in the locker in that frenetic First Half? They were certainly second to the ball after the Long Break. Worse than that, they lost their composure. Long bombing into the goal square in hope of a match-turning screamer is just so old school. And it played right into the hands of the Carlton defence. Henderson & Jamison kept smashing the ball to the ground and the Carlton crumbers did the rest. The Tige’s defensive play became reactionary and they spent a lot of the 2nd Half learning the numbers of the Carlton team off by heart.
Without making excuses, losing Reece Conca in the first 15 minutes brought Tuckie on early, but The Tigers lack of sheer pace and explosive goal scoring options, in the absence of both Nathan Foley & Matty White, was exposed in the 2nd Half when The Blues where able to run off them.
Let’s take nothing away from the coaching of The Cunning Ox either. His admonishment that eating the dry stubble to the roots brings on the green shoots of late Spring was not lost on his charges. Can they go further? The Haemorrhaging Bloods would have to be considered vulnerable, even up there. Should they get over that part of the journey, they have to catch the Indian Pacific across the WideBrownLand to take on The Indigo Miasma.
For The Endangered Species it’s mothballs for yet another season. At least one September Victory would have been a salve for the anguish every TLSPRF carries in their collective heart. But like everyone who calls Punt Road home, they’re Tigers For Ever. They’ll learn from the bitter lesson. And make no mistake; going down to Carlton was an acrid pill to swallow. They need a key forward upon whom they can build an attack. (You mean like a Pavlich or Roughhead do you Wrap? – Ed) They need a more consistent midfield and a more defensive mindset in attack. Too many of Carlton’s forward moves came from deep in their defence zone. All something they’re sure to be reviewing during The Long Dark Summer. That Coach Hardnose sent Skipper Trent Cotchin out to face the media in the Post Match might give SOTG some idea of the burning fury that will be driving Struggletown next season.
And remember, if you read it in the Wrap you’ll know it’s not crap.
This is the Final Wrap for 2013. The Wrap staff are embarking early on our End Of Season Trip and the Wrapcave will be mothballed till Season 2014. We’d like to thank all those who contributed to Season 2013 in their own special way. There’s West Coast – High Flying Kings of The Sky pre-season, a flock of scrub wrens by Round XXIII. The Recalcitrant Redlegs, who put the B in basket case & the F in farce, and whose valiant lunge at the Coveted Sylvan Shield fell tragically short. Of The Suns, The Saints, The Lions and The Doggies, who so aptly demonstrated that this Great Game of Ours is not about winning at any costs, but it’s about never quitting before the Final Siren.
We’d like to thank those who have brought character & substance to The Game. Especially Jumping Jack for his always drooping bottom lip and his arm waving and explicit finger pointing – in the most appropriate & constructive possible way of course. The Hon. Edward C Betts for his baggy shorts and the way he moves in them: sheer poetry in motion. Roughie, for being a Traralgon Boy through & through. Coach Figjam for riding out the storm, learning on the job & bringing The Boys with him through to September.
A very special thank you to all those at Jellymont House & Whingy Hill who, although they hogged the limelight, reminded us that we’re all fallible. To them we present the special Hodie Mihi, Cras Tibi award for Season 2013.
They also share The KRudd Shield for delusional excellence. If they think for a moment that they fooled anyone but themselves they are certifiable delusional and should seek immediate medical attention.
The panel was unanimous in its voting for The Coveted Fevola Medal for bringing The Game into Disrespect. With BoG votes for the re-opening of the Melbourne ‘tanking for draft picks’ enquiry, the Kurt Tippett salary cap & contract breaches, and finally clinched the award by helping keep the Essendon Football Crisis scandal front & centre on the back & front pages for a good part of the season, thereby crowding out the good news stories of the season. The EFC itself received several nominations, but the judges ruled that most of the nominations made Essendon look like more like a bunch of incompetent dills rather than actually bring The Game into Disrespect. (I wish I’d let you strike that Gary Fragalas Medal now Wrap – Ed)
A special commendation went to the above parties’ respective spin-doctors and legal teams. However, a case was mounted, on the grounds that they sincerely believe the Essendon Football Crisis didn’t actually happen – that not only were there no drugs in the syringes at Melrose Drive, there were no syringes – for the exclusion of Downright Lie & Procrastynate, and their Senior Associate Sir Frank Downright from the voting for the Fevola this year. It was vigorously advocated that the two parties, having pressed this scenario all season, are not in a fit state of mind to participate in the prestigious award for this year. The judges’ decision was unanimous and no appeal has been entered.
The Robbie Flower Medal went to Coach Hinkley and his Port Power players for showing what can be achieved by injections of BHW, passion & Self Belief. To us, this is the feel good story to come out Season 2013. A close second was Coach Figjam for his disarming honesty and sly grin that creeps out from under the steely façade. (The sly grin had totally disappeared by Saturday night – Ed) He’s had his knockers, but you won’t find any of them on The Wrap Judging Panel. Angry Adrian also polled well, and the judges gave him extra points for never appearing in front of a sponsors’ board. Vossy’s handling of his sacking came too late to make an impression on the leader board, but it did earn him an honourable mention.
The Harry Beitzel Medal was the toughest. The panel worked their way through a mountain of stats that Mosstrooper couldn’t jump over. They finally gave it The Geisha, for taking his long service leave and letting common sense prevail.
Then there were our friends at Visy Park. Where would we be without them? They made it through to September, which is why they signed up Mickey in the first place. QED. We’re sure we join with every Footy scribe in the land in thanking Mickey & The Dreamers for every line they’ve given us over season 2013. True, they missed out on the KRudd Shield, but there was some pretty stiff opposition this season. And there’s always next year.
Finally there’s The Striped Marvels. The Rise & Rise of Struggletown is always good for Football. As the Late Great Living Legend, Captain Blood would have said – The Tigers are Back In Town. To hear the Jungle Drums beating out that message from the Deep Woods to the Tough Waterside Bars of Morristown is always good for Football. For that we – and The Long Suffering Punt Road Faithful – thank them.
And thanks to all the Wrap Subscribers & Footy fans everywhere. To Cookie & JTH for providing a platform for People Who Love Their Footy & Love Writing About It. It’s been another Year To Remember. (Aren’t they all? – Ed) To borrow a line from our immediate past prime minister, the late & least forgotten Therese&Kevin – it humbles us here in the Wrapcave to think we’re not the only ones who read all the crap we write.
Footy has often been described as The Glue That Binds Our Culture Together. Here, on The Fatal Shore, and wherever those who call Australia Home find themselves. So, until the days draw in to herald the end of the Long Dark Summer, it’s Eat’ em Alive Tigers, and spit out the bones.