THE WRAP – ROUND XXII: WHERE LIFE IMITATES FOOTBALL
And what a round it’s been in Footy Eddie. On Friday night The Grey Army was on the march once more, taking another step along the road to oblivion as they ran headlong into The Tiger, who just happened to be heading in the opposite direction.
Come Saturday and it was Boilover time again as The Miseries ran their season onto the rocks up on the Metricon Reef. That’s right Wrappers, for the second time this season The Abletts dashed the September Hopes of one of the Original Twelve Tribes. The Saints showed them how to deal with upstarts by obliterating Sheedy’s Shenanigans kicking The Sweep and holding The Orangemen to the lowest score for the round. Brissy had to fight all the way to overcome The True Port Adelaide Tradition and West Coast did a number on The Maggies. But it was The Bloods & The Mayblooms who gave us a preview of what’s to come in September with one of the best matches of the season. The Hawks took the points & Top Spot in a thrilling finish with the lead changes coming thick and fast.
By Sunday the weather was picking up as The Pivotonians did what had to be done to take the Four Points against The Tricolors and Adelaide did what was expected off them against The Redlegs. But the upset came from the Little Ground at the far End of Bourke Street as The Purple Horde proved too much for Scottie’s Shinboners. .
Speaking of the lowest score for the round, GWS’s miserable 35 points saved Collingwood (58) and Essendon (57) from vying for that honour.
When is it Good For Football? When the Big Three are all going pear shaped at the same time. When Carlton, after telling everyone who happened within earshot over the last three seasons that they were coming, allow their Finals’ Chances slip away against a team of teenagers that have won six games in two years. (And two of them against Richmond – Ed) When Essendon, after spruiking endlessly of a Brave New World of Bomberdom, are in total disarray and facing a possible meltdown phase of gargantuan proportions. When Collingwood, having let everyone know that it’s all about Them & Us and Sticking Together Side By Side discover that, when the spin is peeled back it’s really only all about us and me at the Westpac Centre. Now that has to be Good For Football doesn’t it?
Let’s revisit those alternative strips shall we? The Appalling Football League’s insistence on having them is surely an insult to our visual and cerebral intelligence isn’t it? On the weekend Saints looked more like ghosts than Saints and the Bombers looked like the Salvation Army on parade. And before all you Sally Annies write in – yes, you would have made more of a fist of the last three of months than The Whingy Hill version. But the loudest please explain should be reserved for the Sunday’s twilight match on the Shifting Sands. Why did The Shinboners have to give up running out in their Traditional Royal Blue & White Stripes with white away shorts and hooped socks against a team wearing a solid Navy outfit with three narrow white Vs, which BTW are borderline rugby league configurations? We’re not saying it was the difference between the two sides, but it’s hard to rally to the colours if the colours have been shandied.
Maggot Watch. Let’s leave Aussie Rules out of it this week and look at a game that doesn’t blow time-on – only injury time. That’s right, Rugby Union. This clipping came from Bananaland’s most widely read clarion of Justice, Truth & the Cane Toad Way, The Courier Mail. This came in from G. White of New Farm. No surprize to read your article (C-M Aug 20) which showed that the ball was in play for 27* minutes in the All Blacks’ thrashing of the Wallabies. (That wasn’t the 22-zip shut-out they copped on Saturday night in Auckland either – Ed) That’s comparatively good for rugby Tests refereed by Irish & Scottish refs. (The) last Test I paid money to watch was (in) 1991 when the ball was in play for 22 minutes. It’s about time the paying public started to demand some sense in the rules and some refereeing guidelines to make the game watchable again. Sound familiar – some refereeing guidelines to make the game more watchable again? Now if this is The Game They Play In Heaven, and the Boss there can’t fix it, shouldn’t we be worried that the task might be beyond Angry Adrian & even the Ayatollah?
Maggot Watch II. Can you imaging the scoreline from Subiaco this round if the umpires had pulled up The Maggies for every blatant bit of holding in the contest and even off the contest? We gave up counting after a dozen in as many minutes. Just wait till one team of adjudicators decides to cut down on it. And the slick movement by hand – you’d have to wonder when someone at Maggot Central is going to say this week umpires are clamping down on the throw. But are we alone in thinking Angry Adrian has been told to pull his head in since the return of the Great Helmsman? There seems to be a tendency to swallow the whistle and let the game flow.
Mayday! Mayday! Man the pumps. The Senior Assistant Coach has revealed all. It’s not a fitness issue out at Whingy Hill that is the reason for the demise the team that’s Always Striving For Glory & Fame. Oh no, it’s that some of the players have been showing more concerned about getting a better deal from the club rather than putting all their effort into what’s happening on the field. First we’ve heard of it; how about you? Names would be handy Bomber. Then we could all have a good laugh over who out of a bunch of non-performers has tickets on themselves. That aside, it hasn’t been such a bad year for a team that has limited talent, has had a horror run with injuries – regardless of the fitness management issues involved – won all of three matches against teams above it on The Ladder and is likely to win half its matches. (That will be four teams if The Pies beat them and The Tiges beat Port in Round XXII – Ed) The main problem around there seems to be that they got a bit over excited when they woke up one Monday morning and found themselves 3rd on The Ladder and talked of as September Challengers. Now we’re in no way suggesting that what the Senior Assistant Coach is claiming is true – he has been careless with that rare commodity in the past – but it should be a worry for all the Whingy Hill Faithful as it suggests rats within the ranks. And let’s not ignore that the suggestion – as out of left field as it is – implies a player mutiny, nor that it’s taken a crisis for it to be made public. There’s something not right out there at Bomberland, and it’s not just the move to Tullamarine.
But enough of my persiflage. Let’s see who was left to spew about Round XXII.
The Tigers v The Salvoes. This was only a severe mauling, not a total savaging, but one that should prove fatal for Human Hamstrings. With Collingwood to read the last rites over the moribund corpse of Essendon’s Fateful 2012 Season in Round XXIII (And that’s not a lay down misère either – Ed) the questions are being raised around the Football World: has the Two Coaches Policy at Whingy Hill been the Football Revolution it was touted to be? We’re going to have you ask all our Whingy Hill friends to take us at our word when we say that it gives us no pleasure whatsoever to have to answer this question in the negative. Remember, this was the team that wasn’t widely tipped to make the finals in the pre-season ladders, was challenging – courtesy of a benign fixture & some meritorious close wins – top spot midway through the season, but has now crashed in spectacular fashion. The Gliders have not just been stiff to lose a couple of close ones during their decline; they’ve been smashed in a way that would drain even Ming The Merciless’ infinite hunger for the sadistic. Listening to Parko – never one to gild the lily or shy from the truth – on Great Southern Grandstand’s Post Match, the reasons he gave made perfect sense. In essence he said The Bombers are short of quality players and the young bodies out there at Whingy Hill have been overextended to the point of fatigue. And possibly to career-shorting levels. Something else that was obvious – apart from the absence of opportunity-creating run & spread – they had little desire for the Pigskin. Can anyone recall a more dramatic fall from grace than these 2012 Bombers? Which brings us to the next question; how many more reflective shots of the coaches’ box window featuring Hirdie’s thousand-yard stare are we going to be flashed before the handlers in the long white coats from Beyond Blue appear in the frame to take Little Jimmy away to the Jeff Kennett Sanatorium? Even Bomber has his head in his hands now. With the move from Whingy Hill to the wind swept peneplain of Tullamarine in the next year or so to come, the last thing the The Dons need is a total restructuring. Sadly, for all those who follow The Red&Black, this is exactly what appears to be looming. Having just emerged from nearly a decade of soul searching – from the sacking of Sheedy & Matty Knights to the appointment of Hird & Thompson – it’s going to take more resolution than they’ve demonstrated they can muster over that period so far. Already the knives are out. Hirdie’s ex-pinup partner, Lloydie, has suggested, as is his undeniable right and responsibility as a reporter and commentator, to question the club’s fitness management. And you would imagine Pretty Boy II would have some inside knowledge of what’s going on out there at the club that gave him his break in life. (Not anymore he won’t – Ed). But enough of the vanquished; what about The Victors? They blew a chance to kick The Sweep with some woefully inaccurate kicking. It may have also cost Jumping Jack a Coleman & Sir Trent Cotchin a Brownlow. We’re not sure how the adjudicators score their votes, but you’d think that a 31-possession match – 13 of them in the last quarter – would score better if it had five majors beside it rather than five behinds. But The Tiges would be happy with their season. That they didn’t make the Finals was an indication of their preparedness to play September Football. The pain of the lost opportunity will only make them a better side next year. They need another key forward and another key backman. And no Nurelle, David Cloke’s son is not the answer at Punt Road anymore than he’s the answer at the Westpac Centre. Regular off-season of kicking practice sessions wouldn’t do any harm either. With seven of their 11 losses decided by two straight kicks or less, a better conversion rate from their inside fifties would make the world of difference to their win loss ratio. They finish off the season against The Port Buddhas next Sunday in the twilight zone at THoF. For The Marshmallows it’s Carringbush at The G on Saturday night to see who has bragging rights for the steepest nosedive in Season 2012.
The Feeling Faints v GWS. The Fred Hesse Annihilation Scoreboard. Don’t laugh, it boosted the Saints percentage from 116.9 to 123.7. A percentage that would bunk them up to fifth spot if Ladder position was decided by the for & against ratio expressed as a percentage. This was a forgettable fill-in match that should have been the curtain raiser to the Legend’s game featuring Warnie & Lizz that preceded it. The Giants, without Cornes & Palmer from their Heavy Brigade, and four up and comers from their Light Brigade, were totally eclipsed by a St Seaford Outfit bent on piling up percentage and hoping that those ahead of them stumble. One of those who already has – already stumbled – is The Royal Parade Cartoons; they have them next Sunday for the early one. The Orangemen finish off their Inaugural Season at Skoda Stadium in next Saturday’s twilight against The Kangaroos.
The Tealers v The Maroons. This was a seesawing match that had the 13,953 Fans – mainly Alberton Faithful – on their feet as first Brissy and then Port held the ascendancy. And never mind the numbers – they made a noise. Whiskers has certainly got The Old Port Adelaide Tradition stoked up, which bodes well for The Chokers in this transition phase. Jay Schultz may not have kicked all that straight, but he certainly created a focal point and crashed a few packs. Whether he & Davie Rodan can carry them to a closing Victory against their Old Club in the middle match next Sunday we’ll have to wait and see. The Boys From Old Fitzroy slip back to the Lions’ Den to prepare themselves against The Miniature Schnauzers to wind up the Home&Away segment of Season 2012. They’ll be pleased with their progress, and they came home like a German Band to snatch what was looking for all the world like a miserable loss, in miserable weather on the loneliest ground in The Competition. They’ve got plenty of class in that line-up and although Brown & Black aren’t getting any younger, they can still carry more than their share of the load for The Gorillas. You can bet your bottom Jupiter Casino chip they’ll already be planning for Season 2013, and planning with the confidence that the Gabba will once more become The Gabbatoir.
The Hawks v The Swans. This was one for the ages. Two teams nearing the peak of their form battling it out for minor premierships bragging rights. But more importantly, to break a grip The Bloods had over the psyche of The Unsociable Hawks. Once again The Mayblooms got away to a sluggish start and at the 1st Huddle things weren’t looking too good for the Paid-up, The Proud, and even The Passionate would have had to have been having second thoughts about slipping out quietly to take in the delights of Sin City. But by the Long Break The Mustard Pots had kicked 7-5 to be sitting one out and one back. It was well into the Second Stanza before the arm wrestle went Hawthorn’s way, and the energy both sides had given it was evident. Once tabled, The Tinseltowners weren’t able to get any leverage and The Leafblowers, led by Buddy’s long shot out near the boundary, slammed on the next seven majors, almost in as many minutes. Good sides can do that. Sydney would be rueing not making the most of their ascendancy in the opening passages, but by the Long Break that was all academic. Having hauled in the breakaway Swans at the foot of the Alps, The Mustard Pots prepared for the up-hill section of the battle. The Squawkers had their noses slightly in front at the last climb after four lead changes in the Championship Quarter, and it was on for young and old. You’ve all read the papers and/or seen the footage. This was Football as it should be played. It would be a travesty if they didn’t have a re-match in September – and wouldn’t it be Good For Football if it was on TLS. The Harboursiders have another test next Saturday down at Stingaree Bay when they take on TRP. The Hawkers have the curtain raiser on The Paddock That Grew against The High Flying Eagles.
The Eddie Eagles v Carringbush. In life there are three sure things – the Tooth Fairy, The Easter Bunny & The Collywobbles. No one doubts the existence of the first two, and after Saturday night, only climate change deniers and the rank & file members of the Black&White Army would refute the all-pervading Collywobbles. SOTG however, may be more analytical in their summation. Without Jolly and with Dawes wishing he was back in the goalsquare at Elsternwick Park playing for the Glory of The BGS, Cameron Wood was left to face the most formidable rucking duo since Doug Bigelow & Geoff Leek led those great Essendon following divisions of the 1950’s. The influence Cox & Nick Nat Nui they can have on a match has to be seen to be believed. As you can imagine, The Magpie midfielders had to second-guess every rucking contest, which, it has to be said, they didn’t do all that well. The recalcitrant Swan had 27 touches, seven only of which he won himself, and looked decidedly out of sorts. Cloke & the aforementioned Dawes just couldn’t take a trick, and did the sight of the Collingwood full forward chasing marks up on wing-half forward bring back memories of Tazza’s early days at Victoria Park for you too? True, every team’s entitled to an off day – but when they start coming at monotonous regularity this close to September, Bucks had every right to be down in the mouth at the Post Match. Of course, the rumour mill is grinding away as to what has brought on this 2012 bout of the ubiquitous malaise and – is our way – we shan’t repeat them here, other than to say you wouldn’t have to be Mandrake the Magician to work out what incidents, recent and on-going, to which they’re referring. The Homeside looked in superb touch and as much as SOTG take form one week at a time, The Coasters looked good and have secured, for the time being, the Double Chance and one home final. They need to beat The Hawks on Friday night at THoF to consolidate that option – and The Monochromes have to fail against the Gilders. Not an impossible scenario.
The Golden Suns v The Miseries. Once again the flags are halfmast along La Via Lygon and the paperboys are wearing the black armbands. After setting off to scalp enough Sunbeams to lift themselves into September Contention, George Armstrong Ratten’s 7th Cavalry found themselves on the wrong end of the knife. This opens all sorts of possibilities at Visy Park, and you would have to imagine that steps are already in place to remedy what has been a singularly unsuccessful campaign over the last four years. Students of The Game will of course be saying that once a Silvertail, always a Silvertail. This is the 2nd time in as many coaches that they’ve rewarded a false dawn with a contract extension only to rescind it before it has expired – albeit that it hasn’t happened in Rattz’s case yet. (I’d be putting ever spare Euro in the going-away drawer on Rattz not being the Senior Coach at Optus Oval next season – Ed) And to support their claim, they would also be citing the evidence of another attempt to buy a Premiership. But if you think The Bluebaggers covered themselves in ignominy over the weekend, take a good hard look at the gentlemen & women of the Fourth Estate. Their hounding of the obviously distressed Carlton Coach in the name of the public’s right to know was nothing short of shameful. Sure, we’ll all have a few private scores to settle, and we’re sure Mick Malloy will have a one you may have missed – I certainly do Lehmo – but that’s a tribal thing. That aside, how they let The Metermaids dominate them early in the match, then give too little too late when the Four Points were up for grabs is all about the players and on-field leadership. Juddie’s already done his mia culpa for the players, yet it’s likely to be the coach who falls on his sword. But let’s not allow the clamour to detract from the main story here. The Sun is rising in the north. Let’s see how they go at the draft this year and how they shape up early in the piece for 2013. They’re not likely to improve their ladder position over the last round, but they’ll need to improve it next year, which is sure to be Guy McKenna’s nightly prayer over the next 12 months. The Blues finish off against The Culture Club next Sunday. The Suns have a visit to the City of Churches on the Saturday.
The Sleepy Hollow Millionaires v The Miniature Schnauzers. At last The Yap Yaps gave a bark, but they were never in the hunt. With the team list certainly under end-of-season review by the 1st-year coach, The Long Suffering Whitten Oval Faithful would have hoped for more from a team that has produced little to roar about all season, but in reality they probably expected nothing less. A long re-build ahead of them out there at Whitten Oval and we can only wish them all the very best. TSHMs did what had to be done and Big Tommy and Stevie J had The Faithful on their feet a few times. The Moggies were never in danger and, accordingly, played within themselves; the run more a preparation for the coming visit of 2nd placed Sydney next Saturday arvo for the early one. The Dishlickers are off to warmer climes to close off the Round and their Dogday 2012 Season.
The Shinboners v The Barry Crockers. The Long Suffering Gasometer Oval Faithful would have had that déjà vu feeling all over again as their Brave Lads scored seven 2nd half goals to their Visitors’ 14. Before the match there was talk at Arden Street and along fashionable Errol Street of a possible 5th place finish and a Home Final. All that went out the door as The Stevedores first choked them for run and turned on a final quarter master class. True, a couple of times they came at The Visitors, but Rossy Lyon’s troops withstood the barrage and launched their own counter attack, the second of which triggered a most un-Shinbonerlike rout. Maybe it was the loss they had to have, but you’d like to think the 115 point drubbing against The Hawks down in Tassy would have sufficed, or even the three goal loss to The Doggies under cover, or the 2 point loss to Port at Footy Park. Worrying signs at Arden Street and the Whole Football World will be watching how The Roos bounce back up at Skoda Park next Saturday in the twilight match. Freo slip back home to drive the last nail in The Fuchsias’ 2012 coffin.
The Chardonnays v The Redlegs. To close off the round Brad Green said farewell to the 18,450 Long Suffering Redleg Faithful who barely outnumbered the seagulls at The MCG. It was a sad moment, but Melbourne have had a few of those lately. Over those 254 games Bradley you’ve proven yourself a Loyal Servant of The Club. For The Free Settlers, it was nothing more than a practice run. They have to do it all again next weekend when they host The Metermaids on the Saturday arvo. For the Dees it’s all aboard the Indian Pacific for a trip to the seaside town of Fremantle.
And remember, if you read it in The Wrap you’ll know it’s not crap.
* Union is played in two halves of 40 minutes.