THE WELCOME BACK WRAP
For the Philosophical Marngrook Follower
Ciad Mile Failte. And what an off-season it’s been in Footy Eddie. The baggy green has dropped its sag, and it’s the To & Froms that were sent home to explain to the folks back at Trafalgar Square the whereabouts of The Urn & its Sacred Contents. Not that Sir Geoffrey Boycott hasn’t already told them.
Then The Baggies stuck it up the Seth Efrikaans in a seesawing battle that had night owls back in Oz bleary-eyed for a month. Not yet Numero Uno, but only one more successful series against The Curry Munchers away from it.
Our Li Na took the Women’s Crown on Rod Laver Arena and Stephanie Gilmore is BIT after her stunning performance up on the Gold Coast.
The Club That Dare Not Speak Its Name kept Our Great Game in the headlines during the Long Dark Winter, and it is only in the interests of fearless reporting that we point out that the ASADA has a charge sheet drawn up for the man they called “The Weapon” out at Whingy Hill. You’d have to be excused for thinking that if Danks is guilty of injecting illegal substances into players, the players would have to be cited too. But The Ayatollah moves in mysterious ways.
Speaking of whom, he has announced that he’s retiring at the end of the season. He’s announced his successor too, but there are those who believe that hereditary rule is only practised in the Forbidden City & The Hermit Kingdom. Let’s see how strong the Commissioners are in this one.
We’re prepared to punt that Mark Webber will miss the start at Albert Park again – what’s that? He’s retired? How about Bernie? No? But he may be going on an extended holiday soon? He certainly deserves one.
The season can’t come quick enough for True Lovers of THE GAME. Our Great Game. The One True Game. And I tell you what, if they don’t play it in Heaven, I’m not going.
So, as the acrid smell of briquette smoke mingles with the sandalwood scent of belah, and the sweet thunk of Bata Scouts sinking into Ross Faulkners can be heard across the nation – from the Meanstreets of Struggletown to the shaded cul-de-sacs & crescents of the Leafy East – from the cobbled bluestone lanes to the never ending plains – and dare we say it – from sea to shining sea – the WideBrownLand awakes from slumber.
The Wrap end of August ladder is the traditional feature of this 1st issue after the retreat of the Long Dark Summer. And here it is.
THE FINAL LADDER
1) Hawthorn – The Squawkers will be there again; make no mistake. They only have one Back-to-back Flags on their Honour Board and this playing group is keen to add another. Buddy will be missed, regardless of the nonchalance with which Leafblowers declare that they’ve had the best out of Buddy. They may have had the best value out of Buddy, but he’s got enough in him to cause some headaches down the track for them. That having been said, picking up Big McEvoy more than compensates for Buddy’s absence. The midfield is aging a bit, but they’ve got enough in them for one last tilt. Their uncanny accuracy got them into TLSIS last year, and over the line. They select forwards for their kicking skills and you know what, it works. The defence is solid and can launch an attack. The Family Club will be there when the whips are cracking.
2) Sydney – The Swans will be there of course. They’ve got talent oozing out of their midfield and Kirt & Buddy will be awesome in attack. They’ve got heaps of pace and a thereabouts defence. It will be interesting to see how the new administration settles in. There’s a suspicion that there may be a slide back to the flamboyant days of Geoffrey & Leanne. We’ve underestimated them before, so we’re not taking any chances this season.
3) Fremantle– They’ve been tipped to go one better this season, but will they? They’ve got plenty of talent, and Rossy Lyon has them playing his sell every inch with your life style of football. They have a powerful midfield but look a bit soft up forward. The Pav may have another season in him, but the big question mark has to be over Gumbles. And Big Laurie for that matter. They had every chance last season, but they wouldn’t be the first team to get an attack of the jitters in The Big One. Can they go one more? You’d like to thinks so.
4) Richmond – Ignore The Tigers this year at your peril. There’s a self belief developing down at Punt Road that’s built on a midfield depth that is going to take season 2014 by storm. Add a couple of handy goal kicking pick-ups to take the pressure of Jack and one of the best defences in The Competition and you’ve got an excitement machine. They’ve plenty of talls & Shaun Hampson only complements team balance. They’re out of debt down at Tigerland and their VFL side plays at Punt Road this season. They may still represent Struggletown, but the time of struggle is over. As The Late Great Living Legend, Captain Blood, would surely tell you – The Tigers are BIT. And if that’s not enough, checkout the message the jungle drums of the Deep Woods are saying as they beat out the message across from the Skull Cave to the mean waterside bars of Morristown. If that hasn’t convinced you the Tiges can finish Top Four, check out the fixture the Great Helmsman & the gnomes deep in the bowels of Jellymont House have gifted them. That’s right, ask Eddie, if you draw the punters you get easy street.
5) West Coast – with their home ground advantage and a fresh coaching approach we’re tipping The Weagles to make up for the lost years – especially last year. Nic Nat Nui could even be a smoky for the Charles Brownlow Medal for Fairest & Best. La Cras, Darling & Kennedy make a formidable attack and they’ve got a heap of no name youngsters ready to fire. They’d have been stung by the usurpers from the Port hogging all the kudos last year. Watch them correct that situation as they burst from the pack.
6) Geelong – we’ve got The Moggies at # 6. They’re a year older, true, and maybe not The Greatest Team Of All right now, but they’re still a great team. And they know the ropes. We wrote that last year and nothing’s changed – but they are minus Chappy. Sixth may even be flattering. They’re re-building down at Cat Central. The last cohort of their golden years is slipping past their prime, and this year will be a test of the depth at the Geelong Falcon’s Footy Factory. Another thing we can add to what we know about The Pivotonians – they’re The Mighty Blue & Whites, and when the ball is bounced, the final bell, They’ll stand Up & Fight Like Hell.
7) Port Adelaide – Can Port maintain the momentum created by a new coach & a new administration? We’re saying they can. And they’ll make it through to September. There’s a lot to like about The Boys From Alberton.
8) North Melbourne – Not too sure about The Shinboners. They were all over the shop last season and let down The Long Suffering Gasometer Oval Faithful, their coach, the North Melbourne administration and The Wider Football Public. An excitement machine when on song, they suffered costly lapses of concentration. Now here’s the rub – can they pull themselves up enough to win those matches they should have won? We gave up on them in the second half of last season, just as they started to steady. One last chance Shinboners.
9) Carlton – The Blues have had a year to settle down under the Philosopher Coach and the addition of his favourite son, after a year off at Victoria Park, will boost the midfield. (Or does Figjam know something that the Royal Parade medicos failed to spot – Ed) Our guess is that they’ll miss The Hon. Edward C. Betts, enough to cost them a place in September. They didn’t have depth last season, and although they played some inspired Footy, they often left it too late. We can’t see where that’s going to change, especially with some of their household names getting older. Sorry Blues Brothers, no get out of gaol card this season.
10) Collingwood – Rusted on Magpie Faithful have resigned themselves to finishing 9th or 10th. We’ve got them at 10th. Not sure what it is; they’ve got a sparkling list, but it just doesn’t seem to be catching the light. It’s easy to say there’s trouble at the Lexus Centre, but you can only go on what you see on the field and what you read in the papers. Expect a mid season revival, but their early draw would suggest that they’ve fallen out of favour at Jellymont House. Maybe it’s time to change the incumbent in the Oval Office. Any talk of changing the coach would be counter productive. (Try telling that to The Monochrome Army – Ed)
11) Adelaide – The Chardonnays had a horrid year in 2013. They got off to a bad pre-season with the Ayatollah’s Praetorian Guard crawling all over them over the Kurt Tippett signing , then they lost Big Tex. They’ve put in a solid pre-season and are ready to give their coach an honest season and the Rabid Adelaide Mob something to be rabid about. Will they make September? Probably not. Will they shape the Final Eight? Most certainly.
12) Essendon – Let’s make it perfectly clear at this stage, Wrap Enterprizes has nothing personal against the EFC. Nor do any of its staff. Any analysis of their prospects for season 2014 is based on the facts. Fact 1 – they are still reeling from last year’s debacle. Fact 2 – it has been reported that there is disharmony in the administration – deep disharmony. Fact 3 – regardless of a rising membership role, many supporters are far from happy about what has happened out at Melrose Drive. Fact 4 – they are still seeking key staff to fill vacancies left by last season’s blood letting. Fact 5 – they have looked anything but impressive in the practice matches. True it could be a smoke-screen, or a new coach trying out his players. Who are we to tell a dual premiership coach how to run his show? Fact 6 – they don’t seem to have shaken off the injury syndrome that coast them so dearly a couple of years back when they earned the tag The Human Hamstrings. Fact 7 – ASADA have to be seen to be doing something, and whether it elk horn juice, unicorn urine or an illegal substance The Bombers were pumping into their players, ASADA are going to continue their investigations. You may very well wish to back them to make September, but we couldn’t possibly do so. However, you might like to see what the odds are that they’ll be in the limelight again for all the wrong reasons.
13) Footscray – The Doggies finished last season full of bite. And their pre-season has shown promise. They finished 15th last year and if the endeavour they showed in the second half of 2013 is any indication, they’ll make a move up the Competition Table this season. It may only be a couple of places, but if anyone above them falters it could be more.
14) The Meter Maids – If the Suns are going to break through the clouds, this is the year. Every chance of finishing higher should they get a good run. They can put down two gimmees against Crosstown Rivals for starters. The Little Master only gets better and his bringing some pretty classy kids along with him. Another one of those who only need a glimpse of daylight and they’ll be out of the yards and heading for the timber. Like to Kennel Coughs, one to watch for shrewd investors.
15) Melbourne – The Dees are being sent down the race with a totally new attitude this season. How this can be converted to Premiership Points will become apparent through the season. Our feeling is that they’ll fall short at crucial moments. It’s a feeling based on two things – their lack of depth and that, in all honesty, we can’t fit them any higher up The Ladder.
16) Brisbane – Carried the Curse of The NAB Cup into Season 2013, and gave up on their Favourite Son before it was over. Still relying on Jonathon Brown too much, who incidentally played alongside their new Coach. They’re talking it up at The Gabbottoir, but they really don’t look all that good on paper nor on the field.
17) The Greater Western Sydney Giants – They’re under a new coaching regime, and this in itself will make a difference; enough difference to lift them of the Bottom Rung of The Competition for the first time. They’ve enough balance of old heads and young shoulders to catch a few unawares this season. They played some devastating quarters last year, now for some sustain over the whole Hundred Minutes.
18) St Kilda – We have serious doubts about The Culture Club this season. They may have stripped the team list bare. They don’t appear to have recruited well enough to let players of the quality of Goddard, Del Santo & McEvoy walk away from Eel Race Road. (Maybe they didn’t have a choice – Ed) Well, if they didn’t have a choice Ed, there has to be a reason for that, and that in itself doesn’t look good. It doesn’t make us feel good having to write this, but for all those Long Suffering Junction Oval Faithful who have followed The Feeling Faints to the very end of time and back, be prepared to nail another Coveted Timber Trophy above the bar at the social club this season.
Can The Mayblooms go back-to-back? Will The Barry Crockers revenge the one that got away? Will The Mighty Eagles fly high this year? Is it The Year of The Tiger? We’ll stick with the Leafblowers again. Someone who’s opinion I take seriously told me Ross Lyon would never coach a premiership team, so going on that I’m saying The Mustard Pots will revenge themselves against The Bloods.
The Coach most likely
Two jump immediately to mind. Guy McKenna is going to have to have The Suns moving up The Ladder to save his job. Apart from that there’s hardly anyone else. Bucks is sure to come under the spotlight at some atge as on field success in a lousy draw fixture puts the whole structure of Collingwood under pressure, but he’ll stay.
The Bombers can’t do any more than they did last year, and the shock of rolling revelations may have lost its vote grabbing appeal. Besides, the whole issue has become a bit of a bore. We’re going for, in his testimonial year, the Ayatollah. We’re tipping that the Coach in Limbo, James The Great, will blow his cool at some stage and unveil what actually happened behind the scenes in what became the Essendon Drug Scandal. Sir James will suffer the consequences of course, but his revelations, and their engendered response, will earn the Great Helmsman this year’s Fevola Medal for bringing The Game into disrepute.
If it’s not that, it will be gambling, or a suspicion of gambling. And not just of the first goal nature. If it rears its head it will be full-blown match fixing – or attempted match fixing.
As usual, this one’s an educated guess. Last year’s runners-up would have to feature, and Trent Cotchin is at the head of the call. The Little Master is always going to attract votes. But we’re going for Patrick Dangerfield with Brandon Ellis the dark horse.
Take your pick – the Eagle’s Josh Kennedy, Roughie again or Jeremy Cameron. We’re going for Josh Kennedy. Roughie might find he gets a bit more attention with Buddy out of the forward line.
The Krudd Memorial Shield
For delusional grandeur no one can lay a glove on the Great Helmsman. Although don’t rule out the Coach in Limbo from The Club That Dare Not Speak Its Name.
The Robbie Flower Medal – for outright goodness & sunshine. Angry Adrian won it hands down last season – for walking away from the machinations at Jellymont House. One tip is that it will between Guy McKenna & Bucks for the way in which they carry themselves when the pressure builds for their replacement.
From left field we have Trent Cotchin agreeing to wear the Sacred # 17 as Captain of Richmond, and that he was wrong putting his personal swishes before the deep heritage at Tigerland.
So, let’s join in the chorus where hearts beat true and march-in Season 2013.
- West Coast.
- Port Adelaide.
- North Melbourne.
- The Meter Maids.
- The Greater Western Sydney Giants
- St Kilda
Freo v Carringbush. It should be Freo, but you never know. The Pies have been pretty uninspiring over the pre-season, but I can’t recall The Barry Crockers exactly setting the world on fire. The golden rule is let the field settle down before considering investment, but if you can’t help yourself, The Maggies look juicy at $2.30 and have every chance in this one. But we’re not giving them one. The Purple Haze.
GWS v Steak & Kidney. In a word: Sydney.
Gold Coast v The Tigers. There’s a few gone for The Suns, but we can’t see it. Richmond to unveil their New Look 2014 Model Tigers. Awesome.
Carlton v Port Adelaide. A big test for both teams. We like The Power in this one. The midfield will hold the answer.
The Wrap is going to be a bit intermittent this season. In line with the Abbott/Hockey budget cuts, and so as not to appear un-Australian, we’re halving our work force. We feel, like Dame Gina & Premier Tony, that there’s far too much featherbedding going on in the country so we’re removing the feathers from the bed. If moral doesn’t improve we’ll remove the bed. 457 visa applications have been made, and presuming they’re successful we should be able to bring you a full coverage of Irish League Soccer matches, the Indian Premier League Cricket and the target shooting in Syria & Kiev.
Good tipping and even better punting.