THE WRAP – ROUND XXII

WHERE LIFE IMITATES FOOTBALL

What a round it’s been in Footy Eddie.  The round started with The Stevedores sending The Miseries Down Below over where the Leeuwin Current warmly brushes the south-western corner of the Fatal Shore.  Saturday saw the outbreak of a deeper and more worrying malaise – The Dreaded Collywobbles as The Mayblooms laid their claims for September Glory.   The Doggies drove another nail in the cross supporting The Caretaker Coach out at John Pascoe Fawkner Reserve, and The Chardonnays left The Feeling Faints with a hangover to carry into September.  After a spirited 1st Half, The Lions morphed into Bears as The Bloods secured their Home Final for the 1st round of Last Rites of Winter.

Come Sunday and Port were the party poopers as The Tiges farewelled The Cuz, and The Kangaroos hopped away from jimmy’s Redlegs in the Last Stanza of Football for the Home & Away Rounds of 2010.

The Deathly Dirge of the Coaches’ Carousel sounded its morbid mantra across the wind swept terraces of John Pascoe Fawkner Reserve before the sun had set on Sunday.   Under immense pressure from the faceless men of Whingy Hill, Essendon’s Caretaker Coach was told he didn’t have to care no more, no more, no more as he hit the road with two years pay in his pack.  Some may say easy money.  But Knighta wouldn’t be one of them.

Of course The Bombers come out of this poorer but no wiser as to whom their next coach is going to be.  Chokko has thrown his hat into the ring.  That would make two Mark Williams out there at Bomberland.  The other one famous for controversially lampooning the coaching aspirant’s famous choking statement after he had taken the Power to the 2004 Flag.  Resolving that should keep them amused at the Puckle Street Pâtisserie for a bit.  The pickings from the Carousel are pretty slim at the moment, and the Essendon Brand is not what it was when Sheeds claimed he would make the EFC the Man U of Aussie Rules.  But there’s always the chance that Akka could take up the clipboard.  It may come to that.

On a more uplifting note – the first medal of the season has been decided.  Jumping Jack Riewoldt has taken the Coleman with 78 majors for the year.  He’s the first Richmond player to top the goal kicking since Disco Roach won his back-to-back Coleman’s in 1980 (107) & 1981 (86).

The Vales continue.  Dual Beitzel Medallist Scott McLaren has hung up the whistle.  Even with double points for a trip up country he was lagging behind badly in this year’s Beitzel count and could see the writing on the wall.  Those expecting a stellar farewell performance were disappointed.  Apart from a whimsical 50m penalty, his performance was subdued.  On a perfect evening for Football, he ignored several opportunities to give frees in the attacking team’s goalsquare, although he did thumb his nose at Maggot Central by being a model of consistency all evening.  Maggot McLaren, we salute you for your detailed explanations and downright, no-nonsense touchiness.

Reviewing the year is something we all like to do, and this column is no exception.  Let’s start with The Cellar Dwellers – that musty, airless zone of dankness.  First up is West Coast.  Worthy Wooden Spooners for no other reason than their coach said it wasn’t an issue – they wouldn’t win it.  Premiers in 2006, four years later and minus two Brownlow Medallists plus unwelcome scrutiny of their club culture, they are in turmoil.  Expected to have turned the corner by most scribes in the 2nd half of last season, they only managed four wins for the season – and two of those were against Essendon.  (The other two were against Hawthorn & Melbourne, which would be considered costly losses by those two sides – Ed)  Burdened with a Favourite Son as coach, they can’t bring themselves to Knight him in the back they way they were able to do at Whingy Hill.  From the bottom of a hole in the ground, and over the next two years, stripped of early draft picks, there appears to be no light on the hill for The Weagles.  Even worse may be to come; the entry of The Gold Coast Meter Maids may deprive them of Back-to-Back Coveted Sylvan Shields.

The story is far from gloomy at Punt Road.  The Tiges remain as Timber Trophy Runners-Up, however the season has had some up side.  In the last 12 rounds of the season they won half their games.  They still got smashed, sometimes for all four quarters, but they have this season’s Coleman Medallist and some more than half-handy midfield talent in Cotchin, Martin, Foley, White, Tuck & Jackson.  Angus Graham can hold his own in the ruck and take the tap for most of the day.  The Administration is solidly led by Benny Gale and the new facilities will be ready for the pre-season; the Save Our Skins and Endangered Species bumper stickers can now only be seen in the club museum.  But most importantly they found a coach who tells it as it is.  Coach Hardnose has the boys behind him and a young leadership group to mould into an era.  He admits he is learning on the job, and at times it shows, especially in defensive play, but this is indicative of a young side.  TLSPRF can look forward to Season 2011 with a sense of anticipation, and a change of address to a much more salubrious neighbourhood than “The Cellar”.

Summing up The Dons’ year is not a pleasant task.  But one we will tackle with the candour and integrity this Once Proud Club deserves.  The Dons finished with seven wins.  Four of them against teams that will contest this year’s Finals, which would suggest that their Caretaker Coach was doing something right.  They were exciting in attack when they moved the ball forward quickly, but porous in defence and even beat Richmond in the points against tally.  After three years at the helm, the head coach would be expected to have identified and corrected this problem.  His removal wasn’t unexpected, nor unwarranted, especially after Matty Lloyd – as a commentator should – commented that The Bombers were all Bolognaise and no spaghetti.  (Did he really say that Wrap – or did you make that up? – Ed)  The jury is out on the quality of the playing list.  There’s no doubt that they can play the game, but watching them at times you wonder how well.  Self Belief is everything, and The Bombers certainly lack it at the moment.  A lot will depend on the new coach.  SOTG will have recognized the poor on-field discipline, which generally reflects poor off-field discipline.  For the Veteran Fletcher to be rubbed out twice in a season demonstrated a studied lack of respect for the Team and the Coach.  In a young group desperately in need of leadership, for Fletcher to excuse himself for so much of the season reflects the general feeling of pique amongst those from the Sheedy Era, including the Master Mumbler himself.  The Thug Hille was another who was seen to play for himself rather than the Team and the Gaffer.  One can only surmise on what basis the invertebrates at Jellymont make their Monday & Tuesday night adjudications, but any rational, fair-minded person would have sidelined the ex-Peninsula Grammar ruckman for half a season for his indiscriminate, serial attacks on players half his size.  Make no mistake – the malaise at Whingy Hill is deep.  To even think that Jimmy Hird, setting up a global sports management business, (Remember when he wanted to take over the Davis Cup? – Ed) would drop everything to coach his old side was ludicrous.  That he allowed his name to be bandied was even more so.  It’s going to take a disciplinarian commissioned with absolute authority over the team, coaching staff & football department to pull Essendon out of the mire it has bogged itself in.  Around at Punt Road they’ll tell you that that doesn’t always work out on the first attempt.  In fact, Matty Knights should be considered the first attempt.  After all, it was Sheedy and his minions at the club who, in the dying stages of his stewardship, landed them in sh***ers’ ditch in the first place.  The Howling Mob that has been exposed as the venomous EFC supporter base would do well to consider Beyond Sheedy, rather than making a scapegoat of their coach.  Looking on from the outside it would seem the whole club needs a pull through, and they’re living in the past if they think getting a marquee coach is going to turn things around in a season.  They may not have the talent in the playing group they think they have for starters.  From what we saw on Saturday night, they were just plain inept; make that lazy and inept.  Their only A grade player is their Skipper, and he carries an unfortunate moniker.  Job(e) in Hebrew means persecuted.   Make what you will of that.  Even though the sun is shining along Puckle Street today, it’s going to be a darker summer than usual out at Bomberland.

Brisbane finished 10th with a slightly better percentage than The Gliders.  And are in more s**t than a Werribee duck.  Their Grand Design to haul themselves back to the Glory Days by plugging their perceived holes with discards from other clubs has backfired big time.  They won the 1st four matches and Boss Voss was looking like a genius.  Now that they’ve won only three more for the rest of the season he’s looking like Joe the Goose.  In simple terms, with the exception of the ex-Eagle Brent Staker, the imports have hardly fired a shot.  In fact they have hardly been fit enough to play most of the time.  The Troubled & Troublesome Fevola looks like a lost cause and they’ve still got a couple of years of his lucrative (for The Fev – Ed) contract to pay out.  The aging champions they hoped to match the recruits with are another year older next season (As are the recruits themselves – Ed) and there are doubts about their creaking bodies.  They have a Crosstown Rival for the first time in their brief history, and in this heartland of rugby, we will soon discover how the Looney Tunes marketing experiment set up by the Appalling Football League is going to spread the supporter base.  Rumours are also rife that the administration is in a state of conflict.  Without strong on-field & off-field leadership, memories of the plight of the Brisbane Bears in the Carrara & Christopher Skase days flash across the screen like the opening scenes of Mad Max II.

But enough of my gabbin.  We’ve swept into the home turn for the run down the straight six and into September.  Let’s see who we’re going to remember.

The Dangerous Dockers v The Miseries.  While who will play off on TLSIS is only conjecture at this stage – no, that’s Gillard & Abbott Nurelle – there’s no conjecture about who won’t make it through to the 2nd fortnight.  And they played each other on Friday Night.  When one team with September Aspirations manages 1-2 in the Championship Quarter you know they’re pretenders.  When they do it against a side that only manages three majors in the same stanza you know you’re watching a pair of phoneys.  (Somewhat like watching the election count, eh? – Ed)  True, the Dockers looked dangerous at times, but kept leaving the door open for The Silvertails, who it must be said rallied in the Final Stanza.  One thing to come out of it though was watching Freo’s Johnson play.  Tall, smart, quick and skilled with both hands and both feet, we must admit it was a revelation.  And didn’t The Knowledgeable Fremantle Crowd give the Carlton Skipper a rousing welcome back to his old Subiaco stamping ground.  A woman scorned had nothing on their message to The Bluebaggers’ # 5.  Next weekend The Longshoremen host The Ever So Hot Mustard Pots while The Team That Never Lets You Down boards the team bus up to Sin City.

The Sleepy Hollow Millionaires v The West Coast Eagles.  The SHM came out of their comma after the Long Break and blew away this years worthy winners of the Coveted Timber Trophy.  The Suns’ Captain-in-Waiting kicked four in a polished performance and The Moggies are securely back on the top rung of The Bagmen’s Call.  They take on St Kilda at The Paddock that Grew next Friday Night.

The Squawkers v The Woodsmen.  Cakewalk or Collywobbles, what’s it going to be?  Whoever is the Forward Coach at the Lexus Centre has their hands full this coming September.  In the excitement of being Minor Premiers, the Carringbush forwards are dribbling all over the place.  When they should have had this game sown up, their kicking on goal let them down badly.  Nathan Malthouse obviously has the job in front of him between now and TLSIS.  But they haven’t finished up where they are without cause and there’s every chance they will feature beyond the Vernal Equinox.  However, the oldest axiom in Football is that BKIBF.  And while their general play doesn’t suggest Collywobbles, that maxim must be haunting them.  Their much vaunted depth would also be questioned by anyone watching the VFL Mudlarks being eliminated by The Bullants on Saturday Arvo at North Port Oval.  They have The Kennel Coughs at The G on Saturday night.  On the other hand, their opponents gave the Leafblowing Faithful something to feel good about.  True, they are below their 2008 best, but Buddy is firing and Roughie has his Self Belief back.  The defence is coming together after the loss of the Iconic Zac Dawson & Trent Croad.  The midfield has class and courage.  The Mayblooms are clearly the best Side Out of The Four, and with St Kilda & Footscray faltering, a GF berth is not beyond them.  We’ll have a better idea after they travel to Perth to play Freo, also on Saturday night.  By the way Eddie, I tried to put those Bandwagon Tix on E-Bay and was told to take a number.  They said applications to sell them were clogging their system.  You haven’t got a refund desk down at the Lexus Centre have you?

The Chardonnays v The Feeling Faints.  The Crows farewelled a stack of Premiership Heroes on the night, and this was probably the most exciting part of the whole shooting match.  Missing Milne & Schneider, The Saints just weren’t in it.  Adelaide finished off the season with a win, but that’s about all.  They were expected to contend the 2nd Week of September, and lost both Showdowns to a team that sacked its coach mid-season.  Not sure what to take out of this match, but we’ll all know by this time next week.  The Seagulls face TRP on the Big Stage next Saturday night.  They beat them comfortably the only time they met this season, but you never know about the enigmatic Culture Club based at Moorabbin.  Five goals seven behinds over the full distance tells us nothing or everything about them.  But with a Preliminary Final Birth at stake next weekend, you’d have to expect them to bring their best game.

The Kennel Coughs v The Marshmallows.  The Doggies, taking advantage of an embarrassing Essendon turnover rate, did enough to win comfortably, if not convincingly against an opposition that was so dispirited they would sack their coach before the cock crowed three times following day.  To give some idea of the enthusiasm for both teams – 26,776 turned up to watch the last round of Season 2010 for one of the participants and what loomed as a good hit out for the finals against a destabilized opposition for the other.  37,674 turned up at the same venue the next day to watch Richmond’s last appearance for the season against the unfashionable Port Adelaide.  (Probably more Port Faithful than Bomber supporters at the respective matches – Ed)  That the Sons of The West were unable to completely put away a game but incompetent opponent doesn’t augur well for their meeting with Carringbush next Saturday night.  Although they play The Pies well, the queue outside the Medical Room at Whitten Oval is growing.  The name of Grant again looms on the Scrays’ goal kicking list and Jarrad, slotted in beside Bulldog Barry, gives The Doggies some extra teeth with which to bite.  We’ll have a better idea of how they’re travelling after they’ve played The Collywobbles.

The Brisbane Lions v The Sydney Swans. The Lions put up a bit of fight to Half Time but The Bloods held them goalless in the Championship Quarter and outscored them in the last when the game was well and truly iced.  They have a midfielder of pure class in Kieran Jack and have uncovered a half handy goal sneak who reads the game well in Dennis-Lane.  They host the Sunday Elimination Final against The Silvertails next Sunday arvo.

Richmond v Port Adelaide.  The Tigers blew this one when they had a brain fade in the 2nd Quarter.  Allowing the opposition to score 10-2 to 1-3, they went from $1.50 favourites to $15.50 Underdogs by the Long Break.  Whether this was the incentive, or sheer embarrassment on such a big occasion triggered the revival is not clear.  6-4 to 2-3 in the Championship Quarter brought them in reach of a Famous Victory.  They actually hit the lead when the lithe 1st Gamer Trent Taylor crumbed a goal at the 10 minute mark of the Final Stanza.  The maggots had been anti-Richmond all day, and on this occasion they found a jumper tug against Andy Collins in the goalsquare and Taylor’s score was disallowed.  That Jack Riewoldt had been mauled all day by the Power defensive pack counted for nothing.  The Famous Victory send off for Benny Cousins was denied as Port caught their breath and The Tigers ran out of puff for a fatal 5 minutes.  Still, it took nothing away from the day and TLSPRF sang Yellow&Black over the broadcast Port Power drinking song.  It was hugs all round and Benny did a Lap of Honour to a standing ovation.  For both sides, 2011 beckons.  As Scarlett O’Hara said on the steps of Tara when Brett walked out on her – Tomorrow is Another Day.

The Fuchsias v The Shinboners.  This was a hard fought battle between a couple of Up & Comers for bragging rights.   It was North who finished up Best Side Out of The Eight, but both sides signalled they were ready to take the next step up.  The Spring-heeled Jurrah, Trengrove, The Anointed Scully, Morton, Jack Who, Sylvia, Frawley, Wonaemirri, Moloney – this list grows by the game – possible All Australian Ruckman Jamar – have demonstrated that the Cellar Dwelling Days are over.  Likewise North Melbourne.  No longer relying just on Shinboner Spirit, Rookie Coach Brad Scott has an equally committed bunch of youngsters ready for Season 2011.  The Dees farewelled Skipper James McDonald and the Roos chaired off the Veteran Corey Jones.  On their respective performances, neither could be considered past their used by date.    The Melbourne Skipper was his team’s 2nd highest possession winner with only 75% game time.

And remember, if you read it in The Wrap you’ll know it’s not crap.

About John Mosig

I'm an Aussie Rules tragic who can remember, as a four year old, shaking the hand of Captain Blood in the rooms just before he ran out onto the ground after half time, as my Old Man slipped him a packet of under-the-counter Craven A cork tipped. Now it's my turn to take my grandson Ben through the ritual of character building that is the journey through PUNT ROAD to the outside world.

Comments

  1. Tony Robb says:

    Very well wrapped as usual.
    cheers
    TR

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