THE WELCOME BACK WRAP
For the Philosophical Marngrook Follower
Ciad Mile Failte. And what an off-season it’s been in Footy Eddie. From Saggy to Baggy & back to Saggy – the iconic gumleaf-green headwear changed shape as often as the team itself. In keeping with the way the idiots in Canberra run the Country, the idiots at Cricket Australia made a total hash of their job, which was reflected in the team performance. To cap it off, there was no FTA broadcast of the Indian Tour. And they wonder where the fans have gone.
We’ve had a nomination from down at Cadell Grove for Fevola Medal’s best foreign performance in an international sport category. No second prizes here. Yes, it was for Lycra Boy. With Tiger & Marion, the Septic Tanks seem to hold a corner on this market.
Slammen Sammy Stosur, Llil Lleyton & Bernie the Bomb kept us entertained for a while, but after their departure the squeals & grunts drove all but the most dedicated and deaf from the screen.
Of course Mark Webber missed the start at Albert Park and trundled in at 6th. At least Casey Stoner used to win his home GP, eh?
The real 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 avenues & 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
- West Coast – with their home ground advantage The Weagles are going to be hard to toss as Minor Premiers. They have a tough run home and will have to win both the Derbies to Top the Table, but with a pumped forward line and the generation next midfielders ready to rock & roll they’re going to be formidable. The forward line will restructure itself seamlessly around Carlton reject Josh Kennedy after the departure of Lynch, and with the return of La Cras, the forward line will be frighteningly difficult to contain. They’re professional down back without being brilliant. Their brilliance is in the midfield, with Big Cox, Nick Nat Nui, Kerr, Selwood Masten, Gaff & Darling all class players. They’ll be fired up after last season and with a team that is more local than any in the competition are going to be the pacesetters of Season 2013.
- Sydney – The Swans will be there of course. They’ve got talent oozing out of their midfield and Big Kirt will give them a target for the second half of the season and into September. They are gifted two Local Derby challenges against The Penrith Pygmies and have a pretty soft draw. Those hanging out for a Premiership Hangover will be disappointed. They can score and they can defend. They have a truly professional outlook from the President to the Bootstudder, and their Bloods’ Football is proving to be as hard to counter under John Longmire as it was under Paul Roos.
- Hawthorn – The Squawkers have started the season in the usual fashion – losing a key backman before the season has got underway and displaying indifferent GAS Cup form. Make no mistake, the talk along the trendy bistros & cafés of Glenferrie Road is that Suckling’s loss unravels their backline. Being the team that they are, they’ll take a step forward and close the gap. Buddy’s shenanigans are a bit of a worry. It’s never helpful to have the media firing questions about the unsigned marquee player at every Post Match Conference. Again, Clarko will just have to live with the elephant in the room. But he’s managed elephants in the room before, hasn’t he Jeff? Look, The Family Club took a huge dint to the duco last September and they’ll be ready to make amends. They’re blowing a bit of smoke about their draw, and they do have to play Geelong, Sydney, Collingwood & West Coast twice, and only getting one crack at GWS, The Suns, Essendon & Carlton, but at least they only have to face their nemesis Richmond once. The Proud Paid Up & Passionate will be happy about the retirement of Tom Murphy and the recruitment of Brian Lake. Now they can turn their attention on the much-maligned Ryan Schoenmakers. Watch for a big big year from Roughie and the coming of age of The Squirrel. Also the Rookie Amos Frank, he could be a surprise. It’s a good strong name and they like him out at White Horse Road.
- Fremantle– Let’s get the season’s first big statement out of the way. They’ll make the Top Four. The Barry Crockers have settled under Rossy Lyon and have the softest run of any of those who would be Premiers. (Even Collingwood Wrap? – Ed) They only have to win both the Western Derbies and they could have enough points and percentage to sit astride The Competition. Their list is young and hungry, as is the club. They took massive strides last season and even though The Pav is even yet another year older, like a good cab sav he just keeps getting better. They’re travelling well and are picking up a lot of locals. Big Laurie will need to stay on the park for anything to come of their season, but their Lyon Cage Defence, led by Luke McPharlin, is talented and mentally set for the task. Beware The Purple Haze.
- Collingwood – The Pies are still restructuring under Coach Figjam. They swung the axe and Dawes, Wellingham, & Wood are no long at the Lexus Centre. In true Carringbush style they’ve picked up a couple of mature classy recruits in Quinton Lynch and Clinton Young. Also in true Carringbush style, there are rumours of disharmony, but that will surely be handled swiftly and in house. The Maggies are always in the mix, and with Eddie at the helm, why wouldn’t they be. With one trip to Perth and their first nine games in Melbourne, they have the usual dream fixture. In fact, 14 of their 22 matches are at The Home of Football. Seven of their first nine in fact. They could even do better than 5th, and will certainly play a major role in September.
- 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. If you want one, a real dark horse for the 2013 Premiership Race you could do a lot worse than check out what the Bagmen have them at. Injuries to aging bodies being their main downside. Jarrod Rivers will help fill part of the huge hole the departure Matthew Scarlett & Wojcinski’s has left in the defence, but with Harry Taylor, Andrew Mackie and Josh Hunt, just to name a few, they’ll hold up most attacks. (You didn’t name Long Tom Lonergan there Wrap? – Ed) Josh Caddy’s another very handy pick-up down at The Cattery. Hamish McIntosh’s 203cm will also come in handy. And any team that boasts the quality of Stevie J, Paul Chapman, Joel Corey, Josh Selwood and Tom Hawkins is going to worry more than a few. If they can keep holding the wood over Hawthorn they could even creep into the Four. The Sleepy Hollow Faithful only get seven games at Kardinia Park, the first being in Round X, but if they’re coming home with a wet sail, the six of them are after the mid-season break will have the reg Hickey stand packed and rocking.
- Adelaide – The Chardonnays did a few things right last season, but made the mistake of thinking if the Appalling Football League could make contractual arrangements to suit the whims of the hierarchy it would be OK to do the same at club level. Especially if all parties agreed to it. It has cost them dearly, both financially and in terms of club disruption. Brenton Sanderson had them cooking with gas last season and it would be good to think he can pick up where he left off. Up to their Bye the only teams of any consequence they meet are all at home – Hawthorn in Round VI, Freo in Round X & The Bloods in Round XI. You’d have to be excused for feeling that that sort of draw is a bit of a sweetener.
- Richmond – Down at Punt Road they’re quietly hopeful. Last season The Tiger Was Stirring. This year it’s Roar Pride, Roar Passion and RAW POWER. They’ve identified their weaknesses from last season and recruited to plug those gaps. That was straight from last year’s summary, and it suffices again this year. However, there’s not the hype about there has been in recent times. They won all but one of their practice matches, and the loss was a narrow one to their nemesis North Melbourne. Two of the wins were matches they won on the last kick of the day, and they had to come back from 3 goals down against The Doggies on the weekend. Those at the ground at that match weren’t all that impressed with that overall effort on the day, but they still spontaneously belted out an unaccompanied rendition of the club song at The Final Sirens Call. They’re still only thereabouts but should meld as a team through the season. Remember they beat both Grand Finalists last year and were never blown away. The youngsters are showing Self Belief and the club is in good spirits. With Nick Vlastuin a tip for the Rising Star and Chokko mentoring the troubled youngsters on the Tiger List, they look set to make that next step. Coach Hardnose is highly respected at the club and they’ve got some genuine stars. If they can stop snatching defeat from the jaws of victory they should be there in September. Have to get through Round I and a trip to Cazaly Stadium to have any hope.
- North Melbourne – The Shinboners are another team that just can’t seem to get it right. They score 10 out of 10 for consistency. They consistently lose to the teams above them. They’ve got Majak Daw to launch this season and have a pretty nifty midfield, a gun full forward in Drew Petrie and a professional backline & Coaching Panel. After the outcry about their soft draw last season, they face a tougher time this year: two trips to Perth and a visit to Crow Park & The Gabbatoir. The Long Suffering Gasometer Faithful will get their money’s worth, but the long suffering is set to continue.
- Brisbane – Claimed their first silverware since their Lion King days early in the new century. Took the much-vaunted Malthouse Blues to the cleaners in the GAS Cup. Brent Maloney will add some grunt to the midfield and Daniel Rich is pure class. Black & Brown are all that’s left of the Lion Kings, and both are crucial to the team balance and success. GAS Cup hangover not withstanding, they’ll prove a handful at The Gabbatoir and get The Sunbeams served up twice, courtesy of the Local Derby. Vossy’s got the youngsters’ Self Belief working for them.
- Carlton – The Blues Brothers were blowing their bags about the New Look Carlton, but now they’re left singing the Malthouse Blues. Look, this is the same list Rattz couldn’t do anything much with over the last 4½ years. In fact, Brissy probably saved Sticks from offering Mick a 10-year contract at a mill a year. Juddy & Jarrod are 30 this year and while they’ve got a few classy players they just seem to miss the mark. Never to be taken for granted, but fair dinkum, when are they ever going to learn around at Visy Park that money can’t buy everything?
- Port Adelaide – There’s a new feeling at Port Adelaide. Gone is the born to rule mentality of the old Port Adelaide culture. Replacing it is the Ken Hinkley professional coaching approach. They’ve cleaned out a heap of players and picked up the experienced Angus Monfries to add some goal sneaking power. Jay Schultz gives them a target up forward and he’s a long & deadly kick. Dom Cassisi and Westie always pop up somewhere. Travis Boak is a born leader and Brett Ebert is always dangerous. It’s their turn to have The Metermaids & The Orangemen twice this season. Their second match against The Miseries in Round XXIII could decide the relative ladder rungs of both teams.
- St Kilda – St Kilda is the enigma team. They still boast a few super stars from their recent glory days – Riewoldt, Hayes, Milne, Montagna – and have played more positive Footy under Scott Watters. They lost Brendan Goddard under free agency, which some amongst The Long Suffering Junction Oval Faithful would have felt smacked of disloyalty. Especially as he was set to claim veteran status. Their good ordinary players are just that, and they have a few promising youngsters coming through. They quickly moved on Jason Gram’s off-field, out-of-season misdemeanour and may have shaken off the tag of The Culture Club. They have a thereabouts draw and actually cop The Sunbeams twice. Could do better than 13th, but look a bit porous down back for ours.
- Essendon – It would appear that the elk horn juice The Bombers have been pumping into their players has a high burnout rate. They’ve dumped eight Whingy Hill regulars, only one of whom, the argumentative Mark McVeigh, you’d think had passed their use-by date. Some Students of The Game have even suggested Lockerroom Disharmony. In a back to the future play, they’ve put a lot of store in the battle battered Brendan Goddard and the teenage Joe Daniher. It’s been obvious for some time now they’ve been living in the past out there at Bomberland. And on past glory. Fair dinkum, Professor Gadget played with their current captain’s father. And what they swallowed from Mr T & Shoeless Jim beggars belief. The money they blew on coaching and fitness last season could have all been better directed if someone had thought to make a couple of phone calls. In more commercial circles it’s called due diligence. They really do have to get out more and see how a modern football team operates.
- Footscray – The Doggies hopes mirror image the expectations of their goal square recruit of 2009. With the revolving door spinning harder than a Wayne Swan press conference, it’s going to be a long season for The Dishlickers. We can only wish them luck. And with a bit of luck they may cobble together bit of Self Belief and steal a couple of wins, and maybe even a Famous Victory.
- Melbourne – The Dees are another team in a mess of trouble. Jared Rivers, Brent Maloney, Matthew Bate, Jamie Bennell, Cale Morton & Ricky Petterd adds up to a lot of senior experience, not to mention Brad Green. You’d like to think they know what they’re doing up in the Longroom, but nothing they’ve done in the last few years suggests that they do. Chris Dawes will be keen to show he’s got a fair bit of Footy left in him, but they’ve got to get the ball down to him first. They’ve got a few who rate highly, Jack Trengrove and James Frawley probably the pick of them; and you’d like to see Jack Who have a breakout season. Re-united with his old BGS school chum down in the goal square just might ignite a synergy, but it looks very much a project team list from here deep in the Wrapcave.
- The Meter Maids – Speaking of project teams, we get to see The Suns of The Gold Coast one year on. They’ll sell a few airfares for Jetstar & Virgin when your team plays them up there, but apart from the novelty value, they’ll not cause much damage, unless of course they can maintain their stranglehold on the Tiger’s Self Belief.
- The Greater Western Sydney Giants – They’ve picked up Stephen Gilham and Bret Thornton to bolster their defence and been able to get out of the farce that was Israel Falou’s recruitment. They did OK in their first year, and managed to snap the senior career of one coach. They gave a few a run for their money but the ructions that saw Chokko move on suggests that Coach Mumbles is ruling the roost and wants to stay on. This may or may not be a good thing. He was hard to shift from Bomberland, and left the place in a shambles when he did go. A shambles that left them vulnerable to the sort of palace coup with which they are dealing with right now.
Can The Swans go back-to-back? Will The Mayblooms revenge the one that got away? Will The Mighty Eagles fly high this year? Is it the year of The Dangerous Dockers? Or will Captain Brownlow make his mark as a Senior Coach? We went for The Leafblowers last year, and we’re going to stick with them. But any of the top seven sides have the capability, given injuries, to win through to and on TLSIS.
The Coach most likely
Two jump immediately to mind. Mark Neeld and Guy McKenna. In Mark’s case his two big cleanouts may be seen as being too much too soon. He has an administration calling the shots that in the past has demonstrated that it sees itself as beyond reproach. But on reflection, they’ll probably let him run out his contract. Likewise Guy McKenna. The rumbling started last year, and up there in the sub-tropics that usually means the donner und blitzen aren’t far away. Again, there’s probably nothing to be gained in a change until the end of the season, but if the announcement is made before hostilities end, that the job is to be advertised at the end of the season, Coach McKenna would be entitled to walk away. Being the man of integrity that he is, he most likely won’t. This year the Coach Most Likely may come from Melrose Drive. Who can say what’s going to unfold out there in the murky shadow of Mt Macedon?
The Bombers appeared to have a stranglehold on this one early in the piece, but the Great Helmsman, in what some may see as a fit of pique, has come out lashing at anything that will help him bring The Game into disrepute. His handling of the Essendon’s voodoo fitness campaign and the claytons tanking at Melbourne have catapulted him into outright favouritism. His manipulation of the rules to fit some weird understanding of what is best for the fans, the players and The Game itself smacks of megalomania. Which could see him taking the Fevola/Krudd double for 2013.
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, but we’re going for a Chokko-mentored Dusty Martin to have his breakout year.
There was a feeling last year that Jumping Jack Riewoldt stole the Coleman. His main challenger was Big Bad Buddy, who built his numbers on a freak performance down at Hawk Park. Buddy missed a lot of football last year and Jack missed a lot of goals. Jack’s got his kicking boots back from the cobbler, but The Tige’s are trying not to be Jack Happy, so his role in attack may not be as central as it has been in the past. We’re going for Drew Petrie this year, to do what no one at North has done since John Longmire in 1990.
The Krudd Memorial Shield
For delusional grandeur it’ going to be difficult for even Eddie to knock off the Ayatollah. See above.
The Robbie Flower Medal – for outright goodness & sunshine. The clubhouse leader is Angry Adrian for walking away from the machinations at Jellymont House. Our guess from here is Guy McKenna, for the way he carries himself when the pressure builds for his replacement.
So, let’s join in the chorus where hearts beat true and march-in Season 2013.
- West Coast
- North Melbourne
- Port Adelaide
- St Kilda
- The Meter Maids
- The Greater Western Sydney Giants
Adelaide v The Gliders at Crow Park. Are you kidding? They’re banished Essendon to the Shadows of Mt Lofty for the opening game of Season 2013? Migosh! They must have done something really really bad. The Chardonnays.
The Barry Crockers v The Weagles. Neither side appears to have taken the pre-season matches overly seriously and their one match-up was a nothing affair that The Eddie Eagles won comfortably. We’ve tipped them to top The Ladder at the end of August so we’ll go with them in this one.