Eight reasons to start paying attention to AFL 2016

It’s Round 16. Maybe you’ve been a bit ‘meh’ about the footy this year. Maybe you’ve been busy strategising about focus groups and offshore detention options. Or been burning the mignight oil studying the form and television guide for the Rio Olympics. This is your warning shot. It’s time to pay attention to AFL 2016. And here’s why:


ONE: Giants grow up. In word association, footy is now more associated with “The Giants” to young fans than Jack and the Beanstalk, the BFG, or even Scott Fisher. In a very un-2009-Carlton way, we know they’re coming. Treloarless, Johnsoned and coming hard.


TWO: Old Melbourne clubs are so last century. Between them, Melbourne, Richmond, Collingwood, Carlton and Essendon won a pile of games and a swag of flags in the old VFL. Former success from a distant time bought them clout; gravitas, even, based on historical events. But like the printed telephone directory, their relevance in 2016 is debatable. Raise your eyes, Victorians. Adelaide, West Coast, Sydney, and Greater Western Sydney are the now.


THREE: Weekly, Hird and Essendon re-write “Crime and punishment”. After 14 matches, the Essendon football club is whacked week after week, sits 18th of 18 with one win and a percentage of 54.7. Meanwhile, the man who said “as a coach I take full responsibility for what happens in our footy department (5 February, 2013)” carries on managing something in French.



FOUR: Bob Murphy’s Dogs have let the screen door slam. And while a recuperating Bob remains inside, he’s had the rest of them pile helter-skelter onto Thunder Road, pulling out of here to win.



FIVE: Patrick Dangerfield inspirationally chose life. In much the same way that Irvine Welsh’s Edinburgh Renton did not choose life, and in exactly the same way that most probably fail to. By dreaming, working out what matters and acting to make dreams a reality, P Dangerfield has improved his on and off –work circumstances. No small thing. It’s true that choices exactly like his are not possible for a lot of us, sure. But we all make choices every day. Big Rocks. Inspiring.

Renton Danger

SIX: Footy media is an insight-free zone. You need to watch games for yourself, because you won’t learn anything from mainstream media. Despite a growing legion of media “analysts,” including many former players, and many employed by the AFL themselves (*cough, cough*), all of whom cover a tightly contained sport on multiple platforms around the clock, and despite some people actually handing over money in order to access to the thoughts of these analysts, it is truly a rare day when anything insightful is uncovered. Watch it yourself. With the sound down.





SEVEN: Unpredictability is still a thing. Carlton rolled Geelong. Collingwood rolled Geelong. St Kilda rolled Geelong. These things still happen from time-to-time. Thankfully, none of us will ever know when what appears at the time to be an upset, is later revealed to be only the beginning of an awe-inspiring movie-script-and-marketing-Leicester-style-bonanza of a run that only ends in a famous and crowning premiership glory.




EIGHT: Hawthorn lads are top. Having won the past three premierships. It is a head-shakingly confounding feat; resisting both natural attrition and competition-designed equalisation measures. Watch them now; watch them well. Lady Madonna, see how they run. Don’t bother with trying to understand. Just let it be.



About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He is married and has two daughters and the four of them all live together with their dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Great stuff David, really put a smile on my face to start the day. You have such a unique take on the world.

    Love it


  2. Dave Brown says

    And the most remarkable thing about Dangerfield’s choice – it appears to have legitimately improved both clubs and the player all in one go

  3. G’day E. regnans

    All good points, but especially the last. I mistakenly believed the Hawks were in decline after they only just won a number of their early season matches. Similar to the songs of the Beatles, they appear ageless.

    Hopefully point 7 will play a role in the finals.

  4. E.regnans says

    Thanks very much Y Wroby.

    Cheers D Brown. It is indeed a remarkable thing. The obvious thoughtfulness and resilience of Adelaide FC staff and players over this past year has been astounding. From a long way away, it seems a very supportive learning & teaching environment.
    Adelaide’s winning without P Dangerfield is a victory for process and role-based game plans, I guess. Much like Hawthorn’s carrying on without L Franklin (Initially) and now J Roughead et al.

  5. Rulebook says

    Enjoyable read Dave loved the telephone books and while I find it hard to disagree re your comments about, Dangerfield agree to differ with DB him still in the crows side we would be over whelming favourites and still think,Hird has got off v lightly for the damage he has done to the club and game.Some media help some are appalling

  6. E.regnans says

    G’day RTB – that improbably unlikely fairytale of point 7 is the lure of sport, isn’t it? And the hope for the underdog. Somehow Hawthorn winning a 4th has an element of “the underdog” about it, given the prohibitive array of factors lined up to theoretically prevent it occurring.

    Thanks Rulebook – Like you, I reckon adding P Dangerfield to the 2016 Crows team would only improve them. But it’s a strange mix of on and off-field circumstances that meld to form any team. Who really knows? Of course Adelaide 2016 has been terrific. P Dangerfield 2016 has also been terrific.

  7. Luke Reynolds says

    Dave, spot on about the mainstream footy media. Makes sites such as this one all the more interesting and important.
    Looking forward to a cracking finals series. As well as Rio!
    Well played again ER.

  8. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Really good stuff ER. Love the VFL logo on the Yellow Pages – apt. Hoping the Bulldogs get Bocelli and trump the Beatles/Hawks. If the Hawks win again we might be looking for a 5th Beatle next year. Al Clarkson as George Martin perhaps?

  9. E.regnans says

    Thanks Luke.
    Such a strange year.
    There are strong feel-good cases to be made for any of the top 8 winning from here.

    It’s well set.

  10. E.regnans says

    Thanks Phil – imagine Bocelli at the kennel on the first Sunday in October.
    Term 3/4 school holidays.
    Standing before a set of tastefully arranged flowers.
    Sun shining.
    L Beveridge gesturing, as C Ranieri does in that clip above, for the fans to be quiet…
    Understated magnificence.

  11. Top stuff ER. Love the graphics too. Very creative.
    The games between the top 8 sides are as good as elite footy as I can remember. The bottom 10 add little in terms of quality, contest or entertainment. But we are all in a state of becoming, and the Saints, Blues and Suns can maybe just see a glimmer.
    Just too little developed talent to go around. A 12 team comp would be brilliant (6 Vic, 2 SA, 2 WA, 1 NSW, 1 Qld). 16 was just tolerable. 18 teams just reveals how much the game is run by money not sport. Not holding my breath.
    And your #8 is spot on (much to my chagrin). I thought the Hawks would improve without Buddy. He is just too dominant and demanding to ignore, but it made them very one dimensional. Cost the Hawks the flag in 2012 so Sydney are now reaping what they sowed with their Silver City swindle.
    But I really thought losing any big man forward target with Roughead’s illness (plus an ageing list) would bring them back to the pack this year.
    Clarkson is the greatest footy coach/strategic genius of all time. Dunno how he keeps doing it with so many other clubs borrowing his intellectual property. Hawthorn remind me so much of a basketball team the way they move the ball with multiple options – screens and switches to open up the game for others. Total football while the rest of us are just trying to beat our opponent.
    Would love to have a thread on how we think they do it. But we would need to take Trucker Slim’s writing privileges away for a month so I could stomach reading it.

  12. yep agree with PB, the general level of footy – eg the Swans/Cats 20 min mark Q2 as I type – has eased the pain of the great Tiger tyre blowout

  13. Great stuff, e.r.

    Well played.

    What I notice about the really good clubs (i.e. Hawthorn, Sydney) is that they
    seem to have the ability to simultaneously re-generate and contend. It is
    amazing that they never have to do a full “re-build”.

  14. John Butler says

    “Unpredictability is still a thing.”

    Given the round so far, timed that perfectly E Reg.

  15. E.regnans says

    Indeed, JB.
    Spectre of betting/ fixing notwithstanding, it’s probably why we bother.
    Go Yer Blues.

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