AFL Round 10 – The 2013 ‘Mopsy’ Fraser Cup: It ain’t easy being a coach

Greetings Tipsters

It ain’t easy being a coach but some clubs make it easier than others.  Chris Scott and John Longmire took the job at two of the strongest clubs in the AFL, seasoned players, a sound culture, tweaked it, re-invented the playing style and scored flags pretty quickly.

Damien Hardwick took the job at a club with a history of near-suicide, but at the right time, just when the RFC was getting itself together.  His job is nowhere near done, but a big win in Perth shows that they’re on the right track.

Then there’s Mark Neeld.  Poor bastard never stood a chance.  Don Mclardy said he was given carte blanche to reinvent the club and culture. Really?  Great cocaine can make you feel like you’re king of the freaking world, but it won’t make you feel good enough to reinvent the MFC.

When Ronald Dale Barassi threw everyone for a loop in 1965, taking up Carlton’s offer to be captain-coach, he wanted to know that the club was being run well.  He wouldn’t have taken the job otherwise.  The ODNBs were in a bad spot, hadn’t won a flag since 1947.  Ron scored them two flags and set them up as a powerhouse for the next 25 years.

In 1993, Ron supped from what many thought the poisoned chalice in Sydney.  He got them a win.  I was there, it was a time when you could smoke a joint on the hill, go to the bar for a round of drinks after one of the opposition’s many goals and be back in your seat for the next bounce.  The clubhouse was the old tin shed of the Moore Park Bowling Club and that night, Ron brought all the players up on the stage and created the Sydney Swans.

In his last year as coach, 1995, they fell short of finals, but had a Brownlow medallist and had recruited Paul Roos and Tony Lockett, two men who would make, in their own very distinct ways, a huge impression on the city and the club.

For all the on-field improvement, Ron came to a club run by Richard Colless who has done a sterling job.  With experience at West Coast in the formative years, he knew what had to be done.  As with Carlton 28 years earlier, Ron took the job because he knew the foundations were in place.

Frank Costa, the fruit king, Ian Dicker, the condom king, Eddie McGuire, the media king, did the same job at their respective clubs.  Took on the job when all seemed lost and set them up to be the powerful clubs they are today.

Football loves a moustachioed hardnut, and so Smiling Leigh Matthews was sent north.  He took over a team of talented players, recruited and formed by Robert Walls and Graeme Allen and made of them a triple-premiership team that, at their best, were the best team this writer has ever seen.  They played football like it ought to be played, with a strong spine, a fast and tough midfield and near-faultless supporting cast.

Lethal’s Lions hit the peak.  Then fell, disastrously, they haven’t been near to being back since.  Club culture, again?  They may as well put the koala back on the jumper.

A club needs a smart, tough president, who is gonna stick in there for the long run.  It needs a smart, tough CEO who knows his way around football.  When they’ve got the backroom together (as a Detroit Lions fan, I know this all too well) then they can get moving on the football; a good coach, who will get the best out of his players; a good football manager who can take some pressure off the coach and do his job, like Neil Balme has done at Geelong.  And now the club might start to go places.

The Flapping Fushcias might want to look at North and Footscray.  Similarly poor, with a low supporter base, but still competitive (four losses by a combined total of ten points, geez, you Shinboners!) and some optimistic outlook.  Or Port, terrible for a few years, but with a new president and coach, their bright start gives their fans hope.

Hard to imagine anyone wearing a red and blue scarf to a footy match bearing hope, unless they’re a Port Melbourne fan.

It seemed obvious to this writer fifteen years ago, that the AFL would struggle to have sixteen competitive teams, given that eight of them were in the one city.  Now there’s eighteen teams and the pool of talented players is being spread ever more thin, just like the pool of sponsors.  The battle over television rights, when three networks were fighting it out, led to a massive increase in the value of those rights, which has kept the AFL in clover.  But it won’t last forever.

P&C, a ‘Stop Privatisation Of Football’ Production, a division of ‘Trans-Dementia, Inc.’

Brought to you with the very loud assistance of Neil Young and Crazy Horse ‘Ragged Glory.’  Why do I…?

About Earl O'Neill

Freelance gardener, I've thousands of books, thousands of records, one fast motorcycle and one gorgeous smart funny sexy woman. Life's pretty darn neat.

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