AFL Round 21 – Preview: Enough already

Greetings to all,

Folks I’ve had a gutful.  Trying to be somewhat balanced and fair throughout the whole Essendon drug saga has done me in.  I know the report was only interim and there is not enough to hang anyone on, but there is enough stuff to raise enough questions and demand action.  Clandestine injecting locations, signed waivers, black ops even just asking ASADA about substances should have been alarming enough.  The fact that there is not enough evidence for players infraction notices is an indictment in itself of the club and their poor governance.  They should be pleased with just the charges that have been laid.  That the club is known to have dabbled in substances not sanctioned by WADA and not released for human consumption, this should really put them up for much more.  The fact that they don’t know who was administered what substance (or even what it was) makes the entire club culpable.  The AFL sanctions should be the least of their problems.

So what should happen?  The best comparison should go back recent cases where clubs tried to get an unfair advantage over the rest of the competition.  Carlton was caught and justifiably penalised for salary cap breaches, the penalties were harsh but warranted.  Adelaide’s penalties were similar but negotiated, Melbourne got penalised for doing nothing wrong!  First of all Mick should shut up!  If you want to have an opinion on everything join the media or write a blog, otherwise concentrate on your day job and fix the Blues!  To me the most draconian and effective penalty is the loss of draft picks, fines for the Bombers are useless (but maybe the legal bills will hurt).  Loss of points is interesting – in reality that would only benefit the ninth team and would provide false hope.  Even that my team could be the beneficiary I could not care less – I might care more if I thought Essendon could win the flag.

What about the individuals?  I will admit I don’t care what happens to Hird – he has been a sanctimonious twat throughout the whole episode and should have taken responsibility upfront.  By the same token – I don’t think they consciously knew of the shenanigans Dank was up to.  Whilst many (myself included) are critical of the lack of diligence over the program, there is an element of trust that you would have.  Should they get off scott free?  NO.  But they lacked diligence they did not go out to cheat, the penalty should relate to their stupidity not that they conspired to cheat.  Stupidity and a lack of due diligence should not be treated lightly!

Back to the Blues, Demons and Crows – they were penalised and suffered for breaking the rules of the competition.  Those rules are not be likely to ever be held up in a court of law.  They chose not to take the legal path for the greater good of the competition.  The competition has been dragged through a pretty ugly quagmire this year already – it appears the Bombers feel they are well above that and are happy to keep digging.  If they do I hope they then suffer the full wrath of WADA.

Now it is onto the footy – three weeks to go and who can still make it.  Well I reckon the key portions of the ladder are set with the top four in place and then the bottom half of the finals pretty much settled unless Essendon does lose their points.  But jockeying for home ground advantage will be important – it is not inconceivable that we have four finals in Melbourne for week one and two semi-finals interstate for week two.

The Big Show ($1.58) vs Duck Hunters ($2.72)

The Hawks get three key players back in Hodge, Franklin and Birchall after their ho-hum defeat of Saints – how will that game prepare them for Collingwood who come off a terrific win over quality opposition in the Swans.  The knock on the Pies all year has been consistency of performance and effort, their last three weeks have been pretty consistent and good enough to match it with the best.  Grundy’s efforts in the ruck have been terrific and may remove the supposed dependence on Jolly.  Most of all the effort levels of their key midfielders in Pendlebury and Swan have been outstanding.  On the other hand they will need to overcome the potency of the Hawthorn forward line with Franklin, Roughead, Gunston, Breust and Cyril.  Not sure they will and I am selecting the Hawks, but the Pies are great value at $2.70 as the Hawks do need to get over a couple of average weeks.


The Fairytale ($1.23) vs Next Year’s Fairytale? ($4.80)

The rebound Port has made this year has been fantastic and whilst accolades are heaped upon the club and the coach, it has also been on the back of some excellent recruiting and faith in those players through the dim 2012 season.  Their opponents in the Gold Coast have similar qualities to the Port playing list plus Gary Ablett, will they be the story of 2014?  The Suns are starting to show signs of fatigue and having to face Port at Westlakes I think will be a bridge too far.  Port to win.


The Dream Lives ($1.37) vs Dog Day Afternoon ($3.65)

The Tigers continue on their winning way even with an eye on a potential top four finish and they face the disappointing Blues.  The Blues confronted (or did they) the inform Bulldogs last week who pulled no tricks and played in a manner exactly as expected – unbelievably Carlton was not ready for them in a most insipid display.  The lack of pride and leadership through the year came to a head last week.  Carlton should have been able to take the game up to the very best through the year, it has turned out they have been frightened of any team that has threatened them physically.  As much as it pains me the Tigers are too settled, too healthy and too hungry and should score too much for the Blues.  Ever being the optimist though, $3.60 or better on the Blues might be worth a gamble if they decide to have a crack this week.


Petticoat Injunction ($3.00) vs The Last Stand ($1.48)

The mathematics have the Kangas still in the hunt for a finals berth.  It may be short lived – by ¼ time they will know whether Port have won or lost and whether or not they are still alive.  I suspect they will begin like a bomb and the Port result may affect how they play out the game.  Their foes are going through their own challenges on the field let alone the off-filed melodrama – they have gone through three pretty poor weeks.  Are they finally flattened by the pressure off the field?  Maybe, however their opposition in those games were of pretty high quality.  Whilst I reckon the Eagles have been ordinary – they do have talent.  I suspect the Bombers are feeling the strain and that the Roos will win, but the odds on the game are ridiculous.  This game will be all about attitude and at $3 Bomber fans can try and get something.


Nick Off Ski ($2.74) vs Tomahawked ($1.54)

The Eagles say goodbye to a couple of warriors in Nicovski and Adam Selwood, the Cats said goodbye to Tom Hawkins on the tarmac!  Tomahawk is critical to the Cats but has finally succumbed to the back injury he has been carrying, the fact that they were reluctant to have him fly makes finishing in the top two pretty important for Geelong.  They spluttered home last week but it may have just been shutting down the engines early.  The Eagles played one their best games for the year and on that form should present a big challenge to Geelong, but their home form has been horrible.  I think they can turn it around against a Geelong side that has issues in the big man department.  No doubt the Cats have the talent to win this one, however West Coast present great value at over $2.70 and I think their rucks and tall forwards and backs will prove too strong.


The Simpsons ($1.06) vs Kev’s Countdown ($14.50)

I don’t think I have had as many name options as provided this week with sacking of Voss, stalking of Roos, return of Black – but Brisbane moving to Springfield clinched it for Homer and Bart.  Not much more to write about with respect to the game as the season winds down for both teams despite the maths and Essendon keeping Brisbane interested. Not sure about the manner in which Voss was let go by the club.  The last execution of such a move was Freo’s sacking of Harvey and recruitment of Lyon, lots of concern about the manner but brilliantly executed.  If the Lions do have their man – then it is all justified.  And they will win this week.


Dee-solation ($25) vs Wrestlemania ($1.04)

This an important game for Get Stuffed Lyon and the Stranglers – it is only their 2nd game at the G for the year and in the previous they were not able to choke the Tigers into submission.  I don’t for a moment believe they will have the same problem with Melbourne, but they will want to put their plans into practice and prepare for the wide expanses in the finals.


Shot Ducks ($1.03) vs Get Stuffed Sal ($26)

First of all apologies to the Saints fans for dredging up the 2009-10 pain last week.  I am sure you all wish GSL the same pain this year.  Watters is going to test his lads out against what should be a fired up Swans unit.  They had the chance to put the Pies away last week, but were lazy and careless and got their just desserts.  I doubt they will suffer the same fate this week.


Kennelicious ($2.16) vs Something About Rory ($1.84)

My chagrin on the Blues effort does not do justice to the Bulldogs, as stated they played no tricks they just played a terrific and competitive brand of footy as they have been doing for much of the latter half of the season.  It is a testament to the coaching and the patience of Brendan McCartney and his appointment by the club.  The turnaround of Jarrad Grant as a player has been spectacular, but there are so many other good stories of improvements in the kennel.  They should look forward to 2014 with excitement, as should the Crows who have their Rorys but next year will also have their Taylor.  A flip of the coin game, but I reckon the Dogs were up for last week and might not be as prepared whereas Adelaide still have a whiff of Spring footy.  Crows to win, but Doggies at home have a huge chance.


Friar Time

It’s triple header day at Friar Park along with the 25 year anniversary celebration of the 1988 Senior and Under 19 premierships.  Last week the Under 19s went down in a close one to Old Xavs, they face the early season tearaways in Old Camberwell at 9:15am.  A win will keep them in the hunt for a second place finish.  The Seniors put paid to the D2 bound Glen Eira with a percentage boosting victory which will ensure Prahran cannot rise above on percentage.  A win at home in the penultimate game of the regular will lock in the finals berth, that game is against 3rd placed Williamstown CYMS in what will be a great test.


A Whiff of Spring

You would not think so with the current climatic conditions, but four group races at Caulfield has the punters warming up.  Very much a watch and learn day.  The Vain Stakes (G3, 1100m, 3yo C&G) – plenty to watch here most interested in Tony Vasil’s first starter Duran who shares his mum with the mighty Elvstroem.  The Fillies step out in the Quezette (G3, 1100m, 3yo Fillies) a very good field, will be looking out for the Sheikh’s Monsegur and Gai’s Swing Vote.  But the main race of the day will be the Lawrence Stakes (G2, 1400m, WFA) and the opening campaign appearance of the nominal Melbourne Cup favourite Puissance de Lune.  I suspect the fitter brigade will dominate but will be watching the Puissance with the future in mind.  The program finishes with a quality field of mares in the Cockram Stakes (G3, 1200m, SWP) – an interesting race but I suspect A Time for Julia may have run her race!


The EPL is back – Hammers take on Cardiff on Saturday Night!


Go Blues, Go Hammers, Go Friars


Cheers, Sal




  1. Carlton didn’t challenge not out of concern for the good of the game, but because we couldn’t afford to (mind you, retrospectively, not challenging was in our best interests anyhow).

    I’m wrapped Malthouse had the nerve to say what every other club in the comp wants to, and given his standing in the game, he’s probably more qualified to than any of the other coaches.

    The problems we have with current list are a result of problems that have existed for years – Judd dragged us into three final series and we thought we were a lot better than we were.

    Meanwhile the poor recruiting, poor development and a piss poor culture led by a board who’s strategy goes no deeper than “‘We’re Carlton, and f— the rest” continues unabated.

  2. Punishment should always try fit the crime (but not replicate the crime eg. captial punishment!). There was no attempt to cheat the salary cap or compromise the draft, therefore it would be wrong to deny Essendon draft picks. The team gained no advantage on the field, in fact quite the opposite. Taking premiership points in 2013 or 2014 is unfair to the players who have done nothing wrong. If the administration of the football department has brought the game into disrepute then suspend those individuals and fine the club.

    I suspect the threat of legal challenge is a tactic to put the wind up the AFL and force them to the negotiating table. I am confident that if the penalties are fair and reasonable the club will cop it sweet. If draft picks and points are proposed, the club will make life as difficult as possible for the commission.

  3. Kerry Smith says

    Hi Sal
    It is an astute observation rarely noted by commentators that the 2013 “fairy tale” season for the Power is in part a result of the development of young players during 2012. The club was fortunate that Travis Boak and several of his peers decided to sign on again. Their commitment in the darkest hours last year laid the foundation for this season’ s successes. Having said that, Ken Hinkley has taken the group to a new level that did not seem possible twelve months ago. But like Ken has also said many times – there is still much to learn !

Leave a Comment