AFL Round 23: More thoughts from Harms

This is a superb round of footy. The prospect of Collingwood finishing sixth hangs in the air.

The situation reminds me of the slow build of Test cricket. You can’t engineer that level of intrigue.

Indeed anything can happen.

I am looking for September clues:

Query 1: Although the Hawks should win tonight, I am interested to see the impact of Cox and Naitanui and how Hawthorn tackle their comparative weakness.

Query 2: How does Worsfold contain the fast-break of Hawthorn? Imagine if the West Coast are strong tonight. What magnificent chaos that will cause! Live flag betting has never been more sumptuous. If the Eagles lead by four goals at half-time there will be a state of market confusion not seen since the first Wall Street crash.

Query 3: I have no idea who wins at Kardinia Park. Given the ramifications of a win/loss for both sides, will this have the intensity of a final? What value is given to the Cats experience in big matches, and  on their home ground? How does that then translate to September? How will the young Cats go, given the experience that surrounds them, when facing the expectations of a finals campaign?

Query 4: Can Essendon play with the freest of spirits to have one of those here-come-Surfers-Paradise victories?

Query 5: Do the Pies steady and find a forward line strategy?

Query 6: Are the Pies heavily reliant on turn-overs to win footy matches, and is that less likely against quality opposition?

Query 7: Are the Crows enjoying their anonymity? I have them playing Sydney at home in the first week of the finals, which puts them in a pretty good position.

Query 8: Has the Live Ladder had a bigger week in football?

Query 9: If the Swans win, when does Ross Lyon make the decision to score a lot of goals and finish sixth, or a few goals and finish eighth?

This and so much more. Just magnificent. Adrian Anderson is a genius.

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo13, Anna11, Evie10. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.


  1. Harmsy,

    Yes – what a fabulous round with so much at stake.

    I’d like to answer one Q you pose…that the Pies rely on turn overs to kick goals.

    I feel this is rather demeaning. Other than the odd ruck clearance where the ruckman taps directly to a midfielder to start a chain of possessions, or after free kicks/kick ins that go directly to a teammate to start a chain of possessions, all other possessions are gained from ‘turnovers’. These are either the result of fierce pressure or skill errors. All clubs receive possession from turnovers in this manner, including your beloved Cats.

  2. Bakes, I can only assume Harms was misunderstood there, because I can’t imagine he would have meant to be demeaning to Collingwood and its supporters.

  3. “Adrian Anderson is a genius” … and a good Hawks man.

    Please allow me to go all King James version on this topic and in relation to the Hawks: Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. The Hawks must show their works tonight!

  4. Mark Doyle says

    John, What have you been drinking or smoking? This round doesn’t offer that much intrigue. The Geelong/Sydney and the Hawthorn/West Coast games should be great contests, but the other three games on Saturday are nothing more than one sided practice games for top eight teams and the Sunday games are irrelevant. The only significant change to the top eight will probably be Collingwood replacing West Coast in the top four. I think that Geelong can beat Sydney and finish sixth and probably play Fremantle in an elimination final in Melbourne the following week.

  5. DBalassone says

    Mark, you forgot to make mention of “community” in your post. Just letting you know.

    John, I agree Query 9 is fascinating – this could be the story of the Round. There is no way the Dockers want to play in Melbourne in Week 1, when they have a potential derby on the cards (against a side they slaughtered just 3 weeks ago).

  6. DB, Ross Lyon’s reaction when questioned on why the Dockers slowed down in the final quarter (to fall within the margin required) will be equally interesting.

  7. Ben Footner says

    Re Query 7 – Will be watching the scores of the Geelong v Sydney closely tomorrow when the flash up on the scoreboard at AAMI. If Geelong get up and Adelaide get Sydney at home in Week 1 of finals, we are a very good chance of going straight through to the prelim.

    Can’t help but feel as if Sando is doing his best Moses impression and this season is opening up like Red Sea. Whether the boys make the most of their opportunities and we end up in the Promised Land, only time will tell.

  8. All these first year coaches think they can emulate Chris Scott. There is one Chris Scott. There can be only one.

  9. Hey MD, not so fast. Never mind the Sleepy Hollow Love-in that passes for the Almanac Editorial Leader. Let’s not overlook The Collywobbles v The Human Hamstrings. You never know. Neither are travelling all that well, and while Little Jimmy hasn’t picked up on it after he stirred The Shinboners into action, there’s a special hatred between the two clubs too. It could turn out to be a belter. The Royal Parade Circus has kept the Bombers’ second half of the season crash dive off the back page, but they’ll have had a decent pull through during the week and we can expect something more than the insipid football they’ve been dishing up lately.

    Then there’s Rattz last outing for the Old Dark Navy Blues. Scotty Waters and his Saints will want to give them a good send off, eh?

    Let me say your ‘only one Chris Scott’ is very tempting Cookie, but I suspect a trap, so I’m letting it go through to the keeper.

    And what about Rich v Port? There’s a Coleman & a Brownlow up for grabs there – as there’s a Coleman up for grabs in Perth. In fact this is the last voting round for the umpires, and there’s more than Swan & Ablett with a good chance. For instance, several from interstate clubs. But I can’t remember any of their names.

    Then there’s the farewells for all those calling it a day. The last round is always special, and it’s not just about the blossom burst on the Manchurian pears.

    Get out of here MD, there’s plenty going on in Round XXIII.

  10. I suspect The Wrap is being satirical.

  11. There hasn’t been a draw all season.Eagles/Hawks or Geelong/Sydney would make the Pies and Crows or Dockers and Roos play with a bit more blood in their eye.

    Hawks vs Eagles isn’t a lay-down misere ,you know.
    Nor,DB,would the Dockers care about playing in Melbourne, when their away record this season isn’t shabby.Playing Collingwood , if North beat GWS by more than Freo beat the Dees might not be a hurdle too high.

    If they win,they might get the Eagles anyway,coming off a loss to No. 1.Who is that?The Shadow knows..

    This round is a beauty.The only thing lacking is a side or sides from outside the Eight boxing on for the last spot or two

  12. In response to Query 1. The Hawks roved well to the high-leaping ruckman, and defended well at the stoppages, especially in the middle. However there was enough clean Farmer-Goggin possession to suggest that this will be an asset for the Eagles in September, and a liability for Hawthorn against teams with top ruckmen. I also thought Naitanui lacked initiative in creating the forward option – think Brereton, Carey, Brown who just got to a spot where it mattered. Naitanui, only young, still likes his service to be silver.

    In response to Query 2, it seems Worsfold doesn’t. How could they let that fast-break happen in the first quarter after planning for it each week?

    So, on the basis of how Hawthorn , played in the first half last night, who will be better suited in the match-ups and strategies?

    I reckon it comes from Sydney (ruckmen, defence, containing mids) or Geelong (defence, Hawkins, ball-winning mids).

    Cats match-up well with Hawthorn on mids 1-7 (possibly have a slight advantage) but Hawthorn have an experience edge on players 16-20.

    Will respond to comments. (Thanks)

  13. Bakes, good point. Literally correct. I take my footy more poetically though. And politically. I think Collingwood are like the Liberal Party – they respond rather than create.

    MD, I think that demonstrates we have different intrigue thresholds. I didn’t have time to go through all the permutations yesterday, but even still this morning there are so many possibilities for the Top 8. Consider wins from Sydney, Collingwood, North by lots, Freo by little.Then consider wins by Geelong, Essendon, North by lots and Freo by lots.

    And, Greg, the draw! Didn’t even contemplate that.

    The side most forgotten over the past few days is Adelaide. I have them in a prelim final as of 8am this morning. If Sydney win I will be changing my mind on that.

  14. Brad Scott gazumped Ross with the early tank. Clearly more afraid of his brother than my Eagles. Serena and Venus also hated playing each other in Finals.

  15. JTH – I think your critique of my Eagles is about right. NicNat is yet to play a dominant game away from Subi. A dry track at the MCG in a prelim should be it. Our midfield lacks speed and class. Poor foot skills cost us too often. But we have a lot of heart if we can keep it bottled up. Need a fit Kennedy (big if) played closer to goal. Need Lynch back as a link as we defend deep and struggle for targets running out. Resting rucks at FF wont cut it against good sides. But we will benefit from hit out at MCG.
    Hawks and Cats obvious form sides.
    Prelims – Eagles v Crows – Hawks v Cats. Rick Kane has the worry beads out.
    92 & 94 redux. See you in the GF.

  16. Apologies – NicNat in Semi at MCG putting Jolley to torch.

  17. Skip of Skipton says

    I am spewing Geelong and Fremanltle have to eliminate one of each other. Two best teams in it.

  18. There was a draw! Should have had money on it.Would it have been still a $51 return over the 9 games?
    Wonder if the finals umpires will keep the ruckmen at the centre bounce in their own half of the circle.Haven’t heard an official pronouncement,yet. Hale got more than his share more than he should against the Eagles,who deserved to lose.
    Embley’s two misses,Kennedy and Cox 1 apiece.All gettable ,all ungot. Ah,the unscripted drama,the panorama of possibilities. I sit,I stand,I pace,I mutter and shout, all to no avail. And as for Bruce,surely his reach has exceeded his grasp for some time past.Fawning predicates toward bias,where some players are over-commentated,to mint a phrase , when you just want to hear what’s going on.Commetti called Guerra’s injury out of the passage of play.
    If only there could be finals commentators drawn from a pool,just as there are finals umpires

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