Analysis: Queuing up at the bottom in Melbourne

Six rounds in it is becoming a very interesting season indeed. Not only for what is happening at the top of the table but for what is shaping up as a very Victorian bottom.

So – analysis and predictions for the sliders and the slid are


Carlton are gone, the list is 1. a Jackson Pollock masterpiece, 2. completely unfit – 20 minutes into the game they are all shagged, 3. when they play they are disinterested, and 4. they pay no attention at all to their eccentric coach. Carlton are gone for a decade. The club has never moved from being the plaything of egocentric plutocrats, like much of Australian industry was 40 years ago. Until that changes, there is no way back, and when and if they can fix that, the lead time is to success will be long.

Prediction – Will finish last, coach gone at the end of the year but that will cure nothing, 10 years off success.


That puts Richmond ahead of Carlton, they have diligently and methodically rebuilt the club from the top, empowering each part of the organisation to perform it own role. Their efforts have been completely admirable, however in their placing of paramount importance on not repeating the mistakes of the past, they have left a decent man who hasn’t delivered as coach in the role for too long. There is a lot of work to do at the club, they have a handful of good players but nothing below that and need to rebuild.

Prediction – Will finish second last, coach gone in the depths of winter, at least 5 years off success.


Essendon are coached by the last of the good old boys. There will never be another appointment like #GOB1  – it just doesn’t work and will turn further sour here – the longer it takes to curdle, the longer in the wilderness for Essendon. They have a competitive list and provided they sack #GOB1 soon enough to realise the list value they might see some near term success. But what do you rate the chances of that happening.

Prediction – Essendon will finish 13th on the back of player quality. Wont sack the coach because   social dynamics of GOB coterie won’t be able to do that for at least another year – most likely a long and torturous demise – cling on for a couple of years and then wilderness.


Look set to make up the numbers around 10, but no Pendlebury, no Collingwood. Rising or Sliding?

Prediction – Look set to seize ninth from Richmond for the next couple of years. Interesting management-coach dynamics to play out if success doesn’t come.


Enough said already, if it hasn’t been said by Chris Scott it is probably realistic.

Prediction – Mid table for three or four years. Have great management but not good depth. No father-son saviours on the horizon, may bottom out. Coach replaced end of next year.


Will stay top 8 but this era is over. Take out Hodge, Mitchell, Lake, and do you have a contender? Clarko is the best coach of his time, his time to move on has probably come, actually I think the players  have stopped listening – (Richmond for him maybe?)

Prediction – Hawthorn have great management and depth – not sliding too far for too long.


So it is going to make for interesting times with 3 of the big 4 Melbourne teams propping up the table for years to come, with Hawthorn set for a cameo role in the top half and none the big 4 top 4 for quite a long time.

Can’t wait to read about the extent to which this will all be due to the Sydney Academy.


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  1. Dave Brown says

    Good analysis, Neil. Yep, no doubt academies are to blame. With Heeney’s knee injury on the weekend no doubt Eddie will take to one of his players with a crow bar to achieve a level playing field.

  2. Neil – brave but probably accurate predictions here. But Freo is only a Sandilands foot and Pavlic hammy away from disaster. They have great depth around the ground that will help, but the keys are still largely the old blokes.

    I’ve backed Freo for the flag. If not this year, then it won’t happen.

  3. David Zampatti says

    Nice one Neil. Your call is pretty much spot on, but the problem is what that means, and why.
    There’s no doubt that the AFL is crook; I haven’t seen early attendance figures, but now that the Adelaide Oval spike is downstream, and given that attendance in the West is pretty much optimum, I’m sure there’ll have been a serious falling off.
    More than that, there’s a sourness about the comp, and it’s all to do with the performance of the “Big Four”. So fixated are the media and the AFL on those clubs, so bloated are their reputations and those of their so-called superstars (many of whom would struggle to get into the current Freo 22) that the success of the comp is to a large success dependent on their success.
    That has left the AFL with a test of its strategic vision and ethic, and it has failed miserably.
    When 21 of the 25 Friday night (or equivalent) games feature at least one of those four teams – meaning that almost exactly half the available so-called “blockbuster” spots in the season belong to four of the eighteen clubs, and those clubs are mediocre at best, abysmal at worst – the AFL is left holding betting slips on the field’s slowest horses.
    The AFL, administered with fairness and vision, shouldn’t be under threat from other codes, but while it effectively disenfranchises the supporters of the majority of its clubs – and especially the supporters of four of its ten Melbourne clubs (Hawthorn and Geelong are different cases) they are crueling their own nest and opening a huge gap for others to march into.
    (And by the way, the various compensation and “equalisation” schemes the AFL mounts make the problem worse, not better. In effect they are saying “we’ll starve you but keep you on life support”. It’s the sporting equivalent of a zombie movie.)

  4. Neil Belford says

    You make a very good point about Friday night footy David. It is amazingly inequitable. That free kick is the other side of equalisation. It’s much easier to build a mega brand if you are on TV all the time. I think the days of the single Friday night game are past. It makes no sense at all.

    On a couple of other points, I think attendances are going fine this year, and I don’t think the Hawks or the Cats have done anything wrong, I just think neither can defy football gravity.

  5. John Butler says

    You do love a good shit-stir Mr B.

    But much of what you say is fair enough.

    DZ & NB comments re Friday nights are spot on.

  6. David Zampatti says

    What I meant about Hawthorn and Geelong is that they have built “Big Club” status by dint of terrific work and an era of success, unlike the “Big Four” who trade on an entitlement the AFL supports and inflates.
    It will be easier to judge what the Hawks and Cats are now when (if?) they have their down period. In any event, they are a different case from CERC.

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