FEARLESS 2020 Finals Week 3: Review and post-season thoughts

Hi all, I’ve been doing this for the better part of a decade. This is probably the hardest thing to write. This is about footy and so it’s not about life and death. This becomes a question of conduct from many people. As we all know now, the hub community set up for AFL players, families and teams has been established and disbanded, now that the season has ended.


The delay on my behalf has been about processing information. The lot of a club supporter gets challenged when the side doesn’t perform to expectation. When that has been hamstrung by injuries, the season in its full context becomes more challenging by the second. The season ends unfulfilled. In fact, for the ten teams that didn’t qualify for finals, the lack of fulfilment permeates and plays out in many ways.


Then the silence. Then the continued silence. Then the whispers. Then the rumours. All unconfirmed. Why are people saying these things? Shouldn’t media personnel have a better grasp of issues, rather than just peddle agendas, mistruths, and generally unhelpful information.


Then the bombshell. The coach has been unwell. The first-year coach who had endured a terrible first full year in charge, after such a promising end to the previous season. Combined with the stop – start nature of the interrupted season and the fact that the bulk of the competition had to move into interstate hubs once, twice or three times, this is the moment of clarity. Health of individuals must come first. One day we might be privileged to see a documentary put together to explain what people went through in the hubs and the general costs of the pandemic upon the competition and all who made it happen.


The coach is going to take some time off at season’s end. The speculation continues unabated as does the rumours and agendas. People who purport to have the club’s best interests at heart, namely dual Premiership Captain and Team of The Century Captain weigh in with his opinion from afar…using the words catastrophic and cancerous…typically a lack of emotional intelligence has been displayed yet again. The hallmark of his off-field reputation comes back to rear its ugly head. Help for Christ sake, don’t kick them while they’re down!


Silence of a week, a fortnight, three weeks and the sensitivity surrounding certain issues get raised by the President in a letter to club members. Phew, maybe there can be some light shed for those that “aren’t” in the know, the supporters and members who are the lifeblood of the club. This can be checked against the mistruths, lies, agendas that seem to be the hallmark of what is out there. There actually is no point other than respecting the privacy of the family and people concerned. Again, health comes first, second and third. Footy at season’s end becomes a matter for the recruiters and the high-end admin staff, while the players work out whatever holidays and future directions they can.


I’m so glad now that the club has acted in the manner that it has. The basis of speculation simply wasn’t there. The right to privacy has been well preserved. The coach has stepped away permanently now. For him and his family to heal privately is the aim. End of story. The rigours of AFL coaching wouldn’t allow the time and space required for this to properly and organically happen. Good luck and good health young man! To you and your family. Thanks for your efforts.




Unfortunately, now I’m left with the task of potentially dealing with the awkward news to my 11yo son that his favourite player is moving to a new club. This is shattering. There is a wardrobe full of merchandise in his room and by any definition, the face of a club that seeks to play games in Victoria and Tasmania shouldn’t be getting rid of its star Tasmanian recruit and leading goalkicker. But it’s a bitter pill to swallow as the game needs goal kickers, now more than ever. Especially one that should’ve had a contract signed back in March were it not for sheer and utter incompetence of the manager. However, those in charge at the club have a plan. As a member and supporter of 46 years, I guess I have to trust that plan. As for my son, I don’t know if he’ll be so compliant. Disappointment can be dealt with, but its gonna take time. The coming few weeks might just test his loyalty more than ever before.


Loyalty? A 48 week tenure per season in clubland…


Anyway, back to the season that was.


2020 FEARLESS Finals Week Three: Ultimately, the four best teams are in the Prelims!




NIGHT The Tigers return to Adelaide from the Queensland base in Red Hill for a second crack at Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval. Both teams had some notable inclusions, some of whom were Premiership players…Port had the Tigers’ measure in round 11 but the Tigers had deep finals experience that maybe was matched only by Port’s Motlop and Lycett. The game got off to a flyer in terms of finals’ intensity. Dusty’s goal set the ball rolling whereas young guns Duursma and Rozee rounded out the quarter with majors to give Port a narrow lead at the first change. Pound for pound, it was ripping stuff with Port not overawed by the sense of occasion. Power veteran Ebert was setting the tone in defence. Scores level at the half. What had become apparent was how the Tigers had looked more settled and the Power were not overawed by the occasion. Also, the Tigers weren’t playing on edge, unlike the previous week. The clouds had opened up and so the game became about efficiency, as much as wet weather footy allowed. Ideal for a team in sync and composed across all parts of the ground. Slowly the cracks opened up in Port’s armour after half time and it is the getting of wisdom exposed in all its brutality. All good sides have to go up the learning curve and there are no exceptions. Under the fiercest of finals pressure, kicks and handballs start to miss targets and tackles start to get evaded. Low scoring might have been a feature, given the weather, however the depth of the Tigers allowed Kane Lambert to get two vital last quarter goals. Enough to split open the opposition, despite their best valiant efforts. Tigers through to another Grand Final. Power out, losing by a goal. The Port effort summed up by the retiring Brad Ebert getting helped from the ground with another concussion in the dying minutes. Pure courage. Unfortunately, not enough. For Port to miss the Grand Final seemed unfair but you have to take your chances. Tom Lynch’s classy assist after the game with a young Port supporter, an indication of the man often wrongly painted.




NIGHT What was uncertain to the end the night before, was a little bit more obvious at the Gabba as the Lions took on the Cats for the right to play in the Grand Final. After Charlie Cameron’s two first quarter goals, the Cats seemed to grab the moment. Both teams were undefeated at this venue in 2020. Brisbane 10 wins, Geelong 4 wins. The moment, however, was a recognition that after four losing Preliminary Finals, the time was now. The time had come for Geelong to advance to the big game. Even a wayward start couldn’t slow the momentum. In those four years, the Lions had systematically worked their way up the ladder and into the finals’ series again. Statistically, the final margin could’ve been a lot bigger had Geelong’s accuracy been better. 41% scoring accuracy for 27 shots for Geelong compared poorly to 50% scoring accuracy for 12 shots by Brisbane. Geelong’s defence was on top and their movement of the ball made easier by 90.7% of all Geelong’s marks being uncontested across the ground. The Cats even won the clanger count and still carved up the opposition. The Lions had 78% of Geelong’s total possession count. So, if it was hard to use the ball…it stands to reason it’s because the Lions found it hard to get the ball. Call it keepings off perhaps, however, the purpose and method behind the Cats style won the game. For the Lions, yes it was an opportunity to play a Grand Final at the Gabba that went missing. However, if you’re good enough you’ll win a Grand Final whenever, wherever. Lions coach Fagan has improved this side remarkably well. Maybe they’ll get to the Grand Final in the future. Cats by 40pts.



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  1. In my view, the treatment of Ben Brown during the 2020 season was a shameful chapter in the history of the North Melbourne Football Club. Let’s be honest, John Coleman would not have kicked goals at full-forward for North this year. That the club made an “example” of Brown by dropping him, also at a time when he had experienced a personal tragedy, was a disgrace. This man had been the face of the club for four years, particularly when the likes of Cunnington didn’t even speak to the media.

    Rhyce Shaw has nothing but my best wishes, but I still believe that the club handled the situation poorly.

  2. Knowing that hindsight vision is 20/20, I might also ask what due diligence did North do in 2019 in the coach-hiring process? And were any other coaches interviewed other than the phone calls that were made to Clarkson, Simpson and Longmire??

  3. Smokie, Whilst the need to play hardball during trade negotiations is necessary, the club has had to deal with a player manager who hasn’t told his client that 3 years actually includes an option of the 4th. I’m yet to hear anything from said manager whom I can only expect wants to maximise the transactional value of his client. It’s not a great situation but between player managers and media with agendas it’s not a particularly pleasant time.

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