FEARLESS 2020 Round 2: …some 12 weeks later, we’re back! Rusty, but anything’s better than nothing

Hi all, hope the COVID 19 situation has not impacted on you too greatly. It has certainly been a time for reflection and hopefully renewed perspective as to what’s important.


I thought of many topics whilst the AFL was on hiatus:


  • Jonathon Hay and his health and welfare
  • coaching – where the cuts need to come from
  • indigenous footballers and their increasing legacy
  • the changing economy of the footy landscape
  • 18 in and 18 out (AFLW: 14 in and 14 out)
  • Eddie and the changing ball shape…WTF?


Of all the topics, I probably felt the most comfortable talking about the last one. The AFL, and in particular CEO Gillon McLachlan, has quoted itself/himself often during the pandemic as saying it is the league’s intention to go into and out of the pandemic with the same amount of clubs, both in the AFL and AFLW. A comment that would bring sanity and relief to the footy fans worried about the economic influence of the Coronavirus pandemic and their club.


Sure enough, some fans would be more worried than others. I would imagine a club that earns a million dollars of its member waitlist would not be too concerned, for example. At the other end of the spectrum, a club that carries millions of dollars in debt might be concerned.


Similarly, the calls had been made from various commentators to scrap the AFLW or at least reduce the amount of expenditure upon it.


Fortunately, the AFL has consistently endeavoured to allay any fears from any team with either competition. For that we can all be grateful.


Enter Jeff Kennett into the conversation. Jeff raised some worthy points about how teams need to be wary of their expenditures and revenues, whilst praising Gillon and his team for their management throughout the crisis. He is correct in that the circumstances have changed and the Rivers of Gold might not flow as such. Indeed, now more than ever, prudent financial management is a complete must for all clubs and the competition. For a man who has achieved a variety of outcomes in his public life, both as Premier and as leader of beyondblue, the comments were generally well received. However, typically of Jeff and his public utterances, he mentioned the whole spectre of clubs being booted out of the AFL, should key criterion not be met within certain timeframes set by the pandemic. This is where Jeffrey lets himself down. Whilst emotion is not necessarily the basis for sound business strategies, those familiar with the economic rationalism theory and its attempted forays into the AFL have been surprised that it would raise its head again. Mergers, relocations, less clubs…we’ve heard it all before. We don’t want to hear it all again. Ultimately, Fitzroy has been swallowed by Brisbane and South Melbourne has morphed into Sydney Swans over a thirty-year period. The discomfort and heartache were well documented then as they are now. I remain convinced that the AFL still doesn’t want to revisit the pathway where this issue leads. Hence the teams exist now on the Gold Coast and in Western Sydney.


When West Coast and Brisbane were allowed into the VFL in 1987, closely followed by Adelaide, Fremantle and Port Adelaide, the boundaries of a state-based competition moved nationally. The competition changed forever and was logically underpinned by television revenues based on 18 teams. Ultimately,  a 20 team competition might still be on the cards, once the recovery of the economy is completed. Is that a pipedream? I wouldn’t have thought so, allowing Tasmania and maybe the Northern Territory to expand the AFL to its last frontiers.


Work with the program, Jeff. Divisive and thoughtless comments do not help, particularly coming from an influential club President. The economic rationalist model might work in private enterprise for some industries, but I doubt the AFL industry wants to see any more clubs fall by the wayside.


18 AFL teams in, 18 out; 14 AFLW teams in, 14 out.


Round 2 report:

Footy returned to an empty MCG with a chess-like game between the reigning champ (Garry Kasparov’s Tigers) vs the challenger (Vladimir Kramnik’s Magpies). An outcome of a 5.6 apiece draw was probably not what was anticipated. Rust evident, despite clear signs of internal thought processes working well. Kramnik pulled all the moves early and looked on top, before managing to handle the champ’s pressure.


On Friday night, the Hawks ventured into foreign territory at the Cattery for the first time in almost 20 years. Witches hats were used to convert Waverley into the Cattery’s dimensions. That worked well for a half, but nothing replaces local knowledge and superior ability. Parfitt, Gazza, Danger, Menegola and the skipper led the Cats to a 10 goal Hawk-plucking! Burgoyne’s sling tackle symbolic of Hawks errors.


Queensland Hub Game Number One: Brisbane Lions host the Forest Lake Dockers and long-gone is the Lions’ insipid Round One form. Good for them. Formerly Freo were competitive again under new coach Longmuir and the addition of Jesse Hogan must rank as a high priority to boost the Docker forward 50. Neale and Walters vied for BOG, whilst Lions’ debutant Tom Berry was courageous. Lions by 2 goals.


Melbourne Version.2020 got off to a flyer against the Blues at Marvel on Saturday, complete with Harley Bennell in his first game in 3 years. A 42 point lead in the 2nd, Demons looked far too good. The Blues looked sluggish, killing coach Teague’s enthusiasm, like the season-ending injury to defender Hello Newman. Forward Cunningham kick-started Blues comeback – margin 1 point by late in the last. Version.2019 held on.


Showdowns are best kept for SA…and so it was that, despite a date with the Queensland hub, both Port and Adelaide managed a clash on home soil. Except that it wasn’t much of a clash! New Crows coach Nicks said the Crows were worthy of 10 minutes of good footy…meanwhile Port showed why they are in hot form with form youngsters (Rozee, Duursma and Butters) helping Boak to lead Port home by 75 points.


Queensland Hub Game Number Two: And the AFL has always sought two teams on the Gold Coast…so it was when the Gold Coast Suns hosted the Gold Coast Eagles, fresh from the mass exodus flight from WA. Shoulders Rowell playing his 2nd game led the Suns to their first win in over a year, despite still needing some vitamin D. Eagles night summed up by the Gov on report and a 44 point loss.


An early flight and a stop at Bunnings in the west of Sydney prepared the Roos to axe down the beanstalk at GWS Giants Stadium. Upset? What upset, claimed Roos coach Shaw…truth is most people thought the Giants would win in a canter. A defensive and dour battle in the first half netted 2.6 each..the game opened up on the run home, but last year’s Grand Finalists were physically upstaged by North by 20 points.


An early flight for the Bombers gave them prep time for the cross-town game against the Swans at the SCG, an unhappy hunting ground for the Dons in recent times. Bombers coaching tandem of WooshRutts seemed clear in message and the Bombers were 20 points clear at the first break. Young Swans Lloyd and Florent led the fightback, but they were matched by Parish and McGrath…Dons held on just by a goal.


The golden summer of recruiting at St.Kilda was tested by the Dogs, who were hellbent on recovering on Round One’s poor showing. Likewise, the Saints were determined to rebound. After an even 1st qtr, the Dogs started to look second rate…Zak Jones and the Pseudo Echo-coiffed Butler were proving their worth, as was Hill and Ryder. Jack Billings added the icing to a solid Saints’ 39 point win…24 stats, 3 goals.


Cheers, PT


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  1. Good to have you back, FEARLESS! Looking forward to your ‘no holds barred’ commentary as the season progresses.

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