Finals Week 1 – The Wrap


Where Life imitates Football

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

The world is a better place after a good night’s sleep, eh Wrappers? Waking up on an Abbottless morning with a steady sprinkling of Spring Rain really lifts the spirits. The Nation has a new coach. Now for the rebuild.

Le rapace est mort . Vive le rapace ! What goes around comes around. Those who live by the sword die by the sword. Cliché is as cliché does. (That’s enough Wrap; get on with what you’re paid to do, and humour trying to be humour is not in the job description – Ed) Who would have thought that this time last year that it was Hawthorn who were doing the monstering? And make no mistake; this was a Nightmare on Subiaco.   Be aware; there’ll be a sequel. (Maybe even a franchise – Ed)

BKIBF. And there’s no need to say it’s going to cost someone a Grand Final one day because it already has. Both Sydney & Footscray kicked their seasons away. True, The Swans get another crack at it – but really, it was heartbreaking to watch. (What must it have been like to be a part of it? – Ed).

When are they going to wake up at Maggot Central? Wake up to the forwards trick of holding off their opponent at arms length by taking a healthy fistful of jumper. The hapless defender has no option but to dislodge the illegal jumper hold and gets pinged for manhandling. We gave up counting ages ago, when Tippett was awarded two in the one match actually, right in front of course. If someone has kept count over the season, we’d be prepared to bet the number of goals kicked from this lurk would be enough for a Coleman.

We’ve had some feedback about The Kreutzer. The paperboys along La Via Lygon have it that the Pratt Foundation offered the former #1 Draft Pick $580-630K over two years. They also have it that the offer was just to get his value up so they could claim a low number draft pick for him. They didn’t reckon he’d given the club much and his departure wouldn’t be lamented. Maybe the appalling football league executives should buy their Daily at Dawn Murdochs with their morning java under the plane trees of Little Italy. They may get more of a feel for The Pulse of The Game.

But enough of my gabbin’. Let’s see who’s left in the run after Week I of The Finals.

West Coast Eagles v The Mayblooms. The Weagles were without two key midfielders and The Yankee Doodles were fully loaded. A quick survey around the bar at the All Nations on Friday afternoon had it Hawthorn. At Quarter Time it was up for grabs. Both defences were holding up and the wind was playing havoc with the ball drop. Both sides missed sitters and the scoreline at the First Huddle didn’t record the number of times the ball went OOBOTF from set shots. The Hawthorn forward line was more packed than a peak hour tram, then The Homeside broke loose. They created space and started mastering the blustery conditions. By The Long Interval the scoreline had gone from 2-3 to 2-2 in Hawthorn’s favour to 7-6 in West Coast’s favour to The Mayblooms’ 2-4. Yes Wrappers, TRP had only scrambled one roast joint in that quarter.

The key match winner was expected to be the WCE ruck dominance, which in turn was going to be neutralized by the absence of their two key on-ballers. It wasn’t. The Hawks won the clearances, but it was the Much Vaunted Hawthorn backline that fell apart. Lake had to be hidden away down in the attacking goal square. Gibbo was all at sea. Frawley had to come back from CHF to help out. Stratton and Birchall seem to have lost the desire for Football, sociable or unsociable. Cyril was dropped early by a late roundarm.   Isaac Smith played tentatively. (I missed the Post-Match; did anyone have the courage to ask Clarko if he was 100% fit? – Ed) Overall The Hawks couldn’t get into full flight.

When you look at The Weagles you could see a lot to like. You could see a lot of Hawthorn. The Old Hawthorn. A tight, disciplined team of capable soldiers following instructions. Wellingham’s inclusion was derided pre-match. He wore Gunston like a pair of Y-fronts. Having the audacity to take possession on the Hawthorn forward line was an invitation to be crashed into the sand by a GoldenBlue dumper. Luke Shuey relished the responsibility. He broke tackles and crashed packs at will.

Six goals in half a game was a lot to make up, but not insurmountable for a side of Hawthorn’s calibre. As long as the rain held off. However, The Mustard Pots seemed overawed by the occasion. Their disposal by foot & hand was woeful. (Did you get that SMS from NYC that called it s**tful Wrap? – Ed) There’s no better way to describe it Oh Masterful Masticator of Muse. The scoreline by the Lemnos Citrus Cordial Break was 12-11 to 4-9. That’s nine majors to make up.

It wasn’t as if The Leafblowers weren’t trying. Sammy Mitchell had a feast of kicks, but he didn’t seem to have anyone on him. Further to that, so many of them were high clearance kicks that were easily picked off and converted to telling West Coast attacks. They just couldn’t find an answer to the disciplined play of the Adam Simpson Coached Wedgies. They were in the contest for the ball and won more than their share of The Sherrin, but once they turned it over The Eagles made them pay. And turn it over they did. With monotonous regularity. But hey, that’s pressure. Sure, those jumpers wouldn’t have helped. Why can’t they play their away matches in the Brown Guernsey with the Gold V? It served them ingloriously from 1925 to 1950, and it would add a Glenferrie Oval heritage touch to the wearing.

The Mayblooms salvaged some respectability in the Final Stanza, but lost their CHF in doing so. Sorry Hawkers, Gunston’s ankle injury looked season ending. They have The Pride of South Australia next Friday night at THOF. The Paid Up Proud & Passionate will be remembering Spectemur Agendo.

One consolation for Family Clubbers who made the long trip across the Nullarbor is that most of them slipped out of the ground before the Final Bell, thus avoiding the downpour that it heralded. Eddie The Eagle and All The West Coast Faithful would have been thoroughly soaked before they got to the line in their song about them being Here To Show You Why/ We’re The Big Birds, Kings of The Big Game. And Kings of The Big Game in 2015 they may well be. They have a rest before welcoming the winner of South Melbourne v North Melbourne. Their Emphatic Victory leaves them The Clear Premiership Favourites. They’ll welcome Brownlow Medallist Matt Priddis & Gun Midfielder Christ Masten back into the side that mastered The Benchmark side of the last few years.

The Mauve Miasma v The Bloods. This was a typical Ross Lyon v Horse Longmire affair. Tight last man standing Footy. The Purple Haze was never headed but always challenged. The Bloods had a challenge of their own: controlling the ball drop and judging the wind. Fair dinkum Wrappers; 7-18 is truly Match Losing Football. Did the rest the Fremantle 10 have make a difference? Probably, but it was Bad Boy Ballantyne who kicked 3-0 and ignited The Dockers’ forward, and he’s been running around in the WAFL.

Josh Kennedy was in everything, Captain McVeigh led from the front, Big Kurt carried a fair share of the rucking load, Reece Shaw led the backline, Dan Hannebery never stopped and Adam Goodes attracted a few obligatory gogan-jeers whenever he did some damage (He did a fair bit of it BTW – Ed) And before you ask – 15 of those behinds were off the boot. Far too many were from set shots. The 18 behinds that should have been kicked were running around in The Red & The White. They had multiple behind kickers – 10 in fact – half of whom were multiple offenders. Just for the record, Big Kurt kicked 3-1. (At least someone’s benefitting from Buddy’s absence – Ed)

But let’s not take anything away from The Anchormen. Nat Fyfe was his usual sublime best without being extraordinary. (What ever he does he just does so well, eh? – Ed) Walters complimented Nasty Ballantyne with 3-straight and that was about it really. BKIBF.

Some Students Of The Game of course have been quick to point out that 69 points is not going to win you too many Grand Finals, all of which are played on The Big Stage. Others are saying they’re vulnerable on the small stage as well. The truth of the matter is the Fremantle 22 get the rest this time around and Rossy Lyon must be feeling justified. (Even if a little worried from whence his next 10 goals are going to come – Ed)

The Swans limp home, and limp is the operative word here. Sam Read did a hammy in the closing stages of the contest and looks to be gone for the season. His personal pain at being out of September would have far outweighed anything physical. The panel of the fence he finished his 2015 campaign alongside will bear the dent forever. They have The Shinboners next Saturday to avoid a Straight Sets Exit.

The Doggies v The Pride of South Australia. If you had some buddies out from the US and they asked to see where all those Aussie Punters in the NFL came from you couldn’t have taken them to a better match. When Big Tex launched one from outside the paint that cleared the pack and landed 10 rows back they would have let fly with a holy s**t or three. That’s if they hadn’t been rendered speechless by the sheer pace both sides moved the ball. They sure would have related to the pack running of The Bulldogs. At times it threatened to swing the contest. (No need to point out that Mike Haynes came from the knuckle draggers code – Ed)

And contest it was. The Doggies got off to a flyer but had been hauled in and headed by the First Huddle. It was an arm wrestle from then on with The Free Settlers holding the advantage. The arm wrestle seemed to have gone to The Sons of The West when they surged to the front with three unanswered goals a third of the way into the Final Stanza. Fittingly, Lachie Hunter, who had been in everything, got one of them. When Jake Stringer goaled at the 13 minute mark The Dish Lickers were full of running, as they had been all year, and looked to have the game in their control. But Adelaide didn’t make it through to September by default. The momentum swung back their way and when Big Tex & the Hon Edward A Betts missed The Long Suffering Whitten Oval Faithful would have breathed a sigh of relief that would have heard out along Droop Street. But The Crows kept coming.

Play swung from one end of the ground to the other at a furious pace, and when Big Tex slotted one you could sense the momentum had shifted. It will be a sad moment out in The Mighty West, but when they sum up their season they’ll accept that they weren’t good enough in front of goals on the night, and that they’ve turned the club around. Tipped to be Cellar Dwellers at worst, undergoing a re-build to mediocrity at best, they’ve shown they’re Bulldogs Through & Through. They lost last year’s Sutton Medal Winner before the season got underway and had a new coach after an unsettling year under the previous one. The Bulldogs will be Roaring & Biting next year. They’re The Team Of The Mighty West. Don’t you worry about that.

As for The Mighty Adelaide Crows, how did Carlton ever let The Hon. Edward A Betts walk out of Princes Park? (Because Malthouse didn’t put enough on him – Ed) Or did Eddie fox him by lying low through the season Oh Relentless Redactor? Anyway, we’ll have to call him Pepper & Salt. He was in everything. Kicked 5-1 and had a hand in as many more. They rave about Cyril Riolli along Glenferrie Road’s chic latté lounges, and the media circus perpetuates the story that he was delivered as a baby in a chariot of fire, but The Hon. Eddie does it week in week out. He makes backmen and opposition supporters quake whenever the ball goes down into Adelaide’s attacking zone and he never seems to have any injuries. Add the Rejuvenated Tex Walker and you’ve got an attack that will worry any defence. Jacobs is a mobile ruckmen (Didn’t he come from Carlton too Wrap? – Ed) chuck in a half handy midfield, one that’s more than just Patrick Dangerfield, and you’ve got the makings of a Football Team. We’ll see how good they are next Friday night when they take on The Unsociable Hawks.

We’ll probably get into trouble again with You Know Who for hammering this, but really Wrappers, you do have to wonder, don’t you? This time it was The Free Settlers who ran out in the All White Colours of The Club. Surely it wouldn’t drain Hologram Man & his brains’ trust too much to work out that, seeing as The Pride of South Australia play in Navy Red & Gold, a Gold Guernsey with Red & Navy Bands wouldn’t clash with a predominantly Royal Blue Strip with Red & White Bands? The Tigers have settled on a Yellow Jumper with a Black Sash. (And it works a treat too Wrap; asked Fremantle, Port Adelaide & Sydney – Ed) BTW, Collingwood still play (Using the term loosely – Ed) in Black & White. And it’s not just a tradition thing either. Where are the style police when you need them? Fair dinkum, you wouldn’t wear either of this weekend’s clash strips to a dogfight. The pretence of club association with that spangled V was nauseous. It looked like something a 70’s rock nobody would don for his pelvic thrusts on Countdown. And as for those teardrop horizontal bars in Red Blue & Yellow, Pru Acton would never have even considered the design in her least applauded national tracksuit. AFL white based clash strips? Get rid of them.


Struggletown v The Arden Street Squibs. If The Doggies are lamenting the one that got away, this was the one that could have slipped through North’s fingers. Just six vital errors – glaring errors admittedly – and the result could have gone to The Tigers – Chaplin’s lethargy – Vlastuin’s sloppy kick-in – Vickery’s indolent shot on goal – the blatant free kick in the pocket – Conca’s errant pass that resulted in a North goal – Griffith’s shocking first quarter miss from dead in front.

Now we’re not saying The Kangas got out of goal. These are just six points at which the side that dominated the second half could have could easily been lamenting alongside The Bulldogs and ruing their bad kicking on goal. Honestly, 30 scoring shots to 18 should have been a 6-7 goal win. Seventeen points was leaving the door more than ajar.

For our Tigerland subscribers those six incidents sum up The Tigers of Old tag they’ve worn for some decades now. Let’s have a look at them. The Vlastuin & Chapman blunders were from a backline that had performed so well through the season. Why unravel now? Really, Chapman’s sluggishness smacked of arrogance. Vlastuin’s was underestimation of the opposition. Vickery’s was one of mental laziness (Or maybe mental exhaustion – Ed) The poor umpiring call was squared up by one ignored to Ziebell at the other end. The inclusion of Conca & Griffith for the tried and tested Lennon and Lloyd was made at the Selection Table. (More than a few of TLSPRF groaned when it went up on the big scoreboard – Ed)

Coach Hardnose read the Riot Act after The Final Siren Had Gone and sent Captain Cotch out to face the music. But was it a choke? Or was it Richmond once more getting ahead of themselves? The Tiger Army was out in force and were chanting Rich-Mond clap clap clap before the ball was bounced. (Remember they were singing The Song at half time against Carlton before The Juddanaught led The Blues to a Famous Victory in the 2013 Elimenation Final – Ed) Spot on Ed, if Melbourne can suffer from a “losers attitude”, surely The Tiger Faithful can suffer from “overconfidence syndrome”.

With the first two goals on the board and three costly misses The Tigers looked well and truly out of the jungle. So what happened? North outplayed them. And outcoached them. That’s what happened. Coach Bradley had tested them under tackling pressure for half a game and held them to four goals with a team of chocolate soldiers the week before. In the second half he sat back and watched firsthand as the Tigers showed how they went about their business. Then this week, with his fresh soldiers who had also been observing from the stands, he set about overpowering Richmond’s strengths and exploiting their weaknesses.

When The Tiges did take possession and tried to open up the game they turned the ball over with monotonous regularity. Once they lost their confidence – and you do that under the sort of pressure North were able to exploit – they went back to kicking long down the line. It became predictable, and a sign of surrender. North’s marking strength dominated this tactic anyway, so persistence only added to the frustration.

The Richmond backline, usually the springboard for so many Tiger attacks looked exhausted, both physically and mentally. And with the ball regularly coming in from the Kanga’s runners, it was only a matter of time before it cracked. And it was hot out there. At one stage during a kick in (And there were plenty of them – Ed) Rance looked wobbly. As he gave the ball to Bachar Houli he just stood by the point post wiping his face with his jumper. And before all you Gasometer Marsupials dive for your keyboards, it’s not an excuse; it’s just reporting an observation.

They’ll be back next year, and they’ll be burning with desire. And with the words on the North Melbourne banner echoing in their brain – Richmond Don’t do finals. Richmond Don’t do finals. Richmond Don’t do finals. Richmond Don’t do finals. Let’s see what the draft turns up, but they’ve got a few tough nuts coming through. Anthony Miles, Nick Vlastuin, Kamdyn McIntosh & Corey Ellis are just four who’ll play a major role in The Next Struggletown Revival. (Anthony Miles was one the few Tigers who earned their stripes on Sunday – Ed)

So, how deep into September can North go? All the media focus so far has been on The Tiger Curse. Just how good are the 2015 Shinboners? Sydney stopped them last year up at the same venue in The Prelim. And stopped them in their tracks. The way The Roos went about their business this time against The Striped Marvels suggests they’re at least as good as they were last year, and maybe even a bit better for the experience. They’ve added Waite & Higgins to the line-up since then. Boomer is in career best form and Nick Del Santo has fitted neatly into the Royal Blue & White Verticals. Swallow is a born leader. Jack Ziebell & Ben Cunnington are regular tough nuts. Add to that the marking power of Waite, Brown & Petrie down forward, the rucking prowess of Toddy Goldstein and you have a team that deserves to be playing in the second weekend of The Finals. (Their weakness is their backline – Ed).

And remember, if you read it in The Wrap you’ll know it’s not crap.

About John Mosig

I'm an Aussie Rules tragic who can remember, as a four year old, shaking the hand of Captain Blood in the rooms just before he ran out onto the ground after half time, as my Old Man slipped him a packet of under-the-counter Craven A cork tipped. Now it's my turn to take my grandson Ben through the ritual of character building that is the journey through PUNT ROAD to the outside world.


  1. You’ll be pleased to learn, Mr The Wrap, that one of the two clash jumpers the Crows will have available next season is more or less as you describe

  2. yes by jesus it was hot on Sunday. Melbourne needs less sun and more hills. other than that, I like visiting it.

  3. Less sun and more hills than where? Are we talking Adelaide here? Now there’s some Hills.

    Where’d you get the inside running on next year’s clash jumpers Dave? I might need it get out more.

Leave a Comment