It’s ugly, it’s crap and I blame the coaches

As I sat on the back deck the other night contemplating life, the universe and the upcoming footy season, I worried that 2014 will continue to slide towards the unrecognisable. Perhaps it was my recent visit to the historic loft library of Manning Clarke with Editor at Large, JT Harms, that had me reflecting of better, more expansive times. Maybe it was the red.

The NAB thingo has been puzzling and, at times, miserable. Can a game devolve rather than evolve? On the evidence so far, the sport’s elite competition resembles an under 8s free for all with every player on the field involved in a constant rolling maul. It’s ugly, it’s crap and I blame the coaches for the never ending search to get the last ounce of out of players and depleting the game of character and excitement.

A Honeyeater plucks a moth in a single attempt. Michael Roach hits the pack, one grab mark, goal.

The need to keep possession at the expense of moving forward, kicking to a one-on-one contest and taking a risk is no longer an option. Ten disposals in as many seconds most of which are meaningless. It’s ugly, it’s crap and I blame the coaches for the edict of if we have it, they don’t and they can’t score.

A possum walks along the phone line, agile, sure and confident in it’s decision. Archer takes on Matera and bombs it long into North’s forward line where Carey and Jakovich are all alone. Carey!

The interchange has become a supermarket turnstile with players rotated by the clock and bizarrely used as a reward for a goal. Players sprint off, get a drink, go for a walk, get a rub down, given the same instruction they have heard a thousand times and sent back into the flotsam and jetsam. Two minutes, see you again in seven. It like watching pit lane at Bathurst. The sooner a cap of 40 is put on the interchange, the better the game will be. It ruined League and has ruined footie. When players tire, the collisions reduce and the game opens up. Pretty simple really. It’s ugly, it’s crap and I blame the coaches for exploiting a system that was designed to rest players, not destroy them.

A cat sits on the fence preening itself. A fresh Ted Hopkins comes off the bench at half time in the 70′ GF. Four goals and a tiring Collingwood and the rest is history.

Player attempting to get the ball are pounced upon like seagulls on a dropped chip. The player clearly has not capacity to dispose of the footy, the seagulls squawk “ball”, the umpire duly awards a free. It’s ugly, it’s crap and I blame the coaches for promoting this blight on the game by demanding congestion.

A Magpie finally unearths a worm. Robert Harvey throws himself on the ball with no regard for his personal safety stopping what would have been a certain goal. Ball up.

Hand skills have uncountably improved, despite becoming more dubious in their legality. Disposal by foot and accuracy in kicking for goal is appalling. Most look like they shit themselves when having a set shot. Do players actually practice kicking any more or is it a given that it cannot be improved once they have moved from junior footie? Is it asking to much for player to be able to kick with their opposite foot rather than these made up, low percentage, check kicks? Worse still, the kick was exported from South Australia. It’s ugly, it’s crap and I blame the coaches for tolerating mediocrity and not continuing player development.

A pair of Rosellas fly through the tree branch with unerring precision. Platton burst from the centre delivering yet another lace out kick to Jason Dunstall who will line up for goal number seventeen. 

Sadly, the AFL has failed it’s duty of care by not introducing the one punch rule that would allow a player to have one good shot at pests like Milne and Ballantyne. This over sight will continue to see these annoying pricks bother players and spectators alike. Better still lets introduce an Knob app that supporters can vote on to decide who gets whacked. These blokes are ugly, they’re crap and I blame the coaches for selecting them.

A wasp buzzes around menacingly. A Currawong take it out. Stevie J belts Baker.

Still, the footie is back and I will watch and yell at the tele. Sadly, a lot of it will be frustrated invective directed at poor umpiring and impeachable rubbish. It’s ugly, it’s crap and I blame the  coaches for having to endure it. Thankfully, the truly great players will rise above the swill and we will cheer with delight, be in awe of their brilliance and remember why we follow this great game.

Venus rises in the west. Gary Ablett is a freak, just like his dad.

Go Blues

About Tony Robb

A life long Blues supporter of 49 years who has seen some light at the end of the tunnel that isn't Mick Malthouse driving a train.


  1. Genius TR. I loved the way you used the natural environment as a counterpoint to the manufactured crap of industrial footy.
    I hate the way Demetriou got an extra $2m of blood money for nothing more than adding 2 teams and increasing the TV revenue as a result. At the same time diluting the skill base and talent pool of the comp. Go national by all means with NSW and Qld teams – but lets cut 2 crap teams out of Melbourne to maintain the standard.
    If Demetriou is judged on $ he’s a genius. If he’s judged on quality he’s a moron. I know which is my world view.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Brilliant Tony and so spot on it is ridiculous yep so much afl footy is crap and there is no where near enough talent for 18 teams and the player who makes the play and is pinged it is stupidity sack the rules committee , Bartlett is the best example ever you can be a great player and have , NFI yep Uni oval ( Bob Neil number 1 ) is where I will be getting my footy fix in the SAFL comp
    Go Nick Gill Go Blacks

  3. Wow. That is effing brilliant.

  4. Could not agree more.

  5. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Great stuff Tony.

    Gotta take you to task re the SA checkside kick, it was only meant for goal kicking, not a general panacea for a lack of two-sided skills.

    The excessive use of the interchange is the footy equivalent of moving in the boundary ropes 20-30 metres,,changes both the game and the type of player needed to ensure victory.

  6. tony robb says

    Cheers to all

  7. Tony Robb you have my vote to be the new AFL CEO. You’ve encapsulated everything that is wrong with our great game!

  8. daniel flesch says

    Great stuff , Tony , and certainly a good bet for comment of the year . But a couple of quibbles , sorry …as someone who could kick with both feet (one of the very few footy skills i had ) i like the checkside when it gets a goal. Wouldn’t criticise it as a South Australian export either . As a Hawk supporter i’m glad and grateful to have seen Platten , Jarman , Tony Hall (especially Tony Hall ) and others i can’t think of right now in the brown and gold . Fantastic piece , though ,loved the fauna allusions .

  9. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Daniel – I think the name you were after was Greg Whittlesea

  10. Spot on Tony. No more one on one contests and to much get numbers behind the ball rubbish.

  11. Thanks for you comments Folks. Daniel Agree the check side look great when they come off but lazy if they don’t

  12. Brilliant work, cleverly written and oh so true. Bring back the one punch rule and have Demetriou officially pardon Matty Scarlett for that punch.

  13. Love it. Was watching a game from 97 the other day when Blight left a fit Matty Robran on the bench for a whole quarter, just because he wanted to change the forward set up. Some latter day Hawks for you Daniel (all from a good home) – Puopolo, Schoenmakers, brothers Robran,

  14. Tony Robb. says

    Ahh Blighty they broke the mould after he finished. His sacking at StKilda said more about the club than the man

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