Round 1 Preview – Stadium Insanium!

Welcome one and all to the 2016 Footy Season,


A week is a long time in pre-season and since my pontifications for the season were released a number of clubs have been thrown into turmoil through injury.  It is a long journey, however injuries and player availability will be a key deciding factor on the makeup of September action.


A Carlton supporter can’t let the jibes between Mighty Mick and Chris Yarran go without comment.  At the Blues Yarran was symptomatic of many of the clubs failings – looked fantastic when he was on but would not do the hard things when required.  The new environment might change that – however the comments from Malthouse make for interesting reading.  How hard did you ride him?  We have seen two talent laden players depart Carlton for other clubs in Yarran and Troy Menzel – both Richmond and Adelaide let the world know that both of these players did not front up to their new environs in an appropriate state for AFL.  Mick had them both along with the world’s greatest fitness adviser and could even teach them required AFL fitness levels, yet he still played them.  Evidence continues to mount as to what a horrendous decision it was to take on Malthouse.


Then we have the discussion around new stadiums to replace The Loungeroom, Eddie and the Tiges have both put forward proposals.  However from my vantage point I have not heard of or seen any actual requirements, it looks very much like the Victorian Transport policy – do nothing until Transurban tell us what we want!  First of all what were the mistakes of The Loungeroom, from this perspective there are only three major issues.

  • Replacing a 77,000 capacity venue with one that only holds 54,000.  The trek to Waverley could be onerous not assisted by the lack of transport plan – when is rail going to Monash?  But it catered for big games and importantly the average supporter could still watch the game with getting altitude sickness.  Whilst The Loungeroom might cater for 54,000 though anyone paying the regular admission had better not be a vertigo sufferer!  In reality often over ½ the capacity requires patrons to either be a member of an elite club within the stadium or to pay extra to watch the game.
  • Alignment of the ground.  Some pretty poor planning has us asking for the roof to be closed on magnificent sunny days, not sure what choices they had but I prefer the elements to have some bearing on the game.  Also an issue for those fans stuck in the glare who have been told where they have to sit.
  • The major is unsurmountable at the venue without major changes and that is that the playing surface is too small and as a result the brand of football played there is rubbish.  Too often we see 100% of the combatants in less than 25% of the field, yes the game has changed but tactics and style at this venue are more akin to basketball and soccer than any other venue.  Would be interested to see how teams would clog up the vast expanses at Waverley Park?  See the end of this piece for some of my favourite Waverley memories – getting out of the car park was not one of them!

There are clearly some commercial challenges for the tenant clubs, but I suspect those challenges could exist at any venue.

The Loungeroom does have some redeeming features.  Whilst I prefer the elements to be involved in the game being a roofed venue makes it more creature comfortable in poor weather and open to more uses.  The proximity to the city and a major railway station makes access simple and an ideal location – the thought of another stadium in the proximity of Richmond station is ridiculous.  It struggles to move a 60,000 crowd out of the area – imagine if there were two footy games and possibly a rugby game at the same time.

I am all for an alternative to the Loungeroom – but first the AFL and appropriate authorities need to determine and publish the requirements, before that realm of self-interest takes over (if it hasn’t already).  And on that note I am not for pushing the “Back to Princes Park” barrow – unless Parkville Station is up and going.  Maybe Transurban can let us know when that will be!


There is an elongated round of footy to be played with the Thursday Night start making it tough for pontification when teams aren’t named.  Round 1 making it even harder, let alone the fact that we have a couple of ripper contests.


Unlidded ($1.26) vs A Bolt On ($4.60)

Brendon Bolton has his own team and the bar has been set pretty low for the Blues, meanwhile the Tigers have blinked and given Dimma the extra year of insurance on his contract.  Not quite sure what all the rush was about – there are only 18 of these spots in the world – don’t think any other clubs are banging on his door.  As for the game – it is a bit tighter than originally expected with Richmond somewhat decimated by injury especially Brett Delidio where the correlation between his presence and a Tiger victory is way too high!  The Blues are pretty much at full strength, about a light beer compared to most.  The exception being Daisy who deserved an extra week for stupidity!  Reckon the Blues can get enough of the footy in the midfield, but real concerns about how they go forward and to whom.  Whereas at the other end Jack has been their nemesis for a number of years and whilst supply might be limited the Tiges might not need as much of it.  Until Carlton display some ability to score I can’t select them, so the Tigers are the pick.  However if I am right about the midfield then I’d be happy to take the Blues at the current mark but would be happier with $5.00.


Not Gawn Yet ($2.36) vs Mummy’s Boys ($1.70)

They may very well be Giants but I suspect without the services of Jeremy Cameron they could be brought back to size, which makes this contest a closer one that the odds suggest.  Big Max will be put to the test by the Big Mummy and that may very well determine the outcome of this game.  Treloar leaving doesn’t help, but GWS are not short of midfield depth and I suspect will provide enough supply to have them prevail.


Gaztronomy ($1.18) vs Spare Parts ($6.20)

The Suns will be pleased to have Gary Ablett ready to go in Round One and up against the Bombers made up of young tyros and tough old boots.  Not sure how they will go up against the Suns, but suspect it will be a bridge too far.  Suns for mine, but plenty of unknowns.


On the Hop ($1.58) vs Turned Pyke ($2.64)

The banter from the Roos has certainly affected the market here despite them not winning the opener for many a year.  Don Pyke pulls the strings for their opponents who were their round one nemesis last year and at the same venue.  Both teams will be pretty much at full strength, the Roo forwards could stretch the Crow defence but that Adelaide forward line could really challenge their opposition.  As much as the footy world loves Goldy, anyone in Adelaide will put Sauce Jacobs in the same postcode.  Does losing Dangerfield really make that much difference – it appears the market thinks so.  To me this is a flip of the coin game and happy to go with recent history and make the Crows my selection.


Eddie Taunters ($1.70) vs Moore Please ($2.40)

Even in the off season the Swans were able to rile Big Ed – which adds a fair bit of spice to this contest – at least from a marketing and media perspective.  For the coaches it might not define the season but they will know much more about their team at the end of the contest.  Buckley seems to have his charges in a pretty good place – another target up front with Darcy Moore and even more soldiers through the middle.  Not huge changes for the Swans but plenty of Buddy hype – the hype will work if they can spread the load up forward.  They might need a couple more bananas.  Reckon the Pies are fair value and should be about $2.20 – but selecting the Swans on their home ground.


No Will ($1.96) vs No Herman ($2.02)

Neither the Dogs or Dockers go in with their best ruckman, but they will both be keen to see how they go without Minson and Sandilands respectively.  Get Stuffed Lyon gets to defend his old home turf while the Dogs get onto their favoured fast track.  There aren’t any surprises for the Dogs this year, the return of Lberatore will make them better at the coalface – but this will be balanced by the loss of Crameri’s creativity up forward.  Just going for Freo in another game where the fans and the coaches will learn a lot.


Bearded Bananas ($1.22) vs Moorabbin ($5.10)

Port welcomes Charlie Dixon to add to their hirsute forward targets of Shulz and the Hoff, even their spare banana John Butcher can’t manage a razor.  All those bananas should prove too slippery for the Saints, who will continue their development but find this one too tough.  Port to win.


Go One Better ($1.05) vs Beamed Out ($16.50)

The Eagles begin their campaign to see if they can go one better this year against Brisbane who will be further challenged through the injury to Dayne Beams.  The Lions will be looking to build through the year but this mission will be too difficult.


The Challengers ($2.24) vs The Champs ($1.75)

Easter Monday closes the round with a beauty!  The Cats have reloaded with Dangerfield, Smith, Henderson and a couple more to really have a crack at the competition this year.  They played poorly last year but on limited personnel.  Their opponents though will be primed for this, the rivalry with Geelong is fierce and they will want to put them in their place.  Missing a few of their best personnel but the Hawks have been better than anyone in covering the holes.  Roughy might be the one that is too hard.  A line ball call but reckon the Hawthorn machine will be keen to stamp themselves on Geelong and the season, they are my selection.  A Hawthorn loss could see some serious market and expectation adjustments – despite it being round one.


Remembering Waverley – my favourite moments


  • Peter Bosustow Goal of the Year 1981
  • Angry and The Batmobile
  • TBM Bobby Skilton’s Herald Shield Commentary and his admiration of Bradley Gotch
  • The Brereton-Duckworth pantomime
  • Peter Daicos and Gary Ablett often fired at the venue
  • Kerry Good’s mark and goal after the siren – 1980 Night Grand Final
  • David Bowie and Simon & Garfunkel Concerts
  • Game disruptions – one with sprinklers coming on, the other with lights going off
  • Tim Watson – Played his first game there against the Tigers in 1977, but who can forget his hurdled goal against the Blues in the 1981 Night Grand Final.   (A bit of Buddy in the highlights)
  • Jim Stynes going through the mark – 1987 Preliminary Final – what a game, what a clutch kick by Bucky!
  • And I managed a few kicks for the Friars in a Herald Shield game.


Ammos still a couple of weeks away


Go Blues, Go Hammers, have a great Easter,

Cheers, Sal




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