Round 12 – Carlton v West Coast: Let’s make a list

Let’s make a list of the things that would make it hard for a team to win a game of AFL football.


First let’s give each player a rank according to their importance to the team’s chances. Then take out 6 of the first 12 so they can’t play (see my list below). Oh, and then, during the first quarter take out another of the 12, injured for the match.


In their place pick half a dozen players who have each played less than 6 games. Make one of them a debutant. And put in a couple of stars who are just coming back from serious injury.


Where should we play the game? Certainly not at home where we usually do okay. The MCG where they last won on the road a few weeks ago? No, covid in Melbourne, can’t go there. Let’s send them 4.5 hours across the country to play at a ground where they haven’t won a game of footy against anyone for 22 years, a period spanning two premierships. Not since 1999 when a bloke named Malthouse was coach. And he hadn’t won there for six years before that. Five of the team to play this week hadn’t been born in 1999. (Ah but remember that day at the SCG?  A full forward named Plugger was chasing 6 goals for a league record 1299, but Ashley McIntosh kept him to 3). OK so, weight of history is against them. Tick.


What else? Form. Let’s saddle this team with two losses the last two games, one when they were nearly 5 goals up, another where they also had their chances to win. Good. Out of form. Tick.


Right, opposition. If we can’t have them play against a top four team (who might just be complacent anyway) let’s pick one whose season is on the line. Who can be counted on for desperation to win so they can shake off all the criticism and keep their finals hopes alive. Give them a pretty full list and a travel task of only an hour or so. Make them favourites. Tick.


Then get someone in the media to rub a little salt in. Come out and say that their opponents have been gifted the game as a result of all those hurdles. That they simply have to win.


It’s winter. Can we make it wet? This team relies on first clean touch so rain or dew would also hurt. No? Can’t have that one? Hmm, ‘so you’re saying we have a chance’ on a dry track and on a beautiful sunny day….


It would be wrong to say that this win over Carlton at the SCG on Sunday removes all of the issues facing the Eagles in 2021. They still have a massive injury cohort and question marks over how they have not sustained four quarter efforts when the game was there to be won.


But with all of those mountains to climb to just be in the market for a four point reward from the AFL, this was on any view a wonderful win of which this group of legends and tyros could be justifiably proud. And the SCG hoodoo is gone for now. I will leave the comments on Carlton’s efforts (and the significant impact of the loss of McKay to concussion during a marking contest won by young Harry Edwards) to others. You can only play against the team that turns up, and don’t get me started on untimely injuries.


But Liam Ryan with 4 goals was sublime, and Nic Naitanui – playing his first game as captain of the Eagles –  was  inspirational. (For the danger in underestimating teams which include Nic Naitanui see my piece in the AlmanacMothers Day  – a few weeks ago). Liam took another exceptional mark ascending vertically off a sore hamstring in the Third Quarter.


The young guys flashed in and out – as you might expect – but continued to show promise. When you have a bunch of youngsters making their way, easily the best thing the senior players can do is show the way. And today they did. Gaff found himself in the back pocket and then smothering a kick to set up a goal for Ryan in the attacking goal square. Hurn – coming back off injury showed some of the old Shannon – taking saving marks and marshalling the back line. Tom Barrass returned to marking everything that was punted high into the back line. Redden and Cripps went hard at the ball all day. Jack Darling crashed into packs and brought the ball down to the small forwards who were presenting – Ryan, Langdon and Jones (after subbing on for Sheppard in the first quarter).  Dom Sheed worked hard to provide Nic with a second clearance option – beside himself that is – Nic again led West Coast clearances, with nine.


And welcome back Elliot Yeo, you have been missed. The up-tick in quality possessions and clearances he brought was stark, now two games into a come back from O.P.


Harry Edwards took a fine mark. Luke Foley kicked a super goal from outside 50 and Bailey Williams looks like he can play. O’Neill kicked a goal. Tyson Edwards’ son, Luke looked Ok on debut.


There are still great challenges for this team – not the least of which is the reigning premier next Sunday as they build back into contention again. But then there is a break. And then some more of the 12 will be back.


Let’s make another list then.


Let’s take it one list at a time.


(My best 12 list; 1 Nic Nat 2. Shuey 3. McGovern 4.Yeo. 5. Darling 6. Kennedy 7. Kelly 8. Gaff  9. Sheppard 10. Barrass 11 .Allen 12.  Duggan)



CARLTON            3.6     6.9      9.10     10.13 (73)
WEST COAST      4.1     8.5     12.8      14.11 (95) 


De Koning 2, Owies 2, Betts 2, Setterfield, Walsh, Cottrell, Williams
West Coast: Ryan 4, Jones 2, Darling, Sheed, Gaff, Redden, Langdon, Foley, Cripps, O’Neill 


Carlton: Walsh, Williams, Saad, Dow, Newman
West Coast: Ryan, Gaff, Sheed, Langdon, Yeo, Hurn 


Carlton: McKay (concussion), Newman (concussion)
West Coast: Sheppard (concussion)


Carlton: Newnes (replaced McKay)
West Coast: Jones (replaced Sheppard)


Crowd: TBC at the SCG



Read more from John Gordon Here.



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  1. Great win JG. I’m not as bullish as you, as is my nature. The main thing I took out of it is how much the group believe in Adam Simpson and want to play for him and each other. Stark contrast to a rudderless Carlton rabble. I would rate Hurn, Sheed and Redden before Duggan – but otherwise agree with your Top 11.
    Yeo has certainly made a difference – even on limited minutes. The kids went ok. I have big wraps on Harry Edwards. Good hands and plenty of poise for a young key defender. Bailey Williams will be ok in time, but getting worse by the week under AFL pressure. Never thought I’d say it, but bring back Vardy. Langdon is too indecisive and turns the ball over, but to his credit did a few good things in the second half.
    Tigers, Dogs and Swans (a real team on the SCG) will be a huge task. I’d be ecstatic to win one, even with a few players back. McGovern hasn’t looked right all year and I worry that the Indian Rubber Man has run out of latex. Gaff has been average but had his best game of the year on Sunday.

    Our best hope is to sneak into the 8 but with a fit full list for September. All the planets need to align, particularly given the accumulated wear and tear on our ageing best players. But our best can beat anyone.
    Onwards and upwards.

  2. John Gordon says

    I agree with you Peter. I certainly didn’t intend to overstate the prospects or understate the challenge. The intriguing unknown in all of this is of course what, if any, impact the return of W Rioli will have. He is just about to start his pre=season.

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