Round 3 – The 2015 ‘Mopsy’ Fraser Cup

Greetings Tipsters


It’s been writ lately that a team needs two really good forwards if they’re to compete for a flag. Does anyone believe that there are 36 in the country?


No, of course not. Remove those who do or have played with Hawthorn and there’s barely a dozen. And raw talent alone is not enough – yes, Richmond took Richard Tambling ahead of Lance Franklin in the draft but would Lance have become the Buddy we admire if he was a Tiger?


Successful clubs can afford to take more time with talented players, especially the big blokes who need four or six seasons to really hit their straps. These clubs win games, play finals, so the fans, sponsors and front office can afford to be patient, the youngsters can play a lot of reserves matches while they learn the ropes.


Other clubs don’t have this luxury. They get high draft picks, who are thrown into the seniors earlier with a lot of pressure to perform from the moment their names are announced in the senior lineup. Granted, this seems less of an issue today than it did five years back, all clubs are better at managing youngsters now, but it’s there.


Now throw free-agents into the mix. While a 30 yr old player may chase the dollars, knowing he doesn’t have more than two or three years left – and I don’t have a problem with that, everyone should have the chance to make as good a living as they can – a 26 year old player, in the prime of his career, will likely chase a Premiership Medal.


Net result, the strong get stronger. This isn’t necessarily inevitable, tides ebb and flow, but take a look at the clubs and their chances over the next three years and bear in mind that when Ron Barassi went to Carlton his key point was that it should be a well-administered club.


Freo, Hawthorn, Port and Sydney are the clubs that seem to have a decent chance; Port’s turnaround over the last few years is a lesson and, perhaps, inspiration for others. Adelaide, Geelong, North, Richmond and, crikey, I’m biassed but I’ll throw GWS into this group, may have some chance. “Bloody hell,” you might say, “what about MY team, eh? What about Collingwood/Essendon/West Coast?”


They don’t have the players. We all know the story, a team has to be regular finalists and get used to the intensity of play-offs if they’re to have a chance at the big dance, but you need to have the players, the coach, the football staff and the front office all revving to the redline to even canvass the possibility.


This doesn’t augur well for the Queensland teams and half the Melbourne teams.


Now let’s take a look at the results on the weekend. Some close, exciting matches, some thrashings and a few close-ish on the scoreboard. Collingwood recorded the fifth highest F50 forays since such stats have been taken, with an efficiency that must have pleased Buckley, even playing St Kilda. Melbourne were in touch until the first break, then Adelaide pummelled them. Richmond, Hawthorn and Fremantle beat the crap outa Brisbane, Footscray and West Coast, even if the Wharfies did slack off terribly after halftime.


Port and Geelong won thrillers, great games both and no shame to the vanquished North and Goldies. Essendon squeaked past Carlton, mostly cos they have something like a forward line, and Sydney won the ‘Battle of the Bridges’ or whatever it is, because they were calm and composed where it counted – in front of goal.


Bad kicking is bad football, but the Monaros matched the Swans in most other stats and looked good around the ground, lack of poise aside. They’re looking better than the Schoolies, who’ve suffered a slightly messy coach change that’ll put ‘em back a year or two.


Carlton’s smartest recruiting lately is Steve Silvagni, look at the players he assembled out at Homebush. Sure, he had plenty of picks to play with, but he didn’t miss a beat. We’ll see how it goes in the Expansion Cup next weekend, but the view is brighter over the Parramatta River than the canals of the Gold Coast.


If you’re gonna have expansion teams, you have to give ‘em some leeway in the draft and trade so they can become competitive, which will cost the bottom four or six teams in talent and hope and reshapes the talent pool. The cubic capacity may be constant, but the more lanes you add, the shallower it gets overall.


I’ve been thinking about this since Freo joined, sixteen teams was gonna stretch it. Now there’s eighteen teams and Association Football has finally gotten its act together, a running and kicking code that will recruit kids who ten years ago would’ve played Australian Football, and compete for media space and sponsorship with St Kilda, a club who barely have a training venue.


Will Paddy McCartin shift teams at the first opportunity? Play his career in red white and black? Move when a free agent? Quit early? Win the first Jesaulenko Medal for B&F of the Carlton Saints?


Enough of the next several years, what about next week? It oughta be a cracker out in the most remote city in the world, when the undefeated Wharfies host the undefeated AreTheyBloodsAgain? which inconveniently coincides with Port hosting Hawthorn.


Meanwhile, the first serious round of the Battle From The Spoon takes place in New Zealand. Oh dear. The good teams don’t wanna go there, so Gillo should throw a lot of money at two of them to play there next year. This is no way to promote the game overseas. Given that two of five letters in ANZAC reference our plucky, unfussed cousins across the Tasman, maybe Essendon and Collingwood (are you reading, Sheeds?) should make the journey.


Four or five years ago I watched Richmond play Melbourne late in the season and it was a great game, long kicks, fast runs, the great style you get when two young teams play. I doubt this match will be as entertaining, Demons will try to drag Tigers down and wear them out, but Jack Riewoldt may very well kick as many goals in the last as Melbourne do all day.


Geelong host North, that oughta be a good one, and I’d love to see “Dogs Eat Crows” in a tabloid headline so I could email the subbie and tell him what eating crow really means, and cos I want to see Scray get some wins on the board. Then there’s Eagles at Lions, as our American friends would put it, but I’d be more interested if Philadeplphia were playing in Detroit.


Y’know, it’s taken a few weeks, but I’m starting to get back into this footy malarkey.


Cheers Tipsters


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About Earl O'Neill

Freelance gardener, I've thousands of books, thousands of records, one fast motorcycle and one gorgeous smart funny sexy woman. Life's pretty darn neat.

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