Round 3 – West Coast v Fremantle: Boys against Men

I might be dumb but I’m not stupid.  I went into the game thinking a 5 goal deficit would be a good result for my Eagles.  But I was thinking full time, not 15 minutes into the first quarter.

The notes in my Footy Record say it was 8 goals to nil at the 21 minute mark of the game, and we were 9 goals behind at quarter time.  Things got less bad after that, which is like WA getting back 38% of its GST collections rather than the 30% we were threatened with (there are only so many rustbucket layabouts, basket weavers and dope smokers we can feed).

I have come to believe that life and footy are all about preparation and planning.  Nothing worthwhile comes quickly or easily.  My Eagles have grown insular and self-satisfied over the last decade.  Divine right of FIFO’s?  Success is determined between October and February – the footy season only announces the results – it doesn’t decide them.

Recruiting has been awful.  Game plan is ancient.  As for strength and conditioning – I give you the 98 pound weaklings of the AFL.

Weakling

Shuey, Gaff, Schofield and Masten have been in the AFL long enough to know that competence is no substitute for excellence.  Shuey rivalled Dyson Heppell for the Rising Star in 2011 – now he doesn’t even belong in the same sentence.  He’s the second best midfielder at the Eagles which guarantees him a generous salary and lots of back slaps.  It’s like being the second best tennis player in Serbia – daylight runs second.

I can’t bear to describe the game, so here’s some scattered thoughts:

Naitanui was great and was easily the Eagles best.   Forget all the Fantasy Points rubbish, Nic Nait was hard at every contest and made Sandilands earn every tap out.  Nic Nat’s chase and tackling was determined and brutal all day.  He was our best midfielder (Serbia metaphor again?)

So how come winning a clearance in the first half was harder than getting a straight answer in Canberra?  Even when Nic Nat got his hand to the ball first there were 3 big Fremantle midfield bodies between the Eagles and the ball on every occasion.  We had sand kicked in our faces – plain and simple.

From there the Dockers run and set-up was ruthless and clinical.  The Dockers are always thinking about the next set-up.  I watched the Eagles players closely, and when the ball clears their area too many are content to put their hands on their hips and take a breather.  That means their opponents are loose and creating.

Modern footy is a brutal war of attrition.  The Eagles are Poland.  Carlton must be the Sudetenland.  Freo has tanks; we have rifles; Carlton has pitchforks.

Never to be played again:  Wellingham and Josh Hill.  Skilful but wouldn’t knock the skin off a rice pudding.  The Eagles need starters not finishers.  Sam Butler is the past not the future.  Give Bennell or a youngster a run.

Good players: Priddis, Kennedy, Hurn, LeCras, Naitanui, Rosa.  Not all of them were great today and each has their weaknesses.  But they give an effort each week and you know what you are going to get.  McKenzie and Darling are huge outs because we lack good tall players front and back.

Future Star: Jeremy McGovern is a ripper, but he was trying to cover 3 positions in his 16th game today.  Struggled under the pressure today and turned the ball over more than usual, but given that the midfield were absent without leave, this was hardly his fault.  The future of the club in 3 or 4 years.  Needless to say he hurt his knee in the second quarter and was subbed off.  We will be using Mickey Rooney, Kylie Minogue and Bob Hawke for height next week.

Hall of Mirrors (otherwise known as Piss Poor Preparation makes for Poor Performance):  Shuey, Gaff, Schofield and Masten all have ability but are serial underachievers.  All lack some element of strength, speed or disposal skills under pressure.  We need a brutal conditioning program, and together with Scott Selwood they all have flakey disposal that would not cut it in a top side.

Honest Plodders:  Cripps and McGinnity are whole hearted and worth keeping for this season.  They are handy role players, but do not have a long term AFL future.

Too Early to Say:  Sheppard lacks composure, but is young and keeps stepping up.  Sheed and Yeo lack leg speed and are poor decision makers with consequently poor disposal.  They need time but early signs are dubious. Lycett is big and clumsy, but has skills and tries hard.  As a big bloke his time will come.  Nelson and Duggan are 18yo kids with nice skills who should be learning in the WAFL for a couple of years, but we may as well use 2015 as a baptism of fire.

We are what we are.  Bottom 6 with our crippling injuries – particularly to talls.  Mid table if everyone was available.  We are in the second year of a five year turnaround under Simpson, and we need to keep our heads up while we go through a tough year with injuries.  Game plan and recruiting are showing some early signs of improvement, but Simpson needs to put the cleaners through strength and conditioning staff and the club’s expectations of it’s list.

As for the Dockers I struggled to find a weakness (and I looked hard).  The tall forwards looked average, particularly once the ball movement slowed down in the second half.  Taberner and Zac Clarke are handy, but my feeling is they will struggle against the best.

The Dockers midfield is extraordinary.   We all know Fyfe, Mundy, Barlow and Hill are strong elite runners, penetrating kicks and win plenty of contested ball.  But Neale and both Pearces were all awesome today.  Sandilands, Pavlich and McPharlin all look fit and strong.

The competition has at least a half dozen very good teams and the Dockers are up there with the best of them, save for injury, particularly to Sandilands or key defenders.  Their only injury risks today were from leather poisoning or agoraphobia in the wide open space of the midfield.

The setting sun was in my eyes at the City End after half time and I couldn’t see much of the game.  I guess that having my eyes closed didn’t help.

I tried to gauge progress from listening to the crowd, but I thought I must have been at a Funeral Director’s Convention.  We outscored them by a goal in a third quarter that was as intense as a Baptist social night.

The game started with 34,000 Eagles fans and 5,000 Dockers.  After ¾ time they were in the majority. The Avenging Eagle and I had joined the exodus to escape both the ignominy and the setting sun.

15 minutes later and we were watching the last rites in the Royal Hotel on the water in East Perth.  More blue and gold shirts had joined us than remained at the game.

I lowered my eyes and tried to look humble whenever someone in a purple shirt walked by.  Then I found the true meaning of humility.  Most of the purple shirts were Perth Glory fans that had come from their meaningless 3-1 victory over Melbourne City at the nearby NIB Stadium.

I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes.  Then I met men with no feet.

WEST COAST         0.4   3.5    6.7    12.9  (81)

FREMANTLE           9.2  14.5  16.7   17.9  (111) 

GOALS

West Coast: LeCras 5, Hill 2, Naitanui 2, Wellingham, Kennedy, McGinnity

Fremantle: Hill 3, Neale 3, Taberner 3, Walters 3, Clarke 2, Mayne 2, D. Pearce

BEST

West Coast: Naitanui, Rosa, Priddis, LeCras, McGovern

Fremantle: Neale, Hill, D. Pearce, Fyfe, Sandilands, Mundy, Walters

Umpires: Dalgleish, Chamberlain, Armstrong

Official crowd: 39,138 at Domain Stadium

VOTES: Neale (F) 3; Hill (F) 2; D Pearce (F) 1.

 

 

Comments

  1. Peter Fuller says

    PB,
    I suspect that you’re mistaken. A thorough search of the garden shed at Princes Oval (I’m as uncomfortable with the name Ikon Park as I am its predecessors) has failed to locate any pitchforks; the investigation continues. The office junior will be heading to Bunnings by Tuesday if nothing turns up.

  2. Oh dear, oh dear Mr. B. I guess this is a good time to recruit you to our campaign to have the Skip of Skipton 8-Point game replace the current four points for a win only..any side can get jumped. It happens to the best of us. Look at The Striped Marvels in TFWOS last year. Sympathies and condolences are extended by all of us at Punt Road. So, getting back to the SoS method of calculating the true value of a team’s effort over the Full Hundred Minutes, Your Boys recovered from the Purple Blitzkrieg to salvage two points from the encounter.

    Now I accept that this may not appear too much but it’s two more than Brisbane earned this round. You get my drift?

    Please join us in the struggle. Send no money.

  3. Wrap – surely the Premiership Qtr should count double, and teams that run out the game strongly in the last deserve extra points? And goals kicked by midgets should be 12 points to encourage diversity, as should indigenous goalkickers.
    PF – Of course you have no pitchforks. We kept them after the Friday night game as we needed them for the Derby. Kane Lucas will return them at the end of the year.

  4. Eagles are highly influential. Their tradition of leaving at three quarter time of the derby has now been adopted by the Fremantle team. West Coast fans beat the traffic and Dockers players get an early ice bath.

    Can’t say I approve.

  5. E.regnans says

    Good one PB.
    Any updates to your thoughts on R Lyon’s coaching?

  6. ER – Necessity is the mother of invention. Losing RCrowley and Zac Dawson has improved them by 5 goals. Like Sydney they will still lock down against the top sides, but they can throw the switch to vaudeville at any time now with their midfield depth.

  7. David Zampatti says

    It was one of those perfect Perth autumn days. On the telly, the surf at Margaret River was perfect. The grandkids were down from Thailand, perfect little faces beaming at the wrassling dogs, the kick-to-kick. Dozen perfect bbq snags and six or seven perfect Italian sausages on the grill, a little bit of cumin in the pumpkin soup made it perfect.
    Could anything spoil the utter perfection of Derby Sunday?

    Nope.

  8. Neil Anderson says

    You’ve stolen my cartoon analogy of the weakling getting sand kicked in his face.
    The same incident happened a few thousand kilometres away in Launceston.
    I can see Luke Hodge and Roughy being sponsored by ‘ Bullmaster ‘ after tossing aside the young pups on Sunday after ten minutes of annoying yapping at their heels.

  9. I was thinking you would headline this article “Demolition Derby Deja Vu” but I guess that is rather unimaginative.
    We had wine, beer and nibbles at home with another couple who happen to be eagle supporters. They couldn’t quite work out why I had placed a bowl of water at the front door with toast in it.
    I felt sorry for them. At one stage, we turned the sound off, and chatted about their new grand daughter. We agreed before the game started that if we beat them by 6 goals, he would feel they had won. They felt better after the last quarter.
    I reckon Rossie must’ve said to the boys at the 3/4 break to take the foot of the pedal a little, it is early in the season, let’s save some steam for next week.
    The comment about leather poisoning and agoraphobia gave me my belly laugh for the day, thanks Peter!

  10. Dennis Gedling says

    All of a sudden Perth Glory do not look like the poorest team in a national competition from Western Australia. Even the Force might have your measure at the moment.

  11. Et Tu Brutus?

  12. sean gorman says

    Pete very workman like piece – its tough to write these poxy reports especially if your
    team has been beaten let alone given the full pizzling. Ken Judge on the wireless said
    there has been no change across the organisation (i.e. WCE) and Freo now outstrip
    them in every measurable – except for maybe memberships. Its stands out like a set of haggarts that this is the case.

    I agree you blokes have to start from scratch because it is only gonna get uglier.

    Just by way of interest when did the exodus from Subi commence do you think? I ask
    because the Purple Circus crew were taking bets on it tuesday night.

    cheers

  13. David Zampatti says

    You wouldn’t have wanted to be trying to drive through Subi at half time on Sunday arvo, Prof.

  14. sean gorman says

    luckily DZ i was driving up the Albanian Hwy there was a steady stream of cars heading to Wandering to check their mull crops and clandestine stills.

  15. David Zampatti says

    So a few of us decided there wasn’t any need to keep watching after half time and went to do the chores.

    Everyone hates a dobber, Gorman.

  16. Hope left at quarter time (or a little before).
    Interest left at half time.
    The Eagles members (city end in particular) left at 3/4 time. The crush at the Merv Cowan gates was tighter than a Wellingham tackle.
    Take your pick.

  17. Luke Reynolds says

    Wellingham’s decline since 2010 has been rapid, seems totally devoid of confidence.
    Will the Perth media start circling around Adam Simpson soon? Only second season in but will the expectations around a big club in a footy mad State start to focus on the coach?
    Beautifully written ending summing up the Glory’s plight.

  18. Luke – while I share your concern about the insular nature of WA footy and media – I strongly believe that Simpson is an outstanding coach and person. The club became self satisfied and short sighted in the last 5 years of Woosha, Nisbett and Barnaba.
    Simpson has a big turnaround to do, as we start behind the 8 ball on recruiting, skills, strength and conditioning. Things that take 3-5 years to change before you see results on the park.
    Wellingham and Josh Hill were only sold because their clubs knew they were solely receivers and finishers. A contested ball means Dancing with the Stars for them (don’t steal that line).

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