Round 8: The 2015 ‘Mopsy’ Fraser Cup

Greetings Tipsters

 

Gee, we had a bit of everything in Round Eight, eh? The first observation of the weekend being “why do Geelong have orange bits on their sox?” Stanley (the name, coincidentally, of my latest work van) was the only Cat with his sox up so I had to wait a while to get a look and, yes, they have an orange hoop at the top. I’ve no idea why.

 

The big story of Frieve was Mick Malthouse, the seeming lack of communication at the club that is Not Good For Football and all the rest of it which you’ve no doubt read about over the weekend. I like Mick, I like his press conferences. Sure, he gets testy sometimes but only to stupid questions.

 

A mate’s son went against his family’s strong Swans allegiance, after a season’s flirtation with the Eagles, he chose the NGFF club three years ago. I messaged his dad Frinite, asking if he was sticking with them. Yep, the lad is hanging in there, and good luck to him. What’s 12 year old Gus’ take on Mick, I asked.

 

“Doesn’t think the coach should get sacked because the players have no balls.”

 

St Kilda laid about as many tackles in a quarter as Gus’ team did in the match, much as they did the previous week. I read a piece on the weekend that sought to blame Mick for this, pure nonsense. I suspect Mick’s remarks about rebuilding and the pressure it puts on players, “off-message” or whatever management-speak Trigg used when criticising him, might be pretty close to the mark.

 

Overall, tho, given that they’ve lost more talent than they’ve acquired, have gotten worse onfield, the circuit-breaker that is a change of coach is damn near a certainty. For a host of reasons, Mick oughta coach out the season, the hierarchy oughta let him know of their plans damn soon, he oughta do a Tony Shaw and play the kids, regardless.

 

How about those Wiggles, eh? They beat St Kilda, who still gave a decent showing. The Wiggles haven’t beaten anyone worth bragging about, Monaros aside, who only became braggable when they beat Hawthorn the next week. Geelong next week, we’ll see how they go then.

 

Monaros now have only seven teams to beat (to an embarrassed pulp of humiliation) after taking care of the Crows on Saturday. In a nutshell, pace, skill, grunt, I gotta save something for my match review.

 

Freo won and the Schoolies lost. No surprises there. Hawthorn and Sydney…

 

What an absolute cracker of a match that was! By the gods, it was a flashback of at least twelve years, a supernova of intensity and full-bore combativeness. Biff, bang, they were all into it, and hard.

 

Problem for Hawthorn was playing the man and not the ball. Sydney’s backline was superb in the first 40 minutes, hanging tough, letting Hawthorn into half-back, then scooting the ball forward for another quick goal. Gunston screwed a set shot early in the second and the Hogs looked seriously rattled. Then they kicked a goal and suddenly remembered how to play football, kicked nine of the next eleven and looked set to sweep all before them. Swans were looking rattled.

 

Then Jetta dropped back and took a couple of important marks, McVeigh went forward and kicked a couple of important goals and set up the matchwinner.

 

Have any of us seen a handpass go through Cyril’s hands like that one did? My dad, who’ll be 80 in a few weeks, could’ve kicked that goal – oh, he may not have held the pass, but that is hardly the point. Dad isn’t a key part of Hawthorn’s attempt at a third straight flag. They’re 4 &4, sure, those four losses have been close, damn close, but last year they’d have won those matches.

 

“Don’t the Hawthorn fans just hate it when there’s a goal review” muttered Richo. Flicking around forums over the weekend, I found a few comments along that line, though far less diplomatic. The Golden Brown are my least favourite team because I’ve never encountered such a rude, graceless, arrogant bunch of supporters. Port, Collingwood, they’ve nothing on the Fluid Fans.

 

So it was a joy, an absolute utter joy, to see them get run down on the weekend. Hey, I’ve a lotta respect for the club, they run a top-class operation and have put together an awesome team. But there’s nothing classy in getting suspended for two or three weeks for pointless hits. Sam Mitchell put an elbow into a Swan face for no good reason, Roughead threw a Swan down behind play for no good reason – that’s just stupid. Lethal’s Lions at least waited until the fourth straight Grand Final before they started acting this stupid.

 

So, of April’s Big Four, two remain. I meant to write off Port last week, but forgot. Port made a mockery of themselves. Remember when we used to admire their fast, sharp style? Yes, they’ve had injuries. So’ve I. But they’ve fallen back to Primus days, 3 & 5 and 86%, they’ll be lucky to make the eight. Kane’s last match, his 300 th, and they managed just five goals against Richmond, even after keeping them goal-free for a quarter.

 

Or so I heard. I tried to check it, but that part of today’s newspaper got used for blocking primer when I was working on the old van today. Anyone want a short wheelbase Hiace?

 

Did any betting shop offer odds on the Top Four being all Perth and Sydney after eight rounds? You’d think we’d have a handle on the form by now – Wharfies, Swans and Monaros have all played some serious teams, the Wiggles haven’t. Likewise, 4 and 20s haven’t beat any team more threatening than Essendon, and they didn’t manage more than nine goals that day.

 

Thus the fixturing. I like it that good teams from the previous season meet each other early, while crap teams do likewise. That’s the first six or eight weeks, but every team oughta play every other team over the first seventeen rounds, then repeat the first five. That’s as fair as it can be done.

 

Down here at the Stop Privatisation Of Football office, we’ve been thinking about these things far more than is healthy. We’re on record for favouring the nineteenth and twentieth man, we mentioned it last week, but let’s go for details.

 

Teams will pick eighteen players, plus two, not twenty-two. The standard of the elite level of Australian Football will increase because, let’s face it, fringe players in most teams are just not good enough for the AFL, but will lift the State Leagues – 36 more AFL level players in there every week.

 

Reserve players can go on the field at any time, but cannot be replaced. Of course, that’s the point of reserve players and I reckon that most folks reading this are old enough to know what I mean. An exception will be made for concussion, the 20 minute rule, much as it is this season.

 

Coaches will grumble, players will toe the line. Gilded cage and all, I’ll save that for another week.

 

See, for me, one of the most perfect examples of Australian Football was Paul Kelly grabbing the ball out of the centre, sprinting away from everybody and nailing a kick onto Tony Lockett’s chest. Everytime I watch a match and see an alleged “key forward” miss a set shot while Lynch and Matthews critique the way he holds the ball, I always think “Why don’t they watch film of Tony Lockett? Or Matthew Lloyd, or Sav Rocca?”

 

Set shots will matter more under the 18+2 rule. Individual contests will matter, without having a rest every few minutes, players won’t be flooding territory like they do now.

 

We should set up a poll, ask fans if they want more congested ‘ball-ups.’ Doubt they’d say yes, what I’ve noticed in reading forums and fansites and comments and watching some 80s and 90s matches is that we love the pace and skill of 2015 football but are ambivalent, to say the bloody least, about the crowding around the ball.

 

 

One of the defining characteristics of Australian Football is the size of the ground, reflects the the island continent. Terribly apt that players all crowd into one corner, y’may say, but one of the great things about living here is the sheer sense of space that is only a couple hours away from any of us, the kind of space that Royce made his own for that glorious moment in 1967.

Earl O'Neill Royce Hart

 

Eighteen players and we’re getting back to the man-on-man stoushes, players conserving their energy, more space across the broad spread of paddock and none of this ugly goddamn crowding in the pocket.

 

You know it make sense. So does Sam Kekovich.

 

Cheers Tipsters

 

P&C, a Stop Privatisation Of Footy Production, a division of Trans-Dementia Inc.

Brought to you with the assistance of ‘Round Wonders – 45rpm Pop Obscurities from the Sixties – Volume 48’

 

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.

Comments

  1. Onya Earl. 19th and 20th man as it was before 1978. Make it a player’s game again – not a coach’s game. Not holding my breath, but.
    You are right about my Weagles. Cats, Kangas and Syringes in the next 3 weeks will tell if we are better than average. Losing Yeo (a victim of slo mo replays) will test the midfield against the Cats. Hawkins and Clark will test our undersized and understrength (but very mobile) backline (when did it become a de-fence?)
    The orange is a subliminal lure for Giants youngsters pining for home. Dastardly stuff.
    Cheers.

  2. Earl – You inspired me to add the Royce Hart AFL Legend video at the bottom of your piece. A rare combination of grace with brutal power.
    Who is the Geelong #34 underneath the Royce specie in your photo? Is he still pulling bits of boot sprig out of his ear?

  3. Earl O'Neill says

    Geelong 34 is centre half-back Peter Walker. No word on the ear.

  4. Rick Kane says

    Yes, Mr O’Neill, you’ve snagged one. A Hawker that is.

    What is this toss, “The Golden Brown are my least favourite team because I’ve never encountered such a rude, graceless, arrogant bunch of supporters”.

    I’ll wear arrogant but rude? Graceless? I suspect I’ve been around a few more Hawks fans than you and I’ve found us, I mean them to be nothing short of graceful, elegant, caring, considered and damn good looking. But I generalise. And that’s something a thoughtful observer of human interactions dare not succumb to. Yes, we have our morons. But they’re our morons!

    Anyways, it was a cracker of a game because both teams are as skilled as anything.

    Oh, Mr PB so Yeo is the victim of slo-mo and Lewis is a thug. Mmmm. I’ll ponder that for less than a second.

    Cheers

  5. E.regnans says

    …and you were travelling so gracefully, Rick.

  6. E.regnans says

    Cracker piece, Earl.
    Your observations on scheduling and Hawks generally both highlights.

  7. Peter Fuller says

    Earl,
    The orange band around the socks was (contrary to Peter B’s conspiracy theory) a promotion for responsible drinking, which Geelong and one of its sponsors has been pushing for some years. The slogan is “Just think” and was a response to concerns about alcohol-fuelled violence. As to why the colour orange is used, no explanation has reached my ears, so I guess it’s just a matter of choosing some contrasting colour as a highlight.

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