Round 9 Preview – A Stroke of Fortune

Greetings All,

There are a few of you who know how much the “Greetings All” means this week.  The majority of last week’s edition was written from a hospital bed after suffering what has now been diagnosed as minor stroke.  The care and support from my family, the people in Ballarat who were there for the first incident and medical teams in Ballarat and Box Hill was exceptional.  Since then the support from friends, colleagues and extended family is truly appreciated.  Through it all I also had to take one Bomber style – not sure what Zakka was so worried about – barely felt that one.  A couple of messages to get out – learn the F.A.S.T recognition and action, then be part of Australia’s Biggest Blood Pressure Check details on both of these can be found at  As scary a time as I have ever had and so grateful to be able to bring you this week’s preview!

Stroke Foundation logo

And it does need some preview as there are just a couple of issues floating around the game this week.

Simon Lethlean was quoted “The comments that were attributed to be directed towards Marc Murphy on the weekend have absolutely no place in our game.”  I reckon he has gone a bit soft on it – not just the game they do have place anywhere.  From what I understand of the vitriol distributed I suspect that the setting of a football field prevented it becoming much worse than the actions on the ground and in the news later.  Suspect that kind of stuff being dished out in the pub or other setting without 60,000 eyes, 20 TV Cameras, a few media types plus a couple of umpires the response would have been significantly worse.  Sledging can be something that makes the game fun but there is a line that is easily crossed.  Cricket has shown some of the ugliness of sledging in recent times, but its annals are littered with classic lines and conversations that are not offensive but certainly found their mark.  My particular favourite after a bowler managed to beat the bat of I.V.A Richards a couple of times and pointed out the colour and shape of the ball to him, Sir Viv put the next one out of the park and told the bowler “you know what it looks like, you go find it”.  Can understand why both clubs want this to go away, one hopes all players learn from the episode but I suspect without genuine leadership this will be revisited again soon.

The MRP were reported as being split on whether Trent Cotchin’s hit on Lachie Neale was intentional or careless – unsurprisingly the panel all made of ex-players went the softer option of careless.  Even if it was careless it certainly did not show a duty of care to the other player, it’s time the MRP was extended beyond the boys club and include a couple of other stakeholders whose interests are beyond the top echelon.  Perhaps a couple of mums might be a good way to sort out the bluff from the bluster!  But this should be pretty simple as per the David Schwarz edict – you punch and you get suspended.  Suspect behaviour would change immediately once that came in.  And don’t start me on the term love tap!

Then there is revolutionary fixturing discussion that is taking place.  As an avid fan of the game I just want a fair draw – the notion of an 18-4 split cannot be fair.  The idea to group the top six, middle six and bottom six team and then not all play each other just cannot be fair when determining the finals positions.  The concept makes even less sense for the bottom teams – who will apparently be playing for draft points.  The main reason a team is 18th is not tanking – it’s because they are no good, this process will set them back even further.  This year looks like the first year since the bastardised drafts for new clubs where equalisation might be working – don’t go an destroy it!  The 3 x 6 team conference option is the optimal solution from my perspective.  Each team plays each other inside the conference twice (10 games) and all the other teams once (12 games) providing a 22 game season.  Byes become simple by have each conference have a week off each.  Could stick with a single ladder, but I reckon three ladders would add a bit more spice.

Now onto the footy in one of the best seasons we have had for a while, loving the unpredictability but does make this task a touch tougher.


Rib Tickled ($2.02) vs un-Libbarated ($1.97)

Patrick Dangerfield may not have broken ribs, but whatever he does have is severely impacting his performance.  It is his performance is probably as closely correlated to team performance than any other player, throw in Selwood being down also and it explains the Cats.  To steal a line from fellow almanacker Peter Fuller they are full of stowaways, not worthy of even being called passengers.  They will need to pay for their tickets and put the shoulder to the wheel facing the Bulldogs coming off loss over in the west.  A meritorious one to many, but at their very best they get that one over the line.  Libba might be doing a fine job closing down key players, but clearly not fine enough at the moment.  They brought back Redpath last week and this week Mitch Wallis returns from a horrific injury – hope all goes well for him.  The addition of Cloke, Morris and Bob will make the Dogs very hard to beat.  The X Factor of course is Kardinia Park – it has been a fortress for a number of years but the Cats have a number of tough opponents there over the next few weeks – the fortress status might change.  There is no doubt Geelong will turn up and raise the bar on their effort levels, however Beveridge seems as good as any at preparing his team for the opposition.  Cats at Kardinia Park is usually a simple one but they have too many question marks against them at the moment, Dogs for mine in the Battle of the Domestics.


Sinners ($1.83) vs Ramped Up ($2.14)

What a contest to open up Saturday proceedings the sinning, sledging, Saints taking on what might be a resurgent Swans.  After all the bulldust from last week let’s not forget the Saints were challenged late and dealt with it coming away with their 3rd on the trot and have a pretty healthy list.  Sydney redisplayed some of their contested brand of footy last week with Josh Kennedy monstering the stoppages.  If they get their hands on the footy first again they could get the same result, however the St Kilda tackling engine has few more pistons than the Kangas.  If the Saints win contested footy then it is good night Sydney, John Longmire will need a few more speedsters than Zak Jones to chase Saints tail.  The prospect of Tippett, Reid and Franklin could stretch Brown, Carlisle and co – notwithstanding the aerial prowess of St Kilda at the other end who really only have the indefatigable “Reg” Grundy and the rookie Lewis Melican to contend with. The week will have knocked the Saints around a bit, but I suspect inside the club focus has been on the game at hand, their form is still better than Sydney based on who they have beaten.  I reckon they win, but Sydney could make their mark.


Stevie Wonder ($1.29) vs Tell me why ($4.20)

Both sides were on opposite ends of close finishes last week, the Giants had the wizardry of Stevie J to thank while the Tigers have every reason not to like Mundy.  The Giants are building a pretty impressive injury list and Coniglio’s loss will hurt, but they bat deeper than anyone else and getting Toby Greene back won’t hurt them.  While Dimma has wielded the axe with four predictable omissions, Prestia’s return will add to the midfield.  The Giants opened their account over Tigers late last year and I suspect will improve their stats this week.


Wounded Pride ($10.00) vs Go the Cardboard ($1.10)

Brisbane get their best back in Beams but lose his main challenger in Rockliff – just can’t take a trick the Lions who are also dealing with the challenges presented by their hot property in Josh Schache and his “homesickness”.  Their main objective now being how to get the best possible deal for him.  Surely the AFL need to address the challenges Brisbane are facing to maintain young talent.  They host the Crows whose flock have downgraded to the Fruity Lexia in a bag after the last two defeats.  Big omission in Jenkins, but looks a more balanced forward line this week.  Of note is also the non-selection of Scott Thompson even after the midfield was demolished for contested footy.  Don’t think the Lions will have the cattle to curtail Sloane this week and Adelaide will get back on the winners list – but still might drinking from the bargain bin.


Jekyll and Hyde ($1.61) vs Pie Masters ($2.60)

Which Collingwood will arrive on Saturday Night – the incredible motivated force that can match it with the best as they did against the Giants or the lacklustre directionless dross that presents against supposedly inferior opposition as displayed the week prior against the Blues.  Where do Hawthorn sit on the effort scale for them?  It is time that effort upped a notch against Hawthorn who have reigned over Collingwood in their last nine encounters.  They have every chance to win as well with injuries to key players in Rioli, Stratton and Frawley – of note despite all the changes Sicily remains off the map.  The Hawk backline looks diminished this is the Pie’s forwards chance to breakthrough – the key to it being Jamie Elliott whose form is building nicely.  Mind you the Hawk attack might also be relishing the prospect of taking on some shaky Pie defenders.  Will come down to supply of course and just think Collingwood’s might be cleaner – depending on which one turns up!


Razza Matazz ($2.54) vs Dog Lovers ($1.62)

Oh-Oh Orazio showed last week there is more to him than goalkicking going into the middle and adding some real pace for the Bombers, mind you there did not seem much to run away from!  Essendon found their mojo although the final quarter would be of some concern, they take on the Eagles who got their semi-revenge over the Dogs.  This time they are in the Loungeroom where their success rate is 50% over the last 10 encounters, but they have not met Essendon there often.  The Eagles have the weapons to close down most of the Bomber threats with Barrass well suited to Joe Daniher and McGovern to ensure the space in front is protected.  Eagles to win, but not that confident.


Sufficient Intent ($1.61) vs Waiting to Swallow ($2.38)

The Roos lacked a bit of grunt around the stoppages last week so little surprise that Andrew Swallow returns, the question being is he the right fit against the Demons who displayed all the intent of a good AFL team last week.  The Demons mids such as Viney and Petracca will require the contest from Swallow, but there is also the pace of the Demons to contend with and the larger spaces of the MCG.  The more important inclusion will be Jarrad Waite whose movement and size created mayhem for the Crows a couple of weeks ago.  The Demons were superb against Adelaide and have set the benchmark for their effort levels, if that can be maintained they will be a force to reckoned with when the whips are cracking.  All the best to Jessie Hogan with his recovery, he will be heartened by another Demon win on Sunday.


Any Given Mundy ($1.38) vs Cripptology ($3.20)

David Mundy broke Tiger Hearts, but the bigger story is the continued improved form of the Dockers.  Having a fuller list to choose from has made the biggest difference, along with the injection of Bradley Hill who is an absolute running machine.  They may get his brother back this week and Walters move into the middle makes them a very tough midfield to chase.  Of equal concern is that they are pleasing to watch which is starting to threaten the Get Stuffed Lyon brand.  The Blues will have their plans though which is one of the key differences in Bolton’s coaching this year in that they are preparing well for the opposition at hand – something that was of secondary concern last year.  Great to see Cripps get some success up forward last week, adding that string to his bow will make him a more formidable opponent.  Very keen to see him matched up with Fyfe on Sunday.  The Blues will be well prepped and feisty, but I think Freo at Subiaco is returning to fortress status.


Amateur Hour

Tough day for the Friars against the well drilled top side St Mary’s last week, on the plus side the Under 19s had a solid victory over Peninsula.  This week the Seniors face another test at EE Gunn against Ormond, while the Under 19s test their mettle at Friar Park against Monash Blues in an important clash to set the pecking order.


Go Friars, Go Blues,

Cheers, Sal






  1. John Butler says

    Sal, quite the effort to get this one done in the circumstances. Take care and all the best.

  2. Right on the money about sledging and the MRP Sal. The rearrangement of your brain cells certainly hasn’t affected your insight. If high blood pressure is a risk factor then I am a candidate by quarter time at every footy game. Stay strong. I will have an extra reason to barrack for your Blue Bloods over the Purple Scum.
    The different finals options all do my head in. While playing some teams twice makes the competition less fair – so do a lot of other things – uneven interstate travel most notable. KISS is my motto. Generally solve one problem and create 2 others. And if Gillon likes it there must be a cheque book nearby. I liked the game with one umpire and 19th and 20th men! Enough already.
    My Eagles need to be in front at half time. Bombers are skilful and good front runners.
    Go well – PB and AE.

  3. MGLFerguson says

    Sal –

    Totally agree with your three-conference scheme. And am really glad to read your column this week. Be well!


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