Round One Fan Consensus – Eighteen Teams to Make Finals

Well, if you were to use social media as your barometer, then it’s true. One round is down and all 18 teams are still a chance of finals action. Seems mathematically inaccurate, but despite what I was taught so many years ago 18 does somehow fit into eight.


So how do we arrive at this numeric anomaly – and even more intriguingly, how do all 18 sets of AFL club supporters arrive at these highly positive, if in some cases highly optimistic views?


Some of these claims speak for themselves.


Hawthorn’s demolition of Geelong has seen the bar, maybe not raised, but super-glued to the supports. Really it took Hawthorn two rabid quarters of football to say to the football public, “Hi, Honey, I’m Home…!” For the other two quarters the Hawks were menaced by Cats who meant well but could barely scratch paint off the wall.


Having said that, Geelong supporters saw plenty to like. The courage of Guthrie, the promise of Darcy Lang and the instant success of Mitch Clark are grounds for optimism. And this is Geelong, after all. They find a way, and their supporters are still chipper enough to suggest that today was an aberration and better will come. It needs to, but how can Geelong’s demise be predicted with any accuracy. Nobody has got it right for years.


Adelaide hammered North Melbourne with similar ferocity. Phil Walsh’s charges have stamped themselves already as potential finalists. On one match evidence they could win a flag. But the season is way more than that. Nevertheless, if the Adelaide Oval can become the fortress South Australian clubs want it to be then Adelaide could quietly pencil in enough wins to reach the finals.


North Melbourne is certainly a better side than the Adelaide result suggests. Their premiership window is still open, albeit illegally with a jimmy bar and credit card. Efforts like this weekend’s one cannot be repeated if the ‘Roo’s want any finals action, but they have a list to do so and ooze talent, so pencil in a fourth finalist.


Mick Malthouse, and many Carlton fans, predicted no losses this year, yet they have one already. Mick wants answers, but the problem is he is asking the players, which is a bit like asking “which ones of you were smoking behind the shelter sheds at lunchtime?” No hands going up. But he is right inasmuch as his team has the firepower, provided they all use it at the same time.


Richmond is a case in point. Asleep in the first quarter, they turned in a terrific team effort after that to add greater credibility to their finals chances. From Round Two onwards, however, other teams will know who Kamdyn McIntosh is.


Greater Western Sydney is a game closer to a finals appearance, and they ought to be…they cost a lot. When you spend a fortune on a Dyson vacuum cleaner you expect it to suck up the dirt, and possibly the carpet. With the money spent on GWS a decent return is expected and possible. But their scrappy but solid win against the Saints was a very good start.


But St Kilda also showed at times that they are a better side than many think. Their premiership window closed quite a while back, but St Nick is still holding it partly open for the new breed to crawl through. The Saints may be longshots, but their faithful are yet to give away the season.


For three quarters Sydney seemed to have been swallowed up by the curse of teams hammered in grand finals (see Port Adelaide 2007) and allowed Essendon to run all over them. Yet with one powerhouse quarter they steamrolled the now legless Bombers and proved they are back in town – with Heeney now in tow.


Essendon fans are pretty much delirious that they had a competitive team on the field at all, so win, lose or draw they would take something from the day. They shouldn’t have been run over, and that will require some work, but what they showed in three quarters prior to that should send a message to the other clubs…Essendon is back, and means business.


Fremantle and Port Adelaide pretty well beat each other senseless in possibly the match of the round. Both finalists last year and on the evidence of Round One they will be there again. Fremantle still needs Pavlich to go all the way, but while they have him they grow immeasurably taller.


Port Adelaide had their run stymied at times but they still worried the life out of the Dockers when they got loose. Ryder didn’t dominate but showed signs of what Port might get as the season rolls on. Dare it be said, but could Ollie Wines actually end up a better recruit than Chad Wingard?


Collingwood will make the finals, largely based on the fact that 4.7 billion fans say so. On field evidence is not quite so conclusive. Impressive for two and a half quarters, the Pies went to sleep under a tree and woke up just as a turtle called the Brisbane Lions was about to pass them at the finish line. Collingwood has the ability to see finals if they play four quarters.


Brisbane’s propensity to try winning games with about 40 minutes of scintillating footy per game is a low percentage approach. Leppitsch has the nucleus of a finals team if he can get them to play consistent, accountable four quarter footy.


Melbourne fans that live in gilded oak cottages surrounded by waterfalls and unicorns have already booked their finals tickets. Most of the rest have simply revelled in a terrific game that suggests the club is now in a resurgence. There is an understated optimism amongst Demon fans, and as such there is reason to believe.


The Gold Coast Suns need a couple of key forwards back and a fitter Ablett, but they also need more time to come around to Rocket Eade’s game plan. They are a good side…very good side…but will take a couple more weeks to hit their straps. No team that possesses any Gary Abletts can be ruled out.


Luke Beveridge played hard and was a tough player with a bit of mongrel. When extricated from the bottom of packs he would spit out dirt, grass and helpful advice to umpires. It is this toughness which the Western Bulldogs displayed against West Coast.  They have a hugely talented list, with some scarily good young talent. They just needed a mean streak, which Beveridge will give them.


West Coast, on the other hand, has an issue with keeping players on the field. But their fans are quick to point out that any side with Kennedy, Hurn, Shuey, Natanui and Priddis has to be respected. Eagles’ fans are yet to give up hope, and they are always a better side at home in Perth.


So, Round One is a bit like musical chairs when someone forgets to take a chair away. Everyone is still in. Whilst I have my own reservations about certain teams, the consensus from the fans is that all 18 teams will be there in September.


To Hell with mathematics! Bring on the rest of the season.


About Wesley Hull

Passionate lover of Australian Rules football. Have played and coached the game and now spend my time writing about the game I love and introducing young people to the game through school coaching. Will try and give back to the game what it has given me for more that 40 years.


  1. Neil Anderson says

    Everyone on such an even footing with a chance to make finals. Such pleasant reading with no criticism of players or coaches, like we’re living in some sort of utopian society. So much love and hope being spread around.
    Let’s hope after Round 2 there is still that optimism for all teams and Gil McLauchlan can say at least the equalization processes are working. And then we won’t hear from him again as the usual teams slip well ahead of the pack.
    Thanks for your refreshing look at all teams, particularly for the fans of teams that didn’t start well, but still have a lot to look forward to.

  2. Cat from the Country says

    Excellent view of Round 1. Thank you

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