The 2016 Bernie Quinlan Cup – Round Seven

Greetings Tipsters


This aint a bad year to be an Essendon fan.  Sure, the team is one from seven and boasts a percentage of 57.8, but they can blame everything on WADA, etc.,  Any win with a team of schoolkids and retirees is a gift from the gods, any flash of good play will lift the heart to heights Hawthorn fans only experience when their team wins the Grand Final.  The kids are getting experience they wouldn’t have otherwise and when the Suspended Twelve return to the enlightened care of The Pharmacist the team will be ready to roar – like a jet plane, not a lion.


Imagine how it must have felt for the red and black faithful on Saturday around 4pm when their team was ahead of Sydney.  Yes, Sydney, a True Contender, playing at the SCG where they don’t lose too often and, yet, in the second quarter, the Bombers were ahead.


Word is that Longmire used the long break for a good ol’ fashioned roast, bake, fry, grill (I’d never before noticed how many cooking terms describe verbal aggression) and everything returned to normal thereafter.  Still, it’s something for a 13-year-old in the playground at lunchtime to hang onto, especially if his mates are Collingwood and Richmond fans.


Fast Eddie was “shattered”, “laid low.”  Only the brave example of his teenage sons kept him from pulling the pin on his presidency.  Still, “a lot of the things that I brought to Collingwood when I first came in have been taken away from me now with equalisation.”


Huh?  I’ve been gazing out the window at the backyard for the last several minutes, ruminating on that, and I still can’t figure out what he’s talking about, aside from the inference that there was inequality in 1998 and that he was happy with that if he was on the upside.  What Ed brought to Collingwood was passion, enthusiasm and, most importantly, a semblance of rational intelligence.  He knew what had to be done, he had the profile and skills to sell the plan.


Digressing for a moment, I hit the 4&20s Wikipedia page to check some dates and Confucian Mick doesn’t rate a mention.  Funny, that.  He won them a flag, tho it did take four grand finals to get there. Then Eddie, in a less-rational moment, decided that Buck should take the job and hasn’t that worked out well?  There are footsoldiers in the Black And White Army who will swear that Mick deliberately blew the end of the 2011 season out of spite.


Buck has taken a Serious Contender on a journey into the Heart of Darkness.  The club has finished 6, 10, 11, 14, something like that, since he took over.  I always thought he’d make a good coach.  I remember watching Paul Roos giving directions in his last season onfield, Kevin and I agreed “There’s the next coach.”  Dad and I were in Melbourne for a Pies/Swans match in Buck’s last season and we thought the same thing after watching him direct traffic.


Funny how things work out, eh?  Buckley, Hird and Voss were the standout players and captains of their time and were all recalled to their clubs and heralded as saviours.  Of the trio, Buck seemed the one most likely to make a decent coach and maybe he would have if he’d never returned to Collingwood after retiring from playing.


Carlton, well, they bottomed out.  Aside from a brief fillip during Brett’s tenure, they’ve been bottomed out for about as long as Fast Ed’s being in charge of Collingwood.  But they’ve got the boy coach, some enthusiasm and have won three straight.  Whether this translates into anything serious remains to be seen.  Six years ago Brendan Gale said that Richmond had nowhere to go but up, there’d be some pain but they’d get there with smart thinking and good planning and…   Is it that ol’ club culture again?


The Hawks/Tigers game panned out much like the Swans/Bombers match.  The outsider threatened, got in front, but couldn’t sustain it.  Some would say that it’s unfair to compare Richmond to Essendon but the results are the same.  I doubt The Pharmacist would’ve put Ty on the bench for 7 (or 10 or 12, opinions vary) minutes after kicking two goals in two minutes, but the jury seems to be still locked on a verdict about Hawthorn.


Beating Richmond by eight goals would be expected of the Mayblooms.  Al’s giving the young ‘uns a run – my readings of experts, pundits, forums, etc, gives the impression that Swans youngsters are full of pace and verve but Hawks youngsters are inexpert in the white heat of battle.  Make of that what you will and remember the old line, believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.  Or read.


I read ‘LA Confidential’ over the weekend, a book I haven’t revisited for too long.  A 3” by 4” piece of cardboard fell out, bearing the Swans’ draw for 1997.  Some of the games had ‘Early’ or ‘Night’ written next to them.  Ah, the 90s…  Now it’s 1:20, 2:10, 3:00, 3:30, 4:35, on and on.  Now the draw is all over the shop and you can play the same team twice in six weeks.  In 1997 a team would play every other team over 15 rounds then repeat the first seven.


We all liked that, didn’t we?  Two distinct points in the season: seven rounds played and then every team played every other team; fifteen rounds played and then repeat the first seven.  They were handy reference points and how you went in the last seven weeks against the first seven gave you a good gauge for how your team had improved or regressed during the season.


The only constant is change.  But seven weeks in is still a handy time to assess the league.  Fremantle, Richmond, Collingwood are all in the ‘WTFF?!’ category, much was promised, little has been delivered.  ‘Building for the future’ and looking good so far, Melbourne, St Kilda, maybe even Carlton.  Essendon are a special case.  So are the Queensland teams, they always will be.


Getting it together, really, we are, West Coast, Adelaide, Port Adelaide.  Funny that the Crows were thought of as a flag chance a week or two back, while Port were a rabble, but both are four and three with 13% between them.  The Fuschias might get past ‘em all.


Top six, that’s where the action is, the rarefied atmosphere of the Contenders.  Barring catastrophe, they’ll all play finals – the other two will be from the four and three batch.  Footscray, injuries have cruelled their chances, Bob’s cool smarts will be missed.  Monaros might make a prelim, they’ll learn.


Hawthorn look a bit worn out.  Blokes like Lewis have been up for so long, playing four Big Un’s in a row has gotta take it out of you, they mightn’t win a final.


North are primed, they can outscore and outgrind, can they outrun?  Conceded a lotta goals the first five rounds, will the defensive form of last two weeks stick?


Sydney have a bit of flash and dare and a sense of balance across the field.  Geelong have it too.  (1950, 08072016)


Who’s gonna win the flag?  Dunno.  Neither do you and neither do any of those folks at the Age and the Herald-Sun, but they get paid for making this up and we don’t.  After seven rounds of football, the Top Three look like they might be breaking away from the pack.  The Six all have winnable games this weekend.  Goldurn that equalisation, eh Ed?


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.


  1. Earl – I used to worry when I wrote clever and insightful pieces like yours and got few comments. Eventually I realised that people just nodded in silent assent at my brilliance. “Can’t add much to that” a thousand silent keystrokes concurred.
    Now I just write whatever shit enters my head and I get a truckload. Hope this helps.

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Yeh,Earl, I wasn’t sure what Eddie meant either. I’ve narrowed it down to off field/footy department expenditure caps, ie things you could once do with extra $$$. Then I realised that most of his equalisation is self-inflicted.

    Am I the only person to ask whether the (alleged) illicit drugs / nudie pictures stories of their preseason haven’t helped?

  3. Earl O'Neill says

    Peter, I sit down with a beer and start writing about the first thing I think of. Eventually I stop. To mess an old aphorism, ‘No comments is good comments.’

    Mark, I find it hard to believe that young men would be put out by nude selfies and a few pills and spliffs. The Age ran a pic of Ed and sons standing in the race, one boy was glaring at the players. I’d be pissed off at that, Ed should keep himself and family out of the way.

    Mick was famously lenient with players, Buck sure aint. Leaving aside the well-founded notion that a change of scenery can re-invigorate players, a lot of folks, incl Pies players, would be looking aghast at Heath Shaw’s consistently outstanding performances. Tho I’d wager Heath is more than happy with the move.

    Ed’s whinge about Monaros’ zone is hypocritical. Treloar arrived at Collingwood ready to go and is one of their best this season. They didn’t have to put in the time and effort to make him that player. They gave up next draft’s first pick for him. 22 ex-Monaros on other lists.

  4. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    If only Fast Eddie would shatter.
    This be excellent sense Earl. And very enjoyable along the way.

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