The 2016 James Naismith Cup – Round Five

Greetings Tipsters


I discovered a new form of schadenfreude and, oh lordy, I’m terribly embarrassed to admit that it took me this long to think of it.  But, dear reader, here at the Stop Privatisation Of Footy office we cop those slings and arrows in your interest.


There we were, watching the Pivotonians pummelling Port, it occurred to me to have a peek at the comments on the PAFC FB page.  Holy heck on a stick, what a great way to amuse yourself!  The next eve I read comments on the RFC page.


Richmond fans mostly conveyed a great sense of resignation.  You could almost see them thinking “I’m gonna microwave my membership card – maybe tomorrow.”  Port fans were vitriolic.  I didn’t read of anyone planning to burn the clubrooms to the ground, missed that, but plenty of demands to sack Koch, Hinkley, Voss, the rest of the coaches, the fitness staff, the deputy assistant accountant, drop every player bar Darcy BJ to the SANFL and for them all to play ‘The Port Adelaide Way.’


Just what is the Port Adelaide Way?  Do they use two balls?  That’d liven up extra time in a drawn Grand Final.  God bless ‘em, Port are the only expansion team with a pre-AFL history, a glorious one, so I guess that’s where the PAW idea springs from, that there is an especial quality that worked in the SANFL for centuries so it oughta be transferred to the AFL.


Quaint (not in the Chaucerian sense), the idea that a teenager from Nathalia, drafted at #44, would walk into the PA gym and an overbearing sense of history weighs upon his shoulders.  “OMG!” he twits, “I feel the spirit of Archibald Hosie descending upon me!  And Vic Johnson and Geof Motley and LOL Fos!”  PAW hanging in the air like old tyres hang on wharves.


I can’t recall any successful team of recent years having such an ethos, apart from Sydney’s ‘Bloods’ culture, a good idea that ran too long and was partly responsible for a premiership captain leaving the club on bad terms.  Is there a particular ‘Hawthorn Way’?  They win a lot, play their style, but that’s gotta be more of a ‘Clarkson Way’ than anything inherent in whatever’s left of Waverly Park.  Staff and players would need a GPS to find Glenferrie.


GP bloody S.  Sometimes I find myself at functions that I’d rather not be at, like family weddings, and there’s always someone talking about their GPS and they chuckle about how the level tones of ‘turn left in 400 metres’ sent them in the wrong direction.  USE A MAP!  There is no part of pre-1950 Sydney you could drop me in that I wouldn’t know where I was within a block or two.  Out in the distant suburbs, I’d need a few minutes.  Melbourne’s dead easy, once you sight the CBD towers you can orient yourself.  South island of Aoteoroa at Easter, I kept my mouth shut for twenty minutes until one of the locals in the car told the driver “you better turn around.”  I knew we should’ve hung a left leaving the WW1 aircraft museum.


I am blessed with a natural sense of direction.  I am amazed that people don’t know north, south, east, west.  It’s not that hard, yet folks try to give me directions, “when you’re heading toward Thingo it’s on the right.”  “East side” says I.  “East?  I wouldn’t know.”


Like Freo trying to find the goals.  It’s extraordinary.  Ross built a game style around ruck contests, from his time as Roos’ 2IC in Sydney.  Down at Melbourne, Roos has taken the new rules onboard and has his team playing accordingly.  Ross, well…  He aint rebuilding, he’s re-stumping, re-wiring, re-plumbing.


Re-stumping suggests you might have built your house on dodgy ground.  Re-plumbing involves a lot of digging beneath the house, a lot of ‘orrid stinks and re-wiring, crikey Ross, are you capable of re-wiring your team?


Nine-zip in 2015, could be zip-nine in 2016.


Take a gander at the ladder.  Five rounds in, a split: ten teams with at least three wins, a percentage at least 105, six over 120; eight teams with at least three losses, a percentage at most 85, four below 70.  Ladder don’t change much for percentage or scoring, but read for scores conceded, North and Crows are mid-table, behind Carlton.  Footscray are the best defensive team thus far, next being Geelong.


When did a team last win three straight by three points coming from behind in the last?  Some might say there’s a lot of luck involved, but teams create their own luck, Hawthorn have been close enough to hang in there and pinch a win at the death.  They’ll have a fit and healthy Roughead back mid-season, rejoining the rest of the old bastards.


Old bastards like Valentino Rossi, 37 and still winning MotoGP races, no reliance on age and guile every week when you’ve got “start in front and stay there” for race strategy.  He rode beautifully at Jerez, while former hothead Marc Marquez assessed the situation and settled for the points.  You get nothing for crashing.


There’s a GP way and there’s a TT way.  GP is enclosed tracks with runoff areas, squishy barriers and young men on cutting-edge prototype motorcycles.  TT is road racing with rough surfaces, houses, trees and older men on production motorcycles.  TT riders wouldn’t get anywhere near the lap times of GP riders who wouldn’t dare try a lap of Macau or the Isle Of Man.


Thirteen years ago, Leigh Matthews got cranky at Jason Akermanis and some other blokes for riding motorcycles.  That’s written into player contracts these days, they drive around in safety-first German four-wheel drive fatarses.


So that’s your centre-half forward or your gun midfielder.  Captain of the hated oppo rides up on a Ducati superbike…


Is the Ducati Way that much different from the Yamaha Way, the Carlton Way that much different from the Gold Coast Way?  These are professional sporting businesses and they do what needs to be done, unless they are stuck in the past and hamstrung by – ah, bugger it all.


Two years ago, Mason Cox hadn’t seen an Australian Football match.  Monday he kicked a goal with his first touch before 85000 folks.


Cheers Tipsters


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

Brought to you with the assistance of Bottle Rocket’s ‘Awake Until Dawn’ EP.



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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. I often wonder why your pieces don’t get more comments, Earl. I have decided you make too much sense. Nothing to disagree with.
    Either that or we are equally deluded.
    Agree about the map/GPS debate. I still like to look at the Street Directory to confirm my general direction and the fine detail of the last few streets/turns. GPS was invaluable in Europe last year, but I never bother with it in most Australian cities.
    There are explanations and there are reasons. Mostly we delude ourselves with trite explanation – in footy and in life. As I commented on Don Meadows piece – Eagles play 2 very good teams away, and 3 crap teams at home. We have a problem travelling??? Please – we have a problem with physical hardness at the contest and disposal under pressure. Work harder. We haven’t gone backwards or improved – just hungrier teams have gone past us – to date.
    Agree with your 10/8 divide. Best comp and footy I can remember. Good for football. Cheers.
    James Naismith? Hoop Dreams

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    What PB said^2 (but you oughta fix up that LinkedIn profile Earl, on second thoughts, don’t)

    I enjoy your regular doses of wisdom.

  3. Earl O'Neill says

    Thanx for reminding me Mark. I looked at the LI for the first time since I created it three years ago. Says a lot about that employer.
    Peter, I make too much sense? Never been accused of that before. Excuses, explanations and reasons are all different, a distinction lost on many.

  4. E.regnans says

    Love your observations Earl.

    I wonder about this shifty hand of luck.
    A bounce here, a free there.

    “It all evens out” is rubbish, of course.
    I’d like to see a little expose of lucky moments in matches. And in seasons. In the story of a season.

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