The Final Wrap of the AFL 2014 Toyota Premiership Season

THE FINAL WRAP OF THE 2014 TOYOTA PREMIERSHIP SEASON

THE one for all and all for one edition

Where life imitates Football

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Some Students of The Game may wish to borrow from Peggy Lee and ask is that all there is to a Grand Final? (That choirboy they sent out from England with his guitar might be ready to add it to his repertoire do you think Wrap? – Ed)  It was billed in the media as The Contest of The Ages.  As the unfurling of a Sydney Centric Golden Era.  We were told that Sydney had over a million followers around the country, nearly two and a half times more than Hawthorn’s 448,000.  Heaps more than Collingwood’s seven hundred thousand odd.  They had the turnstiles veritably spinning with punters coming into Moore Park Road just to be able to look their grandchildren in the eye when they told them they’d seen Buddy Franklin play.  Tinseltown was throwing down the gauntlet to Bleak City.  So, was that all there was to a Grand Final?  Certainly not.  For starters, The Bondi Billionaires may have go back to their club’s history at Emerald Hill and check out what happened to their last Foreign Legion team in the 1930s*.  And didn’t we read somewhere that Sin City loves a winner?  So what emotion is stirred up there in Harbourtown by losers?

But this was about The Way They Play At Hawthorn. It was always going to be a torrid opening.  After all, Tom Jones – sorry Prime Minister, Sir Tom Jones – had come all this way to see live The Game he’d watched so often on the telly.  (Do you reckon he chucked in his services for nix just to get a good seat Wrap? – Ed)  [Do you reckon he tapes the match of the round and watches it over breakfast Ed?]  Traditionally Grand Finals are full of nervous fumbles as the teams settle down to the pressure.  Sydney played its part.  Hawthorn cruelly threw away the script and adlibbed.  Adlibbed in spades.  In his presser, Horse said he called it at the 10-minute mark.  We were a bit slower here in the Wrapcave; our log shows we noted Game Over at 14.49.  Was this the terrorist attack Tony the Protector of The Faithful has been promising us?

And that was about the sum total of the contest. Hawthorn’s tackling was ferocious, and targeted.  Mainly at the rib cage and the shoulders.  (Bad luck for Jetta his head was on his shoulders at the time McEvoy crunched him in the shoulder region – Ed)  One of Roughie’s on Hannebery was a fair dinkum old-fashioned rib tickler.  And Buddy didn’t get an easy kick all day.  (That will be stored away; he’s playing for another nine seasons remember – Ed)    None of them did.

Were they rabbits in the spotlight? They were certainly in the media spotlight.  Did that affect them?  Possibly, but don’t they get a salary cap allowance to help deal with the glare of the spotlight up in the Emerald City?

They might have quite a bit of thinking to do up there under the pounding surf. True, they ran into Hawthorn at their very best, but that’s not going to go away.  The side that has won nearly a quarter of the premierships in the last half-century will be back next year.  (22.2% since 1961 – 25% since 1971)  Horse had to hide Big Kurt in the ruck, which, due to his size and lack of mobility, didn’t work.  Let’s have a look at a couple of the players Sydney have invested heavily in.  And remember, Big Kurt cost them more than just what they’re paying him.

Out near the boundary, Big Kurt has the ball and is turning goalwards.   Nothing between him and a long bomb deep into attack.  Except Bradley Hill.  David Attenborough has filmed it a thousand times.  A 78kg hunting dog bringing down a 105kg gnu.

Another one was the Speedster Jetta. Now there’s some trade bait.  (Think the Nar Nar Goon 3rds will be interested Wrap? – Ed)  He’s got the aforementioned Bradley Hill baled up against the boundary.  It’s the sheep dog trials at Deniliquin Show.  All he has to do is get him to go through the race.  The cornered Hill turns one way, then the other, and then back again.  He slips Jetta like he’s stepping over a banana skin and drills a pass forward. The other one he won’t have in his CV is when Big Ben McEvoy out roved him one-on-one for a loose ball.  No Almighty Amender of Meaning, I don’t think the Nar Nar Goon 3rds would be in the slightest bit interested.

More than anything else The Bloods looked one-dimensional: swarm forward and kick it long to Lance. When Hawthorn cut off that option The Blue Collar Swans didn’t appear to have a Plan B.  This column has long been predicting the demise of The Swans; sadly this may have been that watershed game.

We’ll give the final word on the vanquished to the Velvet Fog. Their ex-Skipper took a mark at the top of the goalsquare and went back to take his kick. A rare touch for the Dual Brownlow Medallist, but he’s not an orphan there.

But you have to give it to Little Tommy Waterhouse don’t you. In what was tipped to be a close run thing, he made what was at the time, and in the context of the season, a crazy brave offer. If your team is ahead at any break and loses, we’ll refund your bet.  You’d have to wonder how much he cleaned up on that sucker bet.

Some SOTG felt the booing of the Australian of The Year and Dual Brownlow Medallist was inexplicable and unacceptable. While there’s obvious truth in that sentiment, others felt, that because he’s likely to retire before next season, that it was the supporters’ last chance to express their feelings about his sniping and staging over the years.

While we’re on the collective hooting, are we alone in feeling that it’s become a mindless hometown weapon, and quite an odious one? It reached its nadir when Richmond ran out against Port in the Elimination Final over in conservative Adelaide.  Traditionally reserved to express displeasure for some on-field discretion by an individual player, it was sustained and drowned out the Tigerland Battle Hymn, and delivered during any passage of Richmond play.  (Not that there were too many of those – Ed)  Jobe Watson copped it in Perth whenever he went near the ball after he’d announced during the week that he’d taken a course of weight reduction pharmaceuticals.  (Something else for Gillon of The Overflow and the Cuff & Collar Push at Jellymont House to deal with you reckon Wrap?  The booing.  – Ed)

But enough of Poor Old Sydney. They’ll surely deal with their problems in their own way – once they work out how they’re going to cover the loan repayments on Buddy’s tenure over the next decade, and trade out of some of their highly speculative stocks.

The Mustard Pots were magnificent, weren’t they? Anyone else old enough to remember Wally Curran’s chopping blocks in the early days of the post war era?  And how we all cheered when they beat The Doggies for The Flag, who had broken their own Premiership drought against The Dees seven years earlier?  It was 1961 and Connie Francis was going Where The Boys Are and Elvis was singing about a Wooden Heart when John Kennedy Senior, gabardine coattails fluttering in a stiff Spring Northerly, told The Hawkers Don’t think! Do!   The Mayblooms became Kennedy’s Commandos and won three more Pennants.  Then Yabby and Alan Joyce took them through their Golden Era when they contested in eight of the nine Grand Finals between 1983 and 1991, winning five of them.  They fell away dramatically after The Too Old Too Slow years and staved off a merger with Melbourne when Don Scott famously rallied the Leafblower Faithfully at the Hawthorn Town Hall.  From the struggles of the Paid-up Proud & Passionate years Jeff took The Mayblooms to the beginning of the Clarko’s Commandos chapter of the Hawthorn Story.  And it’s hard not to believe there’s a lot more of the narrative to be written yet.

The 2014 chapter of the story is typical Hawthorn. They lose their marquee player to chequebook raiders under Free Agency.  Their coach has to take five weeks of medical leave mid-season.  They scrape into TLSIS by the skin of their teeth.  Then, as almost rank outsiders, turn on one of the most devastating displays of Football seen at THOF in September.  In demolishing The Swans with the biggest winning margin over a Minor Premier, they broke a 1926 record set when Melbourne rolled Carringbush by 57 points.

Hill’s contribution we’ve talked about. Suckling was a designated outside player and didn’t deviate from the Game Plan.  It was a bit of a surprise Horse didn’t consign him a minder.  Continuously he linked the defensive rebound to the Attacking Fifty.  Lewis, who won our Norm Smith Medal votes, was in everything like pepper & salt.  Captain Courageous sharing the love with Buddy was one of our highlights.  (Sure that wasn’t a reverse Judas kiss Wrap? – Ed)  Mrs Wrap’s Duracell Man just kept popping up wherever and whenever he was most needed.  Young Langford’s goal from the pocket was not only brilliant, but it was deliberate.  (There were some who churlishly suggest that a video review would show the ball was out when Super Will took control of it – Ed)  And has he got some dash?  All three of his goals were worthy of a highlights’ tape.  Roughie did what Roughie does, and some of the tackles and bumps he delivered were straight out of the Latrobe Valley League training manual.  (They don’t muck around down there at The Leongatha Morgue – Ed)   Cyril’s tears at being dragged were misplaced.  Cyril had played his part.  He looked a bit out of match touch, and while his stats may not have been up to his own high standards, what he did do was all pure Cyril.  Besides, Duryea deserved a run.

But what about the blanket job the Hawthorn Backline did on The Swans? And The Spang?  (You reckon it’s true he warms up to Ella Fitzgerald singing There’s a Gypsy in My Soul in the earphones Wrap? – Ed)    Look, you could go on all day.  The bottom line is that there wasn’t a weak link in the Hawthorn chain. There’s already talk of a Threepeat, and after Saturday’s devastation you’d be excused for asking why not?  But a season’s a long time in Football and they’re sure to be taking it OWAAT out there at Arctic Park.

Now for the all-important medal counts. The Beitzel Medallist was easy.  It would have to go to the umpires in this year’s GF.  They awarded 18 frees a side, and apart from missing Brad Hill’s tackle on Malceski just about dead in front in the Second Term, umpired without fear or favour.  They let the game flow without letting it get out of hand.  Maggots Stevic, Meredith & Nichols take a bow.  Likewise Maggot Central.  This year was one of your best in ages.  Apart from a few switches mid-season – the sliding rule for instance – and an innate blindness to some very dubious ball movement by hand, they delivered a welcome return to common sense.

The Fevola Medallist was a no brainer. We’ve forwarded the 2014 medal to the Supreme Court where Mr. Justice Middleton will decide whether it’s awarded to the ASADA for malleable dysfunction, the AFL for maladroit stage management, the EFC for serial mismanagement and over stepping the mark, or Posh & Becs for putting themselves before the club and The Game. Any of which actions brought The Game Into Disrepute.

The Robbie Flower Medal for outright goodness and sunshine. In a year of much ugliness, few rays of sunshine beamed down through the gloom of Appalling Football League ineptitude, Star Chamber inconsistency, the food & beverage gouging, ticket price gouging, and a lopsided fixture.  In fact the judges were unable to call it until right at the death.  It was that Little Hawker decorating Luke Hodge with his Premiership Medal.  When he said, You’re my hero an emotionally wobbling Mrs Wrap had to be physically supported.  Nurelle and the tea lady slipped off to the powder room, and several of the older male stringers found it necessary to ostentatiously blow their noses.

The Krudd Memorial Shield for illusion grandeur. It was a line ball, but the judges finally came down in favour of Mickey Malthouse for his sustained arrogance throughout a season of aggressive press conferences.  Turn it up Mick; do you really think anyone gives a pinch of goat droppings – apart from the comedy value – about what you have to say?  Just stick to the clichés Old Son; flash and backdrop the sponsors’ products & logos, and get back to the rooms as graciously as your grouchy old self will allow. Besides – and could we suggest this with the greatest respect – based on your coaching performances throughout the season, an attitude of humility would have been a more appropriate position from which to deliver your explanations for Carlton’s lamentable on-field activities.  The runner-up?  Sorry, but that’s sub judice right now, until it’s been decide whether or not to appeal Mr Justice Middleton’s decidion.

Well, that’s it from the Wrapcave for another season. As we slip quietly into The Long Dark Summer, and we pass the sacred turf over to the Flannelled Fools, we contemplate our respective seasons.  Some of us with disappointment, some of us with renewed hope.  Some of us basking in Glory.  All with longing for the first whiff of briquette smoke and the thonk of Barter Scouts on Ross Faulkner Pigskin as the Cyril, and the Joel, and the Cotch, and the Buddy wannabes limber up in the mean cobbled lanes of Struggletown and the summer hardened paddocks of the Bush.  And the cinder dry recreation grounds of The Burbs.

And remember, if you read it in the Wrap, you’ll know it’s not crap.

* Bloodstained Angels by Mark Branagan & Michael Lefebure.  The local library should have a copy.  Or you can try eBay.

About John Mosig

I'm an Aussie Rules tragic who can remember, as a four year old, shaking the hand of Captain Blood in the rooms just before he ran out onto the ground after half time, as my Old Man slipped him a packet of under-the-counter Craven A cork tipped. Now it's my turn to take my grandson Ben through the ritual of character building that is the journey through PUNT ROAD to the outside world.

Comments

  1. One of your best Mr Wrap. You have wrapped up all the admirable things about the Leafblowers (you don’t have to like them to respect them – as Mrs Wrap has no doubt frequently reminded you down the decades). Speaking of which – have you checked the levels in the sherry decanter? The Avenging Eagle does when I get wobbly.
    As for the Harbourtown Hustlers – they were more dignified when they had pink helicopters and chandeliers under the good Dr. (I hear they are hoping to trade Kurt Tippet for Gabi Grecko next season – neither get many touches but she brings in the crowds).
    One small quibble – Posh and Becs won the Fevola Medal by the length of the straight. Will she be wearing the black patent leather raincoat to the medal presentation?
    My Dad took us over to Melbourne from country SA in the mid 60’s and when I asked “why are Hawthorn so bad Dad?” he drove us out through the leafy avenues of Camberwell and said “does it look like footballers would grow up in these houses?”
    Some things do change Mr Wrap.
    Thanks for keeping our history, the Australian idiom, good humour and poking bears with sticks – all alive in 2014 – Mr Wrap. Its a shared mission.

  2. And here’s MISS Peggy Lee doing the timeless “Is That All There Is” for all those Knackers too young to remember, or too old to remember where I left the keys.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCRZZC-DH7M

  3. I just re-read your piece after posting it Mr Wrap. It contained 2 of the best Freudian slips. I retyped your headline as AFL “Premiersip” Season. (No wonder the Avenging Eagle is hiding the sherry decanter from me).
    You called Mark Branagan’s book Bloodstained “Angles”. No doubt you were thinking of the revised 2014 QBE corporate malfeasance and salary cap rorting edition.
    Time for you and I to head to the spelling paddock until Boxing Day?

  4. Thanks for putting up the Miss Peggy Lee clip Mr B. I’ve been playing her all morning. I gave Bette Midler a try, but not in the same class. No one oozes out that song like The Sultry Miss Peggy Lee.

    BYW, just had coffee with a distraught Collingwood Supporter. He’s not much of a Figjam Fan and he’s also a believer that there are too many clubs in Melbourne. I put it to him that now would be as good a time as any to amalgamate two entities with grossly compromised lists – The Flying Syringes and The Pied Song Thrushes. The weirdest thing was that when I keyed in Essenwood and Collingdon they were both accepted by my computer’s spellcheck. Could it be possible that these G5 spellcheck programs have freudian concepts built into them?

    And let’s face it Mr B; The Leafy East is the new heartland.

  5. Thanks for the Wrap again. Another great year from the wrap cave
    Thanks
    TR

  6. Thanks for the kind words Tony.
    Take care over the Long Dark Summer,
    jdm

  7. Bob Speechley says

    The record that Hawthorn broke of the Melbourne defeat of Carringbush by 57 points in 1926 is an interesting one as it preceded the 1927-1930 flags won by the Pies!

  8. Are you saying we’re looking at a Sydney Centric half decade Bob?

  9. Bob Speechley says

    History has a habit of repeating itself! If it came to that though it would throw a large spanner into the equalization stakes.

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