What Bro Bradley wants, Bro Bradley doesn’t always get

By John Kingsmill 

First, an explanation. Bro Bradley is a distanced associate of mine. It’s true that he has hung around my family for a long time but his role in our genealogy has never been properly established in a way that has satisfied any member of our clan, including my humble self. Let’s make that distance between us clear from the start.

Bro Bradley recently wrote to me that he has been incarcerated in a place which denies him access to a television set, a radio and all daily newspapers and that while he had no complaints about that, in the main, there was one aspect of his newly defined personal space that he was not happy about.

He wrote:

I do not want to miss out on the good oil on the AFL. Please send me a rolling summary of each team’s prospects in the 2013 campaign, week by week, round by round.

 I can tell you, here and now, Footy Almanac readers, that that is not going to happen.

 Bro Bradley has spent his lifetime with an expectation that if he asks, things will come.

Most of our family believe that his mindset has a lot to do with the fact that he was breast-fed until he was five. We believe that he was breastfed until he was admitted to the Onkaparinga Primary School. We also think that the South Australian Education Department’s policy at that time, supplying bottled milk for every primary school student, not only subsidised the dairy industry, but also contributed to his belief that if he wanted something, it would almost always arrive if he asked for it.

Bro also wrote this:

When I say that I am incarcerated, I am not saying that I am living in a place that was designed for those members of our community, less fortunate than myself, who may have found themselves in conflict with the laws of the land and, further, upon the resolution of that conflict, realised that they had employed the wrong lawyer.

When I first engaged with Bro Bradley, over thirty years ago, he already seemed to me to be an old man. I shudder to think how old he may now be. I accept that he may not be in jail. I accept, too, that he may be in a place where his access to the outside world is not exactly how he would like it. I think his description of that place or his situation, as incarceration, may be subject to a claim of slight exaggeration if any member of our family wished to mount it.

However, I’m prepared to accept part of his request.

Below I submit a summary of all eighteen teams after Round One in terms that Bro Bradley may understand. Bro is a football simpleton who follows St Kilda because his mother did. Bro has never been outside of the Onkaparinga Valley.

No! That’s not right.

Bro Bradley went to the Adelaide Royal Show once or twice and… oh my god!  I’ve just opened another folder. In the forties, there’s a photograph of him on the Karratta, the ferry from the Port docks to Kangaroo Island. He’s a shallow teenager, gaunt, and is staring at the camera with a strange self-conscious, geeky, embarrassed smile.

And there’s another photograph of him in the fifties on the ferry from Patras to Brindisi. He’s still young but he’s now dapper. He’s gained self-confidence. There’s a woman on his arm who is firm and strong. She’s stunning, actually.

I have to retract my statement that he has never left the Onkaparinga Valley. It’s only his adult life that seems like that.

And before I start, here is something else that Bro Bradley asked:

Don’t give me the stats. I couldn’t care less about the stats. Only give me the oil.

As I say, what Bro Bradley wants, Bro Bradley doesn’t have to get.


Round One

Adelaide has to restructure and cover its holes on each line
and it has about five weeks to do this before it is in serious trouble.
Its biggest problem is in defence – Talia’s trademark punch
keeps the ball alive and uncontrollable. He has to learn
how to mark. Rutten has lost weight but hasn’t gained mobility.
The Essendon forwards read the Adelaide defence all day. Problem.

Brisbane were smacked in the first quarter – six points to the Bullies’
six goals and never recovered. A NAB Cup hangover or were the Bullies
more primed? At home, this week, Brisbane has a chance to mount
its 2013 campaign against a deflated, confused, confabulated Adelaide.


Carlton has now lost three games in a row that it should have won
if Mick Malthouse is a miracle-worker. Carlton should have beaten
Adelaide in the NAB Cup and not just kept them scoreless
in the last quarter and they should have found a way
to beat Brisbane in the NAB final. A five-point loss to Richmond
in R1 has created some scarring. But Bryce Gibbs in the midfield
was superb. His current odds of 26/1 to win the 2013 Brownlow Medal
will reduce week by week. He will lose votes to Matthew Kruezer,
Marc Murphy and Chris Judd but will be in the umpires’ eyes all year.
He’s such an immaculate gentleman.

Collingwood had an arm wrestle with North Melbourne in the first half,
kicked away a bit in the third, and were dragged back in the last
to walk away with a less than three-goal win. Buckley smashed his phone
into pieces in the coaches’ box, talked about the sins of an opposing player
in his press conference and, generally, didn’t cover himself with glory.
Pendlebury was superb early and late; Swann caught up on the stats
in the second half – between them, they had 61 disposals,
247 Dream Time points and five Brownlow votes. On the other hand,
North’s Andrew Swallow, with 34 disposals and nine tackles
(and 134 DT points) might not agree with that.


Essendon are in a bunker. The world hates them and will hurt
them midseason. They are playing as a united unit under siege
and will win more than they lose until the Decision is brought down.
Then they will fold. They made Adelaide look second rate and hopeless
but Paddy Ryder has to do a lot more than he did at AAMI if Essendon
are going to acquire meaningful premiership points this year.
Which may be taken away.


Fremantle played against West Coast as if they had nothing
to lose. They banged it inside fifty 61/38 but lost the stoppages,
clearances, tackles and hitouts. Their victory was not
without some concern.


Geelong loves the Kennett Curse. They turned a six-goal deficiency
in the middle of the second quarter to a four-goal lead in the middle
of the last and then hung on grimly for a seven-point win. They were
behind on all the key stats except tackles and scoreboard. Round One
has no meaning for the top-eight teams, but a win is always a precious thing.


Gold Coast won the first quarter against St Kilda, were smashed
in the second, regained terms in the third and ran out as winners
in a Gary-Ablett-inspired miracle – 22 kicks, 12 handballs, 3 marks,
4 tackles, 4 goals (with three of them in the last quarter). The Gold Coast
is Gary Ablett; he structures the team with purpose, meaning and content.
The Suns won the handballs, clearances, stoppages, contested possessions,
tackles and, of course, the scoreboard. They lack the big skills – marks and kicks
and inside fifties but they had more grunt than St Kilda. Which, in itself,
is not a big thing, I suppose.


Greater Western Sydney won the clearances and the inside fifties
against the reigning premier and for a few minutes in the second quarter
they were in front on the scoreboard. The best thing they achieved
this weekend was constraining this loss to thirty points. The Giants
are developing resilience. They won’t finish last this year.


Hawthorn won the stats against Geelong but lost the game.
Sam Mitchell had 37 disposals, six marks and four tackles and
it’s about time he won a Brownlow. As for Buddy, he needs more
than 13 kicks, four marks and 2.2 in a big game such as this one
if he wants to maintain his market value. Hawthorn is blessed
with talent – beautiful talent. Rioli, Burgoyne, Roughhead,
Lewis, Sewell, Savage, Puopolo, Shiels are all players any other club
would love to have on its list, and they are players all footy people
love watching. Come on Hawthorn… please get it together!


Melbourne has earned the right to go straight to the bottom
of the 2013 ladder in Round 1, and to stay there for the journey.
Who can they beat and why?


North Melbourne won the stats in Round One but lost the game.
That means that this week they lacked finesse, efficiency, balance
and method but showed some grunt. When scores were level
in the middle of the second quarter, they let it slip but regathered
in the fourth to stay in the game but couldn’t finish. Tough titty.


Port Adelaide has talked the preseason talk as well as any club
in the last three or four years and then refused the walk. This year,
with a change of coach, CEO, president and many key players,
the preseason talk has been rabid. On Sunday, they walked!
The culture has changed. It’s an unrecognisable team with a dramatically
different structure. Melbourne hit the front with a point in the first minute
or so and were never seen again. Brad Ebert and Ollie Wines won the centre,
Jay Schultz kicked four from four, Hamish Harlett was a sublime link,
Kane Cornes played his normal infuriating short game but made it work,
and there were no passengers. Mind you, it was only Melbourne
and it is only Round One.


Richmond pushed out at the beginning of the second quarter,
peaked at the middle of the third and hung on grimly for a confusing win.
That’s typical Round One form – good, but next week they may already
be tired and may not win again until the week after their bye.


St Kilda had a perfect opportunity to start the season with a big bang
but walked out of Metricon Stadium with the sound of a wet squib
barely ringing in their ears. I’m sorry, Bradley. They are a hopeless mess
and they are not going to solve any of their problems this year.


Sydney is the quiet team. Roos taught them to watch and do
and, most of the time, to simply shut up. They beat the Giants
for most of the day but kept a cap on it. Round One uses new muscles;
they worked hard but slowly and evenly. They will recover,
eat their Sydney rock oysters, front up again next week
against the Suns and attempt to eliminate some of their mistakes.
Their season hasn’t started yet.


West Coast won their first half against Fremantle in an unconvincing
manner and chased dust in the second. They are one of the big ships
in the comp that needs time to chart a steady path.

The Western Bulldogs jumped out of the blocks and just kept going.
Round One was invented for results just like this. Were Brisbane
already asleep at the wheel after their big NAB final? Let’s see
what the Bullies can produce against Fremantle at Etihad this week
before we say that they are a team on the rise.


  1. Paul Daffey says


    I agree that Richmond’s win was confusing. But I think they’ll beat the Saints and gain confidence for the weeks ahead.

    I agree with most of what you’ve written, actually, but i think you underestimate Gold Coast’s sneaky brilliance against St Kilda.

    Interesting to get a South Australian’s view of Bryce Gibbs. He’s pilloried over here. One to watch.

  2. Tell me, Paul, why Victoria doesn’t like Bryce Gibbs.

  3. Bro Bradley says that he is not incarcerated.
    “I came to this current establishment under my own wing,” he wrote, “and I will leave it when I am ready.”
    That’s a relief, I must say, but it’s not how I remember the events of that fateful day when we extracted him from the empty bottles and cigar boxes that propped up his modest home.
    “Further,” Bro Bradley wrote, “it’s very hard to jump out of the blocks and not keep going. The alternative is to fall flat on your face after the second step. Can you leave the poetics out of your summaries, please?”

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