Well sportsfans we’re only 2 rounds in and dead set it seems that the tail end of the 2017 is already carved in concrete on the pitch that Adele left as her parting gift to the adoring faithful at the Gabba. Of course our grass man up here, curator Kevvie Mitchell (Jr), has turfed over the foul-mouthed big girl’s footy tips – he had to so he could get the wicket for the first test match ready 7 months in advance – so it’s left to Sir Archibald Geebung Butterfly (that’s me) to give you the good oil, and here it is.
The Suns are totally cactus. Gaz – my favorite player since he first laced on a boot – is playing with half a shoulder, a bunch of blokes most of whom would be better placed in country footy, and the enthusiasm of a jumps jockey copping clods of sodden turf in the scone as the three-legged mule he’s on lingers half a dozen lengths behind the pack in a Port Augusta three mile maiden hurdle.
Brisbane’s finest are all playing rugby league, leaving our other two footy teams bereft of talent, guts or will and standing as nothing but a joke. The Queensland Reds have an excuse – they play a crap code and can’t attract juniors with any ability – but the Lions have nothing to explain away their moribund and still sinking further into the mire state other than bad coaching and even worse management, both on and off the field.
Lethal Leigh may well have been a legend both on the field and as a coach, but f*ck me he’s proven a terrible football club executive. You can’t be good at everything I guess, but how do you forgive recruiting an off the rails Fevola at the price of a near million a year when you already have Browny up front, then sacking Vossy as coach for his crime of recruiting Fev when in fact he had nothing at all to with it and argued against, and then replacing him with a bloke who’d never coached a team in his life and was regarded by one and all as a lunatic on the field and a half-baked ordinary judge of the game off?
Simple answer: you can’t. And thus Brisbane are destined to the bottom four for a decade. It’s the perfect example of why the management of footy clubs should e totally divorced from the club director’s post-footy off-field personal interests. Thanks a lot Lethal. For nothing.
Conversely to the couple of Queensland embarrassments, after a couple of horror seasons involving murdered coaches, banned players and decimated rosters, in 2017 the two Adelaide teams are rapidly on the rise and both look the real deal.
After becoming the unwitting victims of the Danks debacle the Power finally get the opportunity to earn a return on their super-sized investments in Monfries and Paddy Ryder, and they are a pair that any team would welcome into their roster. The added bonus for Port from the return of the two is that the ever-improving Charlie Dixon – yet another superstar in the making lost to the Suns due to poor management – is given room to move and to grow his game, and his 4 goals last week against the hapless Freo show how much the probable Brownlow Medal runner-up (see Hawthorn below) is loving it. A betting man would be a fool not to at least have a saver on Port to steal the flag.
Equally – nay, more so – the Crows look the real deal this season, and they are my tip to take the trip to September glory. Any side that can throw two of the best five players in the game in Eddie Betts and Tex Walker on the paddock is always going to be bloody hard to beat, and when you throw in ever-improving future greats such as Tom Lynch and Matrt McGovern, and couple them with an across the board 6 foot plus backline, you have one hell of goddamn footy team. One good enough to win the flag in this third-rate scribe’s humble opinion.
To the West, and Fremantle are well and truly f*cked, despite Nathan Fyfe’s Brownlow Medal winning standard performances in the first couple of rounds, while still playing on one leg. Ross Lyon may well be a genius at rebuilding a rooted side but by jingo he’s got a lot to answer for by not pulling The Purple One from the field in the preliminary final in 2015 when even my half-blind Aunty Aggie could see he’d busted a bone. It was the worst coaching call since the Suns started God Jr in 2016 before his shoulder had properly healed, and reaped the same result: a superstar out for a season. Lawsuits will at career’s end surely follow.
The West Coast look good, but they have for the past half a decade and are yet to deliver so what’s new? Due to the ill-will rained upon them by the footy gods will be forced to play through the season without their talisman Niccy Nat (it’s funny how both desert fringe dwelling teams from the West rely so heavily on Nats), so unless Benny Cousins gets clean, jumps in a Tardis and treks back ten years in time you can confidently back the Eagles to give you a thrill or two throughout the season, but to traverse no deeper into the finals than the first round, and you can tear up your tote ticket now if you’ve flung your cash on them to go any further.
The Cats are the Melbourne Storm of the elite Australian Rules game. They are flying as Scotty the Elder continues to draw suckers from opposing outfits into double-team defending the Danger Zone, just as Craig Bellamy fools opposition NRL sides into exposing their flanks so that his lethal Fijian flyers can dive over for a try in the corner, but just as league coaches eventually work out how to counter the Storm by season’s end so too will equally as wise coaches with a wider range of cattle in their paddocks figure out how to counter the Cats one-dimensional game plan, and the cracks in the Cats line-up will be eventually exposed, although most likely not until the second week of the finals.
The once star-studded squads of Collingwood and Sydney are both looking time-worn and as if they’ve seen better days. The pair of long-time big guns of the huge oval will no doubt remain competitive in the top tranche of the comp, but the 2017 flag is as far away for them as my first million is for me, and trust me it recedes into the horizon with the going down of every sun. No Nankervis, no McGlynn, no Tom Mitchell, no hope, although at least Buddy gets to bed down with Jacinta after a loss. All I’m left with is the aging Bead Twirler, and she comes with neither a $10 million back-ended contract or a DJ’s modelling gig. Such is life I guess.
Hawthorn. Oh, Hawthorn. I’ve seen better days famously Bernard Fanning sang, and so have the Hawks, and I’d write them off for all money except for one thing: Jaeger O’Meara. This kid is an absolute superstar – so good that he was the pivotal reason God Jr moved to the coast – however due to his uncanny ability to cop serious season-ending injuries we have never had the chance to see even half of the best of him, and as much as I hate Jeff Kennett’s beloved flag-bearing crew I’m the first to concede that if the Jaeger bomb can stay fit and on the paddock for the bulk of the season not only is he is a certainty to win the Brownlow – get on now while the odds are still good – but that anything’s possible for a mob with him leading the way.
St Kilda? Puh-lease. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more.
Richmond have the same problem that they’ve had for the past couple of seasons – although this year Damien Hardwick’s trying to turn it into a positive spruik rather than the negative knock that it really is – that problem being a lack of big men at the front end of the machine. The Tigers defend as if their lives depend upon it, but Blind Freddie and his missus Maud have known for years that what’s been standing between the black and golds and a September day in the sunshine is a bit of tall timber, and due to the vagaries of the draft and the off-contract player lottery – plus the exorbitant amount they pay Happy Jack – the club has been unable to address it. Riewoldt is an undoubted genius but he needs a beanstalk alongside him if he’s ever going to climb to the top of the tree.
North Melbourne remain the perennial Kangaroos. They bounce to the heavens when they’ve got a bot of momentum flowing, but what goes up must come down and they just can’t seem to stop getting themselves caught in the headlights in the games that matter and ending up as road kill. Great coach, good roster, game and willing, but not quite there yet and this punter for one is not sure if they ever quite will be. It’s the manifest destiny of the second born twin I guess, and if you don’t believe me just go and have a chat to the Waugh boys.
The D’s, Bombers and Blues are all teams on the rise after long Christ-like spells in the desert and will collectively cause more than a couple of upsets against some big names this year, but I reckon 2017 is 12 months too early for each of the trio. The three are all well coached though and each boast a number of budding superstars on their roster, so they’ll all be fun to watch in games where the ball bounces their way.
I dunno what to make of GWS. The Giants punched well and truly above their weight last year, and Sheedy’s brilliantly planned recruitment strategy should result in leaps and bounds style further improvement that would make them near favorites for the flag, but for reasons that I can’t quite put my finger on – call it the St Kilda sweats – I have this strange lingering doubt about their residual ability to kick on and will at the risk of looking a mug call them non-starters in the big one, although I won’t be at all surprised if I end up getting it wrong.
The Bulldogs are the other big question. Can the fast running, hard-hitting, small men with big hearts and huge guts strategy work two years in a row? Possibly. Maybe. Perhaps. Yes. No. Nah. I dunno. You work it out yourself.
Adelaide to win the flag, with a saver on the Hawks; and O’Meara to win the Brownlow, with a catch me if you can on Charlie Dixon just in case.
Don’t say you weren’t told.
Editor’s Note: Jager OMeara copped another crippling season-ending injury in the middle of June, and when he was carried from the ground the Hawks season and Archie’s speculative long-range Brownlow bet went on the stretcher with him. The footballing future for the young man with a freakish talent but a seemingly terribly fragile physical frame now looks bleak indeed.