This weeks final round of football is an absolute cracker with every game having some influence on the final standings. In the Herald Sun they have equated this round to the final round of 1987 where several games impacted the make up of the finals. As an Essendon supporter I am happy that my team has control of its own destiny. The Bombers should account for Fremantle at home, but having seen my side cough up a 27 point lead against Brisbane at home you never can be sure. It also may be Jobe Watson’s last game in the red and black. He certianly got the most out of himself and it still riles me that he returned his Brownlow medal.
The Dustin Martin saga seems to be dragging on and it seems more likely that he will leave the Tigers. I know he is an important player and this year’s likely Brownlow medalist, however, if the reported offer from North Melbourne is $1.5m a year for 7 years the Tigers should not attempt to match it as it would jeopardise future contracts and their payment structure. I do not think he is worth anything like that sort of money as he doesn’t provide any sort of marketing clout save for his position as a star player. I also do not think that most Richmond supporters would want their club to go too far to keep him. Martin needs the money and I have no doubt he will go to the highest bidder. He is not a media performer and he is not coaching material, so he has to make hay while he is playing. If North Melbourne do get him there is no guarantee that he will be the panacea for their woes in any case. Paying a player that amount of money will no doubt cause a ripple affect amongst the other players as Tom Boyd’s contract apparently did at the Bulldogs. This guy is no Paddy Dangerfield.
Have a great weekend!
Whilst there was not all that much to tweak my interest this week, I did think Tom Hawkins was dead set stiff for copping a suspension when his hit was quite minor compared to the Cotchin, Cunnington & Jones hits of the previous few weeks. Having said that, you would think with all the publicity attached to those recent hits, he wasn’t using his brains to grab a jumper and then punch someone. The AFL were going to make a stand at some stage and Hawkins was the first one to be subject to the Match Review Panel’s crack down.
I was pleased to see that Josh Schache re-signed with Brisbane. Brisbane have coughed up a lot of players over the last couple of years and it is good to see one of their top draft picks choosing to stay. It’s about time things started to run their way.
It was also good to see the Socceroos succeed against Saudi Arabia on Friday night. Despite an indifferent performance they got the win and evened up the points with the Saudis and now only trail by goal difference. The pressure is on this team to make the World Cup finals and, if they make it, it will be a testament to the coaching of Ange Postecoglou. From what I see this current Australian team is a bit short on talent compared to more recent World Cup campaigns and while they have not yet confirmed qualification for the World Cup, they are still the only team in the group to be undefeated. Clearly, the match against the Blue Samurai in Japan in August will be crucial to qualification for both teams. Japan has the harder draw as they then play Saudi Arabia away in their last game while the Socceroos play bottom of the table Thailand in Australia.
Have a great weekend!
Great to see the Australian cricket team hang on in the third test in India. Peter Handscombe obviously took my previous musing to heart and produced his best innings of the tour and in the context of the series, perhaps the best innings of his fledgling career. I think this is probably the first time since the third test of the 2005 Ashes series when the Australian team has batted out a day to save a test. On that occasion Ricky Ponting batted nearly the whole day and we escaped with a draw with one wicket in hand. The Indians really took the game away from Australia on Sunday and to hang on as we did was a great effort and keeps a very interesting series alive going into this weekend for the fourth and final test of the series.
I was tickled on last weekend to see the horse Gingernuts salute in Sydney. Being a chestnut gelding this is quite a creative name by the owners and I am surprised it got through the authorities. It reminds me of the horse Seltun which is Nutles(s) backwards.
It is interesting that this weekend we have two sporting finals where the host team is playing away from home. The Victorian Bushrangers have made a habit of it recently and are hosting South Australia in Alice Springs in the Sheffield Shield final and in the AFLW we have Brisbane Lions hosting Adelaide Crows on the Gold Coast. As Victoria has won the last two Shield’s perhaps it is a winning formula, but clearly not ideal for local cricket fans. This scenario was apparent at the start of the season, however, the AFLW grand final is a bit more embarrassing for all concerned. The groundsmen in control of the Gabba apparently see their primary job to prepare the ground for the first test match of the year and AFL football takes a back seat. Leigh Matthews has said that this situation has existed since the Brisbane Lions started playing there and perhaps now with the Queensland state government getting involved, football might be treated a bit better.
Have a great weekend!
Well what a great AFL Grand Final and a result that is good for football. With the Doggies breaking their 62 year premiership drought, it brings to 4 the number of significant droughts broken in the last 15 years. First you had Brisbane/Fitzroy breaking a 47 year drought in 2001, then Sydney/Sth Melbourne breaking a 72 year drought in 2005 and Geelong breaking a 44 year drought in 2007. This now leaves Melbourne (1964) & St Kilda (1966) as the two established clubs with the longest droughts and with both sides having encouraging years this year, who knows we may see another drought broken shortly.
I must say that Luke Beveridge handing over his medal to Bob Murphy was a wonderful gesture, but equally Murphy giving it back was the right thing to do. Without trying to kill Bambi, I am getting a bit tired of the love for Bob Murphy. Yes he is the captain and spiritual leader of the Doggies, but he is not the only player that has missed out on a premiership due to injury or suspension. I have always felt sorry for the recently deceased Neville Crowe who was captain of Richmond in 1967 when John Nicholls feigned being struck and Crowe missed the 1967 premiership as a result. That was also a drought breaking premiership win for the Tigers (24 years).
In the NRL we also saw the Cronulla Sharks win their first premiership since they entered the competition 50 years ago. I obviously wanted the Storm to win, but again it is hard to begrudge a club a drought breaking premiership.
The attention of the sporting public now turns to horse racing and the Spring Carnival. The Melbourne public see Winx for the first time since the Cox Plate last year. She is in a three horse field and sometimes these races can provide an upset because they can become a “sit and sprint”. If that is the case it may favour Black Heart Bart who is clearly the best sprinter of the three acceptors.
Have a great weekend!
This week sees Melbourne’s Christian Petracca get the Club’s third Rising Star nomination in the first nine rounds which is a great achievement. However, they still have a long way to go to emulate the Greater Western Sydney Giants who had eight nominations during the 2012 season. Putting aside the Giants who were given a leg up by the AFL in this regard with Draft concessions, the next best was five by Essendon in 1993 (a premiership year) and Fremantle in 1996. Then there are eight teams who have had four nominations. Of those, only Port Adelaide in 1997 and West Coast in 2004 converted their advantage into a premiership and in Port Adelaide’s case it took a further years! Fitzroy had four nominations in 1994 and were out of the competition two years later and Brisbane had four in 2005, the year after their last Grand Final appearance. So having good young talent is not the guaranteed formula for success, but it certainly doesn’t hurt and the Dees had two nominations and the winner last year so they are assembling a good batch of youngsters. It will be interesting to see if they can get any more nominees. I have heard there are some wraps on Sam Weideman so there is a chance they can get to four or maybe more. That being said, the GWS record looks safe for now.
There has been a lot of discussion in AFL circles this week about “rule of the week”. Last week the discussion centred around the deliberate behind with two examples being Lee Spurr from Fremantle and Pierce Hanley from Brisbane. Quite frankly I think both of those should have been penalised even without a “rule of the week” crackdown. Both players had alternatives to rushing a behind and chose to go with the behind and copped the penalty. Neither infringement cost their side the game. If I was to nominate a rule which I think should be tightened up it is incorrect disposal. Once you take possession there are only two ways of disposing of the ball, that is by way of a kick or a handball. Watching the game between Hawthorn and Sydney last week, I noticed that Hawthorn have added a third means of disposing of the ball. Just about every time a Hawthorn player was tackled the ball spilled from the tackle and there was no penalty and no reward for the tackle. Come on AFL tidy this one up please.
As predicted in this column several weeks ago, winning the FA Cup wasn’t enough to save Manchester United’s coach Louis van Gaal. Just a few days after the FA Cup triumph, van Gaal was dumped in favour of Jose Mourinho. There is no doubt the Club has struggled since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson. He managed United from 1986 until 2013 bringing plenty of trophies and stability. Since then Mourinho is the third manager in three years. The Club seems to have lost its way and I don’t know that Mourinho is the one to get it back on track. We will see.
Have a great weekend!
I was thinking about Grant Hackett this week and how he now joins a burgeoning list of sportsmen who should refrain from drinking. I understand the incident itself may have been blown out of proportion and has been sensationalised as seems to happen these days to sell papers. Hackett is in good company with the likes of Brendan Fevola, Robert Allenby, David Warner, Mitchell Pearce and any number of rugby league and union players. Most of these people are reasonable types who just don’t seem to be able to handle their grog. There is no doubt they should find other ways to relax!
I must say I think the move to drop the AFL Grand Final replay in the event of a draw was the correct decision. It may have been OK in the old VFL days when teams were all situated in Victoria but now with the national competition, imagine if Brisbane were playing Fremantle in the Grand Final and they had to come back the following week. It would be just too difficult. In addition, it would be unfair if a Melbourne based team were playing an interstate team.
What I do not agree with is the pundits who suggest the same should apply to a draw in the regular season games. A draw is an unusual outcome and I agree it does leave everyone a bit flat, but it is a legitimate result and history does not need to be changed just because some want a winner and a loser at the end of each game. Soccer is the most popular football game in the world and a draw is a common occurrence. Imagine if the same ‘sensibility’ applied to that game?
Have a great weekend!
The performance of Peter Senior at the recent Masters should not pass without a mention. It is a credit to him that he has now won the three most prestigious Australian tournaments after he turned fifty years of age. He has always been a good golfer, but never Australia’s best golfer, but he keeps winning. It may have been a reflection of the standard of the field, but he still won. It was also interesting to see that despite the win, he didn’t feature in the favourites for the Australian Open. I bet if Adam Scott had won I am sure he would have started favourite for the Open.
While on golf, what a great finish to the Australian Open on the weekend. The future of Australian golf looks good with Matt Jones and Jason Day both emerging this year. Jones consolidated himself on the US circuit and won the Australian Open on the weekend. Day broke through for his first major win in the US PGA championship. Adam Scott after a couple of bad days came home like a train on the last day and was probably unlucky not to force a tie after 72 holes. Good to see World number one, Jordan Spieth make the trip to Australia to play in one of our feature events.
Well another AFL Draft has come and gone and every club seems to be happy with their selections. Wylie Buzza, who was taken by Geelong with pick 69 has drawn some media attention because of his name and hair style, but he grabbed my attention for a completely different reason. Here we have a home grown product of Queensland and yet neither of the Queensland clubs picked him up. Surely with the “go home factor” and trying to grow the game in Queensland there is an imperative for those clubs to select Queensland draftees. Brisbane Lions could be forgiven as they picked up two Academy players, but the Gold Coast did not select any local player. I hope it doesn’t come back to haunt them, like the Sydney Swans not picking John Longmire and Wayne Carey and more recently passing on Mark McVey and Lenny Hayes.
Have a great week!
I am not a big motor sport fan, however, I started listening to last weeks MotoGP from Phillip Island when I was walking the dog and when I got home I sat down and watched the final six laps of the race. What a fascinating race with many exciting overtaking manoeuvres
with the top four riders duelling throughout and Marc Marquez taking over in the last lap to win. At one stage with a couple of laps to go he had been shuffled back to fourth. I don’t think I will suddenly become a motor sport fan on the back of that race, but it was certainly very exciting. Maybe if Formula 1 could replicate the same excitement it would improve in popularity, particularly at the moment Mercedes dominating.
Well the AFL trade period is finally over with plenty of trades going through, even players like James Aish who Brisbane said they wouldn’t trade getting where he wanted to go. One trade that didn’t go through was Cam McCarthy from GWS to Fremantle. One thing I didn’t realise until last night was that McCarthy was only one year into a four year deal. I can understand players wanting a trade with a year to run on a contract, but three years? Why sign a long term contract and then ask for a trade in the first year, it doesn’t make sense. I think in reality, he hadn’t done much until this year so his manager got him a long term deal, he then has a good year and he suddenly has some currency. I certainly don’t blame the Giants for not doing the trade.
Have a great weekend!
Well the AFL Grand Final is over and the competition has seen it’s second three-peat in the space of 15 years and this is in the context of a competition which has a salary cap and draft which is supposed to even out the competition. You factor in that Geelong has also won three in five years in that same period and the Swans have played in four Grand Finals and won two as well and it seems to be an indicator that once clubs get to the top it is hard to topple them despite the draft and salary cap. It has meant that Brisbane who completed the initial three-peat struggled after competing in the last of their grand finals in 2004 and Geelong are starting to struggle now having finished out of the finals for the first time in nine years. It seems though that teams are having long sustained runs at or near the top. Free agency and trading also favours teams up the top as good players only want to go to ‘destination’ clubs.
The NRL provided a lot more interesting grand final than the AFL with the high drama of the golden point result. While it might be sour grapes on the part of Wayne Bennett, I must say I think to lose a game in that circumstance would be pretty hard to take. If they are going to have extra time, it should be ten minutes each way as the golden point comes down to luck or bad luck as Brisbane’s Hunt would attest.
It was good to see last years VRC Derby winner, Preferment win the Turnbull Stakes and last years VRC Oaks winner, Set Square run third in the same race. Too often these days the winners of those races disappear the following year to be never seen again. I hope they both go on and have a successful spring carnival as it adds to the value of those races.
It was also great to see the Gunners fight back after a very disappointing display at home against Olypiakos during the week to come out and trounce Manchester United by 3-0. The three goals came in the first 20 minutes and Man U did not look like scoring. I think this year Arsenal have a side which could be good enough to win the title, they just need to be consistent through the entire season.
Have a great weekend!
There has been a lot of discussion about the substitution rule in AFL recently and I am a bit bemused by some of the comments coming from coaches and ex-players who would have been familiar with the operation of the old 19th & 20th man which existed until 1978. I can see the merit in the current rule, but having spent time on the bench as a 19th or 20th man, I think reverting to the old interchange rule is best for all concerned. I would also cap the number of interchanges to twenty a quarter. If the number of interchanges allowable was higher perhaps you restrict the number of times an individual player could be interchanged in any one quarter.
Sticking with the AFL, I was very surprised to see the Gold Coast player Stephen May suspended for his bump with Tom Rockliff.It looked like both players were going for the ball and May did not line up Rockliff to hit or bump him, but they came together in a jostle for the ball. I didn’t see the front on vision or any slow motion footage, but on vision shown to explain the decision I did not see a problem and clearly neither did the umpire as no free kick was paid.
Well Chelsea have secured the EPL crown with three weeks to go and while I find Jose Mourinho annoying, you cannot doubt his quality as a manager. He has now led Chelsea to the title three times and also did the same with Inter Milan, Real Madrid and FC Porto. You also cannot doubt Chelsea is a justified title holder given they have the most miserly defence and are second behind Manchester City for goals scored. The race is now on for second and fingers crossed the Gunners can get there and then secure their second FA Cup in a row which would be a good stepping stone to the next Premier League season.
Have a great weekend!