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Weekend musing – AFL, Sheffield Shield, Peter Moody, Jason Day

Chris Barwin HillsWell Easter must be one of the most diverse periods for sport in Australia, we had the start of the AFL season, the Stawell Gift, the bellsBells Beach Surfing Classic, the Sheffield Shield Final and some big horse races from Sydney. We also had soccer World Cup qualifiers either side of Easter.

It was great to have the football back despite Essendon not having much to look forward to. The debut of Patrick Dangerfield for Geelong was clearly the difference that got them over Hawthorn and Dangerfieldif he had of kicked straight they would have won by more. Collingwood and Fremantle were very disappointing, but I think both sides will perform a lot better this week. The Bombers first half was probably as expected, but their second half was a bit better. Given the number of new players due to the supplement scandal outcome it might take a while for the team to gel, but the wooden spoon still is theirs for the taking!

Also great to see Victoria win the Sheffield Shield away from home. A couple of weeks ago I was going to comment about the demise of Cameron White as a cricketer and while he has not put himself backsheffield in the frame for Australian selection, he has redeemed himself. When he lead Victoria to the Shield win just after David Hookes died I thought he was a future Australian Test Captain and while he did play a couple of test matches, he was mainly a ODI and 20/20 player, but his star had dimmed in recent times to the point where he missed selection for Victoria.

I was sad to see Peter Moody retire from racing and he has now sold moodyoff all his gear to resist the temptation to return to the sport, but I think, once his suspension is over, he will come back and establish a smaller boutique stable just to keep his hand in. It is very hard for real horsemen to simply walk away from the sport it is too ingrained in their DNA.

Also good to see Jason Day back to the world number 1 position in golf and I just hope he maintains his form going into the Masters.

Have a great weekend!

AFL Trade Period – Dangerfield, Carlisle, Selwood, Hawthorn…..

Chris Barwin HillsWell I must say that not much has grabbed my attention this week save for the AFL Trade period, but even that drags on like unwanted guests. It was good to see the Patrick Dangerfield deal go through early and both clubs should be commended on how it was all done. I cannot Dangerfieldbelieve that Dangerfield has copped grief from Adelaide supporters when he gave them 100% throughout his time there and didn’t go for the money, because he could have got just as much from Adelaide and more from other clubs. I do feel some sympathy for Adelaide, over recent years they have lost Kurt Tippett, Phil Davis and to a lesser extent Nathan Bock, with Dangerfield now leaving there is some pretty fair talent out their doors in recent times.

I must say that my club, Essendon has always had the reputation for over valuing their players and as a consequence being difficult to deal with at the trade table and I have to say that from a distance carlislethat looks like a fair assessment. I don’t think that Jake Carlisle is worth St Kilda’s pick 5, but I do think that he is worth more than their 2nd round pick and it is interesting to see that the best team in the competition, Hawthorn, has now come out and put two late first round picks on the table for him so they must rate him higher than I do. On my estimation he would be worth around the 15-18 mark, but should Carlisle agree to go to Hawthorn, the Bombers could snare both of those selections.

There has also been a lot of discussion regarding the compensation picks for free agents moving clubs and it does seem incongruous that Melbourne got pick five for James Frawley and West Coast get pick 35 for Scott Selwood. I know Selwood didn’t make the grand final frawley
side, but he has had an injury interrupted year and he is former best & fairest so pick 35 seems a little on the light side. Having said that, Hawthorn getting pick 19 for Buddy Franklin seems ludicrous and perhaps Hawthorn should have adopted the same tactic that Adelaide adopted for Dangerfield to secure a better draft pick for one of the better players in the competition.

It will be interesting to see how the rest of the trade period pans out.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – NRL and AFL finals time

Chris Barwin HillsThe Melbourne Storm’s slogan is “No Ordinary Team” and last Friday night proved that to be totally on the money. A couple of weeks after losing to the bottom side for the 4th or 5th time this year they go up to Sydney and knock off the top side and go straight through to a Preliminary final at home. That is certainly not the form of an ordinary team, but it is also the form that would frustrate a coach as well. Fingers crossed the Storm continue the current form and get into another Grand Final.

Speaking of finals, if results go the way I think they could this week, not only will we not have an AFL preliminary final in Melbourne, we Unknown-3will only have one Victorian team in a preliminary final which I think would be the first time this has happened. I am tipping Sydney to overcome the Kangaroos tonight.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing this week looking at Luke Hodge and Dustin Fletcher

Chris Barwin HillsI was amused to read about Luke Hodge being picked up for drink driving. I was amused because I understand he was the Hawthorn Unknownplayer who blew Steven Motlop’s cover about drinking at a local
football game which cost Motlop a club imposed suspension. The karma bus collected Mr Hodge and if it wasn’t for the fact that it is finals time you would think that Hodge would also face a club suspension.

It was disappointing that Dustin Fletcher was not able to get up for the final game of the season which meant his 400th was indeed his last game. imagesEven with Brent Harvey still going around and likely to break Michael Tuck’s record for games played, it is unlikely he will break Fletch’s record of playing 23 years. Fletch is an absolute champion who was best & fairest in a premiership year which is unusual for a full back. It is also no coincidence that Essendon’s fortunes this year went backwards after he stopped playing.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – Cricket, the Ashes, AFL, the vernacular……

Chris Barwin HillsI sat down over the last two nights hoping to enjoy an Australian revival in the 4th test at Trent Bridge only to witness the abject failure of any of our recognised batsman to get in behind the line of the ball. Yes, there was a bit in the pitch, but not that much. I am sure the batsmen were spooked by Alistair Cook winning the toss and bowling which would have to be just about a first in England. I lyonthought the worst offender in the first innings was Michael Clarke. As captain of the team and coming in with the team in diabolical trouble he first tries a pull shot and was lucky it dropped into no mans land and then he has a swing at a wide ball. Surely the captain has to show more than application when the chips are down. Even when Ricky Ponting lost the Ashes in 2005 he battled his guts out to try and turn things around. We are now hoping for a miracle. Perhaps three days of rain.

I thought the crowd figures for the Richmond v Hawthorn clash last Friday night were interesting. There was 66,000 people there which was apparently a record between the two clubs. This is quite surprising when both teams have memberships of 70,000+. I understand that not all members turn up to watch their team play, but given the size of both memberships and both teams vying for the top 4, 66,000 could be considered quite disappointing.

There is one term that has entered the AFL vernacular which I am getting quite sick of very quickly and it is the “competitive beast”. I think if I hear one more commentator or one more player describe someone as a competitive beast I may just throw up.

Have a good weekend and let us hope the Gelding has a speedy recovery!

Weekend musing – AFL, Adam Goodes, cricket, Mitchell Johnson……

Chris Barwin HillsI ventured along to the MCG last Friday night to see the Real Madrid v Manchester City game and it was mazing to be part of a crowd of 99,000+ people. I enjoyed the game for the first 60-65 minutes, but with Real controlling the game each side took off their best players and it petered out towards the end. Having said that it was great to see the skill of Cristiano Ronaldo and to see him get a goal on the MCG. It also is a reminder of what a great sporting stadium the MCG is. I have witnessed the World Cup cricket final, game 2 of the NRL UnknownState of Origin series and now the soccer in front of 90,000+ crowds. I missed the Anzac day game this year in front of 88,000+ and the biggest AFL game I have witnessed this year was the Dreamtime game before 83,000+. This year the ground has hosted four different sporting codes with crowds exceeding 88,000 and when you factor in the AFL Grand Final it will means the average will be lifted over 90,000+. We are truly blessed to have this magnificent stadium to showcase all these different sports.

Last night at that great ground we had the Richmond v Hawthorn game and I was expecting a good game. I wasn’t disappointed! Richmond displayed an ability to retain the ball which put pressure on Hawthorn and this was instrumental in the Tigers’ win.

This brings me to something I have been mulling over the last couple of weeks. When St Kilda belted Essendon a month ago I thought it may be detrimental to St Kilda as it may have given them an unrealistic appreciation of their ability. The next week they lost a winnable game against GWS and the following week only just lost to Richmond after the Tigers led by 9 goals at 3/4 time. I think for sides on the way up like St Kilda, it would have been better to have beaten mcgEssendon by 5-6 goals than to win by 18 goals because the youngsters understand they need to work hard every week to get the result. Conversely, you get a top side like Hawthorn give a fellow top eight side in Sydney a belting, then they come out the following week against Carlton and win by even more. The theory is, a big win by a good side against another good side franks their form, a big win by a lower side against another lower side is not a great guide to form. St Kilda’s grittier win last week against Melbourne will be better for them going in as underdogs this week against Port in Adelaide.

The Adam Goodes story just won’t go away and I won’t go over the Adam-Coodesissues that I raised earlier in the season, but I thought two articles in the Herald Sun on Thursday were worth some thought. The paper printed a poll of 50,000 people where 80% said the booing wasn’t
racist. There is no doubt a percentage of the booing is racially motivated and the rest is part of a mob element where people follow on like sheep. What we do know is Adam feels it is racially motivated and so it doesn’t really matter what the poll finds or what other people think.

The other article wasn’t even about Goodes, but about Mitchell Johnson and how the Barmy Army got stuck into him in 2009 and Unknownjust about destroyed his career. It is an indication on how barracking can destroy the confidence of some players where race is not even an issue. Crowds now know that Goodes is affected by the booing so it is hard to see it being totally eradicated unless both captains agree to stop the game until the booing ceases. I have expressed my views previously about Adam Goodes on field persona, but it would be a real shame if he was forced into retirement because of the booing, just as it would have been if Mitchell Johnson pulled the pin after the 2009 Ashes series.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – AFL, Davis Cup revival, British Open

Chris Barwin HillsWell everyone seems to be touting Hawthorn as unbeatable in this years premiership on the back of the thumpings they have delivered to the Swans and Fremantle in recent weeks. I would be urging everyone to take a deep breath and consider the hype about Hawthorn when they trounced Geelong in Round 1. It was suggested at the time that they could go through the season undefeated, they lost the next week and lost a further three games out of the next seven. I would agree that there form since then has been extra good, but should both WA teams end up in the top two positions, they potentially may have to travel twice just to get to the grand final. They deserve to be favourites at the moment, but it is not a done deal.

Great effort by Australia in the Davis Cup last weekend. After losing the first two singles rubbers they won the doubles and the reverse singles to take out the tie 3/2. I don’t watch a lot of tennis, but I remember how much the Davis Cup was revered when I was younger and it is always good to see Australia get through to the semi-final stage.

The British Open Golf also threw up an interesting result with a three way play off, but I must say I was disappointed as I was hoping that Jordan Speith or Jason Day would get up and they both finished one shot out of the play off group. I have been pushing Jordan Speith’s barrow since he took out the Australian Open last year and had hoped that he would secure the third Major in a row to try and Unknown-5do the grand slam. It was a brave effort, but one bad hole cost him. I have also been pushing Jason Day as well, given that he continues to put himself in prominent positions in majors, but he cannot seem to get over the line. Marc Leishmann who featured in the play off is also starting to build up a list of prominent finishes in majors without saluting.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – AFL, Phil Walsh, Sam Mitchell, Harley Bennell….

Chris Barwin HillsWell it is all AFL today.

I have just heard about the tragic passing of Adelaide Crows coach Phil Walsh. In my time following football or sport for that matter, I cannot remember a current sportsman being murdered. I must say I am a bit stunned and shocked and I wonder how this will impact on the Crows players. If the game was tonight you would think it would not proceed. Not forgetting that he also spent some time at Geelong, so they would not be immune from the impact of this shocking event. This is unprecedented and goes beyond the grief of health related deaths that have impacted AFL clubs over recent years.

It was interesting to hear the commentary over the Sam Mitchell incident in the Hawthorn -v- Essendon game last Saturday. Yes it was a bit juvenile, but I am surprised there hasn’t been more of it and I am sure the Essendon players were not phased at all given what they have been through. It is also quite ironic given the Sam Lane article in the Age in 2012 lauding the Hawthorn supplement injection programme.

There was also a lot of debate in AFL circles this week about the leniency of the Buddy Franklin decision compared to the Bryce Gibbs suspension. Again it has to be referred back to the consequences. Franklin put Edwards out of the game for 20 minutes for testing, but he was able to come back on (albeit a bit early!). Gibbs put Robbie Gray out of the game and probably cost Port Adelaide the match. After Franklin was reported he only touched the ball once, so it could be construed that the report actually cost the Swans the game, so it was the reverse of the Gibbs outcome.

The other big story of the week was the continued issues with the Gold Coast Suns players and their illicit drug use, in particular Harley Bennell. There has been a lot of hysteria about this and I would urge people to take a deep breath and give the kid a chance. I hark back to Tom Liberatore and his issues in King Street a few years ago. The Bulldogs dealt with it and he became one of their best players. Young players will make mistakes and I think they all deserve a chance and if they keep making the same mistakes, then it is time to give them their marching orders.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – Arsenal, Sepp Blatter, Adam Goodes & Adam Voges

Chris Barwin HillsWell it was great to see Arsenal salute in last weeks FA Cup final and what a comprehensive result. I don’t think Aston Vila had a shot on target for the entire game, whereas the Gunners put four past their goal keeper and he also made several good saves. This now makes the Gunners the most successful club in FA Cup history and whilethe Cup doesn’t carry the aura that it once had, it is still a significant alexis-sanchez-arsenal-burnley_3223813piece of silverware. The goal from Alexis Sanchez had to be seen to be believed and it certainly caught the Vila goal keeper by surprise. I thought I would not see a better goal for quite sometime, until I saw Lionel Messi’s slalom effort in the Spanish Cup final, unbelievable!

While we are on the World Game, it was no real surprise to see Sepp Blatter re-elected last Friday, but it was a big surprise to see him resign by Tuesday. He clearly has caught wind of further Unknown-1investigations which may involve him and yesterday we hear that Jack Warner from Trinidad & Tobago may be tipping the bucket on him. With 14 arrests already this organisation is clearly toxic and it will take someone of extreme integrity and resolve to sort it all out.

I was not going to weigh in on the Adam Goodes situation, but his behaviour last Friday night probably demands some comment. I have no particular issue with him doing the dance during the indigenous round, but it was clearly directed towards the Carlton supporters in the crowd. I have not booed Adam Goodes and nobody can say with certainty the booing is not racist, but for me it is his on-Adam-Coodesfield demeanour, coupled with his ability to escape suspension for issues that other players get weeks for which I don’t like about him. He is self congratulatory and a bit of a “look at me” character, you notice it at the ground particularly after he kicks a goal, he actually goes looking for his team mates to give him high-tens. He is also not the first and won’t be the last player to get booed consistently and most of the time those players that do get booed are absolute champions, like Wayne Carey and Diesel Williams. I think Goodes is a fantastic player and I don’t think the Hawthorn crowd that booed him would do so for racist reasons given they have at least three indigenous players in their ranks, including Cyril Rioli who is just about their most popular player.

It was great to see a 35 year old debutante make a century on debut over night in the West Indies. I saw Adam Voges playing in a domestic one-dayer about ten years ago and thought I had just seen the next Adam Gilchrist. Well that didn’t quite pan out as I expected,Unknown but he finally got his chance at test level and scored a remarkable century given no one else in the team could get past 39 and that was the number 11. This reminiscent of Mike Hussey and Chris Rogers coming into the team in their 30s and making a strong contribution.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – football, AFL umpires, golf, Spieth, soccer…..

Chris Barwin HillsAfter watching the first couple of rounds of football I must say I think the umpiring has been okay. However, I have a couple of observations regarding interpretations. Firstly, there are high tackles, usually umpires won’t pay a free kick for a high tackle if the offended player has ducked his head. What is the difference when the player drops his knees to influence the high tackle. Luke Shuey, the Sellwoods and Paul Puopolo seem to be masters of this tactic Unknown-7and it seems the umpires fall for it all the time. It is certainly more difficult to adjudicate than a player dropping his head, but to my mind no different. The other issue is the sling tackle. I thought the sling tackle had been banned and yet two weeks in a row we have Hawthorn players execute the sling tackle. Firstly we had Duryea on Bartel, which resulted in a concussion and then last week McEvoy on Melksham and Baguley in separate incidents. Has this rule been shelved?

Last week I raised the issue of the Scott brothers both losing by big margins in round one. Well North bounced back for Brad, but Geelong suffered their worst defeat for sometime at home and they are still in last position. Geelong have played Hawthorn and Freo, so Unknown-4it is no disgrace to lose to those sides, but the way they have lost would worry the hierarchy at Geelong. I am certainly not ruling Geelong out for the season based on two bad loses, but I doubt they will be good enough to make the top 4-6 this year. Having said that, they will win this week and could easily win the following three.

I must also give myself a pat on the back picking Jordan Speith to win the Masters. Very rarely does a player lead the first round of a major and take out the title, but with a chasing pack of major winners he maintained a four stroke buffer over the last two days and don’t forget he is only 21. Two starts at the Masters have delivered a second and a first. This guy is clearly a special talent who now sits at number two in the world and with the way he has played you Unknown-5wonder how long it will take before he displaces Rory McIlroy as number one. What world golf does have at the moment is a number of quality golfers who can put pressure on each other, rather than a Tiger Woods or a Greg Norman being number 1 for an extended period of time. It has to be good for golf.

In the Champions League I was extremely surprised to see Bayern Munich lose to FC Porto. Bayern are a team absolutely chock full of stars although a few of these were missing and I would expect them to bounce back in the return leg, however, they do have a two goal deficit to overcome.

Have a great weekend!