The Ashes team of openers

Inspired by this team of bowlers put together for the upcoming Ashes series

http://www.theage.com.au/sport/cricket/bowling-them-over-20130423-2icdx.html

(and still grappling with the concept someone was paid to do this including come up with a fantasy scorecard of a fantasy test – woah! Nerd alert! But why stop at one test? Why not do the whole back to back Ashes series of 10 tests?!) I have decided to produce an Ashes team of openers.

 

Fortunately most of the work had been done for me as most of the Australian top 6 batsmen are openers so here it is:

 

1.Chris Rogers

An opener with over 19,000 first class runs who played his sole test to date as an opener alongside Matthew Hayden.

2. Ed Cowan

An opener who has only ever opened for Australia and is currently grinding out the runs like Mark Taylor…. 1997 Ashes tour not 1989.

3. Phil Hughes

An opener through and through who played his first 13 tests as an opener before being shoehorned into No3 for his last 7 tests. Opened in the last Ashes in England.

 

4. Shane Watson

A bloke who coverts opening so much he publicly destabilised the team to get his preferred position at the top of the order back. Opening is where he’s made both his test centuries but he’s made the No 4 spot his own now with a few trade mark half centuries and well crafted 20’s.

 

5. Simon Katich (C)

I discovered yesterday that Katich is still play first class cricket. He may have retired from first class cricket in Australia but he’s still churning out the runs in England – yesterday he knocked up a century for Lancashire. Katich played his best cricket for Australia opening but made his Test debut in the middle order as injury cover for Steve Waugh in 2001. Pup Clarke isn’t in the team so there should be no issues with Katich playing and taking the captaincy.

 

6. Dave Warner

An opener in all three forms of the game who has batted at 6 for NSW Futures League team when he’d already played for Australia in T20 but couldn’t force his way into the NSW shield line up. Looks likely to bat 6 in this Ashes series too.

 

7. Brad Haddin

A regular one day opener for Australia there for a while and formed a handy opening partnership with Watson. Made a lot of thirties and then played a reckless shot to get out.

 

8. Glenn Maxwell

Opened the batting and bowling for Australia in the 4th test in India. He had never previously done this at any level of cricket so probably shouldn’t have been given a first run at it in a test match – the highest level of cricket.

 

9. Steve O’Keeffe

Should have been the second spinner on the India tour and regularly opens the batting in T20 for the Sydney Sixers. Perhaps if he focused more on his bowling than batting he would have played in India.

 

10. Mitchell Johnson

My favourite cricket article of all time

REJUVENATED Mitchell Johnson has vowed to open the batting and bowling for Australia – a stunning insight into his bold ambition of becoming an international allrounder

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/cricket/i-want-to-open-batting-mitchell-johnson/story-e6frey50-1225790231927

If only his ambition had been matched by a temperament to bowl line and length at least occasionally.

 

11. David Saker

Aficionados of the state game will remember current England bowling coach and former Victorian & Tasmanian fast bowler David Saker had a stint opening the batting for Victoria in the Mercantile Mutual Cup in the late 90’s/early 2000’s. He gets a gig as playing coach as any team with Mitchell Johnson in it needs someone to tell him where to bowl before each delivery.

 

 

The batsmen were easy but the bowlers were harder – are there any bowlers/quasi opening batsmen I have missed?

The ultimate fast bowler/quasi test opener, Irfan Pathan, was not considered as he’s not Australian.

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFL teamsheets and maximising profit from a fairer fixture – footy news week 06

Footy is…. pumped full of supplements

Essendon had a full Dank of supplements. Melbourne dabbled with the Dank. Both are tainted but Essendon should rightly be in a world of trouble if recent reports are correct and 6 players took injections of WADA banned substances last year. It stinks and there is no way to avoid it. Remember, drugs are bad.

 

 

The highlight

Traditional ANZAC day football (well tradition since 1995) and the first game of AFL for premiership points outside Australia in Wellington, New Zealand were my week’s highlights but it’s good to keep things in perspective as shown in Shaun Micallef’s “Mad as Hell” opening scene this week:

http://www.abc.net.au/iview/#/program/32863

 

 

The lowlight

Goal umpires

In the Fremantle –Richmond game the goal umpire somehow managed to have himself straddling the white line backed up against the goal post with nowhere to go and the football hit him. This would never have happened if the goal umpire had been standing a metre or two behind the goal line like in local footy. Sure he would have had to guess if it had been touched before or after the line but he wouldn’t have got in the way, he would have signalled from wherever he stood and any old how (preferably arms as up high and as wide apart as possible) and he would been wearing a white coat. Ah remember when AFL goal umpires wore white coats and hats – those were the days -bring ‘em back!

Less this .............. more this
Less this ………….. more this

Oh and if there is a stuff up perhaps the goal review could be used – just a thought. In fact another thought in case a goal umpire does accidentally get in the way in future, the AFL should invest in ball tracking technology like Hawk-eye used in cricket and tennis. Yes invest a small fortune to protect us from a couple of mess ups a year or the goal umpire could just stand back from the line – your call AFL.

 

 

The unbelievable

Two Geelong players, Billy Smedts and Josh Caddy, decided it would be a funny prank to buy balaclavas and break into a team mate’s house. A good plan perhaps but poorly executed when they got the wrong house, the cops were called and the players had 5 service revolvers pointing at them.

 

Geelong players please note: Follow the lead of Sam Jacobs and get yourself a sensible hobby like remote control cars not breaking and entering.

 

 

The boring

An official AFL teamsheet passed across my desk during the week – only those people listed on the sheet are allowed onto the ground. First it was on paper which surprised me given the digital age we live in. Second there were more officials/support staff than players. Yep 26 support staff. It started with the predictable: 4 coaches , 2 runners, 6 trainers, 2 medical officers( I guess they are doctors when not at the AFL), 2 physios, a team manager and an interchange steward.

 

Then the job titles morphed from the believable: Fitness/Warm Up,  Bench Coach,  to the less believable: Player Rotations, Player Monitoring, Player Comms, Player Massage (is that an unqualified trainer or physio?) Head of Football/Wellness and last but not least Player Readiness. What does the Player Readiness person do? Check the player is wearing the correct shorts (white for away games remember)? Make sure he goes to the toilet before the first bounce? Check that he’s got his mouthguard and his boots are tied in double knots?

 

 

VFL watch

Two weeks ago Frankston beat last season’s grand finalist Port Melbourne by 6 points. It was Frankston’s first win against any team except their bunnies Coburg since 2009! They then backed it up with a win over Collingwood at Victoria Park giving Frankston their first back to back wins since 2008. Tomorrow they take on reigning premiers Geelong at Frankston.

 

On the other hand Bendigo Gold are having a tough time of it in their first season without being aligned to Essendon. There four games to date have resulted in losses by 103, 164, 85 and  116 points. Ouch.

 

“The Brain Lake Wrestling Show” was coming to a suburban football venue near you soon. Round 1 it was a wrestle off with Port Melbourne’s Dean Galea at Box Hill City Oval, Round 2 the only photo I saw of the  Box Hill v Essendon clash at Windy Hill was of Brian Lake wrestling with Joe Daniher (nice one picking on a 19 year old but anyway) and last week I’m sure he would have had a dust up with a Geelong forward for the ABC TV cameras and got Phil Cleary’s pulse racing yearning for the glory days of the 80’s. Alas the glorious suburban wrestling circuit can’t go on as Lake has got a senior call up and will debut for the AFL Hawks this week.

 

 

What they should do

Make the AFL fixture fairer by each team playing each other 5 times over 4 years with a slight variation to appease the games commercial interests.

 

First play each other team once across the first 17 games. I don’t buy the current fixture set up where some teams play each other twice within eight weeks before they have even played other teams at all. The AFL fixture is not that complicated, so each team plays each other once in the first 17 rounds.

 

Round 18 would be a nod to money driving football and an absolute blockbuster of a round just 4 weeks out from the finals. Rather than the themed rounds that existed a few years ago like Rivalry Round or Heritage Round, a month out from the finals, Round 18 would reflect the financial aspects of the game and be called Commercial Reality Round/Revenue Raising Round/ Maximising Profit Round/Cash Grab Round. Whatever it was called it would be an absolute ball tearer with all the non-Victorian rivals playing – the Showdown/Derby/Q Clash/Battle of the Bridge would all be on the same weekend plus whatever Melbourne based rivalries will bring in the most money at the time. At the moment it would be: Essendon v Carlton, Collingwood v Richmond, Hawthorn v Geelong, St Kilda v North Melbourne, Western Bulldogs v Melbourne.

 

It could be a Festival of the Boot weekend in Melbourne if the games were appropriately timed so people could attend all five games. Special “Weekend Pass” type memberships could even be sold encouraging Melbournians to get to as many games as possible over the weekend  – really putting the Cash Grab into the Maximising Profits Round. An App could even be created  for the weekend encouraged fans to show their dedication by competing for prizes n competitions like most overpriced merchandise  purchased, most player badges bought, most pies consumed at the footy, most money paid for slightly better seats. Now that’s Maximising Profits Round.

 

After the excitement of Revenue Raising Round the home and away season’s final four rounds would consist of teams playing four teams for the second time. These four teams would change each year until all 16 teams (not including your ‘rival’ from Commercial Reality Round) had been cycled though in a four year period.

 

For example the fixture for Adelaide would be to play each of the 17 teams once followed by Port Adelaide in Round 18/Maximising Profit Round then cycle through 4 of the remaining clubs each year as per below:

 

Teams to play twice

Year 1:

Brisbane

Carlton

Collingwood

Essendon

 

Year 2

Fremantle

Geelong

Gold Coast

Greater Western Sydney

 

Year 3:

Hawthorn

Melbourne

North Melbourne

Richmond

 

Year4:

Sydney

St Kilda

West Coast

Western Bulldogs

 

Year 5 – back to Year 1:

Brisbane

Carlton

Collingwood

Essendon

 

The beauty of the plan is its simplicity and that’s the main reason why it would never be adopted.

 

 

The quote

“We were just in the $2 shop and saw them (balaclavas) and thought it would be a bit of fun to scare young Thurlow at his new house he’d just moved into”

 

Josh Caddy on how he and Billie Smedts got into breaking and entering. I blame the $2 shop – vice dens.

 

 

 

 

The real problem with Melbourne FC – footy news week 05

Footy is… controversial.

Melbourne sack a CEO because he didn’t man up on his opponent on Saturday night and his game plan meant the team lost by 148 points. The AFL advise a coach to stand down because he took some injections that may or may not have been performance enhancing if he were a player. Two big news stories that couldn’t go unmentioned in a footy news week.

 

 

The highlight

Some good news for the Melbourne football club in a very dark week – they have finally got their own training ground. Yes, Melbourne have just received a hand me down training oval, taking over Gosch’s Paddock from Collingwood on Friday after the Pies moved to their new $13 million oval at the old Olympic park site. Melbourne now doesn’t have to share the training field next to AAMI Park with Melbourne Storm and Melbourne Victory.

 

 

The lowlight

Fox Footy putting Adelaide’s Ricky Henderson’s private parts on live TV via the changeroom cameras. The camera really did seem to linger after it was pretty clear what was being shown. Hopefully this has put the kibosh on Channel 7’s controversial shower cam idea I was hearing whispers about as a new part of the mega wall in the second half of 2013. Actually what has happened to the mega wall? Such a great innovation….

 

 

The unbelievable

Melbourne have lost their first two games of the season by 227 points which is eerily similar to 1996 when Melbourne lost its first 2 games by 221 points (Rd 1 lost to Geelong by 127 points, Rd 2 lost to Collingwood by 94 points) on its way to finishing the season in 14th place. At the end of the 1996 season the Melbourne members voted in favour of a merger with Hawthorn – voting themselves out of existence in their own right. Hmmm is that an option again in 2013?

Anyway I feel that people aren’t getting to the real heart of the issues with Melbourne.

Yes, the club seemingly can’t develop any of the procession of first round draft picks that have fallen into their lap into decent AFL standard players despite having 15 rising star nominations in the last 5 years.

Yes, they have let go, discarded or had leave a string of players to other clubs over the past couple of years. Brent Maloney & Stefan Martin (Brisbane) Matthew Warnock (Gold Coast), Cale Morton (West Coast), Jared Rivers (Geelong), Jordan Gysberts (North Melbourne), Ricky Pettard (Richmond) and Tom Scully (GWS)

Yes. they have cut short the careers of many stalwarts and club leaders including the shocking handling of club captain James McDonald as well as Brad Green, Russel Robertson, and even Cameron Bruce, Adam Yze, Jeff White – none of whom could be said to have finished their careers on great terms with the club.

Yes, their recruiting appears completely misguided shipping out the players mentioned above to bring in journeyman, nearly there, never were and VFL standard players. David Rodan, Shanon Byrnes, Tom Gillies and Cameron Pederson to name a few. Recruiting players from other clubs is fine but sometimes the old rule of thumb of recruiting blokes who can play 100 games for you is a good idea.

 

But the real issues to me are three:

1. The location of the Melbourne Football Club Shop.

It’s at the MCG but my guess is 99% of people who have ever been to the MCG would have no idea where it s and would have never even walked past it. The Melbourne Shop is located on Brunton Avenue underneath the concourse that wraps around the Southern Stand. The shop is located next to the driveway for the MCG’s underground carpark and the delivery entry for the stadium. This is what is holding Melbourne back. How can you be a great club if you can’t even sell footy jumpers with Jack Watt’s number on them to your fans on a match day because your fans can’t find your shop? The only people who currently see the Melbourne shop on a visit to the MCG are delivery drivers!

 

2. The logo

The Melbourne logo: Southern Cross added to apeal to bogans?
The Melbourne logo: Southern Cross added to apeal to bogans?

The current logo is complicated, messy and unclear on what it is trying to achieve (why are there flames coming out of the M?) – a bit like Melbourne’s recruitment policy! *boom tish* What is needed is a simple bold design and a simple Latin phrase: celebrare mediocritatem. I’ll let you guess what that could mean 

3. The ring of stars on the jumper

An incomplete circle of stars - appropriately modeled by Tom Scully
An incomplete circle of stars – appropriately modeled by Tom Scully

The idea is that each star represents a premiership and form an incomplete circle as the Demons are always striving to complete that circle, always striving to win their next premiership. Clever marketing perhaps and all good in theory but maybe striving for their next win would be more realistic. A stark reminder too of Melbourne’s inablty to develop any “stars” despite all the first round draft picks. Given the Dees last flag was in 1964 I don’t think the embroiderer is going to be busy anytime soon.

 

What they should do

Simplify the AFL fixture by having consistent and predictable start times.

The only timeslot that is ‘fixed’ currently are twilight games that start at 4.40pm on both Saturday & Sunday. The rest of the start times are all over the shop. Afternoon fixtures start at 1.45pm & 2.10pm on Saturdays but 1.10pm and 3.20pm on Sundays. Night games start at 7.50pm on Fridays if in Melbourne but 8.40pm if in Adelaide or Perth. Saturday night games in all states start at 7.40pm EST.

Keep it simple AFL.

Start all games at 10 past the hour or half hour

Afternoon matches to be played at 1.40pm with a ‘late’ afternoon game on Sundays starting at 3.10pm to appease Channel 7’s wishes.

Keep twilight fixtures at a 4.40pm start.

Night games to start at 7.40pm EST except Perth games which it makes sense to start at 8.40pm EST.

 

 

 

VFL watch

Port Melbourne travelled to Box Hill City Oval to atone for their capitulation to Werribee last week . In a sea sawing battle that went right down to the wire Port got over the line by 4 points. A couple of players to look out for from Port are Josh Scipione with 4 goals, Mitch Wooffindon with 36 disposals and the always impeccable, Chris Cain. Although he got through the game for the Box Hill Hawks, Brian Lake would seem to be headed for being a very high paid VFL player this year if his 13 possession performance in this match is anything to go by. His notable contributions on the day consisted of a couple of wrestling matches with Port Melbourne full forward Dean Galea who kicked four goals on Lake. The unusual sight of the day was a trainer spraying the umpires faces with water and towelling them down at the quarter time break. Nothing wrecks decision making like sweat in the eyes.

 

Reader feedback: Macca’s Friday rant

Carro has called for St James head on a plate.

What is wrong with her? This happens 4-5 times a season. The start of this season has been a cracker – three executions before round 3. Great effort: Schwab, Neeld and now Hird.

“In the interest of the football club [insert coach, administrator or players’ name] must resign.”

Very quick with the trigger. She is the chief football writer who never writes about anything that happens on the field. WTF? Mind you, she might have a point about St James.

The quote

“Does anyone know any good remote control car shops in Adelaide?”

Sam Jacobs via Twitter 12/04

Pretty quiet in Adelaide hey? And who says AFL players have too much time on their hands? Definitely not Sam Jacobs he’s too busy pursuing his radio controlled car hobby. What crazy Adelaide Crows player’s hobbies will we discover on twitter next? Bernie Vince is a mad train spotter? Nathan Van Berlo is besotted with numismatics? Who knows where this could lead!

The real problem with Melbourne FC – footy news week 05

Footy is… controversial.

Melbourne sack a CEO because he didn’t man up on his opponent on Saturday night and his game plan meant the team lost by 148 points. The AFL advise a coach to stand down because he took some injections that may or may not have been performance enhancing if he were a player.  Two big news stories that couldn’t go unmentioned in a footy news week.

 

 

The highlight

Some good news for the Melbourne football club  in a very dark week – they have  finally got their own training ground. Yes, Melbourne have just received a hand me down training oval, taking over Gosch’s Paddock from Collingwood on Friday after the Pies moved to their new $13 million oval at the old Olympic park site. Melbourne now doesn’t have to share the training field next to AAMI Park with Melbourne Storm and Melbourne Victory.

 

 

The lowlight

Fox Footy putting Adelaide’s Ricky Henderson’s private parts on live TV via the changeroom cameras. The camera really did seem to linger after it was pretty clear what was being shown. Hopefully this has put the kibosh on Channel 7’s controversial shower cam idea I was hearing whispers about as a new part of the mega wall in the second half of 2013. Actually what has happened to the mega wall? Such a great innovation….

 

 

The unbelievable

Melbourne have lost their first two games of the season by 227 points which is eerily similar to 1996 when Melbourne lost its first 2 games by 221 points (Rd 1 lost to Geelong by 127 points, Rd 2 lost to Collingwood by 94 points) on its way to finishing the season in  14th place. At the end of the 1996 season the Melbourne members voted in favour of a merger with Hawthorn – voting themselves out of existence in their own right. Hmmm is that an option again in 2013?

Anyway I feel that people aren’t getting to the real heart of the issues with Melbourne.

Yes, the club seemingly can’t develop any of the procession of first round draft picks that have fallen into their lap into decent AFL standard players despite having 15 rising star nominations in the last 5 years.

Yes, they have let go, discarded or had leave a string of players to other clubs over the past couple of years.  Brent Maloney & Stefan Martin (Brisbane) Matthew Warnock (Gold Coast), Cale Morton (West Coast),  Jared Rivers (Geelong), Jordan Gysberts (North Melbourne), Ricky Pettard (Richmond) and Tom Scully (GWS)

Yes. they have cut short the careers of many stalwarts and club leaders including the shocking handling of club captain James McDonald as well as Brad Green, Russel Robertson, and even  Cameron Bruce, Adam Yze, Jeff White – none of whom could be said to have finished their careers on great terms with the club.

Yes, their recruiting appears completely misguided shipping out the players mentioned above to bring in journeyman, nearly there, never were and VFL standard players. Recruiting players from other clubs is fine but sometimes the old rule of thumb of recruiting blokes who can play 100 games for you is a good idea.

 

But the real issues to me are three:

1. The location of the Melbourne Football Club Shop.

It’s at the MCG but my guess is 99% of people who have ever been to the MCG would have no idea where it s and would have never even walked past it. The Melbourne Shop is located on Brunton Avenue underneath the concourse that wraps around the Southern Stand. The shop is located next to the driveway for the MCG’s underground carpark and the delivery entry for the stadium. This is what is holding Melbourne back. How can you be a great club if you can’t even sell footy jumpers with Jack Watt’s number on them to your fans on a match day because your fans can’t find your shop? The only people who currently see the Melbourne shop on a visit to the MCG are delivery drivers!

 

2. The logo

The Melbourne logo: Southern Cross added to apeal to bogans?
The Melbourne logo: Southern Cross added to apeal to bogans?

The current logo is complicated, messy and unclear on what it is trying to achieve (why are there flames coming out of the M?) – a bit like Melbourne’s recruitment policy! *boom tish* What is needed is a simple bold design and a simple Latin phrase: celebrare mediocritatem. I’ll let you guess what that could mean 

3. The ring of stars on the jumper

An incomplete circle of stars - appropriately modeled by Tom Scully
An incomplete circle of stars – appropriately modeled by Tom Scully

The idea is that each star represents a premiership and form an incomplete circle as the Demons are always striving to complete that circle, always striving to win their next premiership. Clever marketing perhaps and all good in theory but maybe striving for their next win would be more realistic. A stark reminder too of Melbourne’s inablty to develop any “stars” despite all the first round draft picks. Given the Dees last  flag was in 1964 I don’t think the embroiderer is going to be busy anytime soon.

 

What they should do

Simplify the AFL fixture by having consistent and predictable start times.

The only timeslot that is ‘fixed’ currently are twilight games that start at 4.40pm on both Saturday & Sunday. The rest of the start times are all over the shop. Afternoon fixtures start at 1.45pm & 2.10pm on Saturdays but 1.10pm and 3.20pm on Sundays. Night games start at 7.50pm on Fridays if in Melbourne but 8.40pm if in Adelaide or Perth. Saturday night games in all states start at 7.40pm EST.

Keep it simple AFL.

Start all games at 10 past the hour or half hour

Afternoon matches to be played at 1.40pm with a ‘late’ afternoon game on Sundays starting at 3.10pm to appease Channel 7’s wishes.

Keep twilight fixtures at a 4.40pm start.

Night games to start at 7.40pm EST except Perth games which it makes sense to start at 8.40pm EST.

 

 

 

VFL watch

Port Melbourne travelled to Box Hill City Oval to atone for their capitulation to Werribee last week . In a sea sawing battle that went right down to the wire Port got over the line by 4 points. A couple of players to look out for from Port are Josh Scipione with 4 goals, Mitch Wooffindon with 36 disposals and the always impeccable, Chris Cain.   Although he got through the game for the Box Hill Hawks, Brian Lake would seem to be headed for being a very high paid VFL player this year if his 13 possession performance in this match is anything to go by. His notable contributions on the day consisted of a couple of wrestling matches with Port Melbourne full forward Dean Galea who kicked four goals on Lake.  The unusual sight of the day was a trainer spraying the umpires faces with water and towelling them down at the quarter time break. Nothing wrecks decision making like sweat in the eyes.

 

 

Reader feedback: Macca’s Friday rant

Carro has called for St James head on a plate.

What is wrong with her? This happens 4-5 times a season. The start of this season has been a cracker – three executions before round 3. Great effort: Schwab, Neeld and now Hird.

“In the interest of the football club [insert coach, administrator or players’ name] must resign.”

Very quick with the trigger. She is the chief football writer who never writes about anything that happens on the field. WTF? Mind you, she might have a point about St James.

 

The quote

“Does anyone know any good remote control car shops in Adelaide?”

Sam Jacobs via Twitter 12/04

Pretty quiet in Adelaide hey? And who says AFL players have too much time on their hands? Definitely not Sam Jacobs he’s too busy pursuing his radio controlled car hobby. What crazy Adelaide Crows player’s hobbies will we discover on twitter next? Bernie Vince is a mad train spotter? Nathan Van Berlo is besotted with numismatics? Who knows where this could lead!

Footy news week – 04

Footy is… back

People have aged since it began but Round 1 of the AFL season is now over and the AFL were spruiking on Twitter how it was the third highest attendance to an opening round ever. Well I would say that’s disappointing, not something to be celebrating, given there are now 9 games per round up from 8 in previous years. Anyway the more comparable statistic is average attendance per match which for Round 1, 2013 was 40,562 down slightly from last year’s 40,866. Where does this place 2013 compared to opening round average attendance over the past 10 years? 6th. Yep, well short of the high of 45,568 in 2007.

 

The highlight

Mature aged recruits: Nic Kommer (22, Essendon via East Perth), Matt  Jones (25, Melbourne via Box Hill) Sam Dwyer (26, Collingwood via Port Melbourne), Brett Goodes (29, Western Bulldogs via Williamstown)

 

It was good to see smart recruiting on show in the first round with established players drafted form the state leagues having an impact. Jones and Goodes even made it into their team’s best so I will give the final word to 29 year old Brett Goodes when asked if clubs had made a mistake overlooking him in recent years:

 

”Yes. Look, I think I was probably ready at the age of maybe 22 or 23.

Food for thought for recruiters.

 

 

 

The lowlight(s)

According to The Age

But the AFL chief executive [Andrew Demetriou] was adamant there would be no change of playing a game on Good Friday, as the league did not want to impinge on the Royal Children’s Hospital Appeal.

This one has got me beat. What’s next?  No games on Mother’s Day so as not to impinge on the Mothers Day Classic raising money for Breast Cancer Research? No games on Run for the Kids day so as not to impinge on those charitable efforts? The AFL & in particular Demetriou will happily lock horns with pretty much anyone over anything (WADA, ASADA, the MCC, Cricket Victoria, Etihad Stadium management, TV networks, their own clubs) yet they cede to a charity.

I stand by my earlier statement that the Royal Children’s Hospital pays part of Demetriou’s salary.

Melbourne Football Club  –  the whole operation & continued existence of this entity is a lowlight.

 

 

The unbelievable

New Etihad stadium boss, Paul Sergeant, an Englishman who previously ran Wembley and Millennium Stadium in Cardiff wants to introduce countdown clocks to Etihad.

“You have to change with the times because there are also thousands and thousands of people who want to know how long there is to go. And as time is going by there’s going to be more of those people than the other people.”

“It’ a very emotive subject. We went through it in [English] football years ago, but now everybody’s used to it. It’s a small point, but I think it can make quite a difference … it’s about keeping the audience informed.”

Having not been able to find anything on the internet about a ground clock revolution in English football I will relate my limited experiences of half a dozen or so premier league games in 2009. In the first half the ground clock would count up to 45:00 minutes then stop, at which time the assistant referee would hold up an electronic board with the minutes of extra time to be added and the ground announcer would say, “ there will be x minutes of added time.” The clock would remain fixed on 45:00 and the minutes of extra time would be played out (without the benefit of a clock running so spectators knew how much play was left) until the referee blew his whistle. Repeat for the second half with the clock starting at 45:00 and stopping dead on 90:00. Not a countdown clock in sight.

I’m only guessing but I’d say 2009 was post time clock  revolution so what happened pre revolution – no clocks anywhere n the stadium? Clocks that didn’t keep time? No indication of how many minutes of extra time? Wow things have really changed dramatically no wonder fans  were emotive about this subject.

 

The boring

Andrew Demetriou’s talk of spending $150 million turning Punt Rd Oval or Princess Park into the 3rd AFL venue in Melbourne is just that – talk. It’s not going to happen. This is a perennial favourite of the AFL and it goes something like this. Clubs complain about making losses hosting games at Etihad Stadium, The AFL say they can’t do much about the cost of hosting matches until they take ownership of the stadium in 2025 but will investigate a 3rd ‘boutique’ 15,000-20,000 seat stadium in Melbourne, Etihad Stadium management remind the AFL they are contractually obliged to play x number of games at Etihad each year including a quota of “blockbusters” and so the cycle continues –  raising it’s head every 4 years or so.

Last time this issue was raised, April 2009, a new stadium in the E- Gate railyards in North Melbourne was proposed and look how far that has progressed – it hasn’t even got a mention this time around.

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/clubs-back-boutique-stadium/story-e6freuy9-1225705563401

http://www.theage.com.au/news/rfnews/more-stadiums-debate-a-distraction/2009/04/30/1240982346033.html

Let’s now look at some facts: Carlton and Richmond have both in recent years built multi-million dollar training facilities  at their respective bases to which the AFL committed $2 million (Richmond) and $3.45 million (Carlton)  in 2007.  http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/AboutCouncil/Meetings/Lists/CouncilMeetingAgendaItems/Attachments/1267/FGC_511_200711200630.pdf

Presumably these elite training facilities would have to be altered/demolished/removed to build stands for the boutique stadium. Doesn’t sound like great forward planning by the AFL to me.  Also Punt Rd Oval has just been reconfigured to have a playing surface the same dimensions as Etihad Stadium and there would now be all of 12 metres from the edge of the playing surface to the road surface of Punt Rd. If the AFL can build a stand in that space well good luck to them.

Buying Etihad 12 years early for $250 million is too expensive for the AFL but redeveloping a boutique stadium for $150 million is fine. So here’s an idea that will cost even less, continue to play games at Etihad and divvy up amongst those clubs who have shitty deals there say $10 million a year until 2025 – that would only cost $130 million.  I just saved the AFL $20 million. Amazing.

 

VFL watch

The VFL started with a bang with an AFL style first weekend of just 2 games. But they were a quality couple of matches with last year’s preliminary finalists doing a docie do and swapping partners to kick off proceedings.  The Port Melbourne v Werribee game was actually a rescheduled Round 16 match as both teams need a spare weekend in case they make it through to the grand final of the country’s premier state league competition – the Foxtel Cup. Werribee did a number on Port too, inflicting Port’s biggest loss with Gary Ayres as coach thanks to 11 goals to Ben Warren. Reigning premiers Geelong beat Williamstown in the 3rd annual Easter Sunday clash at Torquay. Maybe Williamstown will be regretting limiting their senior team to having a maximum of 11 Western Bulldogs listed players in this final year of their allignment. Jarrad Grant for example didn’t get a game.

 

 

What they should do

Cricket Victoria and the AFL should join forces to build the thing they both say they need.

Cricket Victoria want to turn the Junction Oval into an elite training facility and bring it up to first class standard [Women’s T20 internationals, England A v Victoria List A games have both been played at the Junction this year so I’m not 100% convinced it’s not up to first class standard currently] but don’t have the money to do so after the state government changed and no funding was forthcoming. The AFL want to extend the season to 24 games, start 2-3 weeks earlier in March, use the MCG and have a boutique 3rd stadium in Melbourne and are willing to spend $150 million. The answer is clear to me: Cricket Victoria and the AFL should wor together to build the elite cricket training facility/ first class cricket venue/ boutique 3rd AFL stadium at the Junction Oval.

Primarily this would be a cricket facility given over to football for about 3-4 months of the year. Cricket would control the ground from the start of September through to mid April. Football would have control from mid April through to the end of August – enough time to slot in all those annoying low drawing fixtures perfectly suited for the boutique stadium. The VFL might even want to get involved to use the Junction Oval as a finals venue.

The Vics could split their games between the MCG and the Junction Oval and vacate the G by the start of March clearing the way for an earlier start for football at the MCG. A possible Shield final could be hosted at the Junction Oval (as it was in 2008) and Premier cricket finals could still be played at the venue on the last weekend in March (as was the case this year)

Geographically it makes sense as the Junction Oval is closer to the geographic centre of Melbourne – Glen Iris – than the MCG and Etihad. Plus the Junction Oval is no stranger to football having some history as a VFL venue. It was St Kilda’s home ground up until the 1960’s, then  Fitzroy’s home ground for a period in the 1980’s and more recently the training venue for Melbourne.

The redevelopment of the Junction Oval would be sensitive to the aesthetically pleasing aspects of the ground. The scoreboard and the two grandstands on the western or Albert Park Lake side would remain – giving the ground certain ‘boutique’ characteristics that I feel are lacking at bigger, sterile, ‘non-boutique’ venues. [I’m feeling all Kevin McCloud/Grand Designs right now] In fact under the smaller of these two grandstands is where Chris Connolly conducted his famous Vault sessions with the Melbourne FC hierarchy. Chris could take a break from his hectic gardening leave schedule to give guided tours of ‘The Vault’ on match days and detail just how much swearing went on in their each time Melbourne won a game in 2009. But I digress.

The eastern side of the ground could be given over to the requirements of a modern AFL venue but with certain restrictions and bespoke planning [very Kevin McCloud] required to minimise the environmental impact of the stadia. The change rooms would be separated by a communal shower and ice bath area used by both teams. The corporate hospitality suites would be standard seats surrounded by meter high wooden panels  and the media centre would be perfunctory with lots of natural light adding to the energy efficiency. There would be no ground announcer or DJ required – any important information would be on the scoreboard. There would also be no music blaring save for the team songs, no live odds, no gambling ads, no Tom Waterhouse wondering how they do it and no interviews with pundits or crowd members during the breaks. People could sit in the stands and discuss the game. Vital information like stats and supercoach points could be found on your smartphone.

Corporate hospitality suite boutique stadium style. Note the bespoke wood panellng
Corporate hospitality suite boutique stadium style. Note the bespoke wood panellng

This would be the first AFL venue to be completely green friendly & good for you.  The ground would not have lights – this is a boutique ground remember and think how much electricity  generated by burning brown coal is used to power a set of stadium lights.

There would also be no car parking available at the ground whatsoever or anywhere nearby. Dirty gas guzzling, polluting road vehicles would not be welcome, instead there would be Melbourne’s biggest bicycle rack . This would encourage different groups of society to embrace AFL football ie Hipsters riding down on their fixies and hippies who jump on the bandwagon of anything that is ‘green’. The stadium would also wage war against obesity/ promote healthy living with its no car policy forcing people to ride to the venue or catch public transport – tram, train and bus services are a healthy distance from the venue meaning a brisk and invigorating walk to and from the ground for all non-cycling patrons.

The food sold at the venue would consist solely of UN approved super foods – that means lots of broccoli, cinnamon and quinoa  and no meat pies, chips or hot dogs. Also it would be at prices that make your mouth water rather than your eyes. No refreshing multinational beverages of any variety would be available instead there would be a series of fountains around the ground bubbling forth good old tap water and patrons would be encouraged to bring their own re-usable water bottles.

Ticket prices would not be fixed instead you would pay for how much value you think the spectacle of football will be on that given day. [Unfortunately I might have to rethink this idea due to Melbourne potentially playing games at the venue]

And most importantly, you could have a kick on the ground after the final siren!

 

The Quote

”Rather than play stupid games seeing who can grow the longest beard, how about train? They are a shambles.”

Wayne Carey on Triple M about Melbourne players