Hipster football, work life balance and an AFL fixture solution with two byes- Footy news week 11

Last Tuesday the Socceroos qualified for the World Cup in fairly dramatic fashion by needing to win their last match (well actually a draw would have done due to later results but that’s bye the bye) Peter Allen’s song about Rio got a fair work out as the Socceroos jumped up and down on a stage (why do soccer players celebrate like that?) but this time there was no partying with Qantas sponsored John Travolta like in 2005 when the Socceroos defeated Urauguay

There’s more midweek football than you can poke a boot at again this week with Rebels v Lions on Tuesday, State of Origin II on Wednesday and West Coast v Essendon on Thursday.

The highlight:

Who knew that hipsters liked football? The annual Community Cup between the PBS/RRR Megahertz (two of Melbourne’s alternative/hipster radio stations – don’t ask me what it is I don’t listen to it) and The Rockdogs (musicians) was held at Elsternwick Park on Sunday. It raises money for the charity Reclink Australia.

Fans were encouraged to ride their fixies to the event or catch public transport – some caught the bus and enjoyed coffee from a jam jar, screwing on the lid between sips (See photo montage.) There was a massive crowd in attendance with the “official attendance at an estimated 10,000” and almost as many flannelette shirts plus more ironic facial hair than you could point a pair of skinny leg jeans at. This was the biggest crowd in the events 20 year history and raised over $100,000 – a fine effort and on such a sunny day that those who forgot to take their ray bands were cursing.

Clockwise from top left: The Community Cup, Tony Wilson prepares for the Megahertz, a typical crowd member with beard and beer, the crowd, Beasts of Bourbon with a footy, travel coffee on the bus, and a guy at home with his jam jar who thought the game would be televised on Channel 31.
Clockwise from top left: The Community Cup, Tony Wilson prepares for the Megahertz, a typical crowd member with beard and beer, the crowd, Beasts of Bourbon with a footy, travel coffee on the bus, and a guy at home with his jam jar who thought the game would be televised on Channel 31.

Only one question remains: Why is this event not in the PBS, RRR and live music heartland north of the river? Let the Hipster Nations of Carlton, Fitzroy, Collingwood, Brunswick and Northcote unite and make this happen!

The lowlight:

The NRL had a trifecta of misdemeanours of late: North Queensland’s James Tamou was caught driving unlicensed at nearly 4 times the legal blood alcohol limit; Canberra’s Blake Ferguson was charged with indecent assulat; South Sydney’s George Burgess was charged with wilful damage after allegedly throwing a street sign through a car window in Cairns. In the AFL  Stephen Milne was recharged with rape and in Rugby Union, Wallabies player Digby Ioane had a warrant issued for his arrest after he failed to show in court for a hearing about an assault charge.

Not good behavior.

The unbelievable:

The Age must be reading my blog. First Rohan Conolly wrote an article bagging Mick Malthouse for deflecting by treating questions from journalists, himself and Anthony Hudson, with disdain but happily answering questions from a former player, Dermott Brereton. Then this headline from Matthew Lloyd.

Thanks Lloydy (Note: gratuitous use of nickname to suggest I know Matthew Lloyd personally)
Thanks Lloydy (Note: gratuitous use of nickname to suggest I know Matthew Lloyd personally)

I, still, prefer Robbo. From, the Herald Sun. With his short sentences. Of, a few words. And, his liberal, use, of commas.

Melbourne FC and the Australian Cricket team.

There have been strong parallels between these two organisations for a while. Melbourne dubiously recruited bit part players from other clubs: David Rodan, Shannon Byrnes, Tom Gillies and Cam Pederson whilst Australia muddled it’s way through an ‘informed player management ‘ rotation policy of team selection and handed Test debuts to bits and pieces allrounders Steve Smith, Moises Henriques and Glen Maxwell. Both organisations definitely lack on field leadership with Melbourne explaining it recruited the aforementioned players from successful clubs to provide leadership in how to be successful. Cricket Australia had Shane Watson resign the vice captaincy then dropped keeper Matthew Wade to reinstate Brad Haddin to the team to take on the vice captaincy. Melbourne has had issues getting its high priced recruit on the park – Mitch Clark – and Cricket Australia has had similar ongoing injury issues with its poster boy Shane Watson. Both organisations often resemble a rudderless ship on the high seas and appear to have a clue about how to become successful again except to sack their coach. Melbourne parted company with coach Mark Neeld on June 17 and just 7 days later Cricket Australia sacked coach Mickey Arthur. Melbourne’s list manager, Tim Harrington, was shown the door during the week which must put Cricket Australia chief selector John Inverarity on shaky ground I would think. Melbourne’s CEO Cameron Schwab was axed earlier this year – over to you Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland.

The boring:

David Parkin recently said AFL footballers were “the most unbalanced people in Australian society” Andrew Demetriou has been talking a lot about players  work-life balance and how two byes per season is essential for work life balance.

Some players demonstrate a work-life balance and they get questioned about it. David Hille raised eyebrows by heading off to France in May for a couple of weeks and Jimmy Bartel went to the US for the NBA finals over the bye week. It didn’t seem to hurt Bartel – he had a season high 31 possessions on the weekend.

The final word on balance in AFL player’s lives goes to Campbell Brown, who I have new found respect for:

”I reckon you can be unbalanced if you choose to be unbalanced”

“But AFL players now feel more like they live an unbalanced life, not because of work but because they can’t just go out and have a beer without it being frowned upon. Some aren’t leading any form of social life.”

Brown confessed he had been concerned, by the lack of interest of some younger teammates in developing richer lives outside footy.

”I say, ‘What are you doing outside of footy – studying?’ and they say, ‘Nah, I just want to concentrate on my footy for the first two years’. Seriously, of course you’re going to be unbalanced.

”Especially in your first two years when you’re probably not going to be playing too much senior footy. That’s when you should be studying. I’d make it compulsory … if they tell you they’re too busy they’re talking shit. I’ve been bored this week and I’ve done my headspace stuff [working for the national youth mental health organisation], I’ve trained, and I’ve read the form guide. If you’re proactive in that department you will be well balanced.”

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/afl/afl-news/life-balance-crucial-brown-20130614-2o9us.html#ixzz2XEUjyMAm

A real bug bear of players seems to be pre-season training. They don’t want to be fitted with GPS monitors during their annual leave and they want to train just 3 days a week:  Monday, Wednesday, Friday during the preseason. Next they will want to just train Tuesday & Thursdays from 5pm during the season! Talk about retro thinking, that will never catch on!

My opinion is this: Rather than extending and mandating a minimum time off from football the AFL should set a maximum number of hours or days a player can spend training at their club. AFL is not played internationally; it’s not as if the fitness levels ofAFL players here are getting ahead of or behind other AFL players in other countries. So, as per Campbell Brown’s suggestion, why not mandate that the players can only train for 2 days a week and have to be in study, educational training or working the other 3 days. Yeah fitness levels might drop a bit but wouldn’t that reduce those damn pesky rotations pleasing Demetriou & KB?

Pre-season could also be mandated to not start before December 1, January 5 for 5 year veterans. The pre-season competition wouldn’t start before March 1 and would consist of 2 practice matches.

All these reductions in player commitments would naturally lead me to conclude that it would be fair and reasonable for players to take a wage reduction. I can’t see any players putting their hand up for that!

Foot in mouth of the week:

When speaking, you can be forgiven for starting to talk before engaging your brain, however when you are commissioning a giant painted logo there really is time to think things through before acting on them. Not so much putting your foot in your mouth as putting something somewhere else.

Ah the Wallabies!
Ah the Wallabies!

VFL Watch

Footballers of all levels, AFL, VFL and local leagues donned orange shoelaces on June 15 as part of the Step Back. THINK campaign to reduce street violence. The worthiness of this campaign was highlighted by a court case that concluded the following week. Casey Scorpions player Kyle Matthews suffered a brain injury and fractured skull after being punched outside the Geebung Polo Club in March 2010. The case provides interesting reading of the heady mix of alcohol, violence and young men and can be read here.

Frankston recorded its biggest win in 5 years when they defeated Sandringham on Sunday by 96 points. An 8 goal opening term to Frankston set the tone for the day and the highlight was a hangar taken by Frankston’s Ziggy Alwin which can be watched here.

What they should do

AFL players want two byes and everyone hates these bye weeks with 3 rounds of 6 games. The answer is simple – accommodate both. Play 22 games in 24 rounds (which really happened this year with Round 1 being a split round)and  make it so no round would have less than 8 games. Yep make a standard round have 8 games (two teams have a bye) – there would be 18 rounds of 8 games plus 6 rounds of 9 games.That makes the 198 of the home and away season. The 9 game rounds could be played on weekends that have an extra timeslot for example – Round 1, Easter, Anzac day, Queen’s birthday or really whenever the AFL wants them. Pundits go on about the drawbacks and benefits of coming off a bye to play the following week – so the two teams who had the bye will play each other the next week. Let me explain using Anzac day as an example. If Anzac day was to fall on a Wednesday in Round 5 then Essendon and Collingwood would have the bye the in Round 4. Both teams would have a 9-10 day break leading into the Anzac Day game and another 9-10 day break before their next game in Round 6. Using this system Wednesday night or Thursday night could become a regular AFL timeslot.

The Quote

“Well, I haven’t played at the elite level. Neither did Mike Sheahan, his predecessor Alf Brown, nor the vast majority of today’s AFL media. But, as discounted as that makes this opinion to the likes of Malthouse and other contemporary former playing types, here’s a short and pithy summary of their view, and one in keeping with Friday night’s tone. It’s bullshit.”

Rohan Connolly calling bullshit on Mick Malthouse. I think. That’s a very long sentence.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/afl/afl-news/need-to-pull-on-a-boot-pull-the-other-one-20130618-2ofhy.html#ixzz2XGenQUiS

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Ross Slater

Blogging about the important things - AFL and cricket

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