Football is light blue and the peripheral premiership champions – footy news week 13

It’s been a while between posts on the footy news front so enjoy.

The highlight

95,000 Liverpool fans plus a few hundred Melbourne Victory supporters descended upon the MCG for a pre-season practice match last week. It seems to me that in Australian sport we like to keep our songs and the like for celebratory purposes after a win like the Queensland state of origin team singing their team song “Yie Yie Yippee Yippee Yea” after the 8th straight series win but moving from the ridiculous to the sublime, some of the most famous traditions/events in sport are done before the match – think the Haka and of course Liverpool’s anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone” Fortuitously for those at the MCG who had recently joined the Liverpool bandwagon the words were on the big screen – karaoke for 95,000?

The bench working overtime at the MCG is not an unusual sight but it was a little different when, at the 70th minute Liverpool substituted 10 players, having previously subbed skipper Steven Gerrard. It was a mass movement of Reds not seen since Melbourne’s horrid red clash jumper. Melbourne Victory made 1 substitution for the night.

Another recent highlight was Gary Ablett’s uber impressive 49 possession match winning performance against Collingwood and subsequent Brownlow favouritism. Reams of statistics were producing showing the calibre of Ablett’s season but the one stat that mattered to me was this: Gary Ablett has played 96% of game time this season. Clearly the interchange bench isn’t for everyone.

The lowlight

Light blue! Everyone has gone mad for light blue. First the runners in GWS & Gold Coast games were swapped out of their usual orange into light blue so as not to clash with aforementioned expansion teams only to then clash with their opposition like West Coast. Then the AFL umpires got in on the act donning light blue in Round 15 for the Collingwood v Carlton “Dick Pratt Memorial Raising Awareness for Prostate Cancer” Round – I thought it was one of the AFL’s new themed rounds. I was wrong. The real reason the AFL umpires were in light blue was to support OneSight, a not for profit foundation providing essential eye care to Australians in need. Unfortunately it seemed to be the umpires who needed the optical assistance as they failed to spot the clash casued by being togged out in light blue against North Melbourne & West Coast [Jeff Geishen I’m looking at you again]. To avoid the clash why not dress the umpires in brown? It was Prostate Round after all wasn’t it?. The referees for the A -League All Stars v Manchester United match joined in by wearing light blue tops despite the All Stars being in an all royal blue strip and the refs having every colour of the rainbow available to them – think AFL umpires circa 2007-2011. Yellow might have been a better choice.

Light  blue! Its everywhere from Luke O'Sullivan's 50th to umpires & referees.
Light blue! Its everywhere from Luke O’Sullivan’s 50th to umpires & referees.

But this light blue craze is not a new phenomenon the AFL boundary umpires celebrated the 1996 Centenary season in style by changing to a light powder blue number for reasons best known to the Jeff Geischen of the day. The field umpires remained in white. In Round 3 1997 Carlton either celebrated cult hero Luke O’Sullivan’s 50th match in his 11th season by changing their guernsey to light blue for a day or got a truckload of cash from M&Ms  to promote a new product by changing their guernsey to light blue for a day. Either way by 1997 the boundary umps had thankfully reverted to white so as not to clash with Rhino.

The unbelievable

Every day I log on to The Age website to be greeted by another article by chief football writer, Caroline Wilson, calling for James Hird’s head on a stick. The count is up to 11 consecutive days now. Whilst Carro is right, in my humble opinion, I just wonder if she couldn’t give it a rest just for one day – I think we all know her opinion on the matter by now. From one end of the newspaper journo spectrum to the other, have a look at how Robbo, the chief football writer for the Herald Sun, is attacking the big issues with admirable zeal. The question at the end is the clincher.


1. Jeremy Cameron
What a ripper, well-rounded young man. He spoke brilliantly in an interview on The Footy Show and then for three quarters had his team whipping at the heels of Collingwood on the MCG. He has everything. Can mark, is agile, is quick, has nous and likeness to attack the opposition players. And you know what he does best? He smiles, he makes you smile and he makes you get excited when the ball goes into his area. He kicked seven against the Pies and he was beaming after every one of them. Question though, has he big mouth or a big mouth guard?

Dropping the indefinite article ‘a’ in the last sentence “has he big mouth”; gives it a certain fairy tale feel, a Shakespearean quality – intentional I’m sure.

The boring

Buddy 13. A self indulgent nonsense concept if ever there was one. Foxtel produced a documentary about Lance Franklin kicking 13 goals against North Melbourne last year and they got Buddy in to the studio to live tweet and answer questions during the show. Wow, what a massive wank. What’s next an hour with Cyril Rioli talking us through the best 15 touch, 2 goal game in AFL history? If this had been the early 1990’s Foxtel would have been making special documentaries every second week as Ablett, Dunstall and Lockett routinely racked up double figure goal tallies.

VFL watch

The Frankston v North Ballarat game was interrupted a few week backs when North Ballarat skipper, Myles Sewell, called for a head count. Yes the head count still exists at VFL level and Frankston were found to have 19 men on the field. Strangely the Dolphin’s score wasn’t immediately reset to 0 and the game continued with North Ballarat going on to win a thriller by 3 points. During the week the Frankston score was adjusted and the Roosters were credited with a win by 40 odd points.

Sandringham and St Kilda have an interesting alignment based on hatred and mistrust I feel. Two weeks ago the Saints pulled Sam Dunnell and Jason Blake from the Sandringham line up just prior to the game. Blake was in the process of being strapped up when the call came that they weren’t playing. Sandringham was then forced to take out two players who were playing in the reserves and get them prepared for the seniors game.This week they withdrew 4 players at late notice – the reason why? The players neede a rest, they’d been training since November. Surely they train to play football. I hope the Saints don’t make the finals anytime soon as they won’t be able to field a team with everyone needing to be rested due to the long season

Alistair Clarkson was investigated for verbally abusing two Port Melbourne players at a quarter time huddle of the Box Hill v Port Melbourne game. Yep Clarko is going through another “short angry man” phase. First it was belting holes in the wall of the MCG coaches box, then swearing at an official at a junior footy match and now this, verbally abusing Toby Pinwill & John Baird .

Port Melbourne coach Gary Ayres wasn’t short on a few patronising words for Clarkson.

“if my memory serves me correctly, hasn’t Clarko got a prior misdemeanour for being a naughty boy at a junior game?”

“If he did what the boys said, it seems to me that that is an abuse of his responsibilities as a senior AFL coach. I’m not sure what he thinks he should be doing at an VFL game.”

“We think Alastair would be better to keep his feelings to himself … this was potentially said in front of kids, he is an ambassador for the game, I would have thought. 

“There are ways that we should behave ourselves, especially in the full view of young people. He has a prior somewhere along the way so probably he is a slow learner.”

Good point Gary – won’t somebody please think of the children!

Last week the VFL announced that 6 of the 9 VFL finals would be held at North Port Oval, Port Melbourne’s home ground. A couple of days later they were forced to announce that the weekend’s Port Melbourne v Box Hill game would be shifted away from North Port Oval due to an unsatisfactory surface – doesn’t bode well for hosting the finals. The reason North Port Oval wasn’t up to scratch – the super sopper broke down and there was some difficulty sourcing parts. I’m not surprised – the last time I heard of a super sopper being used was after a rain delay at the cricket in 1996! Hopefully it will be fixed before the finals.

The Foxtel Cup rumbles on anonymously – the grand final is on tonight between West Adelaide and East Fremantle at Football Park. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around…

What they should do

Scrap the NAB cup. Hardly a new suggestion but it could happen after Andrew Demetriou said the AFL season might start 2 weeks earlier in 2014, squeezing out the NAB cup. If 2013 was the last NAB cup it will give Brisbane a unique place in AFL history. Brisbane will be the peripheral premiership champions. They will be the last NAB cup premiers having defeated Carlton at Etihad in March and they were the first AFL Reserves premiers in 1991 defeating Melbourne at Waverley Park. Note both grand finals were played on peripheral grounds, not the MCG. The Brisbane Reserves premiership was the first AFL premiership to be won by a non-Victorian club. The coach was Rodney Eade and premiership players on that day in 1991 included Shaun Hart (Norm Smith medallist in 2001), Matthew Kennedy (games record holder for the number 41 jumper), ex Hawk Peter Curran & journeyman ruckman Alex Ishenko.

Brisbane: Pheripheral Premiership Champions. Great jumper logo in 1991 too
Brisbane: Rodney’s Eade and Lester Smith celebrate in 1991. Great jumper logo

The Quotes


“The AFL is proud to have the first Sudanese born player, Majak Daw”

For their Multicultural Round the AFL were running ads with this slightly confusing choice of phrasing. The first Sudnaese born player to do what? Play AFL? Anyway Majak Daw didn’t play AFL that weekend instead he played Werribee in the VFL. Fortuitously it coincided with Werribee’s multicultural day featuring Sudanese dancers



”I am not certain Robert Harvey has ever opened his mouth on a footy field. That includes calling for the ball”


Grant Thomas responds to Matthew Scarletts claims that Robert Harvey sledged Geelong players. Wow Robert Harvey won 2 Brownlows and averaged 25 possessions over a 383 game career without speaking – imagine what he could have achieved if he’d actually called for the ball! How does he go as an assistant coach now? Write everything down? Use sign language? The mind boggles Grant Thomas.


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Ross Slater

Blogging about the important things - AFL and cricket

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