The top 10 things you may have missed in the AFL off season.
With the first game of the AFL pre-season just hours away, take a look at some of the things you may have missed over the last 4.5 months since Hawthorn won the 2013 premiership.
10. Simon Katich
Yes, former Test cricketer Simon Katich has been recruited by GWS to be their runner and a leadership coach. I’m sure Katich will show the young Giants how to grab a teammate by the throat in the dressingroom when they don’t buy into team culture and put back into the club. Now that’s leadership. Katich has apparently been doing extra fitness work in preparation to be an AFL runner, perhaps a little odd given he is currently a professional cricketer.
9. Jake King
In December Richmond’s Jake “The Push Up” King was seen socialising with some bikie gang member hardcase at the Legends Football League, formerly known as the Lingere Football League. I know what you are thinking, what incredibly bad taste to attend an event like the exploitive and sexist Lingere Football League. King really needs to lift his standards. Worse was to come in January when King was spotted with another bikie hard man having a coffee. And it cost $4.50! Outrageous. Apparently it was a latte and the barista did a little fern in the foam but it cost $4.50. King really needs to have a look at the types of entertainment and coffee venues he is frequenting.
8. Wayne Campbell
Former Richmond player Wayne Campbell has been appointed the head of umpiring at the AFL taking over from his former Richmond coach Jeff Geishen who had spent 14 years at the helm. No one is quite sure whether Campbell will be able to fill the incredibly large shoes that Geishen has left behind. It’s not under every umpires boss watch that post it notes get used on the interchange bench, goal posts heights get increased, the term ‘white maggot’ is eradicated and the term ‘bumper bar’ is added to AFL speak. The feeling in most AFL circles is that Campbell can’t help but do a better job than Geicshen even if he does nothing. The full story on how The Geisch was unleashed is here.
7. International Rules
The word disaster springs to mind. The concept of having a team of indigenous players represent the AFL against Ireland was going to need a strong and competitive showing by that team if it were to be a success. Instead the team was humbled in the first match so coach Michael O’Loughlin decided to prepare for the second match by having a team bonding session piss up. As a match preparation it was poor with the team losing the second match, as a bonding session the value is hard to quantify but as a piss up it was an outrageous success with several noise complaints made. Thumbs up!
For some reason Chanel 7 didn’t even show the International Rules Series live, they reverted to their favoured format of delayed coverage.
6. NAB Challenge
The NAB Cup has been scrapped, replaced with the NAB Challenge – 18 games in 18 days with a game every day from February 12th.
This was meant to be followed by the return of representative football. Some sort of fan choice, captains pick, pointless mish mash nonsense that surprisingly no-one, not even the players who are apparently dead keen on rep footy, wanted to be part of. The idea was shelved as quickly as it was announced and replaced with a round of NAB Practice Matches as opposed to the NAB Challenge – two very different things even though the practice matches start the day after the challenge matches end. Clear?
5. Unholy Saints
When to sack a coach? Mid- season? End of season? Before the trade period? No let’s sack our coach two months after our last game. Such is the way of the St Kilda football club, bringing the axe down on Scott Watters, with a year left on his contract mind you, on November 1, All Saints Day. Oh, the irony. Hard to fathom from the Saints, if they didn’t want the coach why not sack him and install the new man before you traded away an All Australian midfielder, Nick Dal Santo, and your number one ruckmen, Ben McEvoy. It even seemed at times that the man pulling the most strings at the Saints was actually their recruiting manager Chris Pelchan. Odd.
4. Tanya Hird
“Leave my husband alone”
In the final act of the stage play ‘James Hird, the perfect family man,’ the Hird media team wheeled out his wife to defend him. As an Essendon supporter my first thoughts were ‘Fuck off, your husband has brought the club I support to its knees through his own stupidity and vanity.’
Why Tanya Hird fronted the media is marginally more interesting. Word had leaked out that Hird was still getting paid his million dollar salary by Essendon even though he was serving a 12 month ban from coaching. The AFL said this wasn’t right but then had to back track and say that yes that was the agreement the two parties had reached. Come on Andy D lift your game.
The Essendon drugs scandal rolls on without an infraction notice being served and with an ASADA investigation team of one continuing to search without luck for the injection database that Dean Wallis was meant to have set up.
In the last week Essendon have advertised for the position of an integrity officer. Wow, talk about shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.
On January 11 the AFL website breathlessly announced a mayday to locate a missing premiership jumper…. from 2004. Gavin Wanganeen’s premiership jumper had been snatched out of the rooms nigh on 10 years ago but only now was the call for public help to locate it being raised. Wow.
In slightly more interesting news the Brisbane Lions members voted to get rid of the ‘Paddle Pop Lion’ off the front of the Brisbane jumpers and revert to the ‘Fitzroy Lion’ of their 2001-03 premiership jumpers. Unfortunately this won’t take effect until the 2015 season.
The AFL announced that player’s names will appear on their jumpers for the first time in Round 5 of the AFL season. Why hasn’t this happened before? And why not trial this in the pre-season competition when names on jumpers would help out commentators, fans, coaches, opposition and even teammates identify new recruits.
There was also some minor kerfuffle over in Adelaide when the Crows revealed their jumper for the first game at Adelaide Oval would be the South Australian State of Origin jumper presumably because they were pissed at being the away team to Port Adelaide for the first game at the redeveloped ground. The AFL and SANFL had approved of the jumper but when the backlash from Port Adelaide hit the fan, quickly rescinded their approval. One wonders if this was just a marketing ploy…
2. Campbell Brown
The Gold Coast Suns were on a pre-season fitness camp in the US when a few days R&R in LA lead to Campbell Brown breaking his teammate, Steven May’s jaw either over splitting a restaurant bill or because May was trying to get Rhianna’s autograph. Apparently Josh Gibson was also involved in the altercation but only in a ‘3rd man up’ spoiling scenario – he had no direct opponent.
Really what’s next? Ryan Crowley and Hayden Ballantyne having a dust up trying to get Miley Cyrus’ autograph – it just makes no sense. If Steven May had better taste in music then none of this would have happened.
Brown was subsequently sacked by the Gold Coast Suns but couldn’t help but go out with a bang from the party strip by attending the Magic Millions horse race on the Gold Coast and getting arrested for being drunk after his horse won. Campbell really needs to find a more sedate hobby, something like chess or bird watching perhaps.
1. Lance Franklin
The Sydney Swans trumped GWS and Hawthorn by signing Lance Franklin to a $10 million deal over 9 years. Franklin will be 36 when the deal expires and he has about as much chance of playing the full 9 years of his contract as Mick Malthouse does of coaching a flag at Carlton.
Regardless any mention of Lance Franklin moving to Sydney has to be accompanied by this photo and the tag line, ‘Buddy Franklin has moved to Sydney to spend more time with his better mates.’