No names on jumpers, a 20 round season and a grand final public holiday

Check out my latest for The Roar


AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has scrapped the idea of putting names on jumpers after a trial in Round 5 this season.

McLachlan said the font size of the names wasn’t able to be seen at the ground or on TV because of the “style and cut of the jumpers”.

Read more here….




Hobart, Brian Taylor and Mr Cliche


Belerive Oval sorry Blundstone Arena  (Why is it called an arena not a stadium? Not enough stands?) hosted it’s fifth AFL match on the weekend in the third season of North Melbourne’s foray to the Apple Isle. In the first season, 2012, the Kangaroos two trips to Hobart were neatly spaced, occurring in April and July, both during school holidays.

In 2013 however the plan seemed to change and the Kangaroo’s Hobart matches were bunched together, being  just 3 weeks apart on April 13 and May 4.  Now after a 434 day wait the good folk of Hobart are treated to two AFL matches in the space of  6 weeks: July 12 and August 23.  I can only assume it is marketing strategy by the AFL to play North Melbourne’s two games per season in Hobart close together.

Those with long memories will recall North are not the first team to play in Hobart, Fitzroy played games at North Hobart Oval in the early 1990’s – two games in each of 1991 and 1992.  The venture started badly with the Roys first match a 157 point belting by Hawthorn who kicked 36 goals with Ben Allan and Darren Jarman snagging 7 each, Dunstall 6 and Paul Hudson 5. The Lions also lost to St Kilda in 1991 but in 1992 the Roys beat eventual premiers West Coast and fell just 3 points short of defeating Essendon. Hard to imagine Essendon making a trip to Hobart now! North are currently 3 wins and 2 losses from their 5 games.

Crowds haven’t changed much across the decades, Fitzroy averaged 11,542 across its 4 games in 1991-2 and North have averaged 11,874 in it’s 5 games so far with a peak of 14,113.  I guess that says more about the size of the stands at the arena than anything else.

The only previous VFL/AFL game in Hobart was in round 8, 1952 when games were taken to all parts of the country – Albury, Brisbane, Euroa, Hobart, Sydney and Yallourn –  as part of  the one and only ‘National Day’  to promote the code in other states. Once again it was Fitzroy playing a home game in Hobart. They defeated Melbourne at North Hobart Oval in front of a crowd of 18, 387. Still the biggest crowd to an VFL/AFL match in Hobart!


Brian Taylor


Brian Taylor calls Harry  Taylor a poofter on live TV and shows he doesn’t understand his actions by apologising to “anyone, and particularly Harry and any of his friends, that were offended by the remark”. The word is offensive, Taylor should be apologising for using the word poofter, not to people who were offended by the use of the word.


Back in 2000, Craig Hutchison was given a two week sabbatical  by Channel 7 after referring to the dodgy surface of Docklands Stadium as “death valley.” However it seems denigrating commercial partners trumps homophobic slurs at Channel 7 with the network making noises that Taylor will receive counselling and be back on air this weekend.


Senator Penny Wong also had something to say about BT,


“Well, if he can’t exercise self-control and just blurts these things out in the heat of the moment, perhaps he isn’t qualified to be sitting in front of a live microphone.”

Footy fans have been saying this for years! Time to go Brian Taylor.


The deflectors


Two old pros were at it again over the weekend
Eddie McGuire has been deflecting from Collingwood’s poor form by crusading against everything Sydney in his cliche riddled style. Whilst he might have a point about the Sydney Swans academy being an unfair advantage in these times of ultra-equalisation,  it’s hard to follow exactly what McGuire is talking about with his liberal use of cliches.

“It’s time for the AFL Commission to come and have a cup of coffee with a few people and let’s get the war room going because you know what we have got to do? We have got to get back to having some fun. It’s like going to the tax office at the moment” 

“I know I lead with my chin sometimes and I need to walk away from fights rather than into them sometimes but the other clubs have got to start putting their hands up. Now they are all lobbying around the back of the room and the rest of it, no one will say anything, so I have to go up the front sometimes.”

“I am not playing martyr here. But I am getting a bit tired of it.”


At least Sydney Swans new CEO Ander Plydom called Eddie out for his cliche usage

“There’s no point having coffees or beers, or martinis or anything if it’s just words and the behaviours don’t stop”

“I have nothing against Eddie, what I have objection to is when he gets away with saying things that aren’t true and they become law.”

As for that last statement: here, here.


Mick Malthouse, unloaded a tirade of abuse at Cameron Ling because the SCG show the Channel 7 feed on the big screens at the ground and had shown footage of him in the coaches box. Perhaps Mick shouldn’t worry so much about his face being on TV and big screens and worry more about how his team had 10 goals kicked against them in the third quarter….

And finally….
Don’t forget it’s a split round so that means no AFL on free to air TV for the next two Sunday afternoons. Enjoy!


Teeth, avoidance and a fixturing guru – the hot topics in the AFL

Here is a review of the latest in the AFL this week.

I give you, the AFL Three.


1. Flying teeth

West Coast’s Elliott Yeo had his two front teeth snapped off  in the game against Collingwood last weekend and is looking at several thousand dollars of dental work to get them fixed. As always prevention is better than cure, and a hell of a lot cheaper. AFL players are made to have their ankles taped to avoid injury so why not insist they wear a mouth guard.  Yeo was in fact wearing a mouthguard on Saturday night but he’d taken it out briefly and tucked it into his compression shorts when the incident occurred. It’s a bit like riding a bicycle with the helmet around the handlebars instead of on your head. At least his leg would have been protected if a player had driven his teeth into his thigh.

The reason given for Yeo taking out his mouthguard? He’d just had a run in the midfield and was catching his breath. Clearly midfield rotations and restricted interchanges mean players have to catch their breath on field rather than on the bench and ultimately are causing players to lose their front teeth. Agh! That damned interchange cap is having unforeseen consequences. Soon every AFL plan will need a dental plan because of it. However last time I checked you could breath whilst wearing a mouthguard other wise players would be expiring all over the field.  If Yeo’s having difficulty breathing with a mouthguard, he is obviously not taking enough time moulding in hot water his $14 mouthgaurd from the chemist. With the AFL keen to get mums to allow their sons to play AFL it  would be appropriate for Yeo to become an ambassador to get junior footballers to wear a mouthguard. A snappy slogan would be ideal, something like, “Don’t take the field without your mouthgaurd in your mouth and don’t tuck it in your shorts your teeth need protecting not your leg. And your parents will thank you for saving them a massive dental bill and you won’t have this terrible smile,”


2. Avoiding tricky situations
Jack Reiwoldt told the truth at a press conference and then decided to do his own version of the Ben Cousin’s triathlon (run-swim-run away from a booze bus) to avoid the media waiting at Punt Road Oval the next day by jumping a fence, running across Punt Road to Richmond Station, buying a Myki and hopping on a train –  a jump-run-train if you will. Excellent avoidance tactics but it was the retirement of an double avoider this week that caught the eye. Heath Scotland retired during the week due to a degenerative ankle problem. Some may remember that Scotland twice avoided conviction over assault charges by using the “I-want-to-be-a-fireman” defence. Now with his degenerative ankle problem Scotland can’t walk up a set of stairs ruling out any hope of a career in firefighting.  One wonders if the wanting to be a fireman story may have been just that – a story – all along. As an interesting side note Heath Scotland was the last remaining player to play in Collingwood’s final game at Victoria Park in 1999.
3. Simon Leathlean
Simon Leathlean is the AFL general manager of broadcasting and scheduling. In March he suggested that the 2015 AFL Grand Final might be in October due to the Cricket World Cup and suggested that October Grand Finals had occurred in 2000 and 2006. Hmm, wrong. October Grnad Finals have occurred (in 1990, 1994, 2010 and 2011) but not in 2000 or 2006. And just this week Simon was at it again when talking about the recently concluded bye rounds.
‘‘At the end of the day, fans and media just don’t want byes at all, which is not possible. But we have two this year, I think for the first time, so we are trying out what we think both are best,’’
Simon please, you should be all over this. It’s not the first season each club has had two byes. Every season there has been an odd number of teams each side has had two byes –  from 1991-94 and most recently in 2011 when the Gold Coast Suns entered the AFL. It was the two byes per club in that season that gave the AFL Players Association the idea of pushing for two byes per year. And yes this is the first year the AFL have ceded to he AFLPA’s wishes and granted them two byes with an even number of teams. Come on Simon, lift your game. Those who are not students of history are doomed to repeat it’s mistakes.

Chips Index, Star Wars and Canberra

Check out my first piece for The Roar.

Go on click on the link, it’s great stuff about Star Wars and the price of chips at the footy.

Give it a read!

The six minute man, Buddy bad driving and ANZAC eve – The AFL Five

1. Chris Judd

Chris Judd returned from an Achilles injury to be Carlton’s sub in a round not so long ago. As we now know he entered the fray in the 3rd quarter and twinged a hammy after just six minutes on the field. An unusual occurrence and unfortunate for Judd and Carlton. However Judd kicked things up a notch when he spoke to the media the next day. Judd claimed that the Carlton sport science team had looked at his GPS data and at the moment he hurt his hamstring, as he simultaneous kicked the ball and was pushed by the Doggies Stew Crameri, he was travelling twice as fast as any player did throughout the game. Wow! What a load of shit! What’s next for Judd? Perhaps he could channel the brains trust of ‘This is Spinal Tap’ and get the sports science boffins to change his GPS so ‘it goes to 11’


2. Buddy bad driving

So Lance Franklin wasn’t under the affect of alcohol or drugs and wasn’t distracted talking on his phone or texting and he managed to clean up four parked cars, wheels off and all. Wow! He must be one of the world worst drivers. Rather than that Fox Footy special last year “Buddy 13” celebrating Franklin’s 13 goals against North Melbourne in 2012 I’d like to see a “The Best of the Worlds Worst Drivers  – Buddy 4” hosted by Sheriff John Burnell (retired) and as per the Fox Footy special live tweeting from Buddy would be obligatory… but obviously not while he’s driving. There’d be segments on his many misadventures in Melbourne and the fateful day he lent Dan Hannebry his keys.

Of course there would also be the more scientific “Crash Scene Investigation” documentary TV special with Jeff Geischen cast in the role of a motion expert explaining that the route Buddy took was just his natural arc and therefore not illegal.

Who is making the most money from Franklin’s move to Sydney? He’s costing the Swans plenty, he’s probably cost his girlfriend a car sponsorship, yeah it’s probably his smash repairer.


Buddy's smash repairer couldn't be happier.
Buddy’s smash repairer couldn’t be happier.

3. Congestion

Ah footy is dead. No more are there “all 36 players in one half of the ground” as Robert Walls use to love to say, it’s so congested that all 36 players are in one quarter of the ground, nay within a 20 metre radius. No actually it’s so congested all 36 players are so close together they are actually standing on top of one another, it’s ruining the game and it’s no longer a spectacle worth watching seemed to be the general consensus after the first four rounds of the season.

And according to legends of the game the only way to fix it was with rule changes and zones. Wayne Carey wanted the length of a kick to be increased to 20m, Leigh Matthews was calling for three or four players from each team inside the 50m arcs for each stoppage, Kevin Sheedy said he’d been calling for zones for years (don’t remember that, Sheeds)  and Garry Lyon said he wasn’t getting enjoyment from going to the footy (too many Melbourne games I’d suggest)

Guidelines had been put in place in the TAC Cup this season meaning 4 players had to be in the forward half for a kick in and Gippsland Power coach Leigh Brown claimed the game was much better for it. Compared to what? Leigh Brown is in his first year as a TAC Cup coach after getting the axe from his assistant coach role at Melbourne. Given Melbourne’s diabolical form I’d say he hadn’t been involved in a decent game of footy since he retired form Collingwood in 2011!

After a couple of well contested (not congested – just one letter different) games on Easter Monday and ANZAC day most of the talk has dissipated. No doubt the congestion issue and possible solutions will rear their heads again this season or the next like the other hardy perennials: high marking is dead, goal kicking accuracy should be better, Melbourne’s 3rd stadium, the standard of umpiring, the cost of food at the footy, there will never be another player kick 100 goals in a season, etc, etc.

In fact the congestion issue and it’s ‘solutions are not new – Leigh Matthews  (if not Kevin Sheedy) was calling for players in zones in 2012.





4. International Rules

What better way to detract from crowds being down and footy being ugly than to announce that a series no one cares about is going to be rolled out again. That’s right Australia will play Ireland in a  single International Rules match in Perth on November 22. After the embarrassing and abject performances of the Indigenous team last October in Ireland, things are going to change. The players will have to be current or previous All- Australians to play (I now understand why Cyril Rioli and Nic Natanui were named in the 2012 All-Australian team – it’s so they could qualify for the 2014 International Rules series) Rules could be tweaked to favour key position players and ruckmen, Alistair Clarkson has been appointed coach and Eddie McGuire was given the role of ‘Chef de mission’ – a position usually reserved for Olympic Games teams. With McGuire at the helm as chief spruiker one thing is guaranteed-  there is going to be a whole lot of hot air and bluster before November.

Eddie was immediately into the bluster talking about getting Shane Warne on board, having training camps in Barcelona and playing a game in New York – nothing like aiming high! A more realistic goal would be getting the best players wanting to play and getting the public to take an interest.


5. ANZAC day eve

IN the great tradition of the AFL here is the revisionist history account of football on ANZAC Day. in 1995 the AFL deceided to stage an AFL game on ANZAC day – Collingwood v Essendon on ANZAC day, 90,000+ turned up the match was a draw and a great and grand tradition was born and ANZAC day remains to this day the.  Well, not quite AFL had been played on ANZAC day for many years prior in Melbourne between teams other than Essendon and Collingwood. I know who would have thought!

The ‘first’ ANZAC day in 1995 was a Tuesday and on the Monday night beforehand Richmond played North Melbourne at the MCG ( possibly the first game of Monday night AFL, I’m not 100% sure). Last week Richmond floated the idea of an annual ANZAC eve match against Melbourne but Andrew Demetriou quickly poured cold water on the prospect saying it would detract from the ANZAC day spectacle.

Well Andrew it didn’t detract from the ‘first’ ANZAC day game in 1995, so with the great and grand tradition of Collingwwod v Essendon set in stone I fail to see how a match the evening before hand could detract from it now. Whilst Richmond don’t have the support of the AFL on this front, they did seek out and receive the approval of the RSL to hold a game of football on April 24. What? What are you doing Richmond – the games not on ANZAC day. If the Tigers wanted to play the day after ANZAC day would they run it by the RSL for approval? When would it end? Are Richmond seeking RSL approval for all their games in April? What’s next? Melbourne checking with the Australian Monarchist Society if it’s ok to play a game of football on the Queens Birthday holiday? Actually they should probably check with the Hotham and Falls Creek ski resorts if its ok with them to hold a match in Melbourne on the opening weekend of the ski season.

I’d just like to let the AFL know my birthday is in September. It’s kind of a big deal and I usually run with a ‘birthday  fortnight’ with a multitude of events so if the AFL could not schedule any finals during that time to detract from my ‘birthday fortnight’ that would be great.


Variable ticket pricing, split rounds and runners in pink – The AFL Five

It’s been a big first three rounds of the AFL season so let’s get down to dissecting the really important stuff of the season so far in the  brand new segment – The AFL Five.


1. Split rounds

The AFL took head on the NRL and it’s early March start to the season and failed. The Foxtel only NAB challenge had generated a ‘massive’ (read: minimal) groundswell of enthusiasm for Round 1 except it finished a full 13 days before the first game. A round of practice matches ensued and then the season proper kicked off with 30,000 watching Collingwood v Fremantle at Etihad Stadium in the earliest start to a season since 2000. The AFL complained that the MCG was off limits, blaming cricket. Well, it’s not cricket’s fault that the MCG is not available for football, it’s because the AFL wanted to start their season during the cricket season that there is a problem. Anyway the split of 4 games one weekend and 5 the next did not appear popular with fans, as was pushing back the season opener of the past 7 seasons – Carlton v Richmond to Round 2. Never fear there are only 5 more weekends of split rounds this season. That’s right the 6-6-6 games in Rounds 8,9 and 10 then a split of  5-4 over two weekends for Round 18 after the AFL Players Association successfully campaigning for 2 byes per season. Split rounds and byes – they are increasing, get used to them!


2. Variable ticket pricing

Yep, this is a stinker of an idea designed purely to increase revenue from popular matches. How many more people are going to go to a Melbourne v Fremantle game because they could sit in a seat that normally costs $50 for the  general admission price of $25? Not many, if any. The real misnomer here is that the AFL are being generous to fans and giving them ‘discounted’ tickets. Well until the general admission price is lowered for some games (ie only $17.50 to come watch Melbourne slug it out with someone equally inept rather than the usual $25) then ‘variable ticket pricing’ is of no real benefit to the fans.

Variable ticket pricing is blamed as one of the factors that crowd numbers are down and it’s possibly true but the AFL won’t care as 60,000 paying on average $40 is better than 70,000 paying an average of $30. As in so many things in AFL cold hard cash is the answer.


3. Runners in pink

Yes AFL runners are now wearing pink and club trainers, water cariers, doctors and physios are wearing pink vests. The AFL has seen the light that dressing runners in orange when Gold Coast and GWS wear orange was not a good idea – only took them two seasons. Unfortunately the lovely baby blue colour the runners were decked out in some games last season is gone too. Bring on the pink. Also there is only one runner per club this season down from the previous two who could work as a tag team and amazingly after 3 rounds the sky is yet to fall in.


Mick Matlhouse about to blame the one runner system for Carlton's poor start to the season
Mick Matlhouse about to blame the one runner system for Carlton’s poor start to the season


4. Interchange cap

Another thing that astoundingly hasn’t caused the sky to fall in is the interchange cap. Yes, AFL clubs can only make 120 moves per interchange movements per game but it’s yet to cause a stir  – thank goodness. Players and coaches have managed to adapt – truly unbelievable. Just wait for the wailing and gnashing of teeth when the AFL decide they want to bring in the original limit they had in mind of 80. But why did the AFL introduce the interchange cap in the first place? Initially the AFL wanted to increase the speed of the game by allowing quick kick ins from full back, four boundary umpires, shorter time for players to kick the ball from a mark and various other rule changes to speed up the game. Ultimately through some space time continuum that hasn’t been discovered the AFL believed that speeding the game up in this way would actually slow it down – the sort of knee jerk, counter intuitive stuff the AFL Laws of the Game committee does best. Anyway surprisingly it didn’t work, or more accurately there was no way of measuring or determining if it had worked so the AFL changed tack and decided to slow the games down by restricting the interchange movements. The jury is out if this latest rule change has had any effect: positive, negative or otherwise.

AFL interchange - not complicated at all.
AFL interchange – not complicated at all.


5. The Quote

AFL fixturing is a contentious issue as seen this year with the early start and split round not being well received. It was good to see the AFL general manager of fixturing (yes, this is a real title), Simon Lethlean, get on the front foot early about what is happening with the 2015 fixture and the Cricket World Cup which runs until the end of March. Nothing would give the fans greater comfort than knowing that the AFL fixturing guru is aware that the cricket World Cup is happening next yearat  AFL venues and the complexities this poses in avoiding another dog’s breakfast meets mad woman’s shit that the start of this season has been. Nothing except perhaps if that fixturing boffin was a keen student of history. Unfortunately Lethlean is not, as quoted on the AFL website.

“It’s not as unusual as it sounds to have a Grand Final in October,” 
“I think we’ve had it during the Olympics and I think the Commonwealth Games as well.”


Recent October grand finals have included: 2011 (due to 17 teams taking 24 rounds to play 22 games), 2010 drawn Grand Final replay), 1994 (due to a 15 team competition) and 1990 (due to a draw in the Collingwood v West Coast final)
The Sydney Olympics caused the 2000 season to start on the first weekend in March and the Grand final was on September 2nd. Not even close, Simon, and in some miracle of ironman proportions the players played 22 games plus finals without a bye! Amazing, what a super human effort, yet just 14 years later players can’t go without 2 byes per season!

The 2006 Commonwealth Games affected the availability of the MCG for the first couple of rounds but didn’t alter the start or finish dates of the AFL season with the Grand Final on the last Saturday in September.

Nice work Simon, AFL fixturing is in safe hands. Perhaps the AFL should try researching before doing a puff piece on their own website.