The real problem with Melbourne Football Club

Here’s something I wrote after Round 2 last year about the sorry state of Melbourne Football Club, 18 months later and after two horrid losses to the Brisbane Lions and GWS, the same holds true….



The unbelievable

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.

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?
341 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
342 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 inability 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.













VFL Finals Wrap – Semi Finals

Williamstown v Port Melbourne

Port Melbourne had comfortably accounted for Williamstown on the two occasions they met during the home and away season but the tables were turned in this semi final. Williamstown completely dominated Port who looked rudderless without inspirational skipper John Baird – he missed the game with a hamstring injury. At the 18 minute mark of the third quarter Port Melbourne had only kicked two goals and were on a mere 15 points with the margin was up around triple figures in the Seagulls favour. Port redefined junk time by kicking 12 goals from this point until the end of the game but still lost by 87 points. Willie Wheeler and skipper Ben Jolley were amongst the best players for Williamstown and whilst Doggies listed Jason Tutt and Patrick Veszpremi shared nine goals.

Coincidentally Williamstown also met Port Melbourne in the Development League semi final (that’s AFL Victoria speak for VFL reserves). Williamstown won that game by 96 points – a bad day all round for Port Melbourne.


Read more:

Click on the link for interesting information on the Casey v Werribee semi final and the future structure of the VFL, SANFL & WAFL.

VFL finals wrap – week 1

Geelong v Casey Scorpions

Geelong flexed its considerable VFL muscle last Friday night in the first ever VFL final at Kardinia Park by disposing of the Casey Scorpions by 49 points. The Cats have now won 12 games in a row and move straight on to the preliminary final; on the other hand, Casey slumped to its ninth consecutive finals loss. If  the Scorpions lose again this week they will have bowed out of four consecutive finals series in straight sets after finishing top four at the end of the home and away season.

Read more at:

Revising history, team lifters and three quarter time rev ups – footy news week 15

The highlight, The lowlight, The unbelievable, The boring.

All this wrapped into one section – it must be the 34 page AFL charge sheet on Essendon. No , it’s the other great literary work form the week, Darren Jolly’s article in The Age.

Jolly really struggles deciding which side of an argument he’s going to take. This time Jolly goes for a bit of revisionist history  and omits some key details about what happened in the lead up to the 2006 grand final.

“The Swans media guy asked my wife Dea and I if we would do an interview for a small story about having a baby and playing in a grand final. We weren’t all that keen, considering Dea was heavily pregnant, but we agreed.”

I have never been pregnant but I wasn’t aware that sitting and chatting and being preganant were mutually exclusive events If the journo had requested to force feed your wife oysters, blue cheese and bourbon I wouldn’t have been keen either but it was just an interview. Also if as you say you weren’t keen you could have said no to the interview request, but I think deep down you sort of liked the attention.

“By the time we got home, the photographer and journalist were waiting on our front door step.”

Those damn journo’s have the temerity to be punctual, how annoying!

“When the story landed on the front page the next day, it was a shock and it put extreme pressure on us right before I was about to play. The story read: “Jolly to miss grand final to be with his wife”. As this was never said, you can imagine how angry we were. It was a huge beat-up.”

Misquoted? Well that is a poor effort by the journo. Get the Swan’s media department to issue a press release. You don’t even have to write it – they’ll do it for you. All sorted, the “extreme pressure” has been released and you can get back to focusing on footy. Come on admit it a front page story that must have been cool.

“Somehow the media got wind that we were in hospital because they were stationed out the front, waiting to grab me for any information.”

Damn pesky media getting wind. Somehow Darren makes his wife giving birth all about himself. The media wanted me, come on admit it you liked the attention.

“One of them even had the nerve to ask if they could come into my wife’s room to take some photos. Another wrote a note to my wife while she in the delivery suite, asking if they could get an exclusive when she had delivered. It was a circus.”

The midwife wore giant shoes and a red nose, the doctor had a chair and a whip, the anethetist was a bearded lady. Oh a media circus. Also Nana rang she’d like her phrase ‘the nerve of them’ back.

So it seems Jolly thinks the media overstepped the mark, were intruding too much on his private life and he’d had enough of it all. I think that’s fair enough, I think I’d be pretty guarded with my interactions with journos from now on, probably politely decline interview requests and the like. Let’s move now to what happened when he flew to Melbourne

“I arrived in Melbourne to be greeted by a hundred reporters and cameras.”

Really? Exactly one hundred? Not a scrum of, not an uncounted number of  but  an even 100 reporters and cameras. Pray tell Darren what did you do next?

“Once I arrived at the hotel, I had a bite to eat went to bed.”

What? No, no, no, back up a second you’ve left something out there, you forgot to mention this:


Jolly was so pissed off with the media, the misquotes, the intrusion on his private life, the ludicrous requests, the nerve of them, that he decided to pose at the airport with a picture of his new born daughter on his cool flip phone. (I had to do a bit of digging to find this picture but here is the link) There he was more than happy to ham it up for the waiting media even after the “extreme pressure” the “beat up” and the “circus” they’d put him through. I would say the truth is somewhere along the lines of pre the 2006 Grand Final Jolly was happy and excited to go down “Media Street” (as Denis Pagan would say) but then it all blew up when he played a stinker in the Grand Final. Now seven years later he’s revised history with this version of events and conveniently omitted the picture that tells a thousand words. I will give him credit though for admitting that he played very poorly in the Grand Final.

Please write more articles Darren Jolly – they are so much fun to pull apart. I’d tell your ghost writer to do more research too and not trust everything you say.  Also good luck in the VFL.

VFL Watch

Port Melbourne power forward Adrian Bonnadio doesn’t kick goals he kicks team lifters. With his usual key forward partner and VFL leading goalkicker, Dean Galea, absent on the weekend due to injury it was up to ‘Big Bonners’ to shoulder the extra load. And he did so admirably, leading hard up the ground, taking marks with his vice like grip, crashing packs, tackling and bullocking his way through opponents. He was a particularly impressive in the first half of the game against Geelong where he kicked two team lifters. Alas it was not enough to get Port over the line in a see sawing affair. In a classic match that went right down to the wire, Geelong’s last quarter centre clearances, mainly from Taylor Hunt, and a late snap by Paul Chapman got the Cats over the line. Geelong’s dominance of the set plays highlighted the difference between an AFL reserves team and a VFL team. The full time professional footballers, Geelong are practicing their centre square set ups at 11am on a Wednesday morning whilst the VFL boys at Port Melbourne  are busy at their job, driving a forklift, running their own plumbing business, putting the had word on someone and closing the deal as a used car salesman, etc. The only sour note for the Cats was a painful looking popped shoulder to skipper, Troy Selwood. Port Melbourne will need to beat Coburg this weekend to secure a finals berth but should take comfort from the fact that they are one of only a couple of teams that can really test Geelong.

Melbourne rookie listed player James Magner racked up 51 possessions for the Casey Scorpions against the Bendigo Gold on the weekend. It could have been more if he hadn’t been benched in the last quarter. Curiously, Magner has played only 2 games for Melbourne this year despite their struggles. He was elevated off the Rookie list in 2012, played 17 games and acquitted himself fairly well as a midfielder/tagger. However he wasn’t put on the Demon’s main list at season’s end and returned to the rookie list for 2013. It was Round 18 before he was elevated to the senior side his season. Magner is one of the favourites to win the JJ Liston trophy, the league Best & Fairest award in the VFL.

Northern Blues Coach Luke Webster was having a bad day on Sunday. His team had only kicked 3 goals against Werribee up to three quarter time and appeared to be more interested in fighting than playing football at times when he went out to address his players on the field. It has become standard practice for most VFL teams to rope off their players and trainers on the ground at the quarter time breaks as fan are allowed onto the ground during the intervals. The Blues support staff managed to rope off only 2 sides of the team huddle leading to quite a loud ‘interaction’ between an overzealous fan & a security guard. However this did not distract Webster from his task as he called the players in fro some final instructions before the fourth quarter began. He implored them to “Have a f&cking go” as they had shown “f&cking nothing” so far today and told them to “F*ck that fighting shit off” The words must have inspired the Blues as they kicked 7 goals in the last quarter. Werribee still won by 48 points though.

The Quote

“it’s probably also a touch deflating on an opposition when they’ve done all this work and kick a goal and there’s only 50 or so people clapping.”
Cameron Ling in The Age on what it might be like for Geelong’s opponents at Kardinia Park.

The 1996 Brownlow, AFL player milestones and retirements – footy news week 14

The lowlight

The ongoing drugs scandal at Essendon show’s no signs of being drawn to a close anytime soon. Jobe Watson has had an interesting role to play in all of this admitting to taking AOD-9604 but steadfastly stating that he believes the players have done nothing wrong. He seems completely naive and misguided to me and it’s not the first time. When the substitute rule was first introduced Watson tried to get the Essendon players and opposition to stage a sit down protest at the start of their Round 1 game. Yeah, good one.

On field the wheels have fallen off for Essendon with three losses in a row each one worse than the previous. With North Melbourne, Carlton and Richmond in the final three rounds I don’t expect the Bombers to win another game for the year. An exit in the first week of finals looks likely if they aren’t stripped of their points beforehand.

1996: Happier days for Voss and Hird
1996: Happier days for Voss and Hird

A bad week also to have won the Brownlow medal in 1996 and then skipped a coaching apprenticeship to guide your club as a rookie senior coach. James Hird is being doorstopped by the media at his every move and he was charged with bringing the game into disrepute over the Essendon drugs issue. The longer this goes the more it appears that Hird was central to the drug program run by the Bombers. Like Watson, Hird seems supremely confident that he has done nothing wrong, he refuses to admit to breaking any ASADA or WADA rules or stand down as coach. All this arrogance, bluff and bluster is fine but his days will be numbered if AFL HQ want him gone – Andrew Demetriou always gets his man.

Micahel Voss was sacked by the Brisbane Lions during the week, some would say two years too late. “Crazy Vossy” went on a recruiting spree at the end of his first season as coach in 2009 and topped up with 7 players from other clubs including signing Fev on big coin on a 2 year deal. Fev’s stocks could not have been lower – no other club would touch with a barge pole after he disgraced himself at the Brownlow Medal but Brisbane outbidded themselves for his services. Fev’s signing ultimately cost Brisbane Lachine Henderson, Micahel Riscatelli and Daniel Bradshaw plus some draft picks. What do they say about untried coaches?

Player milestones

There is something a little cruel when a player retires just short of a major milestone ala Richmond’s Wayne Campbell who retired on 297 games. A number of clubs are taking player milestones and possible retirement right down to the wire as the season draws to a close.

Perennially suspended thug, Dustin Fletcher, copped 2 weeks from the tribunal during the week. He is currently level with Simon Madden for the most games for Essendon but fortunately will be available for the Round 23 game against Richmond to play his record breaking 379th appearance for the Dons and then it could well be retirement for Fletcher come season’s end.

David Hille would need to get a wriggle on if he is to play 200 games for Essendon. He currently stands on 196 games and would need to play the 3 remaining home & away games plus a final to reach the milestone – presuming Essendon aren’t stripped of their points of course. I don’t see this happening, given Hille wasn’t selected this week. Retirement beckon’s for Hille given Essendon’s depth of big man stocks and given Hille only played in 2013 after being talked out of retirement by the Bombers.

Over at West Coast, 2006 Norm Smith Medallist Andrew Embley is 2 games shy of 250. With the Eagles out of finals contention they have only 3 games left for the season. Embley will be hoping to break back in to the team very soon as, at 32 years old, it seems unlikely he will play on in 2014.He was named as an emergency this week.

Josh Hunt of Geelong played his 50th VFL game on the weekend which is a milestone I doubt he would have given too much thought. He’s probably more focused on playing the remaining  4 games required to reach the 200 AFL game milestone. With Geelong  poised to finish in the top 4 a minimum of 5 opportunities remain but Hunt would need to break into the AFL line up first. He was also selected as an emergency this week.

Paul Chapman has been stuck on 247 games since Round 4 when he hurt his hamstring. A long winded recovery has been hampered due to repeated twinges of the hammy but Chapman has played in the VFL in the last 2 weeks. Hopefully an AFL return is just around the corner so he can notch the 250 milestone.

St Kilda has been stringing this one out all year – Justin Kositchze’s 200th. Kosi started the year on 195 games played in Rounds 5 & 6 and then later in Rounds 13 & 14 to be on the cusp of the 200 game milestone. A recent calf injury has slowed his tilt at 1 more game, but this could be a Josh Fraser scenario where a final round, 200 games and out, swan song occurs.

Daniel Giansiracusa looks to have timed his run to perfection, needing to play each of the remaining three games to register 250 games for the Western Bulldogs. Eyebrows were raised when Gia was the starting substitute for a number of weeks in mid-season but this may have been a way to nurse him through to the milestone as he has already announced this season will be his last. Good mate Bob Murphy is one game behind Giansiracusa but is playing on in 2014.

If Collingwood play 3 finals then Nick Maxwell will play his 200th AFL game. WTF! Somewhere there is a category for most unlikely 200 game players and Nick Maxwell would have to be tight in the mix. For mine ‘The Most Unlikely 200 Gamer’ award goes to Mark Graham (243, 93-04, Hawthorn & Richmond) edging out Anthony Rock (222, 88-01, North Melbourne & Hawthorn) with bronze for Nick Maxwell.

Chris Newman is out of the Richmond line up this week with an ankle injury. Hopefully the injury isn’t too serious and he can return in time to play in the finals. Newman has played 232 games since debuting for the Tigers in 2002 without playing a single final and now owns the record for most games without a final after recently passed the record of 230 games held by Trevor Barker. Some current Melbourne players could probably challenge this ‘record’ if Melbourne bothered to keep them on their list for long enough!

The unbelievable

The SANFL decided to allow the Adelaide Crows to field a reserves team in the SANFL from 2014. If it didn’t get the required support of the SANFL club delegates the Crows indicated they would place a team in the SA Amateur League. I guess the South Australian definition of amateur is a little different to my interpretation if a team of highly paid, full time professionals was to run around in that competition.

The terms and conditions surrounding the entry of Adelaide into the SANFL are as long and complicated as a Greg Norman pre-nup. The Crows have to pay each SANFL club $50,000 annually for the next 15 years plus a host of other non-compete clauses for players and staff. Those who believe this move will compromise, devalue and be a black mark on the SANFL competition are right – Adelaide have confirmed they will wear their white away jumper.

Stone the Crows! Don’t inflict that jumper on the SANFL
Stone the Crows! Don’t inflict that jumper on the SANFL

Jack Watts want’s to see who is coaching Melbourne before he decides if he will sign on with the Dees. Whoa! What! Since when does Jack Watts have the upper hand in negotiations? He should consider himself lucky he’s been offered a contract at all given the sort of form and ability he has demonstrated across his career to date.

The boring

Eddie McGuire was at it again at the Sydney President’s dinner on the weekend. This time he compared the “absolute injustice” of the treatment he received after his racist slur on Adam Goodes to the plight of Aboriginal Australians. A week of being rightly potted by the media versus centuries of mistreatment and racism – doesn’t quite stack up Ed.

VFL Watch

Geelong have wrapped up the minor premiership with two rounds to play in the VFL. They have won their last 8 games in a row by an average margin of 45 points. Good luck if anyone can stop them winning back to back flags.

At the opposite end of the spectrum Bendigo Gold are struggling through their first stand alone season without a win and not looking likely to chalk up a victory. There has been talk in Bendigo that the Gold will not go on in 2014. What they need is an AFL alignment but I don’t see that happening.

Football on the Grassy Knoll

Conspiracy theory time. The Western Bulldogs will field a stand alone reserves team in the VFL next year and will revert to the Footscray name with the team to be called the Footscray Bulldogs. The conspiracy theory is with Footscray having a team in a Victorian competition, this frees up the AFL to rename the Western Bulldogs franchise as the Northern Bulldogs and relocate them to Darwin and/or Cairns.


What they should do

Follow the advice of Jeff Kennett and kick Essendon out of the AFL for season 2014 if the current investigation is not completed. Hmmm, guilty until proven innocent, nice one Jeff. Why do people keep talking to this man?

The Quote

They fight like, I said it once before…. you know… bloody um… UNICEF dropping of food parcels in Africa and… they fight like the Africans fight for that to feed their families.

Mark Robinson talking about Port Adelaide. No Robbo, simply no.

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.

Drugs in AFL and Unleash The Geisch – footy news week 12

Reclink held its second football day in two weeks with the Peter Galbally Cup held at Victoria Park on Sunday. Nothing unusual there you might say except that the Peter Galbally cup is played between a team of solicitors and a team of barristers yet rather than being staged somewhere in the wealth belt like Toorak, Brighton or even Elsternwick it was held in the hipster heartland of Abbotsford. A swap of venues with the Community Cup might be in order or maybe the barristers and solicitors were in Collingwood territory to find prospective customers – Joffa Corfe was one of the goal umpires on the day.

The highlight

Jeff Gieschen is the George Costanza of the AFL. His garbled and confused explanations of rules changes and contentious umpiring decisions are an embarrassment to the AFL. And now he has gone for a holiday during the season so how important can his work be?  Or as a mate said “You can chuck sickies anytime because you don’t add any value where you work”

I can see Jeff walking around the halls of AFL house while other staffers say, Who is that guy?” What does he do?” Didn’t we sack him 2 years ago.? Much like how GeorgeCostanza kept turning up to work after he’d been fired. What does the Geisch do all day ? He probably does a lot of Gorge Costanza style looking busy paper stacking and shuffling, looking annoyed and sighing but mostly under the desk sleeping.

George Costanza I mean Jeff Geishen hard at ‘work’ looking busy watching a game from 10 years ago.
George Costanza I mean Jeff Geishen hard at ‘work’ looking busy watching a game from 15 years ago.

How will Jeff go out on a George Castanza high? I’m not sure it’s possible perhaps his current holiday will just be extended to indefinite leave and then he will quit due to ‘family reasons’

Interesting that the new AFL Operations manager Mark Evans is looking to change the goal review system and trailing ball tracking technology Hawkeye while The Geisch is away. Hmmmm it suggest The Geisch is more of a hindrance than a help. Unleash The Geish AFL – cut him loose.

The lowlight

As an Essendon supporter I have said nothing about the Essendon drug scandal until now. The Essendon players, as professional athletes, need to take personal responsibility for everything they ingest or inject. A signed consent form is meaningless and trusting that someone told you it’s OK is naive and foolish. Ignorance is not a defence.

The VFL provides two examples of drug bans.

  1. Casey Scorpions Wade Lees was banned from all competitive sport for 18 months after importing a fat burner that contained illegal steroids. He did not even consume the product.
  2. Frankston’s Matthew Clarke accepted a pre-match drink named ‘Hemo Rage’ from a teammate after being assured that the product was within the drug code. After the game Clarke was drug tested and tested positive to an ingredient named Dimethylamylamine. He was banned for 2 years.

Why the Essendon football club believes its players will or should be treated differently to these two players is beyond me. All Essendon players who took banned substances in 2012 should be banned for 2 years.

The unbelievable

The AFL announced that the 2013 Australian team to tour Ireland for the International Rules Series would be all Indigenous players. A couple of points to ponder:

1. Gill McLachlan admitted the top players didn’t want to play in 2011 so isn’t it a bit disingenuous to then offer the ‘opportunity’ to an all-Indigenous team? If noon else wants to do it will give it to the indigenous boys – they’ll do it.

2. No mention was made of the Gaelic Athletic Association agreeing to this change of team. I reckon the Irish will be less than happy that they won’t be playing a full strength team, as they would be literally banking on filling stadiums, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they kicked up a great stink and threaten to boycott the series. [Though right at the moment they are probably more concerned with the greatest Irish rugby player of all time Brian O’Driscoll getting dropped from the Lions.]

But maybe this was the AFL’s tactic all along, change the Australian team without consultation with the GAA so they would then take offence and call off the series thus bringing down the curtain on the hybrid rules games for good.

VFL watch

I travelled to Coburg City Oval to watch Coburg take on the VFL Cats. A grealty improved effort by Coburg compared to previous weeks saw them lead by 3 points at three quarter time. Alas it wasn’t meant to be for the Burgers as the Cats overran them in the last quarter to win by 19 points.

Some observations from the day.

The Cat’s Billie Smedts is a class above VFL level. When the game was up for grabs at the start of the last quarter he dominated the forward line, kicking a couple of goals and passing off others. A class player.

Geelong’s Jack Holman looks like he was pulled off a surfboard at Torquay that morning and thrown onto the team bus to come and play for the Cats. A shaggy mop of blond hair and a long sleeve jumper that could have concealed a long sleeve rashie or a wetsuit made the look. Holman can play football though – he kicked three clever goals for the day including two in a minute in the second quarter.

George Horlin-Smith, despite having a name that suggests he’s from an elite Eastern beaches Sydney private school and he should running around in the second row for the Wallabies, looks like former Geelong player and  mediocre 90’s player hall of famer , Glen ‘Oyster’ Kilpatrick.

Josh Walker is a Steve Johnson disciple. He had two set shots from within 30m of goal including one directly in front, which he kicked by having set shot snaps standing at 90 degrees to the man on the mark, you know the Setvie J method. It worked with Walker kicking 5 goals for the day including a big drop punt bomb in the 3rd quarter from outside 50.

Robin Nahas, seemed to be playing for himself on Sunday: running hard only when it suited him, demanding the ball from team mates when he was in worse positions and berating them when they made mistakes yet he was guilty of poor decision making himself. A classic Nahas moment came in the third quarter when he took a mark sized up his options and kicked the ball out of bounds on the full. I wonder why Nahas hasn’t featured much in the AFL this year.

Coburg’s Daniel Venditti is a hard running wingman with neat skills who loves to kick a goal. His committed work ethic and team oriented style of play were a highlight. Skipper Nick Carnell was his usual industrious self around the midfield. Brett O’Hanlan looks like a likely type as a key forward. He took some good contested grabs and coolly slotted a couple of difficult set shots to finish with 2 goals. Tom Derrikx rucking against Trent West and Nathan Vardy battled manfully all day and showed signs he could be the back up to Ivan Maric that Richmond are hoping for.

Geelong supporters need to extend their vocabulary. The Geelong cheer squad had the same chant after every goal. For example, Ryan Bathie, whose nickname is Bubbles, kicked a goal and the cheer squad lept into action with: “Ryan Ryan Ryan Oi Oi Oi, Ryan Oi, Bathie Oi, Ryan Ryan Ryan Oi Oi Oi.” Then clap clap clap x 8 “Go Cats!” Another Geelong supporter was quite vocal and treated the crowd to such great lines as calling the umpires dressed in orange “glow worms” and after a call went against Geelong followed up with “Umpires, open your eyes. The only one open is in the back of your pants.” Then the piece de résistance, after a scuffle that resulted in a Geelong goal, this: “Throw another punch burgers. You’ve got nothing burgers. Cold as hamburgers.” Classic.

What they should do

Why do he TV networks bother with those cameras pointed into the coaches box? How many times can you watch a coach go “F$CK!” and break a phone when a player mucks up? How many times can you see them looked shocked when a line ball umpiring decision goes against them? Are they saving up all those reactions to make an end of season montage? What is the point? It’s trite and adds nothing to the coverage.

Coaches have been a little bit touchy about who is looking into their box this week with Essendon wallpapering the coaches box at Subiaco to stop prying West Coast eyes see their peptides I mean tactics. Then Ross Lyon went apoplectic when a fan tried to take a photo of the coaches box with a phone. Really it’s the thin edge of the wedge you let one person take a single photo of you and next thing you know there’ll be TV camera’s mounted on the front of the boxes filming every single thing you do…. Yeah. Chill out Ross, focus on coaching teams to play really boring football.

The quote

“If you’re going to bring things in, bring them in at the beginning of the year. Grow up.”

“Don’t knee jerk. Don’t find out there’s something available at round 15 when it was available in round one.”

“Don’t make excuses for the AFL. There’s already enough excuses.”

“An organisation that big, with that many people, it’s a conglomerate stuck down there at Docklands and they’re going to wait until round 15 to discover there’s some mechanism that actually gets it right? Turn it up.”
The AFL announced they will trial ball tracking technology, Hawkeye, for goal umpiring decisions this weekend.  Hooray! Cricket says welcome to 2005, Mick Malthouse was less enthusiastic. Although to me this outrage is a diversionary tactic by Mick to mask Carlton’s current plight I have to agree with him, the AFL have made a real hash of the goal review system.