Round 11 AFL Preview

Last Week 6/9     Season Total 65/90

Soooo much stuff happens week to week.  When I wrote last week, Clarkson and Hardwick were still coaching their teams and not even a week later, they are not.  But I might park the specific footy commentary until I preview the games to talk about another subject, a bit more personal. 

I went to bed on Thursday night with a giddy feeling in my tummy about the upcoming weekend of footy matches, knowing that I just had to push through a few hours of work first.  I woke at 5am and the giddy feeling had turned to a slight uncomfortableness which then gave way to searing pain.  My time had come, I was going to pass this kidney stone now.  By the time I got to hospital, I was ambivalent over the receiving of treatment or deliverance from pain through firing squad.  Luckily, the Emergency Department was quiet, and they got me in straight away.  After 8 different people asked me the same questions eight times, they said the magic words. “Let’s get you some relief.”  The nurse arrived with a few tablets and a suppository.  “This apparently works well.  Would you like me to put it in or will you do it yourself?”  I appreciate their commitment but thought I’d give them a break and said I’d handle it.  She gave me the suppository and a glove and left.

Putting in a suppository is not a natural thing to me, and I would say I was a bit clumsy.  It wasn’t overly big but with much effort, concentration and well…brute force, I got it in.  Promptly, the nurse returned.

“Here’s the lube,” she said in a disgustingly carefree way. 

 Pro-tip.  Before attempting any DIY project, make sure you have all the necessary tools.

They say passing a kidney stone is the male version of childbirth.  I’m not an expert in that, and it sounds like the sort of thing a male would say just to get a rise from a female.  However, when the stone finally did come out, I took it home, named it, swaddled it, and showed it off as proudly as my other children.  I don’t know the gestational period but Keith (the Rolling stone), must be a teenager because he just lies around all day and is mostly unresponsive in conversations.

 Anyway…What is all this kerfuffle in the AFL this week?

Sydney vs Carlton            SCG        Friday Night

I gave Carlton every chance.  It was primed for them to deliver a classic backs-against-the-wall performance and get one up on their archrivals.  But, if you’ll pardon the stereotype, the Italian heart still beats strong at Carlton, and they are expert renovators so were able to construct a small recess in the wall so they could stand right up against it, but still have a bit of air at their backs.  I am a strong believer that a premiership requires a confluence of a good team and a good coach.  Imagine rating a team out of 5 and coach out of 5 and adding the two together.  If your number is 8 or higher, you have a shot at a premiership.  For example, Adam Simpson, by all accounts, is a good coach so we can give him a 4.  His team at the moment is probably a 1.  4+1=5 and so no premiership.  On this basis, where do we rank the Carlton team and the Voss coach?

Certainly, the loss last week should bring more heat on Voss and the week was panning out that way.  The media are doing their job and had camped out in the bushes outside the Carlton front door to surprise the CEO with pointed questions.  You see, call me cynical, but one of the best things for journalists is the removal of a coach.  You can then write stories about how bad they were and it’s going to be better to be rid of them and equally as many stories about how good they used to be, and they should have been given more of a chance.  And then you can write speculative stories all year about who’s going to replace them and badger other coaches and clubs who have contracts coming to an end.  You can also follow the sacked coach to their holiday spot, which (in the case of Dimma) he was given the suggestions of Ibiza and Lake Grace and he said it would be halfway in between.  By my reckoning this means the journos will be camped out at the Aéroport de la Pointe Larue in The Seychelles to get comment on the fall out.  A lot of this stuff just writes itself.  A coach leaving is good for business.  Luckily for Voss, both Clarkson and Hardwick have now done this and so the badgering will be abated for a few weeks.  In fact, the cease and desist in badgering Voss and Simpson occurred immediately and turned directly to Hinkley who after winning 7-in-a-row is allegedly on shaky ground.

 But Carlton had better win if they want to keep the media away.  Their gameplan also looks terrible and Sydney will present a challenge despite them only just pipping North Melbourne and only because of an interchange blunder.  I almost got that tip wrong, and it would have been because of the coach replacement factor.  So, this is it.  This is the last chance I’m giving Carlton for the year.  The wall can’t be recessed any further without major engineering changes.  Carlton by 16 points.

Saint Kilda vs Hawthorn               Marvel Stadium               Saturday Afternoon

The two big talking points from these teams’ matches on the weekend just gone are the third book in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (The Return of the King), in the case of Saint Kilda and the ease in which Hawthorn dispatched West Coast in the case of Hawthorn.  For Saint Kilda, they welcomed back their big man up front, and he dealt some early blows to GWS to get them over the line, but the coach admits he needs a fellowship around him for sustained success.  It is much harder to get a gauge on Hawthorn based on the condition of their opponent.  While they won the match, did they really win anything?  Really?  Effectively all they did that day was remove the talk about tanking around them.  Saint Kilda will go into this match as warm favourites, despite the confidence that Hawthorn will have after dodging the bollards that were on the field down in Launceston.  Saint Kilda will walk away with this one and Hawthorn just need to focus this year on weathering the off-field controversy.  A media amnesty will exist this week while they deal with the aftermath of Dimma’s exit, but with the Hawthorn saga now being taken behind closed doors and under Gillon’s control, the media will soon become outraged at their lack of access / transparency and the scrutiny will become worse than ever.  Saint Kilda by 31 points.

Melbourne vs Fremantle             MCG      Saturday Afternoon

Melbourne was valiant in their almost-win against a red-hot Port Adelaide.  As the rain poured down and things got really slippery, it was almost ironic that a man named Butters was handling things so cleanly.  Stocks had risen on Geelong, but underlying their great form was a bunch of terrible opponents and Fremantle pounced on the Cats while Geelong were weighed down by an anchor in a classic monicker reversal.  While it was nice for Freo to get a well-placed scalp at home, taking the scalp of a Demon on the road requires an altogether different surgery technique.  A tough game for Freo but with a bye the following week they should not leave anything on the table.  It will be closer than Melbourne thinks, but not close enough.  The sideshow of the return of Jackson to the Demon nest (what is the nesting place of a group of demons called anyway) and an enthralling battle looming of Gawn/Grundy vs Jackson/Darcy makes this compulsory viewing.  Not to mention some other tantalizing matchups. Petracca v Brayshaw, Amiss v May.  It looks like Oliver will be out for a rest with a dodgy string of ham and suddenly I’m almost talking myself into a Fremantle win.  Better close this off before I flip-flop.  Melbourne by 22 points.

Geelong vs Greater Western Sydney     Kardinia Park     Saturday Afternoon

Geelong were shown up on the weekend proving that playing teams ranked 10th or less is no way to prepare for a team itching to get in the 8.  This is not going to be a good year for GWS who will just need to battle through and be content with just missing the finals by a couple of games.  This week, the Cats return to their own litter box and dare say it will be a space too small to fit the Giants in.  Geelong by 32 points.

Gold Coast vs Footscray                                TIO Stadium       Saturday Night

Gold Coast have been playing some good footy of late.  They didn’t quite have what it takes to get over Brisbane, but at the Gabba, not many do.  Footscray on the other hand dispatched Adelaide to book a first class return from Mars.  This week, the two teams head up to Marrara in NT, a place they have only played each other once before.  But that was too long ago to influence anything.  Gold Coasts recent record at Marrara is excellent with 10-goal victories, albeit over North Melbourne and Hawthorn.  Footscray have a much better record at Marrara but haven’t played there in almost 10 years.  To boil it down, or reduce it into a tasty jus, this match comes down to two teams on a neutral ground so which team is the better team.  And that team is Footscray by 29 points.

West Coast vs Essendon               Perth Stadium   Saturday Night

Essendon produced a Lazarus, dare I say, Collingwood-style comeback in the dying minutes to ice a 1-point victory over Richmond who have held sway over them the last 13 meetings.  I watched the game with great thrill and even though it blew up my tips, the result was edge-of-the-seat stuff.  I even let out a squeal of delight.  I can only assume that losing the Dreamtime match triggered a get-out clause for Hardwick and after 10 years of trying, he was finally able to take it.  Where to start with West Coast.  This was another forgettable game and until Hardwick quit, the media started to try to push Simpson out so they could feast on his carcass.  The injuries continue to mount and the players he has available simply aren’t up to AFL standard.  Past players, supporters and media alike are baying for blood and the easy target is the public face in Simpson.  But play that scenario through for a minute.  Simpson out and Hardwick in this week for example (a theory I’m sure will be thrown up as an option by the media).  What is Hardwick going to do?  Another great coach with the same cattle (refer back to my formula).  West Coast holding the course is probably the best course of action.  As ugly as it’s going to be, evaluate the list, make the hard decisions at the trade and draft tables, and build for the coming years.  They may have lost last week, but did they really?  Really?  A big question I have is, does Harley Reid want to go to West Coast?  His career will be over before they taste finals action again.  Other than planning an exit after the 2-year moratorium on trading, what recourse does a player have to give their career the best chance of tasting ultimate success.  I understand Reid is currently undergoing stem-cell therapy to see if he can genetically prove his dad played for someone else.  Buckle up West Coast fans.  You are in a place you have never been before and there’s not enough Chardonnay in Margaret River to wash over it.  You’ll need to find another interest for a few months because, sorry to break it to you, but you also have one of the tougher runs home in the league.  Essendon by 68 points.

Richmond vs Port Adelaide         MCG      Sunday Afternoon

Just what Port Adelaide needed.  Here they were rolling along nicely on a 7-win streak and their next opponents’ coach up and leaves making it a surety that Richmond will win based on the anecdotal evidence of “Coach Leaves-Team Wins” theory of football.  Hats off to Dimma who, in 2016, was pulled into the office and given the “this is your last chance” talk and then went on an epic winning run and delivered three premierships.  He leaves the team in a good position and cited that now he knows they won’t get a dip at it this year, he doesn’t have the energy required for the long road to the top again.  The media are delighted.  They have a coaching scalp (two if you count Clarkson) to attach a myriad of stories about how good he was, how bad he was, who will coach next, where will Dimma coach next, who’s out of contract?  Why did he leave?  And the media are gorging themselves already.  An official announcement at 9am and by 10am I already had 15 separate articles on it.  I can see the dollar signs rolling in the editors’ eyes.  Caroline Wilson has got off to an early start already claiming it is a crisis.  One coach left because there are some extraordinary circumstances and the other had been at the wheel for 13 years and has had enough.  I’m not sure this constitutes a crisis.  Look around your company.  How many have been there for more than 13 years?  Coaching is a tough caper.  I should also mention something about the soft cap here, but I only understand that as being some kind of beret.  Port Adelaide will be flying high after their come from behind win last Friday and this may produce a level of euphoric exhaustion.  Richmond is still a dangerous side and although Dimma won’t be at the helm, the team will be keen to send him off with a win.  Richmond by 6 points.

Collingwood vs North Melbourne           Marvel Stadium               Sunday Afternoon

I’m reliably told that after a coach replacement (since 2012), there have been 5 victories out of 12 matches the following week.  While that sounds like a low number, consider that these teams were generally always losing, hence the replacement, and it’s a solid statistic.  North Melbourne almost evened that statistic up, save for a confusing interchange exchange.  What riled me up the most about it was not the act, not the free kick, but just how quickly the Sydney bench manager got up to dob.  “Muuuuuuuummmm, Andy is cheating!”  Can’t really blame them though.

Collingwood inflicted further pain on their Carlton rivals and cruised to an easy victory.  Darcy Moore broke the world galactic universe record for intercept marks and probably took out the congeniality crown too.  At least for 24 hours until the judges stepped in and asked for a recount and reset him to just tie for the record.  Meanwhile, Nick Daicos sent shivers through the betting fraternity with a love tap on Blake Acres, but the tribunal gave it the semi-ok and restored order.  However, I note he was labelled with his full name “Nicholas” which is a common formality that Collingwood players are often afforded when confronted by a jury of their peers.  On the surface this should be straight forward and has been consigned to the Sunday Afternoon timeslot appropriate to its entertainment value.  But I’m tipping that Collingwood will be a bit complacent in this one and enable a small rest period before tackling the back half of the season.  Remember, North Melbourne almost beat Collingwood last year.  How close is closer than it should be?  Collingwood by 67 points.

Adelaide vs Brisbane     Adelaide Oval   Sunday Twilight

We have to wait until the end of the weekend for the match of the round.  The last time The Lions visited the Adelaide Oval they were savaged by a Network of Power Poles.  This time they meet a Murder of Crows who can often be found perched atop those Power Poles (ever get too deep into your collective nouns that you can’t back out)?  Anyway, Adelaide has been a bit wobbly of late when faced with some more competent opponents, but they are a very efficient side at home.  Brisbane may be the current benchmark for the season but doesn’t have a very good record at Adelaide Oval with only 3 wins from 11 starts.  Then that bit of history is countered by the fact that Brisbane has beaten Adelaide in the last 2 meetings at Adelaide Oval and pretty convincingly at that.  It’s the kind of match where I would look through the lines and see what the potential match ups are.  Without running through them they revealed to me that Adelaide has no chance.  Form has been known to reverse.  Not yet though.  Brisbane by 18 points.

As a bookend note to this preview, I should discuss the first time I passed a kidney stone.  I was in a small country town and was taken to the hospital, which was more like a nursing post.  I knew it was a kidney stone and told the doctor so.  I produced a set of pristine X-rays, taken a few days earlier, which clearly showed the stone glowing in all its glory and a report from the radiologist describing the dimensions and position of the stone in great detail and in bold letters, the report said it would likely pass soon.  I presented all of this compelling evidence to the doctor there who looked it over and promptly said, “Could be your prostate,” and shoved two fingers up my clacker!  I should have protested, but I was in so much pain, I was happy for anything to take my mind off it.  It turns out the old doctor was a retired proctologist and in his bag of diagnostic tools, a prostate exam was his 1-Wood.  Broken Arm…prostate exam, conjunctivitis…prostate exam.  I hope he used a glove, but I’ll never know.  Being a very small country town, they didn’t have the drugs to help.  I would have been better off to be taken to the local horse vet…they have ketamine, but on reflection, I’ve seen their diagnostic methodology before and they don’t usually stop at 2-fingers! 

Keep your fluids up and good luck with the tips.


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