Mar 16, 2023
A highly unhelpful guide to Round One
The only guide to the round that admits it’s completely unhelpful. What it lacks in insight, it makes up for with wild theories and detours onto unrelated topics.
It’s your unhelpful guide to Round One.
Richmond vs. Carlton (MCG) 7:20pm Seven/Fox
Finally, the footy is back, which means one thing, we can all stop pretending to be interested in our co-workers’ lives.
The only conversations that should be had at work from now on should revolve around football and in extreme circumstances, work.
Before we begin looking at round one, I want to address concerns that I may use ChatGPT to write these columns.
I’m happy to say that’s just not possible. These columns have never contained any intelligence, artificial or organic.
Last year, the AFL had the previous year’s Grand Finalists open the season, but when absolutely no one cried out, ‘Return Carlton to their traditional opening game slot!’, the AFL agreed immediately.
And why not? You must reward Carlton’s ‘avoid the finals at all costs’ mentality.
Not that Carlton fans spent all off-season asking themselves, ‘how could this happen?” Because for at least a generation, this is what always happens.
What’s exciting is to see how they do it this season. There are so many ways!
Richmond fans have changed a lot in recent years. Losing an elimination final like they did last season is now seen as a failure, not overachieving as it once was.
New recruits Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper have been brought in to fix all the problems, so no pressure.
One problem we have this year is fewer preseason games, which means we haven’t been able to build a proper false sense of confidence in our tips.
I’m tipping Carlton, as I expect them to get off to a flyer, making the second half of their season even funnier.
Geelong vs. Collingwood (MCG) 7:40pm Seven/Fox
The great news for the MCG, which is recovering from a series of Ed Sheeran concerts, is it gets three games in a row to really test out the new surface.
Who could have foreseen that hosting two huge concerts just weeks before the start of the season would cause problems?
Everyone. Everyone could see they would leave the MCG more cratered than the moon.
Anyone who keeps an eye on current affairs knows those Ed Sheeran fans are a destructive bunch who make even Melbourne Victory fans nervous.
But the MCC saw those huge red-haired dollar signs coming at them, serenading them softly over a hip-hop beat, and said, ‘do what you want to me, Ed.’
This pre-season, I’ve read expert after expert write off the Pies, some even tipping them not to make finals.
This seems a bit reckless. Do we really want to motivate them?
Look, no one wants Collingwood to fall down the ladder harder than Razor Ramon at WrestleMania X than me.
But it seems to be wishful thinking.
The Pies offseason was marred by Jack Ginnivan being filmed while in the bathroom, a breach of privacy that somehow ended with him having to apologize.
I’m old enough to remember a time when the person filming someone in the toilet would be the focus of the story.
I know we are all meant to act all outraged over someone taking an ‘illicit white powder’, as it’s called these days, but an AFL player doing it is up there with an Instagram Influencer for shock value.
Geelong are coming off a Premiership victory in which they narrowly defeated the Sydney Swans.
That means we have another year of us all hoping they are too old and too slow, even if we know that’s just something we just tell ourselves even if we know it’s not true.
Like how I tell myself, I’m single because ‘I just haven’t met the right person yet’, not because my personality is like DDT to any blossoming relationship.
I’m tipping Geelong.
Saturday, Mar 18
North Melbourne vs. West Coast (Marvel) 1:45pm Fox Footy
The match of the round by some margin.
The good news for North Melbourne is they now have Alastair Clarkson on board, which is the steady hand they need.
No more drama, no more off the field distractions.
Clarko is a guy who can communicate with the media in an easygoing manner and keep the focus on football.
Unfortunately, they are still without all round nice guy Tarryn Thomas, which is a shame because he brings a great culture to the club.
After opting out of playing last season, there are rumours coming out of the west that the Eagles will play this season.
It’s exciting news for West Coast fans who experienced last season something that I would only wish on my worst enemy, who happens to be an Eagles supporter named Susan.
You know what you did, Susan.
What this game lacks in talent will be made up for by you not watching it.
I’m tipping the Eagles.
Port Adelaide vs. Brisbane (AO) 4:35pm Fox Footy
Rejoice Port fans! The jumper wars are over, with the new brass at Collingwood deciding to introduce rational thinking into their skill set.
Yes, Port Adelaide will be able to wear their prison bar jumper in the Showdown, ending a debate that almost all footy fans have not cared about in any shape or form.
The Power could have run out in togas, and most people wouldn’t have cared.
In fact, I would enjoy it immensely if they ran out in Collingwood jumpers just to watch the reaction.
One player to watch at Port Adelaide this season is Jason Horne-Francis, who will fulfil his lifelong dream of playing for an AFL side this season.
Brisbane qualified for a Prelim final last year, and then they almost played in it.
This year there is more hype around the Lions than episode three of The Last of Us.
Brisbane fans will be hoping it has a less traumatic ending, however.
I’m tipping the Lions.
Melbourne vs. Western Bulldogs (MCG) 7:25pm Seven/Fox
The Rory Lobb era has begun at the Bulldogs, and anything less than a Premiership will be seen as a failure.
It reminded me of when LeBron took his talents to Miami.
In exciting news, Bailey Smith has said he’s worked out that not getting blind on the weekend will prolong his career.
I’m sceptical about that. I’ve always seen getting blind as nothing but a positive in one’s life.
I can’t think of one occasion when it’s ended negatively.
The Bulldogs will be without Cody Weightman and Arthur Jones, but not to be outdone; the Demons quickly announced Jack Viney, Bayley Fritsch, Christian Salem and possibly Steven May will be outs.
It’s this sort of one-upmanship that has given the Demons an edge in recent years.
Melbourne will be keen to end their premiership drought this year, but there’s been good news already, with the signing of sponsor Penfolds.
I’m excited to announce that every junior Demons member will get a bottle of Grange at this game.
I remember my first bottle of Grange. My nanny fed it to me on the family yacht somewhere in the Mediterranean. Ever since, I’ve had a real fondness for it.
I’m tipping Melbourne.
Gold Coast vs. Sydney (HBS) 8pm Fox Footy
The Swans may have played the Grand Final with the energy of a flatmate who has just punched an astounding number of cones, but that doesn’t mean we can write them off this season.
I mean, you also could write them off; that’s the wonderful thing about footy opinions, consistency is a shore upon which they never need crash.
Still, it can’t be easy to get over something like that. I got smashed on FIFA by a 13-year-old kid from Burkina Faso a few months ago and haven’t been able to play since.
That all said, I think the Swans are a bit more resilient than me, a person who once accidentally called his prep teacher ‘mum’ and insisted on moving schools rather than go back.
While it’s easy to criticise the Swans, Gold Coast dream of being destroyed in a Grand Final.
The good news for them is the AFL’s equalisation measures mean every club has a chance to get belted in a granny.
The Gold Coast get back Ben King who missed all last year with an anterior cruciate ligament and he should be a big factor in the Suns push to top the heady heights of finishing twelfth last season.
I’m tipping the Swans.
Greater Western Sydney vs. Adelaide (GS) 1:10pm Fox Footy
After being a dumpster fire for the past few years, the flames seem to be dying down for the Crows.
Not to praise them too highly, but occasionally last season they weren’t like watching a group of people who had only ever seen the sport of Australian Rules on a few short YouTube clips.
Which is what watching the Giants was like last year.
Something needed to change, and that was the coach, with Adam Kingsley replacing Leon Cameron.
Perhaps even more importantly, the Giants needed cool-headed leadership, so Toby Greene was the obvious choice to be captain.
I can’t see anything going wrong there.
The Crows managed to attract Izak Rankine, who decided the Gold Coast wasn’t glamourous enough for him, so he headed off to Adelaide.
Rankine copped a bit of grief from the Suns for leaving for more money.
I know, right? None of us would leave our current place of employment to go somewhere else to do the same job but for a lot more money. That would be crazy.
I’m tipping the Crows.
Hawthorn vs. Essendon (MCG) 3:20pm Seven/Fox
Two of the AFL’s smaller clubs go at it on a Sunday, with the Hawks predicted by many to take out the wooden spoon while Essendon are still Essendon.
The Bombers' off-season was messier than a Hollywood divorce.
Their change of coach was handled with the skill of a spider monkey doing open heart surgery, their President delivered the worst media conference not held outside a landscaping company, Kevin Sheedy announced he wanted James Hird to come back as coach, and their new CEO had a stint so short even Liz Truss had to laugh.
Oh, and Jake Stringer is out with a hamstring injury.
Essendon fans are well within their rights to question how their club has gone from a juggernaut to an outfit that makes the cast of theVanderpump Rules look like a model of stability.
Hawthorn’s off-season wasn’t all smooth sailing either, with the AFL’’s Racism inquiry announced in a blaze of publicity before going very quiet.
That could be concerning for a lot of reasons, but if there’s one thing I know, it’s that we can always trust the AFL, and they always handle accusations of racism incredibly well.
Bombers to win.
St Kilda vs. Fremantle (Marvel) 4:40pm Fox Footy
It’s déjà vu all over again for the Saints, with Ross Lyon returning and bringing that freewheeling, high-scoring gameplan with him.
Most Saints fan I’ve spoken to have reacted to Ross' return like someone who has gotten back with an ex. They try to sound positive, but you can see in their haunted eyes them remembering all the trauma from the earlier relationship.
At least there’s been a distraction on the field, with almost everyone at St Kilda getting injured.
Max King suffered a hamstring injury this week, which pairs beautifully with his off-season shoulder surgery, while Tim Membrey, Zak Jones, Jack Billings and Seb Ross will all miss this game.
In fact, the Saints have 14 players on their injured list, which is a worry as they don’t have 14 AFL standard players to begin with.
Fremantle faces their ex-coach, and like someone bumping into their ex, who has gotten back with their ex, they can feel relieved that that person is now their ex.
The Dockers will be boosted by the arrival of Jaeger O'Meara and Luke Jackson, who broke my heart when he left Melbourne.
Well, the doctor said it was a ‘criminally unhealthy diet’ and an ‘alarming lack of exercise’, but I know it was you, Luke. You broke my heart.
Dockers to win.
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