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) 7:25 PM All Times AEDT
The AFLM is back!
Footy itself has been back for a while with the AFLW of course; I’m not making the same mistake Scott Pendlebury did in his tweet, which proved he obviously hates women.
A lot has changed in the footy world over the last few years.
For instance, we’ve had a fifty percent reduction in teams we can laugh at in the traditional opening game of the season.
I guess all those people complaining that the Premiers should open the season have got their wish. But at what cost? Happy Richmond fans.
It’s been too high a price to pay.
It also means about ninety percent of this column’s jokes are now useless.
What jokes? I hear some of you say.
Just make the Richmond jokes Melbourne ones, the crueller ones amongst you cry out.
Oh, how I’ve missed you, all you cynics.
All I’m saying is get ready for a lot of ‘North aren’t very good’ jokes in 2018. Exciting.
Thursday night will see Richmond unfurl its premiership flag in a religious ceremony that will be followed by the sacrifice of the Carlton Football Club.
Get used to watching Carlton. The AFL, with the same wisdom that’s given us AFLX, have decided we want to see them on Thursday and Friday night a whole lot.
“The fans will like what we tell them to like,” Gillon McLachlan recently announced in a media conference where he announced the closing of Tasmania.
Judging by the last year’s crowds, not even Blues fans want to see Carlton, but attempting to decipher the AFL’s fixturing logic will send you insane.
The Blues could be better than we think this year. Remember Liam Jones’ turn from zero to hero? All Carlton need is for almost every player on their list to do that.
Richmond to win this.
Essendon vs Adelaide (ES) 7:50 PM
This is being held at Etihad, which is convenient to the Crows, who I can only assume are still standing statue-like at the MCG, as they did through last year’s Grand Final.
The Crows have their traditional ‘who’s going to leave us at the end of the year’ activity already underway and this year’s theme is ‘Rory Sloane’.
Wouldn’t Crows fans be excited if he and Dangerfield could reunite at Geelong?
It’s a worry they keep losing players to Victorian clubs, as Melbourne is overrun by African gangs, so if people prefer to go there you’ve got a problem.
Essendon spent the offseason wondering why they got Jake Stringer and also floating the idea that they may enter a team in the NBL.
Andrew Demetriou’s appointment to the NBL makes that second idea seems both enticing and unlikely.
Demetriou has the rare chance to irritate fans across two codes, but he’s got a bit of work ahead of him to catch David Gallop.
I think Essendon could upset the Crows here.
St Kilda vs Brisbane (ES) 3:35 PM
The Saints have made a welcome return to their spiritual heartland Moorabbin, from where they won all those premierships.
It follows a disastrous move to Seaford that Nick Riewoldt believes ripped the soul out of the club.
It’s no surprise that the move was a disaster, after all, Archie Fraser, the architect of the move went on to lead Clive Palmer’s breakaway football body, Football Australia.
That seems to also be going well.
The Lions enter the season with Luke Hodge weirdly playing for them. It just looks wrong seeing him in that uniform, like when you watch Bill Shorten eat a sausage in bread.
Hodge is all part of the AFL pouring a lot of time and money into this heartland state.
The AFL will always put resources into places where there are vast numbers of people oblivious or complete disinterested in them, hello India and China.
They’re like the friend who only chases relationship with people who are emotionally unavailable. Meanwhile, they ignore the person who’s been into them forever and is great.
St Kilda to win this.
Port Adelaide vs Fremantle (AO) 4:35 PM
Port went on a big recruiting spree in the offseason, getting a whole bunch of players other teams didn’t want and calling it a coup.
Tom Rockliff, Jack Watts, Lindsay Thomas, Jack Trengove and Steven Motlop all are on board.
While the jury is still out on the recruiting strategy of trying to rebuild one of the worst Melbourne teams in history, six goals in a preseason game means the Jack Watts move has already paid off, even if he does nothing for the rest of the year.
Port’s President David Koch has spent the off-season sparring with Jeff Kennett about China, making me think that even though they have polar opposite views, they must somehow both be wrong.
Fremantle are 0.0000003 percent into Ross Lyon’s contract extension. They appear to have a healthy Nat Fyfe back for the year, which makes a huge difference, both on the field and in Channel Seven packages of footballers working on their family farms or driving trucks.
Last year, Ross Lyon cryptically tweeted ‘Strap yourselves in’ before the season.
It turned out it was a heads up for the train wreck of a season ahead. This year he’s been eerily silent which either means Freo are set for a great year, or his account was just a Russian bot all this time.
Port to win this.
Gold Coast vs North Melbourne (CS) 7:25 PM
In further proof the AFL hates North Melbourne, they’ve sent them to Cazaly’s Stadium in Cairns in the first round in 28 degrees, with 83 percent humidity and thunderstorms predicted.
This match has huge ramifications for the wooden spoon race and Brad Scott’s coaching career, as North fans were sick of him about three years ago.
Gold Coast’s former coach Rodney Eade, departed last year for the greener pastures of the Balwyn Tigers who play in the suburban Eastern Football League.
Apparently, the lure of finally joining a professional environment after stints at Collingwood and the Suns was too tempting for Rocket.
In his place comes Stuart Dew, who has come from the Swans. That’s like going from an Aston Martin DB9 to one of the electric scooters my grandma tries to run people over with when she’s shopping.
The Suns may be the only team that will improve without Gary Ablett, who spent a lot of last year doing a good impression of a hostage.
Suns to win this.
Hawthorn vs Collingwood (MCG) 7:25 PM
Nathan Buckley said he wouldn’t be changing the Pies game plan this season, which is smart as you can’t change something you don’t have.
Collingwood spent the off-season injuring their players, in what is now an annual event.
I’m not the most insightful footy pundit out there but having significant amounts of your team injured all the time seems to be a sub-optimal approach to being competitive.
At least the Pies seem to have broken the habit of recruiting highly paid, injury prone veterans that no one else wants, although they did trade with Sydney again which shows real bravery after the Jesse White deal.
Hawthorn’s decline has been great and all, but not steep or long enough for me. The return of Jeff ‘Constant Relevancy Deprivation’ Kennett, has only increased everyone’s hopes that the wheels continue to come off.
That said, the fact Alastair Clarkson knows what he’s doing concerns me and Jaeger O'Meara seems not to be injured (for now).
I’m tipping the Hawks here.
Greater Western Sydney vs Western Bulldogs (UNSW) 1:10 PM
The Bulldogs seemed to have a lot of issues in the offseason. Stringer leaving because of all the various things was a huge story but not as big as Susan Alberti being not let in a specific gate at a match that was free entry.
It was a brutal confrontation and worth all the media coverage.
“Sorry, you can’t come in here because you’ve got a bunch of other people with you, but you can all come in for free at any other gate.”
Can the team rebound this season with the shadow of ‘Gategate’ hanging over them?
Possibly, although there’s more than a few injuries that will be possibly troubling them even more than mum and dad fighting.
Against their arch rivals the Giants, they’ll need all the help they can get.
Kicking off the season in the Western Sydney suburb of Canberra, the Giants know it’s all or nothing for them this year.
Anything less than a Premiership means they will be consigned to the dustbin of history, disbanded as a team and the grounds they play on salted so nothing can grow again, like at ANZ Stadium.
It’s that serious.
Another choke in the finals would confirm their current position as the Greg Norman of the AFL.
The Giants to win this.
Melbourne vs Geelong (MCG) 3:20 PM
Melbourne should be fresh from there radical ‘let’s not train too hard’ offseason.
They say you play how you train and never has that been more accurate than here.
In going around Simon Goodwin’s back and approaching the AFL, the players have created a rod for their backs.
Any sign of physical and mental weakness will all come back to them now, not the coach who tried to toughen them up but was bizarrely overruled.
The Demons should play finals this year, just natural improvement from a talented list should see that happen, but that’s been Melbourne’s problem, the assumption that these things just happen.
Having Viney out for what now appears to be an indefinite period is troublesome, and yes ‘indefinite’ in the AFL means about a month if Jordan De Goey is anything to go by.
Geelong has the holy trinity playing for them, and I assume some other players, but I’ve been unable to find any mention of them.
Ablett appears to be going to play in this game, but Dangerfield seems to be borderline. Having a third of their side out is hardly ideal, but Geelong will probably have to get used to that if Ablett’s last few years are any guide.
Melbourne has the talent to beat anyone but North Melbourne on their day, but they need to start doing it consistently if they’re to play finals for the first time since 2006.
Demons to win this.
West Coast vs Sydney (PS) 7:20 PM
Perth got a new stadium but not a new walkway to get to the stadium, which should make things interesting.
I thought Etihad Stadium had the market cornered on fan hostility, but it seems Western Australia can match anything the Eastern States can throw at it.
Nic Naitanui could make a long-awaited return this week, although he could still miss due to a new injury to his thumb.
There’s not a lot of pressure on Nic Nat; he’s just expected to fix all of the Eagles problems.
It will be interesting to see how the Eagles travel this year, with their champion Brownlow Medallist Sam Mitchell retiring after all those year of service.
Josh Kennedy looks to be out for the Eagles but an in for the Swans.
The Swans have to fill Kurt Tippett shoes this season and covering a loss like that would trouble any side.
Buddy Franklin has obviously been a massive failure because the Swans haven’t won the premiership every year since he joined them, the only measure of a player.
I think the Swans could ruin the Eagles party at their new stadium.
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