Footy is a passion, not some cold-hearted, spread sheet dominated rational exercise.
On a Monday, you want irrational reaction. You want emotion to trump reason.
What you really want is idiotic hysteria.
You’ve come to the right place.
Hawthorn (71) v Sydney (79)
For a game that is boring and on the cusp of death, this week had a surprising amount of great games.
It’s almost like all the angst about the sport is just the media working themselves up into a lather because it makes it easy to fill columns.
As I predicted, Ben Ronke kicked seven goals on Friday night to be the difference between these two.
You see, Ronke kicks a bag of seven once every three games on average, so it wasn’t that hard to see he was about to break out. See, advance metrics.
This was a close contest, and it was the Swans accuracy that got them across the line. In the fourth quarter, the Swans booted 5.0 to the Hawks 1.5.
Not that Alastair Clarkson saw it that way, accusing the umpires of letting the Swans get away with ‘blue murder’.
The coach of Hawthorn accusing another team of benefiting unfairly from the umpires is like Donald Trump accusing someone of being loose with the truth.
In reality, the Swans won a close one due to composure at key points. That’s what tends to settle these close games, but it’s more fun to blame umpires.
Greater Western Sydney (61) v West Coast (86)
How about the Eagles? Seven wins in a row and getting the job done on the road.
I’m calling it; it’s time I learned some of their players’ names. Is Priddis still playing?
For the Giants though, it was another disappointing day, especially on the injury front, with Matt de Boer going off before halftime with a hamstring injury and co-captain Phil Davis getting knocked out in the third.
The Eagles though had already done the damage in the second quarter as Jack Darling continued his excellent season with four goals in the first half.
Having a packed Optus Stadium yell out ‘Darling’ must be something to hear and a nice way to break up the usual booing.
The Giants tried hard all day, but the amount of injuries they currently have has undoubtedly robbed them of a lot of class.
Still, it’s a worry for them that they are currently sitting outside the eight, and this from a team many believed would win it all.
Imagine if the Giants get through this expansion period and not win a premiership. It would mean all those Victorian teams panicked themselves over nothing. How unlike them.
Still, the Giants can always rely on their fellow expansion team, the Suns, to always limbo under any bar the Giants set, no matter how low.
Carlton (91) v Essendon (78)
What a glorious dumpster fire of a game.
Commentators still refer to these two as ‘Powerhouse Victorian Clubs’ and somehow don’t immediately start laughing.
There are Essendon supporters who have never seen a premiership that are about to be legally allowed to buy alcohol.
The last time Carlton won a premiership, the movie Babe was released.
Now both the pig and the idea of the Blues being a premiership contender are both no longer with us.
And while it felt like Carlton were the winners on the day, watching it, it felt more like they just didn’t lose.
Blues fans will be thrilled of course, but that’s more a sign of how far their expectations have been lowered.
Essendon, however, lost on a grand scale. To think that a collection of state league players and AFL cast offs showed more fight as top-ups than this group now does.
Not since Michael Voss went on a spending spree in Brisbane has a group of offseason acquisitions been so disappointing.
To put it simply, the Bombers look lost. Not just on the field either.
John Worsfold looked like a man bereft of ideas, both blaming the players and saying he’d let them decide what team they wanted to be.
How does that work?
All the Bombers fans who stuck fat during the club’s recent and prolonged descent into madness must be wondering why they bothered.
Gold Coast (77) v Melbourne (146)
A crowd of 6060 people showed up to watch this at the Gabba as the Suns still can’t use their home ground following the Commonwealth Games.
Weren’t the Commonwealth Games about two years ago?
It’s almost impossible to win over the Gold Coast to any sport but never playing there makes the degree of difficulty that much higher. Even Clive Palmer didn’t try that.
Luckily, the Suns have a home game next week, in China.
This wasn’t much of a game. The Demons dominated the Suns, matching the AFL record of 83 inside 50s.
In fact, the most surprising thing was the Suns were in touch at all as late as halfway through the third quarter.
This has been Melbourne’s most significant problem all year, bombing away into the forward line for no reward.
Luckily, the pure weight of possession meant the Demons’ problems were camouflaged somewhat.
On the positive side, they’ve now beaten Essendon, St Kilda and the Suns, with Carlton to come next week. If they win that, they’ve won four games they should win in a row, not something the Dees regularly do.
The Suns are another story. They were awful.
Only the Demons inefficiency up forward gave them any semblance of competitiveness, and in the fourth quarter, they disappeared like a friend at a nightclub who went too hard early.
Considering their NEAFL team, with 11 AFL listed players, failed to kick a goal at all on the weekend you have to wonder, how long until they disappear from the Gold Coast?
If a sporting club collapses on the Gold Coast and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
Port Adelaide (95) v Adelaide (90)
I was lucky enough to attend this, and it was a further reminder that the game is very much alive.
The intensity of support in a two-team town is insane and talking to supporters of both sides; you realise they remember every slight, every win and every defeat.
Watching the crazy final minutes, you could feel every supporter riding each bump like their lives depended on it.
When Mitch McGovern kicked truly from 50 metres out with less than a minute to go, the Crows fans were up and about, getting into the faces of the dejected Power fans.
Yet thirty seconds later, there was Steven Motlop, gathering, sliding through traffic and kicking a goal that sent the Power fans to their feet and the Crows fans putting their heads in their hands.
The whole thing was fantastic to watch as a neutral.
The celebration was immense. There was more ecstasy for the winners than was alleged to have been found in Bomber Thompson’s bedroom.
A Showdown victory really means something in South Australia, with a Crows fan telling me after the game he was certainly phoning in sick the next day just to avoid the gloating.
And why wouldn’t Port fans gloat? Appearing to be slipping back into the ‘pretender’ category, they dug deep and won a famous victory.
The partying in Adelaide afterwards was insane and in completely contrast to my more recent experience in Sydney. Yes, Adelaide’s nightlife is way better than Sydney.
This was a beautiful game, and the fact it wasn’t live across Australia is just wrong.
This is actually a national competition, despite the rear-guard action being fought by some Victorian clubs to change that.
Footy needs some great games, and with this and the Swans-Hawks game, we got them. It should have been available to everyone.
Western Bulldogs (107) v Brisbane (93)
Three wins in a row for the Doggies but they had to work at it, and no Bulldogs fan would have left feeling particularly excited.
Still, winning is winning, even if it mainly comes off the back of poor composure by your opponents.
The Bulldogs current problem is their percentage is a woeful 82.9. When your team’s percentage matches my IQ, you are in real trouble.
A lot of the thanks for this victory can go to Jack Macrae, who has recently been discovered by the media. He had 47 possession, 18 of them contested, which is just showing off.
The Lions, are now the only team still without a win this year and keep getting close but their execution lets them down.
In some ways, I’m more confident about them than the Suns, the Bombers and St Kilda.
They have young talent and seem to be at least trying to put together a coherent game plan. They also seem to be keen to compete.
Surely the dam has to break at some point.
Fremantle (89) v St Kilda (59)
In a performance not quite as defensive as their recent media conference, the Dockers beat a St Kilda outfit that continues to self-sabotage itself like someone with deep self-esteem issues.
Even another week of controversy and arguably the most pointless and jargon-filled media conference in AFL history, the Dockers were still better than St Kilda.
Nothing sums up the Saints this year more than the fact they ended the first half 1.5.
So bad was it that Amnesty International have launched a letter-writing campaign on behalf of St Kilda supporters to end this torture.
The Saints added some respectability in the second half, but Nat Fyfe was too good for them.
When he was not racking up possessions everywhere, he was kneeing Jake Carlisle in the head and concussing him.
His performance means he could be both the new Brownlow favourite and ruled ineligible in the one week. Is there anything he can’t do?
Alan Richardson coached the second half from the bench; I can only assume because it’s harder to see how little structure his team has from down there.
North Melbourne (72) v Richmond (82)
This could be portrayed as a poor outing by the Tigers, especially away from the MCG, but that would be unfair to North.
The Kangaroos have started to believe in there highly competitive style and matched the Tigers trademark pressure throughout the day.
Once again, footy showed it’s not dead, as anyone who didn’t enjoy Ben Cunnington and Trent Cotchin both battling it out all day for midfield dominance probably never liked footy, no matter the era.
Cunnington had 32 contested possessions, a new record and I think the same amount Essendon had against Carlton.
Ben Jacobs and Dustin Martin’s battle was another thing to add to the ‘footy is really, really good and way better than everything else in the world’ list.
Jacobs was stunning, but Dusty set up a few late goals to make it a duel that never seemed over.
Tigers fans can be happy; it’s a nice position to be in when your big problem is if you won by ‘enough’.
North fans could be happy, but like the players, I suspect they won’t. They could have won this, and this seems a team not interested in brave performances.
Collingwood (45) v Geelong (66)
So footy is obviously dead having watched this. I retract everything else I said.
The Pies, having hit some form recently, weren’t a total disgrace but kicking 5.15 and scoring just 45 points doesn’t win you many games.
In many ways, it was a return to the mean for the Pies, with poor kicking and injuries back in force.
With Darcy Moore (hamstring) and Tom Phillips (concussion) off in the second half, the Pies were always going to struggle.
Add to that Jamie Elliot injuring his hamstring again in the VFL and this was a bad day for the Pies. Elliot should be listed as ‘indefinite’ even if he’s out on the park.
Still, Collingwood didn’t make it easy for the Cats who seemed very scrappy for a team with a supposed elite midfield.
I only wrote ‘elite’ then because I’ve been told I’m significantly below the ‘once every three sentences’ required by AFL commentators. Sorry.
Gary Ablett at least made it through and was excellent, which is always the case.
Cats fans would have been happy with the continuing emergence of players like Tom Stewart, Sam Menegola and Tim Kelly but you wouldn’t be rushing to watch the replay of this.
I have two new dates to announce for my show A Thoroughly Unhelpful History of Australian Sport. Exciting!
The first is 7.00pm Wednesday 6 June The Comic’s Lounge in Melbourne.
The second is 8.00pm Thu 7 June Arkaba Hotel Adelaide.
The last ten shows at the Melbourne Comedy Festival sold out so get in early.
Tickets for both shows available here:frontiercomedy.com/titusoreily
You can help support me in producing this ridiculous nonsense I churn out on a regular basis. I aim to keep as much of my stuff on this site and available to everyone and not behind paywalls.
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