Aug 21, 2022


The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round Twenty Three


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.


Brisbane (57) v Melbourne (115)

Well, I’m back.

Covid finally got me, and it was not fun at all. Perhaps the worst bit for me was that Pete Evans’ BioCharger did not work at all.

Can you believe it? And after I did all my own research.

My other disappointment was I didn’t get to write a preview or a review of the penultimate round, which is about the only chance each year I get to write the word penultimate, and as every footy writer knows, that’s the only time we sound somewhat smart.

The truth is, until my late thirties, I thought penultimate meant the best pen money could buy.

Brisbane needed to do win this, and it was at home, which made this performance extra horrendously bad.

Not only did the Dees throttle them, but their Captain also ran around like the goose in Untitled Goose Game, just doing stupid things.

Dayne Zorko really pushed the boat out with what he said to Harrison Petty, and I’m on Petty’s side, and not because I’m a Melbourne supporter, but because if there is a side Zorko is on, you’re just instantly on the other side.

Dees fans would be thrilled with this outcome, but to temper the excitement, this was against Brisbane, a team that gets weaker the closer it gets to finals, like an ice cream thrown into the sun.


Greater Western Sydney (69) v Fremantle (89)

This Saturday of footy was awful, just awful. Let’s try and get through these reviews by mentioning the football as little as possible, which is sort of my thing anyway.

For a team that needed to win to have a chance of finishing top four, Fremantle took an odd approach of letting the Giants kick seven of the first nine goals.

While not ideal, to the Dockers credit, they didn’t let this continue and got on top to eventually run away with the win.

They were lucky this was against the Giants, a team as removed from September as March is.

The Giants don’t have a coach for next year, something people would be focusing on a lot more, except for the fact that compared to Essendon, every club looks well run.

For the Dockers, they now get the Bulldogs at home because Carlton exists.

North Melbourne (47) v Gold Coast (114)

What a week it’s been for North Melbourne.

It was like the plot of a zany rom-com.

Alastair Clarkson had been looking for love after a bad break-up with his long-term girlfriend, Hawthorn. Hawthorn’s Dad Jeff Kennett had never approved of the relationship and, after years of trying, had finally ended it.

On the rebound, Clarko meets a great girl, the North Melbourne Football Club; her life is a bit of a mess, but she’s got a good heart. Could he straighten out her life while she teaches him how to love again?

But just as it seemed it would all work out for Clarko and North, the Essendon Football Club comes along, and she puts the hard word on Clarko. 

How can North compete? Essendon is glamourous, a bit of a party girl, she used to have a bit of a drug habit.

And she is the nemesis of his ex-girlfriend Hawthorn, so they’d be an element of revenge.

With North despairing, suddenly Clarko appears before her and says, ‘you had me at you can bring your entire team and run the club.’

And they lived happily ever after, but not before North got smashed in the clearances by the Gold Coast Suns.

Geelong (131) v West Coast (46)

History will show that Geelong beat West Coast in this game, but history will also not care.

West Coast’s season has been a car accident, occurring inside a trainwreck, happening inside an enormous dumpster fire.

There have been natural disasters less messy than the Eagles’ season.

Geelong basically got another week off to go with next week’s bye round.

The Cats have nothing to worry about except of all their chokes in the finals, this could be the biggest ever, with them finishing so far ahead of everyone else this time.

At least they can be confident knowing they get to play plenty of finals at home where they rarely lose.

What’s that?

Essendon (75) v Richmond (141)

To think, Essendon’s season started with Mick Malthouse predicting they would win the premiership, and it still managed to get worse from there.

After another terrible performance, the Essendon Board decided it was time to get rid of Ben Rutten.

This may or may not have been a good decision but looked terrible after the Bombers had chased Clarkson and made Rutten go through hell, just because the Essendon hierarchy is as organised as a hoarder’s house.

Having the coach in tears after the game was not great and shouldn’t happen in a situation that doesn’t involve Dayne Zorko.

It would certainly make any potential candidates think twice about joining the circus.

I haven’t seen Essendon handle a situation this badly since the last time they handled a situation.

The Bombers board said Essendon fans should trust them to fix things. I don’t think even Essendon fans are that stupid.

Richmond really rubbed it into Essendon, by belting them, then getting around Ben Rutten, and also being nice to the retiring Michael Hurley.

We didn’t need a contrast between a tight-knit club and one falling apart, but we got one.

The Tigers now get Brisbane in week one of the finals. That’s got ‘extremely winnable’ written all over it.

Port Adelaide (111) v Adelaide (55)

The Adelaide Crows have sunk to a lot of lows in recent years, and Port sledging them in the media all week and then belting them on the field added another.

You’d think there would be a fiery response, but while the Crows are "arrogant and entitled", they are also “uncoordinated and disorganised”.

Time and again the Crows tried to hit a target and seemed to do it accurately if that target was Aliir Aliir.

Personally, I would have targeted my own player, but they do things differently at the Crows.

Port attacking the Crows in the media was an odd approach for a side that massively underperformed this year.

Sure, they’re better than Adelaide, but that’s a low benchmark to measure yourself against.

At least they managed to see off Robbie Gray with a win, and in a bonus, Port fans don’t have to watch this team anymore this year.


Hawthorn (64) v Western Bulldogs (87)

As Sunday morning dawned, the Bulldogs knew they needed two things to happen, they needed to beat Hawthorn, and they needed Carlton to lose.

On paper, both these things seemed highly likely, but in reality, they proved a little harder.

Hawthorn led early on, a reminder that the Bulldogs aren’t that good, but then they began to get on top, a reminder Hawthorn aren’t that good.

Hawks fans are used to success, so this season was hard enough, made even harder seeing Alastair Clarkson stepping out with his new crush. Nothing is harder than seeing your ex with someone new.

Eventually the Bulldogs got the win but made their fans test out the health of their heart in the process.

The second part of their finals puzzle was hoping Carlton would stuff things up.

You’ll never guess what happened.

Carlton (74) v Collingwood (75)

The penultimate match of the round proved to be a classic in the genre of Carlton stuffing up, and the Carlton Cinematic Universe has a lot of such classics.

Why, just last week the Blues engineered a loss against Melbourne; surely it couldn’t happen two weeks in a row?

Of course it could, even in the multiverse, Carlton would miss out on finals.

Blues supporters probably don’t want to think too much about how they missed out on finals by just 0.6 on percentage. I mean, that’s going to linger in the mind over summer.

But as always with Carlton, it was the way they did it that showed their natural inclination to not just physically torture their fans but to rip their souls into a million tiny pieces and scatter them to the four winds.

It was the Blues old bait and switch again, where they give hope and then take it away in the most crushing fashion possible.

Every round this season, Carlton have been in the eight, except this round, which is the round that really mattered.

Once again, things looked good for the Blues, as they kicked eight goals to one in the third quarter, but every Carlton fan knew this was a troublesome moment.

Then came Collingwood, who has a certain knack for winning the close ones, which people criticise as risky, but I think is a rather positive trait to have.

The Pies proceeded to kick the final five goals in a finish so brutal, that fans of the Saw franchise submitted complaints to Channel Seven for showing such violence.

Even for Blues fans, scarred over decades of this type of torture, this one hurt. To fall at the most important point, in the most inept way, against the most hated enemy.

When does the pain end? When does Carlton stop pouring acid directly onto the hearts of their fans?

St Kilda (74) v Sydney (88)

A chance to go top two on percentage was on the table for the Swans and a home final, but suddenly, they discovered themselves in a fight with St Kilda of all teams.

Weird huh?

St Kilda often didn’t put up a fight when finals were on the line, but the minute it wasn’t, here they go.

It was very un-St Kilda-like, with Max King kicking 5.0, displaying an accuracy not common for the Saints.

Even Dan Hannebery played so well against the Swans it reminded you of when he was a Swan.

But this is St Kilda, so there are limits. The Swans are a top side for a reason; they finally steadied and secured the second chance.

Saints fans wouldn’t be thrilled with the season, and watching Paddy Ryder chaired off to retirement leaves a fair gap on their list.

But there’s always hope for next year for all the teams that missed finals. That hope may be completely unfounded, but it’s always there.

You can help support me in producing this ridiculous nonsense I churn out on a regular basis. Find out more here:

My new podcast Sports Bizarre is out now: 


John Collighan

Aug 21, 2022

Brett Rutten? is that his brother?

Peter Bayliss

Aug 21, 2022

One of your best Titus

Ghost of VFL Park

Aug 21, 2022

Is Brett Rutten is the love child of Ben Rutten and Brett Sutton?


Aug 21, 2022

Carlton evaporated into thin air like Voldemort at the end of the Deathly Hallows pt 2(sopiler alert)....


Aug 21, 2022

Zorko is an angry little man, isn’t he. Gets tackled because he’s slow, and tries to maim his tackler in retribution…

Derek Fletcher

Aug 21, 2022

The rom-com treatment of North your best ever , i.m.o., Titus. No mention of the game until the last sentence . Brilliant.
Sorry you got The Plague , but at least now you've had it. I'm one of the approx. 50% of Australians still waiting for it.
Any Premiership prediction yet? Between Cats and your Dees i reckon. except minor Premiers often don't win the Big One and back to back very difficult. Will be interesting.


Aug 21, 2022

Your Covid-enforced holiday did you wonders Titus - a fabulous return. Standing alone in an office laughing at a computer screen got me some funny looks, but that girlfriend analogy was pure gold. Now where's my most expensive pen!


Aug 21, 2022

Essendon is a train wreck. They go from one bad decision to the next. A big broom needs to swept right through even level of the club. The Board cannot be trusted and need to be dismantled. And; on the new coach in waiting, whoever it is in for a wild ride and a lot of work. James do not dip your foot in the water at Essendon, not yet. EFC are still as unstable as they were during the last big drama. Remember when you were thrown under a bus, don't fall for it again.

For months many of the supporters saw what was happening with Ben Rutten. And one again EFC you failed again and once again you treated Ben appallingly.
Its been a train wreck. The club messed it up with Clarkson and the Board need to step down from their soap box, find some humility and respect which are sadly lacking. Its a rebuild EFC and nothing less. Get your act together or you are going to lose your supporters in droves.
Its up to you, embrace change it must come.

Keithy George

Aug 21, 2022

If Ben Rutten can be Brett Rutten, Steele Sidebottom must be also Plastic Frontbum?

Bereft Bluebagger

Aug 21, 2022

Titus, have some compassion and speak soothing words for we Carlton tragics who've had our hopes inflated all season to only be punctured in the last two rounds by the last 13 seconds against the Dees and the last 2 minutes against the Pies. How can footy be so cruel, so indifferent and brutally devastating of such carefully nurtured hopes and ambitions? Could next season be worse? But, wait, there's the AFLW and we get another crack at the Pies on Thursday night, so there's still the chance of once again sharing the warmth and joy of a victory over the Pies with a Blues team!


Aug 21, 2022

Your best ever Titus. That North-Suns review should be heritage listed. Thank you!


Aug 22, 2022

Sorry you contracted the lurgy, but you stuffed up my season-long spreadsheet "Titus' Tips". Each week I would back a multi based on your tips, but didn't back a winner all year, but hey, it gave me something to do instead of watching the rebuilding Crows!


Aug 22, 2022

You forgot to mention the Nuremberg Code and the Privacy Act in your research Titus, c’mon you can do better at being a sceptic ;-)


Aug 22, 2022

18 teams - 22 games. Just does not make sense. I wrote to the AFL a couple of years ago with a brilliant conference system of 3 lots of 6 teams, but, you guessed it, never heard back. With a conference team, you play the other teams in your conference twice (10 games) and then each of the other teams once (12 games) which also equals 22 games but it is more equitable.

Barry Denton

Aug 22, 2022

Great to have you back Titus, I was trawling the web to see what happened to you last week but to no avail.


Aug 22, 2022

Such a welcome return Titus, and the Clarko romance one of your absolute best! Glad you didn't miss the opportunity to get penultimate in again too. Lions supporter here who had to endure that horrendously awful performance Friday night :(


Aug 22, 2022

I'm sorry you were forced to crash tacked by Covid - hope your recovery continues to go well.

Nails chewed to the knuckle yesterday afternoon. St Kilda just had to spoil the Swans' chances for a home game.
No romance there, although Dan Hanneberry (sp?), got lots of hugs and headpats from his old teammates. Not optimistic about next week's game at all.


Aug 22, 2022

Thank goodness you are back and hope you feel much better . Brilliant as usual. You’re right between the contrast between a tight knit team and a team falling apart ,it’s sad really .
Happy the way results turned out , quietly confident to progress further

Running Dog

Aug 22, 2022

Only someone whose heart was broken by Sally Thompson could describe the Clarko / North romance with such emotional verisimilitude. (Just thought I'd share another popular footy journo word). I try to stay away from emotion, but as a Dogs supporter I felt a weird skerrick of affection for Collingwood on the weekend. Any ideas how I might get rid of it?

Con Cushion

Aug 22, 2022

Turn It Up Titus
Red Neck Dad, Jeff finds out his daughter has given birth to big, little Buddy ... Alistair is smiling so hard, it becomes Jeff's aim to wipe it!! Hey it's the Family Club! Con.

Doggy Dancer

Aug 22, 2022

The best ever. The Clarkson saga finally clearly explained.

Jake Lever’s Moustache

Aug 22, 2022

Titus, it’s time to punt the bye before the finals. It was a classic AFL knee jerk reaction because 2 failed ex-coaches thought they were being clever by resting most of their team for the last round and it caused havoc with the betting markets.

We realise that the integrity of sports betting is of incredible importance to the AFL commission and all the little kiddies growing up watching footy but both of these humble geniuses have moved on - Brad Scott (sacked the all time games record player when he was playing brilliantly) and Ross Lyon (sent Luke Ball packing and got to watch him help the Pies to a flag against his own team 12 months later).

Brad is now ruining the entire game and Ross has made a career out of pretending that he’s not desperately trying to apply for every coaching gig going. So surely we can get rid of this blight on the game now without upsetting SportsBet.

It’ll obviously take a massive sooking campaign by Chris Scott about the unfairness of the top team only playing 2 games in 5 weeks before the GF to pressure his d&@head brother to reverse the debacle that he caused in the first place.

The irony would be totally lost on the AFL but the rest of us would enjoy it.

Fat Side

Aug 22, 2022

@runningdog I felt the same and had to take a long hot shower to try to get rid of the yucky feeling. If they look like beating the Cats I might have to put up with the lingering shame and unease and cheer them out loud.

Lachlan Mills

Aug 22, 2022

What I don't understand is just how or why Carlton chose to stuff the game up at the end. They had 1.45 left on the clock, they were up by 5 points, they had possession in their forward half. What brand of insanity then bombs the ball high and long, hoping for the best?
And if their entire team wasn't actually trying to contest the ball where it landed - which it seems that they weren't - why did they then let Collingwood get spare men back in their own forward line?
If ever you wanted a lesson in how to defend a one kick lead with a minute or two to spare, the Pies then proceeded to belt it in to Carlton, repeatedly saying "This is how you hold onto a lead. This is how you hold onto a lead".
(A perplexed Freo supporter)


Aug 22, 2022

Titus, as someone who knows everything please explain how Pies with a percentage of 104 can effectively finish top of the ladder with a home final and double chance

Jonathan Dowling

Aug 22, 2022

Hey G-String, sorry GTrain: Regardless of what happens in the finals, your comment some time back about Collingwood being overrated wasn’t very smart was it.

The g train

Aug 22, 2022

Glad you’ve recovered, Titus. From Covid, that is. No fun.

When West Coast were at their lowest, fielding a WAFL side, defeated by North Melbourne—they defeated Collingwood at The ‘G. Let that sink in.


Aug 22, 2022

I had to look up Verisimilitude!


Aug 22, 2022

Titus, we missed you while you were sick, but your return was worth the wait. One memorable line after another. (But this doesn't mean that we want you to get sick again!)


Aug 22, 2022

Glad to see you aren’t dead as I feared. I briefly thought of your family, but in truth I was mainly worried about getting through the finals without your Highly Unhelpfuls and Knee-Jerk Reactions.

A wonderful return from the ‘Rona. Your Clarkson epics are great and I love how you somehow manage to slip the Malthouse prediction into pretty much every column.


Aug 22, 2022

_______If Ben Rutten can be Brett Rutten, Steele Sidebottom must be also Plastic Frontbum?_______

I like to mess with Magpies' names
Whenever I might spot 'em.
Like 46 Big Cox and
Grodie Brundy, Side Steelebottom......

Kevin Fitzgerald

Aug 22, 2022

The 'West Australian' comment in today's paper... ".... That's why Carlton are called the Blues." Fremantle were rather BLUE too!!! K.


Aug 22, 2022

The Hawks, then the Bluebaggers and Finally the Saints all all got the dreaded colliwobbles and consigned the Dockers to an elimination final- seems like the Pies have eradicated Colliwobbles this year with some epic come from behind finishes but we still have the finals to go Great see you back on deck Titus and the Dees looked frightening on Friday


Aug 22, 2022

Collingwood are now on a winning streak of a mind-blowing one match.


Aug 22, 2022

Titus, you could of finished the North review at "And they lived happily ever after" The result really didn't mean anything anyhow. We rusted on members felt no pain for days.

Having covid, did you lose your sense of smell? Would of been handy so you didn't have to smell all the shit coming from essendon.

My tip, Kevin Sheedy to coach the Tassie Bombers.


Aug 22, 2022

\\\\\\\\The Bombers board said Essendon fans should trust them to fix things. I don’t think even Essendon fans are that stupid.///////

Gee whiz! Oh my! Oh dear! My word!
EFC's serious about hiring James Hird.
This isn't a trick or a feint or a stunt.
Or an idea they had after smoking a blunt.
It's just that they don't really want to confront
The fact he's an "all quiet on the western..."*

*Cockney rhyming slang


Aug 22, 2022


there are only 4 weeks before the GF, this 2 games in 5 weeks is spurious.

in H&A season say a Team plays Friday, Sat and then Sunday 3 weeks one ever says come the Sunday game we have only played one game in 2 weeks.

And in in the old Final 4 or 5 days the top team could go Round 22 / "week off" / play & win / week off / GF. No ever said they only played one game in a month before the GF. And playing so little didn't seem to hamper their premiership chances


Aug 22, 2022


I love your Bold and the Beautiful fan fiction!

Also, hate the one-week break. At a Lions fan, need to rip the end of the season off like a band-aid against Richmond.


Aug 22, 2022

There is only one Lions' game left for spectators to boo Zorko every time he goes near the ball. Could end in tears.

Mike Tyson

Aug 22, 2022

Titusfan - GF day is Sept 24. I count 5 weeks.

Saint Peter

Aug 22, 2022

Welcome back Titus. And back with style. The report on the Nth v Gold Coast was the best ever. Clear, concise & too the point. Everybody is better off for having read it.

In the Ess v Rich report I must disagree with you there. I do think Ess supporters are stupid enough believe their President.

As for the Saints, well we do live in hope. Hope that our recruiters can spot people who have skill, leadership & the ability to see whats going on around them & adapt quickly. Far too many robots on the list. As always look forward to the draft. Finally, we lost a very important player in Paddy Ryder. Can we find that fountain of youth for Paddy. I'm sure the club will pay all expenses.


Aug 22, 2022

Tried to ring Social Services this morning to report my brother in law for raising his kids as Carlton supporters. Got a recorded message saying they were overwhelmed by similar requests.

Total Flanker

Aug 22, 2022

Welcome back. Must've been tough being laid up while Clarko, Essendon & Carlton stole your material.

Bloke from the Outer

Aug 22, 2022

.... I felt a weird skerrick of affection for Collingwood on the weekend. Any ideas how I might get rid of it?

Sit near their supporters, it works every time!


Aug 22, 2022

~~~~~~~I felt a weird skerrick of affection for Collingwood on the weekend. Any ideas how I might get rid of it?

Sit near their supporters, it works every time!~~~~~~~

"Modest in victory"?
"Gracious in defeat"?
These are things as yet
Unheard of when you walk
On Magpie Street.

Saint Peter

Aug 22, 2022

Great to hear from the Morality Police Mike Malt...... suggesting there is no way James Hird should coach Essendon again. I guess this means Hird will definitely be the coach judging by the predictions success of Mike.

tarax club

Aug 22, 2022

Collingwood Geelong and Sydney if AFL history is to be believed will be the 'real' contenders. With the footy media going ape about and into hyperactive hyperbole whole forests will disappear. As journo's spew out words of critical praise about their players and coaches in unprecedented volume. Fortunately newsprint and newspaper moguls are in decline and of little relevance. The ether is now electronic so go blow your trump pet. Waging a tough campaign (not without its challenges and tribulations) through the back half of the season is last year's Premiers. Very much understated and under the radar it seems. At the front of the grid and poised to pounce. Backing in the Demon double for a triumph at the 'G.


Aug 22, 2022

~~~~~~~I guess this means Hird will definitely be the coach judging by the predictions success of Mike.~~~~~~~


Yep, he's as good as in.


Aug 22, 2022

Full Moon Over Nunawading, excellent poem!

Daniel B

Aug 22, 2022

As funny as this iteration of KJR was, Titus has nothing on Essendon's Head of Comedy, who on Sunday evening declared Essendon to be "an attractive club to coach".

Oh, my sides!!

The g train

Aug 22, 2022

Jonno: “…but in truth I was mainly worried about getting through the finals without your Highly Unhelpfuls and Knee-Jerk Reactions”.

Same. Imagine a trite world without Titus’s Highly Unhelpfuls and Knee-Jerk Reactions, leave alone a final series. No pressure though, Titus.

Oh to live in Adelaide

Aug 22, 2022

The sledging of Adelaide was the only successful strategy Port had all year.

Assuming the ultimate goal was to set the bar that low, make us feel happy that we got over it and hope we all forget that we had a terrible season ending with sending off a true GOAT who I bet didn’t choose his own retirement date.

Oh to see what we can pull out of Ken’s Plan A again next year…. For now I’ll happily back the Dees for the flag so 2 of 6 in our house will be happy.

Lion of Floreat

Aug 23, 2022


Great to have you up & about again.

A harsh but very fair description of the Lions as a team that gets weaker the closer it gets to finals, like an ice cream thrown into the sun !

Macca RB

Aug 23, 2022

Dane Zorko - that can't be right.
I always thought that his behaviour was a perfect fit for his name: Zane Dorko.
Thanks for correcting this mistake, Big Fella.


Aug 23, 2022

Titus you more than anyone are qualified to comment upon the Blues blues.
Didn’t a late goal in the last game of the regular season by the Eagles against Adelaide in 2017 consign your Dees to 9th by a fraction of % and instigate a shredding of the ‘finals bound’ merchandise?

Mac Hawk

Aug 23, 2022

You should have done your research - vaccines don't stop covid anymore than do the Carlton defence stop a goal in the dying seconds.

Merlin’s Mum

Aug 23, 2022

Ah welcome back Titus, for a moment there I thought you had slipped off to the Ukraine to fight the Ruskies. You and that very funny Ukrainian President would probably make a great team - the Ruskies would all then (literally) die laughing. Meantime, Running Dog, I believe QLD Health have invented a vaccine for empathy and affection - just contact Zane Dorko for tips on where to get your fourth booster for free. However if you prefer to go the surgical route and get yourself a nice little “Empathy Ectomy” I believe the Bombers have set up a specialist surgical team at The Hangar. No waiting list and the post-op meds are provided free of charge and on demand (especially for opposition players and supporters). Best wishes to Ben Rutten who deserves a new role where he can thrive rather than not quite survive.

Go The Mighty Dees!!

Tony B

Aug 24, 2022

I came to Melbourne from Sydney in 1975 a d became a Carlton tragic almost from the beginning. How is it possible to change? I'm gutted ... again. Please be kind.


Aug 27, 2022

виртуальный номер сша для приема смс

James G

Aug 28, 2022

Youre supposed to say, lucky I had the 1,2 3,4,5? Covid shots or it would have been much worse... It was never a vaccine to begin with and certainly not after this coronavirus muted in a few months but keep getting your boosters so you can mock those that chose not to take an experimental serum with no long term safety data for a virus no worse than the common cold for the vast majority of people.


Sep 01, 2022

Oh you’re back! Great form first up after a spell.


Sep 06, 2022


Sep 10, 2022

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder Link to proverb.
The cobbler always wears the worst shoes Link to proverb.
If you build it they will come.
No names, no pack-drill Link to proverb.
Too many cooks spoil the broth Link to proverb.
Devil is in the details - The.
You can't have your cake and eat it too.


Sep 14, 2022

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