May 27, 2024


The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: Round Eleven


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.


Western Bulldogs (88) v Sydney (102)

In football, you never want Chad Warner to happen to you.

His four goals, and his ability to run around like a kid who drank all the red cordial, made a huge difference in this one.

If he were a Bluey character, he’d be Muffin. Hard to manage, runs around a lot, and propels things forward by creating chaos.

Chad Warner proved to be just one of the problems the Dogs had to manage on the night, however.

The others were injuries to both Aaron Naughton and Ed Richards and some rather interesting umpiring decisions on the evening.

The one decision that left people scratching their heads was the 50-meter penalty against Laitham Vandermeer for knocking the ball out of Hayden McLean’s hands after a mark.

But it was hardly alone in a night of somewhat eclectic umpiring.

I’m always loath to criticise the umpires, mainly because I can relate to people who make a lot of bad decisions, but they were poor on the night. 

If you want to ensure you get my columns every week, the best way is to sign up for the email.


Fremantle (75) v Collingwood (75)

Continuing on with the theme of umpiring, a lot has been made about the free kick awarded against Lachlan Sullivan for handing the ball to teammate Nick Daicos instead of to the umpire.

Now it was a free kick. It’s been called a free before this season, and even though people will point out it also hasn’t been called at times, umpires can’t ignore something because someone else did a bad job in a previous game.

The problem is this game is insanely hard to umpire. It’s got a lot of rules, many which require individual interpretation.

I’d also argue that umpires are asked to do way too much. They are the call centre operators or the retail staff of the football world.

They don’t set policy, they’re just the ones who have to enforce it, and cop the brunt of it. Plus, the higher-ups change the rules all the time.

Some will say the umpire should have sensed the importance of the moment in this game and applied common sense.

I’d argue that they did. They sensed a Collingwood victory and put a stop to it.

An Order of Australia seems the obvious next step.


North Melbourne (48) v Port Adelaide (107)

Port looked a bit off last week against Hawthorn, and there’s nothing better than playing North, the Berocca of footy teams, to give you back your bounce.

Super coach Alastair Clarkson has the Kangaroos perfectly positioned for a winless season.

Probably the only interesting bit in this game was a bit of argy-bargy between Jason Horne-Francis and some of his former teammates.

Horne-Francis of course fled North Melbourne like it was Chernobyl at the end of 2022.

It seemed after working hard to become the number one draft pick, he wasn’t keen on a career of endless losses.

To be fair, he did go to Port Adelaide, so no one can accuse him of chasing premierships.

It is an odd system in some ways. The better you go ahead of the draft, the worse the club you go to gets.

It would be like coming top of your medical class and having to go work as a real estate agent.

Carlton (102) v Gold Coast (73)

Lloyd Johnston did a standing backflip after kicking a goal. It was the highlight of this game.

It’s one of those things you want to make sure you stick the landing on. I’ll always remember when a friend of mine thought a nightclub dancefloor would be improved by him doing the worm.

In his drunken state, he insisted people clear a circle, which raised expectations, and decided that leaping into the worm would be a more spectacular start.

It would have been except he leapt, and landed face first, hurting himself quite a bit, only for him to try and save face by attempting a worm that lacked form and function.

To be fair he was somewhat concussed by that point.

He was soon briskly escorted out to receive some medical treatment ( and I can only assume entered the concussion protocol).

I was devastated. It was his round.

Carlton did what it needed to do in this one, as in not sabotaging their season, and for most of this, they did everything right.

The old strategy of getting Patrick Cripps to shoulder a lot of the load still works.

As for the Suns, did I mention Lloyd Johnston did a standing backflip?

Geelong (74) v Greater Western Sydney (78)

Geelong are starting to prove they can lose at home and away.

The Cats were down by 31 points early in the third quarter, and things looked bleak, only for five straight goals saw them come roaring back.

At home at The House that Taxpayers Built, that would normally see a visitor wilt, but the Giants had Toby Greene, who snapped a goal to stop the rot.

The Giants held on from there, in what was a disappointing result in Tom Hawkins' 356th game.

He surpassed Joel Selwood as Geelong's all-time games record holder and ran through the banner with both his kids and Selwood’s.

If this losing streak continues, it might be time to get some of those kids to play.

Richmond (74) v Essendon (86)

Last week, I exclusively broke the news that Essendon are second on the ladder and I can confirm they are still there.

Like a dad in Sportsgirl, they look out of place in their surroundings and now it’s starting to get a bit weird.

This game didn’t make it look like they are really meant to be up there, as Richmond, who were embarrassed by the Suns the week before, really took it to them.

Now, you could say Richmond lifted after last week, but it’s more fun to say Essendon aren’t that good. It's even more fun to say that to an Essendon supporter.

True to form, Richmond did injure a key player, with Shai Bolton going off with a concussion after being cleaned up by his own teammate.

To be fair to Essendon, they got the job done and celebrated the 200th game of everyone’s favourite player, Jake Stringer.


Hawthorn (100) v Brisbane (75)

At least the Lions players could use the flight home to book their September holidays.

The Lions approached the game with the enthusiasm of a teenager who has been asked to clean their room.

Hawthorn may be teenagers, but they outworked the Lions for most of the day.

They have also learnt not to down tools until after the game, a big improvement after last week.

The Lions did try and get back into it, but they didn’t take their opportunities, and in the end, they looked only ok.

That’s been their season, aiming for average and hitting it every time. Lions fans would be furious.

They’re meant to be in the premiership window, instead, it’s time to see what this year’s draft looks like.

In disappointing news, Hawthorn have now won four of their past six games.

You hate to see it.

Melbourne (100) v St Kilda (62)

I had a terrible fever dream last week that Melbourne lost to West Coast.

I’m sure that was only a dream, as West Coast got thumped this week and Melbourne were back to being one of the ten best sides in the comp.

St Kilda are like the best friend of the main character in a movie, they give you confidence, teaches you to believe in yourself and provide some laughs along the way.

The good news for the Saints is Ross Lyon is in for the long haul. Well, that could be good news?

Despite the win, Melbourne were still inaccurate up forward, and still wasted a lot of opportunities.

You can get away with that against the Saints, but not against the top sides.

Like the Eagles.

Adelaide (137) v West Coast (38)

The Eagles obviously spent the week celebrating their win against Melbourne in hard fashion, because it was back to normal this week.

The Crows, probably wary after Melbourne’s fate the week before decided there would be no foolishness.

They came out of the gates storming, booting seven goals in the first quarter, while keeping the Eagles to just two points.

It took until the seven-minute mark of the second quarter for the Eagles to get a goal and by then it was all over.

The win has catapulted the Crows up to twelfth on the ladder and in striking distance of tenth place.

Do Adelaide fans dare to dream they could finish that high this year?    

I’ve got one more show in Melbourne on June 7. You can get tickets here.

Shows in other states to be announced soon.

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




May 27, 2024

The game IS insanely hard to umpire. You're right.
So we can now expect the AFL to improve the rule-structure until it becomes impossible to umpire.

Loss Ryon

May 27, 2024

Richmond were embarrassed by Brisbane last week - you're thinking of round zero, when they were embarrassed by the Suns.


May 27, 2024

People can scratch their heads all they want. It was a correctly awarded 50 metre free.

The g train

May 27, 2024

Very great, Titus! Agree with everything you wrote. Except, perhaps, that Mr Stringer is everyone’s favourite player. Not strictly true.

But surprised you didn’t highlight the exceptional honesty of the Collingwood player:
“I'm not a liar, I didn't touch it… but I was trying to claim it … I'm a liar to win a game but once it's over, I'll be honest”.

Isaac is not a liar as he’s being honest by admitting that he lied. If he was a liar and dishonest, he wouldn’t have admitted that he lied. He only lies to win—so once he’s won by lying, he doesn’t lie. So he can now embrace his true nature and not be a liar and honestly admit he was lying but only when trying to win—which is the only time you can or should lie. He’s just being honest and we should appreciate his honesty. Luckily, the vast majority of people in life don’t play to win so all this ethical lying is well contained.

Beau form Beaumaris

May 27, 2024

“ I’m always loath to criticise the umpires, mainly because I can relate to people who make a lot of bad decisions, but they were poor on the night. ”
Titus - a great classic of your penchant for self deprecation.

Bob Kombucha

May 27, 2024

Perhaps the footy is insanely hard to umpire because it’s the only sport in the world in which the administrators of the game think it’s sane to change interpretations of rules on a weekly basis?

I’ve got a suggestion; one set of rules applied the same way in round 1 as they are in the grand final. No crackdowns. No telling the umpires to emphasise different rules or interpretations on a weekly basis.

Son of plugger

May 27, 2024

Good stuff, Titus. As always.

Perfect write up of Melb-StK game. Talking about dreams and Ross Lyon:

(NB: This first paragraph may seem like a BLATANT plagiarism of Titus’s description of WCEs last year, but this is a dream I had last night…)

I dreamt that during the third quarter of the Melb-StK match, I saw and walked to the bottom of a cellar ladder, and then below that I saw and entered a trapdoor, and saw another ladder, and then walked down that ladder, where I saw an elevator. I took that down 50 kilometres and there I met Ross Lyon.

Ross looked a bit ashamed, but said: “It’s not an excuse for being here—but I can’t send a message out until StK kicks another goal. So just want some alone time until that happens”.


May 27, 2024

The 50 to McLean was a questionable decision, but not in the same league as the high tackle free against Warner. Umpires could be biased in favour of the Swans against the Bulldogs for the next 100 years and still not make up for the 2016 GF.

Vic Parkes

May 27, 2024

Re Sullivan’s failure to drop the ball on the ground and run off in the Pies-Freo game, we are told it had to be a free kick because umpires can’t give warnings. Except in every 6-6-6 call; every time a defender mans the mark closer to the goals than nine metres; every time a player mans the mark on an out-on-the-full free kick; and every time we hear calls of ‘Stand. Stand! STAND!’ without penalty. All but 6-6-6 are 50m penalties but never paid. No wonder a kid in his third game at the highest level was confused.

Just Another Nuffy

May 27, 2024

Laitham Vandermeer has the name of a soap opera supervillain, it's only fitting that he concedes silly 50 metre penalties.

M Shadforth

May 27, 2024

Richmond lost to Brisbane last week not the Suns.....

Mark S.

May 27, 2024

“The Berocca of football teams…”! 🤣🤣🤣


May 27, 2024

You are probably right on your comment about the soft 50 meter penalty to McLean, but the worst one was the free kick and 50 meter penalty paid against Warner in the second quarter for a perfect tackle against West ( I think) which resulted in a goal to the Bulldogs. There was no doubt that this was a wrong decision, whereas the McLean one was soft, but debatable

Cruickshank Greg

May 27, 2024

Should the Richmond player who concussed his own player Shai Bolton be suspended?

Daniel Broadbridge

May 27, 2024

The House That Taxpayers Built. With our PM's newfound enthusiasm for the code and an election year looming, I expect we'll soon see more of that most effective of kicks, the pork barrel.

Fiery dwarf

May 27, 2024

Saints and West Coast now the same odds for the flag ($301). Saints opting for the top draft pick route to success, continuing a cunning 127 year strategy.

Mosis Syndes

May 27, 2024

What an idea shower you have created, O'Reily. However, if the Order of Australia is not handed directly to Nicholls will ..... ??


May 27, 2024

How bout the ump that clocked Cripps, high contact, accidental, low impact, fine only?

Junktime legend

May 27, 2024

This year seems to be producing about a dozen teams who are striving for mediocrity. And they’re doing a sterling job of it!!


May 27, 2024

There's bound to be several explanations for this general swerve to mediocrity. One that springs to mind is the AFL talent pool being spread too thinly.
Having 18 - soon to be 19 - teams underlies that.


May 27, 2024

Footy in my day, read 60’s-90’s, was open, free flowing and fun to play. Since then, as coaches have adopted tactics from other codes, it’s become closed, unflowing (if that’s a word) and boring to watch. Every now and then a coach goes “Bugger it. You have my permission to be a creative athlete.”
A la Andrew McLeod, Peter Matera, any of the Daicos family etc. Give them free rein and we have a game again. And get rid of about 50% of today’s rules. Cheers.


May 27, 2024

The Kangaroos are living proof that the AFL talent pool is spread too thinly, having another team from Tasmania is not a great solution.


May 27, 2024

Titus's low-key horror at Hawthorn steadily becoming more competent is great to watch.


May 27, 2024

It's interesting to make international comparisons when it comes to the highest-level professional sporting leagues.

Australia's population is about 25 million. The AFL is the dominant form of football in only 4 of the 6 states, yet there are 18 teams in the top-level league.

Canada has a population of about 30+ million. Canadian football is the dominant form of football coast to coast. But there are 9 teams in the CFL.

Japan's population is 125million. Baseball has historically been the most popular team sport nationwide, but there are only 12 teams in the highest-level baseball league.

The AFL's spread of available talent looks pretty anaemic in comparison.


May 27, 2024

It was shockingly beautiful to see the Swans finally get a favourable umpiring display against, of all teams, the Bulldogs....but nothing will make up for the 2016 GF fix. If Dogs fans are whining about Thursday night, their delusion knows no bounds.

Derek Fletcher

May 27, 2024

Like Tim above I too take comfort in Titus's disappointment at the Hawks' recent wins. Just wish I could remind that Hawthorn-hater Damien Barett of his pre-season prediction Hawthorn would get the wooden spoon this year. There's a rider though to those wins - North, Bulldogs , St.Kilda and an undermanned Lions - not exactly top teams. Adelaide this week and GWS the week after will tell us where they really are.

Kafka’s Ghost

May 27, 2024

For all the whinging and angst regarding the 50m penalty to McLean, the Dogs hadn’t scored for a full 4 minutes, nor did they score again in the match after their last goal at 24.42 min of the last quarter. The quarter ran until 33.18 min, so almost 9 minutes without a score. Whilst the resulting goal to McLean affected the final score, it didn’t affect the result. The Swans had closed the game down, had the ball in their forward line, and the Dogs were unable to move the ball in an effective way.
It may have been a soft 50, but after watching innumerable throws, the Warner decision, Bontempelli asking for a free and getting it (!), the Dogs definitely had their opportunities, too.

the g train

May 27, 2024


After the 1997 GF that ADEL won--they asked Norm Smith medalist Andrew McLeod: what was the most important thing Malcolm Blight taught you? Andy replied immediately: to back myself.

Blight believed that if you kick more goals than the other team, you'll win most games of footy. Instead of the modern philosophy: if they kick less goals than us, we'll probably win. One solution might be to get Blight to coach all 18 AFL teams?

As William Blake puts it: I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.


May 28, 2024


The corollary of that idea would be that winning a *shootout* is always the preferred option. Defence should play second fiddle to attack, in other words.

I lean to the opposite view. Even though it may be less attractive, a grim, low- scoring game contains more drama.

A shootout gets to be like an NBA game where they trade baskets until the time runs out. I'd rather see a game where every goal actually has a direct bearing on the final result.

As an oldtimer once asked me, "Would you rather see your team kick 20 goals and lose or kick 8 goals and win?".

the g train

May 28, 2024


Fair and good points.

Blight wasn't recklessly attacking. The astonishing thing about Blight's 1997 Adelaide--at the end of the home and away season, Adelaide had the second best attack (in points scored). AND the best defence. Historically, though, relatively high scoring attacking teams win more premierships than relatively defensive ones. Ironically, Last year was the first time in AFL history that the highest scoring team didn't make the finals (and even then Adel was cruelled by a goal umpiring error).

AFL average scores have dropped around 20% since early 90's to now. NBA has the opposite trend: increased about 25%. Both AFL and NBA tinker with the rules to try and "please" the fans.

I guess most don't wont soccer scores and don't want "NBA all-star" type shootouts. The AFL have made rule changes to encourage higher scoring, without much success. Let's see how it all evolves.

But as you suggest, and as even Malcolm Blight agrees: The Scoreboard will always end the debate