Jun 11, 2024


The Tuesday Knee Jerk Reaction: Round Thirteen


Footy is a passion, not some cold hearted, spread sheet dominated rational exercise. 

On a Tuesday, you want irrational reaction. You want emotion to trump reason.

What you really want is idiotic hysteria.

You've come to the right place.


Adelaide (71) v Richmond (79)

Adelaide could have used this visit from the lowly Tigers for a much-needed confidence boost, and dare I suggest, a percentage-boosting victory, but they had other plans.

Instead, the Crows found a determined Richmond a bit too hard and decided a crushing loss for their fans was the easier path.

But fear not Crows fans. You just need to win at least eight of the next ten games and you’re right back in this thing.

And to start that easy task, you’ve got Sydney next.

Richmond showed once again, the only things you need to win in this league is grit, determination and playing one of the flakier teams.

While Tigers fans would hardly be clearing their September calendars, not losing would have felt really nice.

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Western Bulldogs (71) v Brisbane (114)

It turns out letting Lachie Neale have all the space he wants is a bad idea.

Most people with even a cursory understanding of the game knew that, but it’s always good to get a real-life example to reinforce that obvious understanding.

Many of the 31,042 people in the crowd got closer to Neale than the Bulldogs did on Friday night, as he finished with 38 disposals, 10 clearances and two goals.

It may have occurred to the Bulldogs coaching staff to put someone on him at some stage, but it didn’t manifest itself out on the ground. 

The Bulldogs are one of the many teams having an identity crisis this season.

Are they a good football side or a fairly average one?

They don’t seem sure, so I’m not sure we can be either.

In good news for the Lions, Eric Hipwood hasn’t retired but is in fact playing this season and booted six.

Could the Lions make a push for Finals? It’s possible. Like the Dogs, there are a lot of teams above them still working out what they’re doing this year.


Hawthorn (85) v Greater Western Sydney (79)

Well, I have been warning people. Hawthorn, like a rash that never really goes away, are back.

Now before we get too carried away with claiming every single game these days is decided by bad umpiring decisions, Tom Green’s late bump on Sicily was just silly. 

I know it’s fun to blame umpires rather than players for losses, but the umpires didn’t cost the Giants this game, Green did.

Last week, I got some flak for despairing at the Hawks hot streak, people accused me of being jealous.

Well, let me be clear, of course, it’s jealousy.

Jealousy, to put it into corporate speak, is one of my four culture pillars.

Jealousy, Pettiness, Self-Loathing and Cynicism.

I find these are important traits that guide my life, and I meditate on them every morning as part of my journey to reaching peak cynicism.

I will then write down how I’ve gone that date in relation to them in my ingratitude journal.

West Coast (65) v North Melbourne (74)

The Kangaroos have done it, they’ve won a game of football, proving many of the world’s top scientists wrong.

It’s an astounding result, given the AFL have recently been debating whether to not keeping score in games involving North like they do in junior footy.

That won’t be fully off the table yet, but this was a step forward.

It had been 288 days since the Kangaroos had last won a game, and like someone getting back into the dating pool after a long break, it was awkward, hard to watch and almost ended in crushing disappointment.

They had a 33-point lead in the fourth quarter, but still managed to fall three points behind, before taking the lead again.

Part of this was due to Elliot Yeo being penalised for holding the ball in a controversial decision.

Was it holding the ball? The answer is simple.

If you think it was, you’re wrong. If you think it wasn’t, you’re also wrong.

Because there is no such thing as holding the ball. At least, not in a concrete sense.

The AFL have mucked around with it so much that no one knows what it is anymore. They don’t. The umpires don’t, players don’t, and fans don’t.

It is now just a truly random phenomenon that can happen at any moment. Trying to understand it or discern a pattern will only break your brain. 

Every tackle is both holding the ball and not holding the ball. An umpire may blow the whistle, or may not, but that’s now an unrelated event.

Like us, they are trying to determine the nature of an event that no longer has any connection to reality.

It is the AFL’s crowning glory.

St Kilda (51) v Gold Coast (48)

If you’d have been asked, you probably would have predicted West Coast v North would have been the worst game of the round, but Ross Lyon was having none of that.

In his rather successful quest to ruin football, this may have been one of his top ten efforts.

Damien Hardwick summed it up well, “Terrible game of footy.”

And it was.

Add to that the fact it was decided by a free kick that even the AFL admitted was wrong and you’ve got a frustrating night on the couch. 

To repeat that earlier point, the AFL admitted a free kick was wrong.

That’s an uncommon event.

The AFL operates on the following guidelines:

AFL is right - AFL is right

AFL is a bit wrong - AFL is right

AFL is very wrong - AFL is right

AFL is incredibly wrong- AFL is right

AFL is so wrong, and multiple times in a few games - AFL is wrong but we should get a gold star for being so transparent

I know we’re meant to say Ross is a mastermind, but you can be a mastermind for evil.


Sydney (112) v Geelong (82)

Sydney hit the snooze button six times to start the game, ignoring all of Geelong’s early onslaught, before slowly rousing and getting down to business.

And while we know the Cats are only OK this season, it was still rather terrifying how easily the Swans brushed them aside.

The 65-point turnaround was sparked by Chad Warner and Issac Heeney, who might be the greatest combination since Gin and Tonic.

Like Gin and Tonic things escalate quickly when they’re around.

The worrying thing about Sydney is they have winners everywhere and their players have a rare skill, they hit targets!

Can you imagine?

You’d think that would be a base-level skill to being an AFL player, but it turns out it’s a rare and precious gift bestowed on few.

What does this mean for Geelong?

It means they’re not as good as Sydney. How’s that for insight?

Essendon (70) v Carlton (96)

Both these sides have been a bit like Guns N’ Roses; huge in the 80s and 90s but an ongoing mess since.

There was a real sense this would tell us which of their much-storied rebuilds was most on track.

It was disappointing news all around. Carlton’s seems well on track, while Essendon’s rebuild didn’t seem off track enough.

Sure, the Bombers faded late, but they hung in there for a long time, and were significantly hampered by their poor goalkicking.

They were not the disaster we had been hoping for.

Essendon are taking a new approach with this latest rebuild. They aren’t trying to parachute in a messiah to fix everything overnight.

They are doing things properly. You hate to see it.

Carlton are also trying a similar approach, not trying to throw money at a problem to make it go away.

Having sane and rational people running these clubs is a disaster for the rest of us.

What’s next, winning finals? 


Collingwood (89) v Melbourne (51)

Against a Collingwood side with more injuries than that time I decided to do some of my own electrical work, Melbourne made everything look hard. 

There were just so many poor decisions, and not just the players, even the medical team got in on the fun, sending Christian Petracca back out when he was clearly too injured and at risk. To be fair, it turned out he only had four broken ribs, a lacerated spleen and a punctured lung. 

Much has been made of Melbourne changing their game style. I personally don’t see it.

The gameplan for the last three seasons has been to dominate play, but then butcher forward entries with a consistency that must be intentional.

When someone occasionally does take a mark in the forward 50, they seem unsure of what to do next, and so usually kick a behind.

They then let the opposition waltz up the other end and kick a goal.

People keep saying Melbourne have more talent than most other teams, but I’m not sure you can say that based on the evidence.

To my eye, Collingwood have more talented players than Melbourne, you saw it every time they hit a target, while Demons players repeatedly clanked it into an opponent.

I don’t think you can say you’re a talented footballer if you can’t hit a target, or make the wrong decision 80 per cent of the time.

It has been this way since the Premiership, and nothing has changed. All this talk of changing the gameplan over the off season is just nonsense.

Collingwood on the other hand play with a ruthless efficiency.

They run to support each other. Their skills are good, and they have a clear vision of what they want to do. 

Each player knows not only their own role, but their teammates, and the seem to also like each other.

Add in some outstanding players and it’s not hard to see they are Sydney’s greatest threat this season.

As for the Dees, they will talk about ‘working on things’ and ‘wake-up calls’ but all the fans hear is ‘we have no answers.’

Let’s not keep kidding ourselves.

I’ve got a show in Melbourne on Friday 21 June. You can get tickets here.

Shows in other states are to be announced soon.

BYE: Port Adelaide, Fremantle  

You can help support me in producing this ridiculous nonsense I churn out on a regular basis. Find out more here: https://titusoreily.com/support-titus




Jun 11, 2024

Agree, so many basic skill errors


Jun 11, 2024

"Jealousy, Pettiness, Self-Loathing and Cynicism." A perfect set of cultural guidelines for a Dees supporter

Just waking up now

Jun 11, 2024

"Sydney hit the snooze button six times to start the game" - I snorted so hard that I had to clean my keyboard.

I was at the Dees v Pies, and all I could hear from the Dees fans near me was someone screaming "Stand Up!" and I don't think they were talking about Petracca, because by that time we'd already seen footage of him being wheeled out on a stretcher, but perhaps they were? Desperate times and all that?


Jun 11, 2024

I disagree with your comment that "nothing has change "
Something has in fact changed. We are now much worse than we were in 22 and 23

Penny Bronar

Jun 11, 2024

It's the Schrodinger's Holding The Ball decision season. Was he holding the ball? We was and he wasn't, let's just go with the feeling of whether he was.

Also is Hawthorn good again?

Dr Shorthair

Jun 11, 2024

After shutting down Harley Reid and Touk Miller in successive weeks, Nick Daicos earlier this year, and doing a similar number on Neale in his debut season 2022, then maybe Marcus Windhager has something to show re. "letting Lachie Neale have all the space he wants".

Ugly it might be. But effective.

Stewy from Newy

Jun 11, 2024

On that last sentence in the dees summary. Goodwin’s presser is hard to listen to. I think he must have thought “I’ve got no idea what is going wrong or what do or what to say. I’ll just stitch together some sentences I have heard good coaches say”

David Wilkes

Jun 11, 2024

I await each week after another Hawthorn win to read the wonderful admiration and praise Titus has for us Hawks supporters.

the g train

Jun 11, 2024

Geez, Titus--a bit dark, but agree with everything you said. Except for the free kick against T Green. Which wasn't a free kick. It should have been a free kick if it was T Greene. But T Green--the fairest player in the history of footy who's never ever conceded a free kick in his life? If it was N Diacos with a microsecond late bump--it would have somehow been paid holding the ball against the Hawk--for being way too slow to get rid of the ball when challenged.

Personally, I watch the footy mainly to see controversial free kicks given near the end of the game that significantly affect/effect the outcome. So, Saturday was pretty special. All three consecutive games very significantly affected/effected by dodgy free kicks at the death. Beautiful.

Mosis Syndes

Jun 11, 2024

At the end of the day, O'Reily, after the sun has set ... I visualise, through a frosted window, young Mac Andrew writing a THANK YOU note on a quaint little Hallmark card, to the AFL!

John Horgan

Jun 11, 2024

Go Hawks. How good when they get a real Coach?

Son of Plugger

Jun 11, 2024

Great stuff, Titus. You call it as it is:
"I know we’re meant to say Ross is a mastermind, but you can be a mastermind for evil".

Have been saying this for a while, Titus. A long while. The disturbing thing is that Lyon was ecstatic after the game.

"I've never felt prouder in my life. For myself, the club and the players. To win after scoring 51 points in perfect conditions is the stuff of dreams. This is just about as good as it gets. True perfection would be winning in perfect conditions and scoring under 50 points. It's not an excuse, but that ridiculous free kick to Max King at the end made that impossible".

Mark Smith

Jun 11, 2024

Highlight of the weekend was Jason Dunstall telling King he was taking a "cheap shot" at Melbourne's doctors for sending the clearly almost dead Petracca back on. Dunstall performing acrobatics of a standard that should get him on the plane to the Olympics.

Bomber Bill

Jun 11, 2024

That Ingratitude Journal idea might just take off.

Sheldon Wiebe

Jun 11, 2024

So, what you're saying is that Holding the Ball is the AFL's Schrodinger's Cat...?

Red Tree

Jun 11, 2024

"While Tigers fans would hardly be clearing their September calendars, not losing would have felt really nice."
It was great! And doing it in our yellow strip, against the Crows, on their home ground, when everyone assumed they'd win and were just wondering by how much? The deja vu was just... *chef's kiss*

Red Tree

Jun 11, 2024

"Well, I have been warning people. Hawthorn, like a rash that never really goes away, are back." Gold!
"Every tackle is both holding the ball and not holding the ball." Sheldon Wiebe is correct, and Erwin Schrödinger would like a word...
"It was disappointing news all around. Carlton’s [rebuild] seems well on track, while Essendon’s rebuild didn’t seem off track enough... Having sane and rational people running these clubs is a disaster for the rest of us." If I drank coffee my keyboard would be dripping by this point.
"... more injuries than that time I decided to do some of my own electrical work..." I hope the burns have healed up by now, Titus?
Sir, I dips me lid...

Derek Fletcher

Jun 11, 2024

As a long-time Hawthorn supporter I've been taking comfort seeing Kane Cornes wrongly tipping Hawthorn losses in their last three games against Brisbane , Adelaide and GWS. Now I'm dreading the probability of him tipping Hawthorn to beat Richmond this Saturday. Another "expert" getting it wrong is Damien Barrett on the AwFL website who in March put the Hawks down for the wooden spoon. These clowns get paid very good money for their -snort cough splutter- "expert insights."

Doggie Dancer

Jun 11, 2024

Perfect interpretation and explanation of holding the ball.


Jun 11, 2024

Now that North have finally won a game, it can be announced officially that Adelaide are this year's moral wooden spooners


Jun 11, 2024

The post-game press conferences after the St K- GC match were more entertaining than the game itself.

Running Dog

Jun 11, 2024

You do your own electrical work, Titus? That's shocking. Was that just in the past, or is it a current thing? Speaking of electrical stuff, did Schrodinger do to the cat what Pavlov did to his dog?

Bloke from the outer

Jun 11, 2024

Because there is no such thing as holding the ball. At least, not in a concrete sense. Channeling your inner Daicos there Titus.

Peter White

Jun 11, 2024

The AFL might be making Quantum Physics understandable! One week's rules fall into a black hole & are replaced by something even more bizarre. There's been talk about Schrodinger's Cat.

This round has the AFL used Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle? A player holding the ball is seen by an umpire but it's not a free kick, or, a free kick is seen by an umpire but not when a player is holding the ball.

Robin Williams once said, "Reality...what a concept!" Is the AFL’s strategy for next round taking a stab at unravelling String Theory? After all, winning a Nobel Prize nets you $1 million - which buys a few cases of Grange.

Fat Side

Jun 11, 2024

Perhaps a famous baseball umpire quote is appropriate here, “Some’s balls and some’s strikes, but they ain’t nothin’ till I calls ‘em.”


Jun 11, 2024

Two thoughts...

There's no such thing as holding a cat.

Collingwood - if you wait long enough, every good idea eventually becomes a bad one.


Jun 11, 2024

“Having sane and rational people running these clubs is a disaster for the rest of us.

What’s next, winning finals?”

Good grief Titus, steady on there, the rest of us are definitely not ready to entertain the idea of the Blues or the Dons even playing finals, let alone winning them.

Loving reading your round ups, as a CFC supporter the description of the King’s Birthday game was a delicious Tuesday treat.


Jun 11, 2024

So to use football speak; is Jealousy your one wood?

Margaret Tavener

Jun 11, 2024

I don't even like AFL, clearly don't understand the rules but i LOVE this column!!! I laugh so much my husband yells out "It can't be that funny"!! But it is. Keep up the humour Titus and please tour Newcastle NSW.

Paul from Berwick

Jun 12, 2024

"more injuries than that time I decided to do some of my own electrical work"

Titus, I think it is patently clear anyone reading this, the lingering ongoing effects of this are. Promise me that you will stay clear of working on 3 phase no matter how pretty the colors of the wires are.


Jun 12, 2024

I can’t attempt humour here. Petracca back on the ground after that? Seems irresponsible medically to me. And if they didn’t know, don’t send him back. Even Steven May missed a week. Depending how things go, this could be season ending for Trac. Apparently the team has anticipated season-ending and has crossed that line.

the g train

Jun 12, 2024


Almost the same.

I love Aussie Rules, dislike The AFL Inc, don't understand the rules (even though I umpired footy for a few years) and LOVE Titus's column. His Knee Jerk Reaction is literally the only AFL summary I read--and it's all you need. Travel to Melbourne or Sydney if you must to see one of his gigs.

Hamstring Harry

Jun 13, 2024

While the AFL rules for holding the ball, as has been noted by other correspondents, may have been derived from the laws of nuclear physics, viz. Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and/or the status of Schrodinger's Cat, they may also have been derived from Newton's three laws of motion, which have been rewritten thus:

1. The player with the ball remains at rest, or in motion at a constant speed in a straight line, except insofar as he/she is acted upon by the force of a tackle;

2. The change of momentum as a result of a tackle on the player with the ball is proportional to the force applied by the tackler, and in the direction of the applied force, e.g. to the ground;

3. For every free kick there is an equal and opposite free kick.


Jul 01, 2024

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