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.

Richmond (108) v North Melbourne (67)

What everyone needs to realise is that integrity of the game is important but it’s never been as important as winning and making money. That’s also not going to change anytime soon.

It’s also not surprising that people will go to great lengths to avoid going to Adelaide.

Personally, I don’t blame North at all. Teams are going to do everything in the rules (and sometimes outside) to win. It’s the AFL that was weak on this. They can’t punish North but punish the Swans for not breaking the rules?

This was closer for a lot of the game than most of us probably thought but I always had faith in Brad Scott’s ability to coach a side to a loss.

For Richmond, this wasn’t the best performance but the old Richmond would have lost this and probably by some margin.

Now the Tigers fans just have to hope this year’s finals campaign goes slightly better than last year’s. That can’t be hard can it?

After the game, Brad Scott went a bit off tap, calling for an apology from everyone who thought they weren’t trying to win this game. OK Brad, leave the side unchanged for this week then and you’ll have all the apologies you need.

Geelong (119) v Adelaide (80)

Not many clubs would say goodbye to players as good as Steve Johnson, James Kelly and Mathew Stokes in one single game. Even fewer would do it when it’s arguable they could play on another year.

The Cats at least sent them out in style with a great victory against the finals bound Crows who looked out of sorts all day.

I’m sure the Crows were distracted by the hashtag campaign calling for Patrick Dangerfield to come to Geelong next year.

Those hashtag campaigns are ridiculously powerful things. Who doesn’t make major life decisions based on them?

I’m sure Patrick will call his agent and say, ‘I’ve made my mind up after seeing a great hashtag on Twitter.’

His agent will probably say, ‘Is that really the most sensible way to make this decision?’

“Social media is changing the world, get on board or get left behind,” Patrick will say, slamming down the phone. At least that’s how I imagine it.

The Crows to me looked like a team that realised the North loss meant they had little chance of getting a home final and once this got hard didn’t worry too much.

I hope by writing that I don’t get Scott Camporeale calling for an apology.

Brisbane (130) v Western Bulldogs (122)

So, all the Lions had to do was lose this to secure the wooden spoon but instead they leave this season empty handed. It’s a shame as they really deserved it but Carlton just wanted it more.

This game just makes you wonder where this spirit has been all this season. Perhaps the Bulldogs were playing a bit within themselves ahead of the finals, perhaps it was the fact the Lions had a lot of injuries earlier in the year or perhaps it’s just the fact the footy gods like to mess with your footy tips on a weekly basis.

Jed Adcock did his chances of finding a new club now harm with a four goal performance, while the Lions midfield were impressive for the first time this season.

For the Doggies, this was a very disappointing result but they need to now focus on finals. After all, they host Adelaide at their home ground Etihad Stadium the MCG on Saturday.

Port Adelaide (122) v Fremantle (53)

Another game where one team was ‘resting’ and it sure showed.

When Fremantle announced they were resting Zac Dawson I briefly thought maybe, just maybe they are trying to win. The Dockers though proved that idea wrong.

Port at least ended their season on a high but it’s cold comfort after a very ordinary season.

How they didn’t even make finals is beyond me. They just dropped too many games against the lower sides.

In some ways, it’s probably a good thing they missed the eight; Victoria would probably have gone into a meltdown if another interstate team got in.

The Victorian clubs react to the national competition like it’s a step dad, they try to behave nicely but deep down there’s still a lot of resentment and it spills out at important moments, like finals time or family Christmases.

Hawthorn (113) v Carlton (56)

They did it! A wooden spoon for Carlton after results went their way in the finals round.

It would be a nice touch if Carlton invited Mick Malthouse back for the wooden spoon presentation. He played such a key role and his choices at the trade table might have laid the foundation for another one next season.

There was a lot of talk that this was ruckman, Matthew Kreuzer’s, last game at Carlton as he apparently is ‘in-demand’. I’m not sure who by.

Kreuzer has had a tough run of it but trading for a player so injury prone would seem ill-advised. Geelong learnt the hard way with Mitch Clark this season.

Speaking of injuries, Hawthorn may be ruing not resting players with Isaac Smith injuring his knee – almost certain to miss the whole finals series.

It’s a real worry for the Hawks as he contributes great outside run (I’ve just put that in because every other article says it, so it must be important. I don’t even know what that means. Isn’t the whole game played outside?).

It’s another reason the Hawks aren’t going to do anything silly like suspend Luke Hodge for actual important games.

Let whoever hasn’t elbowed someone, crushed someone’s head against a point post and been caught drink driving, cast the first stone I say.

Wow, that’s a lot of you.

Let’s be very clear, the Hawks don’t care about the message that not suspending him sends.

They’re about Premierships. That doesn’t make it OK but that’s what their actions say.

It’s another reason that ‘family club’ thing is just pure nonsense. Let’s just be glad he didn’t actually hit a family.

Sydney (127) v Gold Coast (64)

The Suns had a big night out in Sydney straight after this, so they were like school kids in the last class before holidays.

Sydney on the other hand have used the last few weeks to fine tune for the finals. Unfortunately, co-captain Kieren Jack injured his knee and is likely to miss week one of the finals.

For the Gold Coast, this was a whimper of a finish to a truly disastrous season that was underlined by injury and scandal.

The season being over doesn’t mean the Suns are finished, with Harley Bennell already charged with disorderly behaviour over the weekend.

Although, I’m sure Bennell only slapped that cigarette out of the bouncer’s hand to try and save him from lung cancer. He’s actually an anti-tobacco crusader and should be applauded.

If he does leave he should go to Hawthorn. They don’t suspend anyone there.

West Coast (125) v St Kilda (30)

So finishing second probably means we can call the Eagles the real deal now, although it’s pretty unfair they get to host a home final just because they earned it.

Even the smartest football pundit (I know that’s an oxymoron) didn’t pick this happening.

It’s one of the things I like about this season; it’s genuinely hard to work out who is going to win the Grand Final.

I know you come here for incredibly detailed analysis of the games themselves but this one bored me to the point I was barely watching it. The Saints didn’t care so why should I?

Instead, things got a little crazy at my house, with me having a second cup of tea before I finally called it a night at 10:36pm. I felt it the next day but it was worth it.

Melbourne (103) v Greater Western Sydney (77)

Forget Ashley Madison. If you want to keep your affair secret, you should have gone to this game. You could have had a level to yourselves and the chances of bumping into someone you know would be almost nil.

It’s hard to figure out why the crowd was so low. Perhaps it was the fact it was on Fathers Day, featured two teams not playing finals, involved the Giants, was at Etihad and came after a slew of terrible performances by Melbourne.

Oh, it turns out it wasn’t that hard to figure out.

It was a surprise then that this was actually an interesting game and me and the guy six bays over kept commenting on it to each other. We didn’t even have to yell.

It will always be something to be able to tell people that I was one of the seven people who saw Melbourne break the Etihad Stadium hoodoo.

That leaves about only 34,454 hoodoos remaining for Melbourne to break.

There was an incredibly touching moment in this game where, after knocking himself out and being stretchered off in his final game, Daniel Cross returned to the sidelines and the crowd gave him an ovation. It was a genuinely spine tingling moment.

Both these sides were disappointing this season and for the Giants, it’s finals or bust next year. For Melbourne, it’s another chance to climb their Mount Everest: winning two games in a row.

Collingwood (92) v Essendon (95)

It’s great Collingwood lost but it would have been better with a bit less Essendon winning.

Really, this summed up a terrible season for the Pies. If there wasn’t this weird belief floating around that they’re on the right track, they would be being crucified. The question is: are they really on the right track?

It’s possible they are but so are other teams. You can’t deny that they finished the season very poorly and a lot of it come down to inaccurate goal kicking, not something you can purely blame on their youth.

Essendon fans at least get a moment of happiness with Heath Hocking stealing the win in the dying moments. It ends arguably the worst season the club has had in terms of turmoil and that’s saying something in recent years.

It was also nice for Bombers fans to get a win over a club that has bought the game into disrepute with players found guilty of taking banned substances.

So that’s the regular season done. It was way better than last season, which is damning with faint praise. The finals do look very good and I’m hoping the Eagles and Bulldogs mix things up a bit.

Now we all need to focus. Remember, anyone who tries to organise a non-footy related social event over the next month is someone you don’t want to know.

It’s therefore perfectly reasonable to tell them, ‘No.’ Not just to the event but to their friendship.

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  1. Geoff Schaefer

    There’s no doubt in my mind the Pies are on the right track Titus. It’s the one leading into that tunnel with no light at the end. The one where coaches like Vossy and Hirdy alight and disappear into the inky darkness…

  2. Bryce Fergus Pitts-Hill

    I wish I’d been reading these all year Ben Sweet

  3. Mick_EFC

    Who would’ve guessed the Bulldogs/Lions game would be match of the round? Only just found out The Don’s won as the skills were horrid up ’till half time, I couldn’t take anymore.

    Top notch writing all year Titus, thanks for the laughs mate!

    Now bring on the finals…Go Doggies!

  4. Bonjour_Pippy

    TitusOReily Unfair the Eagles having a home final. With time lag & flight distance at least one of the West’s sides could be based in Bali.

  5. Paul Maguire

    The Victorian clubs react to the national competition like it’s a step dad, they try to behave nicely but deep down there’s still a lot of resentment and it spills out at important moments, like finals time or family Christmases- haha gold jerry Simon Wood

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