The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round Twenty

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.

Sydney (87) v Collingwood (76)

This could have been Collingwood’s eighth loss in a row if it wasn’t for Carlton. Thanks for nothing Carlton!

Remember when Eddie said the Pies could pinch a premiership this year? Well that would be the only avenue left open to them after this loss.

It may also be the only avenue open to Sydney too who really struggled in this one.

Collingwood had Travis Cloke back from injury and he was straight back to business as usual with 11 possessions and kicking 1.1.

The Pies were solid throughout though and looked like pinching it at various stages. This is happening so often they should change their name to the ‘Honourable Losses’.

Perhaps the other teams in the league didn’t get the memo that Collingwood are going to be awesome in a few years.

For Sydney, this was a hard fought win but a worrying one. Sure, they had injuries and a suspected broken ankle to Luke Parker added to that but they also seem well off the top pace.

Collingwood after all have been pretty bad for months now and it wasn’t like they suddenly began playing brilliantly.

Still, a win is a win and Sydney seem at this stage like they’re an old prizefighter, they’re hanging in there and just hoping they can stay in it long enough to land a lucky knockout blow.

Essendon (59) v Adelaide (171)

So then this happened.

It occurred to me that Essendon are a lot like Nickelback. They’re terrible and the majority of people can’t stand them but they still have a massive following.

That following though must be wondering what they signed up for.

This all started out fine, the us-against-them excitement, supporting Hird, the whole flag waving hoopla. It was like joining a cult that played sport on the weekend.

The constant promises of the truth being revealed was like those predictions of the world going to end and the chosen few ascending to a better place. Like those prophecies it just seemed to never actually happen.

Now the path chosen turns out to lead not to the promise land but to 100-point losses; yet still some stay loyal. Why? Because admitting you were wrong after all this is pretty hard to do.

To begin, what are you going to do with all those ‘Stand by Hird’ t-shirts and signs?

Adelaide are now looking at finals and Geelong’s loss really helped. This helped too as a huge percentage booster. Not that it was that fun to watch; there’s something about destroying a team that is already broken that isn’t very satisfying.

Eighth spot is all Adelaide’s to lose now and they’ve got Brisbane next week. Will be great if they make it after the year they’ve had.

North Melbourne (120) v St Kilda (83)

For a fair chunk of this, North looked like they were taking one of their ‘special breaks’ and went into halftime 20 points down.

At this stage, there were a lot of North supporters calling for Brad Scott’s head on a platter.

Normally, the Kangaroos don’t manage to turn things around mid-game but instead North decided they better do a day’s work and piled on nine goals in the third quarter to settle things.

Drew Petrie’s four goals were key as was Todd Goldstein work around the ground, again.

Now North’s little holiday against the lower teams comes to an end and they face Fremantle, the Bulldogs and Richmond in the run home.

Three weeks from now we’ll have their true measure.

St Kilda are finishing up the year with a lot of positives, a major one being the club isn’t the scandal generator it was for so many years.

It’s a good thing too, I don’t think the AFL needs any more scandals at the moment. Another dwarf burning would probably mean shutting up shop.

Alan Richardson and the Saints’ organisation need a bit of credit for turning this club’s culture around and getting them on track on the field.

Port Adelaide (111) v Greater Western Sydney (90)

While the Power’s season has been more disappointing than the second season of True Detective, they still have talent and perhaps that’s the most disappointing thing about them.

Despite their troubles, Port blew a giant hole in GWS’ finals chances (what a gold ‘giants’ reference there. I’ve been working on that for weeks).

This one had a fair bit of spite to it too. There was a nasty little incident between Toby Greene and Travis Boak. Remember all those stories about how Greene had really matured?

Since then he’s spat at Richmond’s Anthony Miles and now this. The fact GWS actually kept him on after his little nightclub adventure means they reap what they sow. It’s on them what he does.

Geelong (85) v Hawthorn (121)

These old sparing partners didn’t quite live up to past efforts but it was nice to watch one of these games without everyone banging on about ‘the Kennett Curse’.

Turns out that Kennett Curse was a lot like him, a big deal until suddenly it wasn’t.

This was Steve Johnson 250th match and he had a couple of goals that reminded everyone of his brilliance.

It was Cyril Rioli who again showed how exciting and damaging he can be with six goals. It was too much for the Channel Seven commentary team who quickly wore out their limited vocabulary trying to describe their excitement.

Only their rampant barracking for Geelong got them back on track.

While the Cats’ stars have either left or are ageing, Hawthorn’s are still in their prime with Hodge, Mitchell, Roughead and Rioli all at arguably career best form.

For me the Hawks are still favourites, no one else has the experience, match winners and football intelligence to match them consistently. Sigh.

A fun subplot to this game was Stevie J and Brian Lake niggling each other. The AFL would have been counting their fines before the hatched but alas it went nowhere.

Brisbane (131) v Carlton (67)

While Hawthorn and Geelong were showing how entertaining two teams wanting to win was on one channel, we had this screwball comedy on the other.

I had two TV’s going and it was like having two different sports on and one seemed to not require any athletic ability or hand-eye coordination.

This season has seen Carlton really strive to create lowlights and this was no different. Losing to Brisbane showed Carlton are serious about being the worse team in the league.

I’d have thought Carlton were tanking but I’ve seen them play a lot this season and this actually seemed just their standard performance.

Still, tanking certainly works, look at Melbourne and Carlton. They play each other next week and look how far they’ve both come since the ‘Kreuzer Cup’ in Round 22, 2007.

The fact they both tanked for a player who’s been a bust makes it all the more perfect.

What isn’t surprising is that Carlton lost this and so badly, it’s that there are people who actually want to coach the Blues.

Just shows, no matter how bad a team is, there is always someone wanting to shave five years off their life.

Brisbane’s victory means the wooden spoon may have slipped from their grasp which is fine really. We’ve all learnt having the number one pick is often as useless as Cameron Ling on special comments.

Richmond (138) v Gold Coast (55)

Brett Deledio returns and Richmond return. It’s a bit worrying how much he’s an indicator of a Tigers’ win or loss.

This was a crushing win, helped by the Suns being not very good and having injuries during the game.

The only bandwagon with more people on it than Richmond’s at the moment is Jason Day’s and unlike Richmond’s that one has a dress code.

It’s hard to take much out of this game. Richmond were good but really, so they should be against one of biggest disappointments of the season.

If the Suns had fans they’d be really looking forward to the end of the season.

Richmond now take on Collingwood, Essendon and North, so no flag contenders until finals for them.

Western Bulldogs (153) v Melbourne (55)

We know Melbourne doesn’t like Etihad Stadium but this was really something else.

It was like Melbourne saw Essendon’s and Carlton’s efforts and said ‘amateurs’.

The first half and the fourth quarter were just rubbish from Melbourne, as bad as Neeld era stuff and Neeld in fairness wasn’t on a million dollars and had less to work with.

And don’t raise that good third quarter from the Dees. Are we meant to be thrilled they graced us with their presence for one whole quarter?

Paul Roos’ keeps talking about improvement but the pace is glacial and when you’re on his money you need to be showing a lot more. People say Melbourne are better but it’s off a very low base.

Roos said the players just wanted the year to end. Well that’s nice. What about the members who fork over their hard earned inherited cash each year? The ones who actually turn up for the whole four quarters?

Not to take anything away from the Doggies. They are the real deal and were terrific. I’d always wanted to see them run training drills but I don’t do the Western suburbs, so this was a treat.

Contrast their effort and fight with Melbourne’s. I guess having a coach who desperately wanted the job and didn’t have to be coaxed by money and a promise they could skip out of there quickly makes a difference.

Fremantle (80) v West Coast (104)

It’s obviously too early in the season to know if the Eagles are the real deal. We need to see them take on a few of the other top teams.

We should mention that the Eagles had Naitanui, LeCras and their entire defence missing.

They were still just better.

I’ve heard a few conspiracy theories that Freo intentionally lost this one to try and stop Hawthorn get into the top two.

It’s a good theory but Freo have been turning in sub-par performances for some time and this didn’t seem out of character.

Fremantle were also true to form by having a defender strike an opponent and face a spell on the side lines. Alex Silvagni elbowed Jamie Cripps behind play and looks to be heading for a long break.

Remember that stuff about St Kilda turning their culture around? There seems a common thread here.

Sign up to Titus O’Reily’s Electronic Mail Newsletter.


  1. Lemmiwinks

    Can you stop being a lazy bitch and get these out before lunch? I had to read Herald-Sun articles over lunchtime and if I read one more Rita Panahi article I’m going to gouge my eyes out.

  2. Snert Underpant

    It may be heresy to suggest it, but I’m seriuosly starting to wonder whether Paul Roos success with Sydney may just have had something to do with the fact that he was coaching a bunch of blokes who just happened to be quite good at playing footy.

  3. TonyVonthoff

    The best thing about the Derby was watching “Super-coach” & professional Grand Final  runner-up Ross Lyon in  the coaches box displaying the demeanour of a man who had planned to be 39 points down for the majority of the day and was well satisfied. All the science and stats in the World won’t get you a flag Ross, just ask Neil Craig.

  4. Bonjour_Pippy

    TitusOReily Amazingly channel 7 commentators still cannot pronounce Breusts name which also caused Eddie to do the same!

  5. stacky66

    I think the Essendon T-Shirts should read “Stand by, Hird”

  6. De_mann17

    TitusOReily Freo are still on top so the rest of the comp must be worse than sub par. Take your anti-lyon rhetoric and shove it.

  7. tonyb1971

    De_mann17 TitusOReily Looks like WA has woken up…….good morning : )

  8. phil crowden

    If Freo don’t win the flag this year it will be downhill from there. Ross Lyon will leave the club in tatters, just like when he left the Saints.

  9. tmc071

    TitusOReily thought you might’ve done the womens game too….especially given Melbourne actually won it.

  10. TitusOReily

    tmc071 I did write something but it didn’t fit with my anger at the Dees’ performance.

  11. Duane Harrison

    Oi leave Lingy alone, he’s the only one I can tolerate on Saturday night footy!

  12. sorcy79au

    TitusOReily You mentioned Silvagni’s hit on Cripps but nothing about Masten’s bite on Suban??

  13. sorcy79au

    TitusOReily Wait….waaaiiiiit….reading the rest of your statuses now…

  14. Joanne Everett

    Dustin should change his image. Bike, druggie, dip s–t. Boy will be boys Has the talent but lacks the nous.

Leave a Comment