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Pre-season Tips and Invective - Part III

 

 

Now, on to season 2005 proper, and a gaze into the crystal ball.

 

The result of Brisbane's capitulation against the Power has meant that the 2005 season promises to be the most even for some considerable time, and the quality of football displayed by the four best sides (the two preliminary finals and that Geelong v St. Kilda game at Unskilled Stadium are probably the most resounding examples) at various stages of last season was refreshing to say the least, after almost a decade of relative mediocrity across the competition. Whilst I would rate Port as a very good chance of going back-to-back, their overall dominance over the remainder of the competition is nowhere near as great as that which Brisbane enjoyed during its incredible three-peat (at least three hail marys there for that awful Americanism). Thus that air of invincibility which made Brisbane so irresistible and so psychologically intimidating for any opposition during the early 2000's has been blown away, ushering in a new football order.

 

Anyway, here goes...

 

1. Port Adelaide

 

They are the reigning premiers and are stable enough to go back-to-back. If Francou lasts the season, he will be an enormous addition to an already multi-talented unit, and more than covers for Josh Carr, who is essentially crap and mega-overrated (as Freo fans will find out when they attempt to convert him into a playmaker).  Contrast Carr with Roger James (whose parents must have really enjoyed Roger Moore in the Bond movies) who is mega-underrated, always plays well against the top sides and single-handedly kept Port in the prelim last season against the Saints (needless to say, James is going nowhere).

 

They've got a key forward (Tredrea), great back line (Wakelin, Cornes, Montgomery, Wilson), midfielders galore, taggers galore, depth in squad, (accommodated injuries well over the past three seasons) Primus back, and Stuart Dew (gotta love those long 50m goals and those love handles) - there's plenty there to be excited about if you're sporting a peroxide mullet, a 'Poison' T-shirt, stretched denim and a pair of mocassins, and answer to the name 'Bindi' or, conversely 'Dazza'.

 

Pickett (the reigning recipient of the Smithie) has been less consistent in his first two seasons at Port than during his time at North but his best has been scintillating, and one would hope his recent transgression (which earned him a lengthy stay on the sidelines) will not curtail his willingness to inflict grievous bodily harm upon opponents.

 

Perhaps the last word should be left to super coach Mark Williams. As you may recall, in the dying moments of the 2004 prelim against the Saints, ex-Power man Brent Guerra (a noted left footer) scuffed a glorious off-the-ground opportunity from the goal square with his right boot, which would have put the game into extra time. When asked about the incident post-match by media and press spastics (the industry deserves as much bagging as it can get) Chocko was 200% gold: "We taught Brent everything he knows about football ... except how to kick with his right foot!" Mark Williams is sort of like Boo Radley: everyone at first thought he was a freak who ate children, but once we got to know him, he turned out to be a top bloke. In fact, he's better than that: he's a Super Coach now. But I still suspect he'd be the only coach in the league who would flagellate his players for poor training and on-field performances. Great men are always a little bit frightening - Mark Williams is no exception, and that's why we love him.

 

2. Geelong

 

2005 marks the tenth anniversary of the club's lowest-ever ebb, the humiliation that was the 1995 Grand Final (captured so eloquently by Sam Newman's morbid prose on the following day's Footy Show: "It was the most insipid performance I have seen by a Geelong football side - Ever."). This year will see whether they have finally exorcised those demons by losing with dignity.

 

Gary Ablett looks certain to take the next step to deserved greatness, whilst little Nathan will continue to resemble Anakin Skywalker in Episode I for at least another season.  Like the young Annie, Nathan needs to be handled gently, lest his potential be squandered. It's too soon to be throwing him to the wolves in a senior game just yet. As Yoda so eloquently put it: "Being son of the Great Man leads to Shyness; Shyness leads to Fear; Fear leads to Hate; Hate leads to de-listing and Modewarre Thirds."

 

As you can see, Geelong is once again predicted to lose a Grand Final. Grand Final defeats for Geelong are like pizzas. Will this year be small (1989), a medium (1992) or a large (1994, 1995)?

 

3. Brisbane

 

Gone, but not that gone, they’ll still be up there again this year. Voss will finally come a cropper this September when he runs out of sticky tape to hold his knees together. Ackermanis will find age is catching up with him on the field and he has run out of jokes off the field. Likely to be doing less handstands this year. Perhaps his handstands were motivated by Kelvin Moore’s famous words to Jacko in 1981: “You’ll never be a real footballer so long as your dick points to the ground.”

 

Brisbane in ’05 resemble Rocky III in 1982. Having let their hubris get the better of them, they copped a big drubbing from a rough-edged out-of-towner, when immortality seemed within reach. Now they rely on the Apollo Creed mentorship of Lethal to get their revenge on Clubber Lang (aka Chocko) and rediscover their true character.

 

Plugger Brown will re-emerge from suspension in Round 6 against the Dons, only to be cruelly goaded by Sheedy’s tactical genius into earning another long holiday for himself after a dozen Essendon players give him wedgies in the first quarter and he takes out eleven of them.

 

4. West Coast

 

The Psychopathic Pharmacist ('Woosha' as he is better known) has assembled a midfield that any right-minded footy fan would simply cream themselves over. In fact, no need for blokes to be gratifying themselves over the memory of Judd's shiela on Brownlow night, just take a look at this for an on-ball division:

  • Gardiner: knee reconstructed, ready to return to role as a gun ruckman

  • Cox: in absence of Gardiner has matured into a fine back-up ruckman

  • Judd: had the pleasure of watching the Juddernaut in the Wizard Cup Final at Telstra Dome and I haven't had that sense of enjoyment in my jocks since sitting next to a girl named Gabriella in Year 10

  • Cousins: who ever would have thought this guy would be the number two midfielder at the Eagles?

  • Fletcher: class

  • Kerr: uberclass

  • Stenglein: great pick-up from the Crows. Grateful asylum-seeker from the Neil Craig counter-revolution.

  • Banfield: the 244 game veteran is a bizarro world clone of the ever reliable Malthouse mercenary Dwayne 'Fat' Lamb, complete with thunder thighs, testicle-disfiguring left foot kicking action and annoyingly persistent tagging tendency

  • Chick: not the same guy who barnstormed his way through the Hawthorn midfield in their finals runs of 2000-1, but still decent enough. He once amputated a finger for the Hawks. Geez Daniel, wasn’t THAT worth it?

  • Braun: that's right... the number eight midfielder (incredible)

This midfield is true premiership foundation stuff, and compares more than favourably with the midfield that powered that magnificent Malthouse machine of the early 1990s. (Mainwaring, Kemp, Gurley, Matera, Evans, Heady, Pyke, Lamb et al.) However, the 2005 edition of the Eagles is in stark contrast to that of the Malthouse epoch, in that the defence is as about as token as Nazi Germany's was when Marshall Zhukov marched into Potsdam in ‘45. Darren “Fragile - this side up” Glass (an unfortunate name for a full back) was taken to school by Fevola in the Wizard Cup final, whilst the likes of Staker, Waters, Seaby are as raw as Baldrick's turnips. Wirrpunda, conversely, is just a wonderfully poised half back, and gives the Eagles great rebound and distribution once he wins the ball. The forward line (apart from Little Phil, who like his brother Wally, looks like he too has been eating too much mixed lolly) is as impotent as Ugly Dave Gray and not much better looking either. With this in mind, it would seem that with an extra season of maturity for its key position players, the Eagles in 2006 could be hot premiership favourites, but in 2005, its lack of quality tall timber might be the overwhelming factor that denies the Indian Ocean Pretty Boys a tilt in the Grand Final.

 

5. St. Kilda

 

With one reasonable year under their belt, the Saints are now media darlings and will suffer from all the expectations and attention that go with being what Channel Seven used to call a “glamour side” (think Sydney Swans in the Hafey-Edelston era, West Coast 1991, Adelaide 1993, Richmond 1995, Sydney 1996-99, Hawthorn 2001). No “glamour side” ever won a flag whilst they remained “glamourous” and the current Saints are no exception.

 

Fragile even at the best of times, the temptations of fat-headedness and ill-discipline will get the better of the Saints this year. The cream of years of priority draft picks still can’t compensate for the fact that they still don’t have a real coach. Having traded football enlightenment for the President’s mate in the coach’s box after Blight spent more time at golf courses than he did at football grounds in 2001, the Saints - with a playing list that would surely win a flag if it resided at Windy Hill - will live to rue the day they appointed Thomas. Defensively, they too resemble Saddam’s ‘eilte’ republican guards, and the football department’s decision to discard two full-backs who have held their backlines together in the last three grand finals (D & S Wakelin) ranks up there with Burke and Wills’ decision to leave that extra gallon of water back at base camp.

 

6. Carlton

 

Yep, who would have thought that the crappest side so far this century would have re-emerged so swiftly to its majestic perch of arrogance? Pagan has completely revitalised the squad, and in the last quarter against the Eagles in the Wizard Cup Final, even the blessed Paddock (a stroke of tactical genius by Pagan) re-emerged. Wayne Carey has joined his former mentor at Optus Oval, no doubt giving all the right advice to the Blues' players on mastering both the centre half forward and missionary positions simultaneously. Digby Morrell, who wins the 2005 award for AFL player with the name most like a porn star, no doubt was listening intently.

 

Fevola looks as happy as he's been since the notorious fire hydrant incident a few seasons ago, David Teague's gone and won himself a B & F in his first season at Carlton (even though he can't play a key position and gets flogged by also-rans when he tries). And now that Lawrence Angwin is more gainfully employed by Centrelink, the young potential in the team will be free to develop without needless distractions or mind alteration. Dennis Pagan promises to do for Carlton what Otto Rehhagel did for Greece at Euro 2004, taking a bunch of hacks and demanding of them wild and unbridled over-achievement.

 

7. Adelaide

 

I’ll stick my neck out here with a rash prediction – the Crows to be the bolters of ’05. With a lame, untested coach and a list that is all-but-written off, the Crows have nothing to lose. This should (though not necessarily will) mean they decide to throw off their inhibitions and return to their traditional values by playing some old-style free-flowing South Australian football, a la the SANFL in the 1980s and the original Crows of the Cornes era. This will, of course, once again render them unbeatable at Moron Park, but highly suspect everywhere else, especially when the weather gets ordinary (though the advent of closed roofs at Colon Stadium may mitigate this factor). I predict (or vainly hope) that: McLeod will be given complete free reign to forget about any defensive aspect to his game and simply run amok; all other midfielders be given permission to run forward of the ball; all forwards to be told that Mark of the Day is the most important prize in football (in the spirit of Lindner, Modra, Burton et al); and the backline told that it’s OK to concede 15 goals a game (Flooding? Tagging? What’s that? Sounds like a Victorian conspiracy…). Given Neil Craig’s limited knowledge of anything to do with football east of Murray Bridge, he may just adopt this strategy because he knows no better.

 

Furthermore, Showdowns XVII and XVIII this year to see a true return to SANFL values circa the 1970s by featuring Crows players instigating huge all-in brawls, which sufficiently unsettle the silver teal enough for the (gay) pride of SA to steal the game. Given that they have nothing to lose this year, the Crows owe it to the Good of the Game to return to their roots. I live in hope.

 

8. Melbourne

 

Great forward line, competent backline, top ruckman, excellent midfielders, but still can’t escape one glaring, incontrovertible truth.

 

They’re soft.

 

9. North Melbourne

 

The Shinboner Spirit is dead and a glorious era consigned to history. RIP. 1993-2004. Killed off by Pagan's hip-pocket impulse and Carey's, er, other more excitable impulses. 

 

The Junkyard Dog is clutching at straws hoping that if he puts enough ordinary tall forwards on the field at any given time, one of them might kick a few goals. McKernan, Rocca, Petrie, Thomson – the bunch of has-beens and never-will-bes. Whilst Rocca’s brief renaissance in the second half of ’04 has been attributed to the tutelage of the Dog, this wise observor gives the credit to his sensible reduction from 21 to 14 pizzas a week. McKernan is still living off the glory of his lost Brownlow of '96 and, having been run out of Arden St once by Pagan, took the hint and bailed from Princess Park before the new Blues coach could again see right through him.

 

Daniel Wells will deservedly take his place in the pantheon of aboriginal cult figures, but he faces the challenge of the second-year blues that often afflict young stars. This year will determine his true status amongst his indigenous brethren. Is he the next Andrew McLeod or the next Adrian McAdam?

 

10. Essendon

 

Looking through the retrospectoscope, it’s now clear that Fraser Brown in ‘99 and Leigh Matthews in 2001 between them consigned Sheedy to the ignominious status of coaching one of the greatest under-achieving sides of all time. After a few years of being respectable hangers-on after Sheeds’ great window of opportunity, that window is now closed and a new era must begin.

 

If the Eagles have the Rolls Royce of midfields, Essendon now find themselves with the 1976 Trabant. Expect something akin to the Trab’s two-stroke lawn-mower engine to be all that comes out of the Essendon engine room this year. Every year sees a new ‘Sheedy player’ emerge from his system (ie an ordinary player made to look good – eg: Denham, Calthorpe, Walsh, Duckworth, Barnard, Hamilton, Wallis, etc). Last year it was Adam McPhee, this year Ty Zantuck looks like being the next in line, after falling out with Plow at Tigerland (wise career move Ty).

 

11. Collingwood

 

Mick Malthouse took them to two seasons of implausible over-achievement but, honestly, no team that is so shallow in talent that it has to park Jason Cloke at CHF on Grand Final day was ever all that great.

 

In readiness for another assault on the 2004 flag, the Collingwood football department recognised the need for a second gun midfielder to ‘ease the squeeze’ on Buckley, after the relative disappointment of 2000 Brownlow winner, Shane WoeWoeful. Nick Stevens and Chocko had become tired of each other’s company at the end of 2003 after more Preliminary final agony for the Power, and as Stevens was out of contract, saw fit to flee. Collingwood, all cashed up with Eddie’s millions and the usual Victoria Park penchant for the grandiose, declared itself the frontrunner for Stevens’ signature. Nick Stevens, a lifelong Pie supporter hailing originally from green Melbourne north-eastern suburb Montmorency (former VFL Collingwood zone), declared his desire for black and white matrimony and the chance to play premiership football.

 

Enter the genius of Chocko. The only obstacle to this seemingly inevitable union was the organisation of a suitable and mutually agreeable trade between Port and Collingwood. Mark Williams, with Alan Scott the Rottweiler millimeters away from ripping his balls apart, was acutely aware that Stevens, an elegant playmaker with impressive hard running and the requisite prick to be the superstar he almost is, had every opportunity of giving Collingwood not only the pleasant personnel improvement to make it a force once again in 2004, but also the ego and morale boost after dual premiership failure. So Chocko, cunningly and mindful of the future of his manhood, told Eddie that he wasn’t interested in a trade, much to McGuire’s and Malthouse’s chagrin, thus consigning Stevens to the pre-season draft, where he was eventually picked up by an eternally grateful Carlton desperate for any footballing talent.

 

Chocko’s refusal to trade with Collingwood on Stevens has been the single most significant player move this century – Collingwood was eliminated, in one fell swoop, as a legitimate 2004 premiership contender, making Mark Williams’ quest for glory that little bit easier. Moreover, the Stevens trade for Carlton has been a total bargain, given a. Footscray picked up Jade Rawlings at pick 1 in that same draft and b. Josh Carr cost Freo three picks, and is not in the same stratosphere as his ex-Port teammate. That Carlton have benefited from Stevens’ inclusion is a gross understatement.

 

Collingwood’s football recruitment has been interminably paralysed ever since, having now lost Heath Scotland and Mark McGough (both handy midfielders) and making do with recycled Malthouse love children (i.e. Andrew Williams, Chad Morrison) in a vain attempt to fill the breach. 

 

12. Sydney

 

In the interests of a TNL (Truly National League), football commentator ideologues and sycophants have been falling over themselves to talk up the Swans. After beating Brisbane last season, Gerard 'Total Journalistic Impartialilty' Healy declared on his poncey evening sports/football program on 3AW that he had never seen a side as tough or as ruthless on their approach to the ball and/or man as the Swans that evening. Utter poppycock. This obviously biased statement reflects poorly on Healy and is blatant farcical hype. The Swans get an easy ride from the media, but their style of football is so incredibly tedious that were Rodney Eade were to use the same tactics at the Western Oval this season, he would cop abuse upon abuse for playing 'scragger' football. Talk about double standards.

 

What do I speak of? I speak of the Paul Roos-devised (another darling of the Melbourne media) anti-football, first devised by self-styled sociopath Ken Judge at Hawthorn and then West Coast, in which his players are required simply to sit on opposition playmakers and that if there is no clear target to kick to up forward, then players are directed to kick to touch and re-group. Also, because the quality of the Swans players is not high, no player other than the four 'designated kickers' (i.e. Maxfield, O'Keefe, Kirk, Kennelly) are permitted to kick the ball into forward 50. Observe how the other Sydney players will always look for one of these four clowns in order to drive the ball long. It is mind-numbing to watch, one requires some aropax to get some joy out of it all. If ever a side was capable of boring its opposition into defeat, than the Paul Roos-engineered Swans will do it to you every time. When the side's best midfielder is a tagger, (i.e. Kirk) one can only shake one's head in disbelief. In short, they're about as ebullient as the colour grey. Moreover, credit is given to Roos for rejuvenating the side after Eade's departure, but it was Eade who was advocating the retirement of Paul Kelly and Daryn Cresswell in the first place, and it was Eade who thought the Tony Lockett comeback experiment was like a Frankenstein experiment gone horribly wrong. Eade's reward was the sack and losing the chance to turn over his playing list and starting fresh.

 

However, Rodney Eade deserves enormous credit for his time at the Swans, displaying real tactical nous by inventing the 'flood' (no, it wasn't Wallace's idea, although if you ask Terry, he would gladly tell any d*ckhead who will listen that he also invented the wheel) which maximised Plugger's gifts by completely opening up the forward 50 for him and completely restoring the pride of the club with a grand final appearance in 1996 and numerous competitive seasons thereafter.

 

My feeling is that this AFL equivalent of catenaccio as practiced by Paul Roos deserves to explode in the collective face of the football department down at Paddington. The playing list is devoid of truly exciting players (if I hear another excuse re: O'Loughlin's jock itch or pink eye, I shall hurl) but conversely, the playing style does mean that a coach only requires drones to fill any positions vacant due to injury or suspension. Goodes is capable, but flopped after his Brownlow year. Barry Hall is their one danger man, but has enjoyed two seasons without major injury or suspension, and really is about as stable as a vat of nitroglycerine in the hands of a Parkinson's patient, so look out this season. Also with regard to Bazza, a note to opposition full backs - his major asset is his pace. Despite his well earned reputation as a thug, he is actually not very strong body on body when not able to use his fists, and is almost always found wanting in the 1-on-1 contests. Hence his reliance on leading up the ground in order to gain access to the ball. Adam Schneider gets the 'Kim Clijsters' award of 2004 for being the competition's favourite Little Fatty. Certainly, it is high time that the competition's most boring team became one of the crappest - 2005 will see football justice done.

 

13. Fremantle

 

A franchise (no real club would wear purple) which had lost the plot before a ball had been kicked in anger, suffered from complete nervous meltdown to miss out on the finals after losing their last four matches (including at home to Collingwood) on the trot. Brain rot has continued over the pre-season, as exemplified by several key clangers namely:  trading their first three picks for (wait for it)... Josh Carr (Port must be loving it at the moment); Connolly and Bell reportedly no longer seeing eye-to-eye (obviously Connolly not keen to have a sharp dagger protruding at right angles to his rib cage); Pavlich still without a position and still not fully realising his potential (rumoured to be a Port target in the Carr trade, but where would Port put him in a side that includes Tredrea and Cornes at CHF and CHB respectively?).

 

Moreover, the forward line last year of Farmer, Medhurst and Waterhouse (who has been shown the exit door at Sublaco) was as lairising and ineffectual as they come, with Farmer going walkabout, Medhurst kicking 9 goals against the Lions then wasting everybody's time for the remainder of the season, whilst Dennis Cometti's love child, Clive, simply ran out of 'Get out of jail free' cards, after season after season of wasted potential. Hasleby has been a fine player but is being sat on too easily by opposition taggers who know he lacks genuine pace, and the addition of an ageing Jarrad Schofield, who has always been a textbook receiver, is a luxury this team can ill-afford. Lastly, Des Headland has done everything possible in his power since moving to Freo to prove that his excellent premiership season at Brisbane in 2002 was a complete fluke. There is nothing worse or more dangerous than being in charge of a club with a playing list of above average potential, but with seemingly no clarity of goal - this is Connolly's present plight, and he would do well to heed the lessons of the past. John Northey did not last long at Brisbane after an atrocious season in 1998, and his reputation as a top line coach was essentially destroyed. The rest, as they say, is history.

 

14. Richmond

 

Still no hope of any joy for the fighting fury from Tigerland. With another ordinary season awaiting them and no real talent amongst them, the real interest once again will focus on how soon it will be before Tiger supporters (once again) turn on their side, as it (once again) dawns on them that this year will not be a re-run of 1980. Nathan Brown must be ruing his two inspired career moves of joining Punt Rd and playing Dr Pink, or were some of his limp-wristed on-field efforts last year simply a very extreme case of life imitating art?

 

Of almost as much interest will be just what creative excuses Terry Wallace will come up with when the manure starts to collide with the rotational cooling device. My tips:

 

Round 1: Creditable loss to a highly rated side. Media describes them as ‘promising’. Poor game by Ottens has Wallace gloating on the back page of the Hun that he won the mind game against Bomber Thompson (who fails to give a sh*t).

 

Round 2: 90 point win over Hawthorn with the enigmatic Richo kicking 9 goals on a ‘Queer Eye’ cast member has Tiger fans in a state of mania and setting up camp at Tickemaster outlets throughout Melbourne to ensure they don’t miss out come Grand Final day. Tiger fans embrace Wallace as a ‘real Richmond man’ on the basis of his one season at Punt Rd in 1987.

 

Round 3: Controversial 2 point loss to Western Bulldogs after Richo kicks 1 goal 9 and insults 10 team mates for putting him on tight angles. Terry Wallace attempts to laugh off taunts from Doggie supporters, but no one is convinced.

 

Round 4: They turn. Fremantle, having been winless so far, flogs the Tiges by 12 goals. Feral fans blame Wallace for costing them the game after he had the temerity to bench Richo with 5 minutes to go in the last quarter. Melbourne talkback radio runs hot with intemperate Tiger fans baying for Wallace blood and attacking the board for hiring someone who was never a ‘real Richmond man.’ Plow attempts to brave the storm, praising Tiger fans as “the most passionate in the league”

 

Round 5: A nice percentage booster for the Saints. Terry Wallace’s after match security detail increases from 2 to 8 hired goons. Telstra Dome forecourt is strewn with torn-up Richmond membership cards.

 

Round 6: Port flog the Tiges at Telstra Dome. The glass in the Richmond coach’s box once again cops it after another Kristalnacht effort by Tiger fans. Terry Wallace forced to change the locks on his house and adopt a silent phone number. Mark Williams patronizingly says he “feels for” Wallace. Mal Brown shows his usual sensitivity and discretion declaring that Wallace “has done a lot for Richmond …. almost as much as Gary Ablett used to do for us.”

 

Round 7: Wallace’s kids forced to travel to school with police escort each day. Plow naively attempts to again appease the unappeasable by saying “The Earth is slow but the Ox is patient”, only to have Tiger fans retort by dumping 2 tons of ox manure at Punt Rd.

 

Round 8: Just beaten by Collingwood in an otherwise ordinary game. Caroline Wilson once again throws in her highly over-valued 2 cents worth, as self-appointed club sage. “Who asked you shiela?” is the most common retort received from Tiger fans. Plow concedes it’s not as easy as he thought it would be. Malthouse patronizingly says “well he knew what he was getting himself in for, didn’t he?”. Jason and Cameron Cloke profusely thank their old man for keeping them away from Punt Rd.

 

Round 9-21: Tiger board and Tiger fans everywhere commence speculation about who the next coach should be. Kevin Sheedy once again messes with their collective mind by refusing to rule it out, whilst privately knowing better (much, much better).

 

Round 22: With knives poised, Plow announces that he has received a lucrative offer to save the world as Secretary-General of the United Nations and, as such, is regrettably forced to abandon his five year contract with Richmond four years early. Wallace then goes to ground, Latham style, last seen behaving erratically in a park with shaved head.

 

2006: Unconfirmed sightings of Terry Wallace in dark glasses and fake beard in Centrelink queue, lining up for the disability support pension, claiming mental disability caused by delusions of grandeur, wounded ego, and generalised FRCS (Former Richmond Coach Syndrome). 

 

15. Western Bulldogs

 

The core of the side that was denied Grand Final glory by the genius of Blight in 97-98 is on its last legs and now surrounded by a support cast that is even more ordinary than it was back then. Whilst there is no disputing Rodney Eade’s tactical soundness, the man will have to become a virtual alchemist to turn this pile of Braybrook dung into something resembling a polished football team. Regrettably, it looks like more lean times ahead for Doggies supporters, who can rest assured they will be copping plenty more kicks in their three teeth from the rest of the AFL this year.

 

Once again, we won’t be seeing much that is interesting, innovative or noteworthy emanating from the Whitten Oval. The whole battler thing just doesn’t wash anymore. Not much of care factor from the rest of the world.

 

16. Hawthorn

 

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Richmond 1984 = Hawthorn 2004. After growing up on a force-fed staple diet of Hawthorn player arrogance and supporter hubris in the 1980s and early 90s, any football fan over the age of 20 can now rejoice in the guaranteed certainty that the once-mighty Dawks now stand on the cusp of a generation of mediocrity and general humiliation. Old timers at Glenferrie who recall with fondness the muscular manhood of Kennedy’s Commandos must be despairing at the prospect of another season of Crawford’s Cream-Puffs.

 

Look for some stand out performances in fashion parades, A-list parties and the social pages from these clowns, but don't count on any worthwhile on-field exploits. They could at least salvage something from season '05 by rolling up their sleeves and getting to work on the one prize that does seem within their reach - best float in the 2006 Mardi Gras.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pickett: View to a kill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocko: Misunderstood Genius

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ablett Jnrs: The Force is with them

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ackermanis:  

novelty worn off

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plow and Captain Blood: he wishes...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crawf: Mind not on the job

 

 

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