Mar 16, 2022
A highly unhelpful guide to Round One
The only guide to the round that admits it’s completely unhelpful. What it lacks in insight, it makes up for with wild theories and detours onto unrelated topics.
It’s your unhelpful guide to Round One.
Melbourne vs. Western Bulldogs (MCG) 7:10pm Seven/Fox
Well, I’m back.
I took a bit of a break from writing; for some reason, two years of pandemic seamlessly morphing into World War Three made me feel in desperate need of some time off.
But I missed you all. Well, almost all.
I didn’t miss the people who, during my break, would say to me, ‘2020, 2021 and 2022 are the worst three years in my lifetime Titus.’
“OK, we’re just pretending the Hawthorn threepeat never happened, are we?” I’d reply.
I was usually met with blank stares at this point, which I can only assume is due to people realising the truth in my words.
Never forget just how bad that threepeat was.
For Melbourne fans, even imminent nuclear war hasn’t dampened the joy of last year’s premiership; if anything, it feels like they got one in before last drinks were called.
This year’s AFL season starts with a Grand Final rematch, rather than the more traditional ‘Carlton sacrificed at the ‘G’ ritual.
Apparently, these two teams have a heated rivalry due to some unpleasantness over a song called ‘Freed From Desire’.
To be honest, I’d never heard of the song until this all blew up.
That’s not surprising; my music tastes are so old that when I hear Glenn Miller and his Orchestra on the wireless, I still remark, ‘what is this noise?’
Having now listened to ‘Freed From Desire’, I’m even more perplexed how this could cause any angst. Why would you fight over that song?
I mean, part of the lyrics read:
Na-na-na-na-na-na-na, na-na-na, na-na-na
Na-na-na-na-na-na-na, na-na-na, na-na-na
Na-na-na-na-na-na-na, na-na-na, na-na-na
Na-na-na-na-na-na-na, na-na-na, na-na
How can you get fired up over that?
Sure, if it were Shakira’s ‘Hips don’t lie’, I’d understand, but this seems ridiculous.
Also, being two great teams, with youth and stars all over the place, I’m not sure we need a song from 1997 to spice up the rivalry.
I’m tipping the Dees in this one.
Carlton vs. Richmond (MCG) 7:25pm Seven/Fox
Michael Voss, after massive success in Brisbane and Port Adelaide, now has the exciting opportunity to fix Carlton.
It’s an opportunity that has been given to a lot of people in recent years.
In good news, you could say he can’t do any worse than previous efforts, but that sounds like a challenge.
Now I’m not one to hype a team up just to make it more enjoyable when the wheels come off, but the Blues beat Melbourne in the preseason.
That means anything less than a premiership this season should be considered an abject failure.
But as the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne have shown in recent years, times change.
I’m just saying we shouldn’t get complacent about Carlton; I mean, the Soviet Union just reappeared. It would be tough to see another evil empire make a comeback.
Richmond had some sad news recently, with Peggy O’Neal announcing she will step down as President at the end of the season.
Personally, I’m thrilled. Under O’Neal, Richmond have gone from a club that provided about 47 per cent of my material to winning three premierships, a record membership and financial success.
Her reign has been an unmitigated disaster.
I’m tipping Richmond.
St Kilda vs. Collingwood (Marvel) 7:50pm Seven/Fox
Kanye West wanted Marvel Stadium on this night but couldn’t get it because it clashed with this blockbuster.
My biggest issue with that is stopping Kanye means St Kilda got their one highlight of the year out of the way very early.
Marvel Stadium will debut its new scoreboards at this game, scoreboards Gillon McLachlan described as ‘the sexiest things you can possibly see.’
I’m not sure what Gil has been watching on these screens, but I hope he at least had the decency to do it with the roof closed.
Collingwood certainly provided the feel-good story of the offseason, when Jordan De Goey managed to have his assault charges downgraded to second-degree harassment.
So many of us grew up dreaming of being an AFL player who could get favourable plea deals.
It shows you that if you offer rare glimpses of greatness and can afford a good lawyer, dreams do come true.
I’m tipping the Saints.
Geelong vs. Essendon (MCG) 2:10pm Fox Footy
Patrick Dangerfield saved a family of three from drowning at the beach during the offseason.
The family were dragged out by a rip, and Dangerfield kept them afloat for fifteen minutes before lifesavers arrived.
It raises the question, is there anything this guy won’t do to get his name in the media?
Geelong will be the big winners this year, in my opinion.
Not in terms of footy, but with a Federal and State election being held this year, and being surrounded by marginal seats, expect them to be offered more cash than Prince Harry and Meghan Markle shopping a tell-all book around.
Personally, it’s well past time the urinals were gold plated at Kardinia Park.
Essendon’s season copped a colossal blow recently, with Mick Malthouse predicting them to win the flag.
I don’t know any club that can recover from something like this; it must take all the players’ motivation away, knowing their season is essentially doomed before it even begins.
I’m tipping Geelong.
Greater Western Sydney vs. Sydney (Accor Stadium) 5:10pm Fox Footy
Thanks to Toby Greene, players can’t abuse umpires on the field anymore. Thanks a lot Toby!
Again, one of life’s great pleasures curtailed by political correctness gone mad.
Toby will miss this game, of course, he’s out suspended for the first six rounds, and the Giants added to that punishment in the offseason, making him co-captain.
That sends a strong message.
The Giants also hired James Hird over the break in a part-time leadership advisory role, and after the firm foundation of success he built at Essendon, it’s an intelligent decision.
Sydney fans will be hoping their young side takes the next step this year, but in the short term, they’ll be hoping Buddy can notch up 1000 career goals.
He’s currently sitting on 995 goals, an astounding achievement in the modern era.
The game has changed significantly during Franklin’s career, with numerous rule changes introduced to improve scoring, which have instead reduced scoring.
Imagine your job was to achieve a specific outcome, and you managed to achieve the polar opposite result, and you not only got to keep your job but tell everyone you were pleased with how it worked out! That must be nice.
I’m tipping the Swans.
Brisbane vs. Port Adelaide (G) 8:10pm Seven/Fox
If my perusing of preseason predictions in the media is any indication, Brisbane are the team expected to take the next step this season and challenge for a premiership.
That’s not ‘Mick Malthouse picks you as premiers’ bad, but it’s not exactly a good sign either.
The Lions need to win some finals instead of losing them so regularly that it’s the only predictable thing left in this crazy world.
Much like Brisbane, Port Adelaide need to win in September. Against the Bulldogs in the finals last year, the game was over so quickly, Power fans were only on their second UDL can.
With Eddie McGuire gone, Port can’t just roll out the prison jumper debate as a distraction every time they struggle on the field.
This is the year Ken Hinkley has to take them very deep in September, especially with Clarko out there circling like the angriest shark that ever lived.
I’m tipping Brisbane.
Hawthorn vs. North Melbourne (MCG) 1:10pm Fox Footy
Speaking of Clarkson, thank God Jeff Kennett moved him on. What a train wreck his time at Hawthorn was.
I mean, there are kids in primary school who have never seen a Hawthorn Premiership.
Jeff had good reason to move Clarkson too; he was taking away too much of the glory from Jeff.
Imagine engineering a situation where you lose a four-time premiership coach and keep Jeff Kennett.
No wonder the Hawks fans are furious and are attempting to move him on as fast as is humanly possible.
North Melbourne may have finished bottom of the ladder last year, but in more important news, they are no longer broke.
This is a considerable shift, like North Korea adopting democracy.
Unfortunately, on the field, North have a long way to go. North Melbourne, that is, not North Korea (they have a surprisingly effective back six).
What North needs is some firepower up forward, like a Ben Brown type.
I’m tipping Hawthorn.
Adelaide vs. Fremantle (AO) 4:10pm Fox Footy
Probably the most exciting thing about the Crows this season is that their 2018 preseason camp is still generating media.
In the offseason, it was the media issuing apologies around some of their reporting.
This story is like Karl in Die Hard; just when you think it’s dead, it roars back into life.
I can understand the focus on a camp that happened back in 2018, though, for Crows fans, they look back on that time with fond nostalgia.
A Crows fan told me this week they are looking forward to this season about as much as a colonoscopy. I pointed out that at least a colonoscopy doesn’t last half the year.
Being based in Melbourne, as I started writing this column, I realised I’d seen no mention of Fremantle in the media.
This is hardly surprising unless Nat Fyfe takes his top off; the Melbourne media barely mention the Dockers.
If I remember vaguely, they have a young list with some very promising talent.
Luckily my deep knowledge of footy means I don’t need to rely on the media or the internet to provide deep insights into every club.
Why, off the top of my head, I can tell you the Dockers are a professional Australian rules football club competing in the Australian Football League, the sport's elite competition. The team was founded in 1994 to represent the port city of Fremantle, a stronghold of football in Western Australia.
See? I bet you missed this sort of insight.
I’m tipping the Dockers.
West Coast vs. Gold Coast (OS) 7:40pm Fox Footy
West Coast welcomed back Jack Darling this week, with Adam Simpson announcing, "We'll put our arms around him,” which they can now that he’s been vaccinated.
This whole anti-vaccination thing has been blown out of proportion by the media; it’s such a small group.
Most people are pro-vaccine, happy to get a needle; they just don’t bang on about it.
Why, I was in Victoria Street, Richmond, yesterday, and I saw quite a few people self-vaccinating in the street with great enthusiasm.
Darling’s late change of heart means he won’t play this week, but that’s OK; barely any of the Eagles side will play with all the injuries they have.
The Suns lost Ben King to a knee reconstruction before the season began, which is less than ideal, but they have built up a list full of young talent.
That means the Suns are always worth watching, as you get to see the players that might be playing at your club in a few years.
It’s going to be an interesting year for Stuart Dew. Already there’s speculation that Clarko could step in if things go badly.
On AFL360, Gillon McLachlan was asked if he would step in to replace Dew if the Suns struggled this season.
He said, “The choice of the coach of the Gold Coast Football Club is for the board of the Gold Coast Football Club.”
I took this to mean that, yes, he totally will step in if things go pear-shaped.
I’m tipping the Suns here.
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