Sep 19, 2020
AFL Mad Scramble Two: 19 September
A column every day, as we get more football than we even asked for.
Occasionally, this column will even mention football but rarely sensibly.
St Kilda (82) v Greater Western Sydney (30)
Sorry for the radio silence over the last few days. As well as recording my audiobook, I’ve had a rather intense week.
Nothing really worth going into, but with everything closed in Melbourne, fairly simple life admin can become a true nightmare.
It was touching that many of you reached out to see if I was OK, and I can assure you than I am, I’m just like most people in 2020, looking forward to when I can get drunk at the pub with some friends while putting forward frankly insane theories on football.
Anyway, I’m going to make it all up by covering eight games today, starting with St Kilda getting back into the finals for the first time since 2011.
2011 was a different era it feels. Back then, LMFAO was dominating the charts, showing 2020 may not be as bad as it seems.
The Saints were never in danger of losing this one, the Giants hung around in the first half, but they’re a shell of the team they once were.
When the floodgates opened in the second half, even Leon Cameron looked completely mystified at what the Giants were doing, not a good look on the bloke you’ve just extended to fix the problems they also created.
As for St Kilda, they have really transformed under Brett Ratten. It makes you wonder why no other AFL club has given him a chance before this.
Essendon v Melbourne (Metricon) 2:10pm Foxtel
Here’s the most likely scenario for Melbourne, it being the most painful. They lose this, only to then watch the Bulldogs lose on Sunday, meaning if they had won, they’d be playing finals.
There’s no reason Melbourne should lose this, but this club lost to Essendon’s top-up players, so any scenario is possible.
Really, those losses to Sydney and Fremantle will haunt Melbourne, they had the chance to play finals this year and they blew it twice, now it all comes down to luck, something the Dees have not exactly had a surplus of in recent decades.
Essendon fans get to say goodbye to John Worsfold this weekend. I’m sure they’ll miss him terribly.
There’s been a lot of media commentary about Bombers fans needing to have a realistic view of where the club is at, but it feels like that’s been the constant theme of the club for two decades.
I feel like the conversation is like this:
“Hey Essendon fans, you need to realise the team is not that good and be patient.”
“Yeah thanks for that, we’re fully across how terrible they are having watched them every week for twenty years but accepting the current situation is not something were interested in, which seems to be all the club is focused on telling us.
Melbourne to win (although probably not).
Adelaide v Richmond (AO) 5:10pm Foxtel
The hottest team in the League takes on Richmond.
If you’d told me the Crows would win three games this season a few months ago I wouldn’t have believed you, but three in a row? It’s astounding. It would be like me firing out three columns in a row with no grammatical errors.
Yet this is a real step up in class. The Crows have beaten Hawthorn, the Giants and Carlton, three sides that could kindly be called ‘disappointing’.
Richmond spent a lot of this season being disinterested, only to start getting serious in the past few weeks.
I’ve known people who do that with meals, really only switching on for the dessert, the rest is just getting in form.
Damien Hardwick will match Tom Hafey for most VFL/AFL games coached at Richmond in this game.
Hardwick will have coached 248 games at the end of this one, an extraordinary effort considering surviving at Richmond is slightly harder than surviving on Mars.
All that had to happen to get here was for Peggy O’Neal and Brendon Gale to do the complete opposite of what the club has always done.
The George Costanza strategy is really something more clubs should look at, the majority would benefit from it.
Richmond to win.
Brisbane v Carlton (G) 7:40 pm Seven
Carlton fans would be in some ways glad this season is over, but very flat at the effort.
It’s been another wasted year, and a Blues fan said to me this year the most depressing thing is over twenty years, all they’d managed to do is become Melbourne.
The fact this served as an insult and a highly accurate statement only made me appreciate the comparison more.
For all the money, announcements, changes, plans, strategies and marketing campaigns, the Blues have managed to basically build a facsimile of Melbourne, the most embarrassing club in the league.
Blues fans get angrier with me than any other set of fans, but it’s like how two close siblings fight the most, their similarities are too much, it’s too easy to push the other’s buttons.
For example, the extraordinary claims of Teague this week, that this had been a great season for growth, is so familiar I felt like throwing something at the TV.
These coaches know we watch these games, right?
As for Brisbane, they’d want to really start stepping up a few levels with finals almost here, they’ve drifted a bit in the second half of the season.
But they should have no trouble here.
Hawthorn v Gold Coast (AO) 1:05 pm Foxtel
Sydney v Geelong (Metricon) 3:35 pm Seven
Sydney’s week has been taken up dealing with Elijah Taylor, who has already proved a significant distraction this year.
The Swans did well to stand him down, his alleged behaviour is something the League should have no tolerance for, and it’s time that actions replaced nice words and marketing campaigns.
The AFL is talking about establishing new procedures around these types of charges, with a possible no-fault, stand down rule.
You know if you’re trailing the NRL in policy on the area of violence against women, you are not taking it seriously enough.
As for Geelong, they’ve got a chance to get one last win for the year in before finals begin.
There was a bit of Geelong news when former superstar Gary Ablett Snr posted a rant claiming COVID was fake.
This was hardly news, remember when the Herald Sun gave him a two page column to deny evolution and claim all the problems in the world are the result of people not worshipping god?
A lot of people said they were concerned about Gary’s mental health, but I’m a bit more worried about the damage these views have on the rest of us, as it’s this nonsense that will lead to people in Melbourne being locked up even longer.
And before people jump in and say, we’ll don’t promote what he is saying, it’s out there everywhere, and people need to point out these views are not only flat out bonkers, but harmful.
Geelong to win.
Fremantle v Western Bulldogs (Cazaly’s) 6:10 pm Foxtel
Fremantle has done what any fans would hope for if you’re not playing finals, build a base for future success.
There’s been emerging talent, a system that works and is understood but the players, and continually increasing skill and effort.
They’ve even impacted the finals by knocking off teams late in the season and have a chance to do it here.
This is the longest I’ve ever written positively about the Dockers, it feels kind of weird but also nice. Like kissing your cousin.
Not that I’ve ever done that. My cousin had no interest.
The Bulldogs have to win, and this is a trickier assignment than you’d really like. North would have been the opponent you’d like, who shed more players yesterday than Qantas. The Dockers could actually win this, but you’d think with what’s on the line, the Doggies should get this done, they deserve it more than Melbourne or GWS do.
Doggies to win.
Collingwood v Port Adelaide (G) 7:15 pm Seven
Getting through this without injuries would be the main focus of this one you’d reckon.
The Pies almost never do that, they collect injuries like I collect regrets.
Port Adelaide probably don’t get the respect they deserve for the consistency they’ve shown across the year. That probably won’t change until the win a final there’ too much history of them coming up short.
But if Mario Kart has taught us anything, and it has, consistency of effort is the key, it won’t always work out like when someone hits you with a red shell just as you’re about to win, but it will usually see you win.
Port I feel are leading but you suspect one of the other finalists has a spiky shell. Man, I’ve got to stop playing Mario Cart, it’s affecting my ability to communicate with people.
Port to win.
My new book Cheat: The Not-so-subtle Art of Conning Your Way to Sporting Glory is now available for pre-order.
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