Mar 23, 2020
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round One
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 (105) v Carlton (81)
The great, and sadly, very recently late, Kenny Rogers once said, ‘You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.’
Well the AFL tried to hold ‘em, but it became clear late Sunday that it was time to fold the season, at least for now.
It’s a devastating outcome. No footy is really going to highlight the desolate wasteland that is the rest of my life.
I grudgingly acknowledge that placing human life above football is the right thing to do, but this does leave me wondering what to do.
Because while I know people say there's more important things than football, deep down, I don't really believe them.
Now it’s time for us to all ‘socially isolate’.
I feel overly qualified to do this. My personality has always acted like a natural moat that kept people at a distance, and my looks are like a mighty rampart, just gazing on them puts second thoughts in the mind of anyone considering striking up a conversation.
Puns are now closed which is the worst. The Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said you can’t have all your mates around to ‘get on the beers’. Well checkmate Daniel, I have no mates.
At least we got one week in of footy.
It was both ‘surreal’ and ‘unprecedented’ to watch without fans in the stands, as the commentators kept reminding us.
Capturing what everyone was feeling was a bridge too far for the commentators, but then, calling the footy is usually a task beyond them.
Being unable to go to the footy was a deep cut we all had to experience but having Cameron Ling add his ‘special’ comments, was like squeezing lemon juice into that cut.
Carlton started the game by crushing their fans hope early, then giving them one of those ‘honourable losses’ the Blues faithful have come to love so much.
There was bad news with Matthew Kreuzer fracturing his foot, meaning he’ll be out for 16 weeks, which is now looking like round four.
As for the reigning premiers, they honoured the 'working from home' mentality we are all embracing. They worked about thirty percent of the time and only when they absolutely had to.
Western Bulldogs (34) v Collingwood (86)
The Bulldogs on the other hand didn't get the memo that you're meant to work at home.
They turned on a performance that would have the Doggies fans glad of the shutdown.
The Bulldogs’ structure was so shambolic that it made a Scott Morrison media briefing seem slick and well organised.
The Pies looked really, really good. Given what we're already going through, a very good Collingwood side seems excessively cruel.
We’ve all wondered at times what we’d prefer, a Collingwood Premiership or a pandemic, but we never thought we’d get a real-life test of this. And yes, I had voted for the pandemic in the past but now I’m not as sure.
Essendon (63) v Fremantle (57)
Essendon started fast because Fremantle aren’t very good, then Fremantle came back because Essendon aren’t very good, and Nat Fyfe got a nasty black eye.
That’s basically all you need to know; we’ve learnt that life’s too short to spend much time focusing on an Essendon-Fremantle game.
Adelaide (71) v Sydney (74)
Hardly the only team in this boat, but there are some clubs you just knew were going to let their fans down, and the Crows found some classic ways to send their fans away feeling flat.
In Rory Sloane’s 200th game, the Crows were outworked, before rallying, and giving their fans flase hope, before Tex Walker missed a shot a goal with 20 seconds to go.
A big part of the Crows problem was they seemed to think centre clearances was an optional component of the game.
Time and again, the Swans walked the ball out of the centre square with the Crows reacting with less urgency than a backpacker on Bondi Beach.
The Swans also dominated up forward with Isaac Heeney booting four goals and making the Crows defenders look second rate all day.
Watching him run around made me really realise how much I’m going to miss the footy.
Gold Coast (29) v Port Adelaide (76)
On the positive side, not having to watch the Suns play is a sweet relief. I bet the AFL would love the hundreds of millions of dollars they’ve poured into them and the Giants back right now.
Still the AFL have planned a lot better for a rainy day than the NRL, who set up a ‘sustainability fund’ in 2014, but then got rid of it three years later when the clubs demanded they give the money to them.
Of course, the clubs then spent that money like drunken sailors on shore leave; meaning the clubs are now all broke and the NRL is in a precarious position.
It’s why the NRL are so desperate to keep going and the AFL is more able to face up to the reality of the situation. The AFL at least owns an asset, Marvel Stadium, the NRL has no assets.
Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'landys said they were looking at moving the entire NRL to a Central Queensland mining town to keep playing games.
Some 500 NRL players and officials would live in a vacant mining town in Calliope, near Gladstone.
It’s the greatest movie plot I’ve ever heard.
I would give anything for this to occur.
Greater Western Sydney (105) v Geelong (73)
Federal and various State Legislation requires me to make a joke here about the Giants being used to play in front of no crowds.
I’m also meant to make a joke about how some teams did a good job of social spacing by not going near their opponents.
Probably those hardest hit in the AFL by the shutdown are the teams that have a chance of winning the Premiership this year. Teams like the Giants, Richmond, West Coast, Melbourne.
And the Giants did look good.
The Cats looked similar to how they’ve looked in recent seasons, a car that looks fast but turns out to have very little under the bonnet.
North Melbourne (56) v St Kilda (54)
It was exciting to watch which of these teams could disappoint their fans more and while North displayed some true shinboner spirit trying to disappoint their fans, you can’t beat the Saints when it comes to this.
St Kilda have generations of experience when it comes to ruining their fans lives.
The Saints were up by 31 points in the third quarter and the Roos had just one player left on the bench.
‘Well it’s impossible for St Kilda to lose from here’, I foolishly exclaimed at the TV.
But St Kilda said ‘Sure it’s possible, we’ll show you.’
And they did.
They just basically lay down on the ground and closed their eyes. It was like a mindfulness exercise.
For fans of teams like St Kilda, Melbourne and Fremantle, their mental health may actually be improved by this pandemic.
Hawthorn (90) v Brisbane (62)
In what was easily worst halftime entertainment ever, Gillon McLachlan announced during this game that the league was shutting down, annoyingly after the West Coast-Melbourne game and not before.
The AFL always knew this season was going to be shut down at some point, and many were surprised they even got round one in the books.
It’s easy to focus on the football trying to go on and failing, but they’re just a high-profile example of the numerous industries, businesses and individuals everywhere that are in real trouble.
We’re all just trying to get through this, balancing the very real health risks with the very real economic impacts of the Coronavirus.
A big problem for many is the health risks are out there somewhere, but currently not quite real, while the economic risks are very much here with us immediately.
The human pain of this pandemic can’t just be measured in deaths, it’s impact on people livelihoods is something that can’t be ignored, and football is just one of the areas we can all see.
I worry about all the people who will die for this, but I worry just as much about all the people who worked so hard to build up a business or a career, made all the sacrifices and might come out of this which much of this gone.
I’m not scared to say this, I’m not a fan of this coronavirus at all.
West Coast (78) v Melbourne (51)
As if football hasn't been cruel enough to me over the decades, this is the last game I'm going to see in months.
Melbourne were obviously overawed by the intimidating empty seats at Perth Stadium.
Knowing footy was off for the foreseeable future, I felt incredibly flat, and then I had to sit through this.
I only took heart from the fact that being a Demons supporter, I have been training all my life for disappointment and misery.
I’m ready for this pandemic. I’m built for it psychologically. Being miserable if my resting state. Discovering the next few months are going to suck is something I’ve been through and know I can handle.
It means my heart goes out to Hawthorn supporters. They are like submarines in the middle of the desert, completely out of their environment.
I’m not sure they’ll make it.
What we really need is something to occupy our time over the next few months.
My suggestion is the AFL should immediately announce Free Agency will start this week. This will give us plenty of material to speculate on and basically keep the sports media alive.
Hang in there friends, we will come out the other side but it’s going to be rougher than a Mark Neeld media conference.
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