Aug 21, 2022
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round Twenty Three
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.
Brisbane (57) v Melbourne (115)
Well, I’m back.
Covid finally got me, and it was not fun at all. Perhaps the worst bit for me was that Pete Evans’ BioCharger did not work at all.
Can you believe it? And after I did all my own research.
My other disappointment was I didn’t get to write a preview or a review of the penultimate round, which is about the only chance each year I get to write the word penultimate, and as every footy writer knows, that’s the only time we sound somewhat smart.
The truth is, until my late thirties, I thought penultimate meant the best pen money could buy.
Brisbane needed to do win this, and it was at home, which made this performance extra horrendously bad.
Not only did the Dees throttle them, but their Captain also ran around like the goose in Untitled Goose Game, just doing stupid things.
Dayne Zorko really pushed the boat out with what he said to Harrison Petty, and I’m on Petty’s side, and not because I’m a Melbourne supporter, but because if there is a side Zorko is on, you’re just instantly on the other side.
Dees fans would be thrilled with this outcome, but to temper the excitement, this was against Brisbane, a team that gets weaker the closer it gets to finals, like an ice cream thrown into the sun.
Greater Western Sydney (69) v Fremantle (89)
This Saturday of footy was awful, just awful. Let’s try and get through these reviews by mentioning the football as little as possible, which is sort of my thing anyway.
For a team that needed to win to have a chance of finishing top four, Fremantle took an odd approach of letting the Giants kick seven of the first nine goals.
While not ideal, to the Dockers credit, they didn’t let this continue and got on top to eventually run away with the win.
They were lucky this was against the Giants, a team as removed from September as March is.
The Giants don’t have a coach for next year, something people would be focusing on a lot more, except for the fact that compared to Essendon, every club looks well run.
For the Dockers, they now get the Bulldogs at home because Carlton exists.
North Melbourne (47) v Gold Coast (114)
What a week it’s been for North Melbourne.
It was like the plot of a zany rom-com.
Alastair Clarkson had been looking for love after a bad break-up with his long-term girlfriend, Hawthorn. Hawthorn’s Dad Jeff Kennett had never approved of the relationship and, after years of trying, had finally ended it.
On the rebound, Clarko meets a great girl, the North Melbourne Football Club; her life is a bit of a mess, but she’s got a good heart. Could he straighten out her life while she teaches him how to love again?
But just as it seemed it would all work out for Clarko and North, the Essendon Football Club comes along, and she puts the hard word on Clarko.
How can North compete? Essendon is glamourous, a bit of a party girl, she used to have a bit of a drug habit.
And she is the nemesis of his ex-girlfriend Hawthorn, so they’d be an element of revenge.
With North despairing, suddenly Clarko appears before her and says, ‘you had me at you can bring your entire team and run the club.’
And they lived happily ever after, but not before North got smashed in the clearances by the Gold Coast Suns.
Geelong (131) v West Coast (46)
History will show that Geelong beat West Coast in this game, but history will also not care.
West Coast’s season has been a car accident, occurring inside a trainwreck, happening inside an enormous dumpster fire.
There have been natural disasters less messy than the Eagles’ season.
Geelong basically got another week off to go with next week’s bye round.
The Cats have nothing to worry about except of all their chokes in the finals, this could be the biggest ever, with them finishing so far ahead of everyone else this time.
At least they can be confident knowing they get to play plenty of finals at home where they rarely lose.
Essendon (75) v Richmond (141)
To think, Essendon’s season started with Mick Malthouse predicting they would win the premiership, and it still managed to get worse from there.
After another terrible performance, the Essendon Board decided it was time to get rid of Ben Rutten.
This may or may not have been a good decision but looked terrible after the Bombers had chased Clarkson and made Rutten go through hell, just because the Essendon hierarchy is as organised as a hoarder’s house.
Having the coach in tears after the game was not great and shouldn’t happen in a situation that doesn’t involve Dayne Zorko.
It would certainly make any potential candidates think twice about joining the circus.
I haven’t seen Essendon handle a situation this badly since the last time they handled a situation.
The Bombers board said Essendon fans should trust them to fix things. I don’t think even Essendon fans are that stupid.
Richmond really rubbed it into Essendon, by belting them, then getting around Ben Rutten, and also being nice to the retiring Michael Hurley.
We didn’t need a contrast between a tight-knit club and one falling apart, but we got one.
The Tigers now get Brisbane in week one of the finals. That’s got ‘extremely winnable’ written all over it.
Port Adelaide (111) v Adelaide (55)
The Adelaide Crows have sunk to a lot of lows in recent years, and Port sledging them in the media all week and then belting them on the field added another.
You’d think there would be a fiery response, but while the Crows are "arrogant and entitled", they are also “uncoordinated and disorganised”.
Time and again the Crows tried to hit a target and seemed to do it accurately if that target was Aliir Aliir.
Personally, I would have targeted my own player, but they do things differently at the Crows.
Port attacking the Crows in the media was an odd approach for a side that massively underperformed this year.
Sure, they’re better than Adelaide, but that’s a low benchmark to measure yourself against.
At least they managed to see off Robbie Gray with a win, and in a bonus, Port fans don’t have to watch this team anymore this year.
Hawthorn (64) v Western Bulldogs (87)
As Sunday morning dawned, the Bulldogs knew they needed two things to happen, they needed to beat Hawthorn, and they needed Carlton to lose.
On paper, both these things seemed highly likely, but in reality, they proved a little harder.
Hawthorn led early on, a reminder that the Bulldogs aren’t that good, but then they began to get on top, a reminder Hawthorn aren’t that good.
Hawks fans are used to success, so this season was hard enough, made even harder seeing Alastair Clarkson stepping out with his new crush. Nothing is harder than seeing your ex with someone new.
Eventually the Bulldogs got the win but made their fans test out the health of their heart in the process.
The second part of their finals puzzle was hoping Carlton would stuff things up.
You’ll never guess what happened.
Carlton (74) v Collingwood (75)
The penultimate match of the round proved to be a classic in the genre of Carlton stuffing up, and the Carlton Cinematic Universe has a lot of such classics.
Why, just last week the Blues engineered a loss against Melbourne; surely it couldn’t happen two weeks in a row?
Of course it could, even in the multiverse, Carlton would miss out on finals.
Blues supporters probably don’t want to think too much about how they missed out on finals by just 0.6 on percentage. I mean, that’s going to linger in the mind over summer.
But as always with Carlton, it was the way they did it that showed their natural inclination to not just physically torture their fans but to rip their souls into a million tiny pieces and scatter them to the four winds.
It was the Blues old bait and switch again, where they give hope and then take it away in the most crushing fashion possible.
Every round this season, Carlton have been in the eight, except this round, which is the round that really mattered.
Once again, things looked good for the Blues, as they kicked eight goals to one in the third quarter, but every Carlton fan knew this was a troublesome moment.
Then came Collingwood, who has a certain knack for winning the close ones, which people criticise as risky, but I think is a rather positive trait to have.
The Pies proceeded to kick the final five goals in a finish so brutal, that fans of the Saw franchise submitted complaints to Channel Seven for showing such violence.
Even for Blues fans, scarred over decades of this type of torture, this one hurt. To fall at the most important point, in the most inept way, against the most hated enemy.
When does the pain end? When does Carlton stop pouring acid directly onto the hearts of their fans?
St Kilda (74) v Sydney (88)
A chance to go top two on percentage was on the table for the Swans and a home final, but suddenly, they discovered themselves in a fight with St Kilda of all teams.
St Kilda often didn’t put up a fight when finals were on the line, but the minute it wasn’t, here they go.
It was very un-St Kilda-like, with Max King kicking 5.0, displaying an accuracy not common for the Saints.
Even Dan Hannebery played so well against the Swans it reminded you of when he was a Swan.
But this is St Kilda, so there are limits. The Swans are a top side for a reason; they finally steadied and secured the second chance.
Saints fans wouldn’t be thrilled with the season, and watching Paddy Ryder chaired off to retirement leaves a fair gap on their list.
But there’s always hope for next year for all the teams that missed finals. That hope may be completely unfounded, but it’s always there.
You can help support me in producing this ridiculous nonsense I churn out on a regular basis. Find out more here: https://titusoreily.com/support-titus
My new podcast Sports Bizarre is out now: https://sportsbizarre.com/