Jun 15, 2020
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round Two
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.
Collingwood (36) v Richmond (36)
In the race for a vaccine for Covid-19, I hope someone in a lab is going to expose it to this game, because I expect it will kill it immediately.
I only just got through it myself and I suspect if I hadn’t gone cold turkey on footy for months, I wouldn’t have lasted a quarter.
This game basically summed up 2020 perfectly. Frustrating, full of disastrous moments and in the end, no one achieved anything.
One thing we can all agree on is that the shortened quarters are the worst. I know it’s to get players through this interrupted season but it felt like ordering a large pizza and a small one arrives.
Once again, the lack of fans wasn’t ideal, the fake crowd didn’t have the level of vitriol usually directed at the umpires.
Something that did occur to me is when crowds are allowed back, could someone invent a tracking app that lets you know if you come into contact with a Collingwood supporter? If it could also tell you where they are at any moment that would be great too.
The feel-good story of the match was of course Jack Higgins returning from brain surgery. No one was more excited about his return than the Match Review Officer who decided to mark the occasion by awarding him a mark that wasn’t a mark.
I’m sure even Pies fans weren’t upset by that.
In the end, footy was back and it was great, even though it was awful.
Geelong (108) v Hawthorn (47)
Alastair Clarkson said after the game that his midfield was third or fourth rate. I thought he was talking them up.
Hawthorn seemed about as interested in this game as I am in AFL player’s Tik Tok videos.
I guess you can’t read too much into this round, but the Hawks seemed like they’d not only been training separately, but training in a different sport to Australian Rules football.
Their forward line didn’t look good either. Jonathon Patton looked to have the turning circle of a cargo ship and was about as useful as one on a footy field.
Geelong played so well I thought the Channel Seven commentary team were going to die from excitement.
I hope one day I find someone who loves me as much as Seven’s commentators love Patrick Dangerfield.
One day they may realise there are other players out there, but that day seems far away.
Cats fans would be thrilled that Gary Ablett continues to defy age. He’s in the at-risk category for COVID, so it was a brave performance seeing him in so close contact to other people.
Brisbane (81) v Fremantle (69)
One of my favourite things of the round was the kneeling down before each game, partly for the solidarity with an important cause, but really for the enjoyment of watching some people have a meltdown on social media.
It’s always hard to tell on Twitter, but many of them seemed to be full grown adults. I especially enjoyed Sam Newman losing it. I do feel for him. Covid is a horrible virus but it’s not as bad as relevancy depravation syndrome.
Early on, this game had the commentators discussing what was wrong with the Dockers, a weighty topic that the length of a footy game, especially with shortened quarters, couldn’t possibly allow for.
Charlie Cameron was carving the Dockers up a treat early on. Watching an Indigenous player put on a display sort of underlined what people are fighting for at the moment.
If you create pathways for talent to rise to the top from any background, we all are better for it.
It’s been a long hard journey in the AFL and we’re hardly all the way there yet.
We have come a long way, despite some rather depressing moments. It used to be a lot worse.
In the 1920s, an Indigenous player Doug Nicholls, went to Carlton, but he wasn’t given a jumper because the players and coaches said he smelled. After six weeks of being shunned he left and it took five years until he finally made it back to the VFL, playing for Fitzroy. He went on to become Governor of South Australia and was knighted in 1972, the first Indigenous person to ever receive a knighthood.
Personally, I think we can handle people kneeling before a game.
While Brisbane’s fast start had Freo fans wondering why they wanted football to come back but eventually Fremantle started to play like a team with something almost resembling a structure.
Nat Fyfe, who had a bad first quarter, begun slicing the Lions apart, all that surfing must have helped. As the game progressed, you could see the looks of concern on the cardboard cut outs in the Lions crowd.
Luckily for the Lions they managed to hang on, but the excellent work of the shortened quarters should get a special mention when they watch back the replay.
Carlton (53) v Melbourne (54)
Both these teams wanted to celebrate the return of football in their traditional way, torturing their fans. They also both seemed to want to say thanks to the members who have held on through the break with a loss, and both worked hard to achieve it.
Melbourne started out incredibly strong. It was such a good start that every Demons fan immediately started to panic about how they could stuff it up.
They didn’t have to wait long, as after the quarter, Melbourne again forgot to keep playing. Forgetting to play and butchering entries into the forward fifty is becoming the signature features of Simon Goodwin’s coaching style.
As the minutes ticked by, the Blues increasingly got on top of the game, leaving Carlton fans to wonder what the hell that first quarter was.
The Demons were by the third quarter playing so badly that even the fake Melbourne crowd appeared to have gone home.
Luckily for Melbourne, two key players stood up when it counted, Short Quarters and Goal Post.
Without them, this would have been a loss.
As the siren sounded, even the winners seemed thoroughly unhappy with the whole thing. It reminded me of every sexual encounter I’ve ever been involved in.
I joke, I’ve never had one.
Gold Coast (90) v West Coast (46)
It always amazes me how politically popular closing borders is no matter the situation.
Even closing Western Australia’s borders seems insanely popular, and I get it, you’re next to South Australia, who have unleashed a reign of terror on the world with their Haigh's Chocolates and high-quality wines.
But at what cost should borders remained closed? Losing football matches to the Suns? Surely that’s a cost that’s too high to pay.
The hub though can’t explain away West Coast rather inept performance.
Many people speculated online that it was because the ground had dew on it. You’re not much of a team if some wet grass weakens you this much. It’s not kryptonite.
You also can’t discount the effort of the Gold Coast, who looked nothing like the Suns.
They were competent, tough, organised. It was like watching a dog start talking. Entertaining but also a bit unnerving.
Matt Rowell was so good that if you listen carefully, you can already hear the ‘Which Victorian team is in the race to get him’ stories being written.
I would never overreact to one round after this long break, but Gold Coast are obviously going to win the Premiership.
Port Adelaide (110) v Adelaide (35)
I know it was in small numbers, but it was so good to have some actual fans back at games. Even knowing the location of just a few Power fans made me feel safer.
The fans that got to attend had won a lottery allocation, at least the Crows fans thought they’d won the lottery but instead it was like winning a night of mental anguish.
Punishing the Crows for having too many people at training now seems silly, it obviously provided no advantage. In fact, they played like a group of people who all have a severe case coronavirus, except I think coronavirus patients sweat.
Port on the other hand just took the Crows apart, there was nothing but positives for them.
It was like pushing on an open door and the entire house falling down.
We won’t know if this was a one off until the Power play an AFL team.
As for the Crows, Matthew Nicks said about his team’s performance, “Our inconsistency. Our lack of contest. Bruise-free footy.” That’s the Crows membership slogan this year.
Greater Western Sydney (60) v North Melbourne (80)
It was so nice to have a weekend full of footy. When it was on hiatus, I filled my days reading books, looking after myself and building healthy relationships with people.
Thankfully that nightmare is behind us. Now I can go back to obsessing over forward structures and how a twenty-year old’s groin is recovering.
Living vicariously through a bunch of people I’ve never met, and if I did, wouldn’t like me, seems so much healthier.
The evidence continues to build that coaching North Melbourne isn’t as hard as Brad Scott made it seem.
North were just more physical than the Giants, but the commentators seemed most impressed by the fact the Kangaroos had overcome a flight from Melbourne that morning.
Reading some of the media in the past week, you’d think the Melbourne to Sydney chartered flight taken by North Melbourne and Essendon was the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest while under gunfire and being hunted by wolves.
I’ve done that harrowing hour-and-a-half flight, and it will certainly be something I’ll tell my grandkids about.
I’m not saying it’s not the ideal preparation but really, someone should talk to the Dockers and Eagles about flying if we’re going to worry about this flight.
Sydney (73) v Essendon (79)
Essendon’s history with charted flights meant that they should have been happy enough just getting to the ground, but they went one better and came away with four points.
It was close but it really shouldn’t have been. The Bombers were superior all day, but the Swans managed to hang around, like an experience boxer who can’t throw a knockout punch anymore but can do enough to at least go the distance.
A big problem for Sydney is they seem to not like playing at the SCG anymore.
Did you know the SCG is smaller than many other AFL grounds? You should, the commentators mention it every game ad nauseum.
If I’d taken a shot every time they mentioned that centre clearances were important due to the shorter ground, I’d still be drunk. I know this because I did, and I am.
St Kilda (88) v Western Bulldogs (49)
What’s happened to the Bulldogs? They’ve really dropped off a cliff since their premiership.
I’m not saying that premiership was a fluke, I only say that when talking to Doggies fans to drive them nuts.
In this game, they really sucked, to put it eloquently.
The Saints looked like a much better team that last year, partly because they have a heap of players who weren’t there last year.
I can’t tell you how much I want Brett Ratten to succeed. Not for any second chance, feel good story, but it will just make Carlton sacking him for Mick Malthouse even funnier, something I didn’t think possible.
Even though this wasn’t much of a game, I watch every moment of it because finally, footy is back.
Sometimes something has to go away for you to realise how much you missed it, but that wasn’t the case with football.
I missed it the entire time, and while it’s partly because I’m a sad man with no social life, it’s also because it’s a wonderful game, no matter what the ‘footy died in the (insert the a past decade)’ say about it.
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