Jul 28, 2020
The Tuesday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round Eight
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.
Gold Coast (46) v Western Bulldogs (51)
These long rounds spread over five days make it feel like the footy is on all the time and soon, it actually will be, as things get hectic scheduling wise.
It will finally answer the question, can you have too much football?
When you’re stuck in your house with only your own thoughts for company, I imagine you cannot have enough.
That’s the worst thing about being left with your own thoughts for so long. You start to realise they’re not very interesting and are pretty repetitive. It’s like Footy Classified in that way.
There are lots of things to complain about in the time of Corona, but the thing that’s getting to me at the moment are all the ‘inspirational’ ads companies are putting out at the moment.
I don’t really need a bank to ask me what things I value in life, or a telco to remind me to ‘check in with myself’.
I have checked in with myself, I’m still stuck in a house going slowly crazy and I only have 47 cases of whiskey left.
Given this game was last Thursday, I referred to the notes I took during the game to jog my memory.
Rather than them being the source of great insight into the game I’d remembered them to be, they turned out to be a jumble of quickly taken notes which read:
Put bin out
I can confirm the meatlovers pizza was consumed in the third quarter and despite the reminder, I did forgot to put the bin out, while Jakovich13 is the password for my Fango account.
Unfortunately, these notes didn’t really help me write a very good review of this game. Something you are quickly coming to realise.
Greater Western Sydney (62) v Richmond (50)
Long expected, Richmond officially announced on Friday night they are not interested in this season.
It’s a position they’ve been signalling for a while but it’s nice they’ve finally let Richmond fans know they can put their hopes in a draw and go back to worrying about the global pandemic.
Obviously, for the Giants this victory more than makes up for last year’s Grand Final loss. If anything, a round eight win means more.
The big difference in this game was of course Toby Greene, who booted five goals and reminded everyone that if he didn’t belt people all the time, he would be a beloved star of the competition.
In good news for Toby, belting people regularly is no barrier for a post footy media career, it often appears to be a prerequisite.
North Melbourne (57) v Carlton (64)
Carlton can even make a win feel like a loss.
Against the second worst team in the league, the Blues made this look very difficult.
The Blues started well, but in the second quarter, the Kangaroos started mugging Patrick Cripps off the ball and the umpires, too busy trying to work out inconsistent ways to call holding the ball, allowed it.
Cripps isn’t alone. The off the ball stuff on the top players is probably more important than holding the ball in freeing up the game but is rarely umpired.
But what would I know? The guys who work out the new rules have been doing a stellar job in recent years of opening up the game and increasing scoring.
It reminds me of a problem that happens in life often, the constant introduction of new laws, rules and regulations.
Often, it’s not that we need these new or different laws, we actually need to properly enforce the ones already on the books, but that’s less exciting than appearing to do something new.
You can’t hold a media conference announcing, “we’ve actually had the ability to stop this for ages but just haven’t been doing it.”
Much better to announce, “New laws will allow us to crack down on those doing the wrong thing.”
After an impressive start by Carlton, North got on top in the second and third quarters, but then shot themselves in the foot, and then did it again several times for good measure.
It seems that shooting themselves in the foot is the only time they seem to be able to hit a target.
Sydney (60) v Hawthorn (53)
It’s lucky Alastair Clarkson has won a lot because he is a terrible loser. He’s either ruining the competition in his other role as director of umpiring or blaming opposition players, in this case Tom Papley.
Papley’s biggest crime it seemed was kicking goals against the Hawks, and the way Hawthorn are playing, you really don’t need the umpires’ help to beat them.
The real problem was Hawthorn’s lack of discipline, with James Frawley knocking over Papley when he taunted Tom Mitchell.
If you’re going to react like that every time someone taunts someone, you’re going to give away a lot of free kicks and soon everyone will do it to you.
It’s like being called a name in primary school, if you show everyone it gets to you that will end up your nickname; if you don’t react people give up.
I learnt that the hard way, when I was saddled with not so much a nickname, but a string of obscenities throughout school.
On reflection, it was less a nickname and more just something people said when they saw me. Especially my English teacher Mrs Jones and Principal Robbins.
Hawthorn have long been disinterested in winning contested ball but now they don’t kick accurately either in general play.
It’s resulted in them being so bad they made the Swans look good.
What’s most worrying about Hawthorn is all the players they’ve brought in from other clubs are not setting the world on fire, and because that’s how Hawthorn have rebuilt, there’s hardly a flood of young talent coming through.
You can tell it’s a difficult year when even Hawthorn’s struggles aren’t cheering me up.
Post Adelaide (44) v St Kilda (73)
Playing out of a hub seems to suit the Saints, who have made Adelaide Oval their fortress in the last week.
Beating the Crows wasn’t that impressive, Essendon’s VFL side did it on the weekend, but this win against Port was the real deal.
One thing stood out in the Saints game, kicking accurately for goal. They booted 12.1.
Accurate goal kicking is so important, yet it seems to be a skill most players are deeply unfamiliar with. The amount of times a player marks in the forward fifty and then appears mystified as to what to do next.
Their entire body language suggests this is an experience they’ve never been confronted with before, rather than a key component of their job.
They look at the goalposts like an explorer who has just stumbled on a lost city in the jungle.
But in this game, the Saints appeared to be a team of players who have seen goalposts before. They kicked goals even when they didn’t even realise they had, with Tim Membrey launching a flying kick, usually only seen on the field when Toby Greene is in the vicinity, that resulted in a goal.
Even Membrey thought it was touched but the score review confirmed it was a goal.
Perhaps the highlight of this match was having a crowd there.
Watching Power fans lose it at their underperforming side was a real highlight, but reminded me that crowds of people can be dangerous even outside of a global pandemic.
Adelaide (59) v Essendon (62
Both teams had significant injuries but if ever the Crows were going to get a win, this was it, at home and against an Essendon side mainly cobbled together from whoever at the club could still stand upright.
But the Crows showed against the Bombers that no matter how low the bar is set, they can limbo under it.
Adelaide certainly had problems in the game, they lost Tom Doedee and Brad Crouch during the game. To injury I should add, it wasn’t a Spinal Tap type incident, with the players lost in the bowels of the stadium.
But where the Crows really showed their ability to lose games was in the last quarter, where they turned a comeback into a masterclass of poor goalkicking, booting 1.6.
For Essendon, the win keeps them well in the hunt, but it gets harder from here. They need players to come back if they’re going to play ten games in three days, or whatever madness the schedule has in store for them.
West Coast (111) v Collingwood (45)
It’s rare that even before the game you are losing, but when Scott Pendlebury pulled out at the last moment due to injury, you could sense Pies fans burying their heads in their hands as they got ready for the belting to come.
At first this concern seemed misplaced, the Pies where scoring quickly early on, but this was like when predator circles its prey, playing with it, before going in for the kill.
After the first quarter the Eagles dominated every aspect of the game, with Collingwood managing to get the big and the little things wrong.
Up front the Eagles’ forward line operated like most people would like footy to be, high scoring and with a big key forward in the form of Josh Kennedy booting seven.
Nathan Buckley said after the game that they played their Washington Generals role really well, but that’s a slight against the Generals, they at least play-acted caring about the game, something not many Pies players managed.
Melbourne (49) v Brisbane (53)
This whole round had some questionable umpiring, and the score review in the last moments of this game to establish if there was a mark or a behind was another example of the over complication of officiating the AFL have created in the game.
The AFL rulebook is now more confusing and impenetrable that the Voynich Manuscript.
That all said, that score review is not why the Demons lost. Melbourne lost because when it mattered, they lacked the polish to convert their opportunities.
Take the moment Harley Bennell ran towards an open goal and then missed, only for moment later, the Lions rebounded and Charlie Cameron slotted a goal as calm as you like.
I do think umpiring is struggling a lot this season, mainly due to the AFL making it so complicated that no one can possibly fathom what it is the league is trying to do, but it’s pretty rare for umpires to be the cause of a loss.
As this game highlighted, players can lose a game all by themselves, and the execution of skills under pressure and when it matters is still the big decider in close games.
Fremantle (16) v Geelong (48)
“Hello triple 0, Fire, police or ambulance”
“Police please, I’d like to report a crime against football.”
This was a terrifically awful game, one of the worst I’ve seen, but I still watched it, jealous of the crowd sitting in the torrential rain.
I hope the people going to the footy know how lucky they are. Not that I begrudge them that right, it makes me happy seeing some people being able to still live their lives.
I’m already planning when I can get back to the MCG, sometime in the 2030s seems a reasonable target date at the moment.
I’m hoping to have a face-to-face conversation with another person before that but it’s not looking promising, partly due to the lockdown.
The weather certainly played a part in this game being terrible, but so did Fremantle’s tactics of increasing the use of handball in the wet.
It was such a bizarre decision that even an under 9s coach wouldn’t have allowed it.
I’ve probably spent more time on this match than it deserves. Let’s just say, like invasive surgery everyone is glad it’s over.
I’ll be shifting from the weekly preview/review columns to daily reviews of the game from the night before and previews of that night’s game.
I expect these to be even more rambling and off topic. It should be fun.
At the moment I’m barely able to work, so you can help support me in producing this ridiculous nonsense I churn out on a regular basis. It’s greatly appreciated. Find out more here: https://titusoreily.com/support-titus