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Author Topic: AFL 2008
blackdogbeak
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quote:
Kevin Sheedy, the former Essendon coach who now works for the AFL
Aussie Rules was the first sport I knew of, living in Melbourne as a little nipper. When my parents moved back to Britain, it really fucked with my head that even though the football was completely different, there was still a Kevin Sheedy and a Gary Ablett running about.

By which I mean it would be nice if Carlton could stop being an absolute joke, even if it is only for one season. Is that too much to ask?

What are my chances of catching any of this on telly in Britain?

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Melbourne Arab
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I think Setanta show 3 live AFL games each weekend.

Carlton are slowly emerging from their joke period although their supporters are getting a bit over excited about the new season so I think they're in for a bit of a letdown.

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Uncle Ethan
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Carlton's semi-revival will stumble when their big signing Chris Judd gets injured in the first four rounds.

They have struggled mainly because they were banned from drafting players for a couple of seasons for breaching salary cap rules.

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Melbourne Arab
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With all these 40 degree days we've been having, it's hard to believe the AFL season starts in 3 days although the forecasters are suggesting the heatwave will come to an end on Thursday.

After the drug fuelled shenanigans of last summer, this off season has been relatively tame although Wayne "The King" Carey seemed to be on a one man mission to create as much scandal as possible. The sight of him being escorted by police from his luxury Port Melbourne apartment, eyes still streaming from the capsicum spray, was an unforgettable image. Not long after that, we discovered that he'd single handedly taken on most of the Miami police force last year while uttering the classic line "you don't know who you're fucking with" which I guess was probably correct. Indeed, it was Carey's former club, North Melbourne (who sacked him after he was caught shagging a team mate's wife) who dominated the headlines and actually gave us a bit of a feelgood story. The AFL attempted to force North to the Gold Coast with an extremely lucrative relocation package but, following a boardroom battle which saw the Keep North South faction triumph, the club is staying put, for the time being at least. Even better, the ludicrous and much hated name change to Kangaroos, from 10 years ago, has been reversed and they are North Melbourne again, although it came too late for the 2008 fixture list. Of course, the only people who ever called them Kangaroos were the AFL and subservient sections of the media.

I think 2008 will be a good year for Victoria. In fact, an all Victorian top 4 is not too far fetched which, if it happens, will make positions within the top 4 irrelevant as home advantage would count for nothing. At the other end, it's absolutely certain that a Victorian team will get the wooden spoon.

1 Geelong – how can you tip against the most convincing premiers since 2000? Well, Essendon didn't retain their title in 2001; winning back to back is extremely difficult in such an even competition (the last club to do it, Brisbane, were assisted by salary cap advantages); Geelong finished 10th as recently as 2006; Collingwood were just a kick away from eliminating Geelong in the preliminary final. I still think they'll finish top but not as convincingly as 2007.

2 St Kilda – so why should a team which finished 9th last year be in with a serious chance this year?

The ruckmen – for the first time in recent years we've actually got some. The friend of the Perth underworld, Michael Gardiner, actually joined last season but didn't play a game through injury. He's got through the preseason cup in one piece and, while he wasn't outstanding, he certainly contributed. Steven King, though, is the main reason for optimism. He played for Geelong in the grand final and he's looked impressive so far. They are a pretty formidable duo at 6'5 and 6'6 respectively.

The forwards – having real ruckmen means Justin Koschitzke (6'5) can be relieved of his ruck duties and play forward. Alongside Fraser Gehrig (6'4) and Nick Riewoldt (6'4) St Kilda have a forward line that no defence is big enough to handle especially as I would expect the ruckmen to spend periods of the game going forward. Charlie Gardiner, a medium sized forward, was recruited from Geelong and has been very impressive so far. The key thing, of course, is getting the ball forward which was a big problem in the first half of last season.

The midfield – lack of pace has been the big problem along with major injuries to 2 outstanding players. Adam Schneider, recruited from Sydney, has looked very good preseason. The other pacey recruit, Sean Dempster, hasn't played yet because of injury. Both these players were in Sydney's 2005 grand final winning side. Luke Ball and Lenny Hayes are both back to full fitness after injury. At their best, these are two genuine elite players.

The defence – the area of concern with Max Hudghton getting on a bit and doing his hamstring every few weeks and Matt Maguire still not fully recovered from his broken leg in 2006. This is where the depth of the squad will be really tested.

So, excellent recruiting for 2008 (bettered only by Carlton getting Judd), with a bit of pace, some midfield goals and proper ruckmen and we're in pretty good shape. The preseason cup even suggested there are some youngsters waiting in the wings.

3 Hawthorn – they might not be the most unpleasant club in the league but they do have the most obnoxious playing list right now. Lack of talent is not a problem but lack of discipline could be. They have 4 players suspended for round 1 (they're playing Melbourne so it won't matter) – a reflection of the petulant thuggery which characterises their game style. Three of those players are out because they basically couldn't handle losing to North Melbourne in the finals last year and just started lashing out. Off field, they have enormous problems with the culture of the playing group which everybody knows about but, because of a court injunction, nobody is allowed to talk about.

4 Port Adelaide – an exciting young team which exceeded all expectations last year but may take a step back in 2008. No-one can be quite sure how they will react to their grand final humiliation.

5 West Coast – you can't lose Chris Judd and Ben Cousins and not be affected. Dean Cox is the best big man in the league, Darren Glass is an elite defender and Daniel Kerr is sublime. Still talented enough to make the finals but I can't see them going all the way.

6 Collingwood – according to the experts, teams which win a grand final have their best players in their mid 20s. If that's true, Geelong, St Kilda and Fremantle are nicely placed for 2008 whilst Collingwood have no chance despite coming so close last year. Collingwood have a number of stalwarts over 28 and a very impressive crop of players under 22 (Pendlebury, Thomas, Cloke, Clarke). In between those age groups, they are weak. Nathan Buckley and James Clement both retired at the end of 2007. Although they played fewer than 20 games between them last year, I still think they'll be missed.

7 Brisbane – if any team can do a Port Adelaide in 2008 it will be Brisbane. A very exciting young side with the best forward in the AFL in Jonathon Brown.

8 Fremantle – the hardest team in the league to place. They could finish 3rd but they could also finish 12th. Massive underachievers and I'm not convinced by their policy of recruiting so many former Essendon players.

9 Sydney – on the slide now but still a chance of the finals. Their tedious stop-start style of play now seems rather old fashioned compare to the breakneck speed with which Geelong have been successful.

10 Adelaide – have had a bigger turnover of players than any other side since last year so are definitely entering a transition period. Should take a lot of encouragement from the preseason cup except the preseason cup never seems to work that way.

11 North Melbourne – jumped from 14th to top 4 last year but got absolutely crushed in 2 finals matches. I hope they make the finals at this crucial stage of their history.

12 Western Bulldogs – coach Rodney Eade will get sacked if they miss the finals. Lightweight and lacking firepower.

13 Carlton – the first team in history to have 3 number 1 draft picks in a row and, of course, recruited Chris Judd, the best player in the AFL. They still have some shocking players though and a terrible defence although Brendan Fevola should benefit from a midfield that's starting to look pretty impressive.

14 Essendon – will start the season well and then run out of steam. Have three outstanding players including Lloyd and Lucas, two of the best forwards in the game. Judging by their preseason cup performance, they intend to pack the midfield with small, fast players and just run through the opposition. I don't think they have the skills to carry it off.

15 Melbourne – made the finals in 2006 but were truly awful last year. The whole club is in turmoil with employees leaving, players misbehaving and membership numbers the lowest in the league. 2008 is Melbourne's 150th anniversary and it's looking like a miserable one.

16 Richmond – fielded a full strength team against St Kilda's kids in the preseason cup and gave one of the most inept displays imaginable. They were truly horrendous last year and their only hope is that they might manage 15th.

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Reed
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Apparently, there's a US Australian Rules Football League. They have a team in DC. I don't know where they play.

As you were.

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Trimster
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Several countries, including Denmark, Japan and the UK, have an Australian Rules football league. However, not many people in those countries really care....!

I make the Crows 8th to 12th this season; Port, even more unpredictable, anything from 5th to 11th.

What's the story with Fraser Gehrig's short lived "retirement", MA? Did someone talk him out of it? Or did he get a sudden revelation of what life is like after football?

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Melbourne Arab
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He moved to Europe with his girlfriend, they split up so he decided to come home and give it one more go. I think he retired a year too early anyway.
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Melbourne Arab
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The Chris Judd era at Carlton began last night. In front of over 72,000 people (for a ridiculous 6.10 start), Carlton managed to turn a 25 point lead into a 31 point defeat against last year's wooden spooners Richmond. Carlton's comedy defence conceded 100 points or more for the 22nd consecutive match - the opening day of 2007, when they held Richmond to 98, was the last time someone failed to break the ton against them.

In the other opening day fixture, Geelong won the Grand Final rematch against Port Adelaide but the margin was 110 points less than last September. In fact, Port missed several decent chances to win it late on.

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Trimster
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What other football league in the world would get 72,000 spectators to a match between the bottom two teams...?!
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ursus arctos
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I know it was a rhetorical question, but that could definitely happen in the NFL, though it would depend on where the game was played.
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Trimster
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It could never happen in England, for instance, because well supported clubs would almost never finish bottom....
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Melbourne Arab
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Round 1
St Kilda 51 Sydney 49
Crowd 36,614


Conversation in the pisser post match:

“That was the worst fucking football match I’ve ever seen. Sydney’s style of play is fucking terrible.”

“It wins premierships.”

It’s hard to believe but, last night, St Kilda won a match by kicking just 6 goals and having 2 goalless quarters.

Most people are aware that Aussie Rules is not the sport of choice of your typical Sydneysider. Despite that, the Swans are the biggest supported club in any sport in Sydney, easily outstripping all the NRL teams and even the mighty Sydney FC. Perhaps it’s not surprising – the Swans are basically a rugby team playing in the AFL. Last night’s match was stoppage after stoppage, ball up after ball up, free kick after free kick. There was little run, there was little flow and every loose ball had half the players leaping on top of it.

In the first 15 minutes, there was no indication that it would be like this. St Kilda started brightly and moved into a 20-0 lead which should have been double that. Sydney couldn’t get out of their defensive half. The quarter time score was 27-7 but the second quarter brought a dramatic change as Sydney completely strangled St Kilda and it was 30-30 at half time. The Bloke In Front Of Me reckoned that 60, maybe 65, points would win the game. I can’t imagine anyone thought 51 would be the winning total. St Kilda managed a couple of goals in the third quarter as, this time, Sydney went goalless and the score moved to 46-34.

The third quarter provided the one genuine highlight of the match. Clinton Jones played a handful of matches for St Kilda as a rookie covering for injuries last year. Last night was his first appearance as a player on the senior list. Late in the quarter, Jones was chasing a long, high kick into the forward 50. He momentarily took his eyes of the ball to see that Sydney defender Martin Mattner was also racing for the ball. Had Jones allowed the threat of the approach of Mattner to affect him he would be labelled “soft” for the rest of his career. His eyes returned to the ball and he took the mark. A split second later, he was hit by a freight train and sent into the middle of next week. The crowd, frustrated all night, went berserk. Jones received the sort of reception you would expect if he’d kicked a last minute winner in the Grand Final. He stood up, staggered around like a very drunk man, and then handballed to Adam Schneider to kick a goal as he was taken off the field by the trainer. Magnificent stuff. I hope it appears on You Tube in the next day or so.

In the final quarter, Sydney managed a couple of goals and St Kilda a handful of points. In the dying seconds, Sydney should have won it, a kick on the run by Jared Moore missing by millimetres.

In fairness to St Kilda, the last minute withdrawal through injury of Fraser Gehrig badly affected us going forward but the lack of invention shown to break down the massed defence of Sydney was worrying. Thankfully, there is no other team quite like Sydney in the league.

[ 23.03.2008, 00:36: Message edited by: Melbourne Arab ]

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Trimster
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Both St Kilda and Sydney were very poor- neither deserved to win!

For a winning team to kick only six goals, in reasonable weather conditions, is amost unheard of.... this match was really the AFL's equivalent of a 0-0 draw in soccer!

The round's lowest crowd- 24,000- witnessed probably the most exciting match: Footscray just edging out the Crows, with the result in doubt right up to the final siren, and 37 goals kicked!

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Uncle Ethan
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Freo were magnificently inept.

They continue to invent ways to cough up possession. This is meant to be their year, again, but I can see them being one and five.

Still, this is the Dockers so they'll probably flog Hawthorn.

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Melbourne Arab
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This is what Clinton Jones normally looks like:

 -

This is what Clinton Jones looked like on Saturday night as he took a mark and had his face rearranged (temporarily, fortunately):

 -

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