The sound of one hand clapping after Freo-St Kilda farcical finish
Ken has asked me to resume my post on Club Troppo, as post-modernist AFL curmudgeon in residence. Since I find blathering on about football almost irresistible, and my cat is tired of hearing my views, I’ve decided to accept Ken’s invitation.
Of course the big news of the weekend was the draw involving St. Kilda and Fremantle, where the umpires failed to hear the siren, with Fremantle one point up, which allowed St. Kilda to snatch a draw.
There is no doubt that Fremantle has been robbed. Blame for the fiasco lies with the timekeepers, who failed to obey the relevant law, which states that the siren should be sounded until acknowledged by at least one of the field umpires, at which point the game ends. You can be sure sirens will be ringing loud and clear at AFL grounds for the next few weeks.
The AFL are investigating, and Fremantle actually asked St. Kilda to concede the game, a gesture that seems hopelessly romantic. I think Fremantle must be careful to not carry on about it too much, in case they make themselves look even more foolish then usual. The AFL’s predecessor, the VFL, have altered results before, but it hasn’t been done for a hundred years.
While I am sympathetic to Fremantle’s plight, rules are rules, and the rules clearly do state that the game does not end until the field umpires say it is over. AFL football, like life, is not fair.
Five rounds into the season, some trends are starting to emerge. West Coast and Adelaide occupy the first two places on the ladder, just as they did for 2005, and both for the same reasons- West Coast have a brilliant midfield and Adelaide have a suffocating defence. The next three places are somewhat new- Collingwood, Footscray (officially Western Bulldogs), and Hawthorn all have got off to a great start to the year. Collingwood are playing a conventional brand of football in a classy manner, Footscray, forced by their lack of tall players, have turned things around by being the fastest with the mostest, although they did come unstuck against Adelaide, and Hawthorn are once again a happy team, as youngsters start to make an impact.
Behind these five, there is a break to St. Kilda and Fremantle. St. Kilda have been the great white hope of Victorian football for the past couple of years, but they seem to be less then the sum of their parts. I don’t rate their coach Grant Thomas very highly, and the results seem to indicate that. Fremantle’s Chris Connelly gets a lot of flack but given his flaky list he is doing alright.
Geelong, installed as Premiership favourites, have promptly lost three in a row. Their best 22 is very good indeed, but injuries have exposed weaknesses at the Cattery. They round out the eight.
Sydney started the season with a Premiership hangover, but have reached for the Berocca, and the patient seems to be on the mend. Melbourne likewise have avoided serious dangers of finishing last, but may well finish off their fan base with their propensity for the heart-stopping finish. Port Adelaide and Richmond have become models of inconsistency, one team trending down, and one trending up.
The bottom four reads like a roster of the power clubs of the last decade. Essendon, Carlton, North Melbourne and Brisbane show that you just have to enjoy success while you can because it does not last long in AFL football. Brisbane were in the grand final of 2004 and now they are 16th in the league. AFL football is a merciless game.