The Recession they had to have

Another top-notch article in the Age by Caroline Wilson looks at how the Brisbane Lions board was told in 2002 that the team was capable of four premierships in a row, but if they did try for it, there would be a long term price to be paid. The board took the short term option of going for four in a row, and came ever so close.

I guess as a fan of the game, I am glad that they did. The great Brisbane side of 2001-03 played some astonishingly good football and took the game to a new level in many ways. It is the truly great that make a difference to sport. Just look at the Australian cricket side from 1999 to 2003, which is another case in point.

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18 years ago

What made the cricket team great was 2 of the world’s all time great bowlers together, just as the Lions had 3 Brownlow medallists in their midfield. AFL now is all about clearance football. I was reminded of that last Sat, when my team that beat the Lions in a GF just over 18 months ago was trounced by the Crows. Get your hands on the ball first(which curiously enough Port did in the 2nd quarter to reign in a 5 goal deficit)and the rest is a training drill to showcase the skills.

On Caroline’s point, most teams will spend only 2-3 years at the top (Bris was the exception with those all those Brownlows) My team was there for 3 yrs for one flag while Coll were in 2 GF for none.(rebuilding phase now after a couple of years in the wilderness) The Crows as a hot favourite now are typical. A carbon copy of Port’s 2002 season(both won their last match of the season to go top), only to be spectators at the GF. In my estimation they have this season and one more before they mirror Port and the Lions fall from grace. Here’s why- Look at the age ranking of their oldest players this year.
Clark 33
Hart 32
Ricciuto 31
Goodwin 30
Edwards 30
Bassett 30
McLeod 30
Biglands 29
Burton 28
Welsh 28
Perrie 27
Bode 27
Massie 26
You don’t have to be too smart to realise how many of those great players will retire or be tapped on the shoulder by the end of next season. Hamstrings and other soft tissue can age suddenly for the over 28s nowadays, in the brutal training regimes of AFL. Neil Craig will have to be better than the likes of Matthews, Williams, Sheeds, and Malthouse to keep the Crows in the top 8 in 2008.

18 years ago

Get your hands on the ball first and the rest is a training drill to showcase the skills.

Hasn’t helped the Hawks for a while. One of the best ruckmen full stop (Spider), great midfielders (Crawford & Mitchell spring to mind), and a great ability to stick to the wooden spoon and make a remora look slippery.

Don Wigan
Don Wigan
18 years ago

With Scott, while still agreeing with Observa on the importance of midfielders.

One other point I speculate on (no substantial evidence yet) is whether long-distance travel has an effect on injuries and premature retirements.

I am thinking of the early 90s Eagles who had to travel enormous distances. Only a bit of bad judgement and bad luck prevented them taking 4 premierships then. But so many of their champions from that era – Kemp, McIntosh, McKenna, Heady, Brennan, Pyke retired well before what we’d noramlly regard as their chronological age. Injuries did set in.

Jakovich and Peter Matera lasted to a respectable age but did not seem to thrive as well on it as Glendinning (who had most of his career in Melbourne) or today’s Kouta and Robert Harvey.

Apart from the ageing process, there have been a lot of Lions missing in the past few years with injuries: Leppitch, Lappin, Voss. True Hart lasted to a ripe old age, as did Lynch (albeit his body might’ve been saved a bit by his absence with chronic fatigue syndrome). But my general thesis is that long-distance travel shortens AFL careers.

That of course does not hold true of the Adelaide, Port and Sydney teams who only mostly have an hour’s flight.

As to the Crows, well as the Brisbane people argued, lets get that premiership before we start worrying about the player age.

18 years ago

AFL is really an 18-28 yr olds game nowadays for onballers, unless you are something very special. Of course key position players seem to fare a bit better in the longevity stakes. The training regimes are getting tougher. I noticed Craig stated he put his players through a 9.3% increased preseason this year and it won’t take long for other clubs to follow that lead.

Did a quick take on the GF premiership players missing for the Showdown last weekend. Carr, James (engine room onballers)Schofield, Hardwick, Wanganeen, Kingsley, Montgomery, Pickett, Wilson and Brogan. That’s a quarter of a squad or half a team and you can see what sort of impact that has on team performance. Realistically Port are a bottom 5 side now, scrapping with Brisbane, Carlton, Essendon and Kangas, to see who gets the best draft picks.