Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Year of the Cat?- levremance

It’s been a topsy-turvy AFL season so far and the premiership race is wide open. Eleven rounds remain in the minor round for the wheels to fall off or to get a season back on track. In the race for September here’s how they’re placed at the turn.

Geelong with 8 wins 3 losses and a superior percentage leads the way. The Cats have added a much-improved defensive action to their free-flowing style of football and are a big chance to end a 44-year premiership drought. Jimmy Bartel and Gary Ablett Jr are in single figures with the bookies for the Brownlow medal.

West Coast is second, also with 8 wins. Time out for key on-ballers has hardly affected normal service and captain Chris Judd remains unstoppable. Ben Cousins, who is back from rehab, made a nationally televised ‘mea culpa’, which, to many, was long on the mea but a little short on the culpa. He must agree to a raft of conditions, including regular drug testing, before returning to the fold.

Hawthorn’s buddy system seems to be working. It goes like this. When in doubt kick it to Buddy. Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin that is. The emerging centre-half forward kicked a bag of 9 against Essendon and 6 last round against Sydney in a losing side.

Essendon, second last in 2006, are fourth behind the Hawks. Recruits Alwyn Davey and Mal Michael have added pace and strength respectively to allow old hands Lucas, Lloyd, Hird and Fletcher to show their class. Consecutive 1-point wins over the Swans and West Coast has confounded the tipsters.

Collingwood’s army is on the march and the Magpies sit in fifth place at the mid-season break. Despite injuries to key players, the Woods have maintained their good form and the mix of youth and experience has brought results. At their best they can give the flag a shake come September.

The Kangaroos, who started favourites for the wooden spoon, round out the four teams on 7 wins and 4 losses. Despite suffering three straight losses at the start of the year they recovered with 5 wins on the trot and on current form will make the eight.

Sydney, while similarly placed to their 2005 premiership year, have their problems. The new ‘hands in the back’ rule has rendered bustling forward Barry Hall anachronistic, dual Brownlow medalist Adam Goodes’ form is enigmatic and running halfback Tadgh Kennelly popped his kneecap again in Saturday’s win over Hawthorn. The Swans head a group of four on 6 wins and 5 losses

Adelaide’s tortuous training regime, devised by former Australian cycling coach Charlie Walsh has, theoretically at least, made the Crows the fittest team in the AFL. If they can ever get their best 18 out of rehab, that is. Two preliminary final defeats in a row and an aging list mean that 2007 may be their last shot at glory for a while. My guess is that it’s going to be a while.

The Western Bulldogs lie just outside the eight on percentage. While the Scraggers boast perhaps the second best midfield in the competition they lack marking power and rely too heavily on Brad Johnson in attack. When the run-and-carry game is denied them they know no other way home.

Port Adelaide was on top after 6 rounds but has stumbled since. Old time wharfies would be horrified that the Power has been labeled ‘soft’ and the switch to indirect ‘tempo’ footy has been a waste of time in more ways than one.

Fremantle’s ill-disciplined acts have seen them lead the league in players fronting the AFL tribunal. Mercurial forward Jeff “The Wizard” Farmer stands out with a 6-match ban for eye gouging followed by a 7-week club imposed ban for assaulting a Mt Lawley nightclub bouncer. Still the Dockers came home with a wet sail last year and they’re only a game outside the eight.

Brisbane has seen retirements and salary cap pressures reduce the ‘Kings of the Jungle’ to prey. The ‘Gabbatoir’ is feared no more. Early wins made some believe that the heydays were back but a draw against lowly Richmond is all that followed giving them 4 and a half wins.

Carlton’s played in 5 of the 6 highest scoring games this season. Problem is they’ve lost 3 of them. The Blues can entertain all right but they just can’t defend. If they can plug a leaky defence they could storm home.

St Kilda is down and out on Fitzroy Street and looking for an angry fix, metaphorically speaking of course. Off the field, the president is suing the ex-coach over an unpaid loan and the one-time best mates can’t stand each other. On the field, a plethora of soft tissue injuries means the highly rated playing list never gets on the park.

Melbourne supporters were throwing the chains in the back of the Range Rover for a winter in the chalet at Crackenback before the Demons snapped a 9 game losing streak with 2 straight wins. One more loss however, and its back to the glu-vine and the snow bunnies.

Richmond have 10 losses and a draw and that means they have plenty of time to decide who they take with the number one draft pick. Coach Terry Wallace mused before the season that the Tigers wouldn’t see success until well into next decade. Others are less hopeful.

24 comments:

mimi said...

I think I lost my comment! Lev: great stuff and keep us posted. I have fondness for Geelong because my mate supports them. Essendon and Hawthorn echo as these are places I have visited. I loved the St Kilda bit, though have heard that it's a bit posh round there these days. I'll be in Oz next Feb so will have to get my mate to trawl round the areas and relive vibrant memories of the footie. Thanks.

ericverschoor said...

I remember my team had a black jersey with a bit of red in it. This was late 80s whe Aussie Rules was on cable extremely late at night (live maybe?) They had an aborigin as their star player. He was awsome. Please enlighten me as to whom I support. Dont want to find myself cheering for their rivals.

Great piece lev. Looking forward to a follow up sometime before september.

MotM said...

Lev - great stuff (and should I thank Ebren for the links?) Keep us er... posted.

Ebren said...

Can't take credit for the links. That's all Levremance.

DoctorShoot said...

So Levre we have your early tip:
Cats and Magpies (pussies v wobblers) for the big one in September.

One might wonder how both big game chokers would struggle through, but you have set the scene well.

Eric
your side might well be the Bombers (Essendon) with mercurial Michael Long the Tiwi Islander starring alongside 'cool cuz' Maurice Rioli.

Sydney are my weakness and I limp along with them as they struggle to get the working classes into the big arena. I am grateful that you resisted the Goodes puns Levre.

On the other hand I see you have reached the top of our tipping comp. If you win yet another one I may have to handicap you!!!

guitougoal said...

"don't bother asking for an explanation......."
Al Stewart- The Year of the Cat-

DoctorShoot said...

...and by way of explanation:

Levre has the uncanny knack of winning all the fantasy sports and tipping comps around the place....
and as a collingwood supporter, wisdom and astuteness are not supposed to be part of his armoury...

well alright, forget trying to explain....

levremance said...

Doc - I really need to convert my foresight in the field of fantasy sports and tipping comps into lottery numbers and racehorses one day soon.

I was trying not to give a tip for the finals but the Woods and the Cats will do rightly by me.

I thought the links would explain all facets of the Australian game that I left unsaid but perhaps not...

Eric - I saw some footage on youtube of Michael Long so I'll put it up later on.

levremance said...

Eric - Maybe this is the guy you remember, Michael Long, best on ground in the 93 grand final. Here he is in that game taking 4 bounces, making a massive sidestep, and slamming thru a goal. About 170m from coast to coast at the MCG in 20 seconds.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTgiW77c-WY

Zeph said...

It's all still a bit of a mystery to me, but Lev, I did think this was terrifically well written, vivid and snappy, so an enjoyable read even for ignorant poms.

"Long on the mea but a little short on the culpa" - ah yes, we've all seen that kind of interview!

ericverschoor said...

lev, thanks. Doc, you too of course.

Is there any chance he had longer (not Jesus like, 2-3 inches long) and wavy hair at some time, opposed to the youtube short cut?

I was thinking it might have been Wilmar with the Saints too. Memory is a bit blurry, sorry.

What I clearly remember is that despite dressing the colours of Boca Jrs, Ive always disliked the Eagles. Why? Somehow they seemed too perfect and characterless. Something like the ASDA/WallMart of AFL. I might be completely mistaken. I remember them kicking everyones butt too (They had a HUGE centerforward?), and the underdog sideing syndrome might have kicked in.

Another thing I patently remember is the colours and ambience transmited in each and every broadcast. The pantomimic appearance and gestures of the umpires/refs (however you call them) added to the spectacle. Being at a game must be a great day out. It is high on my to do list.

As you can see your great piece triggered a very enjoyable stroll down Memory Lane and some Googling on the other side of the Globe. It would make me feel proud in your place. Thanks once again.

ericverschoor said...

lev, doc,

One more thing...in the Essendon youtube like provided, the commentators mention something about a rule change. Could you please let me know what it is and what it was like before and if that particular mark should have been allowed or not.

I never gave a look to the fotty rules and always assumed that when jumping for the ball you could use your lower limbs (legs) on your opponents body (these make for spectacular plays). Not your arms, elbows or hands. I would appreciate a non technical description of what can be done or not in the movement towards a catch. Thanks

ericverschoor said...

like=link

sorry

mimi said...

eric: thanks for mentioning the umpires/refs gestures. Brings back another glorious host of memories of summer saturday mornings!

offsideintahiti said...

Guitou,

I thought I was the only Frenchman to know that album...

Zeph said...

It's an all-time classic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QM7LR46zrQU

levremance said...

Eric-Here's a link to an excellent piece on the hands-in-the-back rule from yesterday's Melbourne Age (it may get a bit technical).

http://www.realfooty.com.au/news/news/handy-idea-let-umpires-umpire/2007/06/12/1181414299426.html

McVeigh's mark (under the "Essendon' link) has always been a mark. And paradoxically if he failed to take the mark he may well have given away a free kick.

His hands touched the shoulders of the Carlton player as he balanced himself on the way up, that's what the commentators are talking about ie hands-in-the-back but fortunately no free was paid.

The contact was deemed incidental and thus ok. If you fly for a mark and take it, then your intent is deemed legitimate, if you make a mess of the attempt then you may be judged harshly.

There's something so good about a 'speccy' that knee in the back of the head suffered by the guy underneath is forgiven.

What the rule was intended to cut out is the guy behind pushing out the guy in front when they're both on the ground. Hope that explains it.

Nicky Winmar played for the St Kilda Saints in the eighties, red white and black. St Kilda's a great place but the footy team seems to find a way to lose.

What you say about the Eagles is pretty true but the great teams tend to be hard to like, if you don't love them that is. You may be thinking of Karl Langdon from way back when.

The umpy's, goal ump's are a source of sorn for supporters and curiousity for outsiders. I guess all the Aussie Rules traditions, signals, attire etc are so second nature to us that we see nothing unusual in them.

A female comic called Cal Wilson from NZ spent some time in Melbourne and developed a whole routine based on the nuances of the AFL, Up there Cal Wilson, coming to a comedy festival near you.

ericverschoor said...

Lev...

the article you poinnted me to blew my mind. It is great...and applicable to most sports in spirit......Thank you very much.

As for the specifics of the rule...you explained it much better than both the article and the Aussie rulebook which I have googled. Thanks for that too.

I have decided to stick with Essendon...St. Kilda has just too many wooden spoons...and I need to lose some weight.

I can forsee long hours of online AFL streaming thanks to you...work will have to pile up...
procrastination is my middle name.
Hours should be funny though.

Last...could you please point me in the direction of a site I could check to get the weekly fixtures and schedules? Thanks in advance.

levremance said...

No worries Eric, thanks to you and all for the interest and the kind words.

Btw for 'sorn' above read scorn.

Here's a couple of links to newspaper sites. You may like to test your fantsy sports skills by joining a tipping or dreamteam comp next season. Although the latter will be extremely difficult from Argentina.

http://www.realfooty.com.au/

http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/footy

then click on fixtures or results

Oh and in another scoop for Pseudscorner here's a belated mid-season report by The Age

http://realfooty.com.au/news/news/midseason-report/2007/06/13/1181414377635.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1

file said...

great stuff Lev, don't understand a blessed word of it but it doesn't matter, as has been mentioned above, your style carries it, en force!

ericverschoor said...

Thanks leverance.

Both links duly bookmarked.

I will watch a couple of games this season, to prepare for next season dreamteam and tippin (which I have to studdy how it works).

I will try my best from Argentina. I bet I will be the only gaucho participating.

I hope you will allow me to join your league next season. I gave you a run for your money in the CWC league despite knowing just a pinch of what you do in that sport....beware.

eric said...

sorry

where leverance please do read levremance of course.

levremance said...

Eric - next fantasy footy season will start next March tho' there may be another cricket comp this summer. I'll put a post in the tap room when I hear something.

All are welcome and sometimes, especially in the sphere of footy tipping, the more you know, the less you tip, so its worth having a go.

guitougoal said...

offside,
You know Al Stewart year of the cat, it was not too long ago, I'm old enough to remember-
I remember I enjoyed it even without getting a clear understanding of the lyrics. Same here with this great Levremance piece.

Tweet it, digg it