Finally, we see the light at the end of the tunnel! The AFL will resume on Thursday night after an absence of eleven and a half weeks. It seems like a lifetime ago that The West Coast Eagles beat Melbourne Demons at Perth’s Optus Stadium. In a week or so, a clash against two heavyweights, Richmond and Collingwood, will take place at the Colosseum known as the Melbourne Cricket Ground. A game which normally would have eighty odd thousand will be a ghost town.
For those lucky enough to have watched a game of footy at the G, it’s an amazing experience. I wonder whether we’ll see cardboard cutouts in the crowd à la NRL’s attempts of generating “atmosphere” for the players?! I did enjoy the Bundy Bear at North Queensland Cowboys’ new Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville. It was a nice touch. Perhaps Eddie McGuire should go down to the local Kwik Kopy and print out a couple of thousand cardboard cutouts of Joffa in his gold sequined jacket for behind the goals where the Magpie Army would’ve sat.
Everyone had their opinions on rounds 2-5. As is the normal practice with fixture announcements, so called experts dissect the teams who are the winners and losers of the revised matches coming up in the next six weeks or so. Well ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, let’s do some dissecting! The next four rounds could make or break the season for several teams. The team most at risk is definitely Hawthorn. Without a doubt, they have the hardest upcoming month of footy. The Hawks play Geelong at Kardinia Park, Richmond at the MCG and GWS Giants at Giants Stadium during this period. I almost feel sorry for the Poos and Wees but then I remember the 2008 Grand Final and my sympathy dwindles away! The AFL’s golden child, no not the Giants, Richmond Tigers has a rough month with 2 games outside the MCG. One of those games is at Marvel Stadium but their round 5 fixture against the West Coast Eagles is an interesting one. It’s an away game played at Metricon Stadium in Queensland. No ladies and gentlemen, Uncle Oyster pulling your leg. Eagles vs Tigers at the Suns’ homeground. I may have to drive down the M1 Motorway for some photo opportunities with Dusty, NicNat, Josh and Jack. Hopefully by then, the crowd restrictions would’ve eased somewhat.
So which team has benefited from the revised fixtures? The two Sydney based teams each have three home games during this period. For the first time ever in the history of the AFL, there will be two games played in Sydney on the same day. Normally, the Swans and the Giants have alternate home games at their respective stadium. What a pity that the crowds cannot take advantage of this feast of footy in the harbour city. Both the Swans and Giants could be 5-0 after the first weekend of July. The hamstring injury of Buddy Franklin will be a massive loss for the Swannies. The likelihood of the Swans winning a premiership during the Lance Franklin era seems to be slipping away with each soft tissue injury. In all honesty, I was hoping for Buddy to crack the magical 1000 goal milestone and join the greats such as Lockett, Coventry, Dunstall, Wade and Ablett Snr. Who will step up in his absence? Sam Reid? Nick Blakey? The latter needs to add about 20 kilograms of muscle to his praying mantis like frame.
My Catters have been blessed with a fortunate month of footy with three games played at GMHBA Stadium against the Hawks, Blues and Suns and a game at the MCG against the Melbourne Demons. Although I love my Cats, I fear that the long leave of absence might be a disadvantage as they don’t always play well after a bye. Which ruckman will line up in the centre square for the first bounce? Stanley, Fort, or Ratugolea? This will continue to be a major concern for the Cats.
Without question, the Brisbane Lions have benefited greatly from the rescheduled fixtures. They have all four games at the Gabba. This may be the catalyst to catapult their season after a sub-par performance against the Hawks in Round 1. Chris Fagan will be hoping that the first round was a minor setback for the upcoming season. My new hometown team should be a better outfit with Dayne Zorko and Lachie Neale in the guts, Harris Andrews down back and young guns Eric Hipwood and Cam Rayner up front crucial again to the Lions success.
This week, the AFL announced some more recipients to the prestigious AFL Hall of Fame. Hawthorn Legend John Kennedy Snr was elevated to Legend status after a lifetime of dedication to the great sport of Australian Rules Football. He was Hawthorn’s inaugural premiership coach in 1961. His coaching style and preseason training regimes changed the way footballers prepared for the upcoming season. His half-time speech “Don’t think, Do!” still is as true today in the 21st century professional era.
The other inductees were New South Welshman and St Kilda star Lenny Hayes who won the Norm Smith medal in the drawn 2010 Grand Final against Collingwood. Lenny grew up in the Hills District of Sydney, playing his junior footy for the Pennant Hills Demons footy club. The multi time Syd Barker Medalist and All-Australian definitely had a stellar playing career. Lenny is now an assistant coach with the GWS Giants.
Announced on the 2nd of June 2020, Brisbane Lions triple premiership winning duo Simon Black and Jonathan Brown were also inducted. For Western Australian Black, this is the cherry on the cake in regards to his playing accolades. Not only is he a Brownlow Medalist, he is a multiple Merrett-Murray medalist and All Australian. He was an exceptional midfielder who was unstoppable those premiership winning years.
Jonathan Brown is well regarded as one of the hardest and courageous footballers to have played the game. Brown has won the Coleman Medal, Merrett-Murray Medal on three occasions and is a dual All-Australian. His ferocity in a marking contest was second to none. He was a contested mark monster. After 250 odd games and almost 600 goals, his determination and ability to lead by example will stand the test of time. One of the true great centre half forwards.
More Hall of Fame inductees were introduced throughout the week. Port Adelaide Magpie legends John Abley and Greg Phillips, West Coast Eagle Dean Cox and Broadcaster Dennis Cometti.
Now readers, Uncle Oyster is 6’5 and about 105 kg. Next to Big Dean Cox, I’m tiny in comparison. After meeting the big man at Blacktown International Sports Park at the end of their dominant victory against the Giants, I was lucky enough to grab a picture with him. Granted, I was about a dozen bourbon and cokes deep and was not wearing a hat but I remember how tolerant he was of my drunkenness. An underrated trait in a human being for sure. Dean Cox revolutionised the modern day ruckmen with his mobility around the ground. Yes, he was an exceptional tap ruckmen but his aerobic capacity was unheard of for someone his size. Cox is a premiership winner, six time All Australian ruckman, best and fairest winner and record holder for the most games for the WCE.
If you’ve ever watched the AFL on TV, there are three commentators that probably spring to mind. Mr Wowee Brian Taylor, Bruce “He’s good isn’t he” McAvaney and the king of one liners, Dennis Cometti. There’s so many classic lines that Dennis Cometti has used in his almost 50 year career as a footy journalist. Here’s a few crackers that made Dennis Cometti famous.
Speaking about Carlton Blues superstar, Anthony Koutoufides… “There’s Koutoufides – more vowels than possessions today.”
Speaking about fellow 2020 Hall of Fame Inductee, Simon Black… “A lot of talk these days is about ‘inside players’. Well, as we saw there, if Simon Black was any more inside he’d be a pancreas.”
Oh, I may as well give my tips for Round 2’s fixtures. Here goes:
*Richmond in a close one against the Pies. Tom Lynch will kick at least 4 goals.
*Geelong by 4 goals against the Poos and Wees at Kardinia Park. Patty Dangerfield will dominate and be BOG
*Brisbane by plenty against the Freo Dockers.
*Carlton against a struggling Demons side who hasn’t been the same since their 2018 Prelim Final flogging against WCE.
*Port Adelaide in a tight one against arch rivals Adelaide Crows.
*West Coast will obliterate the Gold Coast Suns. New recruit Tim Kelly will have a field day.
*GWS Giants too strong for the North Melbourne Kangaroos. Jeremy Cameron will kick at least 5 goals with Kangaroo Ben Brown to match Jezza’s effort.
Essendon Bombers will upset the Sydney Swans at the SCG. No Buddy, no chance unfortunately unless the old brigade of Parker and Kennedy win the contested footy and deliver cleanly to baby giraffe Nick Blakey.
Western Bulldogs will beat fellow Marvel Stadium occupants St Kilda Saints by 4-5 goals. New Dogs skipper The Bont will lead by the front and have a 30+ possession game.
I can’t wait for the season to restart. It’s been a long wait between the first two rounds but with each round played, we’re a week closer to watching the game we love at the stadiums around the country. For me this year, it won’t be the SCG or Giant Stadium but the possibility of watching games at The Gabba and Metricon Stadium. Mrs Oyster will love the fact that The Gabba is a ten minute drive over The Go Between Bridge for us now instead of an hour or so drive to the SCG when we lived in the mean streets of 2147.
Just remember ladies and gentlemen, the one thing that brings people together is our love of sport. Where else do you see harmony between genders, sexual orientations and religious denominations? The quicker we can come together wearing our team colours, waving our flags and singing our team song, the better off we are as a whole.
Lots of love,