“…Oh it ain’t no fun no more I don’t know what to say. The honeymoon is over baby. It’s never gonna be that way again!”
This classic by The Cruel Sea encapsulates my feelings as the 2023 AFL season came to a conclusion Sunday night. My beloved Catters’ premiership defence was put out of misery. To be honest, they were dead in the water after a 0-3 start to the season. It was fun while it lasted. I’ll always remember The Pivotonians smashing The Bloods that magical day last year. Tex Perkins was right. The honeymoon is over!
Believe it or not, the top 8 wasn’t finalised until the GWS Giants continued to defy the odds by beating an in-form Carlton Blues at Marvel Stadium. Their win ended the hopes of every Scrays fan of finals footy. For about 12 hours, The Western Bulldogs looked the most likely to stamp their finals footy passport after finishing strongly against an under strengthened and to be honest, a lackluster Geelong Cats team to secure their first` win at GMHBA Stadium/Kardinia Park since 2003. However, Adam Kingsley and the Giants weren’t ready to end their September story just yet! Toby Greene once again inspired a win against the odds and in the process, book an elimination final in a fortnight’s time against a resurgent St Kilda Saints side. Stephen Coniglio, Tom Green, Josh Kelly, Lachie Whitfield and Jake Riccardi were also influential in the five-goal win. Jacob Weitering somehow managed to escape suspension for a not so friendly eye gouge on the Giants captain. This is a different Toby Greene ladies and gents. He is absolute vital for The Giants continued success come the pointy end of the season. His excellent season was rewarded with captaincy of the 2023 All Australian team.
The AFL have their bye this week before the finals and the anticipation is building to what looks like some mouthwatering match ups starting at Thursday night at the MCG. In view, this is the grand final preview and will be an absolute cracking game to start this year’s finals campaign. With the news that Son of a Gun Nick Daicos is indeed out due to injury, the pressure on Collingwood’s unsung heroes has increased tenfold! Who will step up and be the one to stamp their authority on the contest? The Melbourne Demons have slipped under the radar all year and have hit peak form at the best time of the season. The only headache for Simon Goodwin and Max Gawn is the possible inclusion of Bridie Grundy and how he best fits their lineup. It’s no coincidence that the resurgence of the Dees is due to Max Gawn playing solely in the ruck. It’s not a bad problem to have, is it? The class of Petracca, Oliver and Viney in the midfield will be the difference here. Demons by 19 points.
The Brisbane Lions have once again set themselves up beautifully for a home Preliminary Final if they beat Port Adelaide Power. Brisbane should win. Their star players are hitting form at the right time of the season. Hipwood, Daniher and Cameron are finally gelling well together in the forward line and are having massive scoreboard impact. The Back 6 of Port will have their hands full. Aliir Aliir will have a huge role to play along with Bergman, Jonas and Burton to nullify this. The home ground advantage will be too difficult to overcome, and the Lions will prevail by at least 4 goals. If Big Joe remembers to wear his goalkicking boots, the result could be even more!
Carlton Blues will play their first finals match since 2013. This was the year that Essendon were stripped off their finals spot due to Dr Stephen Dank and his “special supplements.” For such a proud club, 10 years wait for their next finals appearance is definitely unacceptable. Blues fans are notorious for voicing their displeasure openly to anyone who will listen. 11 weeks ago, Blues’ fans were baying for blood and the head of Michael Voss. After a massive turn around, we’re looking at the prospect of the Blues playing the loser of the Pies and Demons. That is, if they can beat The Paddington Bloods Friday night. The 5’10, 77-kilogram seagull better known as Tom Papley needs to lift for The September Bloods to have any chance to progress against the loser of Brisbane and Port Adelaide. Will this happen? Unlikely. Charlie Curnow will kick a bag and The Bluebaggers will win by 5 goals.
The Ross Lyon coached St Kilda Saints face off against the GWS Giants. The Saints have turned back the clock to qualify for their first finals campaign since the Covid-19 affected asteriked 2020 season. The Saints managed to stay inside the top 8 for the entirety of the 2023 season and rightfully deserve their home final. The Saints’ excellent defensive record is their most effective attacking weapon, having the least amount of points scored against them, at an average of a miserly 71.6 points per game. The mosquito squad of Higgins, Butler and Owens have been instrumental in the Saints’ success this year. Will big Max King be the X factor they need to win? Jack Steele, Jack Sinclair and Brad Crouch have been the midfield warriors all year for the Saints.
The Giants do have an arsenal of attacking weapons ready to cause an upset. At different times of the year, Hogan, Greene, Himmelberg and Riccardi have stepped up as the main focal point in the forward 50. Toby Greene is the barometer for the Giants. If he’s up and about, so are the Inner Western Sydney Giants. The Giants’ midfield oozes with class with Cognilio, Kelly and Green leading the way. Look for a big game from Lachie Whitfield in the role of rebounding defender. Unfortunately for the Orange Team’s supporters, the suspension of Toby Bedford may be the difference in the result. Being a foundation member of the Blacktown Olympic Park Giants, I can’t bet against my old neighbourhood team here. Giants by less than 10 points.
It’s sad that my Catters aren’t contesting this year but at least Uncle Oyster can watch some stress-free September footy for the first time since 2015. The honeymoon may be over for me but for those fans whose teams are still alive, enjoy the rollerocaster of emotions coming your way. May you ride the peaks and troughs with a smile on your face. Remember readers, Uncle Oyster is supporting two teams in this finals series. GWS Giants and whoever is playing against The Paddington Bloods!
Until next time, may you be in the 80% of a successful Premiership winning list that new Gold Coast Suns playing list that Dimma Hardwick has inherited. Imagine being the 20% who isn’t?