“How good’s footy?” Is a question I often ask my dad whenever things are going well for Fremantle. Today I can finally answer that question.
Freo lost the derby, Chris Masten is a human skid-mark that threatens to ruin my love for the game, and Richmond and West Coast currently sit on top of the table. My beloved coach is a letch and Bomber Thompson apparently sells ice now. But that’s footy.
Before I crack into the excitement that was round 6, here is a wee recap of round 5.
- Adelaide over the Swans by 10 at the SCG, nice to see a little bit of confidence back in Adelaide’s key forwards and some hard proof that Tex Walker exists.
- A draw between lethargic looking GWS and a St Kilda that could have been mistaken for a real football side. Literally no one tipped this.
- West Coast looked really crap (woo) against bottom placed Carlton, scraping a 10-point win while kicking an impressive nineteen behinds. This can’t bode well for the derby.
Edit: It did bode well for the derby.
- Geelong beat Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval by 34. Bit of a surprise given Port’s consistently confident form at home. It’s a pity both teams couldn’t have lost.
- Fremantle thumped the Bulldogs at Optus Stadium by a stunning 54 points. This might be the first time we’ve kicked away in living memory, and certainly the first time in years we’ve won by the highest margin of the round.
- North Melbourne put in a terrific fourth quarter performance against Hawthorn, with their 57 half time lead falling to a hard fought 28 after an onslaught by the Hawks. The Kangaroos were also two men down in the final term. This is the last time I say anything positive about North Melbourne.
- Gold Coast beat the Lions in the QLD derby by 5. Surprisingly good game that came right down to the last couple of minutes. Almost enough to make you forget that Queensland AFL is part of a conspiracy theory to distract people from the coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef.
- Richmond thrashed Melbourne in a game that by all accounts happened. On a side note, if you’ve got a spare 30 minutes, care too much about football and want a good read, check out this definitive blog-post of everything that went wrong for Melbourne between 2007 and 2014. It’s a real rollercoaster.
- The traditional Anzac day clash between Collingwood and Essendon was yet another blowout, with the Pies beating the injured Bombers by an embarrassing 49 points.
The Western Bulldogs (80) v Carlton (59) @ Etihad
Yikes. If you were looking for more reason to believe that the AFL is just the VFL with a few inter-state clubs thrown in for good measure, look at the number of Friday night “””””””””””””blockbuster”””””””””””” games Carlton have been gifted this year. Even a particularly mediocre looking Bulldogs unit was able to reduce the Blues to their worst ever start to a season (0-6). Marcus Bontempelli was potentially the only in-form player on the ground, and both sides showed a near total inability to dispose of the ball effectively. For the record, while 16th v 18th was given a prime-time Friday night slot, the Derby wasn’t even shown on free-to-air television anywhere other than Perth. That’s enough to turn anyone into a belligerent West Australian.
Sydney Swans (86) v Geelong (69) @ Kardinya Park
An injured, Buddy Franklin-less Sydney, fresh off an unexpected loss to Adelaide at home, pulled off a huge fourth quarter against Geelong at home. Down by 22 points at three quarter time, the Swan’s uncharacteristically small forward line kicked an outstanding seven goals in the final term, as Geelong’s power trio of Dangerfield, Selwood and Duncan watched on in awe. I absolutely love watching Geelong lose, but I take particular, disgusting pleasure in watching them lose at home, and Sydney have now won three in a row at the Cattery.
North Melbourne (69) v Port Adelaide (102) @ Etihad
A four-goal effort by the two metre tall embryo and Coleman favourite Ben Brown wasn’t enough to protect North against a reinvigorated Port Adelaide side. The only thing feebler than North Melbourne’s effort on the ball was the turnout from North fans, with Etihad Oval barely cracking 17000 despite the Kangaroos’ recent solid form. Move them to Tasmania already.
Port Adelaide look to have paid a heavy price for their four points, with Chad Wingard out indefinitely with a hamstring injury.
GWS (77) v Brisbane (43) @ Spotless Stadium
Do I have to talk about this? It wasn’t even a good win for GWS; Brisbane were incredibly wasteful in front of goal, kicking 0.5 in the first quarter, but the distance between GWS (3rd) and Brisbane (17th) wasn’t indicated by the quality of the football. Honestly this game just made me miserable. I can’t believe I watched the entire replay just to churn out this mediocre paragraph. What am I doing with my life?
Former Docker turned Giant Matt de Boer played the best game of his career with 34 touches. We still love you Mattie.
Hawthorn (89) v St Kilda (54) @ UTAS
Speaking of high-quality sides underperforming against mediocre teams at home, this game happened! Honestly I’m not even going to do a write-up for this sewage explosion of a game.
Instead, let’s pull up a chair and watch this video of St Kilda forward Tim Membrey missing a kick from two metres out. I’ve watched it five times and it’s still funny.
Adelaide (110) v Gold Coast (62) @ Adelaide Oval
Tom Lynch demonstrated he was better than Tom Lynch in this Tom Lynchoff. Tom Lynch was pressured off the ball at every possible interval, and remained goalless throughout, while Tom Lynch kicked three and racked up plenty of possessions. This brings the joke about players having the same name to its natural and long awaited conclusion until Sydney play West Coast again in round 13.
The Crow’s injury woes are set to continue, with recently in-form skipper Tex Walker going off in the second quarter, making him the seventh Crow to be out with a hamstring injury. No word yet on how long he’ll be out.
Essendon (72) v Melbourne (108) @ Etihad
Gawn’s domination in the ruck, along with the efforts of several of the Demons’ key forwards, was crucial in Melbourne’s decisive win over the Bombers. Essendon led going into the third term, but lapsed quickly into clumsy and costly skill errors, kicking one goal to Melbourne’s five. Because of Demons’ decision to rest some of their key players towards the end of the fourth term, the Bombers were able to snag a couple of cheap goals as the game drew to a close. This meant that the reduced final margin of 36 didn’t fully reflect the Demons’ effort on the ball and Essendon’s total lack of character in the second half.
As fun as it is to pick on Melbourne for being the football franchise equivalent of menthol cigarettes (expensive, bougie and unsatisfying) I’m very pleased to see big Max Gawn finally getting some well-deserved attention in the media.
Collingwood (70) v Richmond (113) @ the MCG
Is it wrong that I wanted Collingwood to win this? For a long time it looked like they might – the Pies led intermittently throughout the first three quarters, and genuinely posed a threat to the first placed Tigers. But a huge eight goal final quarter from Richmond marred an otherwise solid performance from the Pies’ defensive line. Collingwood’s discipline off the ball was also poor; Pies’ defender Dunn gave away a goal after a spiteful head-high bump against Jack Higgins during the latter’s goal celebration. While the Pies’ effort probably merited a less bloated final margin, it’s hard to fault Richmond’s final term surge. I didn’t really want Collingwood to win anyway.
Fremantle (81) v West Coast (89) @ Optus Stadium
Wow! It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for: my hot take on the first derby at the new Perth Stadium.
Truth be told I missed this home game for Freo – I was in Melbourne this week, meaning I had to trek it out to a friend’s house to watch the big game. I somehow managed to get on the wrong tram from the city, heading towards St Kilda beach rather than Carlton, meaning what should have been a ~20 minute commute ended up taking nearly an hour.
On arrival I had a few beers, then worked through a bottle of aniseed liquor graciously offered by my host. I was offered some spanakopita, a dish made with spinach, ricotta, fetta, and filo pastry, but I declined, a detail that will become important later on.
As the evening went on, my hosts politely insinuated that I should leave. An hour later I assented and began my journey home.
When I arrived in the CBD, I started to feel a bit hungry – I hadn’t eaten since breakfast – and remembered with a pang of regret my decision to forgo spanakopita. I looked around for food options, and settled for a nearby 7/11. I paid five dollars for a chicken and avocado sandwich, which I felt was reasonable. For a store-bought sandwich purchased after midnight from a chain of convenience stores infamous for exploiting their employees, I was pleased with the apparent freshness of the ingredients and the cheery disposition of Omar, the pleasant young man working the till.
I hopped on the tram back to Balwyn, tired after a long day of agitating my friends and wasting peoples’ time. Making the brief trek from the tram stop to my place of residence, I collapsed into my inflatable mattress and enjoyed a well-deserved rest.
Fremantle (81) v West Coast (89) @ Optus Stadium
Ok, that’s enough of that.
Disregarding the fact I don’t really want to report on West Coast winning ever, this was probably one of the best derbies in years. It’s also one of the few games where I’ve actually wished Matt Taberner were playing.
Confected outrage about the naming of the Ross Glendinning medal aside, few games this season have been as competitive and engrossing as Optus Stadium’s first derby. Even watching on television, there was an unmistakable intensity to the record crowd of 56000, especially in the final term when Freo clawed their way back into a winnable position. Yeo held Fyfe well after the first quarter, but Freo’s real star was consistently underrated gun Ed Langdon (aka the best Langdon). In the absence of Brad Hill, Langdon’s inexhaustible run and pressure on the ball was totally invaluable.
Michael Walters’ knee injury in the first quarter was devastating, and his absence definitely had a huge impact on the game. Freo’s injuries are piling up, which suggests we might be in for a rough game against the first placed Tigers at the MCG this weekend.
Because it was a West Coast game, there were plenty of outrageous and momentum-shifting umpiring decisions. West Coast’s resident human turd Chris Masten drove his elbow into Langdon’s head during a stoppage, and was somehow awarded a free kick by fellow bottom feeder Dean Margettes, aka the worst umpire in the league. The umpires seem to have decided amongst themselves that every time Adam Sandilands lays a tackle, it should be a free kick for the opposing team. I want a bloody Royal Commission.
I’ve received a lot of constructive feedback in the last few weeks from West Coast supporters who feel that my unsolicited commentary on the game is too overtly one eyed. Let’s be clear on this: I have nothing against West Coast. Just because you’re a bunch of Claremont yuppies whose only understanding of the world comes from spin classes and commercial talkback radio, and you consider someone denting your BMW to be a crime against humanity, does not mean that I’m not capable of being balanced in my analysis of the game. I like Kennedy, I like Nic Nat, I like Simpson and I liked Woosha. The fact that Darling, Shuey, LeCras, Yeo, Masten, Lycett and Gaff are tied for last place on my list of favourite footballers doesn’t influence my view on the game at all, nor does my wholehearted belief that Matt Priddis was the least deserving Brownlow medallist since Shane Woewodin. The next West Coast supporter to say that Sandi is overrated can fucking fight me.
Good derby boys, see you in round 20. How good’s footy?
TIPS! !!!!! !! !!!
Geelong v GWS @ Etihad
Bulldogs v Suns @ Mars Stadium (Where the hell is that?)
Essendon v Hawthorn @ MCG
West Coast v Port @ Optus Stadium (Prove me wrong Port)
Sydney v North Melbourne @ SCG
Adelaide v Carlton @ Adelaide Oval
Richmond v Fremantle @ MCG
(We’re not actually going to win this, but I feel morally obligated to tip us anyway)
St Kilda v Melbourne @ Etihad
Brisbane v Collingwood @ The Gabba
Hugh firmly believes that Gold Coast should get relegated out of existence.