Image Description: A drawing of two upper class Victorian-era women, drinking tea by an outdoor table.

 

By Campbell Williamson

 

Training Run, and What’s Fair in Love and Footy?

Would it seem like gloating to say that West Coast’s drubbing of the Pies on Sunday afternoon felt like something of a training run? Probably. Maybe it is.

But I don’t make these comments to disparage, only to call attention to the stark differences of each team’s schedule, and I think it showed.

West Coast are living more or less normally. They can attend training as normal, see their family as normal, and do all those things that normal people do, normally.

By contrast, Collingwood are living in the West Australian Hub. They’re separated from Victorian family and friends, and no-doubt extremely concerned for those nearest and dearest to them. In this context, football would probably seem secondary.

Unfortunately, many of these same players would probably still be living under a strict 14 day quarantine as well, and assuming this is the case, they wouldn’t be allowed to leave the Hub.

I can only guess what life within ‘the hub’ would be like but I assume that it would be pretty footy-focused. So it’s perhaps likely that the Collingwood players would be presently highly anxious, and living in a high-pressure, work focused environment.

This doesn’t sound like a combination conducive to good football and on Sunday there were passages of play that seemed to suggest as much.

On several occasions the Collingwood players looked disinterested to me, allowing uncontested West Coast marks that shouldn’t have been allowed.

I think that it’s possible that these moments showed the troubles of life in the Hub for Collingwood, and that they might provide some insight into why the team’s overall performance was below standard. A team’s headspace matters, and it would be difficult to focus on footy in the present context for Collingwood.

Of course it’s worth reality checking these claims because, it’s entirely possible that the Hub does in fact provide adequate room for players to take their mind off football, and perhaps it was instead the forced omission of both Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom that did the damage.

All I can say is that the 66 point victory for West Coast felt like a training run at times.

 

What’s going on with BT, Bruce and Bartel!

Maybe this one requires an article all on it’s own, but it’s definitely half-baked and not very insightful so let’s give it a spot here. Skip this one if you’re not into fluff pieces, please.

I was reading an article last week about some possible Beef (with a capital ‘B’) between commentators Jimmy Bartel and Brian Taylor from the illustrious news organisation PerthNow, and while it’s mostly conjecture, they do appear to be onto something. Maybe.

The crux of the story was that, while commentating a relatively uninspiring game, BT was gettings really focused on inconsequential details that were only tangentially related to the game at hand. Bartel eventually grew frustrated with this.

A lot of this is conjecture, but, there were a couple of moments on Sunday between Bartel and BT that did appear to give credence to the PerthNow claims.

For example, when BT asked Bartel how many Weet-Bix he ate or asked Bartel another question of sorts (I can’t remember the wording), he was met with no response. Additionally, BT seemed to be stepping on eggshells when joking with co-commentator Bruce McAvaney, going out of his way to mention at one point that his comments were a joke.

As a commentator, Taylor cut his teeth joking with the Saturday night footy ‘crew’ and engaging in ‘banter’ with the ‘boys.’ While McAvaney is nothing if not adaptable, it’s possible that Taylor’s lighter and less-football-centric commentary, might be starting to grate on some.

Once again, plenty of conjecture in this one, but I do think it’s an interesting, albeit dirty, and highly specious gossip story.

 

Half Capacity Crowds and Free Kick West Coast

I’d be interested to hear what a half capacity, Stage Three quarantine crowd feels like, but I regretably didn’t cop an invite to the game.

Still, from my couch, I can imagine that it would be a strange, more individualised experience. Given the capacity reduction, each crowd member is no longer really anonymous because they’re no longer lost in a sea of blue and gold.

On the plus side (I guess), this might mean that one is less-likely to hurl abuse at unuspecting umpires when they make their slanderous calls. On the other hand it might also mean that one is less likely to vocally celebrate.

In one of his goal celebrations, West Coast’s Josh Kennedy did gesture for the crowd to raise its volume so maybe there’s something to this claim.

Still, this style of celebration is hardly unique. He could well have just been doing what players have done since Malthouse was a boy – try to get the crowd involved.

Nevertheless – the amount of line-ball decisions that fell West Coast’s way seems to suggest that the crowd was doing it’s job. Free kick West Coast.

 

Where to for the Grand final?

After a dominant display from the coasters, I’m beginning to wonder where the 2020 Toyota AFL Grand final might land, but I think that’s enough conjecturing for one day. It’s late.

 

Campbell Williamson loves to conjecture.