The man who broight you our weekly game previews has found himself with a bit of time on his hands now that the season is over.

What do they say about idle hands? The Devil’s playthings?

Jimmy Ayres has diverse musical tastes, and like most of us, likes to look for meaning in a lyric or two. As such, he tasked himself with the duty of allocating a song to each of the 18 AFL teams based on their 2021 seasons.

Here goes…

 

Adelaide – 15th

Track – Crippled Crow

Artist – Kris Kristofferson

Notable Lyric –

“The tears you’re tasting now are only salty times
Your music’s lasted through the years
Going through your troubles for the hurt to follow
The out of tune ravings of the crippled crow
Moving down the ladder slow”

Summary – Crippled Crows moving down the ladder slow? I couldn’t have composed something so accurate had I tried. Things have just gone downhill for Adelaide since their capitulation at the hands of Richmond in the 2017 Grand Final. Former captain Taylor Walker found himself embroiled in an unsavoury act of racism in the dying stages of the season after winding back the clock early on in the piece and playing some of his best football for years.

They finished the season 15th on the ladder after managing seven wins. In what looks like a busy offseason in the trading/recruiting department, the Crows will look to build on their younger team and re-establish themselves under coach Matthew Nicks in his third season at the helm.

 

Brisbane – 4th

Track – So Close

Artist – Hall & Oates

Notable Lyric –

“So close, yet so far away.
So close, yet so far away.
We believe in tomorrow, maybe more than today.
We’re so close, so close, yet so far away.

Summary – It was another year of finishing so close, yet so far away for Brisbane under everyone’s favourite Grandfather – Chris Fagan. They started their season in patchy form, but hit their straps well and found their feet. Losing Eric Hipwood in the latter part of the season was a huge blow as they mounted a charge towards finals.

Sitting in fifth position in Round 23, the Lions needed everything possible to go their way for them to leapfrog the Bulldogs and finish in fourth place – and that’s exactly what happened. In one of the most exciting final rounds to the home and away season that you’ll see, the Lions accounted for the Eagles somewhat easily, but it was their percentage that everyone had their eyes on. Eventually finishing above the Bulldogs by the narrowest margin to earn themselves a double chance in the finals, only to go out in straight sets at the hands of Melbourne in week one and the Bulldogs in week two.

 

Carlton – 13th

Track – Crazy Train

Artist – Ozzy Osbourne

Notable Lyric –

“Mental wounds still screaming
Driving me insane
I’m going off the rails on a crazy train”

Summary – In my mind, I was singing ‘going off the rails on the Teague Train’, because that’s just about what happened this season. Looking at their season finishes for the past decade isn’t great reading for Carlton fans. The last time they made the top eight felt great for them in more ways than one – mainly due to being at the expense of their mortal enemy, Essendon. Back in 2013 one of the sporadic, accumulating punishments that the Bombers were handed down was being bumped out of eighth place and missing the finals. So whilst the final ladder names the Blues finishing eighth with an asterisk, they became the first team to make the finals when their season ended in ninth place.

Since the end of 2012 (the year they moved on Brett Ratten as senior coach) we’ve seen the Blues finish 10th, *8th, 13th, 18th, 14th, 16th, 18th, 16th, then 11th in 2020 under David Teague which gave Carlton fans some hope – their highest finish in seven seasons only to come crashing down wrapped in a cardboard VISY box in 2021 when the club would wind up conceding ground and dropping back to 13th. In that time Ross Lyon all but announced himself as Carlton’s new coach with only one problem, no one told current coach David Teague that this was the case. In a turn of events Ross ‘the Boss’ Lyon would get the shaft by a procrastinating selection panel, and with Alastair Clarkson being out of the club’s reach, legendary former Brisbane player and coach Michael Voss was announced in the position. Thankfully for their own humility, the club had actually sacked Teague by this point, making it the tiniest bit less awkward as he emptied his belongings from the coach’s office.

 

Collingwood – 17th

Track – Last Goodbye

Artist – Jeff (not Nathan) Buckley

Notable Lyric –

“This is our last goodbye
I hate to feel the love between us die
But it’s over”

Ahh, Buckley’s last goodbye. Fitting in both song and season’s repercussions for the Collingwood Football Club. I’m speaking of the once proud and mighty club that was for a long time the envy of its peers. On field success, financial success, the institution at Collingwood had it all for a long time, a large thanks owing to their charismatic former president Eddie McGuire. The term ‘former’ lending itself to his decision to step down amidst the club’s ensuing scandals.

Not since the 2018 Bathurst 1000 when an incident occurred on lap 40 involving Jamie Whincup’s #1 Red Bull Holden driven by co-driver Paul Dumbrell have we seen the wheels come off something so horrendously. The only rival to Carlton in the ‘what the hell is that club doing’ stakes. An embarrassing firesale of players and a massive power struggle on the club’s board are just another chapter in a sad and sorry season that saw the Magpies sack their coach and former favourite son Nathan Buckley, and finish their season second last. The inevitable acquisition of talented father/son recruit Nick Daicos in this year’s draft is a silver lining to what was one of the hardest seasons for a Collingwood supporter in recent history.

 

Essendon – 8th

Track – You’ve Got to Drink the Froth to Get the Beer

Artist – Slim Dusty

Notable Lyric –
“Don’t waste your time complainin’ cause no one wants to know
In life there’s no rehearsal it’s straight on with the show
Hey, you’ve got to drink the froth to get the beer”

Summary – Finally! The Bombers fans have something to be excited about. I mean, they’ve only been slowly building up to this for the past 20 years.. But that was then, and this is now. It was an up and down rollercoaster season, but one thing that Essendon fans can take away from season 2021 is that they weren’t completely blown away too many times. Their biggest loss being 57 points back in Round 4. The brand of football being built by coach Ben Rutten and the new faces around the club appears to be a game that can stack up once some cohesion is discovered.

It’s all too easy to look at the Bombers’ horrendous finals record of the past 16 years, but to discredit their achievement this season on the back of that would do an injustice to a team that was widely tipped by most to finish bottom four. I see a few hard years of development still ahead for the Bombers, as long as they remember the words of the immortal Slim Dusty, you’ve got to drink the froth to get the beer – and the Essendon Football Club has had its fair share of froth for a bloody long time.

 

Fremantle – 11th

Track – If I Could Start Today Again

Artist – Paul Kelly

Notable Lyric –

“And I promise I will change
If I could start today again”

Summary – There would be a whole lot of head-scratching going on at Fremantle. Yet another year down the gurgler after being strongly displaced by another season plagued with injury. Some good did come out of season 2021 however, David Mundy continued to defy the laws of time by improving his game as the world tells him he should be slowing down and Sean Darcy raised his hand as one of the most promising young ruckmen in the league.

The impending departure of Adam Cerra is a huge loss as he had become a vital cog in the Dockers midfield. Season 2022 is already shaping up to be a tighter season than ever before, and teams like Fremantle will feel the pinch as the gap between the best teams and the mid-range teams lessens.

 

Geelong – 3rd

Track – Touch Of Grey

Artist – Grateful Dead

Notable lyric –

“Oh, well, a touch of grey
Kind of suits you anyway
That was all I had to say, and
It’s alright”

Summary – A touch of grey is as much a part of the uniform down at Geelong as their blue hoops. It’s a well-known fact that their list is the oldest in the competition, yet they’ve only missed one finals series in the past decade. Say what you will about them, but Geelong’s policy for recruiting people closer to collecting their pension than their pocket money has worked for them to some extent. They’ve had no trouble making finals, winning in the first week however is a perennial challenge.

Ultimately blown away by eventual Premiers Melbourne in the Preliminary Final, it was another year of stumbling at the finish for Chris Scott. Their big guns didn’t fire when they were most needed to. More than just their aging list, but the impending retirements over the next few seasons of generational players and club greats such as Tom Hawkins and Joel Selwood will be felt harder than ever.

 

Gold Coast – 16th

Track – Fallen Angels

Artist – Dio

Notable lyric-

“We’re climbing the stairs
Going down and never higher”

Summary – It’s a tough caper when assessing the Suns. The harsh reality is that they’re treading water as a club and showing no major signs of progression in finding their way up the ladder and eventually contending for finals. This season they suffered blow after blow in their talls department. Losing their captain and number one ruckman in Jarrod Witts was a massive loss that they struggled to cover for as more and more talls found their way onto the injury list. Hugh Greenwood was also playing some really admirable footy before his untimely injury.

To deny them of their struggles would be naive, but on the same token to deny some of the classy talent that’s lined up in their colours over the years would be just as rash. Going into his fifth season as senior coach, Stuart Dew will overtake inaugural coach Guy McKenna next season as having coached the Suns to more games than anyone else.

 

Greater Western Sydney – 7th

Track – Toby

Artist – Thomas & Friends

Notable lyric-

Toby, oh Toby,
What will become of you?
Toby, dear Toby,
There’s still lots that you can do

Summary – When the hare-brained idea for this article crossed my mind, the last song I thought I’d be quoting was a tune from Thomas the Tank Engine, but thanks to lockdown and having kids at home with me, here we are. Young Toby Greene, whatever are we to do with him? He’s fast becoming a human headline in his own right. But enough about him and his antics, as big as he is no team is outsized by one player – except maybe Ablett at Gold Coast.

The Giants surprised everyone, myself included. I’ll be the first to admit that I had them written off. With the worst injury toll of any team in the league, I gave them no chance of making the finals as they made the last turn past the midpoint of the season. To not only make finals, but to beat their crosstown rivals in week one and advance to the Semi’s was a massive achievement for a club that looked out of it for all money, with a coach tipped by most to have his head on the chopping block before the season even started.

 

Hawthorn – 14th

Track – Remember Me, I’m Gone

Artist – Motörhead

Notable Lyric –

“Now another face occupies my place
Guess I’m not the one, the same old song
Remember me, I’m Gone”

Summary – An eleventh-hour revival saw the Hawks under now-former coach Alastair Clarkson string together a few late wins against some admirable opponents. After a season that saw many struggles in adapting to drastic changes in personnel, the club decided to aggressively move forward in their ill-fated ‘succession plan’ in which Clarko would hand the coaching reins over to former West Coast player Sam Mitchell at the conclusion of the 2022 season.
It became Clarko’s main mission to show Jeff Kennett and the rest of the Hawthorn power-players that he would be lead out of the club swinging.

Whilst Caroline Wilson strums a few cords on her ‘i told you so’ guitar, Sam Mitchell will be front and centre as senior coach going into season 2022 as the Hawks look to hit the draft and restructure their team, building for another climb back up the ladder.

 

Melbourne – 1st

Track – Bound For Glory

Artist – Angry Anderson

Notable lyric –

“Bound for glory,
Oh we’re bound for glory!
A heart felt victory,
Is a warrior’s destiny.
Bound for glory,
Yes we’re bound for glory!”

Summary – Sorry Queen fans, but We Are The Champions was just too obvious. Instead, I opted for a song that’s already etched in the annals of AFL Grand Final footy folklore (minus the blue Batmobile). What more can be said about the season of the Demons? They were the strongest, most consistent team throughout the season. The brand of football Simon Goodwin and his charges have instilled within this club has squeezed the best out of their players and turned a decades-long success-starved club into the 2021 premiers.

After a competitive arm wrestle in the first half against the Bulldogs, the Demons stormed home in the biggest game of the season after a dominant finals series. It was the glacé cherry atop the rabbit terrine on the red ironbark charcuterie board of the Melbourne Football Club’s season.

 

North Melbourne – 18th

Track – It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll)

Artist – AC/DC

Summary – As ludicrous as it sounds, North Melbourne finished their season playing too well to be wooden spooners. I know it’s a moot point because a team doesn’t finish on the bottom of the ladder unless they’re the worst team in the league that season. However, their form in the latter half of the season and their progression as a club would have to leave their supporters a lot more optimistic walking into next season than they would’ve been coming into season 2021. The emergence of some younger talent and a good cohesion between senior players started to gel as more and more of those involved have started to buy into coach David Noble’s vision.

This song is still morbidly relevant however as there’s no further place from the top than smack bang on the bottom of the ladder. It IS a long way for the Roos to the top, the longest in fact. But they appear to be taking steps in the right direction. This is highlighted too by record numbers of supporters buying into the club in droves via membership.

 

Port Adelaide – 2nd

Track – Torn Apart

Artist – Avatar

Notable Lyric –

“Are we
More than just a part?
Are we
Lost right from the start?
Just tell me
We’re
Torn apart
Yeah
Torn apart”

Ok, I know that Port being torn apart was a low hanging fruit, but as Con the Fruiterer would say; “Doesn’t madda, bewdiful!”. Eventually highlighted by their midfield snooker from Echuca, Ollie Wines winning the Brownlow medal in emphatic style, it was a horror end to a promising season for the MagPowers. With their biggest knock for the bulk of the season being that they couldn’t beat teams above them on the ladder, Port managed to wrestle their way into top-four contention.

The latter part of the season would see them finish top two and easily account for Geelong in the first week of finals before the tables were turned with the Bulldogs channelling Michael Phelps, jumping out of the blocks with incredible tenacity and stroking away with little rebuttal. Unfortunately, a dominant season will be looked at largely as a failure with the Power failing to capitalise on their terrific form when they were blown out of the water in the Prelim.

 

Richmond – 12th

Track – I Want To Go Home

Artist – Johnny Cash

Notable Lyric –

“Let me go home why don’t you let me go home
Well I feel so homesick I wanna go home
Let me go home why don’t you let me go home
Well this is the worst trip since I have been born”

Boy oh Boy, didn’t Dimma light up the pencils of every budding comedian when he blacklisted Marvel Stadium and left a verbal steamer just ponging out the reputation of the Docklands precinct. Travel quandaries aside, it was a tough season for the Tigers as they battled through injury and slumps in form in what many pundits are calling the end of an era.

A few big wins and a turn in fortunes later in the season did see their finals door still ajar momentarily, but the weight of internal pressures ultimately restrained the Tigers, seeing them finish 12th and looking to rebuild their champion team with some prominent names departing the club via the trade period and retirement.

 

St. Kilda – 10th

Track – Back To The Suburbs

Artist – Frenzal Rhomb

Notable Lyric –

“Move back to the suburbs with me
My dear, we’ll make a new home
Full of warmth and cheer
‘Cause too many arseholes
Have moved in here”

Can I copy your homework? Sure. Just change it up a bit so it doesn’t look too much like mine. That’s how I saw season 2021 for the Saints. They’ve hit the last few trade periods with a rampaging head of steam, recruiting second hand players willy nilly like a trendy hipster getting his vintage clothing fix from the suburban op-shops. Now that I’m down this train of thinking, maybe Thrift Shop by Macklemore would’ve been a more fitting track for this article? Nevermind. Recycling players has worked for Geelong and Hawthorn, but they’ve had a better formula that was based around quality over quantity for starters.

There were a few good wins along the way as coach Brett Ratten finally managed to instil some urgency in his boys. But for every good win there was an equal dark day in the form of a hefty loss. I’m personally guilty of buying into the Saints hype train at the end of 2020. I thought this may have been signs of their progression into a new era of success for the club that’s been starved of it for so long. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be and I’m no more convinced by their potential than I was before they won a final last year.

 

Sydney – 6th

Track – Buddy

Artist – Willie Nelson

Notable Lyric –

“Talk to me, buddy
Stay with me, buddy
If I ever needed you, buddy
You know how I really do, buddy”

If we thought the ‘kick it to Buddy’ factor was evident in season 2021, then just wait until next season! As he edges closer to the 1000 goal mark, the entire league will have eyes on the Swans and their champion forward, and rightfully so. There’s every chance that Buddy Franklin will be the last person we see kick 1000 career goals for a very, very long time and you best believe that the league will do everything within its power to exploit that.

All in all season 2021 was a massive success for the Swans. Being bundled out of the finals in the first week was a crushing blow, however, the fact that they played well all season and made it there when only a year or two ago they were pretty deep in a recognised rebuilding phase of their list speaks largely of how well this club is travelling and just how successful they are at getting the most out of the list that they have.

 

West Coast – 9th

Track – Bottom Of The Well

Artist – Airbourne

Notable Lyric –

“It’s a long way down
From the bottom of the well
I gotta get out
From the bottom of the well”

It ended up being a bit of a nothing year for the Eagles. Some games they played so well that I swore they could beat any top four contenders playing that particular brand of football, whilst in other games they looked as useless as the ‘w’ in sword. I struggled to fathom how a team with so many good players could play so poorly. Yes, they were hounded by injuries earlier in the season, god forbid I neglect to mention that again. But even back at full strength, a team with a midfield consisting of names like Naitanui, Kelly, Yeo, Gaff, Redden and Sheed just looked incredibly subpar.

With a few impending list changes, it looks as though we may witness a somewhat different look Eagles side next season. That and the father time not being on the favourable side of some of their star players means it’s either do-or-die time for the Eagles, or time to gear up and start building for the next assault in the future with some of the younger, budding stars that they have.

 

Western Bulldogs – 5th

Track – No Second Prize

Artist – Jimmy Barnes

Notable lyric –

“It may be hard but ooh ooh it’s the only way
Always remembering there ain’t no second prize
There ain’t no second prize”

Summary – Sadly for the Doggies, there ain’t no second prize. They shocked most of the country that cared by making it all the way to the last round of the fight and early on they stopped pulling punches and started dishing out some of their own. They stretched the Demons to their limits and looked to have found a patch of momentum that may possibly have only needed one more goal to cause a boilover. We all know how it goes, if ifs and buts were Pizza Huts, the world would be a Margherita.

Losing key forward and leading goal scorer Josh Bruce a few weeks before finals was a massive blow, as was Alex Keith being in and out of the side with his own injury woes. Luke Beveridge has plenty to work with going forward if they can avoid the same hangover fate as many teams of late after being blown away in a Grand Final – just look at Adelaide, Greater Western Sydney and St. Kilda.

 

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