They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Well, that’s what I’m running with anyways.
The Sounding Board podcast does a weekly scorecard where the producer poses various statements, and the two hosts proceed to rate them out of 10 (1 being a harsh disagreement, 10 being in great support) and discuss their reasonings for each rating.
So without further ado, I present to you…
The Mongrel Scorecard
Eddie McGuire’s recent comments referring to the AFL’s impending multi-million dollar lawsuits from more than 30 former players over historical concussion and head injuries as: “a good thing”, were smack-bang on the mark and timely, given that many other major sports around the world, including soccer, boxing, American football, professional wrestling and countless others have already ‘faced the music’ and confronted the legal issue head on, coming out of the proceedings in a better place for past, current and future players alike.
It could be considered “timely” however in general the chronological happenings of these lawsuits have been a long time coming, especially in relation to other sports around the world. There really isn’t any reason to come out any other way than being supportive especially with the proven degenerative factors regarding CTE in particular. The hard part is going to be dealing with historic instances, whereas hopefully, they continue to manage the present and future dealings of concussion. By the same token though, people have to start being honest about what they are dealing with, and stop trying to play through head trauma in particular.
HB Meyers – 5
This is a huge can of worms. I’d like to say this is like a bandaid and the AFL just need to rip it off and get it done, but part of me is very sceptical about some of the claims. We have people who went into footy at other levels, playing in the country for multiple seasons after life in the AFL. Others tried their hand at other physical and violent sport, where blows to the head are commonplace and are making claims that their head injuries occurred during in their time in the AFL. I get it – the league has the coin, and in the cases where the connection is undeniable, then things need to be made right. I’m just not sold we’ve got all the correct ones in the mix just yet.
Let’s get it done, but let’s get it done right.
Trent Adam Shields – 3
Let me firstly state I don’t want to see anyone getting injured, and have serious reservations about my son playing footy as a result of injuries I’ve sustained, however, I am fearful that any major push to sanitise the game would be to the detriment of the spectacle we all love, and secondly any payments made could severely impact the ability of the code to continue.
I’m not meaning to sound heartless, but as to the question posed, it is absolutely not “a good thing”, however necessary and fair.
Matt Passmore- 4
I agree that overall this will be a good thing for the sport (at least the safety of the players, if not the aesthetics). BUT, what isn’t good is that the AFL are setting themselves up to be reactive rather than proactive in how they manage the issue. A multi-million dollar law-suit not only hurts the AFL, but it strong-arms them into fast, radical changes which may not have the outcomes they intend. The AFL needs to be seen to proactively work with doctors and researchers to seek out solutions that fit within the game, while simultaneously coming up with a fair (and probably much cheaper) way to manage the life-long injuries of former players. If the AFL loses control of the narrative, it will work for the past, but the present and future will be too strongly impacted by knee-jerk reactions.
Jimmy Day – 5
This is an interesting one. We need some protections around concussion – as more data becomes available, we see the impact that these injuries have on one’s brain and future lifestyle. There’s also the discussion (well, there should be) around who is libel. AFL is a contact sport and has been since its inception. In contact sports, accidents happen. Should anyone ever injured in a game be able to seek financial compensation? Okay, I know that a hamstring strain is different to a brain injury, but there have been players who have had career-ending injuries that have impacted life post-AFL. Where does it all sit? All for the AFL having a response, but make it considered, and one that is based on evidence and proper planning, rather than a reaction to something someone reports that sounds bad.
JB Eddy – 8
I think concussions are the number one issue with footy going forward.
It’s become part of the conversation around contact sports in general, but I think footy in particular is vulnerable in the worst way, much like the NFL. By that, I mean the sport actively rewards people who put their head at risk.
Boxing, Basketball, MMA, Baseball, etc. are all having concussions become a big issue, but they penalise people who put their head on the line. If you’re a boxer leading with your forehead, you won’t have much chance of winning a round, let alone a match.
Soccer does also incentivise heading the ball, and NRL does sort of encourage people leading with the head in a way, but they are a lot more devoted to the idea that the player putting their head in the way needs to be the one responsible for protecting it.
So, all of that says to me that the AFL rewarding a player putting themselves at risk of concussion with a free kick isn’t protecting them. It’s creating a play style where players are turning into a contest and taking the hit in a vulnerable area to win a kick, when the method of yesteryear was to turn side on to contact and absorb it on the side.
I think these lawsuits are timely, and the AFL has a role to play in reducing the number of concussions, but ultimately every player needs to protect themselves as much as possible, and the clubs need to look out for the players by teaching them to look after themselves when it comes to contact.
I think an in-depth legal case will probably bring in this as the only workable solution. The rules committee, clubs and players all need to take some responsibility in ensuring they stay healthy.
Doc – 6
Eddie’s not particularly wrong with his welcoming approach to the concussion class action lawsuit that’s happening. It’s weird, because I had some sort of similar conversation with my father the other day. Concussions will be a massive sticking point in the years to follow, but sometimes on the field they will be hard to avoid and in football – god knows I’ve had more than my share of head clashes over the years. How clubs treat their players becomes an entirely different kettle of fish. Emma Grant – former AFLW player at the Pies – has recently launched a civil lawsuit against the Pies for how they treated her concussion symptoms, which prompted her into an early retirement. What does Eddie think about that one?
Whilst already undeniably a great of the game, poor conversion in front of goal will see Nat Fyfe’s inevitable move into the forward line to see out the final remaining years of his career as a dampener on the legacy of arguably the greatest ever Dockers player.
I think Fyfe still holds currency around the midfield, however, he can impact forward around stoppages rather than just being a pure forward. For it to work he must be isolated (how Sydney isolate Heeney) but the issue is that he struggled with explosive movements at times and would likely have to play as a true full forward to get maximum effect from this move. The other issue is that Fremantle would be sacrificing a legitimate forward to make this happen. There is only one thing that alters Fyfe’s legacy and that is a premiership medal, being a two time Brownlow medallist as a midfielder I believe automatically excludes any sort of “downfall” as he is playing a secondary role.
Max Ford: 3:
Dampener’s probably too strong a word here. Whilst his goalkicking accuracy demons are well-documented, he’s a dynamic enough player, even in his twilight years, that the rate of scoring shots that he’ll accumulate will compensate for his accuracy. We’ve seen plenty of rather wayward goalkicking from key forwards over the years, with Harry McKay and Buddy two of the higher-end names that come to mind. (I still haven’t gotten over the fact that Buddy kicked 88 behinds in 2008.) Fyfe isn’t the physical beast that the aforementioned lads are/were, but he’ll be a difficult match-up for any defender, and I reckon statlines like 2.2 and 3.3 will become a commonplace sight next to the name N. Fyfe on the stats sheet
HB Meyers – 4
It’s a bit early, given last season he was hobbling around and much less of a player than he was at his peak, but with some pretty decent forward craft in the match sim and practice game, Fyfe has actually looked good as a forward. His leading patterns were well timed, he hit the ball hard, and when the ball hit the deck, he continued to be dangerous – there was actually a fair bit to like. That said, doing it in the preseason and doing it in the home and away season are very different and it may take one niggle to set him back and have the 2022 version of Fyfe reappear. That would not be ideal.
Trent Adam Shields – 2
Crazy take this one, even if Nat fails to kick a goal, and his career peters out as soon as 2023, his legacy as a marauding giant of the game is secure. Two Brownlow medals and numerous other awards, not to mention a highlights package some clubs would be proud of. I for one am backing him to be an absolute menace for defenders comp wide and the streaking Dockers to push deep into the finals.
Matt Passmore – 3
A couple of years ago, I wrote an article which compares the goal kicking accuracy of various players and the total competition from 1970-2020. The data was far from perfect, and Fyfe wasn’t mentioned, but as a guide then, Fyfe’s accuracy was a little under 60% which was just a bit behind most players surveyed, including Martin, Dangerfield and Ablett jr-but all within a whisper, really. So while he had a few poor seasons (particularly recently), simply put, the guy can kick goals as well as the next person and if he kicks 50.40 or even 40.40, I don’t think we’ll be complaining too much (afterall, Kevin Bartlett kicked more behinds than goals for his career and it definitely didn’t tarnish his reputation).
Jimmy Day – 2
Goal kicking accuracy is important for sure, but legacy defining? Everyone is quick to jump on Dangerfield (or Clangerfield as some call him) for his erratic, at times, disposal, yet you don’t hear it of others. Why not? Because it shouldn’t tarnish a career. Fyfe is a dual Brownlow medallist. At his best, he is one of the most dynamic, destructive, and damaging players in the game. The thought that his legacy is impacted by some sometimes wayward kicking is ludicrous.
JB Eddy – 1
If Fyfe retired tomorrow, he will still have a legacy with Freo unmatched by anyone to pull on the jumper—and yes, I include Pavlich in that comparison.
I’d also say that Fyfe’s focus on midfield skills over his career, and the fact he runs his guts out week-in, week-out have hurt his conversion rate. If his job is to play forward and kick goals, he’ll train with that in mind, and spend his petrol tickets accordingly in the game.
I’ve got no hesitation in backing Fyfe to make a forward move work if he shows comparable dedication to it as he has the rest of his career. Until he’s completely broken, Fyfe at 30% is still better than half the players in the league at 100%.
Doc – 1
Hard disagree. We’re pretty quick to dismiss players like Fyfe once they phase into a lesser role on the road to retirement. Whether he plays as a forward, midfielder or as the water boy at Fremantle, he’ll leave behind a legacy that holds him up alongside Matthew Pavlich as one of the best players the Dockers have had at AFL level. Kicking has always been something that has been perceived as a negative to his game, but he’s always made up for it with his toughness, aerial ability and his abilities in his prime to extract the ball and feed it to the outside runners.
Jordan Dawson being named as captain less than 12 months after crossing to Adelaide from Sydney is more of an indictment on the Crow’s lack of internal leadership being built over the past few years than it is a credit to Dawson for his own leadership abilities.
Being a West Australian who doesn’t see many Crows games, I don’t have much to say regarding Dawson purely from a leadership standpoint, and the people that would know the most are stationed behind closed doors. Personally, i believe it’s an interesting move as I thought Rory Laird would have taken the reigns, but time will tell. They do have guys like Tom Doedee, Jordan Butts and Ben Keays that pass the eye test, but Dawson is a bit more experienced. Perhaps the theory is that he is more of a vocalist as he is largely stationed behind the ball, so he can be very directive regarding the team defensive structure (A’La Shannon Hurn)
Max Ford: 4:
I do struggle to think of natural leaders at the Crows, to be honest. Walker, Doedee, Sloane, then who? Joan in the canteen? The leadership stocks are decidedly bare. But… I don’t think that outweighs the impact Dawson has had at the club, from an outside perspective. Players go years and years without ever becoming a member of a club’s leadership group. So for Dawson to progress straight to the captaincy, he must’ve done a great deal of things right. Being able to hit a target on the field, for one. (Joking, joking, as a North fan I’m aware I don’t have a leg to stand on here)
HB Meyers – 3
Ouch! I look at players like Rory Laird, Sam Berry coming through, and Tom Doedee as well. These guys play like leaders, so much so that Doedee was considered a captain-in-waiting for a long time. It is quite possible that Dawson has been so impressive, so well-received, and fit in so well that his selection just became the obvious one. I have to admit, I thought it would be Doedee, but watching Dawson do his work in any role assigned to him by Matthew Nicks, and doing it brilliantly, I can see exactly why the Crows hold him in such high regard.
Trent Adam Shields – 2
Clubs rarely make mistakes with captaincy appointments, notwithstanding Ben Stratton, and any club that ‘selects’ co-captains. Jordan Dawson was a shining light for the underperforming Crows last year, watching their games he often flew the flag when others wouldn’t. That has been seen by the club and players, and instructive the Swans absolutely did not want him to leave.
Matt Passmore- 4
I don’t know if it says much about a lack of leadership at Adelaide, though no one springs to mind when I hear the word- at least not in an obvious way. It doesn’t take long for a natural leader to reveal themselves, and it could be a positive sign for the Crows that they’re a pretty accepting club and players are immediately given the confidence to lead. I think it’s probably a good sign for Dawson, but time will tell.
Jimmy Day – 2
I don’t think it speaks to a leadership issue at all. Sometimes, a player comes along that sets the standards on and off the field – often they are recruited for that reason. Just because they may not be home grown doesn’t mean an issue. Look at the Crows and some of their on-field leaders: Rory Laird, Tom Doedee, Tex Walker (yes, he is an on-field leader), among others. Dawson has clearly won the respect of his peers and the coaching staff. Rather than criticising before a game is played, let’s see if he can match or even surpass his 2022 output. Besides, for fans of the Crom, anyone who kicks a goal after the siren to win a showdown is like a deity right?
JB Eddy – 7
Let’s be honest here, if not for the utterance of one phrase, Tex Walker would likely still be Captain. The players look to him, as do the coaches. Dawson getting the gig is as much about breaking with the fallout from Tex’s fall from grace and how the ‘old guard’ respond to that as it is anything else.
I like Dawson, and he seems the sort of hard-nosed, straight-at-the-contest sort of leader that they need, but it does show that Adelaide has relied too heavily on Tex and those who are staunchly behind him for leadership, and it’s made them brittle.
Doc – 8
I feel that there’s some merit with this. If Dawson was still at the Swans – who stands in as captain? Tom Doedee, Brodie Smith are possible options. I don’t think Tex would want the captaincy back nor the Crows want him to be – but then who do you have that stands out as a leader? I think Rory Laird is someone who is a ‘lead-by-example’ player, but I’m not sure if he’s a player that is warm to the idea of leading 22 blokes every week, and that’s okay – I have never seen myself as a leadership-type of person either, but more of a person that goes to work and does the job and go home. Adelaide’s leadership group for the season is Dawson, Smith, Doedee, Ben Keays and Reilly O’Brien.
One of the greatest conspiracy theories of the 21st century will finally come to a close in Round 4 this season, as twin brothers Harry and Ben will, at long last, take to the field as opponents for the first time since being drafted eight years ago by Carlton and North Melbourne respectively, putting an end to the almost-decade-long conspiracy theory that the two brothers are actually only one person.
If anybody can make this happen, it’s the great man Clarko..
In saying that, odds are they both play and he sends his stud defender to Charlie Curnow- Alistair is a bit of a wanker in doing these type of things.
Max Ford: 1:
Strongly disagree. I’m all aboard on this conspiracy. Barry McKay, as he’s known in some AFL circles, is one person who goes by the names Harry and Ben, and is a supremely talented footballer. He can play at both ends and he can kick on both feet, though he shows a preference for his left if ‘Ben’s’ disposal is anything to go by. I’m expecting a well-timed ‘injury’ or ‘personal reason’ to surface for one of ‘Harry’ or ‘Ben’ on the eve of the North-Carlton match and once again thwart the chance for them to play on each other
HB Meyers – 1
Won’t happen. You see, one of the twins has to be evil – it is the way of things. I learnt it watching The Simpsons and they have a habit of predicting the future very accurately. I suppose my dilemma is working out which one is evil and goes about plotting an injury, illness, pregnancy, or infection to thwart the efforts of the other. My money is on Harry. Ben just seems like the plodding slower twin, happy to go along with whatever Harry says. Harry is evil. Good guys don’t win Coleman Medals – look at Ben Brown.
Ben McKay will miss the clash after Harry drops some laxatives into his breakfast at mum’s house. Beware the evil twin… always.
1- I am going to be so disappointed if this happens. There are very few fun conspiracies in the AFL (or in life generally). I want this one to exist.
Jimmy Day – 0
What do you mean conspiracy? They are the same person right? You’ll never see your absurd statement come to life.
JB Eddy – 0
You think them playing against each other is real? Oh, that’s cute.
It’s all a deception. Harry’s mole moved from one side to the other last season, and Ben suddenly played a game int he forward line the exact week that harry was allegedly in another state?
It’s obviously a result of AI-generated imagery and a function of the New World Order, led by Kevin Nash. Wake up and do your research!
Doc – 0
You wait and see one of them pull out in the days leading up to Round 4. Never been more certain of a conspiracy theory in my life.
Renewing the contract of senior coach Stuart Dew last season was an impetuous and hasty decision from the Suns, re-signing a coach that was little-to-no risk of being poached, without sufficient evidence that the team would further benefit under his tutelage, highlighted by losing four of their next six games after the announcement.
From an insider’s point of view, I’ll let the readers in on a secret from the inner sanctum. Dew has the one thing going for him that every coach needs – the playing group want to play for this man.
Sure, the Suns season went downhill after the announcement of the extension but keep in mind that injuries once again were a factor, especially as the season wore on and players fatigued. King, Weller, Budarick, Powell, Jeffrey, Ballard, Ellis, Davies all missed time in the second half of the season. As Gold Coast fans are well aware of – nobody is “unpoachable” but also it was a showing of commitment to the long term plan.
HB Meyers – 7
It may turn out to be fine, with Dew the first man to lead the Suns to September action, but there was no need to jump so early when the line to recruit Dew was shorter than Caleb Daniel’s dress pants after accidentally putting them in the washing machine with hot water. Having him wait until the end of the year would have been the wise move, particularly with the benefit of hindsight, but if his contract was a foregone conclusion, anyway, I can understand why they pulled the trigger. I would have held out until the target was a little more defined. Might have saved a little bit of coin with that crappy finish, too.
Trent Adam Shields – 10
Absolutely it was, at the time of the reappointment the Suns were still a chance to make finals. Immediately upon Dew’s re-signing, the team undertook one of their famous slumps and fell to the depths of the ladder again. After the season there were more than murmurings of disquiet and players wanting to move, including their biggest fish, Rankine. Nobody wanted Dew, that’s not to say he won’t be a good coach, or wasn’t the right guy, it was just a terrible miscalculation by a team more renowned for those than playing good footy.
Matt Passmore – 9
I strongly agree with this one. While I think he’s a good coach and doing an ok job, I don’t think Dew is a coach who would be hastily chased after by other clubs, and I don’t think he’s doing such a good job that he’s irreplaceable if he does leave. I think it’s important to lock in players and coaches who are standing behind the struggling club, but if he needs an early extension to be there, then by definition, he’s not the person they want. So, given the Suns’ slow but increasing rise in quality as a playing list and club, I’d be making certain he’s getting the absolute most out of his team before signing him on. I have memories of Fremantle locking Lyon in for a 4 year re-build in 2016 and while their extended slump wasn’t entirely his fault (injuries being the main issue), it was clear after 2018 they were stuck and wanting some fresh air and the extension was a bit too quick and for too long. I hope the Gold Coast don’t find themselves in a similar position.
Jimmy Day – 8
Re-signing Dew so early was basically a tick for mediocrity. Happy to compete but ultimately, to fall short. Every year. Sure, the players might like him – but just because you like someone doesn’t suddenly make them good at their job. On the flip side, as someone with a dad bod/built a bit like a truck, it’s always empowering to see Stewie leading the way showing that big guys can actually do alright and it’s okay to smash cheeseburgers at work! (that might just be an assumption but I’m committed to it).
JB Eddy – 9
Yeah, this does sort of feel like getting in early to keep a bloke that no one else was really looking to poach. The only real contenders would be Northorn trying to get a straight flush of ex-Hawthorn coaching staff, and St Kilda staying with the tried-and-true poor decision making and ‘this-time-it’ll-be-different’ mentality.
He’s good enough without being great. It seems that every time there’s been scrutiny, he’s managed to duck and dive out of the way so that blame has fallen on the playing group, assistant coaches or administration. I don’t think too many could do a lot more with what Dew has, but his results are middling at best, and I would think that there has to come a time soon when the bills come due and he won’t have a lot of demand to get him into the big seat at another club. In fact, if an established senior coach put out a presser saying they wanted to coach GC, I don’t think Dew would be seeing out that contract.
Just not Mick Malthouse, please.
Doc – 6
This is a similar situation to the Dogs where they have handed Luke Beveridge a two-year extension before a game was played in 2023. As a Dogs supporter, I’ve aired more than enough grievances with this team over the last 12 months. But with that said, the decision to give him an extension before the season will benefit the team and allow them to focus on the on-field stuff. I think the same with Dew and the Suns. It’s pretty clear with a majority of the younger players re-committing over the past few years that they all buy into the gameplan that he has. But with that, comes the impetus of competing for finals. The Suns showed improvement last year and will continue to improve in 2023. But as we saw with St Kilda and Brett Ratten last year, this game is a ruthless industry and anything less will see the Suns head in a different direction sooner rather than later.
The Blake Acres trade from Fremantle to Carlton last year will go down as one of the greatest trade bargains of all time, both in terms of value for money and a team addressing their key needs at the trade table.
Hard to say so early, as Carlton have an absolute plethora of midfielders (and a massive paper bag of cash hidden somewhere) I’ll reserve judgement until he plays, as the last Docker they acquired hasn’t really set the world on fire… ironically partially the reason this trade occured.
HB Meyers – 7
So much will depend on him getting through the whole season unscathed. The Blues were crying out for a specialist wingman. They played Zac Fisher, Matt Cottrell, Lochie O’Brien, and several others in the role in 2022 and none really excelled. Meanwhile, out west, Blake Acres was having a career-best season. It was as though the penny dropped for Acres at Freo in 2022. Prior to that, he struck me as a someone who was content being an AFL player. He’d run around, grab 16-17 touches and contribute here and there, but that was about it. Last season, his running game went up a level. He worked harder, ran deeper into defence and harder forward. He became an elite wingman. If he can stay healthy, trading a future third-rounder for him is a monumental bargain.
Trent Adam Shields – 8
Freo haven’t put too many steps wrong in recent years, and while this ultimately may not prevent them claiming that elusive silverware, I have no doubt he would have been an integral part of their best 22 in the coming years. Hard decisions, and beguiling decisions are commonplace in the AFL, but it is true you can only play 23 players each week, so perhaps the replacement will have more of an impact. Time will tell.
Matt Passmore- 4
Disagree here. Blake acres was at the Dockers for three seasons, in which he played one of importance and quality for the side. He’s not an irreplaceable player for them, nor is he going to be the player Carlton wants him to be. He’s also not guaranteed to be the player they need him to be. His value to the Blues will be tested in time, but if a player is paid on their replacement value, and the trade value based on the likelihood of drafting an equivalent of better player, I think Carlton have probably paid too much for him and he’ll be a squeeze on their salary cap, but of course- time will tell.
Jimmy Day – 3
One good season, and then you become the biggest trade steal. Is Acres really the difference for the Blues? Does he make a significant difference to their team? Maybe on the odd occasion, but he won’t be more than a footnote in terms of “greatest trade value of all time”.
JB Eddy – 4
Eh… he’s providing value, but there have been plenty of trades that have done the same.
Doc – 5
This is too early to call. On face value, sure – it looks like one of the shrewdest pick-ups over the off-season. Carlton needed someone that can genuinely carry on the wing, and on the back of a career-best season Acres fills that down to a tee and they coughed up very little for him. But there are other variables to consider: Acres’ injury history, other pick-ups from other clubs (Oskar Baker at the Dogs as an example – basically picked up as a delisted free agent) and how they progress throughout the year. But most importantly – does it give the Blues the added wins necessary to break into finals?
This coming season will ultimately prove that Collingwood’s flukish meteoric rise in 2022 was nothing more than an extraordinary statistical anomaly, exposing the Magpies’ current list for its lack of depth and inevitably relegating them back to the bottom half of the ladder.
Collingwood’s season in 2022 was incredible, yet a deeper dive shows me they massively overachieved in terms of their ladder position based on their awesome record in close games. They were something like 9-1 in single digit margin games, yet hypothetically could have been 1-9 just as easily. While people are quick to dismiss % it provided a much truer indicator of their side, purely in the context of them having the 9th best despite finishing in the top four. A massive point to watch is if wunderkind Nick Daicos can work through a tag, as Finn Mcginness got hold of him last week. Collingwood are right around the mark for finals, however their health must once again be perfect.
Max Ford: 2:
They certainly overachieved if one looks at their percentage, but nearly knocking over a team like Geelong in a qualifying final is not an anomaly. This Magpies team is machine-like. These days they probably only have one genuinely star-calibre player, in Darcy Moore, with another prospective star in Nick Daicos, but it’s their chemistry with each other and iron will that will ensure another finals berth. Craig McRae has worked wonders by implementing a philosophy that appears to prioritise the team over the individual at all costs. The Magpies never know when they’re beaten, have a gameplan that every player understands inside and out, and will make the top 8 again. I’m loath as a non-Magpies fan with a brain in his head to say they’ll make the top 4, but with a good injury run, that’s unfortunately also feasible
HB Meyers – 5
I can go either way on it. I know the argument about the close wins being reversed and how that looks – I get it, but it’s not as though the Pies fell into those close contests by accident. They were right there, with some of the best teams in the league – that’s not a fluke. That’s not luck. That is a team that was coming together under a new coach and buying in completely. I worry about their rucks, but that is where my concern ends. If they play the same brand of footy as last year, tweak where they have to, and get the same level of buy in from the players, they should play finals. And once they get there… anything could happen. And almost did last season.
Trent Adam Shields – 3
Collingwood lost two finals to the Grand Finalists by a total of seven points last September, since then they have added 2 quality improvements to their team in Mitchell and McStay. They may not finish in the top 4, but won’t be far away. 2021 was the outlier in their recent history for anyone willing to look back a few years. In Fly they trust!
Matt Passmore- 5
Beware the cornered animal, and the Magpies more than others. I have absolutely no idea whether they’re luckier, fitter, have stouter hearths, or some practised plan of outrunning opponents. I sense whatever it is they have, it must have a limited supply, but this year, if I am playing Collingwood, I am not letting them get within a position where we could find out.
Jimmy Day – 9
Belief goes a long way, as does momentum, and the Pies had both in spades in 2022. Have they made their list stronger? Not hugely. Have teams figured them out? Most likely. Can they do it again? History says no. With the percentage they had, they were a middle of the road team, they either got lucky or made the most of big moments throughout the year. If they are reliant on those moments again, then I don’t think they finish as high as they did in 2022. That said, footy is a wondrous thing and they may just prove me wrong – makes for a fun season.
JB Eddy – 7
Collingwood have an odd place in my heart. I like to see them lose because it drives their fans bonkers, but they have some players I like. I’d happily have a beer with Cox, Howe, Daicos (x2), Sidebottom, Pendlebury, Crisp, Moore, Maynard, Mihocek… hell, I’d even be happy having a pint with Ginnivan as long as it stayed in the bar and didn’t include nose-beers in the dunny. They did get out of gaol a few times last year, but that tells me they work well under pressure too.
But, I kinda want to see the club suffer a little, and I think you can only go to the wall so many times before the dam breaks… or mixed metaphors to that effect anyway.
Plus, the whole off-field drama around Ginnivan, Joffa, Eddie, etc. will be a distraction, not to mention de Goey is almost guaranteed to make some sort of negative headline at some stage.
So yeah, I hope the good blokes do well, but I think there’s still a bit of trouble brewing for them.
Doc – 5
Yes and no. Currently in my drafts of the season predictions (will be on the A3 Footy Podcast next week) I have the Pies missing out on the top eight, but it’s not because of the depth of the side, but more so of the clubs around them – there are about 12 clubs that can just as easily be in the top eight – which makes the idea of season predictions all the more fun. They’ll have a much tougher draw and I think clubs would’ve done their due diligence on them over the off-season, given how many close ones they managed to pull off. On the flipside, these close wins would go such a long way into their ‘on-field winning culture’ and the off-season additions of Mitchell, McStay, Frampton and Bobby Hill can just as easily swing the other way from disrupting what was a good thing and instead become genuine premiership contenders.
Despite a decade of opinions to the contrary, the Swans recruitment of Buddy Franklin has been a massive success for the club, despite not netting Sydney a premiership, the marketability alone of a player such as Franklin has paid back the price of admission of one of the greatest forwards of all time, tenfold.
Swans made the move to get a flag on the wall, and that goal had ultimately failed but they found themselves in amongst the historic career of Bud. The issue is that I believe the more Buddy plays the worse the move looks, as they look to be indebted in playing him at the risk of sacrificing an optimal gameplan and also stunting the development of Logan McDonald and Hayden McLean.
Max Ford: 7
It was a lot of money to throw at one player but Buddy has been every bit as good at Sydney as he was at Hawthorn, even if his goal tally doesn’t indicate that. His name carries an almost-mystical air and there’s absolutely no doubt that he’s converted people into becoming Sydney fans, skyrocketed guernsey sales and brought swathes of people to Sydney games, not to mention the many outrageous performances he’s put in as a Swans player. It’ll be a sad day when he retires, and I’m sure everyone, maybe except for key defenders, will have a lump in their throat and be shedding a tear or two when that day comes.
HB Meyers – 5
I struggle with this one – not because I am downplaying the impact of Franklin on the team, or the benefits his presence have brought to the Swans. I still gauge success for a club by flags. That is why they play. When they talk about Franklin, they will talk about him being a 1000-goal kicker and two-time premiership player. Those words will headline the description of him. The moniker of being one of the most marketable players in the league, with the benefit of hindsight, won’t be held in the same regard as it does right now. The question will always remain – did he win a flag with Sydney? Right now, the answer is no… which is why he is back on the park this season, isn’t it?
Trent Adam Shields – 9
Premierships are incredibly difficult to win, the league is set up for clubs to only salute every 18 years, and therefore make the decider every 9. The Swans have played off in three GFs in Lance’s decade harbourside, the burgeoning membership, merchandise sales, and crowd numbers are testament to his legacy in red and white.
Matt Passmore- 9.
Clubs recruit and pay players not for them to win a premiership individually, but to give the club what is needed to win a premiership: Franklin puts the Swans on the back page, jumpers on the back of school kids, bums on seats and financial security. to the list he brings leadership, experience, and of course a position in the team which he fulfils consistently. The more of those boxes they tick, the more the contract rises- and Franklin has ticked every box much of the time and therefore, has done exactly what he was paid to do. With this in mind, it’s difficult to argue Franklin’s move has been a bad move for the club; He’s been the lead singer and frontman of their band, which has allowed the others the space needed to go about writing the songs. And even if the final crescendo comes after his departure, it will be- at least in part- because of the legacy he’s left behind.
Jimmy Day – 5
I’m on the fence on this one. It all comes down to the metrics you want to define success with. If it’s Premierships, then it’s a bust. If it’s creating iconic moments, and bringing fans and publicity to the Swans in a predominantly NRL market, then it’s a major success. The question is whether he has gone on too long and if it’s to the detriment of the Swans on field. That question, we can’t answer.
JB Eddy – 10
Excluding 2020, he’s averaged just shy of 20 games and almost 60 goals per season. Yes, he did miss 2020 with hamstring and groin issues, and has had a few controversies, but he’s also been the sort of media magnet that plays well in the Sydney region.
Warwick Capper, Tony Lockett, Barry Hall… the Swans love a marketable full forward. So much so they put one in as their head coach.
Sydney’s goal in getting him would have been to improve their on-field performance, sure, but having a bloke in the side that gets kids to put his poster on their wall is no small factor either. And it’s not as if he hasnt given them some highlights over the years—some of his freakish goals and plays get the Swans valuable screen time in the sports media that occasionally reports on things besides the shenanigans of Todd Carney.
And that doesn’t even touch on the coup of getting him when everyone (including the AFL) expected GWS to win the race for his signature.
Buddy has been incredibly important to the team, on and off the field, and I’d wager that GWS are still dirty about it.
Doc – 10
A couple of years ago, I had wrestled with this exact debate on whether or not Franklin to the Swans has been success. In football, we judge these types of ‘needle-moving’ transfers on the back of premiership success. Sydney got to three Grand Finals for no flags, so ultimately, people might say this move hasn’t worked. From an individual sense, Buddy has given so much and has the accolades over the years at Sydney to prove that – from Coleman Medals to All-Australians. And then think about how he’s working with the younger core down there in Sydney – guys like Logan McDonald and Joel Amartey (you’d hope) will have learned a fair bit just from working with him. The key defenders at training would’ve matched up on him and have had a fair understanding about how to take on forwards and be better at their defensive craft. And of course, there is the fact that he put bums on seats. When he arrived at the Swans, the average home crowd attendance jumped from over 29,000 in 2013 to over 32,000 the following season and it hovered between 32,500 and 34,000 up until Covid times. Without winning a flag, Buddy has still done so much for the Swans in his time and to say that his recruitment has been a failure is a bit insulting to say the least.