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Mongrel Q&A - Your Questions Answered

G’day Mongrels - you asked, we’ve answered. Or at least we’ve tried. The Mongrels have been hard at work tackling all of your questions. Hopefully this will give you an understanding of who we are and how we all think differently. It’s a great chance to get to see what makes the individual writers at The Mongrel Punt tick.

Let’s jump right in.

Daniel Jon Kershaw: Can a team currently outside the 8 win the flag?

Julian Russo: Whilst it would be good to see the Dogs make another push for the crown, with Adelaide and Port Adelaide’s run home, I’m unable to see either of them dropping out of the 8. However, if any team currently not in the 8 were to make the finals, I wouldn’t rule them out of Grand Final glory.

HB Meyers: So, who are the possibilities? Essendon? Can’t see that happening. North Melbourne? As great a story as it would be, I don’t think they have the tools to do it. Freo? Too much of a gap between their best and worst, particularly when their worst accounts for just two goals. The Bulldogs… now that is the interesting one. If they handle the Dees, they have some really interesting pieces in place.

Matthew Passmore: North might sneak in. Can't see any others unless another top 8 side has a massive decline in form like Freo has.

Trent Adam Shields: I don’t believe a team outside the 8 can win the 2019 flag, although of those currently not in September calculations, the Bulldogs seem best equipped. They have proven over the past three years however that they are incapable of consistency for any period of time, and I think that will prevent them stringing enough wins together to contend. Furthermore, I think it’s actually only a race in four to win the cup, Geelong and West Coast have flexed their muscle at various times across the first half of the year, while Collingwood have too much firepower for it not to click at some stage, the sleepers are surprisingly the team of the past 24 months, Richmond, who are quietly building a credible challenge on the back of the return of their fleet of tenacious smalls.

Gabriel Rossi: No

Nicholas Sluggett: No. North would be the closest as they have the pieces, but I can’t see them bringing it together.

Sam Marcolin: I’ll break this down into two parts. Can a team outside the 8 play finals? Yes. Essendon are a good chance but need to win against Freo, Port and North to secure their spot. If North beat the Bombers this weekend then they’re a pretty good chance too. The Dogs are on a roll but will need to work overtime to earn their spot. Can any of those sides win the flag? No, probably not. When the Dogs did it in 2016 they won 15 games, which historically has been enough to be a top 4 side. None of the sides outside the 8 will reach that mark.

Jimmy Ayres: Unlikely. The only two teams outside the 8 that I can see just scraping in would be Essendon and North Melbourne. Albeit, highly implausible.

Jason Irvine: I wouldn't think so. The teams in that bracket fluctuate easily, even if they do provide their best footy one week. Can't back away from the genuine contenders already up there

John Beasley: Rate the coaches best to worst and why:

Julian Russo:

  1. Alistair Clarkson - Ability to change games with brilliant moves and adjustments.

  2. Chris Fagan - I just like this bloke, he’s been through the journey with the Lions and is proud of his team each week and gets the best out of his team.

  3. Damian Hardwick - Changed the game a couple of years ago with the Tigers 2017 formula of small pressure players.

  4. Adam Simpson

  5. Luke Beveridge

  6. Nathan Buckley

  7. Ken Hinkley

  8. John Longmire

  9. Don Pyke

  10. Rhyce Shaw - Has looked great as stand in coach and has no reason to be any lower.

  11. David Teague - Similar to Rhyce Shaw, has looked pretty good as coach of the Blues and has revived their season, for now he’s here, but in a month he might be down the bottom.

  12. Stewart Dew - Do the Dew! Great starts to the year and donuts the next 3 months!

  13. Ross Lyon

  14. John Worsfold

  15. Simon Goodwin

  16. Leon Cameron - Was given the team with the most talented list and most potential but haven’t achieved anything.

  17. Alan Richardson - Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

  18. Chris Scott - He’s here because the Cats got outcoached on Saturday night against the Dogs

HB Meyers: You’re killing me, John. Best, I’d say would be Chris Fagan. I have a bit of an old man crush on him – like the uncle that always made sure you were looked after with chocolate and chips when you were a kid. His manner is wonderful, and he has the Lions looking great.

The worst – Whilst I don’t think any of them are terrible now that Bolts has left the premises, with what he has at his disposal, and what he has had in recent years, Leon Cameron has underachieved.

Matthew Passmore: Simpson best, but don't really have enough of an opinion to list them all.

Trent Adam Shields: Worst – Leon Cameron, given the keys to a Ferrari then realised he can’t drive manual. Appears hopelessly out of his depth whenever the opposition adheres to a game plan that is anything other than allowing his talented list of individuals to do as they like. Alan Richardson, endured a bleak period after the sacking of Scott Watters and the transition from a very talented older list to a younger version. Even accounting for that has performed terribly and set the club back a decade, the only reason I can think of as to why he has a job still is the club are not able to pay him out.

Best – Alastair Clarkson, controversial I know as he has never been considered coach of the year, but hear me out – has revolutionised the game multiple times, beating out not only 17 other coaches desperate to win, but the AFL and their never ending supply of new rules designed to stop clubs winning any more than one premiership every eighteen years. Ross Lyon, sure he’s a little eccentric, and yeah ok, he’s been to the “last day in September’ four times without once tasting victory, but there is no doubt he’s a visionary. His teams play a unique, but usually dour style that have achieved everything except ultimate success. In a game of very few new ideas, he is one of the few willing to look outside the box, hasn’t quite worked to date, but I think he’ll make it there one day.    

Gabriel Rossi: Best - Chris Fagan Worst - was Brendon Bolton. In between too hard

Nicholas Sluggett: I am biased but I’ll give my top 5: 1. Clarkson 2. C. Scott 3. Buckley 4. Fagan 5. Beveridge

Sam Marcolin: Top 3 is Fagan, Longmire and Clarkson. Bottom 3 is probably Leon Cameron, Chris Scott and Alan Richardson. The former two have underachieved with genuinely talented lists, while Richardson has struggled to take St Kilda forward

Jimmy Ayres: Top three- 1. Chris Fagan 2. Brad Scott 3. Nathan Buckley. Bottom three- 1. Brendan Bolton 2. Alan Richardson 3. Ross Lyon

Jason Irvine : The best coach for mine has to be Chris Fagan. He has a great list at his disposal and he constructs his gameplan around each individual player, and that's why they're thriving right now. That, and his caring nature. The worst for mine is Leon Cameron. The Giants are always competitive each season but have no results/premierships to show. I doubt GWS will win a premiership with Cameron at the helm, which is surprising given the talent in the squad

Saz Cameron: Most underrated current player?

Julian Russo: Brad Sheppard - top 5 in our Mongrel votes yet I don’t think he’s been in any Brownlow discussion. To be fair, if you’d asked majority of the footy world who the best players on the Eagles were, he wouldn’t be in the top 5. His impact on the game speaks for itself. 

HB Meyers: Hmmm, I reckon some of those who are named underrated are actually really highly rated by some segments of the AFL community. If pressed, I’ll throw out the name Nick Haynes. I never see his name mentioned when elite defenders are discussed, but, and this isn’t to ruffle Eagle feathers by any stretch, I’d have him right there with Brad Sheppard for both game style and impact.

Matthew Passmore: Probably Mundy

Trent Adam Shields: Mitch Robinson - he gained such a reputation as a thuggish firebrand in a previous incarnation as a Carlton player that most people have probably missed the fact he’s quietly turned himself into a genuine star of the competition. A passionate enforcer with sublime skills, able to play any role required of him, shut down mid, marking forward, possession winning goal kicker. His rise to prominence has coincided with the Lions rise up the ladder. Certainly in the conversation for AA honours.

Gabriel Rossi: Jackson Macrae, Phil Davis,  Ed Curnow..  take your pick

Nicholas Sluggett: Dayne Zorko. Doesn’t get the credit he deserves for years of consistent performance. Would be regarded in the game’s elite if he played for a Vic side.

Sam Marcolin: Could pick from any one of a significant number of players. I’m going with Jackson Macrae, who could have easily challenged for the Brownlow last year if he didn’t miss a month.

Jimmy Ayres: Jack Macrae, Brad Crouch, Jack Billings, Mason Redman, Michael Walters. Too many to mention really!

Jason Irvine: Someone who doesn't get a lot of mention is Marcus Bontempelli. He is the leader of the Dogs midfield but with stars aplenty, he is often talked about on par, but he's so much better. A game-winner all across the ground.

Tom Michael: Why is the Gold Coast the black hole for all Australian sporting franchises. Will it ever improve?

Julian Russo: I don’t think it will ever improve unless there is a drastic change. Players don’t go to the Gold Coast to knuckle down and work hard, it’s a vacation spot. The only way for it to improve is if the club were to merge with a team with history and some sort of a fan base to bring something over. Maybe it’s worth sending them to Tassie as an experiment, who would it hurt?

HB Meyers: Short answer is yes, but things need to go right. I read Ricky Nixon on Twitter saying Lukosius wants out of Gold Coast. Now you have to consider the source, but that would be a disaster – they need a crop of young guns who commit to the cause and build the club together, and the first domino fell when Izak Rankine extended his contract – that is what you want to see as a Suns fan. While you lock down the good kids, you  bring in veterans who want to be there and don’t just see it as the AFL retirement home, and you create a community within the club – not just a team.

That said, I reckon they end up losing Ben King. He looked angry when he was drafted there. 

If all they get is more draft picks for the kids coming in, developing and leaving, they are stuck in a cycle where improving is out of the question. They’ll basically be in AFL purgatory, and if that’s their lot in life, why would fans invest in them? There’s an article for Patrons going up tonight about potential targets for the Suns in that 25-27 age group. You don’t need those 30+ guys.

Matthew Passmore: Gold Coast will improve with time, but the media needs to stop hounding their players to leave. They can't have a successful side if they're not given the chance.

Trent Adam Shields: I’m concerned, very concerned that the eight-year trend is a vicious cycle. I heard one punter describe the drafting of the top ranked youngsters as akin to a two-year trip to ‘Schoolies’ before they start their careers at a real club, unfortunately I don’t think this is too far from the truth. For all the good intentions of draftees, unless they are willing to stick it out and build a sustainable winning culture over many hard years, their fortunes won’t change. The only two options that I can see where this team can become a success are: A) The AFL provides more concessions so that they can target and sign quality experienced players and leaders (think Rory Sloane, Jack Viney, Dylan Grimes types) who can guide and develop the youth through their early transition to the AFL and give the club the solid foundation it requires to build from. A merger with an established southern club, bringing with them history, tradition, a fan base. 

Gabriel Rossi: Gold Coast residents aren’t born and bred so have no connection to local sporting teams.

Nicholas Sluggett: It will never improve. The Gold Coast is not really a “home” place. You either retire there or you party there. I think they should rebrand as the Queensland Suns and begin playing more games in Cairns and Townsville, while still having their base on the GC. This will spread their appeal across the whole state.

Sam Marcolin: It’s not a natural sporting hub. The teams who exist or have existed there have all been created in boardrooms rather than with any form of natural birth, for want of a better description. It doesn’t help that GWS received far more draft concessions than the Suns, though.

Jimmy Ayres: Even as a holiday destination, people go for a good time, not a long time. I agree to an extent that not many people are from the Gold Coast, the lack of publicity, media, and ironically the polar opposite of the "Victorian fishbowl" dilemma. 

Jason Irvine: The Gold Coast is a party town and I don't think many people want a sporting fix from the region. I think if someone were to support the Suns after moving interstate, it'd just be for a few games. I also think the GC just lacks a sporting atmosphere. I really do feel for the teams but if keep persisting.

Gavin Schefferle: Who will coach north Melbourne next year?

Julian Russo: I think Rhyce Shaw should keep his job, he’s done very well since he took over and unless they can land Longmire for a good price, I’d be taking Shaw.

HB Meyers: Shaw is making a strong case, but if they can swing Longmire, you know they’re going to bring him home.

Matthew Passmore: If they finish 10th or higher, they'll keep Shaw.

Trent Adam Shields: Despite assurances to the contrary, I still believe John Longmire is the prized catch. There are too many ex-North people in influential roles pulling the strings not to be almost singularly focussed on bringing back a favourite son. And with their recent track record of hunting the biggest of big fish, it would be a massive change of direction not to at least go all out in a blaze of a multi-million dollar long-term deal. 

Gabriel Rossi: Possibly John Longmire or Rhyce Shaw

Nicholas Sluggett: I think Rhys Shaw is looking very likely. It’s old school thinking, but you can’t argue with what he is currently putting forward.

Sam Marcolin: I know they want Longmire, but I genuinely think Rhyce Shaw is the right option. He’s revitalised a playing group that looked tired and uninspired in the first two months of the year.

Jimmy Ayres: Rhyce Shaw or John Longmire. 

Jason Irvine: Rhyce Shaw has already shown a lot in his short stint so I'd put the paper in front of him.

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Andrew Taylor: I think there has been an over flooding crisis in the game this year initiated by the 666 rule. I have seen more games with the entire 50 metre area containing every player than any year ever. Discuss....

Julian Russo: I disagree that it is due to the 6-6-6 rule, the rule was brought in to stop flooding, and the problem is that coaches have found a way through the system to still be able to flood their backline. And why not? I’m not sure of the numbers, but I’d be pretty confident that the stats show that the more players are in the defensive 50, the less likely the opposing team is to score. How to fix it? I don’t know. Restrict players to zones is the only option.

HB Meyers: Rules are made to be broken, or at least manipulated. The AFL and their various committees have the best intentions, but unless there is an incentive to score highly, even in defeat, the coaches will coach to keep opposition scores low, even if that means their own score is as well. I’m not sure flooding has increased, but the coaches run the game and the way it’s played - the AFL can’t change things unless coaches are on board with it.

Matthew Passmore: Disagree. Flooding has been around since the mid-90s. Coaches will always use it as a strategy to take space away from forwards.

Trent Adam Shields: I don’t think it has been worse in 2019 than the past few years, the 6-6-6 change might have made it look more dramatic due to players being forced to line up in formation at centre bounce stoppages though. It’s generally considered that sophisticated coaching has nullified the expected outcomes, and this is the long-term solution as well, someone soon will become the new Geelong wining contested ball and sling shotting through the middle, or the next Hawthorn, sweating on the opposition to turn the ball over in dangerous positions before using exquisite skills to set up scoring opportunities, or the next Collingwood working as a finely tuned mass of players running the ball forward, or the next Richmond harassing the ball carriers until they lose possession and then capitalising with extreme speed and fitness.  

Gabriel Rossi: 6-6-6 rule only alleviates congestion from a centre bounce.  The rest of the time it’s the way it has been for 20 years

Nicholas Sluggett: I don’t think flooding has increased more this year. It has been as prevalent for a long time. I think more people are noticing because of the 6-6-6 rule forcing players to reset after a goal and seeing them in a resemblance of what the game used to look like. I believe that the game should continue to look at ways to return to the more individualised game styles of the past and less on 18-man zone defences inside a 60-metre radius. 

Sam Marcolin: I think that’s just a perception thing to be honest. Probably only noticed that because of the implementation of the 666 rule.

Jimmy Ayres: 6-6-6 rule has definitely sped up starts. I disagree about flooding, being a regularly used tactic for the past 25 odd years I don't think this rule has made it any worse. Apart from zoning or less players on the field, in the current game there's not much that they can do about the on-ball congestion.

Jason Irvine: Regardless of the rule, after the bounce, players can still get out the back and flood. It's just about that clearance. I still think there's congestion around the ball in play, which is fine, I don't want to see rules saying X amount of players around this stoppage. Defence wins games and if the flooding is still happening, to win a game, I don't mind.

Louise Rowe: Could Chris Judd coach Carlton?

Julian Russo: He could, but he won’t and shouldn’t. His focus is administration and he’s a smart guy, so he’d see the job security there, compared to coaching the Blues.

HB Meyers: Yep, and he could walk on water, but I don’t think he wants to…his feet would get wet! Judd won’t coach anywhere. He’s made a nice little career for himself after playing – coaching isn’t on his radar. Would need some time as an assistant first.

Matthew Passmore: Judd could, but no one should be given a head coach contract unless they've been an assistant- preferably at a couple of clubs.

Trent Adam Shields: No, I don’t think it’s in his personality to be a coach, some might suggest he’s too smart to put himself in an unwinnable position. The old adage that there are only two types of coach, those who have been sacked, and those who haven’t yet been sacked. Juddy to me probably presents more like a Dermott Brereton, Garry Lyon type who will steer clear of the coaching fire in preference of a media/backroom role. 

Gabriel Rossi: No

Nicholas Sluggett: No. Judd is going down the administration path. I think it’s more likely that one day he becomes President.

Sam Marcolin: He could, in theory, but I don’t think he will. They want an experienced head coach like a Voss, I think.

Jimmy Ayres: Eventually it's possible. Not until he's done a proper apprenticeship under a senior coach. 

Jason Irvine: He's got a great brain, but no. Find someone who can have an immediate impact and can get guaranteed results. It'll feel like another rebuild coach-wise getting someone who hasn't coached before, although captaincy would be a direct link to knowing what it would feel like.

Gordon Thompson: Why has Freo not sacked Ross Lyon yet?

Julian Russo: I don’t understand the criticism that Ross Lyon gets, I’d say that he’s met expectations every season, it’s just that he hasn’t has a list to take them to the next level. He had things going well this year before injuries rendered them useless. 

HB Meyers: I wasn’t a fan of the way he left St Kilda with a list on the verge of a huge downfall – I reckon that sours opinion of him overall. But as far as coaching acumen, I think he is one of the best. Who do you replace him with? Unless you have someone selected, and basically ready to go, I think he’s still the man for Freo. Until next year. Contract year, I believe?

Matthew Passmore: Coaches are hard to sack and clubs don't tend to act impulsively after a bad loss. A few weeks ago, he was clearly meeting expectations.

Trent Adam Shields: Refer above, Ross is an innovator, a teacher, a fiercely protective mentor, and a complete eccentric. He may just be the modern day Buzz Aldrin, ‘second comes right after first’ – at least he’s walked on the moon!  

Gabriel Rossi: Probably too expensive to pay him out.  I don’t expect him to get a new contract

Nicholas Sluggett: I think it is partly a money decision. But also, better the devil you know. Why sack a coach who has proven himself of taking multiple teams deep into September, or an untried coach who may cost you a similar amount?

Sam Marcolin: I’d say mostly because he’s still contracted to the end of next year and they’d have to pay a significant amount to get rid of him now. Keep in mind three weeks ago Freo looked like a potential top four side. 

Jimmy Ayres: No idea. Many would say that if he was at a Victorian club he would've been gone seasons ago. 

Jason Irvine: Short answer, no idea. He, to me, has been worse than Scott and Bolton. Fremantle need to look at the list, Lyon is only working from that. Similar to Bolton I guess.

Marj Laird: Can the Bulldogs make the eight?

Julian Russo: It would take some bad losses from some good teams, but I’d love to see them there.

HB Meyers: Marj, I hope so! If there is one team that plays a brand of footy that can trouble the ultra-defensive teams, it’s the Dogs. And it’s a brand of footy that’s great to watch. I worry about the ruck if you run into Grundy in the finals (if Collingwood make it – haha) but when that midfield clicks, the Dogs look spectacular. 

I love what Naughton is doing, and the support from guys like Lloyd up forward and Lipinski drifting through the middle has added to the team. Look, I think it’s unlikely, but if it happened, I’d be stoked. I don’t think there are a lot of teams who would like to run into a healthy Dogs team in the first week of the finals.

Matthew Passmore: Bulldogs unlikely to make the 8. Too inconsistent.

Trent Adam Shields: No, refer above. They are too inconsistent to make a concerted run of wins that would see them finish in the finals. 

Gabriel Rossi: Bulldogs could make the 8 but a tough draw means they would deserve to be there if they won 5-6 of their last 8.

Nicholas Sluggett: On recent form, of course they can. Couple of big wins in the last 2 weeks. Just hope that the loss to Gold Coast earlier in the year doesn’t come back to haunt them later this year.

Sam Marcolin: Short answer yes. They’ll have to earn it though, most likely by beating at least two of the Lions away, the Giants 

Jimmy Ayres: Not this season, left their current run too late unfortunately. 

Jason Irvine: Absolutely! They're exciting, got a stacked midfield, their forward line is crafty with Naughton and Lloyd, and Daniel is able to hold his own down back. Their versatility could hurt them but the win over Geelong showed that they can be a threat.

Christine Sheedy: Why do supporters always blame umpires for a loss?

Julian Russo: Fans don’t want to discredit their own team or admit that the other team was better, the easiest option is the team that can’t defend themselves, the umpires.

HB Meyers: Truthfully, they’re the easiest targets, but when you have a situation like Anzac Day this season, and the umps tick off these decisions… it makes it hard to stomach. I’m a big believer that things tend to even out, but I can understand the frustration of the supporters when the umpiring fraternity do not put their hand up when they make a mistake.

Matthew Passmore: Umpires are easy to blame because you don't want to take it out on your own players or admit the opposition is better.

Trent Adam Shields: Simply because they don’t want to afford the opposition any credit, nor do they want to apportion blame on their own heroes. It’s far easier to pour culpability on the party no one loves or cares about. 

Gabriel Rossi: Supporters only see the poor decisions that go against them as opposed to the ones that favour their team

Nicholas Sluggett: This is an interesting one. I know I even do this sometimes. I guess it’s because umpires are often in control (and the deciding factor) of the 50/50 contested situations in a game which often lead to an infringement to one team. This then means they gain control of the game, where it was possible for the other team. Hence, the moments are focused on, and therefore, so are the umpires. 

Sam Marcolin: Easy targets. Hard to criticise players for specific instances in games that may have resulted in losses when the free kick count is so readily accessible.

Jimmy Ayres: Easy target. If they decide to lay blame they can only blame their own players/coaching staff or the umpires. Seeing as though the umpire makes calls for/against them; they're an easy target. 

Jason Irvine: It's easier to pinpoint a critical decision from an official than any one player from your team. When you're at a game your team is competing in, it's a subjective view and you'll get angry more easily. The umpires aren't the ones taking on a tackler, aren't the ones giving players nudges off the ball, or holding the jumper of another player. They're adjudicating an intense game, so we should give them a bit of leverage. Except when all the players stand around, looking lost.

Damian E: As Carlton creep up the ladder, how can I get rid of my fear of heights?

Julian Russo: I’d recommend some intense therapy, but by the time you’re out of that they’ll be back down the bottom!

HB Meyers: Don’t count your chickens. You’re due to turn it around, but two injuries and your team will be rocketing downwards again. Time that surge need a lot to go right, and Carlton needs everything to go right. Cripps and Docherty healthy, Charlie Curnow never, ever again playing like he did in the first half of the season, and the kids taking significant steps… if that all happens, the Blues improve, but how much of it comes down to guys like Dow, O’Brien, Polson, Petrevski-Seton being more than one way runners?

Matthew Passmore: Don't get used to it. It's Carlton. They'll resume their usual position soon.

Trent Adam Shields: Haha, it’s a long, long time between drinks - Carlton (along with Nth Melb) now equally hold one of the least desired records in sport, the longest time without a GF appearance. There is still a long way to go before that record is expunged, and perhaps a good starting point would be to instruct the players to try like they are 30 points down from the first bounce. 

Gabriel Rossi: Don’t worry.  It’ll be a while before your fear of heights will be a problem

Nicholas Sluggett: I try this in a couple ways. I keep looking up and focusing on where I’m going. Or I look down and think about how far I’ve come. Either way, don’t close your eyes (or blink in some cases) or you’ll miss the ride.

Sam Marcolin: Therapy, and soon. On the evidence of the last month they’ll be big improvers in 2020.

Jimmy Ayres: Baby steps mate, baby steps. One rung at a time.

Jason Irvine: One rebuild at a time. Let's say you're painting the side of your house, you're rebuilding, or rebranding your house, that's all the Blues are doing. Just be prepared for the ladder to fall so have someone spotting you. Someone who can hold you up, like Patrick Cripps.

Nick John: Is there any end in sight (past 2057) to the MCG’s monopoly on hosting the grand final? What needs to change for other states to be able to host?

Julian Russo: No, and there shouldn’t be. Simply put, 10 teams in Victoria means that there is a higher chance that a home fan will get to watch their team in the Grand Final and engage in Grand Final related activities like the footy festival or going to the parade or buying merchandise to support your team around the city. Moving the game interstate would mean the AFL loses a lot of money. 

HB Meyers: At the risk of being unpopular, Western Australia had the perfect opportunity to build a stadium to rival the MCG and stake a genuine claim. Instead, they built a stadium that holds 60% of what the ‘G holds.

The AFL love that 100K mark for Grand Final crowds. They love it. And the MCG is basically the only place they’re going to get it. I’m all for giving other states a shot, but at the moment, hosting the Grand Final is a bit of a Field of Dreams. 

A bit has to go back on planning from South Australia and Western Australia here- if you build it, the Grand Final will come.

Matthew Passmore: Probably need the AFL to remember that tradition is just peer pressure from dead people. Won't happen.

Trent Adam Shields: I’m personally open to the idea of considering other locations, hell I loved the 1991 GF at Waverley. There are two significant problems though, no other venue in Australia is capable of hosting the type of crowd numbers the AFL require and secondly I’m fairly sure the contract with the MCC is binding. 

Gabriel Rossi: By 2057, if there isn’t a venue equal to the MCG in both quality and capacity, then no.

Nicholas Sluggett: Probably not. Every time the MCG is upgraded the MCC will bargain for more Grand Finals to be locked in. The AFL currently does not have a viable competitive stadium elsewhere in the country (You need more than 80,000 seats to host the game).

Sam Marcolin: They need to build a 100000 seat stadium. It’s surprising to me that Perth didn’t do that. Adelaide has character but I can’t see the AFL having the potential attendance. I understand the gripes from non-Victorians, but at the end of the day the MCG is the premier stadium in the country.

Jimmy Ayres: Seems as though the common argument going around is ground capacity. Should another state build a higher capacity ground they'd have the jumped the first major hurdle. 

Jason Irvine: A bigger ground. I don't think we'll see it for quite some time. Perth and Adelaide have all got new stadiums so there's no rush to build another! Those are the two logical states, unless you were to turn ANZ Stadium into a proper AFL-standard venue, but that's not going to happen. The MCG is the greatest footy venue, keep it there.

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Brett Hender: Why do current stadium management around the country think it's a good idea to kill the vibe of a game by playing stupidly loud fm radio music right up until the bounce and between goals?

Julian Russo: I don’t like it, but I get it. Kids love hearing a song or something they can relate to while at the footy and will sing along after each goal and have fun with it. I personally love how Carlton have an ad for Barkley Smokehouse’s Grandmother Ham after kicking a goal and if I can get excited for that, anyone can get excited for anything.

HB Meyers: Watch any US-Sports? I do, as do thousands of others, including plenty of kids/teens. Sadly, you and I probably aren’t who the game is being marketed to now. The AFL is looking to secure the future with this gimmicky shit. Not us… we’re already on board. My daughter might like a bit of Taylor Swift played… and screw you guys, I like some of her music too!

Matthew Passmore: Agree. The music can be loud and annoying but done well it adds to the spectacle.

Trent Adam Shields: I’d suggest that this is as much the clubs influence as much as the venue operators. The evil rise of ‘fan engagement’ has become an omnipresent force at grounds, LED signage, musical countdowns, ridiculous social media competitions, and primary school fete calibre pre-game and quarter time entertainment are quickly engulfing the game as the most important part of the competition.  

Gabriel Rossi: Some probably like it.  

Nicholas Sluggett: It’s an Americanism. Just another glorious take-off our cousins from the north. Management fail to realise that we don’t need it as our game is actually entertaining enough on its own. Although I always love listening to the intro of “Lose Yourself” at the MCG before a big game.

Sam Marcolin: I don’t know, but I hate it. The no name ground announcers shouting inane nonsense prior to games and at half time is one of my pet hates too. The predisposition to ‘ground experience’ is hard to fathom.

Jimmy Ayres: No idea. I've said it once, and I'll say it again; upbeat rock gets more people going than ridiculous repetitive pop music. 

Jason Irvine: It's popular with the kids. Have the interactions in the quarter breaks, have a particular players playlist playing but don't oversaturate it. I already dislike that the NBL do it.

Matthew Leary: Who has the best core group of players outside the genuine premiership contenders? 

Julian Russo: This is easy for me, the Dogs! Bont, Macrae, Dunkley, Naughton, Daniel and a few more I’m missing, if their bottom six can improve, they could be back in the hunt for a flag next year.

HB Meyers: Love this question. I suppose we immediately rule out the current top eight? If doing so, I love what the Western Bulldogs have to work with at the moment. For all the shit he cops, Tim English has the tools to be a top three ruck in the league. I think Aaron Naughton could end up as the best player from his draft, and what I have seen of Bailey Smith, particularly in the earlier part of the year, was fantastic.

They have a genuine superstar in Bont, great support from Macrae and Dunkley, and whilst I think they’re a Dale Morris-replacement from having a water tight defence, their ability to shut down Geelong on the weekend was impressive. I think they have a heap to work with.

Matthew Passmore: Want to say Freo, but North have a very good list too.

Trent Adam Shields: Fremantle for mine, and I would not have been surprised if they had have made a Brisbane type run up the ladder if not for a horrendous injury run. In Hamling, Pearce, Ryan up back and Taberner, Lobb and McCarthy they have enviable KPP depth, and this is without even considering their young midfield talent, Blakely, Brayshaw, Cerra, then you get to the genuine stars, Hill, Walters and Fyfe.

Gabriel Rossi: On paper, Adelaide should have the best core but there’s something missing at the Crows. Maybe time for a new coach and captain.

Nicholas Sluggett: Melbourne. Don’t know what has happened to them this year, but I really like their core group. I think another pre-season (preferably without a record amount of surgeries) together will do them good.

Sam Marcolin: Maybe one out of the box here, but Carlton’s young core is as good as any in the competition. Melbourne have all the talent in the world but as we know they’ve fallen off a cliff totally this year.

Jimmy Ayres: Brisbane and GWS. 

Jason Irvine: The Dogs. They've found their groove and especially up forward. Boyd's retirement and Schache's woes have held up fine and a first-year Dog is leading their goals. There's talent all around the ground too.

Jason Rowe: Why do people on internet footy forums think it makes their opinion more correct by swearing at and abusing other fans?

Julian Russo: What’s the best way to end an argument? Swear at them until they walk away, it works in person so people think it works online.

HB Meyers: No one slaps you upside the head on the internet

Matthew Passmore: Because the anonymity of the internet means we can speak without filters.

Trent Adam Shields: Squeaky wheel gets the oil, it’s a sad indictment on society and the rise of social platforms that give everyone a voice. Usually it’s a case of those resorting to abuse are not confident in their ability to debate the topic at hand through ignorance or ineptitude. 

Gabriel Rossi: That’s an issue for all of social media, not just AFL forums.

Nicholas Sluggett: People who swear more often, usually can’t find the right words for their argument. It’s also a sign that they actually believe their argument does not have as much weight as yours.

Sam Marcolin: Probably something to do with alphadom and toxic masculinity, really.

Jimmy Ayres: Hiding behind a screen and keyboard has given voice to the once voiceless. They can say what they want due to lack of ramifications.

Jason Irvine: Hiding behind a computer screen where no one may actually know you and can hurl abuse is just one of the ways people get off I guess. Rivalries are great. And it's just another way of putting your opinions out there. Though, the expletives can always be toned down. Maybe the AFL can moderate forums too and ban fans?

Peter Monagle: The AFL has a persistent problem that most games are totally boring until 3/4 time and then for some reason 44 players realise then are playing AFL and start attacking?

Do you have a cure?

Julian Russo: I think this comes down to the coaching, teams play very defensive in the first three quarters while the coaches figure out the other team’s game plan. At three quarter time they implement their new game plan and it is either hit or miss, hence why I think more games are being decided by 20-40 points after only having 40 points between them at three quarter time.

HB Meyers: With the recent influx of rules having little impact, there'd be a few people scratching their heads. Do they throw even more rule changes at the game? Sad fact is that unless the coaches actually want to score more there will less high scoring games.

So what do you do? Implement a bonus point for hitting certain scores in a game? 100 points? An extra point for winning quarters on the score board? Might be a bit drastic, but unless you reward teams and coaches for attacking, defence will rule. 

Have to say, I'm hating these 29-26 half time scores.

Matthew Passmore: Start watching the strategy and enjoy the way the coaches and players manipulate the game. It'll be more interesting from the first minute. The last quarter is often more free flowing because coaches and players take more risks to get a lead.

Trent Adam Shields: Gil’s grand plan for AFL… “hey that Basketball game is pretty exciting, games are always high scoring and close, surely the fans must love it. If I can make AFL like that, maybe they’ll love me too!”

There is only one cure, a talented coach with the players at his disposal to execute a positive game plan that can beat every other coaches negative one.

Gabriel Rossi: Less interchange should fix that.

Nicholas Sluggett: I am a firm supporter of bonus points for reaching 100pts. I know there issues about weather vs playing at Marvel, but they can be overcome. Wet weather footy can also be high scoring if teams played for it. This game is controlled by the coaches and unless they have an actual reason to aim for more scoring the situation will not improve.

Sam Marcolin: Halve interchanges. Even then I’m not sure it would solve the issue. I think most coaches want their team to be in touch at three quarter time, instead of the game being out of reach heading into the last.

Jimmy Ayres: Still undecided on the matter, but the idea of awarding bonus points to high scoring teams (Or something along those lines) is a debate that I would entertain.

Jason Irvine: I've seen talks for bonus points, but I'm not sure I like the idea. Most times though it is at least a contest, until one team fires up. There are other reasons why a team is just terrible on the day, but it's also just footy, in such a flowing game.

Matt Cheshire: I'm 45, a long time St Kilda member. Am I just feeding a black hole that eventually will relocate to Tassie and will have lost all previous identity?

Julian Russo: I don’t know if they’ll go to Tassie, but if a team if ever to leave the Victorian Union, it’ll be the Saints.

HB Meyers: Mate, I’d love to give you some hope, but I look at the moves you made (Haneberry) and the moves you’re looking at (Draper and Goldstein have been floated) and I wonder what the hell is going on there. You’ve got Rowan Marshall emerging as one of the best young rucks in the game and you’re fishing for another ruck? Isn’t there a bloke named Lewis Pierce hanging around as well? So close in 2010, huh? If you’d won that, I reckon you’d still be relatively content?

Matthew Passmore: Probably

Trent Adam Shields: Don’t read my suggested solution to the Gold Coast’s woes, while the TV networks would be loath to give up their 9-game per week investment, I can’t see Melbourne able to sustain nine teams into the future. St Kilda would be one of those clubs at risk.

Gabriel Rossi: Saints need some fresh blood at board level.

Nicholas Sluggett: Tassie will get a team in 2025. I don’t think it will be the Saints. I lean more towards a new team (Tasmanian Islanders). Therefore you can rest easy that the saints will continue to suck the money out of your pocket into the abyss right where they’ve always been.

Sam Marcolin: I hope not. There are good people at the Saints, but no matter what they try it just never seems to work out.

Jimmy Ayres: Can't see it happening. Also can't see any near-future success, but can’t see them relocating interstate any time soon.

Jason Irvine: No. There will be a team in Tassie at some point, but it won't be an established team. North and Hawthorn already have bases there. The Saints have just had some issues lately and if they can address it, and get a new coach, they'll do fine. Take the start of this season for example, excellent! They also played in a Grand Final this decade so not all is lost.

And that’ll do. We’ll re-open the Mongrel Q&A in a week or so, or when Julian recovers. In the meantime, if you have any further questions, just onto our socials and fire away.

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