After waiting over 5 months for the AFL season to begin the scene was set for Richmond and Carlton to make a big splash on Thursday night. As they nervously shook their shoulders and loosed their necks, ready to dive in, a portly little man known as Robbo was seen barging his way through the crowd before running off the 10 metre board to deliver a most massive horsey in the form of a drug testing article. 'The Pies are on pingeeers!', then splash, mass soakings all round. Welcome to AFL 2016!
On Thursday the take out from the Tiger v Blues game was 'oh'. Given the dangers around illicit drug use Carlton might consider changing their club masthead from 'a healthy mind in a healthy body' to 'not that shit'. Some highlights of the game were Griffith sporting a Biggles flying cap, Lambert scaling Everett without oxygen cans, Blues continuously moving the ball forward with handballs into space and Jack's ongoing struggle to smother his berserk Id. I also liked at one point watching two Blues forwards hanging outside the pack as though a stork was going to deliver the ball to them.
At the Dees/GWS game the crowd set the tone early, notably a smattering of greenbelters dressed as umpires. If you were wondering about the demographic of MFC expanding, this display set minds at rest. Soon after the first siren sounded, Dermott was in a sciency mood. After McDonald received a falcon, the ball, we learnt, was 'very pumped up at the start of a game' ergo, much harder (high inflection). It was opportune to be reminded of the oppressive weight of air and when Watts got a corkie, Derm was ready with a personal, medical one-up, the 'cork-on-cork'.
Anyway the Dees looked tough and when Oliver opened his mouth wide an unkind friend of mine suggested it looked like a vagina dentata when in fact it really resembled the Sarlacc Pit and I expected Boba Fett to roll into it at any stage. When things got willing in the 3rd, the Dees crowd channelled the spirit of their spiritual leader Watts and in 100 percent woollen ensembles from Sportscraft flapping in the wind remonstrated wildly, delivering some scorching supermodel sprays. They mightn't feel the Bern down there but love the Bernie Vince who converted an important goal in the 3rd. Hogan's jitterbug style, honed no doubt at Tok H, proved more than effective.
Before the Essendon/Gold Coast affair I had to run my eyes over the Bombers list for familiar names. It read like an English murder mystery cast; Parish, Brown, Gleeson, Langford, Bird, McDonald-Tipungwuti…I won't comment on this game except to say it was as vanilla as Rosa who by any other name tastes like the essence of vanilla. So boring was the game that Woosha developed a glaze over his eyes but soon made a fist of it by drawing a fire-pit on the whiteboard and pushing all the magnets into its hot flaming eye.
swans protesting no good friday footy by crucifying collingwood
— dogs flag 2016 (@LACHLANKANONIUK)March 26, 2016
I was at a party when the Pies/Swans game was on, planning to enjoy it later on. I was jocular and offered drinks to strangers in order to build up early credits which I could steadily whittle down over the course of the evening. When a friend of mine showed me the early scores I blew all my credits at once and had to be escorted away from the balcony. In the Brisbane/West Coast game there would be a touching moment where Christensen was held on the ground by his opponent like Jesus in a Pieta scene. But if that was a Michelangelo moment, watching this game resembled a Hieronymus Bosch painting, with Collingwood players getting poked up the bum with boiled turnips by pig-goblins. Sydney won that battle 22 flayed buttocks to 0.
In the North/Crows game it was hot, tight and explicably boring for outside observers. A contest between a 6-12 versus a 8-14 finishing team. Really should have been called the Ziebell/Sloane Cup – tough and pointless. A garbage game with two zombie teams walking blindly into the swamp - stop me if I'm wrong.
Sunday opened with a Bulldog/Freo bum-paddling which was extremely clarifying. Etihad was no country for old men as the Dogs served up Fremantle's bottoms to themselves. 'Is that my bum?' 'Yes, try some.' Freo were moving the ball like it was a bag of cement and they were running through puddles of glue. So one-sided was the competition early on that the Dogs decided to make a contest of it when Biggs and Hunter tried to out-mark Johannisen and Murphy. Biggs, Murphy and Johanissen could start up a cleaning company, so clean were they mopping up in defence. At one point a commentator suggested the Dockers start tackling but it's hard to do when you can't catch them. The Dogs were too fast and are my sneaky tip for a Grand Final win.
St Kilda made a good account of themselves against Port. Weller looked like Willem Dafoe in Wild at Heart, absolutely bonkers mad. Hickey gave Port one on the dicky although Lobbe-Gobie bliss bomb was reasonably competitive. Riewoldt looks a little off-colour, more alabaster than his usual chalk white. It was competitive until the final quarter but the greatest danger for Hinkley is that his bearded talls split off and form their own micro-brewery.
The Eagles/Lions game threatened to be a boring affair and they didn't disappoint. Actually it was okayish although never tight. When McStay took a screamer with his mouth wide open he completed the weekend's grotesque laughing clown trifecta – the others being Oliver and Weller with their frightful cave mouths. Naitinui and Kennedy dominated the air and Priddis was badger like. Daniel Rich was as hard as Ricky Schroeder in the first half then came into the game.
To round it out the Cats and Hawks. In my humours I felt 3 minutes into the 1st quarter the Cats were going to win this game, but both teams have some players that are just rust now. Mackie for me is tender prey for a mow down and while Selwood pulled two Hawk players together in a double gobbie tackle everyone left disappointed. Hodge looked up the faraway tree. In comparison the Dogs look like they're skating over glass compared to both these teams.
This is going to be the year of living doggishly.
When the game is over the press conference is the perfect opportunity for losing coaches to sulk and for winning coaches to be miserable. Only the best make my votes.
1. John Longmire – subtle boasting about young Swan players killing the Pies 'around the source'. Expertly levelled out by some later soporific observations on the game hich made us forget everything we'd just heard.
2. Nathan Buckley – short and perfunctory. Steaming with physical rage
3. Brendan Bolton – loss with a smile. Struggling to stay miserable at every turn. The anti-Lyon. The anti-every coach in fact.
4. Luke Beveridge – it's only proper that a young coach who belts one of the most revered and successful coaches of the modern era should enter the press pit with a face like a slapped arse -as though he's freshly stepped out of the smoking ruins of central Europe in 1945. A quality coach always has unique observations though and Luke had a few; working in the phone box and within the tardis and some references to Nostradamus being key.
5. Ross Lyon - set the tone early stating this will be 'a sombre press conference, so let's get it started.' And we were straight in with Ross suggesting the Dogs turned up for a street fight while Freo were out for a leisurely Sunday stroll. There was also mention of Freo only getting dirty ball and that not even David Dench could have stopped the Dogs. When a journo suggested run out the Dogs back half was perhaps the problem, Ross interceded 'if I (can) help you here, all their entries and scores come from centre forward… they get it in and lock it in'. There was so muchmoregold-dust from Ross in there, including Zac Dawson traps, that I can't cover it. A full 5 star performance.
If you have any observations about this article or footy in general, hit me up on @The_IronSock on Twitter.