Fresh from covering an absolutely unforgettable Gold Coast Commonwealth Games for North Korean State Television, Sports Hack Latcho Drom returns to Fizza HQ to update us on the 2018 AFL Pecking Order.
Adelaide Crows – 9th on the ladder
Adelaide can thank both the Aussie cricket scandal and the Gold Coast Games for diverting the nation’s attention from the Crows’ bizarre, cult-like preseason camp, where players were blindfolded and forced to listen to the Richmond Tigers’ club song for hours on end. However, not even the Guantanamo style weekend could help poor old Crows Captain Tex Walker. Already under the pump after his limp grand final effort, there he was on prime time TV last Friday night, running away from the football, avoiding physical contact, and refusing to tackle his opponent. Not cool man. Really not cool. The man needs a hug, not aural nerve torture.
2. Brisbane Lions – 17th (second last)
Luke Hodge is possibly the only player in the AFL that poor old Tex would have the confidence to play on at the moment. Unfortunately for Brisbane, it hasn’t taken rival coaches long to work out that if you play through the guy on your team who is lucky enough to have Hodgey as his direct opponent, then chances are you’re going to kick a goal. Not that Hodgey has anything to prove, but even Leigh Matthews has to retire eventually.
3. Carlton Blues – 18th (last)
We will have to wait until Round 16 before the Blues take on the Lions in a bottom-of-the-table clash. One lucky team will finally be able to celebrate their first win for the season and the winning coach will be able to talk about “turning the corner.” Speaking of coaches, Blues senior coach Brendon Bolton is unique in the AFL insofar as he is actually an employee of the club, not a contracted professional motivator. Therefore, strictly speaking, Carlton’s seemingly endless losing streak isn’t really his problem. He just works there.
4. Collingwood Magpies – 10th
The Magpies aren’t going too badly so far this year. They have a proper ruckman, and seventeen smaller guys running up and down the ground quickly and passing the ball to each other without spilling it too often. Coach Nathan Buckley should be commended but he won’t be, because the media and the public all have it in for Collingwood, even though Bucks is a nice guy and his players like him. Days of Our Lives, with years still to run.
5. Essendon Bombers – 11th
The Same Olds played really poorly in Rounds 2 and 3, and then they responded last week and defeated Port Adelaide. However, does anyone really care, outside of the St. Albans gangstas and Caroline Springs shopkeepers who barrack for them? It’s like when you see a pasty looking guy in a white Adidas tracksuit and a cap on backwards driving a lowered black BMW limousine, with a few girls obscured by huge dark sunglasses sitting in the back, with horrible music and cigarette butts spewing out the windows, and you think to yourself, “should I report them for littering?” and then you decide, “nah, I can’t be bothered.”
6. Fremantle Dockers – 13th
There is nothing wrong with the Dockers. Fremantle business is good business. They have a good coach, a good captain, and good young players. They have rich sponsors who make lots of money out of oil and gas, and lots of supporters in the Purple Army. They have a new home stadium. They play an honest brand of football and they are improving, slowly but surely. Their song is a bit wacky, but that’s OK. They haven’t won a flag ever, but neither has anyone else lately apart from Hawthorn and possibly Richmond.
7. Geelong Cats – 8th
The much-hyped “Holy Trinity” of Ablett, Selwood, and Dangerfield is already turning out to be a three legged dog. Sadly, the good people of Geelong have a history of believing in things that prove too good to be true. Full credit to the various Pivotonian media and marketing departments, however their pre-season spruiking of the Cats as certain grand finalists already looks somewhat wide of the mark. Then again, at the end of the day, I am not sure it really matters if Gaz plays or not. Isn’t it enough just to have him in the team photo? In which case, can they please also put a ruckman in the team photo?
8. Gold Coast Suns – 14th
Although the Sunnies are only 14th, they are one of eight teams all on eight points, and are only one win off top spot. Such is the tightness of the AFL competition, really tight, just like the exits at the Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony. The Q-Clash against the even more lowly Brisbane Lions is on this coming weekend. Let’s hope the ‘Gabba crowd can hang on longer than the Games’ stadium audience.
9. Greater Western Sydney Giants -1st
Israel Folau’s old club would be breathing a sigh of relief that Izzy is no longer their problem, following his recent tweets that gay people will burn in hell if they don’t stop. It’s not easy to think of a current AFL player who would be stupid enough to express similar views in public, although there are plenty of Adelaide Crows supporters who believe that Tex Walker will burn in hell if he doesn’t start making physical contact with other men.
10. Hawthorn Hawks – 4th
Last year the football world celebrated passing Peak Hawthorn. We all began to relax as “Clarko” and the boys seemingly fell into inevitable decline. Wrong. This year, Clarko and the boys are back already, as anti-social and as unpopular as ever, with a whole new swag of players who play “on the line” as Steve Smith once slavishly put it. Surely, someone will stop the evil Clarko and the evil Jeff Kennett from winning yet another premiership and boring us all to death.
11. Melbourne Demons – 12th
In my pre-season column, I wrote that Melbourne were overrated and I said that they were rubbish. In hindsight, I was probably too generous. Look at their effort against Hawthorn last Sunday. I think it’s now been fifteen years at least since the Dees even played finals.
12. North Melbourne Kangaroos – 7th
Good old North Melbourne, feel good hit of the summer, and seventh on the ladder. Unfortunately for the Kangas, they are a bit like a self-employed person applying for a home loan. They could present five years’ worth of tax invoices and bank statements, and hold twice the deposit of a normal employee, but without those three recent PAYG payslips and a nice letter from HR, no banker is going to take a chance on them.
13. Port Adelaide Power – 5th
The Power are a bit like modern art. They promise a lot and deliver very little. Port President David Koch is a top salesman, and he could really do some damage on the art scene in Sydney. He works there after all, and it must simultaneously frustrate and delight him that he is far more recognisable at the airport than his own football club.
14. Richmond Tigers – 3rd
GIven the traffic jam of teams all stuck in the middle of the table, it will not be easy for third placed Richmond to make it back to their customary ninth position by the end of the season. I really hope they can do it, however Tigers fans may have to prepare themselves for the fact that their team might only finish as low as sixth or seventh, and maybe even only as low as third or fourth. Richmond supporters can probably still take comfort that last year’s premiership was a one off, a flash in the pan, but – a warning – it may not be possible to wrestle back their famous and coveted ninth spot from such a strong field.
15. St. Kilda Saints – 16th
Poor old Sainters. Molly Meldrum has sent out an SOS for Lenny Hayes to come home from the GWS Giants (this has nothing to do with Israel Folau by the way), but Lenny ain’t ready for the big chair at newly franked Moorabbin. Nicks Dal Santo and Reiwoldt don’t want jobs either. I don’t blame them. It’s all too hard. Not even the dual premiership coach Malcolm Blight could last a year there. Incumbent Richo is doing well to have his own car space let alone a contract.
16. Sydney Swans – 6th
Do you like Thai food? Are you an architect? Do you drink organic coffee and drive an Audi? Are you renovating a Victorian terrace in Redfern? Is your investment portfolio well balanced and diversified, with a mature mix of domestic and international equities? Are you married to a personal trainer or to a public relations specialist? Do you read The Weekend Australian?
If you answered “yes” to four or more of these questions, then I would strongly encourage you to consider applying for probationary membership of the Sydney Football Club, if you have not done so already.
17. West Coast Eagles – 2nd
Yes, I know, it says they are second on the latter, but it doesn’t really mean very much at this early stage of the season.
18. Western Bulldogs – 15th
They were down and out the Western Dawgs, and then they beat Essendon, and they nearly beat the Swans, and they showed some real fight, and The Bont went into the ruck, and they might even be back to their old selves, Maybe. Personally, I bear a grudge against any club that nearly beats Sydney. There are no prizes for nearly beating Donald Trump either.