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ROUND 10, 2011 MAY 27-29 $5 (INC. GST)


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features 63 GARY ABLETT

Life has moved on for the former Cats star but this week he crosses paths with his old teammates. BEN COLLINS reports.

9 Which playeris described as messy?

68 DREW PETRIE

Some describe him as a ‘nerd’ but the big Roo is a seriously good player. NICK BOWEN reports.

regulars 4 7 27 55 74 78 80

Backchat The Bounce Matchday Dream Team Answer Man Kids’ Corner NAB AFL Rising Star Richmond’s Reece Conca.

82 Talking Point

72

KEPLER BRADLEY

Reinvented and rejuvenated, the big Docker is having the last laugh.

Alarm bells should have been ringing much earlier for the Saints, says Ted Hopkins.

THIS WEEK’S COVER Gary Ablett and the Gold Coast Suns are gearing up for their first game at Metricon Stadium. COVER PHOTO: STADIUM IMAGE COURTESY OF WATPAC CONSTRUCTION AND DMW CREATIVE

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EDITOR’S LETTER

Bid to revive a fading power

» Port Adelaide has called on

Tiwi trailblazer left an impression

Thank you for the article on David Kantilla ( AFL Record, May ys, 20-22). As Michael Sexton says, the he was truly a trailblazer for the many wonderful Tiwi playerss we have had the pleasure of ars. watching over the last 50 years. twice I only saw him play once or twice as, by the time he joined Southh ate, Adelaide, I had moved interstate, other but, although I supported another WarIIII team, I grew up after World War th’s watching the majority of South’s home matches at Adelaide Oval (its home ground at the time) and whichhitit ndher her invariably lost. My mother and orters two sisters were South supporters een while my grandfather had been a committeeman. ival There is no doubt the arrival Neil of Kantilla and the hiring offNeil rethe the Kerley as captain-coach were laide’s major factors in South Adelaide’s sudden rise from bottom too premier in 1964. Kantilla left such an impression on me that when I arrived in Darwin on my first visit there in 1992 I asked about him, and I was saddened to hear he had died. He stood out for all the right reasons and he deserves to be remembered. ALAN SYMONS, BRISBANE, QLD.

Larger-than-life fi gure

Well done on your tribute to Bob Davis (AFL Record, May 20-22). Bob was a larger-thanlife individual loved by Geelong people and the broader football community. He was never

GENERAL MANAGER, COMMERCIAL OPERATIONS Darren Birch AFL CORPORATE BUSINESS MANAGER Richard Simkiss AFL RECORD MANAGING EDITOR Geoff Slattery AFL RECORD EDITOR Peter Di Sisto

4

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affected affected ff d by b by his hisfame hi ffameand and dalways always l had time for anyone. The game will dearly miss him. LEN JACOBS, GEELONG, VIC.

Lighten up, people

What has the game come to when we feel the need to criticise a player for having a drink with his mates while watching his teammates. Can we take a step back for a minute and please stop taking ourselves so seriously? BELINDA SYMONS, STURT, SA.

Pies feeling the pinch? What a great effort from Collingwood in the last

PRODUCTION EDITOR Michael Lovett WRITERS Nick Bowen, Ashley Browne, Ben Collins, George Farrugia, Katrina Gill, Ted Hopkins, Jason Phelan, Michelangelo Rucci, Peter Ryan, Nathan Schmook, Callum Twomey SUB-EDITORS Gary Hancock, Howard Kotton, Michael Stevens STATISTICIAN Cameron Sinclair CREATIVE DIRECTOR Andrew Hutchison

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quarteragainst quarter against Adelaide Adelaide llastt week, week when when itit booted booted11 11 goals to win. But what happened in the first three quarters? Is this the start of the dreaded premiership hangover? TREVOR CRANDON, THORNBURY, VIC.

HAVE YOUR SAY

The best letter each round nd will receive the 2011 AFL Record Season Guide. Email aflrecordeditor@ slatterymedia.com or write to AFL Record, Slattery Media Group, 140 Harbour Esplanade, Docklands, VIC, 3008.

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supporters to help eradicate its $3 million debt, with $1 million already raised via corporate supporters and former players. Richmond and the Western Bulldogs launched similar campaigns. All three have cited the need to increase spending in their football departments so they can compete with powerful clubs. According to Port, last year it spent $1.5 million less on football operations than the “average” club and some $4 million less than Collingwood. Port has acknowledged the need to transform all aspects of its operations; it recently completed a reunifi cation with the SANFL Port Adelaide Magpies, resulting in significant ongoing savings. And the proposal to play home games at the upgraded Adelaide Oval from 2014 is expected to provide the club with healthy financial returns. The club’s off-field strategy is sound, but the key department it ultimately wants to upgrade – football – appears to be its biggest liability. Port has won just one match and is last on the ladder, second favourite to ‘win’ the wooden spoon. Commentator Tony Shaw described the effort against Fremantle last week as “insipid”, citing lack of application from players. Fans will likely rally to the cause, but to what extent might depend on how the team performs from here on.

NATIONAL SALES MANAGER – SPORT Shane Purss ACCOUNT MANAGERS Kate Hardwick, Callum Senior, Rebecca Whiting ADVERTISING SALES COORDINATOR Laura Mullins (03) 9627 2600 PHOTOGRAPHY Sean Garnsworthy, Michael Willson, Lachlan Cunningham, Tim Terry, Justine Walker, AFL Photos, (03) 9627 2600, aflphotos.com.au

PETER DI SISTO

PRINTED BY PMP Print ADDRESS CORRESPONDENCE TO The Editor, AFL Record, Ground Floor, 140 Harbour Esplanade, Docklands, Victoria, 3008. T: (03) 9627 2600 F: (03) 9627 2650 E: peterd@slatterymedia.com AFL RECORD, VOL. 100, ROUND 10, 2011 Copyright. ACN No. 004 155 211. ISSN 1444-2973, Print Post approved PP320258/00109


Strong sexual references, nudity, coarse language and drug use

IN CINEMAS NOW


8

JOSH KENNEDY

West Coast star joins the rare 10-goal club.

10

BALANCING ACT

Clubs start to adapt to the new substitute rule.

20

FLAG BLUEPRINT

How Gold Coast is building to a premiership window.

I like to think of Australian Football as a great democratiser

Bounce views

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AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou, p15

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THE

Numbers reflect Bulldogs’ malaise

LOST DOGS: The Bulldogs are well down in many key statistics this season, with last week’s 123-point hammering by the Eagles being their fourth-worst loss in history.

NICK BOWEN

B

efore last Sunday’s game against West Coast, the Western Bulldogs’ start to 2011 had not lived up to their status as 2008-10 preliminary fi nalists. But their form hadn’t been that bad either. Yes, they were thrashed by Essendon by 55 points in round one and their only wins had come against the Brisbane Lions, Gold Coast and Richmond. But the Bulldogs’ other three losses had been to 2010 fi nalists Collingwood, Fremantle and the Sydney Swans. The losses to the Dockers (away) and Swans were by a combined margin of 15 points and, although the Magpies eventually beat them by 48 points, the Bulldogs had drawn level with the reigning premier five minutes into the last quarter, only to concede the last eight goals of the game. But you could not put a positive spin on the 123-point thrashing the Eagles handed the Bulldogs – the fourth-worst loss in the club’s history. Certainly, Bulldogs president David Smorgon made no attempt to do so. The day after the match, he wrote to Bulldogs members to apologise on behalf of the players, coaches, administration and board.

“The players are aware they have let you, the club, themselves and the jumper down,” Smorgon wrote. But Smorgon pledged his support for coach Rodney Eade, who comes out of contract at the end of this season, and said the club now had to identify what went wrong against the Eagles and turn it around. So what is wrong with the Bulldogs? Looking at selected key statistics from their 2008-10 preliminary final years with this season is revealing (see table next page). The Bulldogs are averaging 25 points a game less this year than they did in 2008, and 10 points

less than they did last year. Their defence has sprung a leak also, with opposition teams averaging 17 more points against them than they did in 2010. The Bulldogs have noticeably dropped off in other key statistical categories, particularly clearances, uncontested possessions, inside 50s, inside 50s conceded and disposals for each goal. Most damningly, in 2011, they are hitting targets by foot less than any other side in the competition (61.6 per cent of the time), while in overall disposal efficiency they lead just the Swans (16th) and Lions (17th). If these are the symptoms of the Bulldogs’ form slump, what are the causes?

Former Bulldogs captain Luke Darcy told the AFL Record the injury and fitness struggles of key players such as Brian Lake, Barry Hall, Adam Cooney, Ryan Hargrave and Shaun Higgins had hurt the Bulldogs this season. So, too, had the loss of “underrated” running defender Jarrod Harbrow to the Gold Coast. “It’s a fine line. They were beaten by 123 points by West Coast, which for the past three years has struggled to compete with anyone,” he said. “So, it doesn’t take much to go one way or the other. When you’re a good side, if you have one player down in the 22, it can be the difference between winning and losing. If AFL RECORD

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AFL to continue monitoring irregular betting activity on matches. s.

you’ve got four or five down, you can get smashed. “And then it just becomes an issue of the whole playing group’s confidence. When you’re not firing the way you’d planned, it’s easy to fall in a big hole.” Darcy said the Bulldogs’ core group of players headed by Matthew Boyd and Daniel Cross was still performing consistently, but warned it would likely take time for the club to return to form. “There’s a difference between getting players back and getting

them performing at a level that their names suggest,” Darcy said. “There aren’t many players who can hit top gear straight away and play their best footy.” It seems the Bulldogs turned to an old-fashioned ‘punishment’ session last Tuesday in a bid to find their missing spark. Darcy told his Triple M listeners Bulldogs players had been summoned to a 6am beach session and had been told to bring bricks and expect a dip in Port Phillip Bay’s icy waters.

THE WESTERN BULLDOGS: THEN AND NOW Points scored

Points conceded

2008

113.9 (2nd)

2008

96 (7th)

2009

108.1 (1st)

2009

88.2 (6th)

2010

98.8 (3rd)

2010

78.8 (4th)

2011

88.5 (11th)

2011

95.6 (11th)

GOALSPREE 1

Kennedy turns back the clock with rare 10-goal haul

Selected key statistics 2008200920102011 Contested possessions*+4.9 (4th)+6.6 (4th)+8.3 (3rd)+3.5 (6th) Clearances*+3 (3rd)+4.5 (3rd) +5 (1st) -0.2 (10th) Uncontested possessions*+17 (5th)+5.7 (8th)+13.5 (5th)-11.5 (12th) Handball receives131 (7th)155 (3rd)139 (5th)132 (3rd)

T

MICHAEL LOVETT

Disposal efficiency75.3% (7th)74.7% (7th)73.6% (6th)70% (15th)

he 10-goal haul has just about become football’s equivalent of a century in a session in Test cricket: a rare statistic. When West Coast’s Josh Kennedy bagged 10.3 against the Western Bulldogs at Patersons Stadium last Sunday, he became just the eighth individual since 2000 to reach double fi gures.

Kicking efficiency69% (3rd)66.7% (9th)67.4% (5th)61.6% (17th) Tackles50.2 (14th) 60.6 (9th) 61 (16th) 66.6 (9th) Tackles inside 507 (13th)10 (7th)10 (12th)9 (16th) Inside 50s53 (2nd)54 (1st)53 (3rd)49 (13th) Inside 50s against50 (9th)49 (7th)50 (8th)59 (15th) Disposals per goal:22.3 (1st)26.0 (eql 2nd) 27.2 (6th)28.4 (11th) Disposals inside forward 50 per goal:

3.3 (eql 5th) 3.6 (eql 4th) 3.4 (eql 1st)(3.7 eql 4th)

*Average diff erential against opponents; statistics relate to home and away matches. STATISTICS PROVIDED BY CHAMPION DATA.

In all, there have been 12 instances of 10 goals or more in a game since 2000 yet, in the decade 1990-99, there were 69 hauls of 10 or more goals kicked by 21 individuals. Of course, it was a decade dominated by superstar forwards such as Tony Lockett, Jason Dunstall and Gary Ablett snr. Between them, they accounted for 39 of those 69 hauls, with Lockett kicking 19 for St Kilda and later Sydney, Dunstall 12 for Hawthorn and Ablett eight for Geelong. The 1990s also produced occasional 10-goal bags from Collingwood’s Saverio Rocca (five) and Adelaide’s Tony Modra (four) and one-off 10-goal performances from players such as Melbourne’s Garry Lyon, Adelaide’s Scott Hodges, Richmond’s Jeff Hogg and North Melbourne’s Adrian McAdam.

When they’re not playing PLAYER

8

Favourite footy commentator:

Whose autograph did you get et as aa kid? kid?

Greatest non-football ootball ach achievement:

How would your best frie friend describe you?

Em Employee m of the e m month o at KFC

Ta Tall all dork

Co Completing om VCE E

Q Qui Quiet, honest, confident but not arrogantt

James Frawley y Melbourne

Dennis ComettiRobert metti ett Harvey

Kieran Harper rne North Melbourne

Brian Taylor o or

M Matthew R on n Richardson

Sam Butler West Coast

Bruce McAvaneyy

T ra a Geet Tony ModraGetting engagedMessy

Sam Jacobs Adelaide

Brian TaylorMichael Voss

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arrvey

Vo oss

Back-to-back basketball Ba ac premierships pr re

Big friendly giant ant


Fremantle ruckman Aaron Sandilands to miss four weeks with left-foot toe injury.

But the flooding tactics and defensive zones and presses of the 2000s have seen the demise of the 10-goal haul. Scott Cummings kicked two for West Coast in 2000, Fraser Gehrig two for St Kilda (2004 and 2006) and Matthew Lloyd two for Essendon (2001 and 2003), while St Kilda’s Stephen Milne (2005) and Brisbane Lions captain Jonathan Brown (2007) have done it once. Eagle Peter Sumich did it twice (1991 and 1992.) There was a three-year break before Jack Riewoldt kicked 10 for Richmond against West Coast in round 12, 2010, and four weeks later, Eagle Mark LeCras bagged 12 against Essendon. Since 1897, there have been 271 instances of 10 goals or more in a game and 107 individuals, including Kennedy, have kicked 10 or more in a match. A list of every player to have kicked 10 or more goals in a game appears on page 657 of the AFL Record Season Guide 2011. THAT’S ANOTHER ONE: Elated Eagle

Josh Kennedy celebrates his 10-goal haul against the Bulldogs last week.

GOALSPREE 2

Floodgates open in Pies’ great escape

WHAT A CRACKER:

Andrew Krakouer takes flight in Collingwood’s sensational last quarter against the Crows last week.

T

PETER RYAN

ense best describes the atmosphere at Etihad Stadium eight minutes into the last quarter in last weekend’s game between Collingwood and Adelaide, as the Magpies trailed by 23 points. Even a spectacular Andrew Krakouer mark to open the quarter had not swung momentum Collingwood’s way, the Pies battling to fi nd an opening and start to look like a jockey riding the odds-on favourite but stuck two back in a pocket on the fence as they turn. The Magpies’ renewed effort after half-time had only cut the margin by seven points. Doubt had gained the upper hand in the inevitable struggle with belief every competitor competitor takes into a sporting contest. ju a little l Then, in just more than 22 minu utes, Collingwood minutes, kicked 11 goals goa als and an one behind to Adelaide’s one behind to win by 43 points. po oints.The crowd was up and down d like yo-yos seatss as as the t highlights in their seats kept coming comin ng (a Dale Thomas torpedo goal g and a a Krakouer ping a long list) snap topp topping Crow were beaten C and the Crows sub bmiss into submission. The goal barrage becam me th became the highest score Colli Collingwood has kicked d in aa quarter under Malth M Mick Malthouse and the second-highest second--high scoring quarter he has h coached c in his career. coac always career.Th Thee coach, realistic, was wa ashardly ha realistic, joining in celebratiions. “This is not a the celebrations. 43-point victtory, this t is a get out 43-point victory, of jail,” house said. h jail,”Malt Malthouse prom mpte such a What prompted turnaround wasnot w n some turnaround was metaphorica al switch. swi metaphorical Collingwoo d’s m d Collingwood’s midfielders began to cha arge at a the charge clleara clearances, refusing to yield yi possession and using u the fi rst poss possession to put an outside a ou runner in sspace space. It appeared

The crowd was up and down like yo-yos in their seats as the highlights kept coming that any expectation someone else might do the hard work disappeared. Everyone began pitching in. Midfielders ran back as hard as they ran forward. Defenders moved to support in contests and the Magpies outnumbered the Crows at the fall of the ball.

And every kick at goal was accurate, the only behind in the sequence rushed. The display left most everyone shaking their heads as they left the ground, witnesses to something quite special, uncertain however whether the effort was a portent of joy or doom.

Highest score in a quarter by teams coached by Mick Malthouse ROUND 3, 1985

Footscray, 11.4 (70) v Geelong in 4th quarter

ROUND 9, 2011

Collingwood, 11.3 (69) v Adelaide in 4th quarter

ROUND 13, 1991

West Coast, 11.2 (68) v Footscray in 3rd quarter

Highest Collingwood score in a quarter under Mick Malthouse ROUND 9, 2011

11.3 (69) v Adelaide in 4th quarter

ROUND 3, 2001

10.2 (62) v Western Bulldogs in 3rd quarter

ROUND 22, 2006

10.6 (66) v North Melbourne in 4th quarter

ROUND 13, 2009

10.4 (64) v Fremantle in 4th quarter AFL RECORD

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9


Carlton’s Marc Murphy confi rms he is close to signing a new contract with the Blues.

Players are finishing games more fatigued than in recent years when four players were permitted on the bench and, as Adelaide has discovered, it is taking players longer to recover on a week-to-week basis. Last week, the Crows overhauled their training program for the second time in 12 months in a bid to keep pace with – and even get ahead of – KATRINA GILL the changing nature of the game. ome of the many The club has reverted from questions posed by two ‘main’ training sessions the introduction of the a week back to one, and substitute rule were delayed the timing of that answered as early as round one. session by 24 hours to give It took only a quarter of players extra time to recover. football for coaches to deduce “We’ve been monitoring the designated substitute had training and recovery since to be a running-type player round one. We thought the after Sydney Swans utility Mark game would be different (as Seaby failed to have an impact a result of the substitute rule) when subbed into the round one and it is different in terms of game against Melbourne. the physical aspects,” coach In the opposing coach’s box, Neil Craig said. Dean Bailey’s decision to make “The balancing act of recovery Ricky Petterd and being able the Demons’ to train at a substitute was high intensity – viewed as a there’s a real art masterstroke to that. when the “Last year, explosive we went from forward came having one on and had main training three score session to involvements. two shorter Swans coach sessions on a NEIL CRAIG John Longmire Tuesday and explained that a Thursday. fitness concerns This year, over lead ruckman Shane we found that on Tuesdays, Mumford led to his decision to the guys could train but they employ Seaby as the club’s sub. were still a bit sore.” Regardless, no team has used Clubs are also embracing the same tactic since. the idea of using the substitute Clubs also quickly settled role as a means to manage a on late in the third quarter player’s game time. as the preferred time to Last weekend, Collingwood ‘activate’ the substitute player, took the unusual step of making unless injury required the red star forward/midfielder Alan vest be brought out sooner. Didak its substitute player. However, other Didak had an injuryrepercussions of the interrupted pre-season, much-debated rule have taken and teammate Alan Toovey longer to emerge and are still described the decision to being closely monitored by hand Didak the green vest as clubs. Simply, having one less an example of smart player player on the interchange bench management, rather than a increases the physical demands wake-up call from the coach. on the remaining 21 players. Fremantle was also able The emphasis on tackling to limit debutant Tendai and winning contested Mzungu’s game-time against possession has also contributed Port Adelaide by making him to increased physical demands the sub in his fi rst game after this season. a long-term injury.

SUBSTITUTE RULE

Balancing act as clubs adapt to new rule

S

We found that on Tuesdays, the guys could train but they were still sore

10

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DOMINANT: Key forwards such

as Chris Dawes have helped Collingwood lead the way in inside-50 entries this year.

FORWARD PRESSURE

From a curiosity to a barometer of success PETER RYAN

T

he 50m arc was introduced in 1986. It was a curiosity, a line at either end of the ground that helped us better understand the distances players were kicking. Before too long, it became a signpost directing tactical discussion. Soon after, a basis for a statistical measure that often indicates the balance of a game. In 83 per cent of games this season, the team leading the inside-50 count has won. Geelong is the notable exception, having lost the inside-50 count on three occasions (against Fremantle, Hawthorn and Carlton) while still winning each match. This year, the lines denoting the 50m marks are being crossed more often than ever. Champion Data statistics are showing that inside 50s are higher than they have been since 2000, having increased to 52.9 a team each game, up from 50.1 last season and 49.2 in 2009.

The ‘get it in, lock it in and then score’ process is one driver of the increased numbers. Those teams with the forward press working effectively – Collingwood (62.1 inside 50s a game), Essendon (59.7), Carlton (56.3), Geelong (56.1), Hawthorn (55.5) and West Coast (54.9) – have recorded above-average inside-50 counts this year and lead the competition in head-to-head differentials. High inside-50 counts are becoming more common, as teams are good at mopping up the ball when it drips outside 50 and then sweeping it back inside the attacking space. Hawthorn (in round two against Melbourne), North Melbourne (round six against Port Adelaide) and Essendon (round eight against the Brisbane Lions) each recorded 75 inside 50s, the highest counts for the year. (Eight times teams have recorded at least 70 inside 50s in 2011.) The round-two match between Collingwood and North Melbourne saw the teams combine for 126 inside 50s, the highest joint total of the season, which resulted in 199 points being scored. We’ve also seen more long kicking to tall forwards in 2011, increasing the likelihood of the ball entering the forward arc more often. Two of the best exponents of that method,


Richmond defender Dylan Grimes to miss at least three months after surgery on his injured hamstring.

Collingwood and the Eagles, meet this week. The two have lost the inside-50 count only once each this season (against Geelong and Hawthorn respectively) and both recorded losses on those occasions. The Eagles lost to the Sydney Swans and Essendon despite winning the inside-50 count. Scores have increased marginally too, with teams scoring, on average, 93.3 points a game this season, up from 90.9 points in 2010 (home and away) and 92.1 (home and away) in 2009. This 15-goal mark is about the average nowadays, although 100.4 points a game was recorded in the 2008 home and away season, with 103.4 points the average in 2000 when inside 50s were at high levels.

INSIDE 50S Average per team per game 2011 2010 2009

52.9 50.1 49.2

SCORES Average per team, home & away matches 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007

92.7 90.9 92.1 100.4 91.8

UNDER-18 CHAMPIONSHIPS

The best young talent on display JASON PHELAN

T

he 2011 NAB AFL Under-18 Championships start this Sunday with young stars from across the country representing their states and pushing their names in front of AFL talent scouts. The championships, in their 16th year, are the centrepiece of the NAB AFL Rising Stars program. The likes of Vic Metro’s Jonathon Patton, Western Australia’s Stephen Coniglio and South Australian Chad Wingard will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Dyson Heppell, Andrew Gaff and Sam Day in earning All-Australian selection on their way to becoming early-round draft picks. This year’s carnival gets underway at TIO Stadium in Darwin on Sunday when the Northern Territory takes on Western Australia.

The 20 matches of the championships will take place across the next six weeks in seven states and territories with the race for the division one title culminating in a double header on Wednesday, July 6, at Etihad Stadium. The division one finale sees Vic Metro take on Vic Country in the early game with South Australia clashing with Western Australia in a match that will be televised in prime time by Fox Sports. The final matches of division two (Queensland-Tasmania and Northern TerritoryNSW/ACT) will be played at Skilled Stadium the next day. The AFL’s national talent manager Kevin Sheehan is delighted at the prospect of fans from across the country being able to tune in and watch the next crop of AFL stars strut their stuff. “The championships have become the main pathway to the NAB AFL Draft,” Sheehan says. “Last year, there were 80 players drafted on to senior and rookie lists out of the championships, so it has a massive impact on the draft strategies of the 18 AFL clubs.” Vic Country won last year’s division one title and looks set to mount a strong bid to go back-to-back, while Tasmania will be aiming for a second division two trophy in as many years.

MILESTONES ROUND 10

AFL Life Membership (300 total games)

Guy McKenna Gold Coast coach

AFL 200 Club

Michael Gardiner St Kilda

200 Games

Daniel Giansiracusa Western Bulldogs

100 Games

Shannon Byrnes Geelong

KINGS OF THE COUNTRY:

Vic Country took out the 2010 NAB AFL Under-18 Championships.

Joel Macdonald Melbourne

Hamish McIntosh North Melbourne Mark Blake Geelong

50 Games

Dayne Beams Collingwood The list includes those not necessarily selected but on the verge of milestones.

12

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Former Melbourne captain Garry Lyon to deliver keynote y address at inaugural g Norm Smith oration, , at the MCG on June 7.

LOVING TRIBUTE

Friends and foes unite for fitting farewell

I

MICHAEL LOVETT

t was the sort of day made for a funeral. Freezing cold, a biting wind and rain pelting down at all angles. But it didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits and Bob Davis would have been proud that, despite the elements, it was standing room only at his farewell. That was the scene at St Mary of the Angels Basilica in the heart of Geelong on Tuesday as football greats, football lovers, friends, foes and, most importantly, family, gathered to pay their respects to the former Geelong premiership star, coach and media personality who died last Monday week. Davis would have been pleased that Mark Thompson, the man who finally joined him as Geelong’s only living

LAID TO REST:

Geelong players pay their respects to Geelong legend and media personality Bob Davis.

premiership coaches in 2007, sat and chatted with Gary Ablett jnr. Later in the service, mourners were told that, in the spirit of Davis, people should be “nice to each other”. Thompson, now an assistant coach at Essendon after a messy departure from Geelong, and Ablett, now the

Gold Coast Suns’ captain, appeared to heed that advice. They looked anything but two men who were supposedly at loggerheads last year. Lou Richards, Davis’ old adversary from League Teams and World of Sport, was there and given the recognition he

deserves. Sadly, with Davis and Jack Dyer no longer with us, Richards is the last of the trio commonly referred to as “the three wise monkeys”. Members of the Geelong cheer squad rubbed shoulders with past and current stars as Davis’ son Guy, former club president Frank Costa, Geelong media identity Ian Cover and Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu delivered eulogies. Everything you have read about Davis over the past two weeks was told, including what Cover described as “Bobby’s gold medal moment”. As Davis was giving a not-so-kind review of a Brisbane Bears’ game on World of Sport in the late 1980s, he was urged by panel members to “name names”. Using the Record, he went through Brisbane’s list of players in numerical order, calling some players “too small” and “too fat” and, upon reaching the name of former Bear Richard Champion, Davis uttered just three words: “In name only”. It drew the biggest laugh of the service and Bobby would have loved it.

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Richmond to pay tribute to the late Maurice Rioli at a function in Darwin this weekend.

SHARED PASSION

Forget the numbers, our game is about people

I

ANDREW DEMETRIOU

t’s fair to say it has been a big few months for the AFL and Australian Football. Not only have we seen some cracking footy, but we’ve witnessed the dawn of the Gold Coast Suns, who play their first game this week at the new Metricon Stadium. And, of course, just a few weeks ago we announced a landmark broadcast agreement that will change the way the game is watched right across Australia. In thinking about this speech, the temptation was to focus on our broadcast deal and the size of the game. To talk numbers. Yes, more than seven million people attended AFL matches last year. Yes, there are now more than 750,000 people participating in our game and 615,000 people, or one in 36 Australians, are members of AFL clubs. And yes, Australian Football generates nearly $4 billion in economic activity and employs the equivalent of more than 10,000 people. These are all impressive numbers but, at the end of the day, they’re just numbers. They’re not what’s really important about our game. As Collingwood president Eddie McGuire said at the AFL season launch this year, we are all involved in this game because at some stage we fell in love with a team, a player or the game itself. And the game became a part of our life. As the son of migrants growing up in the back of a fi sh ‘n’ chip shop in Coburg, I know exactly what Eddie means. Footy gave my brothers and I – and so many kids from migrant families – a chance to connect with new friends and new opportunities. It gave me a 16

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INTERNATIONAL LEADERS: The captains of the 16 teams that played in the 2008 Australian Football International Cup (back row from left) Jonathan Boyle (Great Britain), Stefan Leyhane (Canada), Donnie Lucero (USA), Fia Too-Too (Samoa), Kamal Abualthom and Uri Kandel (Peace Team), Andrew Congalton (New Zealand), Fredrik Romar (Finland), Mike Finn (Ireland), Trent Depaune (Nauru), Pàll Finnsson (Denmark), Andreas Svensson (Sweden), Alistair Sioni (PNG), Zhao Yong-Gen (China), Mtutuzeli Hlomela (South Africa), Mario Shelton (India) and Michito Sakaki (Japan).

I like to think of Australian Football as a great democratiser ANDREW DEMETRIOU

sense of community. It gave me a sense of belonging. Someone once asked me how I would describe our game. I like to think of Australian Football as a great democratiser. A game for anyone and everyone. A game that is inclusive, accessible and affordable. A game that does not discriminate. Footy is a great meeting place. Every week it brings diverse groups of people together from across the community. People from a range of backgrounds but with a common passion for the game. People don’t come to our game because they want to impose their values on it. They come to our game because of its values. If we are to truly grow our game, we need to constantly hold a mirror to ourselves and make sure we are refl ecting the community around us. Ten per cent of AFL players are now indigenous. While it’s something we can be proud of, it is not enough simply to

have more indigenous people playing our game. As Andrew McLeod said in his address to the United Nations earlier this year, indigenous people must also be represented across the football industry. Represented at board level in AFL clubs and represented in AFL coaching ranks. We have to improve the pathways so indigenous players can have the same opportunities to excel off the field as they do on it. To coach. To administer. To infl uence. To lead. Some see the AFL as simply a sport. Others see it as simply a big business. The reality is that we are, and need to be, more than just a sporting competition or a business. We are also a not-for-profit, community and cultural organisation that must take a leadership role in the community. One of my proudest moments as CEO was the Peace Team playing in the 2008 Australian Football International Cup. Everyone thought it was

a ludicrous idea to bring Palestinians and Israelis together and send them halfway around the world to play a game they’d never heard of. But the Peace Team worked. In fact, it was great success. Muslims, Jews and Christians put aside their differences and came together as one team (see more on the Peace Team on page 18). All sport, whether it is Australian Football, rugby league, rugby union or soccer, not only brings people together and gives them a sense of belonging and connection but also gives them pathways and opportunities. It’s the same with sport in our schools. Just this week we’ve seen another study that found 10 year-olds are finding it harder to do basic exercises like sit ups and even walking up stairs. In my view, this is completely unacceptable. Sport not only promotes physical activity and helps tackle the growing incidence of childhood


Brisbane Lions midďŹ elder Claye Beams ruled out for rest of the season with a stress fracture in his foot.

obesity, it also has important psychological, educational and social beneďŹ ts. But it’s too often neglected in too many schools because of too few teachers and failing facilities. In deciding how to allocate ďŹ nite resources, schools often put sport last. The AFL believes every primary school in Australia should have a specialist physical education teacher so children can enjoy the beneďŹ ts of healthy and active lifestyles from a young age. Instead of trying to appease interest groups by banning soft drinks in school and advertising of fast food, governments should be investing more so children can play sport and develop good habits to take with them through their lives. Investing in programs in schools as well as indigenous, multicultural and women will be a key priority for the AFL as part of our ďŹ ve-year plan to grow the game. This is one of the great beneďŹ ts of our recent broadcast deal. Not only will it deliver better reach across Australia, but the ďŹ nancial return enables us to reinvest into the game to

ensure it remains strong. young men and women who As well as our players make a valuable contribution and clubs, we are committed to beyond the football ďŹ eld. investing in our volunteers, state It’s true that many of these leagues, Auskick, and community programs have been born out of facilities so the game remains acute pain. This was certainly strong at true of both all levels. our racial The AFL also and religious wants to ensure viliďŹ cation supporters policy and our continue to enjoy respect and a world-class responsibility experience program. through access We needed to the very to lift our DEMETRIOU best stadiums. game and we And the game have. remains affordable. And as far as we’ve come, we We want to show our faith still have some way to go to with those people who’ve kept change the attitudes of some faith with us and the game. people, especially towards We will also continue to invest women. in our programs such as respect There will always be critics. and responsibility and better There will always be doubters. education for our players across Sometimes it’s easy to be all levels of the game. distracted by the headlines. Some have questioned why It’s harder to plot a course, we invest in these programs. communicate the case for The reason is simple. A sport change and take the critics with as big as ours cannot shirk its you. But even as we embark on responsibilities to be a leader new challenges like the Gold in the community. Coast and Greater Western Our obligation is to not only Sydney, more challenges produce ďŹ rst-class athletes, but present themselves.

We have to make sure the game remains special

Over the coming decade we must meet the challenges of delivering comfortable, affordable and exciting entertainment in an increasingly crowded market place. How do we engage the growing number of migrants from China and India and attract them to our game? How do we make our game relevant to a 10-year-old Muslim girl? How do we reach our bold target to have one million participants by 2016? To have one million people belong as members of AFL clubs? We have to make sure the game remains just as special for them as it did for us. That its magic never dies. As Eddie McGuire said, we must never forget the joy football brings into the hearts of so many, particularly young boys and girls. If you’re ever in doubt, next time you’re at an AFL game look into the eyes of a young fan next to you. You might just see yourself and remember how you, too, fell in love with the game. THIS IS AN EDITED VERSION OF A SPEECH DEMETRIOU GAVE TO THE NATIONAL PRESS CLUB IN CANBERRA ON WEDNESDAY.

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17


Sydney Swans co-captain Adam Goodes accepts reprimand for tripping, but is still eligible for the Brownlow Medal.

INTERNATIONAL CUP

United by footy, combined team comes in peace

F

ASHLEY BROWNE

ootball’s unlikeliest team is at it again, preparing for its odyssey to Australia for this year’s International Cup. The Peace Team, a combined team that features 13 Israeli and 13 Palestinian players, is again in serious training for the International Cup, which takes place in Sydney and Melbourne later this year.

It takes courage to do what they’re doing BRETT KIRK

As part of his travels to various parts of the world to spread the football gospel and meet the teams which will be visiting Australia in August, former Sydney Swans co-captain Brett Kirk spent

three days in Israel last week to conduct training and to umpire a practice match between the Peace Team and a combined side of Australian expatriates and students spending their gapp year in Israel. The match took place on a converted rugby field outside Tel Aviv, with the expats coming backk late in the match to win by four points. Australia’s Ambassador to Israel, Andrea Faulkner, was among those in attendance. But the foreign game made quite a splash in Israel and Kirk’ss visit even made the front page of The Jerusalem Post , Israel’s influential and only Englishlanguage national newspaper. “Sport, music and art are the universal languages and you don’t really need to be able to communicate to be able to play the game, but it’s the medium that actually brings you togetherr and that’s the wonderful thing about this,” Kirk told The Jerusalem Post after the match. “To think of what’s happening in this country at the moment, these guys, it takes a lot of courage to do what they’re doing. I’m sure they’ve probably got mates who don’t understand why they’re doing it, but the ripple effect can have a huge effect on so many people on so many other levels.” Former Hawthorn champion Robert DiPierdomenico will again coach the Peace Team and will head to Israel and the Palestinian

Umps advised to take wait-and-see approach

» The AFL last week clarifi ed

the application of the advantage rule after an admission that a decision involving Magpie Scott Pendlebury during the round eight Geelong-Collingwood match at the MCG was incorrect. The AFL said the umpire blew time-on too quickly and did not allow Pendlebury to take advantage of a free kick to teammate Cameron Wood. The AFL’s umpires’ manager Jeff Gieschen said the senior umpires had again gone

18

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through the revised 2011 advantage law (it is up to the player to determine if he wants advantage or not) at training last week. “The umpires have been told to wait and observe whether a member of the infringed player’s team elects to either stop immediately upon hearing the whistle to indicate he does not wish to play on, or continue to play in a manner which indicates he is taking the advantage,” Gieschen said.

HEADLINE NEWS: Israeli and Palestinian footballers joining forces was front-page news in The Jerusalem Post last week.

territories next month to step up preparations for the team’s trip to Australia. Henry Jolson QC, a board member at the Western Bulldogs, is the Peace Team ambassador and will be joining DiPierdomenico next month, along with team sponsors, which include Visy, CBA and Intergrated and members of the media. The International Cup starts in Sydney on August 12 and moves to Melbourne for the last few days, with the final to be played

at the MCG on August 27 as a curtain-raiser to the HawthornWestern Bulldogs clash. This will be the fourth International Cup and the fi rst to include a women’s competition. Teams from 24 nations are expected to take part.

Gieschen said the umpires have been instructed to communicate in the following manner:

»

Blow the whistle to indicate a free kick has been awarded. » Communicate which team is to receive the free kick, e.g. “Free kick, Collingwood”. » If a player from that team doesn’t stop or signal he doesn’t want to take the advantage, the umpire will follow up by calling “Advantage. Advantage,” and also indicate this by waving his arm. » If the player from that team elects not to take advantage by immediately stopping or signalling to indicate he wishes

»

not to take advantage, the umpire will ensure the ball is returned to the original recipient of the free kick. The umpire may then, if time permits, clarify the reason for the free kick.


Melbourne midfielder Tom Scully to resume playing after a long lay-off with a knee injury.

BLUEPRINT FOR SUCCESS

Building a list for window to a flag

in the season – that the club should have recruited more experienced players. By stockpiling young talent, the club will have currency to trade for specifi c needs in later years or to gain picks higher up the draft. Otherwise, the club’s best team would have taken the field in its fi rst game this season, a false peak with a likely big slide on the other side. There would also have been a higher probability that it would have eventually been left holding stock with limited value in the marketplace. Of course, the long-term path exposes young players early. However, Clayton was confi dent enough in the coaching, development and conditioning staff to take the bold route and not be too concerned when the results were inconsistent.

HIGH PRAISE: The Suns

have been impressed with the professional approach of Karmichael Hunt, who made the tough decision to swap codes.

PETER RYAN

A

chart mapping outsiders’ assessments of the Gold Coast Suns’ 2011 list would look like rolling hills if someone displayed the predictions, criticisms, comments and prognostications made since it was fi nalised. However, such assessments are of little concern to Suns list manager Scott Clayton, appointed in August of 2008, and his assistant recruiting manager Dom Ambrogio. They have a single-minded focus: each step taken must move the club a step closer to football’s peak, a premiership. For the Suns, that meant taking a long-term view from the moment the new club’s list establishment rules were signed off, and wearing any inevitable short-term pain along the way. “It was obvious it would have been a terrible mistake to just look at our first year in isolation,” Clayton said. “What we’re trying to do is get to a premiership window. We’re not trying to get to 12th on the ladder.” That’s what the best list managers do: simultaneously combine strategy and acute decision-making to keep the club in both development mode and building to a premiership at all times. Clayton, however, had a different task initially: to lay a foundation list opening up, rather than limiting the future. Once the premiership window opens, it will be his team’s job to keep it ajar. A handy way to understand Clayton’s philosophy and challenge is to imagine what underpins the building of a profitable share portfolio: take the long-term view, accumulate as many blue-chip stocks as you can afford, have a mixture of speculative and safe stock and 20

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What we’re trying to do is get to a premiership window SCOTT CLAYTON

keep assessing the shortand long-term prospects of each stock in detail. The detail is critical, with numbers and history determining a blueprint for success. Then the experienced, informed eye makes decisions as necessary. “When it comes to players, it makes individual decisions quite easy when they fit into a larger, bigger plan. Then you just have to pick the right one,” Clayton said. Faced with one major draft pool to pick his blue-chip options (having eight of the fi rst 13 selections in the 2010 NAB AFL Draft), Clayton asked the basic, but critical, question. “How do you

use some of the currency in that draft pool to get into other draft pools to spread your age?” He understood mean age was important to having a balanced list, but meeting such an objective could not come at the cost of talent, so he placed the Suns in a position of having picks at future drafts, trading to recapture other clubs’ compensation picks to activate at a time of the Suns’ choosing. This will fast-track the process. This plan to continually strengthen the list from underneath is the crucial point to understand when it comes to disposing of the argument – heard loudest earlier

“You’ve got to hold your nerve in this caper. If you don’t hold your nerve we should not be doing this. We all understand,” he said. “We know where we are going in our football club. We are united and we will hit some hurdles, but it’s going to be an exciting ride and there will still be many tough days.” Hearing Clayton talk of the club’s mindset in relation to younger players brings to mind a quote attributed to artist Pablo Picasso: “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” Even the most basic maths determined that 484 senior Suns’ games would be ‘available’ in 2011. From there, some planning could take place in relation to the exposure of youngsters in the fi rst season. But the basic philosophy would stay in place: it is necessary to expose the youngsters in order for them to get better.


AFL football operations general manager Adrian Anderson rules out mid-year draft.

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SINGLE-MINED FOCUS:

Every recruiting decision made by list manager Scott Clayton is designed to move the Suns a step closer to a premiership.

It’s the first time (building a list lisst from scratch) has been done in history. We want to do it gloriously SCOTT CLAYTON

The Suns had both an obligation and desire to select Queenslanders, having first dibs on players such as Cairns’ Charlie Dixon and Rockhampton’s Zac Smith, and eventually adding 16 (including former Western Bulldog Jarrod Harbrow) players from the Sunshine State to the list. Clayton said the opportunity the Suns had to play in the TAC Cup in 2009 was important because it gave those talented young Queenslanders a path that was attractive and enticing. Smith and Dixon have been impressive this season. Clayton admitted the only pressure from poor results that might have arisen was if the uncontracted players – sold the story of future success – started to doubt it was possible. Not an issue with this leadership group, said Clayton. They have been, according to him, “super”.

With a list manager’s work never done, Claytonn knows there is a never a finishing line. But on this en occasion he has been there from the start,t,aa deed.. unique position indeed. the He intends to makee the most of it. it’s “It’s the first timeeit’s ry. been done in history. We want to do it gloriously. We wantt to do it well,” he said. “We’ll have toughh surre is is days. One thing forr sure win we’re not going to win hisyear yeearand and the premiership this be with w us, with us, 15 other clubs will be me tough to ough so we will have some otheer days, as will some other w clubs, too, but we know g. We W are where we are going. remiiership trying to get to a premiership window.”

EXPERIENCE: Former Roo Daniel Harris was one of five mature-age recruits selected to provide support for the Suns’ youngsters.

PHOTO: NEWSPIX

The sexiest, most headlinegrabbing part of the rules was the option to recruit 16 uncontracted players, one from each AFL club. In the end – through a combination of choice and assessment of what was possible – the club recruited eight. This was a good result, given only a certain number of players come out of contract in one year, and the Suns had to ‘sell’ the club to those players. “Athletes need to know they can win and we sold it to them on the back of the notion we can put together a premiership (team) and a dynasty,” Clayton said. The number 16 was never a target for two reasons, as recruiting that many would limit the options under the total player payments as youthful talent grew. Even a conservative estimate would see the uncontracted players manage 130 games in the club’s first season. The Suns also drafted five rookies in 2010, along with mature-age recruits Daniel Harris, Michael Coad, Sam Iles and Danny Stanley, who would act as both insurance and the big bodies to support the youngsters through their developing years, making the senior list in 2011. The opportunity to recruit former Brisbane Broncos rugby league star Karmichael Hunt was taken, the professional approach he would bring to the club worth its weight in gold. Clayton’s description of Hunt is glowing. “Around the place he is fantastic, his character, drive and ambition and courage to take the toughest decision ever and keep putting his head up and say ‘OK, hit me’ is really impressive. “Wouldn’t you love that (sort of person) in your group teaching 18-year-olds? He’s enormous to us.” Of course, it is the least anyone would expect given the investment, but Hunt is delivering on and off the ground. Those five have played 26 of a possible 35 games this season, while the uncontracted players have been in 44 of a possible 56. That means 84 games experience have gone into the remaining 35 players on the list (including rookies). Twenty-four players have made their AFL debut with Gold Coast.


Essendon defender Tayte Pears signs two-year contract extension, tying him to the club until the end of 2013.

VALE WALLY MAY

Bombers mourn dual premiership star » Wally May

10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY

Mascot’s memories last a lifetime JASON PHELAN

A

nine-year-old looks around nervously, unsure of his surroundings, but a reassuring figure bends down and asks, “Are you all right, mate?” The setting was the visitors’ race at the MCG, minutes before the 2001 AFL Grand Final, and Matthew Stin, the mascot for the Brisbane Lions that day, looked up at Michael Voss and nodded his head slowly. Stin recalled the encounter recently at a function to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Lions’ fi rst premiership since the merger between Fitzroy and the Bears. He still shakes his head in wonder when he thinks about it. “It has really stuck with me,” he says of the exchange he shared with his childhood hero. “For someone who’s got so much on his mind, to take time out to talk to a nine-year-old kid 24

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CHILDHOOD DREAM: Matthew Stin (above) with Lions stars, from left, Jonathan Brown, Beau McDonald, Martin Pyke and Craig McRae at a function celebrating the 2001 premiership, and right, as mascot, alongside skipper Michael Voss.

and make sure I was OK was pretty amazing. “Then he patted me on the head and steered me out of the race. We hit the grass and the crowd noise was just amazing – it was so loud. We ran through the banner and I was in the middle of all the players. “I got lost behind them pretty quickly after that.” He wandered around on the ground for as long as he could before an official dragged him back to the sideline and his parents, who whisked him away to watch the game. “We were up the back of the stand and a few hundred Brisbane supporters were drowning out thousands of Essendon supporters,” Stin says. “I don’t remember too much of the game, but I do remember jumping on the seat after the final siren. We stayed for the post-match ceremony and I went nuts every time a player’s name was called out.” Voss was unable to attend the recent function at the MCG, but

premiership heroes Jonathan Brown, Martin Pike, Beau McDonald and Craig McRae were on hand to swap stories with supporters and pose for photos. Stin is in his second year of a psychology degree at La Trobe University. Not many of his current classmates know about his experience, but it’s fair to say they wouldn’t be nearly as impressed as his primary school friends were when he arrived with his Lions uniform and a picture signed by Voss. “It all blurred together a bit at the time,” he says. “But I appreciate it a whole lot more now than I did then. How many people can say they’ve done that?”

arrived in Adelaide in 1953 3 – prepared to sitt out the football season to claim his clearance to SANFL club Sturt – as a VFL premiership hero with two flags won at Essendon. He left South Australian football in 1975, having left his mark on the local culture with the line: “Comment Wally May”. It was the line commentator and former SANFL umpire Max Hall would throw to May after every goal was scored on the Channel Nine match of the day in the pioneer days of football telecasts. And ever since, whenever a South Australian makes a memorable remark, it has been met with the line “Comment Wally May”. May died in Adelaide last week. He was 84. May followed his father Charlie (also a premiership hero at Windy Hill) to Essendon, playing 94 VFL games from 1947-52 as a ruckman and tough defender. In the SANFL, he represented Sturt in 54 games from 1954-57, was best and fairest in 1955 and captain-coach in 1956. AFL commissioner and SANFL premiership player and coach Bob Hammond hailed May as a “tough footballer and an outstanding broadcaster”. “We remember two aspects of Wally May,” he said. “A tough footballer, a very good footballer – and an outstanding broadcaster who read and called the game so well. “How can we ever forget that line, ‘Comment Wally May’?” MICHELANGELO RUCCI


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GOLD COAST

SUNS’ GLEAMING NEW HOME

MAIN PHOTO: TO: COURTESY OF WATPAC WATPA AC CONSTRUCTION AND DMW DMW CREATIV CREATIVE E

BOLD AND BRIGHT

The Gold Coast Suns’ vision for a new stadium unlike any other in the country has been realised. ASHLEY BROWNE

T

he first thing to notice about Metricon Stadium, which opens for business this weekend with Gold Coast hosting Geelong, is the red. There is red everywhere. Whereas most AFL stadiums are shared by several tenants and therefore neutral in look and feel, Gold Coast has the new stadium all to itself, hence all the red. “We all love the MCG, but it can be a bit homogenous. There’s not much difference between the look and feel, whether it’s a Collingwood home game or a Melbourne home match,” explained Simon Gorr, the AFL’s manager of stadium development.

“This place is different. We can make it a true home ground for the Suns and we’ve used a bold colour palette, lots of red, but also lots of blue and gold as well.” As the AFL executive charged with overseeing the new stadium, built in partnership with the Queensland State Government and Gold Coast City Council, Gorr and others on the planning team resolved to create a stadium that Suns fans would quickly want to call home. The seats are primarily red; the steel frames that reinforce the grandstands are gold, while red and blue feature prominently everywhere, even in the toilets. Keen to ensure the money invested helped create a worldclass stadium, Gorr travelled to

ss Europe venuess acros across Europe Unitted States and thee United dy some som me of the to study beest in in stadium stadium latest and best pmen nt. development. h had a heap Not that he e. And And d nor nor did did he he have have of time. pared to other stadium – compared opmen nts in recent times developments ap of cash. c – a heap Gorr had n (of which the $145 million ontrib buted $13.3 $13.3 AFL contributed n) to spend s million) and 20 hs to complete co omplete the months 0-seatt stadium. 25,000-seat omparison, By comparison, urne’ss rectangular Melbourne’s rectangular stadiu um, which sports stadium, mpletted just over was completed an nd which a year ago and 0,000 0 people, seats 30,000 $2 250 million. million. came inn at $250


opening of metricon stadium

WORLD CLASS:

Partly based on other venues around the world, Metricon Stadium will be an entertainment centre as much as a sports stadium.

“We came in on time and on deck, a footy tradition unique budget,” Gorr said. to the Gold Coast. That they were able to do Everything else is sparkling so, particularly given the time new. Based on their visits constraints, was quite an overseas to NFL venues such as achievement. The last AFL Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, New game at the old Carrara Meadowlands Stadium in New Stadium was Jersey and more the Richmondintimate soccer Adelaide clash venues in Los on July 4, 2009. Angeles and Demolition Salt Lake City, work, which and given the removed pretty warm weather much any and bright remnant from sunshine on the the days when Gold Coast, Gorr it was the home and the design SIMON GORR of the Brisbane team determined Bears (1987that 75 per 92), started that October. cent of the seats needed to be “It only took them six weeks undercover, a key requirement and a couple of rubbish trucks to that has been delivered. clear the area,” Suns CEO Travis Based on the home of the Auld said, jokingly. “It probably Dallas Cowboys, the new stadium tells you everything you need to boasts a corporate lounge that know about the old stadium.” sits directly above the Gold Old-time Bears diehards Coast dressing rooms and allows won’t recognise the new patrons to watch the team warm stadium. All that remains up for the match ahead. in a physical sense are the The surface area needed to be monstrous light towers similar to the MCG, the template (constructed in 1989) and even most teams building new training they have been refurbished. grounds have tried to follow. In spirit, the new stadium Metricon Stadium comes has brought back the barbecue in at one metre longer than

Hundreds of people had input into how the stadium would be built

60

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the MCG and seven metres narrower. Like the MCG, there is a facility to install drop-in cricket pitches in the event any major cricket matches are played and it can also be re-confi gured with minimum fuss to become a world-class athletics stadium. As such, it is set to become the main stadium if Gold Coast is successful in its bid to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Metricon Stadium is the fi rst AFL venue to be built from the ground up since Colonial (now Etihad) Stadium in 2000. Famously, or perhaps infamously, it was only when that stadium was near completion that it emerged there were no coach’s boxes, which explains why at that venue they sit on respective 50m lines and jut out into the general seating area. According to Gorr, that wasn’t going to be repeated at Carrara. “The coaches and the broadcasters were our two major stakeholders and we consulted with them widely,” he said. The coaches are right on the wing on the fourth level, the broadcasters are right alongside them and reportedly are raving about their facility, ranking them behind only those at the MCG. “In fact, hundreds of people had input into how the stadium would be built and the architects (Populus) and the builders (Watpac) all had some level of knowledge as to what was required,” Gorr said. There is also a signifi cant green element, with a solar halo panel on the inner edge of the stadium roof expected to provide up to 20 per cent of the venue’s energy requirements. It all adds up to delivering a stadium to a satisfied customer. The Suns are the anchor tenant and will manage the facility; they are delighted with what they are taking over. “We had a vision for a stadium that was unlike any other stadium in the country,” Auld said. “We have delivered what the Gold Coast wanted, which was an entertainment precinct as much as a sports stadium. “It has come together wonderfully and it has exceeded all our expectations.”

Next on the agenda 1 CAZALY STADIUM, CAIRNS Further infrastructure to make it suitable for hosting AFL premiership season games. Richmond plays Gold Coast at that venue on July 16. 2 SYDNEY SHOWGROUNDS Redevelopment to make it the new home ground for the Greater Western Giants when they enter the AFL in 2012. 3 ADELAIDE OVAL $530 million redevelopment of the Adelaide Oval has been approved. Adelaide and Port Adelaide to play at the 50,000seat stadium from 2014. 4 PERTH The long-term future of Patersons Stadium is up for discussion between the AFL, the West Australian Football Commission and the West Australian Government. Options include a massive refurbishment, construction of a new stadium at the adjoining Kitchener Park, or a new stadium elsewhere, perhaps shared with cricket. 5 MCG Refurbishment of the Great Southern Stand to start later this year.

Now and then » This week’s AFL Record

features a special cover for Gold Coast’s fi rst game at Metricon Stadium. There was not quite the fanfare when the Brisbane Bears played their fi rst game there in 1987.


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What a great match HOSTPLUS is proud to be the Gold Coast SUNS’ Joint Foundation Partner. And we’re pleased to be supporting the Gold Coast both on the field and off. As the industry super fund for sport, it makes sense for us to support the GC SUNS. We’re also the industry super fund for

7

hospitality, tourism and recreation – three of the Gold Coast’s biggest industries and employers. That’s why we’re a great match for the GC SUNS. To join or find out more, visit hostplus.com.au or call 1300 HOSTPLUS (1300 467 875), 8am – 8pm, Monday to Friday.

The information contained in this material is general information only and is not intended to contain any recommendations, statements of opinion or advice. It does not take into consideration your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should obtain a copy of the HOSTPLUS Product Disclosure Statement and consider the information contained in the Statement before making any decision about whether to acquire an interest in HOSTPLUS. Host-Plus Pty Limited ABN 79 008 634 704, AFSL No. 244392, RSEL No. L0000093, HOSTPLUS Superannuation Fund ABN 68 657 495 890, RSE No. R1000054. INH_0185_03/11_01


Gary Ablett has

Cats on his mind

PHOTO: LACHLAN CUNNINGHAM/AFL PHOTOS

Why the Gold Coast Suns captain is hopeful he will have the last laugh.

P

BEN COLLINS

inning down Gary Ablett jnr for a one-on-one interview can be as diffi cult as trying to pin him in a tackle on the field. In both instances, though, the tackler is well rewarded. Experience has taught the superstar-son-of-a-superstar to be necessarily selective when it comes to such exercises, and it’s largely to do with the fascination us media types have with asking him about, and comparing him with, his father Gary snr. (Sorry, jnr, the old man gets a guernsey here, too.) This reporter has been fortunate enough to go

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63


gary ablett

one-on-one with Ablett twice over the past 16 months, both reasonably extensively, but in vastly different circumstances and settings. Our first interview took place in late January last year and was for an updated edition of The Brownlow (a book produced by the Slattery Media Group that features interviews with all living medallists and the relatives of the deceased). We met in an old media box overlooking sun-bathed Skilled Stadium, where we sat alone and uninterrupted for an enlightening half-hour in which we dissected his Brownlow year of 2009. At the time, speculation was rife about Ablett considering a move to the Gold Coast. I tried to put him at ease by joking that I wouldn’t ask him anything about the lucrative Gold Coast offer. He didn’t smile, respond, or even lift his eyes from the previous edition of The Brownlow I’d brought along for him to peruse. It was our only awkward moment, but an apparent sign that the pressure was mounting. (Of course, the worst-kept secret in football was confi rmed on September 29 when Ablett signed a five-year deal with the Suns.) Another feature of that chat was the glowing tribute Ablett paid to his long-time girlfriend, Nine Network presenter Lauren Phillips, for her support. The next day, the social pages announced their split. Colleagues told me I’d jinxed them. Thankfully, it was a temporary break, and the glamour couple has since reunited. Our second interview took place on Monday. In the lead-up to his first game against his former club, Ablett had done a press conference that morning, believing it would fulfi l his media commitments on the topic for the week. But due to some crossed wires between the AFL Record and the club, Ablett is under the pump. At a moment’s notice early that afternoon, he agrees to an interview for this feature. It’s not a fi ve-minute thing, and he knows it. But the one-time virtual media-recluse understands such duties simply come with the territory of being 64

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LEADER: Gary Ablett has helped

guide Gold Coast to two wins, including an eight-point victory over the Brisbane Lions in round seven.

an AFL captain, especially the inaugural skipper of a new club comprising mainly youngsters in a developing market. As he says later, “Doing an interview on a Monday isn’t going to affect the way I play on a Saturday.” We speak over the phone as he makes his way to, and through, Gold Coast Airport. Within half-an-hour, he’ll be boarding a plane to Melbourne

for the funeral of Geelong legend Bob Davis on Tuesday. We grab a few minutes here and there as he checks in, goes through security and makes his way to the appropriate gate. It’s a dodgy line with minimal mobile service, so we’re working in limited time and space – but, as we’ve learned, that’s when Ablett’s at his best. Our voices drop in and out, requiring the odd question

or answer to be repeated, and at one point the line fails completely and we are cut off, but Ablett remains patient and accommodating. He warmly, and often, refers to his questioner as “mate”, as is his way. However, there’s no time to be casual; he understands the urgency and generally speaks quickly. A seemingly good starting Geelong point is Davis, ‘TheeGeelong ded Ablett as as Flyer’, who regarded


one of his all-time favourites. Davis once conceded that “young Gary” had him covered for football ability, and would also shade him in a foot race, pausing for effect before adding, “You have to understand, I’ve lost a bit of pace over the years!” When news of Davis’ death became official, Ablett tweeted: “Thanks for everything Bobby Davis ... A GFC all-time great!’’ However, in our chat Ablett politely declines an offer to elaborate, “out of respect for the Davis family”. Davis’ Cats have been on Ablett’s mind all week, and probably a lot longer. This weekend, for the first time, he plays against the long-time mates he shared two premierships with. (The encounter also marks the Suns’ first game at Metricon Stadium.) “I’ve been looking forward to it for weeks, mate,” Ablett says. Come on, he must mean months? Surely, he would have circled it on the fi xture as soon as it was announced back in October. “Yeah, OK, I did circle it back then,” he admits, “but you can never look too far ahead.” With the Suns having a bye last week, Ablett has had an extra week to ponder the clash with the former teammates who have been like brothers to him over the past decade, some of whom he remains in close contact. However, the little champ isn’t admitting to any anxiety problems. “I’m actually more excited than nervous,” he says. “We spent virtually every day together for nine years, so we know each other really well. They know my strengths and weaknesses, and vice versa. “We’ll go our hardest and afterwards we’ll all have a laugh about it. And hopefully I’ll be laughing a bit harder than them because it will mean we’ve won. “I’d love nothing better than to give Geelong their fi rst loss of the year. And that’s not being nasty or anything – it would just be a fantastic effort for such a young team like ours to knock off the undefeated, top team that’s the benchmark of the competition with Collingwood.” Ablett says he hasn’t yet re received any phone calls/text

FACT FILE F

9

Gary Ablett

GOOD TIMES: Gary Ablett is enjoying his role as a leader and friend of talented young players such as Brandon Matera.

messages/tweets/emails from Ablett’s deputy Nathan Bock former teammates, but adds played against old club, Adelaide, in an ominous tone, “It’s only at AAMI Stadium a fortnight ago, Monday – they’ll start fi ring up but Ablett says he has not felt the as the week goes on.” need to seek Bock’s counsel. Asked who he expected to “Everybody’s different,” he be the chief trash-talkers, explains. “As much as people Ablett giggled but refused to want to build it up, you need to name names – “I reckon I know treat it as just another game – but who they’ll be, but I’ll keep that a very important game. And it’ll to myself.” be a big day, not just for me but Some for the whole Cats have club at our new said they stadium against will serve it one of the AFL’s up to Ablett best teams.” physically, Ablett enters but the man the clash in himself sublime touch has come after amassing to expect 41 disposals such things. (including 23 “Mate, that handballs), GARY ABLETT happens eight tackles every week and four goals anyway,” he says. in a 57-point loss to the Crows. He doesn’t expect to be It was his 27th birthday and tagged, either, believing the that’s exactly how he played, Cats will try to counter him with notwithstanding the team result. offensive opponents. By quarter-time, he’d collected “They might use a few tricks 15 touches and three of his side’s like start someone on me and four goals; and had 25 touches then someone else might come by half-time. to me after five minutes,” he The performance mocked the speculates. “But we’ve got a few theory that he wouldn’t be as tricks up our sleeve, too, so it dominant without seasoned should be interesting.” stars around him as he had at

I’d love nothing better than to give Geelong their first loss of the year

Born: May 14, 1984 Recruited from: Modewarre/Geelong U18/ Geelong Debut: Round 1, 2002 v Essendon Height: 182cm Weight: 88kg Games: 198 Goals: 267 Player honours: Brownlow Medal 2009; 2nd Brownlow Medal 2010; 3rd Brownlow Medal 2008 (equal); Geelong best and fairest 2007, 2009 (equal); All-Australian 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010; AFLPA MVP 2007, 2008, 2009; AFLCA Player of the Year 2007, 2008, 2009; Geelong leading goalkicker 2006; Geelong premiership sides 2007, 2009; Geelong pre-season premiership sides 2006, 2009. Brownlow Medal: career votes 112

Geelong – a theory Ablett has consciously tried to dispel. So, was it the best quarter/ half/game of his glittering career? “Mate, I don’t think about that kind of stuff,” he says. “The biggest feeling for me about that day wasn’t about how I played, it was disappointment – after starting well, we dropped off in the second quarter. “But we took a lot out of that game, as we have from every game. “We’ve stayed really positive. “The big losses early were hard to go through because no one likes being beaten, especially by big margins, but quite often you actually learn a lot more from losing. “I actually think the losses were good for us because it immediately showed the young boys how hard we have to work if we want to reach the same level as the really good sides. “I’m very confi dent we’ll reach that level over the next few years.” Like a typical captain, Ablett steers much of the conversation back to the team. And it will be some team, according to him. Ablett believes the Suns could establish the kind of dynasty he AFL RECORD

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65


gary ablett enjoyed with Geelong. He often mentions his goal of helping his fledgling club “win a few premierships”. (A few is actually better than the couple won by the Cats.) “Success comes out of clubs with good cultures and strong leaders who play consistent football,” he says. “We’ve only been in the AFL for five minutes but our culture’s good, we’re developing a bunch of guys I think will be quality leaders, and I think the consistency will come once we get games into the young guys. “We were always going to have a tough first year because most weeks we’ve had 12 or 14 guys who’ve played under five games. “It’s been character-building, and we’ve also had a couple of terrific wins to give the young boys some belief and put smiles on their faces. “Every win is a bonus for us, but the young guys are learning, whether we win or lose.” Youthful teams generally struggle late-season, and most experts expect this to be the case with the Suns, but Ablett takes the opposite view. “I actually think we’ll be better towards the end of the year,” he says. “We’ve been resting and rotating a lot of our players to keep them fresh, and I think that’ll help us get a few more wins.” Ablett says he has already learned a great deal about leadership since arriving on the Gold Coast, and admits he has made subtle changes to his approach on and off the fi eld. “We obviously haven’t got as many senior blokes up here as there are at Geelong, and that’s the biggest challenge I face as a captain,” he says. “We’re trying to help these kids mature and develop into leaders as quickly as possible because that’s what’s going to help us become successful. “I’ve had to think about that a lot more out on the fi eld, making sure the boys are structuring up right and playing their role, and playing consistently because it’s easy for young guys to drop their heads and drift out of the game for a quarter or two, whereas at Geelong, you could concentrate a bit more on your own game 66

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MAKING THE MOVE: Gary Ablett, with coach Guy McKenna looking on, announces his decision to join Gold Coast.

and almost take it for granted a bin inside. Ablett removed it, that the other guys were doing only for the mystery prankster everything expected of them. to repeat the dose unseen just “But I’m confident we’ll get minutes later. to that point eventually with “I thought it was hilarious,” our group.” Ablett says. Ablett is so bullish about the “It excited me, too, because Suns’ prospects that, when asked I thought, ‘How good is this to nominate the youngsters he that young blokes here have the has been most impressed by, he confidence to do that?’ names ruckman Zac Smith and “I haven’t found out who the midfielder David Swallow (his culprit was, either, so I haven’t early tip for the NAB AFL Rising been able to get him back.” Star award), before adding, “I Ablett lives in a house with could mention another 15 or 16 Zac Smith (“I tell people that’s of these young blokes, maybe why Zac’s playing so well – he’s more, but we living with don’t have the captain!”) enough time and brother for that.” Nathan, 25, Ablett has whom Ablett also marvelled hopes will at the progress force his way of rugby into the Suns league convert side. Karmichael “Oh, mate, ABLETT Hunt. it’s great being “The amount up here with he’s improved in my time here is Nathan because we’ve always just amazing,” he gushes. been very close,” he says. “The expectations on him “It was hard when I was have been a bit unfair for a guy playing for Geelong because I changing codes. wasn’t able to spend the time “He works so hard on his with him that I wanted to. That game, and he’s been a great was another big part of my example for everyone. It’s really decision to come up here. inspiring to see.” “It’s great that we get to spend The young Suns have been a lot of time together now and inspired by Ablett’s mere if he can make it back to senior presence, but that hasn’t stopped footy, that would be even better.” them from making him a subject Their father was recently of pranks. Early in pre-season, named by the Geelong Advertiser Ablett opened his locker to fi nd newspaper as the No. 1 player in

We’re trying to help these kids mature and develop

the Cats’ history – followed by Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer, Matthew Scarlett and Garry Hocking, with Gary jnr at No. 5. “No surprises that the old man was right up there, but it’s a nice surprise for me,” Ablett says. “I loved every minute of my time at Geelong, and it’s nice to be thought of like that, but I’ve moved up here now and there’s still a lot I want to achieve.” Ablett is due to play his 200th game next week – against West Coast in Perth. He has come a long way since his early days at Geelong when the thought of playing just one AFL game was a dreamy prospect. “I’ve been lucky enough to play a lot more than that, and hopefully I’ll get to play a lot more after 200,” he says. “I’ve worked very hard over the years, and put a lot of time into my football, and sacrifi ced a lot of things. “I wouldn’t change a thing.” Ablett regards himself as “one of the lucky ones” who have never had a serious injury, and never undergone a football-related operation. (How many members of the 200 Club could make the same boast?) “If that continues, I’d love to play on for another fi ve-plus years,” he says. “If that happens, hopefully I’ll be part of a group that will be achieving some special things together.”


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METICULOUS: D Drew Petrie

may be the the butt but of jokes from teammates for his attention to detail, but his his uuncompromising approach to training tra and preparation ha set the preparation has standard for th the Kangaroos. PHOTO: MICHAEL PHOTO: MICHAEL W WILLSON/AFL PHOTOS


Drew is probably the nerdiest footballer in the AFL. He’s too straight ADAM SIMPSON

The enigma that is

Is he a nerd, like his teammates contend, or a genius ahead of his time? NICK BOWEN

S

hy, indecisive and nerd are not words normally associated with Drew Petrie. At 197cm and 102kg, Petrie has a presence even as he ambles through his pre-match warm-up. And once the ball is bounced, the North Melbourne vice-captain becomes imposing, charging at the ball, splitting packs and taking contested marks. At his best, the 28-year-old can monster opposition defenders. Just look at the way he used Brisbane Lions defender Matt Maguire as a stepladder to pluck his speccy in the fi rst quarter of last Saturday night’s game at the Gabba. But on the other side of the white line, Petrie’s personality is almost diametrically opposed to his on-field persona. It’s a

side into which Petrie’s father, Trevor, Roos skipper Brent Harvey and former captain Adam Simpson gave the AFL Record an insight. The Petrie most of us don’t see is shy, Trevor Petrie says. He says as a fi ve-year-old starting prep at Ballarat Grammar School, Petrie had been so shy he had gone hungry rather than telling his teachers he couldn’t figure out how to remove the plastic wrapping from the sandwiches his mother, Sue, had packed in his lunchbox. This went on for about two weeks before Sue worked out why Petrie was so hungry when he got home from school each day. In fairness to Petrie, Trevor says those sandwiches would not have been easy to unwrap: “My wife’s a fastidious person, so she would have wrapped

and rewrapped them in a hygienically sealed way.” But Trevor says Petrie’s shyness persists to this day. “Sure, he can now represent the club on the radio or talk in front of a camera and do it quite well,” Trevor says. “But a lot of the time he’d still much rather hide behind a fence post than talk to anyone.” Then there’s Petrie’s indecision. Harvey and Simpson say it’s an intrinsic part of his make-up, so much so it has become an in-house joke at Aegis Park. “You’ll be sitting there in a leadership meeting and you’ll say ‘What do you think, ‘Drewy’? Do you agree or disagree?’” Harvey says. “And he’ll go, ‘No, I agree, but I sort of know where he’s coming from as well. But I know what you’re saying’.

“So the funny thing is he’ll never give you a straight answer. You leave thinking, ‘What did Drewy end up telling me?’ Simpson agrees, saying Petrie’s “the biggest fence-sitter you’ll ever see”. As for Petrie being a nerd, Simpson and Harvey are again in agreement, although Simpson – light-heartedly – applies the label more colourfully. “Drew’s probably the nerdiest footballer in the AFL,” Simpson says, his tongue fi rmly in his cheek. “He’s too straight. He’s one of those honest, straight-shooting guys you’d like to do your tax. He’s got the characteristics of an accountant.” Dig a little deeper, though, and Simpson’s sledge is a compliment in disguise. Once you translate his footy-club banter, you

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69


drew petrie realise he’s simply saying Petrie’s the most diligent footballer he’s met. One who has been a trailblazer for the professionalism that now defines clubs’ approaches to recovery and preparation. Before ice baths were a normal part of players’ weekly routine, Petrie was volunteering for them, Simpson says. When he was slightly injured, he’d drive into the city each day to have physio, the 50-minute round-trip not deterring him in the slightest. Seeking an edge in his pre-game preparation, for a time he went down to the beach and walked in the shallows the morning of a game. “He was doing things from a professional point of view that other North players, including myself, thought were a bit over the top,” Simpson says. “Close enough wasn’t good enough for him. He’d make sure he meticulously covered everything with his preparation. “He was at the forefront of professionalism as an AFL footballer. Once (coach) Brad (Scott) got to the club, he lifted the standards of the whole group probably up to where Drew was.” Petrie has not slackened off in his approach since Simpson’s departure from North at the end of the 2009 season, Harvey reveals. He says Petrie maps out his week in a diary, listing his training, physio, massage and other football commitments. Harvey also pokes fun at such nerdy tendencies, but acknowledges they’re really more a reflection of Petrie’s dependability, as a teammate and as a friend. When the AFL Record caught up with Petrie in the boardroom at Aegis Park last week, he had just ticked off a couple of his weekly recovery commitments, having completed physio and massage sessions. However, although he may be single-mindedly focused and driven, he soon showed he’s not above laughing at his own expense. Told Simpson and Harvey had branded him an indecisive nerd, he broke into a fit of hysterical laughter. “As soon as you said you’d spoken with them, especially 70

AFL RECORD

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REJUVENATED ROO: Missing

almost all of last season with injury has made Drew Petrie even more determined to get the best out of himself.

‘Simmo’, I thought, ‘All right gives an insight into what has they’re going to come up with made him such a strong leader at something’,” he says. the Kangaroos in recent seasons. “I probably am a nerd; I’m “There are days when you pretty straight. come off the track and nearly “Simmo’s probably everyone else has gone and you exaggerated the accountant think, ‘I could easily go home bit, but I think he’s on the here and not have an ice bath’,” right track.” he says. Petrie also acknowledges he “But you jump in and do it can be indecisive, but says it’s because you know it’s going to a trait his help your body teammates and prolong overplay. your career. “I think “I think the what the boys players who last get confused more than fi ve with is that or six years in I’m neither the AFL are the here nor there ones who have when it comes done all the DREW PETRIE to making right things.” a decision,” But even he says. when you’re “If they ask, ‘Do you want to doing everything right, things go to this café or that café for can still go wrong. lunch?’ I don’t care, let’s just go Petrie discovered that the hard to one of them. way last season. After avoiding “I just go with the fl ow.” major injury in his fi rst nine AFL Asked about his seasons, Petrie broke the fi fth uncompromising approach to his metatarsal – the long bone on the training and preparation, Petrie outside of the foot that connects

This year, I’ve just tried to let it all hang out

to the little toe – in his left foot in an innocuous training incident on the eve of last season. It kept him out of North’s fi rst nine games, but that was just the start of Petrie’s troubles. On his return, against Fremantle in round 10, he broke the fifth metatarsal in his right foot. He missed just four games with that injury, but broke the same bone again in his fi rst game back, against the Sydney Swans in round 15. Although Petrie was never concerned his foot problems would be career-threatening, 2010 was still an incredibly frustrating season for him. “So much of the time I just felt like a waste of space around the club,” he says. “Everybody was up and about and happy playing, and you stand in a corner and just feel as though you’re getting in the way.” Missing games through injuries you can’t control is one thing, but missing them when your feet have healed and you are in peak fitness after a solid pre-season is another matter entirely. Petrie found himself in that predicament when he had to sit out North’s round one game against West Coast through suspension. It was his penance for bumping Geelong’s Darren Milburn in round one of the NAB Cup. “It was really frustrating,” Petrie says.“Missing 20 games last year with injury I can accept, but when I’m fit and not able to play, it does not sit well with me.” The Milburn misdemeanour is well and truly behind Petrie. Although he initially took some time to readjust to the tempo of the AFL, he offi cially announced he was back with a six-goal haul against Richmond in round fi ve. He dominated all over the ground. Up forward, he toyed with Richmond’s young key defenders, marking almost everything that came his way, sharking goals at ground level and, in the second quarter, kicking a remarkable fall-away banana goal after a marking contest on the goal-line. Then when the game started to turn Richmond’s way, Petrie worked further up the ground to


give his under-the-pump defence a long target to kick to. Petrie was also outstanding last Saturday night against the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba. In rainy and greasy conditions not suited to big men, he battled tirelessly, taking seven marks and kicking 2.4. As most of his teammates faded in the final quarter as the Lions stormed to victory, Petrie was still running himself into the ground, racking up eight of his 20 possessions. Ironically, Petrie says his injury-decimated 2010 helped rejuvenate him this year. “Missing a whole season of footy probably made me realise I’ve only got three or four years left in the game, so this year I’ve just tried to let it all hang out,” he says. Petrie is also enjoying his permanent return to North’s forward line. It was as a key forward that he highlighted his immense potential in his third season (2003) when he kicked 28 goals and finished sixth in North’s best and fairest. However, inconsistent form in 2004 and 2005 meant then North coach Dean Laidley started to rotate him between the forward line and the ruck. It looked like Petrie may have reinvented himself as a centre half-back when he strung

together an impressive second half of 2006 in defence. However, his remarkable versatility meant he subsequently became North’s ‘Mr Fixit’, with Laidley sending him to plug holes all over the ground. “Under Dean I played ruck, forward, back and lined up on the wing a few times as well,” Petrie says. “I did enjoy that variety for a while butt itt blyy was probably never goingg ng g to work long ng g term playing all over the place. ta ainly “I’ve certainly in ng enjoyed being able to play just the one position n. It’s I also It’s alsomore more this season. g goals thantrying tr ying fun kickingggoals than m m.” to stop them.” mp portantl y, Petrie’s Petrie’s Just as importantly, urrringproblems problems had no recurring o his feet. of feet.Surprise, Surprise, with eitherr of e’ss taking takingevery every surprise, he’s e--caution to to ensure ensure possible pre-caution uees. this continues. en nse, this this hasn’t hasn’t In one sense, for him. Overuse been easy for fied e as as one one of of the the was identifi ettrie’s broken broken feet feet last last causes of Petrie’s swallo w season, so hee has had to swallow nd d accept accept he he can can no no his pride and eveery minute of of every every longer do every

training session. He had also had to spend any extra fitness sessions swimming or riding a stationary bike rather than running. However, in keeping with his character, Petrie has found another way to go the extra mile. Although Jerry Seinfeld might wear runners with jeans as a misguided fashion statement, Petrie has started following the comedians fashion fa f sh American comedian’s the interests interestsof ofhis o h ‘trend’ in the at-so oled shoes feet. Thongs and flat-soled feet as as much mu m do not offer his feet ru unn support as runners, ays Petrie P so nowada nowadays allwa nearly always leavees them th in leaves his clo closet. Alt Although Petr P Petrie’s rretu return has been h a hu huge posi p positive fo or North, N for has it h oth herw otherwise n a tough t been t o 2011. 2 start to Althou ugh no Although que q one could question Ka ang the young Kangaroos’ endeavour, ththey eey endeavour, have too oftenn let themselves d dow themselves down lapses in in skill s with lapses defenssive and defensive pressure..

FACT FILE

20

Drew Petrie

Born: October 15, 1982 Recruited from: Ballarat/North Ballarat U18 Debut: Round 1, 2001, v Essendon Height: 197cm Weight: 102kg Games: 185 Goals: 168 Player honours: 2nd best and fairest 2008, International Rules Series 2008; leading goalkicker 2009 Brownlow Medal: career votes 30

After nine rounds, they sit 14th on the ladder with just two wins. Nonetheless, Scott is confi dent he has the youthful talent at his disposal to mould a formidable team in coming seasons. Harvey is equally confi dent Petrie will help set the example that ensures these youngsters develop the necessary work ethic to do justice to their ability. “Drewy sets a really good standard for people to follow,” he says. “He’s not big on words, he leads more by example. “But he’s always doing a little bit extra and others at the club see that and know it’s what they should be aiming to match. “If everyone can do that, we’ll be well and truly on the right track.”

FIT AGAIN: Petrie is back to full fi tness and fi ring on the Roos’ forward line.

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KEPLER BRADLEY

Bradley has the last laugh Self-confessed jokester Kepler Bradley has got serious this season and Fremantle is reaping the benefits. NATHAN SCHMOOK

K

epler Bradley is Fremantle’s funny guy; nominated by his teammates, almost to a man, as the most humorous player at the club. But to reinvent himself and revive what had become a stuttering career, the selfconfessed joker has had to take himself and his football more seriously. Bradley has been a revelation in the Fremantle forward line this season, kicking a team-high 19.7 in his eight games to sit seventh in the Coleman Medal race. Still, it wasn’t long ago that Bradley was sitting in the stands watching his teammates play in a breakthrough 2010 fi nals series, having been dropped after the team’s round-21 loss to Hawthorn. Assistant coach Simon Lloyd, who has overseen Bradley’s emergence this season as the club’s forward line coach, said pulling back on the comedy routine was the fi rst step to Bradley growing as a player. “It’s really important to have people like that at a footy club who can lighten things up and have a great sense of humour, but it’s also important to be taken seriously,” Lloyd told the AFL Record. “I think Kepler realises that, and it’s happening this year because he’s creating that. It shows he’s maturing as a player and it’s great to see.” Bradley, 25, started his career with Essendon as a prized draft pick, having been recruited with selection No. 6 in the 2003 NAB AFL Draft. He was predominantly a backman under coach Kevin Sheedy and played 49 games for the Bombers in four seasons

72

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AT A GALLOP: A revitalised Kepler Bradley is on track to reach his 100th game later this season.

before being delisted at the a fourth-quarter switch kick end of 2007. across goal in the 2007 Anzac “I was a bit lost at Essendon,” Day match against Collingwood, Bradley told which was afl.com.au in intercepted by a pre-season Tarkyn Lockyer interview. and led to “I had never a Magpie goal. played down The Bombers there and they lost by 16 chucked me points and on the best Bradley played forwards in just two more SIMON LLOYD their prime. games “I found that for the club. a bit tough In that and, coming to Freo, I’ve played context, his best-on-ground mostly ruck and forward. That’s performance against the more like my game.” Western Bulldogs on Anzac Probably the low point of Day this year was signifi cant. Bradley’s time at Essendon was He kicked four goals to

It’s also important to be taken seriously

spearhead a seven-point win at Patersons Stadium. Bradley is proving to be excellent value after coach Mark Harvey and the Fremantle recruiting team used pick 69 in the 2007 NAB AFL Draft to give him a second chance at the top level. His form in the forward line this year has allowed captain Matthew Pavlich to play midfield and cover injuries, and his role as a pinch-hitting ruckman will become more important in the absence of injured All-Australian Aaron Sandilands, who is expected to miss about a month with a foot complaint. “He’s become a very important member of our team and he’s very dangerous,” Lloyd said. “He’s really worked on his goalkicking, and there’s a consistency with what he’s doing there. “What I’ve actually learned about Kepler, spending more time with him this year, is that he’s really becoming a student of the game. “He walks into my offi ce and he’s already watched the game and picked out edits we need to look at to improve his game. “That tells you a lot about his approach.” Bradley, who last July signed his third consecutive one-year deal, has played 93 games and form suggests he will reach his 100th later this season at a gallop. But the popular forward is yet to play in a fi nal. Lloyd said being an emergency for Fremantle’s two finals last season would have hurt Bradley and the prospect of playing in September was fuelling him this year. “He’s desperate to play in finals and have some success and he’s taken control of that,” Lloyd said. “It’s a credit to him because he’s worked really hard. It’s a real success story.”


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Our AFL history guru answers your queries.

col hutchinson NAME GAME

Noble Savage » The surname of Hawthorn’s

RUNNING MEN: Darren Wilson (right) has joined Matthew Vitiritti (below) as one of just seven boundary umpires in the ‘300 club’.

Pushing the boundaries

Darren Wilson recently became just the seventh boundary umpire to officiate in 300 games. Who were the other six? Also, in how many games did former professional athlete Leigh Patterson officiate? JACK QUARTERMAIN, SURREY HILLS, VIC.

CH: Before 1904, field umpires

had the extra responsibility of throwing the ball in after it

crossed the boundary line. Since boundary umpires were first used in League matches, the other six men to reach the 300-mark were Herb Kent (330 matches), Murray Williams (320), Des Fitzgerald (312), Shane Jansen (311), John Hicks (308), and Matthew Vitiritti (300). Leigh Paterson officiated in 275 games in a distinguished career.

GENUINE SENIOR FOOTBALLERS » Roy Rawlings was born on January 28, 1921, and after playing his early football with Yarraville, he represented Footscray in four matches in 1945. Remarkably, the Bulldogs won all of those encounters. He recently celebrated his 90th birthday. Archie Sykes played 11 League matches for

Essendon in 1897, with the Bombers winning 10 of those games. He was a member of the club’s premiership team that season. Earlier, he had been a valuable player for Geelong, Essendon and St Kilda at VFA level. When he died in 1966, he was just 29 days short of his 91st birthday.

Do you know of other senior players who are close to 90 or older, or who reached such an age before calling it a day? Should you have such information, contact Col Hutchinson on (03) 9643 1929 or col.hutchinson@afl.com.au. 74

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Shane Savage (pictured below), a recent NAB AFL Rising Star nominee, is a clear example of a Medieval nickname becoming a surname. Savage was bestowed on someone considered wild or unruly. It derives from the Middle English salvage and the Old French sauvage, both in turn deriving ultimately from the Latin silva meaning “a wood”. That is, a savage was someone from the forest. Thus Savage is connected, linguistically at least, with Sergio, Stephen and Alex Silvagni (Latin silvanus – “of the woods”; the Silvani were gods of the woods), Colin Sylvia, Jarrod Silvester (Richmond, 2009) and all players named Wood or Woods. There is also a connection with triple Brownlow medallist Dick Reynolds, whose full name was Richard Sylvanus Reynolds. Appropriately, as a junior, Reynolds played with the Woodlands club in the local Essendon league. And for those enjoying corporate hospitality at today’s game: the wine name ‘Sauvignon’ is also probably derived from sauvage, a reference to the grape being a wild vine KEVAN CARROLL (vitis vinifera). WRITE TO ANSWER MAN The Slattery Media Group, 140 Harbour Esplanade, Docklands, 3008 or email michaell@slatterymedia.com


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rick milne

Ask the expert about all your footy memorabilia. I have a copy of St Kilda’s club journal, dated March, 1971. On its outside top cover, there are 13 original autographs of members of the team. Included are: Jim O’Dea, Jon Lilley, Carl Ditterich, Bob Murray, Rod Galt, Ross Smith, Kevin Neale, John McIntosh, Gary Colling and Allan Jeans. The journal is in good condition, though slightly faded. Any chance of an evaluation, please?

RICK’S RARITY

VALUABLE: A fan has a copy of a 1971 St Kilda journal with mer the signatures of former th champions Ross Smith rich (right) and Carl Ditterich on the cover.

» Amscol was an Adelaide-

b based ice cream company. During the 1960s, they placed D tthese strange-looking cards in a waterproof packet under tthe lid of each tub of ice ccream. Among those issued are these two: Collingwood a sstar Murray Weideman, who lleft to coach West Adelaide, and Lindsay Head, from West a Torrens, one of the greatest T players in South Australia. p These cards are very rare, to T tthe point that no one knows eexactly how many diff erent players are featured. For p more information, mo m ormation, go to guruforgarbage.com.au. guruforg g garbage.com arbage.com.au.

BOB EVANS, VIA EMAIL

RM: Bob, St Kilda has always

been one of the more collectable AFL teams, so yours would go OK at about $350.

My grandfather was a Richmond fanatic. When he passed away, we found a soft cover book on the history of the club. It is titled Jubilee 50 Years History of the Richmond FC 1885-1934. It is in very good condition. LISA BROOKES, VIA EMAIL

RM: This is a beauty, Lisa! It

seldom turns up, usually in average condition. As described, I reckon yours is worth $400.

I recently bought a souvenir edition of the Footscray Advertiser issued after the Doggies won the 1954 fl ag. It cost me $300. Did I pay too much? STEVEN RICHARDS, VIA EMAIL

76

AFL RECORD

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RM: NSdid’ RM No Steven, you didn’t.

It’s worth a bit more than $300! More like $750 if it is in nice shape.

I have two hard cover Grand Final Records from 1977 and 1978. These were presented to the director of the Swan Hill Districts League, from the president of the VFL at the time, Dr Allen Aylett (included is the letter of presentation and Dr Aylett’s

time on

signature). Each one is numbered out of 200 and they are in very good condition. I picked these up for around 50 cents at Paddy’s Market while bin diving for books. . UNKNOWN

RM: Although I’ve not seen one

previously, I wouldn’t expect them to bring huge prices. That said, they’re worth a lot more than 50 cents each. I reckon $50 each would be closer to the mark.

CONTACT CT RICK RICK K MILNE KMI MIL LNE L mrpp@iprimus.com.au or drop him a line: 5 Cooraminta St, Brunswick, Vic, 3056 or call (03) 9387 4131. One query per reader.


BRAINS

answers at bottom of page

Spot the 7 DIFFERENCES between the 2 cards

Use the picto-clues to find out the AFL player’s name!

__

Which Tiger wearing the number 12 guernsey, booted 970 career goals, the most in Tiger's history? A. Jack Titus B. Matthew Richardson C. Jack Riewoldt D. Michael Roach

NEW! Silver

CODE cards

and enter codes to play

Answers: 1. head turned, extra black tape on arm, different logo on shirt, darker shoe, hand down, Hawthorn logo turned, Hawthorn & Hawks switched on sides 2. Daniel Rich 3. DJ 4. A

4

______ ____

Can you guess this AFL Player’s NICKNAME?

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SPOT THE DIFFERENCE DIFFERENCE

FIVE TO FIND

Take the time to colour in Jackson.

Jackson’s back Following the success of their first otyy, y footy picture book, Jackson’s Footy, Dwayne Russell and Donna Gynell have released Jackson’s Goal, the son’s second in the series. Jackson’s named Goal is about a young boy named an Jackson, who loves Australian Football. He practises his skillsls in the backyard, all day and all night. But how will he go playing his first game with the Bears? THIS WEEK’S ANSWERS

 Jackson’s Goal is out now. Written by former ormerAFL AFLplayer playerand andmedia m personality Dwayne Russell and illustrated byby Donna Donna Gynell, Gynelit is available from all good bookstores. Visit jacksonlovesfooty.com ksonlove

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE: Strip on Fremantle player Greg Broughton’s jumper merged into one; tattoo on Broughton’s left arm removed; the kangaroo on football changed to a rabbit; Travis Boak’s hair is longer; ‘W’ on the ball has been fl ipped.

Scrambled Sc S crra am mb blleed Footballer: Fo F oot otb ba all ller er: Cryptic Cr C ryyp pti tiicc Footballers: Fo F oo ottb ba alllleerrss:: BI B IG MOUTH: MO M OU UT TH H:: BIG 78 AFL L RECORD RE R RECO EC CO COR OR ORD RD visit vis vvi is isit itafl afl a fl flrec record.com.au re ord.com.au re


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Young Tiger a step ahead of the news. ews. LUKE HOLMESBY

G

ood news travels fast, especially when it involves Reece Conca’s AFL career. Although he has been in the AFL system for just six months, Conca’s two career highlights have become public knowledge much sooner than he expected. First, on draft day last year, when Richmond fans logged on to the club’s website in the hours leading up to the draft to find Conca’s player profi le already posted. It wasn’t until later that night that he officially became a Tiger when his name was read out with the sixth overall pick. Then, nine weeks into this season, Conca earned a nomination as the NAB AFL Rising Star for his stellar performance against Essendon. The West Australian had 23 possessions in Richmond’s win over the Bombers in the Dreamtime at the ’G game. It is standard procedure for the nominated player to fi nd out on the Monday and do the press rounds later that day for an embargoed story to emerge first thing on Tuesday morning. But no one explained that protocol to Conca’s teammate Jack Riewoldt, who jubilantly announced the news to the world via Twitter on Monday afternoon. Conca had already found out he was the week’s nominee, but had no idea the word had got out as he was locked away in a meeting for much of the afternoon. It was a similar scenario to what he had experienced on draft day.

EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS:

Reece Conca believes the young Tiger group is building towards something special.

2011 NAB AFL RISING STAR NOMINEES Round 1 Dyson Heppell (ESS) Round 2 Luke Shuey (WCE) Round 3 Mitch Duncan (GEEL) Round 4 Jasper Pittard (PA) Round 5 Brandon Matera (GCS) Round 6 Jack Darling (WCE) Round 7 Zac Smith (GCS) Round 8 Shane Savage (HAW) Round 9 Reece Conca (RICH)

THREE THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW

“I didn’t find out about that until after the actual draft. But yeah, I did hear about it,” Conca said. “It wouldn’t have made a difference because (Richmond recruiter) Francis Jackson had flown over (to Conca’s home town Perth) a couple of nights before the draft and broke the news to me. I had a pretty good idea I was already going to Richmond before the actual draft.” Conca said he had been particularly following former Perth teammates Michael Evans and Jarrad Irons as they forge their way into the Melbourne and Port Adelaide teams respectively. But he would not trade their prospects for his own as he is in the growing camp of people who believe Richmond is on its way to something special.

“It has been really good. It’s a young, exciting group. I’ve fitted in quite well; there are a lot of players in their fi rst three years at the club which makes it a bit easier to get along with the guys,” he said. “It certainly helps to play good footy when you’re with a bunch of guys you get along with.” Conca has done little wrong as he alternates between Richmond’s back half and, more recently, their midfi eld. But he is not allowing himself to be satisfied with what he has achieved, despite the fact both he and his team are playing above the expectations they might have had at the start of the season. “Personally, I just want to keep playing the consistent football I’ve got at the moment and keep developing. I’ve got to fix a few weaknesses, like my kicking for goal,” he said.

1 2 3

Conca has played every game since debuting in round one. He was handed the No. 30 jumper made famous by Tiger great Francis Bourke. He shares a house with teammate Tom Derickx.

“As a team, we are still developing. Hopefully we can finish the year strongly.” In an ever-expanding national competition, Conca said he was prepared to leave Perth to pursue an AFL career. But he admitted to holding out some hope he might get to stay home. “Early on, there was a hope I’d be able to stay home with the Eagles or Dockers. But as it got closer to the date, I looked more likely to go to one of the other clubs.”

Each week throughout the home and away season, a panel of judges will select the nominee for the 2011 NAB AFL Rising Star. At the completion of the season, one outstanding player will be chosen as the 2011 NAB AFL Rising Star winner. He will receive an investment folio, a dedicated personal banker, a financial planner and the Ron Evans Medal, all courtesy of the NAB. The NAB Rising Star award is the final stage of the NAB AFL Rising Stars Program, which supports grassroots players and football communities and helps young Australians fulfi l their dream of playing in the AFL.

80

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We’re not popular with the other banks anymore. Wonder why? We’re not popular with the other banks right now. Perhaps it’s because we’re showing their customers there is a better way, with lower interest rates, no exit fees on NAB Home Loans and more competition. Perhaps they’re annoyed we saved our customers hundreds of millions of dollars last year. So even though they’re a little grumpy, we’re overjoyed. Because, better, fairer and more competitive banking is something Australia needs.

To find out what else is making us unpopular with the other banks visit nab.com.au/breakup ©2011 National Australia Bank Limited ABN 12 004 044 937 AFSL 230686 NBB1593


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Applying data laterally to analyse and understand the modern game.

Alarm bells should have rung earlier for Saints

A

fter such sterling Grand Final efforts last year and in 2009, St Kilda’s sudden fall from premiership contention this season has surprised many, but should not have. The signs were there. Economists Nassim Taleb and Mark Blyth, writing recently in Foreign Affairs , refer to the ‘Black Swan’ phenomena as when “no one foresees a financial crisis coming until it arrives”. Immediately it happens, there is a torrent of soul-searching as to what has gone wrong and recipes for fixing it. It is a situation that could apply to St Kilda’s predicament. The economists ask how the brainpower of world bankers and policy experts did not see the global financial crisis coming, despite the obvious evidence staring them in the face. Dodgy lending practices had been spiralling out of control for quite some time. Likewise, how was it possible to overlook St Kilda’s declining ability to score goals, evidenced from midway through the 2009 season? The Saints won their fi rst 11 matches of 2009, registering an average score of 105.5 points a game while conceding a miserly 57.5 points an outing, resulting in a ladder percentage of 183.25. Sustaining these benchmarks would have made the Saints 82

AFL RECORD

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DOWNWARD TREND: St Kilda’s

ability to score under coach Ross Lyon had been on the decline since midway through 2009.

one of the greatest teams ever by a long stretch, the statistical output being the equivalent of Sir Donald Bradman’s unparalleled Test cricket average. There’s a clear message that needs to be written here: Prepare for regression to the mean. The law of averages says an exceptional outlier statistic, over time, is bound to revert closer to the norm. Beware false confidence. A decline is on the cards. It is worth noting throughout the modern era of football (since 1970), only one team has finished with a ladder percentage above 160: the dominant Geelong in 2008, which finished with a mark of 161.84. Inevitably, St Kilda did experience a scoring decline for the remainder of the 2009 home and away season. For the last 11 games, its ladder percentage dropped to 133.29 and it scored only 94.3 points a game. The Saints finished the season with a percentage of 155.

St Kilda’s three fi nals in 2009 showed it was a team with a remarkable defence but it remained constrained by a scoring drought. It scored only 30 goals in three fi nals. Following the Grand Final loss to Geelong (by 12 points), alarm bells should have rung. With exceptional forwards to call upon, such as Nick Riewoldt and Stephen Milne, it is unlikely a want of scoring talent was a reason for the paucity of goals. Yet, the same downward trends continued throughout 2010. The Saints’ home and away scoring dropped to 88 points a game and their ladder percentage to 121.2. In their four finals, the Saints scored an average of only 10 goals a game and were ultimately trounced in the Grand Final replay by Collingwood, a team intent on opening the scoring gates by taking more chances, as Geelong had done late in the 2009 Grand Final.

Lyon should let go of some of the structures. Allow for some deviation

This year, St Kilda’s scoring has dropped to an alarming 80.3 points a game and ladder percentage sits at 89.29. The Black Swan message fi nally arrived, but it appears a year too late. After the Grand Final replay loss, coach Ross Lyon publicly acknowledged the need for the coaching staff and players to improve the team’s scoring capacity. He is right in also saying it is their job to do something about it. Commentators and fans do not have the coaching knowledge or internal information to know how this can be done. From the perspective of the data analyst, highlighting a scoring decline is merely identifying the symptom: not the cause or remedy. What I can also add is the inherent contradiction expressed by several of today’s coaches, a factor not helping their respective teams score goals. Lyon is among those who advocate that players adhere to structures and win more contested possessions. Thankfully, football is far more random than it is linear. Winning contested footy and scoring often results from variation and teammates creating chaos that begets even greater uncertainty in the opposition. To make an impact, Lyon should let go of some of the structures. Allow for some deviation. Insisting on maintaining structures is like attempting to drive through chaotic traffi c with the handbrake constantly on.

TED HOPKINS IS A CARLTON PREMIERSHIP PLAYER AND FOUNDER OF CHAMPION DATA. HIS BOOK THE STATS REVOLUTION (SLATTERY MEDIA GROUP) WAS RELEASED THIS MONTH AND IS AVAILABLE VIA FOOTYBOOKCLUB.COM.


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AFL Record, Round 10, 2011