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ROUND 19, 2010 AUGUST 6-8 $5 (INC. GST)





ROUND 19, AUGUST 6-8, 2010

Features 57

Colin Sylvia

A maturing young Demon reaches 100 games.


Sylvia is fit and firing for Melbourne and, more importantly, he is enjoying his football.


The case for defence

All over the ground, everyone is accountable.


Moments of the decade

Jim Stynes’ gallant fight on and off the field.

Regulars 4


Your say on the football world.


The Bounce

Views, news, first person, facts, data, culture.



Stats, history and line-ups.

THIS WEEK’S COVER Defence is not just expected in the modern game – it is demanded. The feature story looks at how some of the best in the AFL (Ben Rutten, Brian Lake, Brady Rawlings and Shannon Byrnes) approach defence.


Dream Team

Advice from Mr Fantasy, our Dream Team expert.

70 74 76 78

Answer Man Kids’ Corner NAB AFL Rising Star Talking Point

Ted Hopkins on the origins of the contested possession.

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Your say on the world of football



Decision crucial to Port’s future

Rioli reaction

The reaction to Cyril Rioli’s outburst against Port Adelaide is a sign that the place of indigenous players in the AFL is still an issue. Many media reports of the brawl raised the question of whether an opponent had racially abused Rioli. It is saddening that this is the first explanation that jumps into the minds of many in the media. It is common to see players lashing out against irritating taggers, and usually nothing more is suspected. It seems the fact that Rioli is indigenous is still the elephant in the room. The AFL has done a lot of work for the place of indigenous culture in modern society, but it is instances like these that show how much work is still to be done. DANIEL McCABE, ADELAIDE, SA

questioned why some in the media took a certain angle when reporting an incident involving Hawthorn’s Cyril Rioli last week.

a North Melbourne or Geelong player and red for a Swans player, only to find on each occasion I had to think twice. JOHN STEPHENS, BALMAIN, NSW

Colour coding

I attended the Sydney Swans-North Melbourne game at the SCG in round 15 and the Sydney Swans-Geelong game last weekend. The only reason I buy the Record at Sydney home games is for quick reference to players and their numbers during each game. Why list Sydney players in blue and white borders and North Melbourne and Geelong in red and white? Each time I looked at the lists for a player my eyes automatically went to blue for


QUERY: A reader has

Editor’s response: Here’s the logic of the blue-red coding system. The match-day section has two distinct parts – one for the home club and one for the away club. The home or first-named club in the fixture (irrespective of club colours) is defined by blue colourcoding; red is used for the away club (again, irrespective of club colours). This is the case for every match. On the page featuring the team lists, the home or first-named club always appears on the

PRODUCTION EDITOR Michael Lovett WRITERS Nick Bowen, Ben Collins, Jim Main, Cameron Noakes, Peter Ryan, Callum Twomey SUB-EDITORS Gary Hancock, Howard Kotton STATISTICIAN Cameron Sinclair CREATIVE DIRECTOR Andrew Hutchison DEPUTY ART DIRECTOR Sam Russell

4 AFL RECORD visit

left-hand side; the away club on the right. The names of the competing clubs are printed above the respective lists.

Team comes first

Sad as it is to see a great player in Jason Akermanis depart as he did, the Dogs have been proved right in placing the team before an individual. Go Doggies. MARGARET, VIA EMAIL


The best letter each round will receive the Gary Ablett jnr Australian Football Training DVD. Email erymedia com or write to AFL Record, Slattery Media Group, 140 Harbour Esplanade, Docklands, VIC, 3008.

DESIGNERS Alison Wright, Daniel Frawley, PHOTO EDITORS Natalie Boccassini, Ginny Pike PRODUCTION MANAGER Troy Davis PRODUCTION COORDINATORS Stephen Lording, Emma Meagher DISTRIBUTION MANAGER Adele Morton COMMERCIAL MANAGER Alison Hurbert-Burns

NATIONAL SALES MANAGER – SPORT Shane Purss ACCOUNT MANAGER Kate Hardwick ADVERTISING SALES COORDINATOR Laura Mullins Advertising (03) 9627 2600 PHOTOGRAPHY Sean Garnsworthy, Michael Willson, Lachlan Cunningham AFL Photos, (03) 9627 2600

� Port Adelaide finds itself in a delicate situation. The club recently appointed a six-man panel to find its next full-time coach. Naturally, the selection process will aim to deliver “the best possible coach for the next era of the club”. In the interim, former champion ruckman Matthew Primus continues to impress, his players rallying behind his discipline-based approach, and many fans convinced he is the right man for the job, partly because of his status as a “Port man”. The Power has had just two coaches since it joined the AFL in 1997: John Cahill and Mark Williams. Both are club legends. Cahill played in and coached 14 Port Adelaide Magpies premierships in the SANFL before his two-season stint as the Power’s inaugural coach. Williams, the son of Fos Williams, the man who made Port into a SANFL giant, was a premiership star for the Magpies before joining Collingwood. He coached Port for more than 11 seasons (leading it to its first AFL flag, in 2004) before his departure after round 15. Port is a club rooted in tradition. But it knows it must branch out; it must build its crowds and corporate support. It needs to move into a new era. The decision on the next coach looms as one of the most important in the club’s proud history. PETER DI SISTO

PRINTED BY THIS PMP Print WEEK’S COVER XXXXCORRESPONDENCE XXXXX ADDRESS TO TheXXXXXXXXXXXXX Editor, AFL Record, X Ground Floor, Go to 140 Harbour Esplanade, to order prints3008. Docklands, Victoria, P: (03) 9627image. 2600 F: (03) 9627 2650 of this E: AFL RECORD, VOL. 99, ROUND 19, 2010 Copyright. ACN No. 004 155 211. ISSN 1444-2973, Print Post approved PP320258/00109

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NO PROBLEM: Collingwood star

Alan Didak unleashed a big torpedo punt at the MCG last week.

He (Blight) would kick about 50 torps, and he would hit every single one BILLY BROWNLESS ON FORMER COACH MALCOLM BIGHT


To the delight of all, the torp comes spiralling back C A MERON NOA K ES


ommentators have been in raptures lately, more so than usual, and the reason for their exultant state has been the recent sightings of the almost extinct “torpedo punt”. And it is not just commentators who are enjoying the return of the “barrel”. When Alan Didak launched his monster “torp” last weekend, the crowd unleashed a mighty and lingering roar, bordering on hysteria. Also last weekend, Richmond’s Chris Newman let fly – as he has

done several times before – with a “spiral punt” and the round before, Tyson Goldsack had the joint jumping when he launched two enormous “scuds” out of defence, one that almost went from the goalsquare to the centre of the ground, cleared the zone and resulted in an easy goal for Collingwood. When executed perfectly, there is something about this magnificent, arcing kick that gets everybody buzzing; players, fans, commentators, one and all. Excitement levels are immediately heightened when we

see a player’s hands shape the ball for the torp. It is at that precise moment we know the player is about to be brave. He is about to take a risk. And it is at this point someone invariably utters the words: “He’s going the torp.” The torp also induces excitement because it’s a long kick with hang time. In a fast-moving sport, it is one of the rare occasions when we can sit back, watch and admire. The longer it travels, the more excitement it generates. Take for example commentator Dwayne Russell’s call when Daniel Bradshaw booted his post-siren torp in round six against the Brisbane Lions that resulted in a goal. “It’s going … it’s going … it’s gone! It’s like footy in the ’70s,”

Russell shouted, referring to one of the most famous post-siren goals in the game’s history, when Malcolm Blight roosted a torp against Carlton in 1976 to seal a game for North Melbourne. What former Geelong forward Billy Brownless has observed in recent weeks is the torp can be used as both a defensive and an attacking weapon. But the problem, he noted, was not necessarily the kick’s high-degree of difficulty, but rather it was no longer practised. Blight used to coach the Cats when Brownless was a player and the latter recalled the coach at the start of training booting barrels. “We would be out warming up or having a run and he would kick about 50 torps, and CON T IN U ED NE X T PAGE

AFL RECORD visit 9

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he would hit every single one,” Brownless said. “They look bad if you miss them, they look terrible, but that’s the thing. If you don’t practise them, you’re not going to get any better. “I just think it is a dying art but they can still be a really good weapon, whether that’s a shot at goal after the siren or breaking the zone out of defence. “If you can clear the zone and kick it into the open, you can get an easy goal. I’m all for it – bring back the torp.”


It’s open slather on vacant squares



ith the focus on why players are kicking so many dribble goals, it is worth noting it’s not just an improvement in skills (and a different attitude) that has led to this trend. A change in the football environment is also a contributing factor. The goalsquare is now vacant more often than an old highway

motel. And it’s not just leading are going to make the distance. to dribble goals; it’s leading to Four of the Lions’ nine goals long shots bouncing through and last round against Melbourne players running into open goals. bounced through, quick A revision of goals turnovers leading kicked in the last to paddocks of three rounds unclaimed grass The shows at least and long-range goalsquare is two goals a kicks tumbling game are through. now vacant bouncing Port more often than through a Adelaide’s an old highway vacant square, David Rodan many from long bounced two motel range. None would goals through to be possible if the seal the Showdown goalsquare wasn’t as against the Crows in unpopulated as the round 17, one from outside 50, Australian desert. one from a stoppage. Players are running into open In the first half of the Bulldogs’ goals too, prancing through game against Fremantle that an unguarded square about same week, five of the Dogs’ twice a game. It seems to be 14 goals bounced through a happening more than it used to. vacant square, with Ryan Griffen With Champion Data statistics kicking three of them. showing 724 goals have been The quirk is also evident at kicked from within 15 metres stop-play situations near goal. this season, compared to 593 Often the goalsquare is opened at the same time in 2009, it is up, either to create an exit possible that a percentage of route for defenders or space that increase (the stat also shows for forwards to run into. The set shots and snaps from that implication? There’s space for distance) is evidence of more the ball to bounce. players running into open space Consider Saint Ben McEvoy’s close to goal. goal rolling through a vacant We know the stay-at-home square two rounds ago against defender covering the square Hawthorn, the six points levelling is a relic and that forwards are the score late in time-on. rolling higher up the ground, In another era, a back pocket so players running into the 50 would have been sitting in the are able to have a ping at goal square blocking the space. Not without worrying whether they now. With 12 seconds to go that

W H E N T H E Y ’ R E N O T P L AY I N G


The hardest part of preseason training:

Teammate most likely to Google his own name:

The oldest item in your wardrobe that you still wear:

Adam Schneider (St Kilda)

rly starts Early

St Steven Baker

Pair of u uit tracksuit pants

Austin Wonaeamirri (Melbourne)

Thee start of e-season pre-season

Li ia Jurrah or Liam N Neville Jetta


Richard Douglas (Adelaide)

Getting up for every session

en Andy Otten

Brad Ebert (West Coast)



k Patrick nityy McGinnity

Last concert you went to:

F Fut Future Mu M Music festival k & kon Akon -P Pain T-Pain

Parach Parachute pants a p and button n button-up pants

ngs Kings L of Leon

A sshirt u ul Paul fr ro three from lly Kelly ye e years ago

night, it might have been useful for the Hawks to implement the old-fashioned ploy. Goals kicked this way are exciting to watch, and the current environment provides more possibilities for fertile imaginations. It’s likely that sometime in the next eight weeks during a close game, a ball will bounce and bounce and bounce and bounce into a vacant square with just seconds remaining, the result down to luck and physics, and not much more. It will only be then that the unloved, unwanted, vacant square will become the most important, most watched piece of real estate on the ground, bursting with hordes of footballers suddenly charging to fill the space no one seems to care for anymore.


Big haul confirms Bulldog’s worth



ith 65 goals to his name already, the Western Bulldogs’ Barry Hall is not only joint leader on the AFL’s goalkicking ladder, but has taken his career tally to an impressive 676. He has soared past Melbourne’s David Neitz and the Brisbane Lions’ Alastair Lynch on the game’s greatest goalkickers’ table and is just five short of South Melbourne’s Bob Pratt, who finished his career with 681. Of course, Hall will go down as a three-club player in the AFL’s history books, having kicked 144 goals in 88 games for St Kilda from 1996-2001 and 467 goals in 162 games for the Sydney Swans from 2002-09. With another season on his contract and showing the form that made him – in

Brisbane Lion Brendan Fevola expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his groin against Melbourne.

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Saints’ scoring dries up � The most obvious symptom of St Kilda’s recent form slump has been its struggle to score. While the Saints’ stellar 2009 season was built on their suffocating all-ground defence, they still ranked fourth in scoring at the end of the home and away season, averaging 99.86 points a game. But after 18 rounds this year, the Saints – who were without their main avenue to goal, skipper Nick Riewoldt, from rounds four-14 – are ranked 10th in points for and are scoring at least 20 points a game fewer than their closest rivals. Ironically, their scoring has dried up even further since Riewoldt’s return from a serious hamstring injury in round 15. NICK BOWEN



<70 or less High score Ave score Rank



















W Bulldogs






St Kilda






St Kilda (2009+)








ON TARGET: Barry Hall

has joined Jack Riewoldt in the lead for the 2010 Coleman Medal.

the mid 2000s – one of the most dangerous key-position players in the competition, it seems Hall is destined to surpass the record of other AFL goalkicking royalty as well, including Peter Hudson, Wayne Carey (both on 727) and Stephen Kernahan (738). Hall’s bag of seven last weekend was the sixth time he’s kicked seven or more, and the first time he’s slotted more than six this year. He is yet to win a Coleman Medal, although he was the leading goalkicker at the end of 2005 with 80, but trailed St Kilda’s Fraser Gehrig at the end of the home-and-away season by two. If Hall is to win the medal, he will become one of the oldest to achieve the feat, alongside Gary Ablett snr, who was also 33 in 1995 (Hall is a few months younger). NEWS TRACKER

The Bulldogs hit the jackpot when they recruited him, for the price of a third-round draft pick He could also equal Scott Cummings’ effort of winning the medal in his first year at a new club (Cummings won in 1999 for West Coast, after leaving Port Adelaide the previous season). Whether Hall can power the Bulldogs – as he did with the Swans in 2005 – to a drought-breaking premiership is another matter. However, one thing is clear. The Bulldogs hit the jackpot when they recruited him, securing the forward for the price of a third-round draft pick; that’s a bargain. When you consider the small king’s ransom some clubs have paid at trade/draft time, it is no wonder Hall has been hailed as one of the recruits of the season.


Ave score

Win-loss record











FOCAL POINT: The Saints welcomed the return of skipper Nick Riewoldt from injury in round 15 but, surpisingly, have won just one game since.

Hawthorn forward Cyril Rioli given a two-match suspension for striking and attempting to strike. AFL RECORD visit 11

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11 22 33

v Geelong Cats MCG, Saturday


v North Melbourne Etihad Stadium, Saturday


88 99 10





Most likely to finish second, but only needs the Cats to stumble once to regain top spot (assuming it wins remaining games).



Would be strong favourite (about 66 per cent) to win the minor premiership, although it must beat the Bulldogs and Blues to be assured of it.



66 per cent chance to finish second; likely to play St Kilda in first final.



Would pretty much seal the double chance, given a friendly draw in the last three weeks.

Down to fifth if both Fremantle and Bulldogs win; fourth if one of them wins; stays third if they both lose.

75 per cent likelihood to keep the double chance; might need to win three in a row to lock it in.


Fourth if St Kilda wins; third if the Saints lose.

80 per cent probability for the double chance.


Fifth if Fremantle wins, or else stays fourth.

50 per cent probability for the double chance, but have Geelong and Sydney to follow.


Remains fifth if the Saints and Bulldogs both win; otherwise fourth (or even third) if they both lose.

50 per cent chance for the top four. First finals opponent could be any of 10 clubs.


Remains fifth, six to eight points clear of sixth.

20 per cent chance for the top four, but already guaranteed a home final.



A close-to certain finalist, with an 80 per cent chance of finishing sixth.


Drops to seventh if Carlton wins (or even eighth), depending on margins.

A 10 per cent threat of falling out of the eight, and a 25 per cent chance to travel interstate for its first final.


Moves up to sixth if the Hawks lose by up to four goals more than Carlton’s margin; otherwise seventh.

95 per cent chance of making finals, with Hawthorn its likely first opponent.


Seventh if the Swans lose by at least four goals less than Carlton; or else eighth.

66 per cent chance of making finals and, if the Blues do sneak in, they may well have to play Fremantle in consecutive weeks in Perth.


Will take the Hawks’ sixth spot if the Blues lose (or win by four goals fewer than the Swans); or else seventh.

90 per cent likely to play finals, with a 33 per cent likelihood of a home final


Stay eighth if Carlton wins, or loses by up to four goals more than the Swans; otherwise up to seventh.

50/50 to play finals but almost no chance of a home final and still have to travel twice.


Ninth for the eighth week in a row.

33 per cent chance to reach the eight, with two more winnable games in the run home.


Tenth if Melbourne wins; ninth if it loses.

Five per cent chance of reaching the eight; has to win all three and pray.


Ninth if the Kangaroos lose; 10th if they win.

33 per cent shot at reaching the eight and its fate is still in its own hands.


Anywhere from 10th to 13th.

Five per cent shot at reaching the eight and must beat the Hawks in round 20 to retain any hope.

v Port Adelaide Etihad Stadium, Sunday LOSES


Sydney Swans SCG, Saturday

v Essendon MCG, Friday night

v Hawthorn SCG, Saturday

v Fremantle Etihad Stadium, Saturday

v Richmond MCG, Sunday

FINALS CHANCES Hard to see the Magpies dropping the minor premiership from here, as they would be six points clear of second.

v Collingwood MCG, Saturday

v Adelaide AAMI Stadium, Sunday





Fremantle’s Hayden Ballantyne set to miss a month with a foot injury.

12 AFL RECORD visit

THE LONGSHOTS � Only West Coast is completely eliminated, although the city of Brisbane is more likely to see snow than a finalist this year. Essendon and the two Adelaide teams can reach 44 points by winning their last four games, which would give each an excellent 80 per cent shot at the finals, despite their poor percentages. The Bombers can help that cause by defeating the Blues this weekend. Richmond would finish on 40 points with four wins, giving it a 10 per cent outside chance while having to rely on other results falling its way. WINS NEEDED TO MAKE THE EIGHT � All five teams from sixth to 10th after round 17 lost in round 18, further lowering the qualifying mark for the finals this year. It now looks like just 10 wins and a draw (42 premiership points) will be enough to play finals, with at least a 75 per cent probability for clubs that reach that mark. In fact, there is so little competition for eighth spot that no team has gone into or out of the top eight since round 11. Even 40 premiership points might be enough, depending on percentage. The teams currently in the eight would have at least a 60 per cent chance of playing finals if they were to finish on 40 points, while teams currently in the bottom half would be about a 20 per cent chance.

PREDICTED FINAL LADDER 1. Collingwood 2. Geelong 3. St Kilda 4. W Bulldogs 5. Fremantle 6. Hawthorn 7. Carlton 8. Sydney Swans









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the bounce



Cats, Pies revive a grand rivalry C A MERON NOA K ES


ast week, Cats coach Mark Thompson described Saturday night’s CollingwoodGeelong meeting as “a match made in heaven”. On form, that is hard to argue against as the reigning premier

and the challenger storm into the The Grand Final was a spring and look certain repeat of 1952, when to claim the top two the teams again Top spot is spots on the ladder. placed one With only half a and two on up for grabs and game separating the ladder, the winner will them, top spot is however, the likely be dubbed up for grabs and Cats won outright flag the winner will that one favourite for likely be dubbed comfortably by outright flag 46 points. the rest of the favourite for the When the season rest of the season. teams clashed Not since earlier this season, 1953 have the Cats and the Geelong broke the shackles Pies hogged the ladder’s after half-time to win by top two spots and that year six goals. Collingwood won the Grand Forward Paul Chapman Final by 12 points, ending was brilliant in that game, as Geelong’s hopes of a third he was when they met in last consecutive flag. year’s preliminary final,

booting five goals in the 73-point thrashing. It was closer earlier in 2009 with the Magpies going down by 27 points, however, in 2008, the roles were reversed as Collingwood crushed the Cats by 86 points. The Cats have been the competition’s benchmark since early in 2007 and no one has treated them with that amount of disrespect during this golden era. But fans can be reasonably confident Geelong won’t let the red-hot Pies walk over them again – however, in Collingwood’s current mood, a favourable result would certainly not surprise.

Two greats who stretched out their careers � After Essendon defender Dustin Fletcher’s brilliant performance last week, his coach Matthew Knights joked that if he could rotate Fletcher on and off the bench three times a quarter, the veteran Bomber might still be playing when he’s 40. The AFL Record chose another evergreen publicity-shy champion defender who kept going past the age of 35 – Carlton’s Bruce Doull – as a basis for comparison.


















331 days 17 years, 3

Age first game

18 years, 234 34 days

35 years, 84 8 days*

Age last game

36 years, 16 6 days





Number of seasons with 20 or more matches









Finals series



Best and fairest awards



Times reported


Best and fairest in 2000 premiership year premiers


1981 Norm Smith medallist allist



Sydney Swans ruckman Mark Seaby has ankle surgery, ruling him out for the year.

14 AFL RECORD visit

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Where else but Adelaide?

� Every now and again, I find myself in alien parts. And so it was last weekend, as a guest of the delightfully placid, well-organised and football-loving city of Adelaide. Those who harbour concerns that Adelaide is only a pretend football town would benefit from a visit, for you’ll quickly determine the quaint town certainly has footy bona fides, leaving you plenty of time to sample the superb local wines. In Adelaide, football is pervasive. And when you don’t get out much, it’s the little (or absurd) things you notice first. When it comes to football, there are plenty of little (or absurd) things to notice. Where else, for example, does a taxi driver – his ‘local’ origins confirmed by the easily detectable use of what language experts call the “long a” in

HEAPS GOOD: In Adelaide, Balfours frog cakes are as

popular as the Port mascot.

words such as chance (as in, “We’re a big ‘CHARNCE’ against the Hawks tomorrow”) – use a regulation 10-minute drive on a Friday evening to deliver a dissertation on the state of Port Adelaide Football Club, pausing only to ensure his passengers are aware of points of interest? (In this case, Quentin Kenihan, the “little Aussie battler” we learned about in the 1980s via Mike Willesee’s television program, holding court with


two young ladies while lee freesco dining al fresco Sttreet.) on Gougerr Street.) Where else lsee do grown men congregate on a Friday afternoon to re-tell tall tales of past SANFL heroics while sipping chardonnay (or sauvignon blanc) from real wine glasses? At a fine second-hand establishment called ‘At The Toss Of A Coin’, in Sturt territory on Unley Road in Malvern, where little (or absurd)

footy things like a Woodville Peckers duffle coat patch or a Rick Davies tribute dinner coaster amuse simple minds like mine. Where else do supporters arrive hours before the first bounce to set up deckchairs and grill fine-cut meats and sausages? sausage At AAMI Stadium, where whe he grown men with long beards bee also hover with intent in n near the players’ entrance, hoping to score signatures on o pristine copies of thee Power’s 2004 WEG premiership prem poster. Where Wh h else is a milkbased d drink d based (Farmers Union iced coff ffee) e a beverage of fo or footy fans? choice for wh he else would a cake And where in i the shape sha of an amphibian (the famous ‘frog’ cake made by Balfours, sponsor of the Crows-Power Showdown matches) receive ‘Heritage Icon’ status from the National Trust of South Australia? Yes. Only in Adelaide, which as the locals would say, is “heaps good”.




16 AFL RECORD visit







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the bounce

VIEWS | NEWS | FIRST PERSON | FACTS | DATA | CULTURE INSTRUCTIVE: Ben Cousins is passing on his knowledge to Richmond’s talented young midfield group.


Cousins’ influence rubbing off on Tiger cubs



t seemed no coincidence. Just minutes before Dustin Martin’s match-sealing goal against Adelaide last week, the Fox Sports cameras panned to the interchange bench. There, Martin was found walking up and down the boundary line with 32-year-old teammate Ben Cousins, both players on midfield rotation. Cousins was not using the rotation simply to rest, however. Instead, he was enthusiastically explaining to Martin what he could be doing better, and how. Minutes later, Martin, back on the ground behind a pack inside Richmond’s forward 50, picked up the ball, had his kick smothered then grabbed it again and kicked a goal, which essentially finished the contest. Cousins’ influence in such proceedings – and in the rapid improvement of his team over the past two months – cannot be understated. Though he has averaged 23 disposals in eight games since round 10 and played with renewed vigour and dash after overcoming early-season injuries, it is his passing down of lessons learned to a young, talented midfield group that might be his greatest strength as he nears the end of his career. In many ways, it seems Cousins has been a playing assistant coach, teaching his Tigers teammates where to run, where to stand, how to find space and when to block. With 266 games, a premiership, four best and fairest awards and a Brownlow Medal behind him, Cousins is an expert in the little things. Essendon champion James Hird, speaking on the Fox Sports’ NEWS TRACKER

program On The Couch, said the younger players, including Martin, Trent Cotchin and Daniel Connors, are getting better simply being around Cousins. “I watched Cousins and what he’s been doing with players and – whether or not he plays on next year – he’s giving players confidence in the way he talks to them and makes them ride a little bit higher,” Hird said. Cotchin, missing in last week’s win over Adelaide due to suspension, told the AFL Record earlier in the season that Cousins’ words are respected by everyone inside the club. “He’s been terrific with the knowledge and professionalism he brings on and off the field. You can tell in the group that whenever he speaks, it’s all ears, including the coaches,” Cotchin said. “He’s been through a bit, but it’s great that he has turned his career around and he’s playing some pretty good footy this year.” After his team’s 20-point win over the Crows last week, Richmond coach Damien Hardwick described Cousins as “infectious” among the players. In such circumstances, a player’s value, his worth, can be measured by more than mere possessions. It appears to be the case with Cousins.


Right penalty, wrong Bulldog NICK BOW EN


orth Melbourne was correctly penalised for an interchange infringement in the second quarter against the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium last Sunday, but AFL umpires manager Jeff Gieschen says the wrong Bulldog took the subsequent free kick. The infringement occurred when second-game Kangaroo Ben Speight ran on to the ground before the player he was replacing had crossed the boundary line, ensuring North momentarily had 19 men on the field. At that moment, Bulldogs spearhead Barry Hall was about to have a shot for goal from close range. After Hall kicked the goal, the Bulldogs were given a free kick and 50m penalty at the re-start of play, with Brad Johnson taking the free kick 35m

Fremantle defender Chris Tarrant to miss four-to-six weeks with a medial ligament injury.

18 AFL RECORD visit

out from goal. Johnson passed to teammate Jarrad Grant, who subsequently kicked a behind. After the game, North coach Brad Scott said he was surprised the Bulldogs were given a second shot at goal after Speight’s infringement, while radio commentators questioned whether Bulldogs ruckman Jordan Roughead, not Johnson, should have taken the free kick. Gieschen told the AFL Record this week the decision to award the Bulldogs another shot at goal was correct, given the emergency umpire had not notified the umpires of the infringement until after Hall’s goal had been ruled ‘all clear’. “By the time the emergency umpire blew his whistle to indicate an interchange breach, Barry Hall had kicked a goal,” Gieschen said. “Because this was followed with an all-clear signal, which confirms a goal, under AFL rules, a free kick then had to be paid to the Bulldogs with a 50m penalty from where play was to re-start, in this case at the centre circle. “If all clear had not been given after the Hall goal, Hall would have been taken to the goal-line and lined up directly in front of goal, and the Bulldogs would not have received a subsequent free kick. “There is always going to be a slight delay from the time the interchange steward sees the infringement and the on-field umpires are notified by the emergency umpire.” But Gieschen said Roughead should have taken the free kick. “Normally, when a free kick and 50m penalty are to be implemented from the centre circle, the free kick should be taken by the ruckman,” he said. “On Sunday, Jordan Roughead, as Bulldogs ruckman, should have taken the free kick. The umpire identified it was Roughead’s free kick, then asked him to ‘come with me’ as the 50m penalty was measured out. “But in the process of setting up the free kick, the ball was given to Brad Johnson.”



The day the Hawks ďŹ nally arrived ASHLEY BROW NE


ith a history as bleak as Hawthornâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s had been until that time, there is little wonder that July 23, 1960, was seen as one of the clubâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s greatest days. Given the club had made the ďŹ nals just once before then, the dramatic one-point win over Collingwood on that wild and woolly afternoon was a major milestone in Hawthornâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s history, because it meant the Hawks had ďŹ nally beaten every other VFL club on its own patch of dirt. Many Hawthorn supporters are familiar with the story of how star full-forward John Peck marked in the dying seconds and kicked the match-winning â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and historic goal â&#x20AC;&#x201C; after the ďŹ nal siren. The 50th anniversary of one of the Hawksâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; great days was celebrated at Waverley Park last week at a function for supporters of the Hawks Museum, with many of the players and ofďŹ cials from the match in attendance. Peckâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s daughter Kerry Johnson was also there. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d think that after half a century, every

AFL 200 Club Graham Johncock Adelaide Jason Blake St Kilda

200 games

TOGETHER AGAIN: (from left) John Kennedy, John Elward, Noel Voigt,

Morton Browne, John Dineen, Harold Kinder (bootstudder, front), Bill Shelton, Brian Falconer, Graham Cooper, Kevin Connell, Garry Young, Graham Arthur and Trevor Randall were involved in either the reserves or senior teams when the Hawks scored their ďŹ rst win at Victoria Park, in 1960.

single event of note from that momentous day would have been told and retold many times. Not entirely. Half-forward Morton Browne told the function that his abiding memory of the day was not Peckâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s kick, but the reaction of coach John Kennedy. â&#x20AC;&#x153;He jumped out of his seat as soon as â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Peckyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; took the mark and raced around the boundary line to stand behind the goal,â&#x20AC;? Browne said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Peckyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; kicked it low and hard, because thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s how Kennedy liked us to kick the ball, and he drilled it straight towards the goal umpire. And even before he could signal it, Kennedy was jumping around screaming â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Goal! Goal! Goal!â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x153;Can you imagine one of todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s coaches doing the same?â&#x20AC;? Browne also recalled the frosty reception from the Collingwood camp at the traditional post-match drinks in the Magpies social club.

Josh Fraser Collingwood Craig Bolton Sydney Swans

â&#x20AC;&#x153;They stood in a corner of the room drinking their beer with their hats on and their backs towards us. They didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even greet us.â&#x20AC;? Champion Hawthorn defender Peter Knights, now a marketing executive with the club, hosted the event at Waverley. Knights enthralled the crowd by producing a scrapbook with newspaper clippings from the match, including a picture of Peck decked out in mayoral robes after being named mayor of Hawthorn for a day in honour of the famous win. It turns out that the match at Victoria Park was the ďŹ rst League game Knights had attended. Aged eight at the time, Knights, who lived on a dairy farm in Gippsland in Victoriaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s east, was taken by his Collingwood-supporting grandfather Walter Knights. Knights resolved to start barracking for whichever team won that afternoon, and once

100 games Daniel Merrett Brisbane Lions Brad Fisher Carlton Colin Sylvia Melbourne

50 games Jay Nash Port Adelaide Tom Williams Western Bulldogs The list includes those not necessarily selected but on the verge of milestones.

Peck kicked the match-winner, it marked the start of a love affair with the Hawks that has lasted the best part of 50 years. And how did his grandfather take such betrayal? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Once I started playing for the Hawks (in 1969), Collingwood became his second team,â&#x20AC;? Knights said.


Melbourneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own 3AW.

AFL RECORD visit aďŹ&#x201A; 19

the bounce



An Aussie passion through the eyes of an Englishman JOHN MUR R AY


ynasty is not a word that instantly springs to mind when you think of British sport. Ask an Englishman on the street, and he’s more likely to think of the 1980s American soap best known for not being Dallas than an all-conquering era of a sporting team. Yet, within a month of my arrival in Melbourne in September of 2003, dynasty had become an essential part of my vocabulary. As the Brisbane Lions marched to a third straight premiership, football – and in particular, the sport’s latest dynasty – was the talk of the town. There was much to learn in those first few weeks. The game was littered with elements seemingly so alien to other mainstream sports: the match would start with players in the opposition’s half; players were allowed to handle the ball, but not throw it; they could commit any number of offences without being ejected from the field; why so many sirens before the match, why so many officials, why so many goalposts? That was only the action on the ground. In the stands, you could be sandwiched between friend (your team) and foe (their team), and no one would bat an eyelid. For the best part of three

20 AFL RECORD visit

The AFL prides itself on being a national game, and rightly so. Fixtures in Darwin are increasing by the year, and there is now a firm base in Tasmania. The biggest changes, of course, are yet to come, with two new teams set to enter the competition – further strengthening the argument that it is Australia’s biggest football code. Back in 2003, all six non-Victorian teams were represented in the finals. Of the seven Grand Finals I saw, there were six different premiers, from five different states. Only three clubs – Carlton, Essendon and Richmond – failed to reach a preliminary final in that time. And yes, many lovers of the round-ball game I was nurtured on crave that unpredictability and evenness of competition. Intriguingly, there isn’t TRUE DYNASTY: The Brisbane Lions had established themselves as the No. 1 one formula for success. The power in the AFL when they won their third successive premiership in 2003, a point quickly noted by English-born writer John Murray. dominant teams of recent times have employed a range hours, there wasn’t so much as boasting stunning physical of tactics, be it the defensive an opening bar of a song, but abilities. What’s more, it was flooding of Paul Roos’ Swans, once the final siren sounded, you embedded in so many people’s Geelong’s determination to play were transported into a valley lives. A game that was on at all costs, the strangulation full of Welsh choristers. And it all-inclusive, of St Kilda’s pressure or wasn’t until midway through the embraced Hawthorn’s zone-based It quickly following season that I realised by man or supremacy. became clear (a little disappointed) the woman, Along the way, frenzied masses weren’t actually boy or girl, individual roles have this sport was shouting “brawl”. young or morphed too, with compelling At the same time, there were old. And so the small forward, to watch, its many similarities. When it it became for example, athletes boasting came to big teams in the AFL part of this now an extra stunning physical and unfulfilled expectations, pseudodefender when schadenfreude was clearly alive Melburnian’s the opposition abilities and well (for Collingwood, read daily life for has the ball. Manchester United). Officials, the next seven Each year, the game, however well they performed, years until my Australian and its champions, evolve. Dare needed thick skins. It was almost adventure ended in June. to stand still and serve up the refreshing to learn that phrases All those who live and breathe same stuff next season, and the such as “one week at a time” football – fans, players, media, chasing pack will gobble you up. weren’t just restricted to Britain, and those in charge – are fiercely Much like the best teams, but were universal code for the proud of its past, and even more the AFL has never been one to professional sportsman. driven about its future. So it’s not rest on its laurels and has been Nuances aside, it quickly surprising the game evolved so proactive in amending its laws. became clear this sport was much in the relatively short time To mention just a few, compelling to watch, its athletes I was there to witness it. since 2003 there has been the

introduction of a time limit for set shots, the “hands in the back” rule (or interpretation), a holding area for the interchange, the protection of the player with his head over the ball, and the penalising of deliberate rushed behinds. On the surface, the League seems to change the rules even more frequently than David Bowie has swapped his persona, but it’s hard to quibble with the outcome: a game that is faster, with less stoppages, and safer for everyone. Back on London’s Clapham Common, the rules may not be enforced quite so stringently, but the game remains as popular as ever. There is a flurry of football activity on the weekends, the players of last decade simply replaced by their younger, slimmer countrymen newly arrived to these shores. Advances in technology have meant Britain’s five-minute AFL highlights package at some unearthly hour is a thing of the past; every game can be watched live on your trusty laptop (and no delayed television start times to worry about). And that can only be good news for all those football-mad ex-pats, not to mention a certain Englishman. JOHN MURRAY CONTRIBUTED TO THE AFL RECORD AND EDITED SEVERAL FOOTBALL BOOKS INCLUDING OUR GREAT GAME: THE PHOTOGRAPHIC HISTORY OF AUSTRALIAN FOOTBALL IN HIS SEVEN YEARS WORKING AS A WRITER AND EDITOR FOR THE SLATTERY MEDIA GROUP.


Battle for the spoon A LE X PAU L L


hile most eyes will be on the MCG on Saturday night when the best two teams in the land meet, a match that could decide the wooden spoon will be played in the west. West Coast (with just four wins) and the Brisbane Lions (with five) have endured horrific seasons, with the loser this weekend a big chance to ‘win’ the wooden spoon. The Lions’ demise has been alarming following a relatively successful finals campaign last season, but the Eagles’ fall since their 2006 premiership has been remarkable. In 2007, West Coast finished third before losing two finals, and then finished 15th in 2008 and 11th in 2009. If the Eagles win the wooden spoon, they will be the first club since Hawthorn in 1965 to finish last four years after winning a premiership. Coach John Worsfold dismissed suggestions he would use the possibility of the club’s first wooden spoon as motivation for his players. “I want to teach these players to motivate themselves to want to be the best they can

be and not always want to try Brisbane started the season to rely on a gimmick, because with four straight wins, before you are going to get to an injuries saw it lose 13 of its important game one day and past 14 games. run out of gimmicks, and The Eagles that’s a big trap,” Worsfold are considered told The West Australian. favourites on “It (the wooden their home turf, spoon) has always but are still oddsbeen irrelevant on to collect the It has been other than the spoon. irrelevant other fact it’s pretty It will also be than the fact it’s disappointing the first time pretty disappointing since 1994 we’re at the we’re at the bottom that top has bottom of the ladder.” played bottom of the ladder Lions coach and last has JOHN WORSFOLD ON THE WOODEN SPOON Michael Voss has played second last used a similar in the same round approach with his approaching finals – players in the lead-up and the Eagles were involved to the clash. at the other end of the scale. “My mum used to threaten That season West Coast me with the wooden spoon, it (second) met Carlton (first) in didn’t change my behaviour,” round 22 while St Kilda (14th) Voss said this week. played Sydney (15th) in the “I don’t think me threatening then 15-team competition. them is going to really change The Blues and the Saints won the situation.” their respective games.









14th (last)




14th (last)





16th (last)

D 1 – –

Pos 13th 14th 15th


W 7 5 4

L 14 17 18

,7¶6)227< :,7+2877+(58/(6 For a no holds barred view on everything footy, join Gerard Healy and Dwayne Russell, 6pm-8pm Monday to Thursday. Sports Today - only on 3AW 693.

AFL RECORD visit 21

the bounce




New release a welcome sign for hearing-impaired

Past greats boost Blues’ spirits HOWA R D KOT TON


imes of adversity test the strongest relationships. So it was in 2007 when several former players and officials came together to form the Spirit of Carlton at a lunch organised by former club runner Bob Lowrie. The Blues were at the lowest ebb in their history on and off the field on the back of three wooden spoons in the previous five seasons. Those in attendance included three-time premiership coach David Parkin, former club secretary and reserves coach Keith McKenzie and former players Mike Fitzpatrick, David McKay, Geoff Southby, Val Perovic, Jim Buckley, Mark Maclure and Robert Walls. What drew them together was the belief that the spirit that had made Carlton a great club had been eroded and that current players could benefit from the guidance and direction of stars from the past. The Spirit of Carlton merged with the traditional Blues’ past players and officials association, which had been ably run by Chris Pavlou and Denis Munari for many years. Lowrie is the group’s chief administrator and leads an executive consisting of Southby, Munari, Buckley and 1987 Norm Smith medallist David Rhys-Jones. As Southby says: “The Spirit of Carlton decided to run a couple of functions because we wanted to help get a bit of spirit back in the place and show the current players that we’re caring about them. “We wanted the functions to raise money directly for the playing group in the form of new equipment to make them better as a team and rekindle that spirit that you need to form a great team and win a premiership.” NEWS TRACKER

TRUE BLUE: Geoff Southby (left and above in his T

p playing days) was heavily involved in establishing tthe Spirit of Carlton.

The Spirit of Carlton has given the club more than $300,000 from proceeds raised at its functions, with the money poured back into new equipment and facilities. The equipment includes a gravity-regulated $85,000 treadmill, which assists with the rapid recovery of players with long-term leg injuries, special recovery vests worn on flights after interstate matches and a motorised golf cart to help the property steward transport his gear. The Spirit of Carlton has held two major functions each year since 2008 – a golf day and dinner at Keysborough Golf Club and a lunch at Etihad Stadium. The lunch is based around a theme, usually celebrating a milestone event. This year’s event on August 12 has been appropriately coined the ‘Great Comeback’ luncheon, celebrating the 40-year anniversary of Carlton’s famous victory over Collingwood in the 1970 Grand Final.

We’re so lucky at Carlton to be able to celebrate so many positive occasions FORMER STAR CARLTON FULL-BACK GEOFF SOUTHBY

“Most of the ’70 players will be there,” says dual premiership defender Southby, who began his decorated career at Carlton in 1971. “A few Collingwood players – Des Tuddenham, Graeme Jenkin and Peter McKenna – will also be there. It’s been tough for them. We’re so lucky at Carlton to be able to celebrate so many positive occasions.” The Spirit of Carlton has expanded in the past two years, hosting events for supporters based in Brisbane, on the Gold Coast, Adelaide, Perth, Launceston and Hobart. “We’ve got a fair bit of momentum going,” Southby says.

Sydney Swans sign Canadian rugby convert Mike Pyke for a further two seasons.

22 AFL RECORD visit

� The fight to make footy more accessible to the hearing-impaired took another step in the right direction with the launch of the Key Word Sign Australia (KWSA) Footy Book at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne on Wednesday. The book, aimed at engaging people with disabilities with football, includes the signs for every team in the AFL, as well as other football-related language. The Federal Minister for Social Inclusion, Simon Crean, launched the book and pointed to the common bond between football fans. “This is about engaging, connecting and trying to overcome difference and disability,” Crean said. “If what we do through this exercise helps people be part of the game and ignite that passion, then that’s what it’s all about.” KWSA worked on the book with Scope, a non-profit organisation dedicated to providing services to disabled people. Scope CEO Diana Heggie said the book would give people with disabilities a sense of belonging. “This book will be instrumental in allowing kids with communication difficulties to talk about sport,” she said. Heggie said the book, endorsed by the AFL, was important for those who could not communicate using Auslan (the language of the deaf community in Australia) as it uses the simpler Key Word version to communicate. The launch featured the Glenallan School choir singing the renowned footy anthem Up There Cazaly using Key Word signs, and a footy clinic. ALEX PAULL

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Colin Sylvia has had his share of setbacks in his seven seasons at the elite level but is not one to dwell on the past. On the eve of his 100th game, the maturing Melbourne midfielder is in careerbest form and solely focused on the club’s exciting future. NICK BOWEN

C ATTACK MODE: Colin Sylvia is one of the reasons for Melbourne’s improved form.

olin Sylvia credits an innovative team-building and leadership program for helping turn his career around. The No. 3 pick in the 2003 draft (behind Bulldog Adam Cooney and Blue Andrew Walker) struggled with injury, principally osteitis pubis, in the first four seasons of his career and admits he sometimes struggled to cope with the frustration it brought. “I had a lot of expectations on me in my early days but I could never really get (my body) right for the first four years, and I just tended to get on to the front foot a little too easily from time to time,” Sylvia says. Among his Melbourne teammates, Sylvia eventually became known as ‘Hank’, the aggressive split personality of Jim Carrey’s character in the 2000 comedy Me, Myself and Irene. He also ran foul of Melbourne’s leadership group twice within a year, in March of 2008 and 12 months later when he broke team curfews and was suspended on both occasions for a game.


Sylvia, 24, says he has DEMON DELIGHT: Colin learned from those mistakes. rates Sylvia (left) celebrates “I’ve definitely mellowed in my mate a goal with teammate rlier Brent Moloney earlier old age. I’m one of the older guys this season. around the club now,” he says. “The turning point was when we introduced Leading Teams (a leadership program that encourages team members to engage in open, honest and constructive dialogue) into the club. “I was the first guy put out in front of the group. It really reshaped me as a person to get all that feedback from your peers about where I was letting myself down. “It was a little bit hard and confronting at first, but I think I really responded to it.” Sylvia spoke with the AFL Record in the lead-up to his 100th AFL game, against Richmond at the MCG this Sunday. Told he was about to become just the seventh player on Melbourne’s list to reach 100 games, Sylvia was genuinely surprised. “Really? You’ve taught me something today, that’s for sure,” he says. “I understand I’m an experienced player around the football club but, at 24, that’s a little bit hard to believe. breaking his jaw in a collision “It’s taken me almost seven with West Coast’s Josh Kennedy years and I’ve had a few injuries in a practice match. This after along the way and a bit of a completing his “best pre-season”. roller-coaster ride; I probably Soon after returning to the doubted myself a little bit in Dees’ side, Sylvia started to the early days.” experience pain in his right foot. But while ready to With Melbourne’s club doctors acknowledge his past failings, initially struggling to diagnose Sylvia wants to move on. the condition – “We “I try not to dwell on thought it was just things from the past nerves out of too much because whack” – he I understand we’re such a to I’m an experienced continued young team and play with player but, at 24, my teammates the aid of see me for the painkilling that’s a little bit person I am injections. hard to believe now,” he says. But after COLIN SYLVIA, ONLY THE “Sometimes SEVENTH CURRENT DEMON Melbourne’s TO REACH 100 GAMES (past incidents) round 11 loss probably stay in the to Carlton, Sylvia back of my mind a was admitted to bit and I still think about hospital where a blood clot was them but I need to overcome discovered in his right foot. It that and move on quite quickly. was a rare condition for a young You live and you learn and footballer – and one which could that’s been addressed.” have cost him his big toe because Similarly, Sylvia refuses to of a lack of blood flow. dwell on his continued bad luck Which, presumably, put his with injury this year. subsequent three-week stint on He missed the opening three the sidelines into perspective. rounds of this season after Certainly, Sylvia did not dwell 58 AFL RECORD visit

on his misfortune and soon shifts to a positive topic: “I’m stringing a few games together now which is really exciting.” For him and the Demons. Since his return in round 15 against Essendon, Sylvia has been in rare form. He has been among Melbourne’s best players in all four games – best on ground in two, perhaps three, of them – and has averaged nearly 28 disposals an outing. Last round against the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba, Sylvia was outstanding, racking up 31 possessions and kicking two goals, the second a perfect example of his ability to impose himself on a game – he won a contested ball in a congested Melbourne forward line, bustled his way past a Lions defender and snapped truly around his body. Winless during Sylvia’s absence, the Dees have won three of their four games since his return. His transformation into a match-winner has not happened overnight, but is the result of



Colin Sylvia Born: November 8, 1985 Recruited from: Merbein/Bendigo U18 Debut: Round 9, 2004 v North Melbourne Height: 186cm Weight: 85kg Games: 99 Goals: 79 Player honours: NAB AFL Rising Star nominee 2005 Brownlow Medal: career votes 5

Sylvia’s steady improvement since the end of the 2007 season. In 2008, he played a career-high 18 games and started to win a lot more of the ball – he averaged nearly 18 possessions a game, up almost five from his 2007 average of 13. He also kicked 16 goals. Last season, he started to dominate games, gathering 30-plus possessions in three matches and receiving his first Brownlow Medal votes – three in round nine against Hawthorn (37 possessions and four goals)



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There’s real pressure for spots at the moment, which is exactly where you want to be

and two says with a laugh. in round He also sees 11 against the funny side Collingwood when I mention (32 and three). a number of his The Demons, teammates’ 2010 COLIN SYLVIA however, have AFL Record pocket improved rapidly profiles nominated this season, climbing him as the Demon from their wooden-spoon most likely to Google his finish last year to be a own name. game-and-a-half outside the top But in a sign he hasn’t gone eight after 18 rounds. completely soft, Sylvia asked But, while the recent me to name his accusers. Daniel failure of Carlton, the Sydney Bell, Jake Spencer, Jared Rivers, Swans, North Melbourne and Brent Moloney, Clint Bartram, Adelaide to cement finals spots Cale Morton and Brad Miller, has kept the door ajar for the consider yourselves warned. Dees, Sylvia deflects any talk The rest of the competition of September action, saying is also well advised to be on Melbourne needs to focus on guard whenever Sylvia takes the this week’s game, maintain its field, for he is adamant his best intensity and momentum and football is ahead of him. “keep a lid on things”. He is just as bullish about But, refreshingly, he apologises Melbourne’s future, talking for his barrage of clichés – “Sorry about the quality of the to sound boring,” he says. youngsters who have streamed He also distances himself into the club in recent years. from the stereotypical macho “We’ve got a very healthy footballer, admitting to crying future ahead of us, that’s for occasionally at the movies. sure,” he says. “I tend to get really involved “Jack Watts showed really in movies sometimes and can positive signs on the weekend shed a tear here and there – against Brisbane and is really that’s the soft side of me,” he starting to use his talent and


pace. ce. And the impact of Jack Trengove and m Scully in their Tom st years has been a first al highlight. real “There’s real essure for spots at pressure thee moment, which is actly where you exactly ant to be and want ows the shows rection direction is club’s this ing.” going.”

Colin Sylvia is excited about the direction Melbourne is heading.

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60 AFL RECORD visit


Players such as (from left) Adelaide’s Ben Rutten, North Melbourne’s Brady Rawlings and the Western Bulldogs’ Brian Lake are defensive leaders for their respective clubs. 62 AFL RECORD visit

THE CASE FOR DEFENCE The emphasis on defence has never been greater. No longer is it solely the responsibility of the ‘back six’ to defend. The whole team is accountable, across the entire ground. PETER RYAN


efence doesn’t attract attention. A player is rarely applauded for sticking tight to his opponent or moving to fill dangerous space while the ball remains 50m away. Often, such movement is unseen, the average spectator’s eyes tracking the ball. The only roar that a wrong defensive decision causes when the ball is far away is likely to come from the coach’s box. But inside clubs, defence has become the hottest topic. If you can’t get a pass mark for defensive actions, your career won’t last long, as the way the game is played has shifted to one based on a total team system, rather than one that is reliant on individual performance. Demarcation lines are gone: everyone is responsible for defence. Richmond coach Damien Hardwick even said last week he doesn’t like goalkicking awards. To defend well, players – all over the ground – need to make the right decisions more often than not, and need to be certain their YOU CERTAINLY teammates are on song too. Those good at DON’T MEASURE defending read the play YOUR DEFENCE JUST YO well, moving into a ON WHAT YOUR BACK space that disrupts the opposition’s forward SIX ARE DOING MELBOURNE DEFENSIVE COACH movement. The best teams SEAN WELLMAN work in a synchronised fashion, clicking all the parts into place without so much as a second’s hesitation. As Essendon’s former All-Australian defender and Melbourne defensive coach Sean Wellman says: “You certainly don’t measure your defence just on what your back six are doing.”

Decision-making defenders

Adelaide’s All-Australian defender Ben Rutten plays on the last line of defence, wherever that is these days. Often, it is away from the goalsquare, a space previously populated by the stay-athome forward who has gone the way of the dodo in recent years. Not too long ago, Rutten could assess his game on how he fared in one-on-one battles, check to see how many goals his opponent kicked as he left the ground and give himself a pass or fail mark. No more.

Now Rutten is faced with decisions all game, his starting points and positioning in relation to the ball and his opponents critical to his contribution to the team. Some days, he may hardly touch the ball (and his direct opponent may even snag a couple of goals) yet everyone on the team and in the coach’s box will know he has played a good game, because he made good decisions that limited the opposition’s scoring. “There are different ways of assessing your game,” Rutten says. “It is a lot more team-oriented these days and you can sometimes trace back (opposition) scoring to things that happen in your forward line, which might lead to your man kicking a goal.” The change is not about pain. North Melbourne’s Brady Rawlings, playing as a defender in 2010 after years of tagging – and assessing his performance on how well he limited his direct opponent – says the interrelated nature of the game has made it more enjoyable. “It feels more of a team environment,” he says. The reasons for the change are clear. Clubs are learning about and implementing aspects of other sports – zone defences, full-court presses, metres gained. Behind-the-goals footage – only available in recent years – has become a critical teaching tool. Players are full-time and spend as much time being educated in meetings about what to do in certain situations as they do out on the track turning that knowledge into instinct. “At our main training session, we pretty much defend for the whole session now as a backline,” Rawlings says. “In the past, training was about getting a certain amount of kicks to get the skills and confidence up, but we now train decision-making as defenders.” Being able to read the play is as critical as closing speed and strength and courage. It’s an interesting point relating to the biggest shift now underway in football. Whereas most of us recognise good decision-makers to be those who make the right choice with the ball in their hands, players today also need to make good decisions when they don’t have the ball. AFL RECORD visit 63

THE CASE FOR DEFENCE “When you are in positions to defend, you often have three or four decisions you can make: whether you stay on your man, whether you push up or whether to take another opponent to cover for a teammate,” Rawlings says. If you wonder about the lot of the modern footballer, then you only need to hear why Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade wasn’t happy with his team at quarter-time and half-time of last week’s game against the Kangaroos, despite his team leading by three goals. “Our defensive work off the ball was very poor,” Eade says. “We didn’t man them up quickly enough, we didn’t spread from the contest when they started to handball and we didn’t close their space, so (in) those little things which you don’t get a stat for, I thought we were poor.” The Bulldogs’ improved performance in those areas over recent years explains why they are second best in the competition for points conceded. It is not just because the Dogs have Brian Lake, one of the game’s best players in the defensive 50 (along with Geelong’s Matthew Scarlett).


Teaching defensive structures and habits does not happen overnight. It is a gradual process, with measured improvement. Those who have played together for longer have a distinct advantage when it comes to learning. Wellman has been the defensive coach at Melbourne for three seasons. During his tenure, the Demons have conceded fewer points each year, a terrific effort given they have been one of the poorer teams when measuring inside 50 differentials. Wellman, a premiership defender with Essendon in 2000, says that much of his teaching is related to basic positioning: where the ball is, where your direct opponent is and where you need to be as a defender. Having options, he says, provides players with the tools to turn things around if they are being beaten. 64 AFL RECORD visit

CAUGHT: Shannon Byrnes, here

tackling Hawk Brent Guerra, says the Cats’ forwards place an emphasis on applying defensive pressure.

Wellman says Melbourne still has plenty of areas to develop and says the best defensive teams set the standard. “They are well-organised so their starting points are really good at stoppages, at kick-ins and in a zone. They are so well-organised, they seem to be in synch with each other.”

Forward pressure

If opponents can run unrestricted, defenders have about as much time to decide what to do (and then do it) as an opening batsman might have facing up to Australian speedster Shaun Tait. The quicker a team can make the shift from attack to defence the better. Any extra time its midfield and forwards can create with pressure helps. When faced with the ball heading in his direction, Rutten’s mind begins to tick: “I’m hoping teammates up the ground are putting pressure on, causing the ball carrier to stop or prop. Then it comes down to percentages.” Instinctively, Rutten determines where he would like his opponent to get the ball and decide which areas he can actually defend.

“You are seeing more guys “If you’re just concentrating running into open goals these on goals, you can find yourself days. You have to eliminate that chasing the ball, whereas now, (option) and make opponents if you can’t influence or get kick set shots from as wide as there, you ask where your man possible,” Rutten says. is,” Byrnes says. Reducing these “free” shots “You can’t let them get an easy is a reason why forwards are kick out of the backline so you measured on how well they don’t just stream in there hoping hamper rebounds from 50. for a crumb. Obviously, you have Geelong’s Shannon to be there when it is just you, Byrnes, the Cats’ dual but if there is someone premiership small already there, forward, is you don’t come involved in running in WE PRIDE an in-house after them; you OURSELVES ON competition think about THE DEFENSIVE with other your man.” forwards With this ASPECTS OF OUR based on approach, GAME MORE THAN the number Byrnes has KICKING GOALS of inside-50 kicked more SHANNON BYRNES tackles they lay. than double the “We’ve set it number of goals up because we pride in his past 39 games ourselves on the defensive (59) as he kicked in his first aspects of our game more than 54 (27), while also being ultrakicking goals,” he says. effective on his defensive side. Byrnes says the emphasis Keeping forwards accountable on defence and pressure has for defensive actions has been forced a change in mindset from crucial to the top teams’ ability everyone in the forward 50. to strangle sides. Again, it comes down to players Rawlings says the evidence making better decisions without in reviews is irrefutable: if one the ball. player does not adhere to the

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THE CASE FOR DEFENCE plan, they are more likely to be defending on the last line of defence, rather than on the wing where they would prefer to be defending. It’s football’s butterfly effect. Being aware of these components allows those watching to take in more of the game, making activity off the ball as fascinating to watch as the action around it. Those at the game are best placed to do this. That said, it remains difficult to assess performance as traditional indicators (individual goals and possessions, for example) are just one way of evaluating performance. It’s no wonder defenders’ value is rarely recognised in individual awards. Rutten is familiar with the gap YOU HAVE between perception TO ASSESS and reality. THINGS AS A TEAM “Sometimes – NO INDIVIDUAL you need to Wellman IS GOING TO WIN make sure you says such are getting a GAMES FOR YOU leadership is bit of love from BEN RUTTEN vital and should each other because not be left to one people watching the person: “We encourage game sometimes struggle all our players to be really strong to pick up on what is going in directing their teammates. If on,” he says. you don’t get it right and are not “You do have to assess things well-organised and there is not a as a team and that is the only lot of pressure on the ball carrier, way to get results these days you are going to get exposed, – no individual is going to win so it is in your best interests games for you.” to ensure you are organising Leaders and directing.” To ensure players are making the Such coordinated actions are right decisions and moving in making it harder for teams to synch, on-field leaders score. There have been fewer are essential. goals scored this season (3754) It’s no coincidence we’re than at the same point last year seeing more television footage of (3828) and more quarters with teammates engaging in earnest one team kept goalless (55 in discussions about the need for 2010 compared to 50 at the same everyone to be in synch. stage last season). “We’ve found that one player Even the coach of the best not making the right decision attacking team, Geelong, throws everyone out,” Rawlings admitted after the round 15 says. “At all times, we’re taking game against Hawthorn that the cues off the first teammate Cats were finding it harder to who might have to push up and score against better teams. defend. He seems to be the most Mark Thompson has had important player at that time.” to put players who can win It’s why the importance contests forward (Gary Ablett of players such as Rutten, and Paul Chapman, for example) Geelong’s Darren Milburn, and throw speedsters on the Essendon’s Dustin Fletcher, wings (Travis Varcoe and David Melbourne’s Cameron Bruce and Wojcinski) to hit stoppages at Collingwood’s Nick Maxwell pace so they can create fast should never be underestimated. entries into their forward 50. 66 AFL RECORD visit

LEADER: Collingwood captain Nick

Maxwell plays an important role in giving his side on-field direction.

‘LADDER’ BASED ON POINTS AGAINST 1312 1328 1360 1388 1506 1553 1567 1621 1626 1629 1717 1815 1827 1846 1889 1947

St Kilda Western Bulldogs Collingwood Geelong Hawthorn Sydney Swans Melbourne Adelaide Fremantle Carlton Port Adelaide Brisbane Lions North Melbourne Richmond Essendon West Coast


How’s it looking?

Those concerned with monitoring the game’s aesthetics – and like it or not that includes the AFL, broadcasters and spectators – have been watching the increased emphasis on defensive strategies closely. The ramped-up running power has allowed defensive actions to be implemented more effectively, so more players seem to be around the ball at stoppages. Players are able to make the transition from attacking to defensive positions more quickly and in greater numbers as their running power and intensity goes up. Although stoppages around the ground are down, there are more boundary throw-ins. Some teams appear happy to move the ball forward along the boundary if the quality of their entry is not guaranteed, forcing the ball out of bounds so they can set up again. This possibility of defensive aspects dominating in the future is one factor – concern about injury and the fairness if a player is lost mid-game are the others – ensuring the effect of numerous interchanges is being monitored. However, defenders are under more pressure than ever as few clubs carry a spare defender on the bench. Rutten and Rawlings

stay on the ground more than most players, yet are faced with power forwards, nippy crumbers and lead-up forwards rotating through the forward 50. “I might play on three different opponents in a quarter who have fresh legs, so that makes it hard,” Rutten says. Although the intensity at which Rutten runs might be less than that of midfielders, he runs just as far. It’s no coincidence that defenders are being left on the ground longer than other types of players. Coaches need to be able to trust those in the back 50 to get it right all the time. They can’t simply pluck someone from the forward and midfield rotation to give a defender a rest. “It is becoming harder for a midfielder to go to half-back and be able to play there as it will affect the whole dynamics of the team,” Rutten says. “Players need to know what role they have and other players need to know what others are going to do.” It’s no wonder Essendon coach Matthew Knights last week referred to his “back seven” – a departure from the much spoken about back six. The trend to defence as a total unit will continue beyond 2010, as the top-four spots on the ladder are occupied by teams that have conceded the fewest points. It’s why inside clubs, the defensive focus will only grow.


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Moments of the


Reaching the hearts of all

Jim Stynes’ rise from Irish import to champion Melbourne ruckman is one of football’s greatest stories. His achievements off the field have been just as amazing, especially in recent times when battling illness. ASHLEY BROWNE


hen Jim Stynes announced in July last year that he was taking a leave of absence from his position as president of the Melbourne Football Club because of treatment for cancer, Melbourne came to a standstill. Not the football club. The city. Melburnians can be a parochial lot, but Stynes had long since ceased being an outsider. Through his actions as a footballer and through his charitable and philanthropic endeavours, Stynes had become an iconic Melbourne figure. He was a source of fascination from the time he stepped on an airplane from Ireland as a skinny teenager to take part in what the Demons called

their “Irish Experiment”, which consisted of establishing whether talented young Gaelic footballers could be taught to play Australian Football. Stynes was spotted at As a a talent identification footballer camp in Ireland by and through his Ron Barassi and by charitable and 1984 was on his philanthropic way to Melbourne. ran over He started out in endeavours, Stynes the mark the under-19s, not has become an in the dying knowing which way iconic figure seconds to kick after he got the of the 1987 ball, and was sent to preliminary final, VFA club Prahran for gifting Hawthorn sharpshooter a period in order to fast-track his Gary Buckenara a 15m penalty. understanding of the game. Buckenara kicked the winning Yet within three years of goal after the final siren for arriving, he was a regular the Hawks, who after having ruckman for the Demons, trailed all day, were through to attracting notoriety when he

yet another Grand Final. A famous newspaper image taken soon after the game shows Melbourne coach John Northey glaring at a shattered Stynes as he enters the dressing room at Waverley Park. And if Stynes needed any reminding of how big a deal it was, it came after the season when, on a train in Paris, he was asked by a fellow traveller:

REVERED: Jim Stynes may have incurred the wrath of coach John Northey after a costly mistake in the in 1987 preliminary final against Hawthorn (left), but redeemed himself by becoming an all-time great (below) and then president of his beloved Demons (far right).

68 AFL RECORD visit

“Aren’t you the bloke who gave away that 15m penalty?” Stynes soldiered on the next season, continued to make huge improvements to his football and by 1991 was the runaway winner of the Brownlow Medal, and probably the most popular winner. At 199cm, Stynes wasn’t the tallest ruckman in the AFL, but he was athletic. And despite coming to the game so late, he was tremendously skilled. Perhaps because of the climate where he grew up, he was also a great wet-weather player. He won four Melbourne best and fairest awards and represented Victoria on 10

occasions, but what endeared him not just to Demons supporters but the game in general was his endurance. Stynes played a record 244 games in succession, on the way to a games total of 264. It took a broken hand in 1998 to end the amazing consecutive games streak. Only David Neitz, Robert Flower and Adem Yze have played more games in the red and blue. Stynes trained as a teacher away from football but in 1994 established The Reach Foundation together with film director Paul Currie, with the aim of promoting the mental health, wellbeing and leadership skills of young Australians in the 15-25 age bracket. Reach now works with an estimated 58,000 people each year and Stynes was honoured for his work with young people by being named Victorian of the Year in 2003. Stynes played a major part in the AFL’s anti-racism initiatives after his retirement and his other main football involvement was as an assistant coach of the Australian International Rules team for the matches against Ireland. But his passion for the Demons never wavered and in June of 2008 he replaced Paul Gardiner as club president, with an immediate goal of reducing the club’s crippling $5 million debt. He launched the ‘Debt Demolition’ fund within weeks of becoming president and the Demons are on track to wipe the slate clean.


� Rather than shy away from his troubles, Stynes has been lauded for his honesty and transparency during his cancer treatment. Stynes was an early adopter, by AFL standards, of Twitter and as of last weekend, had 5566 followers on the microblogging website. Stynes posts regular updates on his treatment, as well as the progress of the Demons and the eradication of the club’s debt. He has been a regular attendee at most Melbourne

games and in some instances, as was the case earlier this season, left his sick bed to be at the MCG for the final quarter of a match, celebrating with the team after a win. With seven wins and a draw in 2010, the Demons are on the way up and even an outside chance to make the finals. Much of the credit for Melbourne’s improvement ought to go to Stynes, who has lifted the club’s spirits and helped create a sense of optimism.

RESPECT: Demon player s showed their suppor t for Stynes after learning of his illness last season.

It is an amazing achievement, given the trials and tribulations Stynes has been through while battling cancer. Initially, a cancerous lump was found in his back, but it soon spread and he announced earlier this year that he had undergone surgery to remove tumours from his brain. ASHLEY BROWNE IS EDITOR OF BACKPAGELEAD.COM.AU

REBUILDING A PROUD CLUB You went back to the club as an energetic and fresh passionate former player determined to turn things around. What sort of vibe did you want to bring? We wanted people to be proud of being a supporter of Melbourne. We don’t want them to be embarrassed. We just want them to be proud of the club, of what we’re doing and the steps we’re taking. We want them to feel like we’re on the right path and that the vision of winning a premiership can be realised. We saw it as not being about quick fixes, but long-term sustainable growth within our football club.

Do you believe the wider football public cares about the welfare of Melbourne any more?

Before we came in, I thought there was a little bit of apathy around about our club, and people thought we weren’t doing ourselves any favours. But a lot of people have shown me a lot of support and welcomed me back. Other people from d other clubs have taken memberships, and players and presidents from other clubs have done the same. That’s been a boost. EXCERPT FROM AN INTERVIEW IN THE AFL RECORD AT THE START OF THE 2009 SEASON.

AFL AFL AF FL RECORD RECOR RE CO C OR O RD visit viis vvis isit it afl aflrec rec rre eecc ord orrd or .cco c om m.a m. ..a au 69 69

Col Hutchinson

timeon Our AFL history guru answers your queries.


The Hawthorn-St Kilda drawn match in round 17 was one of the most exciting contests I have ever seen. Just one point separated the teams at quarter and half-time, and scores were level at three-quarter time. Was it the closest game ever?


Sam Gilbert was a dejected figure at the end of the drawn St Kilda-Hawthorn clash in round 17.


CH: The Hawks-Saints thriller

is certainly the closest in terms of margins at the end of each quarter. Another tied match, Hawthorn-South Melbourne at Glenferrie Oval in round 15, 1956, produced margins of zero, three and two points respectively at each of the three breaks. In the opening round of 1927, South Melbourne outscored Carlton by a point at Princes Park. The teams were separated by one, two and two points at the end of each of the first three quarters. Another unusual nail-biter occurred at the Lake Oval in round nine, 1924, when the Swans defeated Geelong by three points. At quarter, half and three-quarter time, the margin was also three points.

WRITE TO ANSWER MAN The Slattery Media Group 140 Harbour Esplanade Docklands, 3008 or email

70 AFL RECORD visit

AFL mystery men Hurtle Keith Long � Long was born on May 9, 1910, and was recruited from South Adelaide by North Melbourne in 1934 as a 187cm, 86kg ruckman, who could also play as a defender or forward. Wearing guernsey No. 3, he earned three Brownlow Medal votes during his career. The last of his 18 matches was in round 13, 1935.

George Henry Prismall � Prismall made his only appearance for Essendon in round eight, 1935, as a 179cm, 81kg back pocket. Born on March 10, 1915, he played his junior football with East Brunswick before trying out with Fitzroy seconds and eventually developing a good reputation with VFA club Brunswick.

Should you have any further information regarding the above mystery men, including their date of death, contact Col Hutchinson on (03) 9643 1929 or col.hutchinson@afl

The hard men

� North Melbourne has had some hard players over the years. Older readers will remember backlines with names such as Pat Kelly, Laurie Icke, ‘Dodger’ Ryan and Ted Jarrard. Only the brave or foolish entered their area. Then there were Albert Mantello and Noel Teasdale right through to Glenn Archer, Mick Martyn and Wayne Carey. On the current list, there is a player who by name must join that group: Leigh Harding. Harding is a name of Germanic/Scandinavian origins. The ‘hard’ part of the name is the same ‘hard’ as in Richard (“powerful and tough”), Gerard, Bernard, etc. In this version, Harding means “son of a tough man”; but, in a connected version, Harding was, and is, used in Norway for people who come from the Hardanger fjord area; and, as a word, Harding is still used in Norway and Sweden to denote a “tough guy”. A surname with the same meaning is that of Gary Hardeman, a fine player in 219 games with Melbourne. KEVAN CARROLL


Rick Milne


Plenty – that’s life

A weekly look at collectables, tables, memorabilia and all footy things stored in boxes boxe and garages.


I recently came across 15 editions of 1970s magazine Football Life, an official VFL publication, and was wondering whether they have any value. My editions range from April, 1971, to July, 1973.

� During World War II, from 1939-45, all VFL teams suffered in one way or another, especially with so many players enlisting. Geelong was forced out of the competition over the 1942-43 seasons because of war-time travel restrictions. Times were tight and there were shortages of many materials, including paper. As a result, it is rare to find copies of the Football Record from the war years. This one featured Richmond at home to Fitzroy oy on May 27, 1944. The Maroons went on to defeat the Tigers in the Grand Final that year.


RM: Because Football Life was

a popular magazine and sold in large numbers, plenty have survived and are worth an average of $10 each. I have a framed Collingwood Team of the Century guernsey (not autographed) and I believe it was part of a limited release about five to 10 years ago. Value? JOE SKIM, VIA EMAIL

RM: I am afraid these were

not too limited and are worth just $250 each.

I am a huge football memorabilia collector, especially of items relating to Geelong from 1920 to the present. One of my items is a 1977 North MelbourneCollingwood Grand Final colour slide souvenir kit. There are 24 slides in the original cardboard folder and the kit was produced in association with the VFL and radio station 3DB. Value? PAUL, VIA EMAIL

RM: These must have been

popular as I have come across

quite a few. Or, maybe, they did not sell well at all and lots of them now are available. The kits are worth about $45 each. I have the football used in the 2005 Sydney Swans-St Kilda preliminary final and it has all but three of the Swans players’ signatures. Value? HARRY HARVEY, SEAFORTH, NSW

GREAT READING: Football Life was a popular magazine in the 1970s.

RM: I assume you have proof

that this item is the real thing. Even so, signed footballs are difficult to sell as they go flat and the signatures fade. Still, it is an interesting item, especially as the Swans went on to win the flag. Maybe $500.

CONTACT RICK MILNE or drop him a line: 5 Cooraminta St, Brunswick, Vic, 3056 or call (03) 9387 4131. One query per reader.












FITZY Carlton North Melbourne Hawthorn Geelong Cats West Coast Eagles St Kilda Melbourne Western Bulldogs

72 AFL RECORD visit

MICK Carlton North Melbourne Hawthorn Geelong Cats West Coast Eagles St Kilda Richmond Adelaide

SAM Carlton Fremantle Hawthorn Geelong Cats West Coast Eagles St Kilda Melbourne Western Bulldogs

DAVE Carlton North Melbourne Hawthorn Collingwood West Coast Eagles St Kilda Melbourne Western Bulldogs

LEHMO Carlton Fremantle Hawthorn Collingwood West Coast Eagles St Kilda Melbourne Adelaide

ANDY Carlton North Melbourne Hawthorn Geelong Cats Brisbane Lions St Kilda Melbourne Western Bulldogs

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� Solve this puzzle by filling in the empty squares with the nine letters of the player’s name. You must make sure you use each letter only once in each row, column or small box of nine squares. Do not guess, as there is only one correct solution.





















1 Which club wore yellow arm bands on

its jumper last week to support cancer awareness programs?

3 This former Collingwood captain ain is now an




2 _ _ _ _ _ Costa is the president of Geelong.










assitant coach at West Coast.

4 Which company supplies footballs lls

for AFL matches?

5 Which club has beaten the six non-Victorian Victorian

teams this season?

THIS WEEK’S ANSWERS SPOT THE DIFFERENCE: Hayden Ballantyne’s hair changed to blond; white pom pom in top right corner changed to purple; horizontal pole above fence removed; green sign on bottom right of fence removed; purple streamers at left changed to blue. 5 QUICK QUESTIONS: 1. Essendon; 2. Frank; 3. Scott Burns; 4. Sherrin; 5. Richmond. B IG G MOUTH: MOU MOUT M MO O H: BIG SCRAMBLED SCRA SC S CRA AM MBLE BLE LE L ED FO FOOTBALLER: OTBA BALLER ER: ER CRYPTIC CRYP C RYP YPTIC TIIC T C FOOTBALLERS: FOOT FO F OO OO OT TBALLERS: LE

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Bomber on the rise

Brilliant young Bomber Michael Hurley is making a habit abit of starring against St Kilda, the team he used to barrack for. CALLUM TWOMEY

2010 NAB AFL Rising Star Nominees


ssendon’s Michael BRIGHT FUTURE : With a Hurley will probably tude, determined look and attitude, always have a soft ga Michael Hurley is making nce name for himself in defence spot for St Kilda, the for the Bombers. club he grew up supporting. But in his short time in the AFL, he hasn’t shown it. The Bombers have won all three games Hurley has played against the Saints, and he has been among the best players each time. Twice, he has been nominated for the NAB AFL Rising Star award. The first was after round 20 last year; the second followed his 30-possession and 13-mark effort in the Bombers’ 33-point win last round. Hurley is only the To play on second player in the the likes of Nick history of the award to Riewoldt and be nominated twice Justin Koschitzke against the same team (the first was West has been a Coast’s Mark LeCras, for massive thrill his efforts in 2006 and MICHAEL HURLEY 2007, against Richmond. Hurley said “I was lucky enough the team went into to get the nomination last year the game with confidence it could against St Kilda, so it must be get on top of St Kilda. pretty good playing them,” “It had been mentioned during Hurley said. the week by ‘Knighta’ (coach “It’s always good fun lining up Matthew Knights) that if we against the team you supported could match St Kilda inside with and to play on the likes of Nick the hard-ball gets, we’d be able Riewoldt and Justin Koschitzke to use our run and carry to get on has been a massive thrill.” top of them,” he said. After a slow start to the “We set the tone early and season, Essendon fans would be were able to do that. thrilled with the development “It was pretty tough to be Hurley, 20, has made this year. around the club while we Playing in defence against were losing, and the side was the Saints last week, Hurley’s a bit embarrassed about the all-round ability was on show. way we were going about our He provided plenty of rebound footy, but we’ve had a chance to while also beating his direct turn it around and we’ve won a opponent, Koschitzke. couple of games.”

Round 1 – Chris Yarran (Carl) Round 2 – Daniel Hannebery (Syd) Round 3 – Ryan Bastinac (NM) Round 4 – Nic Naitanui (WCE) Round 5 – Jack Trengove (Melb) Round 6 – Todd Banfield (Bris) Round 7 – Tom Scully (Melb) Round 8 – Jake Melksham (Ess) Round 9 – Nathan Fyfe (Frem) Round 10 – Dustin Martin (Rich) Round 11 – Jordan Gysberts (Melb) Round 12 – Ben Reid (Coll) Round 13 – Tom Rockliff (BL) Round 14 – Ben Stratton (Haw) Round 15 – Jack Redden (BL)

Though he has been earmarked as a potential leader, Hurley said it wasn’t something he had considered, with only 25 games to his name. But he enjoys the fact people expect big things from him in the future. “I don’t really think you strive to be a leader because, if it’s going to happen, it will happen,” he said. “Obviously it would be a great honour to get into the leadership group at some stage, but we’ll let that take care of itself. “I do think, though, that it’s good to have that expectation. You set yourself high standards, and if other people set them as well, then the least you can do is try to live up to them.”

Round 16 – Phil Davis (Adel) Round 17 – Jarrad Grant (WB) Round 18 – Michael Hurley (Ess)


Hurley had his gall bladder removed at the start of last year.

2 He is the youngest of five children.

3 He aspires to grow a beard like Western Bulldogs ruckman Ben Hudson.

Each week throughout the home and away season, a panel of judges will select the nominee for the 2010 NAB AFL Rising Star. At the completion of the season, one outstanding player will be chosen as the 2010 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 fulfil their dream of playing in the AFL.

76 AFL RECORD visit



Applying data laterally

By any definition, winning the contested ball is crucial


suspect only a few would know that a free kick awarded for an interchange infringement is counted as a contested possession. The reason is simple enough. Frees “for” (except for out-of-bounds on the full and centre-square infringements) are categorised as contested possessions, and this is where the definition of what is deemed “contested” in our game starts to get complicated. Some frees for are gifted, while most are earned under pressure and, in some cases, it’s difficult to distinguish the difference. For example, the player awarded a free kick when an opponent runs more than 15m without bouncing the ball is credited with a contested possession, even if he only happens to be the nearest player to the runner. Is this chance or the result of a hard chase? A similar question often arises in relation to the player who has gained possession when the ball has fallen into open space (off the hands of a pack) and is credited with a contested possession. A loose-ball get is also included in the definition, along with frees for, hard-ball gets and contested marks. The AFL Prospectus defines a loose-ball get as “when a player picks up the ball in an uncontested situation that has spilled on to the ground and a clean disposal follows”. How can it be that a loose ball won in an “uncontested 78 AFL RECORD visit

At this early stage, a free for was not included in the definition of a contested possession and the preferred description was “disputed ball” contest. Over time, calling it a “contested possession” became the popular choice and in 1999, after considerable debate, frees for were officially added to the formula. Subsequent analysis of the statistics from 1996-97 ranked contested marks within the 50m arcs first, loose-ball gets second and hard-ball gets IN DISPUTE: Port Adelaide and Hawthorn players battle third in terms of their impact on for a contested possession last week. scoring, and consequently, the result of games. This was a time when the situation” qualifies as a contested Sun in 1996 under the name number of contested and possession? Or even stranger: of ‘Rev Rankings’, the new uncontested possessions a a free kick awarded for an system kicked off a revolution in interchange infringement is statistics, a facet of the game that game were about even; today, on average, there are 253 credited as a contested possession has continued to evolve. contested possessions and to the player receiving the Among the first of the 481 uncontested benefit, even though he could coaches to get on possessions a be 150m away from where the board was North match. administrative blunder occurred. Melbourne’s Winning the In 2000, The importance of winning Denis Pagan, contest. The first loose-ball gets a contested possession cannot whose team averaged 132 rule of football is be underestimated, nor the won that year’s a game and difficulty of deciding what it is. premiership. go after your hard-ball A key motivation driving the A week before own ball gets 72. The setting up of Champion Data in the Grand Final, DAVID WHEADON DESCRIBING A pendulum has 1995 was my determination to in an Australian CONTESTED POSSESSION since shifted define the meaning of a contested Financial Review dramatically, with possession and verify its influence article, he described the 2010 average of on the game. the data as “most 82 loose-ball gets and 110 Showing my bias as a former significant. I can’t get hard-ball gets a match. rover, I was convinced the ability enough off him (Hopkins). We A consequence of this shift, to win the loose and hard ball place a lot of confidence in his due to more congestion and was crucial to the outcome of ratings, and it’s certainly helped pressure on the ball carrier than games. Previously, there had a lot in determining what our ever, is an alarming escalation been anecdotal references to success indicators are”. in ineffective and “clanger” terms such as a “crumb”, “gather”, A book by specialist assistant disposals: from 118 a game 10 “pack mark” and “hard nut”. coach David Wheadon (now years ago to 201 a game now. However, these were general with Geelong), published before Winning contested possession descriptive terms and were not the 1997 season, declared what is critical to winning games and, recorded as statistics for all players a contested possession meant: in my view, it is time to sharpen and teams in the competition. “Winning the contest. The first the definition of a contested Back then, the only available rule of football is ‘go after your possession, rather than accept statistics attributing possession own ball’. Going into heavy traffic the current inconsistencies. types were marks and frees for. for the hard-ball get. Picking up The rest was a blank canvas. The new Champion Data statistics coloured this space. First published by the Herald

the crumb or loose-ball get when the ball spills and being in hot pursuit. Taking a contested mark in the battle for the ball in the air.”


After 9 years with the Lions, Ashley McGrath is hanging up his boots≥ Artist: Riki Salam, Gilimbaa

From Club Rookie of the Year to the Indigenous All-Stars team – Ashley McGrath’s boots could tell some stories. Which is why we asked him to hand them over. Ashley’s playing boots have been painted by an Australian Indigenous artist, and hung as part of an exhibition to celebrate the talent of Indigenous players in the AFL today. See the full Qantas Boots & Dreams Exhibition and tour details at Qantas. Proud supporter of dreams.

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AFL Record, Round 19 2010  

The AFL Record is the most loved and read football magazine in the country and for the first time, is now available free to read online each...