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T H E C H A NGI NG FAC E OF FO OT B A L L

THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE OF THE AFL GAME

FULLY FOCUSED

ROUND 1, 2010 MARCH 25-28 $5 (INC. GST)


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65

THE BEST: Gary Ablett, Jimmy Bartel

and Paul Chapman helped the Cats to last year’s flag, but can the club maintain its brilliance?

ROUND 1, MARCH 25-28, 2010

Features 6

Watching the game unfold

Peter Ryan reviews the past decade.

12

The next chapter

A four-way discussion on all matters football.

78

Matthew Richardson

A heart-felt tribute to a Tiger champion.

Regulars 4

Backchat

Your say on the football world.

20

The Bounce

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

33

Matchday

Stats, history and line-ups.

61

Dream Team

Advice from Mr Fantasy, our Dream Team expert.

88 90 THIS WEEK’S COVERS The national cover depicts 16 club captains preparing for the start of a new season, while retired Tiger great Matthew Richardson features on a dedicated cover for the Richmond-Carlton match.

92 94

Answer Man Kids’ Corner NAB AFL Rising Star Talking Point

Ted Hopkins on what makes Brent Harvey a star.

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feedback

Your say on the world of football

EDITOR’S LETTER

Changing face of football

Tigers no pushovers

Everyone seems to have written off the Tigers in 2010, bracketing them with the Dees as likely wooden-spooners. But with Damien Hardwick now at the helm, they won’t be the easy-beats they were last season.

TIGER TOUGH:

New coach Damien Hardwick is expected to give Richmond a harder edge this season.

TONY, ASHBURTON, VIC

Lions set to roar

Best of luck to Michael Voss and the Brisbane Lions in 2010. I admire Voss’ gumption in making such massive changes to the Lions’ list at the end of last year. To his many knockers, remember this: fortune favours the brave. JO, MORNINGTON, VIC

Bring it on

How good is it to have the footy back? I love the cricket, but it gets a bit boring with everyone barracking for the same team all summer. Bring on the the pre-game banter, niggly club rivalries and the Monday morning workplace reviews BRYAN, GLENELG, SA

Cats not done yet

I’ve been surprised how many people have hitched a ride on the Western Bulldogs bandwagon lately. Yes, Barry Hall was good in the NAB Cup but the Cats and Saints had the Dogs’ measure in 2009, so they’ve still got some improving to do. I expected people would

tip the Saints to rebound from last year’s Grand Final loss. Fair enough, too, they were excellent last year. But why are so many people convinced the Cats are gone? Our midfield is still the League’s best and young Tom Hawkins is ready to explode at full-forward. FRED, FLINDERS, VIC

PRODUCTION EDITOR Michael Lovett WRITERS GENERAL MANAGER, MARKETING Nick Bowen, Ben Collins, Jim Main, Peter Ryan, Callum Twomey & COMMERCIAL OPERATIONS Paul Waldren SUB-EDITORS Gary Hancock, Howard Kotton AFL CORPORATE BUSINESS MANAGER STATISTICIAN Richard Simkiss Cameron Sinclair AFL RECORD CREATIVE DIRECTOR MANAGING EDITOR Andrew Hutchison Geoff Slattery DEPUTY ART DIRECTOR AFL RECORD EDITOR Sam Russell Peter Di Sisto

4 AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au

HAVE YOUR SAY

Send us your feedback. The best letter each round willl receive a copy of the AFL Record Season Guide 2010. Email aflrecordeditor@slatterymedia. terymedia com or write to AFL Record, Slattery Media Group, 140 Harbour Esplanade, Docklands, VIC, 3008.

DESIGNERS Alison Wright, Joel Chris PHOTO EDITORS Natalie Boccassini, Ginny Pike PRODUCTION MANAGER Troy Davis PRODUCTION COORDINATOR Stephen Lording DISTRIBUTION MANAGER Adele Morton COMMERCIAL MANAGER Alison Hurbert-Burns

AFL CLUB ACCOUNT MANAGER Anthony Palmer ADVERTISING SALES COORDINATOR Laura Mullins Advertising (03) 9627 2600 PHOTOGRAPHY Sean Garnsworthy, Michael Willson, Lachlan Cunningham AFL Photos (03) 9627 2600 aflphotos.com.au PRINTED BY PMP Print

� In another world, long gone, football discussion was predominantly confined to onfield matters, like the peculiar bounce of the ball, an umpire’s decision or a full-forward’s wayward kicking boot. Not surprisingly, none of those matters surfaced when the AFL Record sat down with four of the game’s most articulate and influential participants to seek their views of the changing face of football. But few would have guessed some of the most rigorous discussion between AFL football operations manager Adrian Anderson, Western Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade, AFL Players’ Association CEO Matt Finnis and Hawthorn premiership player Brad Sewell would have revolved around Facebook and other social media. In so many ways, the Facebook debate confirms how fundamentally different our game is to the one we were observing at the start of the 2000s. As we start a new decade of football, the industry is preparing for some fundamental, landscapealtering shifts, and the views put forth in the interview (starting on page 10) are enlightening. Also in this issue, we publish the first of a new weekly column by Carlton premiership player and game analyst Ted Hopkins, who will analyse all aspects of on-field action in his unique style. PETER DI SISTO

ADDRESS CORRESPONDENCE TO TheTHIS Editor,WEEK’S AFL Record,COVER Ground Floor, XXXX XXXXX 140XXXXXXXXXXXXX Harbour Esplanade, X Docklands, Victoria, 3008. Go9627 to afl photos.com.au P: (03) 2600 F: (03) 9627 2650 E: peterd@slatterymedia.com to order prints

of this image.

AFL RECORD, VOL. 99, ROUND 1, 2010 Copyright. ACN No. 004 155 211. ISSN 1444-2973, Print Post approved PP320258/00109


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THE CHANGING FACE OF FOOTBALL

2000-2009 THE DECADE REVIEWED

WATCHING THE GAME UNFOLD So much about football fundamentally changed in the past decade, with the dying seconds of last year’s Grand Final a perfect summary of those many shifts. PETER RYA N

F

rom the MCG’s standing room area, the 2009 AFL Grand Final seemed like many games in any decade that had gone before it. A chill in the moist air made a warm coat as essential as a romantic heart. I could see anguish cover players’ faces when mistakes were made. Until deep in the last quarter, the game had unfolded with a quickening, sustained – yet unpredictable – momentum, as only the best do. With a minute of football left in the decade, the usual yelling and cursing and hugging and hoping going on all day lulled. The final chapter was to be written in about 60 seconds. Geelong was a goal in front. St Kilda had scored a behind, to bring it within a kick. Could the Saints continue the decade’s trend and break a 43-year premiership drought? It only seemed fair. In 2001, the Brisbane Lions gave those Fitzroy supporters who continued supporting the merged club its first flag since 1944, then a second and finally a third. Midway through 2001, the Lions broke Essendon’s predicted dominance of the decade with young stars in Jonathan Brown, Simon Black and Luke Power and a fabulous midfield that set a new standard for that part of the ground. The run of three flags ended in 2004 when Port Adelaide won its first AFL premiership, then the Sydney Swans won the next season, ending 72 years of waiting for Bloods supporters. In 2007, it was the turn of Cats fans, a 44-year drought broken with a deluge of goals and a record 119-point thumping of Port Adelaide. Geelong’s victory meant that, during the decade, a premiership cup had reached each of the five states with clubs playing in the AFL. It was an era when the memorable Grand Final reappeared – two decided by less than a goal (West Coast’s 2006 win was by just one point), another by nine points. It was no wonder each win – including Hawthorn’s upset 2008 victory over Geelong– had been celebrated with no less than the usual fervour reserved for September’s last Saturday. Surely it was St Kilda’s turn now.

6 AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au

Geelong defender Darren Milburn picks up the ball, runs quickly to the goalsquare and prepares to kick out, no longer – following a rule change made in 2006 – having to wait for the flags to be waved. A lone voice can be heard in the hushed crowd, the rest of the horde holding its collective breath: “Kick it long”. It is a call as old as the bugle call, taking no account of the way the game has changed every year of every decade of the 150-plus years of its life. Milburn sizes up more than one option, however, as Saints players – exhausted but disciplined – automatically bolt (or stagger in reality) to where they are expected to be when the opposition kicks out. An 18-man press is in play as everyone, including St Kilda’s nominal full-back Zac Dawson, pushes up the ground. None of the mob on the field is more than two kicks from Milburn. To see all 36 players standing in one half of the ground is the norm now; at the start of the decade, when Essendon obliterated Melbourne, such a sight would have made the crowd gasp. Some call the set-up a zone, others a cluster, others a kick-in (or kick-out) plan. As the apparently chaotic but well-ordered movement takes place, the “kick it long” call is gaining momentum from the outer. Corey Enright, hard against the boundary, offers Milburn a short option. Cameron Ling meanders 10 metres out directly in front. Enright and Ling are key players in Geelong’s influential leadership group, helping coaches in team meeting after team meeting to drill plans – and the opposition’s likely response – into teammates as the group spends weeks together watching footage from all angles (including these days from behind the goals). “Think about what you are doing when you haven’t got the ball,” is every coach’s instructive plea. Some worry that such programming takes the instinct out of the game, but the past decade has proven such fears to be groundless: watching Jared Brennan pick up the ball one-handed, Daniel Motlop (and countless others) dribble goals, Brad Sewell stand up in a tackle, Ryan Griffen baulk or Gary Ablett give and go reminds us that individual brilliance will always have a place. Now, however, such footballers must become virtual scholars of the game to be of maximum value to their


team, combining flair with disciplined, predictable decision-making when opponents have the ball. In all parts of the world, people watch Milburn ponder his target. Television viewers – like most of us looking on at the ground – do not know how many minutes are left because the broadcaster, one of three commercial networks that combined to buy the rights to show football live (mostly) that season, had decided to stick with tradition and leave viewers – from the moment five minutes are left – in suspense about how much time actually remains. A box in the corner of the screen reads, simply, 28:38. Many observers hate being left with that uncertainty at home, even if the truth remains unavailable at the ground unless you are sitting in the coach’s box or commentary area or planted on the interchange bench adjacent to the playing arena. We have become used to embracing technology as it becomes available and will argue for certainty whenever it is a possibility, continuing debates about eliminating the centre bounce one such example. Funnily enough, Milburn, the man with the ball, knows the time remaining, with the luminous greengarbed runner never far from the action. Faced with exactly the same situation in that same spot in a match in 2008, Richmond veteran Joel Bowden, the AFL Players’ Association president, had run down the clock by continually and deliberately rushing behinds to ensure the Tigers stayed in front of Essendon, eventually winning by four points. A rushed behind rule had been introduced soon after the season finished to force a player in Milburn’s position to kick, to force him to take a risk, and to force him to do it quickly. The importance of making decisions as quickly off the field as on was being underlined right at that moment. A series of rule changes during the decade had lifted the percentage of time the ball was in play from 49 per cent from 2001-04 to 61 per cent from 2005-09. The coaches wanted to win, but the rulemakers made sure the game remained a great spectacle. Many changes (or interpretations) were hotly debated, then eventually accepted: hands in the back being the most notable. And players, trained to the minute, adapted, quicker than many imagined possible. In the same decade, AFL revenue had grown from $110 million to $303 million, attendances from 6.6 million to 7.2 million, average members per club from 27,000 to 36,000. The game we loved had changed so much but, despite those changes (or perhaps because of them), it seemed we loved it even more. In a decade when the world had become more averse to risk, we have become more attached to watching those engaged in games being forced to take risks. Such risks – taken amid intense defence – made everything faster: the game, the journalism, the world in which it swirls about. Football at AFL level has become a tale of an accelerated culture. The time between picking up the ball and getting rid of it has become shorter, as is the time between finding out and telling the world, or the minutes that elapse between running on to the ground and coming off (all of a sudden some teams averaged 100 interchanges a game). A player (Sydney Swan Nick

UNDER PRESSURE:

Geelong veteran Darren Milburn had to hold his nerve as he made a crucial kick-in late in the final quarter of the 2009 Grand Final.

Malceski) returned from a knee reconstruction after 10 weeks, not one season. Each weekend, one game ends and another one starts. Playing styles change mid-game; not too long ago, they only changed between seasons. Often, a game is played in every state and territory on the one weekend. The one certainty in that period, and at least for the next quarter century, is that the Grand Final is played at the MCG, and the fanatics will still be choosing standing room, bobbing and weaving to grab the action, or sometimes snippets of it between raised hands.

In all parts of the world, people watch Milburn ponder his target

Back to Milburn, back to the action: The umpire calls “PLAY ON” as wasting time is not acceptable. Nick Riewoldt – the Gold Coast local who had spent the decade developing from being the No. 1 draft pick to star player and then the presumed No. 1 target for the new Gold Coast club entering the expanded competition in 2011 (he recommitted to the Saints in 2009) – charges forward, nearly smothering Milburn’s rushed kick and the crowd, again, comes to life. Riewoldt, along with Lance Franklin, Gary Ablett, Chris Judd and Adam Goodes emerged as the game’s superstars during the decade as the stars of the ’90s and beyond, Michael Voss, James Hird, Shane Crawford, Mark Ricciuto, Nathan Buckley, Glen Jakovich, Matthew Lloyd and even the timeless Robert Harvey, faded into new careers (most still connected with the game that made them). Riewoldt remains – as the ball flies past his outstretched arms – the only member of that AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au 7


THE CHANGING FACE OF FOOTBALL

STANDING TALL:

Geelong’s Harry Taylor had a big assignment on St Kilda star Nick Riewoldt in last year’s Grand Final but did a superb job.

current quintet of champions without a premiership. His desperation to achieve that aim is ever-present. In the coach’s boxes, with every brain cell already near explosion point, the group is attempting to win it, or hold on. The ultimate role of the coach is to rule out as much doubt as he can. He knows at any moment who is right to take a break, and who is right to rush back on the ground, and which players on the ground are likely to be running out of puff. As clubs sell The computer screen in front of him more hope, people keeps updating statistical information and playing time, while the game charges on. assume the right But now, with so little time left, he must trust to criticise, quickly his players. and often without Geelong’s second-year defender and student of the game Harry Taylor – Riewoldt’s the knowledge opponent on the day – stands near the boundary line in front of the MCG’s new members’ stand, waiting for the long kick, exactly where he has been trained to be, the option to either mark the ball or thump it out of bounds available to him. Taylor marks. His grab, as one of Geelong’s five assistant coaches (and one of about 100 assistant coaches employed in the game) Brenton Sanderson remarks later, comes as no surprise. It is the result of a drill practised many times over, a skill probably reinforced via video footage that can be tagged by a data management program that matches skills, such as smothering, and statistics such as contested possessions, with footage. But most watchers don’t know this as Taylor stands tall, his grab second only to Leo Barry’s famous mark in 2005 as a Grand Final mark for the memory bank, and standing alongside Daniel Chick’s desperate smother for the Eagles or Stuart Dew’s goalscoring burst for the 8 AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au

Hawks or Michael Voss’ bounce back from a Scott Burns bump or Alastair Lynch’s heartbreaking goal or Byron Pickett’s left-handed running bounces as the most vivid Grand Final memories from the decade. Memories of moments are what stay with us. This game we love has become so fast and convoluted and filled with information that only experts can follow the exact patterns of the game. Even the team line-ups we read in the paper every Friday, with players named in traditional positions, are now a distortion of reality. But clusters and zones and stoppages and high halfforwards and six-day breaks are debated in every corner of the commentariat, despite the fact few of us watching from outside the club environment really understand what it all means, and how it all began, and where it might go. Not only are there multiple game-plans for how to move the ball, but situations to deal with stoppages and two or three defensive strategies per team. Most, like me, just watch the man with the ball with one eye, and the scoreboard with the other. And hope. In the coach’s box, six men look everywhere but at the man with the ball. They see a different game. Somehow, like AC/DC, the game has become more popular through the decade as its detail is further removed from the masses. Inside clubs, where judgments matter, the hard things to do (and by extension, to watch) are highlighted again and again and again. At the same time, outside that expert core, the rest of us debate whether we should let the game evolve or let the rule-makers engineer a style. You could be forgiven, with the incessant chatter all around, for believing the game means more than it ever did. When footage of a young Tigers supporter crying during round one of 2009 became something of a mainstream metaphor for all our inner yearnings, you imagined it might. The game has come to mean more to more; that is unquestionable. Football has become a story more adequately described as a 52-week never-ending soap opera than a refined, cleverly scripted set of classic movies. Meet others’ expectations and you prosper; exceed them and you excel; go below them and you can watch the world fall upon you. As clubs sell more hope, people assume the right to criticise, quickly and often without the knowledge to form a solid argument. Is Jack Watts better than Nic Naitanui? How would you know? But the conversations keep going. Now, it’s not “Who was better – Dermott Brereton or Wayne Carey?” but “Who would you choose … now?” It’s no longer the 100 minutes each week, but 800 minutes as we have become so attuned to watching every game every week, as we analyse strengths of character, rule changes, additional teams, television rights, media personalities, new shows, old shows, new voices, old voices and, in the ‘off-season’, the potential of the new season. As the perspicacious mob at Channel Nine recognised almost 20 years ago, “It’s more than a game”. This has always seemed dangerous territory for the purists, but the game has continued to grow – again in spite of it, or because of it? Sponsors can see the value in the exposure, but exposure is now something to be managed, carefully. As the money becomes more plentiful, those on the inside have to put up with pressures and intrusions not experienced by footballers before. It’s no wonder the clubs back today’s players to the hilt.


D O N ’ T JUST D R E AM IT. D O IT. T H E O F F I C I A L FA N TA S Y G A M E O F T H E A F L .

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THE CHANGING FACE OF FOOTBALL

THE END: Fans from far and wide

farewelled Essendon champion and record-breaking coach Kevin Sheedy in 2007. This was their last game against West Coast at Subiaco, in round 22.

As everything moves to full-time, the game has had to invest in policies to curb and monitor Football lovers excesses and come up with programs on subjects such as illicit drugs and respect and are most at peace towards women to balance is when the game is responsibility the protection of its investments with the in progress. That’s rights of its participants, while recognising its community responsibility. The small but vital why 7,341,310 beginnings that surrounded the legislation attended games protecting race and religion has become so in 2009 much more. Leadership has become critical and decisions are sharply critiqued. It is, many say, a new reality. Players now go about their business on a ground with a roof, running in perfect playing conditions while it pelts down outside. That is a new reality, if ever there was one. Amid all this action, the decade revealed there are heroes with quiet dignity who did not need a marketing team to move people. When Kevin Sheedy and Hird left Essendon in 2007, nearly 90,000 fans turned out to the MCG to pay their respects and acknowledge what they had given to the game; Jason McCartney’s comeback game in 2003, after he was badly burnt in the Bali terrorist bombings, was an inspiration to all, a tear being shed in lounge rooms all over. Sadly, young Melbourne footballer Troy Broadbridge did not return from his honeymoon, losing his life in the tragic 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. His passing was a reminder to all that the game, while more than a game, was nourishment for life rather than life itself. Football lovers are most at peace is when the game is in progress. That’s why 7,341,310 people attended AFL games in 2009.

The 99,251 people at the MCG watch Taylor keep his nerve as he is forced to play on quickly after marking Milburn’s kick. The Cats break through the zone with quick, risktaking football (a style that made them dominant at decade’s end, playing the game the way its administrators hoped) and finds the bearded Max Rooke – the tough, hard-tackling forward who started his career as a rookie 10 AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au

named Jarad and went to Germany in 2007 to have his hamstring injected with an extract of calf’s blood so he could play in that year’s premiership. Wow, is that a sentence for the ages or what? Rooke is running back with the flight of the ball into open, created space. The siren sounds, the Saints fall to the ground, and the Cats win a game St Kilda ‘should’ have. Rooke kicks a goal with no St Kilda player on the mark. It’s over, but then, these days, it’s never over. If you were at the ground, away from the radio, with the mobile turned off, you might have just found enough space to instinctively compute the reasons why the Saints lost when all the mistakes and efforts and running and fumbles and execution of skill were balanced out: (a) they could not kick goals when they had the chance to, and (b) a contest in the middle of the ground that could have gone either way with minutes to go went in the Cats’ favour because of a lucky bounce. You would have had to set your thoughts quickly before being bombarded by commentators – often individuals who seem to talk louder and in more of a rush as each year passes – with information that the Saints had more inside 50s, more contested possessions, more scoring shots, more every sort of statistic (meaningless and meaningful although I often can no longer separate which is which) we now apply to football games. One statistic was unambiguous – the Saints lost. Their premiership drought extended. Suddenly people argued that St Kilda’s season – moving from the top four to top two – could not be considered a success. It was not an assessment I could share as I left the standing room alongside Saints supporters with sunken shoulders. But it was possibly a reflection of a prevailing, automatic default position some have arrived at over the decade. That any team which loses a contest is a failure. That when our predictions come unstuck, they’re the ones we point the finger at. In the real world, not everything happens in logical fashion with a linear outcome. It remains about gradual improvement or decline. But with manicured grounds, a rotation system, certain clubs getting draft selections right, overseas training camps and big dollars paid, nothing is expected to go wrong. And if it does, it must have been someone else’s fault. Someone should pay: now. But things do unfold; often in a way we don’t want. That brings emotions forward as we deal with the reality. On the best days though, we are able to just watch in wonder.

Grand Final day 2009 – the last on-field action of a dynamic decade – was one such day. At the end of the decade, with 16 clubs’ futures guaranteed, former champions Voss now coaching the Lions and Buckley ready to take over (in two years) at Collingwood, and countdown clocks and high rotations and games played in every state on five nights of the week and with everything measured and assessed, we had seen it come down to this: Milburn picked up the ball and made a quick decision. He was brave enough to want to, confident enough to do so and disciplined enough to be in a position to know what to do. His opponents were similar. The crowd roared. There was nowhere to hide. He trusted his training and teammates. He kicked it long. This random, brilliant game continued to unfold.


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THE CHANGING FACE OF FOOTBALL

2010 & BEYOND LOOKING AHEAD

Football’s changes and challenges


The AFL is undergoing extraordinary change, presenting unprecedented challenges for all involved. By 2012, it will become an 18-team competition (with new franchises being established in traditional non-football areas – Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney) and limited free agency will be introduced, while a new collective bargaining agreement and the next broadcast rights deal are also due to be signed in time for that season. The AFL Record invited four key representatives of the game – AFL football operations general manager Adrian Anderson, AFL Players’ Association CEO Matt Finnis, Western Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade and Hawthorn premiership player and Players’ Association executive member Brad Sewell – to AFL House to discuss the game, as it is now and will likely be in the future. PETER RYA N A ND BEN COL LINS BROAD VIEWS: Western Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade (left) enjoys a light moment with AFL football operations general manager Adrian Anderson, AFLPA CEO Matt Finnis and Hawthorn player Brad Sewell before their round-table discussion on the state of the game.

THE GAME The way the game is played has changed dramatically in recent years, drawing a range of comments from all involved. How do you see it? Rodney E Eade: Peop People complain

anges but the AFL about ch changes philosophy of tryin philosophy trying to make con the gamee more continuous th here is mo means there more happening and moree entertain entertainment. As coaches, we think about win-loss have to tak but you h take a broader abo out where the game is view about Y hear traditionalists t headed. You Ap 4) and – my agee (52 on April ay, “Oh, it’ older – sa say, it’s not the way o be played it used to played”; well those re already converted. people ar are ha ave to capture capt We have the 10 30-year-old The new 3 to 30-year-olds. brreed of 10-year-olds 10breed d like sstoppages and don’t d like u don’t ugly play. I think the game is as it ever been good as it’s and I hav have played s through successful eras and been at different cclubs over three or clubs fo our ur d decad four decades. Some of th he old blokes blok also say the gamee’s not n as tough; thee game’s thatt’s garb bage – I reckon it’s that’s garbage tough her than tha an it’s it ever been. tougher sk pl Whatt we as ask players to do – ma asse, bee ha en masse, hard at the footy n’t rem memb seeing that – I don don’t remember day. I’m m happy ha in my d to admit I n outside outsid de p was an player. Adrian Anderson Anderson: Most of the coache s, generally geneeral speaking, coaches, have indicated in ndicateed to us they feel the game gam me itself itseelf is better than when they th hey played. played I reckon it’s often underestimated underestim u what has cha anged ove changed over the past five years: the t game gam me is i more freeflowing g and ssafer afer to play.

Brad Sewell: You have to

be more of a student of the game now than when I started eight years ago. The rules and interpretations are forever changing, and so are playing styles. Eade: I think the champions are the same as what they were years ago but your bottom five or six are without doubt better skilled, better players and better educated. Brad’s right about the level of information players have to decipher. A game-plan generally relates to how you move the ball, but now there are a few different parts to the game-plan: stoppages, defensive patterns, etc. There might be a few different versions of defensive patterns depending on whether you flood, or if you want to put all your pressure in your forward 50, or close space, or perhaps zone off a bit. Players have to learn all of that and

NINE-POINT GOALS Should the nine-point ‘super goal’ be introduced in the premiership season? Eade: I agree with (3AW commentator) Gerard Healy that if the NAB Cup goes ahead next year, we don’t have a nine-pointer when a 50m penalty puts you inside the arc. The player should have the option to either kick from 50 for nine points or take the full 50m penalty and kick for six points. Anderson: We’re looking at that for next year’s NAB Cup. Eade: I haven’t thought a lot about it (for the premiership season) but it adds some excitement. When a team is

when to apply each discipline, as well as having 360 degrees of awareness. There are still a lot of instinctive players who struggle to think their way through certain situations; where to run, for example. GOLD COAST’S RECRUITING DRIVE The Gold Coast Football Club is building its playing list for 2011 and will be able to recruit players from each club. Eade: It’s creating great

discussion about which players they’re targeting, and that will only become more intense. How clubs and players handle that internally will be interesting. We don’t have a culture like rugby league where players say they’re leaving while they’ve still got a contract to fulfil. Personally, we’re about this season. If Brad Sewell’s at the Bulldogs and he eight or nine points down, you can shut the game down, but with a nine-pointer in play, they’re still in touch, so it would add to the spectacle. But does it affect the history of goalkicking? Does it just go into the record books as a normal goal? I’m not against it but I would like to see more discussion about it. Sewell: In the NAB Cup, we’ve seen players take the game on a bit more to go for nine points, and certainly the players are more aware of where the 50m line is. Teams use it to advantage, handballing back to a teammate outside 50, and it adds to the spectacle. The fans love it. AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au 13


THE CHANGING FACE OF FOOTBALL knows he’s going to the Gold Coast, and he spoke to me about it and told me the reasons, I’d still want him playing in my side. Finnis: Were you surprised when (Sydney coach) Paul Roos said he would be reluctant to play any player who had secretly signed with the Gold Coast? Eade: Yes, if a player is loyal and committed for 2010, that’s all we can expect. Who’s to say he wouldn’t ask for a trade anyway? We wouldn’t have to make that public, but I’d hate for Brad Sewell to lose his form because he’s worried about how that impacts upon the club, and how the coach is going to be upset with him and he’s not a contributor for us. It’s counter-productive. Even though there’s a lot of money in the game and guys do change clubs, we’re still a loyalty-based industry. We’ve got a terrific culture and we have to maintain it. The landscape is changing a bit but they’re only one-off situations. I have no problem if a player leaves for the right reasons, and that can include money. If a guy is on $300,000 and he gets offered double that, who does he need to be loyal to: his family or his footy club? As long as he had the courage and was honest and upfront to speak to me about it, I’d have a fairly pragmatic view of it. Sewell: As a teammate, as long as he gives his all for those 12 months, I have no problem. FREE AGENCY Limited free agency will be introduced in 2012, enabling players with a minimum of eight years’ experience to change clubs. Matt Finnis: The agreement is a responsible model seeking to find a balance between maintaining tradition while also recognising players need certain choices in the way in which they pursue their careers, particularly in the latter half of their careers. It’s easy for us to look at potential negatives – losing a ‘Buddy’ (Lance) Franklin or an Adam Cooney – but you might actually find clubs expedite the cycle of failure to success quicker than waiting for a succession of top draft picks to get 70 games’ 14 AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au

IN DEMAND: Players and coaches including Rodney Eade are sought-after media subjects.

experience before they start getting into that finals window. Eade: Free agency was inevitable at some stage and this model still protects clubs; it’s a good balance. I reckon the by-product of free agency will be more player trades. Clubs will be more open to trading players who request trades, even a year before contracts are up. Clubs have to embrace it, get smarter and be proactive rather than reactive. Sewell: It will reinforce the responsibility of clubs to ensure they keep players happy, and nurture and develop the environment and the team ethos that you need to have success. Clubs won’t only have to sell that message but live it if they want to keep players, and attract others. Eade: It’s all underpinned by the salary cap, which gives some protection to a lower club losing an experienced player. Such a player will be more likely go to a top team that will have to fit that player into their salary cap and move other players. It will benefit clubs who get their list management right. FINDING AND DEVELOPING PLAYERS With two new teams and an extra 80 players coming in by 2012, will the standard of play be diluted? Anderson: In the short term,

you are probably right, but two new clubs presents an exciting opportunity. Clubs will become increasingly innovative – two extra spots on the rookie list might mean more spots for

athletes from other sports. In the longer term, I think you’ll see a much higher quality competition because we are all about growing the game, and if it really takes hold in areas of Queensland and Western Sydney, where it has not been strong, you have a lot more people playing the game and the quality of the AFL talent will be higher than ever before. Eade: In the meantime, clubs are working from within. We have two, three or four coaches focusing on developing young players, and that includes off-field so they feel they belong, but also spending a lot of time

RULE CHANGES The AFL has a vast commercial operations department but only one game analysis manager (Andrew McKay) following the trends of the game. Clubs have as many as six coaches on board. Is the AFL keeping in touch with the game enough to make sensible rule changes? Anderson: We’re doing it a lot better now. The key is to tap into the knowledge of clubs: there are more than 100 coaches in the competition now and we’re spending more time with the coaches and asking questions of them and discussing trends in the game. We’ve been doing that a lot better face-to-face in the past two years in particular. Eade: No doubt. At the coaches’ meeting, there used to be a lot of debate and then some anger,

on their football because that’s their core job and you want them to perform. We’ll also try other avenues to recruit and develop blokes. At ‘clubland’, we have not been as good as we would like to think with the Brad Sewells of the world, who miss getting drafted and become rookies. How many really good players come from being rookie-listed? If we have 14 teams, they don’t get a chance because we look at the young kids. We have to spread our vision – the talent is there. We just don’t give them a go early because we don’t like one aspect of their game. That’s wrong. Sewell: One of the beauties of free agency is clubs will look at mature-aged players more. Guys will come in and have an immediate impact in specific roles. They have hard bodies and more mature minds, so you don’t need to spend as long developing them. Eade: As an industry – and it’s something I’ve learned to change my thinking about as a coach – we look at what people can’t do rather than what they can do. A player might have three positives and two negatives, and we say we don’t like him. We might prioritise a particular aspect of the game and, if they don’t tick that box, they’re everyone would berate each other and Adrian would cop it from all angles. It’s better now. I think the AFL could go further in one respect. Whether implementing a rule change or maybe even concessions to the Gold Coast or free agency, they need to think about how the change might be exploited in ‘clubland’. What are the loopholes? What are the downsides? That’s what we look for. If you talk to the right people at clubland, they would say: “Have you thought about this or that?” Sewell: Clubs, players, coaches and administrators are always going to push the boundaries as much as they can. Eade: And I don’t care how bad a rule is, players will adapt. I still don’t agree with the hands in the back but it is marvellous how players have adapted.


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THE CHANGING FACE OF FOOTBALL overlooked. That might be right if they can’t win their own ball or can’t kick, but if they don’t have agility or pace, that shouldn’t automatically rule them out. It’s marvellous how much Liam Picken, who spent four years with Williamstown, has developed as a footballer with us. He was ready to go because he was physically prepared and had played against men. He’s 23 but probably only 19 in his football development and has real scope to improve. Sewell: Almost the hardest part now is getting drafted. If you can get yourself in the system, you become a professional footballer with four coaches mentoring you every day and other resources helping your development. The alternative is just missing out, which means you’re working or studying, training a couple of nights a week and having a kick on the weekend. It’s poles apart. Eade: Interestingly, some kids are the other way. They get drafted and think they’re Tom Terrific, then by about March they realise how far behind they are and their confidence has gone through the floor and you have to pick them up. It takes 12 months for them to realise how hard they have to work. SCRUTINY OF PLAYERS’ LIVES All aspects of the game now attract widespread media attention but it’s the players most under the spotlight. Sewell: The scrutiny is greater

now than ever before. It is partly the club’s responsibility – the club as a whole: the playing group, the coaches and the administration – to ensure they provide a framework that eases players into that heavily scrutinised environment and makes them understand exactly what is required of an AFL player. Eade: The AFL does a great job with the programs they’ve got in place, but that’s at a very high level. Player behaviour is really driven by club culture. You can say what you like about the values you stand for, but if you don’t live it within your organisation, players will see that they can get away with things. If a player arrives late to training and you don’t pick 16 AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au

talking about relatively minor him up on it, you’re actually things like being drunk in the rewarding his behaviour, so off-season. Today, with mobile he’ll do it again. It’s the same phones, people are looking for with their off-field stuff. Playing opportunities to take photos groups are generally a great or video of AFL footballers leveller – they’ll hang it on each and others in the public eye. It other and pull them into line. might only be a little action but Sewell: A strong leadership group is crucial. You’ll probably the consequences will be huge. Players need to be careful of find there is more potential their actions more than ever. for player misdemeanours at Finnis: Players these days clubs where leadership groups understand how the media haven’t instilled as strong a operates, but I question whether culture as others. some in the media understand. Anderson: The emergence The AFL has been incredibly of leadership groups has transparent with the rules, the been one of the big, positive drug policy, etc. The players developments in the game over the past five or six years. Players have come a long way and, I think, discharged any themselves are taking reasonable expectation more and more in the public responsibility. When you interest relating to On the education demonstrating get away from side of things, social the AFL and the protected responsibility the AFLPA environment of the and making a have invested commitment club, it’s easy to be a lot in that to enforcing over that time. led astray that when it falls Some of the BRAD SEWELL short. But we’ve programs the got to be careful that AFLPA has been we don’t pander to perhaps running, particularly some of the more extreme ends relating to alcohol, has tapped of the media, which seem to be into that notion developing and exist outside that players listen to their of what I think is responsible peers most. An internal coverage of the game and its resource at the AFL, Sue Clark, constituents. who used to run the Respect Eade: I think there are three and Responsibility program as parts to the media. Two parts the head of education and are the footy media: the general cultural strategy, will be football-interest media, and working on helping to tie all the an element that want the programs together. We think controversial stories; they education is more important probably won’t go looking for than ever, but ultimately it’s it but they’re happy to report up to the players themselves to it. Then there are the ones that heed the messages. come from outside the footy Sewell: We also have to keep in media who are happy to put dirt mind that we’re talking about a on you and don’t give a rat’s. lot of young men in the 17-25 age They’re not a big player but, group and, if you compare their once they sniff something, expected behaviour as opposed they go whack. to their mates, you can’t afford Finnis: It’s an increasingly the slightest slip-up. competitive media space. Do players understand how There wouldn’t be a more the media works? competitive sporting media Sewell: Players generally do, market in the world than there but when you get away from the would be in Melbourne, and protected environment of that promotes a certain kind the footy club, it’s very easy to of reporting that sometimes be led astray, or for your borders on the hysterical rather decision-making to be a little off. than the responsible. Eade: Sometimes players don’t Eade: There are so many realise the consequences of their accredited media and they are actions away from the club. I’m ambitious; if they’re not, they

THE USE OF TECHNOLOGY In last year’s Grand Final, Geelong’s Tom Hawkins hit the post but was given a goal. Should the AFL consider using technology for adjudicating scores? Anderson: We keep an eye on the use of technology in other sports and certainly don’t rule it out, but we are conscious of not slowing the game and creating periods of dullness where you’re waiting for a video referee to adjudicate. One of the great features of our game is that it keeps moving, so it’s a question of balance. The interesting thing about that Hawkins kick is that the television replay wasn’t shown until after the ball had been bounced again. Eade: You want to get the right decision, but who would call for the replay? The goal umpire might if he’s in doubt, but it’s not like in cricket where a team can challenge a decision. And if it goes the other way and a goal is called a point, the opposition might have already brought the ball back into play. It gets messy there. Anderson: We have to put it into context. Out of 10,000 scoring shots last year, we had three confirmed scoring errors – the lowest on record, partly due to now having four boundary umpires – so we’re hesitant to change the status quo.

won’t last. I’ve told our players: “You’ve got to be so careful, don’t take a drink off someone else, don’t get loaded ...” Someone’s drink got spiked and the question was asked what’s the best solution, and one of our players said: “Buy your own drinks,” and I said: “No, don’t go there in the first place.” They have to divorce their social life. In my day, you could go out for a drink. Not now. Finnis: One of the great things about AFL football has been the connectedness between the players and the community – footballers are part of the community – and we’d hate to


IN CINEMAS

APRIL 1


The AFL has been incredibly transparent with the rules and the drug policy

be in a position where we seek to drive a wedge between them, and they have to be treated according to standards that are sometimes bordering on the unachievable. Eade: You’re right, but where’s the protection for the players when people out there want to take them down or set them up? Not long ago, we had an older bloke call our club and say that Barry Hall, Daniel Giansiracusa, Adam Cooney and someone else had gone shooting. We let that go. Then he called 3AW and told the same story and wanted a slab of beer and a bottle of scotch for it. It was completely false – Barry said he hasn’t been shooting since he was 20. And why players would get on things like Facebook has got me stumped. A friend of a friend puts a photo on there and you’re linked to something and mud sticks – oh, I’m an old man, but why do it? Sewell: We’re still members of the community; we want to stay in touch with people, and it’s brilliant. But we have to be so careful. Eade: If there’s one per cent risk that it’ll blow up in your face, don’t do it. It’s like drugs? Finnis: Drugs are illegal though. It’s a sad situation if we need to tell players they can’t communicate in forums like Facebook. We need to tell them to do it responsibly and

18 AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au

make smart decisions. MATT FINNIS Eade: Some players aren’t that smart. We have to highlight the downsides. The reality is that if they’re lower on the pecking order, their careers could be on the line. To be honest, a lot of Gen Ys don’t listen. That’s not a criticism, it’s just the way they are. If something doesn’t directly affect them, they don’t listen. The key is they can enjoy themselves, but just be on alert. Finnis: Do clubs react to situations differently if issues are brought into the public eye? Eade: I think some react after the event and go into damage control rather than being proactive and warning players about the pitfalls. Anderson: There’s no excuse for not being aware of the pitfalls of illicit drugs or racial vilification or gambling. Together, we invest a lot in the prevention. Finnis: If we want players to be part of the community, we need to ensure they can live ordinary lives. Eade: They can’t live ordinary lives. We want them to, but unfortunately they don’t live ordinary lives. They’re judged more harshly when they’re in public. They have different lives and they have to act differently. Their standards of behaviour are different to everybody else in the

community. An average person can get drunk and be locked up, but if it’s Brad Sewell, it’s on the back page of the paper and his life is in turmoil. Finnis: Footballers now spend more time on preparation and recovery, at the expense of time for players to pursue lives outside football, whether that’s through workplace opportunities, education, etc. That jeopardises the roundedness of players, and it’s a difficult balance for our industry. Eade: It is. We shouldn’t cocoon them, and we can’t allow them to just sit on their backsides when they’re not at the club. We have to educate them, expose them to real-world things and equip them with life skills outside footy. The AFLPA and the AFL have been terrific with that, and the clubs have to take the baton and run with it. THE STRUCTURE OF AN 18-TEAM COMPETITION When the AFL expands to accommodate 18 teams in 2012, how should the competition be structured? Finnis: I think we should

think outside the square a bit. Perhaps we could even consider a 17-round home-and-away season, with an extended pre-season competition, a break for representative football mid-season because the players are generally

supportive of it, and a break at the end of the minor rounds before an elongated fi nals series that comprises nine or 10 teams. It might actually add up to a similar amount of games to what we have now, but one thing we would have is integrity of the fixture, which we haven’t had for years. Eade: But with fewer games, you’d need fewer players, so a lot of players might lose their jobs. Finnis: Not necessarily. The players are also united that if you lengthen the season to 24 rounds, it has to come at the expense of the pre-season competition. Sewell: Pre-season games are a nightmare for the players, but it gives an opportunity to rehearse structures under the type of pressure you can’t manufacture during training. Personally, I’d be prepared to have only one or two practice matches and go into the season knowing I won’t be fully match-fit until round two or three. A player’s nightmare is getting injured during a pre-season game, like I did. I like the idea of a couple of breaks too. Anderson: It’s an exciting time for us to look at the structure of an 18-team competition. I think 22 rounds for 16 teams has served the competition very well, but there is a whole range of options and we need to canvas them all.


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VIEWS NEWS FIRST PERSON FACTS DATA CULTURE

NEW APPROACH: Former North Melbourne coach Dean Laidley (second from right) has helped Mark Williams toughen up the Port Adelaide team.

COACHING

Assistant coaches shift from faceless to priceless SH A NE McNA L LY A ND PETER DI SISTO

T

here was a time in the game when the role of assistant coaches barely rated a mention outside football clubs. They might as well have been anonymous. Granted they’ve been around in numbers for more than a decade, but their importance has escalated in recent years. Today, assistants play critical roles, both in the lead-up to games and on match-day. Take a close look at quarter-time breaks

20 AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au

when the players huddle into their forward, defensive and midfield groups. It’s not usually the senior coach who talks to them first, rather his assistants who are armed with statistics and ready to explain what they are doing right and wrong. In that short time, they will also probably remind their group to “stick to the structures”, a loose term employed to remind players of some agreed basic

playing principles, sometimes also referred to as “trademarks”. A coach’s box full of assistants is not a new thing – Kevin Sheedy had four when the Bombers won the 2000 Grand Final and his opposing coach that day, Melbourne’s Neale Daniher, had the same number. That same year, Carlton listed more than four assistants. But many of the assistants back then were part-time. Today, they generally are full-time specialists and have a far greater impact on the running of their teams. If they do well, they can quickly become highly sought after for senior roles. (Fourteen of this year’s 16 senior coaches

were previously assistants – Collingwood’s Mick Malthouse started at Footscray in 1984 without having done an apprenticeship and Michael Voss had a season away from club life before replacing Leigh Matthews at the Brisbane Lions at the end of 2008.) Consider also a relatively recent trend of senior coaches (including those in ‘caretaker’ mode) moving back to assistant roles – or taking up senior football management positions – at other clubs, and you start to understand the importance clubs are placing on having experienced, savvy personnel in important positions. CON T IN U ED PAGE 22


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When Port Adelaide won the premiership in 2004, its coaching panel included assistants Phil Walsh, Alastair Clarkson (who left just before the Grand Final after accepting the senior Hawthorn role) and Dean Bailey, a trio at the time well regarded for its cutting-edge approach to aspects of coaching and preparation. Walsh is now part of John Worsfold’s team at West Coast, Clarkson is aiming to take the Hawks back to the finals after a brilliant 2008 characterised by unorthodox strategies, and Bailey, it appears, is on the verge of making major progress with Melbourne, the club having kept faith in the man it recruited at the end of 2007 for his sharp football knowledge. Coincidence or not, Port has performed inconsistently since those three assistants moved on. This past off-season, Port reshaped its coaching structure by adding former Kangaroos coach Dean Laidley, while Jade Rawlings (Richmond caretaker last year) joined the Lions. Laidley earned a reputation as a brilliant tactician while an assistant to Mick Malthouse at Collingwood in the early 2000s before taking over at North. Seasoned Port watchers claim his arrival has coincided with the team playing with increased emphasis on physicality. The Power were impressive in the NAB Cup and, with a slice of luck against the Western Bulldogs in a semi-final, might have been playing for the club’s third preseason premiership. “Dean Laidley’s record speaks for itself when he was at North Melbourne,” Port vice-captain Dean Brogan said. “He’s here to help Mark and the coaching staff and he’s obviously brought more of that tackling emphasis to the team.” All coaches will tell you the business is marginally easier when you have a share of quality players – and we know what a difference a superstar or two can make. But it doesn’t hurt when the men directing those players – and those in the backroom providing critical support – have seen it all before. NEWS TRACKER

OLD RIVALS: This week’s season-opener between Richmond and Carlton will be a tough game but not as hard-fought as the clash in 1871.

THE GAME’S EARLY DAYS

Early meeting marked by bizarre events R HET T BA RT LET T

T

he first recorded meeting of a Richmond team playing a Carlton squad 1 took place on July 15, 1871 – and remains to this day a remarkable encounter. On that afternoon, a team of 15 Carlton players took on a team of 20 Richmond men on the Richmond Paddock, the area now known as Yarra Park surrounding the MCG. By 4pm, almost 4000 spectators had gathered to watch the game. “Amongst them,” The Age reported, “were some three or four hundred of the roughs of Richmond”. In the crowd were men of deceit, “thimble-riggers” and “card sharpers”, men who tricked patrons with sleightof-hand card games on street corners and in alleyways. With the game about to start, there was a bizarre development.

The con men raced on to the field and set up their illegal racket right in the centre of the ground – it was, after all, a public park – and urged an already restless crowd to circle.

For many minutes, they took patrons’ money, until Carlton captain Conway stormed the field in anger. Behind him were 12 of his strongest teammates, and together they crashed into

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

The last concert you went to?

If you could play other professional p another port, it would be sport, be...?

What dish would you serve up if you were on MasterChef?

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CRAIG BOLTON (Sydney Swans)

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JOSH DRUMMOND (Brisbane Lions)

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Lasa agn a ne Lasagne

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WILL MINSON (Western Bulldogs)

Chick Corea and John McLaughlin

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HAYDEN BALLANTYNE (Fremantle)

Big Day Out

Golf, cricket ica an or American Football

Garlic prawns on a fat steak

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St Kilda confirms Linen House as the naming rights partner of the club’s new training and administration base at Frankston.

22 AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au


PONDERINGS PETER RYAN

Quick, get it right

the mob and upturned the two tables and four chairs. The area was eventually cleared and play began, however, more spectators encroached the field. Both captains and the umpire shouted for help from the crowd. Chaos ensued and a fight broke out. One spectator ended with a bloody face, a “battered hat” and “indescribably tattered coat”, the newspaper said. Several Carlton players were dragged into a fight on the wing, rushing as a group into the centre and forming a huddle, shielding themselves while waiting for the rage to end. Several received cuts and bruises. The Richmond players, however, remained unharmed. After 15 minutes, the game was restarted. But remarkably, a mob of fans ran alongside Richmond players as the team carried the ball downfield, the supporters shepherding off the Carlton players. It was impossible for Carlton to lay NEWS TRACKER

Both captains and the umpire shouted for help from the crowd. Chaos ensued and a fight broke out any tackles, or to score for that matter, as the mob also stood in front of Calton’s goals. More fights broke out, and a Carlton player, unnamed, swung a spectator away, but turned to receive a blow to his face from a knuckle-duster. He was knocked unconscious. By 5pm, the Carlton team had had enough. Its captain forced his players into the middle of the ground. He did a head count and marched over to the Richmond captain, suggesting the game be stopped. Richmond agreed and both teams left the field safely. No goals were scored in the game by either team. 1 The teams were not officially known as Richmond or Carlton, but were merely representing the two inner Melbourne suburbs.

� Ever imagined walking into the rooms after a loss and giving the players your thoughts. No, really. What would you say? How would you approach it? Just think of the circumstances facing the coach. He has five minutes – as he walks from the coach’s box to the rooms – to work out the implications of the loss and what to say. The address will shape the direction the group takes for at least the early part of the next week and, possibly, for some individuals, beyond. If he’s smart, he will deliver his words with a purpose in mind. He will, in other words, put on a performance (one that may or may not coincide with how he is feeling inside). And whatever tack he takes, he’ll never be quite sure he got it right. That’s because in such moments, no definitive, correct answer exists. The senior coach relies on experience, instinct and judgment to hit the right note in the blink of an eye. The moment carries a high danger rating because words are delivered when all parties are emotional. Sometimes the group needs a helping hand; others harsh words. Those players mature enough to understand what the coach is trying to achieve will react well after home-truths, understanding the point made by leading American CEO Jack Welch in a recent interview with Esquire magazine: “I’ve come to learn that the worst kind of manager is the one who practises false kindness.” The need to be honest – sometimes brutally so – in order to make the team and players better, is a quiet burden all coaches carry. You can bet the

CLOSE CALL: North Melbourne

coach Brad Scott experienced his first nail-biting loss when the Roos went down narrowly to Fremantle in the NAB Cup. Scott would have had little time to gather his thoughts before speaking to his players.

quality coaches get that part of their job right more often than not. Otherwise their stint lasts about as long as a short black on a bleary-eyed morning. The emphasis should be on learning the right lessons from the performance. Because, when all is stripped back, the best coaches are great teachers. They look beyond obvious answers to chug straight to the heart of the matter: it might be that teammates are not trusting each other or that the leadership is less demanding than it needs to be. It might be that the result gives a reasonable indication of where a group is at in its development. When close losses happen, good clubs hold their nerve, speak the truth, pull together and support each other, even when the pressure is at its fiercest.

Peter Ryan is the author of Side by Side: A Season with Collingwood, published by the Slattery Media Group.

Western Bulldogs to launch a Hall of Fame later this year. AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au 23


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QUICK FACTS

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ROUND ONE

656

There have been 656 games played in round one since the first on Saturday, May 8, 1897.

3,052,114 Since 2000, some 3,052,114 fans have watched matches in this round, with an average crowd of 38,151 and highest attendance of 87,040 in 2009 to watch Richmond and Carlton at the MCG.

199 Carlton holds the record for kicking the highest score in round one with 31.13 (199) in 1984 against North Melbourne at Waverley Park.

137

The Blues’ 137-point thrashing of the Kangaroos that afternoon in 1984 is the greatest winning margin in round one.

9

Essendon’s 0.9 (9) in 1899 against Fitzroy at Brunswick St is the lowest score in this round.

240

There have been 240 charges laid by umpires and the match review panel in round one with 161 guilty verdicts for a total of 300 matches in suspensions. St Kilda’s Stan Le Lievre received the heaviest penalty with 12 games in 1947 for hacking (kicking an opponent in the shins).

NEWS TRACKER

COMMUNITY CONNECTION

Stynes wants kids to dream

YOUTH MOVEMENT: Melbourne

president Jim Stynes with draftees Tom Scully (left) and Jack Trengove, who are expected to debut this weekend.

K A R EN LYON

F

or a handful of nervous draftees across the country, round one of the AFL season represents a realisation of their dreams. They will debut alongside established stars, many who were likely once heroes to them. Melbourne president Jim Stynes wants to use the real-life stories to inspire other young people to create and live their own dreams – to think about what they want to achieve. The Demons have dedicated this weekend’s match against Hawthorn to Australian youth. A ‘Field of Dreams’ will be created on the MCG before the match, This is our with 300 young people invited chance to keep to ring the oval, that legacy watching as the turning, to keep teams enter provide them the ground. inspiring others with an idea Cam Sinclair, to dream of what it takes part of the JIM STYNES to succeed at the Crusty Demons highest level. motorcycling group, “It’s about having a will perform before the go. If you don’t have a go, you match, with fans of all ages are going to fail. It’s the only invited to a kick-to-kick session way to fail,’’ he said. on the ground after the game. “All we want to do is get Stynes wants to encourage enough kids on the ground to young people to aspire and achieve. “This is about us talking make two rings around it, so the players can jog through the about dreams, inspiring young rings before they run through people to dream, no matter how the banner. We want the kids big, scary or daunting it might be,” said Stynes, who is receiving to get very close, to see how it feels.” treatment for cancer. Stynes hopes the Field “The key is realising you will of Dreams will become an have doubts and failures along annual event, eventually the way, but you need to keep conducted by all clubs as part getting back up.” of a youth-inspired opening Stynes, founder of the round to each season. youth-focused organisation “As a football club and an Reach, which will receive a individual, there is nothing $50,000 grant from the Lord greater than supporting others Mayor’s charitable fund on and giving back,” he said. Saturday, said giving young “We have had lots of people people a chance to be on the ground and close to players will supporting us and this is our

chance to keep that legacy turning, to keep inspiring others to dream.”

OBSERVATIONS

Matthews still has close eye on game C A L LU M T WOMEY

W

hen Leigh Matthews speaks about football, it’s worth taking note. Matthews, considered one of the game’s greatest players and a four-time premiership coach, recently suggested that current trends in the game led to matches often resembling “a version of little kids footy”, with most

Coaches and umpires to shake hands in the centre of the ground before the start of each match this season.

24 AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au


players on the ground chasing the ball and leaving the rest of the field practically empty. Matthews is a member of the AFL’s Laws of the Game committee, and indicated the trend would need to be monitored closely to ensure the game retained its traditional elements. He predicted more clubs would this season follow St Kilda’s lead last year of maximising pressure on the opposition when not in possession of the ball. Matthews has I love the increased his football game of football media commitments this season and will be – it is quite a a regular on Channel corny thing to Seven’s new prime-time say but I do football entertainment LEIGH MATTHEWS program The Bounce, which debuted this week. He returned to the football media on a the proliferation of permanent basis in 2009, websites was the major change working with Seven and 3AW in the media since his return. and as a columnist for afl.com. Matthews said the standard au, roles he is also undertaking of football coverage continued this season. to improve. “There’s a saying I Matthews was a special used to use around the football comments man for Seven before club, that ‘the urge to find a better starting his Lions coaching way is never-ending’, and that tenure in 1999. He suggested goes for the broadcasters as well.

show, with Matthews and former Tiger Matthew Richardson providing the football expertise and comedians, including Peter Helliar, setting the entertainment agenda. Matthews has been actively involved in the game since 1969, when he played the first of 332 games for Hawthorn. “I love the game of football – it is quite a corny thing to say but I do – because it’s been such a big part of my whole life and I’m still passionately interested in the sport.” The Bounce airs Thursday nights on Channel Seven. See local guides for times.

ALL-TIME GREAT: Leigh Matthews

has been actively involved in football since 1969.

I find working with the Channel Seven team really stimulating because they’re always trying to do it better,” said Matthews, who turned 58 earlier this month. Matthews said the new show would attempt to find the balance between football and frivolity. The theme of The Bounce is to be a fun, family footy

HONOURED

New status leaves Long in tears C A L LU M T WOMEY

E

ssendon icon Michael Long was last week inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame as a

AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au 25


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‘Legend’, underlining his status EMOTIONAL: MIchael Long accepts in the game as both a champion his induction as a ‘Legend’ in the player and a pioneer for the Essendon Hall of Fame. indigenous community. The 40-year-old Long was given a standing ovation by a crowd that includes current and former administrators and players, sponsors and supporters. An emotional Long admitted to “shedding a tear” when he received the letter from immediate past president Ray Horsburgh notifying him of the honour. Long’s football brilliance – his daring runs, sublime skills, pace, toughness and ability to change a game – was only one aspect of his greatness. He was influential off the ground, raising awareness of racial vilification matters as part of a broader push to champion the cause of indigenous players and I owe all I’ve the wider indigenous learned to the community. club because it’s Long played his junior football for made me a better St Mary’s in the person Northern Territory, MICHAEL LONG joining the Bombers at the end of 1988 in what was his first trip to Melbourne. Essendon star Simon Madden took him under his wing and Long soon shined on the field. and coach Kevin Sheedy f He played a masterful 1993 or their support. finals series, putting in a “Football brings people match-turning effort in the together. We all know that preliminary final against and, in 1995, without the Adelaide, and winning the strength, support and voice of Norm Smith Medal in the the Essendon Football Club, we Grand Final win over Carlton. wouldn’t be where we are now,” It was in 1995, however, he said. with Long’s stand against racial “I’m Essendon through and vilification in the AFL, that the through and I owe all I’ve wingman made perhaps his learned to the club because it’s biggest mark. After receiving made me a better person.” racial taunts from Collingwood Alongside Long, administrator ruckman Damian Monkhorst Wally Crichton was named an in the inaugural Anzac Day Essendon ‘Legend’, while George game, Long went public in an Stuckey, Keith Forbes, Arthur effort to highlight the problem Showers, Wally Buttsworth, and rid the game of any form Don McKenzie and John Birt of racism. His actions led to were all inducted into the Hall the implementation of a racial of Fame. Richmond announced vilification code and related Ian Wilson, Neil Balme, Mark education program across the Lee and Ray Martin as its football community. latest Hall of Fame members, Long, who also played while Hawthorn elevated Peter in Essendon’s 2000 premiership Hudson to ‘Legend’ status in its team, thanked the club NEWS TRACKER

Hall of Fame and inducted Gary Buckenara, J.W. Kennon and Bert Hyde as members.

DECADE OF DOCKLANDS

Part of the game’s landscape C A L LU M T WOMEY

I

t was all a bit of a thrill. A new stadium in a reinvigorated part of inner Melbourne, spectacularly designed and ready to be unveiled. Outside the venue, the excitement was evident, as memorial pins were handed out and commemorative copies of the AFL Record sold. It was

round one of 2000 and the Docklands football ground – then known as Colonial Stadium – was ready for football. Anchor tenant Essendon was granted the right to open the stadium, against Port Adelaide. On the back of its upset loss in the 1999 preliminary final and having won the pre-season premiership, great things were expected of the Bombers. The same could be said of the ground, now called Etihad Stadium. After several years of construction, the venue with the high-tech retractable roof was marketed as the ideal complementary stadium to the MCG, capable of hosting a variety of mass audience events. But it was the venue’s first event that remains vivid in the minds of supporters, especially those of the black and red persuasion. Within the opening minutes of the match played on March 9, Bombers captain James Hird spotted up spearhead Matthew Lloyd for the first shot at goal at the ground. One wag in the crowd was quick with a line: “Talk about a script!” However, it was a red herring, as Lloyd missed the shot. Later, he jokingly suggested the blinding flash of supporters’ cameras had put him off, with thousands desperate to capture the moment. It didn’t matter, as soon after Michael Long became the first goalkicker at the ground, Lloyd went on to finish with seven majors to his name and Essendon won by 94 points. The stadium’s managers encountered early challenges – notably confusion over ticketing and entry procedures, and the uneven growth of the playing surface. Those matters have been resolved, with the ground now considered a key part of the modern game. Players and coaches consider it a ‘fast track’ that encourages free-flowing, high-scoring football, and its family-friendly facilities have helped it attract 16,212,641 supporters to 464 home and away and finals matches.

Using a computer, Swinburne University statistician Stephen Clarke predicts the Western Bulldogs will win the premiership.

26 AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au


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CASUAL CONVERSATION

Jill Lindsay AFL GROUND OPERATIONS MANAGER

ďż˝ One of Jill Lindsay’s ďŹ rst tasks when she entered football administration was “counting paperclipsâ€?. The AFL’s ground operations manager – its longest serving current employee – laughs when she recalls her ďŹ rst days at the then-Victorian Football League. Earlier this month, Lindsay marked 40 years in the business, having arrived in Melbourne from Sydney in 1970 as a softball-playing teen who knew little about the intricacies of Australian Football but had a passion for all sports. She had replied to an advertisement for a clerical role and landed the job, starting at Melbourne’s Harrison House in Spring St. Four decades later – having worked out of oďŹƒces in Jolimont, the MCG and now Docklands while witnessing the game change enormously both on and o the ďŹ eld – she still oozes passion for the game. Lindsay says the ďŹ rst 20 years of her tenure were “toughâ€?, learning on the job and trying to establish credibility in what was then a predominantly male-dominated culture. Away from football, she was developing a reputation as a respected and

strong-willed softball coach (having represented both NSW and Victoria and just missed selection for the national team), which allowed her to develop a rapport with the likes of David Parkin and Kevin Sheedy. “I was never overwhelmed because I’d come from a sporting background and the principles were the same,� she says. “I was never a person who ever felt intimated by anybody. If anything, I probably intimidate people.� Working on the full range of ground management issues at the League-owned Waverley Park (which opened in Melbourne’s south-east in 1970) was a “great learning lesson�. It prepared her for the full-time move to ground operations (after stints in membership and other parts of the business) in 1990 as the AFL was embarking on its venue rationalisation program.

I love the daily interaction with people. There’s nothing like it JILL LINDSAY

“I like to be inuencing and have an impact. I like making decisions. That gives me a bit of a buzz,â€? she says. Anyone who does business (or socialises) with Lindsay learns pretty quickly that her BS radar

is never switched o, and she rarely, if ever, minces her words. “I’ve mellowed a lot,â€? she says. “In the days when I was growing up, I was strong and aggressive and would get on the front foot. “These days, I’m much more consultative, much more inclusive because you simply have to be.â€? Lindsay has a twin brother and is one of four children. The oldest was only six when their father John died of cancer some 56 years ago, leaving mother Marjorie (now 88) to raise the children on her own. “I was the eldest daughter and grew up without a father. Mum is a strong and determined individual, an amazing woman – she had to be wn. I to raise four children on her own. enes guess I inherited my strong genes from her,â€? Lindsay says. She admires the way the AFL FL has been able to balance the need to grow the game while retaining its traditional elements, ents, suggesting the code’s ability to attract fans of all ages and both oth genders as a unique quality. Lindsay, the AFL’s only female male life member, believes she’s survived because there’s always ays been “mutual respectâ€? between en g her her and her bosses, providing opportunities to develop and have inuence. In return, she’s always ways pledged loyalty. Lindsay has no plans to go o anywhere else, citing her love ve ets of the game and the way it gets her adrenalin running on a

daily basis. “There’s nothing else like it,â€? she says. “I love the daily interaction with people, the uncertainty that comes with eight games each week. There’s nothing else that would stimulate me to the same level.â€? She plans to take long-service leave in June next year, using the two ďŹ rst-class, around-theworld airline tickets the AFL presented her to mark the 40-year anniversary. Her trip is likely to include stops at some of the major national parks in the United States, the Inca Trail in Peru and Moscow and Saint Petersburg in Russia. “How lucky have I been? That’s what I always think.â€? PETER DI SISTO

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AFL RECORD visit aďŹ&#x201A;record.com.au 27


the bounce

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HEROES OF HAWTHORN: It was an historic year for Hawthorn in 1925 when the club was admitted to the VFL. This photograph shows most of the squad that took the

field. Back row (from left): Jack Pickford, Bert Officer, Paddy Burke, Clem Splatt, Reg Whitehead, Arthur Pearson, Gil Hendrie, Bob Sellers. Middle row (from left): Dave Elliman, Stan McKenzie, Fred Finch, Jim Jackson (captain), Cyril Nott, Ern Utting, Les Woodford. Front row (from left): Jack Gill, Hec Yeomans, Jim McCashney.

EXPANSION

Adding three was a major shift J IM M A IN

T

his year marks 85 years since a fundamental change in the competition’s structure. When the Victorian Football League announced late in 1924 that it wanted to end the bye caused by a nineclub competition, most fans expected the introduction of one new club. Most believed the vacancy caused by the University club’s resignation in 1914 would fall to Victorian Football Association premier Footscray, which had defeated VFL premier Essendon in a charity match at the end of the 1924 season. There was enormous public speculation NEWS TRACKER

over the identity of what was referred to as “the 10th club”, and although the VFL met on October 17 to discuss the vacancy, no decision was made, even though it considered submissions from Hawthorn City Council on behalf of Hawthorn Football Club, from VFA club Camberwell and even the Public Service Football Club. The VFL finally announced it would make a decision at a meeting on January 9, 1925, and it was no surprise that VFL president Dr William McClelland recommended that Footscray be admitted. However, the VFL then sat in-camera to discuss a suggestion that Hawthorn and Prahran also be admitted to form a 12-club competition. Unfortunately for Prahran, it was decided North Melbourne had a better playing record in the VFA and would be more likely to succeed in the VFL. The three new clubs had less than four months to prepare for the 1925 season and, in fact, the VFL did not finalise its

draw until 10 weeks before the opening round, played on May 2. None of the new clubs played each other in the opening round, with North travelling to Corio Oval to meet Geelong, Footscray playing Fitzroy at Brunswick Street Oval and Hawthorn clashing with Richmond at Punt Road. Former St Kilda and Collingwood winger Jim Jackson led Hawthorn, Footscray had ex-Collingwood star Con McCarthy as captaincoach and North Melbourne’s captain-coach was former St Kilda star Wels Eicke. Hawthorn lost by 39 points and Footscray was gallant in going down by just nine points, but North justified its late inclusion in the competition by defeating Geelong by eight points. The headlines in The Age the following Monday read:

» FOOTBALL SEASON OPENS » MANY STIRRING CONTESTS » THREE CLUBS MAKE GOOD

Collingwood’s training and administration base renamed the Westpac Centre.

28 AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au

The Age also congratulated the VFL “on the wisdom of admitting the new clubs”. It was the dawn of a new football era.

FOOTBALL LOVER

Vale Geoff McClure MICH A EL LOV ET T

I

n this particular order, well-known sports writer Geoff McClure was at his happiest when surrounded by his family and friends, when he’d found a gem of an item for his daily column in The Age and when Carlton was winning. Sadly his family, friends, work colleagues and many members of the football industry gathered earlier this week to pay their final respects to the 59-year-old affectionately known as ‘Chook’. His long battle with cancer ended on March 15 and he


TOUGH BATTLE: A friend to many in the newspaper and sporting world, Geoff McClure recently lost his fight with cancer.

was farewelled last Tuesday, just two days before his beloved Blues were set to play Richmond in the season’s first match. For the past nine years, McClure wrote the ‘Sporting Life’ column in The Age and football certainly played a major role in shaping its daily content. Whether it was an item about a bush star or a Carlton favourite, it was always entertaining and enlightening. McClure, who hailed from Broken Hill, held senior positions for the Herald and Sun newspapers in Melbourne – he was sports editor of the Sun for five years – as well as working in Fleet Street in London. He had a stint in Tasmania as sports editor

of the Mercury in Hobart and was the first editor of the now defunct magazine Sports Weekly. He joined The Age in 1997 and was the paper’s Olympics editor in 2000 before starting his journey as creator and writer of the ‘Sporting Life’ column. McClure was diagnosed with cancer in mid-2007 but fought an amazing battle, buoyed by the support of his family and friends, including Carlton premiership players Alex Jesaulenko, Peter Jones, Adrian Gallagher and Wes Lofts. He also developed a close rapport with Chris Judd, who was a regular visitor. McClure was a good friend of many at the AFL Record and we are thinking of his wife Jillian, daughter Madeleine and son Sam.

A NEW CHALLENGE

Bryan hoping risk will bring rewards

T

PETER RYA N

his time a year ago, then-27-year-old Collingwood ruckman Chris Bryan was gearing up to play in round one for the first time in his AFL career,

thereby achieving family, we the first goal he’d did it tough set for himself p financially I put my re-season. while I gave it mortgage on hold In the week my all,” Bryan and, as a family, leading up to said via email the game, his from America. we did it tough first child, a son An approach financially named C-Jay, was from Hawthorn CHRIS BRYAN born to his partner was considered Lauren. It was a in November busy, exciting time. but, after weighing The round one game against everything up, he decided to Adelaide proved to be his last, continue down the NFL path. his five-year, 46-game, two-club Last week, Bryan’s hard career effectively over. The work took another step towards season became a tough road to paying off when the Green hoe and left him miserable at Bay Packers watched him trial times, as he explained late in and immediately signed him the year. “I guess sometimes to a three-year, non-guaranteed in a football club you need to contract. After travelling to Los put on that macho front,” he Angeles with Lauren and C-Jay said last September. “You need on March 9, he arrived in Green everyone up and I have not been, Bay (in the midwest state of of course.” Midway through Wisconsin) on Friday, March 12. 2009, Bryan began considering He worked out on the Monday another dream: following Darren morning, signed a contract Bennett, Ben Graham and Sav later that afternoon and was at Rocca’s footsteps towards a training with the Packers at 7am punting career in America’s the next day. National Football League. Gaining the contract and On his days off, he would the opportunity to train is a practise booting a gridiron fine achievement in itself, but ball with his booming left Bryan is well aware it is only the foot, under the watchful eye of beginning. “The only thing that is Prokick’s Nathan Chapman – certain,” he said, “is that I have to a trailblazing ex-Hawthorn and kick consistently well. Everything Brisbane Lions tall now helping else is non-guaranteed. If I don’t would-be punters. kick consistently well then I will At season’s end, after being walk into training one day and delisted, Bryan’s sole focus find my name taken off my locker became punting. “I started and my bags packed. I have to training full-time. I put my get through each training session mortgage on hold and, as a and be consistently great.”

,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 aflrecord.com.au 29


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Green Bay’s squad of about 55 players will be determined in September. Between then and now, about 150 players could have signed contracts and be in training with the team. Bryan receives no wage until he makes the active roster in September and plays his first game. “The best thing about pursuing this is the passion, excitement and happiness that surrounds it,” he said. “It is such a big adventure that really has only just begun.” While former Collingwood teammates are supportive as he chases the NFL dream, none can be quite the rock his partner has been. “We are expecting our second child in September,” Bryan said. “She always says that self-belief, support and risk-taking is what sets some people apart from others, so that helped in making that decision to pursue this goal.”

Coaches, it seems, do have a lighter side � Guests at last week’s AFL season launch in Melbourne were treated to a rarity – the coaching fraternity putting aside its collective always-so-serious public approach to take part in a light-hearted music video filmed by Hush (the production house run by Peter Dickson, the brother of the late former AFL player and filmmaker Robert) at various grounds around the country late last year. The

MILESTONES / ROUND 1

LIVING A DREAM: Next time Chris

Bryan puts his boot into the ball, he hopes it is with the Green Bay Packers in the NFL.

150 consecutive games Kane Cornes Port Adelaide Cornes is in line to play his 150th straight match this round, having started his sequence in round 17, 2003. The only other player in the competition with a current active streak of 150 games or more is Brett Kirk (176 games, from round 15, 2002).

150 games Bret Thornton Carlton David Hille Essendon Domenic Cassisi Port Adelaide

100 games Andrew Carrazzo Carlton Matt Maguire Brisbane Lions coaches mimed to the Black Blac Bl Bla Blac ack ck k Eyed Ey Eye Eyed ed d Peas song Meet Me Halfway, lfway lf lfw fwa way ayy, using the premiership cu ccup up up lldogs ld ldo do dog ogs gss as a prop. Western Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade (with th ccap th ca ap p worn backwards in rapper perr pe per e’ss Mark e’s M Ma Mar ark rk rk mode, right) Fremantle’s Harvey, Essendon’s Matthew atthew atth att tth ttt the hew h ew w Knights, Sydney’s Paul Roo Roos R Ro oo oos oss Vo Vos V oss o sss and Brisbane’s Michaell Voss showed the best form, with w th wi wit h Adelaide’s Neil Craig receiving eeceiving ec ceeivi cei eivving vin ng g an honourable mention n for ffo orr rtt.. rt. perseverance and effort. Apparently, the coaches’ hes’ hes h ees’ s’ respective families and lad la lad d they tth the hey eyy financial advisors are glad earn their money via football. otball. o ot otb tba bal all ll. l.

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the bounce

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30 AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au

100 club games Scott Stevens Adelaide Jason Gram St Kilda

50 games Travis Boak Port Adelaide Thomas Murphy Hawthorn The T Th he list l includes those not necessarily sselected se elec ele lecc but on the verge of milestones.


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C L U B R E C O R D S , H O M E A N D AWAY G A M E S : 2 0 0 0 - 0 9

RECORDS

Cats were supreme in 2000s

Team

P

W

L

D

PF

PA

Scoring %

Winning %

Ave F

Ave A

Geelong

220

133

84

3

21,642

19,193

112.8

60.4

98.4

87.2

Adelaide

220

129

91

0

21,115

18,669

113.1

57.2

96.0

84.9

Port Adelaide

220

126

92

2

21,764

20,278

107.3

57.2

98.9

92.2

Brisbane Lions

220

125

91

4

22,544

20,097

112.2

56.8

102.5

91.4

Sydney

220

119

98

3

20,665

18,608

111.0

54.1

93.9

84.6

eelong is a great success story. The Cats won the most games of any team over the past 10 years and picked up two premierships. Notably, they never bottomed out. In the past 20 years, their lowest finish was 11th, in 1999. Adelaide was the hard-luck story of the decade, winning the second-most home and away matches but faltering during finals. Essendon started the decade with a premiership and remained near the top until 2005, when it finished 13th. West Coast (2006) and Hawthorn (2008) won premierships after stints at or near the bottom. The Eagles finished 14th in 2001, the Hawks were 15th in 2004 and 14th in 2005.

Essendon

220

114

103

3

22,308

21,610

103.2

51.8

101.4

98.2

Collingwood

220

113

107

0

21,241

20,554

103.3

51.3

96.6

93.4

St Kilda

220

110

107

3

20,773

20,474

101.5

50.0

94.4

93.1

West Coast

220

109

108

3

20,743

21,390

97.0

49.5

94.3

97.2

North Melbourne

220

109

108

3

20,967

21,738

96.4

49.5

95.3

98.8

Hawthorn

220

105

115

0

20,195

21,051

95.9

47.7

91.8

95.7

Western Bulldogs

220

102

114

4

22,623

23,143

97.7

46.3

102.8

105.2

Melbourne

220

92

127

1

20,505

22,540

91.0

41.8

93.2

102.5

Fremantle

220

92

128

0

19,714

21,717

90.8

41.8

89.6

98.7

Richmond

220

84

133

3

19,460

22,537

86.3

38.1

88.5

102.4

Carlton

220

81

137

2

20,730

23,390

88.6

36.8

94.2

106.3

TED HOPK INS

G

CLUB RECORDS, ALL GAMES: 2000 - 09 P

W

L

D

PF

PA

Scoring %

Winning %

Ave F

Ave A

Geelong

235

143

89

3

23,103

20,275

113.9

60.8

98.3

86.3

Adelaide

237

138

95

4

24,265

21,478

113.0

58.2

102.4

90.6

Port Adelaide

235

134

101

0

22,445

20,004

112.2

57.0

95.5

85.1

Notably, they (the Cats) never bottomed out. In the past 20 years, their lowest finish was 11th, in 1999

Brisbane Lions

236

134

100

2

23,161

21,697

106.7

56.7

98.1

91.9

Sydney

235

127

105

3

21,863

19,874

110.0

54.0

93.0

84.6

Essendon

233

122

108

3

23,591

22,696

103.9

52.3

101.2

97.4

Collingwood

235

121

114

0

22,532

21,892

102.9

51.4

95.9

93.2

St Kilda

232

115

114

3

21,678

21,510

100.8

49.5

93.4

92.7

Last year’s runner-up, (St Kilda) and the two losing preliminary finalists (Western Bulldogs and Collingwood) are considered, with the Cats, among the favourites this season. Interestingly, the Saints finished 16th in 2000 and 15th the following two seasons; the Bulldogs, winners of the NAB Cup this year, were 14th in 2004, and Collingwood was 15th in 2005.

West Coast

232

114

115

3

21,634

22,333

96.9

49.1

93.3

96.3

Hawthorn

230

112

118

0

21,180

21,887

96.8

48.6

92.1

95.2

North Melbourne

229

111

115

3

21,681

22,937

94.5

48.4

94.7

100.2

Western Bulldogs

229

105

120

4

23,337

23,937

97.5

45.8

101.9

104.5

Melbourne

229

96

132

1

21,396

23,476

91.1

41.9

93.4

102.5

Fremantle

224

93

131

0

20,011

22,095

90.6

41.5

89.3

98.6

Richmond

223

85

135

3

19,638

22,842

86.0

38.1

88.1

102.4

Carlton

226

83

141

2

21,326

23,908

89.2

36.7

94.4

105.8

Team

AFL RECORD visit afl record.com.au 31


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season preview

WINNING SQUAD: The AFL Record gathered Geelong’s 2009 premiership team (minus retired skipper Tom Harley) for this shot taken at Skilled Stadium. Back row (from left): Corey Enright, Andrew Mackie, Cameron Mooney, Matthew Scarlett, Harry Taylor. Middle: Gary Ablett, Tom Hawkins, Paul Chapman, Jimmy Bartel, Cameron Ling, Brad Ottens, Steve Johnson, Mark Blake, James Kelly, Max Rooke, Joel Corey, Darren Milburn. Kneeling: Travis Varcoe, Joel Selwood, Shannon Byrnes, David Wojcinski.

Geelong starts its premiership defence with a different mindset to the external belief that the club might be on the slide. PETER RYA N AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au 65


season preview

T

he conventional NEW LEADER: Defender Harry Taylor joins wisdom is that the Geelong Cats’ leadership group this a slide – if not in season, an appointment that highlights his rapid progression since joining the Cats at 2010 then not the end of the 2007 season. much beyond – is inevitable. However, we are entering a decade that may test football’s conventional wisdom. Geelong may well – despite Cameron Mooney’s pre-season comments that the team was “really pushing the limits of a four-year (premiership) window” – be able to use its current strength to entrench a system that lasts beyond the normal modern life cycle of (finite) success we have become conditioned to in the past two decades. Listen to Harry Taylor talk and you can understand why a successful era has happened and find it hard to argue it can’t continue. Taylor walked into Geelong in December of 2007, joining a team that had just won the flag. He immediately recognised he was in an environment that only looked forward. Treated If I was asked to as though he had explain something already been at that history The impression he has made in the club for two to the group, I dictates just two years – when he played or three years, the was expected to future in both Grand Finals for one expectations were know it, as well as possibilities, to win and one loss – has been so immediately high. see the ceiling strong that he was elevated to “I wasn’t babied explain it as imposed and the leadership group for 2010. around at all. If I HARRY TAYLOR impenetrable. Smart footballers are worth was asked to explain He sits after their weight in a game that something to the group, I a hard training session, as demands as much mentally as it was expected to know it, as well composed in repose as he appears does physically. Taylor is worth as explain it,” he says. “I guess when under pressure clearing his weight – officially up one the club is good at wiping that the ball from defence, zinc cream kilogram in two years. (previous) year away and using plastered across his nose. He and The environment Geelong the previous year for educational his fiancée Michelle Giudice (his has created gives it a significant purposes only.” Taylor, as you girlfriend since high school in chance to have an extended would expect, has not accepted Western Australia) are expecting period of success. The way any inevitability of decline. their first baby in June. He is just players manage themselves and After working hard to create 23. The best would appear to be the team’s direction provides an a winning culture, being internal mechanism that makes innovative and courageous along ahead of him. A physiotherapy student quick, decisive change possible. the way, Geelong is not about to “We have many players who are concede such a culture of success – working one day a week at Corio Bay Sports Medicine very good at sitting back, seeing can’t outlast this generation. Centre to finish off the practical something is not working and “Why the culture is so component of his degree – he has having the strength to speak up successful and why it works is taken an academic approach to about it,” Taylor says. because the players are the ones This leap of faith engineered who pass it down from generation getting better, building a dossier on his opponents by taking notes at the end of 2006 is now to generation,” Taylor says. “Once entrenched, even as new you build a culture, it’s a matter of after team meetings and games, and examining their style and personnel are charged with passing it on and maintaining it, sustaining it. and if we can do that, I guess we’ll tendencies via video footage during weekly preparatory The club knows the dangers be successful.” sessions. It is, he says, his of complacency are real. It is An intelligent man, Taylor is the nature of the beast that not one to be bound by perceived preferred method for staying stimulated. It has worked. dominant teams can find it more limits. He is unlikely to accept

66 AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au

and more difficult to find ways to motivate themselves against opposition they know they have the raw talent to beat nine times out of 10. Taylor admits there is an ever-present danger that the team’s mindset can become such that Gary Ablett or Jimmy Bartel or Paul Chapman are expected to turn it on when the team needs a quick burst to turn the contest its way. “If we let those thoughts take over and we break away from keeping to the process and rely on talent to get us home, then other teams will run all over us and we’ll be back out of the eight,” Taylor says. For him, the secret is the same as it is for everyone who performs consistently: tick all the boxes, stick to the process. What the club expects is no different: switch on when you are at the club. Yep, those old clichés with the boring ring of truth. Geelong can afford to innovate more than most (the current crop has two flags in the bag), having graduated to become a club that makes calculated decisions to chase only one prize: the premiership. It was willing, for example, to have a staggered start to its pre-season training this year, with years of service determining when each player returned to train with the club (the longer a player had been at the Cats, the later he returned). “In terms of a mental break, I think that is going to really benefit us, particularly at the end of the year,” Taylor says. The Cats know that whatever happens against Essendon in round one, they will get better. Their simple agenda is to ensure veterans remain fresh for another campaign, right to go in late March-early April, but still with head down and enthusiasm high when July, August and September hit. Some may argue it’s an approach fraught with danger. That discounts the reality: any preparation program has risks. It is just another indicator that the Cats recognise each year demands a slightly different approach. Young players earning senior selection will be indoctrinated into a winning system, a dynamic one based on sound fundamentals. Taylor is passing


season preview

T

he conventional wisdom is that a slide – if not in 2010 then not much beyond – is inevitable. However, we are entering a decade that may test football’s conventional wisdom. Geelong may well – despite Cameron Mooney’s pre-season comments that the team was “really pushing the limits of a four-year (premiership) window” – be able to use its current strength to entrench a system that lasts beyond the normal modern life cycle of (finite) success we have become conditioned to in the past two decades. Listen to Harry Taylor talk and you can understand why a successful era has happened and find it hard to argue it can’t continue. Taylor walked into Geelong in December of 2007, joining a team that had just won the flag. He immediately recognised he was in an environment that only looked forward. Treated If I was asked to as though he had explain something already been at that history the club for two to the group, I dictates or three years, the was expected to future expectations were know it, as well as possibilities, to immediately high. see the ceiling “I wasn’t babied explain it as imposed and around at all. If I HARRY TAYLOR impenetrable. was asked to explain He sits after something to the group, I a hard training session, as was expected to know it, as well composed in repose as he appears as explain it,” he says. “I guess when under pressure clearing the club is good at wiping that the ball from defence, zinc cream (previous) year away and using plastered across his nose. He and the previous year for educational his fiancée Michelle Giudice (his purposes only.” Taylor, as you girlfriend since high school in would expect, has not accepted Western Australia) are expecting any inevitability of decline. their first baby in June. He is just After working hard to create 23. The best would appear to be a winning culture, being innovative and courageous along ahead of him. A physiotherapy student the way, Geelong is not about to concede such a culture of success – working one day a week at Corio Bay Sports Medicine can’t outlast this generation. Centre to finish off the practical “Why the culture is so component of his degree – he has successful and why it works is taken an academic approach to because the players are the ones who pass it down from generation getting better, building a dossier on his opponents by taking notes to generation,” Taylor says. “Once you build a culture, it’s a matter of after team meetings and games, and examining their style and passing it on and maintaining it, and if we can do that, I guess we’ll tendencies via video footage during weekly preparatory be successful.” sessions. It is, he says, his An intelligent man, Taylor is not one to be bound by perceived preferred method for staying stimulated. It has worked. limits. He is unlikely to accept

66 AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au

The impression he has made in just two years – when he played in both Grand Finals for one win and one loss – has been so strong that he was elevated to the leadership group for 2010. Smart footballers are worth their weight in a game that demands as much mentally as it does physically. Taylor is worth his weight – officially up one kilogram in two years. The environment Geelong has created gives it a significant chance to have an extended period of success. The way players manage themselves and the team’s direction provides an internal mechanism that makes quick, decisive change possible. “We have many players who are very good at sitting back, seeing something is not working and having the strength to speak up about it,” Taylor says. This leap of faith engineered at the end of 2006 is now entrenched, even as new personnel are charged with sustaining it. The club knows the dangers of complacency are real. It is the nature of the beast that dominant teams can find it more

and more difficult to find ways to motivate themselves against opposition they know they have the raw talent to beat nine times out of 10. Taylor admits there is an ever-present danger that the team’s mindset can become such that Gary Ablett or Jimmy Bartel or Paul Chapman are expected to turn it on when the team needs a quick burst to turn the contest its way. “If we let those thoughts take over and we break away from keeping to the process and rely on talent to get us home, then other teams will run all over us and we’ll be back out of the eight,” Taylor says. For him, the secret is the same as it is for everyone who performs consistently: tick all the boxes, stick to the process. What the club expects is no different: switch on when you are at the club. Yep, those old clichés with the boring ring of truth. Geelong can afford to innovate more than most (the current crop has two flags in the bag), having graduated to become a club that makes calculated decisions to chase only one prize: the premiership. It was willing, for example, to have a staggered start to its pre-season training this year, with years of service determining when each player returned to train with the club (the longer a player had been at the Cats, the later he returned). “In terms of a mental break, I think that is going to really benefit us, particularly at the end of the year,” Taylor says. The Cats know that whatever happens against Essendon in round one, they will get better. Their simple agenda is to ensure veterans remain fresh for another campaign, right to go in late March-early April, but still with head down and enthusiasm high when July, August and September hit. Some may argue it’s an approach fraught with danger. That discounts the reality: any preparation program has risks. It is just another indicator that the Cats recognise each year demands a slightly different approach. Young players earning senior selection will be indoctrinated into a winning system, a dynamic one based on sound fundamentals. Taylor is passing


The Cats know that whatever happens against Essendon in round one, they will get better

on his experience as a new member of the club’s player leadership group. “Young guys can get pretty wound up before a game, so I try to keep it to three points in their head: (a few) about what their opponent may be good at and what they are good at themselves,” he says. It’s not rocket science but individuals need to be selfless rather than self-absorbed to make it work. Sophisticated clubs such as Geelong are becoming better at utilising the playing group to teach – a buddy system is one example – fast-tracking the development of young players so they are capable of playing their role on debut before graduating to becoming leaders within that system. That’s the theory anyway. Taylor is a good example of why clubs in Geelong’s position have advantages over weaker clubs. He stepped straight into the injured Matthew Egan’s role, surrounded and supported by veterans Matthew Scarlett, Darren Milburn and Tom Harley, and became more than capable after just two years at senior level. It’s likely Taylor would concede if Melbourne had chosen him (as it had indicated it might), his first two seasons would have been much tougher and it’s doubtful he would have learned as much. The tricky part from a club perspective is managing the transition, instilling experience into the new names on the list, while still winning. It is not inconceivable that a rotation policy from week to week could become more in vogue as the club tries to manage the transition process with its existing list. It also requires good list management. Geelong’s position is strong but its main product – its football team – is maturing. The greatest threat most see to continued success is the inevitable departure in quick time of eight graduates of the two super drafts – 1999 and 2002. Geelong has lost only three players from its past three Grand Final teams – ruckman Steven King to St Kilda at the end of 2007, Nathan Ablett to a life on

the Gold Coast away from the demands of elite football, and Harley to retirement after last season – so it has 11 players aged 28 and over, many of whom have played 75 games in three years. But it also has 14 players on its list aged 1821 (the Demons, by comparison, have 22). Many see this imbalance as a concern, the club desperately trying to convince premiership players to stay. However, the entry of two new clubs and free agency rules may give the club a rare opportunity to replenish its stocks without disenfranchising its stars or supporters. It may use the trade and free agency systems to acquire certain types, its depth allowing it to create a bridge between eras. Coach Mark Thompson says the club is examining all options in relation to its list management – as all clubs are – and is confident, given its history of adapting to change in recent years, that it can deal with this period effectively. His confidence

is reasonable. Geelong’s intellectual property around football is proven and its system of communication solid. The key will be, as ever, to trade precisely. “We’ve been a club that has traditionally recruited and developed our own players,” Thompson says. “But in saying that, if you get some players walking out on you after eight years of service (as will be possible when limited free agency rules come in from 2012), we might be forced to change the way we do business and look at another way of doing it, and that’s by getting some ready-made players from other clubs. We’ve been good at adapting to all the rules and the way we do business, I’m sure we’ll be OK.” Who is to say that new talent won’t be as good (or as well developed or well chosen) as existing talent? History perhaps, but this is a club that looks forward. The challenge is there. Why not meet it head on? Taylor doesn’t imagine there is any other option. Over summer, he read Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters, gleaning some

leadership tips from the leader of the US army’s Easy Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne Div in World War II. One of the 10 principles for success in the book sum up why Geelong may continue beyond what recent football lore suggests is possible: “Anticipate problems and prepare to overcome obstacles. Don’t wait until you get to the top of the ridge and then make up your mind.” Geelong knows what is ahead. Will it have the right plan to walk on the top of the ridge for a lot longer? Is it capable of building a model that lasts? With quality opponents on the up, talented, hungry for success, and chasing the reigning premier hard, only a fool would predict a premiership winner with any certainty. But Geelong’s position came about not just because of luck or cyclical occurrences – although both play a factor. It was, in the end, achieved through a series of good decisions. Exhibit one: Harry Taylor. Keep making them and anything could happen. TURN THE PAGE FOR A SNAPSHOT LOOK AT SOME KEY PREMIERSHIP FACTORS

JUBILATION: Geelong Cats players

including Travis Varcoe, Cameron Ling, Andrew Mackie and Joel Corey embrace after beating St Kilda in the 2009 Grand Final.

AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au 67


The Cats know that whatever happens against Essendon in round one, they will get better

on his experience as a new member of the club’s player leadership group. “Young guys can get pretty wound up before a game, so I try to keep it to three points in their head: (a few) about what their opponent may be good at and what they are good at themselves,” he says. It’s not rocket science but individuals need to be selfless rather than self-absorbed to make it work. Sophisticated clubs such as Geelong are becoming better at utilising the playing group to teach – a buddy system is one example – fast-tracking the development of young players so they are capable of playing their role on debut before graduating to becoming leaders within that system. That’s the theory anyway. Taylor is a good example of why clubs in Geelong’s position have advantages over weaker clubs. He stepped straight into the injured Matthew Egan’s role, surrounded and supported by veterans Matthew Scarlett, Darren Milburn and Tom Harley, and became more than capable after just two years at senior level. It’s likely Taylor would concede if Melbourne had chosen him (as it had indicated it might), his first two seasons would have been much tougher and it’s doubtful he would have learned as much. The tricky part from a club perspective is managing the transition, instilling experience into the new names on the list, while still winning. It is not inconceivable that a rotation policy from week to week could become more in vogue as the club tries to manage the transition process with its existing list. It also requires good list management. Geelong’s position is strong but its main product – its football team – is maturing. The greatest threat most see to continued success is the inevitable departure in quick time of eight graduates of the two super drafts – 1999 and 2002. Geelong has lost only three players from its past three Grand Final teams – ruckman Steven King to St Kilda at the end of 2007, Nathan Ablett to a life on

the Gold Coast away from the demands of elite football, and Harley to retirement after last season – so it has 11 players aged 28 and over, many of whom have played 75 games in three years. But it also has 14 players on its list aged 1821 (the Demons, by comparison, have 22). Many see this imbalance as a concern, the club desperately trying to convince premiership players to stay. However, the entry of two new clubs and free agency rules may give the club a rare opportunity to replenish its stocks without disenfranchising its stars or supporters. It may use the trade and free agency systems to acquire certain types, its depth allowing it to create a bridge between eras. Coach Mark Thompson says the club is examining all options in relation to its list management – as all clubs are – and is confident, given its history of adapting to change in recent years, that it can deal with this period effectively. His confidence

is reasonable. Geelong’s intellectual property around football is proven and its system of communication solid. The key will be, as ever, to trade precisely. “We’ve been a club that has traditionally recruited and developed our own players,” Thompson says. “But in saying that, if you get some players walking out on you after eight years of service (as will be possible when limited free agency rules come in from 2012), we might be forced to change the way we do business and look at another way of doing it, and that’s by getting some ready-made players from other clubs. We’ve been good at adapting to all the rules and the way we do business, I’m sure we’ll be OK.” Who is to say that new talent won’t be as good (or as well developed or well chosen) as existing talent? History perhaps, but this is a club that looks forward. The challenge is there. Why not meet it head on? Taylor doesn’t imagine there is any other option. Over summer, he read Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters, gleaning some

leadership tips from the leader of the US army’s Easy Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne Div in World War II. One of the 10 principles for success in the book sum up why Geelong may continue beyond what recent football lore suggests is possible: “Anticipate problems and prepare to overcome obstacles. Don’t wait until you get to the top of the ridge and then make up your mind.” Geelong knows what is ahead. Will it have the right plan to walk on the top of the ridge for a lot longer? Is it capable of building a model that lasts? With quality opponents on the up, talented, hungry for success, and chasing the reigning premier hard, only a fool would predict a premiership winner with any certainty. But Geelong’s position came about not just because of luck or cyclical occurrences – although both play a factor. It was, in the end, achieved through a series of good decisions. Exhibit one: Harry Taylor. Keep making them and anything could happen. TURN THE PAGE FOR A SNAPSHOT LOOK AT SOME KEY PREMIERSHIP FACTORS

AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au 67


season preview

But wait, consider this... Making predictions about how any season of football will pan out can be a dangerous business, given the variables that can – and will – impact on teams. Using recent trends and taking a broader look at results from the past decade highlight some of the factors that may help you determine how each club will p progress this yyear. NICK BOW EN A ND C A L LUM T WOMEY g

LEADERS ALL: The 16 club captains (from left) – Brad Johnson (Western Bulldogs), Brett Kirk (Sydney Swans co-captain), Brent Harvey (North Melbourne), Darren Glass (West Coast), Nick Riewoldt (St Kilda), Nick Maxwell (Collingwood), James McDonald (Melbourne), Sam Mitchell (Hawthorn), Chris Judd (Carlton), Matthew Pavlich (Fremantle), Jonathan Brown (Brisbane Lions), Cameron Ling (Geelong), Simon Goodwin (Adelaide), Domenic Cassisi (Port Adelaide), Jobe Watson (Essendon) and Chris Newman (Richmond).

Lessons for new leaders

T

he expectations on the two clubs with new senior coaches this year, North Melbourne and Richmond, are not great, given their developing young squads. Which is just as well for their respective coaches, Brad Scott

68 AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au

and Damien Hardwick, because the past 10 seasons’ results suggest a coach needs at least three years at a club to win a premiership. Leigh Matthews, who had previously coached Collingwood from 1986-95, took a highly talented Brisbane Lions list to a flag in that timeframe, 1999-2001, as did Paul Roos at the Sydney Swans (2003-05) – although Roos was the Swans caretaker coach for 2002’s

final 10 rounds before being appointed to the role full-time. Which means second-year Brisbane Lions coach Michael Voss would again have to defy football convention if he is to lead his club to the 2010 premiership, while Carlton’s Brett Ratten, Essendon’s Matthew Knights, Fremantle’s Mark Harvey and Melbourne’s Dean Bailey, all entering their third seasons as senior coaches,

face the tough task of emulating the feats of Matthews and Roos. Neil Craig (Adelaide), Alastair Clarkson (Hawthorn), Ross Lyon (St Kilda), Roos, John Worsfold (West Coast) and Rodney Eade (Western Bulldogs) appear best placed to lead their teams to this year’s flag, their experience at those clubs falling in the same range (four-10 seasons) as seven of the 2000-2009


An appetite for the contest

PREMIERSHIP CAPTAINS

PREMIERSHIP COACHES

Season

Team

Club

20th

2000 James Hird

Essendon

3rd

Brisbane Lion

3rd*

2001 Michael Voss

Brisbane Lions

5th

2002 Leigh Matthews

Brisbane Lions

4th

2002 Michael Voss

Brisbane Lions

6th

2003 Leigh Matthews

Brisbane Lions

5th

2003 Michael Voss

Brisbane Lions

7th

2004 Mark Williams

Port Adelaide

6th

2004 Warren Tredrea

Port Adelaide

1st*

2005 Paul Roos

Sydney Swans

3rd

2006 John Worsfold

West Coast

5th

2005 Barry Hall Leo Barry Brett Kirk

Sydney Swans

1st^

2007 Mark Thompson

Geelong

8th

2006 Chris Judd

West Coast

1st

2008 Alastair Clarkson

Hawthorn

4th

2007 Tom Harley

Geelong

1st

2009 Mark Thompson

Geelong

10th

2008 Sam Mitchell

Hawthorn

1st

2009 Tom Harley

Geelong

3rd

Team

Club

2000 Kevin Sheedy

Essendon

2001 Leigh Matthews

Season

*Matthews previously coached Collingwood (1986-95)

COACHES IN 2010 Season

Team

Club

Neil Craig

Adelaide

7th

Michael Voss

Brisbane Lions

2nd

Brett Ratten

Carlton

Mick Malthouse

Collingwood

Matthew Knights

Essendon

Mark Harvey

Fremantle

3rd

Mark Thompson

Geelong

11th

Alastair Clarkson

Hawthorn

6th

Dean Bailey

Melbourne

3rd

Brad Scott

North Melbourne

Mark Williams

Port Adelaide

Damien Hardwick

Richmond

1st

Ross Lyon

St Kilda

4th

Paul Roos

Sydney Swans

8th

John Worsfold

West Coast

9th

Rodney Eade

Western Bulldogs

6th^

3rd 11th* 3rd

1st 12th

*Malthouse previously coached the Western Bulldogs (1984-89) & West Coast (1990-99) ^Eade previously coached the Sydney Swans (1996-2002)

premiership coaches (see tables above). But for Collingwood’s Mick Malthouse (entering his 11th season this year), Geelong’s Mark Thompson (11th) and Port Adelaide’s Mark Williams (12th) their premiership window may have closed.

*Tredrea was acting captain in the absence of four-year skipper Matthew Primus, who missed all bar one game of 2004 with injury. ^Stuart Maxfield started 2005 as Swans captain but did not play after round six, later retiring before the end of the season.

WINDOW SHUT: Recent history suggests Mick Malthouse, entering his 11th season as coach of the Magpies, may have missed his chance to land a premiership.

In the past decade, only Essendon great Kevin Sheedy led his side to a premiership after spending more than 10 years at a club, winning the 2000 flag at Essendon in his 20th year at the helm. Fortunately, for this year’s new captains, Essendon’s Jobe

Watson and Geelong’s Cameron Ling, an inexperienced captain has not been a barrier to his side’s premiership chances. Half of the past decade’s premiers were led by first-year skippers, with those teams winning in five consecutive years (2004-08).

FACT: Half of the past decade’s premiers were led by first-year skippers

N

orth Melbourne coach Brad Scott’s main focus during his first pre-season has been drilling his players to win the contested ball. Scott said coaches were again realising the value of winning contested possessions, seemingly alluding to the fact strategies such as floods and zones may come and go, but winning the football remains, and will remain, a fundamental element of winning a game. Which makes perfect sense. But does Scott’s theory hold up in practice? Looking at the AFL club rankings for contested possessions and hard-ball gets during the past two seasons, the answer is yes – but with some glaring exceptions. There was a closer correlation between ladder position and contested possessions (which include hard-ball gets, loose-ball gets, contested marks and free kicks) than hard-ball gets. As the dominant side for much of the 2008 and 2009 seasons, when it finished runner-up and premier respectively, Geelong’s No. 1 ranking for contested possessions in both years supports the high value Scott puts on this measure. So, too, does the fact last year’s runner-up, St Kilda, was ranked second for contested possessions in 2010, with the third-placed Western Bulldogs fourth. But the team that vanquished the Cats in the 2008 Grand Final, Hawthorn, was ranked 13th in contested possessions that year, with, ironically, the fourthplaced Saints ranked 12th. However, 2008’s remaining six finalists all ranked in the top nine clubs for contested possessions, and seven of 2009’s finalists also ranked in that year’s top nine – only Adelaide was surprisingly low at 13th. Which suggests those sides that dominate contested-possession counts in 2010, will likely be found near the top of the ladder. The premium on winning hard-ball gets does not seem as high, however. While five of

AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au 69


season preview 2008’s finalists finished in the top eight for hard-ball gets, two finalists – fourth-placed St Kilda and eighth-placed North Melbourne – ranked 16th and equal 14th respectively. And last season, four finalists finished in the 2008 Ladder Hawthorn Geelong W Bulldogs

bottom eight for hard-ball gets, most remarkably St Kilda at 14th. Just as remarkable was the fact West Coast, 11th on the ladder, and Richmond, 15th, fi nished second and third respectively for hard-ball gets.

Cont Poss

Hard-ball gets

-3.6 (13)

0 (6)

Geelong

11.4 (1)

8 (1)

9.2 (1)

3 (3)

St Kilda

7.7 (2)

-4 (14)

(RANK)

(RANK)

2009 Ladder

Cont Poss

(RANK)

Hard-ball gets (RANK)

4.1 (4)

6 (2)

W Bulldogs

4.3 (4)

4 (4)

St Kilda

-3.1 (12)

-6 (16)

Collingwood

2.8 (7)

-2 (9)

Sydney

-0.2 (9)

0 (6)

Adelaide

-2.9 (12)

-3 (12)

Collingwood

3.7 (5)

-2 (11)

Bris Lions

-0.2 (9)

2 (6)

Adelaide

5.8 (3)

0 (6)

Carlton

3.5 (5)

-2 (9)

North Melb

0.9 (7)

-4 (14)

Essendon

0.3 (8)

-1 (7)

Richmond

9.1 (2)

9 (1)

Hawthorn

-6 (14)

3 (5)

Bris Lions

-2.5(11)

-1 (9)

Port Adel

-5.7 (13)

-1 (7)

Carlton

2.8 (6)

3 (3)

West Coast

7.5 (3)

7 (2)

Essendon

-4.4 (14)

-2 (11)

Sydney

-2.4 (11)

-2 (9)

Port Adel

-9.1 (15)

-3 (13)

North Melb

0.7 (10)

-3 (12)

Fremantle

-2.1 (10)

1 (5)

Fremantle

-10.1 (15)

-6 (15)

West Coast

0.5 (8)

-1 (9)

Richmond

3.3 (6)

6 (3)

Melbourne

-11 (16)

-4 (14)

Melbourne

-12.7 (16)

-6 (15)

*The figures for contested possessions and hard-ball gets represent a team’s average diff erentials against its opponents. Provided by Champion Data.

Getting your best team on the field

I

t makes sense that a club needs to field its best team, or close to it, as often as possible to win a premiership. Given the realities of injury, suspension and poor form will intrude on all clubs’ seasons, all will inevitably rely on a core group of players to provide the backbone of their 2010 campaigns. But how many core players does a side need to be a genuine contender? The past decade’s premiers had an average of nearly 15 players reach at least 22 games for the season, with Hawthorn winning the 2008 flag with the smallest number of core players, 12. Geelong’s 2009 premiership campaign involved the fewest to play every game (two – 2009 All-Australians Corey Enright and Joel Selwood) compared to the decade’s average of 4.7. The 2001 Brisbane Lions rotated the most players

70 AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au

through their side in a season (35), but significantly had 13 players who featured in 22 or more games that year. The average number of players used by the 2000-09 premiers in their flag years was 32. Perhaps, Hawthorn last season and West Coast in 2007 are the best recent examples of contenders whose seasons were derailed by missing their best players. Both were reigning premiers those seasons, but the Hawks struggled most of 2009 to finish ninth, while after a strong start in 2007, the Eagles faded to finish fifth. Viewed against the 2000-09 premiership models, both teams’ core group of players was not big enough – 11 Eagles played at least 22 games in 2007 and the same number of Hawks missed three games or less last year. The 2009 Hawks also used 38 players, far in excess of the premiership average of 32. Although the 2007 Eagles used 34 players, the quality of the players they missed for a

HARD AT IT: The Hawks ranked only 13th in contested possessions in 2008,

but tough playmaker Luke Hodge (left) was a key to the team’s success.

PREMIERS’ PLAYER USE Total (LIST)

Every game

22+

2000 Essendon

31 (43)

5

16

2001 Brisbane Lions

35 (44)

5

13

2002 Brisbane Lions

30 (40)

4

15

2003 Brisbane Lions

32 (41)

3

15

2004 Port Adelaide

32 (43)

6

14

2005 Sydney Swans

32 (47)

9

17

2006 West Coast

34 (44)

3

17

2007 Geelong

31 (45)

5

14

2008 Hawthorn

31 (45)

5

12

2009 Geelong

33 (47)

2

14

significant time, especially in the second half of the season, was telling – Chris Judd (who missed five games), Ben Cousins (17), Daniel Kerr (seven) and Andrew Embley (11). Similarly, the Hawks had

key long-term absentees last year because of injuries – defenders Trent Croad (who missed all 22 games) and Stephen Gilham (12) and ruckman Robert Campbell (eight).


season preview

The right mix of experience

J

ust as clubs have to assemble the right mix of talls, smalls, ball-winners, runners, forwards and defenders to contend for a premiership, their lists have to have the right mix of youngsters, 100-game players and veterans. The Brisbane Lions seemed to address an imbalance in their list at the end of last season when they traded for Amon Buchanan (116 games), Xavier Clarke (105), Brent Staker (110) and Brendan Fevola (187). This increased the Lions’ number of players with 100-199 games’ experience from five in 2009 to nine. Only one premier in the past decade had less than eight 100-game players on its list – Hawthorn in 2008, with five. And seven of the past 10 premiers had at least 10 players in that experience range. While the Lions’ stocks of 100-game players are now closer to that 2000-09 premiership standard, other clubs are light on. Melbourne has the least 100-game players with three, reinforcing the fact it is unlikely to play finals for some years yet. Similarly, it seems a lack of mid-range experience will hurt the 2010 finals chances of North Melbourne, Port Adelaide, Richmond and West Coast, which all have six 100-game players. And although Essendon and Carlton last year made the finals for the first time since 2004 and 2001 respectively,

72 AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au

their relative dearth of 100game players – five and seven respectively – suggests their best chances of winning a flag are also a couple of seasons away. History also tells us these same seven clubs are carrying too many inexperienced players, all listing more than 27 players with less than 50 games’ experience – something no 2000-09 premier did. Of this group, North Melbourne has the most inexperienced players (33), followed by Essendon (32) and West Coast (31). Interestingly, Hawthorn has 30 such players this year and will again have to defy the odds to add to its 2008 premiership. But perhaps clubs with 28-29 inexperienced players should not be excluded from premiership calculations, given today’s list sizes (45-48 players including n rookies) are slightly larger than those of the 2000-04 premiers (40-43), and clubs have been wo allowed to list an additional two rookies since last year. Only one 2000-09 side won the premiership without a 200-game player – Geelong in 2007 – something Carlton and West Coast will try to do in 2010. Based on the past 10 premiers’ average list make-up – 23.8 players with e, less than 50 games’ experience, h 10.6 with 100-199 and 2.1 with our 200 or more – last year’s top-four sides, Geelong, St Kilda, the Western Bulldogss ost and Collingwood, seem the most d, balanced clubs (see tables) and, at least on this measure, the most likely premiers.

TEAMS IN 2010 < 50 games

200+ games

100-199 games

Adelaide

28

8

3

Bris Lions

25

9

2

Carlton

29

7

-

Collingwood

28

10

4

Essendon

32

5

1

Fremantle

29

9

3*

Geelong

26

12

4

Hawthorn

30

12

1*

Melbourne

30

3

2

North Melb

33

6

2

Port Adel

28

6

3

Richmond

30

6

1

St Kilda

23

13

2

Sydney

29

10

4

West Coast

31

6

-

W Bulldogs

28

11

4

Figures include veterans and rookies. *200-game players Dean Solomon (Fremantle) and Trent Croad (Hawthorn) are listed but have retired.

RECENT PREMIERS R < 50 100-199 games games

200+ games

2000 Ess 2

22

12

1

2 2001 Bris

26

11

2

2 2002 Bris

19

8

4

2 2003 Bris

22

9

3

2 2004 P Adel

23

14

1

2 2005 Syd

27

13

2 3

2006 W Coast 2

24

10

2007 Geel 2

25

11

-

2008 Haw 2

26

5

2

2009 Geel 2

24

13

3

23.8

10.6

2.1

Ave A

Figures include veterans and rookies. F

EXPERIENCE: Forme Former Blue Brendan Fevola was one of four players with over 10 100 games’ experience recruited by the th end of last season. Brisbane Lions at the


From the Top End to a start with the Demons≥

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Whether it’s helping the career of a young Indigenous player take off or getting your team to the big game, we’re proud to be the official airline of the AFL.

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season preview

Ruck requirements

Y

ou need two recognised ruckmen to win a premiership. That’s what the past decade tells us. From Essendon’s John Barnes and Steve Alessio in 2000 to Geelong’s Brad Ottens and Mark Blake last year, every premiership side in the past decade has split its ruck duties between two specialists. Significantly, the only Grand Final side in this period to field one specialist ruckman, Collingwood in 2003, was soundly beaten, after entering the game favourite. Despite battling manfully, the Pies’ No.1 ruckman that day, Josh Fraser, who was supported by key-position player Tristen Walker, was overpowered by the Lions’ ruck duo, Clark Keating and Jamie Charman. This does not augur well for Hawthorn, which will start the 2010 season with three of its ruckmen (Max Bailey, Simon Taylor and rookie Wayde Skipper) injured, or Port Adelaide, yet to find a specialist

PREMIERSHIP RUCK DUOS 2000

Essendon

John Barnes, Steven Alessio

2001

Brisbane Lions

Clark Keating, Beau McDonald

2002

Brisbane Lions

Keating, McDonald

2003

Brisbane Lions

Keating, Jamie Charman

2004

Port Adelaide

Brendon Lade, Dean Brogan

2005

Sydney Swans

Jason Ball, Darren Jolly

2006

West Coast

Dean Cox, Mark Seaby

2007

Geelong

Brad Ottens, Steven King

2008

Hawthorn

Robert Campbell, Brent Renouf

2009

Geelong

Ottens, Mark Blake

successor to Brendon Lade who can partner Dean Brogan. But sides boasting three quality ruckmen – most notably the Brisbane Lions, North Melbourne and Collingwood – best heed the cautionary tale of West Coast’s 2005 Grand Final appearance. Like Collingwood in 2003, the 2005 Eagles ignored the 2000-09 era convention of playing two ruckmen, fielding three in its Grand Final team – Dean Cox, Mark Seaby and Michael Gardiner. However, with Cox and Seaby assigned the ruck duties, Gardiner was played out of

position in the forward line and had little influence. In a game West Coast lost by four points, the question remains whether a more balanced Eagles line-up may have changed the result.

SHARING THE SPOILS: Sydney’s

Darren Jolly and West Coast’s Dean Cox locked horns in both the 2005 and 2006 Grand Finals.

Every premiership side in the past decade has split its ruck duties

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season preview

The wildcard

S

ince the final eight was introduced in 1994, just one team has finished the home and away season outside the top four and gone on to win the premiership – Adelaide in 1998. The Crows finished the home and away season in fifth place, three games behind ladder leader North Melbourne. While not as consistent as the top-four sides that year, the Roos, Western Bulldogs, Sydney Swans and Melbourne, with superstars Darren Jarman, Mark Ricciuto and Andrew McLeod – all capable of playing multiple roles – and a strong midfield led by skipper Mark Bickley, the Crows were capable of beating any side on their day. And on the final three Saturdays that September they did, recovering from losing their first final against Melbourne, to defeat the Swans, the Bulldogs and, finally, North in the Grand Final. This year, outside obvious top-four contenders Geelong,

St Kilda, the Bulldogs, Collingwood and Hawthorn, can anyone emulate the 1998 Crows? Essendon, perhaps more than any other side, looks capable. With its speed (principally supplied by Alwyn Davey, Courtenay Dempsey, Ricky Dyson and emerging defender Jarrod Atkinson) and impressive young talls (led by Patrick Ryder, Michael Hurley and Tayte Pears), the Bombers can appear unstoppable at their best. Last year they thrashed Hawthorn by 44 points in round seven, Carlton by 69 points in round 13 and were the first side to beat St Kilda, by two points in round 20. If they hit similar form this September they could cause some upsets. The Bombers are not the only potential finals wildcards, however. The Brisbane Lions, with elite key forwards Jonathan Brown and Brendan Fevola, and Carlton, with its midfield of Chris Judd, Marc Murphy, Bryce Gibbs and Brock McLean, also have the weapons to defeat any team.

IMPACT PLAYER: Bomber Patrick

Ryder (left, against Tiger Troy Simmonds) can change the course of a match.

And finally, the importance of a fast start … � Who said a win in round one wasn’t critical? Eighty per cent of the past 10 premiership teams had a victory on the opening weekend of the season. Don’t discount the teams that lose this weekend, but the statistics are worth noting.

OMINOUS START: Port Adelaide thrashed

Essendon by 96 points in round one, 2004, on its way to clinching its first premiership.

Year

Premiers

Round one result

2000

Essendon

Beat Port Adelaide by 94 points

2001

Brisbane Lions

Lost to Port Adelaide by 6 points

2002

Brisbane Lions

Beat Sydney Swans by 23 points

2003

Brisbane Lions

Beat Essendon by 43 points

2004

Port Adelaide

Beat Essendon by 96 points

2005

Sydney Swans

Beat Hawthorn by 63 points

2006

West Coast

Beat St Kilda by 18 points

2007

Geelong

Lost to Western Bulldogs by 20 points

2008

Hawthorn

Beat Melbourne by 104 points

2009

Geelong

Beat Hawthorn by 8 points

WATCH BEFORE THE GAME SATURDAY NIGHTS ON TEN

beforethegame.com.au FITZY Carlton Geelong Cats Hawthorn St Kilda Brisbane Lions Port Adelaide Western Bulldogs Adelaide Crows

TIPSTERS

MICK Richmond Geelong Cats Hawthorn St Kilda Brisbane Lions North Melbourne Western Bulldogs Adelaide Crows

76 AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au

SAM Carlton Geelong Cats Hawthorn St Kilda Brisbane Lions Port Adelaide Western Bulldogs Adelaide Crows

DAVE Carlton Geelong Cats Hawthorn St Kilda Brisbane Lions Port Adelaide Western Bulldogs Adelaide Crows

LEHMO Carlton Geelong Cats Hawthorn St Kilda Brisbane Lions Port Adelaide Western Bulldogs Adelaide Crows

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


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GIVEN TO FLY

FOUND A PLACE IN TIGER HEARTS C E L E B R AT I N G A R I C H M O N D C H A M P I O N

Matthew Richardson was forced to retire last November after struggling to overcome a hamstring injury, leaving Richmond fans mourning his premature departure.

I

TON Y H A R DY

had no idea ‘Richo’ had retired until my sister Caroline rang. She’s a nice 45-year-old accountant, drives a nice white BMW, and lives in a really nice house with a loving husband and three kids just out of private school. Life is comfortable, certain and on budget for Caroline. But she never 78 AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au

rings me at 6.58pm on a Monday in November. And when I answered the phone, rather than say hello, she was sobbing. My heart collapsed. I instantly thought the worst had happened to mum, who’d been in hospital. Although none of us had spoken of her impending diagnosis out loud, my sisters and I all feared she had cancer. “What’s happened?” I asked, but I knew, I knew. It was happening. My mother was dying. The woman who’d raised us was not long for this earth. Caroline didn’t answer. “Do they know how long we have?” I sighed, swore and sat on the floor, my head resting back on the wall. “Oh ‘Tone’, it’s so sad,” she sobbed.


AFL RECORD visit aďŹ&#x201A;record.com.au 79


CELEBRATING A RICHMOND CHAMPION “Yeah, I know. How is she taking it?” “Who?” Caroline gulped. “Mum.” “Richo’s retired, Tone,” Caroline wept, her breaths playing catch-up. Like every family, we’ve had our tragedies, but I’d never seen or heard Caroline cry. Not openly, honestly, unselfconsciously and especially not over someone she had never met and who, by the way, hadn’t died, but just couldn’t get his hamstring fixed. “We’ll never see him play again, Tone. Or say goodbye to him. It’s been 17 years. It’s so sad.” In the background, I heard her husband Paul laughing, begging to know if I was also crying. Paul didn’t get it. He wasn’t a true Tiger. Caroline and I first watched the Tiges together in 1977, We loved Richo and she knew I for so many understood how sad it was. In a reasons. He wasn’t way that not even vain. Nor was HOLD THAT TIGER: The many faces of Matthew Richo knew. Richardson – leaping for a mark in 2001 and he covered Before Caroline a picture of concentration in 1995. rang, I had planned in tattoos for him to be the star the Richmond “He’s a beautiful man who’s of my breathtaking Football Club.” too big for his body,” Caroline advertising campaign Cut! Brilliant! continued, before blowing her idea for the Tiges in 2010. It The club could sell Richo dolls, nose. “He kicks five points in a was inspired by the hardcore fly Richo flags from the roof of row and gets upset when no one fans’ chant “I want to be a Richo the scoreboard, and play Richo passes it to him. He was a mess. Man”, which was inspired by Man when he touched the footy. It’s just so sad.” broadcaster Rex Hunt, who was At home, you could hang Richo My sister told me how she inspired by the Village People’s in the shower, pull his cord, and even shared a birth date with his Macho Man. No. 12 and, when she sounded For my 30-second commercial, he’d sing the song. The 2010 season would be the ‘Year of the ready to bawl again, I said my production team and I would Richo Man’. And in round 22, we goodbye. I had to check her shoot people all over the country would all have had the chance story. What if he hadn’t retired singing, “Richo, Richo Man. I to say goodbye. But it will never after all? want to be a Richo Man.” From happen now. I hit the Richmond website Darwin to Deer Park, truckies, We loved Richo for so many to confirm Richo had died, I housewives, even students, reasons. He wasn’t vain. Nor was mean retired. Caroline was would sing the catchy line, while he covered in tattoos. And he right. So I rang my mate ‘Tiger dancing and waving Richmond didn’t live the self-obsessed life so Clyde’, who tracks fraud and membership tickets around. many his age seem to. From 1993 fraudsters for a living. The commercial’s finale until last season, Richo expressed “Good riddance,” he barked, would feature the MCG full of himself by regularly backing into reminding me how Richo had Tiger fans singing Richo Man, steamrolling packs of fists and frustrated Tiger fans with his complemented by slow-motion knees, not by inking Karate Kid waywardness, especially in front footage of Richo taking a speccy proverbs under his arms. of goal. “I’m rapt he’s gone.” or kicking a goal, his right boot He played like he truly loved I wanted to reach into finishing the movement near the Tiges, not himself. He loved the phone and grab him. his bowed head, his rubber the yellow and black enough Rapt he’s gone? I was annoyed arms hanging beside his body, to run into a fence at the SCG and hung up, leaving him the crowd apoplectic behind and wrench his knee. One night to hide in bushes and spy on him. Then we would cut to against the Bombers, he kicked hard-working Australians. Richo himself with a football four goals with a crushed eye Clyde had a point though, under his arm. He’d lean into socket, broken nose and other damn it. It would be dishonest the camera and say: “If you fractures we’ll never hear about. to pay homage to Richo and really want to be like me, join 80 AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au

FACT FILE

12

Matthew Richardson

Born: March 19, 1975 Recruited from: Devonport Debut: Rd 7, 1993 v St K Farewell: Rd 6, 2009 v Syd Height: 197cm Weight: 103kg Games: 282 Goals: 800 Player honours: best and fairest 2007; 3rd Brownlow Medal 2008; leading goalkicker 1994, 1996-99, 2001-08; All-Australian 1996, 1999, 2008, Alex Jesaulenko Medal 1996; Richmond Team of the Century. Brownlow Medal: 140 votes

not acknowledge his football foibles. A few seasons ago, Clyde reckoned that backmen had worked Richo out. They let him lead left, right, left, right, left and, if they just did nothing except stood still and waited, eventually Richo would return. Sure, there were moments when I wondered which side he was on. But the man was transparent. When frustrated by his right boot, he shook his head, jogged off and seemed close to tears. When happy, his jaw jutted out, his big-lipped smile pushing his ears back like a big kid. But,


CELEBRATING A RICHMOND CHAMPION

RICHO’S THE MAN: It’s another goal and Matthew Richardson is off to celebrate, much to the delight of the Richmond faithful and his Tiger teammates. Richardson is second behind Jack Titus on the all-time Richmond goalkicking list with 800.

as has been written countless times, his problems were his charm. Sort of. We watched him hit the post from 15 metres out. We saw him miss the whole lot from 15 metres out. But Richo kicked more goals than Kevin ‘Hungry’ Bartlett. He was Richmond’s leading goalkicker 13 times. He is our half-forward in the Team of the Century and a life member. I watched him sprint long distances during a match, his barrel chest sucking oxygen, but still be able to boot one from 60m out. When he connected, it flew. And when he connected with Richmond people, it stuck. Richo stuck so much with me I rang him out of the blue, offering to write his biography. I was so confident he’d say yes, I’d already come up with the title: For Richo or for Poorer. He’d love that. So I talked his number out of a journalist mate, rang his mobile, left a message introducing myself and why I was calling and, for the next few days, waited to see his name flash on my phone. Three weeks later, my phone beeped, telling me I had a message. It was Richo. On my phone. 82 AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au

“Hi Tony,” he said in that honest drawl of his. His voice was devoid of pretension and insincerity. “It’s Matthew Richardson. Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I’ve been pretty busy. There’s a couple of other writers who are in the queue ahead of you but, if you want, you can ring (my manager) Ricky Nixon at Flying Start to talk about it.” What struck me most was Richo saying sorry to me. He didn’t know me, yet he apologised to me. It made me realise I didn’t need to ring Ricky Nixon to write his biography. I didn’t even need Richo. Richmond people so adore him, I could write his biography by writing our stories. For a generation, we watched him live his glorious sporting life as we endured lives addicted to change, mess and stress. While Richo played, we grew up, retired, married, divorced, graduated and survived terrorism, bushfires, acne, bad hair, interest rates and too often finishing in ninth position on the ladder. We re-married, said sorry, watched the Brisbane Lions win three premierships

and Nathan Brown break his leg like he stepped on a landmine. We fell silent when ‘Captain Blood’ passed away. We were rescued, globally warmed and flooded. We moved house, jobs, careers and countries, wept, swore, checked into rehab, were promoted, demoted, sacked, downsized, evicted and fell in love. And we smiled and cried quietly at work when our mother’s tests for cancer came back negative. Most Richmond supporters ‘got’ him. How he ran and leapt like a gloved gazelle in brown hamstring warmers. How he slapped his thighs. How he threw his head back and sulked when a 50m lead was ignored by midfielders from ‘Knighta’ to ‘Boofa’ Maxfield to Nathan Foley, who doubtless all loved ‘Ricky’ (a curious nickname he was happy for teammates to use) but were wary of his crazy feet and love of the boundary line. How running in a straight line wasn’t enough for him. How he wasn’t distracted by the vision of himself on the big screen like other narcissist forwards. How he waved at us one night from his table during the Brownlow,

How he ran and leapt like a gloved gazelle in brown hamstring warmers

urging us to calm down, to stop jumping on the couch, because he wasn’t going to win it. At the Punt Road end, we sung his song and loved him because he made us impossibly tortured and cursed Tigers happy. Richo made the yellow and black happy. What other footballer makes you happy? What other footballer inspired Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam to sing Given to Fly for 45,000 people at Docklands, even if he mistakenly dedicated it to Mark Richardson? In our rear-view mirror, wasn’t Vedder’s innocent miss so typically and perfectly Richo? Matthew Richardson retired without warning, without giving us the chance to say goodbye, celebrate or cheer every touch in case it was his last. We feel let down for all sorts of reasons, but mostly because his end is one of the obituaries of our lives. It’s why my sister cried. Why Clyde is angry. And why I will always want to be the Richo Man. TONY HARDY IS A FREELANCE ADVERTISING DIRECTOR AND THE AUTHOR OF RACE AROUND THE SPORTS WORLD (SLATTERY MEDIA GROUP).


Moments of the

Recalling an era that had it all � The ‘aughts’, as some dubbed the first decade of the 21st century, will be remembered for big names, big games and big stories. The premiership cup toured Australia, touching down in Queensland, South Australia, New South Wales and Western Australia, before landing back in Victoria. Games were played in every state and territory, record crowds flocked to new and improved stadia and the media embraced the game like never before. It was a decade with the lot, as new rivalries were spawned, superstars emerged and changes to the way the game was played made it a more exciting spectacle than ever. It wasn’t all good. Some players behaved badly, while others in the game and just out of it, passed away in tragic circumstances.The most tumultuous time in the history of the game? Perhaps. Over the next 25 weeks, the AFL Record will chronicle some of the events that made the aughts such a memorable time in footy. Keep reading the Record for details of a special fans’ competition based on this series. We look forward to your interest and feedback.

2000-09

Bulldogs’ flood ended Bombers’ quest for perfect season In 2000, Essendon was on target for a significant first, but the Western Bulldogs sprung a major tactical surprise to seal an upset win. ASHLEY BROW NE

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he 2000 season started in the first week of March, having been moved forward to accommodate the Sydney Olympics. For Essendon, the season couldn’t start early enough. The Bombers had been raging flag favourites the year before, but were upended by Carlton in an epic preliminary final. They were a team on a mission in 2000, so driven that they vowed not to sing the club song after any win until after the Grand Final. With a star-studded

line-up headed by James Hird and including Matthew Lloyd, Scott Lucas, Dustin Fletcher and Michael Long, Essendon cast an imposing shadow over the rest of the competition. For 20 rounds, the Bombers were hardly threatened. Melbourne ran them to 13 points in round nine, as did the Sydney Swans in round 14. Carlton was the only other side thought to be any chance for the flag, but Essendon disposed of the Blues in round 19 by 26 points in front of more than 91,000 fans at the MCG, in what was one of the most highly-anticipated Friday night matches in AFL history. It was then that talk of the perfect season started to heat up. No team in the game’s history had gone through an entire season undefeated. Collingwood, which lost the 1929 Grand Final but was able to challenge for a re-match (which it won), had come the closest. But such talk didn’t sit well at Whitten Oval. Under the coaching of Terry Wallace, the Western Bulldogs were masters at playing the “no respect” card and they saw the round 21 clash with the Bombers at Docklands as another opportunity to sneak under the guard of a more fancied opponent. “As soon as we got to

DELIGHTED DOGS: Brad Johnson (left)

and Chris Grant helped bring the Bombers’ winning streak to an end.

Other memorable upsets of the decade

ROUND 20, 2009 Essendon 16.14 (110) d St Kilda 16.12 (108) � The Saints had won 19 in a row but the Bombers shot out to a big lead. Nick Riewoldt missed a set-shot after the siren that would have given St Kilda the win.

QUALIFYING FINAL, 2002 Collingwood 16.12. (108) d Port Adelaide 14.11 (95)

ROUND 19, 2009 West Coast 16.6 (102) d Western Bulldogs 13.19 (97)

� The Power were labeled as chokers by some when the Pies travelled to Adelaide in the opening week of finals in 2002 and knocked off the minor premiers.

� The Andrew Embley-led Eagles came to Melbourne to face one of the premiership favourites, and prevailed by five points in a shock victory only weeks from the finals series.


They were close

training that week, it was to unbeatable, but clear that Terry had a we always had the plan,” champion Bulldogs wingman Rohan Smith belief we could said. “Everything we did roll them that week was geared ROHAN SMITH towards that plan.” It wasn’t particularly complicated, but rather than engage Essendon in any sort of shootout, Wallace’s plan called for a player to be behind the ball at every stage. It was a flood whose sole purpose was to limit the supply to the Bomber forwards, particularly Lloyd, who went on to boot 109 goals that year to win the Coleman Medal in a canter. Smith remembers the lead seesawing for much of the night and Essendon’s frustration starting to grow. The Bombers snuck away to lead by 15 points at the final change, by which time Wallace decided the flood needed to be abandoned. “He told us to take risks and to take them on,” Smith recalled. And that the Bulldogs did. They stormed home in the final quarter, booting five goals to one. But the result was in doubt until just before the siren, with the Bulldogs not taking the lead until late in the final quarter when Chris Grant marked in the forward pocket, ran around and slotted a clutch goal on his left foot. “We had a few massive wins under Terry and that was one of them,” Smith said. “They were going for the perfect season and they were close to LEADING THE WAY: Chris Grant not only stopped Matthew Lloyd in this unbeatable, but we always had contest, he was the hero with the decisive goal late in the game. the belief we could roll them.”

ROUND 5, 2007 North Melbourne 18.10 (118) d Geelong 15.12 (102) � The Kangaroos made their way to Skilled Stadium and toppled the Cats in a game that sparked Geelong’s great run. The Cats lost only onee more game for the year before claiming the flag.

T H E A F T E R M AT H

� The Bulldogs returned to Docklands the following week knowing a win over Hawthorn would deliver a home final. But they lost by 15 points. They lost by 34 points to the Lions at the Gabba in an elimination final, meaning that two weeks after their stunning upset, their season was done. The Bombers, meanwhile, regrouped beautifully. They beat Collingwood by three goals in the last round before breezing through the finals with wins over North Melbourne (125 points), Carlton (45) and then Melbourne (60 points) in the Grand Final. Many believe there has been no more dominant team in a season than Essendon of 2000, but Rohan Smith, now a commentator for Fox Sports, gets little joy from being part of the only team to upend the Bombers that season. “They won 24 games and the premiership,” he said. “I played 300 games but never won a flag, so I’d rather be in their shoes.”

ROUND 14, 2002 Melbourne 20.11 (131) d Brisbane Lions 16.14 (110)

GRAND FINAL, 2008 Hawthorn 18.7 (115) d Geelong 11.23 (89) � The 2007 premier squandered too many chances and the Hawks took theirs in a famous Grand Final. It was only the Cats’ second loss of the season.

� Melbourne ‘hosted’ a game against the Lionss in Brisbane and reaped double benefits with o taking taki k ng home home the the points. th points point po n s At At the Demons also the time, Brisbane was in the middle of its premiership dynasty and the Gabba was a fortress for visiting teams.


YOUR TICKET TO GLORY IN 2010! BECOME A MEMBER IN 2010 We have a membership package to suit you. From 3 home game general admission to a reserved seat for all home and away games in Melbourne. Carlton for Life part payment program also available to all members.

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SIGN UP AS MEMBER AND MAKE YOUR PACT WITH THE ESSENDON FOOTBALL CLUB. Choose from a variety of memberships available for 2010 and receive your own membership card, exclusive member’s scarf and other great member benefits.

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RISE UP with the Gold Coast Football Club as an Inaugural Member!

As an Inaugural Member, when the Gold Coast Football Club plays its first home game, you will be there. When the club has its first win, you will see it, but more than that, you can say that you were a part of AFL history from the very beginning. 2010 is an important year for the Gold Coast Football Club and we’re targeting 10,000 members this year! Gold Coast Inaugural Members will receive priority access to purchase reserved seat packages in our brand new stadium ahead of the general public, entry to the club’s VFL home games plus more!

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In 2010 we’re UNITED With a young and exciting list in 2010, don’t miss any of the action. “We are all in this together… that is the Hawthorn way” JEFF KENNETT HAWTHORN FOOTBALL CLUB PRESIDENT

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Col Hutchinson

timeon Our AFL history guru answers your queries.

Former Saint not so tiny

NAME GAME

A good mate

I know Aaron Sandilands (Fremantle) and Peter Street (Geelong/Western Bulldogs) are the tallest men to play in the AFL. Both measured 211cm. Who was the tallest player before World War II? Gary Bills, Ocean Grove, VIC

CH: Len ‘Tiny’ Mills

joined St Kilda from West Torrens, South Australia, as a 31-year-old centre half-forward in 1929. He was 203cm tall and weighed 86kg. After two matches for the Saints, he switched to Hawthorn where he made an additional eight appearances in 1930. Another Croweater, Tim Lane, was recruited to Melbourne in 1912 from West Adelaide as a 198cm ruckman/centre half-forward. He managed 13 games in his only season. Twenty-two years later, the same club claimed Bert Taylor from Finley in NSW. He represented the Redlegs 39 times from 1934-36, and was the same height and played the same role as Lane. WRITE TO ANSWER MAN The Slattery Media Group 140 Harbour Esplanade Docklands, 3008 or email michaell@slatterymedia.com

LAND OF THE GIANTS:

Fremantle’s Aaron Sandilands (left) is recognised as the equal tallest man to play the game, while former Saint and Hawk Len Mills (above) stood tall in the 1920s and 30s.

AFL mystery men Francis Foster Holden � Known as Frank, Holden played five matches for Geelong in 1935-36, after coming from Caulfield as a strongly built 184cm 86kg key forward/ ruckman. He died in 1956, aged about 43. His older brother Jack represented St Kilda and Geelong from 1931-35.

John James McKenzie � Known as Jack, McKenzie played with Brunswick before trying his luck with Geelong reserves, and eventually joining Essendon in 1929, where he gained selection in five matches. His father, also known as Jack, was an Essendon and Geelong player early in the 20th century.

Should you have any information regarding Holden or McKenzie, including their dates of death, contact Col Hutchinson on (03) 9643 1929 or col.hutchinson@afl.com.au.

� At first glance, Adelaide captain Simon Goodwin has a surname perfectly suited to a sports participant. However, while the ‘good’ part of his name means just that, the ‘win’ part is from the Middle English word wine, meaning friend or protector. Goodwin is, therefore, an appropriate name for a captain, since a captain should be a good friend and protector to those under him. Moreover, the Goodwin family motto fide et virtute (by faith and courage) indicates leadership material. Although a reasonably common surname, Goodwin has appeared on League lists only once before: Andy Goodwin played 73 games for Richmond and Melbourne from 1987-93. Simon Goodwin’s given name, from the Hebrew personal name Shim‘on (based on a verb meaning “to hearken”), is also found in current-list patronymic (father-son) surnames such as Symes, Simmonds, Simpson etc., all of which mean “son of Simon”.

Footy skills book out now Including tips from the stars of the AFL Only $24.95 from all good bookstores Visit footybookclub.com 88 AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au

KEVAN CARROLL


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timeon

JACKSON’S FOOTY KIDS’ CORNER KIDS

Jackson’s Footy is the story of a young boy who loves his footy so much he takes it wherever he can. He even sleeps with it under his doona. You can imagine his surprise then when he is out shopping and notices his footy in the local sports store window. Jackson even sees the big kids in the park playing with it!

All about Jackson Jackson is three and loves footy.

� Written by former AFL playerr and television ussell and radio personality Dwayne Russell and illustrated by Donna Gynell, l, Jackson’s res Footy is available from bookstores club.com and AFL stores. Visit footybookclub.com

He got his first Sherrin footy when he turned three. Jackson lives with mum Holly, dad Alex, sister Krissie and dog Oscar. His favourite dinner is a lamb roast – sometimes when he is at the footy, he is allowed to have a pie as a special treat.

This is the perfect book for little footy fans

Jackson can’t wait to play as a full-forward when he grows up – he plans to kick lots of goals.

DWAYNE RUSSELL

Sudoku

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

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QUICK QUESTIONS

edal 1 Which player won the Michael Tuck Medal in this year’s NAB Cup Grand Final.

2 Who replaced Matthew Lloyd as Essendon

captain this year?

3 Which two clubs made major changes to their

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guernsey this season?

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4 Which clubs are Brad and Chris Scott coaching? 5 Which Sydney Swan wore green boots during the

NAB Cup and NAB Challenge matches?

THIS WEEK’S ANSWERS 5 QUICK QUESTIONS: Barry Hall; Jobe Watson; Brisbane Lions (new stylised Lion) and Port Adelaide (predominantly black); North Melbourne (Brad) and Fremantle (Chris, an assistant); Lewis Jetta. BIG MOUTH: SCRAMBLED FOOTBALLER: CRYPTIC FOOTBALLERS:

90 AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au


timeon

NAB AFL RISING STAR

A team of genuine stars Jared Rivers (2004)

Byron Pickett (1998)

Port Adelaide

Melbourne

North Melbourne

Danyle Pearce (2006)

Nick Holland (1995)

Chris Scott (1994)

Port Adelaide

Hawthorn

Brisbane Bears

Daniel Rich (2009)

Ben Cousins (1996)

Joel Selwood (2007)

Paul Hasleby (2000)

Nick Riewoldt (2002)

Brett Deledio (2005)

Fremantle

St Kilda

Richmond

CENTRES

HALFBACKS

Michael Wilson (1997)

West Coast Eagles

Geelong

FORWARDS

HALFFORWARDS

Brisbane Lions

Rhys Palmer (2008) Fremantle

Justin Koschitzke (2001)

?

(2010)

St Kilda

?

Adam Goodes (1999)

Nathan Buckley (1993)

Sam Mitchell (2003)

Sydney Swans

Brisbane Bears

Hawthorn

FOLLOWERS

T

his year, the AFL Rising Star award will be awarded for the 18th time. Now known as the NAB AFL Rising Star, the award continues to grow in importance – and for good reason. One need only look at the pedigree of past winners to realise the award is very much a big deal. This year’s winner will join 17 others to make a super team of genuine impact players, many of whom are still starring today, with some of the more recent winners seemingly on the way to long and successful careers. The AFL Record has produced a team featuring the 17 winners. In putting together the line-up, we attempted to place them in positions they either won the award in, or played a significant amount of their career in. Melbourne’s Jared Rivers was a standout defender in 2004 and fills the full-back position. Reliable Port Adelaide defender Michael Wilson takes one of the back pockets and the other goes to Byron Pickett. He might be best remembered for his physical approach and long running goals, but Pickett’s Rising Star season saw him play as an attacking, rebounding backman for North Melbourne. Danyle Pearce adds dash at half-back, and the uncompromising Chris Scott takes the other flank, where he made his name in two Brisbane Lions premiership sides. There were limited options for the centre-half back position, with Nick Holland given the nod.

BACKS

The first 17 winners of the AFL Rising Star award would make a formidable unit, with this year’s winner to round out what would be a super team. C A L LU M T WOMEY

Although he played his best football for the Hawks as a key forward, Holland excelled in defence in his Rising Star season of 1995. Last year’s winner, Daniel Rich, takes one wing, while Geelong’s Joel Selwood occupies the other. The centre position goes to Ben Cousins, a super athlete and ball-winner.

The simplest choice came with the centre half-forward position. St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt has helped revolutionise the role, with a massive engine enabling him to run opponents off their feet. Coupled with his ability in the air, Riewoldt projects to fi nish his career as one of St Kilda’s greatest players.

On either side of the big Saint are Docker Paul Hasleby and Richmond’s Brett Deledio. Although Hasleby is unquestionably a ball-winner in the midfield, on this occasion he finds himself pushing forward, while the more attacking Deledio can use his polish near goal. Choosing the team was challenging, considering the majority of past winners were midfielders. It left us with Dockers ball-winner Rhys Palmer being rested in a forward pocket at the feet of Saints big man Justin Koschitzke. The Swans’ dual-Brownlow medallist Adam Goodes is the team’s ruckman. Tall, athletic and brilliant, Goodes is the ultimate modern footballer. The ruck-rover spot went to inaugural Rising Star winner Nathan Buckley, a champion by anyone’s standards. Also a champion leader, Buckley captained Collingwood more times than any other Magpie and, hence, has been chosen as our Rising Star skipper, ahead of the other five captains in the team. We gave the rover’s role to VFL player turned Hawthorn premiership captain Sam Mitchell. We have left a forward pocket open for this year’s winner. Given the rotations employed in the modern game, it is likely this year’s winner will at least play some of their season in attack. Regardless, based on the path taken by the previous 17 winners, this year’s Rising Star looks set to have a long and illustrious career.

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.

92 AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au


NAB Community NAB AFL Auskick

Who will be the 2010 NAB AFL Auskicker of the Year? The search is on again in 2010 for the NAB AFL Auskicker of the Year. We are looking for the Auskicker that best demonstrates the spirit of the game – commitment, enthusiasm, teamwork and passion. Twenty-two nominees for the Award will receive a money-can’t-buy 2010 Toyota AFL Grand Final Experience in Melbourne, plus the overall winner will receive $5,000 in a NAB Smart Junior Saver Account and Joel Selwood as a footy mentor in 2011.

Enter at nab.com.au/auskick today!

AFL Authorisation Code: GFAFL10/01. The provision of tickets to any match that is a declared event under the Major Sporting Events Act 2009 (“Act”) including the 2010 Toyota AFL Grand Final is subject to the provision of tickets being permitted in an approved ticketing scheme under the Act.

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timeon

LAST LINE

Applying data laterally

Never sell yourself short

It’s the size of the fight in the player that really counts.

I

like what North Melbourne captain Brent Harvey said at a pre-season media gathering: “With Brad (Scott) coming to the footy club, everyone is talking about rebuilding, but I don’t think it is, and I don’t want it because I don’t know how long I’ve got to go. “I’ve got no time to rebuild this footy club. So, to me, it’s (about) ‘now’ and I’ve been driving that message to the club.” No mention of fashionable references to premiership windows and youth policy. Just get on with it, please. It implies self-knowledge, team responsibility and the fact this bloke can play the game at the highest level, albeit for the limited time still open to him. Harvey is a true professional and character in one. His nickname ‘Boomer’ rates among the best going around. God knows how he got it. The mind boggles at the possibilities. But, importantly, he delivers on it. If you measured him on the basis of height, weight, game impact and footy smarts, he vies with Gary Ablett jnr as the best footballer in the land. Add cheek to the equation and slightly bandy legs that pump all day, the inevitable conclusion to make when assessing the pintsized champion with a look a mother adores is … ‘BOOMER’! My fondness for his provocative 94 AFL RECORD visit aflrecord.com.au

He took a brief look at me, and then my father, and said Melbourne captain straight up: “Little, isn’t he?” Brent Harvey. Without hesitation, Soapy then asked my father, “Any height in your family?” My shocked father eventually mumbled “No”. Soapy then fired again, “Any height in his mother’s family?” “No,” admitted my devastated father. Thankfully, Soapy had just travelled all the way from Melbourne and asked if there was a cup of tea and piece of cake on offer. My mother obliged and we all sat around the kitchen table, nattering about footy and the purpose of his visit. I joined Carlton soon after, determined to make the most of my opportunity, and confident in my abilities, the Harvey is a true notwithstanding doubts about my size. professional and In the 1970 Grand Final, I am proud to character in one. thrashed say that Syd Jackson ‘Boomer’ rates by hated and I measured in among the best rival as the lightest and Trafalgar in shortest team members. going around the first half, I reckon Syd (173cm Alby addressed and 73kg) deserved the players holding to be named best on up a Moe jumper: “If your ground and my contribution in pathetic effort keeps going, I will the second half (four goals) is well personally rip this jumper off documented. Soapy’s judgment you at the end of the game.” and faith had been vindicated. No one doubted he would. All along he saw me as a We had little time left for potential rover, a role I knew I redemption, a mere half of could play, despite the doubters. football. In Alby’s eyes, we Boomer would likely have were all equal; it didn’t matter faced many doubters during if you were a senior player or a his career. But he’s never fallen school kid. Our first obligation short when challenged. Now, was to show respect – for the he’s issued his own challenge, jumper, the club and to his teammates and his club. our teammates. His pre-season comments The philosophy struck home, reminded me of Alby imploring and I grew in confidence, us to get cracking. As such, I’m knowing I could become a solid suggesting Boomer and North footballer. My rude awakening Melbourne will provide plenty came when legendary former of value this year. Carlton full-forward Harry TED HOPKINS IS A CARLTON PREMIERSHIP ‘Soapy’ Vallence approached PLAYER AND FOUNDER OF CHAMPION DATA. my father and I in our backyard HIS CURRENT PROJECT IS TEDSPORT, A HIGH PERFORMANCE DATA ANALYSIS AND during Vallence’s post-playing CONSULTING SERVICE. role as the Blues’ recruiter. GENUINE STAR: North

comments, his brilliant playing style and his demeanour goes deeper. His approach made me recall my own development as a player. The range of heights and body weights in a football team makes Australian Football open – and therefore attractive – to many. This was evident to me as I gained experience progressing though junior to senior ranks of my hometown team, Moe, in Victoria’s Gippsland region. As a youngster blessed with above average ability, I tended to play ‘taller’ than I was, as the saying goes. (At Carlton, I was listed at 177cm and 68kg, a tad taller but a little lighter than Harvey – 172cm and 75kg.) Even when I was 15 or 16 and playing for Moe’s seniors, coach Alby Law occasionally asked me to step up and play ruck-rover or sometimes had me drop into the hole at centre half-forward. My father was very proud. Alby was a demonstrative type who was good at teaching us lessons. At half-time, after being


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Round 1, 2010