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features 62 Travis Boak
From a promising sportsman on Victoria’s surf coast to a respected leader at Port Adelaide, Boak has done it tough. As a teenager, he had to cope with the loss of his father, but thanks to a steely determination he is balancing all aspects of his life. CALLUM TWOMEY speaks with a wise man.
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Backchat The Bounce Matchday Dream Team Answer Man Kids’ Corner NAB AFL Rising Star
Geelong’s Mitch Duncan.
78 Talking Point
Ted Hopkins discusses the need for caution when assessing trends.
Why a lad from country Victoria is enjoying life on the other side of the nation.
8 Thee n evolution of Jobee n Watson
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THIS WEEK’S COVER Young Port Adelaide star Travis Boak is leading the Power into a new era. COVER PHOTO: MICHAEL WILLSON
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Your say on the world of football
Too early for rash statements
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» Most of us have probably Barking up the wrong tree
I can’t understand all the complaints regarding the Western Bulldogs covering up the Lockett name at Etihad Stadium when it’s a Bulldogs home game. Essendon covers up the Coventry name with Matthew Lloyd’s name at Bombers home games and we hear nothing about that. Keep it up Doggies, the ‘Footscray End’ looks awesome. TRISH WEBB, VIA EMAIL.
A weekly ﬁx up north
With the admission of the Gold Coast Suns and my reasonable proximity to both the Gabba and Carrara, I can now attend an AFL game in south-east Queensland weekly. Now I can enjoy something Melburnians have had for more than 100 years, Adelaide and Perth have had since the 1990s, and Sydney only has to wait another year for. JO VELDMEYER, UPPER COOMERA QLD.
Time for Tigers to write new history
Are those born into the Richmond fold destined to rely on the stories of long ago to teach us about glory? How long can a boy hold on to epic tales of past Richmond dynasties before experiencing the ecstasy of premiership glory himself? I bumped into CEO and former player Brendon Gale straight after our loss to Carlton in round one. Some thought it
RAISING THE BAR: Gallant
Tiger defeats are no longer acceptable for one reader.
a courageous effort from the Tigers; he made it clear it wasn’t acceptable. Gale’s bold initiatives (a signiﬁcant membership boost, getting rid of debt and setting the club to win ﬂags) are providing Richmond with a clear road map to success. ‘Benny’, I’m with you. No more patting ourselves on the back for a good effort; no more commending a decent crack. JOSH SAKARIASSEN, MELBOURNE, VIC.
HAVE YOUR SAY
The best letter each round will receive the 2011 AFL Record Season Guide. Email aﬂrecordeditor@ slatterymedia.com or write to AFL Record, rd, Slattery Media Group, p, 140 Harbour Esplanade, ade Docklands, VIC, 3008.
tried to answer several key questions emerging after the ﬁrst few rounds of the season. Among them: What’s the best way to beat Collingwood? What impact will the new substitute rule have? Will the Karmichael Hunt experiment work? And what to make of the winless St Kilda? In line with the obsession many of us in the media have with being ﬁrst, already we’ve read, heard and watched pundits provide solutions to the challenges facing players and clubs and assess almost immediately how the sub rule will impact the game. (Mind you, less than 13 per cent of the season has been played; there are still 163 home and away matches to come.) That, in part, is simply a product of the 24-hour news and entertainment cycle – there’s simply so much space and airtime to be ﬁlled. But it can also be counter-productive, especially when assessments are made without adequate ssample numbers or in haste, when players are dismissed w without being given adequate w development time in the system. d Statistical analyst Ted Hopkins touches on one aspect H o of this in his column on page 78, while the AFL’s development w manager David Matthews m argues the case for cutting the a likes of Hunt and Israel Folau li some slack. PETER DI SISTO
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Cats’ clash revives memories of ﬁnest hour.
After turning 50, the AFL CEO reﬂects on life and football.
Hawthorn greats recall the 1991 premiership.
I want to provide a way for kids to get their music out there
Nathan Lovett-Murray, p22
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PETER RYA N
opefully I can get this article off to a good start by throwing one statistic your way: last season, the team in front at quarter-time won that game 73 per cent of the time. After three rounds in 2011, just 54 per cent of teams in front at the ﬁrst break have won. But that ﬁgure is trending upwards after the front-running disaster of the opening round, when only 25 per cent of the teams ahead at quarter-time won. Now I know it is obvious sides want to make a good start, but the reaction when a bad one happens makes you think it’s something determined by preparation. One only had to take a look at Melbourne coach Dean Bailey’s face at his post-match press conference last week to understand that. “The ﬁrst quarter wasn’t good enough,” he said, with an expression that could have cooled a sauna. Anyone catch Neil Craig exploding at the quarter-time break against Fremantle? Fair to guess he prefers a good start, too, and was exasperated when it didn’t happen.
MATCH BUILD-UP: The Swans stick
to the same pre-game routine each week, but it doesn’t always translate into a ﬂying start.
So, can clubs manufacture good starts with a pre-game preparation as effective as putting on a great shirt and ﬁnding a killer restaurant on the ﬁrst date? You can prepare professionally, as all clubs do. You can throw in some theatrics, as Carlton appeared to via ﬁtness consultant Tim Smith (shown by Channel Seven) in the rooms encouraging players last week before the Collingwood game. You can be as relaxed as Scott Pendlebury or vomit with anxiety like Ben Cousins did. You can jump on a vibrating machine, have a shower, read
the AFL Record or have a kick with the coach. But, unfortunately, regardless of what is done, you can’t predict with certainty whether the team is going to get off to a ﬂyer or start like an old Holden on a cold morning. Even those closest to the action admit that what leads to good starts remains something of a mystery. “I’ve found it very hard to successfully predict how the ﬁrst quarter is going to go based on their warm-ups,” Sydney Swans conditioning manager Rob Spurrs says. Spurrs says the Swans have “a somewhat similar
pre-game routine” all the time. There might be a tweak here or there after player feedback from time to time, but the basic routine remains. There are mandatory aspects to the build-up, but players have plenty of time left to their own devices. “What you will ﬁnd is that a lot of players with the same sort of mindset or personality will seek each other out and do their pre-game routines together,” Spurrs says. The basics are as follows: arrive two hours before the bounce, get some strapping, engage in light conversation, perhaps get a massage, listen to the coach’s main brieﬁng, a bit of kick-to-kick for some, then a more formal warm-up begins under the conditioning coach’s watchful eye before the team goes on the ground for a prescribed warm-up with the line coaches. Scoot back in, put on a jumper, perhaps listen to the coach one last time and then out to play. Hydration and food intake is relevant, as is allowing each player to dictate their preparation according to their preferred pre-game mood. Spurrs observes the routine in an unobtrusive fashion. A quiet word to a player to ensure he is focused may be necessary. Occasionally a short, sharp burst to the group will be required just to get everyone’s mind on the job. But the science is inexact, with the opposition keen to have their say about what happens.
Adelaide places Jason Porplyzia and David Mackay on its long-term injury list.
“That many times I have thought, ‘We’re not going to go too well in the ﬁrst quarter and we’ve had a great quarter’,” Spurrs says. “On the ﬂipside, there have been times when we have been ready to go – we’re ready and raring – but have had a poor ﬁrst quarter.” The lack of certainty won’t stop clubs from trying to perfect the pre-game. While the teams that make the running early win the higher percentage of games, the search for what leads to the ideal start will continue.
HOW THEY STARTED (AND FINISHED) IN 2010 Team
% Q1 won
% Qs won
% games won when leading Q1
CONQUERING A CHALLENGE
Code swappers deserve praise, not criticism DAV ID M AT THEWS
*Quarters when scores level not counted as a win. *Games ending in draw not counted as a win.
n round ﬁve of the 2000 season, Jonathan Brown made his debut for the Brisbane Lions against Adelaide. He had zero kicks, zero marks, zero handballs and zero goals. Good thing we didn’t condemn his career on that performance because he has gone on to be one of the modernday greats. What this example illustrates is the challenge for any young man entering a world-class competition. The AFL competition is world-class in many respects. The players who are talented enough and committed enough to play at the AFL level are among the elite of any type of footballers in the world. Each week, we are privileged to witness their courage, skill and athleticism performed under great pressure and scrutiny and this mix – coupled with the fact the game is available to all shapes and sizes – makes the AFL game one of the most spectacular and entertaining to watch.
The evolution of Jobe Watson It was always going to be a tough gig at the start, but the son of former Bomber great Tim Watson is now an elite player in his own right. PE TER RYAN
So it stands to reason that for any individual, the challenge of developing into an AFL player is not going to be an easy thing to accomplish. Nor should it be. That is the very challenge that Karmichael Hunt for Gold Coast and Israel Folau for Greater Western Sydney have gladly undertaken. Likewise, the two new clubs themselves have taken on similar immense challenges: Gold Coast is confronting the realities of this elite competition, but with a long-term list strategy evident for all to see. Just like Hunt and Folau, the Suns are on a development pathway. The pathways our current 796 players have taken are many and varied. Although many start in NAB AFL Auskick, others such as Tadhg Kennelly, Kurt Tippett, Daniel Merrett and Kieren Jack come to the game relatively late via very different pathways from each other. In each case, with good coaching, patience and personal commitment, they have developed into ﬁne AFL players. Hunt and Folau have taken unusual routes to the top level, and they deserve more respect and patience – in terms of their development – than has been offered thus far. I understand the media scrutiny on these two former NRL stars, but what I don’t understand is the imbalance in some of the media opinion. Hunt was regarded by Mark Browning (AFL Queensland’s talent manager) as an elite talent when he saw him playing
Gold Coast defender Campbell Brown suspended for four matches by the Match Review Panel for incidents involving Bulldogs Callan Ward and Barry Hall.
LEARNING HIS CRAFT:
Israel Folau dashes away from Port Adelaide’s Justin Westhoﬀ in a NAB Challenge game last month.
Australian Football at a private school in Brisbane. He was also playing rugby union for the school and had just signed to play rugby league for the Brisbane Broncos. The AFL, at the time, was not a viable option but times change. Having achieved almost everything he could in the rugby codes, he saw the AFL as a challenge. In the past two years, he has represented the Brisbane Broncos and Queensland in rugby league; Biarritz (France) in rugby union and now AFL for the Suns. This is a remarkable achievement under any scrutiny in any era. Surely this is an athlete to be admired for this remarkable mix of achievements?
Hunt continues to develop his skills and understanding of the AFL game. Interestingly, Champion Data stats show that in two AFL matches, Hunt’s opponents are yet to score a goal. In his second senior game, after part of a season of preparation in the VFL competition, he held Jarrad Grant to two kicks, and no score (11 disposals) in a 71-point loss to the Western Bulldogs last Saturday. Hunt had 10 disposals himself at 84 per cent efﬁciency. But still the scrutiny by some in the media has been on errors rather than achievements. Errors proliferate at all levels of the AFL competition. You might even ﬁnd an error or two in the games of Chris Judd and Luke Hodge and Adam
Goodes and Scott Pendlebury, if that’s your predilection. Such observers might note the Suns have played their ﬁrst two games against two very good teams – both ﬁnalists in 2010 – and their defence (not surprisingly) has been under siege. In that context, Hunt has been serviceable and has plenty of upside to offer as he works out the ﬁne culture of the game, and how his teammates operate and cooperate. It is insulting to Guy McKenna and his coaching staff that people question Hunt’s selection; instead they should be complimented on managing his progress so far. Folau has had a limited pre-season with an ankle injury holding him back. At just 22, and with the size and height of Lance Franklin, he, too, is an elite athlete. In 2010, he was the leading try-scorer in the NRL. Again, having achieved almost all rugby league has to offer even at such a young age, he sought a new challenge in Australia’s only indigenous game. Shouldn’t he, too, be welcomed, acknowledged for his adventure and encouraged? Having played the equivalent of eight quarters for the year, he is just ﬁve minutes into a four-year contract. Much of the scrutiny has come because of speculation as to what these high-proﬁle cross-code recruits are earning. Obviously, their player payments are within their clubs’ salary caps and it is also clear both deserve sign signiﬁcant ambassadorial roles
2004-0 2004-05: Body under B u pressure 200 2003 03 d debut: Thrown Thr rown in the deep end
» Af After fter much m media hype pe and excitement eexcit the 18-yearn 18-year-old Jobe Watson makes makes his h debut in round d 13. He g gets ets ttwo possessions in only nly g ason. son his o game for the season. Height: Heig ght: ht: 1189cm Weight: We g Weig ght: ht 86kg Gam mes: es: 1 Games:
Jim Stynes will tell you he took 10 years to become an overnight success, and Michael Tuck, the League’s games record-holder (426) played 50 reserves games before making his debut. Nobody can be sure whether Hunt and Folau will make it to such levels but, what is certain, is that the judgment of people such as Kevin Sheehan, the AFL’s national talent manager, Browning, Gold Coast’s well-respected list manager Scott Clayton and Greater Western Sydney’s football manager Graeme Allan – all part of the choosing of H Hunt and Folau – has been vin vind vindicated many times before e. before. DAVID MATTHEWS IS THE AFL AF A GENERAL MANAGER, NATI ION AND NATIONAL INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT. DEV VEL THIS ARTICLE FIRST FIRS T APPEARED ON AFL.COM.AU.
SOLID: Karmichael Hunt
is yet to concede a goal in his ﬁrst two games for the Gold Coast Suns.
2011: An A-grader
2008-10: Becoming an A-grader
» Watso Watson plays 12 games, in including ncludin two ﬁnals. He battles ba attles osteitis o pubis and other ot ther inj injuries during this period. pe eriod. Shows S glimpses of hi is capability. capa his Height: H eight: 190cm Weight: 94kg W G Ga ames: 13 Games:
as beﬁts their proﬁles and history to assist in the promotion of the AFL game in Queensland and New South Wales. In a time when the AFL is investing signiﬁcantly in the development of new clubs in these states, this surely makes sense to all but the most crusted-on cynics. The ambassadorial/marketing roles are not unique to Hunt or Folau. Sydney Swans best and fairest winner Kieren Jack – who chose the AFL game ahead of the NRL his father Garry dominated – and West Coast’s Nic Naitanui also play similar n Sydney and roles; Jack in ny of the AFL’s Naitanui in many al programs. prrograms. multicultural entlyy, New South Until recently, ensland each Wales and Quee Queensland nly 40 0 senior have had only p AFL players to promote p the game to 50 per ralia a’s cent of Australia’s population; in re Victoria there are 16 clubs ayerss and 400 players to promote the game. e, Of course, ys the pathways d of Hunt and Folau will be ched d, far more closely watched, k, or Brown, than that off Jack Jack, th he modern era, or Kennellyy in the h because of the huge investment de to grow the the AFL hass mad made ugh the the rugby states of game through Queensland and New South Wales. rvation surely But that obse observation tem mpered with needs to be tempered d patience. pattience. ience. fairness and
2006-07: The roller-coaster
» Plays 40 games, ﬁnishes second in the 2006 best and fairest, but is dropped late in 2007 and misses James Hird and Kevin Sheedy’s last games. Height: 190cm Weight: 88kg Games: 53
» At 26, he dominates
» Plays 64 games, wins two best and fairest awards and is awarded 31 Brownlow Medal votes. In 2010, he is club captain, wins the Bombers’ best and fairest and polls 16 Brownlow votes to ﬁnish equal ninth. Height: 190cm Weight: 92kg Games: 115
the round-three game against St Kilda, his early season form brilliant. He has 24 kicks, nine handballs, 17 contested possessions, three goals, 20 pressure acts and nine clearances. Height: 190cm Weight: 94kg Games: 118
Port Adelaide midﬁelder Hamish Hartlett ﬁned $5000 ($2500 suspended) for not meeting the club’s “uncompromising standards”.
Nick Davis (right) celebrates with teammate Michael O’Loughlin after his last-quarter heroics.
Cats clash revives memories of Davis’ ﬁnest hour MICH A EL LOV ET T
f all the pivotal moments that led to the Sydney Swans’ drought-breaking 2005 premiership, the last-quarter heroics of Nick Davis in the semi-ﬁnal rank right up there. We remember Leo Barry’s mark in the dying seconds of the Grand Final and the controversy surrounding Barry Hall’s behind-the-play incident in the preliminary ﬁnal where the big forward was found guilty of striking but escaped penalty. But none of it would have eventuated had Davis not cut a swathe through Geelong’s defence in a pulsating ﬁnal term at the SCG in week two of the ﬁnals. Bittersweet memories for Geelong and Sydney fans will come ﬂooding back in this round as the Cats take on the Swans. It will be the ﬁrst time the teams have met
at the SCG since that famous, started at Collingwood and or infamous, night. ﬁnished back in Sydney, where “I’d say it was a famous night,” he was born and bred. Davis said this week. The Swans trailed by 17 “It was points at probably three-quarter infamous for time, having the Geelong managed a people, but it wayward 3.12 brings back and the Cats a lot of great were applying memories for full-ground myself and pressure in NICK DAVIS the club.” the wet Davis conditions, produced the ﬁnest hour, or caused by the automatic half-hour, sprinklers being turned on of his 168-game career that earlier in the day.
It brings back a lot of great memories
The Cats kicked the ﬁrst goal of the last term before Davis weaved his magic. His right-foot snap made the difference 16 points with 13 minutes to go; a strong mark reduced the margin to nine points with 10 minutes remaining before another snap brought Sydney to within three points in time-on. With less than a minute on the clock, ruckman Jason Ball found Davis with a perfect hit-out and the clever forward drilled his fourth goal and the match-winner. “The set shot was the most straightforward of the lot, but any of the other three could have easily missed and changed the result of the game,” Davis said. These days Davis is helping the next generation of potential Sydney players, working with his old coach Paul Roos at the Swans Academy. He is also up at the crack of dawn most days working for the stables of leading Sydney trainer John Thompson, where his partner Anna Watson, mother of their two-year-old daughter Jordan, rides track work. “It’s hectic juggling it all, but we virtually have a live-in nanny thanks to my mum (Judy), who minds Jordan when we get up at 3am,” he said. “It’s amazing, I’d never get up at 3am for footy training, but getting to the track at that time is such a buzz.”
When they’re not playing... PLAYER
Greatest non-football tball achievement:
Favourite TV show:
One thing you can't eat:
Coach's favourite saying:
Nathan Bock Gold Coast
Learning to surf
“Train hard, play easy”
Jarrad McVeigh Sydney Swans
Buying a house
Greg Broughton Fremantle
Under-12s B grade cricket premiership
Friday Night ht Lights
Jordan Russell Carlton
Learning to drive in Melbourne
Av o Avocado
“’Birdy’, change pace!”
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Hawthorn defender Ben Stratton to miss rest of season after surgery on the PCL in his right knee.
State pride at stake as rivalry re-ignited K ATR INA GIL L
delaide coach Neil Craig has suggested this weekend’s clash between the Crows and Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium could be “one of the best Showdowns of all time”. Honest opinion? Or was it merely the ﬁrst instance of spruiking in a big week of promotion for the two clubs ahead of South Australia’s showpiece game? We’ll ﬁnd out. But the suggestion a game between teams ranked 11th and 16th on the ladder could be one of the greatest in a great rivalry spanning 15 years isn’t as far-fetched as it might sound. The rivalry is a ﬁerce one, dating back to the ﬁrst meeting, in round four of 1997. Port’s Scott Cummings and Crow Rod Jameson ignited the on-ﬁeld rivalry, trading blows at the ﬁrst bounce. 12
Both clubs have experienced highs and lows since then, but the competitive and ﬁerce nature of the contests has remained a constant. Twelve of the 29 meetings have been decided by two goals or less, with Port Adelaide holding a narrow overall advantage (16-13). Despite the even nature of the contests, Port Adelaide premiership player Josh Carr maintained a perfect record against the Crows in his 124 games with the Power.
The rivalry is there no matter how either side is travelling PATRICK DANGERFIELD
Carr, who left Port to play alongside brother Matthew at Fremantle in 2005, played in 10 Showdown games for 10 wins, including a triumph over Adelaide in his AFL swansong (after 207 matches) in round 17 last season.
“We built a big rivalry up over a few years. There were two teams that were around the same age and had spent six or seven years playing against each other,” Carr said. “Early in my career, the Showdown games were the biggest of the year.” The ﬁrst clash between the two sides in 1997 also set in motion another trend in Showdown games. The Power started rank underdogs in only their fourth AFL game, but led from start to ﬁnish to record an upset 11-point win over the eventual premiers. Since that day, more than a third of the games between the ﬁerce rivals have gone the way of the team ranked lower on the ladder. The Crows will start warm favourites this weekend, but midﬁelder Patrick Dangerﬁeld said his side wouldn’t underestimate the winless Power. “Being a two-team town, the rivalry is there no matter how either club is travelling,” Dangerﬁeld said. “You want to be the best in the state and we’ll certainly be out to show that we’re the better team.”
SA fans urged to come ‘see for yourself’ » Local band The Killgirls will perform before Saturday night’s Port Adelaide-Adelaide Showdown at AAMI Stadium as part of the AFL’s plan to “re-energise” football in Adelaide. The AFL, the SANFL and the two clubs recently launched the ‘See For Yourself’ marketing campaign to help increase attendances at AAMI Stadium matches. Former champions from the two clubs feature in the campaign by helping to promote future Power and Crows stars. The campaign’s theme song is Set Yourself On Fire by The Killgirls, a rising indie-electro band that featured at the recent Adelaide Fringe Festival. “AAMI Stadium has been the home of footy in South Australia for nearly four decades now and we want as many fans as possible to enjoy the experience of a live AFL match,” AFL general manager of strategy and marketing Andrew Catterall said. “Collectively, we have recognised the need to re-energise AFL football in the Adelaide market. Our research tells us that fans have a great time at AAMI Stadium. The new generation of stars are exciting to watch, so we encourage footy fans to see for themselves.” Several other events are planned for matches at AAMI Stadium this year, with Port Adelaide to run a ‘Black Out’ theme when it meets Hawthorn on Friday, May 6.
KEEN CONTEST: Josh Carr ﬁres out a handball for Port Adelaide in last year’s round six Showdown which the Power won by 23 points.
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Melbourne midﬁelder Brent Moloney relinquishes vice-captaincy after admitting to being drunk the morning after last week’s win over the Brisbane Lions.
YOUNG STARS ON TOUR
Academy team to take on the best in Europe C A L LU M T WOMEY
game in London between the AIS-AFL Academy squad and a representative side from 17 European countries – including Germany, Scotland and France – will be one of the features of the squad’s two-week tour of Europe, which begins this weekend. After facing Geelong’s VFL side in a curtain-raiser to Friday night’s Richmond-Collingwood match at the MCG, the 14th Academy intake will travel to Italy, the United Kingdom and Turkey. Former AFL champions and AIS-AFL high performance coaches Michael O’Loughlin, Matthew Lloyd and Brett Kirk will travel with the team,
and O’Loughlin, who is the ﬁrst indigenous head coach at the AIS, said it would be a great chance for the squad of 30 to develop together and understand more about what it takes to be a professional athlete. “We’ve done a lot of training together and had a lot of meetings, but the guys haven’t really played together,” O’Loughlin said. “For example, the boys from Western Australia have no experience of playing with the guys from Victoria or South Australia, so it’s a matter of getting familiar with each other and coming together as a team. We’re looking forward to getting over there and using the elite training facilities. “It’s going to be a great experience for the younger guys to see how these places do exist
ALL TEAMS AVAILABLE NOW ON THE KODAK PICTURE KIOSK
and how professional some Olympic athletes are.” The squad will visit Italy, where it will do some high-altitude training, before heading to London, where it will play the European Legion on April 23 at the Bank of England Club in Roehampton. After spending the Easter period in London, the squad will travel to Anzac Cove in Turkey for the Anzac Day service. “It will be a great life experience for these young guys,” said O’Loughlin, who retired in 2009 after 303 games and 521 goals with Sydney. “Last year, when we went to South Africa, we spent a lot of time in the townships there, and it was just an outstanding experience for the boys. “Going to Anzac Cove will be no different and it’s
SMART LOOK: The Australian
team won’t be hard to miss in these blue tops, with players’ names and numbers.
going to be pretty special for us in representing our country as a sporting code over there.” O’Loughlin and Essendon champion Lloyd will tour with the squad, while O’Loughlin’s Sydney teammate Brett Kirk, currently on his Captain Kirk’s Odyssey in Europe, will meet the squad in Italy. O’Loughlin is enjoying the mentoring position and sees his role about building resilience into players from any background. “We’ll be trying to pass on everything we’ve gathered from our time in football and the knowledge and experience we’ve got.”
Great on paper. Even better on air. Fantastic commentary from the best team in footy. Your game. Your station.
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Adelaide defender Phil Davis to miss three-to-four weeks with a shoulder injury. Ade
The 88,181 crowd for last weekâ€™s Collingwood-Carlton match at the MCG was the highest for a home and away match between the clubs.
TIME OF REFLECTION
LIVING LIFE TO THE FULL:
Andrew Demetriou, who turned 50 last week, described his life as a fascinating journey. Far left, he is pictured during his playing days with North Melbourne and, middle, with wife Symone. As well as football, Demetriou has a love of horse racing, especially watching champions such as Black Caviar.
Demetriou: on football, family and turning 50
FL CEO Andrew Demetriou turned 50 last Thursday. Here, he answers questions from AFL Record staff on a range of topics, including the achievements of his administration, whether we take football too seriously, the players who have impressed him, the importance of family and the best advice heâ€™s received. Fifty is a signiďŹ cant half-time in lifeâ€™s big match. What are some of your reďŹ‚ections of the journey so far? I have lived a very fortunate life. The journey has always been fascinating. I have endeavored to make the most of opportunities I have been given. I have always believed in living life for the now. Francesca and Alexandra, your ďŹ rst-born twins, are now seven. You were eight years old in 1969, the year before the 1970 Grand Final, considered the match that has been the most inďŹ‚uential change point in history. Can you imagine what the game will be like when the twins turn 50, in 2054? I canâ€™t envisage what the world will be like when they are 50. My hope is that the world is free of conďŹ‚ict, that they are happy, and that AFL football is still the dominant code in this country and that its deep connection to the community has been enhanced and strengthened. While in imagination mode, will they be playing around the globe by 2054? I have absolutely no doubt that the game will be played throughout the world by 2054. 16
the new franchise of 2025, which way should he go? Nuclear medicine based in Melbourne. I canâ€™t believe our children will be leaving us one day. FORMIDABLE TEAM: Andrew Demetriou believes late AFL Commission chairman Ron Evans would be proud of the AFLâ€™s achievements.
You became CEO when Ron Evans was in the chair. Ronâ€™s dictum was pretty much about leaving an organisation in better shape than it was when one arrives. How would you rate your progress so far? I think Ron would be proud of what weâ€™ve achieved thus far. He would also be saying we could always do better. Ultimately, it is for others to pass judgment.
revenues have increased signiďŹ cantly. Membership is extraordinary. Our venues are superb. The administration is very sophisticated and innovative. The game has never been better. The coverage in all forms of media is amazing. My family and its support. Symone and I have had our four children during my time as CEO.
I have no doubt the game will be played throughout the world by 2054 ANDREW DEMETRIOU
What have been the most signiďŹ cant changes to the AFL and the game since you joined the League as football operations manager in 2000? The professionalism and progress in every aspect of the game. And what has given you the most pleasure during that time? The players are incredible athletes. The coaches are incredibly prepared and strategic. The sports science is fascinating. The clubsâ€™
w Once the new ghts broadcast rights e, are complete, what are the mostt ems important items a of on the agenda the AFL? h The CBA with our players. The clubsâ€™ distributions d and the need to maintain affordability for our fans. Our n. next ďŹ ve-yearr plan plan. se, And, of course, n. the expansion.
You share your birthday year with Gary Ablett snr, Gerard Healy and Tim Watson. Who would you rather be? I have never wanted to be anyone else. On that matter, do we sometimes take the game and its peripheral events too seriously? Absolutely. Sometimes we should sit back and smell the roses and think of how lucky we are to be involved in such a wonderful game. The game is based on team ďŹ rst, but the players with the X-factor remain with us forever. Who are your most m y memorable X-factor playe ers sin players since you started with North h Mel Melbourne in 1981? Wayn ne Ca Wayne Carey, Malcolm Blight, Chris Judd Judd, Robert Harvey and d And Andrew McLeod. Y a You are required to switch roles for a week â€“ to beco become CEO of the NRL. What impact would W you m y make? Very m V minimal. I am not ex xperie experienced enough to un nders understand the game. I wo ould probably resign after would the ďŹ rst day! If your son s Sacha S has to decide between nad degree in nuclear medicin ne or being the No. 1 draft medicine pick ffor th the Hobart Devils,
Whatâ€™s the best free â€˜adviceâ€™ you have received from the public as you are walking down the street or through a shopping centre? The best advice I have ever received from the public has been â€œNever forget the fans, Alex.â€? Whatâ€™s the craziest thing you have been asked to do by a media outlet? This interview.
Your best non-AFL sporting experience? My family, travel and a big quaddie! What can politicians learn from sports administrators, and vice versa? Tell the truth, be transparent, speak in a language that people understand and be decisive. On the other side, not much! Makybe Diva or Black Caviar? Dead heat over 1400m. Black Caviar over a shorter distance; Makybe further.
Your nickname: Gomez or Kapil? Omar. Leaving out family members, name the six guests (living or dead) whom you would invite to your 50th birthday dinner party? And why? Nelson Mandela (inspirational; Iâ€™d want to know what drove him), Barack Obama (what an incredible achievement), Bill bs (both Gates and Steve Job Jobs hou ughtinnovative and thoughthan nged provoking and changed ld the way the world communicates), n Audrey Hepburn (classy, modest
and beautiful) and Ingrid Bergman (a classic beauty and how good was Casablanca?) For your big meal, what would you choose for the menu and which band would be in the corner? Primi: prosciutto di Parma; entrĂŠe: rigatoni Bolognese from Venice; main: aged eye ďŹ llet cooked medium, with thinly-cut chips a n rocket salad with and Parme es cheese; dessert: Parmesan chocol la petits fours; chocolate wines wines:: Piero Chardonnay and d Penfolds 389. Th he Beatles would The be playing. b
MELBOURNEâ€™S OWN AFL RECORD
Collingwood’s supporter services manager Justin Reeves awarded the AFL’s annual Graeme Samuel Scholarship.
u in it. Then we had the breeze us a and got on top. We ended up running over the to top of them (by 53 points). Playing at Waverley Park d didn’t hurt us. It was our home g ground by then and we loved p playing there.
Twenty years on, a golden rivalry continues
Alan Joyce A
NICK BOW EN
his year marks the 20th anniversary of Hawthorn’s win over West Coast in the 1991 Grand Final, with the two meeting in Launceston this weekend. It was the Eagles’ ﬁrst Grand Final appearance and came on the back of a dominant home and away season, in which they won their ﬁrst 12 games and ﬁnished three games clear on top of the ladder with a 19-3 record. The Hawks’ started the season slowly, losing ﬁve of their ﬁrst 11 games. However, they lost just one more game for the rest of the home and away season to ﬁnish second on the ladder. The two met four times during the year, the Eagles winning the home and away encounters, the Hawks the two ﬁnals. Former Hawthorn full-forward Jason Dunstall and coach Alan Joyce recently shared their memories of those clashes for the upcoming book The Golden Years: Stories from Hawthorn’s Greatest Era.
Hawthorn spearhead Jason Dunstall kicked six goals in the 1991 Grand Final while coach Alan Joyce guided the team superbly.
Jason Dunstall West Coast was the best team in 1991, but we always fancied ourselves against them. The Eagles belted us at Princes Park (by 82 points) in round seven. We could have beaten them at Subiaco in round 22, but we just let our opportunities slip (and lost by 24 points). But we left there thinking that, next time we played them, we should be just about right. Beating the Eagles in the qualifying ﬁnal (by 23 points) at Subiaco Oval was enormous and probably the conﬁdence boost we needed because we knew it would be hard for them to win
the ﬂag with all the travelling they then had to do. Had we lost to them again, there still would have been doubts heading into any subsequent match against them. We managed to get through to the Grand Final and I remember ‘Joycey’ coming up to Dermott Brereton and I before the game and saying, if we could kick 10 goals between us, we’d win. And that’s how it turned out. They were kicking with the breeze in the ﬁrst quarter and kicked a few early goals and were up and running. But we kicked a couple of important goals late in the quarter to keep
T turning point of our season The w was the round 22 game at S Subiaco. West Coast beat us, but it p planted the seed for beating them in the opening week of the ﬁnals. I put together a video of highlights from that game, showing a series of contests where we were ﬁrst to the footy. The video demonstrated we were always in the game. The qualifying ﬁnal against West Coast at Subiaco was the ﬁrst played outside Melbourne. We won by 23 points in what was probably the highlight of my coaching career outside the Grand Finals. The players were excellent that day. Their preparation was good and everything we did came off. In the Grand Final, Paul Dear was our wild card. He won the Norm Smith Medal playing off a half-forward ﬂank and really completed the forward structure we had with Dunstall and Brereton.
WORTH OF BODYSCIENCE PRODUCT! JUST HEAD TO www.bodyscience.com.au/aﬂrecord
Shane Watson “It’s my multi”
THE GOLDEN YEARS: STORIES FROM HAWTHORN’S GREATEST ERA (SLATTERY MEDIA GROUP) WILL BE RELEASED LATER THIS YEAR.
Bolton tackling his football with gusto » In his 13th AFL season,
Syd Sydney Swans midﬁelder Jude Bolton, 31, is Jud playing some of the best play football of his career. foot In round two, Bolton kicked the winning goal kick against Essendon and, aga last Saturday night aga against West Coast, set a record for the most tackles in a mos gam game, with 19. NICK BOWEN ON A HIGH: Jude Bolton is in career-best form for the Swans.
MOST TACKLES IN A GAME 19
Jude Bolton (Sydney Swans), Rd 3, 2011, v West Coast
Jared Brennan (Brisbane Lions), Rd 19, 2009, v Essendon
Jimmy Bartel (Geelong), 2009 Grand Final, v St Kilda
Andrew Swallow (North Melbourne), Rd 17, 2010, v Essendon
Matt Priddis (West Coast), Rd 6, 2010, v Fremantle
Daniel Harris (North Melbourne), Rd 3, 2007, v Hawthorn
Domenic Cassisi (Port Adelaide), Rd 16, 2009, v West Coast
Kane Cornes (Port Adelaide), Rd 2, 2010, v West Coast
Max Rooke (Geelong), 2nd semi-ﬁnal, 2009, v Sydney Swans
STATISTICS COURTESY OF CHAMPION DATA. CHAMPION DATA HAS KEPT TACKLE STATISTICS SINCE 1999.
Richmond’s Jack Riewoldt ﬁned $900 for making obscene gesture in loss to Hawthorn last week.
Final in the search ﬁeld). The ﬁlm was uncovered by Bruce Cole as he was cleaning out his family garage in Howrah. On a recent trip to Melbourne, he dropped the ﬁlm into the AFL where it has been archived by League history and statistical consultant Col Hutchinson. It can also be viewed on the AFL’s website, aﬂ.com.au.
TREASURE CHEST OF SKILLS
Discovered footage a rare link to past greats MICH A EL LOV ET T
chance cleanout of a garage in Tasmania has uncovered rare footage of a skills session on the MCG in 1947. Featuring star players of the day, such as Essendon’s Bill Hutchison, Melbourne’s Jack Mueller, South Melbourne’s Jack Graham, St Kilda’s Harold Bray and Carlton’s Bert Deacon and Jack ‘Chooka’ Howell, the 10-minute video shows them practising all facets of the game. It includes Graham, the grandfather of former Geelong captain and now NFL punter Ben Graham, showing how to place the ball on the ground and boot a place kick. Hutchison, considered one of the ﬁnest exponents of the
» Carlton and
SHOWING THE WAY: Former Carlton
star Bert Deacon features in the series of drills in the 1947 video.
stab pass, hits players laceout running at full pace while Deacon, winner of the 1947 Brownlow Medal, displays his ability to roost a long drop kick. The players run through a series of drills, including how to baulk, shepherd and tackle under the direction of Bruce Andrew, a former Collingwood premiership player who was a visionary in taking the game national and working with coaches at all levels.
The ﬁlm also shows Mueller kicking long torpedo punt kicks. As he holds the ball, it’s obvious he is missing the tops of two ﬁngers on his right hand, the result of a work accident in 1934. Titled Features of Australian Football, the training drills are preceded by footage of the 1947 Grand Final between Carlton and Essendon, which the Blues won by a point. A longer version of that Grand Final can be found on YouTube (enter 1947 Grand
Essendon meet for the 233rd time this weekend. Both clubs have won 16 premierships, with the stories of how they won those ﬂags featuring in two new magazines now available. Blue Heaven and Flying High (Slattery Media Group) documentt each club’s premierships and include great photos, match reports, team lists, scores and statistics. The magazines retail for $20 and are available via footybookclub.com
AFL considering a return to increased Match Review Panel weighting for behind-the-play incidents.
SUPPORTING A CAUSE
MILESTONES ROUND 4
ALL TALK: Former Tiger great Matthew Richardson and his father, Alan (below), have joined forces to promote men’s health.
Tiger duo talking up men’s health issues
AFL 200 CLUB Michael Gardiner St Kilda
C A L LU M T WOMEY
etween them they played 392 games for Richmond and, now, father and son Alan and Matthew Richardson have teamed up for a cause which stretches beyond that of the yellow and black: men’s health. Andrology Australia this week launched its new campaign – ‘The best way to protect your tackle is to talk about it’ – with an emphasis on encouraging men to see a doctor if they are having problems with their reproductive health. The Richardsons are fronting the campaign, and Matthew said male-dominated environments sometimes dissuaded men from talking about their problems, but the relaxed approach of the campaign would encourage them to speak up. “It’s a serious problem, but Aussie men are probably more prepared to talk about it in a joking way than any other way and the campaign has really understood that,” he said. “Football clubs can be pretty macho environments so, if you have any issues ‘downstairs’, it’s not something many men are ready to talk about among their peers and friends,” said Richardson, who retired after the 2009 season, having played 282 games and kicked 800 goals in a 17-year career. “But if you don’t, and don’t go to seek help, it can lead to serious health problems like diabetes, heart disease and prostate problems. If you have any problems, you should be getting checked out.” Richardson, 36, said he and his father, 70, were overwhelmed by the statistics when approached by Andrology
Darren Glass West Coast
Josh Hunt Geelong
150 CLUB GAMES Heath Scotland Carlton
100 CLUB GAMES Australia to become involved in the campaign. Among Australian men, about half will experience prostate problems. One in ﬁve over the age of 40 has erectile problems, an estimated one in 20 are infertile and each year about 680 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer.
Men are more prepared to talk about it in a joking way MATTHEW RICHARDSON
“My Dad and I are in different age groups and we both thought it was something to get involved with because there’s plenty of people through our family or people we know who have been affected by it,” he said. Director of Andrology Australia, Professor Rob McLachlan, said the campaign was a step in the right direction.
Brad Ottens Geelong
“It’s fantastic that we’ve got a great sporting hero like Matthew Richardson backing this campaign, because we really need men to stand up and say it’s OK to talk about our health,” McLachlan said. “Richo’s involvement will hopefully encourage other young men to think about their reproductive health and start up discussions with their GPs, partners, family and mates.” Along with working part-time at Richmond, his media commitments with 3AW and Channel Seven, and his involvement with Andrology Australia, Richardson is enjoying life post-football. “I’m keeping busy. It’s something you worry about when you’re coming to the end of your career, trying to work out what you’re going to do after footy, but I’ve been pretty lucky,” he said. For more information, go to talkaboutyourtackle.org.
Shannon Byrnes Geelong Ryan Crowley Fremantle Mark Blake Geelong Sean Dempster St Kilda Hamish McIntosh North Melbourne
Daniel Rich Brisbane Lions Robbie Gray Port Adelaide The list includes those not necessarily selected but on the verge of milestones.
Brisbane Lions announce new three-year partnership with compression garment manufacturer SKINS.
IN THE COMMUNITY
Helping young artists is music to Bomber’s ears I A N K ENINS
ssendon utility Nathan Lovett-Murray can’t dance – “I boogie” – and admits he hasn’t got a musical bone in his body, but he loves hip-hop. He plays it in the car, at home, on his iPod, and, when it’s his turn, on the gym stereo during weights sessions at Windy Hill. “They’re not all hip-hop fans,” he says of his teammates, “but they’re slowly coming around.” For the past few years, Lovett-Murray has made it his mission to spread aboriginal hip-hop to a wider audience. In October, 2008, he launched Payback Records, a label solely devoted to recording local indigenous acts. “We’re totally different from (white) Australian hip-hop. We have a different story with a lot of indigenous sounds played to a hip-hop beat,” he says. Lovett-Murray said music wasn’t a major part of his life growing up in Heywood in Victoria’s western district. It wasn’t on his radar until his teens, when he discovered American hip-hop and the powerful political and social lyrics of rappers such as the controversial Tupac Shakur. Five years ago, Lovett-Murray bumped into a cousin, Tjimba
ON THE BEAT: Nathan Lovett-Murray is helping spread aboriginal hip-hop to a wider audience.
Possum Burns, who’d just He gathered some friends released a CD with his band Yung and set up the label he now Warriors. “That was the ﬁrst time runs from an ofﬁce above the I heard aboriginal hip-hop and 3KND indigenous broadcasting I could see what they’re trying studios in the Melbourne suburb to do is speak those same issues of Preston. here,” he said. LovettThe more gigs Murray Lovett-Murray also started went to, the hosting an more he liked evening the music. hip-hop “I discovered program, most of the Deadly Urban artists didn’t Flava, “to have managers,” get our stuff he said. “It’s a played.” tough industry He has NATHAN LOVETT-MURRAY to get your music since handed out there and that over to I’ve always believed aboriginal other announcers, limiting his people in this country have an role to occasional appearances. untold story, so I want to provide They say a smart person a way for kids to get their music is someone who surrounds out there.” themselves with smarter
I want to provide a way for kids to get their music out there
people and Lovett-Murray is no exception. “I don’t have a say in writing or recording,” he said. “I’ll bring in people who do know, like producer Momo from Diafrax. My role is to create the environment to (help artists) create their music. “But there are some issues I’d like the boys to write about – the Northern Territory intervention, black deaths in custody – I’ve done the research and I let the artists know what’s going on.” There are 10 artists signed to Payback Records, with several CDs already released. The Yung Warriors were a hit playing before last year’s Dreamtime at the ’G game and Lovett-Murray is excited about the response to Mr Morgz’s 2009 release, Life on the Run. “We’re creating a buzz and, from what I’ve seen in the past 12 months, it’s really going to take off,” he said. He devotes his one football-free day each week to suit-and-tie meetings with potential sponsors, checking on albums in production, browsing hip-hop websites for new sounds and trends, and attending to dozens of minor yet time-consuming tasks listed on a large sheet that stretches across his ofﬁce wall. Artists’ gigs are scheduled to ensure late nights don’t precede early training sessions or afternoon games. Lovett-Murray says being a footballer with a proﬁle has helped open doors, “But,” he adds, “it’s a joy to be able to open doors for young people, to see them perform, working on a song at the start and until it’s ﬁnished. “We’ve had requests from artists all over Australia to sign with Payback Records. I can’t help everyone. We’re still building, so one day …”
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arren Glass made a quiet, understated debut in round four of the 2000 season and, despite all he has achieved in the game since, he has maintained a low proﬁle. The highly respected full-back has carved out a decorated career at West Coast with a premiership, two best and fairest awards and two All-Australian nominations to his name. But, despite captaining the club since the end of 2007, Glass has never been the headline act at West Coast. These days, it is Mark LeCras; in the Grand Final years of 2005-06, it was Brownlow medallists Ben Cousins and Chris Judd; and when a skinny 18-year-old Glass made his debut at the WACA, it was Glen Jakovich. “I didn’t come on until the second quarter and ‘Jako’ was coming off,” Glass recalled this week, as he prepared to face Hawthorn at Aurora Stadium in his 200th match. “There was a bit of a clap and I thought, ‘That’s nice, I’m a bit of a crowd favourite already’. It wasn’t until after the game I realised they were clapping Jako coming off. So it was a quiet debut and that’s the way it stayed pretty much.” After struggling to cement his spot in his ﬁrst four seasons, Glass has forged a reputation as a warrior and one of the best power defenders of the past decade. But it is his accomplishments since taking on the captaincy that might be his greatest legacy at West Coast. With Judd and Cousins gone and culture problems that had the AFL threatening draft sanctions, Glass became captain
Glass on West Coast’s leaders
With a premiership and two best and fairests to his name, Darren Glass is rated one of the game’s best defenders of the past decade.
at the start of one of the Eagles’ darkest periods. West Coast won just 16 of 66 games over the next three seasons (collecting its ﬁrst wooden spoon in 2010), but restoring a healthy culture had become the priority for the club and its captain. “It was a focus club-wide, starting at the top. We needed to change some things,” the 29-year-old said. “We dealt with the issues really quickly and we’re looking for more on-ﬁeld success now. I’m proud the club has been able to come through that.” It is a measure of Glass’s leadership that he will reach the 200-game mark as one of West Coast’s most respected captains, despite leading the club through such an unsuccessful stretch. His suitability for the job was questioned at the time, but Glass said becoming captain was a natural progression. It is crystal
JOHN WORSFOLD “There’s no doubt ‘Woosha’ has probably inﬂuenced me in ways I’m not even aware of, and he’s been my coach for the majority of my career. He’s the same, win or lose, and I think that’s a great trait. He comes in prepared, and he’s instilled a toughness in the group.”
clear on reﬂection that he was the leader West Coast needed. “When you start playing footy in those ﬁrst couple of years, you’re just kind of worried about yourself,” he said. “After a couple of years, I started to think about the backline and what we were doing, then a couple of years after that, it was more of a team focus. “When you become captain, it’s more of a club-wide focus, so it just felt like the next step.” Glass said long-time coach John Worsfold has had the biggest inﬂuence on his leadership style, while premiership teammates and fellow 200-game Eagles Dean Cox and Andrew Embley had been valuable sidekicks. Relating to the many young players on West Coast’s list has been an ongoing challenge, Glass said, with the ﬁner points of raising a baby daughter and
CHRIS JUDD “‘Juddy’ was more about his on-ﬁeld performance. I haven’t quite seen a player able to step up at the right time of the game – the big moments in the big games – like Juddy has. His ability to inﬂuence the game was the best thing about his leadership.” BEN COUSINS “‘Cuzzy’ had a great ability to bring the group together and get us up for games. Similar to Juddy, he had the ability to play well in big games and to really give you a lift. He would often get around you and give you a bit of conﬁdence; he had a really good knack for that.”
building a house not always ideal conversation points with recruits. Still, it’s a young group brimming with potential leaders, Glass said, and a group he hopes might help him play his twilight years in a successful team. “I’d love to play ﬁnals again and I think we’re capable of it this year,” he said. “If not this year, deﬁnitely NATHAN SCHMOOK next year.”
y id Mund id tar Dav west. s n r o b ianin the iffe in Viicctoria s he to love l d fair e irest say m o c n a has t ion to ng bes gnin is decisio is h 8. t u o The reiig b d of 200 ets a n r e g e e r h t o t a has n mantle in at Fre remain SHOP IS BRAD B
avid Mundy was in a bind. “What should I do, mum?” That was the question a confused Mundy posed to his mother, Karen, over the phone after months of fruitlessly trying to weigh up whether to stay at Fremantle or return to Victoria. He was genuinely in search of any advice that would make one of the deﬁning decisions of his AFL career easier. Mundy had come to love Perth since being drafted to the Dockers in 2003, but he also had plenty of reasons to return home. His parents and sisters, Laura and Rachael, still lived in Seymour, where Mundy was born and bred, while older sister Kate also remained in Victoria. Then there was the closeband of school mates he had remained close to since he moved west, but didn’t get to see anywhere near as much as he’d like. Adding to his conundrum was a Perth-raised girlfriend, who vowed to support him whatever his decision, but made no secret of the fact she wanted him to stay in the west. It’s history now that Mundy remained loyal to the Dockers, but what might surprise Victorian football fans is that that phone call to his mum took place after the 2008 season, not last year. Although conjecture over Mundy’s future never quite reached the level accorded Gary Ablett, it was indeed a talking point in the latter stages of the 2010 season. And while the popular consensus was that he’d return home at the end of last season, Mundy didn’t come as close to leaving as he had the previous time he was out of contract. “It was a harder decision the ﬁrst time (end of 208) because it was the ﬁrst time I’d been in a position to seriously consider going back to Victoria, so I had a lot of new things to consider,” Mundy said. “The lure to go home was strong, but the hardest part of the entire process was coming to terms with the fact I could actually be leaving the club.
David Mundy considered returning to Victoria in 2008 and 2010 but has pledged his loyalty to the Dockers.
“In the end, it was just too hard a decision to leave as a 23-year-old knowing I’d only just started to feel a part of the side. “This time around, it was more of a life decision – where do I want to live and where do I want to ﬁnish my career? “No matter where I played, I was going to get a four-year deal, which would take me through to 29, so it was more about
on the list of games played for the club, with 133. Remarkably, he played the ﬁrst 124 consecutively from debut (round seven of 2005), a feat bettered by only three players in League history (Jared Crouch, who played 194 matches for the Sydney Swans from 1998-2006, John Murphy, who featured in 158 consecutive games for Fitzroy
In the end, it was all just too hard to leave DAVID MUNDY
where I wanted to live, where I thought I’d enjoy my football most and how that would impact my family. “As hard as it gets living so far away from home and missing out on so many things at times, in the end, it was all just too hard to leave. Fremantle winning as many games as we did last year basically made my decision for me.” As such, Mundy will almost certainly retire a Fremantle player – and the way his career is tracking, he might end up a club great. Mundy turns 26 in July and is about to enter the prime of his career. After three matches this season, he sits in 15th spot
from 1967-74 and Melbourne’s Dick Taylor, who played 127 in a row from 1922-29). Mundy, who spent his ﬁrst year in Perth playing for Subiaco and was a part of the Lions’ WAFL premiership team, made an early impact at AFL level. He ﬁnished third behind Tiger Brett Deledio and Bulldog Ryan Griffen in the 2005 NAB AFL Rising Star award and won the Beacon award as the Dockers’ best ﬁrst-year player. Last season, he became the ﬁrst Beacon winner to go on and win the club’s highest honour – the Doig Medal – as best and fairest, 19 votes ahead of ruckman Aaron Sandilands.
Not a bad effort from the young man who grew up as a Geelong supporter in Seymour, 95km north of Melbourne. Mundy started playing with Seymour and District Junior Football League superpower St Mary’s at the age of eight before graduating to the Murray Bushrangers’ under-16s squad. He spent 2001 with the Bushies as a ruckman before earning a spot on their under-18 list. Coach Xavier Tanner considered his poise and precise disposal perfect for full-back, which is where he played the bulk of the 2002-03 seasons. Mundy played alongside the likes of Troy Chaplin (now at Port Adelaide) and Colin Sylvia (Melbourne) for Vic Country in the 2003 NAB AFL Under-18 Championships and had his ﬁrst taste of ﬁnals football at the MCG for the Bushrangers in the TAC Grand Final against Calder Cannons. He had little rest that day, occupying full-back in the game the Andrew Welsh-led Cannons won 16.14 (110) to 2.6 (18). Fremantle selected him with pick 19 in the 2003 draft. That was before the days of televised drafts, and it would surprise few Fremantle fans that the laid-back Mundy was asleep when the draft was being conducted. He vividly recalled how he found out a new life was waiting for him 3200km away. “I was asleep and got a message from Kane Tenace (Bushrangers teammate) congratulating me on heading to Fremantle with Ryley Dunn, who we also played with at the Bushrangers,” Mundy recalled. “I went out and told dad (John), who was in the kitchen trying to listen to the draft on the radio, and he was as proud as punch, and mum (a nurse) had worked nightshift the night before, so she was stil in bed, but I woke her up and told her and she started crying.” More than seven years on, a mother’s tears still often ﬂow when Mundy heads back to Perth after a few days back in Seymour.
A they may do so for And man m many years to come as, llast October, Mundy bec cam engaged to girlfriend became of fo our years, Sally, while four holi iday holidaying in Fiji. They plan to get married mar m in November. Po opp Popping the question capped a me emo memorable couple of weeks for M Mun Mundy, who in early Octo obe became only the fourth October indi ivid individual winner of the Doig Med dal in i the past decade. Medal Tw wo standout ﬁnals sealed Two the a awa award for Mundy. He was best t-on best-on-ground in the second elim mina elimination ﬁnal against Haw wtho and was one of the Hawthorn Doc cker few shining lights with Dockers’ t a 30 30-touch performance in the forgettable second semi-ﬁnal loss to Geelong at the MCG. Mundy, who trailed Sandilands by one vote at the end of the regular season, ﬁnished with 190 votes, with captain Matthew Pavlich (160) third. He said the Doig Medal win was further proof he made the right choice at the end of 2008. “Towards the end of 2008 was when the club and coaches had the foresight to send me into the midﬁeld, at a time when I was still seen as a half-back ﬂanker,” he said. “Had I gone somewhere else after that 2008 season, I probably would have been playing off half-back, but by staying, I got to continue in the
thiin things ng gss you yyo ou u might m mi ig gh ght htt not n no ott know k kn no ow w about ab abo bou ut David D Da Dav avvid id dM Mu Mundy un nd dyy
Played the KISS drummer in a high school production.
Played in a premiership in every one of his seven seasons with Seymour’s St Mary’s Junior Football Club.
Has made a successful foray into greyhound ownership. His ﬁrst runner, So Manic, won ﬁve of its ﬁrst 12 starts before being struck down by injury.
Despite starting his AFL career as a defender, he once kicked 17 goals in a junior game.
Has a golden cocker spaniel named Kernal.
midﬁeld. That development no doubt helped with the best and fairest win, but the most important thing is I’m also now playing in a successful team.” The best and fairest result had no bearing on Mundy’s decision to stay – he had signed a deal three weeks before – but reafﬁrmed his belief he’d made the right decision. Mundy’s rise to a place among the AFL’s elite midﬁelders played no small part in the Dockers achieving their best result since a preliminary ﬁnal appearance against the Sydney Swans in 2006, something he predicted they could better in 2011. The off-season wasn’t kind to Fremantle, with promising youngster Anthony Morabito already ruled out for the season after undergoing a knee reconstruction, and important defender Roger Hayden suffering a foot injury that will keep him out of the ﬁrst half of the year. But Mundy said the Dockers had the artillery to cope with the setbacks. “The core group that helped get us to the preliminary ﬁnal in 2006 was aged in the high-20s and were guys who had played for a long time and were coming to the end of their careers, but, at the moment, we’re driven by guys in their second-to-ﬁfth seasons,” Mundy said. “Our improvement last year
Born: July 20, 1985 Recruited from: Seymour/Murray U18 Debut: Round 6, 2005 v Melbourne Height: 192cm Weight: 89kg Games: 133 Goals: 52 Player honours: best and fairest 2010; All-Australian nominee 2010; International Rules Series 2006; NAB AFL Rising Star nominee 2005 Brownlow Medal: career votes 9
came from guys who had come into the Fremantle system the last two years. We’ve got a hugely talented young group, and while it was obviously a massive disappointment to lose Anthony, we’ve got so many other young guys eager and keen to step in and ﬁll those shoes. “We’re lucky we’ve got so many guys with freakish ability and it’s scary how much improvement they’ve got coming. “There is a really good, professional, elite culture driving everyone on the training track and in the gym. As long as we maintain that drive and desire to knuckle down, things can only be positive.”
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THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING Travis Boak on family, friends and football At just 22, Port Adelaide midﬁelder Travis Boak has experienced more of life’s ups and downs than most his age, but with a positive and optimistic attitude, he is making the most of his blossoming career. CALLUM TWOMEY
DOING IT FOR HIS DAD:
Travis Boak uses the experience of losing his father – whom he described as his idol – as a spur in his AFL career.
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wo days before be I am meant to phone ne Travis Boak for this article, ar I ring him by accid ccident. “Travis speaking,” accident. he answers, before I realise my mistake, apologise and explain I h had confused his phone number for some omeone else’s. He laughs, gives someone mee a “No worries” and says we’ll talk on Thursday. On Thursday, at about 3.15pm Adelaide time, I call Boak again. “Mate, are you able to call me back in 15 minutes?” he asks. “I’m just getting some acupuncture done.” Twenty minutes later, after one premature call and another interrupted by needles being inserted into Boak’s back, groin, and hamstrings, we’re ready. “Where do we start?” he says. Good question. It’s impossible to separate Boak’s personal life from his football career. Both have been so closely linked that to disconnect and pull apart his life as a Port Adelaide midﬁelder and
captain-in-waiting from his position as brother, son and friend is to suggest they are mutually exclusive. With Boak, it’s not the case. The 22-year-old is as much – if not more – family man as he is footballer. Boak grew up in Torquay, a popular Victorian holiday destination known for its surﬁng culture and the birthplace of iconic brands Rip Curl and Quicksilver. Travis’s father Roger Boak was a local sporting legend. He was a life member of Torquay Football Club, having played 230 games, including four premierships. Good judges suggest he could have played at the elite level. Travis’s mother Chicki was a star of the local netball league. He has two sisters: Sarah, who is older than him, and Cassie, four years his junior. Cricket was Travis Boak’s early passion, with football not as high on the agenda. He played in an under-14 premiership with Torquay – coached by his father – but Boak, a fast-bowler who was also a classy batsman with a
damaging cover drive, had still not set his sights on an AFL career. It wasn’t until he was 15 and developed stress fractures in his back that football became a priority. “When I was growing up, I never thought I’d end up playing AFL or cricket for Australia,” Boak says. He is either inherently modest or had a somewhat naïve view of how well he was doing, for as many have since suggested, Boak’s natural football instincts were regularly spotted, and acknowledged, by recruiters. Boak’s ﬁrst appearance in a representative team was at under-15 level when he was selected for Victoria. He toured Ireland with the under-17 Australian Institute of Sport-AFL Academy squad. And by November of 2006, Port Adelaide considered Boak good enough to draft him with its No. 5 pick. Granted, being among his elite peers aided his development. But it was the two years leading up to the 2006 draft that forced Boak to mature rapidly, especially in a non-football sense. Eighteen months after being diagnosed with stomach cancer, Roger Boak died (in May of 2005), aged 48. The funeral service was held at the Torquay football and cricket ground, with more than 1000 people in attendance. The wake, ﬁttingly, was held in the club’s function centre, named the Roger Boak Bar. Travis Boak says the hardest part of coping with his father’s illness was the trip to Ireland in early 2005. His mum and sister Cassie joined him on the trip, but Roger stayed at home. “That was the time when he got sickest, but having Mum and my sister there was huge for me. Their support and them saying ‘Dad’s holding on’ was great and it wasn’t long after I got back that he passed away,” Boak says. “Having that strength to hold on so I could get back and see him was a great feeling.” It’s through this part of our conversation where it’s impossible not to be impressed by Boak. He could just as easily, 64
PRIME MOVER: Travis Boak was earmarked as a star of the future the ﬁrst time he stepped foot on an AFL ﬁeld in 2007.
Every game, I run out and I look up at the sky and say, ‘Dad, I’m here TRAVIS BOAK
and politely, say it wasn’t something he wanted to discuss. Or, like some players are increasingly doing, could have relayed a message about certain topics being out of bounds through the club’s media manager. But Boak seems to enjoy such introspection and reﬂection. If it’s a chance to talk about his dad – whom he describes as his “idol” – then he won’t dismiss it, despite its sensitivity. Life’s innocence may have been dashed early for Boak, but he’s using the experience as a spur. “When times get tough with footy, whether it be pre-season when you have to go out and do six laps, or whatever it is, I just think, ‘This is nothing compared
to what Dad went through’. He battled for two years and some of the pain he went through was just incredible, and I’m complaining about running a lap,” Boak says. “Once he passed away, it was always in the back of my mind that I wanted to do this for Dad. Every game, I run out on the ground and I look up at the sky and say, ‘Dad, I’m here’. Obviously, I play for the club, and my mates, and the enjoyment, but it’s good to play for your family as well.”
oak is hard to describe. He’s of middle-range height, has a strong but stocky torso, and his legs are thin. When he ﬁrst got to Port Adelaide, he was a bright, fresh-faced, scruffy-haired teenager. Now, ﬁve seasons on, he’s not only built up his body, but his dark hair is closely cropped and he sports stylish stubble. His on-ﬁeld presence is his standout characteristic. Since making his debut in 2007 – he played 14 games that season, including Port Adelaide’s 119-point Grand
Final loss to Geelong – Boak has been earmarked as a star midﬁelder of the future. Certainly, he has all the qualities. He has pace, strength over the ball, is smart when in possession, and has the thing that deﬁnes good players: time. At every opportunity, Port looks to him as its prime mover through the midﬁeld. In his ﬁrst season, Boak says, he was holding back his own instincts to run with the ball. It’s an area of his game he has tried to improve each season. “Early on, I was really hesitant taking players on and running, and that conﬁdence doesn’t really come to you until a couple of years playing at the top level. The coaches have given me that conﬁdence to back myself,” he says. That conﬁdence appeared to peak in 2010, a year he describes as “a bit weird”. In the pre-season against Collingwood, Boak slightly tore his groin, but carefully managed the injury through the season. He was able to play the rest of the year with the injury and ﬁnished having played in 20 games – the highest tally of
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his AFL career – averaged 23 touches and also picked up 16 Brownlow Medal votes (a top-10 ﬁnish). He ﬁnished fourth in the club’s best and fairest award. “I’ve started to realise over the past couple of years that I belong out there, and though I battled to train during the week last year, once I got into the game, I just felt this conﬁdence in my body and in myself and my teammates,” Boak says. “Obviously, we didn’t get enough wins to make the ﬁnals, but it’s something we look forward to in years ahead.” There is, however, a lot of improvement left in him. In 2010, 43 per cent of his possessions were won in contested situations. This season, after looking at the way Blue Chris Judd, Saint Lenny Hayes and Cat Joel Selwood (his AISAFL Academy team captain) play, he has been working on getting more uncontested possessions. Boak admits he needs to ﬁnd more easy touches to go from the very good player he is now to the great one he can become. “Those guys do both so well and you need to have both sides to your game. I was probably more of an outside, running player growing up as a junior and had to develop my ‘inside’ game. I’ve done that, but now I need to go back and improve the outside stuff as well,” he says. His lead-up to this season was far from ideal. After off-season surgery to repair his groin injury, Boak suffered a knee injury and then had surgery for a supposed appendicitis.
Travis Boak says he loves playing with Port Adelaide and is appreciative of the opportunities football has aﬀorded him.
I’ve started to realise over the past couple of years that I belong out there TRAVIS BOAK
It’s at this point I tell the chatty Power on-baller that I had heard the appendicitis was actually misdiagnosed. “Who have you been speaking to?” he asks with a laugh, before conﬁrming the rumour. “My stomach was feeling pretty crook for a couple of weeks, and I went and saw one of the surgeons and he thought it could be my appendix, so he said, ‘Let’s take it out’.
“I went into the operation, he took it out, and then he came out and said there was nothing wrong with the appendix and it was just a bowel infection. At least it won’t happen again.”
oak was under the spotlight last year, but denies he was under pressure. His two-year contract with the Power was
Born: August 1, 1988 Recruited from: Torquay/Geelong U18 Debut: Round 12, 2007 v Essendon Height: 183cm Weight: 83kg Games: 72 Goals: 35 Player honours: NAB AFL Rising Star nominee 2007 Brownlow Medal: career votes 23
due to expire and he delayed his decision to sign with the club again, placing his future in question. Was he headed to Gold Coast? Was he going back home to Geelong? Was he lost to Port? Boak, however, says there was “no pressure”. Underlining his relationship with his family – a relationship continuing to grow, evolve and strengthen – Boak took time to make the decision because he wanted to be certain his family was managing back home without him. “I wanted to sit down and make sure I was making the right decision, and I’m more than happy with the decision I made. I wanted to make sure they were happy with me over in Adelaide, because I love being in Adelaide and at the club,” Boak says. Chicki visits Adelaide regularly, and even last year, when Boak was recovering from his groin operation, she stayed at his house, where teammate
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Robbie Gray (another Victorian) also lives. Having formerly made the lunches for the local cricket team – teammates used to want to be in Travis’ side just to enjoy Chicki’s meals – her homemade sausage rolls became a hit with his teammates when helping her son recuperate. “She’s a great mum,” he says with a laugh. “I couldn’t ask for anything more and I’m indebted to her for the rest of my life. And everyone loves the sausage rolls.” Boak is clearly smart. And, when he speaks, he’s sincere. According to everyone who has seen his football progression, he is also quiet and reserved. Now, though still shy, he realises it is part of his role in the club’s leadership group to help others come out of their shells. Although he dodges the question over whether he wants to be Port Adelaide’s next captain – “It’d be a fantastic honour, but Domenic Cassisi is doing a great job” – he’s taken it upon himself to help the likes of Ben Jacobs, Ben Newton and Hamish Hartlett grow up quickly. “I’m a pretty shy kind of guy, and it took a few years for me to settle in and think I actually had something to say and that people would listen to me,” he says. “But now, if I do have an opinion, I will express it in meetings, be it in a line meeting or a team meeting or a leadership meeting. I want those guys to speak up a lot earlier than I did.”
n many ways, Boak is both an average – and extraordinary – 22-year-old. His spare room downstairs at his house is dedicated to his PlayStation 3 console. He enjoys surﬁng when he has the time. He partakes in regular games of tournament poker. He travelled to Las Vegas last October for some fun and, when he goes back to Torquay, he slides in without fanfare, generally getting around in boardshorts and a pair of thongs. But he is also very different to most his age. Football has opened up opportunities few would have been given. He’s the ambassador for the Childhood Cancer Association, is the most marketable face of his club and gets around in a new silver Audi A1. The advantages of his profession are obvious, but he’s also already experienced more of life’s extremes than most his age. And still, he remains optimistic. “The way things are at the moment, it’s been a bit of a bumpy road, but you have to stay positive and look to the good times ahead,” he says. “With a great family and friends and the club around me, it’s just such a great environment and a great life. It’s a short life, so you’ve got to be happy.”
A wiz on the PlayStation, too » At the end of our interview, I put it to Boak that we should play an online game of FIFA 11 (the world’s most popular simulated soccer game) over the PlayStation 3 network. “That’d be great,” he says, “as long as you’re up for the challenge.” A few nights later, we set up a game. For those unaware, a game generally consists of two six-minute halves that reﬂect a real soccer match’s 90-minute duration. Boak chooses to play as English Premier League club Chelsea and I pick Italian Serie A giant Inter Milan. Things start well. A ninth-minute strike from Diego Milito puts me in the lead, but it’s short-lived as Boak hits back with a 14-minute goal from the Blues’ big man Didier Drogba. He follows it up with another goal and all of a sudden the Port Adelaide midﬁelder has taken the lead. He ﬁnishes
the half 2-1 up, but I had been unlucky: two shots hitting the woodwork and another missed penalty shot. It wasn’t looking like my day, and that was conﬁrmed soon after the break when Boak took a 3-1 lead in the 67th minute through a second goal to Florent Malouda. However, with a goal in the 88th minute, I still have a glimmer of hope. In possession, Boak tries to milk the clock. He kicks backwards, then backwards again, but I pick up on the tactic and rush up at him and cause a turnover. Milito is one-out with Petr Cech, Chelsea’s goalkeeper. It’s me vs. Boak. I shoot left, only to see Boak pick the direction and stop the shot in the dying seconds. Then he rushes the ball back to the other end and Drogba, from 40m out, slams a strike into the crossbar. Chelsea wins 3-2. Boak is triumphant.
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Our AFL history guru answers your queries. BAPTISM OF FIRE: Robert Shaw
lost his ﬁrst game as Fitzroy coach by 131 points in 1991.
Debut D b t blues bl ffor M McKenna K Gold Coast Suns coach Guy McKenna experienced a tough initiation as a premiership match coach, losing to Carlton by 119 points. Has any other man coached a team to as big a loss on debut in the role? RODGER WILLIAMS, CAMBERWELL, VIC.
CH: Three other coaches have
experienced similar frustration in their ﬁrst match, being beaten by more than 100 points. In the opening round of 1930 at Corio Oval, Johnny Lewis led North Melbourne for the ﬁrst time as captain-coach.
Geelong beat the Shinboners by 102 points. Robert Shaw made his ﬁrst appearance as Fitzroy coach in round two, 1991, against Carlton at Princes Park. The Blues won by 131 points. In Dean Bailey’s ﬁrst game as Melbourne coach, the Demons went down to Hawthorn by 104 points at the MCG in round one, 2008. WRITE TO ANSWER MAN The Slattery Media Group, 140 Harbour Esplanade, Docklands, 3008 or email email@example.com
col hutchinson NAME GAME
Northern rebel » Maverick
Weller made his AFL debut with the Gold Coast Suns last week. His surname, famously carried by the Dickens character Sam Weller, is unexceptional and comes from the Old English wella meaning “spring” or “well”. Weller was originally a name given to someone who lived near a well. Maverick, however, is somewhat rarer. As a given name, it has arisen only in the past two decades, mainly in the United States, and many attribute its use to the Tom Cruise character, Lieutenant Pete Mitchell (callsign Maverick), in the ﬁlm Top Gun (1986). The original Maverick was Samuel A. Maverick, a 19th century Texas rancher who refused to brand his cattle. His name came to be used as a by-word for someone who did not toe the line, a rebel. The origin of Maverick itself is disputed; one possibility given is that it is of Welsh origin, connected to Maurice (“seafarer” or “valiant hero”). KEVAN CARROLL
GENUINE SENIOR FOOTBALLERS » At least two players who
represented Collingwood during World War II are still enjoying the performances of their beloved Magpies each weekend. Dan Knott (born June 20, 1918) wore the black and white 18 times between 1940 and 1943 before
transferring to Richmond. One of his teammates, Jack Pimm (born October 7, 1921) booted 113 goals in 58 matches in a distinguished career which spanned the period 1940-50. Both men served in the Australian army.
Do you know of other senior players who are close to 90 or older, or who reached such an age before calling it a day? Should you have such information, contact Col Hutchinson on (03) 9643 1929 or col.hutchinson@aﬂ.com.au
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PAGE Ask the expert about all your footy memorabilia.
answers at bottom of page I picked up about 200 North Melbourne ponchos after its Grand Final against (I think) the Adelaide Crows. Are they worth keeping?
HOT PROPERTY: Items featuring Essendon’s Dick Reynolds (left) and St Kilda and Sydney star Tony Lockett (below) are highly sought after.
LINA M, VIA EMAIL
Lina. That’s a lot of ponchos, especially if they’re for the losing team in a Grand Final!
A friend of mine claims to have the oﬃcial goal umpire’s scorecard from the 1958 Grand Final. How could this be? DANIEL McKAY, VIA EMAIL
RM: I’m told that one goal
I heard you mention on radio that John Coleman is the most collectable football player of all time. Who else do you rate? TERRY FARRELL, VIA EMAIL
RM: It’s just one man’s opinion, but
here goes: John Coleman No. 1, then Jack Dyer, Darrel Baldock,
» Here’s a ‘sleeper’ in AFL
collectables. Club annual reports have always had a reasonable collectability, but in the past couple of years, more and more collectors are seeking them out – especially those from premiership years. Here are a couple from the Magpies’ glory days – 1953 and 1958. These have photos of the premiership teams and best and fairest players as well. In 1953, it was Bob Rose; in 1958, Thorold Merrett. Today, these sell for at least $300 each. For more information, go to guruofgarbage.com.au g
RM: Only if you want to stay dry,
umpire’s scorecard was retained by the (then) VFL, and the other went to the winning team. It’s possible but unlikely that your friend has an original. By the way, Collingwood stopped Melbourne’s premiership-winning run with an upset win in the 1958 Grand Final.
Ted Whitten and Dick Reynolds in no particular order. Of later players, Tony Lockett, Matthew Richardson, Peter Daicos, Chris Judd, Brendon Goddard, Dale Thomas and Nic Naitanui. Over the years, I’ve collected every team and player poster from the Herald Sun. Do they have much value? GARY BURKITT, VIA EMAIL
RM: As good as these posters
have been, they’re not worth a great deal, Gary. Simply, too many were issued, and there are thousands out there still doing the rounds. CONTACT RICK MILNE firstname.lastname@example.org or drop him a line: 5 Cooraminta St, Brunswick, Vic, 3056 or call (03) 9387 4131. One query per reader.
Unscramble Tom Spots Notch to discover my name
_____ ________ ???
Use the picto-clues to figure out my name
Can you guess my NICKNAME?
Silver CODE cards
and enter codes to play
Port Adelaide finished on top of the ladder in the 2002, 2003 and 2004 seasons and eventually won the 2004 Premiership. AFL RECORD
Answers: 1. Scott Thompson 2. Dane Swan 3. Barra
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Official AFL Colouring Books out now Great Players, Great Marks and Great Skills make up the new three-part series of AFL activity colouring books. Every AFL team is covered, as well as a selection of superstar players, including Dale Thomas, Jonathan Brown, Nick Riewoldt, Chris Judd, Lance Franklin and Jack Riewoldt. Next to each colouring outline is a matching full colour photograph, along with statistics and information on the featured player.
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THIS WEEK’S ANSWERS SPOT THE DIFFERENCE: Justin Sherman’s sock changed to red; hand next to Karmichael Hunt’s foot missing; laces missing from football; the yellow on Hunt’s collar missing; stripes on the boot in background changed to pink.
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nab afl rising star
Ablett departure allows Mitch Duncan to shake fringe tag and showcase his talent. ta LUK E HOLMESBY
he departure of a club great is always a devastating blow to any team. But when one door closes, another one opens, as was the case with Mitch Duncan. Duncan played eight games last season, but was very much on the fringes of the Geelong side. It wasn’t until Gary Ablett’s highly-publicised departure for the sunny climate of the Gold Coast that a permanent position opened up. If his form in the ﬁrst three rounds is anything to go by, Duncan looks to have grabbed his spot with both hands. “It was sad to see him go but footy is a business. It has opened up some chances for other players to play some positions,” Duncan said. “Stevie Johnson’s gone into the midﬁeld and that has released a spot up forward where ‘Menz’ (Daniel Menzel) and I have come in and played that role. It (Ablett leaving) has deﬁnitely opened up an opportunity.” Duncan has been one of Geelong’s most impressive players in the opening three rounds and earned a nomination as the NAB AFL Rising Star for his 24-possession, two-goal performance against Port Adelaide at Skilled Stadium last week. He is part of a new brigade of young Cats whom he said are likely to join him as Rising Star nominees this season. “We’ve all seen Menzel’s tricks. He’s caught the eye of a
2011 NAB AFL RISING STAR NOMINEES
Mitch Duncan has made a big impression in just 11 games.
Round 1 DYSON HEPPELL (ESS) Round 2 LUKE SHUEY (WCE) Round 3 MITCH DUNCAN (GEEL)
THREE THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW
Duncan would have liked to have become a dolphin trainer if he wasn’t a footballer.
After he and James Podsiadly underwent hip operations last year, they both embarked on cross-training together.
He went out of his way to follow Joel Selwood around the club when he ﬁrst arrived and copied his training methods.
I did everything I could to play AFL footy MITCH DUNCAN
couple of people and Taylor Hunt is very consistent and uses the ball well off half-back,” he said. “We know we have to step up because some of the senior guys are getting older. We push as a group that we want to put pressure on the older guys. “So it’s great to see them getting games as well. Any one of
them could have been named the Rising Star this week.” Duncan looks to be consolidating himself in the Geelong team, but admits that when he was drafted in 2009, he couldn’t see how he would force his way into a team that had won two of the previous three Grand Finals. “I was happy and then thought, ‘I’ll have to wait two or three years just to get a game’. I just decided to train as hard as I could and that has paid off,” he said. “I did everything I could to play AFL footy. I didn’t particularly want to play VFL and, when I had that taste, I didn’t want to get dropped.
“It was great to hear when the coaches told me I’d got (the nomination). It was good to get a bit of recognition for having a good game.” Geelong’s changing of the guard has opened plenty of opportunities for Duncan, not just with Ablett out of the equation, but the arrival of Chris Scott as coach has brought a set of fresh eyes to glance over the playing list. “It has been great. Everyone’s starting from scratch and everyone’s in the same boat,” he said. “The older players know they have to prove themselves as much as the younger players.”
Each week throughout the home and away season, a panel of judges will select the nominee for the 2011 NAB AFL Rising Star. At the completion of the season, one outstanding player will be chosen as the 2011 NAB AFL Rising Star winner. He will receive an investment folio, a dedicated personal banker, a ﬁnancial planner and the Ron Evans Medal, all courtesy of the NAB. The NAB Rising Star award is the ﬁnal stage of the NAB AFL Rising Stars Program, which supports grassroots players and football communities and helps young Australians fulﬁl their dream of playing in the AFL.
nab afl rising star
Applying data laterally to analyse and understand the modern game.
Beware of jumping to conclusions
fter just three rounds, the new interchange substitute rule is reportedly responsible for nearly everything that is good or bad about football. If it keeps going at this rate, next on the list, I expect, will be claims it is impacting on global warming. I read in a newspaper last weekend that a ruckman could now win the Brownlow Medal because of the new rule. A press release from the AFL claimed the recent increase in contested marks, long kicks and clearances were a result of it. Fantasy freaks have expressed bitterness when their Dream Team points dive. Another newspaper article last month headlined ‘Fatigue Kills – are players too tired to kick straight?’ applied statistical analysis to link the substitution rule to fatigue and spraying shots at goal. As a data analyst, I don’t have a clue how the substitution rule is materially affecting game outcomes, and doubt it can ever be proved, especially so, with such miniscule data available, scant resources and few qualiﬁed statisticians on the case. Rather, my major concern is the abuse of correlation data. Drawing conclusions based on small number samples invariably leads to fool’s gold. I recall after the ﬁrst three rounds last season, a newspaper article made an early declaration: “AFL goalkicking accuracy has plummeted to its lowest level since ofﬁcial statistical analysis began in 1999 (49.6%).” The report described the situation as a “disaster” and “alarming” and that “This year’s stats are proof it has become worse.” By the end of the 2010 home and away season, the scoring 78
AVERAGE ROTATIONS A GAME IN 2010 Team
Western Bulldogs Fremantle
Ladder after home and away games 4 6
Hawthorn Collingwood Melbourne
123 121 121
7 1 12
Sydney Swans Essendon West Coast
121 118 115
5 14 16
Carlton North Melbourne Adelaide
114 113 111
8 9 11
Port Adelaide Brisbane Lions Richmond
110 108 108
10 13 15
St Kilda Geelong
conversion rate had recovered to a respectable 53 per cent, which was consistent with previous decades: 50 per cent in the 1970-79 decade, 52 per cent in 1980-89, 53 per cent in 1990-99 and 54 per cent in 2000-09. Proclaiming a statistical correlation is easy. Proving a causal effect is not trivial. For example, I can prove the increased sale of ice cream in summer is directly correlated to an increase in the number of people drowning, but is this why people drown at beaches? Likewise, if the substitute rule and fatigue are the actual cause of scoring inaccuracy, as one newspaper article claimed, then it would lead to the conclusion
that players in the 1970s were more ‘knackered’ than those playing today because their scoring accuracy was just 50 per cent. If scoring accuracy is an indicator of fatigue, then players from the 1960s, with a scoring accuracy of only 47 per cent, must have been the most knackered of all. My observation and experience as a premiership player is that you give all you have, irrespective of what is happening on the interchange bench. Otherwise you don’t win. Another spin on the new substitute rule appeared in another article last month. It claimed, “High rotations still equal
My concern is the abuse of correlation data
victory. That is the conclusion to be drawn from round one with a new cut-down bench.” It noted “all the teams that used the most rotations (in the ﬁrst round) won.” While it did acknowledge that “the statistic might be a quirk”, it concluded that “the fact there is a correlation between high rotations and victory cannot be ignored”. In fact, the likelihood of a similar result in another round might only occur once a year, at best. More relevant is the fact that in 62 per cent of games last season, the team that won had more interchanges than its opposition. However, before touting a signiﬁcance factor, the tepid correlation between wins and rotations needs to be studied for the effects of such factors as injury, ladder position and home-ground advantage, and the actual difference in the rotation numbers involved. As shown in the table here, there is no correlation between last season’s interchange rotation averages and ﬁnal ladder spots. Geelong (105 rotations a game) and St Kilda (107) had the lowest number of interchanges yet were both successful. When it comes to data count, the caution applied in football should be heeded: overuse of the ball and taking easy options is not advised. TED HOPKINS IS A CARLTON PREMIERSHIP PLAYER AND FOUNDER OF CHAMPION DATA. HIS BOOK THE STATS Y REVOLUTION (SLATTERY MEDIA GROUP) WILL BE RELEASED MAY 3. CAN YOU HELP IDENTIFY ANY OF THE PEOPLE WHO APPEAR ON THE COVER OF THE BOOK WITH TED HOPKINS? RYMEDIA COM EMAIL PETERD@SLATTERYMEDIA.COM
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