A HIGHLY UNHELPFUL GUIDE TO ROUND FIVE
Carlton v St Kilda (MS) 7:40pm Seven
I hope this column is ok, I walked out the wrong door this morning after a big night out and am writing this half naked in a café. We’ve all done that right?
I’ve probably done it four times this week. The café owner says if I do it a fifth time, he’ll ban me.
Wandering out the wrong door, drunk and naked is a legit excuse for anything. It’s the ‘get out of jail free card’ of real life.
If you don’t show up at work one day tell your boss that, and I’m sure they’ll be very understanding.
My previews are never worth much but given there’s no certainty these games will even happen, this one is even worth less.
I don’t know about you, but I wish my own footy team was as resilient as this virus.
Say what you like about Covid but it plays all four quarters and takes what it’s opponent gives it, maintain it’s structure under enormous pressure, and it’s spread is just terrific, what a work rate.
Assuming this game goes ahead, it will be the reinvigorated St Kilda going up against the Rock of Gibraltar, Liam Jones’ head.
It’s been a long time since a Saints-Blues matchup seemed worth watching. It’s a reminder that the world has changed.
Nick Kyrgios is the voice of reason, the Gold Coast are good and I even miss people.
I’m not sure I like this new reality.
St Kilda to win.
Collingwood v Essendon (MCG) 7:50pm Seven
We must know what happened to Jack Steven, but Steele Sidebottom deserves some privacy.
I’ve long stopped trying to find the logic in Eddie McGuire’s attempts to justify a multiplicity of conflicts of interests, but this one is even more ridiculous than normal.
Sure, we’ve all done silly things while drunk.
I remember once purchasing the former NBL team the Launceston Casino City Tigers during a big night out, but most of us don’t have a billion-dollar industry relying on us doing the right thing or not being a bit of a knob when drunk.
That’s part of the problem the AFL faces. If you pitched a business model that relied on 800-odd blokes in their 20s doing the right thing, no one would back you.
That’s not to excuse Sidebottom’s behaviour, it’s just saying it’s depressingly predictable that these things are going to happen.
What is disappointing is that when a lot of us aren’t even able to work, a group of people, who the world is bending over backwards to keep working, are placing it all at risk.
Sidebottom’s four-week punishment is harsher than any other Covid breech penalty, but you always get extra points the more stupid your actions are, and the AFL has never worried about consistency when handing down penalties, their judiciary has a more ‘it’s the vibe’ approach to sentencing.
What is certain, it the more players risk the industry, the more those penalties are going to go up. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next guy is exiled to the hermit suburb of West Brunswick.
Collingwood to win.
West Coast v Sydney (Metricon) 1:45pm Foxtel
I had a friend who once went to the Gold Coast ,got stung by a jelly fish, had his phone stolen and then his girlfriend dumped him after hooking up with a surfer.
His stay on the Gold Coast was still better than West Coast’s has been.
To find a worse time on the Gold Coast you have to talk to either the Crows or the Brisbane Bears.
What I do find interesting is how the Eagles haven’t even really hidden their disdain for being on the Gold Coast. Their lack of discipline on the field, their media statements and the way they’ve played, has been one giant dummy spit.
Compare it to the way Port have approached being in the hub and Eagles fans would be right in wondering if this is really how a professional sporting team is meant to behave.
Sydney are not getting any good luck at the moment. They were meant to play Melbourne at the MCG, four points they desperately needed, and now they’re off to the Gold Coast to face the Eagles.
There’s no real timeline for Buddy Franklin’s return, and if ever you’re not going to rush someone back, this is the season.
It will be interesting to see if teams throw in the towel a lot earlier this season. If ever you’re going to tank, surely this is the season to do it. I’m expecting more injuries to be announced in later rounds than before an AFLX game.
West Coast to win.
Geelong v Gold Coast (GMHBA) 4:35pm Foxtel
You’d think the Cats would get up for this one when it’s Joel Selwood’s three hundredth game and Gary Ablett’s three hundred and fiftieth.
That’s a lot of experience. Consider that Gary is double Matt Rowell’s age.
I basically mark the passage of time by players’ milestones.
It’s only when I read something like that it’s Ablett’s 350th game that I remember seeing him debut, and I remember going and watching his dad play, and then I realise I’m old and that no one is ever going to love me and I’ll die alone.
The idea that Gold Coast goes into this with a real chance of winning is something I’m still adjusting to.
And a real chance they do have, despite this being in Geelong.
I watched the Cats play last week and like a bad curry, it’s stayed with me all week.
If Geelong play anything like they did against the Demons in this game, they will get torn to shreds, as the Suns have something resembling a forward line.
But if you can’t win this game with two legends of your club hitting these milestones, what game will you get up for? Cats to win.
Western Bulldogs v North Melbourne (MS) 7:40pm Seven
A bunch of North Melbourne players had to flee Melbourne’s hot spot suburbs into temporary accommodation to ensure they could play in this game.
Now the manoeuvring is underway to ensure a host of players in Victoria can be allowed into other states to set up hubs.
Such is the new world we live in, a place we’re people have to flee suburbs and hope they are allowed to settle in hubs across borders.
As a Victorian, I feel very worried about how other states are treating us, locking down their borders and treating us like second class people.
Why, it’s almost like how Australia has treated refugees for years.
It’s all pretty uncertain for the players, with many of them not even knowing what refugee camp they’ll be playing out of for the next few weeks or months.
I’m not sure where the line is for calling off the season, but I feel we’ve brushed up against it a few times this week.
We really need the scientists to hurry up with that vaccine. If they do, they’ll save the AFL season, and for once I’ll be happy if they receive Australian of the Year, rather than a sportsperson.
North to win.
Brisbane v Port Adelaide (G) 7:40pm Foxtel
If you barrack for either of these teams, you’ll be crossing every part of your body that this season continues on.
Both of them are in good form, and as for Port, they’ve had arguably their best year ever, possibly better than their premiership year.
Think about it, they’re winning, the Crows are a glorious mess and Port has managed to troll Eddie McGuire constantly over the prison bar jumper. It’s all been good clean fun.
Now we get to see which of these will play the Suns in the Grand Final and it’s a difficult one to tip.
One thing both clubs have done well is not constantly whinged in the media about everything that’s going on.
They’ve both decided this season matters and are going to approach it that way.
That’s the secret about footy, it only matters because we all collectively decide it matters. That’s what non-footy fans don’t understand, they say ‘it’s pointless’. But almost everything humans do is pointless until you factor in that it means something because we all collectively give it meaning.
This season, there’s quite a few players and teams who are coming up a little short in that area.
They are playing footy like someone studying for a test they are pretty sure is going to get cancelled.
Not these two teams though, I just can’t wait to watch it, and I think the Lions will win but it will be close.
Adelaide v Fremantle (Metricon) 1:05pm Foxtel
Forget what I said in the previous paragraph, sometimes footy is pointless.
I mean, both these teams had the same number of wins while the season was suspended as they have since it returned.
Fremantle to win.
Melbourne v Richmond (MCG) 3:35pm Seven
Either Richmond are going to begin turning things around here, or they are cooked, because the Demons stunk up the MCG so much last week that if there was a crowd there, they would have left.
Neither of these teams have really looked that interested in scoring since the season came back. The possibility of a nil-all draw can’t be completely dismissed.
You get the sense the Tigers haven’t really bought into this season, with Cotchin and Riewoldt both saying they’d understand if players opted out of hubs.
The Demons opt out of most seasons, so it’s hard to tell if this is to do with the Covid challenges or just business as usual. I mean, Melbourne are the only team in world sport who tanked, and people didn’t even really notice a difference.
I’m tipping the Tigers.
Greater Western Sydney v Hawthorn (GS) Foxtel
Probably the big danger for Hawthorn in this game, is with their players in NSW, will they request asylum?
Not since the Hungarians defected in huge numbers at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games have I been so sure the majority of a team will never return to their homeland.
For our tipping that leaves the question will the player request asylum before or after the game?
I don’t think it will matter that much, the Giants should win this, unless, they don’t want to tackle the Hawthorn players, given they’ve come from a pestilence ravaged failed state.
Should this happen, the Hawks might do as well as the St Michael’s Leper Colony did against Newport in that famous game back in 1876. The Newport boys didn’t get near them that day.
Anyway, I’m tipping the Giants because really, who cares? We are all just living a collective madness of which there is no escape.