A highly unhelpful guide to the Round One
The only guide to the round that admits it’s completely unhelpful. What it lacks in insight, it makes up for with wild theories and detours onto unrelated topics.
It’s your unhelpful guide to Round One.
Carlton vs Richmond (MCG) Seven & Fox, 7:20pm All times are AEDT
Yes! I’m back for another year of unhelpfully guiding you through the mysterious journey that is the AFL season.
I said ‘journey’ because that’s what not very bright people at work say to sound smart and I’m very keen for you to think I’m smart.
I think that desire in me goes back to my schooling when I only managed to get my pen licence in year 12. Oh dear, three sentences in and I’m already off-track. It’s going to be a long season.
As always, our excitement for the return of the AFL season is off the charts until we run headfirst into a Carlton game, the biggest excitement killer since realising your Tinder match is a close relative.
Now, many would say I’m too cruel to Carlton, but in my defence, not as brutal as what Carlton did to me when I watch every game of theirs last year and the year before that, and the year before that.
The Blues have had a pretty good offseason, what with Sam Walsh already winning the Brownlow.
It wasn’t all good news, Alex Fasolo broke his arm while mucking around with mates on Australia Day while drinking.
As punishment, the whole team was made to visit Ravenhall prison.
It was community service, and the prisoners got a lot out of it, saying meeting the Carlton players taught them that life could be worse.
Richmond, who forgot to play last year’s Preliminary Final, went out and got one of the best forwards in a game in Tom Lynch.
It’s always heartening to see free agency work for the little clubs. Lynch was thrilled to finally get to an AFL club, but his knee injury leaves a question mark over him.
Can he work within a functioning team?
Can Richmond win the whole thing this year? They’ve got a good chance.
Can they beat Carlton? They can’t not beat Carlton.
Collingwood vs Geelong (MCG) Seven & Fox, 7:50pm
While we all dodged a Collingwood premiership like we were Neo in The Matrix last year, it was a lot closer than I felt comfortable.
Adding Dayne Beams in the offseason hasn’t made me feel any safer, with our only hope being the Pies having a more difficult this year, which I am hanging to like Rose grasping onto a wooden panel in Titanic.
Things are looking up for the Pies in other areas too. They finally got through a pre-season with no dog-related injuries.
Geelong appears to again have a good but not great team.
This week, news has come out that Tim Kelly is willing to join Fremantle rather than just West Coast, as part of his ‘Get me out of Geelong’ campaign.
Not since Ford has has someone been so desperate to leave that city.
It’s a worrying thing, but I think Collingwood will win this.
Melbourne vs Port Adelaide (MCG) Fox, 1:45pm
The scars of last year’s Preliminary Final are still pretty raw for Demons fans like me.
Did I spend a lot of the offseason just bursting into tears at strange moments? Yes, I did. Often in public.
At one stage I was in the city, and I burst into tears thinking about that day in Perth. I lay down on the busy sidewalk, and a small crowd gathered around me.
When I told them why I was crying, people hugged me and yelled out to the crowd.
“It’s OK; he’s just a Demons supporter everybody.’
“Oh, the poor thing,” I could hear people saying.
Port Adelaide didn’t have the best offseason, with Ollie Wines injuring himself while having the temerity to have a life outside football, once again furthering my argument that players should be kept in stables when not training or playing football.
Jack Watts also go in some hot water, snorting a ‘completely legal substance’. I bet Shane Mumford wished he’d claimed that too.
In recent years, Port are like more recent Will Farrell movies; you think they’re going to be a lot better than they turn out to be.
Melbourne, on the other hand, go into this season in the bizarre situation that they could challenge for a Premiership. That’s a terrifying new position to be in, and I’m not sure how they’ll let me down.
Demons to win this.
Adelaide vs Hawthorn (AO) Fox, 4:35 pm
The Crows go into this season without sabotaging it before it starts, a change in philosophy from last year’s strategy.
A lot of people are picking Adelaide to return to form after the disaster of last year, and it’s quite possible with the list they have.
There are worrying signs though; Mitch McGovern choose to leave for Carlton. A player willingly leaving you for Carlton means one of two things, there’s something wrong with your club, or there’s something wrong with that player.
Another key question is can Eddie Betts focus on this season after captaining the Deadlys?
Captaining an AFLX team is a hard thing to come down from. Like those astronauts that came back from the moon, everything seems pretty pointless after accomplishing such an amazing feat.
Hawthorn faces challenges on the field and off. For starters, the Bulldogs seem to be keen to challenge them in ‘worst jumper ever worn in a game’.
It’s hard to pick what’s the worst jumper ever, but Hawthorn has about eight places in the top ten.
I’ve long been a believer that the worst jumper ever worn is just Hawthorn’s normal jumper.
The Hawks also lost their midfield to a knee injury in the offseason, meaning they’ll be a bit like a car with no engine.
Can they overcome such a setback? They’ll do alright. That Alastair Clarkson seems to have a few ideas about coaching, but I can’t see them winning here.
Western Thor vs Sydney (MS) Seven & Fox, 7:25pm
In a league where horrible cash grabs are the norm, it speaks volumes that the Bulldog’s Thor jumper caused gasps from AFL fans.
In perhaps the greatest show of optimism ever, the Bulldogs are even offering it for sale, the equivalent of trying to market syphilis.
Still, this was a club that dropped ‘Footscray’ from its name to ‘Western’ as a marketing ploy, so we shouldn’t be surprised.
Sydney have been written off by many this year, but it always seems a silly thing to do, what with their ability to constantly find young talent and always make finals.
Perhaps the biggest challenge the Swans face is playing on the SCG this year, alongside NRL and Rugby Union.
Union scrums made the ground look like ANZ Stadium a few weeks ago. If the Swans can get through home games without all their players being injured, it will be a miracle.
Even the turf at Marvel Stadium will look great to them.
Swans to win.
Brisbane vs West Coast (G) Fox, 8:20 pm
Did you know, and you probably don’t if you live in Victoria, that the Eagles won the Premiership last year?
It’s true; they got a cup and everything.
The collective wisdom is they can’t go back-to-back, but that same collective wisdom had them not playing finals last year.
It’s possible they win the next five Grand Finals then.
Brisbane are seen as the new up and comers this year after showing some nice signs last season.
By ‘nice signs’ I mean ‘at times watchable’.
There are teenagers who can’t remember a good Lions team, so to have them even near the top eight would be a bit of nostalgia, like when S Club 7 toured recently.
The Eagles could be without Josh Kennedy, but I think they’ll win this.
St Kilda vs Gold Coast (MS) Fox, 1:10 pm
Oh man, even on paper this looks painful. I’m probably going to have to watch it, so I may start drinking now to be ready by Sunday.
Across both these teams, there are about six AFL players.
St Kilda fans had a terrible time last year, with the club performing way below their expectations and about equal with everyone else’s.
Not a lot went right, and the big question is what round will Alan Richardson last until?
I have until halfway through the second quarter of this game.
Gold Coast are back to being a first-year expansion team. Both their Captains left, and they’ve restocked through the draft, agreeing to host a few players until they’re ready to play at the Crows.
It’s easy to hate on the Gold Coast, and fun too I should add, but if we’re going to have them, it would be nice if the AFL but some focus on them instead of wasting time and resources on the abomination that was AFLX.
And yes, I know that AFLX was for the kids, which makes you wonder, why does the AFL hate kids?
St Kilda to not lose this.
Greater Western Sydney vs Essendon (Sydney Showground Stadium) Seven & Fox, 3:20 pm
Another year, another offseason of predictions that Bombers will return to the finals.
It surely has to happen at some point, like the next great pandemic or an asteroid hitting us, it’s just a matter of when.
If the Bombers do perform this year, the combination of Essendon supporters and Jake Stringer being happy is going to be tough to watch. I’ve begun looking at property’s interstate.
If there’s one place I know I can avoid such news, it’s Western Sydney.
The Giants go into this season without doomsday predictions from down south that they will walk into the Premiership.
I haven’t seen anyone even predict they can win it. Is it possible the Orange tide may be finally receding, and the Giants may have blown their chance to win 50 premierships in a row?
It’s like the end of the cold war; suddenly in Victoria, we can leave our bomb shelters and feel the sun on our face again.
But perhaps they’re lulling us into a false sense of security. Is this what the AFL marketing department wants us to think?
I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight.
Giants to win.
Fremantle vs North Melbourne,(OS) Fox, 6:20pm
Whenever you hear the words ‘due diligence’ and a player, you know something has gone wrong.
Depending on who you believe, Jesse Hogan is set to be one of the greatest busts of all time, or this is a hiccup for a young and talented man.
Despite being a Demons supporter, I’d like to see Jesse do well as I think he’s had a rough trot over recent years.
What does constantly surprise me is so-called mates filming AFL players drinking, snorting COMPLETELY LEGAL SUBSTANCES, and doing other silly things and then putting it online.
Who does that?
These are like the kids that dob on everyone at school.
Photos of AFL players doing silly off-field things get shared all over social media, yet photos of AFLW players playing the game get taken down. The world is mad.
Next time you’re thinking of filming an AFL player doing something silly, don’t.
North are back again this year to mess with our tips by being good sometimes and other times quite underwhelming.
I’ve got no read on how they’re going to go this year because I actually know very little about footy and the Kangaroos are also a complete enigma to me.
I know I should have a better hot take on them than that, so, let's say, anything less than a Premiership from North this year will mean the signing of Jared Polec was a failure.
Fremantle to win.