It’s that time of year again. The blissful summer has swept by and the cricket pitches are replaced with center squares and Sherrin footballs.
Thankfully our focus is now on the wonderfully skilfull and brutal game of Aussie Rules and not on the pathetic private lives of self-obsessed and frightfully naive athletes.
Round one presents an opportunity for players like Nick Riewoldt (actually may I be so bold to say the entire Saint Kilda Football Club) to replace their now “pornstar” reputation to just a superstar footballer. Perhaps, it is the fault of a pathetic Australian cricket side that has seen an overwhelming increase in mind-dumbing gossip-mongering by the media. What better way to detract the focus off another Ashes defeat to that of bored footballers who just can’t help themselves?
The season shall kick off again with a traditionally one-sided clash between two old rivals in Carlton and Richmond. Have Richmond earnt the right to particpate in the season opener when the last two years have seen the contest dead by quater time? Both sides are entering the opener with different pressures. Carlton are talking of winning a final and being relevant in September. A loss or a poor performance against a young Richmond side will lay unneeded pressure on Brett Ratten’s coaching career. For the Tigers, a competitive showing or dare I say a victory, will mend the supporter’s and players’ minds from previous embarrassing efforts. Another mauling at the hands of the Blues will set Richmond behind the 8-ball once again. While it’s highly doubtful, a Tigers’ win on Thursday night would set the football-mad city of Melbourne alight.
Yet, the bigger questions arise in the later games. Is the hype of Hawthorn legitimate? They will face stiff competition against a well drilled Adelaide Crows. Like the Sydney Swans, the Crows will always provide an honest effort and will expose any dishonest teams who aren’t prepared or willing to work hard. While early in the season, this clash will reveal the level that Hawthorn are at.
Perhaps Friday night’s clash between St. Kilda and Geelong will surprisingly reveal the least. Both sides are battled hardened. Geelong have two premierships under their belt and St. Kilda have played in three Grand Finals in the last two years. And more importantly, both sides know to ease their way into the season and to be peaking by September, not March. A close and physical game would please both sides and a defeat will do little to disrupt their season plans.
The most predictable clash is between Collingwood and Port Adelaide. We can’t speak about the upcoming season without mentioning the giant that is the Collingwood Football Club. The reigning Premiers look fit and ready to defend their own crown. With the departure of Paul Roos, Mick Malthouse is the most accomplished and superior coach in the league. You can count on any Malthouse coached side to be focused on the mission at hand. Hence, a “premiership hangover” is highly doubtful. With an aging St. Kilda and Geelong lists, Collingwood seem in the box seat to go ‘back to back’.
So who are the sides that will disappoint in round one? Unfortunately, Melbourne and North Melbourne may be those two sides. While both sides enjoy exciting talent, (particularly Melbourne) both sides have endured untimely injuries and therefore look underdone for round one… but not for the season.
Well, enough of the “united” and “predictable” talk from the clubs, it’s time for action.