Sunday football has become a tired and neglected day on the football calendar. The AFL has worked so hard to establish blockbuster games on Friday nights (Collingwood versus Brisbane aside) and explore the commercial advantage of Monday nights that family friendly Sunday afternoon football has become a stage for putrid mediocrity.
The AFL enjoy embarking on so-called educational trips to the US to learn from the big four American professional sports. Surely, Andrew Demetriou could take note on the NFL’s polished Sunday football product.
Next round of footy we are blessed or maybe cursed to watch the struggling Saints and underperforming Eagles as the only game for Sunday viewing. Twilight game scheduling is not the answer, instead, a themed marquee match, like traditional foes slogging it out at the spectator friendly time of 2:10pm would be more inviting for neutrals and committed supporters.
Team of the month: Fremantle (3 wins, 1 draw) have scraped their way into the top four without their champion Matthew Pavlich.
Team of the weak: Greater Western Sydney (0 wins, 4 losses) have lost their last four by an average of 103 points. The Giants are non-competitive and is a part of the miserable Sunday package of games.
2013 Power Rankings (Month of June)
1. Geelong (–): The “flicking the switch” catchphrase is one the most inaccurate and overused analysis made in sports commentary but perhaps Geelong truly does flick the switch after halftime. Over the past month, the Cats slammed home nine goals to one in the last quarter against a tougher Suns unit and won the premiership quarter against a confident Essendon team (six goals to one).
2. Hawthorn (–): Again, the Hawks are proving to be the best well-rounded offensive team by leading the league in points scored. Hawthorn’s attack starts from half-back with Grant Birchall who is proving to be their most important player (25 disposals per game). He dictates the game’s pace with his precision by foot (fourth in the league for effective disposals per game) and makes those around him better, which is the ultimate praise for any footballer. No Birchall, no 2013 flag.
3. Sydney (–): The Swans have had an indifferent month in terms of the win, loss and draw column but they are importantly playing far better football now than they were a month ago. Despite unneeded off field distractions, 33-year-old veteran Adam Goodes played his most devastating footy since 2009 over the last fortnight by slotting 7 goals and 45 disposals combined. Dustin Fletcher might be everyone’s Benjamin Button but Goodsey isn’t to far behind.
4. Fremantle (+3): What do you get when you combine Ross Lyon and the Fremantle Dockers? Efficiency. Despite key injuries to senior and star personnel, Lyon’s men find a way to grind their way to the four points and avoid blatant mental mistakes. Last year, the eventual premiers Sydney, were ranked number one in the league for fewest goals conceded (10.4 per game) and this year the Dockers are the league leaders in fewest goals against (also 10.4 per game). Freo’s ability to setup behind the ball and intercept forward thrusts is elite.
5. Carlton (+3): A tough opening to the season followed by a favorable stretch of games and the Blues still remain an unknown quantity. Wins against bottom feeders GWS, Brisbane, Melbourne and Port Adelaide hardly provide a sound test but Jarrad Waite is back and hopefully longer than a Mick Malthouse glare. Waite is clunking marks (leads league for contested marks per game) and giving his midfielders a competent key target to spot up.
6. Essendon (-1): The Bombers are succumbing to the law of averages. After averaging 123 points in the first six rounds, the Bombers’ attack has dramatically cooled off averaging only 83. Although, Jobe Watson is becoming the model of consistent excellence and Brent Stanton is starting to heat up over the past two weeks (collecting 39 and 36 disposals).
7. Collingwood (-1): The most recognisable club in this land has the most evident identity problem. Under Mick, the Pies’ identity was using the wings when in possession of the ball and hunting in tackling packs when without it. Under Bucks, the Pies’ inconsistency can be linked to their inability to establish a distinctive style of play and best and fairest winners like Dane Swan turning the ball over repeatedly (ranked 9th in the league for total clangers)
8. Richmond (+1): The Tigers followed up a bewilderingly poor Dreamtime effort by a ferociously committed win in the Wild West. Nathan Foley looked desperately lost and lacking his usual burst speed since returning from his Achilles injury (averaged 14 touches in first three games back). However, Foley rediscovered his ball winning ability and importantly his breakaway pace from the packs against the Eagles (22 touches, five inside fifties, four tackles), which could be one of the most undervalued developments for the Tigers as they surge into the second half of the season.
9. West Coast (+1): An AFL record 81 hit outs against the Tigers proved meaningless, as the Eagles looked one paced in the midfield. Their forward line is always threatening to kick a winning score but there is not enough assistance from the midfield quartet of Matthew Priddis, Daniel Kerr, Chris Masten and Andrew Gaff who have 12 goals between them.
10. Adelaide (+3): Adelaide’s forward line has been blown apart due to Tex Walker’s injury but Brenton Sanderson is doing a wonderful job in forcing mismatches and rotating players through the forward 50. Six Crows have kicked double-digit goals for the season.
11. Gold Coast Suns (+1): The Suns have become more than just a one-man show in Gary Ablett Jr. Jaeger O’Meara looks the most polished, assured and explosive young midfielder since Chris Judd. He leads all rising stars in total disposals, contested possessions, tackles and clearances.
12. North Melbourne (-1): North simply don’t apply enough defensive pressure to sustain momentum for four quarters against the seasoned teams (rank 16th in tackles). The Roos led at three quarter time in 7 of their 10 games so far this season.
13. Port Adelaide (-9): Port is starting to look like an exhausted and inexperienced team in need of the bye. The Power has succeeded when Justin Westhoff has flourished. In the Power’s 5-0 start to the season, Westhoff averaged 5.4 scoring shots per game and registered 20 plus possessions on three occasions. In the Power’s current 5 game losing streak, he averages just 1.4 shots per game and has failed to amass a 20-disposal game.
14. Western Bulldogs (+2): Tom Liberatore became the first player since Simon Black in 2000 to amass at least 35 disposals, 20 contested possessions and 12 clearances in a game (sourced from the Fox Footy Analyst on Twitter). There might be plenty of holes on the Doggies list but there is plenty of heart and youthful enthusiasm.
15. Brisbane (-1): The Lions rank in the bottom four in nearly every offensive category. With Simon Black and Jonathan Brown likely in their final seasons, who are the next leaders? Worryingly, crowd attendances continue to drop yearly as they average 22,683 people a game.
16. St Kilda (-1): Jack Steven is one bright speck in a fairly bleak tunnel for the Saints. Unlike most of his teammates, Steven is having a career year in disposals (25.6 per game) and ranks in the top 20 for contested possessions and clearances.
17. Greater Western Sydney (–): Could go winless in 2013 yet escape the same scrutiny that the Suns endured in their second season. Enticing Buddy Franklin could be a nice step in the reaching the path of competitiveness.
18. Melbourne (–): Would sacking coach Mark Neeld solve anything? Unlikely. Yet, the players are obviously not responding to Neeld’s message and not one player has noticeably improved under his watch.