Contenders and pretenders for the AFL wooden spoon
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We hear all the talk about who’ll win the flag; who’ll make the top four or eight and who will be the big improver. But one thing is often swept by the wayside.
We fail to consider an important position on the ladder. A ceremonious, yet undesired tag – the wooden spoon.
Aside from the obvious shame and label of being the worst performer of the year, what’s wrong with finishing last? High draft picks; an easy draw the following year…just ask Dean Bailey. I’m sure he will agree that it’s a wonderful thing (although look what happened to him).
Now, back to season 2012. Who are the teams vying for the infamous identifier that is the wooden spoon?
Let’s start with the good old roar of the Fitzroy Brisbane Lions. Aside from having a young, emerging midfield led by an ageing general; a defensive stalwart with striking similarities to Ron Howard; and a fearless leader who’s had his face rearranged more times than Victoria Beckham; the northern most team in the AFL has a long way to go to get back to their glory days of the early naughties.
Heck, all you have to do is take out Jonno Brown and their forward line falls apart. They had to move their Best and Fairest winning midfielder and defensive-minded fullback into the forward line just to kick a goal. However, despite their inexperienced, injury-prone back-up singers, the Lions remain a semi-formidable outfit so long as Rocky and Black are on the ball; and Browny is leading from the front.
Estimated finish: 14th
Oh how much it must pain people to be a Port Adelaide supporter. This year is a perfect example of Port Adelaide’s recent ‘success’. After a heartening 4-point win over a rejuvenated Saints outfit, they’ve managed to comfortably lose six games on the trot; before stunning North Melbourne in a thriller last Saturday.
On paper, they haven’t got a terrible side – with a half decent ruckman, some promising off-season midfield recruits and a reasonably well-rounded team; yet they still managed to fall short almost every week, only ever managing to score between 70-90 points a game. In fact, along with the Suns, Giants and Demons – they’re among the only teams in the AFL who’ve failed to kick a 100+ score in 2012.
Even a Brown-less Brisbane outfit managed to crack the ton in round one.
Hell, if Schulz hadn’t kicked truly in Round eight, they’d be languishing on 4 premiership points. Not a sight Port fans want to see coming into the half way mark of the season. Regardless of all this, with a few more lucky wins they should just beat out new boys Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney as well as current cellar dwellers Melbourne to avoid bottom three honours for season 2012.
Estimated finish: 15th
To borrow a term from my good friend RL Griffin, Greater Western Sydney should stand for Guaranteed Wooden Spooners. However, to date they’ve shown fight, heart and a bruising enthusiasm for the contest. Despite having just the one win in 2012 (over fellow minnows Gold Coast), the new kids on the block are showing more spirit than Scrappy Doo right now, which is more that can be said for 18th place Melbourne at the moment.
With a team made up of members of Dad’s Army; as well as the crème de la crème of yesterday’s crop of youngsters (Sheeds thanks you Mr. Demetriou); they have somehow found a balance of youth and experience that has thus far put Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore to shame.
Despite being in their first year, with the expectation of finishing last in 2011; GWS is in a good position to finish out of the bottom two this season. With a youth rotation policy that would put Charlie Sheen to shame, Sheedy appears to be on the right track to lead the Giants to a more than respectable third last finish in 2012.
Estimated finish: 16th
Ah the Melbourne Demons… where to start. Check out my article from last week to get my full thoughts on the 2012 ‘Dees. The ‘nice guys’ of the AFL are on a one way street; and no one at the club appears to know how to turn around. They remain, in my opinion the only club bar new boys Suns and Giants that are a legitimate chance for the spoon this year.
They give punters more assurance betting for the spoon than for the premiership, with the latter more open than Tiger Woods’ bedroom door. Currently sitting at $5 to take out the coveted cellar for 2012, they sit marginally behind the Suns and Giants. The next best odds are for Port at $301 (not bad odds, I thought).
Verdict: Genuine Contenders
Estimated finish: 17th
This brings us to our final (and arguably strongest, or is it weakest, contender) the Gold Coast Suns. After putting up a good fight against a misfiring Bombers outfit in round three and pushing Fremantle to the very end up at their Metricon Home two weeks ago, Gold Coast currently sits alongside Melbourne with a 0-8 record passing the 1/3 mark of season 2012.
Only marginally ahead on percentages – the Suns’ have been better than this time last year (despite not winning a game). They have only conceded one true ‘hiding’ in the form of a 92 point loss to the Saints in round two
Unfortunately, wins get the grins – and for Guy McKenna, his head will be on the chopping block until he starts to put some numbers in the ‘W’ column. Sure, they’ve had key injuries to talisman Nathan Bock, Gary Ablett and now David Swallow; but the side looks to have as much grunt than Team Delta – falling well short in the battle with fellow new boys GWS in round seven
Unfortunately, they have about as much depth as a kiddie swimming pool, which will struggle to keep up with most good sides and lack the fight that GWS have worked hard to show. Without league convert Karmichael Hunt, they’d be a whisker off taking away Melbourne’s tag of being the softest team in the AFL.
Unless Gary Ablett Jnr can single-handedly win them 3 or more games in 2012, I’d be putting my hard earned cashola on the Suns to defend their title and go back to back.
Estimated finish: 18th
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