A wooden spoon not tainted by tanking
The most keenly fought premiership for many years will end on the last Saturday of September. But next week – when the Giants meet the Suns for the second time – will most likely see the culmination of another intriguing contest: the battle to avoid the wooden spoon.
In recent years, with number one draft picks there for the losers’ taking, the last rounds have been about winning the wooden spoon. The recent comments by Brock McLean have brought back soiled memories of tanking which the well-meaning system encouraged.
This season, however, has seen pride return to the foot of the ladder, with the establishment of a new-team rivalry between GWS and the Gold Coast.
In their much-anticipated first clash in Round 7 the Giants were down at three-quarter time but kicked five goals in the final quarter to win by 27 points. The sight of them joyously singing the team song for the first time was a season highlight for many people.
The fortunes of both clubs have changed significantly in recent weeks though. In their last five matches the Giant’s average losing margin has been a whopping 124 points, compared to the Suns’ 44 points. The Gold Coast has also beaten Richmond and lost narrowly to Brisbane and Geelong.
If the Suns win next week as expected they will almost certainly be granting GWS the spoon, which is as it should be really. I felt sorry for the Suns after the loss to the Giants. There was the sense that they were the expansion guinea pigs who had lost their way.
The super kids from the Giants were expected to finish last, and have nothing to be ashamed about. They have played a vigorous style of game against bigger bodies and it’s starting to take its toll. They have been getting plenty of the ball but have conceded a huge number of goals from turnovers.
They are a potentially devastating work in progress and will put each thrashing into the memory bank. While commentating on their twenty goal loss to Collingwood on the weekend Dermott Brereton warned: “But watch out when these kids have played another fifty games”.
Although unlikely, Melbourne could theoretically claim the spoon. The Demons were sitting winless on the bottom of the ladder before they managed to beat Essendon and GWS. The re-emergence of the tanking controversy has reminded them that priority draft picks aren’t as important as a club’s culture.
And it was sad to hear Paul Roos say this week that Melbourne, one of the oldest football clubs in the world, is the only insignificant team in the competition.