It had already been a year of coaching changes in the AFL, but Ross Lyon’s sudden departure from Fremantle on Tuesday caught must of us off guard.
Allegiance to a football club is a powerful thing. We love our own, of course. It can’t be helped.
When serial rapist Antonio ‘Mad Dog’ Loguancio died during a police siege recently it would have been completely understandable for his mother and girlfriend (whose bashing sparked the siege) to have disowned their memory of him.
Instead, mum and the de facto find themselves fighting tooth and nail for the rights to his refrigerated corpse.
“My son was extremely important to our family and I love my son very much,” was the mother’s lament. It’s difficult to argue with that.
Some fans have yet to experience a premiership victory and may never see one in their lifetime. Still, they remain loyal.
If ASADA finds Essendon engaged in systematic doping with the entire coaching staff and playing roster complicit in the programme, it will be time for Bomber fans to question their commitment to the club.
For most, love will win out. In any case, where can they go?
How many supporters could ever change their allegiance, or transform themselves from a one-eyed fan to a neutral follower of the game?
But let us imagine for a moment you were not afflicted with club bias and were asked to give the most desirable outcome to the 2013 season.
For me, it is a relatively easy task because I am a fan of the game who, for one reason or another, lost his devotion to a particular club.
That’s not to say I don’t prefer some clubs over others, but the preferences can fluctuate.
Part of me wants to see a powerful club establishing a bit of a dynasty but ultimately I’m a sucker for the hard-working underachiever; a victim of their own incompetence but also of wretched luck and the vicious cycle of poverty (poor supporter base, poor television coverage, and lack of corporate sponsorship).
It would be tempting to simply tip last season’s post-finals ladder on its head but that wouldn’t accurately reflect my desired outcome. Actually, there are only three teams I think deserve to win the flag this year.
The Western Bulldogs you would have to say have been the biggest losers of all time. 87 seasons for two grand finals and one premiership, in 1954. Yes, 1954. And it hasn’t been from a recent lack of trying.
As well as narrowly missing out on the finals in 1984, 1986, and 1987 they lost their preliminary finals of 1985, 1997, 1998, 2008, 2009 and 2010.
At one stage during the NAB Cup, Liam Picken was playing at full forward with Dustin Fletcher as an opponent. If that, and the chance for Brett Goodes to outshine his brother Adam for the first time in his life, aren’t grounds for the AFL Commission granting the Dogs several priority number one draft picks, I don’t know what are.
Poor old St Kilda have also only won a single premiership; by a single point. That was way back in 1966 when Barry Breen’s last-minute mongrel punt dribbled around the behind post.
Unlike the Bulldogs, this foundation club have had to endure several grand final losses, and a draw in 2010 when Lenny Hayes performed almost the same kick as Breen’s, to level the scores.
I was surprised to discover Fremantle, West Coast’s poor cousin, has been around for 18 years now. West Coast, with its more privileged entry into the competition, claimed a premiership in only its sixth season.
The Dockers have been weighed down too long by their anchor. They finally deserve some success.
So, they are the three. Richmond, North Melbourne and a non-doping Essendon went close. Melbourne, being the oldest club in the land and barren since 1964, should have been a chance but recent events have put me off them a little.
Brisbane have been toiling away unsuccessfully for a while now in non-AFL territory but unfortunately it’ll take a few more uneventful years for this triple consecutive premiership winner to earn my sympathy. Ditto Geelong.
Collingwood is a strange one. It would be very easy to wish that the most famous sporting club in Australia, with one of the most annoying presidents, never won another flag but that would be unfair. They suffered a long premiership drought that involved several unbearable grand final losses.
Also, the pressure placed on its players is enormous, which is why I really appreciated Travis Cloke ignoring orders from the deadly earnest CEO Gary Pert not to park in his car space.
I want the Gold Coast and GWS to win a few more games this year, but they – particularly the latter – have been engineered for early success, so it doesn’t bother me if they remain at the bottom for a while yet.
So here is my… let’s say feel-good outcome for season 2013:
Greater Western Sydney