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How my "predictions" went compared to reality

(AAP Image/Joe Castro)
Roar Guru
29th August, 2016
5

At the start of the year, I decided that instead of putting down my accurate thoughts what the teams of the AFL would do this season, I elected to put my “reputation” in the hands of fate.

I put the teams into a randomiser and the order that resulted was the ladder I published as my prediction for the year.

Now that the Home and Away season is over – can you believe that plane crash? – it’s time to look over how the actual results panned out in comparison for the teams that didn’t make the finals.

18. Essendon (“Predicted” finish: 4)
So this first one was a doozey from the randomiser. While there were a couple of bright spots during the season, particularly the last round win over Carlton and the great form of Jackson Merrett, the season as a whole was one that the Bombers will want to move on from quickly.

Maybe they’ll retroactively declare this season the sole season of the Essendon Vandals, Guerrillas or Iconoclasts.

They’ll probably be the biggest wild card next season, given they’ll have a huge change in personnel from this year. Will they barnstorm their way up the ladder or fall flat in a heap after the initial burst of energy wears off? We’ll have to wait for the randomiser to tell us that next year!

17. Brisbane (“Predicted” finish: 16)
Oh Brisbane, whatever shall we do with you? Lions aren’t just endangered in Africa; they seem pretty thin on the ground in Brisbane too. With the sacking of Justin Leppitsch a formality once the media decided it must be so, the Lions have to start another rebuild with yet another coach.

They have some good players, so it must be maddening for whatever fans must be left (who are, bar Ohio sports fans, the hardiest in sport) to watch season after season slip away with nothing to show for it.

I actually have a soft spot for the Lions. Maybe it’s the fact that I want the AFL to be successful nation-wide or maybe it’s the fact that I still feel sorry for Queensland after all those years they spent with Jo Bjelke-Petersen as Premier. I hope the Lions find the coach they need to make their run back up the ladder next year.

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16. Fremantle (“Predicted” finish: 7)
Well, the randomiser partly saw this coming, just underestimated it a little. So after the worst season a defending minor premier has ever had, what went wrong with the Dockers?

Certainly they had some bad luck with injuries, but they weren’t going great before then. They lost a couple of key players, but nothing like the amount that suggests a slide of 15 places.

Maybe they were like the Power of 2007, a good team on their last legs trying for one last shot at glory, falling very short when it all came down to it.

Maybe Ross the Boss is more like Ross the Dross after all? Well if he isn’t, he’s going to do a remarkable job turning the Dockers back into a competitive force.

There are rumours of positive trades aplenty coming into Fremantle in the next few months but rumours are like AFL writers, loud and boisterous when right, meekly hidden when wrong.

15. Gold Coast (“Predicted” finish: 12)
Why, oh, why? How could one team do something so well, that another team seem incapable of even getting close to achieving? It’s like this is some sort of sporting contest or something!

The Gold Coast were in the contest early, starting off the season like a team that would compete for finals. But that lasted only slightly longer than my last Grindr relationship.

Gary ‘Isa’ Ablett missed most of the season and was nowhere near his best when playing. As an aside, it’s funny that Geelong want to see Ablett finish his career at the Cattery but were OK with Steve Johnson finishing his at Newington. Plus with several young guns wanting out (to go to Richmond of all places, strange life goals some people have.

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It’s going to be hard for the Suns to build momentum.

The best part of the season was Tom Lynch (the one with the tan). He managed to come third in the Coleman and was picked in the AA 44. I hope he gets to start playing finals for the Suns soon. He’s the kind of forward that you want to see play in September, like Buddy Franklin or Eddie Betts.

As Neil Armstrong said on his way home, “Come on, Rocket. You can get us there!”

14. Carlton (“Predicted” finish: 3)
You know, for a while, it looked like it might be possible, if you turned your head and squinted really hard. They started off the season even better than Gold Coast, they ended the season almost worse.

It’s hard to judge a team’s form when they can beat the Cats and then lose (badly) to the Saints, Lions and Bombers.

Is Brendan Bolton going to be a success, or is he just another person who comes from a successful club but doesn’t do well? Maybe so much of a coach’s career and how we see them comes down to luck and we’ve never really noticed it.

I’m not convinced that there’s improvement to be had with the list they’ve got right now. But I’ve been wrong before and I wouldn’t be surprised that with some tweaks the Blues could be back to the heady days of winning elimination finals before long.

13. Richmond (“Predicted” finish: 14)
Speaking of being loud and boisterous when I’m right, (which we were five paragraphs ago) Richmond is really a not very good team. They struggle when facing good teams, and rage quit hard when things don’t go their way.

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Could they, much like Carlton in the later Ratten years, have been overrated and have now passed through their peak years? I’d have to say yes, but then I’ve always felt like the ‘Big Five’ Tigers aren’t as good as some like to say.

What to do about Hardwick? Well normally I’d say soak it in a little wax to soften it up so that it keeps its flame better, but then we aren’t discussing chandlery so I guess that that suggestion isn’t worth much.

I’ve never really found Damien Hardwick to be that compelling a coach so maybe it’s time to move him on. He has had a decent time as coach but if does get another go around, he’ll need to be bold next year.

12. Collingwood (“Predicted” finish: 13)
I was cheering so hard for a Collingwood win on Sunday. Not just so that Hawthorn missed the top four but so that my two teams don’t have to play each other at the worst stadium in the country.

After going to the NCAA match over the weekend, I am convinced that Stadium Australia shouldn’t host any major events until the reconstruction is done. I’ll be glad to see its back-end from an AFL perspective.

But I digress. Collingwood, much like the Tigers, need to make a call on whether to keep their coach or make a shift. They’ve gone backwards every season Nathan Buckley’s been there and with few players still around from the Malthouse era, it’s his team and his alone.

With most of the premiership team gone, it could be the perfect time for Collingwood to start anew with a new coach, new president and some new ideas. But then, they’d have to change their theme song and that doesn’t seem too likely.

11. Melbourne (“Predicted” finish: 18)
Well it wasn’t the diabolical season like the randomiser predicted, but after nearly making it to the finals, you’d have to say that the season was a little disappointing. They had their fate in their hands and choked terribly.

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They had the chance to send off Paul Roos with one last finals campaign and couldn’t do it for him. So, first thing new coach Simon Goodwin has to do is teach them how to win good.

They have a good bunch of players. Jack Watts is starting to perform, the midfield has a solid core, the defence is holding down back most of the time and Max Gawn has the sort of devilishly imposing beard that can unite a fan-base. If they can hold on to Jesse Hogan and start maturing as a team, they can make finals next year, it all depends on how well Simon Wellvictory, uh I mean Goodwin, goes.

10. Port Adelaide (“Predicted” finish: 15)
Speaking of disappointing, the Power were pretty low energy when it came to the big games. It’s quite possible for an argument to be made that the Power are the new flat-track bullies, given that they have a percentage higher than the Kangaroos, but still wound up with a losing season.

There wasn’t really anyone in the team that played with any kind of consistency and I’m not sure how they’ll improve next year, even with Patrick Ryder coming back to be their main ruck.

Port Adelaide might be at a crossroads, much like at the end of 2008. I have no idea whether Ken Hinkley is a good coach, a lucky coach or a one-trick pony whose one trick was pretty impressive, like a guitar player who can play solos like Jimmy Page but only in the key of A.

Don’t reach for the tarps just yet. I’d say give him one more crack at it and if there’s another season with no improvement, or worse sliding down the ladder some more, then it’s time to start over again.

9. St Kilda (“Predicted” finish: 5)
The Saints had a pretty decent year. They ended with a positive record, their structures seem to match their players’ abilities and, for the most part, they can go toe-to-toe with good teams.

They knocked off the Cats, should have knocked off the Hawks and Kangaroos and didn’t lose to any team they shouldn’t have lost to. This suggests that they are just an inch or two away from the finals next year.

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They have a key defender ready to come in once his suspension is up and with some canny trading, can shore up their midfield by giving Jacks Billings and Steven some support.

I seriously don’t know how Nick Reiwoldt didn’t get picked for the AA44 this year. Second for team goals, top for score involvements, top in the league for marks and sixth for disposals.

He was also 11th in the league for Dream Team if that means anything. I might have to pick my own All-Australian team, with blackjack! And hookers!

So, that covers all the teams that didn’t make the finals this year. When the season is over and we’re all contemplating whether the grand final is one worth remembering or one you’ll quickly make sure to remove any recommendation from YouTube to watch the highlights, I’ll cover the top eight. Hope the finals live up to the hype now. Bring them on!

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