Who won the AFL in 2017?

Ryan Buckland Columnist

By Ryan Buckland, Ryan Buckland is a Roar Expert

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76 Have your say

    The answer here is obvious: Dustin Martin won the AFL in 2017. But he was not alone, and in our annual tradition, let’s dish out the rest of the higher honours before the year is out.

    We normally wait until the very end of this column to crown a victor. Not so this year, because 2017 is obvious, and deserving. Of all of the things – players, coaches, and administrators; trends, tactics and actions; teams, traditions and turns of event – Dustin Martin’s year is the standout.

    This was confirmed in September. Martin won the AFL Players Association MVP award on the 12th day of the month, the Brownlow medal on the 25th, and the Norm Smith medal on the 30th. He became the first player in the history of the three awards (noting the AFLPA MVP was first awarded in 1982) to scoop the pool in a single year.

    His year began in auspicious fashion, with a nuclear performance against Carlton in the season opener. Martin had 33 touches, 16 contested possessions, six clearances and 13 score involvements, including four goals himself. Martin also gained 801 metres for his team, more than ten per cent of which came from this single disposal.

    Martin executed his trademark fend multiple times a week and set a new league record for broken tackles. His football arrogance, long a knock on his game, became a competitive advantage for his Richmond Tigers. The outright clangers of recent years became less frequent, and were replaced by exquisite, deft touches and booming kicks in transition.

    Off the field, Martin did what he was almost certainly going to do in re-signing with the Tigers. The stakes were high for Richmond entering the year, a bad season introducing the possibility that their supernova might up and leave for a new galaxy. As soon as it emerged Richmond’s 2016 was a blip, it was done. Martin signed one of the most lucrative contracts in league history, which has an end date of 2024.

    We, as football fans, have been treated to some incredible individual performances by the league’s best in recent years. Nat Fyfe’s 2015, Patrick Dangerfield’s 2016 (and 2017), and Martin’s 2017 – it could be the beginning of a golden age of individual play. All had their unique highlights: Fyfe the aerial prowess, Dangerfield the straight line pace, and Martin the explosion out of congestion.

    Dustin Martin blew up the league, and won the AFL in 2017.

    And, that’s a wrap. Not really. While Martin was the undisputed winner, there are plenty of other happenings that warrant our attention. As a reminder, the rules of this game are pretty non-specific. The competition is open to anyone and anything in the AFL diaspora, wins and losses don’t count for much, and to keep things interesting one club can have no more than five mentions.

    We’re recapping a full 12 months of stuff, so I am sure to miss someone or something worthy. Please advise in the comments. Let’s go.

    AFL Grand Final Dustin Martin Richmond Tigers 2017

    (Photo by Scott Barbour/AFL Media/Getty Images)

    The Adelaide Crows
    As a football fandom, we are far too quick to dismiss the losers. Richmond won the premiership in rapturous circumstances, but there is little doubt the Adelaide Crows were the best team in 2017.

    They put up regular-good numbers against this year’s non-finalists: +27.6 points of net margin per game, eight wins and a draw from 12 attempts, and an inside 50 differential of +7.2 per game. That’s good. However, Adelaide’s numbers against its peers were even better: +30.8 points, a 6-4 record, and an inside 50 differential of +13.3 per game.

    The Crows were better against the best teams than all but two (Richmond and Sydney) were against the worst. Their blend of outside pace, flair and dare, and intense man-on-man pressure was difficult to contain and impossible to stop.

    Adelaide sits atop the premiership betting markets as we end the year, and there’s little reason to expect another deep finals run will not materialise.

    Rory Sloane
    Adelaide’s vice-captain exploded out of the gates, was tagged into oblivion, and steered into the skid to become one of the most influential midfielders in the game. Sloane didn’t just wear his tag each week: he took to the task of being tagged, and creating space for the rest of his midfield buddies to go to work, like an artisan.

    A recurring theme in my Adelaide game notes was the manner in which Sloane would chop and block and search for the contact of another opposition midfielder in the slop. He, Matt Crouch and Bryce Gibbs are going to stomp on their share of opposing centre groups in 2018.

    Rory Sloane Adelaide Crows AFL Grand Final 2017

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    Bryce Gibbs
    Carlton’s great hope of a decade ago had his trade request fulfilled, executing the perfect modern PR strategy: lob in the out of the blue, unrealistic trade request a year before you actually want to be traded. Seriously, it’s batting 1.000 right now.

    Sam Powell-Pepper
    Sticking with the southern State, Sam Powell-Pepper’s debut season was one of the most fun aspects of football in 2017. He announced himself early on by choke-slamming respected veteran Shaun Burgoyne in his first game as an AFL footballer.

    The Sultan repeated the dose throughout the year, on his way to averaging a cool 17 disposals, eight contested possessions, three clearances and 0.7 goals per game. He was 19, by the way. In an instant, a new watchable player was birthed, and we are all better off for it.

    The rest of the 2017 Rising Star class
    Powell-Pepper was not alone. The AFL’s young talent boom continues to gather pace, with this season’s Rising Star class turning out a host of long-term league participants.

    The top of the class grabbed all the attention, rightly. Powell-Pepper, Ryan Burton and eventual winner Andrew McGrath would have all been worthy recipients of the award and will figure in midfield battles for the next decade or more. But consider some of this year’s other nominees: Eric Hipwood, Tim Taranto, Will Hayward, Caleb Marchbank, Charlie Curnow, Dan Butler, Jack Silvagni.

    It might not beat last year’s class, which could have legitimately fielded an AFL-standard team this season (and could challenge for a premiership before the decade is out).

    But it is once again full of high quality at the top and suggests the league is in good hands.

    The 2020 Hall of Fame ceremony
    And that’s good, because the league lost a whole lot of intellectual property this year. You’ve read about the quality of the retiring class of 2017 a hundred times so we will save some inches by not going through it all again.

    Suffice to say, however, the Australian Football Hall of Fame Committee will have a tough time working out which of this year’s retiring class will make it into the annals on their first attempt. Sam Mitchell will come very close, particularly given he will likely be a senior assistant or head coach by that stage; Steve Johnson similarly.

    Lance Franklin
    Joining them in the not too distant future will be Sydney’s Lance Franklin, who won his fourth Coleman medal in 2017. Franklin draws level with Tony Lockett and Doug Wade in modern times as winners of the goal kicking total in a given year, and joined the top ten all-time goalkicker list in the process.

    He won the medal because of his performance over the year, but it is hard to go past the stirring ten-goal outing in Sydney’s final home-and-away game for a 2017 highlight. Franklin hit double digits for the second time in his career, obliterating a tired Carlton back six.

    Oh wait, no, there was a better highlight.

    Sydney is yet to win a premiership with Lance Franklin on its list. However, it has played finals each year, and were it not for this year’s early-season slump playing on our minds, they would remain at the top of the premiership line right now. There are five years to run on Franklin’s contract, and, based on his recent history, the doubters who said he’ll never play it out will be getting nervous.

    Lance Franklin Brendon Goddard Sydney Swans Essendon Bombers AFL 2017

    (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

    Essendon’s returning players
    The Comeback Story straight up sucked, but players don’t write marketing campaigns. It took just a little of the gloss off the return of Essendon’s WADA-banned players, who looked as though a colossal weight had been lifted from their shoulders in their opening round win against the Hawks.

    As the saga concluded, the players became increasingly sympathetic figures – if you could look past the facts and give them some leeway. Watching Jobe Watson play out the final year of an eventful career was satisfying in its own way. Essendon’s returning players make the list.

    The integrity of the competition
    Speaking of which, let’s have a slow clap for the integrity of the AFL competition! The league went an entire year without any significant on-field issues: no performance-enhancing drugs, no salary cap cheating, and no teams openly tanking at the back end of the season.

    There were opportunities for the latter as well. Would you have blamed Hawthorn and Sydney for throwing in the towel at the quarter-way mark of the year? North Melbourne had means, motive and opportunity to throw away their final few games of the year, but did not.

    There wasn’t even an illicit drugs ban this season. You go, competition integrity.

    Steven Hocking
    There was some off the field incident of a sexual nature, which claimed the head office careers of two administrators. One upside of this tricky situation was the installation of Steven Hocking to the position of General Manager of Football Operations.

    He was handed the equivalent of a Stuart Broad half volley in his first weeks in office, in the form of the debate about the traditional bounce of the ball. He dispatched it over the MCG fence.

    Then, as we discussed last week, Hocking had instituted wholesale reform to the league’s judicial system, which looks to be a universal improvement.

    Hocking was a late entrant into the race, but his first month or so at HQ make him a winner.

    Steven Hocking

    (Photo by Scott Barbour/AFL Media/Getty Images)

    Jason Bennett
    A similarly small part player in the league’s 2017 season, Jason Bennett should be given a much bigger role from next year onwards. Bennett called no more than half a dozen games for Channel Seven, but quickly solidified his position as the best play-by-play man in the competition.

    His is a no-nonsense style – you can feel the disdain dripping from his brow when he’s calling with Brian Taylor – that lets the viewer in on the action, but doesn’t overawe what’s happening on the field.

    Bennett and Fox Sports’ Adam Papalia would form a formidable duo if they were ever able to unite. Honestly though, the dream is a two-man booth, with one guy calling the play and the other filling in the white spaces. Expanding ex-player rosters will mean there is a real risk we go the other way next season and add more voices to the call.

    Trent Cotchin
    The Richmond captain’s redemption arc hit the highest possible crescendo in 2017. Thought to have passed his peak 18 months ago, Cotchin re-invented his game as a pack roaming monster, doubtlessly helped by Dion Prestia’s arrival and Martin’s ascendance to the throne.

    There are precious few Brownlow medal-winning premiership captains. Eight, in fact: Syd Coventry, Dick Reynolds, Don Cordner, James Hird, Michael Voss, Chris Judd, Sam Mitchell and now Trent Cotchin. It’s a prestigious group.

    Nat Fyfe
    A slow start to the year did nothing to dissuade Fremantle from making Fyfe, with Martin, one of the richest players in the history of Australian football. Nor should it have, as Fyfe demonstrated with his back-to-his-best second half of the 2017 season.

    Made the captain of the club, and seemingly a participant in the entirety of Fremantle’s pre-season to date, Fyfe did a ton of housekeeping this year that will allow him to make a run at reprising his 2015 season next year. Get on board now, before the Nat Fyfe Brownlow Medal 2018 train leaves the station.

    Nat Fyfe Nathan Fyfe Fremantle Dockers Brownlow Medal AFL 2015

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    Fremantle’s football department
    Shouts to Brad Lloyd and his crew for sniffing Scott Clayton’s blood in the water and devouring him whole in the Lachie Weller trade. Almost two months on and that trade, and the circumstances leading up to it, make me smile. Fremantle’s list makeover is progressing nicely, albeit having Fyfe at its centre helps to no end.

    Richmond’s off-field leadership team
    Brendon Gale and Peggy O’Neil, Richmond’s CEO and Chairperson respectively, stuck by their man and won a premiership. The club had an incredible commercial year too, proving astute financial control does not come at the expense of a focus on football.

    Clubs as a collective seem to be cottoning on to the idea that stable, quality administration is not a nice to have: it is a non-negotiable.

    Most clubs, anyway. It was disappointing to see Carlton lop off the head of Stephen Trigg with little forewarning, and for Collingwood to once more kick the can of administrative reform down the road with a whole-of-club review. Alas. But the tide is turning.

    Nathan Buckley
    Which is perhaps the biggest driver behind Nathan Buckley outliving his self-imposed death sentence this year. The coach change was once thought to be a panacea to every ailment a club could catch. And sometimes it is: the Western Bulldogs won a premiership with a coach who’d been in place for two seasons.

    But sometimes it isn’t (see: Tigers, Richmond).

    Buckley might not be the best coach in the league. But one hazards he is not the worst. Collingwood has hamstrung itself with a series of strange list management decisions in recent years, little of which can be laid at Buckley’s feet.

    Collingwood’s board likely surveyed the football landscape, took a flick through the CVs of Alastair Clarkson’s remaining assistant coaches, and decided Buckley was still their best chance for success over the next year or two.

    If it worked for Richmond, why can’t it work for Collingwood?

    Nathan Buckley Collingwood Magpies AFL 2017

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    Blake Caracella
    Football is complicated, so pinning Richmond’s success on the arrival of the tactically-savvy Caracella alone is not advisable. But his influence is clear. Richmond insiders lauded the role he played in the Tigers’ gameplan shake-up – and boy wasn’t it a shake-up from 2016 – and one would assume another year or two in the system and he will have the CV of a senior coach in waiting.

    Melbourne’s potential
    While the rest of the league’s coaching hierarchy is wrapped around the passionfruit vines of Clarkson and his disciples, Melbourne has one of the last branches of the Paul Roos coaching tree as its steward.

    He is not like the rest; Simon Goodwin has a bias for action and attack, and he has the makings of a team that can live up to the heights of the current day Adelaide Crows.

    We saw glimpses of it throughout the year – enough to think that deep finals campaigns and premiership chances are in the offing for this team as it grows. Melbourne now has a trio of pre-prime superstars – Jesse Hogan, Christian Petracca and Jake Lever – that will form their core for a decade. Buy some stock before it’s too late.

    The legend of Jayden Hunt’s kicking boot
    Presented without comment.

    Port Adelaide
    Hands up if your Port Adelaide season prediction came true? Mine did not. I speculated the Power were the team most likely to be looking for a coach come July or August – yes, more likely than Gold Coast, who I assumed would let Rodney Eade slip away at the end of his contract – after another failed campaign of barely 0.500 football.

    That did not arise, and were it not for a series of extraordinary events in the first elimination final, Port Adelaide could have easily found themselves facing Richmond in a preliminary.

    As we’ve discussed, they have retooled meaningfully this off-season, aware their window is open now. Ken Hinkley has signed on for another four seasons, with a premiership in sight. A lot still has to go right, but for now, Port Adelaide’s re-rise to prominence against such low expectations makes them one of this season’s winners.

    Ollie Wines Port Adelaide Power AFL 2017

    (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

    The short position on St Kilda
    St Kilda were the fashionable finals bolter this preseason. I was not convinced they had the foundation to make it to the 12 or 13 wins required to push into the top eight.

    Like Melbourne, the Saints showed glimpses of their potential. The last vestiges of the club’s prior successes are now gone – it is up to the new generation to make good on the promising, but fleeting, signs shown over the past two years.

    Small forward lines
    I wrote about the rise of small ball early into the off season, and I remain convinced more clubs are going to go down this path going forward. It’s a great time to be an athletic player of smaller-than-average stature.

    The ruck workhorses
    Similarly, changes to the league’s meta-game – this one enabled by the rules – have conspired to give the old-style ruck workhorses a new lease on life. In the main, teams responded to the abolition of the third man up by concentrating their ruck duties in the hands of an individual big man, with short periods of support by a tall forward or a midfielder.

    Where clubs were perhaps thinking a hybrid structure – a rotation group with Mark Blicavs types – would be the way of the future, now shouldering a hulking two-metre monster with most of the ruck duties looks attractive. Either that, or teams will begin to question the notion of contesting hit outs at all.

    Side note: We missed out on seeing two of the best workhorses in the game go to work under this new hierarchy: Aaron Sandilands and Nic Naitanui. I am particularly looking forward to the latter and what he can do in a regulated one on one contest.

    And now some quick hits, who cannot pass unmentioned.

    Charlie Cameron: The archetypal modern small forward completed his apprenticeship and can fulfil his destiny on the rising Brisbane Lions.

    Eddie Betts: We live in Eddie’s world.

    Tom Mitchell: Set a new disposals record, proving that he’s an accumulator, but one that can be the point man in his own midfield.

    Alex Rance: Continues to build his case for elevation to the Greatest Defender of All Time conversation. Rance was named captain of the All Australian team to boot.

    Jeremy Howe’s Mark of the Year: It was mark of the year, and I don’t care what anyone says. I ride with Jeremy.

    Patrick Dangerfield: Backed up his improbable 2016 season with a better 2017, and would have won back-to-back Brownlow medals if not for Martin’s rise and his suspension. It feels wrong to relegate him to a line or two in the quick hits, but that’s what sustained greatness looks like in the AFL.

    Joe Daniher: Essendon’s key forward blossomed into one of the best big forwards in the game, and he’s an erudite showman to boot. Daniher is close to the top of the most watchable list.

    Neville Jetta: Is now properly rated as the best small defender in the game. You need to find a new most underrated player.

    Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti: AMT’s reputation as one of the most ferocious chase down tacklers in the game was confirmed in 2017. Clubs will be introducing a “don’t take him on” heuristic ahead of next season.

    Luke Shuey: How often can you say you have kicked a goal after the extra time siren to win your team an elimination final?

    Apparently once before but still, Shuey’s ice cold kick (after winning a contentious free kick) will be on the first line of his CV come the end of his career. He signed a five-year contract extension to boot.

    It has been an extraordinary year of football, and not just because once more a decades-long premiership hiatus was broken. Richmond was the story of 2017 from around the two-thirds mark of the year, when it became clear a hot start was leading to something more.

    We end the year with the promise of 2016’s season – that a new age of the AFL had dawned with the Western Bulldogs’ September campaign – renewed.

    Or, are we simply living in a time of great innovation, where a strategic tweak can power a team to 25 games of greatness? It is the great unknown, and far and away the biggest question we face as the year turns over and begins anew.

    Ryan Buckland
    Ryan Buckland

    As an economist, Ryan seeks to fix the world's economic troubles one graph at a time. As a sports fan, he's always looking one or two layers beneath the surface to search for meaning, on and off the field. You can follow Ryan here.

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    The Crowd Says (76)

    • Roar Guru

      December 21st 2017 @ 7:38am
      Redb said | December 21st 2017 @ 7:38am | ! Report

      I’m sure the Comeback story sucked for the non Essendon fans. It wasn’t about you though.

      It did not suck for Essendon fans, record membership, great crowds and a healthy profit for the club. This all means it will continue to suck for the non Essendon fans in the future.

      Go Bombers.

      • December 21st 2017 @ 8:58am
        Reservoir Animal said | December 21st 2017 @ 8:58am | ! Report

        Keep talking yourselves up, it’s the only thing you’re good at.

        17 years without winning a flag, 13 years without winning a final. Both are near-records for the club. Bombers are as irrelevant as they’ve ever been.

      • December 21st 2017 @ 9:00am
        Macca said | December 21st 2017 @ 9:00am | ! Report

        RedB – I wouldn’t say the “comeback story” Sucked as such but it was such a load of BS.

        You take any team that finished last give them pick 1 and Hurley, Hooker and Heppell (not to mention the rest of the banned players Essendon got back) and you would not be surprised to see them scrape into the 8 (considering Essendon made it on the back of a Melbourne choke and getting out of jail against the blues “scrape” is the right word).

      • December 21st 2017 @ 10:12am
        Kavvy said | December 21st 2017 @ 10:12am | ! Report

        We were indifferent bud. The bombers haven’t been relevant since the early ’00’s. If you start threatening then we might start worrying about you.

        Richmond just won the flag and Carlton have a great young list on the rise. We’ve got enough to worry about with the empire clubs (traditional big 4 Victorian clubs) to care less about Essendon.

      • December 21st 2017 @ 11:44am
        Stephen said | December 21st 2017 @ 11:44am | ! Report

        Come on boys. How many tipped Essendon to finish 2017 in the top 8 – mindful of all the returning players? 10%?

        Most would concede EFC surprised on the upside.

        • December 21st 2017 @ 11:46am
          Macca said | December 21st 2017 @ 11:46am | ! Report

          Stephen – most had them around the mark and they just snuck in and got belted in the first week – the performed as expected.

        • December 21st 2017 @ 12:02pm
          Macca said | December 21st 2017 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

          Stephen at the start of the year Josh had the bombers finishing 6th while the roar crowd had them 12th – the bombers won 12 games with a percentage of 106.5, the team that finished 6th won 14 games with a percentage of 126.8 while the team that finished 12th won 10 games with a percentage of 90.7 (interestingly the blues beat all three of the teams once last year) – I would suggest that they finished smack in the middle of their predicted range.

        • December 21st 2017 @ 12:34pm
          Stephen said | December 21st 2017 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

          Macca, at least you answered my question – thank you. We shall have to agree to disagree. You state Essendon finished ‘smack in the middle of their predicted range’.

          I would argue – only 10% of predictions would have included EFC in the Final 8 for season 2017. Of which Josh is one.

          Perhaps you are referring only to the Roar crowd/experts? My reference is the broader public and AFL commentators. Which is difficult to prove.

          • December 21st 2017 @ 1:17pm
            Macca said | December 21st 2017 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

            Stephen – You keep saying only 10% of people predicted the bombers to make the 8 but given they were as far off 6th as they were from 12th and got absolutely belted in the first final (again) indicates that those who didn’t have them in the 8 weren’t exactly wrong.

            They made the 8 by just 1.3%, had the blues held their nerve for just 2 minutes longer the bombers would have missed the 8. The fact that most people had them just missing and they just made it doesn’t point to them “surprising on the upside”.

          • December 21st 2017 @ 1:40pm
            Reservoir Animal said | December 21st 2017 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

            I think a more important point is that Essendon made the finals in 2009, 2011 and 2014 and in all cases they crashed down the ladder the following year. Save for a couple months of Dank/Robinson luck in 2012, they’ve had a 28% win rate the year after making their last three finals- translating to six wins a year.

            I’m not suggesting 2018 will be a six-win year for Essendon. But history shows finals appearances don’t mean much if you don’t build on them the right way, and that Essendon aren’t exactly experts at building on them the right way.

            • December 21st 2017 @ 3:46pm
              Stephen said | December 21st 2017 @ 3:46pm | ! Report

              Fair enough. We’ll see what 2018 delivers.

            • December 21st 2017 @ 5:17pm
              Matto said | December 21st 2017 @ 5:17pm | ! Report

              I think you will find woosh does a decent job building

              • December 21st 2017 @ 5:34pm
                Reservoir Animal said | December 21st 2017 @ 5:34pm | ! Report

                They said that about Hird and Knights too.

              • December 21st 2017 @ 5:39pm
                Mattician6x6 said | December 21st 2017 @ 5:39pm | ! Report

                John worsold is a excellent coach, best decision ESS has made

              • December 21st 2017 @ 6:31pm
                Matto said | December 21st 2017 @ 6:31pm | ! Report

                Hird and Knights were never a premiership coach

              • December 21st 2017 @ 9:09pm
                Reservoir Animal said | December 21st 2017 @ 9:09pm | ! Report

                “John worsold is a excellent coach, best decision ESS has made”

                They said that about Hird too.

              • December 21st 2017 @ 9:23pm
                Mattician6x6 said | December 21st 2017 @ 9:23pm | ! Report

                OK as Matto said he’s a premiership coach also lead two eras of wce deep but yeah compare the greatest capt and coach to hird and knights. Well done bozo well done

    • December 21st 2017 @ 7:58am
      Neil from Warrandyte said | December 21st 2017 @ 7:58am | ! Report

      Damien Hardwick deserves a mention. From coach most likely to be sacked, to coach of the year and premiership coach in the space of one season- unprecedented.

      • December 21st 2017 @ 11:48am
        Carl said | December 21st 2017 @ 11:48am | ! Report

        In a way similar to Mark Thompson at Geelong. Great result for Damien and the whole Richmond Football Club.

    • December 21st 2017 @ 8:07am
      Neil from Warrandyte said | December 21st 2017 @ 8:07am | ! Report

      Jacob Townsend also had a fairly tale 2017.
      From preparing for life after football at the start of the season to winning the JJ Liston trophy, debuting in round 22 after an injury to Josh Caddy and holding onto his spot to become a premiership player with 17 goals from his 5 games.

      • December 21st 2017 @ 12:51pm
        spruce moose said | December 21st 2017 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

        Great shout.

    • December 21st 2017 @ 8:41am
      Milo said | December 21st 2017 @ 8:41am | ! Report

      Thanks Ryan
      Good to see you and other pundits already on the Crows wagon for 2018. I think they are favourites with the two Sydney teams and Geelong not far behind. That’s just the way we like it.

      I expect the Tigers will have the potential to be a better team next season especially when you look at the form in the VFL and separately think that players like Hunt, Elton, Lennon, actually played in a team that had a premiership year. The question of course is will they improve, knowing that if they don’t, they actually slip back like the Dogs of 2017. I think they can if they can hold their coaching and development group together and make at least four players that didn’t play on 30th Sept 2017, regular players in 2018.

    • December 21st 2017 @ 9:01am
      Reservoir Animal said | December 21st 2017 @ 9:01am | ! Report

      I was a rap for the Crows until their pathetic GF performance and the childish way in which some people at the club carried on afterwards.

      Look at the last 20 years- no side who’s suffered a 40+ point GF loss has rebounded to win a premiership before they’re next rebuild. Apart from the post-2014 Swans side, nobody has even come close. Something tells me Adelaide’s 2018 premiership favouritism isn’t based on a thorough analysis of facts.

      Agree with most of the rest of the article, barring the claim that Nathan Buckley isn’t responsible for Collingwood’s woes. If he had no say over the list management decisions then he should’ve resigned as senior coach. It is too easy for a coach to sit out of important decision-making processes and then say none of it was his idea.

      • December 21st 2017 @ 9:08am
        Macca said | December 21st 2017 @ 9:08am | ! Report

        Even if Buckley did have no say over the terrible list management he still employs a terrible game plan, even club great Peter Moore says so;

        “One of the problems at Collingwood is the way they play. Their chosen game plan is a five-man forward line playing on seven defenders, so it’s very difficult for forward to kick a lot of goals and get a lot of opportunities,” Moore said.

        “The other issue is their entries into the forward half were absolutely hopeless in the first half of last year”

        Another former player David Cloke also said; “they have a game style which revolves around their midfielders getting high possessions, but don’t get the ball into their forward half.”

        Now you can say these players are just defending their sons but when you watch Collingwood play you can see their point.

        • December 21st 2017 @ 10:14am
          Kavvy said | December 21st 2017 @ 10:14am | ! Report

          When I saw David Cloke’s name I rolled my eyes instantly, but I actually agree with that comment.

      • December 21st 2017 @ 1:21pm
        Vocans said | December 21st 2017 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

        No team deserves favouritism at this stage. Adelaide has to learn from the GF. It also has to replace Lever and Smith, and that is far from done at this stage.

        Take home from the GF? Don’t sit back waiting for it to happen. Team first is the real secret to their greatness.

        Replace Lever? Doedee, Keath, more from Kelly? Can a work in progress replace a work progressed?

        Replace Smith? Do any of the alternatives offer the package that is Smithers?

        Finally, there is significant room for improvement in a number of players, and Pyke too.

    • December 21st 2017 @ 10:05am
      Gyfox said | December 21st 2017 @ 10:05am | ! Report

      I thought that Sam Powell-Pepper’s debut was against the Swans, not Hawthorn?

      • December 21st 2017 @ 10:30am
        Brian said | December 21st 2017 @ 10:30am | ! Report

        Hawthorn was a pre-season game

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