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The dirty dozen: Stories from the footy off season

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Roar Guru
12th November, 2018
53
1377 Reads

With the 2019 footy season an interminable time away it’s time to ponder the current hot questions of the 2018-2019 off season. We count backwards from twelve.

12. GWS have made two preliminary finals and a semi-final in the past three seasons while losing players quicker than Australian cricketers go through sandpaper.

The list of some of the departures reads as a reserve All Australian side. Will Hoskin-Elliott, Adam Treloar, Taylor Adams, Dylan Shiel, Devon Smith, Tom Scully, Tom Boyd, Rory Lobb…..Josh Kelly next? Is their window closed?

11. The Blues coach in Brendan Bolton or the Lions coach in Chris Fagan? What are both clubs pass marks in number of wins for 2019? Who has the best coaching potential, the guy who has gone through the wringer and still looks 14 years old or the dad coach having a cuppa in the passenger seat with his L Plate players still learning how to drive?

Is Lachie Neale in for Dayne Beams a nil all draw for the Lions? What about the Blues new forward line which will include Mitch McGovern, Charlie Curnow, Harry McKay and Alex Fasolo? On paper this looks quite strong. Does it lift them above and beyond expectation?

Lachie Neale

Lachie Neale. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

10. It turned out three seriously elite midfielders were up for grabs during the trade period… Brisbane’s Dayne Beams, Fremantle’s Lachie Neale and Greater Western Sydney’s Dylan Shiel.

Let’s forget their ages for a moment and pretend you have a chance to nab one of them for your club just for the 2019 season. How do you rank them and who do you choose based on output expectations for 2019?

9: Hawthorn. At the end of 2017 the club launched its 2050 vision part of which demanded two more flags in the years 2018-2022.

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20 per cent into this period it sits zero of two. Some of us are still wondering how on earth they made top four in 2018? 15 wins and a percentage of 120+ was essentially the same season as Collingwood who had the easier draw. Did the Hawks overachieve and as such a straight sets exit was a formality?

Were they indeed genuine flag chances who just happened to run into a red hot Melbourne outfit after they had played a stuttering game against the 2017 premiers?

Regardless, it seems Hawks coach, Alastair Clarkson, forgot the script was for the Hawks to reflect on their swag of flags for a few years at least, drop back for a while and give us all some breathing space where our clubs might snag a flag or two before they come back.

Come on Clarko, time for a rest – please?

8: Geelong. Can they surprise many and surge into contention instead of falling back? A couple of close games away from top 4 in 2018, yet a couple of close games away from missing the eight altogether. Awesome at home in 2018 and why would that change?

The holy trinity of Gary Ablett Jr (the prodigal son), Joel Selwood (the immortal) and Patrick Dangerfield (the messiah), promised so much in 2018.

Will the Cats coach Chris Scott tweak how he mixes his blessed pot of midfield stars? More time forward for Gary?

Impatience finally with the mercurial Dan Menzel saw him off loaded to help pick up bargains in former Swan Gary Rohan and former premiership Dog, Luke Dahlhaus.

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Tim Kelly wanted to go home but the Cats stood firm and made him honour his contract. Solid leadership. Who is to say he won’t actually go up a level in 2019 now he knows he is good? The ageless Tom Hawkins is still pretty special.

Chris Scott secured a surprising four year extension which makes you think there is a detailed plan in place we don’t know about.

Most predict the Cats to drop away but most predicted this every year since the end of 2012. Will 2019 be what we were expecting in 2018 from the Cats as they fine tune the list for another crack at the title?

Dangerwoodblett

Joel Selwood, Patrick Dangerfield and Gary Ablett (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

7. Sydney. Yeah, we write them off every year but come on what really was the story with Dan Hanneberry and then the Luke Parker rumours? Can Buddy play out the contract or is the Buddy Swans flag hope now gone?

The Swans flag they could and perhaps should have won was 2016 and one feels, like the Pies after the first 20 minutes of the 2018 Grand Final, they are barely hanging on. Surely, this is it, a time to plunge and then end of the Longmire era by the end of 2019?

I mean they have played an incredible eight finals series in a row but they can’t play finals every year can they?

6. Tom Lynch, Jessie Hogan, Mitch McGovern or Alex Fasolo the best key forward recruit? Yeah, okay, just getting your attention. Hogan or Lynch.

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Who was the best pick up? Who would you choose for your club with those two on the table? Jesse Hogan is just 23 and with 71 games under the belt you’d think he is cherry ripe. He averages 9.7 kicks, 5.5 handballs, 6.5 marks, 1. 6 tackles and 2.1 goals a game.

Tom Lynch is 26, has played 131 games and averages 9.1 kicks, 5.3 handballs, 5.9 marks, 1.7 tackles and 1.9 goals per game. Did Fremantle get the better forward and at a cheaper price or would you have still chosen Lynch at your club?

5. Speaking of Fremantle. The elusive first flag. They’ve been around for a while now, since 1995 in fact. They came close in 2013 and had an ideal preliminary final at home in 2015 hitting 9 points behind the eventual premier Hawks in the last quarter.

Was that their flag they should have won? Are they now on the way back despite the loss of Lachie Neale? Will Ross Lyon be Fremantle’s inaugural premiership coach or is he setting up for the next bloke? Can they be the next side to rise dramatically and go all the way to the pointy end of the season?

4. The two Adelaide sides, what is going on in Adelaide anyway? Wide stare out stances, mind camps, a President of one who makes a pretty good TV breakfast host.

Unhappy players departing? Think of those recent departures in Jake Lever, Charlie Cameron, Jarryd Lyons, Mitch McGovern from the Adelaide Crows and Chad Wingard and Jared Polec, two seriously good footballers from Port Adelaide.

Something is sick in Adelaide. Is it the Adelaide water? I mean have you tasted it? It’s pretty bad. Why did Port Adelaide fall away so quickly this year?

They had 11 wins and sat fourth after Round 16 and won one of their last seven games to miss the eight. What about the Adelaide Crows? Can the Crows bounce straight back in 2019 on the back of a sweet draw or is the mind camp madness still festering?

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3. The Tigers and Tom Lynch. The best side by a fair way in 2018 played a bad game in a cut throat final yet the signs were already there towards the end of the season.

They barely held on to beat Essendon, Bulldogs and Geelong in the last four rounds. Was playing a clearly hampered Dusty Martin and an ill David Astbury in the Preliminary final a brave roll of the dice or poor leadership?

After repeatedly claiming Dusty was right to go in the lead up to the Preliminary Final, will anyone ever trust anything Neil Balme says again? Does he even care? Probably not is the answer to both those questions.

Most Roar experts had the Tigers back to back flag articles already drafted before the finals but have the Tigers been found out? Jack Riewoldt has just had his best season in an epic career yet you bring in another big forward? Will their game style change as a result?

The Cats went alternate years in 2007, 2009, 2011 for their three flags. Tiger fans would be content with that you’d say and it might even stop them feeling violently ill every time they hear the name Mason Cox.

Mason Cox

Ben Crocker (left) and Mason Cox of the Magpies (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

2. Will the real Bombers please stand up…please stand up? After 8 rounds this year they sat 2-6 with a percentage of 84.

They like surnames starting with S at the Bombers. Adam Saad, Devon Smith, Jake Stringer, now Dylan Shiel all have come in past two years – boy I hope the Pies have stitched up contracts on Steel Sidebottom, Brayden Sier, Jaidyn Stephenson and Matthew Scharenberg.

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Truth is the Bombers are the hot favourites to rise and seriously contend for the 2019 flag. Trouble is they were this time last year too and finished 11th. They stormed home in the second half of the 2018 season.

Does this simply mean it will continue into a top four place in 2019 or are they the new Jekyll and Hyde club like Port Adelaide where you never know quite what you are going to get?

1. Melbourne are a footy club right in the premiership window and have just added key defender Steven May from Gold Coast (along with a pretty decent player with an impossible surname to spell) but have also lost a young forward of the future in the process in Jesse Hogan.

One could say they were desperately unlucky to score the well-rested Eagles at home on preliminary final day 2018.

Bernie Vince Casey VFL

Bernie Vince of the Demons (Photo by Scott Barbour/AFL Media/Getty Images)

1964 was their last flag, the same year the Rolling Stones embarked on their first headline tour, an ill-fated Judy Garland tour ends in controversy mid-concert in Melbourne and Rupert Murdoch starts The Australian newspaper at 33 years of age. Can they actually do it and break a 55-year drought?

The Doggies and Tigers nabbed their flag before we really even knew what hit us. The Demons on the other hand, have been building for a while now and now have the burden of expectation entering 2019 and as such are the number one hot topic to dwell on over Summer.