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What I miss about the AFL

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Roar Guru
27th May, 2019
11

You know what I miss?

I miss women’s footy already. This third season saw some really exciting brands of football played all across Australia, especially in Adelaide, Tasmania, and Fremantle. Carlton wasn’t bad, either.

I miss the hats and trench coats that the goal umpires wore in the olden days. I’m glad for their sake on a few of these hotter days that they don’t have to wear them anymore, mind you, but still.

I miss the old Jarryd Roughhead, Paul Puopolo, and Dan Hannebury.

I miss Cyril.

I miss the torp. We don’t see it much anymore because (I suspect) no one practices it much anymore, and that, I also suspect, is because we play the percentages much more these days.

It makes for more efficient offense most of the time, I suppose, but there are times when the backs have moved up and the goal square’s uncovered that it’s the absolute logical move. Just – y’know, just think about it, guys.

I miss Buddy whenever he’s on hiatus. When Lance Franklin is on the field, the universe revolves around him. As it should.

Lance Franklin

Lance Franklin of the Swans. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

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I miss the early 2000s Brisbane Lions. Jason Akermanis, Jonathan Brown, and the whole lot. That was the team that brought me the game when I was first introduced to it here in the states, through the magic of international cable. That was a dynamic team that just looked like they were having fun.

I miss the opportunity that the Saints missed, during the two consecutive Septembers of 2009 and 2010. A fourth quarter here, one spare point there. It was a club that deserved one title or the other.

I miss the bottom-end teams like the mid-tens Demons or more recent Blues clubs asking for “bonus picks” to help them right their own wrongs.

No I don’t.

I miss the common-sense that’s been absent from the administration of penalties and suspensions this season. Latest case in point – if Travis Varcoe is deserving to miss a game, there’s nothing that mandates that it must be the very next game.

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I miss watching the Giants build themselves up from scratch the hard way, winning three games their first two years with a percentage that matched my IQ score, slowly building themselves a franchise with players coming up together, maturing together and becoming a title threat together.

I still think if it hadn’t have been for the Miracle of Bob Murphy, the Giants would probably have completed that run with the 2016 premiership, instead of still searching for the first one. (But I love watching the result – the offensive ballet with the recent addition of grit – that the Giants play with seventy per cent of the time.)

I miss the opportunity their fellow newbie had in 2014 when Gary Ablett ran the world, the Suns were 7-2 at one point, almost guaranteed their virgin finals berth… and then Gazza goes down, and the entire team with it. They’ve never recovered, although there are a few signs of life in 2019.

I miss Joe Daniher. Dang. Almost makes me cry to think about it. He deserves better.

So does Paddy McCartin.

I miss all the kids who’ve never really made it back from injuries. We got brief glimpses of the Alex Johnsons and Anthony Morabitos appearing briefly after years of rehab, only to watch their bodies fall apart all over again.

And I wonder how many more there are out there who have chased that dream since they were eight years old, only to have a bad knee injury or multiple concussions rob them of even the realistic chance of finding out if they would’ve been good enough for the MCG.

I miss Chris Judd.

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I miss not being there in the stands with all y’all, soaking in the atmosphere as the game ebbs and flows. I mentioned I’m an American. My failing health precludes that I’ll ever make it down under now, since I can barely make the trip across town, but if there was ever a way…

I missed seeing what the game was like back in its infancy, when there might be forty to a side, the field might be close to a kilometre long, and injuries were too commonplace to care about. Ok, that last part I don’t miss.

I miss Adam Goodes. I miss the goal celebrations, and I miss the man.

Adam Goodes

Adam Goodes (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Believe it or not, I miss AFLX. Mind you, once a year’s enough, but I absolutely loved watching that exhibition scoring-fest with the antics and costumes and draft and player-coaches and play to the camera silliness.

It was good to see the game’s best let their figurative hair down once a year. Do it again next February, admin! (Without the “special double-scoring player” though, okay?)

I miss Fitzroy. I miss the Bears.

I will miss having the identical twin head coaches in the league. As the father of identicals myself, it’s a treat to see them both succeed in the same field, and thus to know that it’s possible for my girls as well. But more to the point, I’ll miss Coach Chris Scott’s candour.

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I miss Phil Walsh. What a senseless loss. That might have been the first brick to fall when the stigma against discussing the need to treat mental health issues as real health issues began to erode.

I do not miss the thought of however many players used to have to fight through the kinds of issues they’re more able to get help for (or at least take a week or two away for) today.

And I really miss Majak. Get well, get right, and when you’re able, man, come back to the field. Even if it’s just to sit on the bench as the 23rd man at first and encourage your teammates, come back soon, sir. The game didn’t realise what it would have missed until you came frightfully close to showing us.

Majak Daw Aliir Aliir

Majak Daw in action for the Kangaroos. (AAP Image/Hamish Blair)

And if you, dear reader, are pondering what the world might be like without you, get a friend on the phone right now. Get people around you who will help – and don’t claim nobody would help. I guarantee people around you will. Give them a chance. It’s too important a subject for you to misjudge.

We would all miss you.