I don’t know how many games we will see this season, nor how long it will take to get through them all, if we even do.
But I will cherish every single game of 2020.
After weeks of fighting each other over toilet paper and rice, it will be great that the game we love so greatly will unite us and ignite a bit of fire and passion back into AFL fans around the country.
This may not the best move from a health perspective, I acknowledge that and I understand that my happiness comes from a selfish place.
But a little bit of light in the dark will be a small cure for many.
The season kicked off last night with Carlton and Richmond. And tonight the Pies and the Dogs will take to the stage.
There will be no crowd watching on at Marvel Stadium, but I hope for fans watching on at home that this is a more entertaining game of football than both encounters between these two sides last season.
Collingwood and the Bulldogs met twice in 2019 – in Rounds 4 and 14. While both were close encounters, they were incredibly defensive and quite tedious to get through.
Let’s focus on Round 14, the last time these two clubs met.
It was the Brodie Grundy show, with the All Australian ruckman having a day out against Western Bulldogs rookie Tim English.
He dominated in the air (50 hit-outs), around the ground (25 touches, eight marks and four tackles) and in front of goal (two goals). It was a complete performance, and a completely sensational one at that.
His efforts however shouldn’t overshadow the work of Bulldog Jack Macrae, who was one of my favourite players to watch last season and will hopefully be again in 2020. He had a game-high 42 possessions, to go along with his 13 tackles and four clearances.
It seems we have come a long way since that day. Tonight’s clash looks to be one of the matches of the round.
Both sides, the Bulldogs in particular, look sharper. Both sides are expected to soar in 2020 (for however long the season goes on), so hopefully this will be a sign of things to come. They both had similar pre-seasons, winning one game apiece in the Marsh Community Series. So the stage is set for an exciting encounter.
Surely all eyes will be on Bulldog Aaron Naughton.
He played all 23 games last year in what was a breakout year for the 20-year-old.
At the end of the 2019 home-and-away season, he ranked first in the league for contested marks and finished with 32 goals (including two in the elimination final). He is a confirmed starter tonight after making a full recovery from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee earlier and if the Dogs can get the ball in his hands, he could be unstoppable.
He will also have the assistance of new teammate Josh Bruce, who will be making his Dogs debut tonight. The two, combining with small forward Sam Lloyd, could prove a dangerous trio.
Former Crow Alex Keath will also play his first game for the club tonight.
While the Western Bulldogs are looking good, my tip is with Collingwood.
They were just four points away from a second successive grand final appearance in 2019 and I have no doubt they’ll be seeking redemption this time around.
Their midfield is quite a force. And they’ll likely receive first-class treatment out of the ruck from Grundy. He could be the difference as he has been so many times before.
The Pies announced earlier in the week that their captain Scott Pendlebury had been cleared of Coronavirus and will line up tonight, while Tyler Brown, son of premiership Pie Gavin, will make his AFL debut.
And for your dose of wholesome content this week, mature-aged recruit Ben Cavarra will finally make his AFL debut. The club announced the news yesterday morning and it was celebrated by footy fans around the country.
Tonight, the two teams will play for the Robert Rose Cup, in honour of former player Robert Rose and his contribution to the sport, as well as raising awareness for people living with a spinal-cord injury. In addition to the cup, a foundation was set up by the Rose family in his honour in 1999. Click here to learn more about the Robert Rose Foundation.
That’s my Friday forecast. How about yours?