Every footy fan sits down at the start of the season and ponders what their beloved team is going to bring to the table. Regardless of the ultimate result, there is always something you learn about your team.
Here’s what we have learnt from your club after the 2020 home-and-away season.
Matthew Nicks is the right man for the job
Despite the poor start and the consistent losses, Adelaide’s late-season performances proved Nicks is the perfect man to rebuild this side. They have a good bunch of kids, and while it may have been a painful trip down to the bottom of the ladder, it won’t be a long stay under Matthew Nicks.
It’s there for the taking
The premiership is there for the taking for the Lions. The hype surrounds the Tigers and the Cats for this year’s flag race, but Brisbane are as good a chance as any. Hosting the grand final if they are to make it, the Lions may well and truly be on their way if they can get over Richmond. Chris Fagan’s men have demonstrated they can beat everyone except Richmond. If they can get over the Tigers, the silverware is there for the taking.
They need a winner
Carlton have some amazing talent finally starting to push the Blues towards the top eight, but the Baggers need someone who has tasted September success to help steady the ship when it gets rocky and lead the way into finals action. Zac Williams is the man. He can assist Patrick Cripps in the middle and fill the void of Kade Simpson across halfback, plus he knows what it takes to win big finals.
Jordan de Goey isn’t a midfielder
The two performances were a long time apart, but playing deep, Jordan de Goey proved he is at his most dangerous as the Maggies key forward. Five goals against the Cats and four goals against the Suns, where he gave some easy ones off, showed he is much more terrifying closer to goal. The injection of Jamie Elliott into the middle has been helpful, but there are few more frightening places for a defender than deep in defence with JDG. If he is on, the Pies can win it from anywhere inside this top eight.
Andy McGrath is a future captain
McGrath had a sensational year and would have come close to winning the best and fairest were it not for injuring himself late in the year. The former No. 1 pick was willing to get his hands dirty on the inside and showed it in spades when he clawed his side out of the rubble in the comeback win over the Hawks. He’s a midfielder prepared to put his body on the line for his side regardless of the score spells captain material.
They have the best kids in the league
Everyone is sold on the Suns youngsters, but don’t sleep on the brigade of kid superstars coming from the West. Andy Brayshaw, Adam Cerra and Caleb Serong impressed everyone in 2020 and will only get better. Remembering the silky-smooth Hayden Young to come back in after another preseason, this group is only going up.
They’re everyone’s second team come finals time
If your team is no longer eligible for the premiership and you’re not supporting Geelong, then you aren’t a footy fan. A Geelong premiership is a genuine fairytale for some of the game’s greatest players. Joel Selwood captaining his first flag and Patrick Dangerfield securing that elusive premiership medallion would be a magical moment for our great game. Not to mention the hardship the little master, Gary Ablett, has had to endure this year. Not a footy fan in the country would be angry seeing him wearing his third premiership medal while holding his son in his arms after a brutal 2020.
Only one more for the Suns
The Suns have the talent, no doubt about it, but what has been underrated this season has been the experienced heads of Hugh Greenwood and Brandon Ellis. Additional to the brilliant years as individuals, the kids need to lean on the seasoned players. But it is going to take one more seasoned player for this group to have a tilt at finals footy. Inject another experienced player and wonder boy Matt Rowell and those close defeats will turn to victories and finals footy will be on the horizon.
Scar tissue is a real thing
Not since the Hawks in 2012-13 has a side come back from losing a grand final to win the next one. The Giants were mauled in the 2019 big dance, and it left some scar tissue. GWS added players to its grand final side but missed the eight. They were one of the more exciting lists on paper this year, but the scar tissue proved to be a factor. A year to forget for Leon Cameron and his men in the off-season while hoping an exodus doesn’t await.
James Worpel is ready
He is young, but he is ready. It is time for James Worpel to captain the Hawthorn Football Club. Worpel was the youngest player to win the Peter Crimmins Medal since Leigh Matthews and has captained every football side he has played in to date except the Hawks. He has the traits of a Joel Selwood-type leader and has an evidently strong relationship with mentor Sam Mitchell, who looms as the favourite to take the reins from Alastair Clarkson when it’s all said and done for the four-time Jock McHale medallist.
He was worth the wait
Christian Petracca’s season was a huge positive for Melbourne, with him reaching the heights the football world knew he could. Petracca’s first few seasons weren’t what he had offered in his draft year, but after a super preseason the explosive midfielder crept up the ground and proved his slow early years were worth the wait. He’s a lock for All Australian this year. A similar preseason could see Trac win the Brownlow in 2021 and, more importantly, take his beloved red and blue to the Promised Land.
A rebuild is necessary but can’t be done without the most important tool in the toolbox
North Melbourne would be silly to put big Todd Goldstein on the trade table in an attempt to rebuild the club after his simply remarkable year. Goldstein stood out among the crowd for the Shinboners, dominating the ruck each week. Reaching 8000 hit-outs during the year, Goldy is second in the all-time count behind only Aaron Sandilands. He is a certainty to make the All Australian squad, and if this year has taught us anything about North, it is that Goldstein is critical to this rebuild.
Zak Butters is the cream of the crop
The Power had an extremely successful draft in 2018, picking up Xavier Duursma, Connor Rozee and Zak Butters. While Rozee and Duursma have had great starts to their careers, Butters is the best of the lot. He has all the skills required have a brilliant career at the top level, but it’s his fight and hunger that sets him above the rest. He wants the contest and moments that are in big finals, and he will get just that in coming weeks as the Power look to win a second premiership.
They’re mentally stronger than anyone
There’s no denying the Richmond Football Club has had an overly dramatic off-field season, but it hasn’t seemed to impact the on-field performances. This shows a playing group that is capable of separating the off-field commotion for the length of the game to get the job done. This is shown in the skipper, Trent Cotchin. The two-time premiership captain has been amid a fair bit of drama this season but has strung together a brilliant year. It is going to take more than some unfriendly media attention to sway this club from a third flag in four years.
They’re the most watchable team in the league
It would’ve warmed the heart of all Saints fans to see their side march into finals footy for the first time since 2011, but it was the way they did it that was so exciting. When St Kilda made successive grand finals in 2009 and 2010 under Ross Lyon they played a boring brand of footy. Dissimilarly, this run and dare under Brett Ratten is exhilarating to watch. They have played well with this style in the wet night matches at the Gabba – wait until they get under the roof of Marvel in 2021.
The system will never not deliver
The period of time during which the Swans sit outside of the top eight isn’t often extensive and it comes as a result of the way the Sydney Football Club is run. Not only have they developed some brilliant kids this year, but the kids and the system that surrounds coach John Longmire has convinced one of the more exciting small forwards to stay a Blood after being destined to leave the team.
Flyin’ Ryan is the key
It’s not Nic Naitanui, Tim Kelly, Luke Shuey, Josh Kennedy or Jack Darling. Liam Flyin’ Ryan is the key to Eagles success in finals. The dynamic forward is such an aggressive playmaker that when he plays well the Eagles don’t lose. He should be in the forward pocket of the All Australian team after his outstanding year, but one thing is for certain: stop his impact towards goal and you stop the West Coast Eagles.
Mitch Wallis is All Australian calibre
He may not be wearing the green jacket as a small forward next week but Mitch Wallis can hold his head high after a fantastic season as the Bulldogs leading goal kicker. In a season during which a lot of small forwards have drifted in and out of clusters of games, Wallis has been remarkably consistent. He doesn’t kick the miraculous goals that usually earn the honour, but he will be a worthy recipient if he is to be selected.