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The worst hangover imaginable: a randomised, utterly insane prediction of the 2024 AFL season (part one)

Roar Guru
4th March, 2024
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Roar Guru
4th March, 2024
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Summer has come and passed. It is now time for another season of AFL football, new initiatives that will either infuriate or spark joy and all the ups and downs that only sport can entail. It also means it’s time for me to waste some of my finite time on Earth coming up with reasons why a randomised list of the teams will precisely match the ladder for the upcoming season.

I’ve split the ladder into two this year so I can hopefully say a few more silly things about each team. Starting from last place, let’s see which teams will want to wake up when September ends.

18. Essendon

Much has been made of the Bombers’ long-running drought of finals wins. Over 7,000 days have passed since Essendon beat Melbourne in the 2004 finals series and it looks like that drought will extend at least another 365.2425 days.

While the Bombers had some good wins last year, particularly in the first half of the year, their final month was quite disappointing. Narrow wins over the bottom two sides and blowout losses to two finals contenders didn’t exactly propel them into the offseason.

This left many questions as to which half of the year represented the “true” Bombers. Personally, I don’t see how they improve this year. Their defence is weaker with the loss of Brandon Zerk-Thatcher, especially in the area of names for fantasy characters, and their forward line is a big unknown.

While their finals drought looks like it will continue, their drought for wooden spoons not related to doping suspensions will end at 91 years.

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17. Collingwood

Hangovers suck. Everyone who drinks alcohol has experienced one and no one enjoys them. However, at least you can usually say there was a good night before the pain.

Premiership hangovers are much the same in that regard. Usually, the odds of a hangover increase with age but Collingwood won their premiership last year on the back of their youth and perhaps the young don’t have the wisdom to realise how hard it is to win one. Plus their old experienced heads are another year older and age catches up to everyone eventually.

That still doesn’t seem enough though. Let’s guess that the Daicos brothers will inadvertently imitate the Marx brothers and injure each other in an absurd and comical way to miss the entire season.

Nick Daicos.

Nick Daicos. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

16. North Melbourne

There’s talk around that the Kangaroos may triple last year’s win total. While that is possible, when you look at how Clarko’s stint at Hawthorn started you can see that the prediction is based on mathematics and that has nothing to do with how many games you will win. Wins are decided on paper and the speculation of talking heads.

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In all seriousness, there should be improvement at North Melbourne. There better be anyway. They have some of the best young midfielders in the country not named Daicos and the first forward since Buddy who looks like they could threaten a century. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, hey Alastair?

That being said, it shouldn’t be long before they’re threatening finals.

15. Port Adelaide

As much as this year will hurt Power fans, you should rejoice: your Hinkleyian nightmare is nearly over. After a full decade in charge at Alberton, Ken hasn’t taken Port to the grand final yet and the randomiser has decreed he won’t this year either; it’s hard to see him getting another chance.

While Port did plenty of moves over the summer, picking up a couple of new defenders including the aforementioned Dark Lord Zerk-Thatcher, you can’t really point to anything that’ll make a huge difference to their destiny. The end to their season was particularly bad; the only quality win after the bye was a 51-point victory over the Giants which was undone by a 23-point loss in the semi-final.

While the Power(ful Magpies) start with an easy match-up against the Eagles, their next eight games are ones they could easily lose against teams they would be competing against for a finals spot. If they do have a bad run in that stretch, they could well be looking for a new coach by mid-year.

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14. Geelong

After years of talk of the Cats being too old to compete and them going on to win another flag, we can now confidently state that the Cats are too old to compete. Time is the only undefeated enemy, and Geelong are just the latest victim of its capriciousness.

This surely has to be Tom Hawkins’ final season and Captain Dangerfield is well past 30 too, a dangerous age for pirates and people who sound like they should be pirates.

Tom Hawkins, Patrick Dangerfield and Mitch Duncan.

(Photo by Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Plus Chris Scott has been at the Cattery longer than any other coach in their history: he’s got two premierships, and he’ll have a stand named after him when they rebuild the ground for the fifth in a couple of years; there’s nothing left for him to achieve there. Time to ride off into the sunset or take the job in Tasmania in a couple of years.

13. St Kilda

I believe the Saints are the team that are the hardest to tip for the upcoming season. While they made the finals for the first time since the pandemic and in the first year of Ross the Boss’ return to the Sainthood, they were comfortably accounted for by the Giants.

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Their scoring, in particular, seemed a real weakness and they need to address that part of the game. Ross the Moss has always been a defence-first coach but he doesn’t have forwards like Nick Riewoldt to make winning scores out of the little opportunity given to them. Max King may one day be that player, but he’s not there yet and he’ll need help.

I see a drop-off coming for St Kilda as people work out how to get through Ross the Pangloss’ tactics. He’ll need to come up with a couple of new plans for the next season or else he’ll be known as Ross the Albatross.

12. Melbourne

Well, what can you say about Melbourne’s offseason? It was hellish, diabolical, fiendish, infernal or maybe even Stygian? All of these and more. Perhaps Simon Goodwin made a Faustian pact at the crossroads of Punt Road and Swan St for a premiership and this is the consequences of that deal.

There clearly needs to be some changes for the oldest club to compete again. It could be that Clayton Oliver needs to get out of Victoria to get himself right; he wouldn’t be the first footballer who needed more space than the fishbowl provides. If nothing else, the maturity and hunger levels at the Demons need real work.

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I don’t think another season of making the finals and then losing out in the first or second week would help the Demons anyway. Missing altogether might just be the circuit breaker they need to set themselves up for another crack at the premiership during the prime of Petracca and the flowering of Fritsch.

11. Sydney

I feel like I keep blaming coaches for being in their job too long but come on, what other reason could there be for Sydney to miss the eight this year? They’ve strengthened their ruck stocks by replacing Tom “ruck Jesus” Hickey with Brodie “ruck hipster” Grundy, a suitable switch for inner Sydney. Plus they’ve added Taylor Adams to their midfield.

Buddy missed most of his final season with injury so they’ve had plenty of time to look at how their forward line should function without that pillar. Amartey Party and Logan “Ronald” McDonald should develop into a very potent pair in a couple of years and Tom Papley is still a super dangerous small forward to pick up the crumbs at their feet.

Tom Papley celebrates a goal.

Tom Papley. (Photo by Matt King/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

This leaves longtime coach John “Robert Taylor stars in” Longmire as their only question mark. He’s been coach of the Swans for a full dozen years and has a contract for next year as well meaning he’ll likely get to a baker who can’t count a dozen. However, I think he should start preparing a replacement. It worked well with the change from Paul Roos to him and would give the Swans a chance to set themselves up for another decade of finals runs.

10. West Coast

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As D:Ream sang in 1993, you are the best thing. No there isn’t a different song I’m thinking of; that’s definitely the right one. West Coast last year were the best at one particular thing: not playing well. However, things can only get better now they have enthusiastic No.1 pick Harley Reid to deploy.

Oscar Allen managed to kick over 50 goals last year, a very respectable total for a team that averaged less than nine goals a game, nearly two goals less than the second-worst North. That will have to improve and I believe with Harley Reid, and a new young ruck in Matt Flynn, it will thanks to a more competitive midfield.

I hope it does anyway. Otherwise, this list might turn into a farce.

So that’s the bottom half of the ladder. If you haven’t seen them does this mean your team will make the finals or will they end up in the most cursed spot of all? You’ll have to come back for part two.

Geelong Cats
v
North Melbourne Kangaroos
1.03
12.00
PlayUp
AFL : Head To Head
Sun, 14 Apr 2024, 13:00
West Coast Eagles
v
Richmond Tigers
2.80
1.44
PlayUp
AFL : Head To Head
Sun, 14 Apr 2024, 16:00
* Odds Correct At Time Of Posting. Check PlayUp Website For Latest Odds
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