The Roar
The Roar

Gordon P Smith

Roar Guru

Joined February 2017







I'm a Yank who stays up Friday and Saturday nights from February through September to get my fix o'footy.



Col, I’m with you. While my footy lifetime only extends back twenty years, my NBA fanhood is over fifty. I’ve been a Sacramento Kings fan since they first moved there in 1985 and I brought my band in to play the national anthem once a year. In the 35 seasons in Sactown, we’ve never made the NBA finals – we had one moment of glory at the turn of the century when we were famously jobbed out of our only title shot in a blatantly rigged game against the LA Lakers (not my opinion alone; documentaries have been done on the topic). I get what it’s like to suffer with a team and stand by it through thick and more recently thin. I tease about the fight song, but the sentiment remains: the chance for me as a non-partisan fan to CARE about the Blues has been as rare as this season has been for Kings fans. The fact that we’re even in contention for a playoff spot counts as “glory days” in our shallow history. I’ve never gotten to see what Blues fans “turn in to” when their team is on the upswing – probably similar to what Magpie and Tiger fans have felt recently. But I’d like to find out. (And Saints fans. And both Giants fans. And the mythical Suns fan…)

Why I'm getting around the good old Navy Blues

There’s only one reason that this article doesn’t come across as vicious, Joel.
That’s because it’s absolutely accurate.
Sure, there are flaws in the five “with-it” teams and things the other five are doing better than they’re given credit for, but the essence is spot-on: Carlton, Freo, Tasmania, Adelaide, and (at times) Melbourne are playing a style of game that every league but the men’s AFL would love to have their teams playing. And I wish I could argue against your Collingwood comments, but unfortunately, you’re spot on – their style is impossible to enjoy watching unless they’re winning and you’re a Magpie fan (or they’re losing and you’re a Magpie hater).
Great analysis, Joel.

AFLW Evolution: Who's top of the food chain, and who's going extinct

A pretty good nine-team review.
It’s just missing that certain giant something….

Round 3 AFLW review: Competition favourites start to separate themselves from the chasing pack

I’ve mentioned before that as an American, I only discovered Australian sports when the age of 500 channels and the internet arrived around the turn of the millennium. I’ve read about the old Carlton days, but in the mere twenty years I’ve been addicted to the sport, the team’s never been worth griping about. The highest they’ve placed since my first awareness of the game – Brisbane’s three-peat – is fifth twice, and one of those was that first year, 2001.
I see the thirty-year span before that where they rarely finished below fifth, and I’ve heard the bad blood between Blues and Magpie fans. But there’s little evidence of anything worth griping about in 2019. And that’s the saddest statement I can make about any team, and I pray that by 2022 there’s something for Carlton fans to irritate everyone else about again, like Richmond fans and Bulldog fans can finally do.
The whole point of sports is to invoke passion in its fans, and one of the beauties of footy is the long history of its core clubs – both for positive reasons (father-son, for example) and “negative” (long-held sports hatred over real or perceived slights). It’s strange for me as a Christian to see “I want Carlton to suffer” and smile, but I completely get the passions invoked, and I’m glad they still provoke you to that length. That means they still matter.

Why I'm getting around the good old Navy Blues

Looking at the fixture over the years, I don’t think the AFL really cares about things like that. They’re putting a rematch in round three at the MCG, which matches their usual M.O. (an early rematch, not usually R1). Last year, Richmond went to Adelaide in R2, for example. They’re more concerned with the stuff that (I’m guessing) matters more to the club: traditional opening game, avoiding short weeks when possible, that sort of thing.
Not saying you’re not right that the Eagles deserve a showcase opener – in my mind, the reigning premier should always get a home game in R1 to raise their new banner – but that’s just not how this league operates.

The Round 1 fixture the AFL got wrong

Ryan, I took the liberty of applying your numbers to the number of wins they had in 2018. You’ve already got the numbers to adjust for Pythagorean expectations and for the close game outcomes; I took the blowouts and adjusted by a quarter game each (wild guess) and the percentages from the schedule changes, and then I threw in about a game adjustment either way for the team’s roster changes (general consensus opinion given the trade period).
Here’s what came from all that….
1. Melbourne (16.6 wins)
2. Geelong (15.7 wins)
3. Richmond (15.1 wins)
4. Essendon (14.5 wins)
5. Adelaide (12.9 wins)
6. Sydney (12.8 wins)
7. Brisbane (12.6 wins)
8. West Coast (12.4 wins)
9. Collingwood (11.2 wins)
10 (equal). GWS, North, Port (11.0 wins)
13. Hawthorn (10.9 wins)
14. Western BD (7.5 wins)
15. St Kilda (7.3 wins)
16. Fremantle (5.9 wins)
17. Carlton (5.1 wins)
18. Gold Coast (4.6 wins)
Not what I had predicted, but not an unreasonable forecast, either. Nice in-depth study on your part, Ryan. Thanks!

Numbers Game: Which teams will rise and fall in the AFL in 2019?

If the AFL wants this to be an all-star style exhibition, that’s fine – just about every sport has one, and they’re all “hit-and-giggle” type contests. Let’s just say so and enjoy it for what it is.
If they want it to be a low-contact training ground for the “bubble players” on the rosters, as it seemed to be last year, that’s fine, too.
If it’s supposed to be an experiment in an exportable form of footy, then adapt the rules to how you see it working in “rectangular field” nations like mine (USA), instead of throwing 20-point goals in at random.
The problem right now is that no one has made that crucial decision: what is the underlying purpose of the AFLX? Once you make that decision, then you can work everything else with that goal in mind. It’s still possible that the format isn’t the best way to accomplish the goal, but at least you’ve got a fighting shot at something meaningful. Right now, it’s simply hurling stuff at the wall and hoping something sticks.

Kangaroos star Tarrant joins AFLX exodus

I understand, Harold; it’s a slippery slope. The moment you start implying that anyone isn’t playing to win, even in unusual circumstances like they had Friday night, you’re questioning the professionalism of professional athletes who play this game for pride as much as anything (certainly, the women aren’t getting rich playing AFLW!). Whether it came from the Roos or from announcers or whomever, it’s an accusation that had better be concretely rooted in provable truth before you choose to say that a team didn’t want to win a game.

But I AM going to use the conditions to bail my erroneous prediction out for that game, now that the Tasmanian Kangaroos have won again by several goals. I’m officially impressed. Can’t wait to see them play the Bulldogs next week!

Our annual overreaction essay

Double checking an apparent typo – Saints are not going 1-12 unless you mean Hawthorn gobbles them up midseason. It looks like you meant 1-21, yes?
Good article – well thought out. I differ with you in some places, but I’d be far more concerned if we agreed on all eighteen teams (like, “get outta my head!” concerned…). Hard to argue with the thought processes on any of the teams, even if we disagree with the severity of the results in places (ahem, NMK and Sydney). Keep up the great work!

My 2019 AFL ladder prediction

mds1970 has it right.

If you want to export footy to countries like mine (the US) where cricket ovals are almost non-existent, it makes sense to create a version that fits on a soccer field. (“Football”, I know. Like I said, I’m American.)

But having said that, every stupid, ir-reproducible gimmick they add detracts from that goal. The format this year is great for an “All-Star” game, and if that’s what the AFL admin wants out of the AFLX, then say so and let’s celebrate it that way.

IF they seriously want a rectangular version that’s exportable?
That’s not what you’re doing.

PS – I couldn’t tell you where a cricket oval exists in this country. But I CAN point to over a dozen cities with vibrant footy cultures and teams that travel to other cities to compete in both men’s and women’s footy. I don’t think they need to change a thing to export the game – every person I’ve ever shown footy to here has been intrigued and excited by what they see.

AFLX is a misguided waste of resources

Glad you took the time away to prevent complete burnout, Ryan – I did as well, spending the intervening time screaming at American collegiate football instead. (No, really – it was still the pause that refreshes!)

Perspective is what keeps us in sports, my friend. When we forget that they’re “games”, or when we get too bogged down in the business aspects of what’s basically an entertainment industry, we lose that sense of joy and wonderment that brought us here to begin with. I rarely write or even think about any of the administrative parts of the game, none of the payroll parts, very little of the draft except to see what players eventually DO end up on which teams (had to look up the Adelaide/Carlton draft exchange thing), and all my focus is on what happens within the white lines. It keeps me sane.

Stay sane, amigo! You’re too good a writer to lose to ennui!

It's time to bring the fun back to AFL in 2019

Excellent. Agree with every point. Very excited to watch Freo moving forward, and worried that Geelong and Collingwood were two inferior clubs who looked average against each other. But they’ll still beat Carlton.

What AFLW Round 1 taught us

Thanks for this article! My allegiance to footy as a Yank only runs to about the turn of the century (it took a while for me to discover it across the ocean!), so I only have folks like you to learn the nitty-gritty details of the 19-something games from!

And yes, in retrospect it sounds less like a Melbourne-based conspiracy than an Adelaide-affected set of refs that were most likely to blame, the way you’ve described it.

Classic AFL/VFL matches: “This is murder, absolute murder” (Adelaide v Fitzroy Round 12, 1991)

Yes – replicating last year’s All-Australian roster would be an admirable achievement for a team I see dropping several places on the ladder. And while beating Melbourne by slim margins during the season was impressive, it was a sign of the Demons’ growth as a team that they won handily in finals, rather than any change in Geelong’s play. I’m not suggesting the Cats are far off the mark as much as that other teams around them are growing closer to that mark. (Or at least, that’s what my numbers say. My late wife was a Cats fan and they’ve always been close to my heart. I’m hoping you’re right…)

How about an encore? Comprehensive AFL season previews (Part 1)

Love the discussion board. As with all pieces like this, the best reward is the discussion of where you disagree with the assessments provided, so thanks for the intelligent feedback, everyone. I’m sure my forecasts are just as wrong as everyone else’s will be.

And I’ll freely admit that in a few cases, my gut feeling is different than what the numbers in my research are predicting. I’m not personally bullish on either the Hawks or Swans, but I said that last year, too, and they ended up playing R23 for the last double chance. I have a hard time looking at Richmond’s depth and not asking why they’ll stay up while the Giants give up similar depth and fall by the wayside.

But I’m simply reporting what it appears to my numbers to be the most likely outcome in 2019, barring the unforeseen. It cost me nothing to share, it costs you nothing to refute, and in the end, we’ll all get to watch how the season unfolds together. Thanks for the forum, and glad you cared enough to pitch your pennies into the well, too.

How about an encore? Comprehensive AFL season previews (Part 2)

The meta-rankings, like the Brownlow, is a week-to-week cumulative scoring. As many games as Josh missed in 2018, he simply couldn’t tally as many points as he “deserved”. If you made me predict next year, he’d have to be a top 50 favorite. *Assuming good health*!

The comprehensive end-of-year review: In summation

Thanks to both of you. You’re right, of course.

The top 20 best and worst games of the 2018 season

I want to give credit where credit is due. There are a group of us who work with the ELO-Following Football system, not just for the AFL and AFLW but for the NCAA (my other specialty), the NFL, Canadian Football League and English Premier League. I write the articles for the Roar, but I can’t claim all the credit for the work. (That’s why all the original posts had “we” pronouns, instead of “I”.) Thanks to Stuart, Joe, and Dana, plus everyone else who’s helped with the testing over the years.

The comprehensive end-of-year review: Adelaide Crows

I really missed your game previews when you weren’t submitting them midseason, mastermind. You’re remarkably thorough with both player and team trends and habits, even to the point of the Olympic year correlations! Thanks for your hard work and well-written features. (And while I don’t have a horse in this race, I actually think West Coast wins by a goal or so.)

2018 AFL grand final preview

Excellent article on a fairly obvious point – neither team was assumed to even make finals, let alone the GF, and once you factor in the injuries that both team faced this year, it seems almost unimaginable that they made it this far in 2018.

And two 13ths in a row is interesting but not definitive, Bulldog fans. (Having said that, Footscray looks like they indeed have the tools to do precisely what’s being implicitly predicted for them.) It seems more reasonable to look at Adelaide’s disastrous season and assume they’ll bounce back next year, and to look at Brisbane’s internal progress and assume they’ll make the big leap next year. (Unabashed plug: I’ll put all that together in team analyses for The ROAR once the season’s over.)

Instead, let’s just enjoy these two storied franchises getting this unexpected shot at another cup upon the shelf. Let’s enjoy watching Steele Sidebottom get another shot at the ultimate prize towards the end of his storied career, and “Mason Freaking Cox” getting a shot at the “Super Bowl” early in his. Let’s enjoy watching the Eagles prove that you don’t need Gaff or Naitanui when you’ve got Darling and Kennedy on the field, and that playing on a field that more closely resembles the MCG at home will make their visit to Melbourne feel more familiar to them than it was three years ago.

Most of all, here’s hoping for a one-goal game, where the result isn’t obvious at halftime!

Nothing in the AFL makes sense anymore

Without taking a side on the roaring debate taking place in the comments about the merits or hypocrisy of the article itself, let me add a foreigner’s perspective to the topic. Or at least an American’s.

I can’t remember ever hearing any US player talk about being traded or retiring early or whatever because they were “homesick” for another part of the country. (I have heard futbol – “soccer” – players say that after living abroad for a while.) The closest I can think of is LeBron returning to Cleveland after four years in Miami to “bring a title to my hometown”.

The topic has fascinated me from afar for quite a while, and makes me wonder if that’s a fundamental difference in Aussie v Yank cultures. We also have boarding schools but what you hear universally is that it’s the “privilege of the rich”, not that it makes the kids homesick, although they undoubtedly are at times). I went to college about 800 km from home, and after a tough first couple of weeks loved it. (Full disclosure – I did have to come home a couple of years in, because of my mother’s impending death. Related but not the same.)

The comment that hit home to me, following professional sports from a non-participant’s perspective, is that they’re getting paid far more than I ever made to play a game for one of the top 18 clubs in the country. So, either they need to understand that’s the nature of the business they’ve chosen – you can’t live just anywhere to do your particular job; a marine biologist probably has to live by the ocean – or stop using it as an excuse to get out of a club situation they don’t like.

Homesick? Suck it up, be a man, and blame someone else instead

Maybe I’m not the first to point out that Mr. Dangerfield wasn’t mentioned in the article, although you included him in your list at the end. Not sure you want Dusty at full forward, either, but that’s up to you.

My predicted All Australian team

I love it. That’s what the mixed rules cup with Ireland’s Gaelic stars is supposed to be.

Who will play the All Australian team?

Here’s a highly minority viewpoint.

As an American, the evening games tip-off at 3:30 in the morning, and finish about 6, 6:15. Three of the four games start in the middle of the night for me – three nights in a row; the other one around midnight. None in my cherished “Saturday afternoon” fixture where I can take it in without needing medication to stay awake.

I hate adjusting my life around finals. (I do it anyway.) Suck it up. We only get nine more games this season; treasure them.

The Week 1 AFL finals fixture is a disaster

You didn’t address why Shannon Hurn is your choice for captain. He’s worthy of AA but I don’t see him over a few more experienced souls you named.

Here's who should be in the 2018 All Australian Team