Last week, we continued with the season previews, met my favorite AFL player, and caught up on the first scores from the preseason. This week, we have more scores, more previews, and a brand new player to get to know. Let’s dive in.
Welcome to Balls of Steel’s AFL Beat!
A few more preseason games have been played and they still don’t tell us much about how the season will turn out:
West Coast Eagles 55 – 52 Gold Coast Suns
Sydney Swans 60 – 94 GWS Giants
Essendon Bombers 24 – 111 Geelong Cats
North Melbourne Kangaroos 77 – 85 Collingwood Magpies
Here is the best highlight from the games:
The balls on this guy to try for goal from so far out! The thing is, he actually made it on the fly! Just a bit to the right. Pretty impressive.
The only thing that can be surmised from the games is that this will be a long year for Essendon.
As I was watching the preseason games this weekend, and sharing some commentary with you all on the late night open thread, a couple of things stuck in my head that showed how much better the AFL is run than the NFL. While we in North America are on the back end of winter, our Australian brothers and sisters are enjoying the back end of their summer, with the accompanying pretty high temperatures. The AFL, in an effort to protect the players, put into effect its Heat Policy for this weekend’s games which meant that quarters would be shortened and the breaks would be increased.
Wow, a policy that makes sense and actually does something tangible to protect player healthy and safety! Imagine that!
The heat was actually so intense during the Geelong-Essendon game that the quarters were reduced EVEN MORE than the official policy dictated. Reason #421 that the AFL is run better than the NFL. Reason #422 was evident last week as the AFL decided to give a Collingwood player a warning after the player peed in a cup during last week’s game at Geelong. I really wish some common sense like the kind that the AFL displayed was used in the NFL. A man can dream, I suppose.
Better Know an Australian Footballer
is Ivan Maric, owner of the most glorious mullet in the AFL and the star ruckman for the Richmond Tigers. He is so beloved by the Richmond faithful that he even has a tribute song:
Needless to say, I love this guy. Here are a selected few Q&As from the Richmond Tigers’ website:
As well as playing great footy, I’d like to be remembered for: Being a good person
Favourite ground to play on: MCG
Best part about training: Competing
Weights or running: WEIGHTS!!!
What would you prefer – mark of the year or goal of the year:Mark of the year
Which skill do you need to most work on: left foot kick
Complete this line…with two minutes to go in the Grand Final: I ruck and compete like my families life is on the line and I help lead my team mates into the last minutes of the biggest War we’ve ever been in!
Favourite meal the night before a game: Gluten free Lasagna
What music helps you get ‘in the zone’ before a game: Rocky VI soundtrack or Johnny Cash
One thing you would change about the world: No Money
Your favourite line from a movie: “Whats a matter Dillon? CIA got you pushing too many pencils?”
What’s your favourite dance move: The standing still
I have to say, he’s right about the standing still. That’s a great move.
Season Previews The Third: Those that Barely Missed Out on Finals
Club Name: Collingwood Magpies
Mascot: Jock “One Eye” McPie
History: The club was established in 1892. It was one of eight founding members of the Victorian Football League (VFL), which was the predecessor to the AFL. Collingwood is the most widely supported club in the AFL and has won 15 VFL/AFL premierships, the third-most of any team. The Magpies have played in a record 43 grand finals (including replays), winning 15, drawing two and losing 26 (also a record).
Home Stadium: MCG
Famous Supporters: Rob Lowe, Susan Sarandon, Jack Thompson (of Agent Carter), Moose
Club song: Good Old Collingwood Forever
Last Premiership: 2010
2015 Finish: 12th
2016 Outlook: The Magpies are actually looking pretty strong and should contend for a Finals spot this year. They looked set to participate in the finals last year, but a late season swoon doomed the season. Unfortunately, this has happened the last few seasons (think Cowboys of the last few years), so it remains to be seen if the spell can be broken this year.
Why Should I Pick Them as My Team? Although their fans are considered to be roughly akin to those of the Oakland Raiders, the history of the club is more similar to the Dallas Cowboys. Many championship game appearances, many wins, but also many losses. If you want to root for the team everyone loves to hate, this is your team.
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Club Name: GWS Giants
History: The GWS (Greater Western Sydney) Giants were created as part of the 2008 decision to expand the AFL from 16 clubs to 18. The Giants first played in the lower-level leagues before joining the AFL in 2012. The Giants had a true Tampa Bay Buccaneers-esque beginning as they won the Wooden Spoon their first two seasons, but they have steadily climbed since then with a 16th place finish in 2014 and an 11th in 2015.
Home Stadium: Spotless Stadium, located in Sydney’s Olympic Park. The Giants also play four games a year in Canberra, Australia’s Capital.
Famous Supporters: The players’ parents and the former Australian Prime Minister
Club song: There’s a Big Big Sound
Last Premiership: None
2015 Finish: 11th
2016 Outlook: The Giants might be on the verge of making their first finals appearance in a short time of existence. Their rise last year was impressive, although unexpected. My gut tells me the Giants take a step back this year before making a run next year. They could easily prove me wrong, but I just have a feeling this is where their season is headed.
Why Should I Pick Them as My Team? You want to get in on the ground floor of an up-and-coming team that no one knows about and that is creating its own history. Your favorite Australian city is Sydney and you don’t like Sill’s team, the Sydney Swans or you don’t like Sill.
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Club Name: Geelong Cats
Mascot: Slammin’ Sam Tomcat
History: The club was formed in 1859, making it the second oldest club in the AFL after Melbourne and one of the oldest football clubs in the world. Geelong participated in the first football competition in Australia and was a foundation club of both the Victorian Football Association (VFA) in 1877 and the Victorian Football League (VFL) in 1897, the precursor to the AFL. The club has won 9 championships.
Home Stadium: Simonds Stadium, also known as Kardinia Park. Some home games are also played in Melbourne at either the MCG or the Etihad, but that arrangement might end in the near future after the modernization of the Cats’ stadium is completed.
Famous Supporters: Balls of Steel, Thee Wee Baby Seamus, Guy Pearce, and
Club song: We are Geelong
Last Premiership: 2011
2015 Finish: 10th
2016 Outlook: Most media types are hyping the Cats to vault into the top 4 after the free agency period that saw them land their four targets including Adelaide’s star, Patrick Dangerfield. A lot of things can go wrong, but ,barring catastrophic injuries, the Cats should be able to get back into the finals and possibly make some noise while they are there.
Why Should I Pick Them as My Team? This is a club rich in history that has experienced recent success and is poised to contend for the next few years. It is located in a sleepy beach town south of Melbourne and is considered to do things the “right” or “Geelong Way”. Think Packers or Steelers.
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Club Name: Port Adelaide Power
Mascot: Tommy “Thunda” Power
History: Port Adelaide was founded in 1870 and is the oldest professional football club in South Australia and the 5th oldest club in the AFL. In 1997, the club joined the Australian Football League as the only pre-existing non-Victorian club—and subsequently added the 2004 AFL Premiership to its achievements.
Home Stadium: Adelaide Oval
Famous Supporters: Ben Folds, WhyEaglesWhy, entropy, Hugh Jackman, Andre Agassi
Club song: Power to Win (although INXS’ Never Tear Us Apart is played prior to games and is the “unofficial” team song)
Last Premiership: 2004
2015 Finish: 9th
2016 Outlook: The Power should pick up where they left off and contend for the finals again this year. Some bad losses late in the year seemingly left them eliminated, but they rebounded to make a large surge and take 9th. If they can eliminate bad losses to teams they should beat, finals footy is in store for them this year.
Why Should I Pick Them as My Team? You think this is funny:
You appreciate a long history of doing well in an alternate league before joining the big boys and being considered the “second” or “other” team in your city that no one respects (think Jets).
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Next week, we’ll preview the bottom four of the Finals Eight from last year, recap the last of the preseason games, and meet another interesting bloke. See you then!
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