Are you ready for some AFL football?!?!?!
The regular season starts this week with an early Thursday morning/late Wednesday night Special Opening Day match between Richmond and Carlton. Those of you with Fox Soccer Plus can watch this LIVE starting at 4:00 AM Eastern / 1:00 AM Pacific. Of course, those of us with the WatchAFL app and a subscription can watch every game live online. If you follow this link, it will take you to a great page from the Australian Football Association of North America which will show you the TV times for all games shown on TV for the next three months on all networks across the U.S. and Canada. See? You don’t necessarily HAVE TO spend extra money to watch this great sport! (Looking at you, WCS…)
We will have a special DFO Opening Day Rivebrog for our proud DFO insomniacs (A), AFL fans (C), and perverts (B). The Official DFO Venn Diagram is below:
I expect the rivebrog to descend into a madness of gifs, pics, and pithy commentary. I cannot wait!
The AFL, smartly, takes a week and a half off after the last preseason game in order for the players to get properly prepared and healthy for the long season. Thus, I have no more preseason results for you. I do, however, have another AFL footballer I would like you to meet as well as the last of the season previews. This time, we preview the Top Four from last season. Let’s get started, shall we?
Welcome to Balls of Steel’s AFL Beat!
hunk of man-meat with the piercing blue-green eyes is Steele Sidebottom. He is not a porn star, despite the perfect name, body, and face for it, nor a famous Australian actor. He is, in fact, the star midfielder for the Collingwood Magpies and is a rising star in the AFL. Although he is only 25, he already has 143 AFL games under his belt. He was hampered last year with a broken thumb that saw him miss six games, but he is poised to become one of this year’s top players and contend for the coveted Brownlow Medal, which is given to the Best and Fairest of the entire AFL (think league MVP).
His career started in the Murray (present!) Bushrangers (I swear he’s really not a porn star!) before he was drafted by the Magpies in 2008 and made his debut in 2009. He is now vice-captain of the team and just recently signed a five-year extension that will keep him a Magpie until at least 2021. I love this guy because of his name and how he is always smiling on the field, but he is really a very talented and valuable player for Collingwood. He is all over the field and has positive impact whenever he is around the footy. To sum up, he is definitely one to watch this year. BTW, his teammate, Tyson Goldsack, is my brother from another mother but that is a story for another day.
Season Previews: The Top Four
Club Name: Sydney Swans
Mascot: Syd “Swannie” Skilton and Cyggy
History: The club that is now called the Sydney Swans was established in 1874 in Melbourne as the South Melbourne Football Club. It was one of the eight founding members of the Victorian Football League (VFL), which was the predecessor to the AFL. In 1880, the club amalgamated with the Albert-park Football Club and kept the South Melbourne name but adopted the red and white colors of Albert-park and the “Southerners” nickname. The team was commonly referred to as the “Bloods”, an unofficial nickname which is still used by fans and Los Angeles gangs to this day. Facing financial difficulties and seeing how the VFL was interested in setting up a new franchise in Sydney to expand the reach of the league (a move which led to the creation of the AFL), the South Melbourne bosses decided to move to Sydney and were approved to do so in 1982. That move did not come without controversy as Melbourne fans, understandably, wanted the team to stay. They lost and, to distinguish the Sydney team from the previous club, the nickname Swans was instituted. The club has won five premierships, three as South Melbourne and two as Sydney.
Home Stadium: Sydney Cricket Ground
Famous Supporters: SpankyDatass, Sill Bimmons, singer-actress-cancer-survivor Delta Goodrem
Club song: The original club song was an adaptation of Gene Autry’s Springtime in the Rockies. For some dumb reason, the club decided in 1961 to change to an adaptation of the Notre Dame Victory March. They even paid for the rights and everything. I’m really sorry, Sill!
Last Premiership: 2012
2015 Finish: 4th
2016 Outlook: The Swans lost some key players from last year like Adam Goodes, but they still have Lance “Buddy” Franklin and they have added a bunch of new players. They should remain in contention for a spot in the top eight, but where they land is a bit of a mystery. If the new players mesh well and contribute, the team has top four potential. If they don’t, they could drop to the next four or possibly out of the eight.
Why Should I Pick Them as My Team? You hate Crips. Seriously, this is an established club with a long history that has had some recent success and is poised to contend every year. They are a good team and hey, Nicole Kidman supports them and she never makes mistakes, right?
* * *
Club Name: Hawthorn Hawks
Mascot: Hudson “Hawka” Knights
History: The club was established in 1908. Although it is the youngest of the Victoria-based teams in the AFL, it has won a total of 13 premierships. It is the only club to have won a premiership in every decade since the 1960s (1961, 1971, 1976, 1977, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 2008, 2013, 2014, 2015).
Home Stadium: Games are mostly played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground with four home games per year played in Launceton, Tasmania.
Famous Supporters: Andrew Gaze (NBA player), Pat Cash (former tennis player), and Ian Baker-Finch (golfer) and
Club song: We’re a Happy Team at Hawthorn (sung to the tune of The Yankee Doodle Boy)
Last Premiership: 2015 (Three-peat!)
2015 Finish: 3rd (They finished third in the regular season and then went on to win the premiership)
2016 Outlook: The Hawks are a dynasty. Plain and simple. They will make the eight for sure and probably top four. It is not out of the realm of possibility for them to win the premiership four years in a row. BTW, they have appeared in four consecutive Grand Final games having lost the 2012 premiership to Sydney by a mere 10 points. They are good.
Why Should I Pick Them as My Team? You like success. Seriously, if you want to bandwagon a team that is assured of winning, this is the team to pick.
* * *
Club Name: West Coast Eagles
Mascot: Rick “The Rock” Eagle
History: The club was established in 1986 as an expansion team (along with the Brisbane Bears which ended up merging with Fitzroy and becoming the Brisbane Lions), entered competition in 1987 and experienced almost immediate success with a finals appearance in 1988 and a premiership in 1992. It won another premiership in 1994 and, more recently, one more in 2006.
Home Stadium: Subiaco Oval (Domain stadium)
Famous Supporters: Daniel Ricciardo (F1 driver), Heath Ledger (before, you know…), and
Club song: We’re the Eagles (Interesting side note: The song originally included anti-Victorian verses, but those were removed)
Last Premiership: 2006
2015 Finish: 2nd
2016 Outlook: The Eagles made it all the way to the Grand Final before succumbing to the Hawks’ intense pressure and, also likely, the pressure of playing in the Big Game. They should come back strong this year, but it largely depends on how the team reacts to last year’s Grand Final loss. The team will definitely be in finals again. The big question is whether they have what it takes to take that one last step.
Why Should I Pick Them as My Team? You like successful teams that are not from the traditional big cities and are located in the West Coast of cool countries (think Golden State Warriors or San Francisco 49ers).
* * *
Club Name: Fremantle Dockers
Mascot: Johnny “The Doc” Docker
History: The club joined the AFL as an expansion club in 1995. Shortly thereafter, Levi Strauss & Co complained about the Dockers nickname (I swear I’m not making this up) and forced the team to stop using it. In 2010, the club reached an agreement with the company to use the nickname. At the same time, the team changed its color scheme and logo from red/green/purple with a white anchor (seen in the picture above) to all purple with white chevrons.
Home Stadium: Subiaco Oval (Domain stadium)
Famous Supporters: Shaq, KISS, and Luc Longley
Club song: Freo Way to Go (most metal song in the AFL. By far)
Last Premiership: None
2015 Finish: 1st (Regular season champs, but lost in the preliminary final to eventual champion Hawthorn AT HOME by 27 points)
2016 Outlook: The Dockers have reigning 2015 Brownlow Medal winner Nat Fyfe on the team and are poised to be one of the teams to beat again this year. They have a bit of a reputation as finals chokers and last year’s finals performance did nothing to take that away. As with West Coast, the big question is not whether or not they will be in the finals but whether or not they can take the next step and dethrone Hawthorn.
Why Should I Pick Them as My Team? You like purple as a team color but don’t want the history of losing oh wait a second never mind you are a Vikings fan! You have the best player in the game yet can’t win the big game. Yup, definitely Vikings fan.
* * *
We should now be set for the regular season. Over the course of the preseason, we’ve picked up a few more supporters, so here is an updated listing of DFO team allegiances:
Team – Commentist
Carlton Blues – King Hippo
Collingwood Magpies – Moose, jjfozz
Geelong Cats – Balls of Steel, theeWeeBabySeamus
North Melbourne Kangaroos – SunriseSunrise
Port Adelaide – WhyEaglesWhy, entropy
St. Kilda Saints – Doktor Zymm, litre_cola
Sydney Swans – Sill Bimmons, Spanky Datass
See you on Wednesday night/Thursday morning for Opening Day!