Pies flag tainted by off-field misdemeanour’s

Drugs, assault and betting.

No we are not talking about the West Coast Eagles, we are talking about the 2010 Collingwood premiership team.

Last week Scott Pendlebury suggested the Magpies suffered a premiership hangover in 2011, because players over celebrated the 2010 flag.

It is difficult to support Pendlebury’s claims given the Magpies lost only two games for the home and away season and were trailing Geelong by only seven points at three quarter time in the Grand Final.

But what Pendlebury’s accusations raise is a discussion about the teams off-field antics during the early part of the decade.

The 2006 West Coast premiership is blemished because of the off field antics of it’s players.

There is no evidence to suggest party drugs can be performance enhancing, but nonetheless the misdemeanours of the West Coast players have left many, including veteran AFL journalist Mike Sheahan questioning the feats of the Eagles.

“The longer it goes the more convinced I am that there’s a taint attached to West Coast in 2006,” Sheahan said on 1116 SEN.

“Wallsy (Robert Walls) said immediately after that premiership win that he thought it was tainted, I taunted him at the time and said it was ungracious, but I’m now in Wallsy’s corner.

“I think the evidence suggests that there was a drug culture that was rife at West Coast at that time.”

In October 2016, former Collingwood player Dane Swan admitted to experimenting with illicit drugs.

“I have experimented with what some people call recreational drugs, but have never taken performance-enhancing drugs or what you might call ‘heavy’ drugs.”

Swan also went on to say that only a small contingent of teammates have also used drugs.

It was not revealed when Swan used the drugs but in 2012, Collingwood CEO Gary Pert said the “volcanic behaviour” of players during the off-season and the use of drugs was the biggest issue in the AFL.

Like Ben Cousins, Swan was the biggest name in the Magpies side.

Cousins was said to have had an influence on the younger players at the club, including Chad Fletcher and Daniel Kerr.

At Collingwood Swan was part of the ‘Rat Pack’, a group of rebel teammates, which included Ben Johnson, Alan Didak, Heath Shaw and Dale Thomas.

A 2013 report by the Australian Government showed eight million Australian’s over the age of 14 had consumed illicit drugs at least once in their lifetime

It is not right to accuse individuals of using drugs but if a well renowned player like Swan has experimented with drugs, it could influence teammates to experiment as well.

Drugs were not the only issue the Magpies faced during the 2010 period.

Two days after the premiership two players were accused of sexually assaulting a woman, while in 2011 Heath Shaw was suspended for eight matches for placing a bet on captain Nick Maxwell to kick the first goal in a Round 9 clash against Adelaide.

Off field behaviour should not dampen the on-field success of a team, unless the off-field incidents are proven to be performance enhancing.

West Coast’s problems were not found to have enhanced player performances, yet still people question the teams success.

Yet no one argues the party culture at Collingwood during the 2010 premiership season is anymore than ‘boys having fun’.

If the Eagles success is questioned then so too should Collingwood’s, or we should just accept the players made mistakes off field but on-field they achieved undeniable success.

The mistakes of the bad boy Eagles has overshadowed the success of the unimpeachable Chris Judd, Dean Cox and Andrew Embley.

The same goes for Collingwood, where the party boys have prevented the likes of Scott Pendlebury, Nick Maxwell and Steel Sidebottom from winning a second flag.

AFL news you may have missed this week (April 10-14)

Not a lot of news went through to the keeper this week, as a shortened week meant less time to discuss the usual amount of topics.

The AFL media focused heavily on the fallout from the Adelaide Showdown and the build up to Good Friday football.

But with that being said, there was a debut over the weekend that didn’t receive the attention it required.

 

Boomer’s numerology

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Brent Harvey on debut for North Heidelbeg

AFL games record holder Brent Harvey made his North Heidelberg debut in Division 2 of the Northern Football League over the weekend.

Boomer struggled with a heavy tag in the opening half, but a move to full forward in the third term allowed Boomer to show his class, kicking two goals and assisting in many others.

However some interesting numerology came out of the game.

Boomer wore number 29 and had 29 disposals in the Bulldogs 29-point victory.

The coincidence is perfect for Cameron Mooney’s numerology segment on Fox Footy’s ‘Bounce’ and if you do see it on the program, remember it was first mentioned here.

 

Shanks, shockers and set shots

Bad kicking is bad football.

While it may be an age-old cliché, it still rings true in the modern game.

There is no greater pressure cooker for an AFL player than the dreaded set shot.

The heart rate quickens as you pace backwards, searching for the perfect spot to begin your run-up. You look up, only to be met by a sea of eyes transfixed on your every move. A subtle move-it-on by the umpire and its down to business. The mouth-guard into the sock, the grass into the air and the Sherrin onto the boot.

The ball cuts through the frosty MCG air, careening off course and slams into the goal-post. Your head drops as a collective sign is cast over the ground. Living rooms across the country form a chorus of less than constructive criticism, while the old-timer chuckles and proclaims that back in his day they never missed their set shots.

It’s an all too familiar tale and the old-timer might be onto something.

In 2000, goalkicking accuracy was at 60.2 per cent. In 2016, the goal kicking accuracy across the competition was 58.6 per cent. In 2000, set shot accuracy was 64.2 per cent, in 2016 it had fallen to 60.9 per cent.

While the drop off is not shocking by any means, it is concerning when considering the rise of players wages and professionalism.

In 2000, the average listed player was earning $126,996. In 2017, that figure has jumped to $309,208.

We rave about the players being faster, stronger and better. Yet it seems to be the more we pay them, the worse they kick for goal.

Strip Australian Rules Football down to its core and scoring is the main object of the game. If you can’t score more points than the opposition you will never win a game, plain and simple.

Despite the modern player’s collective struggles, there are a few diamonds in the rough when it comes to set shot kicking.

The often-unheralded Bulldog, Tory Dickson, is one of the most accurate kicks for goal the league has ever seen.

Through his 79 career games, Dickson has a goalkicking accuracy of 73.8 per cent. That is third all time for players who have had 50 or more shots on goal, behind only Michael Murphy (76.8 per cent) and Matthew Capuano (74 per cent).

tory dickson

Dickson has booted 138.49 over his career, but more impressive is his 65.16 record from set shots.

When asked about the secret behind his success, Dickson stressed the importance of keeping the process as simple as possible.

“I wouldn’t say it comes easy to me, but I don’t have a total routine step wise…I bring my heart rate down with a few deep breaths, make sure my momentum is always going forward and just go through with it.”

Another exponent on the art of the set shot is former Saint, Ahmed Saad. Over his career, Saad averaged a conversion rate of 64 per cent in front of the big sticks, with a return of 48.27 over his 33-game career.

More impressive however was his set shot goal kicking. In 2012 Saad kicked 14.2 from his set shot opportunities, drawing attention due to his unique run-up style.

Saad paces back roughly 27-30 steps before beginning his run up, not cantering into a jog until his finals steps.

Despite the criticism, Saad stuck with the routine and still uses it today with his current club, West Preston Lakeside FC in the Northern Football League.

It’s clear that there is no perfect science to the set shot. It’s a unique part of our game, which will challenge player’s ability and fans nerves for years to come.

The fate of a game and even premierships can be decided by a team’s ability to convert their opportunities in front of goal.

In the 2013 Grand Final, Ross Lyon and the Dockers trudged to halftime after kicking 1.6 through the first two quarters. They would finish the game with a score line of 8.14 and fall to the more accurate Hawks (11.11) by 15 points.

In 2008, the Cats were left with a Saturday in September they desperately didn’t want to remember. Geelong came into the Grand Final as heavy favourites, but would butcher the ball in front of goal, finishing with a score line of 11.23 (89) to the Hawks 18.7 (115).

With quality shots on goal so hard to find in the pressure-packed modern game, set shots are one of the rare opportunities a player gets to take their time and make it count on the scoreboard.

The message from the experts and best set shot kicks in the league is clear. Take a moment to compose yourself, before falling back on a simple routine.

Then its once again down to business. The mouth-guard into the sock, the grass into the air and the Sherrin straight through the middle.

Just like the good old days.

AFL news you may have missed this week (April 3-7)

A big part of this weeks AFL programs focused on the suspension to Jordan Lewis and the form of Gary Ablett.

With so much focus on these two issue, there were other important topics that failed to garner the attention they deserved.

We look at the three talking points that went under radar this week.

 

  1. Mark Robinson talks head knocks

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Mark Robinson

Tuesday nights episode of AFL 360 focused on Jordan Lewis and his response to his three-week suspension.

But while Lewis gathered all the attention, a topic raised by Mark Robinson did not get the airtime it deserved.

Robbo asked Jack Riewoldt whether Dustin Martin would play this weekend with a fractured eye socket.

When Riewoldt said it was highly likely Martin would line up, Robbo asked why it is okay for players to play with fractures to their head.

“We talk about concussion all the time but why are players allowed to play with hairline fractures in their head?” Robbo asked.

Robbo raised are good point because if Martin was concussed from the head knock, he would have missed the rest of the game and be unavailable for this week.

Concussion is the trending injury at the moment and with more data being released in the United States, it is clear sports stars are putting their futures at risk with every hit to the head.

Concussion and a fractured eye socket have similar symptoms, including double vision and if a player gets hit in the same spot again and could cause a complete break to the skull.

All head injuries should be treated with the same importance and if there were more research into fractured eye sockets and the effects they may have, would Dustin Martin be playing this week?

 

  1. Cameron Mooney on Gary Ablett’s return to Geelong

On the Wednesday program of 1116 SEN’s ‘The Run Home’, Geelong premiership player Cameron Mooney questioned Geelong’s attempts to recruit Garry Ablett.

Mooney acknowledged that everyone at Geelong would love to see Ablett return to the club, but suggested Geelong’s attempts to lure the two time Brownlow Medallist “contradicting” everything the club has done under Chris Scott.

“It will be contradictory, throwing out Bartel, Kelly, Chapman, Joel Corey and getting another 34-year old,” said Mooney.

Mooney did however say he would love to see Ablett at the club and believed it would be a good deal for the Cats if they could get him in the cheap.

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  1. No seatbelt for Sticks

The Footy Show got Stephen Kernahan to do something many people have tried over the years and that’s re-sing ‘Stand by your man’.

But as much of an achievement this is, they failed to ensure Kernahan abided by the law.

Kernahan sat in the back of a Toyota Hilux with no visible seatbelt on, singing the Tammy Wynette tune, with Richmond star Alex Rance and country singer Lee Kernaghan.

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It isn’t the first time Channel Nine have had an issue with talent wearing seatbelt’s.

Late last year Channel Nine cricket commentators Shane Warne, Michael Slater and Kevin Peterson were given infringement notices by the Tasmanian Police for not wearing seatbelt’s.

Channel Nine will be hoping Victoria Police don’t notice the misdemeanour or read this article.