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).

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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.

Football’s Greatest Teams – The AFL Era (1990-Present)

Part two of this series will look at the greatest teams in the modern era of AFL football.

While the AFL has only established in 1990, there are still numerous teams who can promote their argument for being the greatest team of all time.

Some of these teams dominated for a substantial period of time, without achieving the amount of success they ultimately deserved, while others can lay claim to winning consecutive premierships.

North Melbourne 1994-1999

Record books will show North Melbourne have had two great decades of success. While the 1970’s was the decade when the Kangaroos broke the premiership drought, the 1990’s will be remembered for the individual brilliance of North’s star players and the pioneering of Friday night football.

From 1994 to 1999, North Melbourne made three Grand Finals, winning two (1996 & 1999) and losing one to Adelaide in 1998, in a match they could have won if they had kicked accurately (North kicked 8.22 in the match).

The lowest North finished at the end of the home and away season at the end of those six years was seventh, but come finals North always managed to make at least the Preliminary final.

Friday night football was pioneered by North Melbourne in 1985 and by the 1990’s it had become a regular in AFL football. North continued to predominately hold the prestigious timeslot and a lot of this had to do with their on-field success and the marketing machine that was Wayne Carey.

Similar to Michael Jordan in a promotional sense, Carey was the face of the AFL because his athletic ability and ability to carry his team to victory.

Along with the two premierships, Carey’s individual success included 2x Leigh Matthew’s trophy, 7x All-Australian, 4x North Melbourne Best & Fairest and 5x North Melbourne leading goal kicker.

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Australian football, highly acclaimed AFL journalist Mike Sheehan comprised a list of the 50 greatest players of all time and had Carey as the greatest to play the game.

Essendon 1999-2001

The Essendon team from 1999 to 2001 had an opportunity to become one of the most successful teams in AFL football.

In the three-year period the Bombers won 61 of 66 home and away games.

2000 will be the year the Bombers are most remembered for as they won all possible silverware a team could win. The Bombers started the season by winning the pre season competition. The Bombers then won 21 home and away games to claim the minor premiership, before they ran away with the flag by defeating Melbourne by 60 points.

1999 and 2001 will be remembered as years the Bombers let slip of the premiership flag. In 1999 the Bombers were by far the best team in the competition and after comfortably beating Sydney in the Qualifying final, some Essendon fans purchased Grand Final tickets, assuming their side would easily account for Carlton in the Preliminary final.

Essendon would be a no show in the Grand Final, as they went down to Carlton by a point.

In 2001 Essendon again finished the regular season as minor premiers and went into Grand Final day as premiership favourites.

But unable to hold on to a 14-point half time lead, the Bombers went down to Brisbane by 26 points.

Brisbane Lions 2001-2003

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Brisbane players celebrate the 2003 premiership

When the final siren sounded at the end of the 2003 Grand Final, people were asking “have we ever seen a side as good as this?” Brisbane had just won it’s third consecutive premiership and with the likes of Michael Voss, Jason Akermanis, Simon Black, Nigel Lappin, Alastair Lynch, Mal Michael and Jonathon Brown, Brisbane had the right mix of skill and aggression to frighten every team in the competition.

The 2001 premiership may have come as a surprise as Essendon were clear favourites heading into the match, but by 2003 everyone was wondering how long the dynasty would last.

Under the guidance of Leigh Matthews the Lions never finished higher than second during the regular season in the premiership seasons. But come finals time, the Lions only lost one final between 2001 and 2003.

Individual success was also a hallmark in the Lions side, as Jason Akermanis and Simon Black won Brownlow medals in 2001 and 2002.

Brisbane looked set to equal Collingwood’s four consecutive premierships in 2004, but with aging legs the Lions could not compete with the determined Port Adelaide side.

The Lions brought great enjoyment for long suffering Brisbane and Fitzroy fans and with supporters again suffering from a lack of success in recent years, Lions supporters will be hoping for a return to the success of the early 2000’s side.

Geelong 2007-2011

It took one game to kick-start the Geelong dynasty.

By round 6, 2007, media questioned whether Mark Thompson was the right man for Geelong. The Cats sat in sixth position and were going up against a winless Richmond side. Anything other than a massive win would be seen as a failure for the Cats.

But what transpired would have to be seen to be believed. Geelong kicked 20 goals in the opening half to lead by 107 points at the main break. When the final siren finally sounded to end Richmond’s torture, the Cats had handed the Tigers their biggest loss in history; a 157 point defeat.

The victory sparked a string of wins for the Cats, as would only lose one more game for the season and win the premiership by a record margin of 119 points against Port Adelaide.

It may have been hard to top but somehow Geelong became even better in 2008. The Cats only lost one game during the home and away season and ended the campaign with an average winning margin of 53 points.

But inaccuracy in front of goal cost Geelong in the Grand Final, as Hawthorn came away with a unlikely victory.

Redemption came the year after as the Cats would win the premiership over the highly fancied St Kilda.

Geelong’s success during 2007 to 2009 is largely due to the unique style of play. Teams of that area worked tirelessly on defence and tight low scoring contest set the tone, evident in the 2005 and 2006 Grand finals.

Under Mark Thompson the Cats challenged the norm and became an attacking side, moving the ball with rapid speed through the centre of the ground.

Having superstars Gary Ablett, Jimmy Bartel, Joel Selwood, Steven Johnson, Cameron Ling and Matthew Scarlett also helped the Cats achieve success.

At the end of 2010 Mark Thompson and Gary Ablett both departed the Cats, leaving many to assume the Geelong dynasty was over.

But a rejuvenated Cats side under the guidance of Chris Scott returned to the pinnacle of football by beating Collingwood in the 2011 Grand Final.

Hawthorn 2013-2015

Hawthorn shocked the footballing world by beating Geelong in the 2008 Grand Final. With an average age of only 24, the Hawks were expected to win multiple premierships in the upcoming years.

But sport doesn’t always go to plan and the Hawks failed to qualify for the 2009 finals series.

Hawthorn failed to play in another Grand Final until 2012, a surprising fact given that they had Lance Franklin, the games best forward in the team.

Hawthorn would lose the 2012 flag, but success would arrive a year later as they defeated Fremantle in the decider.

At the end of 2013 Lance Franklin departed for Sydney, but Franklin’s departure would mean little for the Hawks who would again win the premiership in 2014 and 2015.

Under the senior heads of Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell, Jordan Lewis and Jarryd Roughead the Hawks would bully opposition with their ruthless style of play. This style would be too much for teams they played in the treble of premierships as the Hawks would win those flags by an average margin of 42 points.

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Hawthorn players celebrate 2015 flag

Football’s Greatest Teams – The VFL Era (1896-1989)

As a decade concludes there is always a new candidate for the greatest football team of all time.

As always is the case the latest team or latest trend is always the forerunner for the title of being the best.

But while we recall the achievements of the latest team, we forget the accomplishments of the teams from yesterday.

In the AFL there is always the argument of who is the best team of all time.

But after 120 years of VFL/AFL football how can we possibly have a clear winner in the discussion of the greatest team in history?

Maybe a better discussion would be teams of the decade but with some teams having success in intertwining decades it is difficult to categorise teams into a decade.

An easier way to determine footballs greatest teams is by splitting the VFL and AFL era’s.

This two part series will look at the teams that dominated the VFL era (1896-1989) and then the AFL era (1990–present). There will be numerous options of best side and you the reader will be able to decide who is the greatest team of the VFL and AFL era’s.

THE VFL ERA 1896 – 1989

Collingwood 1927 – 1930

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1929 Collingwood premiership team

No other team from the early 20th century receive as much attention in modern times as the Collingwood team from the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. ‘The Machine’ as the football public referred them won four consecutive premierships (1927–30), albeit with the help of the Argus system.

The Argus system allowed the team who finished minor premiers at the end of the home and away season the right to challenge a result in the finals.

In 1929 Collingwood finished the home and away season undefeated but were thrashed by Richmond by 62 points in the second semi-final. But under the Argus rules, Collingwood had the opportunity to challenge the winner of Richmond vs Carlton in the Grand Final.

As fate would have it, Collingwood met Richmond in the Grand Final and avenged the semi-final defeat, with a 29 point victory.

The Magpies would do the same in 1930, losing to Geelong in the preliminary final, but given the opportunity for redemption in the Grand final, which they duly won.

Though the Magpies were aided by a ludicrous system, the facts are that the Machine will still go down as one of the best sides ever assembled.

Of the 82 games played between 1927–1930, the Magpies won 70. Five players from ‘The Machine’ team are in the Collingwood Team of the Century.

One of these players was Gordon Coventry, who became the first player to reach 300 games and kicked 1299 goals, a record amount which stood until Tony Lockett kicked his 1300 goal in 1999.

Essendon 1946-1951

When a team plays in six consecutive Grand Finals, has two players who have accumulated five Brownlow medals and a player who has the goal-kicking award named after him, it’s safe to say the team is in fairly good shape.

Coached by club legend Dick Reynold’s the Bombers were the superior team in the competition for six seasons, winning 79% of their home and away matches.

The Bombers won premierships in 1946, 49 and 50 but came up short in 1947, 48 and 51.

The Bombers however, will be most remembered for the grace of John Coleman, who lit up the competition in a way never seen prior.

In his first match Coleman kicked 12 goals and from then on was a footballing sensation. Coleman kicked 537 goals in only 98 matches in a career that was cruelly cut short by a serious knee injury. Ill-fate would be a constant occurrence in Coleman’s life as he was unjustly suspended for the 1951 Grand final, a decision that most people believe cost the Bombers the flag.

Coleman coached the Bombers from 1961 to 1967 and guided the club to premierships in 1962 and 1965.

In April 1973, aged just 44, Coleman died suddenly from coronary atheroma, ending the life of footballs first real superstar.

Melbourne 1955-1960

No team has ever been as dominant as the Melbourne team from the mid fifties to the early sixties. The Demons had everything required to be a great team. A super coach in Norm Smith, a superstar in Ron Barassi and playing home games at the biggest and best stadium in Victoria meant the Demons were the envy of every other team.

When Melbourne appointed club great and Fitzroy coach, Norm Smith as their coach in 1952, they knew they were getting someone with the skill to be successful. But never did the club foretell the success that would come.

The Demons went on to win the premiership in 1955-57 and 1959-60. The Demons made the 1958 Grand Final and would have equalled Collingwood record of four consecutive premierships if they won the match. But as fate would have it, Collingwood ended the Demons premiership run by winning the 1958 Grand final.

Melbourne won another premiership in 1964 but by 1965 the domination of the Demons was over. Ron Barassi departed the club to take up a role as captain-coach of Carlton, while Norm Smith was sensationally sacked and then reappointed as coach in mid 1965. The magic of the Demons was over and since 1964, Melbourne have not won another premiership, making their success in the 50’s and 60’s even more special.

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Ron Barassi

North Melbourne 1974-1978

For over 40 years North Melbourne were considered an irrelevant team in the VFL. Awarded a VFL licence after 29 years of applying, the Kangaroos entered the VFL along with Hawthorn and Footscray in 1925. While Footscray and Hawthorn won their first premierships in 1954 and 1961, North had to wait 50 years to taste success.

The turnaround at North Melbourne began when Allen Aylett was appointed president in 1971. A forward thinker Aylett set his sights on making North the best team in the competiton.

To do this Aylett got together numerous powerbrokers to attain the litter of money to entice the best players in the VFL to the Kangaroos.

The VFL had just established the 10-year rule, which allowed players who had served 10 years at a club the chance to move to any club of their choice.

North took advantage of this rule and recruited Essendon captain, Barry Davis, Geelong superstar Doug Wade, John Rantall (South Melbourne) and Barry Cable (Perth).

The biggest acquisition however was the appointed of Ron Barassi as coach. After a year away from the game, Aylett was able to entice Barassi to return to the coaching arena for the 1973 season.

With the likes of Malcolm Blight, David Dench and duel Brownlow medallist Keith Gregg playing alongside the new recruits, North’s fortunes began to turn and the club made the Grand final in Barassi’s second season in charge.

But North were no match for a strong Richmond side and were never in the hunt for the 1974 premiership.

North would only have to wait a year to taste success as the club as they beat rival, Hawthorn by 55 points.

Hawthorn would have revenge a year later, but the Kangaroos would again taste premiership success in 1977 against Collingwood.

After the first Grand Final ended in a draw, a easy week of training gave North players enough rest to run away with victory in the replay.

North would again make the Grand Final in 1978 but were no match for Hawthorn.

In all, North played in six Grand finals over five years and as Aylett set out at the beginning of the decade, achieved the ultimate success and became relevant.

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1977 Grand Final

Hawthorn 1983-1989

The Hawks defined the 80’s. Off the field, Hawthorn players were partygoers, with a great sense of fashion. On field the Hawks played with exuberant style and flair that guided them to seven consecutive Grand Finals, in the decade that shaped the course of Australian football history.

The 1983 premiership was one for the older generation in the Hawthorn side. Leigh Matthews and Peter Knights were ever present and added to their premiership medallions, which already included the 1971, 76 and 78 triumphs.

After falling short to Essendon in 1984 and 85 the transition to the new generation began. The likes of Dermot Brereton, Garry Ayres, John Plattern and Jason Dunstall were now the stars in the Hawthorn side.

Hawthorn would go on to win premierships in 1986, 88 and 89, while Robert DiPierdomenico and John Plattern would win Brownlow medals and Jason Dunstall kicked 134 and 138 goals in consecutive years to be crowned the Coleman medallist.

During the seven-year stretch, the Hawks won 120 of a possible 154 home and away games. The Hawks also won three night series in a decade where the pre-season competition held relevance. Allan Jeans was coach for most of the decade, but illness prevented him from coaching in 1988 and responsibilities fell to Alan Joyce.

Many people who lived through the decade describe the 1980’s Hawthorn side as the best team they have ever seen, even better than the Brisbane side of the early 21st century and the present Hawthorn team.

The clear indication of how prolific the Hawks were in the 80’s can be seen in the state of the club in modern times. In the past the Hawks struggled for members and in 1996, the year the club was about to merge with Melbourne, the Hawks only had 12,923 members.

But with the children who grew up in the 80’s now adults, the club has over 70,000 members and is expected to overtake Collingwood for most members in 2017.

Port Adelaide’s problems finding the perfect guernsey continue in 2017

The AFL is a great sport that truly captures the heart’s of Australian sport fanatics.

But like all sports there are areas of the AFL that can cause debate.

Holding the ball, head high contact, the Match Review Panel and drugs are all issues debated by fans and the media.

But one issue that is never raised and irritates me most in AFL are the team guernsey’s.

Guernsey’s were designed to set teams apart and make it easier for fans and players to recognise their teammates.

However, in the past few years manufacturers have designed guernsey’s that do not resemble the traditional appearance’s of teams and have resulted is clashes with opposition guernsey’s.

One of the major culprits of this trend is Port Adelaide.

Ten years ago Port Adelaide never had a clash issue with Adelaide, Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Fremantle, Melbourne, Richmond and St Kilda.

However with the decision to convert to an all black strip with a teal and white ‘V’ has led to a clash with numerous teams and created an unprecedented issue heading in the 2014 Elimination final against Richmond.

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Previous Port Adelaide guernsey’s

The week leading to the game focused on the AFL’s decision to force Port Adelaide to wear their white away jersey for the final even though the game was played in Adelaide.

Port were angered by the decision and decided to wear the traditional Port Adelaide SANFL guernsey.

Though Port looked wonderful in the traditional jersey, there would never have been a need to revert from their AFL home jumper if they added a white patch at the back of their guernsey.

Not only would a patch break up the bland black texture of the jumper, it would also keep in tradition with past Port Adelaide jumpers, which have always had a white patch.

For the 2017 season, Port Adelaide will wear a white patch at the back of their home guernsey’s but though this is a significant improvement, the Port Adelaide jersey is still bland for a club, which seeks to uphold it’s tradition, whilst progressing with the modern game.

In an ideal world the Power would be wearing their traditional black and white ‘prison bar’ guernsey that made them one of the most recognisable football clubs in Australia.

But with Collingwood holding the rights to the black and white in the AFL, the chances of the Power ever wearing the two shades is as slim as seeing the Loch Ness Monster.

Though the Power may never be able to wear black and white, it does not mean they can never revert to the ‘prison bar’ guernsey.

After watching the elimination final in 2014 I set out to design a modern version of the ‘prison bar’ strip, which would capture the history of Port Adelaide, without clashing with Collingwood or any other team in the competition.

The design I have created is the same as the traditional ‘prison bar’, but instead of being black and white, it is now predominately teal and black with a white patch.

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New Port Adelaide home guernsey designed by Sportdot

As well as being used for the home jumper, the ‘prion bar’ template can be used for a clash strip, with the all black base of the strip reworked to be either white or teal and the striped styled to be black.

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Alternative away strips designed by Sportdot

The ‘prison bar’ guernsey is one of the most unique jumpers in Australian football and it is a great shame that it is not used in the AFL.

But with a little use of imagination, Port Adelaide could once again don the ‘prison bar’ jumper.

Brawls enthral but modern footy wins hands down

Football has changed over the years. Something’s will be missed, like the dropkick, one on one contest and forwards kicking 100 goals a season. But while the game may have changed from what made it the best game in the world there are something’s that will not be missed, like the brawl.

An infamous brawl can really get the crowd going. I must admit sometimes I wish players would start a tussle to show their toughness and prove that they actually care about the result.

But while we sometimes wish for a little brutality to quench our lust for superiority, modern football is forever better off with the removal of brawls.

Old timers love to reminisce of the good old days and the trouble they would get into on the field.

Jack Dyer always recounted the tale of the time he shirt fronted a Melbourne player and thought he killed the Demon when club doctors covered the body with a sheet.

But for every wise tale of brutality there is a story of a victim, who has never been able to return to their best following an attack.

John Greening’s career is one of football’s great tragedies.

Aged 21 Greening was in the form of his life when he was viciously knocked out by St Kilda hard man Jim O’Dea.

The incident left Greening unconscious and in a coma for 24 hours.

Greening had the world at his feat and could have gone on to be one of the greats in Australian football, but instead only managed to add eight games to his career.

greening

John Greening laying unconscious on a stretcher

Another incident involves the great Leigh Matthews and Geelong captain Neville Bruns.

With six minutes left in an 1985 encounter between Hawthorn and Geelong, Matthews king hit Bruns in an off the ball incident breaking Bruns’ jaw.

Bruns recounted the incident in the book ‘Champions All – A history of AFL/VFL football in the players own words’.

“The compound fracture had come through my jaw. I actually thought I’ve been shot, because I had this big hole in my gum. I felt for the bullet”.

An off duty policeman in the crowd saw the incident and wrote a report on the incident, which resulted in the incident being taken to court with Matthew’s charged with assault.

Matthews was fined $1000 and was suspended for four weeks by the VFL match committee.

With an increase awareness in one punch attacks and the harm that they cause, incidents like the Leigh Matthews attack would not be acceptable in modern society.

Fortunately most modern footballers have moved with the times and brawls are not prevalent in today’s football.

But to say modern footballers are not as tough as their counterparts from yesteryear is an extreme exaggeration.

For instance look no further then the 2016 AFL Grand Final.

Veteran Western Bulldogs defender Dale Morris played the entire finals series with a broken back. That there shows toughness.

Eastern Wood and Dan Hannebery’s collision in the final term when the game was in the balance was a sign of toughness.

Dan Hannebery trying to play on in excruciating pain following the collision with Wood was again a sign of courage.

Courage can come in all shapes and forms and though it may not be as clear to see in football as in yesteryear, courage is far greater shown in modern football.

Why Essendon DON’T deserve pick 1

My opinion as to whether Essendon deserve the number one pick has changed as much as Sam Newman’s face.

At the start of the year I supported the idea of Essendon receiving the first pick if they finished last and even opposed David Koch when he spoke out on the matter.

But the more I look at it, the more I disapprove. Essendon cheated and no matter how the club and players sugar coat it, the fact is, the club injected their players with substances, many, which they can not identify, all with the aim to enhance their performances.

Essendon have been poor this season but their on-field woes have nothing to do with list management or a lack of talent.

Take three All-Australian’s and a Brownlow medallist out of any side and you will see a dip in form.

If the Bombers had Michael Hurley, Cale Hooker, Dyson Heppell, Jobe Watson, Brent Stanton, Heath Hocking, Travis Colyer and David Meyers in their side would they finish last?

The answer is a resounding no and we know this because the Bombers have stated that they believe with the return of these players, they will be challenging for the finals next season.

So if Essendon’s struggles this season were due to their best players being banned for cheating then why do they deserve the number one pick ahead of clubs who are truly deplorable?

Brisbane finished the season with three wins and 0.6% off the wooden spoon and, barring injuries they had a full list to choose from. The Lions were terrible this season, evident by an average of over 130 points conceded per game and by the sacking of their coach, Justin Leppitsch.

The Lions are a club in dire need of the best picks possible and ideally need the first pick in the national and preseason draft to rapidly improve their performances.

The last time a club was as bad as the 2016 Brisbane side was in 2009, when Melbourne were given a priority, along with pick one.

Essendon supporters will argue that their club has gone through enough in the past four years and that they had already been punished for their misdemeanour by being banned from the 2013 finals series, while also losing their first and second round draft picks in 2013 and 2014.

The AFL must always be wary when stripping clubs of draft picks and the effects it can have on clubs in the years to come, as Carlton supporters love to point out after being stripped of their picks in 2002.

14 years on and Carlton are still feeling the affects of the suspension, something that the AFL would not want to see repeated with the Bombers.

Essendon have to be treated as a normal club for the benefit of the fans and the greater good of the AFL.

But that does not mean they deserve the best pick in the land to secure the best young talent in Australia and possible a midfield star in Jaeger O’Meara.

In 2013 when Essendon were suspended from the finals series, they automatically finished in ninth spot on the ladder, instead of last, because the AFL did not want to hand the club their first wooden spoon since 1933.

While the club did deserve to play this season without any suppression, the AFL should have determined that the club be given the draft picks handed to the side that finishes ninth.

This ensures that the Bombers receive a decent pick, without hampering the other bottom nine sides who have ended the season wherever the have without the injustice of a club suspension.

Without any compromises from Free Agency compensation, Essendon would receive the ninth best pick.

Some players in the past 10 years who have been selected with pick 9 include; Darcy Moore, Nick Vlastuin, Adam Tomlinson, Dion Prestia, Jack Ziebell, Ben McEvoy and David Armitage.

The amount of talent that has been selected with pick nine shows Essendon would still be able to challenge for finals next season.

And giving Essendon the picks deserving of the ninth place side will let teams like Brisbane receive the picks they deserve.

No matter what Essendon has been through off-field in recent season, they have still played in more finals series than Brisbane, Gold Coast and Melbourne in the past seven years.

Dane Swan – The unexpected superstar

“With pick 58 the Collingwood Football Club select, Dane Swan from Calder Cannons.”

The year was 2001, Swan was still celebrating schoolies on the Gold Coast and Collingwood had just unknowingly discovered a diamond in the rough.

Swan quickly acquainted himself with the media and newspapers, although unfortunately for Collingwood he often found himself on the front page, rather than the back.

After refusing to leave schoolies to visit his new club, Swan floated through his first few years according to his father, Billy Swan.

Had it not been for his father’s memorable 300 game career with Port Melbourne, Swan may have never earned his place on an AFL list.

Yet the young larrikin almost threw his short career away on one eventful evening in December 2003.

With his cousin, Aaron Ramsey and Kade Carey, Swan was caught in an altercation with a local cleaner in Federation Square.

Mick Malthouse and the club decided to give Swan one last chance, a chance that Swan has turned into a phenomenal career.

Swan himself acknowledges that it was after the 2003 brawl that the “penny dropped” and he decided “playing AFL was something he wanted to do”.

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By 2006 Swan had cemented his place in Collingwood’s best 22, as the late bloomer finished sixth in the Copeland trophy.

With his trademark waddle and laid-back charisma, Swan quite literally stumbled into the spotlight.

As interchange rotations reached an all-time high, Swan’s burst style of play was proving unstoppable.

The “untaggable” machine went from strength to strength and won his first Copeland Trophy in 2008, an award that he would hold for three consecutive years.

The 2010 and 2011 seasons proved a golden period for the Magpies and Swan, who added a Premiership and Brownlow medal to his bulging trophy cabinet.

Despite the nonchalant façade, Swan has unashamedly proclaimed it’s the 2010 premiership he is proudest of.

As for the Brownlow, well its “stuffed away in the cupboard” with his numerous All-Australian trophies.

After a self-confessed “putrid” 2014 season, Swan responded the following year in stunning fashion. He silenced the critics, averaging 29 disposals and finishing runner-up in the 2015 Copeland trophy.

Tragically, his 2016 season and career was ended in a matter of seconds in the opening round.

As the tattooed champion lay helpless on the SCG turf, football lost a superstar and personality the league will likely never see again.

Swan has always done things his way, never content to simply tow the party line. While it has landed him in hot water over the years, it’s also the very fabric of the legacy he leaves behind.

With his trademark humour, unforgettable waddle, endless tattoos and most importantly, his serious case of leather poisoning, Swan has undeniably left his mark on the football world.

And for that, every Collingwood fan, and football fan for that matter, is forever grateful.