|Issue No 47||24 March 2000|
The Locker Room
Through the Schooner Glass
Leading bar-room tipping pundit Terry O'Brien stares into his crystal schooner and gives his predication for the long footy season ahead.
My team was been written off as has-beens. Probably never-were-going-to-be's. All the pundits said it. No Plugger, no Paul Kelly, no Swans. Huh! Two weeks into the season and two from two - and both away from home. OK, This doesn't mean a flag, but eating Crow for the pre-season experts could be on the cards.
Last week I went to Mexico for our first game of the year. It was at the World's Most Modern Arena - Docklands Stadium. I'm not going to call it by it its corporate name because the machinations of high finance will probably cause a name change in the near future. "Which Stadium", perhaps?
I have to say that I was impressed with the facilities, although there were a few things I wasn't overly enthusiastic about. First, they only sold light beer. Next, a bottle of mineral water cost $2.70. Also, the door we had been walking out of all night to have a smoke was closed when the game was over. That meant we had to battle the multitudes on the way out. There was one other slight concern. After every goal had been scored the punters stamped their feet on the floor. The bloody thing shook. The floor that is. I'm sure it's over engineered and perfectly safe, but it was a minor concern. Minor quibbles, perhaps, and mostly administrative. Funny about that.
So, what of the year to come? Well, as I said, the Swans have confounded the doom sayers, for the moment. A win in Perth, over the West Coast Eagles, is regarded as being as good as two. That makes them three wins from two. The crystal ball shines with optimism. I only hope complacency doesn't, yet again, set in and become a problem.
West Coast started with a blinder against the reigning premiers, North Melbourne - Kangaroos, if you insist - and everyone was talking about a return to the glory years. That lasted for a week. Age may not weary them, but a lot of old legs may make them sort of there-abouts again.
North. Two loses on the trot! They started that way last year and still won the flag. But back to back premierships are hard to come by, and, along with that, losing appearances in the pre-season comp final usually spell doom in the main game. Let history be right. Also, the World's Greatest Ever Sportsman - Wayne Carey - has had a couple of shockers. Long live the king. Long live the Barry Crockers.
Essendon. History, once again, intervenes. Pre-season comp grand final wins rarely translate to successful seasons when it really counts. Another one point loss in a preliminary final? Yes please. If they make it that far. They have the air of invincibility about them, so they say. These tags tend to make teams believe the hype. And when that happens......
Brisbane? The Roy Boys, (in honour of their merger with Fitzroy), loom ominously large. But I suspect they may have the old Queensland Sheffield Shield problem: "Maybe this year". Next year the same, I hope.
Carlton are trying to prove last years Grand Final appearance was no fluke. Even though they, and everybody else, know it was. They will be competitive, but President John "Pig's Arse" Eliot (who cares how you spell his name) will be drinking VB on his own.
Footscray, aka Western Bulldogs. Another scratchy season? Well that's what the allegations say. Another almost-made-it-year, says the trusty crystal ball.
Adelaide have a new coach and their first pick ruckman is back this year. They also seem to lack a forward line structure. You need to kick a score to beat the opposition. The head says be wary, very wary. The heart they will be around about there, but not quite. The heart wins.
Their mortal enemies and neighbours, Port Adelaide, are pretenders rather than contenders. They tend to drag the opposition down to their level and bore them into submission. Another finals campaign? Perhaps. But, if they get there, it won't go far.
Going further west, Fremantle have had a shock win. Perhaps this will inspire them to greater things. Perhaps. I reckon the cellar still beckons, but they may not be as bad as many make out. Could be a bit of a "Smokey".
Back to the southern climes. St Kilda started badly and will finish badly. A few performances in the mid season could save coach Little Timmy Watson from being shown the door before the end of the year, but the option of renewing the contract may not be taken by the club. Poor old Timmy will be scratching his head looking for what's left of his hair, and his perennial under achievers will move on to other clubs, if anyone else will have them.
Richmond, another dose of under achievement. Another new coach, but may survive the historic revolving door. The Tigers have had more coaches the Manchester United have had strip changes. No consistency, no success.
Hawthorn also have a new coach, and two loses from two. Young, and still rebuilding. They seem to be a long way from regaining their glorious past. Geelong - new coach. They will win a few, and maybe even some at home! The crystal ball fogs over when I ask where they will finish up at the end of the year, but I will be tipping against them more often than not.
Melbourne are Melbourne and back to their mediocre best. That is, at best they will get out of the bottom four. No new coach, and no hope. An unremarkable player list and an attitude that says put down the glasses. For all the wrong reasons. They will be so far behind you won't be able to see them OK, they beat North Melbourne, but so what?
And the that leaves Collingwood. Yes, new coach. Yes, two wins to start the season. Yes, the Colliwobles will set in. Their fans are already seeing glory and will once again be disappointed.
Well, that leaves me with six months to wipe off the egg. I expect minor changes to the top eight and live in hope that the Swans will break the drought. See you in Mexico in September. I will be the one singing "Cheer, Cheer, the Red and the White". Onwards to victory.
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