It’s that time of the year again, when the AFL fixture is released and every team’s supporters can find a reason to claim that the AFL has a vendetta against them.
Due to the new way of fixturing that takes into account each club’s position on the ladder in its previous season, the draw is as even as ever. However, as is always the case, the fixture favours some teams much more than it does others, whether it be due to timing of games, location of games, so on and so forth.
With the loss of Kurt Tippett and draft picks sure to somewhat affect the on-field performances, coupled with the tough draw due to finishing in a top four spot in 2012, season 2013 could be anything for Adelaide. Despite those losses, Adelaide still has a more than capable list and could find itself 4-0 to start the season. With the only real tough patch of games coming against West Coast at home, Collingwood away, Geelong at home, Fremantle away and Port Adelaide obviously at home between Rounds 15 and 19, Adelaide should put in another good showing this season. Be sure to mark the Crows’ Round 6 clash with Hawthorn at AAMI Stadium in your calendars.
Well if the Lions are going to make a shock top eight entry, this is the dream draw they would have been hoping for. Brisbane faces Adelaide, West Coast, Carlton, Collingwood and Geelong all at home throughout the year, only playing Geelong again later in the season. Although there will be some serious challenges such as Fremantle at Patersons Stadium in Round 12 and Hawthorn at Aurora Stadium in Round 13, this is a potential finals-making draw for the Lions. Despite a good draw, Brisbane has been given only the one Friday night game, a meeting with Collingwood in Round 10 at the Gabba.
Looking at the fixture alone, if Carlton doesn’t make the finals then expect everyone to be sacked. Twice. Despite a relatively tough start to the season against Richmond, Collingwood, Geelong, West Coast at Petersons and Adelaide, the Blues have a draw that should easily place them in the top eight. Remarkably, only three times will Carlton play on Sundays, the final game coming against Port Adelaide in Round 8. Even more remarkably, Carlton games will be televised on Channel Seven all but three times. A run of Friday night games from Rounds 11 to 15 against Essendon, Hawthorn, Sydney and Collingwood, excluding the bye, will have Carlton fans desperate for something else.
Collingwood may just face the toughest of the draws for 2013. Coming up against North Melbourne, Carlton, Hawthorn, Richmond, Essendon, St Kilda, Fremantle, Geelong and Sydney its first nine games, four of which fall on a Thursday or Friday, you could excuse the Magpies for clawing towards the bye in Round 13. Although things calm down from then onwards, facing Essendon, Sydney, Hawthorn, West Coast and North Melbourne to close out the season will be another tough ask. It would take a huge effort for Collingwood to secure a top four position with that kind of draw.
If we are to see a repeat of 2012 for Essendon, where the Bombers slid from a dangerous position out of the top eight, it wouldn’t be surprising. Considering Essendon’s final six games are against Hawthorn, Collingwood, West Coast, North Melbourne, Carlton and Richmond, the Bombers will need to take advantage of an easy patch in the first half of season. Problem is, they don’t have one. Every ‘easy’ contest is quickly followed up by a tough contest, exluding a three-game run from Rounds 15 to 17 where the Bombers play Port Adelaide, Western Bulldogs and Greater Western Sydney. The positioning of games, rather than the teams they will play, makes things tough.
If the Dockers simply show up to half of the games on their fixture, they will be in contention for the top eight. There are no particularly difficult patches for Fremantle with its clashes against the top teams from 2012 spread out over the course of the year. With that said, games against Greater Western Sydney, Melbourne and Port Adelaide in Rounds 20 to 22 should tip the scale in Fremantle’s favour. Not a whole lot to see here, folks.
You can be certain that the Geelong board is recreating the final scene of Planet of the Apes: “Damn you! Damn you all to hell!” If Geelong is to drop off like most expect them to, despite us hearing that all before, there is a big chance the Cats will struggle to even contend for a top eight spot. Despite coming up against Port Adelaide, Gold Coast, Greater Western Sydney and Brisbane in Rounds 9 to 13 with the bye providing some rest, there is no letting up for the Cats. Their Round 1 clash with Hawthorn on Monday afternoon will be one not to miss.
Most expect the Suns to improve in 2013, though their draw doesn’t necessarily assist or hamper them. It’s all pretty standard stuff, really. Gold Coast will make very good friends with Saturdays, playing only three Sunday games and no Friday games. Matches against Melbourne, Port Adelaide and Greater Western Sydney in Rounds 20, 21 and 23 respectively could see Gold Coast claim some late points.
Greater Western Sydney
No Friday games for GWS, as most would probably expect. Chances are the Giants will struggle in their second season as an AFL club, again as most would probably expect. For a hat-trick of ‘as most would probably expect’ moments, few people will give a stuff.
The first seven rounds appear to be daunting for the Hawks. Geelong, West Coast at Patersons, Collingwood, Fremantle, North Melbourne, Adelaide at AAMI and Sydney opens up Hawthorn’s season before three stock standard games against GWS, Gold Coast and Melbourne carry the Hawks into the bye. Hawthorn can be pretty happy with its draw, considering the high finish it achieved in 2012, as the second half of the season mixes clashes with weaker sides and marquee games at packed Melbourne stadiums. Five Friday night contests after the bye will surely give the Hawks plenty of exposure going into finals.
Despite not being expected to be much of a factor in 2013, Melbourne’s draw is quite favourable. Disregarding the mumbo jumbo currently going on behind closed doors, Melbourne’s current list is good enough to start off the season with a relatively equal win/loss record. With Port Adelaide, Essendon, West Coast, GWS, Brisbane, Carlton and Gold Coast looming in the first seven rounds, the chance is there for the Demons to at least turn a few heads. However, no Friday night games for the season won’t help attain that attention, and neither will their meetings with Fremantle at Patersons, Hawthorn and Collingwood in Rounds 9, 10 and 11. Ouch.
Rejoice, Kangaroos fans, for your team has finally been given some prime time attention! Three, count them, three Friday night games against West Coast, Carlton and Geelong will no doubt highlight North Melbourne’s season. That’s about as good as it gets for the Kangaroos, who obviously pulled the short straw. With only nine games top be telecasted on Channel Seven, a membership would be a good investment for Roos fans. There are no easy runs of games for North, despite facing Collingwood, Geelong and Sydney to kick off the season and Geelong, Adelaide at AAMI, Essendon, Hawthorn and Collingwood to round it out. It will take another impressive performance, much like in 2012, to claim a top eight spot.
If the Power wanted an easy start to the season, they certainly got it. With Melbourne, Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast on the cards in the first four rounds, there is a big chance for Port Adelaide to start the season in the positive. However, things will quickly go downhill from there, facing an almighty battering for the remainder of the season. A run of games against Sydney, Collingwood, Essendon and Hawthorn between Rounds 13 and 16 could get ugly. No Friday night games for the Power, as was probably expected.
Maybe the AFL has caught hold of the running ‘Richmond can’t make finals’ joke and has dished them out a tough draw just for the sake of it. If not, there are some footy gods that seriously hate the Tigers. Coming up against Carlton, St Kilda, Western Bulldogs, Collingwood, Fremantle at Patersons and Geelong in its opening six games, Richmond could very easily be staring down the barrel from the outset. Although the remainder of the fixture is relatively even, it will take a few upsets for the Tigers to be in contention, much like they managed in 2012.
If the Saints want to make top eight, it’s all there in front of them. Although you could very easily argue that their premiership window is firmly shut, the chance of a top eight finish is very possible. Kicking off the season against Gold Coast, Richmond, GWS and Essendon could potentially place the Saints in a good position from the outset, though the run of games against Sydney, Collingwood, Carlton and Adelaide at AAMI that follow could put them back on par level. Facing Hawthorn, Sydney and Fremantle in three of its last four games, St Kilda will need to take advantage of games against the weaker teams to stay afloat come crunch time.
You’d think the Swans took out the wooden spoon rather than the premiership looking at their opening three games against GWS, Gold Coast and North Melbourne. Things are relatively mild for the Swans until they meet Hawthorn in Round 7, followed up by meetings with Fremantle, Collingwood, Essendon and Adelaide before the bye. If the Swans are the real deal again in 2013, that will be the period of games that will make or break them. They’ll face another serious test as finals time approaches, coming up against Collingwood, St Kilda, Geelong and Hawthorn to round out the year.
Did the Eagles finish bottom four or something? Did the AFL mix up its fixture with Greater Western Sydney’s draw? The first half of West Coast’s season looks like a trip to Luna Park. With games against the Western Bulldogs at home, Brisbane, North Melbourne at home, GWS and Richmond at home between Round 6s and 10, surely those within the AFL are having a laugh. In fact, the only major challenges for West Coast for the entire season, aside from the two games against Fremantle, come at Round 13 against Hawthorn at Etihad Stadium, Round 15 against Adelaide at AAMI Stadium and Round 22 against Collingwood at the MCG. If the Eagles miss out on finals, deregister them.
Oh boy. Well, thanks for playing, Doggies. It’s hard to see where consecutive wins for the Bulldogs will come from in 2013, with the two most winnable games in a row coming against Melbourne in Round 14 and GWS in Round 15. On the flip side, Rounds 17 to 21 could be very messy with games against Hawthorn, West Coast, Sydney, Carlton and Adelaide on the cards. No Friday night games for the season dampens their draw that little bit more. Let’s just pretend this never happened.