Shock is almost too simple a word to describe the feeling that overcame many an AFL supporter – not just a Brisbane Lions supporter – on Tuesday evening. All eyes were fixated on Windy Hill and AFL House. Even this journalist poked his head into Napier St during his morning ride for a good old sticky beak. Instead all we got at AFL House on Tuesday night was AFL general counsel, Andrew Dillon effectively telling us that the sun was going to come up tomorrow. Charges, no penalties. We might as well have been inquiring exactly what book it was James Hird was reading his kids on Tuesday.
August 26 is now the date on which an official hearing will commence, yet I wouldn’t be penning the date in the diary for any concrete revelations to appear. Four Bombers officials have been charged on the basis of an interim report for bringing the game into disrepute. But given Melbourne were charged for the same thing, for “not tanking”, who actually knows what the bloody hell is going on? One thing is for sure, I, like many others, am over it. Jog on!
SO, HOW ABOUT SOME ACTUAL NEWS?
No, instead the bombshell was dropped from north of the Tweed River, as Brisbane Lions chairman, Angus Johnson announced that the board had come to a “unanimous decision”, after a “very thorough process” to sack Brisbane Lions favourite son, Michael Voss as their senior coach. Not only was he no longer wanted after 2013, but also candidates to replace Voss’ job were already in the mix. Apparently Voss knew this six weeks ago – one queries why he hung around so long.
The old, “I’m not angry, just disappointed” phrase should send shivers down the spine of the Lions’ board and Johnson, who was heckled at a Club function on Tuesday afternoon, when announcing Voss’ sacking to the Lions members.
Mark Neeld, Robbie Deans, Mickey Arthur and now Michael Voss – it just really hasn’t been a good year for coaches, has it? It’s just one of the many concerns that may just cross James Hird’s mind in the days leading up to August 26.
DEMONS IN VAN DIEMEN’S LAND
I don’t think I’m alone in hoping that one day, Tasmania will field its own AFL team. AFL football is the dominant winter sport down there and they are – in a way – treated to a couple of games here and there by North Melbourne and Hawthorn. On television aesthetics, Blundstone Arena in Hobart looks like a gem of place to play footy at, and Launceston has been hosting many great games over the years; not least the 2006 ‘Silent Siren’ game between Fremantle and St Kilda. But football in Tasmania is in disarray. My learned colleague Dave Harding will present you the facts here on Bound For Glory News in the coming days, but here’s a quick snap shot of the landscape:
Tasmania is continuing to produce youth football teams competing very ably in the second division of the NAB AFL National Championships, yet the desire to stay and kick on in the Tasmanian State League seems languished at best. Of the 10 teams, six are threatening to pull out due to a lack of financials, members, players and/or threats from the TSL to merge with other clubs to survive.
At the risk of wanting to start verbal world wars, surely clubs like the Roos and the Hawks could be doing their bit, instead of showboating down in our most southern state just to look good?
Last week The Lodgebook had a dig at current reserves competitions not providing an able platform for players to make the required step up from the semi-professional competitions into the elite level. Clubs too are recognising this, with the Western Bulldogs now set to join Richmond, in renouncing their affiliation with Williamstown, as their own VFL clubs. For Whitten Oval traditionalists, not much more will please the red, blue and white heart than to know the VFL team will be called Footscray. A little bit west, the Crows are looking to do the same thing in the SANFL. Surely a national competition will follow before I’m in my 30s.
SOMETHING ELSE GOT STRAINED
In an Under 19s match within the Northern Football League, between Montmorency and Epping game last Saturday, play was stopped because the goal umpire had to go to the bathroom. Given the goal umpire was an official umpire from the league, a bystander could not replace him in the meantime, forcing the play to be halted.
The break in play certainly didn’t halt Montmorency, who went on to crush Epping by 160 points.
WHAT THEY SAID
An advancement on my ode to the great man Michael Voss; ownership of the best sledge in AFL history. Directed at his brother, Brett, when Brisbane Lions played St Kilda, back in 2001: “My Dad f***ed your Mum last night.”
So we know Jeff Kennett is never short of a quote or 100. Here he is on Triple M on Tuesday: “If the AFL is going to charge Essendon with bringing the game into disrepute then that charge should also be laid against the administration of the AFL as well.”
And then on SEN on Thursday: “Over the past two years, the inconsistencies in the way in which the AFL have administered their codes and their laws has been a disgrace.”
Did you think Jeff was done? Oh stuff it, here he is back on Triple M on Tuesday: “The AFL will be protecting its arse like you’ve never seen.”
Neil Craig in his post-match press conference after Melbourne’s 13-point loss to Gold Coast: “I encourage our supporters, if they can, to stick with us and remain patient. I know they’re probably sick of hearing that, but that’s all I’ve got for them at the moment.”
Shane McInnes on Twitter as he and his 3AW colleagues perch themselves outside AFL House on Tuesday: “When you thought this day couldn’t get crazier, a rival radio station organises Mr Whippy to come to AFL House.”
Buddy Franklin tweeting to some very anxious Hawthorn fans (and probably club) after a photo of the GWS Giants logo was uploaded onto his personal Instagram account: “Instagram has been hacked, who ever it is well done, great work, congrats.”
Campbell Brown on the Monday night before his failed tribunal hearing: “Lets hope Skawboard Pressure (Brown’s horse) wins the next race at Swan Hill to help me pay for a QC for tomorrow night.”
Brendan Fevola on Twitter during the Carlton-Bulldogs match last Saturday: “Carlton fans giving ‘Murph’ (Blues captain Marc Murphy) the Bronx cheers is so uncalled for. Support your players. Stop it.”
I had a go at AFL club Twitters last week, but I got a great – probably unintended – response this week. Western Bulldogs to Port Adelaide after the Dogs knocked off Carlton to give the Power a two-game advantage over the Blues: “You’re welcome.”
Then there were the Brisbane Lions, on Thursday, after announcing their training facility move to Springfield, in Brisbane’s south-west: “Just to clarify, we will not be changing our name to the Isotopes and as far as we are aware, there is no monorail.” Diehard fans of The Simpsons, this one’s for you.
Former Essendon player and assistant coach Robert Shaw, after the AFL announced Essendon’s charges: “Doctor Bruce Reid has looked after us, our kids and in some cases our grand kids for 32+ years. Don’t give me this disrepute bulls***.”
TEAM OF THE WEEK
Michael Voss. Farewell to a champion who chose the path less travelled in regards to drafting for a quick-fix premiership. While there’s been a few relationships souring between former teammates and no finals for the Brisbane since 2009, the Lions are building and they have Voss to thank for that.
Jobe Watson. Looks like he’ll keep his Brownlow after the AFL on Tuesday night revealed all Essendon players were cleared from any wrongdoing for the time being. For the class of the man, the medal deserves to stay with him.
Stephen McBurney. Umpires his 400th game of footy on the weekend. Unbelievable durability. While we may go to the football and hound them every two minutes from wrong decisions, McBurney must be doing something right.
Zach Tuohy. The Irishman plays his 50th AFL game this weekend against Richmond. A wonderful story from Portlaoise to one of the in-form rebounding defenders, who kicks the Sherrin better than 90 per cent of Australians who grew up with the game.
Nicholas Graham. Carlton supporters who haven’t been privy to my ranting and raving at VFL games, you will enjoy this bloke. Striking resemblance to Nick Stevens, ironic that he was coached by the former Port Adelaide and Carlton champion last year at Gippsland Power. Makes his AFL debut today. Against Richmond. At the MCG. In front 80,000-plus.
Darebin Falcons. Premierships! Premierships everywhere! Congratulations to Daisy Pearce and her teammates who claimed the club’s sixth premiership in eight years, smashing Diamond Creek by 49 points.
Joey Hayes/Ultimate Sport Performance. Gold Coast-based strength and conditioning specialist Joey Hayes has had a lot to celebrate this weekend. Partly responsible for the likes of Kurt Tippett and Dayne Beams getting drafted, the former getting re-drafted. Both Tippett and Beams were arguably the best players for their respective clubs in the Collingwood-Sydney clash last weekend. While Katie Brennan, an integral member of the Darebin Falcons 2013 Premiership side, had a premiership medal to add to her impressive 2013 CV, being drafted to the Western Bulldogs in the inaugural women’s match back in June.
Kane Lambert. The Northern Blues’ 21-year-old accepted his invitation to the AFL State Combine and celebrated with another best-on-ground performance against Sandringham in the VFL on the weekend. May have the JJ Liston Trophy, the VFL best and fairest, to add to his CV before the year’s end.