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by John Loffler

PREVIEW ROUND 18

(Last week 6 from 8 total 83 from 136 =61.0%)

The situation with the coaching vacancies and ruminations is spoiling the end of season rush for the finals. No individual is bigger than the game but try to tell that to a press that is hungry for any sniff of a rumour about which team is going to be coached by which person. And as important as that is remember, the teams who are going to be there in the last couple of weeks of September don’t have any coaching vacancies.

Let’s take a good look at some of the coaches that are on the market after a tumultuous season and a look at those that will be coming onto the market.

Kevin Sheedy – the granddaddy of them all. I can understand a team or club wanting Sheeds to perhaps mentor the senior coach or provide direction for a club, a bit like David Parkin does, but to put him in as senior coach doesn’t make sense. Not that AFL coaching is a young man’s game but it certainly is a younger man’s game. Kevin Sheedy had football teams under him while at Essendon that should have given him about 6 – 7 premierships but he managed only 4. He was, and still is I think, the greatest driver of promoting indigenous players into the harsh life of the AFL but for a club to make him their senior coach for what they surely would want to be a long term program is ridiculous to contemplate. An icon in the game? Sure, so find him a role that keeps him in football but not directly coaching. How about a seat on the tribunal to add that comedic touch for an already hilarious show.

Dennis Pagan – he probably did better at Carlton than anyone else could have done so it would be nice for him to find a spot with a team that has a bit of cattle so that counts out Melbourne. Apart from his success at a senior level with the Kangaroos maybe it’s time for Dennis to look at alternatives to coaching although I like his style.

Mark Riley took over Melbourne from Terry Daniher but I doubt whether he will hold the position. Mark may not be quite the low profile the Demons are looking for to pull them out of the doldrums. Melbourne needs a serious rebuild and you have to look at a 5 year plan so appointing an older coach doesn’t make sense so they should steer clear of Sheedy. Coach and team can grow so a fresh face at the Demons would be the shot. Anyway, if they keep losing regardless of the coach the Demon fans will be used to it.

Bluey McKenna was one of the great half backs in the AFL with the Eagles and one of my favourite players but can he coach at the senior level to the extent that he runs the team? Hmmm, I’m doubtful of Bluey’s toughness under real fire as that would be supplied by press and supporters so he might get picked up by one of the teams but it would be a bit of a gamble.

Peter Sumich has come a long way under the tutelage of Whoosha and his successful stint at the helm of South Fremantle was an eye opener but I can’t see him as a senior coach at any of the teams that are looking.

Mark Harvey will be what the Dorks need and pity help them if they succumb to the Sheedy pre-amble although I doubt Sheeds would move from Victoria.

Terry Daniher would be a reasonable bet for Carlton rather than the Dockers and a better gamble than Ratten.

Laidley will stay put at the Kangaroos and the Kangaroo committee would have to be on drugs to let him go.

Don’t bet on Terry Wallace staying with the Tigers either. He may be kept on next season but the Tiger 5 year plan might be to get rid of the coach.

See, we’re into round 18 and even I have been caught up in the coaching computations rather than assisting my devoted reader in selecting his winners for the weekend.

Tipsters, you have 5 rounds to go and there are still some upsets out there to pick. Take this week’s round for starters. If you’re 10 points down the only way you will catch up is to make a couple of bold picks which means you might catch up enough (should those picks come in, of course) to sneak a top 3 position or end up even further behind (should those tips lose) so it’s your pride that takes a hit. It’s harder explaining to your friends your lowly position on the tipping ladder when you know you could have finished a creditable 6th, some 8 points off the pace, than explaining 29th and 18 points off the pace. Tipping is a comp in which you need to keep face. Some tough picks this week so good luck.


Western Bulldogs V St Kilda at Telstra Dome Friday Night

The Bullies were woeful against the Eagles last week but they get West back in the midfield and then there’s the Darcy factor now that he has announced his retirement. But the Saints sure have a bit of momentum and with Reiwoldt finding some form, Koschitzke returning and the ‘G’ train kicking some goals the Bulldogs might find it hard to stem the tide. Only percentage separates them but I’m thinking the Saints for this one.

St Kilda by 21


Carlton V Collingwood at MCG Saturday

One week the Blues get thumped by a hundred points the following week the Pies get thumped by almost a hundred points. Nothing wrong with that if you’re languishing on the bottom of the ladder but for crying out loud Collingwood is being touted as a top four prospect!! The Pies will need to recover from that effort against the Brisbane Lions last week at the MCG because it wouldn’t take a lot for Carlton to find that bit of magic to knock Collingwood off. You would have to think the Collingwood surrender was an aberration no? Yes!

Collingwood by 33


Geelong V Richmond at Skilled Stadium Saturday

Who can forget the last time these two teams met? Records tumbled as the Cats put on a display at the Dome to thrash the Tigers by well over 100 points. What has changed since then? The Tigers have stayed about the same while the Cats have got marginally better and I think have lost just one game since then. You tipsters looking for the upset game to gain a point keep looking. This isn’t it. Victorian railways are offering free tickets on the train to Geelong for anyone wearing even a hint of yellow and black in an effort to entice a Richmond supporter to the game/

Geelong by 75


Brisbane Lions V Kangaroos at Gabba Saturday night

Based on form this is definitely the game of the round. Both teams are flying high with the Kangaroos on another winning streak while the Lions seem to be making a late bid for the finals. I can’t believe the Lions will play finals footy but then I can’t believe the Kangaroos are doing so well. Nobody is giving the Kangaroos any respect and here they are second on the ladder and playing another away game. Last Saturday night I went to a Christmas in July, a concept I dislike, but the wine was great as was the band. I’m booked to stay at home this Saturday to watch what should be a very good, close game. You could do worse than tip a draw.

Kangaroos by 6


Adelaide V Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium Saturday night

I wouldn’t be too quick to dismiss Adelaide’s chances of winning this derby against the Power even though the Crows’ form has been a bit ragged of late. Port Adelaide have won 5 of their last 6 but it’s not that they are winning it’s by how much they are winning. Stats say their average winning margin is around 80 points!! You would think they’re playing against teams in the SANFL not the AFL. The poor Crows have been plagued by injury and rumour has it that even Riccuito may have played his last game. But, the Crows have a good record against the Power and with an Adelaide home crowd it might be enough to get them over the line in what should be a good game as well. I thought Chocko said Port were rebuilding?

Adelaide by 12


Melbourne V Sydney Swans at Manuka Oval Sunday

The game is being played in Canberra where it’s so cold that the game will attract 14000 spectators simply because standing huddled together in a crowd watching anything tends to keep you warm. This is a home game for the Demons who were worse than pitiful against the Power last week so it will be difficult for the most optimistic tipster to take a chance on a Demon’s win against the Swans. In picking against Melbourne and Richmond this season I have scored 29 of my total tipping points so even if I got this one wrong, and that’s hard to believe it’s going to happen, the stats will still be on my side.

Sydney by 33


Hawthorn V Essendon at MCG Sunday

Considering their style of football both teams should put on a bit of an exhibition and provide the fans with what is hoped to be a close and entertaining contest. The Melbourne forecast is for a wet day so that will make it tough for both teams to play an open style of footy. Can the Essendon players keep playing for Sheeds and perhaps even make the finals? I hope not as I have stated that the Bombers will not make the final 8 this season. But, then again, I said that earlier in the year about the Hawks. That’s been my problem all year I think, getting it wrong. I have no idea who will win this game but will pray for the Hawks.

Hawthorn by 13


West Coast Eagles V Fremantle at Subiaco Sunday

The western derby is with us again this round and the local press love to build it up even when there’s nothing to build. Mind you, it will be a tough game and yes, Freo have a mathematical possibility of making the 8 but I doubt whether the Eagles will let another opportunity slip as they need to be in that top 4 to have any chance as a non-Victorian team of winning back to back flags. Eagles players are all coming into consideration as we get to the nitty gritty part of the season and they will have to have their best players on the park to win the remaining games and challenge the Cats at year end. No Sandilands and an inferior on-ball division won’t help the Docker cause. The game will be tough as usual but you would have to expect the Eagles to prevail considering the stakes.

West Coast by 44

Article last changed on Friday, August 03, 2007 - 5:21 PM EDT


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