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by John Loffler

(Last week 6 from 8 total 103 from 168 = 61.8%)

Well footy fans and tipsters another season of home and away games comes to a close on Sunday night. I suppose at the start of the season the AFL, when setting the fixtures, thought there might be some interest in a Carlton against Melbourne match at the ‘G’ as the last game of the season but alas, they got that wrong. Here’s a game during which the Carlton supporters will be barracking for the Demons, there won’t be a single fight or altercation between the fans as they will have a common bond and rumour has it that the umpires have all nominated to do this game on the basis that each and every one of their decision will be applauded, except, of course, if there is a free kick given to the Blues in front of goal, but as that has been a rare occurrence during the year anyway don’t expect it to change for this match!!

It has been a year of probably more retirements than usual and this week will see the biggest of all of them when Sheeds waves his jacket for the last time at Subiaco. He will not be coaching Melbourne I assure you but will be involved in football in some capacity with the AFL. Kevin Sheedy is certainly a great man of the game who has lasted over 800 games as a player and coach, a record that won’t be topped in my lifetime. Having said that maybe Matthews will give it a nudge and I will have to stop making such sweeping statements. With him goes James Hird who is one of the greatest players I have had the pleasure to watch with only injury stopping him from achieving 300 plus games. Two greats for the Bulldogs depart the playing stage as well in Darcy and probably Grant.

It’s also been a year of addiction. I am addicted to the game but there are some players whose addictions were/are on far more dangerous substances. Having said that I have been threatened at times with my life if I didn’t turn the footy off and find something else to do or something less combative to watch. In line with the AFL players association I too have decided to boycott all attempts by Channel 7 to interview me this week. Chequebook journalism at its lowest and it is with great interest that I shall listen to what defence, if any, is put forward by Cometti or McAvaney should they comment at all on it.

So to the finals. Geelong are beatable as are the best teams on any given day. West Coast will be a dangerous foe in the finals having been in the past two grand finals but maybe the youthful exuberance of the Hawks, the Power, the Pies and the Kangaroos will see them get further than they, or anyone else, dared hope at the start of the season. I see a West Coast versus Geelong GF and a strong possibility that the result will be a repeat of 92 and 94. Cast your minds back to the 70’s those that can and reflect on the battles between Hawthorn and North Melbourne during that era. Maybe we will have a repeat of those great games 30 years later?

I hope you have enjoyed the previews this year and thanks for the feedback I did receive - both positive and negative. Flesh and mind willing I may be back in 2008.

Tipping? Oh yes, if you’re more than 3 points behind in your tipping competition at the start of this round and out of the prize money who cares what you tip? Good luck.

Collingwood V Adelaide Telstra Dome Friday Night

The Pies cannot drop below 6th but they can go as high as 4th a more favourable position indeed. Adelaide, on the other hand, can be displaced from the finals by St Kilda or Brisbane or as a long shot by Fremantle. With the Saints playing Richmond then that is the likeliest scenario so the Crows will want to be on their game against Collingwood who found some lost form last week in a must win game against the Swans. I’ve tipped against the Pies in the past two games and come unstuck and that has cost me a chance in the tipping comp to take out a prize. Who wants this game the most? I couldn’t face a finals series with two South Australian teams in it so I’m kind of begging here.

Collingwood by 13

Richmond V St Kilda at MCG Saturday Arvo

Yes the Tigers beat the Bombers last week, and yes I tipped the result. But folks, if St Kilda lost this game you’d have to wonder what they are doing on the park. Their desire to win this match will really depend on the game that went before them on the Friday night. An Adelaide loss will see the Saints murder the Tigers while a win to the Crows might see the Saints adopt a more laissez-faire attitude. Here’s a game I’d like to tip on Saturday morning. No such luck tipsters.

St Kilda by 39

West Coast V Essendon at Subiaco Saturday Afternoon

Essendon’s party for Hird and Sheedy was spoiled last weekend at the MCG in front of a massive crowd. While the crowd will be half as many at Subiaco the ground will still be full and Eagles supporters will honour these two Bomber legends as well. Unfortunately I think the Perth party will suffer the same result as last weekend and regardless of the emotion the departure of Sheedy and Hird will foster amongst the Essendon team it will not be enough to get them over the line against a Judd weakened Eagles team. Amen.

West Coast Eagles by 55

Port Adelaide V Fremantle at AAMI Stadium Saturday**

I can’t imagine the Fremantle team doing any favours for their cross town rivals the Eagles by beating Port Adelaide at AAMI but funnier things have happened. If they can keep the Port win to a handful of points that might be enough. I can sense a Freo victory here though after the Power’s last kick emotion-charged victory against Geelong last week so they could be on a bit of a foreign affair (downer) this week. The Eagles need the win, my tipping score needs the win and it won’t be the roughest I select this week. Shane Parker has finished up with Freo well prior to this game and along with Troy Cook these two are another pair of retirees from the AFL.

Fremantle by 5

Brisbane Lions V Geelong at Gabba Saturday night

Like the Saints versus Richmond game a lot depends on what happened on Friday night AND what happened earlier on Saturday that will determine the motivation of the Brisbane Lions who, should results in those previous games go their way, have a chance to make the finals and who would have thought that at the start of the season? Geelong lost their match in the last kick of the day against Power last week but I doubt they will let the Lions get that close that late in the game. The Cats need to put a paw print on the season and win well playing at the Gabba. They will.

Geelong by 41

Sydney V Hawthorn SCG Sunday

Considering what is at stake, particularly for Hawthorn, this should be a really tough game. Hawthorn lose and they could see a great season crumble with an elimination game the first week of the finals. Sydney can’t finish any higher than 7th but can finish one rung lower with a loss. You still have to like Sydney at home in front of a sell out crowd at the SCG and as well as Hawthorn has played this season you would think the Swans would have their measure. Hawthorn cannot afford to lose or else they will lose that second chance to either Collingwood or the Kangaroos, or both. Their opposition will be somewhat stronger than the Western Bulldogs last week.

Sydney by 15

Western Bulldogs V Kangaroos at Telstra Dome Sunday

Where for art thee Bullies? Promised so much last year did the Western Bulldogs but failed to give it this year and two weeks of thrashings wouldn’t have helped the morale. The Kangaroos are bouncing along quite nicely and a top four finish is their reward for a win this weekend. Although I still find it hard to consider them a serious finals threat I’m darned if I’ll tip against them this week. However, if you’re a few points down and you want to crow about an upset tip then picking the Bulldogs wouldn’t be the worst for the season.

Kangaroos by 31

Melbourne V Carlton at MCG Sunday evening

Who cares?

Melbourne to draw with Carlton

**Port Power V Fremantle at AAMI Stadium Saturday Night

Due to the unforeseen circumstances surrounding the Dockers and the decimating of their normal team line-up I shall exercise my right to make a change to the tip I previewed yesterday and switch from the Dorks to the Power.

Article last changed on Tuesday, September 04, 2007 - 9:24 AM EDT

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