Four points – Sandringham Zebras

A convincing 58-point victory at Burbank Oval on Sunday afternoon provided the perfect 2015 homecoming for the Williamstown Football Club.

1. Anthony Anastasio – A dominating performance from Anastasio showed how vital he is to the side. Four goals and solid pressure placed on the Sandringham defence had him among the best for the Seagulls.  The emergence of the 21 year-old as a key figure in the Seagulls attacking game is a bright note for the future, with Anastasio having only just ticked over the 50 game mark in his very young career. IMG_1199

2. Physicality rules the day – At times in the second quarter it looked like the clash was going to turn into a battle of fists rather than footballing wits. Spot fights erupted from both sides and Williamstown were able to make the most of the Zebras mental unrest to kick a pair of crucial goals to extend their lead back out to 17 points at the long break.

3. Clear messages – Andy Collins sent a clear message at the final change “Go out there is if the scoreboard is reading 0-0”. With a 57 point lead and the points in the back, it would have been easy for the Seagulls to hit cruise control in the final term. The Zebras registered 7 scoring shots to 3 in the final term, but were outscored 3.0.18 to 2.5.17, with the Seagulls making the most of their opportunities, at one point extending their lead to 66 points.

4. Touches in bunches – Ed Carr had 30 touches, Ben Jolley had 30 touches and Nick Sing had 20. When three players can combine to get the ball 80 times, you know they are going to be tough to stop. More impressive for Jolley was the fact he lined up against 149 game St. Kilda Veteran Clint Jones.

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The draft lottery must die

Since 1985 only 4 teams with the worst record in the NBA have had the first pick in the draft. In the NHL the worst team has had the first pick 6 times since 1995. 10/50 or 2/10 or 20%. However you write it the draft lottery needs to be done away with.

I’m not mad that a team I support didn’t win the lottery. I’m mad because teams who don’t deserve the top pick are being given opportune access to players who should be going to other franchises so that the league can have an even distribution of talent. At least in theory.

The Edmonton Oilers won Connor McDavid thanks to the draft lottery

The Edmonton Oilers won Connor McDavid thanks to the draft lottery

If you’re an Edmonton Oilers fan you are more than welcome to dispute this claim. Partly because you haven’t made the playoffs since 2005-2006 and partly because you won Connor McDavid this morning. Congratulations, you’ve won something that isn’t rightfully yours, but I digress.

Professional athletes want to win more than anything else in the world. If you’re not on a winning team the only way you can win is by adding talent, be it through the draft, free agency or trades. Free agents don’t go to clubs where they aren’t going to win, if they are good enough to be attracting interest then they are going to be going to a team who are already a playoff team or in playoff contention. Trades are more successful, but the worse you are the more you are going to be asked to give up. It isn’t nice, but it’s a fact of life. The draft is where the answers are. The worse you are the better your access to the top of the talent pool. Drafting is a science, and the only way to get it right is to have people who are experts in it on the books of your organisation (looking at you Melbourne Football Club).

What if teams lose games on purpose to increase their draft positions? They’re going to do the same thing if there is a lottery. The closer you are to the bottom the more balls you are going to have. Why not rid the potential for teams who truly don’t deserve it (the Cleveland Cavaliers of 2014 spring to mind) and give the worst team in the league the opportunity for light at the end of the tunnel by giving them the top pick in the draft?

Sport should be a level playing field yet everyone knows it isn’t. Draft orders should be variable based only on the results on the playing surface. That means you need to be the worst to get the best. If you’ve ever been on a team at any level who are losing then you know that it feels miserable and nobody is thinking “gee I hope we lose so we can get a kid who won’t fix everything overnight”. The idea of tanking is lunacy despite the fact that teams have been fined for it before.

Where is the hope for poor teams if they aren’t offered the chance for things to get better? All the draft lottery does it shows that the leagues who choose to have one don’t value a level playing field.

Are they rigged? No, but the Oilers having four top picks since 2010 and the Cavaliers three since 2011 is reason enough to leave a bad taste in fans mouths.

More importantly it’s a great reason for leagues who use a lottery to wake up and give their worst performing franchises the opportunities they deserve.

 

 

 

Williamstown set to end 12-year drought

The Williamstown Seagulls enter the 2015 Victorian Football League season looking to snap a 12-year premiership drought and lift a cup for the tenth straight decade.

The Seagulls fell agonisingly short in 2014, dropping their Preliminary Final clash against the Box Hill Hawks by seven points. Here are five reasons the Seagulls can go all the way in 2015 (in no particular order).Seagulls logo

 

Big game experience – A Preliminary Final in 2014 may not scream big game experience but winning the Foxtel Cup in 2011 and 2014 does. In their two Foxtel Cup campaigns the smallest margin of victory for the Seagulls was 19 points, with three of their six victories coming by over five goals (Swan Districts [2011] 37 Points, Aspley [2014] 45 points and West Perth [2014 Grand Final] 63 points).

You also need to go back to 2009 for the last time Williamstown failed to make a Preliminary Final. On that occasion they were knocked out in straight sets, falling to the Northern Bullants and Collingwood. No other team in the competition has appeared in every Preliminary Final in the same stretch.

Key recruits – One of the luxuries of being a stand-alone club in the VFL is the ability to recruit top class players. While Kane Lambert was lost to Richmond (Where he has subsequently picked up a shoulder injury), Seagulls fans should be excited by the addition of Taylor Hine and Sam Dunell, who have both spent time on AFL lists.

Dunell played twelve games in three seasons with St Kilda scoring one goal. Since his VFL debut with the Bendigo Bombers in 2011 he has played 49 games, scoring 50 goals. He appeared in 15 games for Sandringham last season with a strong return of 23 goals. It appears like Dunell will develop into a key forward role with the Seagulls, where he will be fully capable of a 30-40 goal season should he stay fit.

After 23 games split between the Gold Coast Suns and North Melbourne Kangaroos, Hine will play a key role for the Seagulls in 2015, varying between midfield and defensive duties. During his time with the Roos he was frequently used in a tagging role, a role which he will be sure to embrace should he be given it by Andy Collins. His 18 games for the Werribee Tigers in 2014 demonstrate his ability to play consistent football and back up his performances, something the side will be hoping to see repeated as they look to take the next step.

Andy Collins – The chips were stacked heavily against Collins in 2014 and he still managed to come out on top. In the Seagulls first year as a stand-alone outfit, and his first year as coach, he took the side to within a game of the Grand Final and eased the club to their second ever Foxtel Cup triumph. The impact he has had on the side is similar to that of Paul Roos at Melbourne, in that he has a structure in place which he will continue to develop as he enters his second year at the helm.

Home ground advantage – There’s something special about Burbank Oval. Whether it’s the location, the passion from the home fans or the wind belting off the water, it’s not a happy hunting ground for opposition clubs.

Since 2012 the Seagulls have a formidable 20-6 record at Burbank Oval. That’s a winning percentage of .769. The key to success at Burbank is knowing that the scoring end is the scoreboard end and that you need to keep possession rotating while you are kicking towards the Floyd Pavilion. All too often visiting sides are undone by pushing too far forward at the Floyd end, leaving the Seagulls with easy opportunities on the counter.

This was best highlighted in 2014 during the Seagulls clash against Collingwood where a combined 3.0 (18) was kicked to the Floyd end, with 21.23 (149) was kicked towards the scoreboard end on a wet and windy Sunday afternoon. If the Seagulls can continue to use their local knowledge to exploit the opposition then their winning form is certain to continue.

Defensive pressure – In a loop back to the impact of Andy Collins the Seagulls have shown themselves to be one of the best defensive sides in the competition.

The Collins mantra places great focus on pressuring the player with the ball and dominating the clearances, something which the Seagulls were able to do throughout the preseason. The home clash against Box Hill on Saturday was the toughest test of the preseason, and while the result wasn’t as desired there were positive signs. The tackling pressure was relentless and it was clear that Box Hill were rattled whenever they were required to clear the ball from inside the Williamstown forward 50.

The more time Collins has to work his philosophy into the game the tougher the Seagulls are going to be to score against. For a team who only conceded over 100 points twice in 2014 (101 against the Northern Blues in round one, 100 against Box Hill in the Preliminary Final) and averaged 99.09 points per game, that defensive pressure is a scary prospect for the rest of the competition.

Deebacle 2015

I have no idea what the Melbourne Football Club are going to do this year.

What I do know is that we aren’t winning a Premiership. I also know we need to score more points and we have the weapons to do it.

Angus Brayshaw should be a shining light for the Dees this year

Angus Brayshaw should be a shining light for the Dees this year

I fell for it with Jack Watts, Tom Scully and Jack Trengove. They were all going to be the one who turned the fortunes of the Melbourne Football Club around. As much as I love you Jesse Hogan, I’m not going to put you in the same category. Not because I believe you don’t deserve to be there, purely because the pressure of Melbourne is a miserable thing to lump on anyone.

We have a great core of young players with one thing in common. I want to see more from them in 2015. Jack Viney, Jay Kennedy-Harris, Christian Salem and Dom Tyson all need to be playing at their best every week if we are going to see progression.

We should have won more than four games last year and we should win more than four games this year, but who knows? Preseason is a great indicator, even though the wins and losses don’t matter as much. We could have beaten Freo, where we put up a good fight all day. We should have finished the Bulldogs off a lot sooner than we did. Essendon was summed up by the losing turnover – some days it just isn’t going to happen.

At the end of last year I thought we could win seven or eight games. Within half an hour of Christian Petracca being ruled out for the season I adjusted that to being happy with winning five games. Being happy with being awful is enough to make me miserable before a Matt Jones kick in anger.

I just want something to smile about on a regular basis. We haven’t made the finals since Channel Nine had rights (2006), and with the exception of the first half of 2010 and roughly half of our games in a horribly inconsistent 2011, we have not looked like breaking the drought.

We also have a great group of older guys, but they aren’t getting consistent help. Dawes, Nathan Jones and Lumumba need to have career best years. I’m also looking forward to seeing what Stretch and Brayshaw can do.

Over to you Melbourne. Even if you can’t make me smile every week the Robbie Flower Wing is another stunning example of why I will never stop loving you.