The end of the Paul Roos love affair

Paul Roos made it clear on Monday night on AFL 360 that there was a negativity problem within the Melbourne Football Club. That’s obvious to anyone who has watch Melbourne for a second since 2007. Now Roos says the problem is coming from the fans.

The love affair is over. When the Demons landed Roos I was potentially one of the ten most excited people in the 129598-394c03e0-b7db-11e3-ada0-f27aaeaffaebcountry. We’ve got a premiership coach, a list that is slowly getting better and fans who are starved of success, our luck is about to change.

I wasn’t expecting Roos to deliver us a flag but I was expecting a finals appearance. Coming into this year I thought that eight wins was a pass mark. When Petracca went down I lowered it to five. Technically Roos should get a pass mark, and he would have if not for the mortal sin he committed in placing the blame on the people who keep the club alive, the fans.

I’ll be honest, I’m not a member. Not for lack of want, but there are other things that I need to take care of in my life. But that doesn’t mean I’m not entitled to an opinion, an opinion until a few days ago I didn’t have.

I’ve loved the Dees for as long as I can remember and for the first time in a long time there are rays of hope. Sadly with the rays of hope remain the inept performances we’ve been made to stomach over the last eight years.

When a team isn’t performing fans have the right to be negative. I’ve not seen a Melbourne membership in the microwave, so at least we aren’t Richmond, Carlton or Essendon in that regard (all of those clubs have memberships I have seen microwaved in 2015).

I was high as a kite when we beat Geelong and Collingwood because it was a sign that we’d turned a corner. Even after falling over the line against Brisbane I was happy because it’s a game the old Demons would have lost. Essendon and Carlton, now those are games that I’ve come off feeling like supporting Melbourne is a chore rather than a gift. That’s not to say I’d change it for all the premierships in the world but that I’m a normal fan with normal expectations.

Paul Roos has done good things but he’s out of touch. The answer isn’t the fans, the answers is what he has the team doing on the field. Not conceding is fine but it means nothing if we aren’t scoring with regularity, which we aren’t. He’s too focused on the style that won him a flag in Sydney, and let’s face it, the game has moved past that style of football.

Expert opinion was that Roos shouldn’t coach again. I wish I’d agreed with them.

We’ve been waiting 51 years to win a flag. Of course everything isn’t fine with the fan base, but that’s part of the responsibility of being a fan, taking the good with the bad.

If Roos looked in the mirror or into the eyes of those around him the problem would be obvious – the club support a culture of losing. The leader of the pack is trying to pass the buck on to the people who love the club the most and he must see the consequences of his actions. Simon Goodwin loves attacking footy, so must be instated as soon as possible.

Thanks for trying Paul but please don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

AFL flex their muscle with broadcast deal

Going by Australian standards, the new AFL broadcast deal is phenomenal, but where does it leave the game in this country as we move to the back-end of the 2010’s and into the early 2020’s?

However you split it $2.508 Billion is an amount of money that is incomprehensible to your everyday person.

That’s what the powers that be have decided that the broadcast rights for the AFL are worth from 2017 to 2022.

It’s a statement – not only from the league but from the broadcast partners – the dominate sport in Australia is MLB Advanced Media Operations in New YorkAustralian Football, with the new deal worth double that of the current deal which expires at the end of next year.

Every game will be broadcast in High Definition in the new deal, an aspect which has left many fans sour in years gone by. For fans with Foxtel, the only time the issues occurs is on Grand Final day, the one game that should not be in standard definition.

A week prior to the announcement the NRL signed a $1.025 Billion deal, a deal which League executives cited as a new dawn and a show of strength in the sport – little did they know that within a week they’d be blown out of the water.

What the AFL deal does is set them up for the future. Fans get unprecedented access thanks to the 24/7 Fox Footy channel, and the coverage on FTA television ensures that  a great range of magazine style and panel shows continue to give the game a range of exposure in addition to their current game day coverage.

The most interesting component of the deal is what is going to be involved in the next deal, which starts in 2023. There is an air of inevitability in the online market, and any future deal will have a primarily online focus.

Looking at the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB as prime examples (given the position of sports media in North America compared to the rest of the world) the key point of the broadcast deal is that while national deals are in place, teams sell their  packages to local broadcasters. While we don’t have the same setup in Australia, what that model offers is online packages such as MLB.tv.

What MLB TV does is enables any game to be watched / listened to live, with each team having a broadcast crew (not to the extent of press red for Ed) and both options being available in-game. In addition to that the video centre allows fans to watch a full replay, extended highlights, highlights, individual clips and press conferences and interviews post game. All in a central location.

The ease of access is what sells the package, and if the AFL put a similar price on a similar service I expect that the money they’d make from it would be astronomical.

The AFL are leading the way in giving fans what they want – on demand sport. A leap to the online package isn’t a fantasy or even a pipe dream. It’s what they’re going to need to do if they want to continue to be industry leaders in this country.

 

Soaring Seagulls – Comparing 2014 and 2015 chances

There are just two games left in the Victorian Football League home and away season. Those two games could see Williamstown finish anywhere between 1st and 7th. After five straight preliminary finals appearances are the Seagulls ready to win their first premiership in twelve years? The numbers from this time last year and the current group add insight into the debate.

2014 (after 18 rounds) – Record: 12-4 / Percentage: 138.46% / Scoring: 234 goals 216 behinds / Longest streak: 5 game win streak / Longest streak: 4 X 1 game losing streaks / Average score for: 101.25 / Average score against: 73.12.

Many VFL experts tipped a tough year for the Seagulls. Their first year after the split from the Western Bulldogs, a relatively small forward line and a lack of depth were highlighted as the key issues. Through 18 rounds and heading into the finals the Seagulls had shown that they were genuine contenders who could match it with anyone if they were given the chance.

Big wins over Footscray, Collingwood and Richmond in the first month of the season set the Seagulls up for a season where they wouldn’t lose two games in a row.

Their four losses were spread over the first two-thirds of the season, enabling the Seagulls to enter the finals on a five Seagulls logogame tear, where they would ultimately lose two of three games, bowing out with a devastating seven point loss to the Box Hill Hawks.

Ben Jolley, Adam Marcon and Kane Lambert were the lynchpins for Williamstown as they pushed towards a top four berth, eventually finishing third on percentage after Footscray beat Richmond after the siren at Punt Road in their final home and away clash.

2015 (after 18 rounds) – Record: 12-4 / Percentage: 142.77% / Scoring: 228 goals 241 behinds /  Longest streak: 5 game win streak / Longest streak: 2 game losing streak / Average score for: 100.56 / Average score against 70.43.

Kane Lambert was off to Richmond and mixed feelings were prominent by the bay. On one hand Lambert had reached his dream of being drafted by an AFL outfit, on the other – who could possibly replace the speedy goal-sneak? Since I’m asking the question the answer is Anthony Anastasio (and also really obvious).

Three straight wins before a pair of two point losses to Port Melbourne and Werribee showed yet again that the Seagulls were going to be a force to be reckoned with. Since then the Seagulls are undefeated on the road, with a narrow loss to Footscray and a hammering against  Hawthorn, sorry, Box Hill, the only other blemishes on an otherwise commanding season.

The 2015 Seagulls have offered a great variety. While Jolley and Marcon have been important the likes of Dunell, Bese, Carr, Carr, Lockwood and Banner and Critchley are making up the bulk of the BOG every week. That’s why opponents need to be scared, you can shut down one guy but someone else will pop up and do their job (see Anastasio against Collingwood or Dunell against Casey).

The Seagulls have won six of their last seven and nine of their last eleven. With a very winnable fixture against Werribee on Saturday and a potential Minor Premiership deciding clash against Box Hill remaining, it is feasible that the Seagulls enter the finals winning eleven from thirteen.

The Verdict – The numbers and the stories of the respective seasons are near identical. So which year has more potential? You don’t need to mention any more than the words “Box Hill” to get most Williamstown fans fired up, so it’s fitting that a trip to the City Oval is where the Seagulls end one phase of their 2015 journey.

If you ask Andy Collins I don’t think he’d give too much away, it’s not who he is. Rather than who he is, it is valuable to think about what Collins is – a year more experienced. He’s had the chance to find and craft players into the system and the record speaks for itself.

The numbers say that the two years are the same as I write, but numbers can lie. Four losses this year? Three of those have been by a combined total of fifteen points. That’s a number that is impossible to ignore. The Seagulls don’t lose heavily (even in 2014 the biggest loss was 27 points), so if you aren’t switched on for the entire four quarters you’re going to pay the price.

The 2014 side were good enough to win the flag.

The 2015 side are good enough to win the flag.

The current crop have the extra touch of calmness under pressure that was missing in 2014 which leads me to the following conclusion (after a great deal of research).

The 2015 side are going to go at least one step further than the 2014 team.

Why the Boomers must beat New Zealand

The Boomers head into their Olympic qualification series against New Zealand this week full of confidence and international talent. Not only is a win important for players to realise their Olympic dreams but for the momentum of the sport in Australia.

To put it simply Australia are waving a ride of basketball success. Seven Australians currently call the NBA home IMG_1906with almost two dozen more plying their trade in the top competitions around Europe. Despite this, basketball has its fundamental flaws in Australia.

Blame the structure of the NBL, blame the decision makers, blame the decision to start a rebel winter league in 2 years time. Whatever you choose you won’t be alone.

The number of kids playing basketball in Australia is on the up. It’s a great place for kids to start their sporting lives (it’s where I started mine), it’s fun, fairly cheap (which is a big plus for parents) and most importantly there are strong pathways in place.

So why should the Boomers be so desperate for a spot in the 2016 Olympic Games? Besides the opportunity to call yourself an Olympian for the rest of your life (which should be motivated enough), the Boomers have the chance to be heroes.

I’m not talking your garden variety sporting hero for one achievement. Assuming they get to Rio (which realistically they have no reason not to when you look at the respective Australia and New Zealand rosters), the Boomers have the kind of depth that will see them threaten for a medal.

I briefly touched on the pathways offered by basketball as a sport and Australia have gone for the greater part of the last decade without the shining lights of many other nations.

Bogut was #1 in the draft, Exum was #5, Dellavedova is a kid from the country who’s playing alongside the greatest player of this generation and the Cam Bairstow’s of the world have shown that drive is just as important as the talent you’ve got.

There’s an idol in there for every young athlete. Without sounding old and grumpy, back in my day we were told to idolise the likes of Shane Warne and Wayne Carey. Two shining examples of what not to do in the spotlight. There isn’t a bad bloke amongst this crop of Boomers.

Success over the next week (and in Rio) might just be the push basketball needs to get back on the map in Australia.

Just like my dreams

Tonight marks the beginning of another Premier League season. The same stories will be played out on the screen, but this year is different.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was sitting on the lounge room floor of our home in Biloela in Central Queensland, The Australian spread out in front of me. I happened across the Premier League table and asked my dadk7LNwrem (who was on the computer behind me) who I should support, and instead of being given suggestions I was told we supported West Ham United and that was the end of it.

In reality it was just the beginning.

1997 is a long time ago and the experiences West Ham have given me in the same period have shaped me into the person I am today.

This season is different because it’s the last season at Upton Park. Since that fateful night in 1997 finding my way to Upton Park has always been in the top two of my sports bucket list. The reality of it is now it will never happen – I accept that.

The move to the Olympic Stadium could do some wonderful things for the club, or it could backfire and ruin us and a lot of which way that goes depends on this season.

I was against the move from day one because I want to see Upton Park and due to extenuating circumstances it was never a reality. The Olympic Stadium will be a great experience and I know I’ll get there one day.

Stadium issues aside the build up to this season has left me feeling more optimistic than I care to remember. A new manager, an adventure into Europe and players we couldn’t have dreamed of buying five years ago, is this real life?

One thing is for certain – I feel entitled as a West Ham fan and my optimism this year is to thank.

When you think of a club like West Ham you don’t think of raging success. That’s why I feel entitled, because we’re on the move. Have your Liverpool, Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and Man City*. I’m West Ham and like it or hate it we’re the best club in the league.

We’ve got all the things I listed above, we’re the only club to win the World Cup, last time I checked everybody bled claret and blue and we have the loudest fans in the league. Enjoy your trophies, I’ll take being beaten at Wrexham because I’m part of something bigger.

My dreams? A top six finish, a win in the Cup Final, opening the Olympic Stadium against Liverpool and not Yeovil Town

That’s the thing about my dreams…. They fade and die.

 

* – Two of my great mates have been Man City fans since the old Division Two days. I celebrate the success of Manchester City for those two only, and will continue to do so forever.

 

Five experimental rules I want in the AFL 2016 preseason

Preseason is the most interesting time of year in any sport. Some people take it seriously, others think it’s a joke. Most sports love taking the chance to obscure their own rules for entertainments sake.

With the rule twists the AFL have tried over the years (the Supergoal springs to mind) here’s five things I’d like to see the AFL try in the 2016 preseason

Hit the post? Play on – I’ve harped on about this for at least a decade. If the ball hits the post you shouldn’t be rewarded with a score / give away a free kick or a boundary throw in – you should just keep playing. If it goes throughAFL 2013 Rd 16 - West Coast v Fremantle for a behind or a goal the score stands, if it goes out for a stoppage, the stoppage occurs and if it rebounds into the field of play we play on. What’s so wrong with players being alert in every scenario?

Out of bounds? Opponent gets the ball – There aren’t many sports in the world where you can take the ball out of the field of play and not turn it over. All the out of bounds on the full rule does is punish inaccurate kicking. If you want to reduce the length of the game a simple way to do that is to keep the ball in play. Players aren’t going to want to take the ball out if they know they’re going to turn it over.

Shot clock – Not in the here’s 30 seconds after you mark sense. From the time the team come in to possession of the ball (regardless of their position on the field) they have two and a half minutes to take a shot. How often do fans complain about slowing the game to eat up the clock? The easiest way to stop that is to put a cap on the time each team has to do something with the ball.

To mark or not to mark? – If you can take a mark one-handed inside your forward fifty metre arc you’re given a free ten metre advance. What’s more important? possession or field placement? Fans love to question the decision making process of players at any opportunity they get. What will players do when they have the carrot of field possession intertwined with the risk of losing the ball?

Stop the repeat stoppage – If there are three repeat stoppages within a 60 second period  the team in possession of the ball at the last stoppage gives away a free kick. Fans are looking for incentives to rid the game of congestion and if teams are going to give away free kicks for causing stoppages they are going to want to dispose of the ball.

Note: Obviously some of these are never going to happen but it would could completely change the thought process during the game.

Note 2: A big shoutout to the suggestion that an interesting preseason rule would be the “”nobody gives Joel Selwood a free kick”rule.

Four points – Collingwood Magpies

The Seagulls and Magpies were caught in trench warfare for the first three quarters at Burbank Oval on Sunday afternoon. A seven goal final term turned a four point three quarter time lead into a 32 point victory, ensuring they remain top of the Victorian Football League ladder for another week.

1. I see Red, I see Red, I see Red – Sunday was in no uncertain terms the Anthony Anastasio show and what a pleasure it was to watch. The pocket rocket was instrumental in the victory, with five goals, 22 disposals, a tackle, a few assists (including giving away an opportunity to kick what would have been his sixth goal) and the ability to get under the skin of his opponent. The stats are what they are – phenomenal.  The niggle is what impressed me the IMG_1859most. He was able to niggle without doing anything which is going to see him which would put him in danger of missing a game and like most little blokes, his pest status resonated with multiple Magpie players. At one stage in the third quarter he was jammed between two Collingwood players (after kicking a goal), both of whom were trying to gain a reaction, but in typical Red fashion he darted away leaving the Magpies more frustrated.  Having a player like Anastasio who can throw the opponents off task is going to be vital in the lead in to the finals and what looks like it could be a minor premiership deciding clash against Box Hill in the last round of the home and away season.

2. Countering the Magpie strength – Within the first five minutes of the game the Magpies had asserted their dominance in the defensive 50. (At least) Six uncontested marks for the Magpies in first quarter was vital in restricting the Seagulls to a pair of behinds in the first time. This caused the Seagulls to change from the more direct route they had taken to shorter passes and a greater weight of handballs. As they scoreboard showed, the move paid off, with the Seagulls clawing to within two points at the main change.

3. Two hands on the ball – Ball security is always important. In the conditions that were offered on Sunday (sun, overcast, a light breeze, blowing a gale and a touch of rain in the final term) it was a factor that changed the momentum on several occasions. Where the home side, with their knowledge of the conditions focused on locking the ball in and going to the men in space, the visitors played fast and loose, at their peril., most notably the turnover goal from their half forward line in the third quarter.

4. Keeping calm under pressure – Throughout the first three quarters the Magpies held a two goal or more lead on two occasions. In a game where the two teams combined for 14 goals across the first three quarters, it was a lead that could have set the Magpies up for a much needed victory. The ability of the home side to stay cool in the face of game changing pressure was vital, as was their ability to release the pressure valve in the final term.