Finally!! The finals are here. And with no help from the AFL either. Pushing the whole player management thing way too far and managing the entire final eight. On the eve of the finals no less! It beggars belief. My disappointment was only matched by that of the Australian Olympic Committee after Australia managed only half of the expected 16 gold medals at the Rio Olympics. Never mind that the athletes gave their all, and those who didn’t win were most likely beaten by better opponents. No doubt they will seek to initiate a Royal Commission. But if it is really important to them that Australia has 16 gold medals, I have a nifty solution. Why not take the eight that we won, cut them in half and distribute them amongst the athletes who were expected to win? It’s a win/win situation: More athletes end up with gold medals, and those that already have them will be relieved from the obvious neck pain that would normally ensue. (I saw them on TV; those medals are quite large and look really heavy.) It's a mystery why they haven’t asked me sooner.
But I digress, the home and away season is over and the finals are (appropriately) final-ly here. Good news for some, but bad news for the rest, so called because now they do in fact have a big rest ahead of them. Although now those ten teams can go away and sift through the debris of a 2016 that didn’t pan out the way they would have hoped. Some will look back and see that while they didn’t make the finals, the year wasn’t a complete write off. St Kilda and Melbourne made significant progress, Carlton surprised many with their competitiveness, and even Essendon managed three wins with the whole club pretty much holding their breath for the whole year.
On the other side of the ledger, some teams fell apart right before our eyes. Brisbane disintegrated as a team and as a club, with Coach Justin Leppitsch feeling a little like Edward Smith, captain of the ill-fated Titanic. Damien “General Custer” Hardwicke claimed that his Richmond list was the best it had been in his time there, and Fremantle seemed to disappear off the face of the Earth. Perhaps with the never-ending movement of the tectonic plates, the Bermuda Triangle somehow relocated to just south of Perth.
Now those teams can go away and enjoy their Mad Mondays, Tomfoolery Tuesdays, Wonderfully Hare-brained Wednesdays, Thoroughly Preposterous Thursdays, or even Completely Spazzed-out Fridays. It has been a long and sometimes arduous season, so I believe it is important that at the end of it all, the players can finally let their hair down. (Gary Ablett notwithstanding)
This is also the time of year when the clubs begin to hold their Best and Fairest nights to celebrate the champion players from the year past. Some have already been run and won. Jack Steven took out St Kilda’s Trevor Barker Award and Jack Viney won Melbourne’s Keith "Bluey" Truscott Medal. Up at the Gold Coast, Tom Lynch claimed his second (as yet unnamed) club champion award. According to one report Lynch won in a landslide. While I applaud Tom for his great year, I denounce the night’s organisers as a landslide seems a wholly dangerous and irresponsible place to hold the count.
And so, it begins tonight, the AFL’s version of the Octagon. Who will stand up? Who will sit down? And who will be left swaying in the middle of the aisle holding onto the strap and trying not to fall on someone?
Only time will tell which team will end up compared to the great Lake……Superior.