Steve Butler, thewest.com.au's man in Melbourne, provides the AFL scuttlebutt being kicked around the national competition.
Catch Butler's Bouncedown on Today Tonight, 6.30pm tonight.
It was with a tinge of sadness that one of WTBH’s Fremantle favourites, Antoni Grover, announced his retirement this week.
It even prompted Essendon great Tim Watson to claim Grover’s departure would leave Sesame Street in disarray. Boom boom.
But we decided to take a peek at Grover’s first ever game back in 1999 - a round 21 loss to Sydney by 33 points at the WACA, to see what it threw up.
Aside from the fact that it was played at a ground that is no longer an AFL venue and without wanting to make anyone feel old, Dockers football operations manager Chris Bond was still a player at the age of 30 and had just one possession in what was actually his last of 163 games.
In fairness to Bondy, he also had a mark and a tackle, but his possession tally was 20 less than Grover’s.
Adrian Fletcher, now an assistant coach at Brisbane, won three Brownlow medal votes for his 32 possessions in the loss and Clive Waterhouse booted 4.2.
For the Swans, Tony Lockett boosted his career tally of goals to 1348 with his 5.5. The only other player on the ground that day still playing was Sydney on-baller Jude Bolton, who was in just his seventh match.
Groves, we at WTBH salute you. It’s been a pleasure to watch you play with a passion we wish more had.
All eyes will be on Melbourne coach Mark Neeld when his Demons play Fremantle at Patersons Stadium on Saturday night after he promised a Melbourne radio station he would set an example by not swearing once during the match.
On the back of Geelong coach Chris Scott’s recent criticism of crowd behaviour in Perth, Nova 100’s Hughesy & Kate challenged Neeld to help stop the rot by holding his terse tongue in check.
‘‘I’m really excited and if you pull this off, you’ll be heralded as a genius,’’ Hughesy said.
Neeld said that while his team had provided some form which had warranted some harsh language, he would give the mission a go.
‘‘That’s strong wording, pledge... (but) I think I might be able to do it,’’ Neeld said, taking up the challenge.
‘‘I will try very hard to do the right thing on the weekend. I will try my best to remove all expletives from the coaching box. it would probably be a unique situation.’’
The politically-correct world is watching, Mark Neeld.
Melbourne co-captain Jack Trengove has revealed his lament that his sister Jess has assumed family bragging rights after competing for Australia in the marathon at the London Olympics.
Despite him being named this year as the youngest captain in VFL/AFL history, Trengove said his sister’s achievement had slotted him back to being a secondary sibling.
‘‘She’s older, so she probably gets them now... you can’t top going to the Olympics,’’ Trengove said with a wry smile.
‘‘Last off-season she always tried to get me out to go for a run with her, but I continually had excuses. The shorter distances I’d be happy with, but once you get past about 3km she’s just going to blow me away.
‘‘She’s not one to boast, but she knows she’d beat me in a running race and I’m definitely the ‘brother of’ now. She used to think it was the other way around, but since the Olympics it’s definitely changed.
‘‘I’m going to have to do something special to get myself back up there.’’
But Trengove did concede he at least had more chances in his sporting life to make amends for a bad performance.
‘‘Considering the Olympics, for example, every four years you get one opportunity to make the most of it,’’ he said.
‘‘That puts things into perspective and we do get the chance to bounce back the week after.
''Footballers can take for granted sometimes, the position we’re in and how fortunate we are to be doing what we’re doing and being paid handsomely compared to the average job.’’
It was great to hear this week that the tortuous years of coaching Adelaide has not dulled former Crows boss Neil Craig’s sense of humour.
Now sports performance director at Melbourne, Craig seemed comfortable on Wednesday, sitting back in a chair and listening in as he watched Demons coach Mark Neeld take his weekly grilling from a small media gathering.
One of Craig’s great traits during his Adelaide stint, was to bring to his weekly Friday press conferences a plastic box filled with an assortment of tasty biscuits for journalists every time the Crows had a win.
Reflecting on having won only 12 of his final 16 matches as Adelaide coach before stepping down after a 103-point loss to St Kilda in round 18 last season, Craig said: ‘‘The biscuits became few and far between at the end ... the journalists were all losing a bit of weight.’’
SMALL POPPY SYNDROME
Hawthorn’s mature-aged gun Paul Puopolo is quite prepared to concede that at 173cm, he will be operating in something akin to the land of the giants when he runs out against West Coast at the MCG tonight.
But sneaky South Australian has already been plotting ways to limit the lofty among the Eagles.
“They’re a good side and a very tall side as well... they’ve got a lot of tall timber,” he told WTBH this week.
‘‘It’ll be good, I’ll be running between their legs.’’
Puopolo said he'd had good preparation when the Hawks played Fremantle in round eight and he was pitted against Michael Johnson, who towered over him by a lazy 21cm.
“It wasn’t too good when the ball got lobbed in high,” he laughed.
A WHACK BACK
The footy world seemed to be in uproar when the AFL match review panel cited Geelong captain Joel Selwood when he pushed elder brother Adam to the deck after the pair had collided heavily at Patersons Stadium in round 20.
But he wouldn’t be a Selwood if he didn’t back it up with another crack and he did so via his weekly column in Melbourne’s The Age newspaper on Wednesday.
‘‘I don’t normally like to admit I agree with my brothers about anything, but I read yesterday that Adam reckoned West Coast could win the flag from outside the top four,’’ he wrote.
‘‘He was right about the fact the premiership can be won this year by a side outside the top four, but wrong about which side it will be. So, sorry Adam, you were right, but you were also wrong - a side can, and will, win the flag from outside the top four, but it will be the Cats.’’
Now them’s fighting words.
HEY SCREWED BLUES
Finally, it would be negligent of us here at WTBH not to follow up on our joy in the woe Carlton supporters set themselves up for last week.
They had nonchalantly banked four points against the Gold Coast before the game had even begun, when they started a campaign for Blues supporters to buy a one-game North Melbourne membership.
They vowed to support the Kangaroos to beat Fremantle to try and keep their own finals hopes alive.
The result? Gold Coast win, Carlton gone. Fremantle win anyway. The only sadness we have out of the whole ordeal is that it cost a good footy bloke in Brett Ratten his job.
Ratts, we wish you well.