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.
AA GETS AN F
WTBH respects the privilege of being able to attend some of sport’s most prestigious events, including the AFL’s annual All-Australian presentation dinner.
And we also applaud the AFL for trying something a little different in spicing up a night that has sometimes gone a little wrong in planning. But again, unfortunately, Monday night’s event missed the mark.
With celebrity chefs Guy Grossi and Shannon Bennett talking guests through the degustation menu, which by the way was very tasty indeed, the night had a feel more like a Masterchef matinee than a football function.
The night’s MC, Craig Willis joked that it was a "disgustin menu". He was only joking, though, and the food was very good.
But where were the biffs, bumps and brawls on the big screen, showing what the game’s best players had been up to all year?
While most of the players selected in this year’s team were in the room, they were not part of the presentation at all. And the television broadcast showed only their hologramic images.
Working media not invited to the event didn’t even get the chance to hear from most of the players to see how they felt about their honour, particularly the 15 of them who got in for the first time.
Now WTBH loves the annual debate over the All-Australian, but we also believe there should be more respect paid to the players and their honours on the night.
We don’t believe a player like Nic Naitanui, after receiving the biggest accolade of his career to date, should have to then listen to a panel-show television argument about why he should not have been in the team.
That’s for the media the next day.
And how Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich, Hawthorn gun Sam Mitchell and Sydney speedster Lewis Jetta did not get in, with all due respect, ahead of Tom Hawkins, Scott Pendlebury and Cyril Rioli, beggars belief.
Good try, but no cigar.
The tipping genius trumpeted by Swinburne University at the start of the season did not go unnoticed here at WTBH.
Unfortunately, the early crow was wide of the mark.
Introducing himself as a "renowned football tipster", Professor of Statistics, Stephen Clarke predicted Geelong would win the premiership flag over Collingwood for the second year in a row. Buh bow!
Prof. Clarke claimed his computer-generated tips in 2011 had achieved a 78.6 per cent success rate - his best in 30 years of tipping. Last year 146 winners were picked in the home and away season and eight out of the nine finals.
He was confident predictions would achieve an even better result in 2012. Not to be.
But his predicted final ladder is interesting to assess. It was:
Geelong (68 premiership points)
St Kilda (56)
West Coast (56)
North Melbourne (52)
Western Bulldogs (40)
Brisbane Lions (32)
Port Adelaide (24)
Gold Coast Suns (24)
GWS Giants (16)
Collingwood’s Dale ‘‘Daisy’’ Thomas is rarely one for big-noting.
But it is interesting to note that with his 152nd senior game tonight, he will join Magpies legend Bob Rose and another great, Mick McGuane, on matches played for the club.
Thomas was surprised at the feat at joining the "two iconic names" when told this week by WTBH. But even after bursting back to form in last Saturday night’s semi-final win over West Coast, he did not think the club would honour him with a statue like the one of Rose which sits boldly at the front of their Westpac Centre headquarters in Melbourne’s Olympic Park precinct.
"I might build my own, I think that’s what I’ll have to do to get one," he laughed. "If I’d had one there before last week, it probably would have been torn down."
Thomas stressed that he was not counting his games, but trying to make them count.
"Hopefully, I can get out there and have another impact for the team," he said.
"It doesn’t matter what number game it is, it’s another chance to try and win for the team and progress through. It’s finals footy, there’s no second chances and hopefully I can get through to 153 by the end of the year."
WELL, WELL, WELLY
In the strictly-crafted responses most current AFL footballers give to media questions, there are few moments when things get past the cliched "one week at a time" theory.
But WTBH caught Collingwood utility Sharrod Wellingham out this week.
When asked whether he and Hawthorn housemate Lance Franklin, his friend since their teen years in WA, had considered the possibility of playing against each other in next week’s grand final, he quickly replied: "Yeah we have. We were saying it would be good and that one of us would...".
And there ended the projected thoughts as the Perth product quickly reverted back to the company line.
"I can’t worry about that, we’ve got Sydney this week so I can’t give you anything to write about," he laughed.
KO FOR KOFOED
It seems West Coast defensive coach David Teague was something of a wrecking ball at the club last week.
Not only did the 2004 Carlton best-and-fairest winner put midfielder Matt Rosa through a testing physical session to prove his recovery from a broken collarbone, but he also took out strength and conditioning coach Warren Kofoed on the day before last Saturday’s semi-final against Collingwood.
WTBH understands a stray ball kicked by Teague clobbered Kofoed in the head and not only made him see stars, but also contributed to a serious ankle injury. A sheepish Kofoed was walking around the Eagles changerooms on crutches and in a moon boot after the loss to the Magpies.
In the AFL’s official function at AAMI Stadium before the Crows beat Fremantle in the semi-final, it was a delight to listen to an interview with Australia's greatest-ever Paralympian, Matt Cowdrey.
Fresh from taking his career medal tally to 23, with 13 of them gold, Cowdrey openly told of his dislike for having to wear a fake left arm under his suit. The 23-year-old was born with part of his arm missing due to a congenital amputation.
He said his mum liked him to wear the fake limb whenever he wore a suit or was in the gym, but claimed it made him feel "very uncomfortable".
It seems that even with Geelong having exited this year’s premiership race at the hands of Fremantle at the start of the finals series, Hawthorn supporters are still having palpitations over the Cats.
A Melbourne colleague of WTBH is possibly the maddest Hawks fan on the planet. She was desperately worried this week that the mere presence of former Geelong stars Brenton Sanderson and Darren Milburn in the Adelaide coaching box would be enough to help the Crows knock the Hawks out of the premiership race at the MCG tomorrow night.
JOLLY GOOD SHOW
Collingwood ruckman Darren Jolly revealed this week that a picture taken by The West Australian before a 2006 final against West Coast at Patersons Stadium gets a regular run at his home.
Then playing for Sydney, Jolly suffered a compound fracture to a finger at a light training session two days before a one-point qualifying final loss to the Eagles. He said this week that he still has a copy of the graphic photograph and regularly got it out for a "party trick" with dinner guests.
TO BE SHAW
Sydney defender Rhyce Shaw found it difficult this week just how it would feel to get to 300 senior games, like his war-horse teammate Jude Bolton will tonight.
Set for his own 186th game, Shaw could barely believe what Bolton had been able to achieve.
"For a bloke who gets concussion every week, it’s a pretty special effort ... I’m just hoping to get to next week," he said. "He’s a fantastic ambassador for the Swans footy club."
WHERE THE SUN DOESN’T SHINE
We here at WTBH love presents. But we also think Gold Coast may have gone slightly over the top with a merchandising claim this week.
The Suns suggested their personalised signed player canvases, costing $69.95 were the "Ultimate Christmas gift".
We think not.
Some West Coast tragics still wonder whether dual premiership forward Peter Wilson could have hit the side of a barn with a hand full of wheat when they remember how he used to spray shots at goal.
With respect, Wilson finished with a career tally of 123.109 and booted 15.5 in the Eagles’ first flag year of 1992. But it seems 17-year-old daughter Bree is far more accurate.
Playing at GA for the City Beach Surfers in her junior netball grand final last weekend, Wilson yesterday estimated his daughter had shot 26 of her team’s winning tally of 34 goals. He also suggested her shooting accuracy had been north of 90 per cent.
"She’s a lot better than me," Wilson admitted.
"I’m not too sure what my ratio was, but trust me, it was nothing like that. Wilson happily admitted, "just to be politically-correct", that the accuracy genes had come from his wife Kerry. He also revealed former coach Mick Malthouse had been the cause of much of his post-career discomfort in life.
"Mick changed the rules a bit and used my body as a battering ram," he lamented.
"That’s why I can’t walk these days. It’s left me in ordinary condition, but some think that’s all I was good for."