INTRO: The dawning of a new season in the AFL and the arrival of the new team, the GWS Giants, should fill us all with a bit of excitement for 2012. The AFL has achieved its growth policy with the extra teams in Brisbane and Sydney in what may be construed as an out and out war against Rugby. The popularity of our national game is reaching new highs every season. Who would have thought 25 years ago that not only would the AFL not cut the number of teams (South Melbourne going to Sydney and Fitzroy going to Brisbane) but would increase the original 12 to 18! While there are great expectations for Gold Coast and GWS their supporters should not expect instant success.
RIP JIM STYNES: On a sad note the news in the AFL world that many knew was inevitable was announced this week with the passing of Jim Stynes. He was a great footballer and a great man who played the game and lived his life to the same high standard. Jim got himself up and ready for 244 consecutive AFL games – still a record - so it was no surprise that he would bravely fight his cancer with the same passion. Brownlow Medallist, Demons champ, Club president and co-founder of the Reach Foundation, a true gentleman was Jim and he will be sorely missed in the AFL fraternity.
CHINESE WHISPERS: Once again, this year, 2012, will see the previews coming to you from Northern China, Heilongjiang Province, Daqing. There has been a move from Xincun area to the Longfeng area of the city and I am teaching at a new school that was opened here on February 1st. Unfortunately for me, most of the 107 new pupils are of a very young age, kindergarten, which tests the tolerance level at times but if I can survive a winter here then I can survive more than 100 Chinese kids right? I hope so. Speaking of winter, it was certainly a lot less cold than the previous winter but whether the temperature is -22 or -29 is really academic. To an Aussie anything less than 10 degrees, plus 10 degrees I mean, is getting pretty cold. Strangely enough we had no snow and I was extremely disappointed that there was no White Christmas. A few snowflakes on November 12, again on December 12 a month later, then mostly clear skies every day until last week. Apparently it can be too cold to snow and until the temperature zoomed up to -6 and -1 recently then there was little chance of us seeing snow. Overnight snow and snow all morning is kind of nice to wake up to when you look out your window and see more of what you imagine to be a ‘winter wonderland’. Last Friday the temperature got to plus 5 and pretty soon a lot of the ice and all of the snow melted to create huge pools of water and slush, a result of badly engineered drainage and horribly made footpaths and roads. There are a lot more bikes here in Longfeng as it’s an older area with residents clinging to older traditions such as bicycle use so I joined the hardy, local cyclists and started riding to and from the school. It’s quite an exhilarating feeling riding your bike in subzero temperatures while it’s snowing and feeling the crunch of ice under your tyres.
AFL STUFF: The departure of Mick Malthouse from Collingwood should have seen the end of an era in coaches. No more of the ‘old school’ type coaches would have remained in the AFL except that sneaky Sheedy landed himself the job of starting the GWS in the big time. It will be interesting to see how Kev handles himself and the team over the coming season. With regard to the tipping we have 23 rounds of football and I work out 197 games so to win the tipping this season you will need a score of about 150 to 160, a big ask as we see more competitiveness of the teams, some pre-season injuries to key players and some exciting new talent. Of course the new coaching appointees will be keen to make their marks in the AFL. All exciting stuff. I hope you enjoy the previews this season. I will try to be informative and accurate with a touch of cynicism, some sarcasm, lots of hyperbola, roasts and toasts and compliments and insults. Good luck in the tipping to all competitors!
GWS Giants V Sydney at ANZ Stadium Saturday night
Do you have a big brother? This game is a case of the big brother kicking the little brother’s butt – hard. A small step for Sydney and a Giant to be stepped on. Welcome to the AFL little brother!
Certainly this will be a great inaugural event for the AFL’s Sydney experiment although I am not quite sure why this game is to be played a week before the rest of the season. Fixturing like this is a nightmare for tipping competitions run by computer programs. The Giants have a lot of new, untried talent and they were also able to recruit a few of the older, more experienced AFL rejects like McDonald, Brogan and Cornes. They already have some injury problems to the experienced players and it’s difficult to see them match it with the Swans for any great length of time. I mean who do the Giants place on Goodes as a stopper? By the way, who selected the name Giants? Really – American baseball or basketball or NFL, not very original. What’s wrong with the GWS Echidnas? The Pythons? The Wombats? The Redbacks? The Huntsmen? The Dingoes? Just thinking out aloud.
Sydney Swans by 72