“We Are The Navy Blues”
I’ve never heard the Carlton song sung in the sheds at the Sydney Cricket Ground after a victory since 2012 of covering AFL in New South Wales. The version I heard on Saturday afternoon made up for the drought of SCG losses, and boy was it LOUD. Sam Petrevski-Seton started the tune with a little improvisation of the Blues song, and then the boys got it really going. Such a contrast to the scenes I witnessed a few moths ago of a disheveled Carlton team after the hammering the GWS Giants dished out. There’s nothing pretty about losers rooms. Everyone is quiet, it’s a vacuum and the inevitability that head coach Brendon Bolton was doomed added to the mire. As nice a bloke as Bolton was, he wasn’t up to being a head coach. That’s not a slight on him as a person, it’s just an AFL business call. Carlton president Mark LoGiudice has copped a stack of abuse from the media, yet I think what’s new? Carlton has a tradition of controversial leaders aka George Harris, Ian Rice, John Elliot. Like it or not LoGiudice and his board got the call right on the coach sacking. The Blues are a totally different side. They have passion, belief and players like Marc Murphy, Jack Silvagni and Levi Casboult (who have copped plenty of criticism including myself) are playing some really good footy. The players seem free and unfettered from a strategy that simply wasn’t working. Interim coach David Teague has his team playing a winning brand. I don’t know, but I don’t understand the talk of “Oh, well, there needs to be proper screening, a net cast wide to see the talent out there” Are you kidding me? What is the best kind of screening other than gameday, actual experience? Teague has taken this team on the road and helped Carlton find themselves. A long, tough road trip to Perth and a win, then on to Sydney a win. Since the June 3, sacking the Blues have only lost two games and both under a goal. Their first win with the new coach, was over the new darlings of the comp, the red-hot Brisbane Lions. And like Rhys Shaw who’s done magnificent work at North Melbourne, I say give them both the head coaching jobs. What they have both achieved is remarkable.
Another 3 years at the Swans for the “10 minute man”
Coaching is such a big talking point at the moment. Well, finally for all of the Freudian slips and jokes and silly giggles, Sydney coach John Longmire is staying put for another 3 years with a deal signed last week. The “10 minute man” as we like to dub him (Longmire and one of his key reasons for staying was quoted on the official AFL website news section as “We’re 10 minutes from the CBD, 10 minutes from the airport and 10 minutes from some of the world’s best beaches,”) So he’s staying for airport proximity, beaches and the city. What a response. Obviously it’s footy he’s focused on and he has a promising list. But I still think, Longmire cant take Sydney to the heights of what they reached in 2012, 2014 and 2016. I think his strategic style is predictable, he hasn’t adapted well to the new 6-6-6 format (take a look at the Sydney ruck department and THAT’s before the injuries to Sinclair) The young list has much to learn. I think the most promising players such as Tom Papley, Tom McCartin and Oliver Florent still have flaws in their games, and once ironed out can they actually be big game winners? Nick Blakey is the most exciting of all. The kid sometimes thinks ages before he acts when he’s got the ball and ties himself in knots. Hopefully time will smooth out those edges, but “The Lizard” is looking good. Callum Mills might be a handy backman, but I’ve seen him fold big league in the ultimate furnace of a grand final where the Bulldogs monstered him in 2016 and I haven’t seen anything change. A new ruck strategy is desperately required and a new key forward is needed, as Lance Franklin is getting older and soft tissues injuries are becoming a regularity. Again, I think this has been a blown opportunity on the Sydney Swans behalf to be revolutionary and go for a newer and I think better option in Matthew Scarlett. Scarlo is the current backman line coach for the top of the table Geelong team. If the Cats win the flag he’s going to be a super hot commodity in coaching stocks. After weeks of acting chill,joking, almost buddhist like, Longmire was back to his cranky best on Saturday at the post-game presser. Amazing what a difference a new contract makes.
Straight shooter Darcy Lang
Was great to talk with Darcy Lang from the Blues post-game. Prior to the interview, he walked up to us clutching a chicken sandwich on brown bread. We asked him about the change in playing style and was it down to a new coach. Lang flatly denied it saying nothing much had changed. I found that hard to believe, but then again, that’s what he told us and he quite possibly thinks that. The former Geelong player has fitted in nicely into the Blues squad and it was a very handy goal he kicked for the Blues in the second term. I really enjoy learning and talking to players you don’t hear much about and their views on footy. Always something new to discover about this grand game.