What a way to end the regular season. Four of the top eight teams lose their final game with no real ramifications. The Gold Coast Suns get beaten by themselves and the Sydney Swans. The following day key Suns forward Charlie Dixon says he wants out and his headed to Port Adelaide, a day later Harley Bennell does something along the lines of The Specials song Nite Klub “Nite Klub, is this the in place to be? Nite Klub, what am I doing here? Nite Klub, watching the girls go by, Spending money on beer! ” On Monday he’s told by the Gold Coast he is an unrequired player. A disappointing result as the Gold Coast Suns had done everything in their power to keep and help rehabilitate Bennell after the “snorting” photos controversy were released earlier this year.
Then it’s the “Mad Monday” celebrations with Geelong always delivering at their traditional crazyfest at the Lord of The Isles Tavern opposite Kardinia Park. Joel Selwood and Jimmy Bartel rock up us an “incident” Mick Fanning (Joel) and the shark (Jimmy). Retiring player Matthew Stokes came a very, very close second as the Dalai Lama.
On the GWS Giants side Phil Davis’s Mad Monday effort was just like the past couple of days bizarre, complete with manila folder and the word “Davis” inscribed on the cover, wearing an over-sized bow-tie and geek glasses. On official business the Giants have lost two keystone personnel in Player Welfare Manager Craig Lambert (who’s heading home to Brisbane and will work with the Lions in 2016) and key midfielder Adam Treloar who announced on Tuesday he wishes to be traded to Collingwood as the GWS Giants cannot match his financial requirements.
The biggest AFL story on Tuesday and on a more serious note, was of star & Sydney Swans franchise player Lance “Buddy” Franklin withdrawing from Saturday’s upcoming finals game against Fremantle due to “mental health issues” and had suffered a “seizure” according to Swans officials in a carefully worded public statement. There is a strong possibility Franklin may not play again this year. Also in the mix of the story is the revelation Franklin spent time in hospital on Friday prior to Saturday’s game against Gold Coast after a “mild epileptic seizure”. The Swans released a further press statement on Tuesday evening that the “the seizure was in no way related to a mental health condition being suffered” making the story even more intriguing. The bottom line for Sydney is that it is not unreasonable to say their 2015 premiership campaign is all but over without Buddy despite having the double chance. It would be the greatest AFL sporting achievement if the Swans pulled it off, but it is highly unlikely considering the mood Fremantle will be in after last year’s finals effort against the Swans.
But back to Saturday nights game and Sydney got out of the blocks quickly booting 6 goals to the Gold Coast Suns miserly 2 behinds. Gold Coast continually gave up the ball and were under constant pressure by the Swans. To their credit, the Suns fought back gamely in the 2nd quarter to outscore Sydney by 6 goals to 3, giving themselves a chance after the main break. For Sydney Isaac Heeney, Sam Reid,Harry Cunningham Josh Kennedy and Kurt Tippett were posting the goals. Aaron Hall was the standout for the Suns gaining 31 possessions and kept his team in the game. Charlie Dixon also provided a focal point up forward and kicked two goals. The big story of the first half was the injury sustained by Kieren Jack. He received a nasty knock to the side of his knee which was later revealed to be damage to the medial ligament of his left knee. It’s been reported he will miss 2-3 weeks. But like Franklin, his return looks highly unlikely.
Come the second half it was a case of “what-if” for the Gold Coast.They kicked 3 goals, 7 behinds for the remainder and muffed some getable goals. The got to within a couple of goals behind the Sydney lead, but some of the missed chances symbolically summed up the Suns year. In particular Charlie Dixon was as close to goal as you can get, but instead of nailing an easy goal, he shanked the kick and it missed entirely, it was a bizarre play.
Like with all good sides, continual opposition mistakes are punished and capitalized on. Sydney took full advantage and cruised away to a 63 point win. They locked in a top four spot and the double chance which will prove priceless considering the injuries to Jack and personal health issues of Lance Franklin.
For Gold Coast as, alluded to earlier, they have stabilized the club at end of the season. Players of major distraction in Bennell and Dixon will be gone in 2016 and hopefully a solid pre-season from Gary Ablett and continual improvement from their younger players such as Touk Miller, Kade Kolodjashnij and Aaron Hall will see them back in the conversation of being a finals prospect.
Footnote: On leaving the SCG on Saturday night, well after the game had concluded..I spotted a small stray black cat tip toeing around the hedges and memorial statues located behind the members stand. This opportunistic critter was obviously looking to pick up an odd food scrap or two..you know what they say about black cats crossing paths..after the past couple of days.. I wonder!.. Strange days indeed.
SYDNEY SWANS 6.3 9.7 11.11 19.13 (127)
GOLD COAST 0.2 6.3 7.7 9.10 (64)
Sydney Swans: Cunningham 3, Reid 3, Heeney 2, Kennedy 2, Towers 2, Tippett 2, Goodes, Hannebery, Rampe, Mitchell, Franklin
Gold Coast: Lynch 2, Dixon 2, McKenzie 2, Stanley, Garlett, Kolodjashnij
Sydney Swans: Kennedy,Reid,Heeney
Gold Coast: Hall, Kolodjashnij, Rischitelli,
Sydney Swans: Jack (knee)
Gold Coast: Broughton (leg)
Sydney Swans: Lewis Jetta replaced Kieren Jack (1st Quarter)
Gold Coast: Luke Russell replaced Greg Broughton (1st Quarter)
Umpires: Brown, Ryan, Jeffery
Official crowd: 25,424 at SCG
The perfect song to sum up the final week of the regular 2015 AFL Season The Specials live in 1979 “Nite Klub”