It’s simple, It was a relief to be at the footy
Rod Serling, that creative, chain smoking host of the legendary 1960’s television series The Twilight Zone would have felt right at home at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday afternoon. With the CO-VID 19 crisis closures still in place, it was strange observing an AFL game with barely a soul in the ground. It was devoid of the usual hustle and bustle of game day. There were no people walking around hands full with cups of beers and hot chips, You couldn’t by a coffee or a football record. There were as many empty blue seats as you see at a Sheffield Shield cricket match. The one thing that struck me was the ability to clearly hear the players yelling out directions and encouragement to fellow teammates. Normally a huge roar covers that. It also underscores just how integral fans are to the game, particularly during a high stakes game or a thrilling, down to the wire finish. Football needs its fans. There were Sydney Swans fans in attendance in the stands albeit in small numbers. My understanding is current membership holders were able to put themselves in a ballot for the few seats that were available. The fans that did make the cut made a pretty decent noise all things considered. Despite the weirdness, it was good to be back watching the grand game of Australian Rules football.
Managed to bump into Swans CEO Tom Harley who spent the game in the Trumper Stand sitting amongst fellow Sydney Swans fans. He told me it was great to be back despite all the obvious hassle that the CV19 crisis has caused. Even Tom had his game day hat on. He told me the surface conditions of the SCG were quite slippery in the morning, but had improved with the warm afternoon Winter sunshine that bathed the oval. That’s a premiership winning Tom Harley paying typical attention to detail!
Bombers finals bound in 2020?
Surely Essendon are finals bound in 2020. Despite it being round 2, there were plenty of signs that they have a capable team with many solid strategic options. Andrew McGrath has been touted by AFL pundits as being the Bombers most important player. I witnessed plenty of evidence backing that claim on Sunday. McGrath from the very start of the game was involved in the contest. He quickly got the ball out and when he didn’t, he vigorously tackled his opponents. He finished the game with 23 disposals and had the most tackles (7 tackles). McGrath was ably assisted by Zach Merrett, Kyle Langford and Dylan Shiel. This Bomber midfield is extremely potent. Darcy Parish played a good game and kicked a difficult the sealer in the dying seconds. Then up forward you have Jake Stringer and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti. Both players booted 2 crucial goals in the first term. The goals were earned from good football via solid marking and pressure tackling. Devon Smith was at his goal hungriest best, snapping an almost impossible angled goal. The defense needs a little more work, but Coach Worsfold finally looks to have a good team to work with.
Sydney Swans will be competitive in 2020
Wasn’t a bad effort by the Swans considering they had a makeshift forward line, missing big guns in Lance Franklin and Sam Reid. There were some very positive signs from Lewis Taylor who kicked 3 very serviceable goals. He’s a handy pick-up from the Brisbane Lions, I enjoyed his leading for the ball efforts and the ability to finish off his goal taking shots. Isaac Heeney had a quiet night by his standards. Tom Papley who expressed a desire to leave the club in the pre-season, did a good job in the forward line kicking 3 goals. John Longmire was his typical morose self after a loss at the post-game press conference. He was right on the money with regards to his comments about the Bombers fast start which ultimately cost the Swans the game. The bottom line is, Sydney will be competitive in 2020 and wont be the worst in the competition.