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Round 21 AFL Blog
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A funny thing happened on the way to get a skin cancer removed... This was last Thursday and as I sat waiting for the call up, it struck me that the first time I mentioned it to some friends that this was what was happening, one of them said well we better enjoy ourselves as it might not be all of us next time... Whoah! Wait a minute...if I had said I had skin cancer as opposed to a skin cancer that needed to be removed, then that's a rather large difference in interpretation (all hanging on the word "a"). At 42 years of age, I don't really think I'm even 1/2 done on this planet. Fate may dictate otherwise but that's something we don't have control over... so fate is what it is.. Fact of the matter is that whilst there may be a chance of a recurrence, a carcenoma is what the surgeon referred to as a good skin cancer, the type that you would theoretically want to get. I'm a bit of a fan of slip slop slap too - especially when teaching my two boys about sunscreen. My info was that there was a 90% success/benign rate with these which is comforting while I hide under my Phantom of the Opera mask to cover a rather large tick-shaped scar on my face and a dozen stitches.. Amazing that we speak the same language but the interpretations can be poles apart... Cancer in any form is a scary and sobering thought. In my attempts to stay upbeat and positive, I've worked a few explanations for the stitches: My sons and I were playing Harry Potter. The spell was Spectum Petronis (I think the generic HP spell). It is the mark of Zorro. I've had enough of watching RPA, those DIY lobotomies don't work. Quietly singing "Blame It on The Carcenoma" (not Bossa Nova) It was like that poster of Kramer off "Seinfeld": "He is a loathsome offensive brute yet I cannot look away!" I did laugh at The Simpsons featuring Sideshow Luke Perry (he of 90210 fame) in one of Krusty's umpteenth anniversary specials. With the aid of a human cannon, a glss factory and the vat of acid (among other things): "My face, my valuable face..." Poor old Luke Perry never did quite recover nor did his career... ...and with that, the stitches come out on Thursday so we revert back to normal I think. It's been a quiet weekend with some reasonable footy on the tv/foxtel.
Round 20 2011 AFL Blog
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I thought given a couple of horrific injuries at the weekend, I'd have a look through the clubs lists of injured and rank who's affected in the lead up to September.
Adelaide currently 13th have a few but of real importance Douglas, Porplyzia, Tippett, McKernan. Won't make finals so these guys may as well get operated on.
Brisbane is 15th Brown, Merrett and Rich - 3 of their best and automatic inclusions in the best 22. Like Adelaide - no finals
Collingwood is 1st - N Brown, Dawes, Didak, Toovey and Wellingham. All in the best 22 you would think. Only N. Brown no chance.
Carlton is 4th - Jamison, Armfield, Joseph, Carrazzo and Hampson - Jamison critical to Carlton's best 22, the others not as important.
Essendon - 8th, a bolter on the injury front, are suddenly struggling with 4 seasons ended (Prismall, Dempsey, Lonergan and Pears) and others like Fletcher, Hocking and Hurley just  back this week. Hooker, Lovett-Murray, Colyer, Hibberd and Darcy Daniher all out too.
Fremantle - 9th have had their challengers but probably the team with the most significant injuries relative to their best 22. Sandilands, De Boer, Hayden, Griffin, Palmer, Morabito, Mundy, Walters would all be in Freo's best 22 and are all in the stands or on the bike seat.
Geelong - noone that really can't be covered. Taylor Hunt and Daniel Menzel would almost now be in the best 22 when they return. 
Gold Coast - Ablett (Gary not Nathan) - says it all really. Next to Aaron Sandilands, Lenny Hayes and Jonathon Brown - the most important injury at present, relative to the team. Hence a trip to Geelong becomes almost like a trip to Wolf Creek.
Hawthorn - 3rd, despite big names injured - Renouf, Roughead, Stratton and Gilham - all 4 would be in the Hawks best 22 - the Hawks have coped well. Rioli has had some injury concerns too and they are trying to retrain his running style to cope better.
North Melbourne - 10th started the year poorly with McIntosh, Bastinac, Cunnington, Pratt out but slowly are getting back into gear. Sam Wright and Ben Speight might rate as the 2 who are missing that might be in North's best 22. McIntosh is yet to return.
Melbourne - 11th has had some major injuries with Jamar out for so long and #1 draft pick Tom Scully out for extended periods too. Also, Jack Grimes and Austin Wonaemirri have not been available for much of the season and would be in the Demons best 22.
Richmond - 14th has had a few names out like Astbury, Kelvin Moore, Tom Derickx and now have lost skipper Chris Newman indefinitely. Moore aside, the names listed might be not in their best 22 but would definitely assist with the Tigers depth.
St.Kilda - 6th - Lenny Hayes, a player that most supporters would love to have at their club is a massive loss. James Gwilt is the next most important injury as is Michael Gardiner. Gardiner unfortunately appears to be on his last legs. Jamie Cripps and Tom Ledger are of the new brigade whose absence is hurting the Saints but both are not yet best 22.
Sydney - 7th - seems to be getting by ok, occasional injuries more than long term injuries over the year. Gary Rohan and the Canadian Mike Pyke might be regarded as best 22 by the bloods but that's subjective rather than definite.
West Coast 4th has had limited game time from Daniel Kerr but he has been better than in recent years. Beau Waters is another who has had limited game time. Both would be in the best 22. As would Sam Butler, one of footy's least known Premiership players of the last decade. Occasional injuries to Cox and Naitanui have not helped but both will be ready for finals.
The Bulldogs have had limited output from Barry Hall as time caught up with him and hence the decision to retire. Tom Liberatore and Mitch Wallis and Ayce Cordy have had limited seasons also. Brian Lake would have to be the mystery of 2011 - does anyone really know where he's at. Similarly injuries to Adam Cooney, Shaun Higgins and Ryan Hargrave haven't helped. No return of Will Minson's soy-related injury though. The Dogs haven't had a good year in this regard.
cheers PT

Round 18 2011 AFL Blog
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Much has been made of Mick Malthouse and the coaching position. What of Nathan Buckley? Should he stand aside? Will Mick go to Director of Coaching without fuss? Would Bucks be better off going to another club for experience, granted that he played his first year at Brisbane. Why is there so much media about this topic? Mick might just be "unemployed" after back-to-back premierships? He wouldn't be for long, regardless of what Eddie thinks. A contract is a contract in life as in footy only if you have two parties willing to honour it...otherwise there's reasons for the legal profession being kept in gameful employment and contract law is one of them. I know this from being such a good business law student twice!
Much has also been made of Barry Hall's indiscretions over his career. I'm sure Brent Staker still shudders at the vision of that infamous night. Maybe Goose Maguire too...what needs to be remembered though is that Barry Hall was a very good footballer. The brain fades are common and totally unjustified but much of sport is emotional and played above the shoulders. As Peter McKenna once said in his commentary of the VFL game "90% of football is 1/2 mental" Great footballer McKenna, lousy mathematician. Barry Hall nearly kicked the Saints to a flag with 3 goals in the 97 GF in the first half, if I recall correctly. He also co-captained Sydney to its first flag in 72 years - if you've seen the WEG poster from that day, the Swan looks remarkably like Barry. As a Bulldog, he spearheaded, the Doggies first bit of silverware since 1960 Night GF with the 2010 Night GF win, kicking 7 goals and winning the Michael Tuck Medal. So credit where it is due, the brain fades are unbelievable and regrettable but the talent is hopefully what he will be remembered for over his 280+ games and 720+ goals. His book will be an interesting read as will his future endeavours.

Round 17 AFL Blog 2011
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Much has been made and indeed spoken in the public domain about the gambling of Heath Shaw and Nick Maxwell that has taken place. It'd be fair to say that I reckon the penalties were accurate, probably a bit harsh on Shaw but the AFL is not an entity to be messed with. I can't quite understand the failure to penalise Tyson Goldsack for the circumstances sounded identical to Nick Maxwells. The whole episode doesn't help the AFLPA in their push for more pay when many in the public believe the image of players is that they get paid too much, only to turn around and spend it on gambling, tattoos and/or recreational drugs among other vices. Images are powerful and  if you take a random sample of @700 men in this age group on these issues, my guess is that you'd roughly get the same sample on those issues, even though the average earning capacity would have to be less than AFL players. The AFLPA is also pushing the work/life balance ideal also at present. That is smart and long overdue, dating back thru the David Parkin coaching tenure of the 1970s and 1980's. Parkin was a great advocate that players had to have something else to fill in their time, away from football. Even Ben Cousins in his doco featured the quote that idle hands are the devils work. And he would be the first to admit that he knows this better than most.
Aka, resident opinion for hire that he is, wrote today that Heath Shaw got unfairly fined in relation to the penalty handed out to Justin Sherman who called his Gold Coast opponenet a few racial slurs. Hard to really compare crimes. The AFL is trying to improve its image with society on both fronts but is compromised on the issue of gambling as it actively courts sponsorship dollars from betting agencies. I actually think Justin Sherman got off lightly for 4 weeks in the VFL but the greater awareness of the issue is still in the public domain. At last count, I believe Australia was made up of 140 different nationalities - coupled with some people's tendency to open the mouth before engaging the brain - the potential for this issue to linger is enormous. At least though, public standards and education of more races are generally (hopefully!) on the improve.
Racial vilification however is one of the AFL's champion causes and they have done very well since the Winmar and Monkhorst/Long episodes over 10 years ago. Truth is the AFL will never get it 100% correct, nor is it their charter to do so. We see an 11yo boy charged with racial vilification in the lower leagues. It is good that people are aware enough of this as an issue now that it can be brought to mediation if required. This particular case will be interesting as mediation has failed and the legal system may be bracing itself for a test case. However the AFL has done a terrific job in reducing the instances of it happening at the highest level. In time hopefully this will filter down to all levels. Amazing to see how "monkey see, monkey do" operates even at Auskick. If the players don't think they are role models, maybe they should visit Auskick and lower leagues of all age groups more regularly.
Take care and stay well.

Round 16 2011 AFL
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Hi all, hope all is well in life, in work and in footy...
Trivia nights god bless them...went to Murrumbeena FC Trivia Night a few Friday nights ago and the great man David Schwarz of SEN and Melbourne FC was the MC. What a great way for a club to earn some cash and improve their facilities. Schwarzy's speech was very interesting, effectively a precis of his book "All Bets Are Off". I had the opportunity to read this over summer - it's a compelling read on the dangers of excessive gambling within our sports-mad society. A sobering topic was treated with good humour and effect. From there, questions such as "When did Grease come out?" and "name that tune" dominated proceedings, as well as a few brain busters for those that didn't have that much to drink. A night of goodwill for all as well as a silent auction and a not-so-silent auction of sporting memorabilia from Legends and Heroes. The last few questions were interrupted by a few dance moves interspersed with the Nutbush Team dance. Thoroughly recommended to all those interested in raising funds to improve their facilities at their local sporting club.
Cheers PT

Round 15 2011 AFL
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Greetings all, hope life is good in all aspects. Melbourne's winter seems to be pretty much a continuation of the summer which is summed up the veteran musos Crowded House: Four Seasons In One Day. A hackneyed cliche of Melbourne's climate for sure but it seems to be coming true in a Groundhog Day manner. I thought the origins of this cliche were Sydney-centric, given that they hilariously thought to name our NRL side The Melbourne Storm (you Hay Street farmers really have no idea about the finer points of the grand old Southern City! Apologies to those in cities further south on the Apple Isle.) Statistically, I have been led to believe it rains more in summer in Sydney. The winter is definitely better up there and it is such a great time to visit - very rarely used to see it rain in the Swans' telecasts of a Sunday afternoon, indeed bright blue skies were the norm..
I have been thinking about players pay and the subsequent payrise requests. I understand both sides of the argument but can't really see the AFLPA as representative of all players if the claim financially impacts on the struggling clubs across the continent in the AFL. We all understand that clubs as businesses need to be run properly but many clubs are tight financially, even with the influx of newly contracted TV revenues. What the players don't seem to understand is that people love their club's players but support the clubs. Members become members of clubs to financially support their existence which in turn benefits all the club's players throughout the ages. No doubt that the players deserve the market rates, as yes they do put on the show, but the AFLPA is remiss if it thinks that it doesn't represent all the clubs. Unions don't partially support workers in their union, they support all the workers in their union. Otherwise what would be the point in being a union member. Better conditions for retired players and rookies are also worthy causes of the AFLPA in the negotiation but fair's fair. The money in the game is better now than ever before but needs to be spent wisely across all activities and programs within the AFL (eg Auskick is truly great - wish I had it when I was growing up!). It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Cheers PT