All right, with the mighty Bombers flying high in the pre-season cup, the time is upon us to gaze into the crystal ball and try to pluck this year's chumps and champions. Regular readers (all one of you) may recall my tremendous foresight in picking Geelong (that ragtag cluster of misfits best known for their extended premiership drought), for glory this time last year. On the back of this, I managed to win my regular tipping competition, see the magnificent Tasmanian Tigers win their first ever Sheffield Shield AND the Ford Whatever-it-is Cup, impregnate my wife again, see the back of John Howard and (hopefully) win a Nobel Prize. I'm not even fussy about which one, any will do. That just the sort of bloke I am, humble to a fault.
Anyway, with this form, I'm tipping that at least three people are eagerly anticipating my forecast for this year. First, I shall put the kiss of death on the Essendon Football Club and tip them for pre-season glory! HURRAH!
See the Bombers fly up, up!
To win the premiership flag… (repeat to fade)
In an even bolder move, I'm tipping that very same ragtag bunch of misfits and discards down at sleepy hollow to go BACK-TO-BACK! Yes, in a move that could only be described as foolhardy, I'm retaining the faith in the fabulous felines from Corio Bay. So come on the Catters, and do not make me look a fool! Watch for 'big' (what a nickname!) Tom Hawkins to make the Cattery forget the lost Nathan Ablett, who was last seen wandering the desert trying to find himself.
The G(eelong)-Train will be ably led by the wizard that also goes by the name of Jesus, one Gary Ablett Junior, who will romp in with a glorious victory in the Brownlow medal. For the shrewd punter looking for a smokey, keep an eye on the gigantic Bomber from Devonport Jason Laycock, who will poll a few votes himself to confound bookies everywhere.
The Rising Star award will be picked up by youngster Cale Morton, of the Melbourne Dees. Bomber captain Matthew Lloyd shall win the Coleman, and Joel "Ding Dong" Selwood will pick up the Norm Smith.
The biggest disappointments will be the Hawthorn Tasmanian Hawks, who are talking premierships off the back of a two-point thriller against the Sydney thirds. I hope that Collingwood will also go bust, because as the truism says, football needs an overconfident and underachieving Maggots to remain healthy! Quietly, I'm tipping (read: 'hoping') that Joffa waves that damn jacket in the wrong bloke's face and ends up dead in a gutter somewhere on Smith Street.
Surprise packets? Watch West Coast travel along nicely sans Judd and 'good times' Cousins. They'll barely feel the loss and remain in the hunt for September glory. I also expect to see a resurgent Melbourne, who'll be molded into a competitive unit by another Sheedy protégé, and they'll be playing the sort of footy that will keep the silvertails away from the slopes and in the outer on frigid, blustery Sundays in July.
More of the same? I know that the ever-positive Coach from Partisans! is backing a Richmond flag this year (as ever), and I think that he might have something with his theory regarding their NAB cup defeat against St. Kilda. Richmond have a few issues to deal with, but fortunately for the Tigers the areas where they appear weak can be easily and clearly identified: kicking, handballing, tackling, leading, running, chasing and marking. These areas aside, the fundamentals have been well covered by Wallace. Cannily employing the same logic that has seen the Bulldog's sustained success (no player drafted over 187 centimetres, lots of outside 'receivers', 'if someone is trying to tackle you, PANIC!'), the Tigers should be fighting out for the wooden spoon again. They will have to work hard against a brittle Carlton outfit though, who are now pretty much perennial contenders for the keenest prize of all.
I wouldn't be at all surprised to see "stop or I'll sue" Paul Roos walk away from Sydney mid-season, as his aging stars crack up and he suddenly realises that he has no key position depth. Captain America will no doubt grasp that Ted Richards can't play FB, CHB, CHF AND FF all at once, and will retire to spend time with the wife and kids. This will no doubt involve shooting a few kodiak bears in Alaska, knocking back supersized burgers 'n fries while moaning about how the Eiffel Tower in Paris isn't as colourful as the one in Vegas and that Hilary Clinton doesn't have the BALLS to invade France to sort it out. Back on track. If Roos does quit, the Sydney mentality must prevail and the Swans will sue him. Of course, no-one dares sue Roos so he'll counter-sue. Richard Colles won't be able to believe this, so he will have to sue Mrs Roos for emotional distress. Being American, she will sue back. Sensing a quid or two might be there to be had, former Swans (and Brisbane Bear) full forward (and one-time Gold Coast meter maid) Warwick Capper will sue one of the obnoxious Roos children (GET OFF THE STAGE YOU STUPID, RUDE AND HORRIBLE CHILDREN WITH CALIFORNIAN ACCENTS, YOU DIDN'T WIN A FLAG!) and then it will all start to get confusing and messy. [Back on track part two.] Regardless, the whole football world would rejoice at the back of 'Snooze' Roos (see what I did there?), because EVERYONE is pretty much sick of this bloke's carping, whining, moaning and frankly mind-numbingly dull game plan. Whatever happens with Sydney, I predict that it will not be pretty (but things haven't been too pretty with the Swans ever since he got the job, with Barry Hall's head on telly all the time, and 19 blokes behind the ball for most of the day all trying to force another f'cking ball up).
But on the really important stuff: the Bombers. The beautiful Bombers. Essendon Football club. Those fightin' Bombers. The Windy Hill warriors. The good ole' Bombers. It is hard to know what is going to happen. The new dawn post-Sheedy will hopefully be a good one. I'll reserve judgment on Knights. Obviously, he has a sustained career full of triumph behind him. The Richmond side was tremendous throughout the star midfielder's career (1988–2002). Far more astute judges than I (how you doing Vince, hope the new job is going well, have you got a new mobile?) surmise that the Tigers of the late-80s onward were the most fearsome in the game's rich history. In most respects, the Tiger's record in this period is amazing and unsurpassed. This knowledge no doubt prompted Essendon to sack the greatest coach in the history of the game and install Knighter. So what can we expect?
I strive to be a glass half full fellow, and despite the attractiveness of striving for the very Richmond-like goal of ninth, I'm tipping the Bombers to bloom and sneak into a solid seventh spot, pushing everyone along the way (except for Adelaide, they'll no doubt thump us again). Lucas will do well, Ryder will continue to improve, and Houli, Lonergan, Dyson and Jetta will blossom with the game time. CARN THE MIGHTY DONS!
So, now to the ladder in full:
The closest we've had to dead certs since the grand Bomber outfit of 2000
They'll promise big, the fans will get ahead of themselves and eventually grind to a halt come September
The young blokes will prosper, and will stand up when needed
They'll beat the beatables
Will struggle for goals, but good down back
The beginning of something beautiful. Threepeat by 2012
It's an even year right? Due a finals series
Close, but not THAT close
On the downward slope
Come on, it's FOOTSCRAY!
On their way out of the comp. Good riddance
Hopefully will be joining North in the VFA in 2012 (after Pratt is imprisoned/dead)
Rebuilding for the "We'll be in Heaven for 2027" flag. Will act like they are content with the best song, colours and mascot, but we all know how much it must hurt inside.