Online only - 22/03/16
This coming Thursday, at 7:20pm at the MCG, footy will return. For many of us seasoned fanatics, this will be a long time coming. But just as a new season brings new players, a new schooling year will bring new students, some of which are international or from interstate cities that aren’t too big on AFL and will have no idea what is going on. Well the easiest way to fit in any conversation amongst many Victorians is to chat about footy and if you want to do so, picking your team will be the first thing you want to do. But how do you know who you want to pick? Well fear not, for here is some information on all 18 clubs that will hopefully assist in your choice.
The pride of South Australia, the Crows will be looking to life after losing what is arguably their best player in Patrick Dangerfield. Salty Crows fans may try tell you Sloane is better and they don’t need Patty, but let’s be serious. After finishing 2nd on the ladder a few years ago (courtesy of a soft fixture), the team has been quite underwhelming, but will be looking to hopefully keep up the development of their young stars and perform to expectations this year. They’re usually good to watch so keep them in your considerations.
After boasting what is arguably the greatest team which saw their three-peat almost become four in the early 2000s, the team that once terrified nearly everybody has quickly turned into the team that is terrified by everybody. With many of their younger players wanting to return to their home state, life for the Lions hasn’t been as good as it once was. However, their captain, Rockliff, is a jet and a pleasure to watch play. I’m not expecting much from them in 2016, but hoping to be pleasantly surprised, definitely worth a shout to support, especially if you’re from QLD.
Our glorious school may be located in Carlton, but let me assure you, these guys are anything but glorious. Somehow sharing the record for most premierships (equal with the greatest team of all time), life for the Blues has been quite dismal in recent times (not that I’m complaining). Having seemingly been in rebuild mode for as long as I can remember, Carlton have not really taken the chance to strengthen their team, making highly questionable recruitment choices in search of a worthy replacement of the legend that is Fev. Finishing last in 2015, new coach Brendon Bolton has acted swiftly in attempting to rebuild Carlton into a powerful force in the coming seasons. But don’t expect anything to soon. If you like supporting terrible teams, or really enjoy the colour navy blue, look no further.
Just no…. Avoid supporting this club at all costs. You have been warned.
This is my team so I’ll try and keep it as unbiased and informative as possible. Historically the most successful club with 16 premierships (shared with those grubs Carlton), the Bombers play a brilliant style of football and should be commended on their integrity, both on and off the field. They’ve had their fair share of troubles in the last few years, but look destined to go all the way in season 2016. Unfortunately though, there is some media propaganda going around, so If you read or hear anything about 12 of our players being suspended by WADA for a systematic doping regime, just ignore it, those players are just taking a year off to recharge and give some other guys a go (I write, as I quietly sob to myself).
From WA, don’t let the fact they have the worst club song or coach with the worst tactics fool you, these guys are legitimately good. Boasting reigning Brownlow Medalist (best and fairest as chosen by umpires) and glorious hair model, Nat Fyfe, this squad can be quite frightening. In recent seasons, Freo have made the Grand Final and prelim, both going out to Hawthorn after their strategy of ‘let them get out to a solid lead at half-time before we do anything’ didn’t seem to go the way many of their fans, or us, hoped it would. Although they haven’t had the success they probably should have, big things are still expected in season 2016 and are worth supporting, even if just for Fyfe.
Last season saw the tail end of their dynasty, missing the finals for the first time in a long time after winning 3 premierships in 5 years. Being the only Victorian team outside of Melbourne, they play many of their home games down in Geelong, as well as a few in the Melbourne stadiums. In the last few years, they’ve played some absolutely brilliant games with Hawthorn, who they have shared levels of success in recent times. Having recruited one of the competition’s best players in the off-season in Patrick Dangerfield, as well as strengthening their list in other areas, 2016 should be a return to the top 8 and I expect them to do very well. Definitely worth considering.
AKA the Gary Ablett Football Club. Being the second newest team in the competition, Gary Ablett FC hasn’t seen much success, although he has won his second Brownlow Medal with his new club. After finally showing signs the team may be a force to be reckoned with, their best player, Gary Ablett, has been injured the last two seasons, which has seen all of their progress go down the drain. It doesn’t help they seem to be trying to rival St Kilda in being the kings of the off-field scandals, having their very own mysterious white powder scandal last season either, which may or may not have led to the departure of a few key players. If you’re a keen fan of SuperCoach, or want to get involved, you’ll know the first rule is to always captain Gary. If you feel like you want to give some of the new kids on the block some much needed support, or want to support the best player in the competition, I’d select these guys.
Greater Western Sydney
The other new kids on the block, the GWS Giants have been able to rely on more than one player to carry their team and it looks to be paying off. After not having many wins at all in their first few seasons, they’re coming off their best effort in 2015 which may have seen a maiden finals berth ruined by many unfortunate injuries. The young kids in this team are absolute jets and I’m legitimately scared by the possibility of what their forward line will be able to do when they peak. If you’re from NSW and don’t want to join the other bandwagon, give these guys some love, you won’t be disappointed one bit when they mature.
Coming off the back of 3 consecutive premiership wins, Hawthorn will be looking to go one better than the Brisbane Lions of ’01-’03 and be the first team in the modern era to win four in a row. Achieving such a task would not only be historical, but the biggest on-field footballing tragedy since the 2010 Collingwood premiership. Hawthorn are known for their aggressive approach, often opting to snipe players off the ball (something you’d certainly never see an Essendon player do – trust me) instead of going for the ball. This was evidenced by the 2004 ‘Line in the sand match’, where the team, much like Melbourne today, were pretty bad, they decided to say enough is enough, and punch on with as many Essendon players as possible and show them who’s boss by losing by 74 points. Since then they’ve been pretty successful so in hindsight, it probably worked. If you like sustained success and captains who drink and drive, this is the club for you.
The oldest club in the land have deprived of success and good performances, although during their dark period they’ve somehow managed to pull out wins against Essendon on a regular basis. They look to be on the up with coach Paul Roos in his final season before he hands over the reigns, they have one of the best young players in the comp in Jesse Hogan, and will need to do everything they can to keep him if they want to get some on-field consistency and become a feared team. There are many good reasons to support the Dees, and I think now is the time. They should continue to improve as they have under Roos and hopefully can return to their former glory.
Despite having some good success in the 90s, North are known to lack fans so I’d recommend them for any new fan to the game. Despite choking at times, they’ve played well in recent seasons, making back-to-back preliminary finals. I don’t see them being able to maintain that level of consistency against some of the stronger teams but they should be there come September (as long as the Etihad roof is closed at all times).
Coming into the competition as an established side from the South Australian league, Port fans like to claim being the most successful side of all time, despite SANFL Premierships being from a different, second-rate competition. Despite this, and the fact that they like to poach Essendon players at times, I do like Port. They went through some tough times on the field which saw many of their home games having tarps pulled over empty seats, but once they started winning more games, fans appeared out of nowhere. Showdown games with the Crows are always a joy to watch and after a disappointing 2015 campaign, they should bounce back. Be warned though, apparently they are looked at by Crows fans in the same manner Victorians look at Collingwood fans.
Sure, supporting Richmond can be fun, in kind of like the same way doing an 8-hour Constitutional Law exam can be fun (i.e. it can’t). If you enjoy getting your hopes up, only to have them demolished right before your eyes, these guys are it. Having not won their last premiership since 1980, unlike the Tigers of old, the modern club has been trapped in a state of perpetual mediocrity, boasting an impressive record for finishing ninth. However they do have the best club song and that’s nothing that can be taken away from them, and their fans are always extremely passionate and nothing can beat the roar of ‘YELLOW AND BLACK’ after a win. They’ll be looking to (finally) win a match in September this year after a few first-round finals exits, but I wouldn’t be getting my hopes up too much.
Although being historically one of the least successful clubs (1 premiership, 27 Wooden spoons), St Kilda are second to none in providing off-season entertainment and never fail to disappoint with their annual post-season scandal (be it sharing nude selfies on end-of-season trips, or setting fire to ‘little people’ during Mad Monday). However, despite their lack of success, the club seems to be on the up, having gone through some tough times, they have a great group of young players and should be destined for some success in the near future. Definitely one to consider when selecting your team (plus you wont look like a bandwagoner).
If you’re from NSW, hop on the Sydney bandwagon, there’s plenty of room. Originally from South Melbourne, the Swans relocated and have in recent times, been up there with the best. Whilst there’s been some controversy surrounding using their COLA payments to overpay mediocre players like Kurt Tippett and recruit absolute jets like Buddy Franklin (which unfortunately didn’t stop Hawthorn winning), they play tough and have a great culture. If you want a successful non-Victorian team, this squad surely won’t disappoint.
The other WA team, the Eagles are notorious for creating a hostile environment for visiting clubs, as evidenced by their constant booing of opposition players whether it’s when they’re being stretchered off injured, or just tearing apart their team. After putting aside some culture issues (Google Ben Cousins or West Coke Eagles for more information), and a few years of underperforming, they finally reached the Grand Final again last year, but were unfortunately unable to stop Hawthorn. In 2016 they should only get stronger so if you feel like jumping on a bandwagon for success, get on them.
The Bulldogs have been similar to St Kilda in terms of their lack of success, but without the plethora of wooden spoons. Looking on the up after returning to the top 8 last year, they have exciting players like ‘The Bont’ and ‘The Package’. Wanting to shake tag of being everybody’s second team, this squad is looking on the up and they definitely need the support. If you really have no clue who to support, get behind them!
So there you have it. If you’re still unable to pick, just go the old-fashioned (and best way to pick). Watch a few games, go to a few games and see which team attracts you the most. It doesn’t matter who you pick, as long as you’re loyal, and it isn’t Collingwood. Hopefully 2016 is a season to remember.
James Aridas is a second-year JD student at MLS