AFL Quick Hands: Finals Week Two

So much incredible stuff happens across an AFL weekend. It’s impossible to keep up with it all. The Onballers crew – and some of our friends – are here to bring you a view on the stuff you saw and other gear you might have missed. This is the Onballers Quick Hands, our round in review.

John Longmire, Corpse Coach

Ryan Buckland: There is only one coach in the league who has a better all-time winning percentage in over 100 games coached than John Longmire. The Sydney head coach has been in charge of the Sydney Swans since the 2011 season, with 117 wins, 54 losses and two draws. He’s also one of the few coaches ever to be able to claim he’s won more finals than he’s lost.

He came a little closer to squaring that ledger on Friday night, his team going down to Geelong is the worst way possible. A ten goal loss, the inevitable result of a game that slipped from Sydney’s grasp seemingly the minute Chris Scott got to work planning his team’s evening.

The Cats’ head coach did some interesting things. Patrick Dangerfield started in the forward line and stayed for the whole first half once it became clear Geelong’s midfield was on and Sydney’s was not. Jake Kolodjashnij played on a wing, making a difficult matchup for Sydney’s smaller, nimble wingers. Harry Taylor got all up in Lance Franklin’s business – his usual master, Tom Lonergan, was a late out – and bodied Buddy out of the game. Lachie Henderson roamed the backline as a spare as soon as the opportunity was afforded, and had 13 intercept possessions. Steven Motlop played on the half-back line and looked to relish the space available to zig-zag his way up the field. Mark Blicavs and Scott Selwood went negative on Josh Kennedy and Dan Hannebery from the get-go, albeit the latter was given some latitude to get the ball.

It was glorious chaos. Scott was recently voted by his peers as the toughest coach to play against, and he brought his A+ game two nights ago.

What did John Longmire do? He put Sam Reid behind the ball.

Their game plan was off all night regardless. Sydney gave up 19 freaking uncontested intercept marks to eight; 19 is surely some kind of record. For those who don’t know, an uncontested marking situation occurs when the player taking the mark is able to do so without any pressure or contact from an opponent. Sydney kicked the ball cleanly to Geelong players 19 times. All up the Cats took 129 marks, a season-high for them. There was no halftime adjustment – Sydney bombed away like a North Korean dictator angling for some cheaper oil.

The lack of response, both to Geelong’s magnet spinning and in general play terms, was borderline football murder. Longmire plead down to negligent homicide in his post-match press conference, lamenting the long season, living close to the edge every week since mid-May, and that his players had given all they could give. One wonders whether there was a hint of projection in his remarks.

Longmire was made to look silly by his opponent. Chris Scott. That other guy who has a better-than-70 percent coaching record in more than 100 games coached.

We On That Ultralight Beam

Deliver us serenity.

We’ve Messed Up Medals

Ken Sakata: Football is a team sport, and everyone principally desires team success. The only thing worth winning is a flag. This is as boring as it is true. But it’s not just individual medals that are meaningless. Maybe every medal is meaningless.

Every award is inherently flawed. The Brownlow medal is prestigious and rare but has an obvious onballer bias. The Norm Smith medal can be won by anyone but is decided subjectively. For obvious reasons, the Coleman medal only recognises forwards and their craft.

A club best and fairest is commendable for a large sample size and diversity of winners but is ultimately a common award. There are eighteen winners a year, many of them winning multiple years. In 2015, Brisbane had four best and fairest winners. In 2015, Mitch Robinson was a best and fairest winner.

Winning a flag isn’t a perfect award either. Being part of a winning side may be egalitarian, rare and objective, but a premiership side isn’t quite reflective of its best players. Injuries can occur late in a finals series, and match selection is ultimately decided on matchups. Amazing players can be less than useful against particular teams.

It would be kinder if everyone involved in a finals series got a medal, but football is not kind. At least that’s what we have understood about life, and chosen to recreate in sport. Remember, we made the rules. Not everyone wins a medal, and not everyone gets what they want or deserve. All medal winners are flawless and deserved. But in a small way, maybe every medal is flawed.

Repentance

Tom Stewart was stone cold against the Tigers in Geelong’s qualifying final. He was better this week – there were still some errors with the ball in hand – and you certainly can’t fault this effort.

 

Six Tweets about Luke Shuey’s Hair Cut

Rhys van Raalte wins. The irony of posting this as a resident of Baldivis is not lost on Western Australians.