Season 2017 in the rearview mirror

2017 in the rear view mirror.

For me this is the end of the 5 years of saga. This year was meant to be the new beginning, but it was always going to be the end of the saga, with the hope that it was going to end in a blaze of glory.

I felt very emotional many times during the year, and yesterday I felt completely gutted. I mean I always knew we didn’t really have the team to win the flag, but there was always the hope. That Hird would be presenting Jobe with the medal that we all know he deserved. The hope for some sort of redemption, that the game might give Jobe back something to make up for everything it took away from him, and we might get to go along for the ride.

But there’s no fairytale, So I have to take a deep breath and look at the year through a different sort of prism, one that has an eye on the future, rather than the one with the eye on the past.

I don’t know if I’m ready for that yet, but I’ll try.

2017 was the extension of the growth of 2016. Another year developing the core of our next flag. The hope that the old/young combination might take us there was always questionable, but we were absolutely amongst a group of teams battling to get to a prelim. Port and West Coast played an epic elimination final yesterday. If the draw fell differently it’s worth remembering we smashed both of them this year. West Coast now go to Western Sydney with some hope of a prelim, and in the other half Sydney and Geelong face off. It’s worth remembering we also smashed Geelong. But Richmond, Adelaide, Sydney and GWS all had our measure across the year, even though we were competitive at times with Richmond, Sydney and GWS.

So a 5-8 team. I reckon that was a pass mark for most this season. We struggled early with cohesion, and struggled late with a few key injuries, but there was some good football in between. At times it was a brilliant ride, and at other times it was terrible and heartbreaking. And it ended up so badly, which always makes the whole season feel worse. But overall it was the best year of football I’ve had for ages.

Now is the real challenge, as we transition from saga era leaders and become completely Joe and Zac’s team. We have been trying to develop the guys to fill some of the holes that are currently there, and will try and recruit others, but the core is there. Joe, Zac, Fantasia, Parish, McGrath, Hurley, Hooker. Tippa!

Get this off season right and we should be right amongst it next year.

I can’t wait.


2017 – in Review
A lot of the comments being made appear to reflect a hangover effect from yesterday’s terrible result. Before the season began l nominated us to play multiple finals, believing we had the players who could take us that far, and they almost did. So where did it all go wrong? That last minute or so in Sydney. When Daniher took that big pack mark, l thought we were going to be safe, but instead of slowing the game down and taking as much time as he possibly could, then hitting a big pack on the boundary he kicked it to Tippa and the rest is history. That debacle took a lot out of the players, in particular their self belief. Still despite what some on here are claiming otherwise, we made the finals on our own merit, with some impressive wins in mid season against other top 8 teams. We can mix it with the best, but are still mentally fragile.
Trying to integrate the returning banned players was never going to be easy. I don’t know why Woosha persisted with a couple of players who produced so little throughout the season, namely Howlett, Myers and Colyer, when their form did not merit their continued inclusion. They should have been dropped. Woosha debuted only two draftees this season, and the second one was so late in the season, that it was a most questionable inclusion. The opportunity to pump games into the players we want to take the club forward for the next decade was not taken. Instead we got more of the same, from known quantities. I don’t for one moment buy I into the argument that he had to play the 3 players mentioned above, nor Watson either, when their form didn’t demand it. I can understand playing those senior players early in the season, but after the bye, it should have been all about form, and getting games into our younger players.
Woosha himself has revealed that he is a reactionary coach, who is unwilling to make tactical changes on game day, until it is far too late.
My ratings for 2017:
Team 7.
Coach 6.

I won’t be able to give a confident rating on this season until the end of next season. Has this year laid down the foundation for several years of player development and success? Or was it just a flash in the pan to make the eight and will we now spend several years in a Carlton-esque funk finishing 12th or lower, with rapid turnover of coaching staff?

If it’s the former I’ll give them 7.5. Some real improvement amongst the young guys and hopefully they will learn from the Sydney debacle what real pressure football is all about. Sure we put a few games into the returning players we probably shouldn’t have - but I think we were morally obliged to give them every chance. Next year back to normal (I hope). Coaches I give 7, I like Woosha’s approach but like others have reservations about him on match day. Want to believe he knows what he’s doing.

If it’s the latter well I don’t really need to give it a rating, it’s something I don’t want to think about.

Off the field I give them 10. The club was in a very deep hole and to turn it around with a $4m profit is as good a result as I can imagine. A credit to all involved. Hopefully with more improvement on field the club can continue to fly up, up (sorry!)

And finally I give a 10 to the participants on BomberBlitz. This forum gives me a place to vent when I’m angry at a performance and celebrate when we have a good win. It has its fair share of pessimists and optimists but what the heck, we need a bit of debate. Well done everybody!


average team plays finals after fellow finals aspirants fall over themselves in the run home. Predictably belted by one of top fancies for the ultimate prize. Some young players were unearthed/developed. Remains to be seen whether it’ll actually take us forward.

I rate this season “meh”.

We achieved some things.

We should have achieved more things.

I accept that limping in to the finals was an ok result considering the juggling of banned players, but we failed to take development opportunities because of it.

My biggest concern is that we haven’t developed the kind of game plan that will bring sustainable success.

And, obviously, I don’t think the coaching does us any favours.

We have a top 4 list and a mid table game.



At the start of the season I had us pegged for 6-10 based on the strength of our list

I thought we would be rock solid down back, breaking even in the midfield and continuing to develop a forward line.

Fast forward seven months or so and we finished 7th, with one of the worst midfields in the comp, a shaky backline and a forward line that is the envy of the competition.

We need someone who can take intercept marks in our back line (Cale?), a clearance machine who doesn’t get exposed defensively, a line breaking half back to replace McKenna and a ruckman who we can bank on.

I give us a 5.5/10. Would have been a 7 if not for the 2nd quarter on sat


4.5 out of 10. It was the best of times it was the borst of times.


We had a soft draw, but still won 6 of 8. Something other aspirants couldn’t manage.

We are an average team, and on the whole, beat most of the teams we should, and finished about where an average team should.


I re watched bombers press conference after the north elim final. It was talked about the team being inconsistent during the year, and games, and that will change with the younger players maturing

What’s changed since then?

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Our bullet proof plan of getting our coach back, firing him, getting our leaders suspended for 12 months, adding in a group of top ups, comprimising list management with draft penalties and giving our new coach one preseason to fix the issue somehow backfired. Shocking I know. Same ■■■■ that has happened to this club year after year.


Lots has changed since then.

After the 2014 elimination final I was depressed. I went full gloomer in the review thread, pointing out that a starting midfield of Stanton, Watson, Hocking, Myers, Chapman , Heppell was old, slow and just not good enough.

What’s changed since then? Seriously, go look at the side we played in 2014 - THAT is a team with no future. There were three players with less than 50 games experience that day, on Saturday we had 8 (6 with 50 - 100).

People underselling the coaching have just not thought about how bad it all could have been. Yes, we’ve got challenges but fml we could be the gold coast right now.

My rating? 7 out of 10.

Forward line, huge tick. This is a win for the coaches, who have them playing like an organised, cohesive unit, as well as our recruiters who’ve found diamonds via the draft and oppositions lists.

The back line. A modest tick. Ambrose continues to emerge, McKenna is better than I thought he’d be, and I’m reconsidering Gleeson after the finals effort on the weekend. I think we’ve misused Hurley (he’s better than just a loose man), Hartley isn’t up to it, and we still need some intercept marking but I only see us getting better in this area.

Midfield, obviously problematic but still a WORLD away from our situation at the end of 2017. We need players here obviously, but I’m optimistic about our 2018 side for two reasons; Parish and McGrath. Season number 3 is where midfielders tend to make their mark, and I think Parish is poised to have a genuine break out year in the guts. We need players, but we’ve got talent coming through in this area (plus the usual, cross fingers and hope they work out midfield solutions that Essington specialises in).

I’ll say it again, look at the 2014 squad, and look at the 2017 squad and tell me this time there isn’t room for a little more optimism.


McGrath Rising Star - killed the McGrath v McLuggage argument ( Iwanted Antler MCLuggage but have been converted)
Begley has got a taste and has looked very good in patches
JD so close to winning the coleman, maybe next year.
Fanta - stepped up into a top small forward - went missing in final, but still got a goal, not much opporunities and came back after 5 weeks off.
Merrett - another good year, should go close to B&F but was dissapointing in the final, hope that burns him.
Crowe - great job managing the injury list
Tippa - glad to see huim develop into a good small forward, and still hsas excellent defensive pressure.
McKenna - He is starting to realise his potential, have been on his bandwagon since he was drafted. Sign him up ASAP dodoro. Had a very good year.
Hurley - well done on making AA Team, still think he has more to give, was a bit rusty after year off, hope next year people are ofering him up as a viable option against Rance in the best defender argument.
Green - was good could ahve hit the scoreboard more, but a handy small. Hope he gets a new contract.
Stewart - Exceeded expectations, what a way to work into the season, from the reserves, had a few bags of 3-4 goals, could ahve had more looks dangerous as the third tall.
Hooker - 40 goals as a second toal, not much more you could ask, pity he got injured. Had some good highlights this year, great club man

Can a VFL watcher please tell me if Langford, laverde and Francis will make it for us. These guys probably msot dissapointing for me, was hoping they would establish themselves in the BEst 22…
How far away are Mutch, Ridley
We need some positive stories about these guys.

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The younger players. JD and Gleeson were inconsistent in 2014 but we much more reliable this year. Actually our inconsistency this year probably had more to do with the more senior guys

Not far, they will get games next year imo, especially Mutch.

Lav spent the year struggling with injury so I wouldn’t write him off yet. If he gets through the pre-season uninterrupted i think we will see improvement.

Francis has to get his attitude right. He does that and we have a very good player.

Langford, looks good in the VFL not so good in the AFL. I am not sold on him.


Which is pretty much exactly what Worsfold said this morning on the radio. The kid’s had it spelled out clearly what it’s going to take, up to him know.

Saw him at the pub on Saturday night, he’s a freaking monster.

Erm yep

I give us probably a 6.5/10

We know how electric and unstoppable our best football is, and the game style is great from an attacking point of view but wow did we get continually carved in the midfield - even when winning games. Was probably the healing year we always needed to have, and should’ve probably tempered expectations given all the unknowns heading into it. However, it can be so frustrating sometimes because we know how damaging our best is, and it is a shame we don’t produce it consistently enough.

Rapt to have stuck it up Hawthorn, Geelong and Collingwood twice, especially on Anzac Day, but still issues winning regularly on the road, and the utterly diabolical essington displays that showed up a few times have sadly still not been ironed out. I hold out hope. As has often been the case, the gap between the best football and the worst is alarming, and I think those comparisons to 2009 are pretty close to spot on.

Biggest Positives:

  • Stewart’s inclusion and development
  • Gleeson and McKenna improving remarkably
  • The new look forwardline in full swing and how dangerous it can be
  • Could not be more rapt in our number 1
  • Zakka finally stepping up to the level we always wanted
  • The 3 x AA boys and to think Raz would’ve been had he not missed games
  • Off-field measures; record membership, $4m profit which is handy to say the least.

2018 is a crucial year for Francis, L&L.


My pre-season expectations were 10th to 6th, with eighth being the pass-mark.

There were questions about how well the returning players would get back to the level of seniors AFL football, what effect changing half(?) a best 22 would have to team cohesiveness, and the matter of returning players ‘hitting the wall’ as Worsfold said.
On the other hand we had the sheer quality, hardness, and size of the returning players as a positive to look forward to.
I think we recruited solidly, if not spectacularly in the preseason, and gave ourselves a lot of depth, which should have held us in good stead for the year ahead.
We also had the best draw we have ever had. Or will ever have.

But overall, we went into the season with our best list in a long time, and our previous three coaches had taken us to finals, the last two in far more trying conditions than this year.

A few unpredictable things occurred during the year, one of which was that no team was consistently, truly awful. In fact, on looking back through the records, I see that was just my perception. This actually wasn’t an outlier year for the bottom four.
I thought there would be two or three absolute basket case teams that would only beat each other, but I was wrong about that.
The other thing that couldn’t be reasonably predicted was our amazing run with injury.
We lost Laverde, Ambrose and Brown for significant chunks of the year (apologies if I’m forgetting someone). I reckon you’d take that every year.
Fantasia, Green and Hooker all went down towards the end of the season, but again, that seems about average for AFL clubs, if not better than.

I could go through the individual games, but I won’t.
We’ve been doing that all year, no need for it now.
But I will say that looking back over our fixture and results is a seriously wtf experience.
Not just for the failures but the successes too.
You look at it and think, ‘how is that even possible?’

We did make the eight. So that’s a pass for the year for me, in the context of just this year.
We were also bundled out of the finals in ten minutes of football.
Yes, we were unlucky to come up against one of the best two teams in the league in that final, but that doesn’t excuse or change what happened. So if you’re giving some sort of grade for a pass mark, add a minus to it after that game.

Backs: Hurley was outstanding. He tired towards the end. And it seems like clubs had also started to figure out how to exploit him, and by extension our backline.
Kelly was very good. But he’s gone now.
Hartley’s gone backwards at an alarming rate.
McGrath was everything we could have hoped for.
McKenna stepped up in a big way, and you get the feeling he would be unbelievably damaging in a better team.
I thought Baguley had a good year.
And I thought Gleeson had an inconsistent year. However, I do think he’s playing well more often now.
I didn’t see enough of Ambrose to make a call either way. I’m not as convinced as others that he’s best 22, let alone a key component of the side. Not writing him off, by any means. I guess in stock-market terms, he’s Hold for me.
Brown and Dea are good depth. I think we’ve seen what they’re capable of. I’d be surprised if anyone really wants them to be best 22, or expects them to get a lot better next year, but they’re good back-ups for injury.

Overall, for next year, I think our backs are thin and very much need an injection of talent.

Mids: Watson - gone, Myers - perennial under-achiever, Bird - unwanted, Colyer - miles off his best, Goddard…lol…he’s a weird one. Reliable. To do all sorts of things, both good and face-palmy.
Heppell - not his best year, but form is temporary, class is permanent. One of the few things I’m genuinely bullish about next year.
Hocking - gone, Howlett - gone.
Zerrett - exceptional. Zaka - had a pretty good year, as I expected he would. Going forward…well, I think his game more than anyone’s depends on who we bring in, what role we expect of him.
Stanton - gone.
Parish - I think I’d describe his development as stalled.

That’s…not a great position to be in for next year.

Rucks: T-Bell, Loony, Smack, Draper.
To be blunt, none of them are good enough. Hopefully Draper will be one day, but that won’t be next year.

Forwards: Daniher - elite elite. Hooker - the amount of goals he’s kicked is great, but he goes missing for long, long periods. Stewart - very handy, young third tall, and makes our forward line more dangerous.
Fanta - gun. Green - okay little forward pocket. Tippa - some great games and some poor ones. I don’t think we’ve seen his best yet. I friggin’ hope not.
Begley’s shown some great signs, both on the scoreboard and just generally. Could develop into a medium-sized forward beast, and that’s very welcome.

And then we have this huge bank of players that we know little to nothing about.

Francis, Laverde, Langford, Clarke, Long (gone- surely?), McNeice, Morgan, Mutch, Redman, Ridley, plus three to six more after the draft.
How many of them will step up to the level required of them next year? I honestly don’t know if any will.
I’m hopeful, but it’s no more than hope.
But I’m guessing four to six are going to have to, ready or not.

I’m not at all confident about making finals next year.
The year after I think is much more likely, and that sucks but there it is.

I might throw together three teams a bit later, expanding on that further, if I can be bothered.


Great post, well summed up.

Only thing I would disagree on is Parish, i think he had a pretty great 2nd year. Inconsistent at times, but a bit of that is where he was playing, will be full-time mid next year which is his best position. He’s getting close to the golden 50 game mark now as well.

I also think Howlett will stick around next year unless we make 8 list changes. He’d be last cut (not that i necessarily agree that he is useful, just more so than pick 9000 in the draft)

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