Wednesday, April 4, 2018

When Do You Turn Off the Porch Light?

At what stage of the footy season do you, as a supporter, start to panic? When do you get that uncomfortable feeling in the pit of your stomach that your team isn’t up to it? That despite all of the bravado and positive words coming out of the press conferences of your team, you know that for you the long cold winter of disappointment has begun? If like me you are a Collingwood supporter, that tends to happen pretty early on, but in 2018 there are already a number of teams in a lot worse position, and their plans for the season ahead are looking mightily worrisome given we have only just clicked over into April. Perhaps there is still some daylight out there for them, but some supporters are almost at the stage of turning off the porch light and closing the front door on their respective footy seasons. 

Given the even competition that the AFL has again thrust upon us, there is no room for bad losses, even if it is against the better teams. Eighteen months ago the Western Bulldogs were on top of the world, Premiers of the game and with a bright few years ahead of the club. After two games of this season’s competition, their supporters must be wondering what has happened. They capitulated to GWS in round one in Canberra, and last weekend did so again at home against West Coast. They weren’t just losses, they were floggings. This week they come up against an Essendon side that will be hell bent on finding retribution for their own collapse against Fremantle. Recovering from this start will take every ounce of mongrel the Dogs have in them. 
Carlton fought hard against Richmond in round one, but their defeat to Gold Coast in round two leaves them again on the precipice. No one except Magpies and Blues supporters now cares too much about their match this Friday, but with both teams 0-2, the loser will be under enormous scrutiny in the eyes of the media and their fans. 
St Kilda has been mentioned in top eight discussions, but they were abysmal against North on ‘Bad Friday’ and will need to regroup quickly if they are to reignite their season. 
For all these teams, a successful season is quickly sinking into the mire, and only an immediate turnaround can stop that. Sydney may have made the finals last season after a 0-6 start, but none of these sides have the talent that the Sydney team had. 

The two teams that most had pencilled in for finals in the NRL in 2018 were the Eels and the Raiders. The Eels were being spoken of in some circles as premiership material. After four rounds, one wonders now how either team can find a way to win a game. Injuries haven’t helped either club, but poor defence and on field decisions have hurt them more. 
After 20 minutes of their first round match against the Panthers, the Eels led 14-0. They have since conceded 122 points while scoring only 24 in losing all four games. Meanwhile, the Raiders lost their first three matches after leading into the final five minutes in each of them, only to fall at the final hurdle as their opponents came over the top of them. Again it is early in the season, but turning around the defensive woes of both of these clubs to become finals contenders again would be a massive achievement. 
The Bulldogs haven’t been much better. The player and coach reshuffle is no doubt a work in progress, but one wonders if the coach wants the players his club bought. The Broncos and Storm appear vulnerable now that both have lost their halfbacks to other clubs, whereas those clubs seem to be travelling along nicely as a result. 

In some instances it is too early to tell whether or not the dream of a finals place or even a premiership is already in ruins. For those clubs mentioned above however, that nauseous feeling will be evident for their supporters as they head to their games this weekend, knowing that another loss will add further nails to their coffin in 2018.

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