rss

Author Archive for Craig Little

0

Essendon’s latest calamity heaps pressure on Worsfold

Consecutive heavy defeats towards the end of the AFL season have enraged Bombers fans This has not been the best couple of weeks for the Essendon Football Club. Not since the club’s crisis was at its pee-in-a-cup high tide has the Twitterverse, or at l…

0

Majak Daw’s return: the best story the AFL has to tell in 2019 | Craig Little

The North Melbourne midfielder’s recovery from a bridge fall is a reminder of sport’s true power to healEmpathy, from the Greek empatheia – em (into) and pathos (feeling) – is a kind of travel. “It suggests you enter another person’s pain as you’d ente…

0

Black Cats: Curse of the Bye strikes again but there’s little mystery to latest loss | Craig Little

Forget superstitions and hoodoos, like all sporting curses the reasons for Geelong’s surprise defeat to Port Adelaide are much more mundaneIf there is one thing our game lacks, it is a decent curse – the invocation of an otherworldly power to punish a …

0

Sport is more important than ever after spate of AFL fan violence | Craig Little

Ugly crowd incidents are hardly a new phenomenon, but what we saw on the weekend feels as if it’s powered by something elseSaturday afternoon will long live in the memory of staunch Melbourne fan, Jon Amos, who was embraced by his favourite player Jame…

0

New AFL season met as much by relief as love for the game | Craig Little

If the ear-splitting off-season noise is cut through, there is plenty to look forward to in 2019Our game has always been noisy. There are no objective football fans, but plenty of zealous ones with loud opinions based on blind faith – has been from the…

0

AFL grand final preview: resilience the key for Magpies and Eagles

Collingwood must neutralise the twin towers up front, but will the West Coast defence survive its own inquisition?As the rain made a soft applause over a sea of black and white during the grand final parade, Nathan Buckley looked a different man to the…

0

Hawks and Eagles owe AFL finals appearances to coaching excellence

Hawthorn appear immune to rebuilding, while the Eagles have overcome serious adversityLet us now praise Alastair Clarkson and Adam Simpson. Let us start with Clarkson. Football, like every sport, has its what-ifs, its sliding doors if you will. After a…

0

Friday night joke proves AFL fixture needs to change

A much-improved round from thereon in raises the spectre of a rolling fixture from 2019In 1976, the comedian Steve Martin opened a show with the line “I have decided to give the greatest performance of my life! Oh, wait, sorry. That’s tomorrow night.” …

0

Round of improved AFL contests heralds a more compelling season

Ben Ronke’s seven-goal haul started the round in an enjoyably surprising fashionIn both literary and popular entertainment, the element of surprise is a useful tool for anyone who wants to create a compelling story. Vera Tobin, a cognitive scientist wh…

0

AFL fans prove parasite to footballers’ hosts in social media era | Craig Little

Essendon fan who taunted Max Gawn a less common sight than those who abuse players onlineIn Body Politic: The Great American Sports Machine, David Shields observes that for some of us, adulthood doesn’t turn out to have quite as much glory as we though…

0

The Anzac Day specialist: Matthew Banks and his three-game AFL career

The former Essendon player holds the curious distinction of having played in two Anzac Day clashes despite his brief careerFor Matthew Banks, Anzac Day represents the beginning and the end of an inimitable three-game AFL career.On the Tuesday leading i…

0

Heritier Lumumba hits out: ‘The AFL is incompetent in dealing with racism’

Interview: Former Collingwood and Melbourne player tells the Guardian that clubs and the game’s authorities have failed to tackle racism on and off the field

Heritier Lumumba says the AFL has a simple choice to make in how it deals with systemic racism. “What side of history are you going to stand on?”

Speaking with Guardian Australia following Sunday night’s airing of his SBS documentary, Fair Game, the former Collingwood and Melbourne player says the AFL has failed to effectively address the issue of institutional racism and this sets a dangerous precedent.

Continue reading…

0

Implementation of AFLX idea could in the end do more harm than good | Craig Little

It is inherently sensible for the league to try and expand its reach and revenue in a crowded market, but flooding it with an inferior product could be dangerous

To hear Roger McGuinn sing it, to everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season, turn, turn, turn. But with AFLX, the “fast-paced, scaled down version of traditional football” played by teams of seven on a rectangular field, the AFL is not for turning, nor is it for the antiquated notion of seasons. The alternate version of the game – initially slated to fill the gap created by the bye leading into week one of the finals – would likely to be rolled out to colour in those few squares of the calendar yet occupied by the AFL.

Related: Collingwood chief executive Gary Pert resigns from struggling AFL club

Continue reading…

0

Joel Selwood: the AFL ironman who personifies Geelong’s greatest era

Critics of Geelong champion Joel Selwood howl every time he ducks his head, but the AFL star defines and personifies the Cats’ greatest era of football

In 2013, dual Brownlow medallist Greg Williams described Joel Selwood as “too courageous for his own good”, and a walking time bomb who needed to be protected from himself. That Williams had been diagnosed with a degenerative brain condition that he linked to repeated head-knocks provided his caution with a hint of menace.

Responding on Nine’s Footy Classified shortly after Williams’ warning, Selwood said there were many things that he’d learnt as a kid that he couldn’t take out of his game. “It’s just so hard to change,” Selwood said. “There are times in games when you have to go for the footy, and that’s one thing that I’ve never had a problem with.”

Continue reading…

0

It often pays to be sceptical of the AFL’s social responsibility epiphany | Craig Little

The league’s journey into ‘taking on real issues that matter’ could perhaps include a deeper look at some of its commercial arrangements with betting companies

The AFL, NRL and Cricket Australia, all competing for the next generation of “consumers”, could do worse than look to the example set by sports betting companies.

According to a study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health more than 90% of children can recall having seen an advertisement for sports betting. Three-quarters of them think that gambling is a normal or common part of sport – mainly because of the advertising they see for these products. That’s some reach.

Continue reading…

0

Hawthorn are not the only ones finding that things can get worse | Craig Little

In an AFL week full of wins, losses and symbolic change, the all-conquering Hawks aren’t the only AFL heavyweights with bruised egos

To quote a 1990s emperor in search of an empire, it’s been a big week in football. It began last Tuesday, when Port Adelaide handed an indefinite suspension to a supporter for racist abuse against Eddie Betts and revealed that another spectator had racially vilified its ruckman Paddy Ryder.

Two days later, as West Coast condemned Sydney to its worst start to a season since 1993, the once-mighty Footy Show played to a TV audience of 127,000 – its worst start to a season since its debut in 1994. For all intents and purposes The Footy Show is unloved and undead, but given it’s still on the air after a month of subterranean ratings, maybe it’s unkillable. Perhaps it’s fitting that a program whose reign is seen by some as a contributor to football’s culture of insensitivity should decline as the rest of the game progresses.

Continue reading…

0

All about heart and hate – the bedrock of any AFL rivalry worth its salt | Craig Little

Over the weekend there was a sense of occasion and drama born out of a barroom brawl in Adelaide while pure animosity pockmarked the Essendon-Carlton game

It is AFL football’s rivalries that do the heavy lifting in providing the game its passion and its heritage, having at their origin a sense of place – that sense of belonging that keeps us turning up week after week, loss after loss.

On Saturday night, 53,698 people – a record AFL crowd at the Adelaide Oval – turned out for “Showdown XLII”. Twenty years ago, it was a local brewery that gave the contest its “Showdown” moniker, and too much beer at the Ramsgate Hotel five years after that fermented the rivalry in football folklore.

Continue reading…

0

Starting over again: AFL season begins with round characterised by contrasts | Craig Little

Carlton and Richmond get the new campaign underway in one of a number of opening-round games to throw up the kind of contrasts that make for great art

To quote Mickey and Sylvia, love is strange. On Thursday night, a 70,000-strong, noisy, passionate chorus is expected to accompany the AFL season opener between two football clubs who more closely resemble a decades-long conceptual art project.

While it may be a hard-fought contest between two of the best-supported clubs in Carlton and Richmond, it is lamentably low-stakes. In terms of aesthetics for a marquee game, it is a bit like Kenny G doing a retrospective of Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue.

Continue reading…

0

AFL trade winds blow favourably for ruthless Hawthorn and ominous Giants | Craig Little

The ground didn’t shift a great deal during this year’s trade period, with the Hawks playing it beautifully and Greater Western Sydney growing ever stronger

The Gold Coast Suns entered this year’s trade period as a bunch of losers that hadn’t put up a fight since Campbell Brown broke Steven May’s jaw in the carpark of the Bootsy Bellows nightclub in West Hollywood.

If anything, the Gold Coast Suns are blessed expansion-team comic relief against the looming squall blowing in from western Sydney. When the Suns’ Tony Cochrane – the only AFL club chairman to have won a Tony Award – took on Hawthorn, his bluster sounded like it might have been fished out of an off-Broadway skip and run through a focus group. Although, if nothing else, trade week is theatre for those in the cheap seats.

Continue reading…

0

Bulldogs faithful pray for one more AFL miracle to end the wandering | Craig Little

It’s been 55 years since Bulldogs fans last had their day in the sun, but supporters will be fervently hoping the pilgrimage holds one last great reward

Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea.”

–Deuteronomy 34: 1-2

Continue reading…