It’s here! The AFL grand final! And I nearly forgot to write about it! Shit!
If you were hanging out for the annual TPA Grand Final Primer – I apologise for keeping you waiting. That said, this won’t be worth the wait – because I am frantically penning this in between meetings, with little-to-no idea what I am actually typing.
But here goes nothing.
The 2014 Grand Final will be fucking epic. It actually marks the first real chance for NSW to definitively stamp itself as the premier sporting state.
You see, the Waratahs won the Super 15 final this year. A Sydney team is assured of the NRL premiership. NSW finally beat Queensland in the State of Origin this year. A New South Welshman is the captain of our national cricket team – and our best batsman by far. Shit, even the Western Sydney Wanderers made the A-League grand final, just two years into their existence.
As TPA’s Ben Shine said to me yesterday, if the Swans win tomorrow, we can now give up sport. “It’s over. We did it all. Sport is over,” he added.
Of course, sport will not be over. It will never be over. Especially now that Lance ‘Buddy Franklin has captured the imagination of all Sydney-siders.
Here are four key players to watch out for this Saturday:
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Whatever happens tomorrow, Buddy will emerge either as hero or villain.
Buddy Franklin is everything that we love about sport – and then some. He is an identifiable figurehead that we can lavish praise upon, or heap scorn upon, in equal measure, depending on the day.
While we at TPA like to talk about the light and shade in sport, it really is a black and white thing. Winners and losers. Heroes and villains. Cunts and good blokes.
So keep an eye on Buddy tomorrow. Everything he does will be a story-line in himself. He is the best thing for sport since sport itself.
Roughie is looming as a real party-pooper for the Swans. He’s big, white, thick-bodied, and is good at kicking goals – the key attributes for AFL success.
I haven’t really followed his stats this season – and I only have 5 mins to write this, so I won’t start now – but I feel like he might be running into some solid form. And that we’ll need a strong defender to “take care” of him. But who will that be?
I believe ‘Teddy’ will get the job on ‘Roughie’. Ted Richards has the oiliest shoulders in modern AFL, which will serve him well against the big Hawthorn forward.
I’ve always enjoyed Ted Richards ever since I discovered he wrote a semi-regular blog for the Swans, entitled ‘The Richards Report’. He seems self-deprecating and never seems to get angry on the field – two traits that I admire in a sportsman.
I am hoping that Richards will negate Roughead – if he keeps him to less than 2 goals, the Swans will go a long way towards another premiership.
The Hawthorn brains trust are taking a massive risk in playing Rioli, who was less-than inspiring in his comeback match in the VFL last week.
Rioli suffers, I’d argue, from the perception that he is something of a creative genius with the ball in hand. Of course, many indigenous players are seen solely in this light – a perception that, in my view can appear mildly racist. As if they’re less inclined towards ‘hard work’ and simply reliant on spontaneous moments of brilliance whenever the mood strikes them.
I feel that Rioli’s perception as ‘enigma’ has secured him a place in the grand final. And I’m not even sure he deserves to be simply considered an enigma. Clearly he is an excellent footballer who puts in just as much effort as anyone else. But just one that is a bit underdone, and shouldn’t be playing on Saturday.
Is this white man’s guilt – selecting the ‘enigmatic, magical’ Rioli in the grand final? And will it come back to bite Hawthorn, once he burns out after 8 minutes in the first quarter?
I kind of hope so.
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So there it is, your TPA Grand Final Primer. Sorry it was so shit, but I hope it’s enough to keep you coming back to this website. We’ll get something better up for the NRL Grand Final, I promise.
Swans by 37. It won’t even be close.
By Dave Edwards