It was 177 days ago when the mighty Geelong Football Club triumphantly lifted the 2009 premiership cup above their heads. It had been a long and tiring journey, but they had finally done it.
But footy’s back and it smells so sweet. A new season has finally arrived and with a new season brings new challengers, new predicaments and outlandish predictions!
I know I’m only half way through my previews for each team. But round one is only a matter of hours away and I’m keen to let you all know my predictions for 2010 before I’m accused of copying an AFL expert!
Here’s how I think the ladder will look at the completion of 22 rounds:
- St. Kilda
- Western Bulldogs
- Brisbane Lions
- North Melbourne
- West Coast
- Port Adelaide
Last year, St.Kilda and Geelong were clearly the best two teams throughout the season, and it showed with their positioning on the ladder. However, this year will be very different. Clubs such as the Western Bulldogs, Brisbane, Hawthorn and Collingwood will put an enormous amount of pressure on the Saints and Cats during the 22 rounds. It will go right down to the wire in terms of who will be granted home finals and who will finish in the top four.
The big movers will be North Melbourne, who I think will finish just outside the eight. But don’t be surprised if they squeeze in. Sydney should slide a little this year because they have lost a few crucial players from their forward line and it will take them a while to adjust. Barring any more serious injuries, Melbourne should win more games than Richmond this year. The Tigers did a massive clean out at the end of last year and their younger listed players haven’t been around for as long as some of the Demons’ players have.
Premiers: WESTERN BULLDOGS
Their time is now.
I might be accused of jumping on the Bulldogs’ bandwagon just because everyone else has or because they just won the NAB cup. But their list is perfect and they are as determined as ever.
The Western Bulldogs haven’t won a flag since 1954. They have made two preliminary finals in the last two years but have come agonizingly short on both occasions. They recruited big Barry Hall during the offseason and they’ve already won some minor silverware this year. The scriptwriter is licking his lips at this predicament.
They should overtake Geelong this year and with the right balance of experience and youth, I believe the Dogs will beat an unlucky St Kilda in the grand final.
Brownlow Medal: Joel Selwood (Geelong)
The obvious Brownlow choice is Gary Ablett, but I think he will dip very slightly this year. The Gold Coast situation might just hamper him a bit and Selwood should shine through. He will take plenty of votes off Ablett and continue to develop his game.
Selwood is a superstar. And he’s still only 21. His tenacity and hardness at the ball in the middle of the ground is something that the umpires can’t avoid but something that they love to admire. He is already a natural vote getter, gaining 37 votes in only three years of football.
He will continue to rise in stature this year with a Brownlow Medal victory.
Coleman Medal: Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin (Hawthorn)
Apparently kicking 67 goals means you’ve had a bad year! Well according to some.
After kicking well over 100 goals in 2008, Franklin struggled to replicate that form in 2009. But we must counter in numerous factors, such as the fact that last year the ball wasn’t down his end as much due to numerous injuries to the Hawks’ midfield and backline.
When Franklin did have the ball though, he looked menacing. He improved his accuracy at goal by three percent and always looked dangerous when the ball went into the Hawks’ forward 50.
Franklin’s lost a little bit of weight over summer and seems to have further improved his kicking for goal. All I can say is that I wouldn’t want to be a full back playing against Hawthorn this year.
Headline of the year: ‘It’s official, Ablett joins the Gold Coast’
Personally, I believe Ablett would be mad to stay with Geelong.
The pros comfortably outweigh the cons. During his time at Geelong, Ablett has been a part of two premiership sides, won a Brownlow medal, been voted by his peers as the best player in the game for three years running, gained All-Australian selection three times and also won a club best and fairest. It’s a fair CV to say the least.
Quite simply, he’s a genius. But what else has he got to achieve with the Cats? Nothing.
If he goes to the Gold Coast, he’ll be earning close to $2 million a year, he will be close to his beloved Dad- who currently resides on Surfers Paradise- and he could be possibly playing alongside his brother Nathan again. Even more enticing is the fact that Ablett has the chance to captain a brand new side- something that has always eluded him at Geelong- and steer them towards a premiership.
Besides the loyalty factor, I can’t see any reason why he would want to stay with Geelong.
Go Gary, Go!
My Tips for Round One:
Carlton to beat Richmond
Geelong to beat Essendon
Hawthorn to beat Melbourne
Brisbane to beat West Coast
St.Kilda to beat Sydney
North Melbourne to beat Port Adelaide
Western Bulldogs to beat Collingwood
Adelaide to beat Fremantle
Ben Waterworth is in his second year of a Bachelor of Journalism. You can read more of Ben’s work at A short sport thought, or watch him on the podium during the final session of the Sport Journalism Symposium being held at La Trobe University on April 8. He’s also part of the team of upstart’s new audio companion program, upcast.