There’s been a lot of talk this season about how close the footy is, and how even the competition. There’s no one stand-out team, and though the Lions are now clear bottom, no terrible teams, as there have been in past years. In the middle of the ladder there’s a log-jam of teams on 5 wins for the season, but top is only 7. As it stands there are about a dozen teams in clear contention for the top 8, and perhaps a couple more that might yet surprise.
That’s been a feature of the early part of the season. Powerhouse clubs like Hawthorn and the Swans started the season in diabolical for. The Swans lost the first 5, but have now won the last 3 and are looking ominous. Hawthorn have been flogged a few times, and though they’ve now won 3 games I reckon they’re shot for the reason, and very likely for years to come.
On the field the footy has been exciting too. I read a stat yesterday along the lines that over the entire course of the 2016 season only 17 teams won after being behind at half time. We’re not even halfway through this season and the current figure is 25. Momentum swings have been a feature throughout the season, typified, perhaps, by the Cats-Bulldogs game last Friday. The Bulldogs let at quarter time; in the 2nd Geelong kicked 6 goals to nothing; in the 3rd the Bulldogs kicked 6 goals to 1; and in the last the Cats fought back to win, kicking 7 goals to 3. On Saturday Collingwood trailed by 40 points at one stage before defeating Hawthorn comfortably, and Richmond twice have lost on the last score of the day (once after the siren).
That sort of reversal has been reflected in how the season has gone. The Tigers won their first 5 games of the season; if they lose this Saturday they’ll have lost the next 5. Geelong likewise won the first 5, before losing the next 3. Adelaide were flying, everyone’s pick for premiers after winning the first 6 in dominant style before being flogged in the next 2. And last year’s premiers have fumbled their way to a 5-4 start to the season.
There are aspects of the game that can be improved – umpiring interpretation for one thing – but overall AFL footy is a great product. I can’t think of a more spectacular sport in the world. The skills and athleticism are fantastic, and a tight season like this really highlights how compelling a sport it is.
The added bonus is the Bombers are on the rise – looking good boys.