Author Topic: The year of the Tigers (Age)  (Read 632 times)

Offline one-eyed

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The year of the Tigers (Age)
« on: December 27, 2017, 12:49:22 AM »
The year of the Tigers

Ronny Lerner
The Age
December 27, 2017


Story of the year

How can you go past Dustin Martin and his mighty Richmond? The 26-year-old superstar produced the greatest individual season of all time, according to arguably the game's best ever player Leigh Matthews, as he became the first footballer to win the Brownlow Medal (with a record vote tally of 36), Norm Smith Medal and premiership in the same season – all while his contract negotiations were humming along in the background. Martin propelled the Tigers to their first grand final victory in 37 years as they smashed minor premiers Adelaide by eight goals and ended the AFL's third-longest active premiership drought in the process. Coach Damien Hardwick's game plan was an unorthodox one with just one key forward (Jack Riewoldt) surrounded by a mosquito fleet of smalls, but it worked incredibly well. The Tigers' pressure was relentless, their direct style was effective and their finals series was flawless with three victories by an average of 45 points against fellow top-four sides – it doesn't get much better than that, especially when you consider they headed into September having gone the longest period of any club without a finals win (16 years).

The winners

Hardwick must still be pinching himself. Three consecutive elimination final defeats and a failure to make the top eight defined his previous four years in charge at Punt Road. He headed into 2017 under enormous pressure and with the dubious record of most games coached in history without a finals win (157). Sacking him at the end of 2016 would have been the easy option. But credit to his club's board, they resisted a board challenge, stuck with Hardwick and surrounded him with quality new support staff such as Blake Caracella, Justin Leppitsch and Neil Balme to deliver Richmond their 11th flag and complete the biggest 12-month turnaround in VFL/AFL history (13th to first). The recruitment of Toby Nankervis, Dion Prestia and Josh Caddy from other clubs was a masterstroke as well. Hardwick was widely ridiculed for saying in 2016 that he had the most talented list he ever had at his disposal and little over a year later he had the last laugh. Meanwhile, Adelaide may have lost the big one, but can be very proud of the huge strides they made in 2017. Given the amount of quality players they have lost over the years, to produce such a brilliant season which saw them become the most potent and attacking side in the competition is a testament to the club's resilience. It wouldn't be surprising to see them thereabouts again next season with the addition of Bryce Gibbs. But the losses of Jake Lever and Charlie Cameron will hurt.

The losers


Melbourne must be wondering if their 12-year finals drought will ever end. How they missed the top eight this season is still hard to fathom. Their round-23 debacle against Collingwood will be burning deep in their guts for a long time yet. The Western Bulldogs will be smarting at becoming just the fourth team in 25 years to miss the finals after winning the flag. And the Magpies, under coach Nathan Buckley, failed to make the top eight for a fourth consecutive year for the first time since 2001. Few teams will head into season 2018 under more pressure than them. History appears to be repeating itself on the Gold Coast with the Suns emulating the Bears of the early 90s in becoming the AFL's biggest basket case. Apathy riddled their performances in 2017 and it's hard to know what they actually stand for as a footy club. With new coach Stuart Dew now at the helm, they embark on the most important period in their short history.

Quote of the year

When Hardwick gave his very first press conference of the year in February, he noticed that the Richmond media department were doing things differently in season 2017. Instead of having their coach being surrounded by countless reporters and made to feel claustrophobic, they instead placed a presidential-style lectern at the front of the Punt Road Oval theatrette. When Hardwick entered the room and saw the lectern for the first time, he channelled his inner Donald Trump, who had just been elected US president a few months prior, and joked, "Let's make Richmond great again" – borrowing Trump's now famous catchphrase which helped sweep him to power. A mere seven months later, those five simple words had become a prophecy fulfilled.

Social media moment

Melbourne youngster Clayton Oliver doesn't shy away from a contest out on the ground, but the fiery midfielder found himself embroiled in a few Twitter wars in 2017 as well. After Oliver was accused of diving following minimal contact from West Coast defender Will Schofield, Australian Test legend Damien Martyn took to the social media platform to ask: "Am I watching soccer?". Oliver didn't take kindly to that and fired back by reminding Martyn of his soft dismissal at the SCG in 1994 which led to a dramatic collapse while chasing a small total against South Africa.

Oliver also found himself on the end of an epic sledge from Dane Swan when the former Collingwood champion took over Sportsbet's Twitter account on Brownlow Medal night. Although, we reckon that was probably a gee-up rather than anything malicious.

    You know what Clayton Oliver would be if he wasn’t a footballer? A virgin. #Brownlow
    — Sportsbet.com.au (@sportsbetcomau) September 25, 2017

    Swanny would be the guy that puts stickers on apples if he didn't play AFL 🍎🍎
    — Clayton Oliver (@ClaytonOliver16) September 25, 2017

    Mate, now that I've done both, I can tell you it's a lot harder than playing footy... or the Dees. (And the chicks love it)
    — Sportsbet.com.au (@sportsbetcomau) September 25, 2017

Crystal ball

The AFL will get their wish next season with the first all-Sydney grand final. The Giants-Swans rivalry has been building very nicely over the last few years and will come to a head next September. GWS have become one of the best teams in the competition and consecutive preliminary final losses should provide enough motivation for them to finally take the next step. And the Swans showed no signs of slowing down in the second half of last year, winning 15 of their final 18 games. But the two sides will be made to earn it with Geelong having assembled the holy trinity of Dangerfield, Ablett and Selwood, Richmond out to win back-to-back flags and Adelaide desperate to avenge their dismal showing on grand final day. But the Giants should break through for their maiden premiership. Bulldogs superstar Marcus Bontempelli is a good thing for the Brownlow Medal, Essendon forward Joe Daniher will get his hands on his first Coleman Medal and precocious Brisbane Lions defender Alex Witherden will edge out teammate Cam Rayner for the Rising Star.

http://www.theage.com.au/afl/afl-news/afl-in-review-the-year-of-the-tigers-20171226-h0a6mf.html

Offline MintOnLamb

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Re: The year of the Tigers (Age)
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2017, 05:16:34 AM »
".....and precocious Brisbane Lions defender Alex Witherden will edge out teammate Cam Rayner for the Rising Star."
...is Jack Graham still eligible for Rising Star?
« Last Edit: December 27, 2017, 07:43:37 AM by MintOnLamb »

Offline WilliamPowell

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Re: The year of the Tigers (Age)
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2017, 09:18:03 AM »
".....and precocious Brisbane Lions defender Alex Witherden will edge out teammate Cam Rayner for the Rising Star."
...is Jack Graham still eligible for Rising Star?

Yep
"Oh yes I am a dreamer, I still see us flying high!"

from the song "Don't Walk Away" by Pat Benatar 1988 (Wide Awake In Dreamland)

Offline MintOnLamb

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Re: The year of the Tigers (Age)
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2017, 06:31:16 PM »
".....and precocious Brisbane Lions defender Alex Witherden will edge out teammate Cam Rayner for the Rising Star."
...is Jack Graham still eligible for Rising Star?

Yep
Lock him in WP

Offline Chuck17

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Re: The year of the Tigers (Age)
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2017, 10:16:25 PM »
Apart from all the RFC stuff my highlight of the year was the Dees choke in the last round

Online YellowandBlackBlood

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Re: The year of the Tigers (Age)
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2017, 06:57:42 AM »
Apart from all the RFC stuff my highlight of the year was the Dees choke in the last round
Claw is managing their list so they will be fine.  :shh
OER. Calling it as it is since 2004.

Offline Chuck17

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Re: The year of the Tigers (Age)
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2017, 07:32:33 AM »
Apart from all the RFC stuff my highlight of the year was the Dees choke in the last round
Claw is managing their list so they will be fine.  :shh

At least they will be structured up alright then unlike the poor old tiges

Online Damo

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Re: The year of the Tigers (Age)
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2017, 12:52:40 PM »
LOL

Offline H Tiger

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Re: The year of the Tigers (Age)
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2017, 01:24:00 AM »
Love the fact we don’t get a mention in the crystal ball section. Hopefully the Tigers upset the prognosticators apple carts again in 2018.