“FOOTBALL’S a funny old game.”
It was a phrase made famous by a soccer legend, Chelsea and Spurs striker Jimmy Greaves, but it’s applicable across all codes.
And if football’s a funny old game then the AFL is absolutely side-splitting at the moment.
West Coast are the reigning premiers, have won four flags since 1992, and boast quality across every line.
But at the moment they are playing like a busted wheel.
Fremantle are a perennial disappointment, a club that appeared to be sliding towards the abyss when gun recruit Jesse Hogan was suspended for Round 1.
Who would you rather be barracking for this morning?
Fremantle are second on the AFL ladder and the ‘sack Ross’ brigade is nowhere to be seen.
The Eagles look bereft of confidence and spirit – the things that helped them shrug off the loss of key personnel last season and achieve the most unlikely of glories.
The Dockers’ confidence is just starting to build.
Hell, if Matt Taberner had kicked straight against the Eagles and they hadn’t had that slip-up on the Gold Coast, they’d be unbeaten.
Yes, tougher challenges await, but those who bleed purple must be thrilled with the application they are seeing so far.
The Eagles, meanwhile, simply aren’t digging deep enough.
Coach Adam Simpson said as much after their dismal showing in Geelong yesterday.
“We just didn’t look tough enough in most areas,” he said.
“We’ve got to have a good go at our contest and there is method to it but maybe just sticking your head over the ball is what we need to do.”
After slamming on five goals in the first term against the Dockers in Round 4, the Eagles have won just one quarter of football – thanks to three junk-time goals in the final quarter against Port Adelaide.
That means West Coast have won one quarter out of their last 11, and that came once the game had lost any intensity.
Three weeks ago, after a strong win against Collingwood at the MCG, I wrote that the signs of a premiership hangover weren’t glaringly obvious.
Well, get the frying pan on and fetch the Berocca (not the bucket quite yet) – because this team is couch-bound.
So much was made of the Eagles’ spirit and resilience last year.
At the moment, they look passionless.
How they respond will be telling.
The Dockers, by contrast, look like a puppy with big paws – full of energy and bounce, still growing into itself and making simple mistakes, but getting stronger all the time.
Their next three – Adelaide (A), Richmond (H) and Essendon (A) – will be instructive.
But there appears clear signs things are turning in the port.
Yes, football’s a funny old game.
And if you’re upset with how your team is tracking today, take this sage advice:
Give it a week.