The mid-week review: Round 15

What got us talking: The Friday night fixture

The fixture is always something that comes up for debate. People seem to forget it is impossible for the AFL to please every club, and not every team will get the ‘dream’ draw.

So it was no surprise when earlier this week, North Melbourne Chairman James Brayshaw came out and criticised the Friday night fixture. Brayshaw took aim at the six marquee matches Carlton has been scheduled in for, despite the fact they finished a measly 13th in the 2014 season.

He believes the AFL has been too focused on gaining the new TV rights. Their decision to favour the larger traditional clubs to garner more network attention “has backfired horribly”, according to Brayshaw.

“The big worry is we are so often driven by financial-reward rather than by a footy-pure result,” Brayshaw said.

“I would far prefer to have a pure draw – everyone plays each other once and have those rivalry rounds.

“Lets have the draw so we don’t deal with what we are dealing with this year, where some teams get a blissful run and other teams get smashed.”

Yes, the AFL probably shouldn’t have given Carlton so many key Friday night games. Granted, their performances in the back-end of last year had deemed for a promising 2015 season: however, their effort, results and crowd numbers have been abysmal to say the least.

And yes, we want to see a relatively even competition with minimal blow-outs and more thrilling games to watch.

But Brayshaw should be careful with what he says. As chairman of North Melbourne, his comments will always reflect back on his club. North Melbourne did play a pioneering role in the Friday night fixture, but this doesn’t mean that it’s their right to decide what’s best for the timeslot.

Their crowd numbers don’t boast well. North have had an average of 27,000 people per match in 2015. Even Carlton, who has struggled for the entire season, has still averaged around 37,000 people at their games.

And while Carlton’s form has been terrible this year, North have been unpredictable in their own performances. They have played some great footy throughout the season, beating Geelong twice as well as premiership contenders West Coast. But losses to Collingwood, Port Adelaide and Gold Coast – all of which were winnable games – have left some wondering where North Melbourne really is in the scheme of things.

The AFL does need to reconsider its future Friday night draw: up until this point, only two Friday night games have had a result of two goals or less. The repetitive blowouts and uncompetitive score lines are losing the attention of the football community. This once premium timeslot is even made to look second rate against the highly successful Thursday night fixture.

Something needs to be done: but is North Melbourne the answer? They have the perfect opportunity this Friday night to prove they should be given more marquee games. They take on Essendon at Etihad Stadium, so the jury will be out as to whether or not Brayshaw should have held his tongue.

What we learnt from round 15

– There’s more to footy than the results

The emotion shown by the entire Adelaide Football Club in their first match since the tragic death of coach Phil Walsh united the entire football community. Their 56-point defeat didn’t lose them any supporters.

– Don’t write off any teams just yet

Last week, Port Adelaide was deemed to be out of the finals race. But their unexpected win against Collingwood has kept them as a possible finals contender, although it is still admittedly difficult from here.

– Fremantle needs to find a way out of their scoring rut

The Dockers have scored no more than 84 points in their last six matches, and managed only 43 on the weekend against a classy Hawthorn outfit. Their scoring seems the only thing holding them off from being premiership favourites.

What we can expect from round 16

– Nat Fyfe dominating against the Blues

He was well-held by the Hawks, but champion players like Fyfe don’t stay quiet for long. The Blues are going to struggle to keep him in check.

– The Showdown will lack its usual spite

The sombre mood in Adelaide will continue. The heat that usually comes with the big games will step aside for some more moving tributes.

– Close finishes and competitive contests

This round is littered with potential thrillers: Sydney vs. Hawthorn, Collingwood vs. West Coast and North Melbourne vs. Essendon. We’ll learn a lot about where some sides really are.

(First published on Bound for Glory News on the 15th July 2015)

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