The mid-week review: Round 21

What got us talking: Fyfe’s Brownlow?

Last weekend, Fremantle’s Nathan Fyfe was once again reported. The footy world exploded into uproar: should or shouldn’t he be sanctioned?

Fyfe’s errant elbow hit North Melbourne’s Ben Jacobs in the head. Jacobs received a free kick for the incident and carried out the game uninjured, but Fyfe was reported for high front-on contact.

Fyfe has already been fined twice this season. One more would have seen him suspended for a match.

And if he were suspended, then he would be out of the Brownlow Medal race.

So the Brownlow debate was once again brought to light. Some believe these ‘conditions’ on who can win the medal are out-dated and should be scrapped. ‘Who cares if you’ve been suspended? You should still be able to win if you receive the most votes at the end of the season.’

But the Brownlow Medal is the best-and-fairest award for a reason. It should be awarded to, yes, the best player in the competition: however, the best player also has to be fair.

If Fyfe conducted himself in a way that graded a suspension, then he has no right to win a Brownlow. He obviously was not a fair player during the season.

Granted, Fyfe has had an amazing year. He will undoubtedly poll among the top votes come that special Monday night in September.

But the incident should have been graded purely on what happened. Any possible repercussions as a result of the decision should not influence the ultimate ruling.

Many commentators and past players didn’t see anything wrong with Fyfe’s hit on Jacobs.

“I don’t think it was crude,” Jonathan Brown said. “I thought it was reckless.”

“In this instance, his momentum carried him past the footy.”

And the match review panel agreed. They determined the contact was “insufficient” and “incidental”, and Fyfe was completely cleared of the charge.

Former player Jason Dunstall echoed many people’s thoughts.

“I wonder if the Brownlow came into their thinking, because the arm did catch Jacobs in the face,” Dunstall said.

You only have to look back two weeks to see an incident very similar to Fyfe’s. But it received a very different result.

Swans’ player Ted Richards was fined $1000 for his hit on Geelong’s Tom Hawkins. Richards too had a wayward elbow that knocked Hawkins in the head: the force was minimal, as was the intent.

In these two very similar incidents, one player was fined and the other was completely cleared.

So to answer that earlier question: should Fyfe have been sanctioned? Probably not.

But would the question receive the same answer if Fyfe wasn’t the Brownlow favourite with two fines already to his name?

I guess we’ll never know.

What we learnt from round 21

– It’s shaky at the top

Both Hawthorn and Fremantle suffered bad losses in round 21. Fremantle are hanging onto top place by two points, ahead of a rampaging Eagles line-up. Meanwhile, Hawthorn has made it a lot harder to finish top two. Inconsistency might prove costly.

– West Coast holding strong

The Bulldogs took it up to the Eagles for three quarters, but West Coast are just something else altogether. A 14-goal second half demonstrated their frightening scoring ability. They’ll be a difficult opponent come finals time.

– Drawing up nicely

The draw between the Saints and Geelong made for entertaining viewing (although maybe not so much for the Cats supporters). Geelong didn’t make it any easier for themselves, and they’ll now have to win strongly in the next two weeks with other results going their way to even make it to September.

What we can expect from round 22

– Geelong’s season on the line

The Cats need to beat Collingwood this week. Despite how abysmal the Pies were last week against Richmond, they won’t be easy pickings for Geelong. It could make for a very interesting game on Friday night.

– Shape it up

Bulldogs vs. North and Adelaide vs. West Coast: the top 8 is still consolidating itself even this late in the season. The Dogs and Kangaroos are vying for fourth spot while Adelaide is trying to hold steady in the final spot in the eight. West Coast also have top place up for grabs.

– Settle the ship

Both Hawthorn and Fremantle will win strongly this week. They won’t let the bottom placed teams have anymore influence on the finals race, which could prove to be ugly for the Dees and Lions.

(First published on Bound For Glory News on the 26th August 2015)

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