The Tackle: Stack critics can get stuffed

Fans want to be safe when they go to the footy so they shouldn't complain when security is increased, but there is a problem if they feel like they aren't allowed to barrack.

Sydney Stack and Eddie Betts produced a magical moment that should be celebrated and Carlton young gun Charlie Curnow is exciting to watch in full flight.

But questions need to be asked for Ben Stratton's actions.

Mark Robinson reveals what he liked and disliked.

 

DISLIKES

1. WHY THE ANGST ON SECURITY?

Fans are agitated. The AFL says it's done nothing. Yet Marvel Stadium was full of orange coats on Friday and Saturday nights. Surely we can't be angry with increased security, after fights at the footy earlier this year and a nasty brawl after the Western Bulldogs-Carlton game.

That fight started because one fan taunted another, then punches were thrown. A woman was among those on the receiving end. That's exactly why there is increased security - to try to stop these awful incidents.

Remember, demands were made of the AFL, the police and the stadium operators to curb the violence. Now, after more security was put in place to try to discourage the violence - which involves patrolling the aisles - some supporters are demanding security back off. We can't have it both ways.

 

A security guards keeps a watch on the crowd at the Carlton v Western Bulldogs match. Picture: AAP
A security guards keeps a watch on the crowd at the Carlton v Western Bulldogs match. Picture: AAP

 

2. BUT FIND THE MIDDLE GROUND

If security guards are flexing their muscles over fans barracking, we certainly do have a problem. And too many fans are lodging complaints for them to be ignored, or to be without foundation. Faith in the AFL is low.

The AFL said it didn't ban the Richmond fan for the "green maggot'' comments, but Richmond says the AFL leaned on it to sanction the fan. Then there were the different versions of the "baldheaded flog'' incident.

But this is not really an AFL matter. It is a stadium problem, and on 3AW Marvel chief executive Michael Green conceded that if fans felt intimidated by the security, this would be addressed. The positive is that football will become a safer place.

 

3. BEN STRATTON

The Hawthorn skipper's deliberate attacks on Orazio Fantasia and Shaun McKernan are the low points of his career. Sending him to the tribunal to hear his version of events will be interesting. What goes through a player's head, a captain's head, that prompts him to consistently pinch an opponent and then deliberately stomp on the foot of another opponent?

The pinching component is simple bullying of a smaller opponent - would he do it to Tom Hawkins, Buddy Franklin or Jeremy Cameron? The stomping was a malicious act which could have easily broken McKernan's navicular bone.

Is Stratton so frustrated with his team's performance that it got the better of him? Is he struggling with the responsibility of captaincy in a team not performing? He'll get his say on Tuesday.

 

 

Shaun McKernan remonstrates with Ben Stratton. Picture: AAP
Shaun McKernan remonstrates with Ben Stratton. Picture: AAP

 

 

4. WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN TO HIM?

The stomping should get him a holiday, at least one week for the act, perhaps another week for the potential to cause injury to McKernan. Pinching is not a vicious act, but as AFL Commission chairman Richard Goyder said, it's not a good look for the game. Nor are the bruises on Fantasia's arm. No footballer should expect that treatment. He should get a week for that as well, giving him a potential three-week holiday.

 

5. BRAD CROUCH

It's not so much a dislike because he's a damn good player, but he could be even better. It was his best game this season, maybe his best game for Adelaide, and his 43 disposals was the first time he has topped 40 disposals. If there is a query on his football, it is his ability to use the ball. His kicking efficiency (47 per cent) is the lowest of any midfielder to play more than five games his year. Yes, his past two matches have been good, but they could be even more influential if he used the ball better.

 

Brad Crouch could have a bigger impact in games. Picture: Sarah Reed
Brad Crouch could have a bigger impact in games. Picture: Sarah Reed

 

6. NO CUNNINGTON, NO KANGAS

It's amazing what taggers can do one opponent and by extension to an opposition team. Tagger extraordinaire Matt De Boer shut-out Ben Cunnington at Hobart yesterday and the Kangaroos couldn't adjust. He had Cunnington for three quarters before leaving the ground with injury and in that time restricted Cunnington to just 10 disposals. By that stage, the Giants led clearances 44-30. Combined with the absence Shaun Higgins, the Kangas simply couldn't go with their opposition, so much so, North's 310 disposals was their fewest this year.

 

7. PORT RUCKMEN

Scott Lycett (86 games) and Patrick Ryder (238 games) are two of the more experienced ruckmen in the league but failed when the game was at its most demanding. Fremantle's Sean Darcy, who is 20 and playing his 18th game, schooled them both at the death. Outside Michael Walters, he was the most important player in the final quarter.

From the 10th minute of the final quarter the Dockers won the clearance count 12-1. They won the hit out count 9-6 and hit out to advantage count 4-1. Darcy faced off against both Port ruckmen for seven stoppages each and won three disposals to the Port's pairing one disposal. He will figure prominently in the coaches votes.

 

 

LIKES

1. EDDIE BETTS AND SYDNEY STACK

"Some people weren't happy about it, but stuff them. It was in the moment. It's about belonging, it was a beautiful thing,'' Sean Gorman, respected author and manager of the indigenous player alliance, said.

Gorman's point was that old-school views where any kind of affection or acknowledgment between opposition players is seen as a sign of weakness, is being forsaken for players living in the moment.

"What Stack did was what blackfellas do at end of the game, but he did it in the game. Two brother boys came together,'' Gorman said.

"What we're seeing now in football is a bunch of actions and behaviours within club land and from players themselves, particularly indigenous players, where they will do what they want to do … and if you don't like it, then you deal with it. Stack is a star, an enigma. But he understands he can do what he wants to do. It's called agency, players using their voice and their actions.''

How powerful was it?

"It's potentially iconic,'' Gorman said. "I think it's a game-changer.''

 

 

Sydney Stack embraces Eddie Betts after his stunning goal. Picture: Channel 7
Sydney Stack embraces Eddie Betts after his stunning goal. Picture: Channel 7

 

 

2. THE KID HIMSELF

Sydney Stack is a revelation and perhaps a leader of a revolution. The argument that he is a serious rising star contender can't be ignored. He's explosive, fearless and creative. His footy IQ for a 19-year-old is off the charts. When he gets his fitness to the necessary levels he will be a brutal weapon in the midfield.

As for being a leader of a revolution, and as Gorman pointed out, Stack will express himself how he wants to and when he wants to without fear of criticism or ridicule. His war dance at the Dreamtime game was powerful and authoritative and his embrace with Eddie Betts was much the same. You've got to admire his dash.

 

 

Sydney Stack performs a tribal dance before the Dreamtime game. Picture: Getty Images
Sydney Stack performs a tribal dance before the Dreamtime game. Picture: Getty Images

 

 

3. MICHAEL 'SONNY' WALTERS

Putting on the Dermott Brereton analysis hat. Draw a line across the middle of the ground, wing to wing, and rank the best players on the right hand side, the midfielders and forwards. You'd be hard-pressed to find a bigger matchwinner than Walters at the moment. Gazza is up there, so is Patrick Cripps, Tim Kelly and Brodie Grundy.

But Walters is something else. He wins his own ball, spreads, is a beautiful kick and then goes forward and kicks goals. He kicked six goals on Saturday night to separate the Dockers and Port Adelaide and we reckon the coach initially underplayed the performance a smidgen. "He was handy,'' Lyon said. "I thought he was really handy.''

 

4. TIM TARANTO

The Giants knew how good a player Tim Taranto would be. They traded up to get pick No.2 by off-loading Cam McCarthy to the Dockers and in return got pick No.3. They did another trade with Brisbane, where they swapped pick No.3 and No.16 for picks 2, 31, 51 and 60. It was complicated, but the upshot was Taranto, whose father is Texan, became a Giant.

Taranto's 30 disposals against North Melbourne was the fourth time in his past five games he has reached 30 disposals. In just his 50th game, he is one of the most improved players in the competition with Jordan Roughead, Ricky Henderson, Rowan Marshall and teammate Jacob Hopper.

 

 

5. CHARLIE CURNOW

He kicked eight goals in eight games under Brendon Bolton's regimen this year. He has 10 goals in two games, including seven goals on Saturday night, under new coach David Teague. It can't be a coincidence. Curnow is flourishing with the revised game plan. Quicker ball movement and a seemingly mentally refreshed Curnow has given the Blues life, but it would be interesting to hear someone at Carlton exactly explain the transformation. Was it Bolton's game plan and Curnow's positioning? Or was it Charlie himself? Whatever, the footy world is better with Charlie Curnow on song.

 

 

Charlie Curnow has flourished under David Teague. Picture: AAP
Charlie Curnow has flourished under David Teague. Picture: AAP

 

 

6. PATRICK LIPINSKI

Josh Dunkley and Charlie Curnow were the best players on the park but Patrick Lipinski's performance can't be glossed over. The Bulldogs have never been short of midfielders and it would seem coach Luke Beveridge has added another runner/connector to the brigade.

Beveridge made Lipinski earn his spot this season despite averaging 25 disposals and 108 ranking points in his six VFL matches. He hasn't let the coach down in his three games in the seniors. Against the Blues he won a career-high 29 disposals and kicked multiple goals for just the third time. Importantly, his kicking efficiency across his three games is 76 per cent.

 

7. CONOR MCKENNA

The slight worry with McKenna was turnovers. He'd pierce the opposition with audacious running then too often he would cough up the ball - more through decision-making than skill errors. It detracted from the positives he brought to the Bombers. The past two games against Carlton and Hawthorn has seen a cleaner McKenna.

He's turned the ball over just seven times from his 50 disposals in those games, which runs at 14 per cent. Before this stretch, he was running at 21 per cent. Clearly he's putting in the work at training and the reward was his best game of the season against the Hawks,

 

8. JACK BILLINGS

It was the best game of his career. His tackle and the resultant goal in the final quarter was the kind of leadership the Saints needed at the death. Has been used inside this year, but did his damage largely on the outside against the Suns.

The form of Luke Dunstan as the inside midfielder has allowed the likes of Jade Gresham, Sebastian Ross and Billings to play more outside. Without Dunstan, the Saints may have lost this game. He is averaging career highs for disposals (22), contested possessions (13), clearances (6) and pressure points (51) and with Jack Steven and Jack Steele missing, Dunstan was as important as any Saint.

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