On the way home from our short holiday in Merimbula, we just happened to be passing through Morwell in country Victoria at precisely the time that Essendon and Richmond were playing a NAB Challenge game at the fantastic Morwell City Oval. Imagine my surprise when I (casually) mentioned to Robin that we could drop in for a look, and she said 'OK'. We didn't know where the ground was precisely, but after only five minutes of scouring the town, the growing crowd was spotted, a parking spot secured, and we were inside about one minute after the first bounce.
What excitement! At a suburban (well, country anyway) ground, standing in the outer on the wing, drinking a 'Coke' while eating a jam donut watching the mighty Bombers go round. It doesn't get much better than that!
Through the middle, Go Bombers! - 2010
As we were in the middle of a long drive, we only stayed for the first half. So, what did I think?
Well, our forward line seemed to work well against the Tigers, at least. Gumbleton, Neagle and Hille (he is a BIG unit) worked nicely together, and played wide and stretched the Richmond defence. Ryder rucked well and picked up many possessions across the mid field and presented really well. The defence seemed stout, although for the Tigers, Nahas and a newcomer, Roberts, cut extremely speedy swathes through our defence for impressive goals in Q2. But outside of that, Pears, Hooker and (especially) Fletcher stood firm and Slattery cleaned up neatly. But to my eye, Brent Stanton was the stand out in the first half. He ran laterally and very, very hard, while disposing of the ball extremely well usually by foot to position. Young Howlett looked impressive as well, while Zaharakis looks to have matured into a 'real' AFL player.
Apparently we had a pretty strong side out there today, with Jetta, McVeigh, Lovett-Murray, Houli, Melksham, Laycock and Hurley being the notable absentees.
The Bounce - 2010
To my uneducated eye, the game plan appears to be to switch direction from defence, then switch again using fast hand, leg and foot speed to move the ball and possession towards and through the 'corridor'. That plan requires extreme skill to perfect and at times it appeared that more skills sessions will be required. Also, when the run stopped, say late in a quarter, we looked a little stodgy and proppy as we found it difficult to move the ball out of defence. And as per last year, we often looked better with the ball, than without it.
And I do need to brush up on the players numbers however as there were quite a few players who I did not recognise either by number or physique.
When we left it was 12.4 to 5.4 in favour of the Bombers in a fast and entertaining half of football played in glorious conditions.
The EFC Quarter Time Huddle in front of the 'Adoring Faithfull' - 2010
The crowd to my estimate was at least 5,000. A boost to the local economy I hope. Even Robin commented how great is was to be watching on the 'same level' as the players and to be so close to hear and feel the action. Roll on season 2010!
Update: The final score was 23.9 to 11.7, with some 14 different goal kickers. Outstanding!
Bye for now, BomberBoy
I am getting very serious about making a golf comeback this year.
My membership at one of the finest golf facilities in Australia is being wasted by my playing far too infrequently, not to mention, badly. I really do need to re-focus and dedicate myself to the game. To assist in kick-starting my 'resurgence' I have a couple of lesson credits to use up with the pro at my club. Playing and practising will help my general fitness as well. So that is all goodness and sounds like a win/win.
So step one is to do the mature and responsible thing - go out and buy a new driver! Well, not exactly brand new, but a used Ping Rapture 10.5 jobbie off eBay.
Due to a full schedule this week I haven't had a chance to try it yet, but it looks great sitting it the bag... Will post an update after my next round.
Bye for now, BomberBoy
First off, it seems that this is one of our most injury-free pre-seasons in living memory. Of course, you need to exclude Jason Laycock, Scott Gumbleton and Jay Neagle from that assessment as they are perennially overweight or limping...
Let me start with the positives. I do like our defence. Tayte Pears, Cale Hooker, Dustin Fletcher, Henry Slattery, Courtenay Dempsey, and perhaps NLM all going around make for a tall-ish, quick-ish, skilled back half. If the odd player goes down with injury we can slot some others in like Michael Hurley and Darcy Daniher.
I am less sold on the mid field. No question that our new captain, Jobe 'Son-of-Timmy' Watson is now an elite 'in and under' mid fielder but he is not overly quick. Throw in Andrew Welsh, Heath Hocking, Brent Prismall and Mark McVeigh and while we have the ball, all is well, but on the rebound, that group is a tad slow. I know that Ricky Dyson and Jason Winderlich will be thereabouts but I still fear the defensive run with / shutdown element of our mid field. Alwyn Davey could be tried in the midfield to provide that defensive pressure with superior speed & run.
If you thought I was a bit negative about our mids, wait till we go forward! It is irresponsible to build a forward line around Scott Gumbleton and Jay Neagle. Not because they don't have talent, as they have it in spades but they haven't proven that they have the hard bodies to play 22 weeks plus finals. Mark Williams will be a 40 goal addition, Angus Monfries needs to continue his improvement, but Matthew Lloyd, Scott Lucas and Andrew Lovett will be sorely missed. Let's hope Hurley can continue on from his stunning debut last year. But it will be tough for the six guys down there to regularly kick a winning score I reckon.
I like the ruck division. Ryder is clearly a class act, Hille would die on the field for his mates and Tom Bellchambers has bulked up a bit and looks like a real candidate in the medium term. I have a lot of time for Brent Stanton as a runner who makes sensible position and gives 100%.
Wildcards in 2010? David Myers, Jake Melksham, Kyle Reimers and David Zaharakis will be worth watching. On the flip side, I think 2010 will be a make or break year for Leroy Jetta, Michael Quinn and Bachar Houli.
So, where do I think 'The Wonderful Wizards from Windy Hill' will finish? Certainly above Richmond and Melbourne, probably on top of North Melbourne but similar to the Swans, Fremantle, West Coast, Port Adelaide and Carlton so anywhere from 13th to 8th. Best guess: 10th. Let's hope Matthew Knights and the boys can prove me wrong. Go Bombers!
As for the flag? A Geelong and Hawthorn Grand Final for mine with the Hawks re-discovering their desire and will win the Big One.
Bye for now, BomberBoy