Goodbye, My Lover – Footy Is Back!

The timing could not be more perfect.

With yesterday being Valentine’s Day, it allowed all followers of football one final opportunity to show the love and appreciation they have for their respective loved ones/significant others/sugar-daddy or mama before vanishing for seven months of watching, reading, talking and having their lives totally dictated by AFL.

Or, maybe you just spent last night alone on the couch with a large pizza, the TV and no pants. Not very romantic (depends what was on the TV) but the perfect preparation for footy season!

And it kicks off (again) tonight with two more opening round NAP Cup games…and at least three of the clubs involved will actually want to win too! Despite the League’s breathless excitement over increased prizemoney for the winners of the preseason comp, most clubs don’t give a crap about actually winning. It’s just four practice matches until Round One.

But for the Tigers, Doggies and Kangas, it’s a big chance to generate some excitement for the year ahead…and the extra cash would be handy too.

Adrian Anderson, the League’s Mad Professor, has tinkered yet again with the rules – all in the name of research, of course. The Prof. has collision injuries and player congestion in his sights and will no doubt be collecting spreadsheet after spreadsheet of data like a nerdy little maniac over the next four weeks and do…whatever it is he does with it…

There is nothing actually wrong with using this competition to trial new rules…and really we should all be thankful that this interchange limit rule is being trialled at all and not dumped on us two days before the home-and-away season kicks off! So the comp is really just a testing ground – but for research purposes? If there are only 15 matches played anyway and some games have shorter quarters and longer breaks, and most teams only treat them as practice games…will any of the data be meaningful at all?

Anyway, that’s not our problem. Let’s focus on what to look forward to tonight:

Telstra Dome, Melbourne – 7:40pm (local): St Kilda v Richmond (CH7)

With former Sydney assistant Ross Lyon at the helm, the Saints are quickly being transformed into the South Melbourne Swans…particularly now that they have two actual ruckmen on board. But they also have a few significant withdrawals and will play a less than full strength side…well, Sydney never cared about the NAP Cup either…

The Tigers are hoping to regain some (make that ‘any’) respectability in 2008 after another disastrous season and start building a sense of real optimism with their ridiculously loyal fan base. Well, having your top pick in last year’s draft on the long-term injury list ALREADY is not the greatest of starts.

TIO Stadium, Darwin – 7:40pm (local): Western Bulldogs v Kangaroos (Fox)

It has been a mixed week for the Dogs; firstly they announce plans for the big-arse ‘Bulldog Hilton’ development and then a former great wants to sack the CEO as well as the coach if they don’t make the finals. Between this and rumours of in-fighting behind the scenes, Whitten Oval might be the first port-of-call for the footy media circus…perhaps as early as next week! Wouldn’t that be fun…

The Kangas, who will be known as North Melbourne again after poo-pooing the League’s extremely generous offer to pack their things and move to the Gold Coast, find themselves heading a little further north than scheduled for their first match of the season. Now set to play in monsoon-like conditions in Darwin, the Roos may opt out of playing Nathan Thompson…for risk that his reconstructed knee might get wet or something.

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