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It’s Been Emotional…(The End)

With Fev gone, how could we possibly go on?

200 posts, multiple images of footballers cuddling each other, 40-odd references to Stephen Milne being a twerp (would have liked more…a bit disappointed!), numerous emails from pre-Twilight tweenies telling me off for making fun of Dale Thomas, a handful of readers, three years, one blog…no more!!!

Dale Thomas could win ten premierships in his career…but this is how I will always remember him!

That’s right…Half Back Flanker is now officially done. Though honestly, it has been ‘unofficially’ done for almost eighteen months now…since before Brendan Fevola was shipped out of Carlton to join the Brisbane Lions. Say, I wonder whatever happened to that guy?

Ohhhh…forget I ever asked.

But don’t be sad that it’s all over…and don’t be too overjoyed either! Because the tradition of light-hearted football analysis and scarcely-relevant observations will continue this year with a shiny, new blog under a different name. In fact, it’s up and running as of right now! See you there?

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All Quiet On The Trading Front (The Lost Weekend)

Ryan O’Keefe looks good in navy blue but is still a Swan…well, for now anyway!

Not much to write home about as a result of AFL trade week…though it was always going to be an extremely difficult year to pull off any substantial deals. With the Gold Coast Sluggos claiming a large number of draft picks next year and talk of a seriously talented group of kids coming out this year, it would have taken an extraordinary deal for a first-round draft pick to be exchanged. And sorry, but none of these Kangas can be filed under ‘extraordinary’!

So, exactly how many deals were done in this year’s trade week? Six! Ryan O’Keefe didn’t get to Hawthorn and now might be stuck in the middle of a ‘who’s dick is bigger’ tug o’ war between Essendon and Carlton. Andrew Lovett couldn’t find a way to get to Geelong so has a big preseason ahead of him back at Windy Hill. And Brad Green stays with Melbourne even though he reckons we was never leaving anyway…that might be a tad more believable if it was said, say, last Tuesday rather than after the trade deadline!

Yep, that was worth five whole days of carry-on

Ahhh, so that is what Robbie Warnock looks like…

The A to Z of HBF!

And now for something completely different. Half Back Flanker rarely divulges in personal stuff as this blog is kinda solely focused on poking fun at footy-related things. But when we were tagged with this meme a while back (thanks Luli), we thought that it might be a great opportunity to give rare insight into a mid-thirties IT G.I.T. (Geek In Training) that spends waaaaay too much time taking the piss out of talented, hard-working sportspeople.

Anyway, here goes…

Attached or single? Well and truly attached (as you will soon discover)…

Best friend? An old high school buddy and rugby team mate who is at least six foot five inches tall…so don’t mess with me! Actually, he is completely non-aggro; a real gentle giant.

Cake or Pie? Both, especially in winter! I’m a sucker for coffee and cake when it gets cold and a meat pie at the footy is almost an essential item!

Mmmm…delicious!

Day of Choice? Apart from any non-work day…Thursdays are probably my fave. It’s the first day when you get a little excited that the weekend is fast approaching but there still a tiny spark of motivation to be productive (tend to completely shut down on Fridays). So planning for the weekend, playing over 30’s basketball with the Skinny Dogs, the Green Guide…and lots of thinking about dumb jokes to make about the weekend’s footy games to put on the blog!

Essential Item? (Apart from the meat pie) Headphones – I take them absolutely everywhere! Along with either the MP3 player, the Ipod Shuffle or the AM/FM radio…listening to stuff all the time.

Favourite Colour? Red…preferably on a sash against a black background. It was really fashionable at the turn of the century and now just waiting for it to come back into vogue again. That, however, could be a few years away yet…

Gummy Bears or Worms? I’d probably go the worms…but would actually prefer Gummy Juice! That was the nickname my six foot five best friend used for Cointreau when we were young and foolish. Crazy things usually happened when the Gummy Juice came out…

Gummy Juice!

Hometown? Even though I have spent the last twelve years in Victoria, I still think of Ulladulla as home…it’s where I grew up, went to school, represented in rugby and, during the worst of every Melbourne winter, kinda wished I was back there again.

Favourite Indulgence? Going out for breakfast on the weekend!

January or July? January – easily! Hot weather, long days, operating in holiday mode, cycling everywhere, Aus Open tennis, Australia Day bbqs, Triple J Hottest 100, music festivals…only another four and a half months away!

Kids? None of my own but two young nephews (two year old Jay and two month old Cooper) and one cat – a moody tortoise shell called Max(ine) who just spent over a week at the cattery and now hates me.

Life Isn’t Complete Without? Family, friends and a good Collingwood joke!

Marriage Date? August 8th, 2008. Hang on…isn’t that, like, only two weeks ago? Why, yes it is! Rather than taking an ill-advised trip to China for the Olympics, actually flew up to Palm Cove, north of Cairns and got hitched on the beach. And the 08.08.08 was deliberate…and, fingers crossed, impossible to forget come anniversary time!

Number of Siblings? One younger sister Emma; the more sensible child and mother of the aforementioned nephews (naturally!).

Oranges or Apples? Both have their place…probably eat more apples as they tend to be less messy.

Phobias? Quite a few food phobias…the worst being whole tomatoes. That’s what happens when you are forced to eat them as a kid, only to throw them back up onto the dinner table!

Quote? I love anything GOB Bluth (Will Arnett) says on Arrested Development…but I’ll settle for this nice little pick-up line: “If you didn’t have adult onset diabetes, I wouldn’t mind giving you a little sugar!”

“Illusion, Michael. A trick is something a whore does for money…Or candy!

Reason To Smile? The State Library of Victoria (in partnership with the National Library of Australia) have sought our permission to include this blog in the PANDORA web archive. For some reason, (well, I assume they don’t like Stephen Milne either) they have identified Half Back Flanker as an electronic publication that has ‘national significance’ and ‘lasting cultural value’! Gotta smile at that…

Season of Choice? You can’t really go past summer, no matter where you live. But Autumn in Melbourne is pretty cool too – new footy season starts, Comedy Festival in April, Easter holidays…

Tag Five People: A few on the blogroll have already completed this meme (Nothing You Confess Could Make Me Love You Less, This Devil’s Workday) but those footy related guys (Best Off Ground, Die Hard Footy, Kick 2 Kick, Mollyzine) are welcome to give it a shot…

Unknown Fact About Me: Played the role of King Arnulf in the world premiere theatre production of Erik The Viking…and Terry Jones, member of Monty Python and comedy genius who wrote and played the role of King Arnulf in the movie, has a copy of my sparkling performance on video at his home. If he ever bothered to watch it, which I highly doubt, I’m sure he would be mortified!

Vegetable? Provided it’s not a pumpkin…absolutely!

Worst Habit? The verbal faux pas…I’m a dead-set certainty to either say the wrong thing or not explain myself correctly, resulting in many an awkward, stilted conversation. This is probably why a) I much prefer writing as a means to communicate; and b) I’m always listening to stuff.

X-Ray or Ultrasound? Last x-ray was six months ago after screwing my ankle playing basketball. No breaks this time, which was nice, but it did show damage from a similar injury I suffered 16 years earlier…which I might have liked to know about at the time!

Your Favourite Food? So many to choose from…every night could be pasta night for me. But right now I would say Barramundi – I had the best Barra on my wedding night!

Zodiac Sign? Taurus – the only one in a family full of fish (Pisces)…which probably explains why I’m a little different to them.

The Curtain Closes (Round 16 – Dress Rehearsal)

It’s the final night of Dress Rehearsal round and here is a quick preview of the remaining three games. Full recap of the weekend action tomorrow but it will undoubtedly feature some in-depth analysis as to how Joel Bowden’s go-backwards clock-milking antics action may have won a game yesterday…but is more a reflection of Richmond’s chronic-suckiness!

SUNDAY

Until Fev signs his new deal with Carlton, he will be cast as the villian…no matter what he does!

Telstra Dome, Melbourne – 1:10pm (local): Carlton v Sydney (FOX)

The game is just the dress rehearsal…the real contest will take place here!

AAMi Stadium, Adelaide – 2:40pm (local): Port Adelaide v Adelaide (SEVEN)

If Naitanui goes to the game, there’s a good chance he will be meeting his new teammates…they will be on the losing team!

Subiaco, Perth – 2:40pm (local): Fremantle v Melbourne (FOX)

Annoying Trends (Geekin’ Out – Fantasy Footy)

Is The Chad about to get The Chop…from our fantasy footy teams?

A pattern is clearly emerging with all of our Half Back Flanker fantasy footy squads – whether it be the salary cap based games like Herald Sun Super Coach and AFL Dream Team or the draft based Premium Dream Team . When it comes to putting a team together from scratch, we do a pretty good job…But too many trades on low to mid-priced players for profit along with poor cover for injuries has been pretty shoddy!

Both Super Coach and Dream Team squads have failed to hold on to high overall placings from early in the season and they each went down over the long weekend. And while a good win in the Premium DT comp sees us with a 2-0 record, it was still marred by another slide in the overall standings.

Now with major injury problems coming out of the weekend via Chad Cornes and Daniel Bradshaw, and our two salary-cap squads experiencing contrasts in fortune, we will take a different approach in the coming weeks in preparation for finals action. Our Super Coach is outside the eight so we need to make some shrewd decisions now if we hope to crack the eight come finals time. But our Dream Team is right in the mix for a top-four finish and with a weaker opponent coming, we will hold off from making any moves until it is totally necessary.

Premium Dream Team: 1,755 points, 344th place overall – a drop of a couple hundred places, which mirrors the performance of every fantasy team we have!

League: 8 points (2-0), 136.31% – 1st place. One of three undefeated teams after two rounds but neither opponent has won a game yet. Big challenges are still to come…

Last Start: Defeated Busan Superstars 1,755 to 1,480 – it was going to be a matter of ‘how much by’ when opponent went in with three players not available. But a full compliment of players would have made a tight contest.

Good: Highest score for the week: not Dean Cox, not Chris Judd…Freo’s Michael Johnson clocked up a 141! Big men Quinten Lynch (116) and David Hale (102) made their mark in front of goal while Demon duo Brock McLean (118 ) and Brad Green (102) fired in the midfield. Early picks Didak (102) and Richo (97) produced good numbers again.

Bad: Apart from Johnson, no other defender topped 70 points while Solomon and Harding scored less than 50 points in attack. Leigh Montagna was our only trade last week, in for injured Brad Sewell, and 51 was not the best of starts.

Ugly: Grant Birchall averages per week but this week…24 points! We are banking on a much improved performance this week…

Next opponent: 3rd placed Team ManBearPig (1,844 last week)…easily our biggest test to date. Monster midfield includes Swan, Bartel, Cooney and Goodes (how great that he got off that charge!) though Brett Burton will still be suspended.

Potential changes/trades: Matty Knights seems to have given Andrew Welsh stopping roles of late so with Bulldog Ryan Hargrave averaging high 90’s the past two weeks, we have already made this trade. Two more left for the round but we won’t know until the teams are out whether it is worth making more changes. But Dean Solomon might be one out…with an interesting trade option available…

Super Coach: 21,948 points, 16,475th place overall – big slide after two fruitful weeks.

League: 16 points (4-4), 100.74% – 9th place. Out of the eight but only on percentage and seventh is half a win in front due to a draw last week!

Last Start: Lost to Tommy Dreamers 2,056 to 1,897 – couldn’t keep pace with the league leader and yet another reminder that having Gary Ablett in your side is probably a good idea!

Good: Another 100+ performance from Bachar Houli to go with Milburn, Brent Harvey, Nick Stevens, Pavlich, Didak and Jono Brown. New addition Steve Johnson scored 98 on his Half Back Flanker debut.

Bad: Bryce Gibbs did a good job of nullifying Chad Cornes…but it meant both players were well below their scoring average this week! Foley and Brad Johnson were also well below their best.

Ugly: Daniel Bradshaw’s comeback season was too be true…an early hamstring injury resulted in a lowly nine and the possibility of a few weeks out. Once he is fit, he should still be able to score big…but can we afford to wait that long?

Next opponent: 4th placed Crooka\’s Big Guns – lost by three points last week (by the way, good win Euan!) and has Ablett and Franklin! Can we upset the applecart this weekend?

Potential changes/trades: We may need to trade one of Chad Cornes or Daniel Bradshaw…Cornes would make us an extra 15 grand compared to Bradshaw, which is enough for Graham Johncock, otherwise Bradshaw for Nathan Bock or Jake King might be the way to go. Robert Murphy will return from suspension and leaves us with a potent forward line with either Rioli or Tippett as the lone rookie…but which rookie to pick? They play against each other in Adelaide on Saturday night…

Dream Team: 19,576 points, 18,542th place overall – the downward spiral continues…

League: 28 points (7-1), 109.50% – 3rd place – back to third on percentage after losing the mantle of only undefeated team in the league. Finals far from guaranteed just yet but still in a great position.

Last Start: Lost to Heroes 2 1,942 to 1,791 – a below average output from our captain and monster games from Ablett, Franklin, Brown and Bernie Vince proved our downfall.

Good: Kane Cornes and new-buy Buddy Franklin in the 130’s with Palmer, Griffin, Brad Johnson and Deledio clearing 100. David Myers came in as an emergency and his 71 has second best amongst our defenders. Tippett with 70 was our lowest score in attack so the forwards had a good week…

Bad: But our defenders did not! Obviously Bradshaw’s injury was bad enough but then none of Cornes, McLeod, Osborne or Dempster scored more than 56! Ibbotson (75) has been amazing but he shouldn’t be your highest scoring defender every week!

Ugly: Our decision to go with Paul Chapman (59) on return from injury backfired…especially when we could have gone with Houli (111) or Cotchin (87)!

Next opponent: 14th placed K-Mart (1,312 last week) – opponent has clearly lost interest but lots of big names could ruin chances of a massive percentage booster.

Potential changes/trades: Determined to make no trades regardless of injury and selection woes so that defence will be threadbare if Bradshaw and Cornes are both out. With Houli and Cotchin in reserve and scoing well, do we drop Paul Chapman to the bench until he starts to fire…and will Bryce Gibbs be given another defensive role this week?

Au Revoir Nicky! (Geekin’ Out – Fantasy Footy)

A pensive Nick Riewoldt comtemplates the turn of events that again screws up our fantasy footy team!!!

Refreshed after a week away from crunching numbers and investigating potential trades, the fantasy footy hat is back on. Shame…because until we put the hat back on, we had completely forgotten that another marquee player is out through injury! Crap!

However, we shouldn’t complain too much after winning league matches in both the Herald Sun Super Coach and the AFL Dream Team in round seven, plus staying alive in the Eliminator competition. But with Riewoldt now out for a while, another trade would mean 10 of the 20 available trades in the Dream Team comp will be used up by round eight!

Super Coach: 14,044 points, 11,076th place overall – which is surprisingly up by a couple of thousand…probably thanks to all those people who had late scratchings Gary Ablett, Simon Black etc…

League: 8 points (2-2), 105.15% – 9th place. Percentage is pretty good but not enough for a spot in the eight just yet.

Last Start: Defeated The Baits 2,054 to 1,965 – an upset win! Pretty even scores all over the ground but in the end, a big game from Troy Simmonds verses Leuenberger as the second ruckman proved the difference.

Good: Captain Pavlich with a 278, big returns from Heath Shaw and Brad Johnson (welcome back!). And the engine room – every midfielder and ruckman topped 100 points!

Bad: Four defenders with less than 40 points…hope that Chad Cornes is successful in developing that Tony Stark/Iron Man style robotic glove so he can come back this week!

Ugly: Daniel Bradshaw was probably due for a quiet one…but 34? And Marty Mattner could only manage a 26? Josh Hill is still struggling to match his early season form…should he stay or should he go?

Next opponent: 8th placed Carn The Hawks – spot in the eight up for grabs!

Potential changes/trades: Yet again, it was the defenders who let us down. With Cornes back soon and Bradshaw and Mattner coming back into form, may not need to make drastic changes just yet. Interesting to see what John Worsfold does with Nikoski now that season 2008 is virtually a write-off for the Eagles.

Tony Stark working on a robotic glove that will allow Chad Cornes to play this weekend!

Dream Team: 12,665 points, 7,444th place overall – another drop but still doing better overall in this comp than Super Coach!

League: 16 points (4-0), 114.63% – 2nd place – one of three unbeaten teams but well behind first on percentage.

Last Start: Defeated Burnie Hawks 1,707 to 1,506 – opponent lucked out with Ablett and Dustin Fletcher, his ruck duo of Koschitzke and Kreuzer also no match for Cox and Simmonds.

Good: Kane Cornes took over the captaincy from brother Chad and did well, as did Pavlich, Brad Johnson and Nick Stevens. Ruck duo was great and Houli, Palmer and Bryce Gibbs are keeping Ryan Griffin on the bench!

Bad: Back half…as always! Matthew Whelan’s late withdrawal with no emergency…a shame because Garrick Ibbotson was sitting on my bench with an 88…which was more than Bradshaw, Dempster and Nikoski put together! Won’t make that mistake this week.

Ugly: Nick Riewoldt. Knee. Should have figured this would happen sooner or later with the amount of tape the Saints have strapped to him just to hold him together every week! Stuart Dew is back in action now, which will be very handy, but what to do with Nick?

Next opponent: 10th placed McKane’s Hawkas…what’s with all these fantasy teams with Hawks in the name? They definitely need to make a couple of moves though with Chad Cornes, Daniel Kerr, Luke Hodge and Alwyn Davey all on the roster.

Potential changes/trades: Trading Riewoldt and reinvesting in a defender might be the way to go, plus we already have an extra 70 grand in the cap. But two trades this week would only leave another nine for the last 14 rounds!

Dream Team Eliminator:

Still alive in the Eliminator knockout competition after squeezing past Mick’s Demons by just 38 points! Though we are counting ourseves very freakin’ lucky after our opponent suffered three late withdrawals in Whelan, Brad Symes and Jono Brown. All he had to do was have one forward as an emergency and it would have been curtains for us!

So now there are 32768 Dream Teams remaining and Half Back Flanker is one of them! We shall enjoy it while it lasts…

Hirdy…Come Back!!! (Round Six – Medals For Everyone!)

Paul Medhurst receives a medal for getting the hell out of Fremantle!

Anzac Day celebration – great. Footy game – fizzer! Unless you are a Magpie fan, of course. That’s the wash-up of yesterday’s events as Collingwood destroyed Essendon at the MCG in the traditional Anzac Day game. Former Docker Paul Medhurst took a liking to the big occasion and the mostly unchallenged supply of ball to win the ‘James Hird’ medal for best-on-ground, in what must have been his proudest day since he boarded a plane and left the basket-case that is Fremantle behind for good!

Former Essendon golden boy James Hird spoke golden words to the Bombers before the match but the magic faded after about half an hour or so. Matthew Knights lamented his side’s poor showing during his post-match press conference, even throwing in the word ‘plethora’ at one point – going to show we are definitely in a post-Sheedy world.

But at least the news can only get better for Knights from here…or not!

The other match last night did not have the tradition of Collingwood-Essendon but it least they had a true contest. Actually, the Fremantle-Geelong game was a classic! Down 25 points at the last change, the Cats tore the hearts out of the locals to steal victory by one point. Freo skipper Matthew Pavlich had the chance to be the hero with a set shot at goal in the final minute but guess what happened…

POSTER!!!

It’s like Geelong couldn’t lose right now if they tried! Mark Thompson certainly felt that his side didn’t deserve to win…and that news would not have pleased a clearly bewildered Mark Harvey. Harvs wouldn’t have been in the best of moods before the game had he watched his old mob get towelled up by a guy who could still be playing for Fremantle. Instead, he has a team sitting on one win and instead of Medhurst, he has Chris Tarrant doing…whatever it is he is doing!

‘Medals For Everyone’ Round continues today with three matches:

THE BRENDAN FEVOLA MEDAL GAME

MCG, Melbourne – 2:10pm (local): Carlton v Adelaide (FOX)

THE QUINTEN LYNCH MEDAL GAME
The Big Q loves dining out on the Doggies!
Telstra Dome, Melbourne – 7:10pm (local): Western Bulldogs v West Coast (TEN)

THE CHAD CORNES MEDAL GAME

Eyes on the prize, baby…eyes on the prize!

AAMI Stadium, Adelaide – 7:10pm (local): Port Adelaide v St Kilda (FOX)