Round 18 – It turns out the Lions really do have 99 Problems

Jackson wrote in the Guardian today that Brisbane have 99 problems but Tom Rockliff ain’t one and by our count it doesn’t look like that headline is particularly hyperbolic. We’ve gone through and attempted to enumerate what might constitute the Lions’ 99 problems:

  1. Defenders nearly all children
  2. A new draftee is their number one forward target
  3. Haven’t led at half time all year
  4. Very poor accuracy early in the season killed some chances to get a couple of wins
  5. Gold Coast took a third of their base:lionscrowds.PNG
  6. Gold Coast took probably the most fertile part of their local recruiting zone
  7. Cumulative $15m losses since 2008
  8. Promising 22-year old player forced to retire due to repeated head trauma.
  9. Currently have only four top 20 picks on their list
  10. That time a coach grabbed a promising young player by the throat at half time of a reserves game
  11. Gabba too big to extract any capacity premium from gate and membership
  12. Daniel Merrett’s balding spot a constant reminder of his/everyone’s mortality
  13. AFL never gives Fitzroy fans enough Melbourne games
  14. Sacked their captain Adcock last year who has gone on to contribute to a top 8 side
  15. Josh Walker somehow spending time in the reserves
  16. Might actually be tanking
  17. The fact you have to pronounce Josh Schache “Shackey”
  18. Still cursed from treatment of Daniel Bradshaw
  19. Still cursed from treatment of Michael Rischitelli
  20. Traded Lachie Henderson for Brendan Fevola
  21. Frequent storms in Brisbane hamper crowds
  22. AFL refuses to give any priority picks
  23. Unable due to financial situation to spend the full salary cap
  24. Unable due to financial situation to spend heavily on football department
  25. First-time coach Justin Leppitsch does not seem to have any senior assistant coach
  26. Lack of a Key Position Whatever who is above league average.
  27. Trent West still on list
  28. Dayne Beams’ near-constant injury issues
  29. Claye Beams not as good as Dayne.
  30. Ciaran Hanley not as good as Pearce.
  31. Lost their zone pick just before being able to draft Nick Riewoldt
  32. Expensive redundancy packages for CEO and other key staff ate into football department expenditure
  33. Training facility a poorly lit, flood-prone basement universally regarded as worst in the league
  34. Gabba facility also about to lose its adjacent car park
  35. Go-home factor
  36. Inability to make “next best available” drafting decisions due to go-home factor
  37. Heavy reliance on Lions@Springwood social club revenue
  38. Support from pokies revenue a common AFL moral failing but a failing nonetheless
  39. Failure to look outside of their backyard for coaching talent
  40. Lots of injuries every year raises questions about conditioning, training
  41. Non-traditional market means a large fan-base but almost entirely casual and easily disengaged
  42. AFL refused to fund the Lions to use the salary cap underspend they banked last year
  43. AFL keeps changing the rules regarding academy selections
  44. Queensland has a lot of bad opinions by bad people that might scare young players back to Victoria
  45. 3am lockout laws
  46. Unavoidably large travel load contributes to wear and tear on players making them leave or keep getting injured
  47. Play in a state where there are no votes in the government giving them any money or help with development
  48. “Miracle on Grass” high wore off
  49. Reigning Michael Tuck medallist Daniel Rich can’t shake a tag
  50. Never reconciled the two sides of their history and the traumatic circumstances of their birth into a cohesive identity that satisfies all parties
  51. Reserves bad for development due to frequently being uncompetitive
  52. Reserves bad for development due to being stacked with development talls
  53. Reserves bad for development due to top-ups often being juniors or substantially weaker players
  54. Little local media exposure to rebuild support
  55. Most people in Brisbane can only name players from 15 years ago
  56. Very difficult to watch Lions away games near the CBD of Brisbane
  57. Few to zero advocates, defenders or insiders within the mainstream footy press
  58. Football club either leaky or journalists feel comfortable making stuff up about them
  59. That time they floated the idea of having a real lion at games
  60. The stupid inflatable lion they run into then back out of when they take the field
  61. Did not lose the balance of close games between 2012 and 2015, never labelled “clutch” in spite of this fact.
  62. Success of the Broncos and Roar driving causal fans away
  63. Access to local talent still heavily dominated by Broncos
  64. Rockliff’s alleged ball-hog tendencies magnified in popular imagination due to current era’s proliferation of fantasy football games
  65. Majority of recent vaunted midfield recruits injured (Beams, Christensen, Bell)
  66. Ryan Bastinac apparently playing but useless
  67. Mitch Robinson unable to do it on his own
  68. Retired Bernie “Gabba” Vegas in favour of less engaging “Roy”
  69. Heavily in debt, over half owed to the AFL
  70. Don’t travel well
  71. Don’t play at home well
  72. Demoting the premiership-winning coach of their NEAFL side to assistant coach only a year after winning that flag
  73. Shane Woewodin’s reserves recaps suggest he may not be able to speak in intelligible sentences
  74. Widespread pundit view since they won three flags that must mean everything is their fault now
  75. Constant uncertainty about the location of future training base
  76. 24-hour infinite footy opinion vortex unkind to all struggling teams
  77. The Pineapple Hotel used to be a much better pub
  78. Nowhere suitable to play preseason fixtures in Brisbane
  79. Q-clash an almost perfectly terrible name for the Queensland derby
  80. Believe. Belong. would be a better slogan for Geelong than Brisbane.
  81. Still entirely unclear where or how the Lions will host their womens team
  82. Callum Sinclair’s trick knee
  83. Poor umpire understanding of stretcher protocols
  84. Youngest team in the AFL
  85. Only four players on the list have played over 100 games
  86. Only one player on the list has kicked more than 100 goals for the Lions (Josh Green)
  87. Only one player on the current list is older than 30 (Merrett) and one more older than 28 (Martin)
  88. Deputy chairman Leigh Matthews picking unwise fights with the Suns about their very existence
  89. Horrendous momentum-killing early fixture in 2016
  90. Lack of hope narratives become self-fulfilling
  91. Again: Their training rooms regularly flood.
  92. Reigning NAB Cup champions in perpetuity, but do not flaunt this fact
  93. Can’t get the ball or use the ball: Second last for contested disposal differential, last for uncontested disposal differential, last in effective disposal differential
  94. Second last for inside 50s in 2016
  95. Second last for contested marks in 2016
  96. Second last for marks inside 50 in 2016
  97. Second last for goal assist differential in 2016
  98. Historically terrible defensive season in 2016, conceding an average of 130 to top 8 sides
  99. Despite protests to the contrary, reports that Tom Rockliff might leave are major a problem

In fact, in our humble opinions, saying that the Lions only have 99 problems might if anything undersell the issue.

Things to watch

1. Toby Greene has evolved as a player, but is still kind of a butcher

“Cleaver” is the nickname that HPN bestowed upon Greene early in his career, named for Toby’s ability to butcher the ball with turnovers (not so much for his resemblance to Cleaver from Rake, nor for his weapon of choice which is a crutch rather than a comically large chopping tool).

This season, Greene has completely turned his game around as a small forward who occasionally drifts into the midfield, rather than the other way around. Greene has been at or near the top of the AFL clanger list for much of his career, but he’s doing it in a slightly different way now. As an undersized forward often used as a marking target, Cleaver engages physically on contests but often gives away the free kick because he’s just a little bit too physical.

Where as in the past this might cost GWS in the middle of the ground, it is now mitigated by his placement in the forward line and the strangling force of the Giants set-up.

The rise in Cleaver’s clangers this year (from 3.45 per game last year to 4.8 this year) is almost exactly accounted for by his rise in free kicks against (2.13, up from 1.27 last year). Greene is a very good player, and maybe verging on elite, however if he could keep working on this part of his game could be even better.

2. Geelong and Adelaide looks a ripper

In the HPN ratings, Geelong and Adelaide sit first and third at present, and very close in overall strength. Both sides are incredibly strong in two different areas; Geelong in the midfield and Adelaide up forward.

ade gee

In recent weeks both have also been on differing trajectories, with Geelong shedding a bit of ratings strength in recent weeks and Adelaide firming a little further as their midfield steps up. The match, like so many among top sides right now, is pivotal for each club’s fate – Geelong trying to secure a top-4 spot and Adelaide two home finals.

We’d suggest the result will hinge on how much more effectively Adelaide can use the fewer inside-50 opportunities they’re likely to gain. We’ve seen Geelong exposed by fast-break football in recent weeks, this looms as a very tough matchup for them if their midfield can’t assert some defensive dominance.

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