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