In my most recent article, The Anticipation of Footy, I wrote about how I have allocated for each AFL team a Watchability Rating. This is an intuitive rating system over which I have no control, but it can vary year to year based on the players each team has and the style with which teams play. Some teams can hardly budge at all from their rating simply because of the overwhelming disgust with which I view the club.
With all this in mind, I have compiled my 2016 AFL Watchability Ladder. It exposes my preferences, biases and deep-seated prejudices. I have removed my own team, Richmond, from calculations, as I am completely incapable of reasoned thought when it comes to them. That said, in all likelihood I would have judged them far too harshly.
So here it is, the 17 team ladder in all it’s worthless glory:
The Dogs have a list chock-full of exciting young players who play with flair and pizazz. Jake Stringer, Marcus Bontempelli and Jack Macrae are enough to get me going, but the old Dog Robert Murphy delivers the ball with such deadly precision it’s hard to believe he’s the same fellow who used to write with such wandering soul for The Age. Tom Boyd is a former number 1 draft pick key position player, and other interesting players include Luke Dahlhaus, Mitch Wallis, Easton Wood, Tom Liberatore, Mitch Honeychurch, Caleb Daniel, Lin Jong and Jason Johann isen, though Liberatore is on notice because of his old man belting Matty Knights. What a thug. The team is scattered with talent and plays with a style based around the concept of winning, which I find appealing and refreshing.
2. Port Adelaide
This is a funny one, as after the 2004 Grand Final, at which I was present, I really did have a very strong hatred for Port. You’ll see later in my ladder that prejudice really does play a strong role in my watchability ratings, yet Port has been able to overcome that. They play the right way. They’ve also got Chad Wingard, who is great to watch. They like to run the ball, moving it quickly, and there is always half the chance that someone, notably Wingard, might take a specky. I am a fan of the high mark. I’ll tune in to watch Port.
I’ve always had a soft spot for the Cats. I grew up watching the great Ablett Snr tear my team to shreds, and instead of cutting up rough about it, I just respected it for some reason. I never worked out exactly why, but the same happened when I watched his son play. Now neither of them play there and I still like watching them. Dangerfield should be better not in a Crows jumper, and I enjoy watching Joel Selwood, Steven Motlop, Mark Blicavs, Tom Hawkins, Nakia Cockatoo, Daniel Menzel, Mitch Duncan and Josh Caddy. I hope Jimmy Bartel doesn’t stink it up this year, because he was a favourite of mine for a long time.
4. West Coast
You’d have to have been taking some fairly effective drugs last year to not have noticed that West Coast can seriously play. Either that or not have followed the AFL. Whatever your reason, it wouldn’t have been socially acceptable. Anyway, whenever I see Josh Kennedy kicking goals it reminds me that he doesn’t play for Carlton, which is always fun. They’ve also got Nick Naitanui and his leap, Mark LeCras and Josh Hill’s goal sense, Luke Shuey and Andrew Gaff’s pace, and Shannon Hurn’s enormous thighs, thumping kick and ancient looks. Does Josh Wooden still play?
The great man Gary Ablett plays for the Suns and I’ll tune in every week to watch him if I can. He’s a dead set freak and if I thought he was going to play every game I’d have them higher up the ladder. They do have some handy and exciting other players on their list, but not as many as in previous seasons. Still, it matters not, I’m tuning in to watch Gazza.
6. St Kilda
Like with the Cats, I’ve had a soft spot for the Saints since I was a teenager. With the Cats it was Ablett, with the Saints it was Harvey, Burke, Winmar and Loewe, with Harvey being my favourite ever non-Richmond player. Over the Ross Lyon era at St Kilda I kind of dropped off them due to their style of play, but they are winning me back. I reckon their rebuild is coming along pretty nicely, even though they’d be a bit peeved about how the Jake Carlisle situation eventuated. They have some talent there, with some exciting key talls, and will be keen to play the “right way”, in that they don’t have a huge supporter base and will want fans to turn up.
Despite my old mate Mark Franklin’s intense hatred for the Giants (I Hate The Giants), I don’t mind them. They have some really exciting talent with Jeremy Cameron, Dylan Shiel, Stephen Coniglio, Josh Kelly, Callan Ward and Will Hoskin-Elliott. Of course, they’ve also added Steve Johnson to their list, which I’ll have to tune in for. If it wasn’t for the colours, the song, the fact that they are made up for corporate greed, as well as Franka in my ear, I’d have them higher for Johnson alone.
I think I have Melbourne this high in an aspirational sense. If they play anything like they did last year (how crap are Paul Roos coached teams?) I probably won’t watch them, but I really want Melbourne to get better. I have mates that barrack for them and they are really long suffering. Besides, surely some of these draft picks have to start paying off. Surely. Jesse Hogan, Christian Petracca, Jack Viney, Angus Brayshaw and Jeff Garlett all provide something to tune in for. And Nathan Jones tries so bloody hard, you have to admire him. That’s worth watching isn’t it? Dees fans? Is it?
9. North Melbourne
This is where it starts to get tough. North aren’t all that watchable, yet the list of clubs below them are less so. Brent Harvey moves the ball through traffic so well and has done so for so long that he should be someone to tune in for. However, he is Brent Harvey and it’s not the case. North are normally a fairly harmless club, which would normally have them higher on a ladder such as this, yet I’m a Richmond supporter and they seem to have the wood on us. As such, I find them to be an aggravating conundrum. Why do they seem to win more than they lose, particularly against us, despite being not all that obviously good? Meh.
I am so sick of Hawthorn. Arrogant players, arrogant supporters. Go away, Hawthorn. Yes, I suppose it is true that they have some very good and exciting players on their list, which is why they are higher on the ladder than I would like them to be. Then again, the fawning that occurs over them by commentators should have pushed them back down. “Cyril”, anyone?
I would love to have Brisbane higher. Due to my grandfather playing for the mighty Roys, I have a strong affiliation with them. But the truth is that they truly suck. They aren’t a good team, and for a long time they have been not a good club. Watching them makes me feel sad.
I don’t have any fondness for Adelaide. Eddie Betts plays for them, which is why they got this high. He is exciting to watch, and he used to play for Carlton, which makes me happy.
Sydney, proving that Paul Roos’ awful coaching legacy can carry on long after he has left. Sydney bore me to tears. Bloody hell, they’ve got Lance Franklin, Luke Parker, Dan Hannebery, Isaac Heeney, Josh Kennedy and Kieren Jack in their side, I should want to watch them. But I don’t. I really don’t.
Ross Lyon is worse than Paul Roos, and Hayden Ballantyne is worse than everybody. Absolutely everybody; worse than Donald Trump kind of everybody. I hate Freo. And they wear purple.
Essendon finishing 3rd last on this ladder is testament to how much I despise Collingwood and Carlton. Part of me would also like to see them lose.
I hate Collingwood.
Carlton are like Collingwood except really bad at football.