Are we looking at a Glory vs Phoenix grand final?

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Football

January 7, 2015

Am I going off prematurely? Or should I stifle my early crow? Is there a possibility of a Perth Glory versus Wellington Phoenix grand final?

Well, judging by the good form of Glory and the Nix, most definitely.

A Glory-Phoenix grand final may not be the most appealing match-up for the FFA, or the broadcasters, Fox Sports andSBS, as I’m sure they all want either a Sydney or Melbourne team involved.

But nine years ago, the FFA did want Wellington as part of the competition, so from their point of view, they reap what they sow.

Heading into the Asian Cup break, Perth are four points clear at the top of the ladder, while Wellington and Melbourne Victory are equal second. I think it’s fabulous that we are seeing two different teams doing well.

We are often accustomed to having perennial finalists such as the Central Coast Mariners or the Brisbane Roar near the top. However, both are languishing outside of the top six.

The key reason for their struggles has been their poor recruitment drives for season 10. The Mariners let go of Michael McGlinchey, Bernie Ibini, Trent Sainsbury and a few others. The Roar haven’t recovered from losing Besart Berisha and Ivan Franjic.

On the coaching front, the Roar sacked Mike Mulvey just a few months after guiding Brisbane to the title, while there are doubts about the ability of Mariners coach Phil Moss.

But in the main, neither the Roar or the Mariners have replaced those players.The same can be said for Asian Champions League champions, the Western Sydney Wanderers. Following their huge success in making two grand finals in their first two seasons, they are now unbelievably without a win after 12 games and are running stone motherless last.

Just like the Roar and the Mariners, the Wanderers haven’t replaced Shinji Ono, Aaron Mooy or Youssouf Hersi.

Compare that with Glory and the Phoenix, they have recruited well. Glory have brought in key signings like Hersi, Andy Keogh, Dino Đulbić and Nebojša Marinković, while Phoenix have improved their team with Nathan Burns, Michael McGlinchey, Roly Bonevacia and Roy Krishna.

Burns is the A-League’s leading goalscorer with 10 and his form has been rewarded with a Socceroos Asian Cup squad call-up.

Meanwhile, the other teams have had their issues. The Newcastle Jets have had disharmony on and off the field, with the Jets ownership up in the air due to the inevitable exit of Tinkler, question marks around Phil Stubbins’ coaching, and captain Kew Jaliens, who publicly lambasted his players in one post-match interview.

Sydney FC started well, but in the last couple of months the Sky Blues have lost four players for the season, Nicky Carle, Sasa Ognenovski, Corey Gamerio and Ali Abbas.

There is the possibility that all NSW teams, Sydney FC, Western Sydney, Mariners and Jets could miss out on the finals. Wouldn’t that be a shock. Melbourne City on the other hand don’t have enough depth in the back four to win the title, but will be more than happy to make the finals.

The two teams that could trouble the Glory and Phoenix is FFA Cup champions Adelaide United and A-League powerhouse Melbourne Victory. Victory did improve their squad in the off-season with Besart Berisha and Ben Khalfallah. While Adelaide remained largely the same from their impressive season last year.

Incidentally, both Victory and the Reds have hit a flat spot in recent weeks. Victory have lost players to the Socceroos on a few occasions and it may have disrupted the continuity of Kevin Muscat’s men.

While with Adelaide, they are perhaps suffering from a cup final hangover. However, in their last match, Adelaide did defeat Perth away from home. It was Adelaide’s third win against Perth in all competitions this season. Looks like Adelaide has the wood on Perth.

I expect both Victory and United to be there when the whips are cracking. The Glory, Nix, Reds and Victory are in my opinion the four main contenders for the championship.

The lesson to be learnt from season 10 is that all A-League clubs need to recruit well following the loss of players. Western Sydney, Central Coast, Newcastle and Brisbane are finding out the hard way in this campaign.

With Australia hosting the Asian Cup, maybe now is the right time for those four clubs to do some scouting among the 16 teams that will take part in the tournament. Perth and Wellington are benefiting well from their off-season coups, and in a few months’ time, the long distance derby could well be the headline act.

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Is a second Brisbane NRL team really worth $250 million?

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Rugby League

April 17, 2015

The halfway point of the 2015 NRL season marks the halfway point of the current five-year TV deal, which will conclude at the end of the 2017 season.

The new TV deal brings so many possibilities. An increase in TV revenue, a different network like Ten covering the game, a change to the season schedule, and expansion.

If expansion is to occur in season 2018, the start of the new TV deal, something needs to happen this year.

The bidding franchises have apparently been told they will have an opportunity to make a sales pitch to the NRL later this year. From there the NRL, with former Souths CEO Shane Richardson taking charge, will investigate each bid’s merits.

The issue has come to a head recently as the Brisbane Timesrecently reported a second Brisbane team, a rival to the Broncos, could be worth $250 million to the code.

But is that figure accurate?

The problem with expansion is not all 16 teams are financially sustainable, with the NRL helping out Wests Tigers, St George Illawarra, Newcastle and the Gold Coast.

However I can see the value of a second Brisbane team. This year, the Broncos are scheduled to play 11 Friday night games, while Nine also has the Broncos on three Sunday games, making it a total of 14 Broncos free-to-air matches in the first 20 rounds. That leaves just four Broncos matches on Fox Sports, so Broncos fans have no real need to get pay TV.

Brisbane’s underwhelming presence on Fox Sports means if a second team came to pass, then Fox would likely cover more than just four matches per year in the Northern capital.

Having a Brisbane team more regularly would mean more subscribers, hence higher Fox Sports ratings. Nine meanwhile would have diversity on Friday nights, with the Broncos and the new team alternating.

If the $250 million figure is accurate, what are the NRL waiting for? That money could help out the existing 16 clubs.

I can understand the NRL been cautious. But there’s coming a time when the NRL can’t afford not to expand.

As Jack Gibson once said, “If you’re standing still, you are going backwards fast.”

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An NRL team made up of Looney Tunes characters

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Rugby League

May 8, 2015

Rabbit season, duck season, rabbit season, duck season…no it’s NRL season!

April 19, marked the 85th anniversary of the first ever Looney Tunes animation. The title of that cartoon back in 1930, was “singin’ in the bathtub”.

The cartoons from Warner Bros were a huge part of the golden age of animation between 1930-1969.

Many of the Looney Tunes characters were voiced by Mel Blanc, who was known as the man with a thousand voices. Incidentally, this author and Blanc share the same birthday – May 30.

As I delve into my imagination, if there ever was Looney Tunes NRL team it may look something like this:

Looney Tunes All Stars
1.Wile E. Coyote

At times, Coyote can keep up with the Road Runner for speed, until the Road Runner goes up another gear and flies off into the distance. I like fullbacks who have creativity and there’s no doubt having someone who is a super genius like Wile E. should fit the bill.

Individually, Coyote will have a third party sponsor arrangement with the ACME Corporation.

2.Road Runner
Very quick and always one step ahead of the Coyote. However, in this team, will the Road Runner and Coyote work together? The pair might kiss and make up after the match by playing a game of tennis using a grenade instead of a tennis ball.

3. Pepe le Pew
Deceiptively le quick, Le Pew bounces along at a leisurely pace, while his object of affection, Penelope Pussycat is scrambling around at hundred miles an hour to avoid the skunk. As a smelly skunk, many players in the opposition wouldn’t want to go near Le Pew, let alone tackle him.

Possibly French Rugby League’s greatest ever player.

4. Tasmanian Devil
As a centre, he will be tearing into opposition defences into a whirlwind. However when it comes to after match interviews, the Tassie Devil is easily the most articulately spoken Looney Tunes player in the side.

I am serious.

5. Speedy Gonzales
Holy Frijoles, Gonzales is very speedy. The sombrero-loving rodent prefers cheese instead of oranges at half time. Would love to see a match race between the Road Runner and the fastest mouse in all of Mexico, similar to the Martin Offiah/ Lee Oudenryn contest back a few decades ago.

6. Daffy Duck
This little black duck does find his halves partner despicable. There is a possibility that when he does get the ball, he can be a hog and could potentially be detrimental to the side.

Whenever he receives the ball, he yells out, “It’s mine, ya understand? Mine, mine, all mine!

7. Bugs Bunny (c)
Introduces himself to his teammates by saying “What’s up doc”? The captain and organiser of this team. Very smart and a shrewed trickster.

Bugs will play halfback and will never dare packing into a scrum, otherwise he’d be bellowing “Stop steaming up my tail!. What are you trying to do wrinkle it”

Wouldn’t be out of place on The Footy Show, as Bugs likes to dress up in drag from time to time. Huge fan of South Sydney and a lover of carrots.

13. Porky Pig
A chubby, timid character. With his weight issues, he may struggle to play 80 minutes. I’m sure he will be brought back on in the last five minutes and when the ref blows his whistle for full time, Porky will be squealing, “ebitda, ebitda, ebitda…That’s  all, Folks!”

12. Sylvester the Cat
“Sufferin succotash”, Sylvester is in the forward pack! Sylvester and former league player Terry Hill have common ground – they both sound exactly the same. But will Sylvester concentrate on his job, or will he be distracted when Tweety comes off from the bench?

11. Sam the Sheepdog
As a player, he vary rarely moves, but if the opposition is near, he can cause damage in defence. He would be very good at offloading the ball to his quicker teammates. The liability with Sam is he could be in the process of scoring a try, but would stop when he notices the punch clock is close to full time.

In the words of Sam the Sheepdog, “it’s too close to quittin time”. Hopefully he doesn’t mix up Coyote for Ralph.

10.Foghorn Leghorn
I say pay attention everyone, the mighty Rooster from the country is the major forward leader in the pack. He does have an opinion or two on his arch enemy and team mate, Barnyard Dawg.

“That, I say, that dog’s busier then a centipede at a toe countin’ contest”

“That dog is like taxes, he just don’t know when to stop”

“That dog, I say that dogs strictly GI, gibberin idiot that is”

“That dog’s as subtle as a hand grenade in a barrel of oatmeal”

9.Marvin the Martian
He will find plenty of space from dummy half. Some of his play from the hooking position can be out of this world. However the real vexing question is, will he use the illudium Q-36 explosive space modulator?

8. Hector the Bulldog
As a Canterbury fan, he does love the forwards aspect of the game. Needs to keep an eye on Sylvester, especially when Tweety comes onto the field.

Interchange
14. Tweety (five-eighth)

Crafty Tweety will play five-eighth and come on to replace Daffy Duck where ineveitably, his mistakes will always blow up at his face and disheveled his beak. Tweety may have trouble with his pronunciation of words such as “I taut I taw a puddy tat”, but let’s hope his teammates understand him.

15. Yosemite Sam (hooker)
Sam will be disappointed not to be captain of the side. That honour goes to that varmint, Bugs Bunny. He will come on to replace Marvin the Martian at hooker. His impact will be all guns blazing.

If his football career doesn’t shape up well, he could always ride Buck the Bronco in Brisbane Broncos home games. Lets hope Buck the Bronco responds to Sam’s instructions, otherwise he’ll cop a whack. “When I say whoa, I mean WHOA!”

16. Barnyard Dawg (second rower)
Like so many in the team, Dawg does have a love hate relationship with a team mate. Will Dawg replace his nemisis, Foghorn Leghorn, or will they be on the same field together?

Unlike previous feuds like Coyote-Road Runner and Sylvester-Tweety, both Dawg and Leghorn can be on the receiving end of some punishment.

17. Mugsy (prop)
The big offsider to gangster Rocky. Mugsy may not be the sharpest tool in the shed as he never gets any ideas, but as forward, all he has to do is run hard and cause violence in defence courtesy of his big frame.

Meanwhile, Rocky will be wondering how on earth Mugsy made this side. “I don’t how yas done it but I know yas done it!”

Coach: Elmer Fudd
If Elmer Fudd was an NRL player, he would love to have played for the Woosters, Wabbitohs and Waiders.He may not be a Jack Gibson or Wayne Bennett, but he will instruct his team and devise a game plan to succeed. If that doesn’t work, he could always use his double-barrel shotgun to scare his players.

With players prone to making mistakes like Daffy Duck and Wile E. Coyote, Fudd could be pulling his hair out. Actually, too late.

CEO: Granny
Follows in the footsteps of Raelene Castle, by becoming another female CEO of an NRL team. However, heavens to betsys, how is she going to control this team full of Looney Tunes characters?

So what opposition does this all star Looney Tunes team play against. Maybe a team comprising all the key characters from Disney? Now some people may label that concept as a bit of a Mickey Mouse sort of a game, but I would like to see it.

No matter how old you are, whenever you get the chance to watch an old Looney tunes classic, it does bring back memories from childhood and it does reinforce the fact that we are all young at heart.

Looney Tunes has really brought a smile to many generations and will continue to do so.

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