Wed, Mar 9, 11:29pm by Kevin Pitstock
Is there anything more humiliating in sport than losing?
Yes there is in fact – winning the derogatory wooden spoon.
While finishing last and winning the wooden spoon are technically the same things, the fictional ‘award’ carries so much humiliation and embarrassment, particularly in the AFL.
Strangely enough, in the mid to late 2000’s, there was talk amongst the media that teams were deliberately losing to finish on the bottom of the ladder.
You might ask, why the heck would they do that?
Finishing on the bottom of the ladder meant your club had early picks in the following draft. Therefore, the best young players in the land were recruited by the worst teams that year. Whether you believe teams ‘tanked’ or not, the AFL system cleverly gives all teams a fair go.
Look at Melbourne and Carlton. Both teams dwindled around the bottom of the ladder for so long during the middle years of the past decade. Now this year, the Demons and the Blues will be vying for a top eight position. It’s a beautiful cycle really.
But with the inclusion of Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney this year and next, the majority of high draft picks will go to those two teams. Therefore the more established clubs will not get first access to the best talent in the league. It also means teams will be even more desperate to make sure they don’t finish on the bottom of the ladder, because there is now no upside in doing so.
With this is mind, let’s have a look at some of the major contenders for this year’s dreaded Wooden Spoon, and none of them come from Victoria:
Gold Coast – The new boys on the block showed glimpses of their potential for this season when they beat Sydney and GWS in the first round of the NAB Cup. However the young Suns have been brought back to reality over the past two weeks, with comprehensive losses to the Eagles in the second round of the NAB Cup and Sydney in the NAB Challenge. The biggest concern will be Gold Coast’s form away from home and it will struggle to win a game outside of Queensland this year.
Brisbane – Besides the Saints, the Lions have probably had to endure the toughest preseason out of the whole 17 AFL teams. Coach Michael Voss had to deal with severe criticism for his 2010 recruiting strategy. Then the club had to sack star full forward Brendan Fevola as well as Albert Proud. With veterans Simon Black, Luke Power and Jonathon Brown all coming towards the end of their careers, the Lions are a good chance to finish 17th this year.
Port Adelaide – Perhaps the biggest concern for the Power is their depth and lack of experience. A few key players are coming towards the end of their careers, like Dean Brogan and Chad Cornes, but a lot of the younger players have yet to be exposed to AFL standard yet. If injuries occur to a few key players, Port Adelaide could flop big time – but it’s hard to seem them being worse than the two Queensland teams.
West Coast – The loss of Ben Cousins and Chris Judd, plus the demise of Dean Cox and Daniel Kerr over the past few years has really hurt the Eagles’ chances of returning to the glory days of the mid 2000’s. However last year’s Wooden Spoon ‘champions’ have recruited well in past seasons and a lot of these up-and-coming players should start to show some potential this year, meaning the Eagles should win a few more games.
Brisbane ($4.00 – Sportingbet or Centrebet)
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