The Sydney Swans and their big problem

It’s just like Mother used to always say.

“No matter who you are, everybody has got their own problems.”

And it isn’t any different in the wonderful world of footy.

In the AFL, there is a spectrum of the various issues experienced in the game, with clubs dotted across the range from the trivial to the crippling.

At one end, there’s doggone organisations such as Essendon, a club who are up to their eyeballs in the controversial poop that comes with being caught out systematically puncturing your playing group like a sewing machine, or the Demons, who are cemented in the zone when it comes to simply producing good laughs, and even the unfortunate Brisbane Lions, who have recently hemorrhaged cred because of a board enjoying the sort of popularity reserved for varicose veins.

These are the footy workplaces that have tent villages of unwashed scribes occupying their front driveways 11 months of the year. They are in dire need of a dollar and a hug, or in the case of the Bombers, a magical erasing of the stubborn personality traits of Andrew Demetriou and/or a legal miracle.

Then as you journey to the other end of the scale, you’ll pass through rainbows, fairy floss and unicorns on your way to the places with your more light and breezy kinda troubles, and there you will find a squeaky clean joint like the Sydney Swans.

Their bugbears aren’t to do with off-site jabbing or novice management units, but with more pleasant, legal and non-wearing problems such as finding room for their burgeoning forest of tall timber.

John Longmire’s stocks of elite pine are overflowing like a bogan’s radiator, and someone of lofty repute will eventually miss out when the cracking whips of September come around.

Had you foretold this problem in the pre-season, you would’ve been forgiven for pointing the finger of blame in the direction of the decision to purchase Kurt Tippett.

However, while Sydney’s clandestine negotiating and parting with top cap dollars for the Adelaide power-forward seemed like the spoilt kid wanting a third Nintendo, he may not be the target for blame.

The man who has scrambled the rotation of lankies could very well be Jesse White.

After being the unwanted carrot dangled to the Crows in the off-season, he’s morphed from an easily criticised backfiller in to a powerful and industrious tall option, and in the process kick-started a red and white version of top heavy musical chairs.

White’s materialisation in to a highly serviceable AFL big man was not expected by all and surely not factored in to Longmire’s blueprint for the 2013 premiership defence, especially after only playing three games in 2012.

White: no longer on-the-nose.

White: no longer on-the-nose.

In the past, the big guy was talked-up as a future target-man for the Swans but never really grasped his opportunities, something considered a rather large sin amongst the cutthroat mentality of AFL’s community of supporters and analysts, as well as being worthy of being Longmire’s worm on the hook when it came time to ‘talk Tippo.’

But now is he not only doing an admirable job as a Mr Fix-it, he’s making it impossible to be ignored at selection time due to some sterling returns.

So where does that leave the rest of the big men?

Mike Pyke’s exponential progress, as well as his regular serves of humble pie to the Melbourne media, mean he is closed to being the top-ranked choice each week. Shane Mumford is the heartbeat of the ruck and one of the best going around the AFL when he’s up and about. Tippett is still unfurling nine weeks of pent-up energy and frankly, he’s paid too much coin to be passed over.

And what about Sam Reid and Adam Goodes, both tracking to return just in time for finals?

Reid is the raw-boned project player who was finding form just before he was struck down with injury, and there is Goodes, who put simply, is just Goodes.

And imagine if Lewis Roberts-Thomson was to resurrect his 2013 with enough time to make a belated tilt for selection?

Even allowing for the unorthodox balance of four big men in the Swans 22, that means someone such as a club captain, a premiership player or a high-profile recruit will be left standing when the music stops, headed for the anti-climax of a post-season in the magoos.

Tippett: rich.

Tippett: rich.

It’s going to be an uncomfortable conversation for Longmire and his brains trust to endure, but compared to the predicament of clubs at the other end of the issues spectrum, I’m sure he won’t be complaining.

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