JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Like it or lump it, football is back

Date

Greg Baum

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Video will begin in 5 seconds.

Recommended

Replay video

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Footy is back... already!

Our footy experts preview the new rules, new coaches and new players for this weekend's opening round of the NAB Cup.

PT0M0S 620 349

TONIGHT, suddenly, football is upon us again. It seems almost indecently soon. Last season finished in October, and this is only February. It is just 139 days since the last grand final, and already it is fusty history. What matters now is that it is only 227 to the next.

There is still so much to be sorted out and bedded down. Of course, this is the standard business of the pre-season competition. It is like the preview performance of an opera, the real thing, but not. It is a phoney war, culminating in a faux grand final that no one tries especially hard to reach or win. Or at least affects not to try.

Thought of another way, the pre-season competition is an advance screening, for critics. It is just that, with football, everyone is a critic.

This year, there is more to come to grips with than usual in this half-dawn: a new team, five brand new coaches and two old ones at new clubs, yet more new rules, and new ways of watching football: any or all of free-to-air television, pay television, iPad and iPhone, not to mention those poachers from Optus' TV Now, and the AFL tries not to. There is also that quaint and hardy though still fashionable way of watching: by going to a ground.

From today, football will be like loud-mouth on her mobile phone on the train, inescapable. Everyone will be drawn in, wittingly or not. For the first time, every game will be live on pay television, and the pre-season competition - other than the finale - will be available only on pay. Flaunting what it has got, Foxtel tonight relaunches Fox Footy, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. From tonight, Eddie will be even more everywhere-er.

Despite all these manoeuvrings, football somehow has sneaked up from outside our sporting consciousness this year. The tennis just finished. Cricket still is far from done, and so is Black Caviar. In a world collapsed by technology to the size of a TV screen, others are preoccupied with European soccer teams, or with Jeremy Lin, the fairytale basketballer now on the tip of all tongues in the US. As much as football has an off-season, we were in it. Then football's minutiae began to appear, welcomed by some, an intrusion to others: here a hamstring, there a re-signing, everywhere a grandiose announcement of nothing much.

For a code derided by its rivals for having no rules, the AFL loves to make and tinker with them. This pre-season, ruckmen will be forbidden to touch each other until the ball leaves the umpire's hands, and a free kick will be paid against the last team to dispose of the ball - as distinct from touch it - when it goes out of bounds. Like last pre-season, video umpiring will be available. Of these experiments, only video umpiring is likely to be seen in the season proper.

The pre-season cup is football's soft start, but it is a start. For some fans, it will feel like jet lag. For others, and for the players especially, it could not have come too soon. Tonight, Hawthorn, North Melbourne and Richmond kick off at Etihad Stadium in a kind of buy-two-get-one-free arrangement. Tomorrow, it will be Collingwood, the Bulldogs and Greater Western Sydney in Sydney. On Sunday, Essendon goes to take on the two WA clubs in Perth.

The loosening of the gloves will have begun. Think of it this way: this morning, for the last time this year, everyone is unbeaten.

12 comments

  • Typical Baum article. mentions cricket & "European soccer" occupying some minds but deliberately snubs the A-league - where many scores of Melburnians minds still are - still living in the 1960's I see Greg - but you know even if you ignore them, some things won't go away. BTW go victory & bombers!

    Commenter
    Uncle Stavros
    Location
    Blue Mountains
    Date and time
    February 17, 2012, 8:26AM
    • As far as I'm concerned Uncle Stavros, it is still very much Soccer Season until the ref blows the final whistle in the A-League Grand Final. Only then will I even start to think about the footy. I usually ignore the pre-season rubish footy and I'm 100% sure I'm not mising anything.

      Commenter
      KvP
      Location
      South Yarra
      Date and time
      February 17, 2012, 11:01AM
  • The last year that the AFL have the market to themselves in Victoria.
    A new commission, new TV deal and changes to anti siphoning legislation will see rugby league into the Victorian market instead of being hoarded to beyond midnight.

    How will the mighty AFL go then?

    Commenter
    Ian
    Location
    Bendigo
    Date and time
    February 17, 2012, 8:50AM
    • Mate I dont think any of these changes will have an effect in Vic. A Friday night head to head of AFL v NRL in Melbourne will see the NRL coverage slaughtered just as it would see the AFL slaughtered in the ratings if it was done in NSW.

      The anti-siphoning might mean however that you get a "live" coverage on the free to air back channels.

      Commenter
      Jimbo
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      February 17, 2012, 12:17PM
  • The NAB Cup games are all a bit ho-hum but at least I can see from the comfort of my own loungeroom what the Navy Blue youngsters have got to show

    Commenter
    Go Blues
    Location
    Hampton
    Date and time
    February 17, 2012, 9:10AM
    • Seems almost indecently soon? ... It is - and it brings with it all the boring talking heads and clowns for whom football is the only light in their blinkered lives ...

      And as for the game having a lot to deal with ... Gosh!! I hope it pulls through OK ... maybe it can call one of those telephone support lines ... oh hang on - they're for people that have actual problems to deal with ...

      Get a grip - it's only a game ...

      Commenter
      Mr Hyde
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      February 17, 2012, 9:14AM
      • Will not be paying any attention to the Mickey Mouse Cup. It is still very much Soccer season in my household. Footy season starts for me and my family when the ref blows his whistle for full Time in the A-League Grand Final.

        Commenter
        KvP
        Location
        South Yarra
        Date and time
        February 17, 2012, 9:38AM
        • Football is back ? it never left Greg, it's there every time I accidentally switch to TripleM and Eddie or Brownless are doing drive-time, or turn on the nightly news only to hear a player has caused a scandal by dating a team-mate's Ex, or there's a movie premiere, etc etc
          It's suffocating the life out of this city

          Commenter
          Michael
          Date and time
          February 17, 2012, 9:56AM
          • What do you mean "Back Already"??

            I say "Back AT LAST"!!!

            The 139 days between GF and the NAB cup are the longest 139 days of the year !!!

            Commenter
            HawkFan
            Location
            Waiting, waiting, waiting....
            Date and time
            February 17, 2012, 10:02AM
            • Good on you HawkFan - I'm with you! I'm always reminded of the old advert for a soft drink that said there's only two seasons - footy season and wich it was footy season.

              Commenter
              jaro
              Location
              sydney
              Date and time
              February 17, 2012, 12:40PM

              More comments

              Comments are now closed

              Related Coverage

              Front and Centre Footy is back... already!

              Our footy experts preview the new rules, new coaches and new players for this weekend's opening round of the NAB Cup.

              Hawks stitch up top guns

              Not worried about losing important players to rival clubs in first year of free agency system.

              Tiger cub Martin is primed to join elite

              Those watching Richmond's Dustin Martin on a daily basis say the 20-year-old will take the competition by storm this year.

              Young Hawk is all set for new flight pattern

              Jack Gunston set himself a tough task coming into this pre-season.

              Demetriou's pay drops as AFL records net loss

              The AFL may have secured a record TV rights deal last year - but that did not stop chief executive Andrew Demetriou earning less money in 2011 as the league recorded a net loss.

              NAB Cup round 1 - our complete preview

              Two of Ben Stratton's first three games back from a serious knee injury last year were finals.

              Live blog: NAB Cup opening night

              Now, in mid-February, footy is back! It may only be the NAB Cup pre-season competition, but for those supporters who've spent weeks wondering what lies in store in 2012, some of those answers will begin to be answered this weekend.

              Related Coverage

              AFL 2015

              Round 1
              Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
              CAR 78 vs RIC 105 Report Stats
              Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
              MEL 115 vs GCF 89 Stats
              SYD 72 vs ESS 60 Stats
              BRI 74 vs COL 86 Stats
              WBU 97 vs WCE 87 Stats
              Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
              STK 78 vs GWS 87 Stats
              ADE 140 vs NTH 63 Stats
              FRE 75 vs PTA 68 Stats
              Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
              HAW 123 vs GEE 61 Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 2
              Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
              WCE 131 vs CAR 62 Stats
              Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
              RIC 66 vs WBU 85 Report Stats
              GWS 101 vs MEL 56 Stats
              COL 63 vs ADE 90 Report Stats
              GCF 76 vs STK 104 Stats
              PTA 44 vs SYD 92 Stats
              Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
              GEE 60 vs FRE 104 Stats
              ESS 78 vs HAW 76 Stats
              NTH 133 vs BRI 51 Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 3
              Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
              COL 140 vs STK 66 Stats
              Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
              CAR 84 vs ESS 105 Stats
              ADE 80 vs MEL 55 Stats
              SYD 111 vs GWS 90 Report Stats
              NTH 105 vs PTA 113 Stats
              BRI 58 vs RIC 137 Stats
              Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
              HAW 127 vs WBU 57 Stats
              GEE 105 vs GCF 96 Stats
              WCE 81 vs FRE 111 Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 4
              Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
              RIC 51 vs MEL 83 Stats
              Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
              STK 81 vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
              ESS 49 vs COL 69 Report Stats
              GWS 119 vs GCF 53 Stats
              PTA 99 vs HAW 91 Stats
              FRE 74 vs SYD 60 Stats
              Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
              BRI 65 vs WCE 118 Stats
              GEE 67 vs NTH 83 Stats
              WBU 125 vs ADE 68 Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 5
              Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
              CAR 45 vs COL 120 Stats
              Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
              RIC 76 vs GEE 85 Stats
              SYD 73 vs WBU 77 Stats
              GCF 118 vs BRI 54 Stats
              NTH 70 vs HAW 130 Stats
              WCE 120 vs GWS 33 Stats
              Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
              MEL 50 vs FRE 118 Stats
              STK 80 vs ESS 82 Stats
              ADE 91 vs PTA 115 Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 6
              Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
              COL 59 vs GEE 100 Stats
              Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
              NTH 109 vs RIC 74 Stats
              WBU 87 vs STK 94 Stats
              GWS 108 vs HAW 98 Stats
              GCF 78 vs ADE 119 Stats
              MEL 50 vs SYD 88 Stats
              FRE 80 vs ESS 52 Stats
              Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
              CAR 75 vs BRI 84 Report Stats
              PTA 68 vs WCE 78 Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 7
              Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
              ESS 82 vs NTH 93 Stats
              Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
              ADE 119 vs STK 73 Stats
              HAW 155 vs MEL 50 Stats
              CAR 57 vs GWS 135 Stats
              SYD 120 vs GEE 77 Stats
              WCE 135 vs GCF 43 Stats
              Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
              WBU 88 vs FRE 101 Stats
              RIC 105 vs COL 100 Report Stats
              BRI 102 vs PTA 65 Report Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 8
              Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
              GEE 140 vs CAR 63 Stats
              Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
              STK vs WCE 13:45ES
              GWS vs ADE 14:10Spotless Stadium
              GCF vs COL 16:35MS
              HAW vs SYD 19:20MCG
              FRE vs NTH 19:40Domain Stadium
              Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
              ESS vs BRI 13:10ES
              MEL vs WBU 15:20MCG
              PTA vs RIC 16:40Adelaide Oval
              View All Fixtures
              Round 9
              Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
              SYD vs CAR 19:50SCG
              Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
              HAW vs GCF 13:45AS
              MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
              WBU vs GWS 16:35ES
              RIC vs ESS 19:20MCG
              ADE vs FRE 19:40Adelaide Oval
              Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
              BRI vs STK 13:10G
              COL vs NTH 15:20MCG
              WCE vs GEE 16:40Domain Stadium
              View All Fixtures
              Round 10
              Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
              FRE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
              Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
              CAR vs ADE 13:40MCG
              GCF vs SYD 16:35MS
              ESS vs GEE 19:20ES
              PTA vs WBU 19:40Adelaide Oval
              Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
              GWS vs BRI 13:10Spotless Stadium
              NTH vs WCE 15:20BA
              STK vs HAW 16:40ES
              Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
              MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
              View All Fixtures
              Round 11
              Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
              PTA vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
              Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
              GCF vs FRE 13:40MS
              WCE vs ESS 16:35Domain Stadium
              NTH vs SYD 19:20ES
              Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
              COL vs GWS 13:10MCG
              STK vs MEL 16:40ES
              View All Fixtures
              Round 12
              Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
              ADE vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
              Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
              RIC vs WCE 19:50MCG
              Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
              CAR vs PTA 13:40MCG
              GWS vs NTH 16:35Spotless Stadium
              WBU vs BRI 19:20ES
              Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
              GEE vs MEL 15:20SS
              View All Fixtures
              Round 13
              Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
              FRE vs COL 20:10Domain Stadium
              Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
              SYD vs RIC 19:50SCG
              Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
              HAW vs ESS 13:40MCG
              BRI vs ADE 16:35G
              STK vs WBU 19:20ES
              Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
              CAR vs GCF 15:20ES
              View All Fixtures
              Round 14
              Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
              SYD vs PTA 19:20SCG
              Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
              COL vs HAW 19:50MCG
              Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
              RIC vs GWS 13:40MCG
              GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
              WBU vs CAR 19:20ES
              MEL vs WCE 19:40TIO
              Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
              ESS vs STK 13:10ES
              ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
              FRE vs BRI 16:40Domain Stadium
              View All Fixtures
              Round 15
              Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
              PTA vs COL 19:50Adelaide Oval
              Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
              RIC vs CAR 19:50MCG
              Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
              ESS vs MEL 13:40MCG
              WBU vs GCF 16:35CAZ
              NTH vs GEE 19:20ES
              WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
              Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
              GWS vs STK 13:10Spotless Stadium
              HAW vs FRE 15:20AS
              BRI vs SYD 16:40G
              View All Fixtures
              Round 16
              Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
              NTH vs ESS 19:50ES
              Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
              GEE vs WBU 13:45SS
              GCF vs GWS 14:10MS
              COL vs WCE 16:35ES
              SYD vs HAW 19:20ANZ
              FRE vs CAR 19:40Domain Stadium
              Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
              MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
              PTA vs ADE 15:20Adelaide Oval
              STK vs RIC 16:40ES
              View All Fixtures
              Round 17
              Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
              CAR vs HAW 19:50ES
              Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
              GWS vs GEE 13:45SO
              ADE vs GCF 14:10Adelaide Oval
              RIC vs FRE 16:35MCG
              ESS vs PTA 19:20ES
              BRI vs NTH 19:20G
              Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
              WBU vs COL 13:10ES
              MEL vs STK 15:20MCG
              WCE vs SYD 16:40Domain Stadium
              View All Fixtures
              Round 18
              Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
              HAW vs RIC 19:50MCG
              Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
              GEE vs BRI 13:45SS
              COL vs MEL 14:10MCG
              SYD vs ADE 16:35SCG
              CAR vs NTH 19:20ES
              GCF vs WCE 19:20MS
              Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
              PTA vs STK 13:10Adelaide Oval
              ESS vs WBU 15:20ES
              FRE vs GWS 16:40Domain Stadium
              View All Fixtures
              Round 19
              Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
              ADE vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
              Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
              COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
              WBU vs PTA 14:10ES
              BRI vs GCF 16:35G
              GEE vs SYD 19:20SS
              WCE vs HAW 19:40Domain Stadium
              Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
              MEL vs NTH 13:10MCG
              GWS vs ESS 15:20Spotless Stadium
              STK vs FRE 16:40ES
              View All Fixtures
              Round 20
              Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
              SYD vs COL 19:50SCG
              Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
              ESS vs ADE 13:45ES
              NTH vs STK 14:10BA
              PTA vs GWS 16:35Adelaide Oval
              GEE vs HAW 19:20MCG
              BRI vs CAR 19:20G
              Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
              RIC vs GCF 13:10MCG
              WBU vs MEL 15:20ES
              FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
              View All Fixtures
              Round 21
              Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
              HAW vs PTA 19:50ES
              Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
              COL vs RIC 13:45MCG
              GWS vs SYD 14:10Spotless Stadium
              GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
              STK vs GEE 19:20ES
              ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
              Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
              NTH vs FRE 13:10ES
              CAR vs MEL 15:20MCG
              WCE vs WBU 16:40Domain Stadium
              View All Fixtures
              Round 22
              Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
              GEE vs COL 19:50MCG
              Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
              GWS vs CAR 13:45Spotless Stadium
              HAW vs BRI 14:10AS
              NTH vs WBU 16:35ES
              ESS vs RIC 19:20MCG
              GCF vs PTA 19:20MS
              Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
              ADE vs WCE 13:10Adelaide Oval
              STK vs SYD 15:20ES
              FRE vs MEL 16:40Domain Stadium
              View All Fixtures
              Round 23
              Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
              COL vs ESS 00:00MCG
              RIC vs NTH 00:00ES
              HAW vs CAR 00:00MCG
              GEE vs ADE 00:00SS
              SYD vs GCF 00:00SCG
              MEL vs GWS 00:00ES
              BRI vs WBU 00:00G
              PTA vs FRE 00:30Adelaide Oval
              WCE vs STK 02:00Domain Stadium
              View All Fixtures
              AFL 2015
              Overall standings
              Team P W L D % Pts
              Fremantle 7 7 0 0 144.44 28
              West Coast Eagles 7 5 2 0 156.58 20
              Sydney Swans 7 5 2 0 130.51 20
              Adelaide Crows 7 5 2 0 123.60 20
              GWS Giants 7 5 2 0 117.45 20
              Hawthorn 7 4 3 0 152.96 16
              Collingwood 7 4 3 0 120.42 16
              Western Bulldogs 7 4 3 0 100.00 16
              View all
               
              Featured advertisers