The game’s problem with small truths shows why it’s ill-equipped to handle large truths – Michmutters

The game’s problem with small truths shows why it’s ill-equipped to handle large truths

They were premieres less than a month later.

Nowadays, many in the football bubble (not all) forget clubs are accountable to fans, members, sponsors, donors and corporate backers, so their default position is to take themselves and what is really happening way, way too seriously. They adopt a different personality, depending on whether they are inside or outside the club’s multiple walls.

That does not mean confidentiality is not required in many circumstances, but club talk about teaching players to have the courage to express themselves and be true to who they are as an individual is shown as complete baloney when the ‘team is all that matters’ ethos is instantly invoked to help clubs cover up and scramble the narrative when a need for facing the truth becomes essential for a club to move forward.

Eddie Langdon spoke the truth.  Surely he can't be doing the wrong thing.

Eddie Langdon spoke the truth. Surely he can’t be doing the wrong thing. Credit:Getty

The reaction from Melbourne’s hierarchy to wingman Ed Langdon’s comments that Collingwood was “a one trick pony” and “all duck no dinner” was instructive of a club’s ethos. Simon Goodwin applied a forceful message with a light touch.

“So Ed will put his hand up and say he got that wrong, but I don’t think we should criticize players for making mistakes when they go in the media,” Goodwin said.


Goodwin seemed concerned that it may be constructed as disrespectful to Collingwood, but the effect of what he was saying was be careful with the truth.

That’s not a criticism of Goodwin because he could consider the comments either unhelpful to his immediate objective of beating the Magpies or legitimately want to protect his player from the barrage of comments that might come his way.

But the underlying sentiment or message (which many within clubs at every level have) is that what players say needs to be controlled.

Langdon’s comments were his truth and let’s face it, probably not far from the truth. They created a rare atmosphere around the game and gave supporters a much-needed reminder of what footy should be about.

McVeigh’s comments showed he has learned that honesty is the best policy.

We can see the Adelaide camp debacle as again being a failure of leadership, an example of outsiders being given too much access to players, and think it’s solved by removing and discarding those responsible people and improved integrity measures.

That might help in the short term, but such outrages will occur again until the game learns to handle the truth and respond appropriately to those who put their name to words.

The Western Bulldogs or the Saints or the Blues?

Which team would you rather be with two rounds remaining?

Carlton need just one win to make finals but could face their final two rounds against top four teams without their skipper Patrick Cripps.

Patrick Cripps (left) and Charlie Curnow of the Blues celebrate during a match against the Giants last month.

Patrick Cripps (left) and Charlie Curnow of the Blues celebrate during a match against the Giants last month.Credit:AFL Pictures

The Western Bulldogs needs to win both against bottom six teams but don’t seem to have a system that will push them far enough into finals to make 2022 anything else but a disappointment.

St Kilda aren’t good enough but if they beat the Brisbane Lions and Sydney Swans they will have served a finals spot and everyone will assess the Saints with their glass half full.

All that assumes Richmond make it.

Blues, Bulldogs and Saints supporters may as well enjoy the thrill their run into the finals will provide because they won’t last long in September.

The Blues still have their destiny in their own hands, so they must make that fact a confidence booster as they attack their most important fortnight in a decade. And their fans, who have hit the panic button, need to calm down because it is not helping their team, who look scared to win.

Carlton are also on the up, having taken positive steps this season and their list is good. The Bulldogs have developed talent well, and with Liam Jones and possibly Rory Lobb arriving, and Sam Darcy and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan emerging will start better with an easier draw likely in 2023. But the defensive system needs tinkering.

The Saints list remains a worry and it could be that no matter what Brett Ratten does, they will remain a middle-table team with middle-ranking players.

The De Goey option to stay

Jordan De Goey is making it hard for Collingwood to imagine him playing for another club. His performance against Melbourne was his best game for the season as he arched the back and pumped his legs to find space that was so hard for most on the ground to find.

He is connected to teammates and his coach Craig McRae has made it clear he wants him to remain at the Magpies, but the football club’s wider remit and, let’s not forget, a series of off-field incidents have thrown doubts into the minds of those outside the football department as to whether he can fulfill his end of the bargain.

Jordan De Goey played his best game for the year on Friday night

Jordan De Goey played his best game for the year on Friday nightCredit:AFL Photos/Getty Images

If De Goey was prepared to take a short-term deal to stay with the club he seems comfortable with and stay surrounded by those who know him best, he may change the opinion of doubters and reveal his commitment to being a teammate and player they not only like but trust.

It would allow him to enjoy his football with a little less pressure than what would accompany him at a new club, all but ignoring those who walk the corridors of power unless he mucks up again. By then, if not already, he’d have no-one but himself to blame.

Port Adelaide: refresh or reset?

Ken Hinkley has been adamant that he will fulfill his contract to coach Port Adelaide in 2023, his connection to the players and coaching ability high after 10 seasons in charge where he has led the team to at least 10 wins a season (until this year when they have scrounged eight victories after losing their first five) and three preliminary finals.

Power coach Ken Hinkley understands pressure

Power coach Ken Hinkley understands pressureCredit:AFL Pictures

Good coaches are hard to find and, despite a vocal band of Port supporters complaining about Hinkley due to their non-appearance in a grand finale, Port would be silly to pull the pin on the basis that he has been there long enough.

However, it is incumbent on the club to communicate their plan beyond the end of next season and make necessary changes around the coach. They need to be certain they won’t flinch next season in their commitment to Hinkley if he continues because having a lame duck coach for a season is not used to anyone. A recommitment to Hinkley with a few fresh faces in support looks a logical approach after 2022.

One guarantee is that Hinkley will be honest with himself and the club about what lies ahead, which puts the club in a good place as they plan for next season and beyond.

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