Ess+Freo 2011


Brief Summary:  Young, emerging team who should improve to the verge of the eight.

11 wins and 9th.           (actual at end of season = 11 1/2 wins and 8th  before the finals)


More Detail:   The Dons have been the find of the pre season.  A goal after the siren kept them in the race in round 1.  From there, they played great footy until rolled by the all-conquering Pies in the final.  The question then becomes:  do we believe the good form after last year’s fade-out.  The answer begins by looking at 2009 and 2010.  The Dons beat the Hawks in round 22 in 2009 to grab 8th spot, but a depleted team was flogged by the Crows in week 1 of the finals.  That was Knights’ greatest result in a year when they significant injury problems.  Last year, the team underperformed and lost some games that can only be described as “trouble at the club” losses –the most notable being the Eagles loss at the MCG in round 16.  Their best recruits have been the much discussed Mark Thompson from the Cats along with one of his assistants, Brendan McCartney, who has somewhat flown under the radar.  Thompson and McCartney will be of great help to new coach James Hird.  With some better performances so far this year, the fans are upbeat about the future.  And the NAB Cup form should not be totally disregarded.  All this points to a move up the ladder in 2011.  But the Dons have turned over their entire coaching list in one fell swoop (had the Roosters done this, it would have been one Fowl Swoop).  This should result in 2011 being more of a consolidation year that a top 4 finish.  Further, the good early form was on the back of an early and huge pre season.  So they are bound to hit a flat spot – maybe later in the season.  Add to this a few early season injury issues and the result becomes muddled.  This means high variance (or almost any result is possible).  So finals are a real possibility, but they may also miss by a wide margin.  A quick word about the transition from Knights to Hird: It played out as a messy soap opera in the press.  The job of the analyst is to assess what effect this transition may have on the inner workings of the club.  The issue is not what the reporters or general public think of the issue or “could it have been done better?”  What is critical is how the club operates in 2011.  Are the players and coaches able to perform to their best with the current club set-up and can they withstand any bad news when the club hits a flat spot.  This is tough to assess and the best that can be done at the moment is leave it as a question mark.  Their have been some great successes and failures associated with “favourite son(s) returning to a club.  Just think of the coaching jobs of Voss and Buckley as examples.  The analyst’s approach is: watch, assess and don’t be surprised by big variances from the expert’s forecasts.


Definitely missing round 1 (from best 22):              Davey, Pears, Henry Slattery, Welsh

May miss round 1 or be underdone (from best 22):          Dempsey, Gumbleton, Hardingham, Reimers

Look for improvement from:           McVeigh (incorrect, the end appears to be nigh), Jetta (incorrect)


Don’t expect too much from:           Pears – it will be a long time before he is back on the ground (correct)

Likely to get a game R1:       Heppell and Hibberd are both pushing strongly for spots


Keys for the club:      David Hille should be hitting top form now but has not had the best pre season.  A dominant year from him would take the Dons a long way towards finals’ action.

Important Rounds:   Much has been made of their tough rounds 1 – 5 (Dogs, Swans away, Saints, Blues and Pies) but it will be equally important for them to sure up some premiership points in the more winnable games 6 – 9 (Suns, Eagles, Lions away, Tigers) before their first bye in round 10.


Post Season Review (added 04 Jan 2012)

The analysis was spot on in terms of wins and ladder position (although 8th is a lot better than 9th for Don fans).  They actually did quite well after the loss of Dempsey and Winderlich (to long term injuries) and also Prismall + Watson.  Bellchambers, Hibberd, Howlett, Crameri and Heppell all outperformed expectations to cover the losses of the injured players.




Brief Summary:  Too many injuries and heading south in 2011.  10 wins and 14th, (actual at end of season = 9 wins and 11th)



More Detail:   At first glance, things look rosy for Freo.  Firstly, they improved from 14th in 2009 to win a home final last year.  They had significant injuries for week 2 of the finals and they have some exciting young players.  And their draw is kinder this year with consecutive home game rounds 4 & 5 (R5 vs Dogs) and rounds 18 & 19 (R19 vs Hawks). But all this has been offset by a horror run of injuries (see below).  Only Ibbotson is expected back any time soon and Morabito is gone for the year.  Mzungu was a fantasy football favourite before doing his knee. A further negative is that they lose Chris Scott and Dean Wallis from their coaching staff.  Better things are possible in 2012 given a fitter list.


Definitely missing round 1 (from best 22): Barlow, Hayden, Ibbotson, Morabito, Mzungu,


May miss round 1 or be underdone (from best 22):  Ballantyne, Hill, Mundy (expect all to play but underdone), Roberton

Look for improvement from:           Rhys Palmer looks set to fulfil his potential this year (incorrect and Freo was lucky to get some compensation for him)

Don’t expect too much from:           Barlow; assuming he gets himself right, 2012 should be a better year. (correct, but good late in the season)

Likely to get a game R1:                   elevated Rookie Nick Lower was runner-up in the Magarey medal last year and should be a cert to play


Keys for the club:      To ride out the storm until about round 8 – 10 when their medium term injured players should return.  And to consolidate gains made in 2010.

Important Rounds:   They have 3 home games before their first bye in round 6.  They play Cats, Roos and Dogs.  Add to this away games vs Lions and Crows.  They would need to win minimum 2 and probably 3 of those 5 to keep in touch.  From round 6 until their next bye in round 16, they have a better run including some winnable away games.


Post Season Review (added 04 Jan 2012)

The analysis was excellent here, considering that most people had pencilled in finals for the Dockers.  The long injury list at season’s end was caused by the long injury list prior to round 1 (and players wanting to come back too early, as often occurs in these circumstances).  There is a lesson for analysts here:  whenever you see huge injuries in the pre-season, it is likely that further injuries will follow during the season.  The key players who had interrupted pre seasons were  Ballantyne, Barlow, Fyfe (although he overcame them and excelled), Hayden, Hill, Ibbotson and Mundy. 

Losing Sandilands was the straw that broke Kamahl’s back (and possibly cost Mark Harvey his job).