Well saidI just listened to Roy Keane talking about the feelings of the English team after losing last night's Euro final to Italy, and how he explains how brutal and tough the sport is, at the top level....these are the things you have to go through and come back from; that it's what fortifies you. Or not.
It got me thinking about how this next 6 rounds could really define this group going forward. I think, obviously the pain of going through a solo GF appearance and losing it back in 2013, that team sort of went into freefall after that with it all coming to a head in the infamous collapse of season 2016. We didn't quite get back on the horse and get back there, we seemed to slip into a shell with each season thereafter - despite how strong we looked in the early part of 2015...
Since then we've undertaken a rebuild and cut away and re-trimmed the list etc. Gained a new coach, new assistant coaches - re-packaged ourselves somewhat. But many of us were left scratching our heads as to what happened and if we'd ever get that back, that top-end period of 2012-15 and whether we can, in the cold light of day - ever get that elusive Premiership.
But as Roy says, the top level is brutal and there's times you're not gonna get the chocolates. And it hurts. But you have to be strong. You have to dig deep and find a way. Can you turn it around when you're at your lowest ebb?!
So what am I getting at with all this..?! Well, I'm not even sure I know (!!), but I think this last 6 rounds will really be about that mental toughness, that "have you got what it takes to make Finals" test. I think there's enough team structure; balance,skill and pace and workmanship qualities within the current team set-up to get results; but I'm not sure about mental toughness. I think that's where it sits. Obviously kicking straight doesn't hurt!!
The guys are (slowly) gaining traction in becoming a force again in the comp, but it takes that inner belief...that growing up and growing as people to get the job done. Many of the players haven't played Finals. At all.
And the core group coming through is really shining; but they're sooooooo young! Just young men, with the weight of the world sitting on their shoulders. But that's the beauty of professional sport; have you got what it takes, deep down inside irregardless of your age demographic?! I guess we're about to find out.
But for Mundy, Fyfe...Walters. The question is, does it still burn - losing that 2013 Final?! Do you recall that pain, and if so....have you grown enough to know that that alone, wasn't enough? Pavlich - no cups. Sandi - no cups. Barlow, McPharlin, Johnson etc etc. It's easy to miss your boat, your opportunities. Are you hungry now, hungrier than you've ever been, and if so, do you believe?! Can you lift and carry this team forward with their help?
It's a brutal, fiery, maddening sport, full of crazy moments and even crazier emotions. But amongst all the maelstrom, there's always a winner....someone or some team emerges and bags the glory. Losers go off to lick their wounds and are all but forgotten.
What I'm watching is an emergence. I can really sense a distinct difference in not just the style, but the belief in the group. I see hungry young men who are on the cusp - maybe not this year, maybe not next. But soon.
The next 6 rounds is a really interesting part of the evolution of this club. When it appears as though some slight luck has gone our way (for a change!), do we have what it takes to finish strongly enough to make the 8..?! The mental challenge and the infuriating wait for fans is what happens next. Fans are nervy, I can tell - but they sense it, they sense that 'growth'.
I feel, in my gut - we might just miss out this year. We might just not quite get enough wins, our 6 rounds are not easy ones. Some of our earlier losses were missed opportunities. There's good teams in waiting, there's teams around us challenging for that chance to get in the 8. The mental challenge I spoke of might just be slightly out of reach of such a young group, but one thing for sure, I reckon they're going to give it a massive crack and it will really carry the club forward as a whole, even if we just miss out. And I think Darcy might be a crucial key, he's really growing as a player and his awareness in games is getting better. For such a young ruck, he is exceptional.
Bad injuries, Covid-marred landscape; young coach/group, re-organised travel on the fly etc - these are not excuses, they are reasons why the challenge is always ALWAYS massive for this club. But despite all that, they're still in the conversation....they're still in the hunt to at least qualify for September.
No matter what happens the remainder of this year, I am happy with the evolution of this football club and what it feels like it's doing, it's progressing and getting better as it does so. The harsh, caustic memory of 2013 still lingers, and it will when we next return to the GF. The nerves will be rampant. But by then we might just have the 'belief' that it's the right time......and. Who knows?! We have to get there yet.
But it's positive, for me. It's looking positive and I can feel the club is growing stronger and starting to really build that hunger. It starts with a massive game on Thurs against old rivals Geelong........let's see where it takes us. 6 more opportunities, and we could be playing Finals. It's massive for the club.
Yes, its a brutal sport. It's a cruel sport. But it's the sweetest of the sweet when you taste the ultimate in victory
All true although finals are a long way away.I'm glad I can watch out the rest of the season at peace knowing that we won't be playing finals. The week to week stress over it has been tiresome. I'm fine with that though, I'd rather we earn our spot in the finals rather than being so reliant on other results and excuses. We'll get there on our own merits.
He stays in. Tucker goes into the midfield or straight out. Walker with Young and Chapman will be exciting to watchHis turn of speed is ridiculous and I reckon I’ve seen him lose at most 3 or 4 contests since his debut. I’m actually amazed how good his defensive work is