MVP Tommy Boyd - The Boy, The Man, The Premiership Hero

Pannalstaroz

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Ok prepare to be ranted.

Our 2006-2009 "midget brigade" forward lineup, consisting of Johnson, Gia, Eagleton (granted off a wing/HF), Akermanis, Welsh, Higgins, Hahn etc worked for the vast majority of the year because (a) they could all play, (b) they were mature bodies and understood how to play together and (c) they were unpredictable. They also hurt you on the scoreboard because they were all relatively accurate shots at goal when they had a shot.

They were being delivered the ball by a mature midfield that was getting first use, a midfield that trusted itself and got into enough space that the ball could come in under the least amount of pressure possible.

I'll just quickly touch on the notion of trust in the midfield.

Any mature, developed midfield understands who is to go in and get the ball-and can be relied upon to do it- and who stays on the outside to receive the ball and kick it into the forward line with precision. The outliers in successful teams do not go in and get the ball-it's not their role. They know if they get it there is often no one to give it to and they go nowhere. The issue with inexperienced midfields, especially those who are laced with top end talent, is that all the players are used to going and getting the ball, and dominating the game themselves. The idea that they take a backward step away from their natural game for the benefit of the team isn't ingrained into them yet. The result of this chaos is 6 midfielders all going to get the ball, all being 3 ft from each other and having no one to give it to when one of them emerges with it. This has been, and may continue to be, a major problem of ours. Libba and Boyd are clearly our best contested players, best at getting their hands on the ball first, and both excellent at extracting it and giving it off to players around them (Boyd by hand). Wallis is also very good at it. The issue is that all our other kids often get caught too close to the ball, not trusting those inside the contest to get it to them. Because of this, we ran a stoppage game, a stoppage game that resulted in 3/4 opposition players playing stacks on regularly with 5/6 Dogs' players. That's fine if you can keep it in, but too many times I saw the ball spill free, and the opposition are away. Until we get that mix of inside/outside right, the issues with our forward line won't change because the ball will continually come in under pressure.

Having said that, maturity will iron out that problem.

Back on track now.

In the late 00's the ball was being delivered quickly and accurately by people who could play and was being marked by players with great talent and footy sense. However we came up short. 3 times. You could argue that we simply weren't good enough, and you'd have a strong case, or your could argue that the structural deficiencies we had were a major contributing factor. We looked our best, IMO, in 2010 when Barry came in. We had a good, mature midfield kicking the ball to a player who was a strong focal point. And he was terrific, he gave the team something to kick to. And he was a terrific shot at goal. However as good as he was on the lead, and he was amazing-quick and good hands-he was poor in a contested marking contest, ie standing under a high ball, because he wasn't quite tall enough and he was often triple teamed because we had no one else tall around him. We also got him at the end of his career, a glittering career no doubt, but the end. Not once in our career have we had a full forward from the start of his career, someone to grow with the players around him and to mould the team around for a period of time.

Until now.

Structurally there are few more important positions than full forward. If you have a good one. Although the way the ball is moved out of the contest is crucial to the way the game is played, full forward is the position around which the forward line structures, which dictates who moves where, and ultimately how much you score. The most important attribute that any dominant full forward can possess in my opinion is the ability to mark the ball in a contest. Cloke, Hawkins, Patton all have this. Roughead can mark beautifully but is a 6'5" version of Brad Johnson, which makes him almost indispensible. They are all tall, and they are all the major focal point for their teams. (I'll argue that Hawthorn have a similar setup to our '06-'10 teams, but a taller version, which makes it better functioning). Premiership teams have all had the ability to catch the ball in the air in a contest, both around the ground, and more importantly, in the forward line. We haven't had this ability for...... well forever.

With the introduction of Tom Boyd, we have picked up a player who was completely dominant in his under age years. A player who can stand under a high ball and catch it. He may not do it for 2-4 years as his body matures-because it's much harder to do it against men, especially until you are as strong as your defender, but have no doubt he will get there. He is 6'8", athletic and strong. He is very good below his knees and, unlike Cloke and Hawkins, he can kick the ball very straight. He is mechanical, which limits his range in the short term, but he kicks the ball without the inswing and outswing that has dogged the other two. He can miss, I'm not saying he'll kick a goal every time, but when he misses, the ball does travel in a straight line. This is a huge bonus.

Our forward line last year harked back to the older teams. Our best forwards were 183-192cm. They were athletic and have good skills, but they were matched up on players who were much taller than them. Couple this with our inability to spread from the contest due to our problems earlier, the ball continually came in high and slow. Hardly ideal. The result was we were outmarked, or the ball would spill inconsistently (over the back, to the side, or sometimes in front) which hindered our smaller guys from kicking as many goals as possible. Sometimes we marked, mostly on the lead, but you couldn't be sure that that would happen. We thus put a lot of pressure on Campbell to be the marking option, to solve a structural problem. Frankly he's not good enough a footballer yet to do that, he may get there, he may not. He was a rookie because he didn't show enough at a young age. A good ruckman he may become, but a power forward he is not.

Welcome T-Bone. A player who, because of his developed skill set and natural talent, has the ability to catch the ball at its highest point, to out position opponents, to get his hands on the ball first. The structural differences he makes are enormous. All of a sudden he gets the no1 tall defender. All of a sudden he opens up Crameri to get the no2 defender. If that's the case, and Crameri gets someone not quite as good, he beats them on the lead and he kicks a goal. If he gets up the ground and a smaller defender goes with him, good luck catching him on the way back, or out muscling him in a contest. So suddenly Crameri gets a free run at it.

Welcome Jake Stringer. Jake made some very good 2nd/3rd defenders look average at best last year, with his strength, speed and footy sense. He's dropped weight, got fitter and got infinitely more confidence. If he matches up on a 6'3" 3rd or 4th defender, he'll destroy them. And it won't be pretty for them. So he gets off the chain.

With Tom's ability to get his hands to it first, the ball will, more predictably, fall front and centre, which gives Dahlhaus, Hunter, Grant, Dickson, players who are natural footballers, finally a chance to show what they can do when the game is played predictably. They can introduce their unpredictability to a predictable situation. Their defenders won't know which way they went. Plus because of the structure, they'll all end up playing on some real cabbages.

The other point is if the midfield remains under pressure this year, Tom's ability to get to a high, slow ball, suddenly makes the midfield look better functioning and gives us a better than even chance of retaining the ball in the forward 50.

Tom's introduction will make such a difference to the way the team functions, not because he needs to kick 30 goals, but because the players around him get off the chain.

I seriously can't wait to see it this year, and for the next 12 years. It'll be amazing.
 

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McCraeBF

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#5
Love the Post

Boyd is a once in a lifetime talent 201cm great hands perfect kick football smarts..will take best defender

Stringer has major x factor and can take games apart and will,,will take 2nd best defender

Hunter will bring the hard match up

Bonti will bring the class..will take 3rd best defender

Dal will bring the excitement

Crameri brings a hard edge... will get 4th best defender

Si its up to our mids to dominate and pick the best option :) thats why Boyd is so important
 

Hrovat24

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#7
Different players. It's like arguing who's better out of Dangerfield/Sloane or Walker? The first two exert more influence on the game but the team is farked without Walker.
Well who do you think will have more influence on games and overall end up with more goals / best and fairests ?
 

Pannalstaroz

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Well who do you think will have more influence on games and overall end up with more goals / best and fairests ?
Probably Bontempelli most influence, Boyd most goals and Macrae most best and fairests. But Stringer could be better than all of them if he gets his focus right.
 

Hrovat24

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#9
Probably Bontempelli most influence, Boyd most goals and Macrae most best and fairests. But Stringer could be better than all of them if he gets his focus right.
Macrae is hard to work out could be so good if he works on a few things , he is a link in the chain though
 

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Metal

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#12
Great post, Pannal. I agree with you - Tom is going to make a huge difference structurally for us. However I note you barely mention our back half or the defensive mindset required of players like Macrae. Will not how we get the ball back and how we come out of defence impact on how our forwards can set up? Our ability and endurance to work both ways may be up and down while our group is so young. If the ball does come in haphazardly and as slowly as per last year, it won't matter if we have John Coleman down there....it'll be too congested for our key players to get to the ball first.
 

Pannalstaroz

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Thread starter #13
Great post, Pannal. I agree with you - Tom is going to make a huge difference structurally for us. However I note you barely mention our back half or the defensive mindset required of players like Macrae. Will not how we get the ball back and how we come out of defence impact on how our forwards can set up? Our ability and endurance to work both ways may be up and down while our group is so young. If the ball does come in haphazardly and as slowly as per last year, it won't matter if we have John Coleman down there....it'll be too congested for our key players to get to the ball first.
I agree. I tried to touch on this and clearly our backline is our biggest worry. This post was on the back of people, I think, not understanding what he will bring, so it was more of an offensive post rather than a holistic one. Had I focussed on the backline, it may have taken 3 years and come in 14 leather bound volumes.
 

The Original Swooper

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#19
Interesting read.

Agree with the majority of your "rant" ;)

Obviously it cannot be a permanent fixture, (rotations, ruck chop-outs, bench time, match ups etc.) but at stages of games I dream of seeing :-

Stringer Boyd Dalhaus
Crameri Bontempelli Hunter

If that ain't scary I'm following the wrong game.
 
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#21
Imma be completely honest here - I actually had a dream last night I was watching the doggies and Tom Boyd came steaming out on a lead and... dropped a chest mark. And I thought oh geez here we go again, it was quite gutting.

So I wake up and console myself it was only a dream, but still somewhat disquietened. Then I log into the bigfooties and happen on this masterful essay which has got me all excited again.

It's probably a reasonable indicator of how much we've got riding on this though. I haven't had any nightmares about Shane Biggs shanking kicks off the half back flank.
 

dogwatch

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#23
Good OP.
Just two observations:
1. While eagerly awaiting the first competitive match with Boyd in the forward line I am not yet confident it will work the way you've described in 2015. We haven't even seen him in match conditions yet. However I agree this is what we should be expecting as he gains experience and more strength. Would love it if it happened this year but I haven't got high expectations of that yet. There's plenty of commentary on this topicin the "14 points a game" thread.

2. Who is our backup for Tom Boyd? What if he were to suffer a LTI? If it's Redpath we are back to the Hall scenario (OK on a straight line lead, not big on pack marks) but it will be a poor man's version as Redpath has not proved anything yet and is not in Hall's class. I would be excited to see Bonti as a KPF (not out of the goal square though) but do we know that's where he will play? Can we afford not to have him in the role he was playing last year? Who else? Roberts maybe? I reckon we look pretty thin if you take Boyd out of that structure.
 

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I don't think the comparison is close IMO.. I compare us now to 2004 when we had a few good players coming through, but needed someone to guide us in the right direction. Could Bev be one better than Eade to take us through that journey? I hope so.. I don't want the club to go down that rhode again....
 
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