SHE MAY bleed yellow and black, but CHERYL CRITCHLEY is not relying solely on emotion to have the Tigers claiming another flag in 2018:
THE HATERS are having a ball predicting Richmond’s imminent demise. After winning three 2017 finals by an average 45 points, then preparing professionally and enthusiastically for 2018, there is no reason why the Tigers can’t enjoy more premiership glory this year.
Here’s my finishing order for September:
- Richmond: The Tigers have room for improvement if they can avoid the heartbreaking close losses and blow-outs they suffered last year. More consistency will guarantee finals action and give the Tigers every chance to go back to back.
- ADELAIDE: After turning up to the 2017 Grand Final thinking all they had to do was turn up, the Crows won’t make that mistake again this year. They’ll be hungry and determined and capable of anything – if they get rid of that ridiculous pre-match stance.
- SYDNEY: Always thereabouts, if Sydney’s stars can stay fit and Lance Franklin fires consistently, the Swans are a monty for top four.
- GWS: A manufactured team of champions does not make a champion team. But it more or less guarantees a top four finish. The rest depends on whether the Giants can gel as a team and reach their potential.
- WESTERN BULLDOGS: The Doggies will be knocking on the door again, but their fate will partly depend on whether the teams around them improve as much if not more than them.
- ESSENDON : For most of us, it’s “too soon” to accept Essendon as a power again, but they have the list and the coach to make the eight.
- PORT ADELAIDE: Showed potential in 2017 but fell at the first hurdle. If things go right they’ll make the eight this year.
- GEELONG: Geelong will go deep into the finals IF Dangerfield, Selwood and Ablett avoid major injury. But with Danger and Ablett already battling hamstring issues, that is a big if.
- MELBOURNE: The darling of the pundits, many are picking Melbourne to leapfrog other teams into the eight. I can’t see them displacing those above them.
- HAWTHORN: The Hawks will either collapse in a heap this year or bounce back. Given the determination and leadership of Alastair Clarkson and Jarryd Roughead, I’d back them to climb a few spots.
- FREMANTLE: Should improve on several disappointing years, especially if Nat Fyfe stays fit and fires.
- WEST COAST: Can’t see the Eagles making a big impression this year.
- BRISBANE: Showed some promising signs in 2017 and will improve. The question is by how much.
- ST KILDA: If the planets really are aligning, you’d think it would be St Kilda’s turn for premiership glory in 2018, following the Bulldogs’ and Tigers’ fairy tales. But it probably won’t happen.
- COLLINGWOOD: I can’t bring myself to put these mortal enemies any higher.
- CARLTON: Will be cursed by last year’s most pathetic banner in the history of the AFL, which read: Richmond’s five-year plan has become a disaster, the vision impaired like Dusty’s barber. Er, no guys.
- NORTH MELBOURNE: Haven’t forgiven them for “resting” half the team before the 2015 elimination final.
- GOLD COAST: Enormous disruption due to the Commonwealth Games is not going to help a side already struggling on and off the field.
Premiers: The Tigers can make it two in a row.
Brownlow Medallist: Dustin Martin can replicate his 2017 form if he stays fit and his team stays thereabouts. I always said that if Dusty got himself 100 per cent fit and Richmond won enough games he’d win the Brownlow, which could happen again.
Author: Cheryl Critchley
Cheryl Critchley is a freelance journalist, AFL Fans Association vice-president and Richmond member who attends games with her husband and three kids – if she can drag them along. She also wrote Our Footy: Real Fans vs Big Bucks (Wilkinson Publishing).