Kerr, Kirk, Buckley: cream to the top

AFL season finished for all but four 6 June 2006

It’s risky business talking about some football teams’ dominance after eight favourites have won in a weekend of AFL.

Going along with the rest of the pack can be dangerous – you’re usually proven wrong.

Example: Chris Judd against Collingwood. So dominant was the champion midfielder that the Brownlow Medal looked done and dusted after round seven.

Newspaper reporters scurried to get their pieces in about how short Judd would start in Brownlow betting and what a good thing he was.

A fortnight later, Judd gets injured and the chances diminished markedly, although he still holds favourtism.

At the weekend, the thrashing Adelaide gave bottom-placed Essendon and the come-from-behind wins of West Coast, Collingwood and Sydney against out-of-the-eight teams indicate the season is over for all except this quartet of winners.

It may be too easy to join the bandwagon, but surely only one of this four can win the 2006 flag.

Certainly the season is over for Geelong. Within a week, the Cats have had losses of immense psychological impact to Richmond and West Coast, both of whom sported poor records at Skilled Stadium. Getting into the eight won’t be as big a problem as counselling these guys back into a winning mindset.

The Kangaroos must also wonder what they have to do to win a game, having Sydney seemingly on toast before submitting; and Brisbane, who showed a bit of puff in previous weeks, just didn’t have the fire to combat Collingwood,  a really serious football team at the moment.

In these three wins, one thing stood out for me – how a great midfielder can inspire and turn the tide of a game that looks over.

FROM THE SHADOWS: KERR ELUDES MICHAEL HURLEY

Daniel Kerr, so long in the shadow of the great Ben Cousins and then both Judd and Cousins, rose to the occasion as he always does when things are at their most dire.

His second efforts have been going relatively unnoticed for years but running second to Cousins in last year’s Brownlow finally brought him to public attention.

Okay, you’re an Eagles fan and you have always loved him but I wonder how many supporters of other clubs have begun to realise just what a proper player he is?

Brett Kirk did the same thing at Manuka Oval in Canberra. The Kangaroos held sway but stopped getting the clearances from centre bounces. There were others helping for Sydney but Kirk stood tallest. He is a very gifted player, often doing the hard work that can go unnoticed.

None of Nathan Buckley’s work goes unnoticed. He is always in the camera’s lens and the irony of his lifting Collingwood to victory over Brisbane was that the champion midfielder did most damage when switched to full forward.

AAP reported: “In a career spanning 14 seasons and 263 games, Buckley can seldom, if ever, have delivered a better performance”.

Given the man’s record, that is high praise.

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