SwansCast Episode 12 - Shoot out at the 'G

Good morning all, it's Wednesday and that means it's time for another instalment of your favourite Swans podcast, the SwansCast.

We've been busy at the blog recently, and while news and articles have only trickled in, we've been busy keeping up with the latest Swans news, not to mention traveling west to watch the mighty Swans stick it up the Crows, and the AFL.

John Longmire was understandably proud of the Swans' performance after the match, but refused to be drawn into comments on the umpiring, which was quite frankly disgraceful.

When asked directly for comment on the umpires, he responded that the AFL had directed the clubs and coaches not to comment on their performances, or risk being fined.

It's an absurdly heavy-handed tactic by the AFL, especially in the wake of the Tigers Cats game, when Hardwick claimed that the home crowd had influenced the umpiring decisions, as was blatantly evident in the Crows-Swans game on the weekend.

The penalty for just speaking negatively can be a $20,000 fine, and repeat offenders risk a $100,000 fine, which is unbelievably ridiculous. Even Max Gawn received a talking to for his light hearted jab at the AFL rule book.

https://twitter.com/gawndog37/status/896651169400889344

"Over recent months there have been several public comments made by senior AFL coaches and players that have related to AFL umpiring performance," Dillon told AFL.com.au.

"Whilst it should be noted that each individual issue has been managed directly between the AFL and the relevant club, I would like to take this opportunity to remind all AFL club coaches, players and staff of their responsibilities under the AFL regulations."

"It should be noted that any public comments made going forward may be subject to sanctions."

Umpire criticism has been a regular theme throughout the season, and it's certainly been deserved with some terribly atrocious decisions, and even worse, non-decisions influencing games, and even influencing results.

The most public of which on Friday night was the Eddie Betts' 50 metre penalty for tackling Callum Mills. Never mind the disgraceful inconsistency for almost 120 minutes before hand.

He brushed past the laughably bad decisions the umpires were making throughout the match, and on top of which, the AFL and Hayden Kennedy as the umpires representative felt it was necessary to criticise the penalty, and even claim that Franklin had run too far.

"What we would have liked in that situation would be the umpire quickly call play on," head AFL umpires coach Hayden Kennedy said on Monday.

"What we saw was Mills control the ball, and in our belief, he then made an effort to play on.

"The expectation is from us is when Callum did go forward on the mark and go through the play-on motion, our expectation as a group is to call play on."

"That would have been the best result for us."

It was a confusing response, from a clearly biased organisation that saw fit to single out one moment of the game that didn't influence the result, where so many others before it almost had - for example, Charlie Cameron's free kick for Betts' 2nd goal.

https://twitter.com/theswansblog/status/899063384938758144

Did Mills play on? He probably did, but what about the touch-football rules that Adelaide played by and received free kicks for nothing, some even invented, and the constant scragging, slinging and head high tackles on Swans players. The best thing the AFL could have done after the Friday night debacle was not comment.

It really makes you wonder sometimes.

John Longmire's comment earlier this season that the AFL needs to make umpires full-time professionals is more prominent now than it was at the time, and is perhaps one of the best criticisms of the management and training of the umpires for years.

Here we are 6 months down the track and it still rings in my ears, as if he said it five minutes ago.

“I think in an general sense — put the Grand Final to one side — we need to put more resources into umpiring and umpires need to spend more time looking at their craft.”

“It’s very difficult having the whole industry full-time and to have the part-time umpires ... (but) Paul Roos has been talking about it for 10 years and it hasn’t got there.

“I think whatever you do the more time you spend working at your craft, you get better at it.

“Certainly it’s a pretty important part of the game and it’s a pretty complicated game to umpire, hopefully more resources get thrown at it.”

This year, just off the top of my head, Hardwick criticised the umpiring after their loss to the Cats and Richardson earlier this season claimed that the "noise of affirmation" influence umpire decisions.

“Our game is very grey, particularly from an umpiring perspective, and it’s one of the beauties of our game. But particularly with issues like holding the ball,” Richardson said on Fox Footy’s AFL 360.

“You go in there — did he duck, did he have prior opportunity, did he dispose of the ball incorrectly? The umpire has to weigh all of this up. And then there’s this incredible noise that potentially gives the umpire some form of affirmation, or if you’re an opposition player there’s no noise. There’s no affirmation.

“My experience is that it’s the no calls that are a bigger issue. We were frustrated and disappointed with some of the sloppy stuff in terms of tackling but on the flip side, some of those that like for like we could’ve got, we didn’t get.

With the AFL clamping down on club officials and players' commentary on the umpires, comments like these will be rare in the future. It's quite unbelievable that the AFL has gone to extreme lengths to stamp out criticisms of the umpires, yet is putting no where near enough time, money and energy into improving the umpires standards.

Coaches, players, officials, administrator, support staff, physios, some doctors, psychologists, sports massagers and therapists and various other support personnel, even marking, events, social media and advertising staff are full time, yet the only people that aren't full time, in a professional sport, are the umpires.

You can't help but expect another repeat 2016 grand final going by the quality and consistency throughout this season, it simply hasn't been there.

Regardless of the umpires, Friday nights' win was massive for the club, a real confidence booster, and proof to the players that they can mix it with anyone at home and away.

It's a shame that top 4 seems so close, yet so far away, and relies entirely on the results of other teams. So if St Kilda and the Suns can do the Swans a massive favour, beers all round!

In this weeks episode, I'm joined by Heather Quinlan, former Sydney Morning Herald journalist, and well known from the Facebook group Interstate Crew.

We discuss the weekend's results, the terrific Swans win, and have a chat about the umpires, reserves and the road ahead.

As always, it's another great episode, so kick back, enjoy a coffee and listen to us discuss the Swans.

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Got a question, a comment? You can send us an email anytime throughout the week to swanscast@theswansblog.com, or drop us a line on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #SwansCast.

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Enjoy the podcast and more to come throughout the week.

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Justin Mitchell

Justin is a passionate AFL and Sydney Swans supporter, and football blogger since 2016. All articles are of his own opinion. You can reach him by twitter and Facebook at @theswansblog

Melbourne, Australia http://theswansblog.com

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