When Buddy Franklin surprised the football world and selected Sydney over Greater Western Sydney my respect grew for him instantly. This decision showed he didn’t want to waste the best years of his already brilliant career taking the easy money whilst battling away with a group of players not yet ready for September action.

Once Franklin chose the far more talented team in Sydney he must have known he would face off against his former teammates in Hawthorn in a crucial match of the season, but possibly not the biggest game of the year. The signing of Franklin gave Sydney the most potent forward line seen in recent history in the AFL. This weekend Franklin, Tippett, Goodes and Reid will be the most powerful forward line the MCG has seen since Ablett, Lockett, Loewe and Lyon graced the Victorian team in the 1995 State of Origin clash, best remembered for the emotional lap of honour for Ted Whitten.

Franklin will be the most talked about player all week, not only is he the most talented bloke on the ground, but his defection from the reigning Premiers in Hawthorn creates the perfect story for the various media outlets. We will hear about selection dilemmas throughout the week, Cyril Rioli will get a few mentions in the beginning of the week (Clarkson would be foolish to play someone so underdone), but come the final 72 hour countdown Buddy will be the most mentioned player throughout Melbourne and Sydney.
On the surface the recruitment of Franklin to the harbour city has proven to be a very wise one, but let’s not forget Franklin still has 8 more years remaining on his contract and has already missed a few games this season with knee soreness. Not many people hold must confidence in Franklin seeing out the full nine years of his contract, but at a reported $10 million dollars for the almost decade long contract we have to ask ourselves “Is Buddy worth the $10 million?”

Most supporters would take Franklin in an instant, but the length of the contract is a major worry, and bucks the current trend of players struggling to continue their AFL career once they reach 30. Although Franklin is a key position player, and should play longer than the average footballer the club needs to complete its due diligence and make sure Franklin sees out the maximum amount of his contract.
We all know the problems faced with Sydney and the controversy surrounding COLA (Cost of Living Allowance). Sydney supporters aren’t known for attending matches during the tougher times, and this increases the AFL’s keenness for them to continue their success over some of the lesser teams in the competition. The AFL will always have the best interests of Sydney at heart but has publically stated the Franklin contract will be taken into account for the full length of the contract.

So is the Buddy Franklin contract worth the $10 million price tag? 2014 was an outstanding year for the key forward and this won’t continue for the contract duration. I have created ‘Buddynomics’ so we can track the success of his career, and see if Sydney are getting value for money in one of their biggest deals in the history of the league.

Task                                                                     Value                                       2014
Win the Grand Final                                             $750,000
Make the Grand Final                                          $500,000                                YES
Play 16+ games in the Season                            $400,000                                YES
Major Medal (Norm Smith, Coleman, Brownlow) $200,000                                YES (Coleman)
70+ Goals                                                             $200,000                                YES
Play Retires Early                                               -$500,000                                 NO
Plays <10 games                                                -$250,000                                 NO                                                            Sydney don’t make finals                                   -$150,000                                 NO

After a brilliant 2014 Franklin is currently on $1.3 million, with the potential to increase to $2.25 million. This would put the key forward well on track to return some of the $10 million paid for the star.
At the end of the day if Franklin helps Sydney win even one Premiership most will argue his recruitment has been justified, and rightly so.

We will never know if Sydney could’ve won the 2014 Premiership without Franklin, but we will know by about 6pm Saturday night if Buddy has delivered the ultimate prize to Sydney.

The Three Tenners – Week Four

Last week saw only one return, but at least the account stayed in the black. My form resembles that of Carlton Football Club but thankfully I have the full support of the board. To my loyal ten readers please stick with me, things will improve. Just remember Rome wasn’t built in a day, and ‘The Trip Fund’ needs to get me to the USA in September.

Here is this week’s bets, remember gamble responsibly and don’t forget in Australia its Masters Monday. Hopefully the boss lets you get to work a little later than normal.

Bet One – Single

A Port Adelaide fadeout cost them the four points against North Melbourne last week but Saturday they play a 0-3 Brisbane Lions.   The Lions were terrible last week and will be no match for the Power, take Port Adelaide at the line.

Port Adelaide -36.5 Return $19.20

Bet Two – Double

Back to England and the Premier League. Newcastle was deplorable last week against Manchester United and will lose to Stoke Saturday night. Everton are flying after their win against Arsenal and are hunting a Champions League appearance. The Championship bound Sunderland will be no match for the high flying Everton.

Stoke/Everton Return $38.70

Bet Three – Treble

The final weekend of the A-League and the battle for finals positions is on. On the pitch we will farewell some champions but as always its results that matter. Western Sydney will have too much to play for against Harry Kewell’s Melbourne Heart, if Western Sydney win 2nd place and a week off is theirs, a loss could spell disaster. Brisbane Roar has top spot already sewn up but Mike Mulvey won’t be resting of his laurels (or any players). Berisha is back and Central Coast looked shaky last week. Alessandro Del Piero’s Sydney only needs a point to finalise their top six position but Frank Farina needs a win to give the players the confidence they need for a successful finals campaign.

Western Sydney/Brisbane/Sydney Return $63.10

That’s all from me this week, enjoy the weekend.

The Trip Fund: $13.23 Probably won’t even get me out of Zone 2 in Melbourne for a day of fun on the Metro. Maybe I’ll ride my bike and grab some fish n chips for lunch.

The Three Tenners – Week Three

After a poor week last week I am back, ready to back some winners. Port Adelaide saved me from a complete disaster and saved some minor blushing from the author. This week provides a new hope and plenty of sport to add to ‘The Trip Fund’. I have decided to put Rugby League on the backburner this week, with my lack of knowledge clearing showing with last week’s tips. The A-League, Premier League and AFL await this week.

Bet One – Single

Manny Muscat joins a long queue of players unavailable for Wellington this week as they take on Sydney this Sunday. For Sydney this is a must win clash after a draw last week in Melbourne. For Wellington the season is over, and the end of season trip is the main thing on their minds. Sydney has to win to keep the advantage in the finals race against Newcastle. Ignoring a gut feeling I am backing Sydney but cannot put them in a multi.

Sydney $1.75 – Return $17.50

Bet Two – Double

Grand Final rematch and no Luke Hodge points to a Fremantle win for me. The Hawks were lucky to get over the line last week and Fremantle has been at their relentless best. Football – The Ross Lyon way, it might not be attractive football but its winning football. I will probably resort to checking the AFL app on my phone whilst this game is on so I don’t have to watch 2 hours of Lyonesque (No, that isn’t a word kids) abysmal football. I have doubled this with another horrific idea by the AFL, Sunday night football. Essendon should be too good for Carlton; it might be fun to tune in halfway thru the third quarter when Blues fans are calling for the head of Mick Malthouse on a platter.

Fremantle/Essendon $3.25 – Return $32.50

Bet Three – Treble

Its FA Cup semi-final weekend and Arsenal take on the defending champions, Wigan Athletic. Yes that’s right Wigan. Remember them; they played in the Premier league recently. Sadly for Wigan fans (I don’t think any of them are reading this) I think the fairytale will end this weekend at the hands of red hot favourites Arsenal. Adelaide United is back in front of their home crowd against Melbourne Heart. Fans at Hindmarsh have been treated to some great football and Friday night will be no different. If the Lyonesque football gets too much for you tomorrow night find SBS2 and watch some of the round ball, there is a chance you will see more goals too. Finally I have thrown Port Adelaide into the mix as they travel to Melbourne to play North. Last week they were very impressive and based on this I am prepared to take the $1.77 on offer. Fingers crossed.

Arsenal/Adelaide United/Port Adelaide $3.92 – Return $39.20

The Trip Fund $25.48 (-$13 last week)

The Three Tenners – Week Two


Last Week

Apart from North Melbourne not showing up against Essendon, last week was a successful week. I managed to double my money and open ‘The Trip Fund’ tipping five out of six results. The Dodgers saluted for the double in Sydney, and a 90th minute winner to Tottenham saved my bacon and give me a return of $68.48; not bad from an outlay of $30. Now onto next week and thankfully the good people at the AFL have given me a full schedule to choose from after their debacle of the opening round.

Here are my Week Two selections, fingers crosses we can keep the account in the black.

Bet One – Single

Port Adelaide to win Showdown XXXVI. (36 for those who don’t remember roman numerals, shame on you) Adelaide Oval plays host to South Australia’s biggest home and away clash, Port Adelaide showed a clean set of heels in the last quarter against Carlton and I expect them to get the four points over Adelaide.

Port Adelaide $1.70 – Return $17

Bet Two – Double

Back to the Premier League for our double again this week and another blockbuster. Manchester City travel to Arsenal and at $2.10 are too good to pass up. Fellow high fliers Everton travel to Championship bound Fulham and should continue their winning run. Both teams won 3-0 midweek and hopefully both will get the three points again.

Manchester City ($2.10)/Everton ($1.80) – Return $37.80

Bet Three – Treble

Playing it a little safe this week taking three well priced favourites. First up is A-League Champions Brisbane Roar taking on Melbourne Heart. I see this as a ‘Men v Boys’ clash as Heart look towards the future and Brisbane look at a finals campaign. Next I have chosen Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs in the NRL.   All three teams are well priced and should salute.

Brisbane ($1.57), Sydney Roosters ($1.45) and South Sydney Rabbitohs ($1.36) – Return $30.96

That’s it for this week, if you’re having a punt over the weekend, but don’t bite off more than you can chew; especially if downing your favourite amber fluid at a fine drinking establishment.

The Trip Fund – $38.48 (Return train trip from Melbourne to Nagambie with a Pie and Coke from the local bakery, take some time out to see the Black Caviar statue)

The Three Tenners – Week One


I have decided to dip my toe in dangerous waters and starting a weekly betting blog.  Dangerous for two reasons; firstly I’m the ultimate mug punter and secondly meeting the demands of a weekly blog.  Oh well here goes nothing.

Firstly I’d like to point out I’m not a massive fans of betting on the horses, trots or the dogs.  I’m much happier betting on sports and sports that I will actually watch or have a following of.  Apologies if you were looking at ‘The Three Tenners’ for advice on the Norwegian curling or Dapto dogs.

Every week I plan to have three $10 bets, and a light hearted look at the sporting weekend ahead.  Feel free to follow my advice, or blatantly ignore it, one hopes ‘The Trip Fund’ will stay in the black.

Week One

What a week of sport we have ahead of us.  MLB comes to our shores for the first time, the AFL continue their ten day opening round and the English Premier League battle heats up.  With Union, League, AFL, Football, MLB, NBA and everything else going on there is plenty to choose from.  Here goes nothing.

Bet One – Single bet

LA Dodgers – Win both games in Sydney series ($2.55)

It’s only early in the season but expect the Dodgers to make a fast start to the season.  Last season they finished 11 games ahead of the Diamondback and this season should be no different.  Last season the Diamondbacks had a 10-9 head to head advantage but Sydney will be a different story.

Return – $25.50

Bet Two – Double

Chelsea ($1.91) and Tottenham ($2.25)

Getting to the pointy end of the Premier League season and Chelsea will be keen to keep to spot with a win against London rivals Arsenal.  The game should be an absolute cracker with much on the line for both teams.  On Monday night Tottenham host Southampton to keep their European hopes alive.  Everton and Manchester United are hot on their tail and Spurs will need a repeat of their 3-2 win earlier in the season over the saints.

Return – 42.97

Bet Three – Multi

West Coast 40+ ($2.50) North Melbourne Over 15.5 ($2.20) Adelaide United ($1.80)

West Coast has a great record over the Bulldogs and has shown great preseason form.  North Melbourne has never won a first round under Brad Scott but they should account for Essendon coached by a nervous Mark Thompson.  Adelaide United will be too strong for SydneyFC at Hindmarsh and are great value at $1.80

Return – $99 ($9.90)

The Trip Fund: $0.00

Betting account: -$30 (This week’s bets)

The writer of this takes no responsibility for following his poor betting advice.  Remember if it’s no longer fun walk away or delete the betting app form your mobile phone.

Storm in a D cup

I’m not sure if it was the slippery conditions, the closeness of the contest or actually seeing the game live, but I actually enjoyed a game of rugby league. Don’t get me wrong, sure I’ve watched plenty of matches on television in the past, and another one live but up until this point haven’t had much desire to attend the unskilled (okay, apologies less skilled) game those north of the border refer to as league.

I tend to watch 5-10 games of league during the course of the season; the three State of Origin contests, grand final and the occasional Melbourne storm game. To me watching any more games would be as pointless as a rugby league scrum (see I’m even using the terminology). Through a Facebook competition (Thank you Team Up Victoria – see link at the bottom of the page) I managed to swindle some tickets for the clash against the Penrith Pink Panthers and arrive just before kickoff.

The game contained impressive big hits and tackles throughout the match (think when AFL was called VFL and you were actually allowed to tackle), a few superstars of the game (Cam Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk), and even some cheerleaders. The quality of the match wasn’t super impressive, and I think Billy Slater has a poor game by his standards but because of the final result and last minute win for the home team it was thoroughly enjoyable. The rain probably didn’t help the players but you could see both teams should finish in the top half of the table.

Penrith seemed unlucky during the contest, and appear to be a team on the rise; although this could just be because I thought they were terrible at the onset. Storm has been one of the better teams of the last few years (extra payments included) but could be in for a tougher season in 2014. Having a limited knowledge of the rules helped me enjoy the game as I failed to become frustrated at poor refereeing decisions; maybe Ben Williams applied this to his performance on Sunday at the Melbourne Heart match.

Three observations I did make over the course of the match were
1) It was good to see Vulcan from Gladiators back in the public arena (Jamal Idris)
2) Sisa Waqa is a very good player for the Storm and a crowd favourite, next time I attend a match I promise to call out your name as opposed to “Go number 2”
3) Storm D (defence) is an absurd but fun concept. Sure I don’t think it made too much difference to the end result but it got the crowd involved which was fun.


It will never be the most skilled football game, but it provides a night of entertainment and I will be back again for more. One thing is for sure, Melbourne Storm gave me more joy than Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park over the weekend.


Follow the Team Up Victoria Facebook page to win some great prizes


So Happy Together

When I received a phone call during the week offering me a chance to #OwnTheExperience I couldn’t believe my luck.  Melbourne Heart wanting to reward me for being a foundation member writing the occasional passionate blog about the club.  Six of us hand selected by the club from various sources.


We started with a brief tour of AAMI Park, Australia’s finest football venue.  We met in one of the many corporate boxes where we were briefed on our days activities, we would be pitch side for the duration of the must win clash and even learnt a thing or two about AAMI Park.  Did you know that all home teams have lost their debut match at AAMI Park, me either.  During our quick tour around the stadium, and walk up the player race, something most fans only dream of, it may not have the history or mystique of the Anfield tunnel but just to make that walk was pretty special.

Next on the list was an opportunity to discuss the excellent community program run by General Manager (Community) Sue Crow.  Today’s theme was Indigenous round and she explained that some lucky children from Mildura United made the six hour bus trip to Melbourne to get the opportunity to play a mini soccer match at half time.  Sue stated that the club try to reward those less fortunate and it’s a credit to all those involved.  Only a few weeks ago we saw some ‘Street Soccer’ players many participants were sellers of ‘The Big Issue.

Tonight we would see a “Welcome to Country’ ceremony performed by Auntie Joy on behalf of the Wundjeri people.  This was the third time in as many season Heart had been involved in the indigenous program and it’s something they wish to continue.  The players were welcomed on the pitch by didgeridoo and David Williams had specially designed boots for the occasion.

This is when phase two of the #OwnTheExperience kicked it, the first performance of new club song ‘So happy together’ I admit I was sceptical when I heard this song was chosen but all that scepticism lifted when I heard the Yarraside and the rest of the crowd in full voice.  From the bench the song was incredible, from the first moment ‘So happy together’ wasn’t a song any more, it was an anthem.

Time for kick off and my seats were the best I have ever experienced at an event.  I was sitting just metres behind Adelaide coach John Kosmina, watching my Melbourne Heart play; somebody pinch me.  We made a dream start to the match when Josip Tadic found the back of the net just after five minutes.  This put the rapturous crowd on cloud nine and for the first 20 minutes of the match the noise from the crowd were the loudest it had been all season; largely thanks to the great #OneMelburnian campaign and the club initiative of opening the active area to a larger audience.


Our touchline seating gave the opportunity to see how quick and physical the league actually is.  Quick foot skills, fluent passing and crunching tackles give a different perspective when you take it all in from ground level.  When Matt Thompson layed one of his many tackles right in front of us I could feel it from my seat just a few metres away.

Half time was here and we were allowed onto the pitch to watch 10 lucky foundation members play a five a side match.  The match was a kick and giggle affair but it allowed the selected foundation members the opportunity to run around on the pitch in front of their mates and for a lucky few even score a goal.

The second half commenced and the nerves started to kick in, we needed to maintain our shape, and take the points.  Enter Richard Garcia, after a standout first half Richie was rewarded by excellent team play and found the back of the net to put the Heart up 2-0.  Over the later stages of the match Andrew Redmayne proved some doubters wrong with some quality saves and great command of the box.  Jeremy Walker was solid once again, and what he lacked in pace against Aaron Ramsey he made up in determination.  Since the departure of Michael Marrone, Walker has found his feet at A-League level and was even backing himself to instruct experienced Socceroos player Richie Garcia.

There was one scare through the Heart camp when Fred once again limped off accompanied by our trainer, Aloisi later confirmed it was a quad injury not the hamstring injury that has been troubling him all season.  At the 83 minute mark a hush came over the crowd as many of us remembered the events of last week in Sydney.  Could we play 90 minutes this weekend? We needed to, our season depended on it.

When the referee blew the final whistle and we rose as one, Melbourne Heart won the clash 2-0 but more importantly played the full 90 minutes.  The players as happy as they were relieved, the fans ecstatic and the 7000 plus crowd went home happy.

I must say getting the opportunity to sit behind John Kosmina was fantastic, the man has football and passion flowing through his veins and his contribution to Australian football is immense.  Although the seats should come with a MA15+ warning it was a great insight to see the coach of his calibre in action.

Our final treat for the night was being ushered to the after match press conference where we got to experience what the likes of Michael Lynch and David Davutovic do on a weekly basis. As a fan this was an incredible experience, and for a bloke who writes football blogs a fantastic insight.  There was no breakdown of match tactics or tough questions thrown at the respective coaches, but to see the happenings of the press conference was fascinating.  We even received an acknowledgement from John Aloisi at the end of his interview; that was the final cherry on top of the #OwnTheExperience night.


This was an incredible one off opportunity provided by the people at Melbourne Heart.  The #OwnTheExperiece gave me an incredible insight of what goes on behind the scenes, on the pitch and after the final whistle.  Sadly the club didn’t reveal all, the identity of ‘Ticker’ is still a well kept club secret.

I can’t thank the club enough for the incredible opportunity this was and the lengths they go to with their fan engagement program.  The next time I walk into AAMI Park to see the Heart boys play, it may not be from the amazing viewpoint as I had this week, but I’ll be there happy to cheer on my club Melbourne Heart ‘From the Stands’.

Friday Night Lights

This Friday night is a red letter day for the Melbourne Heart, a chance for all members and supporters to show that not only are we a well supported club in Melbourne, but we are deserving of a place in the ALeague finals in around 10 weeks time.

To say crowds have been disappointing this season would be an understatement.  Even after a spirited Melbourne derby performance we could only draw 6,303 to a match featuring the reigning champions Brisbane Roar on a perfect Sunday afternoon.  Albeit it was school holidays and I’m sure some of our fans were enjoying the beach while Fred was scoring a second half goal to send us 3-0 up.  The following 30 minutes wasn’t as pretty to watch but what impressed me most was the performance of those ‘From the Stands’.  Brisbane managed to score 2 late goals and had plenty of time to find an equaliser.  That afternoon the crowd rose as one and managed to become the 11th man (Williams was earlier sent off) that we so needed.

I admit this blog would have been far easier to write after the 80th minute of last week’s match against Sydney (when our players decided to stop playing).  It would have read something like this; three wins on the trot and currently sitting in 5th spot come out to watch the red hot Melbourne Heart take on 2nd place Adelaide Untied.  Sadly we conceded two late goals, lost 2-1 to the badly out of form Sydney FC and sit outside the top six.

This Friday night represents our last Friday night game for the season and I believe a strong opportunity to build our ever expanding fan base.  The launch of the #OneMelburnain campaign and the clubs ‘Own the experience’ are key factors in realising financial stability on and off the pitch but these measures can only take a club so far.

The #OneMelburnian campaign is a fan based initiative that encourages existing members to seek out friends and family to attend at least one Heart game with the idea of becoming a member after attending the match.  The goal is for the club to reach 9,000 members.

Next season Friday night matches will be shown in lounge rooms throughout the country thanks to free to air broadcaster SBS and we must show the league and those in charge we do want Friday night football in Melbourne.  This will not only provide great exposure and sponsorship opportunities for the club but give Melbourians a chance to experience Friday night football in the summer months.  Our Aussie rules counterparts thrive on Friday night football, it’s about time we followed their lead.  This is a golden opportunity for the club and we must show we are deserving of such a prime time kick off.

Performance and consistency on the pitch is the one key ingredient the Melbourne Heart has been lacking ever since the inception of the club in 2010.  Sport is a results based industry and sadly Melbourne Heart has failed to deliver in this category.  One only has to look at the leagues newest franchise Western Sydney Wanderers and their debut season, Tony Popovic has performed miracles with that group and the team are receiving unprecedented support.

One does wonder though when the FFA pull the plug on their funding will the club have to resort to things like ice baths in wheelie bins like some other clubs in the league.

The 2012/13 season is shaping up as another wasted season unless we see improvements on the pitch.  We seem to linger around 5-8 on the table, and are losing ground on the top challengers in the league.  On our day we have the ability to be World beaters, but seem to lack the mental strength to string consistent results together.  As an outsider looking is it’s a frustrating results merry go round that we watch.  I’m as impressed with our home form as I am with our inability to win out of Melbourne.  Its 13 months since we have won ‘away’ and this is an issue that needs to be addressed quickly.  Is it our mental fragility, team travel plans or just sheer coincidence?  If this issue isn’t addressed we won’t be winning any titles in our near future.

Our derby form has been suburb this year, and you would have a great case to say we have outplayed Victory twice this year.  Why can’t John Aloisi and the players get themselves up for other games when they perform so valiantly in Melbourne Derbies?

Our squad selections haven’t been helped by injury, or the ridiculous size of the league’s playing squads.  These argument could be used by all 10 ALeague clubs, but it is hardly ideal conditions for a rookie coach to be working under.  The different situations relating to Vinnie Grella and Steven Gray are frustrating and puzzling to say the least.  Vinnie Grella seems to be more injured than Australian cricketing all rounder Shane Watson, and the value of his signature now has to be seriously questioned.  The signing of Steven Gray was a puzzling choice when made, using an visa spot for cover of Colosimo and Gerhardt central defensive position just doesn’t seem right when you are restricted to such a small squad as we are in the league.  Was this decision purely financial or did we believe he was a much needed commodity to win a title? We will probably never know.

The goalkeeper selection has been puzzling for the last four weeks, yes it worked for the first week or two but to have you most experienced and best keeper Clint Bolton sitting on the pine (or plastic Bunnings furniture) is staggering.  To his credit Andrew Redmeyne put his hand up for the error last week in Sydney but you have ask why was he out there in the first place?  Is there a tiff between Aloisi and Bolton or are we giving Redmayne some playing time in an effort to contract his services for next season when Bolton retires.  Whatever the situation Aloisi should have put his hand up for this blunder.

Once again we are in the position of selling our best young talent to help save our bottom line.  This is sadly a reality for most clubs in our league; one only has to look at Central Coast and their shining star Tommy Rogic.  Members have to realise that talent like Michael Marrone and Aziz Behich can only last so long at Heart before they move to wealthier or better standard leagues.  I’m more than happy to see our young talent leave to pursue greener pastures, but my worry is what if we don’t have one or two talented youngsters to sell off to balance the books next season, what happens to the club then.

You may or may not agree with some of the points I have made, but one thing is certain; we need bigger crowds and a bigger supporter base to succeed in this ever improving league.  Heart fans grab your friends, family, neighbours whoever and get along to this Fridays crucial clash against Adelaide United.  Together we can achieve great things, OneMelburnian at a time.

Trials and Tribulations on the Central Coast

The transfer window has created some major buzz by ALeague standards, some players are using this opportunity to change clubs within the league, but what has created most controversy is the decision of Central Coast who could send three of their players on trial during the transfer window duration.

All key players for Graham Arnold and his coaching staff, but the Mariners are a great team and I think the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.  Sure the Mariners are still reeling from there fade outs of the last two seasons, and I can understand fans feeling apprehension towards the proposed moves.

Australia rightly or wrongly follow the American way when it comes to crowning our sporting champions, we must have a playoff/grand final to determine the winner of every competition played on Australian soil.  Forget rewarding the most consistent team for a stellar performance over 27 weeks, let’s reward a team for a 90 minute performance.

This has cost the Mariners Championship supremacy last season, but the new finals system allows Graham Arnold to send some of his best players on a 10 day trial to explore European options.  The finals system rewards the two top teams evenly, both rewarding them with a double chance.  Home ground advantage is given to the Premiers, but the Mariners can play on any ground in the league under the tactically astute Arnold.

Currently 7 points clear from third, with the ability to increase that to 10 points after a win over Melbourne Victory in Tasmania over the weekend.  Such a lead allows the club to send players on trial with the peace of mind that it shouldn’t affect the clubs superior position on the table.  Yes the club deserve this lead, but what good is a 10 point lead with our current finals situation.

Maty Ryan is in the final year of his contract and has expressed he wants to play overseas in the near future to increase his football knowledge and continue his rapid rise in the keeping ranks for the Socceroos.  Ryan has also publically stated he want to win a Championship at the Mariners, but unfortunately for Mariners fans his current contract will force the clubs hand in gaining the best transfer fee for the bright young star.  The bottom line has to take priority at Gosford, and the Central Coast may see a new man between the sticks before the month is out.

Tommy Rogic is a different situation.  I see his trial more a teaser of things to come, and won’t be surprised if we see him back in the ALeague after his trial.  The Mariners have put their faith in the ability of this youngster and want to be financially rewarded for this star on the rise.  The trial at Celtic could create some buzz around Europe, but I don’t see the pockets of Celtic being big enough for the Mariners liking.

Bernie Ibini’s trial is from left field, Ibini has hardly been a standout this year in the league but his talent alone has probably won him a trial.  If he stays he may help the Mariners during the season, but if he leaves his role at the Mariners will be filled quickly.

Sadly our league is a feeder league, and losing young talent is a reality faced by all our 10 clubs.  Fans need to embrace this and seek comfort in the fact the league is growing and bigger clubs are circling out league for our emerging talent.

Graham Arnold and his team should be proud that their production line keeps churning out quality young Australian talent.

Points or Play?

Scorching hot days in Melbourne and an influx of International tourists can only mean one thing.  The tennis world is about to settle in our great city once more.

With so many tournaments and options open to the world’s best players some face a dilemma that has the potential to setup their 2013.  Match practice or ranking points, risk being knocked out of the first round in Brisbane, Sydney or Hobart or guarantee yourself some much needed matches at a venue that is not only setup perfectly for acclimatisation yet set in one of Australia’s most recognisable and iconic sporting venues Kooyong.

Ranking points are precious, especially early in the tournament.  A great January can lay the foundation for a very successful year ahead.  If you are currently ranked just outside the seedings the Australian tennis summer is a very important destination.  Gone are the days where you can catch a few of the bigger names off guard this early in the season with superior fitness.

It’s a double edged sword though, earn points early in the season and you will be under pressure this time next year to defend those points earned.  A quarter final in Sydney not only guarantees some solid points, but a great lead up to the Australian Open.

So what’s the appeal of the Kooyong Classic to those elite eight who decide that Kooyong is the path for them?  Some may give up defending their points for last year, but they gain valuable match practice in the unforgiving Melbourne summer heat.  The tournament directors have secured two big guns in Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin Del Potro.  Both players have the potential to go long into the second week of the Australian Open and Kooyong is the perfect hit out.

Berdych and Del Potro will look to take advantage of the absence of Spaniard Rafa Nadal and will to a potential semi final birth.  Local favourite Lleyton Hewitt is in the twilight of his career and a surprise run of form could see him win one final title on Australian soil.  Marcos Baghdatis will be again the crowd favourite and his matches will be keenly attended by locals.

Another upside of playing Kooyong is that in 2014 you won’t have any points to defend, if the 2013 calendar turns pear shaped you know you have the opportunity to get the 2014 season on the right foot.  The tennis calendar is a long gruelling eleven months of the year and with the talent deeper than ever before, only a fool would be silly enough to see any chance slip by you.

Whatever the decision of the player (or their entourage) both options present great opportunities to all involved to be best prepared for the first grand slam of 2013.