Footy is Back

The footy is back. You can smell the pig leather, and the cut grass, and the lime, as the NAB Cup gets underway. Some argue that a punt on the pre-season competition is fraught with danger, because you never know who’s going to be sent out onto the paddock, and hence, which teams are making a play for it.

It’s not.

Because winning on the NAB Cup is not an exercise in working out who is the best team in 2012, it’s about working out which club has most to gain from winning now.

Hence you have to consider other parameters.

Here are some of them:

Teams with new coaches tend to try hard in the NAB CUP. If you didn’t already know that James Hird was a genius look at how he approached the NAB Cup last season. It was a PR exercise for him. He knew if he got his boys mega-fit early, picked his best side, and implored them to have a dip, they’d do well, and he would be heralded as the wunderkind wonder-coach. Which is exactly what happened. By mid-season he had a similar record to Matthew Knights, yet Jim-bob was hero to Knights’s villain.

The NAB Cup is about new coaches winning the fans early, and impressing the Board.

Teams with new coaches in 2012: Freo, Melbourne, St. Kilda, Western Bulldogs, Adelaide.

Teams needing to bolster their membership numbers know that early-season success is a key to building numbers. Melbourne and the Bulldogs definitely need members.

Teams with talented young lists where some blokes are playing for their spot in Round 1 of the real-deal also tend to do well. That is not St Kilda, and not Freo. It is Melbourne.

Teams which are trying a whole new approach to the game, where tired old footballers are given a zap, can do well. That is St Kilda and it is Freo.

So now it’s a matter of looking at the draw. Melbourne travel to Queensland to play the two local sides up there in the shortened version of the game, but have a tough draw in the second and third rounds, playing Collingwood and Hawthorn. Freo have a brilliant draw: West Coast, Essendon and Richmond in Perth and then Port at Victor Harbour.

So Freo might be the one . Mmmm: those TattsBet bookies are no dills. They’ve kept the Dockers safe. And Melbourne ..

Then again you could just back the fave, Hawthorn at ., because they will be keen after last September.

If you do back the Demons, though, you have to weigh this up in your mind: the Melbourne Football Cub, or Black Caviar? Which is more likely to salute?