Well, it’s here again. After a long summer, we’re finally about to see a football bounced down and kicked around an oval for two and a bit hours again. Perhaps not so much in anger as in indifference, particularly with the competition aspect removed from these pre-season games, but it’s a game of footy nonetheless. And for our black and white brothers and sisters who reside in the Apple Isle, it will be a rare chance to get to see their idols and heroes up close, as well as the young prospects on whose shoulders the future of the club so heavily resides.
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the 2015 NAB Challenge.
For those who are unawares, these are the squads the two clubs named on Tuesday afternoon to contest this match:
1. Alex Fasolo, 2. Sam Dwyer, 4. Brodie Grundy, 5. Jamie Elliott, 6. Tyson Goldsack, 7. Ben Kennedy, 8. Tom Langdon, 9. Jesse White, 13. Taylor Adams, 16. Nathan Brown, 18. Travis Varcoe, 19. Levi Greenwood, 21. Nathan Freeman, 22. Steele Sidebottom (captain), 23. Lachlan Keeffe, 24. Josh Thomas, 25. Jack Crisp, 26. Marley Williams, 27. Tony Armstrong, 28. Ben Sinclair, 29. Tim Broomhead, 31. Jackson Ramsay, 33. Patrick Karnezis, 34. Alan Toovey, 35. Jordan De Goey, 38. Matthew Goodyear, 43. Adam Oxley, 44. Corey Gault*, 45. Jack Frost*
2. Jarryd Roughead, 3. Jordan Lewis, 5. Sam Mitchell, 6. Josh Gibson, 7. Ben McEvoy, 8. Taylor Duryea, 10. Bradley Hill, 12. James Frawley, 18. Jonathon Ceglar, 19. Jack Gunston, 21. James Sicily, 22. Luke Breust, 24. Ben Stratton, 26. Liam Shiels, 28. Paul Puopolo, 29. Will Langford, 30. Kaiden Brand, 31. Angus Litherland, 32. Jonathan Simpkin, 35. Sam Grimley*, 37. Jed Anderson, 38. Dallas Willsmore, 39. Alex Woodward, 40. Billy Hartung, 41. Daniel Howe, 42. Teia Miles, 43. Marc Pittonet, 44. Jared Hardisty*, 45. Jermaine Miller-Lewis*
Whilst we are yet to see the final team sheets yet, we do know that Lachlan Keeffe has come down with what is reportedly a hamstring injury at the minor end of the scale (although with our record, six months would qualify as “at the minor end of the scale”) and as such, will not be available to play in this game. On a related note, the interchange situation will be six men on the bench to rotate with another two as substitutes, so there a few extra spots in which to accommodate some more of our younger brigade, who are really the reason why most of us watch these things.
Congratulations Steele Sidebottom on your debut as captain, al beit in the practice match format, but we all have to start from somewhere. Congratulations as well to Nathan Brown on your first competitive match back since shoulder ended your 2014 season. Best wishes also to Travis Varcoe, Levi Greenwood, Jack Crisp, Jordan De Goey, Patrick Karnezis and Matthew Goodyear on your first senior appearances as Magpies (assuming none of you get left out).
Personally, I would consider a loss of less than 10 goals to this modern nemesis to be a minor accomplishment in itself, given how they blew the pre-season to smithereens last year coming off a premiership and how they have our measure every single Goddamn time, but that’s just me. A win, though, would be very nice, if only to put a temporary sock in Hawthorn’s mouth. Failing that, a real competitive effort and some good signs from the kids would be acceptable to this little black (and white) magpie.
Oh, and it goes without saying, but… NO. FREAKIN’. INJURIES!!!
Footy’s back, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s get into it.
Over to you…