Last night onFox Footy Channel’s League Teams, Essendon runner John Barnes said that not only
had the Bombers trained the house down this week – it was the best training he’d
seen at the club for the last two years.

Now an inside tip like that,
however innocently and so casually delivered, from Barnes, was, as Dunstall rightly
reasoned, exactly the kind of information footy punters out there set great
store in. So if you tune in to
tonight’s sold-out St Kilda v Essendon game, take
special note of whether the Nine commentary team mention there’s been a
flood of late money on the Bombers, which would surely be attributed to the
“Barnes factor” – because otherwise St Kilda should be a short-priced favourite.

It’s also the 200th
game for the best full-forward in the competition since Tony Lockett retired,
but Matthew Lloyd is no longer the unrivalled target man of years
gone by as he battles to overcome an injury depleted season and a
modern game that now seems to consider a reliance on your gun full forward to
help kick you to victory too one-dimensional.

Somehow the thought that the game might be passing by our love of
full-forwards kicking the big bags, would rob footy of one of its
richest traditions. In that regard Matthew Lloyd could do us all a
favour tonight by reminding us again why all AFL fans love the
full-forward, who stands ever ready in the goal square to conjure up
all manner of unlikely goals, more than any other position on the
field.

Somehow you
get the feeling Essendon might well have trained for just such a scenario
tonight.

Peter Fray

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