CrikeySports_markFootball. Isn’t it marvellous? Salary cap breaches are a thing of the past. Life is good.

But it’s been a somewhat quiet week on the football front. This is namely because firstly bloody Carl Williams took football off where it should be — the front page of the newspaper. Instead of finding out that it costs $350 a head to attend Matthew Richardson’s farewell dinner, I’m reliving Underbelly series 1. I don’t care. You know what is interesting? Who did Carl Williams follow in the footy? We had a great yarn about it — and we don’t know. Tell us who and why in the comments below (it doesn’t need to be factual) and the winner wins a date with First Dog on the Moon.*

And secondly, the Melbourne Storm have decided to go and cheat. A little. Actually maybe a lot.

There is so little news around that the doyen of football’s printed word, Mike Sheehan, is writing about how Jordan McMahon should be back playing for Richmond. Jordan McMahon? What’s Mike thinking? I like Mike. I met him once at a Walkley Awards thing. He’s a nice bloke. But … Jordan McMahon? Richmond are 12 times a stronger team without him. You can’t be serious Mike? Tell me you’re joking? I need a laugh after my favourite Icelandic volcano exploded.

But I think he was serious.

To the football…

*by date I mean email, and then again that probably won’t happen

Western Bulldogs vs. Adelaide — 7.40pm Friday April 23, Etihad Stadium

The sons of the west are a little blue at the moment. They lost to Brisbane last week when they should have won. A Fevola inspired Lions went mad in the last quarter to rob the Bulldogs of the win.

“Frustrating,” is how First Dog on the Moon described the game to me.

“The midfield were useless. They ran around like a pack of constipated hens.” (Ed: we know that’s not the correct collective noun for constipated hens. If you know, let us know)

There is no doubt this Bulldogs team contains class everywhere. This week sees the return of inspirational captain Brad Johnson and lad about town Jason Akermanis. They are old. But they are good.

Last week I said that Adelaide were the Corey Haim of 2010. I refute myself. Adelaide are the Eyjafjallajokull of 2010. They are sitting around doing jack shit, wasting everyone’s time, people are downhill skiing (what are you doing Kurt Tippet?), but then, all of a sudden, they are going to explode! But I don’t think it will be this week. What am I talking about? They are way more like Corey Haim than Eyjafjallajokull.

The Dogs still want vengeance from 1997.

Bulldogs by 31

Sydney vs. West Coast — 2.15pm Saturday April 24, SCG

I’m going to throw some numbers at you. 4, 2, 1, 1, 12, 62, 5, 5. Know what that is? It’s the next eight Powerball numbers. Actually, it’s the margin of Sydney/West Coast games going back to the 2005 Grand final, and bar the 62 point hiding the Swans dished out in 2008 these games have been remarkably close. But will it continue this week?

The Swannies are travelling beautifully. Well coached, fit, firing — there’s a lot to like about Paul Roos’ men. Especially that they are all organ donors and rescue old people from cats in their spare time.** Ben McGlynn is a beauty. And so is Dan Hannebery. And Shane Mumford. And… the list goes on. They are currently sitting third on the ladder and enjoy long walks along a moonlight beach.

Nic Naitanui. You may have heard of him. You haven’t? You sure? Nic Naitanui. You have? Of course you have! Hahahaha. Yeah, I have short term memory loss too. Amnesia aside, this kid won the nomination for Round 4’s Rising Star award. All things being equal, he will absolutely romp it in. Last week I tipped against the Eagles. I know. I’m an idiot. But like good foes often do, they proved me wrong. The mission now for John Worsfold’s men is to back it up.

This may be a ripper game.

Swans by 11.5 (yeah I know but it’s the average margin of the last 8 games)

**Not true

Melbourne vs. Brisbane — 7.10pm Saturday April 24, MCG

Big news overnight was that betting on the Melbourne vs. Brisbane Lions game was suspended. Early rumours were that Jonathan Brown had been ruled out due to abdominal complaints. But please dear reader, don’t put money on the Dees quite yet. At least not yet. Jonathan Brown has been named (for what it’s worth)…

Melbourne are 2 and 2. They surprised everyone in beating Adelaide. They surprised no one in beating Richmond. A win against the unbeaten Lions would be something else for Dean Bailey’s chargers but it will be a monumental effort even without Jonathan Brown present. The Demons’ kids are good. Trengove, Scully, Bail, Petterd, Frawley etc. But it’s boys vs. men this week at the MCG.

And then there’s Brisbane. What has coach Michael Voss done? He was my favourite player when he was kicking around, and he’s proving to be one hellavu coach. Brown or no Brown, he had developed a fantastic team. I like the look of Tom Rockliff. And did Voss clone Matt Maguire? He’s a man reborn. And could commentators stop making stupid jokes about Travis Johnstone being a hobo. He has a beard. A beard, people.

Even without Jonathan Brown and with Travis Johnstone’s beard….

Lions by 24

Port Adelaide vs. St Kilda — 7.15pm Saturday April 24, AAMI Stadium

Port had the unfortunate privilege of last week  travelling to Geelong’s home ground, Skilled Stadium, and being thumped. “I’m gonna Russell Crowe your ass” thumped. And speaking of perennial Crikey favourite Russell, Port Adelaide will have to play the part of Robin Hood and somehow steal the premiership points from St Kilda this week, because it’s the only way they are going to get them. Good news for them is that Robbie Gray for his second match in a row is back and will get better every game. The bad news for Port is that they are playing St Kilda.

St Kilda. What can you say about St Kilda? I was at Etihad last week watching Freo play the Saints — and gee they were good. I hate (alright, hate’s too harsh … despise? Is despise OK?)  Stephen Milne — but he tore Fremantle apart last week. When he finishes football he should become a used car dealer. Or a journalist. And Brendon Goddard? He’s a freak. A genuine freak. This St Kilda team has so much talent across the board that even without injured champion Nick Riewoldt they will be too good for Port.

Saints by 31

Collingwood vs. Essendon — 2.40pm Sunday April 25, MCG

It will be ANZAC Day and do you know what that means? Who knows who will win. A packed MCG is something to behold and both teams give their all in this encounter. Doesn’t matter where both teams are on the ladder they [insert ANZAC pun here]. It will be a cracker. Both teams have spent the week watching war movies to gee them up. How clichéd is that? If you want me get angry, make me watch a season of Sex and the City. I’ll f*%king tear someone’s head off.

Collingwood’s Simon Prestigiacomo [insert ANZAC pun here] will be missing due to groin soreness.

Essendon were woeful last week. Woeful. Mark Williams is out and Essendon have brought back in experienced trio Brent Stanton, Angus Monfries and Mark McVeigh. Alwyn Davey has also been named, and his hard running and fearless [insert ANZAC pun here] may make a difference.

Once again, a cracker of a game to look forward to.

Pies by 9

Hawthorn vs. North Melbourne — 5.40pm Sunday April 25, Aurora Stadium

The Tasmanian Hawks find themselves, strangely, in Tasmania. Relentless midfielder Brad Sewell and enigmatic gun forward Lance Franklin are back — which is a massive boost for a Hawthorn team yet to find their mojo. Star recruit Shaun Burgoyne copped a fractured and jaw playing for Box Hill so he won’t be playing for another four to six weeks. The Hawks can’t take a trick. If Richmond’s home ground Punt Road Oval was buried on an ancient Indian burial ground, then Jeff Kennett must have driven over a leprechaun. But they should still be too good for North Melbourne at their second home.

Ben Cunnington. North fans have been chomping at the bit to see this kid in action. Taken at pick 5 at last year’s national draft, Cunnington embodies the North Melbourne ethic. Hard, unforgiving, courageous. If North Melbourne begin their climb up the AFL ladder in the coming seasons, it will be on the back of the likes of Cunnington, Ziebell, Anthony and Bastinac. This is a massive ask for North — but not without hope. It’s disappointing that former Kangaroos defender now Hawthorn man Josh Gibson isn’t playing. I was looking forward to Glenn Archer jumping the fence and whacking him. Oh well.

Hawks by 25

Fremantle vs. Richmond — 6.45pm Sunday April 25, Subiaco Oval

The AFL, yes THE AFL, previewed this match and predicted that Fremantle would win this match by 96 points. 96 points! Oh my Lady Gaga (I promise that’s the first and last time I ever use that expression. But I put it in as a bet). That is perhaps the most overinflated thing in sport since Melbourne Storm’s salary cap. Rhys Palmer is back for Freo after a major knee injury last year and youngster Nat Fyfe has been named for his first game. Yes Fremantle are playing well, and yes they are at home, and yes they should win. But…

Haha. No buts. Richmond won’t win. But they will try. And that’s important. Coach Damien Hardwick is doing all he can with cattle that has too many youngsters, too many crabs and too many young crabs. And Mike Sheehan wanted Jordan McMahon to play! OMG. Mike, you crack me up. And so does the AFL.

Freo by 96.

Geelong vs. Carlton — 2.10pm Sunday April 25, MCG

The Cats are firing. I have a theory. Baldness. I’m not sure where I’m going with this but are bald players better? Ablett. Bald. Freak. Chapman. Bald. Freak. Mil Hanna. Bald . Freak. And so on.

The good news story of the year goes to the Cats’ James Podsiadly. He is 28 years old. He will be marching on Anzac Day as he fought in the 5th Batallion in 1916. He is a hero. And Geelong hasn’t had a cult figure at Kardinia Park since Gary “Whiskas” Hocking.

Carlton minus Judd minus Fevola + McLean = rabble, horrible aimless rabble.

Carlton minus Fevola + Judd – McLean = Very good football team, able to mix it with the best.

Carlton minus Fevola + Judd plus McLean = probably crap. Judd may equal out McLean’s inclusion. Wait and see.

Judd is also bald.

Geelong by 24.