Tonky sees red
Saturday, 25th May, 2013
As Robins’ supporters pack their thermos and don their beanies for the trip over the Hill, they will no doubt be wondering which West team will turn up at Alma Oval this afternoon.
The season for these loyal supporters has been one of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde proportions: Good one week, bad the next.
When Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson wrote his famous novel in 1886 the West Football Club wasn’t around but their year reflects much of what he wrote about. His work and writings are associated with split personalities.
I am not suggesting that is the case with the West players but a quick look at their year so far suggests at least split performances.
In Round 1 they lost to Central in a soft fashion; the following week they had a great win against North; seven days later they get flogged by South; bounced back to beat Central; then last Saturday hardly gave a yelp as they went down by 71 points against the Dogs.
After last week’s effort West coach Dale Tonkin defended his players on ABC Radio.
“We actually got some positives out of the game,” he said. “Ultimately the buck stops with me. It’s the coaching staff’s responsibility to get these boys up and across the board. They never really gave in.”
One of the stark realities of football in a mining town is that all teams have quality players missing on a weekly basis - it’s called a work roster.
This situation should not diminish effort and a good team does not need to offer excuses or rely on coaches to get them up.
This West side has the makings of a good team. We saw that in Round 2 against North. The players need to accept some responsibility and not rely on their coach to rescue them with words.
It disappointed Dale Tonkin greatly that on Tuesday night only five senior players attended training at Jubilee Oval. Speaking to the BDT, Tonkin did not mince his words.
“Disgraceful,” he said. “We can have all these names on paper but if their attitude is not there then what are we doing?”
On the back of this, West today return to Alma Oval where four weeks ago they were belted by 114 points. It won’t be easy as their South opponents are looking good.
The last time they met, West had no answer to Dylan Browne at Centre Half Forward and they failed to hold Jordan Johns in the middle.
When you add the pace and dash of Todd Davidson, throw in the good form of Luke Jones and an impressive showing last week from Ryan Davis, the Roos certainly have the midfield legs to trouble any team.
It does not stop there: Tyson Boland on a wing is enjoying a break-out year and the return of Marcus O’Brien from a groin injury is a real plus.
The other big news from Patton Street is that veteran Billy Dolan is back.
The feisty left footer has not played since last year’s grand final and I expect him to be more like a toey teenager than someone who is just 16 months shy of his 40th birthday.
With this against them, can West win?
In the ruck Matt Nelson will give his players their usual supply of quality ball. Last week South youngster Mitchell Henderson had a good game
in the ruck and later today he will meet the master.
The return of Jono Naden in the middle gives the Robins some run and a touch of class. Cohen Pettitt and Chad Ryan add the pace and ball getting.
It is forward of centre they will need Cynan Smith and Nathan Kickett to stand up against Arlen Bird and Casey Paull respectively.The two key West forwards need to not only provide mobile targets but to impact on the scoreboard.
In their last game against South, West only kicked four goals - a repeat of that performance is simply non-negotiable.
If we take a line through the form guide you can’t see West winning. Their inconsistent form and effort on the training track do not fill you with any great hope.
They are also missing one of their best players, Brent Rose, who will play in a curtain raiser Dreamtime game tonight at the MCG before the Richmond and Essendon clash.
The Robins lack the goalkicking options of South who complement Browne and Henderson with Stephens and Vlatko.
The two veterans may be at the stage where their football brains work faster than their legs but they still represent good value and are a dangerous combination.
The judgement of West today will not simply be based on a win loss scenario - more on the level of effort and passion they bring to the contest.
The game starts 2.30pm.