Ugly ‘disgrace’ behind Betts’ masterclass
GEELONG went top as boos rained down on superstar Gary Ablett but it's doubtful the Cats care with only St Kilda level with them on four wins after five rounds.
At the opposite end of the ladder sit Carlton, Sydney, Melbourne and North Melbourne on one win apiece and for two of those sides this season so far has gone anything but to script.
Here are the talking points from round five of the AFL season.
RACISM HAS NO PLACE IN FOOTY OR ANYWHERE ELSE
On a weekend where footy should have been freely celebrating the six-goal haul and possibly Goal of the Year from an indigenous star in his 300th game, it was sadly again talking about racism.
Make no mistake - this should have been Eddie Betts' weekend. In many ways it was, his story from pre-AFL to the heights of the AFL has been retold and he had been revered before delivering another highlight reel performance at Adelaide Oval.
But it was yet again a week where racism, which has dogged Betts and most other indigenous stars in the game, took centre stage as both Port Adelaide star Paddy Ryder and Collingwood and Geelong premiership player Travis Varcoe were subjected to racist taunts online.
The Power ruckman was the subject of racism in the form of social media posts after his side defeated the West Coast Eagles on Friday night.
Ryder wants it eradicated as quickly as possible.
"It's pretty hurtful. It's really disappointing that another Aboriginal man is standing up here with this happening to us again," Ryder said.
"It's an attack on our culture and on our people but we're going to keep fighting the fight.
"We've got a lot of good people supporting us and the AFL is fully supportive.
"We know it's not something that we're going to eradicate overnight so we've just got to keep on it and keep educating people and hopefully one day we'll get there."
One of the commenters is an Adelaide Crows member who has had his membership suspended indefinitely by the club.
Port Adelaide weighed in with a statement on Saturday.
"Racism has no place in the AFL or our society more broadly," it read. "It is divisive, hurtful and not welcome.
"The Port Adelaide Football Club is aware of a racist social media post directed at Paddy Ryder following last night's game in Perth.
"Port Adelaide will support Paddy and its Indigenous players in dealing with the impact of this cowardly and ignorant comment, but it is clear that the AFL and its member clubs must remain vigilant in coming together to eradicate this behaviour.
"Paddy and all Indigenous players across our competition deserve so much better."
AFL Players' Association boss Paul Marsh labelled the incident a "disgrace" on Twitter..
Varcoe said he considered refusing to go onto the field in protest against racist trolls after his wife discovered a racist Facebook page directed at him.
"I have flirted with the idea of maybe not playing, but what good is that to my team?" Varcoe said.
"If we do take that sort of a stand … we just play into the hands of people that are putting out those sorts of comments and that racial vilification.
Varcoe said the racist Facebook page, which included references to sniffing petrol, had since been removed.
"My partner [Kim] found it, which was pretty heartbreaking," he said.
"I'm sure there's a lot more that she's found but she's never really said anything … but this one was pretty over the top.
"When you sign up for this job, you've got to grow a thick skin. But not everyone is built like that and to see someone that you love and care about a lot get so affected by it, that's when it starts to break me down inside."
To those AFL fans who engage in racist abuse of our great players, be better!
BEVO UNDER THE MICROSCOPE
Carlton got their first win in nearly a year and they even kicked 100 points to ease some of the pressure on coach Brendon Bolton.
It was a good day for the Navy Blues. It was, however, a bad day for the Western Bulldogs.
The Doggies have now lost three in a row after what was an impressive start to the season but now their form has been exposed.
Their wins came over the Sydney Swans and Hawthorn - the Hawks aren't bad but the Swans are terrible and the following three weeks have seen them lose to Collingwood, Gold Coast and Carlton.
That comes after two straight seasons of not making the finals after winning the club's first premiership in 62 years in 2016.
Being 2-3 after three straight losses and two to sides that aren't considered contenders does not bode well.
So why are questions not being asked about coach Luke Beveridge's future?
He'll forever be a premiership coach but the Dogs have a list that includes some serious guns including Marcus Bontempelli, Lachie Hunter, Jack Macrae and the team is not getting results and haven't been for some time.
Something has to change for the sons of the west or Bevo has to be given a timeline to turn it around or face the axe.
THE REASON BEHIND SAINTS' SUCCESS
St Kilda have been the absolute surprise packets of the league this season and sit behind Geelong on percentage alone.
Expected to be battling to avoid the wooden spoon, the Saints have strung together wins against the Suns, Bombers, Hawks and Demons, with a five-point defeat to the Dockers the only blemish so far this season.
After just four wins last year, the side has already matched that effort. Coach Alan Richardson revealed the differences between this season and last.
"We're winning," Richardson said after the game against Melbourne. "There's no doubt that helps. It means that you get belief in the way you're going to play.
"We've got players moving into games played and years in the system where they should be more consistent and that's happening, but it's still only early.
"We've been really consistent without having stars, with having a solid contribution from everyone."
The season could have been much different with three of the wins by less than a goal.
Former Saints star Nick Riewoldt had a different reason behind the return to the winners circle.
"The major difference for me from watching is the effort. The effort is back," Riewoldt said on SEN last Monday.
"The effort last year wasn't great and when you lose your spirit and it becomes a really tough slog of a season. It is hard to get back. They're playing really good footy; the turnaround has been significant."
"YOU'RE A KNOB" DAMO
We love a good player versus media feud and there probably won't be a better one than this because in having a dig at still playing great of the game Luke Hodge, Damian Barrett picked the wrong target.
Hodge has never been backwards in coming forwards - on the field or off it.
So when Barrett decided to criticise Hodge in his Sliding Doors column on the AFL website a fuse was lit.
The result was Hodge calling Barrett "a knob" in a Twitter post before pointing out the Lions asked him to front the media.
Barrett then offered an apology of sorts, but not really, ultimately sticking to his guns.
"As I've said for at least a half-dozen years, AFL players being miked-up in games offers nothing to the broadcast. Players give about 15 per cent, at best, of the information they have, and it becomes mind-numbing viewing.
"Hodge's offering for Channel 7 on Thursday night was actually better than most. He batted about 46.27 per cent, because he did, within reason, offer conditional insight into the goings-on of the Pies' demolition of his side.
"What I should have said was that you had 'financial arrangements' with Channel 7, given you have been very well paid by that network in the past and will again get paid by it in 2019.
"There's 17 matches remaining in 2019, and the Lions, after a blistering start, have come back to the pack after two dreadful losses.
"They need Hodge to cover for Andrews, and get them back into finals possibilities.
Hodgey, you're an all-time great, an instant Hall Of Famer, and on my vote a straight-in Legend. But you've chosen to play THIS year, so play. Ditch the TV mikes, at least until Andrews returns."
We can't wait for Hodge's next TV appearance, hopefully where someone asks him about Mr Barrett.
'DOWNHILL SKIING' DEMONS TORCHED
If the Saints have overachieved so far Melbourne have done just the opposite.
Widely expected to be competitive in 2019 and pushing for the premiership which has eluded them for the past 55 years, the Demons put forward another listless performance, with legends of the game slamming them.
Dermott Brereton didn't hold back when assessing the Demons and the big issue they're facing.
"They are a team of downhill skiers," Brereton told Fox Footy's Saturday Stretch.
"What we call in league football a 'downhill skier' - when it's going your way, they charge.
"You know how they have the (GPS) monitors in the back of their jumper that tells you how hard they run and how long they ran? I guarantee you 90 per cent of (Melbourne's) midfield - let's say you've got a rotation of eight midfielders through there - at least seven of them would run 30 per cent harder in their team goal direction then going the other way.
Demons coach Simon Goodwin criticised the side, saying they're too easy to play against with a huge turnaround required ahead of the ANZAC Day eve match against the Richmond Tigers.
The 2019 AFL season will be live and on demand on Kayo Sports for just $25 per month for two devices at once on Apple, Android and Telstra TV, for Apple and Google Android smartphones, on web browsers and via Google Chromecast Ultra devices. Click here for your free trial.
The 1-4 Demons have just four-days to recover with Demons skipper Jack Viney admitting Goodwin's comments "hurt absolutely".
"We go out there to be the best versions of ourselves and as a collective we want to play hard footy and we want to win," he said.
"We're not doing that and as a result we're not winning. We've got to change that."
Former Melbourne coach and Swans premiership mentor Paul Roos doesn't believe the Demons can change this season, calling the side a "bottom four team" in the Herald Sun.