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Shootouts - the best of the old school

Nick Riewoldt is still a player who could feature in an old-fashioned Fantasy shootout
I'M NOT one of those naysayers who think footy was better way back when. In fact, if you watch games from yesteryear, you quickly realise how far the skill and overall spectacle of the game has advanced.

Yet the one thing I do miss is an old-fashioned battle between two gun forwards, and I couldn’t believe it when I read that the famous Paul Salmon/Gary Ablett shootout had ticked over to its 20th anniversary.

I remember that time vividly, mainly because I wore a Sweathog jacket with awful vinyl sleeves while sporting a juvenile mullet. There were obviously no mirrors in the Fantasy household back then. ‘But that was the fashion’ is not a good enough excuse for wearing such apparel.

Back to Ablett and Salmon. For those too young to remember, the gun forwards slugged it out at each end of the MCG in round six, 1993, scoring an amazing 24 goals between them, with the Bombers eventually getting the better of the Cats to win by 24 points.

Exact numbers of tackles, frees for and against and hit-outs are sketchy, but from the info we do have, we know Ablett (14 goals) would have scored around 204 Fantasy points, with Salmon (10) tallying around 160.

What are the odds of Tom Hawkins and Michael Hurley scoring similar in Friday night's top-of-the-table clash? Hawkins averages 65 Fantasy points against the Bombers, while Hurley fares better with an average of 80 when facing the Cats.

Footy has changed, for the better in almost every way, but the leading forwards will find it hard to reach the Fantasy heights of those former greats.

The power forward with the best average against their opponent this week is St Kilda’s Nick Riewoldt, scoring around 99 every time he plays Carlton.

The Blues' resurgence may quell his output, but can Riewoldt return to the days where he would put the them to the sword?

In 2007, the blonde goalkicker scored 138 Fantasy points against the Blues after a stunning nine-goal haul, and scored 95 against them in 2011 without even managing a goal.  

I think we'd all agree that Riewoldt’s best footy is behind him, but his 2013 scores suggest there’s still life in the old warhorse. His 153-point game against reigning premier Sydney in round five was a Fantasy personal best, and he has already managed five scores over 90 this year.

On current form and previous dominance, we could be in for a Monday night Fantasy football special from St Nick.

Mr Fantasy’s trade recommendations

Ins: Nick Riewoldt (St Kilda), Rory Laird (Adelaide)
Getting Riewoldt now means you’ll pay $74,800 more than you would have at the start of the year, but you can’t ignore his current form. With a break-even score of -53, you can’t go past Laird.

Outs: Jack Grimes (Melbourne), Liam Anthony (North Melbourne)
Quality backmen are falling by the wayside, and you can add Grimes to a list that already includes Bryce Gibbs, Beau Waters and Brett Goodes. Despite his side doing poorly, Jed Adcock may be a viable replacement. Anthony’s price is dropping and his form isn’t great. Sell while you can.