AFL – Could spoon beckon for the Eagles?

Less than four years since flag success, West Coast are staring down the barrel of just their second ever AFL wooden spoon after a horror start to 2022.

Covid wrecked havoc at West Coast in the opening rounds of the season, and most were willing to forgive early losses. The Eagles battled manfully with a host of outs due to pandemic restrictions. Then, in Round 4, they pulled off a huge upset against Collingwood after starting $3.92 outsiders. From there — with a host of premiership players to return — it was assumed they would claw their back, at least into fringe Top 8 contention. Despite sitting at 1-3, they were still $6 hopes of making the AFL Finals with Palmerbet. However since then, the wheels have well and truly fallen off. And with finals now out of the equation (currently $34), it has some questioning just how far they might fall…

Damning defeats

It started with a loss by over 10 goals to the Swans at home in Round 5. Alarm bells were warning, but some brushed that off as defeat to an AFL Premiership contender, all while some senior players had just returned. There were few excuses after the 84-point defeat to Port Adelaide the next week, before the club lurched into full blown crisis mode after the 109-point loss to Richmond at home last weekend. That’s three losses on the bounce, by a combined 256 points for those counting at home.

Even after a Round 1 defeat to the Suns, the Eagles were a distant $10 in Palmerbet’s ‘least wins’ market. Now? Well, they’ve shortened into $3.00. West Coast’s one and only AFL Wooden Spoon came in 2010, when they finished 16th. Now they’re in 18th for their first time ever, and only North Melbourne ($2.00) are higher fancied to take the league’s most unwanted prize.

Dad’s Army

It’s clear that West Coast’s list is ageing, and what makes the current situation more damning is the fact that there are few youngsters coming through to fill the spots. As highlighted on Fox Footy’s On the Couch on Monday night, the club does not have one single player under the age of 23 that has played 20 AFL games. When you consider that the competition has 86 in total (that is, U23s that have played 20+ games), it becomes all the more damning.

Perhaps the best indicator of the club’s struggles at the moment is their percentage, sitting at a miserly 55.3, one of the lowest (after seven rounds) in modern AFL history. This is a club with 10 premiership players — and a premiership coach — still at the helm. They’ve got a huge amount of work to do.