WITH the 2021 Toyota AFL Premiership season up and running, naturally, Damian Barrett’s Sliding Doors is also up and about.

So what’s Damo saying about your club? What’s he saying about the AFL? Check it out.

Oh, and be sure you tune in to AFL Daily as Nat and Damo put the spotlight on all the big issues. Check it out.

IF …

the Crows can do what no other team has managed in 2021 and beat the Demons (and also defeat the Cats)  …

THEN …

it’s inconceivable they could lose to the Hawks and Pies. They’re up against an undermanned Saints on Saturday and I’m tipping win No.5 for the year.

IF ..

three of the first four weeks were only OK and last weekend’s loss to Melbourne another jolt  …

THEN …

the seven-game stretch from round five to 11 were premiership-worthy. Up to their eyeballs, the Lions, for the 2021 flag.

IF …

the new president says a full-blown review of the football department is required and the old president feels the need to pipe up and say the coach is safe even before that full-blown review starts …

THEN …

that’s the type of mixed messaging and mixed business that has got this club into its football problems. Who’s actually heading the board in 2021?

Carlton president Mark LoGiudice, coach David Teague and CEO Cain Liddle in August, 2019. Picture: AFL Photos

IF …

the coach is told to go after nine-and-a-half seasons and the president then leaves it to the CEO and footy department boss to face the media  …

THEN …

I wonder why. Only two weeks ago, Mark Korda was happy to be on the hustings, handpicking his preferred media as part of his election showdown against Jeff Browne.

IF …

it took 12 rounds …

THEN …

it was probably eight too long. But Nik Cox is now eligible to win the 2021 Rising Star. And if he can maintain his form, he will win it.

IF …

there’s one player on an AFL list in 2021 who deserves a modicum of good fortune …

THEN …

it’s Alex Pearce. Was flying in 2019, in All-Australian conversations. Went down in round 11 that year, not seen in the AFL thereafter until round one this year. And then on that day, was hit with another injury, this time a knee. Back for Saturday’s game against Gold Coast.

IF …

you’ve been doubting this mob …

THEN …

stop it. In my eyes even before Thursday night’s win against Port, the flag faves.

IF …

this club needs a rocket in the back half of 2021 …

THEN …

it may just come in the form of Matt Rowell. Returning from the second serious injury he’s suffered in his 18 months as an AFL player. Just six games to his name, and two of those six ended abruptly with injury. And yet, already his team’s most important player.

IF …

Toby is back

THEN …

lock in the four points against North Melbourne on Sunday.

IF …

when doing your tips for round 13 you got to the Friday night game and wondered what the Hawks were doing in that slot …

THEN …

I did too. Most of their matches for the past two seasons have been unwatchable. There may be reasons to watch tonight though – Will Day returns, and mid-season draftee Jai Newcombe makes his debut

IF …

the Dees have handled the Western Bulldogs and Brisbane in the past fortnight …

THEN …

Collingwood on Monday at the SCG won’t pose a problem.

IF …

there’s a player currently on an AFL list desperately unlucky not to have been awarded an All-Australian jacket  …

THEN …

it’s Robbie Tarrant. So important to the Roos, and great that he gets to play his first game of 2021, after recovering from a very scary medical issue.

Robbie Tarrant in action during the North Melbourne Kangaroos training session on June 2, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

IF …

even before Thursday night’s loss to the Cats, the Power bristled at being called brittle …

THEN …

they’d better get used to it. In 2021, they are. They deal with the lesser teams, found wanting against the best.

IF …

big Nank is out for at least one more match …

THEN …

it’s actually a bonus. It actually forces the Tigers to play Chol, who could be anything.

IF …

the self-inflicted loss to the Swans last weekend was another low in a season already jammed with them …

THEN …

opportunity presents, big time, in round 13, against the Crows. No Membrey, Ross, Geary from last week, already without Gresham, Marshall, Carlisle, Jones, Paton. Who is going to stand up alongside Steele?

IF …

the Buddy body holds up, and please, please, please, footy gods, let it hold up …

THEN …

here comes another extraordinary chapter in this already Australian Football Hall Of Fame legend-worthy career. Bud is tracking beautifully in the eight games he’s managed in 2021. Back under Friday night lights in round 13. Against his old club. I’ve got him down for eight big ones.

IF …

the win in round 12 was courageous, coming without Allen, McGovern, Shuey, Kennedy, Kelly and Duggan …

THEN …

the significance still needs to be tempered, given it came against the regularly disappointing Blues. Allen, Kennedy, Duggan back for the biggest test of the season – the Tigers on Sunday night.

IF …

Aaron Naughton doesn’t kick a bag of eight at some stage of 2021 …

THEN …

I will be very surprised. Near-unbelievable talent.

AND THIS ONE’S FOR THE AFL

IF …

I usually reserve this space to criticise the AFL …

THEN …

not this week. Its ability to keep alive this season of football, to this point without one match being postponed, despite the workings of the state government in which 10 of the 18 teams are based, is next-level extraordinary.

Tickets for the Big Freeze in Sydney match are on sale now. Get your tickets HERE. The famous blue Big Freeze beanies are still available from Coles, Coles Express, Bunnings or fightmnd.org.au, while donations can be made at fightmnd.org.au.