Monday, 25 May 2015

Love Theme from Melbourne Football Club

Given how much time I spent complaining about the media changing their tune on teams several times a week it would be hypocritical to pretend that a single win against a mid-table side represents a great leap forward, but scientists have proven that a Melbourne win produces sunnier weather, promotes the blooming of flowers and heals the sick [citation needed]. So that’s something.

It turned out to be a grand afternoon out at the 'G, but while we're in no way 'back' or have ‘turned the corner’ it was nice to once again confirm that there are teams on our level and that not every week needs to end in a battering. Fair and reasonable people knew this for the last three weeks, I was ready to call in the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse if we got thrashed.

While the lid remains firmly welded down it would at least be polite to admit that after three weeks of complaining about every tiny aspect of team selection, substitutes and anything else to make myself feel better this was a game that was won up and down the board by both players and coaching staff alike.

What happened in the last three weeks aside, and temporarily ignoring conspiracy theories that we effectively rolled over in preparation to be right for this game which is a claim right up there alongside the moon landings being faked, the off-field team appear to have done a spectacular job righting the ship after the Hawthorn debacle. We were always going to bounce back to some degree against a side firmly in our division and I wonder if I'd be similarly complimentary if we'd blown the lead (answer: no) but they did exactly what they needed to do from the start - immediately from the start in Jesse Hogan's case - and absorbed an early period of dominance before comprehensively out-muscling them. And how often do you get to say that about a Melbourne team? Talk to me about the old 17/5 fixture again, I want to play games like this every week let alone the last five matches of the season.

With respect to the rest of the coaching staff I’d like to think the whole thing was masterminded by Brendan McCartney with spite oozing from every pore and Daniel Cross having to tell him to settle down as he screamed bloody murder and demanded revenge against those of his enemies left at the Bulldogs. I'm sure he was actually highly professional about it all but I like to imagine the sort of scenes when Essendon eventually beat us again and both Mark Neeld and Neil Craig sprint down the boundary line yelling indecencies at us.

Contemplating the game during the week I felt that we wouldn't win but that unlike the last three weeks we could, and promised myself that if we did I'd try not to treat it like we'd won the grand final for the third time in eight weeks. In the end I just about managed it other than several joyous outbursts during the last quarter. There was no leaping into the arms of strangers and no throat-shredding rendition of the theme song – just dignified celebrations and enjoyment of a job well done by other people while I was eating a hotdog so unsanitary that it stuck to the wrapper.

Unsurprisingly after a few flat weeks where people started to think I was going to take up rugby union instead the win did wonders for recharging my batteries but roll on next week and do it again and I'll start to get properly excited. As a long-term Melbourne Supporter Depression Syndrome sufferer I'm not conditioned to expect a let-down and my heart can't take it. Ironically as we found out after the Richmond game wins can ultimately lead to even deeper de(e)pression if followed up by a string of heinous performances.

As wonderful as it was to climb off the canvas and temporarily step out of the media circus big top the best bit was seeing players who I'd previously written off playing a starring role. Forget Watts and Toumpas (for now, we’ll get back to them later) let’s hear it for Fitzpatrick and Spencer. When I heard they were turning Puttin’ on the Fitz (or if you prefer, POTF) into a defender at Casey my first reaction was horror, and my second was that even if it worked there he had no chance of translating it into an AFL match. Nevertheless when it was reported that he'd done himself a mischief landing on his head in the VFL last week it seemed like we weren't going to get see the experiment on the seniors anyway but when he came to they must have told him he was Steven Silvagni because he played an unexpected blinder.

Now Tom Boyd is obviously no Jesse Hogan but even at a rate of about $1m per goal he's proven himself to be handy over the last few weeks but never got near it. Fitz had the speed, he had the reach to punch and he had the teammates who ensured he rarely got left in a one-on-one battle. While it makes no sense to compare two players who have absolutely no interaction during the game it's hard not to draw comparison to the other end of the ground where Hulkamania was running wild with pack busting marks, well-taken set shots and even a lightning, instinctive handball that Gary Ablett would be proud of to set up a crucial goal.

Even though they were getting thumped it seemed defeatist taking Boyd off instead of trying to get him into the game another way but they did kick about five goals in a row when he went off so what do I know? He must have been slightly bitter and twisted to be sitting there watching us gift his teammates goals after two and a half quarters of steel trap defence had squashed the life out of him but he'll be back to tear us apart in the very near future. Anybody who escapes from GWS is a good guy in my book.

The best thing about Fitzpatrick playing in defence was that it freed Jeremy Howe to go forward. On an extremely small sample Fitz played a better game in the backline than Howe has all season and while Jeremy did absolutely nothing for the first quarter and a half when he took the screamer at the top of the square it showed exactly why he can be so damaging up front. Imagine being a defender worried about Hogan (and as it turns out Pedersen) carving through the pack, Garlett scooting around at ground level AND Howe standing on your head? I'd be shitting myself. Also gets us on the back pages of the paper and on TV. You wouldn't have him kick a set shot for your life but the fact that he's having them is a step up on most of the people we've played down there.

So while it was odd enough that Fitzpatrick - a man with a career record of 1-18 before last night - was convincingly playing as a key defender and beating up one of the league's next big things what about when you double it with The Spencil running around like Dean Cox. For about two years I was practically his only defender, then the moment I jump off he plays the game of his life. And more power to him for it.

Where would you rank the moment that he stormed out of the centre and hit Pedersen on a lead directly in front of goal in the greatest moments of your footballing life? If you have not said Top 100 then you're kidding yourself. Regular readers will know that my dream in life is to see a players leading straight down the middle of the forward 50 for a teammate to hit them with a pass right on the teet, and while it's easy to imagine Pedersen being involved as the marker the idea of Spencer as the kickee is almost impossible to believe. 'Glorious' is a term thrown around all too loosely in these parts but when people open a futuristic animated dictionary looking for a definition they will just see that passage play running on an endless loop.

It wasn't just that two minutes of glory, he was genuinely good for the whole day. Had eight kicks, and while his streak of effective possessions ended at 19 with a gigantic shank out of the pack it showed a genuine aptitude for not only the tackling and chasing we've always known about but also for getting a kick as well. Having said that the Bulldogs did spend considerable time running with a Brett Goodes vs Aaron Sandilands match-up last week so I'm not sure how much stock you can put in any opposition they put up. Not to mention that Dogs fans seem to think about as much of Ayce Cordy as we do/did about Spencer until 3.19pm yesterday but it was still genuinely encouraging.

It’s hard to be a flash in the pan when you’re playing your 32nd game in seven seasons but as much as I pine for Max Gawn to turn up and destroy the joint Godzilla style I've got everything crossed in hope that Spencer can go on from this.

Speaking of being horribly wrong it's a good thing that I wasn't on special comments anywhere after vandenBerg's first two kicks. When they were best described as 'shit' I started to think he had taken that deadly turn down James Magner Avenue where spectacular early form comes to a grinding halt, inevitably ending in arguments with buffoons on social media and a stint selling bicycles. He kept at it, and after those two ghastly disposals he only went and (spoiler alert) put in a best on ground performance. He had a couple of down weeks, but so did 95% of his teammates. I think he's a keeper, he's one step above a battler but has the size to be able to crash through his limitations.

Not only was I privately writing off players prematurely (which makes a change from most footy fans who just go for it venomously from the first bounce) but when the Dogs kicked their second goal to take the lead and spent a few minutes relentlessly pounding the ball inside 50 I thought to myself "we're going to get run over here". Which is why I'm the Chief Football Writer of a lightly read blog and nowhere else - disinterest in 17/18 clubs probably plays a role but it's never stopped Mark Stevens.

Speaking of 'written off' as predicted Watts' decision to apparently drop himself ended up being used as a reason to whack him once we'd played like arseholes against the Hawks. I thought that Roos could have played the mutual decision aspect of it up a bit more but am still comfortable with somebody putting their hand up and admitting if they're having a shocker. You know what the ads says, walk away, don't chase your losses etc.. He hardly tore the house down on return but there were a couple of moments of sublime football where he was in heavy traffic and danced around like he had all the time in the world before using it effectively.

It was more than enough to go on with for now, but as with all of them one win doesn't make everything ok so let's see more of the same. After a much better Round 1 game I thought he'd turned the corner and look how that went, so it doesn't have to be BOG performances but just give me those poetic moments where he looks like he's dodging bullets in The Matrix and I'll be happy. I still think for his own sanity he should trade himself somewhere where nobody gives a toss about footy like Queensland or Sydney and the footy media consists of one guy who'd rather by covering the NRL.

If we suddenly turned good there'd be people everywhere pretending they supported him all along but you can see what's in his future otherwise from the reception of his first touch (generally encouraging cheering) and his first failed attempt to take a Howe-esque screamer or drive somebody headfirst into the turf with murderous intent (general disdain, much muttering). I'm over emotionally invested in him doing well now but in a masochistic way I'd enjoy seeing him tear us to shreds elsewhere in the spirit of the SME pocketing three Brownlow votes last year and causing me to kick a dead horse by erupting into an anti-Neeld tirade.

It was also good to see Toumpas play arguably his best game ever, he didn't star but for the first time this year he didn't look as if he was worried a giant hook was going to drag him off the ground. His issue has always been getting enough of the ball in space to use his natural skills and I could see a change to that as well as more poise around the ball. How much of that was progression and how much was Footscray not being interested will be revealed in the next few weeks but it's a good platform to work on so let's promise not to try and have him shot from a cannon if he doesn't back it up next week. Either way it vindicated the decision to stick with him for a few weeks instead of giving him the Viv Michie in-out-in-out treatment as if playing Hawthorn one week and Mordialloc the next is going to help his confidence. I might be guilty of this with my pre-Spencilmania demands for Jamar but we are not playing for a flag here so give him a go.

Even Grimes, the forgotten captain, was on for the first time since we blew his career up by saddling him with the top job of the club mid-implosion. It was one of those rare days where everything works, even Riley as sub paid off and he enjoyed the rare opportunity of removing the hi-vis vest with the game in the balance to have 10 touches and lay several trademark bone crushing tackles. With apologies to vandenBerg I think Riley's my favourite of all the battlers, and not just because he shares names with the director of Butthole Whores 4 (obviously the porno version was utilised as a mid-series substitute in much the same way as his football namesake).

There's an argument that when you play good teams you should start a player like him so he can wind up the opposition with a few piledrivers while the sub is somebody more fancy that can make a difference if it's close but will still benefit from the run if we're being pulverised. On the other hand you go fancy against poor sides and try to get the job then bring the thumper on to bring it home. Well it worked yesterday anyway. After whinging endlessly about how picking players like Riley or McKenzie as the sub doesn't provide 'impact' last night demonstrated that impact need not be measured by gazelle like running down the wings and goals snapped out the arse in junk time.

Bail and Jones weren't terrible, but there were some concerning moments when the ball went inside 50 and they were the only players available to contest. Needless to say we didn't get very far on those occasions. It has been put to me that Jones was playing as a defensive forward and effectively strangled Robert Murphy. There's a position I still don't understand, it's the ultimate in baffling positions for internet loudmouths (forumites, bloggers and Twitterists alike) who don't care for the subtleties of the game and secretly deep down wish they would just kick it. We've got opinions out the wazoo but any technical discussion of the game is about as useful as a conversation in Esperanto.

Nevertheless everything looks about 50% better when you win and we can't afford to play them both except in emergency circumstances. If Kent was fit we certainly wouldn't be, but given the choice between the two there's still something that draws me to Bail. His profile with everyone else wasn't helped by missing the shot on the three quarter time siren after they'd come hard at us (whereas to Jones' credit he took his set shot opportunity well before being sniped behind play) but there's something I like about him that I can't put into words. He has nice hair I can certainly say that. We're not winning anything with either of them but we're not winning anything without them for a few years either so happy to keep them around as depth players for now.

When Pedersen got the goal which put us ahead at quarter time it felt unusual considering how many times they had the ball inside 50 but the delivery was horrible and our defenders too good. I went from thinking we were about to crumble to them being ripe for the picking within 15 minutes because I am a fickle footy fan. Then when they were the better side of the first 10 minutes of the second quarter it seemed like things were evening out - then we whacked them execution style and it started with Garlett selflessly squaring the ball for Hogan at the top of the square instead of blazing away from the pocket in hope of a goal. He'd probably have kicked it considering the things he can do but it was a great sign of where his head is at.

The first two goals of the third quarter gave us a lead of over five goals, which is when I really started shitting myself. And rightfully so because that's when the Dogs finally started playing. Even Stringer who had spent the first two quarters missing set shots for fun decided to roll a novelty goal in from the pocket which looked like it was going through for a point until the very last minute. The one that really hurt was the one on the run which brought it down to three goals, and they added another shortly after to really kick off the nervous adjustment of collars and obvious sweating.

I started to tense up, and while it would have helped if Bail had kicked that goal at the end of the third quarter nothing under about 40 points would have done in a season where teams are tossing away five goal leads almost daily. I needed a reminder of why footy is supposed to be fun, and blowing a five goal lead would NOT have helped. When they got a run on in the third quarter It might have been slightly chilly or I might have an undiagnosed serious illness but the three quarter time break was spent shaking with what I think was nerves rather than the DTs (nothing to do with fantasy sports but a similar indication that you've buggered your life up) as I imagined the horror of a reverse.

At least it would have freed me from reading the papers and watching the Monday night footy shows, but I was nervous enough about the perceived humiliation of blowing a lead against them in a meaningless pre-season game so you can only imagine what my central nervous system started doing when they cut the margin to seven. It probably had the same physical effects on me as drinking a bottle of carpet shampoo but without the soapy after-taste.

Enter Bernie Vince - his crucial on Boyd in the middle when they were threatening to go forward again immediately. As great tackles in the middle during the last quarter go it was up there with Garry Lyon against North Melbourne in Round 2, 1998 when we'd just blown a 40 point lead. Put my suggestion that we were wasting him as a tagger down as another golden (shower) prediction, even before then he'd slaughtered Bontempelli without having to resort to the sort of legally dubious tactics he'd employed against Dangerfield. He topped it off with two goals, the first after another cracking tackle to catch Bontempelli HTB.

From there it was a beautiful procession. Hogan flipped a handball to Pedersen for a goal which caused men and women alike to slide off their seats, Garlett kicked an absolute belter from the boundary line which we'll be hearing more about later (unless you subscribe to the actual AFL Goal of the Year competition which ignored it, so they can get stuffed).

By this time both Hogan and Pedersen were on three goals apiece and it seemed sure that one or both would finally help us shed the most unwanted record in goalkicking and boot four goals in a game for the first time in 631 days. Alas it was not to be, but one of them or Garlett is going to do it eventually and when they do I'll treat it in a similar fashion to when McDonald kicked those two goals in the last game of 2014 and go right off. Somebody with access to better databases than I should do a list of every player who has kicked four or more in a game since Round 17 2013 and I guarantee it will absolutely horrify you.

UPDATE - for your horrification @ethan_meldrum has done the maths. I apologise to Watts for crediting the last four goal performance to Fitzpatrick for the last few weeks/months. Now I remember that last game of the year against the Dogs when his leading was a delight and James Sellar almost kicked goal of the century about one minute before being delisted. It's yet another insult - at least this time inadvertent - from a Melbourne fan towards Watts. Will anything ever go right for him? Oh perhaps not.




By christ that's grim, but don't let it detract from the fact that we won. Which was delightful but it pays to remain sceptical for now. I thought we'd turned the tide last year and achieved the desired mid-table mediocrity after the Essendon game but that prediction proved to be about as good as George Bush unfurling the Mission Accomplished banner - and like today's Iraqi army we occasionally seem to be on the offensive before the tide turns and everybody runs screaming for their life in opposite directions. Here's to them actually watching the video this week. In fact once I'm done with this I'm going to watch the last quarter again myself - for research purposes of course, not to treat it like a grand final victory.

2015 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
5 - Aaron vandenBerg
4 - Cameron Pedersen
3 - Bernie Vince
2 - Jack Fitzpatrick
1 - Jake Spencer

Apologies to Cross who narrowly lost out on the last spot and to all of Hogan, Grimes, Brayshaw, N. Jones and McDonald who deserved to be in consideration. Practically everyone else deserves to be mentioned in dispatches for their performance. Trying to fit 10 players into five votes? We must have had a win.

Leaderboard
A week after Jamar's reprieve in the Stynes when the new "average 10 hitouts" rule came in on the drop of a hat he is again forced to shift up the ruckman sized couch and share space - in this case with the much maligned (usually, this year at least, by me) Spencil.

No change at the top other than Pedersen and Vince getting within four BOG performances of first place. With both Jones and McDonald only managing apologies that leaves the Sizzle three and a bit BOGs in front with plenty of time to play. With a lead of 23 on Salem - who won't be seen for a month - and 27 on both Fitz (!!) and Lumumba we shouldn't be too many weeks away from declaring a winner in that race. In the other minors vandenBerg nudges in front of Hogan in the Hilton but that battle is nowhere near over yet.

29 - Tom McDonald (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
13 - Nathan Jones
10 - Cameron Pedersen, Bernie Vince
9 - Aaron vandenBerg (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Rising Star Award)
7 - Jeff Garlett, Jesse Hogan
6 - Christian Salem
5 - Angus Brayshaw
4 - Jack Viney, Jack Watts
3 - Daniel Cross, Viv Michie, Dom Tyson
2 - Jack Fitzpatrick, Heritier Lumumba
1 - Mark Jamar (CO-LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year), Ben Newton, Jake Spencer (CO-LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)

Affiliated teams
These days I'm lucky to get to the ground in time for fair and impartial judging of Banner Watch let alone for a curtain raiser starting three hours before the main event, but congratulations to all involved for another win in the women's game. From what I saw of the live stream through the AFL website (and considering their track record it's amazing that the site wasn't accidentally showing a Petanque tournament from the Cayman Islands instead) the women took their status as Melbourne players far too seriously and fell off the cliff after playing a strong first quarter.

That I only saw the middle two quarters meant missing every single goal kicked by a Melbourne player, which must have been how my mum felt the day she walked out halfway through the third quarter against Adelaide when we hadn't kicked one a few years ago.

If there's anybody who needs to open the club up to new markets it's us so getting involved in this has been one of the best things we've done in recent years. After three wins in a row it's almost certain that there will be rorts to get the Dogs a win in the rematch later this year so enjoy it while you can but I've got a real sense of pride about our involvement.

The only problem with these games is that their success is going to push the AFL to rush to put together a national league which is more likely to play games at Casey Fields than the MCG and have media focus for about two weeks before the novelty wears off and its consigned to the same coverage as the VFL if not worse.

Which is not to say they shouldn't still do it but when it does happen will we still be involved? I doubt it, we're working hard enough to stay solvent putting out one professional side every week so unless the AFL are going to fund it I'd reluctantly step aside and let others take over. Being involved - especially if one of a handful of AFL clubs - would have huge benefits but I'd need to know it's not going to come at a cost to the core business. Anyway, for now we have a team and in the spirit of trying to compile names of everyone who has played a game at any grade for the club bios for all the women players 2013-2014 has been added to Demonwiki and yesterday's players will be added as well when I've got time.

Crowd Watch
In an attempt to reinvigorate myself on the blood, sweat and tears (mainly the tears) I forwent the solitude of the Ponsford Stand and parked myself in the middle of 'The People' of the Redlegs section. It provided a mixed bag of entertainment, much of which would have driven me to murder during one of our traditional losses where we kicked five goals.

Naturally after years where not one MCG attendant had showed an interest in whether or not I had the right membership just on the day I wanted to sneak somebody in they put somebody on the gate who wants to forensically check the card front and back to make sure no shenanigans are afoot. Lucky I got there early enough to work out where the alternative entrance was near the bar and we had better luck flashing an AFL membership at a seated and clearly bored attendant then walking straight through.

We sat next to Angry Headphone Man, who wears a set of cans larger than the ones seen in 80's music video clips and he was indeed angry. I sit there so rarely that it's hard to get a feel for the people but he's one memorable character - just going bananas all day with no indication of how loud he's being because he's got such enormous headphones on.

Even when I have gone in there I've never sat any closer than two rows from the back, and it was a different world at the front. I remembered why I hate sitting near footy fans after Nathan Jones' brainfade kick cost us a goal in the third quarter and about five different people started moaning. One of them even said "Come on Jones, you OWE us one" as if he hasn't earned the right to cost us a goal after carrying the whole bloody club ON HIS BACK for years. I refused to pay any attention to what he was saying after that but I'm sure stood up and stormed out when we copped the first goal at the start of the last quarter which struck me as odd but maybe he relocated himself to somewhere more anonymous so he could unleash hell in the event of a loss.

The most terrifying part of it all was deep in the last quarter when we were high on the winning vibe and all of a sudden the trumpeteer showed up within shooting range and started tootling away.




Congratulations to the guy with the binoculars for showing absolutely no interest. I must say that now his role has been reduced to only playing for a win I can handle this gimmick - because it means he's won. You do have to wonder how long he stayed around last week or if he claimed to be double booked for an eisteddfod somewhere to avoid having to show up and be humiliated.




Considering how many clubs are throwing dignity out the window in the name of 'matchday experience' (for instance Brisbane entering the Gabba through an inflatable lion's gaping anus - paging the other A. Riley) I can't fault the Bulldogs for having a go at using their banner to try and get a few laughs with their slogans.

Having watched Fremantle trot through THANKS TO OUR MEMBERS a few weeks ago I've got a grudging respect for this sort of thing despite the words failing to scan convincingly and the bizarre GWSesque substitution of 0's for O's (did they get the cheersquad in the Boyd deal? Any paid actors dressed as monks thrown in as a sweetener?):



Now that's quite literally biting satire, but there's at least an old school 80's/90's feel about it (though try getting away with this now. And in case you think it was all good times in the past let's not forget Collingwood's sensitive and subtle response to the Damien Monkhurst racism furore) instead of attaching the sponsor name to on airship and having it hover around with a curtain hanging below. If nothing else it at least led to furious social media debate about exactly what Buffy slayed.

May I suggest retaining the comedian but pairing him with a copywriter in order that the gags may thrive instead of landing with a loud clanging noise. In the interest of community service for all the horrible things I've said about cheersquads over the years I'll do it for a year's supply of pita bread from Mission Foods. On our side I enjoyed the barely concealed frustration and menace on our banner - as well as the possibly unintentional reference to the greatest music video ever produced.



There was a somewhat contentious Bulldogs banner earlier in the season and when looking for more information (e.g for likeminded people who were also confused by it) I stumbled upon the appointed banner writter explaining that he had to submit it for approval three weeks before the game. Sounds like he's trapped in bureaucratic hell to me, how long does it take for somebody to rubber stamp a badly scanning rhyme about the price of consumable products in Western Australia? Unless our cheersquad sent this one through for approval three weeks ago knowing we were going to get turned over royally in the previous weeks then I call bullshit on that approval period being a league-wide standard. He should threaten to withhold his banner novelties until the process is improved and force the Dogs to bring in a scab banner writer trained on the Dubai waterfront.

Even the words for our women's game banner scanned properly with no discernible drop-off in quality of construction or kerning. At the time the teams were running out for the curtain raiser I was being thrown up on by an infant but I'm reliably informed that the Bulldogs one was completely blank on the off-side and that half the people holding it up were provided by us so try harder next time thanks. Having said that it was the first banner constructed by those particular people and there was no gag slogans because the comedian obviously refused to do double duty so they win a participation award. For the first time this year it's two banners, two matches, two wins and the juggernaut rolls on. 9-1-0 Demons.

Matchday Experience watch
The Melbourne Music segment is a nice touch that doesn't involve supporters gurning for the camera, and it was a nice touch to have selections by the stars of the women's team as well, but aren't you a bit concerned that nearly everyone picks songs that sound as if they were recorded in a basement in Northcote by people unnecessarily wearing glasses. The man who bucked the trend was your hero and mine King Sizzle who played up his fan favourite status by choosing Back In Black. Whether it qualifies under any criteria is debatable given that it's sung by a Geordie fronting a band from Perth but it's still preferable to the sub-Mumford and Sons bollocks everyone else was picking. The first player to select Greg! The Stop Sign!! wins my undying love.

Tell you what I didn't like, and that was the segment where people were commanded to run up and down on the spot to try and win New Balance shoes. I'm not used to sitting with people above me and when it started I was naturally buried head first in my phone and thought the world was ending when the stand was shaking. It was bad enough when somebody flew a plane over the ground during the match but I was comforted by the fact that if it plowed straight through the corner of the Southern and Olympic stands at least I'd have died with the Dees in front.

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year
Jeff Garlett has got the sort of hold on this award that Bernie Vince did last year, which presumably means he won't end up winning it despite being nominated about 10 times. Nominated again he is - and god damn it he has officially succeeded himself as the clubhouse leader for that outrageous banana from the pocket in the last quarter. His nonchalant celebration to the members made it even better.

Remember when I started to think we'd only paid fair rates to Carlton for him instead of robbing them blind? What a dickhead. It's not quite Troy Longmuir to Freo for pick 19 which became Brad Green but it is up there with turning Colin Sylvia into Vince.

An honourable mention for Pedersen's crumb that opened the third quarter and his goal at the start of the last courtesy of Hogan's lightning handball. I'm still refusing to admit who my favourite players are because it'll kill their careers stone dead but I will say he's been amongst my favourites since early last year and I'm moderately bitter about him ending up at Casey to end 2014 and starting there in 2015. While I've had to retire his original nickname due to its unsanitary connotations I have serious doubts around the club Twitterist's attempt to get "Pedalenko" up as a replacement. I can imagine the marketing team receiving a meeting invite for a one hour workshop to try and come up with a suitable family friendly alternative but that's not it.

Chris Dawes strikes me as a lovely guy but Pedersen has been in such rich form the last couple of weeks that he's going to have to wait his turn in the VFL. The bad news is that when I put Brunton Avenue to Casey Fields on a Saturday into the PTV Journey Planner it said there were no results so he's going to have to carpool with Justin Plapp.

Stat My Bitch Up
The late Bernie Vince goal gave us our second score of over 100 in two months - and while we've still got the lowest points for in the competition our PPG has climbed back to a slightly more stately 70.25. Helps when you don't score 50 for the fourth week in a row. The shorter this segment the better.

Next Week
If you believe the press Port are gone and will be playing for draft picks by Round 15 so that'll be fun to deal with when they come in angry on Saturday afternoon. They'll be travelling to Alice Springs with the sort of disappointment that can only come from having to defend your premiership aspirations in Round 9 in Alice Springs but I refuse to believe that we can beat them. Prove me wrong boys, prove me wrong. I'd like to say I wouldn't concerned by a loss as long as we put in a good performance but I'd have said that last week and nearly swallowed my tongue when they kicked that goal to open the last quarter.

It's hard to make any major changes after a win where everyone did their bit, but as much as Grimes played his best game in years if Neville Jetta doesn't come back in (not necessarily in place of Good Times) or at least plays a week in the 2's to get back into it while we wait for the side to go tits up again then he's never coming back - which would be extremely cruel considering the way he's reinvented his career.

Surprise Spencil was bad news for Jamar, though he's all but been handed the details of removalists who operate between Melbourne and Adelaide so it's even worse for Gawn. After a rocky start to the year Maximum finally puts together a couple of really good performances at Casey only for the mystery selection in front of him to play his greatest game. Time for his agent to pick up the phone and start dialling clubs at random. We look forward to his first All-Australian selection.

IN: Jetta
OUT: M. Jones (inj)
LUCKY: Bail
UNLUCKY: Gawn

Community Corner
I wasn't into celebrities pouring ice water over their heads just be seen last year. Much happier to just hand over my money for the Rev instead.

Was it worth it?
Undoubtedly. Proves again that even if we're total wank against good sides we can at least tackle the mid-table teams with confidence. Were we to beat just Brisbane, Carlton, St Kilda that would put us well ahead of where we were at last season - with plenty of sides between fifth and 13th vulnerable on our best day.

I wouldn't have accepted it as an excuse last week but it's a fact that the four teams we've lost to are all in the top seven - and we're 3-0 against teams from 8th down so perhaps there is some mid-table carnage to be had? Everything changes with a win so ask me again when we lose to the Saints in a fortnight and there's blood dripping down the walls.

Final Thoughts
Not sure how you pick up a point while listening on the radio, but if this is true then it's the much vaunted return of arrogance. Easy for Hogan when he managed to avoid last week's pantsing, but he already walks on water as far as I'm concerned.



If there's a fund I can donate to (preferably tax deductible) to sign him to a Franklin style 10 year contract now then please send details. All this plus Christian Petracca signing a new contract AND telling off Ballbag Barrett on Twitter in the same week? Outstanding. Sometimes even pessimists can have fun.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Standard "this post is delayed" notification


Apologies if you're here in an attempt to avoid work on Monday morning but I'm fat chance of getting anything up before later this evening. Back to Saturday games thanks.

P.S - Spencil for All-Australian ruckman

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Absentee Vote


It had to happen eventually, after a winning streak stretching back to late 2006 I finally took the voluntarily decision not to go to a game at the MCG. Let's file it under the vague heading of 'personal reasons' (of a non-life-and-death variety, and nor did I have the squirts thanks for asking), and if I'd really pushed myself I might have made it there by 2.10pm - but even when I only suspected that it would be a total disaster it would have nothing more than ticking the box without my heart remotely in it.

The decision was made days ago but any chance of storming across town to make it there for the first bounce was officially cancelled when the teams came out on Thursday night. It was like the club sitting down and writing the letter which admitted we were a total impediment on the competition. Whinging about team selection is as popular amongst those of us with no idea about the real business of footy as complaining about the umpires and bemoaning how the game is not as good as it used to be but I feel on this occasion it was reasonably justified.

What we were left with at the time was one of the most inspiration-free lineups of modern times. It started with Jamar - they must be trying to make him quit so they don't have to sack him a'la George Costanza at Play Now Industries when we're more of a Kruger Industrial Smoothing sort of enterprise - left marooned at Casey while we initially dropped Pedersen and ensured that The Spencil (retained despite no discernable attacking qualities) would have at best a half fit Dawes for backup against a premiership ruck division.

I thought it must have been because it was going to piss down raining. Until I looked at the weather report and realised that it was going to be as sunny as you get for May 16. So that was odd, and if you need to pick one ruckman to go against the defending premiers then with apologies to the whole-hearted performances he puts in every time Jake is not it. Even if we got the taps we were probably going to lose the midfield battle anyway so you may as well pick Pedersen and sacrifice some tap power for vastly superior around the ground abilities. Maybe even through Gawn in at the deep end just to see what happens - players have occasionally been known to surprise in the seniors even when not dominating the seconds. Would certainly be a sign that there's some interest in him for the future.

The return of Michie worked for me, but I'm not sure what he did in the VFL that justified bringing him back after dropping him the week before. Should have left him in to start with instead of chopping and changing every week, but what do I know? Bail and Matt Jones in gives me zero confidence but I'm ok with everyone having at least one game before being written off - may as well do it in a game where we were always going to be fisted, and it's not like our depth stretches much further past them anyway. Surely every available player on the list is going to get a run before the end of this year and we can at least now be sure that neither of them is going to rocket to unexpected stardom when confronted with the reigning best players in the competition.

Considering Jetta appears to have fallen off the face of the earth I was ok with Grimes coming back, and he was alright without being spectacular, and had no major worries with Newton being rotated out. Even if JFK wasn't injured he should have gone anyway so that's fine but not sure what more Watts was supposed to do. I'm not taking any of this "we wanted to give him a full game for Casey" bullshit - if you tell me he came out and didn't do what he was supposed to do last week fair enough but otherwise it's suspect. May as well have just dropped him before last week instead of sitting him on the bench for three quarters then expecting miracles in a game with zero fizz left. Apparently he dropped himself, which I believe about as much as Jesse Hogan only having general soreness. Some Melbourne fans will still find a reason why it's his fault that we got flogged, it's what we do.

Selection issues aside I would have been there anyway if it wasn't for myriad dramas, but in the end it was worrying how easily I came to the decision and didn't even go close to wavering. The fact that we play football so boring that the timekeepers have to take Ecstasy to stay awake until the end hasn't caused me to stray before, and if circumstances were different it wouldn't have this time but given that it wasn't our home game I didn't even feel compelled to do my bit for the crowd figures. I've been there for enough guaranteed losses over the years that not even that has stopped me before but the last couple of weeks just didn't feel as essential as it has in the past. Is this middle age I see approaching?

Once the game started I felt some pangs of regret, and not just because we kicked two goals in a row to briefly give us hope of avoiding a thrashing. The main disappointment was that it was practically impossible to see what was going on via television with all the shadows across the ground. For all the whinging about the Docklands roof causing visibility issues this was just as bad. Of course I've never noticed before because no matter what the game was I wasn't all that interested. Even the Grand Final is secondary to stuffing my face full of chips all day. Now just when I wanted to know what was going on it became a confusing spectacle. Never again, take me back o' mighty Ponsford Stand.

In the end those first two goals - courtesy of Garlett running to the line to make sure he didn't stuff it up and Pedersen taking full advantage of his 'unexpected' second life courtesy of a contested mark which put higher paid players to shame - meant bugger all. At least unlike last week when we had a brief period of domination against a superior team early in the first quarter we got something out of it before folding like a house of cards. Still, rancid teams kicking a couple of pre-consolation goals at the start of a game before dying in the arse happens so often now that it's almost not worth getting excited over. Over on the other channel St Kilda were doing exactly the same thing and they managed to hold back for another couple of minutes before they were beaten comfortably - but the finals scores seem to indicate that they put up significantly more resistance than we did.

Another goal would hardly have altered our destiny to be a punching bag but there was a third one on the cards before a horrible kick (Grimes? Does it matter?) brought the momentum to a violent halt - and that was it. Where Roughead had opened the game by unexpectedly booting a set shot straight out on the full once they got a roll on it was unstoppable. So much running in waves, so many accurate disposals. On the other hand we were at the very peak of hit and hope, usually to an opponent. God only knows how one football team can end up with so many players who can't kick - just a reminder at this time that Geelong has converted a steeplechaser into a reasonable footballer.

By the time Frawley got a kick we'd already well and truly punched ourselves out and it seemed only a handful of people could be bothered heckling him. They might not have realised it was him because the kick came in the middle of the ground, but god knows he wasn't required in defence. I can't hold it against him, he did his time in the asylum. I only wish he'd put his hand up a month before the end of the season, admitted he was going and stepped aside for a continuing player to take his spot instead of pretending that his decision was up in the air. Still, that's sleazy modern football for you so get used to it.

The game was over by quarter time. Our cavalcade of industrial triers had nothing on them, and anything that was being tried to put the breaks on them wasn't working. The highlight after the first two goals was undoubtedly the footage of Roos berating Spencer for having no idea at quarter time. I hope Spencer's response was "then why did you pick me?" The Spencil was semi-reasonable with ball in hand (compared to expectations) but when you pick him you're also picking major limitations. The fact that he's now up to 17 disposals in a row with 100% efficiency is a statistical quirk rather than an indication of being at AFL standards - and in the case of one of the kicks it should be a prompt to ask questions about how efficiency is measured.

I'm all for coaches berating players publicly as long as they're putting an arm around them in private, and I'm not to know if he'd done something specific wrong so I'm not potting the beration itself but the 'incident' still highlighted what a shambolic selection decision it had been. By the end he was totally stuffed and I will never fault his effort he should filed under BREAK IN CASE(Y) OF EMERGENCY only.

Pedersen was barely used as a back-up in the ruck but was fantastic as a forward. There is absolutely no reason that in a straight one-on-one battle you wouldn't pick him over Dawes at the moment. I was almost a lone Dawes apologist last year but he nearly lost me by getting needlessly suspended in the last game of the season and has done nigh on bugger all since returning. When you're in our position it's hard not to respect a premiership player but it's not a gold pass to a game every week if somebody's doing a better job. It's not to say that Pedersen (still can't bring myself to return to the classic nickname) is going to do it every week but he showed plenty today so I want him to be given more opportunities. Can also pinch-hit in the ruck and fill in down back if required. Reminds me of the SME, maybe that's why I like him so much.

That said the generally shambolic nature of our side was highlighted during the second quarter when he took a screamer of a pack mark 40 metres out (good) and botched the kick and failed to make the distance (bad) only for there to be two Hawthorn players waiting to mop the ball up and not a Demon to be seen. Not that we had any other talls forward of centre who could take a contested mark but somebody might have brought the ball to ground if we were lucky. Instead we got the grand score of 0.0 out of it. Next thing they cut to Salem sitting on the bench icing his burst hamstring for god's sake. We are a rabble in practically every aspect. If you listen to the guy who wanted to be President it's the board's fault. Pardon?




Now I've been a Kennett sympathiser since 1992 but that's just trolling. Three weeks ago we were 2-2 and struggling not to touch ourselves up, not sure what the board was supposed to in the meantime. Still don't know what Bartlett was on about with all that New York Yankees carry-on last year but post-AFL bailout he and Jackson have done a great job to get our finances heading in the right direction. Is he supposed to be doing open letters every two weeks like that Skeletor bloke from Essendon? When you're a President with a massive media profile it must be difficult to come to terms with the fact that others can't just get on the back page. If there's somebody better who can open doors for us I'm open to it, and as much as we all took the piss out of David Koch at Port Adelaide that's been a smashing success, but this better not be another attempt to get his mate Alan Stockdale and associated cast of randoms into power.

If Roos vs Spencer was the highlight of the first half then the best bit of the second could only be the 30 seconds of total panic into our backline which featured Toumpas kicking the ball straight up in the air and Howe being pinged for holding the ball to eventually cost us a goal. I swear I heard a commentator suggest that he'd started forward and had been sent back when the Hawks started to get a run on but I refuse to believe it. If he did then his agent is going to have spin bad news more furiously than a Roos press conference to get the rumoured $600k contract. Not that we're helping by leaving him down there to slowly wither away, but I'm starting to think it wouldn't have been so bad if we'd taken GWS' pick seven for him. If only they'd made the offer early enough that we could have used it to get an experienced player instead of rolling in another hapless kid. Still, if it had happened and we were losing to Hawthorn by 100 then I'd be exercising the bloggers prerogative to scream bloody murder.

With Toumpas I'm not sure we haven't squished the life out of him, and we may as well give him a few weeks of continuity before swinging the axe but he's not going anywhere fast. Serves us right for picking what was described as the 'cherry on top' player when the cake box still contained a giant turd but the worst bit is that reliable sources have claimed that we weren't going to pick Ollie Wines anyway so that's another comforting moment in MFC draft history.

As the Hawks scooted away from us they panned to their coaches box and 96% of people in it either used to work for us. At this point my Twitter exploded with people threatening to self-harm, especially over Neitz being a part-time forward coach. What they failed to realise is that on a cost/benefit analysis there is absolutely no point teaching our forwards how to kick when they're playing in a team that quite literally scores 50 every week. I don't think Hogan needs the marking masterclass, and is probably too busy scanning the Perth real estate pages to listen anyway. As for the rest of them well being involved in a successful enterprise is fair reward for what we put them through - it's Brad Green you should feel sorry for, that guy needs a win badly having gone from Neeld-era Melbourne to Carlton.

Like last week we were playing such boring uncompetitive football late in the quarter that I rapidly lost interest. The upside was that unlike last week I was at home and could wander off to the kitchen and start eating crackers. Came back in the loungeroom to see the Hawks in full party time mode ignoring players standing on their own in the goal square to have a shot instead. It was like one of my old indoor soccer games where by the time we were 18-1 down the other side would start trying to tee up volleys or score headers for the last few minutes. Fortunately they managed to kick a goal straight after just in case you thought an amazing comeback was on the cards.

After Sydney relaxed and saved us from a pounding last week the entire half time break was spent speculating whether Hawthorn would do the same, but of course they wouldn't. In the most admirable way they're a pack of vicious animals and were always going to tear us asunder just to send a message to the rest of the competition. Not sure if murdering us impresses anybody but that's not important right now. Just in case you thought there was some chance of relaxation they quickly banged on two goals to open the third quarter - including one where Howe brought Melbourne fans everywhere to their feet by misjudging a ball on the line and letting it fly through. How's that "I really want to sign, it'll be done in a couple of weeks" stuff going? Still no bloody idea why he was our last line of defence.

Doesn't look like he can bothered to me but it takes a special sort of resilient individual to spend any amount of time in our defence without going totally bonkers so I won't blame him if he requests a trade to a psychologist at the end of the year. I'm staying on his side for a few more weeks - it's one thing to play where you're told to but if it's going to be counter-productive either play him where he's supposed to go or in the reserves. I'm convinced there's something suspect going on here, and if you know more on or off the record please use a false name to write in at the usual address with details and if your claims aren't potentially libellous I'll print them.

The rest of the third quarter went about as well as you'd expect. They teed off on us for practice and missed a couple of good opportunities through excessive pisstaking. On the whole we played plodding, incompetent football. The only shining lights on our side were yet Tom McDonald standing up in defence and Pedersen making the best of his opportunities to take screamers and kick goals - if we drop him after Hogan comes back and retain Dawes I may take violent action.

After that it went from bad football to being generally uncompetitive. Even poor old Colin Garland was eventually driven insane after a turnover cost us a goal. The guy hasn't had a different facial expression in several years but as the ball went over his head he dropped down with a look of sheer horror. To his credit Harry O showed why we recruited him by going over, dragging him up and giving him a few kinds words but by the time we're finished with him Lumumba will be so angry that he'll be campaigning to bulldoze the rainforests.

The only remaining interest in the game was whether Garlett could kick a set shot (no, but his running goals have confirmed that his trade deal is back to a total cockup on Carlton's behalf) and whether the Hawks would rack up their greatest winning margin against us. It briefly ticked over the 115 points required to beat the Round 21, 1983 abortion where Frank Rugolo's first match was completely ruined. Unfortunately for Frank and his teammates that day we managed a couple of cheap ones late sneak back into second place. Even Rohan Bail cropped up for one to break the Garlett-Pedersen duopoly - I didn't totally despise his game but only because of the shit he was surrounded by.

As I've shamefully confessed before once it gets near 100 points I secretly want it to go over. I don't know why, it's not enjoyable but there's just a perverse interest in how many times we can achieve this feat before the AFL shut us down. That was #26, and the 8th of the #fistedforever era. Thanks to the two that happened interstate and the wedding I was at during 148 I've now only been there in person for half of them so that's something.

By the end I wasn't even angry, I've reached the level of acceptance about this happening against top four clubs and I wouldn't be surprised about other finalists doing the same. I'll hold off total urban warfare until we've played some of our fellow dud sides again but the only thing that's going to save this club now is something amazing luck. It happens, you win with a couple of high draft picks (which would be luck considering our record) and accidentally pluck a superstar out of thin air with selection 45 then build around that. Cross your fingers, sacrifice a farm animal if you must and hope for the best because we're going to need it.

At the end Pedersen and McDonald walked off the ground on the far right of the group, possibly because they expected that somebody was going to leap out and spray the rest of them with machine gun fire.

I've lost interest to the point where I don't even bother watching the press conference anymore. Did anyone ask a decent question or was it all "so Paul, that was unfortunate. What went wrong?" These are very worrying times.

2015 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Cameron Pedersen
4 - Tom McDonald
----- THE SPACE BETWEEN THE SUN AND PLUTO ------
3 - Daniel Cross
2 - Jeff Garlett
1 - Nathan Jones

Apologies to Lumumba, Grimes and Garland who were reasonable considering the slopfest they were involved in. Vince and Tyson got a million touches late when it meant nothing so I'm not getting sucked in there.

Leaderboard
When it became clear that Pedersen was going to score votes and take the lead in the Stynes I used the time spent ignoring what was happening on field to finally decide on a rule to decide between ruckmen and guys who play one centre bounce a year. From this day forward players shall only be eligible while they're averaging 10 hitouts a game.

Bittersweet for Cam as he shoots up the leaderboard but loses his chance of lifting a medal at the same time. Meanwhile it's getting serious at the top. The King of Sizzle continues to dominate - opening a three BOG+ lead on Jones. It can't go on forever but in the meantime buy a ticket and take the ride.

29 - Tom McDonald (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
13 - Nathan Jones
7 - Jeff Garlett, Jesse Hogan (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Rising Star Award), Bernie Vince
6 - Cameron Pedersen, Christian Salem
5 - Angus Brayshaw
4 - Aaron vandenBerg, Jack Viney, Jack Watts
3 - Daniel Cross, Viv Michie, Dom Tyson
2 - Heritier Lumumba
1 - Mark Jamar (LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year), Ben Newton


I thought Hawthorn had a strong effort with the milestone photo (ripped the idea off from us I bet) but they ruined it with a font seemingly chosen from a 1979 design book. We, on the other hand had a perfectly kerned motivational speech which was a total bloody waste of time considering what was about to happen but good on the cheersquad for trying. 7-1-0 Demons.

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year
It took place amidst an utter porking, and he can't kick a set shot to save himself but I'm promoting Garlett's snap over his head in the last quarter to the lead for the entire season to date. On its own it was genuinely exciting, and just like Howe's mark against Sydney when we were 80 points down I'm not going to hold the situation at the time it occurred against him.

Stat My Bitch Up
We've scored 50 three weeks in a row, which may well be another unwanted record for our horror chamber. Not only the first time we've ever done it but the first time we've scored exactly 50 three times in a year - beating two incidences in 1912, 1957 and 2008. Of course we've scored under 50 plenty of times and there's plenty more time for that in the next 16 weeks.

On some measures it should get 'better' from here, but we're down to 65.57ppg - and for the first time this year allow me to remind you that two of the worst teams ever invented - Fitzroy 1996 and Melbourne 2013 both at least managed 66 while being brutally violated at the other end.

Speaking of the defence - occasional horrible cockups aside I'll back McDonald/Dunn/Garland/Jetta until the cows come home but there's a troubling trend (albeit after playing three quality sides) where our average score against has blown out to 97.42. The good news is that's still four goals better than 2013 but 10 points worse than last year with the whole second half of the year for us to go even more tits up.

Next Week
Enough of this watching on TV bullshit I'll be back in place for the Bulldogs next Sunday afternoon. A 3.20 game means a) Channel 7 executives will cut themselves and b) You'll be lucky to get a review post until about Thursday but I will try to get something out before you've completely lost interest.

We've had a string of close games against them recently, and I'm hoping for another. They've looked good so far this year other than when playing Hawthorn (I know the feeling) and until spontaneously combusting against St Kilda in the second half last week. Willing to concede that I was wrong to pick them for last place but still not convinced they're all that much better than a bottom four side so you never know. We'll lose but how badly is the question. Hoping for somebody other than the usual suspects to stand up and have a bash.

Casey did what they do best and lost so there's probably not a great crop of players to pick from - but even if they'd beaten Port Melbourne by 200 would you really be excited by any of the potential inclusions? So, on that note I've just guessed the following.

IN: Jamar (FFS surely), Jetta (has apparently had six concussions since January so enjoy him while you can), Hogan (if still alive), Watts (Hasn't done himself any favours since Round 1 and will probably find out that dropping yourself is one thing but getting picked again is another and will then do his knee on some VFL ground with a surface like an asphalt carpark)
OUT: Spencer, M. Jones, Dawes (omit), Salem (inj)

LUCKY: Bail, Stretch, Tyson, Toumpas - who we may well give a go against a lesser side to make sure they are either for the firing squad, battling injury or not good enough yet. Please note: I am only considering the Bulldogs 'lesser' in comparison to Hawthorn so you can't hold it against me when they pulverise us.
UNLUCKY: Riley was BOG for the Scorpions but somebody has to be. If we're going to make #tankquiry style team selection moves anyway may as well give Harmes a game soon. Other than that tumbleweeds are bouncing down the street.
UNAVAILABLE TO BE UNLUCKY: Fitzpatrick landed on his head in the Casey so will presumably be unavailable

In case you missed it
During the week shocking footage emerged on YouTube of our 1990 "Celebrity Variety Concert". Our team took a forensic look at this epoch making event. Watching 2.5hrs of this - including Garry Lyon barely concealing his snag during a cross-dressing skit - was far less painful than anything after the five minute mark of today's game.

Viewing will reward:



Was it worth it?
Pass. But staying home did give me the opportunity to tune into the GWS game about 30 minutes later just in time to see $cully pick up a ball in traffic, burst through a pack, have a bounce and kick a banana goal so that really improved my enjoyment of football for the afternoon. We should merge with Carlton - we can have the blue from their jumper, the red from ours, our nickname, the name of the city they're from and two coaches who jointly ponder whether it is actually possible to polish a turd.

Final Thoughts
There goes the team we'll never be. At least when they mess around with the fixture we'll have five weeks of competitive games to look forward to at the end of the season.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Reviewed: 1990 Melbourne Demons Celebrity Variety Concert

In the highly competitive world of YouTube the Costa Sports channel has quickly shot to favouritism for this year's NAB Rising Star award. First we got the 41 minute promo video for the 1987 Brisbane Bears which made it sound like a solvent enterprise with a glorious future, and now this - a production so startlingly ill-conceived that several people involved may take out injunctions to try and have it removed from the internet. It's the...



Please note: In the realm of 'Demons Celebrity Variety Concerts' this isn't the one that featured Jazzy O, a raffle, and live on stage activities so if you're into that sort of thing move along.

If this was filmed on Sunday 26 August 1990 as claimed at least we had a win the day before so there wouldn't have been fans using primitive internet newsgroups or BBSes to whinge about how players should concentrate on footy instead of engaging in vaudeville activities. Surely in those everyone had a job to go to the next day, so unless it was filmed at midday then I'm highly skeptical about that date.

The first 'celebrity' appears to be Nathan Buckley singing a karaoke style version of John Farnham's Take The Pressure Down whilst engaging in frottage with the original incarnation of the Solid Brown Dancers. As far as the sort of performance you get when you can't afford John Farnham at least it was better than David Thai on Pot Luck. My poor memories of the 1990 season will be exposed when somebody tells me this was our third string ruckman - but I'd turned nine-years-old 16 days before so get stuffed.


It doesn't appear that this spectacular was broadcast anywhere, so the question is whether this video was produced for sale in the predecessor to the Demon Shop or whether like a homemade sex tape it was only intended for private viewing but leaked onto the internet.

To lukewarm applause your host - and 25 years later a wedding celebrant - Greg Evans does the standard "is it getting hot in here" act to imply he'd like to fornicate with one or more of the dancers and then follows by suggesting "that sort of stuff" "gets the blood pressure up" rather than taking it down. "If you thought that was good" he says, "that's just a taste of some of the magnificent talent we've got for you tonight". Not sure if talking about song and dance routines or hornbags in leotards but we're sure to find out.

After implying that the Febey twins are still half-cut after over-celebrating their birthday the night before he does some confusing 'of its time' joke about Jamie Duursma's sock which raises some knowing laughs from the audience before his next gag falls flat on its face and he says "ah a lone clapper, or is that a nudist sitting down at the back?" It was the 90's - and to prove that the first segment of entertainment for the night was a list of the top seven comments made by 'Italian porn queen' Ilona Staller when she made love to Saddam Hussein. I won't ruin them for you in case you dare to watch the entire video but suffice to say it gets a bit racial much to the disinterest of the crowd until he wraps up with a dutch oven gag which gets the audience back in the palm of his hand.

I'm not sure why anyone would want to get involved in the show at this point by Jo Pearson has obviously already cashed the cheque because she turns up when he introduces her as the co-host. If I was her I'd have legged it. Apparently this is being filmed at the Southern Cross Hotel, which was bulldozed shortly after and as the rest of this tape goes on depending on how bad it gets we may hopefully see the wrecking ball go through the place.

The best we get early from them is ribald comedy about being screwed by Channel 9 executives. I feel like the audience microphones might have been turned down at this point because nine minutes in people have lost interest and Jo has been forced to adopt the sort of look people get when they sit on a thumbtack. Greg takes this as an opportunity to do more gags implying she's a keen rooter.


Greg alleges that Chris Connolly is responsible for much of the material in this show, but I think the jokes implying Jo Pearson was hot to trot were pure Evans.

First on stage are the Major Reconstruction Quartet (Stuart Clark, Trevor Spencer, Connolly and some bloke who is possible Jamie Duursma wearing Sean Wight's jumper because Sean obviously told them to piss off) with a ditty entitled "I've Done Me Knee" to the tune of Let It Be - ensuring the song-writing credit would go to the unlikely trio of McCartney/Lennon/Connolly.


It's about as tuneful as you'd expect from footy players doing Beatles covers, highlighted by Spencer forgetting the words halfway through. There's 2hrs, 22 minutes of this sort of excitement to go - and a good few minutes of it are then wasted by bringing a proper entertainer on to sing a song. Bugger that, I want Brent Heaver dressed like Motley Crue. Or a comedy skit where all stereotypes about us being toffs are confirmed when Joan Kirner is referred to as 'Mother Russia' before our latest international recruiting coup is discussed,


Featuring a sensitive portrayal of international accents with the same subtitles they used to have on Hey Hey It's Saturday


And a Brisbane Bears gag which surely much to the chagrin of Greg Evans got the biggest laughs of the evening.


What any of this had to do with the alleged comedy skit taking place I'm not entirely sure but they had 150 minutes to fill and an audience who had nothing to do but drinks cans so I'm sure it made sense to them at the time.

The lion tamer then dons the MFC jumper and offers a footy to a group of vicious animals. In the #fistedforever era they'd have eaten him alive.


Followed be a bemused Russian with shocking Soviet chompers being implored to yell 'COME ON DEMONS' for the benefit of the capitalist swine in the audience.


And he's not the only member of the Politburo to get involved:


But no footage of Josip Broz Tito brokering us drafting Allen Jakovich.

After some brief chat about the raffle (reminder: not that raffle) they mention a performance by Kylie Minogue at this very event four years ago - and as they're committed to introducing new talent here's another guy that's going to go far. He's a factory to worker who likes to sing in the shower and it's his first appearance on stage - your friend and mine Ron Humphries.


It was also possibly his last time on stage, but if it's any consolation later that night he won the Percy Jones lookalike contest. But whatever he was singing it was far less offensive than the feral shirt worn by Shane Bourne for his stand-up set:


Riding high on his success as part of the Great Australian Joke on Hey Hey he just does the same routine that he would at the Burvale on a Friday night, calling the crowd 'thrillseekers' about 37 times, without bothering to thrown in any custom footy gags for the occasion - but there was a quality joke about a leper having an argument that I won't spoil for you. He also implies that Ossie Ostrich has crabs and has one with the punchline "I love your tits but where do you want the venetians?"

What's happened to the footy players? Surely we're going to see one or more of them in drag before all this is said and done. During the comedy routine they cut to Sean Wight in the crowd as proof that he is there but just had no interest in mocking his season ending knee injury in the opening skit.

Bourney finally racks off after eight minutes and is replaced by extended highlights of the Round 16 win at Windy Hill to the tune of Show No Mercy by Mark Williams (sadly not the one who choked himself with a tie).

Now here's an all-star gathering,

Neil Mitchell before he gave up and took to endlessly potting us on the radio instead, interviewing an all-star cast of the late great Robbie Flower, Ronald Dale and pre-stardom Todd Viney. They go to questions submitted by 'the audience and Chris Connolly', which are far more likely to make sense than any of the bollocks Neil's likely to serve up then or now.

Stuff the questions, how about Tulip's shirt? He also points out that "this is supposed to be a humorous segment" as if to highlight what a humorless debacle it has become under Neil's stewardship.


Todd Viney then answers a question about whether players should have sex before games by revealing he usually took the old school view to keep it in his pants on matchday but that his girlfriend recently visited from South Australia and... well that's not where Jack come from but at least it saved the panel segment from disaster. It is then revealed that Todd was Ron Barrassi's tennis coach, which must have been an amazing apprenticeship for his later adventures with the Phillipoussis camp.

We then get some serious chat about Ron Barassi doing recorded motivational speeches for Australians being held hostage by Iraqi forces in Kuwait which brings the mood down until Flower gets a few laughs by recalling the time Mark Jackson clocked him during a practice game then chucked a brick at Slug Jordon. If I was in the crowd I'd have started drinking like a fish to get through with this - get back to the Connolly penned parody numbers and players dressed as Cher.

One bearded ex-fan out, one in as Derryn delivers the '1990 Demons Shame File' with some Mitchell-esque zingers about Greg Healy, Brett Lovett, John Northey, Garry Lyon, Darren Bennett, Rod Grinter and Tony Campbell. The crowd went mild. Thanks for your contribution Derryn, still bitter after having $5k on us to make the finals in 1981 only to see one win.


"How do you pick the New Zealander in a shoe store?" he asks, knowing full well that he was born there so even in 1990 before racism was invented he could say anything and not get in trouble. "He's the one with the erection in front of the ugg boots". Who said vaudeville was dead?

Because Allen Jakovich's Trial By Video hadn't been formed yet the next musical performance was by Jim Keays and a bootleg version of his real band called the 'Masters of Everything' before something (possibly involving the raffle) is brutally cut from the tape so we can get straight to Greg Evans and Ricky Jackson playing pissed and doing a better job than Trevor Spencer by not forgetting their lines until at least halfway through the skit...


... which was because they whipped out the script halfway through and started reading their "Top 10 reasons beer is better than women" list off it - highlighted by #1 "You don't have to wash a beer before it tastes good". Welcome to the progressive 90's - ladies, bring a plate.

Now we're talking!

Unfortunately it's comedy maestro Connolly doing a Swooper impersonation instead of the great man himself, but he does have the look right and does a good knife in the back gag so that's something:


And god bless them here comes the cross-dressing, with Matthew Febey self-conciously appearing as "Jennifer High As A Keyte" and being described as "coming in like John Wayne without the horse" which may or may not have been a reference to certain urban legends popular at the time.


Plus Stephen Newport as Clive Robertson, who isn't a woman in the media so it doesn't end up implied that he's slept with everyone in the industry.


Newport breaks character briefly to wrap up a gag about umpire Peter Cameron being murdered by saying "I'm glad he's dead", which would cost you about $20,000 these days. "Jennifer" then reports that Terry Wallace is going to sue god because "It's his fault the way I turned out and I demand to be compensated" which seems to absolve Rod Grinter of any blame for caving his head in. There's also gags implying Irish people are stupid, Western Australians copulate with sheep and Tasmanians are keen on incest.

Considering how much of the show is being put together by people who work on Hey Hey It's Saturday they sure like ripping Steve Vizard off (who was ripping David Letterman off, but nobody knew that at the time) and we're treated to our third countdown list of the evening - but this one is slightly more relevant in that it's the top seven things Melbourne members will hear in the year 2000. If #1 isn't "GET FUCKED MICHAEL LONG" I'll be disappointed. I'm really not causing you to miss out on anything by listing the answers here - as delivered by the other Febey in a shirt even Shane Bourne would reject as too garish:



7 - "Have you heard Andy Lovell is still a virgin?" (No, and nobody gives a shit since we traded him five years ago)
6 - "Is it true John Northey turned gay and ran off with a West Coast trainer?" (No, but he did run off with Richmond)
5 - "Is it true Earl Spalding got Derryn Hinch pissed and put him on his own shame file?" (Any danger somebody in this list didn't end up at another club?)
4 - "Don't tell me Collingwood still haven't won another premiership" (and look what happened six weeks later, good work dickheads)
3 - "What great news, Rod Grinter won the Brownlow. He beat Terry Wallace on a countback on a TKO" (God only knows what the last bit meant but the crowd went wild for the suggestion of Grinter lifting the medal)
2 - "Yes, Michael Shildberger still plays in the Mini League" (In the year 2000 nobody knows what either of those things are)
1 - "Yes, Brian Wilson retires again". (And much like goading the Pies into a flag thanks for summoning him up to kick six against us for St Kilda in '91 before retiring again)

Just when you thought you'd had enough topical Beatles related entertainment with that knee injury sketch here they are again - featuring Earl Spalding wearing sunglasses so he can't be identified later, Rod Keogh, Brett Lovett looking like he wants to kill himself and Jamie Duursma again who must just love this stuff.


There mustn't have been time to write a footy related parody so they just sing a horrendous version of Can't Buy Me Love while all staring at the lyrics taped on the floor. Only more transvestism or jokes about Jo Pearson being keen on flange can save this production. Clive Newport being the Beatlemania segment to a tasteful end by shooting Earl Spalding/John Lennon in the back.

Unfortunately this brings out the very popular Rod Grinter dressed as Superman and at this point I wish they'd go back to doing Soviet jokes. It should be noted that there's one hour and two minutes left in the show.

Would anyone really pay for this video later? It would be one thing to sit in the crowd necking a slab until anything was funny but the idea of sitting down, slapping this into your VHS and enjoying a hilarious night on the couch watching John Northey impersonations and low grade professional musical acts is outrageous.

And now the event that we've all been waiting for. There was no way that a 1990 gathering of footballers would not include at least one person impersonating Cher in his knickers. Arise David Flintoff, you were truly the man for the job. And several others. Considering he was Garry Lyon's cousin it's concerning how much more he looks like Gaz in a frilly wig and suspenders.


As we hang shit on the early 90's let's not forget that this sort of thing was still being trotted out as comedy gold in Footy Show Grand Final revues until about two years ago. At least on those shows the player in question didn't go around the audience thrusting his barely concealed penis in the face of paying guests.

Hold on a minute, that's actually is Garry Lyon and not Flintoff. How long until this clip is lifted without any attribution and played ad nauseum on the Footy Show?


Just in case you were confused - and I really was for a while - 'Northey' informs us "It's really Garry Lyon dressed in drag!" just in case you thought Cher had let herself go and lowered her price to suit an occasion being held at the Southern Cross Hotel on Exhibition Street.
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For some reason Rob Gell and Rosemary Margan are played by themselves rather than by Robert Hickmott and Danny Seow in a sequinned gown. In an early 'Banner Watch' segment a run-through with a map of Australia is hoisted behind them, and you knew you were in trouble here when the first line was "And now a look at Howat it all began". Because, you see his name is John Howat yeah?

The weather's really been"Eishold" in some places and some parents have had to put their kids in bed and "Zantuck 'em up for the night". If you were unkind you'd suggest this segment was failing to "Gell" but as a Demons man from way back he was probably working cheap. "Up Northey" it hasn't been so bad, you "won't need a Spencer" (just like our side today). Another opportunity is taken to suggest Tasmanians have two heads and enjoying sheep worrying.

"Stretching" in from the west the weather is "Obstaloutely beautiful" FFS and while "white pointers have been seen at a nudist beach" that appeared to be a simple dick joke rather than a player reference. I take it Earl Spalding's wife was called Michelle because when they called him the 'Fremantle Doctor' this was followed by "there's some concern that the doctor is heading to Mount Michelle".

They also suggest Darren Bennett has "had about eight inches" which is controversial. Then the Irish become the third ethnic group of the evening to be accused of having sex with sheep.

Once the ethnic humour is out of the way we get the Grinter footage we all wanted to see, him punching some jabroni from Richmond in the guts.


I suspect these highlights packages were added later - and nobody paid for the rights to use the obscure AC/DC song - to try and pump up the VHS sales of the event. Makes sense, nobody was going to pay to see Gary Lyon's barely concealed dong. Meanwhile forget the kid punting the Dees home at Carrara, how about the jumper on the right?


I wish they'd dedicated the last 40 minutes to the best knitwear seen on the terraces this year but instead Wilbur Wilde is rolled in to play the sax and do his Hey Hey saxophone schtick. You can't make instrumental gags about Terry Wallace so I saved myself a few minutes and skipped this bit.

Much more enjoyable despite the lack of koala jumpers was the Mike Brady voiced "You give me Febey" parody to the tune of Fever which followed - and featured him mystifyingly depicted as a ninja turtle.


And just a reminder in case you'd forgotten that Tasmanians are two headed:


Greg then tries to flog the video of the evening to the crowd, most of whom are probably so pissed they'll buy anything. Would have done more sales if they could have worked another couple of sheep shagging and incest gags into the Febey bit.

Mercifully for those of us trying to get through this whole thing they then waste about 15 minutes on serious musical acts before bringing Hinch back for another gag reel where he highlights a quality member of the Subiaco crowd complaining about an umpiring decision with a baby hanging off her left norg.


There's 20 minutes left and I think I can get through to the end without having to resort to hard drugs - even when the next few minutes are taken up with club President Stuart Spencer playing the jauntiest piano you will ever see in your life. There's no point showing a screenshot because it can't possible tell the tale of how much he was getting into it. Not exactly convincing me to buy the tape though. Jim Stynes then takes a break from smashing the competition to show up in a flat cap and play the theme from the Pink Panther as anyone in the crowd who had filled in the form to buy a copy frantically tried to cancel their credit card before it could be charged.


I think we're on the downhill slope here, I feel there's not going to be any more Connolly gold. We do, however, get the singing all-stars doing Amazing Grace which is nice if you're into spiritual tunes but complete wank if you're holding out for Jay Viney doing a Bob Hawke impersonation. Regrettably that's it for 'entertainment'. Not one last Tasmanian joke, which is disappointing but I think we got enough to answer most of the questions we had about the last century.

We also get the only image in existence of Mathew Mahoney, Glenn Lovett and Andy Lovell arm in arm which makes this as a true collectors item.


And with that all that there is left to say is...



The verdict - A complete travesty. 5 stars.