Wednesday, 30 March 2005

Tying it all up

Various odds and ends so you don't think we've pulled the pin, or merged with another blog...

The injury list currently sits at two. With Phil Read out for at least one more week with a hamstring injury, and Daniel Ward out with a shoulder injury for another two months minimum. Alastair Nicholson is free to play on Saturday if required.

Speaking of Saturday, as we weer, Neale Daniher (almost) says the Bulldogs can jam the flood up their collective Bulldog backsides,

Melbourne coach Neale Daniher is not concerned with the growing trend of clubs using the flooding tactics, ahead of Saturday's clash with the Western Bulldogs.

With Rodney Eade's team repeat offenders of the infamous method, Daniher appears to be unfazed and believes that flooding is not something exclusive to the Dogs.

"There is a lot of flooding in all games. All clubs flood, so it's not unique to the Western Bulldogs," Daniher said.

"Carlton were probably the biggest flooders of all teams in the Wizard Cup, so I guess it sort of hangs around with Rodney because of his Sydney Swans days, but all teams flood at different degrees of flooding, so it's been around for seven or eight years."

What does concern Daniher is the threat of spectators becoming frustrated at teams constantly applying the flood, and consequently, the game losing part of its appeal.

Neale Daniher is never concerned. The man has ice in his veins. Even after that infamous Geelong game in 2003 when half the crowd were displaying homicidal tendencies and some yobbo leant over the race to give him a spray he didn't flinch. I applauded the yobbo at the time, and I still do now. As long as it's not a literal spray, Richmond style, I'm all for it. They know we secretly love them...

Monday, 28 March 2005

Around The Grounds

Post-Essendon match reaction,

The Age

Inefficient Dons
Kevin Sheedy said after Essendon's 46-point loss to Melbourne on Saturday night that the result could be put down to some silly errors and a lack of goalkicking ability up front.

If only that were true. Sure, there were a couple of howlers committed by Dustin Fletcher late in the second quarter, particularly one in which he did the hard work in the pocket and outmuscled David Neitz before kicking across goal to Adam Ramanauskas. Adem Yze made a great spoil running backwards and the ball spilled to Aaron Davey, who goaled.

But a limited number of errors do not explain a scoreline blowout of Saturday's magnitude. A look at the statistics shows that the Demons actually made 44 clangers for the game, as opposed to the Bombers' 42.

Dees' tribute to Troy
Melbourne coach Neale Daniher believes his grieving club can now move forward after the players fulfilled their wish to pay tribute to fallen teammate Troy Broadbridge by emphatically demolishing long-time nemesis Essendon by 46 points at the MCG last night.

The match, coming exactly three months after Broadbridge was swept away in the devastating Boxing Day tsunami, brought out "mixed emotions" of sadness and celebration about Broadbridge, said teammate Paul Wheatley, while Cameron Bruce, who dealt with Essendon champion James Hird, said the qualities Broadbridge had brought to the club would remain with them always.

"The memories of Troy are going to be with us forever," Bruce said. "The whole of this season's about having a little bit of Troy Broadbridge in all of us." Said Wheatley: "It's good to win for Broady, it's good for the club to get off to a good start."

Daniher said the emotion-charged victory - which was Melbourne's third victory against Essendon in their past 16 encounters - was "a terrific result" and there was now a sense of relief, given the players had fulfilled their pledge to win the match for Broadbridge, his widow Trisha, and his family.

A minute's silence marks the great loves of Troy
Trisha Broadbridge knew it would be hard to go to the footy last night, when she should have been sitting with the other wives and girlfriends in the stands and following the No.20 guernsey around the MCG.

Instead she was speaking at the Melbourne president's dinner, talking with remarkable control about her husband, Troy, and their time in Thailand together before the tsunami swept him away.

Then she was standing on the MCG, arm in arm with Demons captain David Neitz, as the Melbourne and Essendon players stood for a minute's silence in memory of Troy after the two teams, in a moving show of solidarity and empathy, walked onto the ground together and stood solemnly before their banners.

Demons outgun Bombers
Given the circumstances surrounding last night's game, many neutrals would have liked Melbourne to come out against Essendon and turn on the style. They might have been a little disappointed with what was, despite the 46-point margin, an at-times workman-like win.

The point was, though, that the Demons showed steel. Despite topping the table late last season, they never really convinced when the chips were down.

Last night, they outmuscled and outran the Bombers, turning the screw when they sensed weakness and giving nothing up for lost.

Essendon finished the first quarter two points up, Aaron Henneman kicking two goals to suggest he might be ready to silence his many doubters. James Hird was giving Cameron Bruce the run-around and recruit Angus Monfries was doing enough to suggest he might be a player of the future.

Moloney the Demon set to haunt Cats
It is perhaps unfair to suggest that Mark Thompson sold a perfectly good milking cow for a handful of beans at the end of last season when he traded Brent Moloney for Tigers big man Brad Ottens, but it is likely the Geelong coach will be hoping a little harder that he has found his goalkicking giant after last night's events at the MCG.

It was all cream from Moloney for his new coach, Neale Daniher, in his first match as a Demon, and his midfield power made no small contribution to the whipping Melbourne handed the Bombers. It gave further substance to the disappointment - it was not far from sorrow - that Thompson endured in letting the boy from Warrnambool go. Moreover, it intensified the spotlight that will track Ottens when he plays his first match as a Cat today - enticingly against his old club - and will continue to track his every move for the long-suffering folk of Geelong.
Demons do it for Broadbridge
It was a performance which would have made Troy Broadbridge proud.

On the night Melbourne paid its last respects to its fallen teammate, the defence which Broadbridge was part of last year completely shut down a disappointing Essendon as the Demons avenged last year's elimination final loss with a comfortable 15.13.(103) to 8.9 (57) victory at the MCG.

But while it was a great start to the 2005 home-and-away season for Melbourne as they bid to make successive finals series for the first time since 1991, the Bombers played just as they did during the pre-season when they were one of just three clubs that failed to register a victory.

Herald Sun
Grooming pays off
MELBOURNE, a convincing 46-point winner over Essendon, looks set to reap the rewards of a strategy instituted in 2003 to develop key-position players.

Coach Neale Daniher said it was no surprise that Jared Rivers (centre half-back) and Brad Miller (centre half-forward) were now established in those key roles.

And Ryan Ferguson, back in the team at full-back after missing last season because of a shoulder reconstruction, was also part of the equation, Daniher said.

Sunday, 27 March 2005

Q: Are we not men? A: We are Demons!

Until 6.15pm tonight I was still generally unconcerned with the 2005 AFL Premiership season. At that exact moment my stomach dropped, my heart rate went up at least 25% and I legitimately started to sweat. The bug had finally hit me again. Suddenly the prospect of hearing other supporters sing their club song in my general presence went from an uncomfortable prospect to a complete phobia.

The general mood of paranoia and suspicion didn't lighten when I arrived at the MCG to find queues a mile long, even for those of us with memberships and it took me a good 10 minutes of standing in line to even get in the door. Then I discovered that the bottom deck of the Southern Stand has suddenly become reserved tickets only, and for tonight the top deck was packed solid. I arrived at the top just in time for the second half of the Troy Broadbridge tribute. Now I may be the most cynical and bitter person alive but I can quite honestly say that even I had a tear in my eye by the time David Neitz appeared on the screen.

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By the time they actually did the minutes silence (running the standard AFL length of 35 seconds - idiots), I had already gone back down the stairs, got a passout and moved all the way to the bottom deck of the Ponsford Stand. And given the amount of time between the tribute and the silence it turned out to be one of the more poorly observed ones I've ever seen. That's not to say it was deliberate, but I think at first when they announced for people to stand for a minutes silence and the national anthem people expected the anthem to come first and treated it with contempt accordingly. Then 20 seconds in everyone realised what was happening and shut up. I heard one peanut yell out "Go Demons" in the distance but the people around me were nothing more than respectful. Good for them.

The return to the Ponsford was nice. Back of the bottom deck is looking like the place to be this season, with a good view of the field and a nice television screen in front of you switched to the Channel 9/10/whoever coverage rather than the MCG scoreboard channel and their farcical advertisements, promotions, contests and Vodafone Fan Cams.

"What about the game?" I hear you scream. Well, I suppose we could mention that. It started nicely with Brent Moloney opening his account for the club with the first goal, but after that things started to turn a bit nasty as James Hird ripped us to shreds down the members side wing for the first 15 minutes.

Heffernan and Brown came and went but the Essendon captain was treating us like his personal bitch - until Cameron Bruce stepped in and laid the smack down in emphatic fashion. With Hird out of the game the Essendon dream started to unfurl rapidly as their Lloyd-less forward line struggled to do anything right. As I said before the game when I saw Damien Cupido lining up at full-forward "If we can't beat a team with him as their major goalkicking option we may as well pull the pin on the season now" and that's the way it turned out. He's still shite.

Scott Lucas bobbed up every now and then but the rest of them were handily subdued by a revitalised backline led, unpredictably, by Ryan Ferguson who mocked the fact that he hadn't played a league game for 18 months and marshalled the defence superbly. Ably assisted by the once more impressive Jared Rivers, and Matthew Whelan we looked better in that department than we have since the Ingerson/Seecamp/Shanahan dream team of 1998.

At this point I'd like to direct a colossal whinge towards two groups of people. One are the idiots who boo loudly when an opposition player rushes a behind yet applaud their own side doing it as if it's the greatest tactical manouever ever invented. I'm aware that being a one sided prick is what sports is all about but let's not go completely wild about it eh? The other are the female supporters who just let rip with blood curdling, high pitched, top of the voice screams whenever their team kicks a goal. I'm 100% for women in football, don't worry about that, but have some consideration for the rest of us. Football matches are tense enough on their own without the prospect of receiving a migraine headache because Aaron Henneman kicks a goal. Ladies, they're bringing your whole side down - I plead with you to indulge in heart to heart conversations with your fellow supporters and convince them to scream obscenities instead like the rest of us. Thank christ the one sitting next to us went to spread the love somewhere else in the second half.

After going into the first quarter two points behind the forward/midfield combination started to feed off the backline and added six goals to three to give us a 20pt lead at the long break. Another whinge about the 'new' MCG is that you can't hear the siren in the Ponsford. For the first three quarters it was only when the players voluntarily walked that you knew it was over. I was dreading the prospect of a close game where the final siren went without us knowing it, and having to gauge the reaction of the crowd and players to see what the hell had happened. Thankfully by the time we'd increased the margin by 19 points at 3/4 time it was clearly not to be.

Some of you may remember a game in 1991 when we led the Bombers by 41 at the last change, kicked the first goal of the last quarter and then somehow managed to lose by a point to a Gavin Wanganeen goal after the siren. I certainly do. Ever since that day I have been unable to relax until we are at least four goals in front at the 20 minute mark of the last quarter. It wasn't until Adem Yze kicked his 4th with 12 minutes left and the margin blew out to 40 that I relaxed.

With the result wrapped up long before the final siren all that was left was to let rip with the "Unbridled Passion" remix of the Melbourne theme song, complete with jumping up and down and fist pumping. Not one other person in my section was making any effort to sing it so everyone started looking at me instead. Legitimately embarrassing - this particular piece of performance art is meant to complement the more standard versions of the tune rather than eclipse them. Next game I'm putting the balaclava on, and we'll see what they think then.

In the end it turns out there was only 45,000 people there, which shocked the hell out of me because the place looked absolutely packed everywhere but the top of the Ponsford. I'd hate to think what it'll look like on Queens Birthday against Collingwood. We may even have to, gasp, sit next to one of their toothless fans.

Now for the first installment of the " Player of the Year" - where I hand out the votes on a whim. You may disagree - but it doesn't matter.

5 - Brent Moloney
4 - Ryan Ferguson
3 - Cameron Bruce
2 - Adem Yze
1 - Jared Rivers

Credit to Brad Miller for marking anything that went near him. Russell Robertson was handy as well, doing some decent work in the field of harassing, blocking and scragging even when he wasn't picking up possessions. Guy Rigoni wasn't bad either for somebody who we've all written off on seven different occasions.

On the other hand Colin Sylvia was on the ground for ages and showed very little until the game was blown out in the last quarter, and Travis Johnstone did nothing until he gave it to the mutants in the Essendon cheersquad after kicking his goal. David Neitz continued his recent trend of going missing - which worries me greatly.

The final humiliation for Essendon fans came outside the ground as a harmless kick-to-kick ended with a chip pass going horribly astray and bouncing right underneath a Route 129 tram. There was a seconds silence as the entire stop turned around to see if we were about to witness a potential derailment scenario - then a giant CRUNCH echoed across the night sky as the ball was assimilated underneath with extreme prejudice. The tram stayed on the rails but the ball was never seen again - we presume it finally fell out somewhere around Exhibition Street. The poor Essendon bogan children were suitably sad. We just laughed.

Footy is back. For this week at least I am overjoyed. More news, views and reactions throughout the week. Next week - Melbourne vs Footscray, Saturday at Docklands. I like our chances...

Saturday, 26 March 2005

Official PLF Communication

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Greetings from the Premiership Liberation Front. We will give our lives to see a Melbourne Premiership in 2005. Expect further communications as the season continues.


Last minute analysis

First bounce in t-minus 8 hours. Are you feeling ill yet? I'm not. Wait until I get in the ground though and then it's shake, shake, shake, puke, puke, puke time. Anyway I've been obscenely distracted in the past few days and didn't take any time to have a close look at our lineup until now.

(Pinched lock, stock and barrel from Come and get me Demetriou!)

B: N.Brown, Ferguson, Bizzell
HB: Yze, Rivers, Wheatley
C: Johnstone, Bruce, Heffernan
HF: Robertson, Miller, McLean
F: Sylvia, Neitz, Green
FOLL: White, Moloney, Whelan
I/C: McDonald, Jamar, Davey, Rigoni
EMG: Bell, Godfrey, Nicholson
NEW: Brent Moloney (Geelong)

Gone from the team that lost the final against Essendon last year are Ben Holland (underdone, and half useless), Nicholson (unfit), Read (hamstrung). In come Sylvia (promising), Moloney (talented) and Ryan Ferguson (resurrected!)

In the same way that I completely forgot that Steven Armstrong was even on our list, I don't recall Mark Jamar or Guy Rigoni having been present on that fateful day in September.

I'm feeling confident about this match. That's a bad sign. Back Essendon.

The Sunday verdict: Melbourne by 26pts. Full report later tonight after I am released from police custody return home.

Wednesday, 23 March 2005

It's time

Three days and counting until our opening game of 2005. If previous experience has taught us anything you can pretty much write off the significance of Saturday night, because if we lose we'll have a bumper year and if we win we'll finish 14th and score more priority picks. Maybe it's the product of coming off a good season but if we lose by under 6 goals I won't be turning blue in the face and leaning over the race to try and slap the entire backline around the head.

But what will happen? When it comes to the Melbourne Football Club I'd be lying if I said I had any idea. Sure the signs are there - but you heard that before 2001 and 2003 as well didn't you? Well this time I believe it. This year we will back up for the first time in god knows how long and crack the Top 8 again. It's a suicidal call to stake your reputation on, but luckily I never had one to begin with.

Having said this I'm not going to go completely wild and declare that we're going to pick up where we left off last year (pre-collapse) and win the AFL Premiership. On this note I present the official Every Day Is Like Sunday 2005 season preview.

Jared Rivers. It's all about Jared Rivers. Decent support may come from Nicholson - who is still suspect against quick players - and Ryan Ferguson and Daniel Bell are getting better all the time but for us to have any chance of surviving matches against sides with profilic key forwards we must, MUST, have Rivers in the side and playing well. The one advantage of having a backman win the Rising Star competition is that he won't instantly end up in every opposition teams pre-match plans as somebody to stop like a midfielder or forward would.

Then there's Nathan Carroll. He's got a lot of mileage out of wrecking Barry Hall in the last game of 2003 because he's done sweet FA since. Will probably score a couple of games throughout the year, must do something this time or will end up as the new Chris Lamb - without the overwhelming public support.

I am, however, supremely confident in the contributions of Matthew Whelan, Clint Bizzell and Nathan Brown. If the ball hits the deck inside defensive 50 I'm alright, but when it's bombed in that the blood pressure starts to rise ever so much. I'd like to think that we could pull one of those outrageous attacking tactics where no matter how much they score we try to score more. But we can't.

Sure it'll take an injury crisis of black death proportions to put a dent in this department but the importance of our centre players can't be stressed enough. Replace Yze and Bruce, watch McLean suffer second year syndrome, see the much hyped Sylvia and Moloney not show their full potential and look at Phil Read/Simon Godfrey lose the plot completely and it's all over for us. We may as well withdraw halfway through the year and join the Diamond Valley League.

However it would take the biggest black magic voodoo conspiracy theory in the history of AFL/VFL football for all that to happen, and with able support from the likes of Brown and Bizzell running out of the backline, and with Brad Green and Aaron Davey playing more important midfield roles it looks as if we'll have one of the better group of running players in the competition. I suppose you may as well fit Travis Johnstone in there somewhere. I'm resigned to him breaking out a few cameo best on ground performances, going missing for the other 18 weeks and ending up getting traded to Carlton amongst gnashing of teeth and furious protests from the people who have been telling us that "this is his year" since 1999.

My opinion of James McDonald is delayed pending the performance of his brother in the edition of Fox Footy's "Lovematch" where he is playing to win me a $1000 Harvey Norman gift voucher. If he loses expect to hear loud boos everytime #23 touches the ball, but if I wins expect a post calling on JM to be the next captain.

Controversially I'm putting a giant question mark on this section. David Neitz is always good for goals but he's getting on, and as was proved during his form slump and subsequent injury at the end of last year there is no ready made replacement for him at full-forward if something happens. It's a good thing that goals come out of our midfield in decent numbers because for all the good things they do during the four quarters Robertson, Green and Davey are all capable of going missing and ending up with 0 goals.

Brad Miller was a revelation at CHF last year but he needs to kick more goals this year. Ben Holland was decidedly average, and despite his hefty paycheck may find himself squeezed out if Paul Johnson or Nick Smith kill it in the reserves.

In my uneducated opinion, if Neitz fails to kick 50 goals for the season and we don't locate another goalkicking source then we are in trouble. And what about when he retires? Ick, I don't want to think about it.

If Jeff White survives his traditional injury scare and the new ruck rules he will be vital. But as every article about Melbourne in the last four years has pointed out - if he has a shocker of a year so do the club. All I will say is thank god we cheated the salary cap to get him. Given that we lost a couple of draft picks where we would have probably picked more Cockatoo-Collins brother style duds I'm prepared to go back in history and do it all over again. Mark Jamar is a more than capable back up, but nothing compares to the original.

Brief commentary on the rest of our list,

Steven Armstrong - Forgot he was still on the list. Not a bad player but could see a lot of the Trevor Barker Oval in Sandringham this year.

Lynden Dunn - How the hell should I know? If human sacrifice could guarantee high draft picks would be superstars I'd have already done it.

Chris Heffernan - I'm sure he'll be there or there abouts. Risks becoming a massive heel to the MFC fanbase if he doesn't start dominating soon.

Cameron Hunter - Has apparently bulked up - which was not difficult given that in his debut season he had the physique of a cancer patient with AIDS and a heroin habit. Despite the ever dubious 'project player' tag, this could be his last year. Feed him some Quarter Pounders I say.

Chris Johnson - People who know about this sort of thing say that he's getting better all the time. Good. Let's keep it low-key then.

Shannon Motlop - Set to be part of either a September fairytale or a Sandringham VFL Premiership. Clearly the best choice of the discarded players available to join us, but time will tell whether or not he's still got what it takes to play league football.

Michael Newton - No relation to Bert, and no senior games this year.

Guy Rigoni - Lucky to avoid getting the arse at the end of the last two seasons. I've got nothing against the idea of him rocking up for a few cameo roles throughout the year, but his long-term future is cloudy. Let's just say I wouldn't be buying a new house if I was him.

Brendan Van Schaik - Who? Top name though - I'll support him just because of that. According to the OS he's a ruckman. See you in 2006!

Daniel Ward - Rapidly sliding out of favor. I'd be surprised if they didn't try and flog him during the last trade period. I've always quite liked him but I don't see him as anything more than fringe this season.

Matthew Warnock - Quick defender. The two sweetest words I have ever heard.

Luke Williams - What are you still doing here? Sorry Luke but trains to Sandringham depart from Platforms 9 and 10. I'd like to say he will not appear in the senior side unless we hit rock bottom and will play anyone (see, closing rounds of 2003) but when I looked up and saw him waltzing down the wing in the Wizard Cup game against Carlton I got a shudder right through my body. Expect a picketline outside the MCG by round 6.

The Vibe
The Broadbridge factor is questionable. I don't buy this line about them "playing for him". No matter how emotional the situation is, and how much well all want them to do well to honor his memory, you can't paper over cracks for 22 weeks with good intentions alone. Make no mistake the cracks are there.

If you take into account the three grafted wins against the worst of sides in the competition in the weeks leading to our dramatic 2004 collapse we haven't beaten a decent team for the last 8 competitive matches. This season we knocked over the Llane Spaandermann-tastic Brisbane Lions reserves in the Wizard Cup and were then lucky to get within four goals of a rejuvenated but still dubious Carlton side. The signs are there, but whether they develop into full blown footballing hysteria is to be seen.

On the other hand, membership is rising and there's some danger that we may achieve financial stability within the next few years. Things are looking good, we just need to make sure that everything doesn't go down the toilet with a rotten season. Cross your fingers, CROSS THEM HARD. Let's do this thing...

Monday, 21 March 2005


From The Age,

The last time Melbourne played Essendon, Troy Broadbridge delivered a performance that epitomised the qualities of the quiet, emerging defender and his place within the Melbourne Football Club.

He had been given a great task - to try to hold back Essendon champion James Hird - and the dedicated worker rose to the occasion of the elimination final and delivered what many consider to be the finest performance of his 40-game career, which began and ended in matches against the Bombers.

On Saturday night, exactly three months after Broadbridge was swept away in the Boxing Day tsunami that devastated countries and hundreds of thousands of lives, Melbourne again confronts Essendon, this time in its 2005 season opener.

It will do so in a swirl of emotions as the players run out on the MCG without Broadbridge. While former Kangaroo Shannon Motlop came on to the list last week, all at Melbourne know that Broadbridge cannot be replaced.

On Saturday, tributes will be paid to him with the wearing of black armbands and a minute's silence. To mark the new season, 2005 red balloons will be released plus another 20 in honour of the red-headed Broadbridge's guernsey number

Dear Essendon fans. If you are planning to ruin the minute's silence by yelling out something 'hillarious' then I advise you to pre-book your dental appointment for Monday morning. It's over if one prick yells out...

Pre-Season whinge

Now while I applaud them for catering to new supporters (DISCLAIMER FOLLOWS) I think the club are expecting an influx of bandwagon fans in 2005. The season guide that landed in my letterbox today contains the following nuggets of information,

In the "What do I need to take to the football?" section, in addition to the obvious (membership card) we get the following,

* Members Privelege Scarf (hmph.. i'll stick to the old one)
* Warm clothing if it is a cool day as it can get cold in the stadiums (WHAT? Are we catering to complete idiots and corporate scum?)
* Cushion to sit on if you would like a padded seat (Yes, apparently we are)
* Sunglasses and a hat to shield from the sun (Surely they were just padding the word count..)
* Binoculars and a camera are allowed and are optional (Which is good news for those of you who were worried they would be compulsory)
* Copies of the AFL rulebook will be available at the club office (No, I just made that one up - but the Melbourne Storm do it..)

Then there's a detailed guide on how to get to the MCG. Maybe we've got international visitors? Hillariously they offer five lines on how to get there but just direct you to a website for Telstra Dome. That's an attitude towards Corporate Stadium that I can appreciate.

Why would people jump on the MFC bandwagon? Are Demons the new black? I expect celebrity glitz and glamour at all our games this season now, and if at least one second rate neighbours celebrity doesn't list us as her favourite side during an interview I'll be outraged.

Welcome on board corporate high flyers and new age trendy supporters! However, we do not advise that you snort cocaine off MCG toilet seats as they have not been cleaned since we last won a flag.

Friday, 18 March 2005

Around The Grounds

Motlop officially a Demon,

After some last-minute confusion, Melbourne has managed to secure a deal with North Adelaide for the release of midfielder/forward Shannon Motlop to replace the late Troy Broadbridge on the Demons' list for 2005.

The Demons and North Adelaide had both submitted the appropriate paperwork with the AFL by the 9.30am Tuesday deadline set by the League, but were unable to receive acknowledgement from the AFL that the deal had been approved because league officials were tied up in a meeting.

As a result, senior coach Neale Daniher, who had been expecting to announce that Motlop was now a Demon, advised the media at training at Victoria Park just before 10am that there had been a hold-up.

Eddie uses MFC as a pawn in TV rights scandal,

The future of three Victorian clubs could be endangered if there is no auction of the next round of AFL media rights, Channel Nine's Eddie McGuire said in a blistering attack last night.

He said the alliance of Seven and Ten - trying to squeeze Nine out of the bidding - was a push to get football rights at "bargain basement prices".

"There'll be lucky to be eight clubs in the competition if the competitive balance fund goes, if . . . there's no rights money coming in," McGuire said on The Footy Show. The fund has propped up the finances of the Western Bulldogs, the Kangaroos and Melbourne in recent years.

"Let's not forget that this game of AFL football is still in a precarious economic condition," McGuire said.

He said the Nine network was yet to decide whether to launch a rival bid.

Melbourne vs Essendon, 7.10pm Saturday March 26th at the MCG. Bring it on.

Wednesday, 16 March 2005

Pre-Season analysis (Part 345)

Robert Walls, in the Age today, selects three players that each side in the competition can least afford to lose to injury. What he said about us...

The player Neale Daniher could least afford to lose is his ruck-man Jeff White. While a fine ruckman, White also averages close to 18 disposals a game. David Neitz, now into his sixth year as skipper, directs the for-ward line and gives grunt to a team that has little. Jared Rivers, with only 25 games to his credit, becomes so import-ant to Demon premiership aspirations as he fills the all-important centre half-back pos-ition in a team that has few key defenders.

What about Shannon 'Pitchfork' Motlop? I'm getting right on board that bandwagon.

The pre-season is almost over. Soon enough we'll actually have real news to discuss soon. Hang in there!


Motlop is in. Pending the approval of some second rate pub team...

MELBOURNE has struck a snag in its bid to add Kangaroos premiership player Shannon Motlop to its list as a replacement for tsunami victim Troy Broadbridge.

Motlop is believed to have signed with the Demons at the weekend, when recruiting manager Craig Cameron went to Darwin to watch him play.

But North Adelaide is incensed it has not been consulted over a possible release for Motlop, who is contracted to the Roosters for the 2005 season.

North Adelaide chief executive Glenn Elliott said last night he had heard on the "grapevine from Darwin" that Motlop had signed with the Demons.

"We've heard they've got Shannon to sign some papers," said Elliott, a former St Kilda and Melbourne player.

"It will be welcome to the real world for Melbourne; he is a currently contracted player and they've been aware of that all the way along the road.

"We'd have thought that, given the professionalism of football, this may well have been handled in a far more forthright and upfront manner."

Give them a slab of VB, free tickets to our away game against Port and a free Quarter Pounder voucher from Glenelg McDonalds and piss them off. Welcome Shannon Motlop!

Tuesday, 15 March 2005


The Age previews our 2005 season.. Given that nobody actually reads the Age you don't have to take any of it seriously.

In the disappointment of five straight losses to end 2004, and an eventual finish of seventh, it was easy to forget that Melbourne headed the AFL ladder as late as round 18, when the Demons' win-loss record stood an impressive 14-4.

That was no fluke, either. A month before the finals, Melbourne was every bit as serious a flag contender as fellow upstarts St Kilda and Geelong proved to be, the Demons having earned plenty of respect with their exciting, hard-running game, and a real evenness across the line-up.

And there's little reason not to expect the same from Melbourne in 2005, even if recent history has taught Demon fans that a football year ending in an odd number usually means disaster.

While it may not have the out-and-out superstars of a Brisbane Lions or West Coast policing its midfield, Melbourne has a depth of engine-room talent the envy of most of its rivals, featuring a group of players whose improvement has been steady rather than spectacular.

Cameron Bruce and Brad Green are now far more than the handy forward goalkickers they started out as, their skill a real plus in the centre square, while lesser lights such as James McDonald and Matthew Whelan are also more important contributors these days. Geelong pick-up Brent Moloney has impressed during the pre-season and gives coach Neale Daniher another string to his midfield bow.

There's an outstanding ruckman in Jeff White to work with them. Then there's a clutch of fast-emerging kids; goalsneak Aaron Davey, backman Jared Rivers and key forward Brad Miller are the pick, but Brock McLean, Daniel Bell and Colin Sylvia are capable of making just as big an impression.

The "ifs" for the Demons are probably at either end of the ground. There's still a dependence on ageing skipper David Neitz for goals, Melbourne's bad days usually corresponding with his. A greater goalkicking return from Miller, Russell Robertson or Ben Holland would certainly ease those concerns.

Defensively, too, Melbourne can look a little vulnerable, full-back Alistair Nicholson game enough but outclassed against the very best key forwards, Rivers too young and inexperienced to be expected to handle centre half-back week after week. A successful return by Ryan Ferguson from a season ruined by injury certainly would give the back line a more solid look.

But Melbourne is well-coached enough, hungry enough, and has enough class throughout its list to overcome those doubts. This time, there will be little excuse should the odd number at the end of the year coincide with another Demon slide.

Serious analysis aside they eventually get to the "our experts select " section,

Rohan Connolly 4th

Karen Lyon 5th

Jake Niall 7th

Emma Quayle 7th

Peter Schwab 6th

Robert Walls 6th

Tim Watson 7th

Caroline Wilson 2nd

I'd like to give her the benefit of the doubt but anyone who thinks we're the second best side in the competition needs their head examined. I think those who have 6th are the closest to the mark.

Monday, 14 March 2005

World class

Exciting scenes at yesterday's AFL Multicultural Cup. The program listed a #7 for Croatia as being "Brent Grgic". Now he had the name, and he played like the original but he didn't look anything like him. I was disappointed.

For the record Greece, featuring ex-Fitzroy/Richmond player John Rombotis beat ex-Bulldog Sedat Sir's Turkey side in football's oldest grudge match to win the competition.

Sunday, 13 March 2005

The Filth and the Fury

Buried deep in a far less exciting story about Brad Green being elevated to the leadership group is this world class comment from MFC President Paul Gardner,

"You never know, this might be our year, I reckon we're a chance," Gardner said.

"We'd like to really crack 27,500-28,000 (members). Who knows, maybe even hit 30,000 and make the AFL sit up and take notice that this club isn't just the Melbourne Football Club, it's the football club of Melbourne and we are back in town."

Gardner, excited by the eagerly anticipated round one clash against Essendon on Easter Saturday, had a clear message for the Bombers.

"Let's pump the Bombers. I'm sick to death of the Bombers. Let's get rid of the Bombers," Gardner told the crowd.

What passion! What unbridled fury! No President of our club has fired up so comprehensively since they tried to shaft us into a merger with Hawthorn. "Let's get rid of the Bombers". What a quote. HAIL THE GREAT MAN.

Now we go to school...

Hands up who else fell to their knees and started thanking the football gods for their bounty when you heard this news. Well I did anyway - in a service station in Nunawading.

Essendon spearhead Matthew Lloyd could be back in action sooner than originally thought, after breaking his arm in Friday night's Wizard Regional Challenge match against Geelong.

Lloyd is optimistic about a return in round three against Hawthorn, which is a positive sign for the key Bomber, given that he was originally quoted a six-week recovery period.

The gun full-forward left hospital on Sunday morning after undergoing surgery to repair the broken bone in his forearm.

Lloyd is hopeful of a speedy recovery process, to enable him to line up for the Bombers' clash against the Hawthorn on April 10.

Does this mean we're a red hot lock to win in round one? Certainly not - but it does a lot for taking out their biggest strength and helping us with our giant weakness. Suddenly I'm more confident. It's taken this to do it. What a disgrace.

Friday, 11 March 2005

Take a deep breath

We took on the worst non-Victorian side in the competition and won. If we hadn't I was ready to come on here and declare that the season was OVER already.

Final Score
Melbourne 16.15.111
Adelaide 12.14.86

Neitz and Davey, 4 goals each. Adelaide suffered a black death style injury crisis throughout the match. According to the BigFooty Adelaide Forum we were, in fact, 9 points down at 3/4 time. Then Brett Burton did his hamstring and they put the handbrake on. It didn't help because then Mark Stevens did his knee and we ended up running over the top. Now for Round One. I'm scared. Somebody hold me.

More updates, news and review as it comes to hand.

Thursday, 10 March 2005

News roundup

For anyone who takes this site as their main source of MFC News (hah!) you might care to know that the practice match against Adelaide that was originally scheduled for Saturday at Optus Oval has somehow ended up on Friday at 4pm. Now I can't go. Outrageous. Once again if you are planning on turning up and can be bothered sticking a report together please send it in via

In other news...

Ryan Ferguson is back!

Certainly, there are pages of last year's diary the young Melbourne defender would happily tear out. Ferguson would prefer not to have celebrated his breakthrough senior season with three lots of shoulder surgery.

He would have played his first game well before round eight, somewhere other than the Sandringham reserves, and worn his No. 35 Melbourne guernsey at least on Saturday afternoon.

But by the end of last year, Ferguson saw himself as a Sandringham player, and not really a Demon. To finish the season a VFL premiership player meant it was not a complete write-off.
(click for more...)

and Shannon Motlop is.. keen!

Melbourne yesterday described its initial meeting with former Kangaroos premiership player Shannon Motlop as that of "a pretty keen young man" eager to resurrect his AFL career after he flew in to convince the Demons to give him a second chance.

With the club to decide on Tuesday who will replace Troy Broadbridge on its list - or indeed, whether anyone will be chosen to replace him - Motlop, whose brother Daniel plays for the Kangaroos and cousin Aaron Davey is already with the Demons, was "dying" to impress.

Melbourne recruitment and list manager Craig Cameron said Motlop, who plays for North Adelaide in the SANFL and with Wanderers in Darwin, had been enthusiastic but no promises had been made by the club.

"We had a chat with him this afternoon, a discussion about where he's at and what pre-season he's had and he'll be medically screened in the next day or two," Cameron said.

"He was the same as all the other guys, to be honest. They see an opportunity that they didn't think was going to come until the end of the year. I thought he was a pretty keen young man."
(Click for more...)

In a completely non-comic and serious way isn't that "dying" comment a bit dubious given the reason he's trying out for the side? Couldn't they have left that bit out?

Wednesday, 9 March 2005

That was unexpected...

Suddenly a new contender emerges. Family connections! Premiership player! Get excited? Maybe.

Melbourne coach Neale Daniher has confirmed that 1999 Kangaroos premiership player Shannon Motlop is in contention to be the club's replacement player for Troy Broadbridge, who tragically died during the December Indian Ocean tsunami disaster.

Motlop, 26, who played 54 matches for the Kangaroos from 1999-03, has since been playing for North Adelaide in the SANFL and has also played football in his native Northern Territory over the summer.

Sign him up. The alternatives are too distressing to consider,

Along with Motlop, Daniher confirmed former AFL-listed players Kris Barlow, Adrian Cox and Justin Blumfield were still in contention to replace Broadbridge.

Interestingly, Daniher didn't entirely rule out Barlow, who has since stated his intentions to remain with Vermont in the Eastern Football League in Victoria, after he was delisted by Hawthorn at the end of the 2004 season.

"Either myself or (Melbourne recruiting and list manager) Craig Cameron will have a chat with him today, but it is well documented that Kris is coming on 32 with a young family and we respect his decision, if he decides that AFL is probably not a live option for him at the moment - we respect that," Daniher said.

Vermont indeed. If the place was good enough for Andrew Lamprill it's good enough for Kris Barlow. Leave him there.

I hear Allen Jakovich is still without a club for the new season...

Tuesday, 8 March 2005

Know thy enemy...

... because we're just making it up as we go along. Ladies and gentlemen, the official Every Day Is Like Sunday predicted AFL 2005 Premiership Season ladder. Last year I got both the Premiers and wooden spooners right AND picked Collingwood to be complete rubbish. Sadly I didn't actually write it down anywhere to prove it so feel free to question such outrageous claims.

1 - Port Adelaide
It's all about dynasties. I don't expect any team to win less than two in a row for the next few years. If I see Peter Walsh lifting the AFL Premiership trophy I will simultaneously be happy for him and shed a silent tear at the same time. You can't pick against them to win it again. Maybe they'll go back to choking in the finals again?

2 - West Coast
Biiiiiiig improvers. Mind you I've said this for three years. This time I'm tipping them all the way into a Grand Final before the inevitable poleaxing defeat in front of a mild MCG crowd.

3 - St. Kilda
If Fraser Gehrig is allowed to kick another hundred goals I'm going to start watching D Grade amateurs instead of the AFL. In my completely uneducated and sub-Mike Sheahan opinion they're every possible chance of winning it next year after going close in '05.

4 - Brisbane
On the way out. Four years ago they were cute, cuddly and we all secretly wanted them to succeed. Now we hope they crash and burn. Stand up if you love the tall-poppy syndrome. Remember when we beat them by 98 points at the MCG in 1998 and Jeff White took a fairly average "screamer" that Kevin Bartlett attempted to force "Mark of the Year" on? Didn't you just throw things at the TV when that came on the replay? I did.

5 - Geelong
Came within one decent quarter of rolling Brisbane in the prelim final last year. I don't quite see Brad Ottens as the solution to all that is wrong in the Greater City of Geelong but he can't hurt. There or thereabouts. Which is what you say when you've got no idea.

6 - Melbourne
Let's be entirely honest here - why would anyone think we're a Premiership threat? Our forward line is on and off like a tap, and the backline is dubious at best. When the midfield inevitably start dropping like flies we're in trouble. Prove me wrong! When we win a Premiership this post will be altered so take a screenshot now.

7 - Fremantle
Awful Jeff Farmer Wizard Cup ads notwithstanding I quite like the Dockers. If Chris Connolly can't get them into the 8 this year he should not only have his contract extension torn up but he should be burnt on a stake in the middle of Subiaco during the Eagles first finals match.

8 - Sydney
I find it hard to hate Sydney. They've got such a jaunty theme song and all sorts of old people seem to love them. Then I remember their pivotal role as AFL lovechilds and wish for a return to the days of the early 90's when they'd play in front of 10000 people and lose every week. Except when they beat us by 8 goals after losing 30 in a row. Bastards. Meanwhile I still haven't forgiven Barry Hall for his attempted murder of a Febey brother during the 1998 finals series.

9 - Essendon
We've all been waiting years to write them off. I'm not sure if 9th = off but I'm going with it anyway. One of these days Sheedy will finally throw off the last few shackles of sanity and go completely mad, and I'm predicting it'll come by Round 10. Anyone who thinks Hird will go a full 22 rounds without doing himself in at least once is deluding themselves. Bombers fans (as if you'd be reading this anyway..) Justin Murphy can't save you this time. Look what happened to the lot who rolled us in the first round last year. If you don't know which side I'm referring to please scroll down - a lot.

10 - Carlton
I'm dubious on this one. Theoretically they could turn around and make the 8 or they could be pulling off a giant tease and be completely mediocre. Either way it's a step up. If they're lucky they'll confine their 100+ point losses to a grand total of 0 this season. I'm scared of Lance Whitnall - he reminds me, in a good way, of King Kong on the loose.

11 - North Melbourne
Yawn. Wake me up in another two decades when they're either very good or comically bad. Who actually plays for them?

12 - Richmond
Better. But that's not saying much. As much as I like Terry Wallace I'd be mildly amused if his supposedly club-saving reign is a complete failure. Especially given the length of contract they handed him - try paying that out. Richo is predicted to have an average of at least 0.7 tantrums a game across the season.

13 - Footscray
They might be good next year. Or they might be complete balls. How should I know? Is this "View From The West - The Footscray FC blog"? In a completely spiteless way my interest in their club is even less than I have in North. They're just... inoffensive.

14 - Collingwood
A list so paper-thin it's a wonder they aren't still sponsored by Spicers. If it wasn't for him you wouldn't even know they were in the competition. Thousands of children around Australia are predicted to develop lifelong emotional traumas after seeing footage of their fans celebrating a rare win as if it were a Premiership. Interesting fact - Leon Davis has played in two Grand Finals!

15 - Adelaide
Only home ground advantage can save them from their inaugural spoon. Was it that many years ago that Malcolm Blight was making shit up as he went along (Trent Ormond-Allen in the ruck! Shane Ellen as a forward!) and somehow winning two Premierships in the process? Actually it was. Now they're rubbish. The only thing more hillarious than their inept performances will be the name Graham Johncock.

16 - Hawthorn
They tried their hardest to crack it for 16th last year but found Richmond to be a marginally shitter side. This time I predict they will achieve their aim. Whether or not they draft the best player in the land with #1 or trade it for a 1987 Mitsubishi Magna is yet to be seen.

It's oh so quiet...

For an AFL pre-season there's precious little MFC related news going around. In these situations we all know that the solution is to make up outrageous rumors and cause controversy - so get started. I'll start - I heard somebody in a bar say that Neale Daniher is going to get the arse and Jeff Hilton will take over as coach by Round 6.. FACT. See how easy that was? Now you try.

Other than that the only story sparking the slightest interest is the "Yze ready for Round One" bombshell.

Melbourne midfielder Adem Yze is confident that he will be available for the Demons' Round One clash with the Bombers, after crunching his shoulder in Melbourne's Wizard Regional Challenge Series match in Lavington on Friday night.

Initially it was thought that the resilient Yze had broken his collarbone - an injury which would have ended his streak of 178 consecutive matches since 1997.

When Yze collided with St Kilda forward Brent Guerra, he instantly thought the worst.

"No doubt, I was a little bit worried there for awhile, but it's just a bit of bruising and a jarred shoulder, it's probably something that I wanted to hear, and yeah, it's a good result," Yze said on Monday.

During this official lull in proceedings feel free to peruse a message board and see what kind of complete lunacy you can come up with.

Monday, 7 March 2005

Retro Repost

With all the MFC related news today about The Terminator and his round one comeback I've had to resort to the oldest move in the book and bring out a post from last season.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you my 'review' of last year's Wizard Cup semi-final. Sit back, light a cigar - as all Melbourne fans are legally obliged to do - and take a trip down memory lane.

And that's the end of that

OR.. How I saw Melbourne’s last chance of winning anything ever go out the window.

Yes I was one of the 18000 odd there tonight to see Melbourne do their now traditional folding under pressure in the last quarter and go down to Geelong in the Wizard Cup semi final.

* Shockingly I have no complaints with the Dome tonight. The turf was actually decent and they were kind enough to let us plebs sit in the expensive seats without having to sell our livers to shadowy internal organ dealers in Bangkok to fund it.

* The lesser lights shone. Scott Thompson is going to be a star and Aaron Davey appears to be closer in talent to Jeff Farmer than Scott Chisholm.

* There are signs. Good signs. With some more confidence we could (COULD) have a decent season. Probably finish last now.

* We wouldn’t have beaten either of the sides we would have played in the final.


* Pissweak crowd again. You’d be lucky to get our fans to go out to Telstra Dome if you kidnapped their kids and threatened to kill them. No matter what the venue is you should always go to support your team if you claim to be a ‘massive’ fan. If your team decides to play for Premiership points in Amsterdam you at least should seriously investigate the possibility of going to see it.

* The defence. Nicholson was outplayed by everyone and Carroll never had the chance to bring his shocking hairstyle onto the field. It looks as if the great “shaft Chris Lamb�? campaign is on again this season as well. He would have fit in nicely tonight.

* Big guns fail to fire. Yze, Bruce, Green, McDonald, Brown not seen to fire a shot.

* The umpiring. They didn’t seem to understand the rules, giving a relay free-kick as 6 points in the first quarter and then 9 in the last (and we still lost).

* We lost. By a point. To a side who severely lack stars. Kent Kingsley has best days of the year against us.

We’ll be playing some shitty regional challenge match in Manangatang next week.

Managatang? Kidnapping people's kids? What an era. I was informed, post game, that Green actually had a ripper and that I couldn't call a game to save my life. That's got to fill you with confidence for the season to come...

Sunday, 6 March 2005

It lives!

Adem "The Terminator" Yze. Takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

MELBOURNE'S indestructible midfielder Adem Yze will be fit to continue his remarkable 178-match unbroken run after being diagnosed yesterday with only minor ligament damage to his shoulder.

Yze was in pain after he crunched his right shoulder in Melbourne's practice match against St Kilda on Friday and the club feared he might have seriously damaged his collarbone.

Tests yesterday showed he had strained his shoulder, and while he will miss Melbourne's last hit-out against Adelaide on Friday it won't prevent him playing in Round 1 against Essendon.

Football manager Chris Fagan said the injury had occurred where the sternum connected to the clavicular bone, which runs across the front of the shoulder joint.

"It is not a serious injury. He probably won't play this week in the practice game on Friday night, but he will fine for Round 1," he said.

In other sick note related news,

X-rays cleared Russell Robertson of any damage yesterday after he injured his back in a marking contest and he might play on Friday.

Jared Rivers trained late in the week after recovering from a broken right hand and is likely to play against Adelaide.

Friday absentees David Neitz (stiff back), Travis Johnstone (hip flexor), Alistair Nicholson (broken finger), Cameron Bruce (corked leg) and Steven Armstrong (back) should be fine for Round 1.

Hands up if you forgot Stevie Armstrong was still on our list. I did.

Saturday, 5 March 2005

Qualifying session

That's it. The David Schwarz Memorial Oval in Lavington is now officially on the blacklist after taking it's latest victim.

Melbourne star midfielder Adem Yze's seemingly unstoppable run of appearances might have come to an end on Friday night after injuring his collarbone in the Demons' 10-point victory against St Kilda at Lavington.

Yze, who has played 187 successive games for his club, left the field in the third quarter after a collision with a St Kilda opponent.

The All-Australian player was taken to hospital following the match for scans and would e in serious doubt for Melbourne's opening round clash with Essendon in three weeks time.

"I just got hit," Yze said leaving the rooms. "It was a hip and shoulder ... it's pretty sore."

The Demons, who were without skipper David Neitz and Rising Star Jared Rivers, were impressive in the second half after trailing early in the match to a slick Saints outfit.

But it's not all bad news,

Trailing by seven points at three-quarter time, a six-goal to three final term for handed Melbourne an impressive victory, 14.9 (93) to 12.11 (83) in a high-standard affair.

Ex-Geelong midfielder Brent Moloney was the standout for his new club, kicking three goals and was a major catalyst for at least four others.

Ben Holland stood tall in attack during the final term, kicking three goals from three contested marks.

The search for our new player might have been over. I wonder if this guy is related to Brad Green?

Ben Green and Brad Miller caused the Saints headaches at half-forward while 2003 first round draft picks Brock McLean and Colin Sylvia were impressive.

Melbourne: 2.2, 5.4, 8.8, 14.9 (93)
St Kilda: 3.6, 6.7, 9.9, 12.11 (83)

Goals - Holland 3, Moloney 3, Green 3, Miller, Sylvia, Robertson, Bruce, Davey
Best - Moloney, Miller, McLean, Green, Sylia, Read
Crowd - 12,157 <-- Holy shit! People will want to move us to Lavington if we don't watch out.

Friday, 4 March 2005

No surprises

The news from the Big Footy Melbourne forum is that Kris Barlow has turned down the offer to be a Sandringham Zebra in 2005. Whether this is true or not is yet to be seen but if you can't trust a Hawthorn fan called "Fabulous" for your hot gossip and football rumor then there's clearly nothing left to believe in.

I would like to volunteer to take the spot if they can't find anybody else. I'll work for minimum wage and provide the sort of heartwarming "Look, he can't actually play the game. How cute" story that Today Tonight and dumbass Hollywood producers will be all over. The minor outlay will pay out a thousand times over after the footage of goals missed from point blank range and an unconcious Adam sprayed across the MCG turf from an attempted shirtfront that wouldn't have hurt a 12-year-old schoolgirl is turned into a major motion picture. Makes sense to me anyway.

Thursday, 3 March 2005

Relocation special

Goodbye Junction Oval, goodbye Sandringham, goodbye Victoria Park. Hello Swan Street,

The establishment of a new home ground could be a turning point for Melbourne, "the wanderers of the AFL", coach Neale Daniher said yesterday.

Speaking after it was revealed in The Age yesterday that the Demons were close to securing a home at Olympic Park, Daniher said the prospect of finally settling down after using Junction Oval as a base for 10 years was terrific.

"It's quite exciting, we've been the wanderers of AFL," Daniher said while his squad trained at Collingwood's old home ground, McHale Stadium. Highlighting the Demons' problem, Junction Oval will be unsuitable for football training until a pitch is removed at the end of the cricket season.

"I think it will be terrific for our playing group, our club, our sponsors. It will be a turning point given we've been everywhere for the last 20 or 30 years," Daniher said.

Red hot prediction: Within five years of the place opening the Storm and Victory will have folded. If we're lucky.

Wednesday, 2 March 2005

MFC World Tour 2005

Road-trip fans rejoice. The Demons are coming to a rural and regional centre near you. Well 'near' if you live in Lavington anyway. Friday Night sees Melbourne take on St. Kilda at the David Schwarz Memorial Oval (as it shall henceforth be known). First bounce is 7pm AEDT and for all I know the lighting will be provided by the front row of the carpark putting their high beams on.

Unfortunately I will be unable to attend due to work commitments - and you know I would so be there otherwise - so if anyone else is planning on playing the V-Line card and travelling up (!?) there please feel free to let us know via and I'll arrange to post it.

It's alleged that we will play the Adelaide Crows the next week at Optus Oval. If we can't get a result against a second rate side like that in a 'home' game we may as well pull the pin on the entire season before it even kicks off. The latest Centrebet market for the first "sack the board" headline on this page has "before Round Six" as the overwhelming favourite.

Tuesday, 1 March 2005

I'm interested in apathy...

It's not too often that I agree wholeheartedly with Mike Sheahan but this article sums up my feelings about the coming season perfectly. The deluded will probably tell you that we're a dead set certainty for the Premiership but all the signs point to upper level mediocrity at best. When we win the flag this post will mysteriously disappear.

HISTORY says at least one of last year's finalists will fall out of the eight this year.

The vulnerable three are Melbourne, Essendon and Sydney, with Melbourne and Essendon most at risk.

It's difficult to dismiss Melbourne's dismal finish to the 2004 season, which ended with five straight losses.

Rounds 19-22 were terrible. Four scores that produced just 31 goals; four losses by a total of 162 points.

Then came a spirited fightback in the first week of the finals before the Demons eventually fell five points short against Essendon.

Essendon was gone a week later so it's difficult to measure the worth of the elimination final performance.

On the other hand, Melbourne was on top of the ladder, a win clear of the pack, after Round 18.

It was that sort of season for the Demons. A first-round loss to Hawthorn followed by six wins in a row, and then a mixed bag that included losses to Adelaide and Carlton, and wins over Essendon and St Kilda.

As capable as the Demons were along the way, they weren't good enough in the end, even with Jeff White, Adem Yze, Cameron Bruce and David Neitz all having seasons that were solid (Yze and Neitz) to excellent (White and Bruce).

Throw in the improvement from Nathan Brown, beaten by White by one vote in the best-and-fairest, Brad Green, Brad Miller and Jared Rivers, and you have a team that didn't have much go wrong.

Clint Bizzell was the only frontline player to miss a significant number of games (nine), although skipper Neitz missed the last two, including the final.

Troy Broadbridge, Darren Jolly, Scott Thompson, Peter Vardy and Peter Walsh have departed for various reasons, with just one replacement of proven quality: Brent Moloney.

The pre-season competition has produced a win over a second-string Brisbane Lions in Cairns and a 10-point loss to Carlton on Sunday night.

Lance Whitnall and Brendan Fevola again exposed Melbourne's concerns in defence, but Alistair Nicholson and Rivers were among the missing. While Nicholson's no Tassie Johnson, he is an experienced, committed, durable defender.

Rivers is a class player, but he's young (20) and light. He is listed at 90kg; he must have been lumping his footy gear (wet) when weighed.

The other concern is Neitz's erratic formline. He booted 69 from 21 last year, but his best and worst are a long way apart.

He kicked six or more goals five times, he also kicked none or one five times. Melbourne won just one of his five downers.

He remains the barometer of this group. He is a magnificent leader when on song, yet can look totally lost on a bad day.

White also is critically important. When he has a good year, so does the team. He was excellent last year, although the workload started to tell late in the season.

White now has the new ruck rule to adjust to. It's early days, but he might be the player who has the most difficulty adapting, given his running-jumping style.

If the better players of 2004 can hold their form, the Demons can hold their ground.

If, though, Rivers, Miller and Aaron Davey drop back for whatever reason, the task will be significantly more difficult.

Rivers and Miller occupy key positions at 20 and 21 respectively, while Davey is a second-year player who is going to get close attention.

Melbourne can make the eight, but its better players are going to have to perform to their very best again, and they have an erratic history.


But never fear ladies - there's hot Colin Sylvia action in this article. If everything else goes down the tubes I suggest staring at that picture for the rest of the season instead.