Sunday, 28 May 2006

Demonblog's Super Sunday Slopfest Special

I've never been so rested to watch a game in my life. A ludicrous plan to be awake all night for a 5am start at work on Monday meant that I woke up at 4.39pm for a 4.40 bounce. You'd think that this would make my reporting far more lucid. But you'd be wrong.

We started the first quarter well with Byron running rampant through the midfield and dropping a perfect pass on Robertson to open the scoring. Robbo then added the second as well and gave us an early twelve point lead. Could have had a third too from a difficult angle, but it was left to some top pressure inside the attacking 50 (a feature of our play this year) to cause a colossal cockup in the WCE defence and gift Dunn the third. Even though we were running them off the park in the early going it became apparent that you simply cannot stop Chris Judd. Short of tying him up and hacking him to pieces with a chainsaw a'la Scarface there is no way you're going to prevent him wrecking you through the centre. The key is to knock over the person who he kicks the ball to. As a childhood Melbourne fan you'd ask that he'd show some respect and roll over in honor of our winning streak but twas not to be. Having said that during the first term his kicks usually only found a player being tightly marked and let us rebound the ball out of 50 continuously for the first fifteen minutes.

After ten minutes we were 20-0 in front and were you a ludicrously optimisitic person you'd think we were going to win by ten goals. Had Moloney converted from 40m out on the run with no pressure whatsoever, or Robbo not dropped a gettable mark in the square for his third goal before the Eagles had scored you might have converted me as well. We tried our hardest to gift them a goal as Johnstone cocked up his kickout four times (!) and Yze once (yet again proving that we can't defend from kick-ins to save ourselves) before they finally converted from a free to bring the margin back to eleven points going into time on. By this point the Eagles forward line, which had looked rotten in the first ten minutes, had been switched around enough to start looking far more dangerous. If they had been able to kick straight our early goals advantage would have been wiped out. As it was you could tell that the momentum had switched and that we weren't going to hold on to the game for much longer. The kick-in fiascos continued as Brad Miller (#4 option for the day) walked over the line, got away with it, and dropped his kick on an Eagles player who kicked a goal anyway to bring the margin back to three points. The way it's going they're going to deliberately kick behinds just to go for a seven point play everytime. It shits me to tears that we can never, EVER get it right from the kickouts. The first season that I can remember every single moment of, 1998, was the same and every year since has followed the same trend.

Quarter Time: Melbourne by 2pts with some encouraging signs early on and some distressingly rubbish play towards the end. Our tackling for one was ace. Pickett/Whelan/Rivers and Davey were on fire. I have to pay respect to the Eagles tactic of actually trying to get the ball away from the boundary line rather than meekly conceeding the throw in and trying to win the stoppage. Given that we won't win it, because we never do, that's the sort of team that I support winning the flag over idiots like Adelaide.

*

Juddmania rolled on early in the 2nd as he put them in front after setting up and finishing a goal in the same play. FOLLOW YOUR CHILDHOOD HEROES YOU BASTARD. Robbo then wins the Ben Holland/Earl Spalding Memorial Trophy for cocking up an absolute sitter from 20m out before going off injured and grabbing the Sean Charles Cup for "Most Consistently Injured". Brad Green then rounds out a huge quarter for honors - if not scoring - by taking a massive dive inside 50 when he could have just run onto the ball and probably kicked a goal anyway, thus earning himself the 2006 TV Week Logie Award for Australia's Favourite Actor. Just quietly we're fucked. Pickett, Davey and Johnstone haven't seen it for a quarter and a half and it increasingly concerns me that Brad Miller really has no idea what he's doing when he gets the ball. I'm not saying I don't like him in the side but he seems to just run around aimlessly and then get rid of the ball as quickly as possible when he does get it. And I still don't understand why Godfrey is in the side in the first place.

Eventually just as I wrote that Johnstone hadn't had a touch he goaled running inside 50 for our first goal in 33 minutes (thanks to Clinton Grybas for the cheap stat). Didn't last long. We're fucked.

Halftime: Eagles by 5. Robertson kicks his third in the last few seconds after taking a top mark and running into the open goal. Bruce then could have put us in front at the change and completely ruined everyone's halftime/fulltime doubles but just fell short on the siren. The margin is workable but I don't think we can do it - they're just a cut above us. I'm more interested in the fact that we're running the best team in the competition around and staying competitive against them. Chris Johnson was good though.

Given that we've been slop in the third quarter this year nobody should have been surprised that we copped a goal within the first minute. Insultingly enough it was an absolute ripper from the boundary line. But even more surprisingly, as Gerard Healy proves himself a master dissecter by calling "Luke McDonald", we struck back straight away through Pickett. Then when Green goaled on the run we were in front. HOW? Then we were losing again. That's more like it. Then we were back in front again. Then it was equal. Healy the master dissecter even managed to work in the traditional "Big Cox" reference that commentators are legally obliged to do once in every game. Then we were losing again.

3/4 Time: West Coast by 1pt. I feel we can actually win this. Obviously you already know if we did or not so forgive me if we copped ten goals to none and died without a trace.

Thirty seconds into the last Kerr goals, but after a few minutes of back and forth shenanigans Clint Bartram adds his second in an excellent performance and we're only down by a point. You never know etc.. Yet again I'm more than satisfied with the way we're taking it to the Premiership favourites. With 10 minutes left to go Judd went off with a hamstring injury but it was too little too late as two goals in a row meant a fourteen point defecit. Stick a fork in us we are DONE. Just to rub it in the Eagles kicked the sealer and Travis Johnstone did his ankle in the same minute. Pff.

2006 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes

Before I get to this I should mention an email I recieved from Skills halfway through the second quarter,

On radio glen jako was asked about his bro. Glen said
that Jako is now in Sydney and working. No further details. But at least we Know where he is.


TO SYDNEY! It's an award winning documentary ready to be made.

And the votes,

5 - James McDonald
4 - Chris Johnson
3 - Russell Robertson
2 - Brock McLean
1 - Brad Green

Apologies to Bartram, Bruce, Carroll, Johnstone, Moloney, Rivers, Whelan and Yze

Leaderboard

25 - Cameron Bruce
16 - Byron Pickett
15 - Brock McLean
13 - Aaron Davey
12 - Travis Johnstone
9 - James McDonald
8 - Jared Rivers (2006 Marcus Seecamp Medal leader)
7 - Colin Sylvia
7 - David Neitz
4 - Nathan Carroll
4 - Chris Johnson
3 - Russell Robertson
3 - Brad Green
2 - Brent Moloney
2 - Adem Yze
2 - Brad Miller
1 - Daniel Ward
1 - Nathan Brown
1 - Jeff White

Next week: St. Kilda on Sunday at the MCG. Given that they're as skitzo as we are this year anything could happen. As long as it's not a repeat of the farcical scenes when we played them last year and they whacked us upside the head for four quarters without getting out of first gear.

Saturday, 20 May 2006

Brock and Roll

I've never had anything against Hawthorn. Having grown up there when I was a kid and originally tied to them in my early years for geographical reasons I've always enjoyed their jaunty theme song and recognise the obvious point regarding how it was their members voting against the merger that saved us in 1996. Couldn't take those colors though but that's irrelevant. Having said all that I'm glad we gave them a class A porking tonight.

It appears we are 'back'. A 75 point win for the fifth win in a row is impressive by anyone's standards, even if you are playing a team generally regarded as bottom of the harbour material. Lest we forget that after impressive wins early in the year they were gutted by the equally dodgy Lions last week. All will be revealed when we run into West Coast (Judd, Cousins et al) in Perth next week but for now you can enjoy the fact that we're on fire. I'm aware that a month ago I was demanding public crucifixtions and sackings all around but it looks like they've pulled something out of the hat in the last few weeks.

Interesting sort of game tonight. Early on we looked sloppy and were smashed out of the centre for the first half. The difference between the first few minutes and the rest of the game was that our defence got on top of the Hawks forwards and our attacking line began to rip the shambles masquerading as a Hawthorn defence to shreds. Another big help was the fact that they lost the plot and gave away a truckload of free kicks and 50m penalties by indulging in the kind of macho chest beating soft violence bullshit that we attempted against St. Kilda late last year with similar results. If nobody's scared of you it doesn't work. Take notes Campbell Brown - opposition players probably don't even know who you are let alone whether or not you're actually as unhinged as you behave. You're a cock.

On a more important note David Neitz broke the all-time Melbourne FC goalkicking record with his third for the night. It's not much of a record considering that you need a lazy 1000+ to be the best at Collingwood or Hawthorn and 671 to top Wayne Carey at North but it's our record so fuck it I'm in anyway. Imagine if he hadn't played so much in defence in his early years? Good work, and congratulations to the great man. I've had my doubts this year but there's no doubt that he's killed it in the games we've won this year and the game where we were ripped off against the Crows in Queensland.

The third quarter proceeded much like every other third quarter we've had this year, and the Hawks took advantage by kicking the first couple of goals before we steadied to break even for the term and take a five goal lead into the last quarter. I've never trusted Melbourne in that situation because they have, and will in the future, botched a game from that position but it was blatantly obvious just a few minutes into the 4th quarter that the Hawks had fallen apart like Michael Jackson's face and that it was going to be procession football for the last quarter. And it duly was - featuring one passage of play where we basically took the piss out of them for two minutes before kicking a point. Lovely stuff.

Most exciting was Aaron Davey's rubbing of Brown's head into the ground after kicking his first goal. Reminded me of when Jeff Farmer took a mark against Essendon and stuck the ball in his opponent's face. 'Twas a thing of beauty. I love that guy - he and Pickett are such a lethal defensive combination.

Byron Watch
Failed to murder anyone tonight - which is a bonus given that they'll be out to even up after letting him off during the week - but did more excellent work chasing, tackling and winning the ball. Every week I'm going to apologise for my pre-season comments because he's rapidly becoming one of our most important players and has proven to be an inspired buy. Whoever sat there at trade week and went "Why don't we get Pickett?" should be given a raise and the keys to the city.

Stat My Bitch Up
According to the Channel Nine coverage, which I could see on the TV screen in the bottom of the Ponsford, we haven't won five in a row since rounds 3-7 2004. Now think about how often teams 5 straight and how it's only two years since we last did it and then wonder if that's the worst allegedly interesting stat you've ever heard in your life.

Farcical Fan of the Week
I stood at the back of the Ponsford 1st floor, where only lunatics and extreme drunks dare to tread. And luckily for reporting purposes some guy who fit both was standing next to me for the first half despairing over Hawthorn's performance while knocking back a selection of Bourbon and Coke's that were magically appearing every few minutes. He did that thing that crazy people always do at the football of muttering under their breath and starting to have huge whinges about players before realising that they're talking to themselves and stopping. An example,

"Crawford you fuck. God he's such a...." and suddenly realises that there's nobody there to concur with him. His wild anti-Crawford agenda was puzzling to me but as he was clearly both off his nut and an a-grade nutter it wasn't surprising. He may also have racially abused Aaron Davey but sadly it was under the breath so I couldn't be sure and make a scene as I've always wanted to do. Further proof that you're a complete moron - firing off indiscriminate anti-black abuse when your own side is loaded with indigenous players. It's usually a favourite tactic of Richmond fans so I'm prepared to give Danny Dumbfuck the benefit of the doubt and believe he was saying something else.

2006 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes

5 - Travis Johnstone (31 touches. Quality one and all)
4 - David Neitz (6 straight. Against slop players I know but still stood up and did good work even when he didn't get it)
3 - Brock McLean (An absolute superstar. Has added so much to our previously creampuff midfield)
2 - Byron Pickett (See Byronwatch for more information)
1 - Jared Rivers (Marks anything that comes near him)

Apologies to White, Carroll, McDonald, Green, Dunn, Davey, Moloney, Bruce and Yze

Leaderboard

25 - Cameron Bruce
16 - Byron Pickett
13 - Aaron Davey
13 - Brock McLean
12 - Travis Johnstone
8 - Jared Rivers (2006 Marcus Seecamp Medal leader)
7 - Colin Sylvia
7 - David Neitz
4 - Nathan Carroll
4 - James McDonald
2 - Brent Moloney
2 - Adem Yze
2 - Brad Miller
2 - Brad Green
1 - Daniel Ward
1 - Nathan Brown
1 - Jeff White

Next week: Yes, it's West Coast at Subiaco. Everything says we'll lose. And we probably will, but it's a matter of giving it everything against them, making a big splash against a Premiership favourite and all that horseshit. God knows we're playing well enough that we'll probably beat them. Then I will begin to sweat.

Thursday, 18 May 2006

Friday Night's A Great Night For Football

So said that Bruce Willis film where the guy shot himself on the field. Actually they said Monday night was - I think it was Channel 9's NRL coverage or some such other slop that decided Friday night was the place to be. And indeed it is the place to be for Melbourne. Having just won four in a row (!) we're suddenly in some form and are running into a Hawthorn side that's starting to crack after a top start.

IN: Nobody
OUT: Likewise

Hawthorn have brought back Crawford and Jacobs. No really, please feel free to give them another week off and make sure they're alright before you bring them back to the squad. In my policy of having no interest in any team that's not Melbourne I have no idea who this Zac Dawson guy is that everyone's showering pity on in the last couple of weeks. Apparently he's a young and innocent hapless comedy figure backman, which makes you ask the question of why he doesn't play for us. Obviously this means that Neitz either kicks 10 or is the massive scalp that the kid gets under his belt to get his confidence back before launching a 300 game career. You decide. I'll err on the side of caution given recent history.

I'll be there. Probably crying somewhere when I realise the futility of sport and the meaningless of existence as we go six goals down in the last quarter. Having said that I expect that we'll win. Having said that as well it's well documented that we usually lose when I tip us so take that on board and get down to the TAB and have a monkey on the Hawks.

Last time we played them on a Friday night we won by a point and Scott Chisholm did the only good thing he ever did for us by laying a perfect goal saving tackle on a player running into an open goal in the square. Sadly in a tragicomic twist worthy of Homer (the Greek oen you cultureless swine) he was pinged for a freekick for in the back and the guy kicked it anyway. Fucking umpires.

Melbourne vs Hawthorn (The "How Come We Never Swap Any Players?" Cup)
7.40pm. Melbourne Cricket Ground
TV Coverage: Channel 9 @ 8.30 probably.
Radio: Try and slip covert mentions of Rex Hunt's world famous rooting into your talkback call to 3AW for bonus points.

Demonblog Sez: Melbourne by 13

Wednesday, 17 May 2006

Bizarro World

Since when did blockbuster player swap deals get discussed before round 8? And even more importantly since when were we the focus of them?

NEALE Daniher wasn't interested in talking about out-of-favour Brisbane Lion Jason Akermanis yesterday, but says the Demons will be playing among the "big boys" come trade time this year.

Daniher would not be drawn on comments from chairman Paul Gardner that the Demons would be interested if Akermanis was available at the end of the season.

But the Demons coach said the club's improved financial position meant it was able to chase high-priced players.

"I don't want to talk about Jason Akermanis. He is a contracted player with Brisbane," Daniher said. "I think the point we are making there is, in the past, we haven't been able to consider any players with our financial situation.

"Not so long ago we were having trouble finding $20,000-$30,000 to get money for Aaron Davey as a rookie.

"I don't necessarily want to talk about Jason, but the point we are making is that we're in amongst the big boys.

"There is no secret that we went after Lance (Whitnall) and we're very happy with Byron (Pickett).

"The context from the president is he has come to me in the past and said, 'Financially mate, don't even consider X, Y, Z, A, B, C, D, E, F, G'.

"What he is saying in the broader context is that our club has moved forward."


But do we want him? I'm not for blowing the budget on somebody who might be completely past it, but as the Pickett experiment has seemingly worked against all the odds it might not be such a bad idea. Personally if you're going to trade for old players I'd think about getting somebody in to play FF for a couple of years. Neitz is slowly ebbing away and even though Dunn looks promising in two games you can't guarantee anything. Finally our backline looks somewhat secure - though a bit more help would never hurt - so it's time to throw the cash at somebody who will kick a shitload of goals.

Your thoughts? Do we need talented but clearly nuts players at Melbourne? And where is all this money coming from?

Sunday, 14 May 2006

Never go on holidays

(A special guest report by Johnny Knoxville. Not the real one - please don't sue - Supermercado)

All the Demonblogger asked for was a relaxing last quarter, and finally he got one. Unfortunately it was spent munching party pies and hundreds-and-thousands sangers on, if you can believe it, a moving train. (He's right. At least I had a relaxing last quarter following the scores on the AFL website - editor)

In hindsight, the omens had been good in the lead-up to Saturday’s clash between Melbourne and our twin headcase from across the Nullarbor, Freo:

* Freo’s five previous victories over hated foe West Coast had been followed by inglorious defeats,
* Lumbering ape Aaron Sandilands was out of commission following an assault by one of the hated foe,
* The Demon Blogger had tipped Freo, and
* David Neitz was back.

On the other hand, the omens had been bad:

* Jeff Farmer, responsible for a quiet seven goals in the same fixture last year, had somehow weaseled out of a week of his suspension in order to inflict more pain on us,

* Aaron Davey had appeared on the front of the Herald Sun sports section dressed, for some reason, as Fred Astaire, down to but not including his shoes (which appeared to be 2003 model Bata Scouts), thus ensuring he would not get a kick,

*Melbourne were $1.65 favourites, and

* David Neitz was back.

Certainly, the Freo fans were confident, or as confident as Freo fans ever are. At least, that was the impression I got from my Dockers-supporting mate when I met her at cavernous Swan Street tavern Holliava at 1pm. I pretty much had to lipread, though, because the management had decided our party of four — the only humans in the joint at 1pm — hadn’t quite partied enough the previous night and needed to cop a dose of There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (no doubt the Demon Blogger would approve) at jackhammer-five-feet-away decibel levels.

To the G, and after a complex series of entrances and passouts designed to ensure none of our group actually had to pay to get in, we settled behind the goals at the city end — prime Docker territory. Armed with a pen, sober (ish) and, for the first time this season, clutching a Footy Record, I was taking my duties as Demonblog supersub seriously and was determined to document any and all purple buffoonery for your reading pleasure.

Sadly, the best I have to offer is the far-fetched sledge: "Robertson, you homosexual!" after Russell hit the post in the second quarter, and the bloke who appeared to have wandered in off the set of Starsky & Hutch, wearing a brown leather jacket over Freo heritage guernsey with aviator sunglasses and salt-n-pepper hair that looked to have required about an hour and a half to get it to the correct stage of touslement. ("He wouldn’t get away with that at a game in WA," one of the Dockers around us muttered darkly.)

Anyway, early doors it looked like Bad Omens would prevail over Good when the Wiz copped a handpass and slotted one through from five yards out, bringing up his 400th AFL goal, and good on him. A poll on Dockerland.com this week suggested he might celebrate the milestone by holding his "Purple Jesus" pose for the remainder of the match, and maybe he did, because he was never seen again — although I note in the paper he did kick a second goal at some point.

Then Troy Cook, whose kicking seems to enjoy the same acclaim among Dockers fans as Simon Godfrey’s does among ours, dobbed one on the run from 50 and a bleak afternoon loomed.

In fact we were probably lucky they didn’t have a couple more by the time Davey, defying the time-honoured Silly Posed Herald Sun Photo Equals Dog Of A Game syndrome, picked it up on the wing, charged in and calmly hammered it home.

Next thing you know Yze crumbs one and, running headlong into the right-hand behind zone, has no option but to employ that previously unknown appendage of his, the right foot. Implausibly, he threads it and just implausibly the Demons are in front.

I’d like to say it was a procession from there on but in fact we were only a goal up at quarter time, and that was largely due to the newfound ability of our maligned "front runners" to go back and defend. We were down 9-2 in the clearances at this stage despite our predicted ruck dominance.

That third goal, by the way, went to none other than D Neitz, who managed to find himself three yards in front of his opponent with the ball dropping on to his chest. That did seem at the time the only way he was going to hold a mark. We need to hope he can remain injury-free for the rest of the year because every time he returns from a break it takes him four games to relearn the skill of catching. But hey, he straightens us up and, err, takes the best defender.

Anyway, in a familiar story we busted it open in the second quarter. Travvy sensational, Byron superb, Davey on fire, Yze dangerous, Cammo on Brownlow pace, Green good again, McLean a big key … very hard to find a bad player.

And how about that Lynden Dunn? The skills, the class, the vaguely toffish-sounding name … at last, a worthy successor to Roger Ellingworth in the 14 guernsey.

Davey to Whelan was good football, and the resultant Yze goal prompted the following rash exchange between Docker Chick and my usual boon companion at the football, The Rabbit, whose neo-Nazi crewcut and thick Glaswegian accent lend him the often useful air of lieutenant to Francis Begbie.

Docker Chick: "I’m not satisfied."

Rabbit: "You should be, though … you’re playing the 2006 premiers."

So well have I schooled The Rabbit in Melbourne supportage, however, that when the Dockers closed to 20 points early in the third his response was: "This will be a season-ending loss."

Or maybe it’s all those years supporting Scotland and Partick Thistle that give him that endearing pessimism.

It’s history now that, in something of a plot twist, we quashed the third-quarter revival (partly through the agency of the skipper and a second top mark in front by Jamar), led by 33 at the last break and were able to enjoy almost the entire last quarter, as the boys pulled out the party tricks — slotting them on the run from the fifth row, blokes hacking goals out of the air, you know the drill.

Only adding to the mirth were the increasingly hilarious updates from Telstra Dome, where Richmond was being exposed as, ah, Richmond.

We wished it would never end, Aurora Stadium-style, but sadly the siren was being operated by the Holliava people and was more than audible. For the second successive year I infiltrated the Dockers’ after-match function (tip for anyone wanting access to places you shouldn’t be allowed at the MCG: stride purposefully past the "coat" on duty while peering into the distance, pointing and yammering into your mobile).

Needless to say the atmosphere was more subdued this time around, and not wanting to add insult to injury on this occasion I refrained from commandeering the mike and telling them: "Party’s over — you can all fuck off back to WA now," as I had in 2005.

And so to the votes.

5 — David Neitz (Took the opposition’s best defender.)

Only joking.

5 — Aaron Davey (He is the key. Does it all.)

4 — Brock McLean (He’s the other key.)

3 — Travis Johnstone (Everything he did was good.)

2 — Byron Pickett (He’s the key as well.)

1 — James McDonald (Underrated player, so for once I’ll overrate him. 15 tackles, allegedly.)

Apologies to the rest of the team.

[What follows is me again - S. Mercado]

2006 Allen Jakovich Medal Leaderboard

25 - Cameron Bruce
14 - Byron Pickett
13 - Aaron Davey
10 - Brock McLean
7 - Colin Sylvia
7 - Jared Rivers (2006 Marcus Seecamp Medal leader)
7 - Travis Johnstone
4 - Nathan Carroll
4 - James McDonald
3 - David Neitz
2 - Brent Moloney
2 - Adem Yze
2 - Brad Miller
2 - Brad Green
1 - Daniel Ward
1 - Nathan Brown
1 - Jeff White

Next week: Hawthorn at the MCG. Friday night. The Hawks have lost the plot after early season heroics and we're on a four game winning streak after playing like the West Preston Lakeside for the first three and a half rounds of the year. Logic says we win. The history of the Melbourne Football Club says we lose. For once I'll fall on the side of logic, because I'll be distressed if we can't knock over the people who were 46-0 down against Brisbane ten minutes into the second quarter.

Friday, 12 May 2006

Back in Business

Never fear, the match preview is BACK.

Melbourne vs Fremantle
MCG, 2.10pm - Saturday

IN: Neitz, Miller, Whelan
OUT: Brown (necked), Sylvia (necked), Holland (mediocre)

Never thought I'd see the day when the inclusion that I was most excited about was a defender. Perhaps that's a bit harsh on Neitz given that he was just starting to find some form when he was injured against Sydney but I'm sticking with it anyway. This may or may not be an attempt to tempt the football gods and have him kick nine on Saturday.

Fremantle have a good record against us at the MCG. Even when they were complete mince you could be assured that they'd at least run us to the wire down here. Now they're half decent (but only half) and have just come off rolling their greatest rivals. What does it translate to? We've won three in a row and surely that won't last so I'm going for a Freo victory.

Meanwhile as I said before I'll be at a birthday party on a moving train of all places so there's a special guest reporter lined up to take you to the limit one more time instead. He has the same name as an AFL player but as far as we know it's not the same person. Be here post-match for analysis, drama and all that horseshit you expect for now.

Demonblog sez: Fremantle by 21

Don't you wish the preview had stayed away now?

Saturday, 6 May 2006

Don't turn around, Der Koroner's in town

Or... It's cold! It's dark! We fucked them on the park!

You'd be forgiven for thinking that this blog wasn't coming back. As sagely noted by one commentor during the week I can't even be bothered writing pre-match previews anymore. Alas I'm suffering a wave of serious apathy. Something about this season is not quite right. We've had a month of games decided by a goal or under and despite almost heaving my guts up several times during the last quarter of each I've walked out of all three victories calm and collected, and didn't feel too badly shattered about the loss despite the fact that we were quite clearly ROBBED. Contrast this to other years when for minutes - if not hours - after a close game I'd be ill and shake like a leaf. Is it growing maturity, the realisation that sports really mean fuck all in the grand scheme of things, resignation to a life of being let down by Melbourne or the result of a slow degeneration of my central nervous system. Could be all four.

Last night's game was no different. Perhaps a week free of meaningful sleep and the prospect of a 5am wakeup call tipped me towards the edge of what I could take but if I wasn't the sort of person to revel in wet and freezing conditions like a dodgy racehorse I'd have thrown my hands up in frustration - yelled "fuck you all" and stayed at home instead. Luckily I'm not a complete sellout (only a bit..) and I dragged myself along. Convinced, as were most, that our wins of the last fortnight were the result of luck not skill and that a full strength Geelong side would turn us over to the tune of ten goals.

The critics who would claim I have lost passion (I don't think there any, but it helps me make a point) would do well to get the CCTV footage of when Aaron Davey kicked goal of the year from 8 cars deep in the carpark in the last quarter. Standing at the back of the bottom deck of the Ponsford in the "drunks and social rejects" section I was jumping around like a knob. It was a thing of beauty. The finish was one thing but we've seen that done before - it was the gather and the dainty steps around everyone before banging in that made it a classic.

The first half wasn't too bad given the conditions. There were skill errors here and there but what else do you expect when it's pissing down raining and the ground is more like the Olympic 50m pool in Athens than a football ground? Idiots who darkly mutter when somebody doesn't manage to pull out a fingertip mark while sprinting at full speed across the sporting equivalent of a giant waterslide should be taken outside and shot along with the people who mug for the cameras and wave to their mothers when their side is 1pt down 25 minutes into the last quarter of a Grand Final.

The game opened with Mark Jamar taking a top contested mark in the goalsquare that made you think we were about to witness Jamania. He then proceeded to have one more touch all night. Far more exciting was the debut of Lynden Dunn, whose smothered snap first kick resulted in a Brock McLean goal before he added two off his own boot. Ten minutes into his first game he was already a better kick for goal than Ben Holland. I expect big things from him, which probably means he's now destined to be an Andrew Lamprill/Brent Heaver one hit wonder who'll never have another good game again. Matthew Bate was impressive again - if you bet your life on him kicking straight you may as well neck yourself and die with dignity because it might go anywhere but he knows how to get it and hold onto it. With experience comes calm (we hope) and another player to get excited about. He got twenty touches and only a handful of them were botched so I'd call it a success.

I really thought that it was just the rain keeping us in it and dragging Geelong down to our level. Obviously when it dried up they were going to smash us to pieces. This point was being hammered home in the first quarter when, after taking the early lead, Geelong stormed back to put their nose in front at quarter time - with only sterling defensive work by Jared Rivers and Nathan Carroll (Nicho? Who?) stopping it getting out of hand. The midfield - specifically Bruce and McLean - were doing some spectacular work but it just kept going down there. Doesn't hurt to be against forwards the "quality" of Kent "Wave of the Future" Kingsley who contributed a big five kicks and 0.1 to the cause. I'm all for backing obscure players but some people just go too far.

The third quarter opened up a lot last last week, with the opposition beating us to a bloodied pulp. Not surprisingly this was when the rain had stopped. The prophecy was coming true. Or was it? Obviously not because we won, but not before Cameron "Psych Ward" Mooney milked the worst free kick of all time and then proceeded to try and bump Ben Holland and actually headbutt him. A complete fucking lunatic for sure - and I'm not sure I can dislike him for this reason. The fact that he decked the man that I have a skitzophrenic love/hate relationship with had nothing to do with it. I would like to apologise to Holland for accusing him of completely faking it when it became clear from the TV screens that there was at least some contact and that he was only half faking it. A word on Holland, if I may, I thought he did very well in defence. I'm not just saying this because I've previously called for him to play there, he was quite good last night and I almost forgot that dropped mark in the square against North last week. Good enough for a vote? Keep reading on.

We managed to stem the tide towards the end of the 3rd quarter though. Geelong were butchering chances left, right and centre and our defence started to hold up again. The expected ten goal defecit at 3/4 time hadn't eventuated and I wasn't allowed to go home and get some much needed sleep. Another thriller, just what the doctor ordered.

So anyway, we won. No drama here - you know what happens. Davey kicks the aforementioned goal of the year, Paul Chapman horrifically botches a kick from inside 50 when we were seven points up, they miss another shot and we hold onto it long enough to seal victory. The Chapman miss was especially lucky given that he'd destroyed us all night. Siren and I was OUT OF THERE. Hooray for 3 in a row and everything but I was already looking towards 5am. This is not 3AW football and we don't do post-match interviews.

ByronWatch
Didn't do much with the ball (other than one perfectly measured pass with no time to look) but was a tank off it. Even contrived to flatten somebody with a trademark belting in the last quarter. Can't fit him in for a vote but another top game nonetheless.
End ByronWatch

There's very little to report on crowd action wise. The two "leaders" of the Geelong cheer squad have the most limp-wristed clapping action since that guy in our squad who does the "MEL" (right hand up) "BOURNE" (left hand up) *clap* *clap* *clap* thing. Being a cheer squad official is already like being head spaz - there's no need to make things worse by drawing attention to yourself. And while I'm on the cheersquad high horse doesn't it distress you at least moderately that suddenly ours are waving big REDHEADS banners around. Suddenly we're in the Geelong/Ford, West Coast/Hungry Jacks faction of fans who consentually wave 100% advertising around above their heads for four quarters. If the money goes to the football club I'll withdraw. If it goes to making more banners about how much we love John So then stick it I'm OUT.

Err, let's do the votes before various squad bogans charge in and beat me to death with a giant pom-pom.

5 - Cameron Bruce (What more can I say?)
4 - Brock McLean (The master's apprentice. Smooth as silk and a mad bastard to boot)
3 - Jared Rivers (a defensive colossus)
2 - Brad Green (his best game for ages. Obviously responded to being handed the captaincy. MORE OF THIS PLEASE)
1 - Jeff White (Killed it in the centre. Kicked a goal, thanks for playing)

Apologies to Yze, Moloney (hot second half after I thought he wasn't playing for the first), Bate, Holland (!), Davey (probably the most important player we've got at the moment), Pickett and Carroll. Yet again I think it's a crime that these people didn't get votes for playing well in a win, but that Colin Sylvia has effectively done nothing in any win we've had this season but has racked up seven votes because by being the best of a bad bunch in losses. We need a better way of voting for next season. Your suggestions on the back of an envelope to the usual address.

2006 Allen Jakovich Medal leaderboard

25 - Cameron Bruce
12 - Byron Pickett
8 - Aaron Davey
7 - Colin Sylvia
7 - Jared Rivers (2006 Marcus Seecamp Medal leader)
6 - Brock McLean
4 - Nathan Carroll
4 - Travis Johnstone
3 - David Neitz
3 - James McDonald
2 - Brent Moloney
2 - Adem Yze
2 - Brad Miller
2 - Brad Green
1 - Daniel Ward
1 - Nathan Brown
1 - Jeff White

I fail to see any way other than serious injury or a voodoo curse that Cameron Bruce cannot win the medal this year. Defending champion Travis Johnstone would need to come on with the run of the century from now on to defend his title. Rivers has wrested back control of the defensive player of the year award, and despite none of the rookies having votes yet Matthew Bate now leads the Craig Smoker Cup for best first year player. Apologies to Clint Bartram who is still showing a lot, and watch out for Lynden Dunn on the back of a top debut. Nathan Jones hasn't been unleashed yet - that competition could go down to the wire.

Next week: Fremantle at the MCG - 2.10pm Saturday. I'll be a birthday party of all places so if you want to write the report email me via SUPERMERCADO AT DEMONBLOG.COM. Otherwise it'll be cut and pasting all around, the votes as given by BigFooty readers and a 1000 word essay about how I stabbed somebody in the face with a cake fork because they tried to take the radio off me.