Saturday, 29 March 2008

I Hate You So Much Right Now



So, when I threatened to throw myself off the Westgate if we lost by ten goals again this week do you think I underestimated it a bit? Were I a man of honor, and my word, I'd either be in a car speeding down the freeway towards destiny or landing on the roof of a Norweigan cargo ship. Unfortunately I'm not, so here I am.

What do you say? After two weeks our percentage is 36 and our average losing margin is 99. It was ok to get pounded last week because I rate Hawthorn, but today it hurts even more coming against a side who are not only average at best but that we have already played once this season. Were lessons learnt? Who the hell knows.

I had Lynden Dunn to kick the first goal at 30-1. Why? Buggered if I know to be honest. In a massive shock and horror result we actually did kick the first and looked for a second like we were going to fire a shot. In fact for the first quarter we were all over the Dogs and it was showing in their performance - they were nervous and their key players weren't getting much of it without some serious pressure. Did we capitalise? Of course we fecking didn't. By quarter time they'd got their noses in front and unlike us came out for the second quarter with some intention of playing. From there it was pretty much a circus.

Want in-depth analysis? Bad luck. I spent too much time with my head in my hands to know what was really going on. All I know was that every few seconds the Dogs were going inside 50 and usually scoring but that when we did the same thing precisely f'all happened. AFL Premiership Season 2008 - go and get stuffed. Pretty much the most exciting thing to happen all day was when I went for a slash, came back and forgot where I had been sitting. It was like an episode of Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego inside the MCG.

When Davey hit the deck in the 3rd quarter and looked like he'd done his knee I was ready to pull up stumps and just start crying, but it doesn't look like it's so bad after all. Maybe he just cbf turning out in this horrid season?

Who do you blame? If you're a retard of the highest order you start going off about how it's all Dean Bailey's fault and call for him to get the sack. If this is your opinion after two rounds I suggest that it might be you who needs to be forcibly lobbed from the Westgate. We've botched our recruiting over the last few years - there is absolutely no doubt. For all the gnashing of teeth over Craig Cameron's departure, and fawning over him while he was there, what have we ever really had delivered? Eventually even I'm going to admit that Brock and Sylvia are never going to be superstars - they will be good players at best but neither of them is ever going to go out and win a Brownlow. What a heartbreaker. Maybe I'm just bitter because he laughed at me once when I suggested we should never have delisted Darren Kowal? One way or the other if he can bring the same level of success to Richmond then he has my best wishes.

Changes? Weetra has got to go - 82% of the game for 2 possessions, and generally wandered around looking completely lost. I'm all for playing the kids in a suicide season, but at least give him a run in the 2's for a few weeks to get some confidence into him. If Rivers is ready to return (please god, be ready to return) then Miller should probably be following him out the door. At least you can have some hope that the new #28 might improve as his career goes on - Miller will still be "about to explode" and "fulfilling his potential" when he's played 300 games.

Bode isn't good enough - will probably go if Whelan comes back. Paul Johnson followed up his best game for us with an absolute shocker but might survive unless Jamar and/or Meesen runs riot for Sandy tomorrow. Hardly the platform on which to create greatness is it?

Radio Watch
I rarely ever listen to the radio during games, but today I subjected myself to Triple M because I felt I needed some sort of analysis of just how bad we were. Danny Frawley's assertion that "under Neale Daniher Melbourne were a kicking team", which somehow insinuated that handballing too much was a DB invention, irritated the shit out of me. Did these peanuts not watch us at the start of last season? Didn't we break the all-time record for handballing at some point?

And the ads after each quarter for Pete and fucking Myf almost caused me to lose it. No wonder nobody is listening to them despite hundreds of thousands of dollars being pumped into promoting them - he's a criminally unfunny bastard and she has the most annoying voice in human history.

Crowd Watch
Presumably all the softcocks stayed at home, because there were about 37 Melbourne fans in the house. A big round of applause to the absolute lunatic in the Melbourne scarf who was dragged out of the bottom deck of the Ponsford by a combined security/cop force whilst waving his scarf in the air and trying to lure Footscray fans into a fight. Points lost for the traditional football fan move of pretending you could snap at any minute and drop somebody when you're clearly incapable of getting away from your 'escorts', but a big bonus for completely losing the plot just as I felt like doing.

2008 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes

5 - Nathan Jones (Winner by default for the second consecutive week)
4 - Cale Morton (Being the future of this side is like being the reserve captain of the Titanic)
3 - Nathan Carroll (Did a few stupid things, but also took a couple of grabs down back)
2 - James McDonald (Put in for four quarters)
1 - Cameron Bruce (Alright on Johnson)

Wheatley is going to get votes elsewhere, but last year's Defender Of The Year winner can fuck off in my book. Cheap touches as a loose man in defence don't mean squat unless you actually do something with them - he was mince.

Leaderboard

10 - Nathan Jones
4 - Brent Moloney
4 - Cale Morton (Leader: 2008 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
3 - Paul Johnson
3 - Nathan Carroll (Leader: 2008 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
2 - Brock McLean
2 - James McDonald
1 - Cameron Bruce
1 - Brad Green

Next Week
Geelong in Geelong. Ahahahahahha go and get fucked. I'll be there - do you think there will be more than thirteen other Demon fans present? Basically this shit is going to go down like Gallipoli - we're going in knowing that we're going to be massacred. Here's to heroic defeat, rather than the disgraceful slop that we're likely to be served up.

Next Life
I will be a French aristocrat who spends every cent of the family fortune on whores, brandy and having underlings ripped apart by horses. It will be spectacular.

Monday, 24 March 2008

The Day After The Night Before

I suppose I could have added this as an additional to yesterday's post, but it deserves it's own space to be heard. I've realised exactly what the difference between disappointment and outright panic over yesterday is. The answer is 5 points. The psychological barrier of 100 points is what has caused the internet to melt down overnight. If we'd lost by 99 points I can guarantee that the reaction would have been half as savage. People would still be losing the plot, but I doubt they'd be ranting and raving like complete freaks as they are now. But the barrier was broken and freakdom reigns - I've been responsible for enough it, I should know.

We can slaughter the players until the cows come home, but where's it going to get us? Same with murdering the coaching staff. Yes, it's the first time since 1952 that a coach has debuted in Round 1 and lost by a hundred, and yes it is a massive disaster but what do you want Bailey to do about it? Whether his gameplan works or not is anyone's guess but I sure didn't see him out there yesterday kicking balls to opposition players and personally letting Hawthorn run riot. Give him a few weeks (at least) before you start sticking the knife in. I seem to recall some particuarly spaz Hawthorn fans having kittens over Clarkson about 10 minutes into his coaching career, and now they're probably whopping off over his picture in excitement at the fact that they're seemingly a top 4 side. Who would you have in the booth instead? Yesterday's hero Sheedy? Give me a break, the man hasn't fired a shot for five years.

The next 23 weeks - all star game (any danger we might have a representative?) and mid-season break included - are going to feature a lot of heartbreak. At some point you may actually question why you bother spending money, and investing effort both emotional and physical in watching it. But if you're sick in the head like me you'll be back and secretly somewhere deep down loving it even when we do lose to Carlton by 300.

The world is a horrible place. There are more important things to destroy ourselves over than football. Fire up.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

The Winter Of Our Discontent

"Shouldn't death be a swan dive? Graceful, white-winged, and smooth, leaving the surface undisturbed?" - Johan Grimonprez, Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y.

At about 2.20pm yesterday as I was walking towards the city down Wellington Parade two things struck me. One was why, ten minutes into the first quarter there were so many idiots in Collingwood jumpers casually wandering to the ground - and the second was how excited I was for footy to be back. About how much better I feel to be able to listen to a game on the radio, and how the expectation of a new season is enough to give you a tingle even when everything looks as if it's going to go horribly wrong.

See, despite the abortion that has been our pre-season, you just never know what's going to happen in round one. Maybe The New Junkyard Dog DB was going to shock the world and unleash a footballing juggernaut the likes of which had never been seen again. Neitz with 13! Brock has 72 touches! Simon Buckley participates in a live sex show in the centre square with three supermodels and a polar bear! Well, it'll always be the dream.

So we got there, we sat down and we waited for something to happened. And frankly even though I've sat for four quarters and returned home I'm still waiting for that 'thing' to occur. All I saw today was a vomitous performance that made me embarassed to walk out in a Melbourne jumper. I've seen a lot of horrific stuff over the years but never before have I actually considered covering my colors up to avoid embarassment. It was THAT bad. But I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.

In the first few minutes an important trend was established. The ball would go into our forward line Juice, Neitz and Robbo would all jump for it - nobody would actually connect and the ball would drop straight into the hands of a Hawthorn player who would clear it with ruthless efficiency and run it unchallenged to their attacking 50 where they would score. Again and again it happened. At half time when we'd kicked 1 goal and were down by 50 we'd only had a couple less inside 50's than the Hawks. On paper we should have been a chance, but the reality was much more obviously that we were going to get smashed.

It's just that the delivery to the forwards was so abysmal that they couldn't get near it most of the time, and even when they did they either botched it or had it 50m out on the boundary line. It was so abysmal I couldn't even manage to get upset about it. At one point we were even winning the free kick count by a ratio of 2:1, and when you can't even capitalise on that to get within a million points then you know something is wrong. Part of the problem with the forward line was a complete lack of crumb - I know Weetra was playing his first game but he needed to be there more at the drop of the ball. As much as I love Davey in the midfield I'm afraid that for us to rack up any sort of decent score this year he will need to be hanging around the forward line both creating and delivering scores.

To be entirely honest the backline wasn't awful. Wheatley was mince, and Garland didn't show much but given that the ball was down there every 30 seconds the likes of Bell and Carroll didn't completely disgrace themselves. We even, shock horror, looked alright from the kick ins. Result aside I can't believe that there would be anyone who was dying for a return to the Travis Johnstone led kicking efficiency shambles that we suffered coming out of defence last year. In fact getting the thing outside 50 was probably the best bit of our performance today - it was just that Hawthorn had the center of the ground locked up like Fort Knox so that we had to go wide from there and usually cock it up. It we didn't find someway to screw it on the wing then it was usually the ball that went inside 50 and not near anybody.

Maybe they let us get the first couple of kicks in so they could take the piss afterwards? Who knows. Would make sense knowing that we're likely to panic like schoolkids and completely botch it.

In the last quarter, after taking it out to a game high of 115, the Hawks did their bit for intra-club relations by taking their foot off the pedal at the 20 minute mark of the last quarter and allowing us to close the gap a bit but even with their help we couldn't manage to get within a hundred, and for only the 20th time since 1896 we managed to get turned over in the regular season by the mythical 100 points. First time since Round 18, 1997 (Mark Bayes? 6 goals?) if you're keeping score.

And that was that. The siren went, the Hawthorn fans did a load and we skulked out like the losers that we were. The New Junkyard Dog became the first coach since 1952 to lose his first game in Round 1 by more than a hundred and a little bit inside of me died. I'd love to bring you a full report of his press conference, but thanks to the new and improved AFL website, run by the monkeys at Telstra this is what happens when I click the link to view it,

Warning: mysqli::mysqli() [function.mysqli-mysqli]: (00000/1040): Too many connections in D:\Apache\bptv-iad\libraries\db_api\mysqli.php on line 46

Makes even less sense than our gameplan.

This is the lowest moment of my MFC supporting career, there's no doubt. Having been too young to really appreciate the last time we put in a performance like this - and having been exposed to John Longmire kicking 14 in a 130 point loss in about the second game I ever went to - it's heartbreakingly awful. Especially after so much build up, and so much off-season planning towards today. We should have known from the practice matches that it was going to be an apocalypse, but just how much is a shock to me. The guy who made this prediction must be feeling pretty justified now,

Originally Posted by Supermercado
Scoreline: Hawthorn plenty, Melbourne not much


Genius.

In the immortal words of Mene Gene Okerlund. Fuck it.

Logo Watch
Hawthorn's new one looks like a startled chicken, but when you win by 105 points you can afford to get away with having a giant cock on your jumper I suppose. After all, we've got about 20 of them in ours *boom boom*

Crowd Watch
Second level of the Ponsford there was a surprising amount of Melbourne fans, especially given that outside the ground I spotted about seven. We were also treated to two clown Hawthorn fans who didn't shut up for the first three quarters - before mysteriously disappearing after somebody told them to shut the fuck up - and delivered one of the worst double comedy acts since Mel and Kochie.

Bonus points in the crowd watch category for the guy sitting behind me who had a nervous breakdown every time Newton went near it, lost the plot at everyone for everything and yelled "HE'S A LEFT FOOTER!" intermittantly throughout the first half. I've said it before and I'll say it again - the only thing that ruins footy is footy fans.

You knew we'd hit rock bottom when some tart in a Carlton scarf in front of me said "this is embarassing". When they can see it you know it's all over. Speaking of Carlton, I wonder why exactly Chris "DO YOUR KNEE YOU TRAITOROUS DOG" Judd didn't want to come to us? The crunt is obviously a fortune teller.

Fanbase Watch
I'd like to think that everyone reading this is a paid up member of the club, but I'd still like to address this to the wider community.

If you are sitting at home trying to decide whether or not to buy a membership or not and have decided, on the strength of today's performance, that you are not going to sign up this year then I have a message for you. Fuck off and die. The scum who only jump on when we're winning are the cancer that eats at the heart of this club. If we're going down in 2008 then we're going down with all hands on deck. I don't care if we're 0-22, I will be there every week other than when I'm overseas. In two or three years when we're decent again there'll be another 10,000 people who suddenly discover their love of Melbourne - and every one of them should be force fed into a cement mixer.

2008 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Nathan Jones (By default for having a crack)
4 - Brent Moloney (Enjoy him before he necks himself again)
3 - Paul Johnson (?!?!?!?)
2 - Brock McLean (Meh)
1 - Brad Green (Double meh)

Apologies to Carroll (shaded by a superstar with little support), Morton (not great, but for a first gamer he showed signs) and Dean Bailey (I'm sure your lawyers can get you out of your contract)

No apologies to Yze (still unwilling to bend over and pick a ball up), Neitz (no delivery, but not much from him either), Weetra (not good enough yet), White (28 H-Outs but F-All around the ground), Newton (pff, look interested),

Leaderboard
What do you think?

Karma Korner
Now, don't you feel a little bit bad about laughing at Carlton's performance on Thursday night? Actually, neither do I - we've still got about three more years to go to reach their level of slops.

Next Week
Footscray at the MCG on Saturday. We didn't do too badly against them in the pre-season - in the first quarter at least - so you never know. One way or the other it's going to be a horrific season so strap yourself in and get used to it. Stay firm in the bad times.

Changes? In - Sylvia, Dunn, Rivers, Whelan. Out - Garland, Weetra, Yze and a player to be named later.

Additional
Do the Herald Sun even bother watching these games?

Melbourne: S Buckley B Moloney B Green. Buckley? Six kicks and thirteen handballs? You're taking the piss.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Law and Order: MFC Unit

NOT GUILTY!

MELBOURNE'S Russell Robertson and Carlton's Marc Murphy have been cleared by the AFL Match Review Panel of any offences in weekend pre-season matches.

After assessing two incidents today, the panel ruled no charges would be laid against the players.

Robertson was reported in Saturday's NAB Challenge match against North Melbourne after high contact was made with North Melbourne's Andrew Swallow.

The panel said that as Swallow fumbled and ran over the top of the ball, Robertson came in from the side in an attempt to retrieve the ball and contact was made.

During the action, the panel said Robertson was watching the ball at all times and did not turn sideways to bump Swallow.


Cheers to there only being one shonky Channel Seven camera at the game. He's gotten away with it two weeks in a row - if we have luck like that throughout the season we might win two games.

Well, the second half of our forward line is cleared. Thank god for that, now we can concentrate on some of the few shining lights of our pre-season campaign. Hey, I hear that much maligned Colin Sylvia fellow has been playing well. Hold on a minute, what's that?

GUILTY!

Shit!

MELBOURNE has been rocked by another off-field indiscretion, with forward Colin Sylvia suspended for the club's Round 1 clash with Hawthorn.

The Demons' leadership smacked Sylvia with a one-match ban and a $5000 fine today after the 22-year-old broke a 1am curfew and failed to turn up to a compulsory recovery session.

It comes a week after Melbourne skipper David Neitz announced the players had imposed a 1am limit on attending bars and nightclubs.

Sylvia, the No. 3 pick in the 2003 draft, was one of the club's form players leading into the season opener and his loss is a savage blow to the injury-depleted Demons.

Neitz said tonight he was disappointed Sylvia had let the club down on the eve of its 150th season.

"This is disappointing for Colin and the playing group," Neitz said.


At least when the entire West Coast list were making dicks of themselves, admittedly in a more serious fashion, they had success to look back on. We're running the risk of finishing bottom and having half our squad on parole.

My theory is that he knew he should have been suspended for this,



so he didn't show up to the session to make up for it. Sucked in with the $5k fine though - that's one night's worth of drinks at Motel.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Southern Suburbs Suicide Saturday Special

Geelong, Bendigo, Cranbourne. No, it's not the Discovery Channel's "World's Worst Holiday Locations" special - it's where I've wasted my time watching Melbourne this pre-season. At Geelong it was ok to lose by ten goals, afterall most of the squad weren't even old enough to get into a nightclub. When we got done by Richmond in Cairns it was ok because none of us could get any real updates so we didn't know what the hell was going on. Then last week, despite having to go 150km to watch the lights go out it was ok to lose to the Dogs because we the squad was still undermanned and we had a great first quarter. This week it's ok to lose because.... we're shit and we know we are?

I don't know what's wrong. I really don't. On paper we look ok. On paper I almost think that we could make the 8, but once it gets let loose in the field it all just lacks something. Maybe I'm looking at it through the most rose-tinted glasses this side of Dame Edna but I don't honestly believe in my heart of hearts that we're that bad. I can't blame Bailey, because he's been thrown in at the deep end to try and rescue a side who are almost to a man injured in one way or ill-disciplined on and off field knobs.

Much like last week we were ok in the first quarter before it completely died in the arse. Unlike last week we were all over them in the last ten minutes of the quarter. Signs were good. Aaron Davey, especially, was running riot - as his brother sported a pink polo shirt and pushed a pram around the boundary line - and Colin Sylvia was tackling anything that went near him as if he was subduing a streaker at the cricket. The man looked as if he had a spring loose. I like it.

Then the second quarter started and the Slop-o-meter was cranked up to eleven. This season I will be introducing a special Demonblog feature where the top of each report will feature it's very own Slopometer reading so that, like the terror alert ratings, you'll know just had bad I rated the performance without even having to read this bullshit. Each week we will award a different player the right to be the match sponsor of the slop medal. If we have a ten goal win (AHAHAHAHAH!) and it was only two parts slop we'll wheel in a Todd Viney or a Glenn Lovett to present the award, but if it's a 127pt defeat then ladies and gentlemen we present you Mr. Scott Chisholm and the Glenn Molloy All-Stars. Like most special events that I promise this will, presumably, last about three weeks before I drop it and it's never heard of again.

In case you need a scapegoat to explain our performance look to the skies. It was hotter than buggery for the first three quarters. Didn't appear to hinder North though as far as I could see. Especially when they were running riot through the midfield and treating us with contempt. Maybe when the weather loses the plot in about Round 8 we'll run riot and win 14 in a row going into the finals? Where we will then get stitched up by Spring and knocked out in straight sets. Bollocks.

Highlights of the middle two quarters included Paul Johnson jumping up in a ruck duel and slapping the ball straight into the hands of Hamish McIntosh who gleefully accepted the gift. It's moments like that which tell you "this will not be a good season". With Meesen and Jamar both committed to the Sandy game, you'd think this means that DB is considering him for the backup job this season. On the strength of the pre-season so far I'd have to go with Jamar, though we haven't seen that much of Meesen actually rucking.

Does it really matter anyway? We haven't had a tap to advantage all bloody year anyway. I'm starting to fear ruck contests even more than kick-ins because you just KNOW we're going to botch it. We must be cursed. If anybody reading has shagged a witch and caused this to happen I ask that you admit it immediately so that we can attempt to do something about it before we finish 0-22 and the whole club is wound up.

A legitimate highlight was a corker of a goal by Davey in the 2nd, and more manic Sylvia tackling. The only downside was Big Col landing a few choice shots in a brief melee. Let's hope Channel Seven don't narc us out and give the footage to the league because he got a couple of tasty blows off before it dispersed.

During the last quarter Robbo was reported again. I totally missed what happened, but it looks like he's decided in the off-season that he's not only going to try and take mark of the century but that he's also the reincarnation of David Rhys-Jones and will attempt to be reported once a week. I turned around just as the North player was lying on the ground so I've got no comment about the 'actionability' (if that's a word) of it, but Robbo certainly didn't look happy to have been booked. So unhappy in fact that he copped a 50. Didn't really matter by that point. Then he kicked three goals - maybe violence excites him?

Basically the entire last quarter was junk time. You could tell by the clouds of dust kicking up from the carpark during the final term that everyone had given up. Can't blame them really - even with the ground announcer desperately trying to get people to stay for the Scorpions/Sandy game.

Ground Watch
Not too bad a place to watch a game. I was impressed by the lacksidasical approach to selling tickets that was employed at the gate. "Members come in this side", she said and then didn't even look at my membership card. I could have been showing her a Blockbuster Video card for all she knew. You'd have thought they'd want to milk every cent they could get out of the contest.

I noticed that the field had the old school trait of rising in the middle and dropping at either end so that if you stood behind the goals you could see bugger all at the other end. The wing wasn't bad to watch from, but the scoreboard was absolutely shithouse and impossible to read. Though I expect to never have to go to the ground again I insist that they fix it immediately.

And why in god's name did we wear the silver jersey against a team that has white in it's top? Utterly pointless. Maybe they're trying to sell a few of them to try and keep the club afloat for another fortnight. At least until Round One so that we can get some value out of these memberships - the fourteen of us who have bought one anyway. And let's be honest on the strength of the putrid displays delivered so far nobody else is going to be queuing up to drop their hard earned.

Crowd Watch
A fairly big crowd, but then again if you'd said there were 7000 there last week I'd have laughed. I'd say that of people you could work out it was probably 40% North, 35% us and 25% drunken locals who had no idea what was going on and proceeded to yell "It Takes Two" related komedy komments© at Robbo. Firstly the irony in fat, hot dog eating peanuts in the crowd abusing somebody for being on a 'talent' show is too much to bear. Along the same lines as fatties in the crowd bagging players for being unfit really. Secondly would you openly admit to intimate knowledge of television reality programs unless you really had to? I hope he does whatever he has to do to win it but I'd rather watch the first two months of the 2007 season on endless repeat for the rest of my life than two minutes of the show.

There were also more tatts on show today per capita than anywhere else on the planet other than an actual tattoo show. Chief amongst these was the famous mad North fan who, at the MCG in 2004, screamed "I CAN'T TAKE THIS ANYMORE!" and walked out while North were winning and was next seen cooking a BBQ in the carpark. A legendary figure who deserves his own Joffa style cult-following amongst TV stations.

Zebra Watch
As we start the 18th year without Camberwell I'm still not taking the VFA seriously and stayed for only ten minutes of the 2's game. The most important thing is that in those ten minutes Jared Rivers showed exactly why he is such a crucial player to our structure. Poor old Nathan Carroll took a lot of shit last year for his performances - from me as much as anybody - but really when you're in a defence and your only compatriots are Miller and Holland you're hardly going to look like a superstar. Provided he doesn't die in the arse this year Rivers could be the difference between finishing 12th in the AFL or bottom of the D4 Amateurs.

Apparently Whelan went alright as well, though Bartram struggled. Personally I still get a bit sad when I see Chris Lamb playing for Sandy - surely he could have done some decent work in our backline with the emergence of Rivers. God knows that just like how Carroll doesn't look like a star without some great players around him, Lamb was never going to come off looking particuarly well when he was expected to be leading a two man defensive front with Al Nicholson. Coincidentally if you want to pay homage to the man who held our backline together for the second half of 2002 and got no credit for it whatsoever you can catch him pulling pints at the Bridge Hotel in Richmond. If there was any justice in the world he'd be pulling women in nightclubs like other footballers.

Paul Prymke Plate for Pre Season Performance Votes

The gap between 5/4 and the rest is astronomical, but whoever said this was an exact science?

5 - Sylvia
4 - Davey
3 - Moloney
2 - Carroll
1 - Bell

Apologies to Robertson (junk time goals aren't enough to get you votes), Wonamierri (chased hard), Jones, Petterd and Newton

Leaderboard

12 - Davey
11 - Jones
8 - Sylvia
5 - Buckley
5 - Newton
5 - Valenti
4 - Miller
3 - Moloney
2 - Garland
2 - Carroll
1 - Johnson
1 - Bate
1 - Bell

Davey wins pending some kind of intra-club match to give votes for. Congrats on this prestigious award.

Next Week
Anything? Intraclub? Soul searching sessions? Mass (Nathan)Jonestown-esque cyanide laced Kool-Aid suicide in the centre of the Junction Oval? I'm in.

The Next Week After That
Oh jesus, we're all going to die. Have I ever told you how much I hate footy? Even with half the Hawthorn team out of action we're still staring down the barrel of getting slaughtered. Franklin to kick 28 - you heard it here first. All we need is for somebody crucial to go down with a serious injury in the first five minutes and you'd may as well shake hands with those around you, walk out of the ground and straight into the Jolimont rail yards because there will be no point subjecting yourself to the next six months of slop. Good thing that I'll be away for most of June and will, therefore, be able to avoid four games in person. There will be something comforting about watching us get slaughtered from somewhere in Singapore where nobody else knows what's going on and the act of walking into the street and yelling "FUCKING HELL DOES ANY BASTARD KNOW WHAT THEY'RE DOING?" would lead to a $5000 fine and a public caning.

If any of my bosses are reading this I'd like to apologise in advance that I am going to be very depressed for the next few months and my work performance may suffer accordingly.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

The Night the Lights Went Out In Bendigo

... and on our 2008 campaign if you ask me.

A hysterical reaction to an otherwise meaningless game in rural and regional Victoria? Perhaps, but to appreciate the full horror of our second half performance tonight you just had to be there. Maybe it was the strain of already having been to Geelong, attempting in vain to get any decent reports from the Cairns game, driving two hours to Bendigo and the prospect of a game in Cranbourne next Saturday that sent me a bit over the edge.

Anyway, this is how it all progressed;

We welcomed back a host of stars who hadn't been seen yet this season. Amongst them Neitz, Brock and Nathan Carroll who I half expected to make his entrance to "I Fought The Law" by The Clash and jump on the bonnet of the police car doing a pre-match lap of the oval before punching a German tourist in the face. Instead he opted to express himself through another ludicrous haircut. Which is, I suppose, the sensible thing to do. Speaking of haircuts I didn't even recognise Jamar at first. I thought he was ZOMGer or somebody else. Pre-season and I'm already losing the plot.

From the first bounce the opening minutes were an arm-wrestle. The Dogs had better chances, but they kept botching them. Key offender was Will Mince-on who had a couple of abysmal shots early on and then opted for a sideways pass when 50m out on a decent angle. This will not happen every week. Lloyd would have had 4 in the first five minutes tonight. Quentin Lynch would have had 1.8. Either way it's not good to play teams with decent forward lines, but get used to it kids.

Then, all of a sudden and against all odds, the Sexy Football Machine went into overdrive and we started slaughtering the dogs all over the ground. Nathan Jones was running riot in the centre, doing what he liked, and no matter what combination of ruckmen we tried (yes! even Mark "50 games and less than 5 average possessions" Jamar!" it worked a treat. Goals from Robbo, Neitz, Bate and Davey had us rocking. Weetra was showing a bit in the centre and between them Miller and Carroll were turning back anything that went inside the Footscray attacking 50. Bate added his second and we were 34-9 up and cruising.

Then the Dogs remembered what they were paid to be doing and decided to put some pressure on. Sexy football machine OFF, slop machine ON. There was one last bit of beauty with Jones finishing off a move started to by Davey to extend the margin to over thirty points but that was pretty much it. Suddenly balls started coming inside the defensive 50 again, and we started giving away free kicks and ludicrous 50m penalties to get the Dogs back into the game. Bode was particuarly stupid to give one away, and it did his game no favours because he was pretty bad in all aspects on the day.

After Jamar cleaned some peanut up the resulting free-kick down the ground put another goal on the board and before you knew it they were winning. Suddenly it was our side who were shitting themselves. Even Jones, who had been so dominant at first, was throwing handballs around to nobody. We were getting rorted in the centre of the ground by the umpires, but the ones that caused us to concede goals were generally there.

Pretty much the last highlight we had was Davey taking a handball with his back to goal and turning around 45m out and slotting it at the sleazy motel end of the ground. Neitz got one from a free inside 50 but the horse had already bolted. We lacked an absolute superstar to stand up in the middle and just grab the game by the throat. On the other hand the Dogs had Akermanis going nuts.

Paul Johnson did very little, but he did manage the most impressive dummy that I've ever seen a big man achieve. Running down the wing right in front of us he ran at his opponent, quickly switched the ball from one hand to another and back again and ran straight past. Awesome. Robbo goaled from a tricky kick but it was pretty much wasted. By this point Neitz had gone off - apparently rested not injured - and our forward line was left looking bereft of any inspiration. After the first quarter both Bate and Sylvia moved away from the forward line, and none of Jamar, White or Meesen could make a serious impact up front. Too much left to Davey.

Come the 4th quarter we turned the Slop-O-Meter up to eleven. Not only did we fail to do anything of any note with the ball but Robbo got himself reported for charging. Now, I'm not tribunal expert but I'd say he'll get away with a high points reprimand. This probably means he will get a life sentence on Devil's Island.

Then, as the fourth quarter wound to an end and the only interest was just how many goals the Dogs would pile on the lights went fizz and we were thrust into darkness. Did a shadowy Asian betting syndicate have money on Melbourne +40? Or didn't they put enough coins in the meter to cover four entire (albeit shortened) quarters? Whatever it was we were sadly denied scenes to rival the great Waverley Park fiasco when the lights went out and everyone burnt the goalposts down. I was hanging for it.

Incidentally this makes the second time that I've seen a match played for the Tynan Eyre Cup, and the second time that it has been abandoned. Is this a record? At least this time there was no old man in the announcers booth telling people to go home and think about what they'd done. Just an old man presenting the best on ground award to Jason Akermanis.

Then, err, I went home. What do you want me to do? Go out and enjoy the thriving nightlife? Catch the nightrider Bendigo tram to a throbbing gin palace and drinking myself into a coma? Bollocks to that. 154km of hot two-lane blacktop action was all that stood between me and civilisation. I was out of there ASAP. Goodbye Bendigo, see you next year.

Now, the reason I'm so depressed about this whole thing is not just because we lost and our last three quarters pre-blackout were utter trash. It's not because our paper-thin backline only looked because they were against an equally paper-thin forward line. It's not because I'm convinced we'll be the lowest scoring team in the competition. It's because when everything was going backwards barely anyone put their hand up to try and stem the tide. Davey was the only one who ran himself into the ground trying to get something going. Miller did well down back more out of necessity than inspiration, and the likes of Valenti, Jamar, Bate tried hard but there wasn't anyone there to do the job. Akermanis and Eagleton did for Footscray exactly what we needed somebody to do, and when their youngsters (especially the #20 who was gifted but nervous) started believing in themselves they cut us right up.

I don't rate the Dogs at all this year - especially in a season where there are only about four contenders for the spoon - and they're as much of one as we are. But on the strength of tonight's performance they're better than us. Maybe 15th instead of 16th, but that's a fair difference in the grand scheme of things. Apparently the #1 prospect for the draft next year is a gun. I don't care. I want some pride in my football club.

Morton was ok for us. He was getting it even if he wasn't using it particuarly well. He went hard, that's all you can ask for.

Goals
Bate 2, Robertson 2, Neitz 2, Davey 2, Jones

Notes from a scandal
* Footscray were listed on the scoreboard as "Western Bulldogs". We were "t Melbourne" because they'd just covered up the "Por" and used the card for the Borough instead. Why does the Queen Elizabeth Oval have a Western Bulldogs card and not a Melbourne one? Is that how far we've fallen? May as well shut the bloody club down now.

* Speaking of Queen Elizabeth how do we know which one it's named after. I know the country is generally a few years behind, but are they actually celebrating the reign of Queen Elizabeth I from 1558 to 1603? Let's hope so, football is in desperate need of some culture.

* The ground was neatly spit-roasted between a sleazy motel (not surprisingly entitled "The Oval") and a corker of a waterslide. It was not an unpleasant place to watch a game, even if the elevation anywhere other than the 20 seat grandstand was a maximum of about five feet meaning that you had no idea what was going on across the other side of the ground.

* Fans of the D-Generation's Late Show, and in particular the Commercial Crimestoppers segment, will be pleased to know that All Tools (who's ad it was decided featured 'all tools') is not only kicking on but also advertising at the ground. Sadly there was no time to go searching for the holy grail of all Commercial Crimestoppers stores, Sandhurst Machinery.

Crowd Watch
* I wasn't intending to stray into any tired cliches about country people wearing wifebeater singlets and/or flannel. Then I showed up and 2500 people were wearing either wifebeaters or flannel. I will say no more. Terrifyingly, from some angles Cale Morton appeared to be sporting a rats tail which one can only assume was some sort of twisted tribute to local fashion.

* For some reason there were a bunch of kids dressed in yellow who spent all pre-match cheering for "yellow" and then sat there in silence for four quarters when the game started. Idiots.

* Speaking of kids I don't think there was a child under the age of 18 in Bendigo tonight who wasn't there. 95% of them unsupervised and running around making idiots of themselves. Justice was served when one of them fell off his skateboard and on his arse. Skateboards at footy games. Just fuck right off now. I tell you what there were a lot of parents who shipped the kids off to the footy so they could stay in and have a dirty night. For one night only QEO rivalled The Neverland Ranch for unsupervised child behaviour.

* The contrast between the "wet" and "dry" areas was remarkable. The pissheads may have been lovely people, but they looked like the Bradley John Murdoch Apprecation Society. During the fourth quarter a fight started behind the goals we were (not very well) defending. This led to a massive charge by the aforementioned children, as well as the fattest security guard ever employed. He not so much charged as ambled in ten minutes later once the rest of the ground had beaten him to the action.

Paul Prymke Plate for Pre Season Performance Votes

The best thing is that because most of the newspapers will never actually write a legitimate report I can pretty much put anything in here and you'll believe it. Let's just say I struggled after the first three.

5 - Davey
4 - Miller
3 - Jones
2 - Valenti
1 - Bate (struggling...)

Leaderboard

11 - Jones
8 - Davey
5 - Buckley
5 - Newton
5 - Valenti
4 - Miller
3 - Sylvia
2 - Garland
1 - Johnson
1 - Bate

Next Week
North Melbourne in Cranbourne on Saturday. I might have a scotch beforehand. This season is depressing me already. Let's compare and contrast the performance of the backline with tonight when Thompson and Edwards are thrown into the mix. In my humble opinion a decent season by the backline is all that stands between us finishing 10th or bottom. We are going to struggle to kick goals, and by the looks of it our 'superstar' midfield is going the same way as our 'much vaunted' forward line of the 90's which looked good on paper but rarely ever did any freaking thing.