Sunday, 27 April 2008

It's Grim Up North

I honestly don't know what to say any more. Over the last two years I've written every single match report about a loss that there is to be had. Just copy and paste any of those reports for today. We fumbled, we bumbled, we looked worse than any team has since the glory days of Fremantle not winning a game until Round 18 under Damian Drum.

Of course TJ had to kick the first goal. Let the "oh we should have kept him!" bollocks begin. Didn't do too much else though. Having said that I'm still not convinced that Jack Grimes is a real person. For all we know he might be the 21st century equivalent of this guy.

You saw the rest on TV, you don't need me to give you any insights. We're awful. We're awfully awful. At one point Matthew Warnock was doing his best work ever in defence - how badly are we going when that's happening?

I was so depressed at watching it that I left and came home to listen on the radio instead. Did I really need to watch what was going to happen next? Even listening to KB and his "I'll tell you why I didn't stuff up the rules" propaganda call on SEN was a more attractive option that being in a pub full of spaz people watching even spazzer football.

Everyone wants to bag Robertson for not being as good as he was, but who's kicking it to him? You can have a forward line consisting of Dunstall, Ablett and Jesus if you want but if you spend two hours trying to get out of your defensive 50 and then give it away the moment it gets to the midfield. God forbid we have any kicks inside 50 they're usually bombed in on his head.

Crowd Watch
I was fairly depressed in my living room.

Stat Watch
Are we on track to break the all-time clanger record?

Coach Watch
Most of the time it looked as if Bailey was on his own in the coaches box. I'm surprised he didn't just walk out himself.

2008 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes

5 - Bruce
4 - Jones
3 - Wonaeamirri
2 - White
1 - Green

Apologies to Moloney (plenty of touches. Did fuck all with most them), Wheatley (keeps getting it), McDonald, Robertson (at least he runs around a bit) and... now I'm struggling... Jamar, Carroll, Warnock, Dunn, Frawley? Whoever.

14 - Nathan Jones
13 - Cameron Bruce
12 - Brad Green
9 - Brock McLean
8 - James McDonald
6 - Paul Johnson
6 - Cale Morton (Leader: 2008 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
4 - Brent Moloney
4 - Aaron Davey
3 - Nathan Carroll (Leader: 2008 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
3 - Austin Wonaeamirri
3 - Lynden Dunn
3 - Jeff White
2 - Jared Rivers

Next Week
Freo at the MCG. Have you noticed we're the only team that they can consistently beat in Melbourne? Doesn't that fill you with confidence? They're rubbish this year, but like us they put in a good performance against Geelong. Unlike us they almost won. If we get turned over next week I will start to suspect that we won't win a game this year - and the prospect of that makes me want to cry. Is there any danger the crowd will be over 15,000?

Let's hope we don't get stitched up in a thriller. I'm starting to feel like I was in that fortnight of horror last year when Port and North both beat us in close ones and I almost had two nervous breakdowns in the Ponsford Stand.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Match Preview: Sunshine vs Slop

(As you may have realised over the last few years I can only be bothered writing match previews when asked to do them for other boards. You'll eventually see the below on the Brisbane forum. Enjoy!)

Brisbane fans may see something of their own history in the Melbourne side that runs out at the Gabba on Sunday afternoon. For those of you who were Brisbane Bears fans, think of pretty much any year between 1987 and 1994 but without the scoreboard that had the jaunty little bear dancing around even when you were losing by 150. If you're a Fitzroy fan think 1995/96 - but don't think about it for too long or you'll have a nervous breakdown. If you were neither of these and joined the party just in time to enjoy triple premiership glory then the only way you'll be able to have any reference point to the way we're playing this season is to go outside, tip your garbage bins onto the road, wait for a car to run into the wreckage and then stand there surveying it in all it's glory for a few minutes.

We have been THAT bad this year. It says it all that our best performance of the year was against the best team in the competition. Twin massacres at the hands of the, still, unbeaten Hawthorn and Footscray had us worrying that we were going to leave Geelong having stolen the Bears record for the most points conceded in a game and given away Fitzroy's record for the biggest winning margin. Somehow we dragged the Cats down to our level and almost got away with a competitive result. All signs pointed to improvement and rebirth against North Melbourne but if they hadn't kicked themselves out of it early they could have beaten us by 80 points. Next stop Carlton - take out the farce of a match that they "accidentally lost" in Round 22 last year and we couldn't even beat them when we were good - even if half their team are still completely useless how were we supposed to turn them over with Judd (finally running freely after leaving his bulging wallet on the sidelines) and Fevola in the side? Despite 15 of their starting 18 still being generally inept we barely fired a shot and they did us over by six goals.

So, that brings us to this week. Oh the humanity. In his last two starts against us Daniel Bradshaw has kicked 17 goals - in years we were supposed to be good. With 23.13 in the first five weeks this year I shudder to think what he's going to do this time.

Last week we managed to stem the Fevola tide after a quick start by double teaming him with both Rivers and Carroll. Then we, err, stopped doing that and he kicked about 5 more. Was nice while it lasted. Sure, we might implement the same strategy on Bradshaw this week but I don't think anyone - let alone Dean Bailey - would have any faith that we've got the numbers to stitch him up and not leave Jonathan f'n Brown free to run riot and kick 13. He'll be keen to play himself back into form this week after having a shocker against Hawthorn, and what better team to do it against than the one who would struggle to beat the Noosa Tigers with a 30 point headstart?

Usually on BigFooty club forums there are always two competing factions - one who thinks their team's backline is shite and one who think they're underrated. The good news is that for one week only you'll all be united in getting together and realising that at least they're better than our forward line. Consider the fact that we kicked four goals in three quarters against Carlton - a team with a defence so lost and leaky they may as well be called Gilligan's Island. Neitz is out and the alleged heir apparent Juice Newton (though I've not seen much of it other than mark of the year) was suspended in the 2's last week. This leaves us with Robertson, Robertson and, indeed, Robertson. His performance against Carlton was a million miles removed from the first four rounds but it wasn't until Brad Green joined him inside 50 that we looked even moderately potent. Last week our first two shots at goal were taken by James McDonald and Matthew Whelan who have kicked about 15 goals between them in a decade - most of them I'm willing to bet not from set shots. We broke down so many times across half forward that I was almost nostalgic for one Brad Miller to return from suspension. He's back this week, and hopefully being in his home state will cause him to run riot in unprecendeted fashion. Don't hold your breath.

The one thing that I ask for, in knowing that we're going to get done, is that Travis Johnstone is kept quiet. I don't think I can stand having to log onto the Melbourne boards and see a hundred threads about how we should have kept him and "who's sorry now?" etc.. God knows we've already had the muppets posting that Bailey should be sacked and that we should have hired Sheeds as coach instead - I can't take any more revisionist BS. I hope TJ does well in Brisbane. He can win four Brownlow medals, a flag and the Cox Plate for all I care, but everyone could see that he was never going to progress any further with us. We got a first round pick for him, and yes in true Melbourne recruiting fashion the player we selected is currently residing on the Long Term Injury list (in the company of none other than our captain), and time will tell whether we won, lost or drew on the deal but I can't see what having Travis would have done for us this year or into the future. Now watch him get 47 possessions and kick 8 goals. On a similar note is it just me or have we not exchanged very many players between clubs over the years? Nick Carter did the trifecta and played for Fitzroy, Brisbane and Melbourne in a successful two game stint, and John Northey coached the Bears but have we swapped that many other players in the last twenty of so years? Perhaps, they could play for the Marcus Seecamp Cup?

The verdict? Well, almost all of the key indicators point to a crushing Brisbane win. Your forward line is ace, ours is slop. We can't play interstate, confidence is at an all-time low and the captain has just done himself a serious injury. Not that Neita has done anything this season but at least his misfortune has given us some chance to blame injury for our abysmal start to the year. Shame about the first four weeks, but go with it anyway. I fail to see any way in which we can match up, but at least if they're going to be two steps behind in everything else the boys will (hopefully) have a massive crack to make up for it.

What can we take advantage of? Well, according to this thread you can't kick in. The good news is that neither can we, so get ready for a fruitful afternoon of seven point plays. Please don't tell me you're letting TJ take the kick-ins either? I think he hit a target once in a decade. I'm trying to come up with another positive but I'm struggling. Cale Morton has been promising as you'd expect from a top 5 pick without ever going overboard, Brock McLean and Nathan Jones have been solid in the midfield and McDonald has done what McDonald has always does - chased like a greyhound, thrown himself into tackles like a lunatic and still been ignored by everyone.

Season 2008? I'm depressed. If you're an expert on contractual law and think you can find a way to get Dean Bailey out of his contract I'm sure he'll be more than happy to hear from you before he becomes totally depressed and throws himself out of a 3rd storey window.

P.S - Any chance you might re-draft Llane Spaanderman so I can finally use the Enter Spaanderman headline I've been sitting on for four years?

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Crazy For Feeling So Blue

How many different ways can I say that we lost? It seems like that's all I've done here over the last couple of years. If you want to go back to the last time I posted with any actual joy you have to go back to the 2006 finals, when we twatted St. Kilda and I lost the plot at a random moron sitting behind me. Ever since then it's been one depression session after another.

Today I'd like to think that instead of being beaten that we 'failed to win'. Let's be entirely honest Carlton are still completely shite. Yes, they've got Judd and Fevola but they can get stuffed if they think they're going to contend against decent sides. If we'd had any decent setup inside forward 50 we might have won today. As it was they were three goals to zip up before we even fired a shot (where have I seen this before?)

Our first serious shot on goal - in the wake of J**d and Fev having added three between them - was from Jamar. THAT is how badly our forward line is going. Naturally he missed. The next shots at goal were taken by noted goalkicking specialists McDonald (goal!?) and Whelan (not goal!?) Frankly we didn't look like getting close to it in the first quarter - in the end we were forced to go negative to drag ourselves back into it. Looked terrible but surprisingly worked a treat for a few minutes at least, in the first ten minutes of the second quarter we added three in a row through Robbo (in the first three quarters? Remarkable!) and Green (x2) and hit the front. Watching young Bradley G do his nut when he kicked his second was a sight to behold. For all the shit we've given him over the years he hashown, dare I say it openly, leadership qualities in the last couple of seasons that few of his teammates have followed. The players voted Miller into the leadership group in his place - does anyone understand now why we are what we are?

So, hands up if you thought we were going to go on with it - a new sense of enthusiasm and encouragement lifting the boys to the first win of a new era. Well, you were on drugs. Off went Green the moment he kicked the goal, and off the boil we went. Moloney gives away a 50 in the middle of the ground that gifts them a goal and they then kick the next five of the quarter to basically put us away at half time.

Now, Brent Moloney, in his four seasons at Melbourne, has given away 53 free kicks up to and including today and recieved just 30. Is he,

a) Unlucky
b) Overly competitive
c) A conspiracy victim
d) Ill-disciplined.

I'll take D with a side serving of B. He's having a crack, there's no doubt about that but is he going about it the right way? Are we ever going to see his 2005 form again? Doesn't look like it at this rate. Another promising young player dragged into the Melbourne family and destroyed. Watch out potential draftees.

Only two goals were kicked in the massive snoozefest of a 3rd quarter. Neither of them by us, continuing our wonderful streak of high scoring quarters this year. Both came within a few seconds as J**d kicked one and then Whelan decided to give Fevola a bit of a whack in the middle of a brawl and they gave Carlton another kick. Of course the same thing happens every week and nobody cares - if Wheels gets off can we get the goal taken from the official score? He was reported by both the goal umpire and the field umpire so there must have been something in it. I was looking right at it and didn't see anything particuarly fruity so it'll be interesting to get the video on that one.

So, come 3/4 time and we were rooted. So we won the last quarter. Thrillsville. What does it really matter? The only positive for me was seeing Brad Green run riot up front. Neitz hurt his neck in the second quarter and was never seen again. The poor bastard is trying his best but he's damaging his legacy by sticking around and struggling. Anyone else think that he might have been persuaded not to pull the pin at the end of last season due to the 150th year thing? Somebody somewhere thought he'd be more marketable than a McDonald or Bruce as captain. They're almost certainly right but good luck marketing anything the way we're going. You could have Jennifer Hawkins in nowt but a cheeky smile and it wouldn't get us any publicity the way we're sinking.

We were so depressed that even the sight of the sellout J**d running riot against us couldn't muster up any more than the faintest of boos. Somebody suggested he had a certain lethal sexually transmitted disease at one point which may have been excessively harsh but was also quite amusing. My real team might be rooted but at least I had him as Supercoach captain. What a sad world we live in where that counts for anything - if we were winning my team would be full of people on 0 points and I wouldn't give a fuck. Now I'm dissecting like a mad bastard just to try and get some joy no matter how artificial.

It's strange how despite getting closer than the Geelong game that this seems like a cause for mass slashing of wrists, while a fortnight ago we were holding our heads high. What did we learn from that game? Sweet FA by the looks of it. Any pressure that we put on that day was all but gone today. Our skills are still putrid and our forward line structure is an embarassment. It's sad that it took Neitz going off to give it anything - Green going forward was a great option but still too often when the ball went down there we were outnumbered and with nobody at the fall of the ball. Davey and Wonaeamirri tried hard but there was little love for crumbers today.

It might not help the crumb but apparently Bate was good for Sandy today so he's got to come back in and give us another option. Sautner kicked 9 for Sandy - sign him up in a cracking Troy Wilson style move. Even better piss Sandy off and get a real reserves team so we can actually develop our own players. Maric failed to fire in a big win after playing well last week so I can't see him getting a run anytime soon - though you may as well the way we're going.

For the first time today I had to question the Bailey method. It's very unlike me but I'm trying desperately to remain positive about his coaching tenure. I don't want to be looked back on in three years having slaughtered his masterplan before it ever really began if it turns out to be right. Remember - as always - the spaz Hawthorn fans who wanted to hang Alistair Clarkson after three games. But for the first time I'm starting to wonder if it is going to turn out alright.
Maybe that's the fear of 0-22 speaking, but it's also having seen Brad Green kick an inspirational goal to put us in front, doing his nut in celebration and then jogging towards the bench and not getting near it for the next ten minutes. It's seeing Rivers and Carroll keeping Fevola under control before Rivers is for some unknown bloody reason sent to the bench leaving Whelan to take his place with disasterous results. Since when did anyone rotate tall defenders? Especially when we've got bugger all of them to start with.

Crowd Watch
Did we have more than 15,000 of the 43k crowd? And it was our home game for god's sake. I know people don't want to come and see us get trashed week in week out, but how many of us are going to be left if we go through a five year period of slop like Carlton have? I knwo I'll be there, and I would like to think that most of the people who read this would be as well but f'ing hell we might the only ones. Five years of trashbag football (3 and 3/4 to go!) and you may as well put the "for sale" sign up outside the front door. Think that will be enough to get the MCC clowns signing up? If we go out of business I see no other reason to keep their stand intact - firebomb the fucker I say.

On the other hand wasn't it great to see Carlton fans firing up as if they had actually won more than 3 games since 2002?

Meanwhile how wooden was Chris Connolly when he was trying to fire people up before the game? If his coaching addresses were like that it's a surprise he ever won anything let alone made two finals series. I did, however, love Barass coming on the big screen to yell at us. If Allen Jakovich isn't named one of the 150 Heroes of the club then I'm leaving and watching D4 amateurs instead.

Crowd Watch Extra
Rotations are all the rage this year, but now it's spread to the crowd as well. 10 girls showed up and sat in the same row as us, then spent the entire game getting up and leaving 3 times a quarter - including a minute into the 3rd quarter. What were you doing for half time? Watching Little League? Peanuts. At least they weren't wandering back with beers every five seconds like your typically drunken and stupid footy fan.

Feud Watch
Has anyone noticed that we've got two cheersquads now? As if one wasn't enough. Apparently they've had a split and are now operating in competition to each other. I'd like to suggest that every AFL cheersquad is invited to an intervention/mediation session and that when they're all locked in the same room we gas them all like badgers.

What could possibly cause a cheersquad to fracture in two? Debate over what sized pom-poms to wave? Whether to add an extra clap in *clap* *clap* *clap*? Disappointment over the inability to create a banner message that is as good as the all time classic "DO THE WORLD A FAVOR, GET RID OF DON SCOTT"? Any way you slice it cheersquads are the biggest anachronism in footy ever - the sooner we forcibly disband them (using violence if necessary) the better.

So, if anyone knows what the feud between the Official IRA and the Provisional IRA wings of our cheersquad is about feel free to enlighten me. Either way the only solution I'm going to support is throwing them all off a cliff into the sea, but I'd still like to know what's going on. Once when the Collingwood cheer squad fractured into competiting factions (imagine that for terror) Eddie McGuire had to go and get them back together. Any danger that Paul Gardiner might wander into the lion's den and try to broker a solution? Or is he worried that they all might unite and chase him out of the room under a hail of bottles instead?

2008 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes

5 - Brad Green
4 - James McDonald
3 - Brock McLean
2 - Cameron Bruce
1 - Jared Rivers

Apologies to White, Robertson, Davey, Wonaeamierri, Frawley, Sylvia and Carroll (fuck off, this is my site and I can do what I want)

11 - Brad Green
10 - Nathan Jones
9 - Brock McLean
8 - James McDonald
8 - Cameron Bruce
6 - Paul Johnson
6 - Cale Morton (Leader: 2008 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
4 - Brent Moloney
4 - Aaron Davey
3 - Nathan Carroll (Leader: 2008 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
3 - Lynden Dunn
2 - Jared Rivers
1 - Jeff White

Next Week
Brisbane away in the 1.10pm game. Here's a positive for you - it will all be over by 4pm again so that you'll be able to do something constructive with your afternoon. Today we held The Urinator for two quarters by gangbanging him with two defenders. Next week not only do you have to contend with Jonathan Brown who is massively out of form, but Daniel Bradshaw who is conversely going nuts and has 18 goals from his last two starts against us. Rivers and Carroll sure. Frawley? Yeah, why not - at least he'll learn. Then who?

Chances are we're going to get farked up hardcore. You know I was actually considering going to this game. Sick, sick man that I am. Thank god for a lack of cheap airfares.

Do you think if I fake my own death and make a wild YouTube video calling on them to have a crack in my honor that they'll get up next week? Then I can make a shock comeback and at least we'll have 4 points!

Monday, 14 April 2008

Saturday Depression Session

Hands up if you still care? Well, me for starters. I can't help it, I just can't. With the travel record standing at Geelong twice, Bendigo, Cranbourne and the MCG three times I have seen Melbourne fire a shot just once or twice. That's probably 2 quarters total (first quarter in Bendigo and about 30 minutes total last week) out of 28 that have been anywhere near acceptable. God help us all, we are living in some very dark times my friends.

For the second time this year I had a speculative $5 on Lynden Dunn kicking the first goal @ 28-1. Hence the first quarter was spent punting him home to make big runs out of defence and get down forward to take a mark. Alas the first 20 minutes were spent with North botching chance after chance without us even getting it near 50. You could tell right there and then that the game was well beyond us. At one point, as North sat on something ridiculous like 0.5 LD drifted forward and was on his own inside 50. Naturally they couldn't hit him. He did end up kicking our first goal, but unfortunately North had already booted four.

We actually went within a minute and a half of not scoring at all in the first quarter. Unfortunately AFL Stats doesn't have any records on low scores in quarters (which is a surprise because they have pretty much every other stat ever), but our all time lowest scores contained a 0.0 or two. Most notably the 1899 shambles at the Brunswick Oval where we racked up 0.2 all day. Sadly I missed it, but I expect that it was almost as painful to watch as the abortion we were served up today.

We are a team without skill. It's official. How do you get a job as an AFL footballer if you can't actually kick or handpass a ball? Draft me next year, I can't play for shit but at least with the 120+ rotations a game off the bench I might even have a chance of getting 20 good minutes before having a coronary. In the first quarter Brad Green, Dunn, Jared Rivers and Aaron Davey were the only players who looked as though they were playing with any confidence.

Brad Miller did his bit for keeping the season entertaining by cleaning some bloke up with a big, and seriously illegal, hit and getting reported. I suggested a life ban, but to be entirely serious he wasn't bad today. Shame that after a rare run of two straight decent games that he'll be spending a couple of weeks on the sideline.

Thank god for North's inaccuracy. If they could kick straight we would have been dead and buried within the first few minutes. As it was we were within striking distance (pending a miracle comeback) at quarter time. Then within a few minutes of the 2nd quarter beginning we, err, weren't. At the twenty minute mark we were down by more than 40 and it was looking very ugly. A minor rally made things look a bit more respectable but everyone could see how it was going to go.

Third quarter? More mince. Everyone is talking up Davey as our best on ground and there's no doubt he was good but I was impressed with the way Brad Green showed leadership around the ground and never stopped running. While all the other peanuts stood around doing nothing he was necking himself to get into space. I'd put him alongside Davey and Rivers in our most important players at the moment.

The backline wasn't too bad. Given that the thing was coming down there every ten seconds they weren't disgraced. Whelan wasn't spectacular upon return, but he's an important player and will get better. Carroll and Rivers lowered their colors a bit in the second half but it certainly wasn't their fault that we were complete trash. What's the point of rebounding successfully if it's just going to come back over your head again? Bell was meh and I would suggest that he's never allowed to kick in again but that would mean more Wheatley action so he may as well stay.

We gained some scoreboard respectability in the 4th quarter when Josh Gibson had exited with an injury and North had lost the will to play. They were still potting goals with the greatest of ease but at least we nailed a couple as well. Robbo, the new junktime specialist, kicked 3 in the last few minutes when it meant absolutely nothing. Having said that I'm sure he's supposed to be a goalkicker and not a playmaker. So how come he ended up having to deliver it inside 50 (or even in extreme circumstances out of defensive 50) so many times? Is this all part of the mystery gameplan or has he just lost the plot?

The umpiring will get flogged, and to a certain degree rightly so (the free against Bartram in the last quarter? W - T - F?) but did it really matter? With all the rorts in the world we still would have been competitive today if we could hit a target or find more than a handful of players who get themselves into space. It's also no umpire's fault that we can't kick-in after a behind to save ourselves, but at the same time let opposition teams advance up the field without any pressure whatsoever. We're shit - even if the dodgy decisions had been going our way we wouldn't have taken advantage of them.

Crowd Watch
Apparently North have 31,000 members. Bullshit they do. 31,000 names on forms but how many of them are the same people twice or three times? Nothing wrong with that of course - if I had the money I'd probably buy ten memberships - but don't go around trumpeting it like it's a great moment in AFL football. Taking into account the 10k (maybe) of our fans that were there, I'd say the Roos are running at a 3 memberships for every person ratio.

On the other hand we've got 10,000 pricks who claim to be Melbourne fans and sit in the MCC members smoking cigars and playing the stock market. The only upside to this is that at least we know that when we finally financially die in the arse that there's a bunch of fat, rich, corporate pricks who will probably put their hand in their pockets for the first time to help save us. If the club get more money when more people show up why wouldn't you go out and come back in again on every membership you own? Could have got another 2k on the door.

Also saw Guy Rigoni there in MFC hat. Come back Riggers.

Staff Watch
Anyone in the Ponsford Stand during the first half would have been treated to the ludicrous sight of the security guard behind the goals attempting to crack on to the female goal umpire. He had "Chubb" on his back, she had "Playstation", perhaps he thought it was an absolute lock. The filthy prick was even chatting her up when she was trying to write in her tiny notebook. May as well have written his phone number under Melbourne's score - they both started with a 0.

Not surprisingly the 'chatter' dropped off noticeably when the goal umpires swapped at half time and he was left with a male.

Web Watch
The AFL website continues to amaze. A few weeks ago it was a link to the press conference that didn't work for a day, and now..

THE KANGAROOS have bounced back in style with a thumping XX point victory over a disappointing Melbourne in their round four clash at the MCG.

How do you know it's thumping when you write it before the game ends you pricks?

2008 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes

5 - Brad Green
4 - Aaron Davey
3 - Lynden Dunn
2 - James McDonald
1 - Jeff White

Apologies to Bruce (just), Miller (not too bad early), Rivers (good in the first half), Carroll (likewise), Sylvia (great junktime quarter down back), Wheatley (still just thumps it forward to nobody, but then again so does everyone else) and Wonaeamirri (has showed a lot already. Somebody MUST be delisted to keep him on the list when Grimes comes back)

No apologies to Jones (all good to go in and get the thing but you have to be able to use it), Neitz (see "next week" for my tips on his career), Robertson (king of junk time), McLean (very average) and Johnson (not up to it).

Jamar seemed alright around the ground, but apparently he had 0 kicks and 8 handballs. Didn't even consider dropping it on the boot once just for statistical purposes?

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

Next Week
Carlton - probably having just cracked their all-time record for consecutive losses. Think they're not going to be fired up? Even better news is that their undoubted weakness, a shithouse backline, won't even be exploited due to our rubbish forward line. Cue Fev kicking 19 and that sell-out dog J**d running riot. Now is the time for Neita to do his last great act in a storied career - to run out, push J**d over and drop a flying knee right on his head, yell "ENJOY THE FACILTIES AT THE EPWORTH YOU COCK" into his shattered face and then be carried off the ground by a thousand fans as a hero while the Ponsford Stand burns like buggery, the match is called off and we're kicked out of the competition. Beautiful.

Next Season
Bailey and Connolly said they'd wait until Round 6 before delivering their verdict on who will and won't be with us next year. Why wait another fortnight? I'm here to tell them now,

Jace Bode - GONE.
Simon Buckley - Gets another chance due to the substantial turnover elsewhere.
Colin Garland - Likewise.
Ben Holland - GONE. Even he's know that. Good luck in the Supreme Court.
Mark Jamar - GONE. Especially if Paul Johnson comes on and we finish last with an allegedly gun ruckman in line to be picked first.
Chris Johnson - GONE. The best father son selection since Shane Burgmann.
Brock McLean - Could we get a late first rounder for him?
Brad Miller - Stays I suppose. We should have traded him out last year, but next year in a presumably inexperienced team at least he'll be somebody with experience.
Brent Moloney - I like the man, but he's got to fire soon. If we had a good list he'd be in all sorts of trouble.
David Neitz - GONE. Can't positively contribute any more in this awful team - may as well play the kids.
Juice Newton - Will last next year, but he'd better fire up and show more than he did in Round 1.
Russell Robertson - I doubt we'll sack him after handing over a 2 year contract, but hopefully there's some chance of pulling off a dodgy Steven King like trading manoeuvre to move him on or convince him to pull the pin. Still has something left in him but we have to rebuild.
Colin Sylvia - See McLean, Brock.
Matthew Warnock - GONE. If you can't get a game in this backline just give up.
Isaac Weetra - On the strength of his first two games he'd want to have a dip pretty soon or he'll be the new Hayden Lamaro (look it up)
Paul Wheatley - Survives undeservedly due to the clearout.
Jeff White - One more year maybe.
Adem Yze - GONE. In 6 weeks when Grimes is off the long term injury list, ooze had may as well do something selfless and pull the pin so Wonaeamirri can stay on the list.

At the risk of losing any chance I have of being headhunted by the Herald Sun to boost their currently awful Melbourne "blog" may I just say FUCK I AM DEPRESSED.

Goodnight and thankyou.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Highway to Hell

What a week. Surely no team has copped such a sustained pounding in the media than we did in the last seven or eight days since Fitzroy in 1996. And look how well they're doing now. Of course this wasn't without some justification as we had spent the last two weeks being beaten to a pulp, whilst our opposition have spent the last year winning pretty much every match/competition they have been involved in. Shitting it? Was I what.

Occasionally somebody would point out some freakishly absurd result from 1953 or something that would point to the fact that we were a chance. Didn't convince me - I expected ten goals minimum. As did the rest of the world. And of course as a moderately passionate (!) Melbourne supporter, well known locally for becoming exceedingly depressed over footy, friends, family and work colleagues were kind enough to spend the week forwarding emails and articles about how awful we were and how we were going to get tonked. Did I need to hear for the thousandth time that we were $31 to win the game? Especially given how that was clearly a gimmick market set up by peanuts trying to - successfully as it turned out - get their name in the paper. Hope they go bankrupt.

So down the Geelong Road we went. A day in Geelong? Oh Gnarly (skip to 1.08). Talk about wasted time. Were history not on the verge of being made I can think of 172 things that I would have rather been doing than visiting rural and regional Victoria. Usually I catch the train to the Kardinia Slops but damned if I was going to catch freaking V-Line home after we'd been tonked.

So, we were going to get hammered. Then we kicked the first goal. And second. And bugger me the third.

It's no wonder we jumped them early. After a week where they've been disrespected from every angle the boys were always going to come out at a million miles an hour, and when the opposition have spent the previous half an hour standing out on the arena waiting for some peanuts to parachute in with a Premiership flag they're hardly going to be 100% prepared for the first bounce. Most importantly, though, we scored first. Which meant that for those of you who joined me in having the $3.60 on Centrebet for that to happen then at least congratulation on winning a motza.


Still, no matter how obvious it was that it wasn't going to last I'll admit that I did start to wonder at 3 goals to squat whether or not we could pull off the miracle of the millenium. Of course we couldn't. First three to us, next seven to them. The first three of which came directly from our mistakes. The highlight of which was Carroll attempting to rush a ball through for a point, botching it and presenting Hawkins will a sitter. Jones was getting plenty of it but was seriously clang happy, with most his kicks more likely to murder a passing seagull than hit a teammate. Wonamierri was lively on debut and looks a good bet to play a fair bit this year, and both Miller and Johnson were surprisingly effective.

All in all the first quarter gave me hope for the rest of the season. Sure we were going to get beaten today - and probably flogged for that matter - but at least they were all over the Cats and forcing them into making mistakes. They made enough of their own to write a book (or at least a second rate blog post) on but everyone knew that was going to happen - the goal was to make sure everything the other way wasn't smooth sailing.

Incidentally, on Hawkins, welcome to the Kent Kingsley Klub. A moderate player who will show up once a year and play a decent game against us. May as well get fitted for your Richmond jumper now son.

To be entirely honest we were lucky that we didn't get blown to buggery early on during the second. After such a positive start we were generally abysmal and allowed them right back into it. Eventually we put the brakes on and stayed in touch. May I say how bizarre it was to see us dragging somebody down to our level rather than the other way around? Usually we're the ones who totally drop our bundle and look like tools when trying to play awful teams, but now that we are an awful team ourselves we uglied it down from a massacre to a mere serious beating instead. Wonderful!

A couple of late goals made it respectable at half time before something bizarre happened and midway through the third quarter we were within a goal. Now the locals were really panicking. Think bad to Sydney snapping their 20 something game losing streak against us in '93. I still haven't gotten over that now. Of course any sane person would sit there and go "congrats on your upset victory, by the way have you won a premiership recently?" but as we all know footy fans are generally stupid. Of course it didn't last long and after flirting with disaster the Cats fired up and took a four goal lead into the last quarter. Still not insurmountable (Essendon from 42 points down with Salmon after the siren anyone? I've got miserable results to cross reference until the cows come home), but not when you're a slopfest trying to take on a well oiled machine.

So in the end they won. What else do you need to know? I should point out at this time that the combined records of the teams we have played this year is now 9-0 after a possible 9 games. The gods of scheduling have thrown us straight into the footy woodchipper over the last few weeks. Today showed that we are not THAT bad. Just lacking the X Factor to do anything important this year. Somewhat reminscent of Carlton really where half the side are threatening to run riot and win a flag, but the other half wouldn't get a game in the D4 Amateurs. In fact if you combined us with Carlton that side might just make the 8 in the AFL while the ones left behind would probably run 7th in the Barnawartha League 2nd Division.

My kingdom for a forward line. Neitz isn't what he used to be - you can't rely on him to do everything on his own and Robbo is running around like a headless chicken a bit. Even though I don't particuarly rate him I'd love a big bastard KPP forward like Hawkins (or, if I can really play "Fantasy Wankfest" Franklin or Brown) down there to take some of the focus off Neitz. Look how much better our backline is with Carroll AND Rivers and imagine the same scenario up front. This should have been Miller's role - and while I liked his game today it's obvious that he's never going to be the forward target that he needs to be.

At least the AFL have fixed their website so that you can watch press conferences. A big round of applause to the reject who asked whether DB was tempted to shut the game down at 3 goals up. What was he supposed to do? Try and win 30-25? Stupidity. Four quarters of footy and that's the best question you can come up with? Die in hell. The way Bailey treated the question with contempt made me like him even more. I reckon when we finally win a game I'm going to run around and jump on him. In 2010.

Philthy Watch
There's a segment you never thought you'd see again eh? Well, it's not like I ran into the great man but I did find out that he apparently showed up last year, played one game for the Cats VFL side and pissed off. This leaves us asking where he is now. If he's somehow shacked up with Allen Jakovich I'm in.

Crowd Watch
Scored a free ticket off a friend to sit on the Hickey Stand wing. Good seats, good views, good times all around except for the footy. While I'm sure boganry was running riot on the terraces it was strangely absent. Maybe not so strangely when you consider I was the only Melbourne fan seemingly in the entire section, and that after our quick start the Cats fans were too shitscared to fire up in case we pulled off the comeback of the millenium.

They did spend the last quarter having kittens over the umpiring and calling for holding the ball whenever a Geelong player went within 2km of an opponent. You fell over the line against a nothing team - deal with it and get on with your life.

2007 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes

This is a massively hard one, because I think we had about 10 players who are worthy of one or two votes and very few who were worthy of the maximum. How, then to seperate them? Go with gut feeling I suppose.

5 - Cameron Bruce
4 - Brock McLean
3 - Paul Johnson
2 - Cale Morton
1 - Jared Rivers

Apologies to Green, Miller, Wonamierri, Carroll, Dunn, Jones

No apologies to Wheatley (AT LEAST AIM FOR A TARGET!), White (decidely average) or Robertson (?!?!)

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

Radio Watch
K-Rock have the worst commentary team in the world. At times it was more like listening to the community radio call of a Diamond Valley League game than AFL. Even the lunatic who sat at the top of Telstra Dome and recorded his own call of the game at the North Melbourne game last year had a better grip on reality than these guys.

However, I will agree with them on one point. When it comes to McLean and Morton getting a thousand possessions each they DO NOT MATTER if they don't go anywhere. As Brock got his 20th one of them said "he can keep them, he's done nothing with them", and he was almost right. Still didn't excuse the fact that they didn't know who half the players were and spoke complete bollocks for four quarters. John Barnes is lucky that Andrew Jarman is still allowed near a microphone, because Jarman is the only person between JB and the title of "worst commentator in sports".

Mind you, on the strength of the first quarter of the Adelaide/Port game that I heard on the way home you'll have to go a long way to top Jars as the most irritating man in the world. I was seriously embarassed listening and had to turn off.

Next Week
North at the MCG. So, everyone excepts an increasing better performance and we show up to get flogged by 200 then instead? Don't you know it baby. I'm there. Nervous breakdowns all round!