Sunday, 31 August 2008

Three Retirements and a Funeral

You know if we'd won by five goals today we'd have avoided the humiliation of finishing last. Then there was the fact that we were saying goodbye to two club legends and some other guy. Surely the combination of the two would be enough to make a team have something resembling an honest crack at the game? Well, obviously nobody bothered to tell our players because apart from Holland, White and Yze who were - as you'd expect - running around like it was their last match, nobody really bothered to turn up today.

Surprisingly one group that showed up today was our notoriously fickle fans. I suppose the once a year Queen's Birthday crowd managed to drag themselves out to pay tribute to Yze for wrecking the pies in that game so often over the years. Sure, we were still well outnumbered by Richmond fans but at least it compared favourably to the absolutely disgraceful turnout for Neitz's tribute game. Maybe everyone just wanted to see us play once more this year so they could rub their eyes and try and work out if we were really as bad as it seemed.

Short answer - yes we were. The moment the ball was bounced Richmond blew us off the park today. We broke even on the scoreboard early on, and even poked our noses in front at one point, due to the fact that their delivery inside 50 was abysmal but it was never going to last. Late in the first quarter when Hurricane Katrina suddenly hit the MCG, and left us in near total darkness due to nobody bothering to turn the lights on, Richmond must have suddenly realised "Hold on, how shit are these guys?", got out of first gear and smashed us. Cue three quarters of us holding the ball, handballing it to people with three men on them and bombing kicks forward that absolutely no chance of going to anybody. The joy of it all.

Basically we got smashed. Miller may have spat at somebody, and Cale Morton failed to give us all a laugh by trying to take his much larger brother on in a punch-up a'la the Selwood brothers the day before. Jack Grimes debuted with little fanfare given that he was tagging Cotchin, Petterd was average until he did his hammy, the defence weren't TOO bad given the circumstances (especially Whelan - a great man) and the midfield did what it does every week and pretty much got smashed. The rain abated, Richmond continued to rain goals on us and I proceeded to become very depressed in the stands. I have a feeling that the only way I'm going to get through next year is by having an anti-depressant drip stationed next to me for six months.

Eventually it was over and we got to wash our hands of this abortion of a year and get on with our lives. For all the wild celebrations by Richmond fans it needed to be pointed out that they'll be doing exactly the same thing we will be next week, and that their players will be scouting chicks in nightclubs not opponents in tactics sessions this week. Might be a different story if we play them in R22 next year though.

Crowd Watch
Lucky it was the Berry Street cup, because the only people more depressed than orphans are Melbourne fans. Incidentally my great, great grandfather lived in that house - is there any danger of pulling some sort of dubious native title claim and kicking the kids out into the street so I can have a house in a prime location? Didn't think so.

2008 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes

5 - Matthew Whelan
4 - Cameron Bruce
3 - Adem Yze
2 - Brad Green
1 - Simon Buckley

Apologies to Bell, Carroll (first half only), Sylvia and Warnock.

Final Leaderboard

So, that's it. Congrats to Cam Bruce for somehow managing to win the lot despite being nothing more than consistent throughout the year. Commiserations to Brad Green who wins the People's Choice Award (which sadly for him means bugger all). With Johnson and Morton already having won their respective categories, it was down to Whelan to come from nowhere and grab Defender of the Year. Well done to all our winners, and look out for an awards special post coming your way soon.

29 - Cameron Bruce (WINNER: 2008 Allen Jakovich Medal for Player Of the Year)
27 - Brad Green
24 - Nathan Jones, James McDonald
21 - Brock McLean
18 - Matthew Bate
17 - Brad Miller
17 - Cale Morton (WINNER: 2008 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
14 - Lynden Dunn
14 - Matthew Whelan (WINNER: 2008 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
13 - Paul Johnson (WINNER: 2008 Strawbs O'Dwyer Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
12 - Colin Garland, Chris Johnson, Shane Valenti
11 - Aaron Davey, Simon Buckley
10 - Austin Wonaeamirri
6 - Jared Rivers
5 - Brent Moloney
4 - Clint Bartram, Stefan Martin, Paul Wheatley, Adem Yze
3 - Nathan Carroll, Matthew Warnock, Jeff White
3 - Colin Sylvia
2 - Russell Robertson, Addam Maric
1 - Mark Jamar

Post Match Mass Suicide Session
Went to Olympic Park for the post match function, saw a bunch of kids riding ponies, heard none of the players were fronting until 6.15 and came home. I heard they were going to have donkey rides, but that Mark Jamar refused to take part - boom boom. Apparently they're unveiling the new clash jumper at some point - though the "public vote" is proving a bit of a shambles given that I can still vote on it now 45 minutes after it was supposed to have closed. Was hoping to be around long enough to boo loudly and call for the silver monstrosity to be brought back if they picked that horrible one with the winking Batman on it.

Wasn't really the place to be for me. Felt like a cheersquad meeting, with the requisite amount of freaks. I'd like them to have lined up 15 voodoo dolls and invited people to have a go at stabbing them before calling some sort of priest away from his important child touching duties to perform an exorcism on the club. Who says you can't mix religions together?

Draft Analysis
Rich, Watts, Naitanui. Who cares? Start looking at next year's draft because we'd be farked even if we drafted Robocop, Spiderman and Captain America.

We do need a forward. But then again we also need a midfielder and a ruckman. Just pick somebody already and let's get on with ruining the poor kid's career. I'm 27 and have two training sessions of competitive football in the worst team in the worst division of the amateurs to my name - any danger of a mature age rookie listing?

Journalism Central
Now, I know the real Age journalists are on strike.. but did they get the work experience kid to do this report?

Adem Yze, Jeff White and Ben Holland played their last games for the Demons and Greg Tivendale kicked a 60m goal in his final AFL match for Richmond.

Only Yze has confirmed his retirement from football.


That news will come as a shock to Yze - not to mention Holland.

Appreciation Corner
Thanks to everyone who has managed to follow Demonblog all the way through the season. I've suffered the terror along with you across three countries. Thanks for all the kind words on the comments, Facebook, BigFooty and via email. We'll be back next year - if I didn't have some sort of post-match outlet I'd probably get arrested for attempted murder after Round 1. Bigger and better? No need to get excited, let's just aim for 'the same' shall we?

Pot 'o Gold Corner
As I walked down Batman Avenue (Olympic Boulevard my arse) there was a rainbow. Was it an omen? No, it just meant the sun had come out.

Well, that was the 2008 AFL Premiership season. May we never see the likes of it again.. until next year. If there's any consolation this means that we're now free of having our weekends dictated by football for a few months. Let's go to art galleries, have picnics and crack on to members of the same/opposite sex (delete as applicable). No, you're right - I'm still looking forward to next year. Roll on the delistings, trade week, draft, NAB Cup and Slopfest '09.

All Time Allen Jakovich Medal Leaderboard

All Time Allen Jakovich Medal Leaderboard

110 - Bruce (1 x Medal)
105 - Green
99 - McDonald
92 - McLean (1 x Medal)
72 - Johnstone (1 x Medal)
62 - Jones (1 x Medal)
55 - Robertson
50 - Davey
45 - Bate
43 - Neitz
40 - Rivers
39 - Moloney
36 - Miller
35 - White
34 - Yze, Sylvia
31 - Carroll
28 - Whelan
24 - Brown
23 - Wheatley
17 - Pickett, Morton
16 - Dunn, C. Johnson
15 - Ward, Holland
13 - P. Johnson
12 - Bizzell, Garland, Valenti
11 - Buckley, Ferguson
10 - Wonaeamirri, Bell
8 - Godfrey
6 - Bartram, Motlop
5 - Newton, Petterd
4 - Read, Nicholson
3 - Martin, Warnock
2 - Maric, Rigoni
1 - Jamar, Frawley

This leaves Jace Bode, Isaac Weetra, Jack Grimes and Nick Smith as the only people to have played for us since 2005 and not recieved a vote.

2005
Jakovich - Johnstone
Seecamp - Carroll/Ferguson
Hilton - Nobody (No players eligible)
O'Dwyer - White

2006
Jakovich - McLean
Seecamp - Rivers
Hilton - Bate
O'Dwyer - White (2)

2007
Jakovich - Jones
Seecamp - Wheatley
Hilton - Petterd/Newton
O'Dwyer - White (3)

2008
Jakovich - Bruce
Seecamp - Whelan
Hilton - Morton
O'Dwyer - Johnson

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Pitch Invasion Ole Ole Ole

For all the bollocks from the AFL during the week about rigourously enforcing fines for people who ran on the ground at Telstra Dome when the 100th goal was kicked the whole thing ended up being a bit of a fizz. You couldn't expect anything more though, Demetriou claiming that $6000 fines were going to be handed out left, right and centre was akin to the Georgia vs Russia war - a declaration of war followed by attempts to defend yourself with a shovel against an unstoppable invading force.

Despite what the AFL had to say it was obvious that Telstra Dome had the right idea (for the first time in history), as you could see them opening gates to the ground for people to run on rather than making them all jump the fence. I'm sure they could sense that some knob was going to take a sick bump trying to climb the fence and sue them over it. Once the invasion had taken place "play of the day" went to Robert Campbell of Hawthorn (who? I have no idea either) who was seen posing for photos with fans.

Now, we all knew that Demetriou and the AFL were full of shit. What's new? But in the spirit of the night, with the potential for dual 100 goal kickers and an allegedly sold out crowd that somehow still only got to 49k, I think they should have introduced a competitive element to the ground invasion. Announce that they don't give a rats arse if you run on or not, but after five minutes the siren will go and the last ten people off the ground - be they young, old, infirm or stupid, will cop the full 6 grand fine. Then it's fair for everyone - you get your chance to have a run, but if you don't get off before that siren goes then you're agreeing to participate in the inaugural Docklands scramble. Of course then when it's a bunch of 9-year-olds who have had their parents abandon them in the mad rush you don't actually fine them (or do you?) but at least it makes a point.

The only time I was ever at a game where somebody kicked the ton was Tony Lockett on a Monday night (why?) in 1998. I was in a corporate box for some strange reason so I didn't get the chance to do a lap of honour, but definately remember cracking the shits because we were winning and I didn't want to lose momentum. We won anyway, and despite kicking 4 Lockett was owned by Jamie Shanahan.

Retrospectively, were I to be hit with by a car and go back in time a'la Life On Mars, I'd like to go back and be at the Melbourne-Hawthorn game in Round 22, 1996. Having almost completely lost interest in sports at the time I didn't think much about it then, but now looking back I can't believe that the two sets of fans who were so against a merger (because, let's face it, the Melbourne "yes" vote was about so fraudulent it may as well have been held in Zimbabwe) didn't run on when Dunstall kicked him 100th and refuse to leave for 10 or 20 minutes until they had made their point. Tonight some peanuts erected a Buddy Franklin sign in the middle of the ground for a mere 100th goal, surely somebody could have made some about saving two football clubs. Were I not suffering from the same thing at the time I'd accuse everyone involved of severe apathy.

Meanwhile is there ANY danger that we'll ever see a Melbourne player kick the ton? Darren Bennett and David Neitz have gone respectively close in my lifetime and Allen Jakovich might have done it had he not spent so much time getting injured allegedly porking groupies, but it just seems destined never to happen. Yet another advantage of following a team that has won bugger all for 40+ years.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Another Victim of South Australian Serial Killers

Chalk up another poleaxing in the (not quite as far) west. Did you at least see this one coming? I didn't, I tipped us. Having seen Port play against Carlton a fortnight ago when they were considerably worse than we had been against Geelong and still got ten goals closer it seemed obvious that they were going to glide gracefully into oblivion this year, take their #3 pick and run for the hills. Of course we didn't count on a) them having some pride, or b) actually knowing how to play football. Two attributes of which, sadly, the Melbourne Football Club lacked today.

This week there will be no reportage. I've had enough this year. Suffice to say that the second quarter was right up there with the last quarter of the Eagles game in the all time "worst football ever" greatest hits. No wonder only 19,000 people showed up. I'll bet they make a shitload more money from their rubbish crowd against us at Football Park than we do against them at the MCG. Great system we live under isn't it? Why is it that Port have so few fans despite being relatively successful? Maybe it's got something to do with having a glorious history of success, a jumper literally designed by a ten year old and a theme song that sounds as if it were written specifically for the deaf.

Blah, blah, blah we were shit. Blah, blah, blah maybe we'll be good in 2015. We lost, badly, it was a slopfest and thank christ next week we can wash our hands of this whole shithouse season and find something more important to do during summer.

The "How Badly Are We Going?" Corner
Quoth Tony Shaw: "Paul Wheatley, he'd almost be leading their Best and Fairest at the moment" No he fucking wouldn't you failed coach git. Get down on your knees every night and thank god that Malcolm Blight being on a commercial network is the only thing keeping you from being the worst commentator in the game.

Draft Watch
I'm still sure we'll pick Watts, and rightly so too. But with White and Jamar both being obliterated today I must admit that I started to have second thoughts about Naitanui. Serves me right for listening to the AFL recruiter on the radio pre-match who is paid to say that all the players at the top of the draft are guns. I'll go back to trying to convince myself he's going to be the biggest bomb since Hiroshima all the way until he wins a Brownlow and Watts has fallen foul of the Melbourne draft curse and ended up pulling pints in a pub a'la C. Lamb.

Chaired Off Corner
Surely despite being a bit mince Yze and White retain their spot next week with a special appearance from one Mr. B Holland. All three may as well call the press conference for Monday morning now because there's NO CHANCE IN HELL they'll be playing for us next season (though the way Holland played against Hawthorn this year.. No, don't even think it). However they all deserve a send off - White and Yze have been champions and as maligned as he has been (often on these pages) Holland has never given anything less than 100% for us. Hopefully he'll say goodbye by kicking 10 (behinds probably) and jumping the fence at the end to serve a writ on the Richmond board for unpaid money. That will put a bigger tear in my eye than merely seeing the Tigers finish 9th again.

History Lesson
Anyone reading that isn't old enough to remember the '98 season? Well, let me tell you about a side who thought they were going to win in Round 22 and make the 8. Essendon and West Coast had already done the right thing and lost, so 76,000 showed up to see history in the making . Four quarters later we had rumbled them by 75 points, Jeff Farmer had taken the mark of the year (Winston Abraham my arse) and grown men were crying. Hillarious! I'm dying for a repeat, though if they're alive going into the game the only way we're going to be able to stooge them is by winning because the Essendon/St. Kilda game that will really decide their fate is the 4.40pm twilight shitfest.

2008 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes

5 - Simon Buckley
4 - James McDonald
3 - Cale Morton
2 - Colin Sylvia
1 - Paul Wheatley

Apologies to Green, Warnock, Garland, Bell and all Melbourne fans who live in Adelaide.

Leaderboard

Now I promise that this hasn't been set up, but suddenly we're looking at a titantic Round 22 struggle for supremacy. Given that we're going to get smashed like a guitar next week I'd have to have my money on one of Green or McDonald as they're our most consistent performers during slopfests. In the other awards Garland/Johnson look like sharing the Seecamp, and Morton is guaranteed at least a share of the Hilton with only a Valenti comeback and BOG possible to split it.

Today we're also proud to announce, due to public demand, the new STRAWBS O'DWYER AWARD for Ruckman of the Year. Congratulations Paul, and also to Jeff White who is at least getting something on his way out of the club, with the 2005/06/07 Strawbs awards going to him on a countback after careful scrutiny of past votes and the fact that Jamar never even scored a vote until this season.

25 - Cameron Bruce, Brad Green
24 - Nathan Jones, James McDonald
21 - Brock McLean
18 - Matthew Bate
17 - Brad Miller
17 - Cale Morton (WINNER: 2008 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
14 - Lynden Dunn
13 - Paul Johnson (WINNER: 2008 Strawbs O'Dwyer Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
12 - Colin Garland and Chris Johnson (Joint Leaders: 2008 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Shane Valenti
11 - Aaron Davey
10 - Austin Wonaeamirri, Simon Buckley
9 - Matthew Whelan
6 - Jared Rivers
5 - Brent Moloney
4 - Clint Bartram, Stefan Martin, Paul Wheatley
3 - Nathan Carroll, Matthew Warnock, Jeff White
3 - Colin Sylvia
2 - Russell Robertson, Addam Maric
1 - Mark Jamar, Adem Yze

Next Week
It's all over. Never again. Until next season. I hope North win the flag and somebody throws the Premiership Cup at Demetriou.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Welcome To The Blunderdome

I have stared horror in the face and survived. If today's match wasn't one of the top ten worst games that I've ever seen in my life then I don't want to have to go back and review the ones that did make it because today those of us who bothered to show up saw nothing more than FOUR QUARTERS OF SLOP.

First things first it was remarkable just how many West Coast fans were there. I thought we were almost outdrawn by Freo fans when we played them this year, but today was easily the closest I've ever seen to it actually happening. The best I'll give you is a 60/40 split - they were everywhere. Imagine if they were actually winning? Imagine if we were winning? No, that's too hard to consider don't waste your time thinking about it. I was sure that at least 5,000 teenyboppers and bandwagon swine would have sniffed a win in the air and come out to bask in the glory of a late season shitfight.

Wild scenes before the first bounce when the traditional flashing of player's faces on the big screen showed, for some unknown bloody reason, John Meesen. Given that it had come a few seconds after it had been announced that there were no late changes to the team and it was obvious that both Jamar and Johnson were on the ground it was a complete mystery what had happened. Was he sitting in the stands chowing down on a hot dog when somebody necked themselves in the warmup? Apparently not. Somebody had just pressed the wrong button and the Meese was actually at Sandringham vs Coburg presumably being mediocre at usual.

Having slapped a fiver on Maric to kick the first goal @ $41 it was an exciting first 15 minutes waiting for somebody, ANYBODY to kick one. You could already tell that it was going to be a putrid match. Eventually after sixteen long, VERY long minutes McKinley got one for West Coast and the fun was well and truly over, along with any other reason to be interested if you were a neutral. Fortunately I'm not a neutral so I was hoping we'd pork them. Unfortunately we were a tad average early on and their forwards were looking dangerous. Four minutes into the second quarter they were 4 goals to 1 in front. Looked pretty grim. Then they only kicked one more for the day. Sucked in, though I'm sure it will be turned around into some great "we meant it" conspiracy theory by peanut fans.

God knows what else there was to write about today. We overused the ball seriously early on, and continued to botch it a bit but thankfully the Eagles were even worse. Cale Morton was a lot better using the ball than he has been recently and looked more like a star than ever today. He must have taken 10 of his 17 marks on the Southern Stand wing, and often under pressure as well. His workrate is sensational and promises to explode over the next couple of years once he bulks up a bit.

Newton wasn't bad either. It must be hard to be a forward for us given that nobody can kick a ball inside 50 without having chipped it around the centre square for three hours or waited for their target to draw three defenders, but he did a good job today. Kicked a couple of goals, took a few marks but more importantly fired up for the chase and tackle side of things. Given that we're almost odds on to draft the best forward in the country at the end of the year it'll be interesting to see how he gets on in the next couple of seasons competing with the returning Robertson (and 2009 will surely be his last season before he ends up hosting a reality show), the reborn Miller and Sylvia. Watch this space.

So, two quarters of football so bad that you know "Name A Game" are already throwing the master tapes of it into an incinerator, we turned for home 20 points in front. It wasn't completely beyond belief that we'll fall apart and lose from there, but after the Eagles kicking 1.5 in the third who would have backed them to kick straight enough to do it.

The game was delayed for a couple of minutes after Beau Wilkes (who? Sounds like a sitcom character) pinballed off Maric (where pinball = was shoved by) into Jamar and was knocked into next week. Special J did absolutely nothing wrong but will probably get pinged for it anyway knowing the corrupt nature of the tribunal. After they'd dragged the lifeless carcass of Wilkes off (well, he was moving his hand..), we did our best to let the Eagles back into the game by allowing them to pepper the goals for the first fifteen minutes of the quarter. Thankfully they were unbelievably inept at putting the ball through the goal and despite some first class ineptitude of our own we managed to hold on long enough for PJ to boot one and seal it before Morton and Green added well deserved ones to finish a near six goal win. There's something to be said for actually being able to sit back and be comfortable for a few minutes at the end of a game.

And that was it. There was really no need to sing the song. A polite round of applause and relief that it had stopped pissing down so I could walk home in some comfort was all that was required. Game, set and match. If I were a player I'd definately be rested for reporting next week, I'm fatigued with this season.

Tank Talk
I've said it before and I'll say it again, even if coaches in shithouse teams want their side to lose you can't convince me that the players are going to be in on it. If you're one of the 10 players who is likely to get the arse at the end of the season in favor of high draft picks and priority selections are you going to go out there under instruction to cock things up and willingly help put yourself out of a job. Farcical concept. They were just shit, deal with it.

Fashion Corner
Matt Priddis has the worst hair since Nathan Carroll. Discuss. Also, his handball to Lynch in the last quarter from a free kick inside was the worst piece of play since.. oh, let's be honest it wasn't even the worst piece of play that quarter.

Next week on Fashion Corner. Was Tony Notte the thinnest man you've ever seen on an AFL field? He made Cale Morton look like a fat porky. I expect to see him sauntering down a catwalk on Australia's Next Top Supermodel any week now.

Koaches Korner
Don't you think that if Bailey was coaching in the 1970's he's the kind of guy who'd be interviewed while he wearing a sheepskin jacket and smoking a giant cigar before blowing the smoke in the face of the reporter when asked a question he didn't like. Legend.

Crowd Watch
Almost 18k. Seems a bit fanciful to me but they must have been tucked away somewhere. I'd love to see what the financial difference is between getting 18k at the MCG against 10k at Optus Oval. People will whinge if we move a game there but if it means saving money who cares?

2008 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes

5 - Cale Morton
4 - Cameron Bruce
3 - James McDonald
2 - Brad Green
1 - Nathan Jones

Apologies to Bartram, Bate, Buckley, Frawley, Maric, Martin, Miller, Newton, Warnock, Wheatley (probably the unluckiest) and Whelan. Pretty much everyone really.

Leaderboard

25 - Cameron Bruce, Brad Green
24 - Nathan Jones
21 - Brock McLean
20 - James McDonald
18 - Matthew Bate
17 - Brad Miller
14 - Lynden Dunn
14 - Cale Morton (Leader: 2008 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
13 - Paul Johnson
12 - Colin Garland (Joint Leader: 2008 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Chris Johnson (Joint Leader: 2008 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Shane Valenti
11 - Aaron Davey
10 - Austin Wonaeamirri
9 - Matthew Whelan
6 - Jared Rivers
5 - Brent Moloney, Simon Buckley
4 - Clint Bartram, Stefan Martin
3 - Nathan Carroll, Matthew Warnock, Jeff White, Paul Wheatley
2 - Russell Robertson, Addam Maric
1 - Mark Jamar, Adem Yze
1 - Colin Sylvia

Next Week
Port @ Football Park. They've got nothing to play for, and we're the worst team ever when we're not playing on Eastern Standard Time so unless you can convince the South Australian government to put their clocks forward 30 minutes before next Sunday I'd say we're rooted.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Friday Night Follies

So, you stayed home because it was freezing and there was some kind of opening ceremony bollocks on? Usually this is where I'd say you should be thrown headfast into a vat of boiling oil, but it turns out you made the right decision. Why not get into the Olympics after tonight? Now that you've been to the footy and seen the sort of brutal suppression of hopes and dreams that hasn't been on offer since Tianamen Square you may as well have the real thing.

Or perhaps you're one of the hundreds of private school parents and assorted jabronies who showed up for the Melbourne Grammar vs Scotch College private school wankfest curtain raiser and then left immediately afterwards. Again, usually you'd be going straight into the Demonblog Luke Williams Memorial Vat of Oil but like the timid stay at home Olympic fans you probably made the right decision. Besides, who's sitting in the outer at the footy when they own a 5 million dollar house in Brighton? Well, I would be - so where's my fucking house?

Anyway, let's stop beating around the bush. We got flogged. Not even in a good, painful but sort of hot S&M fashion. This was the equivalent of when they used to tie some poor bastard to four horses and then let them all run off in opposite directions. Except that this time the horses only did half the job and somebody had to come in and finish us off with a shovel like a piece of roadkill. Usually I go back and look at the AFL Game Day tracker to check the order of goals and jog my memory about any major incidents that I'd forgotten. Not going to be much use tonight is it? Remember when we went to Geelong in Round 3 and were going to rumbled by about 300 points but got away with a five goal loss which earnt us respect? Well, they got their massacre eventually.

I had the misfortune of not being there for the curtain raiser Rich Prick Challenge Cup because I was hurtling through traffic across town to get to the 'G for the first bounce. If I somehow managed to get done for speeding somewhere along the way I'll be attaching the fine to tomorrow's sports section and sending it in to the cops with a "don't you think I've suffered enough?" message attached.

So, I got there and the only news of any significance was that Jamar was this week's player to suffer the "mystery injury" and had been replaced late by Jeff White. Fair enough I suppose, give the big man a chance to rescue himself from VFA mediocrity in the last few rounds. Fine time then to play one of his worst games ever. He may as well have done a lap, slapped a few hands and called the press conference on the spot because if Jamar really is injured (*nudge* *wink*) then the only thing that will keep him anywhere near our starting lineup is that John Meesen is a fictional character who nobody will ever see actually play.

What's there to say about the game itself? Well they were playing "Pleasure and Pain" before the first bounce, which was apt. We held them scoreless for the first three minutes, that was nice. We struggled to rebound the ball out of our 50 a couple of times, they managed to repel our advances without even breaking a sweat. It was going to be one of those nights, but the real question was how much of 'one' it was going to be. As you know in the event of an expected thrashing I consider the TAB Sportsbet line to be the score to beat. Tonight they gave us +60.5, which I considered excessive. I was wrong.

From 0-0 at 4.22 of Q1, to 0-53 at 0.00 of Q2 I have rarely seen a more demoralising 25 minutes of football. We've had our share of last quarter fadeouts over the years, and the odd opening quarter of doom but never before have we looked so massively inept. Sure you're playing the best team in the land, but they're not making you handball it to the guy 25cm from you with two players almost already tackling him. I know that run and carry is the eventual goal of Bailey and Co but surely there's a point where you go "well, it's not working tonight and probably won't. Let's try something else and leave it until next week". Not tonight. It was pissy chip football ("Poofball" as an Un-PC acquaintance refers to it) all over the place, even when it was pissing down raining. Result? We were spanked. Often somebody would take a mark 50m out and, so fearful of our dysfunctional forward line, kick it 20m backwards to somebody who would then go across field again before it inevitibly broke down and caused me to cry.

Speaking of forward lines, we didn't have won. The sick "Sylvia as Midfielder" fantasy was back in vogue tonight with the same decidedly mixed results it always has. Meanwhile we were left with a rotating cast of forwards who tried hard but really had no idea what they were doing. Inside 50's is one stat, but how about some inside 20's, we didn't have too many of them. And those that did happen often resulted from somebody hoofing the ball downfield straight into the arms of a waiting Geelong defender.

So, until the 9.13 mark of the second quarter we scored precisely nothing. And even then we only managed to get on the board when a Geelong player botched a mark and dropped the ball through the points. So, morally it was still 61-1. Then, 23 seconds after they gave us a sympathy point the Cats went up the other end and kicked a goal. Cue a complete loss of the will to live. 22 minutes in and we had racked up a massive 0.3 to be behind by a casual 70. Finally THE CELEBRATOR managed to get on the end of a long ball and slot one home. Not much fucking celebrating to be done under these circumstances though. Especially when, surprise surprise, they went up the other end and booted a goal a minute later.

Positive - In Round 12, 1998 they were 84 points in front of us at half-time. We have had worse halves against Geelong. I remember not going to that game either because for some crackhead reason I'd been roped into doing the 40 Hour Famine and, being a fat bastard in training, had practically physically broken down by the next day. I stayed at home, listened to it on the radio and had something to eat. Don't judge, the poor kiddies got their money one way or the other.

Second half. Same shit, different quarter. Goals, goals, goals. Some mong looking bloke started standing up after every goal and giving it to everyone sitting behind him. Not sure why given that there were about 3 Melbourne fans in the entire section, and that had dropped to two when my mum walked out in disgust five minutes into the third. He eventually settled down when one of his own fans told him to sit the fuck down before he got copped a backhander.

Eventually Valenti got another one, from a goalmouth scramble which led to Lynden Dunn briefly losing his mind and celebrating like it meant something. The only thing it meant was that we got back within a hundred points. It didn't last long, by the time Paul Johnson was kicking the most improbable goal in recent memory (like Newton against North but even more unintentional and therefore impressive) three minutes into the last quarter we were again dragging ourselves back to within the ton. Guess what? They responded by kicking a shitload of goals. Bollocks.

Valenti got a second and noted goal-kicker (!?) Chris Johnson dobbed one after the siren but that was it. Some shit happened in between. We got beaten to a pulp. I hate footy.

Meanwhile has anyone else noticed the only two team rules that are being executed perfectly at the moment? Never kick the ball to Bate unless he's got three guys on him, and when Shane Valenti, the smallest man in the team, is on his own in the middle of four opposition players try and set up a high ball so he can take the mark over them. Thank god we're getting something right at least. With all these kicks to 2 or 3 on one contests (I'M LOOKING AT YOU WHEATLEY) you'd think that we'd have loose players or be manned up across the rest of the ground. Well you'd be wrong.

Positive - Well, we still came out better than Port did in the Grand Final. And it wasn't quite as much as they belted us by in 1996 (Greg Doyle 4 goals and both Cockatoo-Collins brothers on debut? What a dream clash). Having missed both that spectacular clash, and Sydney's 116pt smackdown the next year I can comfortably say that tonight was the biggest massacre I've had the pleasure of witnessing in person since that fateful day in 1990 when John Longmire kicked a casual 14.2 and North beat us by 130 (Danny Seow! Jay Viney! Just, get me the Name A Game DVD now).

Negative - Cram it with walnuts.

Star Watch
I walked past Garland and (*gasp* man crush) Rivers. Given the amount of ball in our backline today I don't think the defenders did such a bad job, but when these two are back we'll be a lot better off. I'm still waiting for Rivers to join his own Farcebook group.

Crowd Watch
The guys sitting behind me were your typical annoying football twats, but they did have a couple of lines which I made a mental note to steal (completely uncredited) for this report. Then I completely forgot them.

2008 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes

Last week we lost and there were about 10 people worthy of sneaking in for one. This week I'm struggling to find any. As much as I'd like to give no votes to anyone that would not only be cheap and nasty but also throw the integrity of this whole important competition into question. And we can't have that can we?

5 - Matthew Whelan (One of the few who looked even half comfortable using the ball)
4 - Shane Valenti (In everything. No polish, but plenty of guts)
3 - Brad Green (Like the RACV, he's always there)
2 - Addam Maric (Good poise around the ground. Looks confident in game three)
1 - Stefan Martin (Saved us from further demolition on more than one occassion)

Minor apologies to Buckley, P. Johnson and McDonald. Everyone else? Go and sit in the corner and think about what you've done.

Leaderboard

A new joint leader at the top, and with Valenti hitting the front in the Hilton Medal count all the action for the minor prizes is suddenly concentrated in the 12 vote bracket. Never before have so many players recieved so many votes for doing not much at all.

23 - Nathan Jones, Brad Green
21 - Brock McLean, Cameron Bruce
18 - Matthew Bate
17 - Brad Miller, James McDonald
14 - Lynden Dunn
13 - Paul Johnson
12 - Colin Garland (Joint Leader: 2008 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Chris Johnson (Joint Leader: 2008 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Shane Valenti (Leader: 2008 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
11 - Aaron Davey
10 - Austin Wonaeamirri
9 - Cale Morton
9 - Matthew Whelan
6 - Jared Rivers
5 - Brent Moloney, Simon Buckley
4 - Clint Bartram, Stefan Martin
3 - Nathan Carroll, Matthew Warnock, Jeff White, Paul Wheatley
2 - Russell Robertson, Addam Maric
1 - Mark Jamar, Adem Yze
1 - Colin Sylvia

Next Week
The bottom of the harbour super spectacular against the Eagles at the MCG on Saturday. Remember when we played them at Optus Oval a few years ago and 9,000 people turned up? Well you may as well play it at Royal Park Primary School next week because you'll be lucky to get 900 after that performance. I'll be there - because I'm retarded.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Give That They May Grow

Sorry children of the third world, there's a far more important cause in town. Dig deep or face a future having to find something decent to do with your winter weekends.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

And The Crowd Goes Absolutely Mild

If I'd gone to work today I would have been paid for ten hours to watch a two hour movie. With the other option being a cold day at the MCG watching us get slapped around by one of my most hated teams you'd think the choice would be fairly clear. But yet again the football as heroin scenario won out again and I showed up for a meaningless fixture that we had very little realistic chance of winning. I'd put an expense claim in to Big Footy (after all, they do run this site if I haven't mentioned it recently) but I expect that the Chief would come around and throw rocks through my windows. Rightly so too.

So there I was in the non-standard position of the Olympic Stand (I couldn't be bothered walking around to the Ponsford) freezing my tits off and wondering just how much champers my work colleagues had already knocked back at the film festival. My riposte to fine dining was to attempt eating the pinkest and shittest hot dog in the history of western civilization. If that, and the off-yellow mustard on it, doesn't end in a trip to the hospital later tonight I'll be shocked.

Today was probably the first time we've put in a genuine four quarter performance all season, the only problem being that we didn't manage to stop our opposition from doing the same. And while we were lining up with a forward line so makeshift that you were half expecting Jamie Dury to come out halfway through and announce that we were part of some sick new reality TV program ("Forward Line Blitz"? I'm into it), the other lot had the 8th highest goalkicker in history running riot around the packs and taking mark of the year. Says it all really, and was almost certainly the difference between the two sides.

Speaking of team selection I'm not surprised in the least at Jones getting dropped. I've almost been alone in saying it over the last few weeks but he's found it almost impossible to hit a target by foot in the last month. He needed a week away to recharge the batteries, and if he's the hardened professional that everyone always says he is then he'll come back bigger and better than ever. Really, who's career has ever been destroyed by missing out on a totally meaningless late season match?

Newton getting the arse was, on the other hand, a surprise. He's been, well let's say 'enigmatic' for the last couple of weeks but with Miller supposedly hurt you'd have thought they'd have left him out there to see what he can do as the focal point up front. So, to be dropped in that situation would seem to be the end of him wouldn't it? Now we're hearing that he's signed a new contract. God knows how football works but I'm glad I'm not expected to analyse it for a living.

So, Maric kept his spot after a promising debut and we welcomed back Green and Wheatley. All good, no arguments there - now how about a decent start for once so the game isn't completely over by quarter time? At the start it looked as if that was far too much to ask for. Poor Stef Martin came crashing back down to earth early on after playing quality football in his first three matches, wrecked by both McPhee and Lloyd. So be it, it's going to happen. Maric got his first career goal but even down by only two goals early on you could see that the Bombers had far too much firepower up front. When the ball went forward for them our backline was thrown into disarray, and though they often got away with it (in no small part thanks to Garland and the timeless Whelan) the process would rarely be repeated at the other end when our DIY attack would have a hard time getting anywhere near it. Sylvia was a bit rubbish early on and was taken to the cleaners by Fletcher, but gradually got into the game more and more and made an important contribution as our only real focal point up front. Bartram sank an opportunistic one before the end of the quarter to keep us within a goal.

Cometh the second quarter, cometh some of the worst umpiring you are ever likely to see in your life. Get the tape of this one before the AFL go back and wipe it from the official record to spare themselves, and the family of the gentleman involved (one Mr. Fila I believe) shame and embarassment at having been connected to it. So, Cam Bruce takes a mark 50m out hard on the boundary line and his opponent holds onto him. Fifty! Err no apparently not. So he keeps holding onto him and dragging him forward. Any minute now they're going to pay the 50 or at least tell the Essendon player to piss off onto his mark and behave himself. Well, that didn't happen. Eventually Bruce was thrown free, at which point the other guy hit the ground and tackled him around the ankles. Play on! Get fucked! Absolutely unbeliveable. I don't usually bag umpires, because frankly I couldn't ump an Auskick game decently let alone a real match but sometimes you just have to wonder what's going through their heads. It was as blatant a hold/trip as Barry Hall's haymaker on Brent Staker - there was simply no way anyone in their right mind could call play on not once but twice. We don't want to get the lawyers involved, but suffice to say somebody out there today was *** ***** *** (Snip! - Legal). There were a host of other 'contentious' calls emanating from the men in canary yellow but nothing as scandalous as that.

Despite the fact that we were rorted, and Lloyd was running riot at the other end, we hung in there until half time. Generally this season when games have turned into shootouts we're left about three postcodes behind but today, even with the D-Team up front we were matching them. Morton got his first, also potentially the first touch he'd had of 15 that had actually hit it's target, and Sylvia also added one leading up around the 50 and we were in the mix. Then Buckley kicked one to put us in front and I'm not sure if it was the dubious hot dog speaking but I was seeing stars.

A word on Buckley. I slaughtered him last week, but thought he was a lot better today. He's obviously good at getting around people and selling dummies but the more he learns to use his special moves sparingly rather than on every single occasion the better he'll get. Today he balanced daring solos with intuitive play and prospered. Dropped off in the second half and gave away four frees but given the way the umpires were seemingly picking them out of their arses I'm not going to hold that against him. Now that it's proven that whoever cops it on here comes out the next week and fixes their flaws I'd like to turn to Morton. Now, before we start I know I'm in the absolute minority on this so I have to stress that I believe he will be an excellent player once he has more experience and weighs more than a supermodel HOWEVER today he was the absolute King of Klang early on and it was as frustrating as anything. On more than one occasion under no pressure whatsoever he couldn't hit a player on his own 30m away. A scorching last quarter aside his disposal was fairly rancid. Getting it in the first place is the hard thing so given that he's got that sorted out he should go alright next year with a pre-season under his belt but let's not lose our minds and start giving him votes just because he got 26 possessions. We play a brand of football where pretty much everyone is guaranteed 5 cheap ones before the match even begins, so don't try and blind me with science and talk about how many he racked up when he torched most of them.

Nothing he botched managed to stack up to what Mark Jamar managed to achieve though. Taking a mark in the goalsquare he attempted to play on and somehow manage to mess it up from about 2m out. I have no idea how given that I looked down when he took the grab and looked up to see it rolling through off an Essendon player for a point. Naturally they went up the other end and kicked a goal straight away. He got 5 kicks on the day which equalled his career best. Shame he didn't manage one more, because I think there's an "I SAW JAMAR GET 6 KICKS" t-shirt that the club is desperate to start selling. On a day where he at least broke even with one of the best ruckmen in the comp that miss unfortunately made him look like a bit of a dick. To be honest I've liked him over the past few weeks, and as sad as it makes me to see Jeff White on the outer it's almost starting to look like it makes sense. Mind you any ruckman would have looked good with James McDonald at his feet today - 9 clearances and a dominant display in the centre almost single handedly dragged us back into the contest on a couple of occasions. I can't see him three-peating the B&F, but I'm glad to see him back to his best.

As soon as we hit the lead Essendon turned it up a notch and started to stem the bleeding out of the centre. A late goal to Davey, a corker on the run from outside 50, kept the margin at a respectable 15 at the long break and we were, I suppose, a chance. Lloyd still looked as if he was going to kick 15 but for want of any other real targets we were a chance.

Coming out of the 1/2 time break Sylvia kicked the first (and like I said a few weeks ago can we give up the sick fantasy that he's anything other than a forward and stop trying to play him off half back when he can't be arsed running more than 5m at a time) and Paul Johnson - who continues to impress - added the next. Once again we were back in it, then Jamar went for his second two goal turnaround of the match when he botched a more than gettable kick only to see the ball come down the other end and Matthew Lloyd take what's being acclaimed widely as mark of the year (though it must be a pretty ordinary field if that's the case) and kick a goal less than a minute later. Thankfully he missed another gettable one just after and when THE CELEBRATOR crumbed one and Sylvia got another (A FORWARD! THE MAN IS A FORWARD!) we were back in front. Then, err, it all went a bit wrong. They kicked four goals in six minutes to end the quarter and when they got the first of the 4th we were all but buggered. Green and McPhee traded goals before Jamar kicked one (!?) and Morton, finally tuned in to some decent disposal, added two more to bring us back within ten.

Then Lloyd kicked his 7th and we were rooted again. Then Bate kicked his second and we weren't rooted again. Then Leroy Jetta kicked one and we were definately rooted. Lloyd added an 8th and it was curtains despite a brave performance. Maric got the last and we got done by 16pts but it had encouraging signs written all over it. I'd love to see Maric's disposal efficiency because apart from his 2 goals I'm convinced that the other 9 kicks he had were all right on the money. He could be a massive find in the next couple of seasons if he can kick a couple of goals a week and play up the ground with some laser like disposals (RIP - T. Johnstone) to the big forwards, whoever they may be.

So we got done, but what did we really lose? The Essendon fans did a half hearted celebration knowing they hadn't set the world on fire against the worst team in the comp and we left wondering once again what could have been with a bit more composure and poise. Roll on Season 2009 - it's just a shame we have to sit through 4 months of cricketing bollocks before we get to it.

Marketing Magic
For the second time at a Melbourne/Essendon Game there was a mascot race. Maybe they do this all the time? And rightly so too. This time the giant green female M&M put in a scorching second half to beat a blue viking by 3 lengths with a chicken flying home quickly to grab third. Watch the chicken at a longer distance, it could be a chance during the spring carnival. At the back of the field the Slip, Slop, Slap penguin crash tackled somebody in a sumo suit and both finished well back.

Opposition Watch
I wouldn't know who 90% of the Essendon players were if they robbed me in the street. Time and time again when it comes to opposition players I just have absolutely no interest. Please note that this is not an invitation for any Essendon players to actually rob me in the street.

Crowd Watch
For those obsessed with the concept that all our fans are shrinking violets I give you this guy;

Photobucket

Off his chops on beers and god knows what else and standing up and yelling shit for four quarters. Would be a bloody nightmare to sit near but not being able to actually hear him from the cheap(est) seats in the house it seemed quite entertaining. Ruined everything by throwing in a 'respectful' handshake with the mulleted man a row in front who he'd been tormenting the whole day.

Kasualty Korner
What would a Melbourne match be without somebody getting hurt? Davey did his ankle and Garland a hammy. Neither of them in serious, screaming heap on the wing, white screen and shotgun circumstances but the way we're rotating players at the moment they'll probably miss anyway.

2008 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - James McDonald (The general of the midfield strikes again. Klearance King extraordinare)
4 - Matthew Bate (Finally they kick it to him and he does something)
3 - Lynden Dunn (Cut the dangerous Watson to shreds and got a lot of it around the ground)
2 - Simon Buckley (So much smarter than last week it wasn't funny)
1 - Colin Sylvia (Must play as a forward permanently)

Apologies to Bruce (plenty of touches, no massive impact), Morton (almost sneaks a vote for getting it so much, needs a full pre-season to learn how to stop butchering it), Valenti (enthusiasm plus), Paul Johnson, Garland, Whelan, Jamar (won in the ruck against Hille but loses points for the goalsquare botch) and Maric (beautiful poise and delivery with his kicking around the ground).

What a change to have so many apologies to hand out in a loss. The last two spots could have gone to almost any of the players listed above.

Leaderboard

No real action at the top in the absence of the leader, but McDonald and Bate have both thrown themselves into the mix with BOG honors today. No changes in any of the other awards, but Morton would have to be favourite to take the Hilton now after his performance today - if he keeps getting 25 touches a game he's going to have enough accurate kicks to finally score a couple of votes.

23 - Nathan Jones
21 - Brock McLean, Cameron Bruce
20 - Brad Green
18 - Matthew Bate
17 - Brad Miller, James McDonald
14 - Lynden Dunn
13 - Paul Johnson
12 - Colin Garland (Joint Leader: 2008 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Chris Johnson (Joint Leader: 2008 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
11 - Aaron Davey
10 - Austin Wonaeamirri (Leader: 2008 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
9 - Cale Morton
8 - Shane Valenti
6 - Jared Rivers
5 - Brent Moloney, Simon Buckley
4 - Clint Bartram, Matthew Whelan
3 - Nathan Carroll, Matthew Warnock, Jeff White, Paul Wheatley, Stefan Martin
2 - Russell Robertson
1 - Mark Jamar, Adem Yze
1 - Colin Sylvia

Next Week
Geelong at the MCG on Friday night. They're unlikely to grant us the courtesy of a three goal lead this time, and their squad won't have been standing on the ground for half an hour before the game like they were at Kardinia Park earlier in the year. Personally I think we'll get smashed like guitars, but you couldn't want a better test of who's in it for the future and who should be playing in the Diamond Valley league. Bring it on? Well, if we have to.

The Week After
West Coast at the MCG in the "By christ we're depressed Beyond Blue Challenge Cup". With neither side likely to draft the same player anyway we might even get through the match without some ignorant peanut talking about tanking.

The Week After That
Port Adelaide at Football Park. They're not trying anymore this season, yet they'll still beat us by ten goals. What does that say about our record there?

The Last Week
Richmond at the MCG. Hopefully they're still in the finals mix and we can fix them up with Ben Holland kicking the winning goal and leaping into the Richmond corporate box and personally demanding the money they owe him.

The Finals
Give a shit?