Saturday, 30 May 2009

Golden Showers

When it was announced that Channel Ten were covering the Fremantle vs Richmond dead-rubber of the century rather than our game I'll admit I had a whinge. "What's wrong with showing the top team in country against the 2045 premiership favourites?" I wailed. Now, I'd like to apologise wholeheartedly to Channel 10.

Not only was our game completely rubbish, but it turns out that the only long distance camera angle available at Carrara is akin to filming the game from the moon. On the other side of the country Richmond and the Dockers were playing out a classic with the additional side-angle of Ben Cousins return to Perth. Of course that was the more appetising game. Even if they had picked it this week rather than six months ago did anyone doubt that Ten wouldn't put Richmond on every week for the rest of the season so the vultures could show the footage of the kid crying every ten minutes. I turned over at the end of our game and guess what they were showing? Ten should just hire Craig "hiding in the bushes" Hutchison already and make a network out of being [deleted for legal reasons - editor].

It's also understandable why nobody else wanted to write the report for this. It was never going to be pretty. To be honest I wasn't even going to watch it until half an hour before the first bounce. With no Foxtel at home and the dodgy internet streams all showing the Freo game I was content to stay home, listen to the radio and be a crochety bastard in the comfort of my living room. The major advantage to not watching a Foxtel Saturday night game is, of course, not having to put up with the utter tripe that is Dwayne Russell as a commentator.

For the second week we managed to avoid copping a shot on goal in the first twenty seconds. The tide is clearly turning. In fact we scored first, the suddenly 'reliable on the run' Sylvia missing on the run. He did get another one not long after. We continually pegged them back when they jumped away to a break, even James Frawley wandered forward for a goal. This leaves Jack Grimes as the only player in our 22 who has never kicked a career goal - come on son, it's been five matches already. Fire up and kick a bag. Adrian McAdam had 29 in the same time after all.

Then after quarter time the game just died. I honestly can't remember what happened for most of the next three quarters other than it being horrible. And to think I was supposed to be going to this game before financial considerations kicked in. At least then I'd have been able to cheer myself up by going on a waterslide at Sea World tomorrow instead of watching reserves football.

Did we actually get a free kick in the first half that wasn't for out on the full? I'm not suggesting there were any rorts at work, and god knows even if we'd had them they would just have been botched, but I can't remember any. Oh, and the hands in the back rule has officially been removed from the rulebook. Ring Kevin Bartlett up on Hungry for Sport and ask him what happened to it. Shithouse. We got a handful in the second half

So, how bad was the second half? Well, put it this way I'd rather sit through two hours of the CGU ads with Susan the rapping providore than ever watch it again. In fact don't ask me what happened in the last quarter, because I spent the whole time on my friends couch reading Wikipedia on a laptop and telling him who North Melbourne had drafted in any particular year. I did look up at one point to see Whelan laying another blockbusting rugby tackle - I don't think anyone gives enough credit to how much he's going to be missed when he goes. Kyle Cheney looks like a successor at times but he'll need to learn how to produce killer tackles and get injured at inappropriate times if he's going to fill Whelan's shoes.

Also interesting was McDonald getting crunched in the knee and going off as if he was completely rooted. Came back on, but clearly wasn't right. Our midfield doesn't have a great deal of people knocking on the door to come in (Bell was so-so, Buckley is around somewhere) but if he were to cop a serious injury now would it be the end of him? Love the guy, and his tackling is a highlight, but it might be time to move over and let somebody else have a crack. Meh, whatever - we're shit let him go on for as long as he likes.

It's a credit to our backline that even with the ball spending most of the game inside the Saints forward 50 we didn't concede a massive score. It was also a credit to the fact that they couldn't kick straight most of the time, but go with my point. I'll say this every week until we are actually good but it's the backline that's going to be the foundation for our success. Now to find some semblance of a forward structure. The Stefan Martin Experience forward experiment (SMEFE?) was an abject failure, but then again so was our entire forward line other than Bate - who was doing all his work outside 50 - so it's not a great indication. I still don't think he's a natural to play down there, certainly doesn't look too comfortable with it.

To top off a great night I went outside to my car and realised that I'd totally forgotten to look at the street signs when I parked. Hello 15 minute zone, hello $57 fine. Not so bad considering I was there for about 4hrs longer than legally allowed.

Draft Watch
No need to talk tank, with Richmond's ludicrous win over Freo they're now a game and percentage in front of us. If we don't get this draft right then we'd may as well give up, Mulder and Scully or whatever the fuck these new messiahs are called had better be ready to dedicate themselves to a career of failure and disappointment.

Kasey Korner
Tomorrow against Geelong @ Casey Fields. I've got something else I'm supposed to go to, but frankly the prospect of standing on the hill alone and listening to the gloriously - and therefore great - 3SER amateur radio call is a much more attractive option. Besides there are so many interesting angles in the match that it's impossible to ignore. Will Robertson bounce back or is he rapidly sliding towards irrelevance? Does Watts do enough to get a Queens Birthday debut? Will Ricky Petterd get played in position? Should Lynden Dunn even bother turning up? Half-assed reportage later tomorrow.

2009 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Jared Rivers (Did well in defence, had precious little competition at the top of this lineup)
4 - Mark Jamar (my god, I never thought we'd see the moment that somebody with 2 kicks almost wins BOG)
3 - Matthew Whelan (the most underrated MFC player of the last decade)
2 - Matthew Bate
1 - Brent Moloney

Apologies to Grimes, Green, Maric, Sylvia, Frawley and McLean

Leaderboard
18 - Aaron Davey, Brent Moloney
11 - Brad Green
10 - Nathan Jones
8 - Brock McLean, Jared Rivers, James Frawley (CO-LEADERS: 2009 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Colin Sylvia
7 - Brad Miller, Cameron Bruce, Stefan Martin
6 - Cale Morton
5 - Kyle Cheney (LEADER: 2009 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year), Matthew Bate,
4 - Matthew Warnock, Jamie Bennell, Mark Jamar (LEADER: Strawbs O'Dwyer Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
3 - Ricky Petterd, Russell Robertson, Matthew Whelan
2 - James McDonald
1 - Lynden Dunn

Next Week
Queen's Birthday. Not her real one, but who's counting? Last week I might have claimed we were a chance, but after tonight I'm not so sure. Here's to them suffering a black death style injury plague in the game against Port tomorrow. At least we'll be able to finally answer the question - who would you rather throw into the sea, Cloke or Miller?

Final Thoughts
Tonight made me want to fill my pockets with rocks and walk into the ocean.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Armpit vs Deodorant

Surely nobody seriously expected to win this. All week the talk 'around the traps' (i.e forums and pissed blokes in pubs) was how we were a huge chance of knocking them over and how it was a danger game for the Hawks. Danger my arse. They might not be the same well-oiled killing machine that they were last year, and they might have been whacked fiercly with the injury stick, but they're still a much better side than we are.

Honourable losses galore are lovely but it doesn't bridge the gap in class, and doesn't compensate for a forward line matchup featuring two guys who have kicked 54 goals between them. Especially considering our entire squad has only kicked 90 between them in the same time frame. And that's why we were never going to win this game.

And of course we didn't. Again. How many more times can I write the same report before I just start cutting and pasting with altered names and votes?

At least there were signs (oh really? Tell us something we haven't heard every week). Colin freaking Sylvia went absolutely bananas for one, The Stefan Martin Experience went forward with promising results and Rivers and Warnock managed to contain the goalkicking machines in the second half.

Despite the vast gulf in class there was a point in the middle of the first quarter when we were playing well and could have taken the lead. We were winning out of the centre, Robertson had got the first from his third criminal free kick in two weeks (welcome back gifts at tax deductible) and Davey had a set shot from pretty much straight in front to give us the lead. He misses, Hawthorn start to dominate the middle, they kick the next four and it's effectively over.

At times it seemed like the Hawks got bored of playing and tried to indulge themselves in a "Goal of the Year" contest instead. First Bateman tried to dribble one through from 30m out on the boundary line and almost got away with it, the in the second quarter Rioli took a handball from a diving player, did a 360 degree spin that practically left our guy flat on his arse before hitting the post. May I remind those of you who frantically whop off over top 5 draft picks that he was a #12 pick and dominates on a weekly basis. According to the pissweak AFL website highlights neither of these were considered good enough to make it. Laughable - more on that later.

Speaking of things were in the "of the year" file we come to Russell Robertson. The mark? Probably a top 10 or 20 contender. The blooper? Every possible chance of taking home the Lada Samara at the end of the year. He takes a great mark in the square, and while lying flat on the ground he farcically tries to kick it through. Gary Moss (should I know who this is? Why is anyone called Gary in the 21st century?) says "I'll have that", grabs it out of mid-air and we don't even get a point out of it. Think of Jamar trying to play on in the square against Essendon last year and botching it - then multiply it by 50. At least Jamar got a point.

I'd been pro-Robbo this season up until that point but there's never been any moment more worthy of turning on somebody over. He got a couple of goals but that will go down in the top 5 of the lowest moments in our wilderness years.

The rest of our forward line wasn't offering much either. Martin was trying hard but couldn't get near it, Maric was looking good playing up the ground, Petterd was all at sea and Bate was trying hard with no support at all. Miller, especially, was having one of his worst games in years. Right from the first quarter where he could have had a flying shot at goal but decided to piss around with it he was totally devoid of any confidence. For somebody who has come from the brink of uselessness to be a key player in the last couple of years he was rubbish. Needs to stop thinking so much and be a bit more selfish. We know we're not going to win anything, nobody's going to have a go for a couple of snaps that sneak through for a point.

Half time led to one of the most undignified displays since Football Park played sex music over footage of grannies. I know there's $5000 on the line but does anyone with half a brain really ever involve themselves in those competitions where you have to wave something in the air for the cameras? For one you may as well not bother if you're male because women always win it, and two have some dignity and not be another whore at the capitalist gangbang waving some corporate logo around over your head for a one in 25,000 chance at cash and prizes. You may as well go to New Orleans during Spring Break and bap out for the Girls Gone Wild cameras.

Erm, anyway - moving on. With a massacre on the cards and Franklin/Roughead (Roughlin? Frankhead?) having seven between them Frawley was given an honourable discharge from the battle and replaced with Rivers. JR then kept him goalless in one of the better 3 possession performances you're likely to see. Warnock also did a good job on Roughead and kept him scoreless. Unfortunately they have goalkicking options up the wazoo so stopping them just means more quality time for everyone else, but at least it didn't develop into the full scale slaughter that it promised late in the second quarter.

Random Thought
At what point was anybody going to realise that Hawthorn spent the entire game switching the play diagonally across the ground? Even I, the least informed analyst of all time, could see it.

Stef Martin was an interesting one in the forward line. During the first half he didn't get near it, but in the second he started to come alive. Two goals, including a hot snap from the boundary line, made it a worthwhile experiment. I only hope that it's left as an experiment and he doesn't end up as a Miller 04-06/Petterd/Dunn type player who gets shuffled around every five seconds until they completely lose the plot. At least switch it around and give us the Rivers in the forward-line tilt that we've been dying to see ever since he bagged a couple against the Pies a few years ago.

Speaking of Petterd and Dunn do you think they get together at training and wonder if they're being persecuted for having bizarre first names (watch out Cale, Stefan and Austin). Both of them get shuffled around every week, never left in one place and, in Dunn's case, dropped on a whim. I like Petterd but is there any point in playing him next week - Queensland homecoming angle aside - if he's not actually going to get any sort of role other than wandering aimlessly in the forward line?

Shame that Gold Coast isn't coming in next year, because you may as well try and wrench a few draft picks out of them for these guys rather than just burying them in mediocrity. Dunn especially I'm concerned about - every time he's played forward he's shown promise but after his first season he's never been left there. I'd much rather he do what Petterd is doing now, but neither of them seem to figure greatly in anyone's plans. Shame. Who wants to bet on Dunn being the next person to join the Clay Sampson "Sacked by Melbourne, wins a flag elsewhere" Club?

Johnson was solid throughout. He's improved greatly since he's been the lone ruckman (SME cameos aside). Doesn't mean we shouldn't bring Jamar back next week - and did you ever think you'd hear me say that? - but he still deserves a thumbs up for his performances since the tragic loss of Meesen Magic. Unfortunate not to sneak into the votes for the third consecutive week.

When the Hawks kicked the first two goals of the 3rd quarter to blow the lead out to +50 points it looked like things were going to get absolutely craptacular. Sylvia got our first from a running set shot - I think even he's realised that he can't kick one off a normal run-up under any sort of pressure. Then he crumbed one (CRUMB! CRUMB! CRUMB!) and snapped another for three in a row to add to his otherwise sensational work around the ground. Easily the best of his 78 games so far.

They got the margin back out again but going into the last quarter
two players down with injury they put the shutters up early. We got a few goals (including the SME's hot snap), to the point where only the truly neurotic are even slightly tense about losing, and suddenly they were chipping it around in one of the ponciest displays ever seen. Even their own fans were booing them, which is odd.

First thought was "I withdraw going for them in the Grand Final last year. Bring back Geelong etc.." but I suppose once you've necked yourself for four quarters you're hardly going to indulge in some pointless last minute contests just to keep the crowd interested. They did deign to involve themselves in some pointless last minute brawling though, which was nice. I'm still waiting for one of our fringe players to properly clock somebody though. Morton fired up a bit in the scuffles - surely one day he's going to make all our dreams come true, and all future Morton family gatherings awkward, by giving one of his brothers a right hook to the head.

Second thought is for fucks sake Melbourne man up and stop them doing it. Then you remember that they've been out there for four quarters as well and probably can't be bothered running anymore either. Easy enough for us fatties in the stands I suppose, would be different being out there. The only problem is that even in close games we don't stop teams doing it.

We did get a goal out of the chaos when Sylvia got a 50 after being whacked in the head in the marking contest. Nothing more in it that a stray hand trying to spoil but presumably the tribunal will give Muston a 25 game suspension to try and entice a few more 4WD owners into letting their kids play the sport.

So, we barely deserved to get that close - and line punters everywhere were probably throwing bricks at their televisions - but we certainly deserved to avoid being blown out of the water. Like most games this year we'll take it and look to the future.

Web Watch
The AFL website would have to be one of the worst in international sports. Try watching highlights videos on it. I got through the first half in one browser, at which point it would re-direct me - no matter what I chose - to another Big Pond video website for overseas customers that you not only needed a subscription to but couldn't view in Australia. So, I switched to another browser where halfway through the 2nd half highlights an ad came on from which it refused to return. It's an embarassment of a set-up that we're subjected to year after year while they pocket they ad money from the continual reloads.

Then there's the insistance that if it wasn't a goal then it didn't happen. Can you seriously tell me with a straight face that Bateman and Rioli's near goals or Robertson's blooper weren't highlights? I don't expect them to show punch-ups but for god's sake give us something. Imagine being somebody from overseas who wants to know what happened on the weekend. Good luck unless you subscribe to their premium service - even then it's full games or bastardised highlights.

Crowd Watch
Sat in the Olympic Stand for a quick exit. Surrounded by Hawthorn fans including a family of complete knobs behind us who couldn't be bothered controlling their kids. One of the little bastards wouldn't shut up for the entire half - I don't know what they did to him at half time but he appeared heavily sedated from then on. Of course just as the kid started being quiet they located a family friend to join them who was - of course - 'challenged'. Cue a half of "GO THE HAWKERS" every five seconds. Better than the kid because he didn't alternate yelling things with kicking me in the back.

Oh for a "child free" zone at the football. An idiot free zone (yes, Hawthorn nonce with a tea-cosy on his head giving it large at the final siren, I'm talking about you) would be too much to ask, but can we at least hand out free Gameboys or something so the little freaks can amuse themselves until they actually understand the game.

2009 Allen Jakovich Medal

Probably the biggest gap between the 5 and 4 votes in history. Where has this Colin Sylvia been hiding for the past few years?

5 - Colin Sylvia
4 - Cameron Bruce
3 - Brad Green
2 - Stefan Martin
1 - Jared Rivers

Apologies to Maric, Johnson, Whelan, Warnock, Davey, McLean, Jones, Johnson and McDonald just for losing his rag in the third quarter.

Leaderboard
18 - Aaron Davey
17 - Brent Moloney
11 - Brad Green
10 - Nathan Jones
8 - Brock McLean, James Frawley (LEADER: 2009 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Colin Sylvia
7 - Brad Miller, Cameron Bruce, Stefan Martin
5 - Kyle Cheney (LEADER: 2009 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
6 - Cale Morton
4 - Matthew Warnock, Jamie Bennell
3 - Matthew Bate, Ricky Petterd, Russell Robertson, Jared Rivers
2 - James McDonald
1 - Lynden Dunn

Next Week
You'd expect that St. Kilda would smash us, even though it is at the wildcard venue Carrara, but given the way we've managed to avoid getting murdered by the three best teams of last year in consecutive weeks (though it was a close run thing tonight) we just might be able to avoid copping a massive backhander in this one. Besides, all the interest will be in the following week when even the dickless pro-tank brigade will be cheering on a win against the Collingwood filth.

Next Year
McDonald, Whelan, Wheatley, Robertson. Who stays and who goes?

I'd say Wheatley is probably done for - he's not the worst player ever but he doesn't really add much to a rebuilding side. If he's lucky he might sneak into an established side in the pre-season. Definately deserves games in the second half of the year though, has been a good servant. Morton, wasted as he is in the backline, is doing his job with 100% better efficiency.

McDonald and Whelan aren't exactly the future but I'm not going to try and axe either of them. Have both been great players and deserve to go one more year (two in Whelan's case) if they want. Whelan's tackle on Franklin is enough to convince me that even in a world featuring Cheney and Bennell that he's got a role to play.

Robertson is the interesting one. Blooper aside he's filling a role at the moment. One or two goals a week, he kicks 30 for the year and what have we lost? If there was somebody else desperately pushing for the same spot I'd say he was in danger but the fact is there isn't and even if we're going to get rumbled every week we still need to kick goals to avoid thrashings. Unless we're going to trade for a forward, or somebody like Watts comes on big-time in the second half of the year I think he can go around for one more next year with the disclaimer that he might not make it until R22.

Interesting it seems a lot of people have turned on him in the last few weeks. Has always been a polarising player - except for the two or three years of his prime when he was running riot - but recently there's been a lot of hate directed his way. Even before last night. Meh, I'm philosophical about the whole thing. He's a bigger star amongst housewives than he is on a footy field these days but good luck to him, we're hardly pressing for the finals so let him do his own thing and give him a crack next year with the big "fire up or get the train to Cranbourne" disclaimer.

Procedural Announcement
I'm massively burnt out from writing about loss after loss, so next week I'm taking the now traditional Demonblog mid-season break. Last year it was overseas, this year it's in my loungeroom. So, first in first served if you want to write the St. Kilda game. As usual you can do whatever you like as long as you give the votes. Email to Supermercado -> demonblog.com or PM on Big Footy.

Or you could message me on the world famous Demonblog Twitter feed. If you're really keen.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Great Caseys of our time

#1

Casey Jones

Does this ring a bell for you? Dominate all day but have no forward line structure and get beaten in the last few minutes. I know the Scorpions are trying to build a relationship with us but totally ripping off our way of life is another thing all together.

Congrats to those of you who actually made it totally. And a big hand to Vic Roads for not putting up any signs to indicate that there were 'bridge works' until you'd already been sitting in the traffic 5km beforehand for 20 minutes. Idiots. No wonder that the crowd built up slowly through the first half, everyone was probably stuck at Forster Road (where?) swearing loudly.

So Box Hill won. Not that they entirely deserved it, but such is life. The Scorpions should have put it away in the first quarter when Danny Hughes was running riot up front and kicking 1.3 in the first ten minutes. At 1.5 to 1.0 with ten minutes of dominance behind 'us' (I suppose) it seemed like the Hawks were going to get run over. When one Mr. A Yze botched a kick-in to create the first goal you thought that everything was surely going to go right and we were going to see some sort of win for a team connected to Melbourne. But of course you were wrong because the world is a cruel place. Holding no more than a two goal lead all day the game swung back and forth until the last quarter when the Hawks kicked away to win by 15 points.

Casey had their chances but couldn't get anything going in the forward line. Their captain, in particular, had a day best described as 'suburban'. Highlighted by getting a free-kick deep into the last, feigning left then right to play on and then just falling over to be tackled for holding the ball. Thank god for him Phil, Roscoe and the ABC cameras weren't there or he'd be on blooper reels for the rest of history.

Speaking of momentous occasions I'm convinced that I've never seen a worse umpired game. Box Hill were so badly rorted in the first half that it's a credit to them to have been within ten goals. Guys were getting tackled a millisecond after getting the ball and copping free kicks, tackles around the chest were being called too high, and most notably a mark was followed by a 50m penalty for an indiscretion by a Casey player... which then got reversed into a free kick for Casey. HOW? There was clearly no biffo behind the play. It was absolutely baffling. I'd love to see the total free kick count because it must have been astronomical. Then, naturally, in the last when it got crucial they stopped paying them. It was shite. You will, however, be pleased to know that none of them were - or presumably will ever be - AFL listed umpires.

Don't believe the reports about Bell being BOG (serviceable, nothing special) Jamar was easily our best and should walk into the team next week. He beat Renouf and dominated the Box Hill ruckman as well as getting a heap of possessions around the ground (by his standards) and flying high into marking contests and spoils everywhere.

McNamara was second best. He did a good job in the backline, moved into the midfield confidently and even slotted a couple of goals. I can't see where he fits into our backline at the moment if Rivers comes back, but he's got to get a run before the end of the season.

Bell and Buckley were ok without doing anything particuarly exciting. See also McKenzie and Bail. Jetta was Jetta - lots of hustle and a few nice moves by an efficiency rating lower than Zimbabwe's national bank balance.

The delivery inside the forward 50 was rubbish which didn't help Newton. His chase was good but when gifted opportunities to kick goals he couldn't get the job done. I expect both he and Hughes will be spending a lot more time at this level in years to come.

Finally Watts. The messiah himself. Couldn't get much love inside 50 for the same reasons as Newton, but came out for a run on the ball in the 2nd quarter and looked good. Didn't do much else, needs a few more weeks in the slops before we consider unveiling him. Having said that I'm sure that the board are licking their lips at the prospect of bringing him out on QB just to put an extra 5,000 bandwagon scum in the seats. They do not deserve him, only we who have suffered.

Thus endeth the worst match report of all time. What did you expect?

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Dog Day Afternoon

And so another week is upon us. Are we absolutely sure that none of our players suddenly developed a random career threatening injury during the week? Well there's the first surprise of the day - I had my money on Jordie McKenzie having gone on an AFL Auskick tour of Mexico City and coming back with Swine Flu. Speaking of Auskick, at what point was Jo Bailey/Silvagni given the arse from the half-time "welcome the kids" promo? Poor Jo - sacked again. Sure, she's only the second best Bailey ever but when you're being fired so Dipper can have a larger share of air-time you know somebody's got it in for you.

Err, anyway, there was some sort of game on today. Frankly I'd rather spend 20 minutes writing about the vagaries of the Auskick program, and how I want to murder whoever came up with those CGU ads but I suppose you're not here for that. For the sake of historians reading back over this in decades to come we'd better at least pay some interest in the match.

BUT before I do may I say that the innovation of showing 'classic' matches on the screen before the first bounce is proving to be a winner with the handful of sick freaks like me who show up before 1.30. At the Geelong game it was the 1pt win in R20, 2005 and today it was the - arguably better - week after featuring Jeff White and 'that' free kick. Thought the Dogs fans were going to riot a second time seeing that. One thing that it did do was prove that Al Nicholson has been treated unfairly by history - he had a mighty second half in that one. There was even a Philth sighting for those of you still mourning his exit. They've got a few options for the Collingwood game. I'm sure they'll be cheap and go for 2007, but personally I'd prefer the wild last quarter comeback in 04 or Farmer's 9 goal second half in 2000. My god I need to get a job at Name-A-Game so I can do some dodgy after-hours duplication work.

Now, if we must, the match itself. Rivers and Frawley out injured, Bennell rested. Cheney, Valenti and Whelan back in the side. After copping goals in the first twenty seconds of the last two weeks we managed to stem the tide this time and only concede a point. Seriously, we're not doing so badly out of the centre overall but for god's sake can we please at least lock the ball down at the first bounce? It's getting ridiculous how many times we concede the first score then bounce back and start playing good football a few minutes later.

And good football it was today. For the first time it really looked like the gameplan was coming together. The delivery was crisp and our chains of handball didn't always go one step too far and end up with somebody (Jones, I'm looking at you) getting pinged for holding the ball. Didn't last, but it was a sexy glimpse into the future. Bate got the first in an important game for him after a terrible few weeks and by the 18 minute mark when Brock goalled we had opened up a fifteen point lead. By quarter time it was still 11, including another great Sylvia goal on the run from outside 50. He really needs to go to the Aaron Davey school of refusing to take set shots.

Bate and Jones kicked the first two of the second, but slowly the Melbourne we know and love (!?) crept back into the contest. Suddenly players were running into trouble needlessly and kicks were being butchered. The Bulldogs were hardly at their best and we still managed to take a lead into half time, but the tide was certainly turning. Akermanis - the burst player we would kill for - alone dragged the Dogs back into it. Cooney was getting done over by Bartram, but there was no stopping Aker. Halftime and we were in the bizarre position of playing well enough to be 6 goals in front, but not well enough to actually win the game.

Naturally the Dogs fans around us were getting nervous about the prospect of getting done over by the bottom side. I can see why too, it's the same thing we get when we're good (remember that?) and are pushed by bottom sides. At least if you're a Geelong or Hawthorn fan you know that if you lose and some idiot starts hanging it on you then you can drag out the giant cardboard cutout Premiership Cup, point it and walk off without saying a word. What are Footscray, St. Kilda, Melbourne or Freo fans (and any Richmond fan under 30) going to do? Being at the top end of the ladder and falling over the line is nothing to boast about without some sort of recent history behind it to back up the mockery. A loss, on the other hand, is symbolic of the exact reason why you (we?) have been so shit for so long. So you take your tight win and do a runner, or you lose and go straight to the top of the laughing stock league.

No, future historians, we didn't win. 4.6 to 0.0 from 8.22 of Q3 to 8.15 of Q4 saw to that but we showed that we're going places. Martin, Warnock and Cheney were holding firm down back, Morton was doing as he pleased coming out of defensive 50, Moloney and McLean were going bananas in the centre and the likes of Bate, Robertson and Maric were competitive up front. Class won out in the end, but not without a fight.

Miller had a rotten day but he never stopped putting in and despite missing a crucial shot in the dying minutes - had a hand in a couple of goals and fought all the way. I used to slaughter him, not without some justification, but the way his attitude has improved in our dark years has been remarkable. Maybe it was all taken for a granted a bit too much when we were good and now reality has hit home? Can't wait to see how he goes in a couple of years with the likes of Bate and Watts operating around him.

Maric crumbed one (CRUMB!) perfectly to get us back within fifteen, before Davey - who spent at least a quarter of the game on the bench getting attention on his hammies - got another to make things really interesting at the 13 minute mark. Another good game for Davey - nothing spectacular and a few more mistakes than recent weeks but he's still excelling in that role as a "quarterback".

Just as we got back into things it was reality check time. Morton 'gave away' a farcical free-kick on Boyd, which was then upgraded with a goal-square 50 when we played on for the next thirty seconds and got the ball to the opposite wing without wondering why every other player on the ground had stopped. Now, it was a truly rancid decision but surely if you're in any way interested in the concept of 'justice' then you've got to mark that off against the two criminal goals Robertson got from frees earlier in the game. The second, in particular, was comical umpiring - Robbo fell over without a Bulldogs player anywhere behind him and got a free for being pushed in the back. You may snicker, but if it'd happened to us you'd have thrown bottles.

Miller missed what he should have kicked before Scott Welsh goalled to effectively finish the contest. The Dogs missed a couple of sitters to well and truly put us away we got back into it we got a couple late with time to spare to close the margin right back up. Valenti first with a good running finish and then Bate's 4th in what was his best performance in a month - if not since the Hawthorn NAB cup game. Still 7pts behind with a minute left it wasn't completely inconceivable that we could snatch it, but not winning it out of the centre straight away off the next bounce wrecked any thoughts of pulling off the great escape.

So, another loss by under 10pts. Draft discussion notwithstanding, and in the knowledge that I would have killed for a win, that was about as good a loss as you get when you're in our position. The Dogs weren't at the top of their game and we still necked ourselves with dodgy disposal but we were there or thereabouts all day - and that's what counts. You can debate the advantage of adding picks 1 and 2 until the cows come home, and the odds are that one of them at least will be a gun, but even without them there's no debating that we're on the rise. Robbo is past his best, Johnson is so-so in the ruck and we lack that little bit of polish but Jesus H Christ there are signs of greatness building. Look at some of the guys we've unearthed already this season - Bennell, Cheney and Grimes (near enough) have all been revelations and that's without unveiling Watts, Strauss or Blease. Teenyboppers and bandwagoners - this is your two year boarding call. Buy your 2011 membership now because things could go nuts.

Meanwhile how much better have we looked since Robbo came back? He hasn't been anywhere near vintage the last three weeks but his mere presence drags our forward line up a notch. Would love for him to hang on for a couple more seasons for one last crack at the finals but I can't see it happening. I think we took the Robbo/Neitz years for granted at the time - we were blessed to have those two going around together.

Speaking of the draft I don't mind the idea of going in reverse order of the teams that miss the 8, but are we then going to end up with teams preferring to miss the finals knowing they're not going to win the flag and get pick 1 instead? Here's a radical concept for the league - just abolish the priority pick. Let's say we somehow finish 2nd last this year - if we're not good enough to build a list on a pick 4 (Morton), 1 (Watts), 2 (?) and a truckload of 10-20's then we should just give up. Same goes for any other team. Ok you'll still get teams pulling the pin at the end of the year to manipulate their position on the table and get a high pick but at least we won't have to go through this grim "no more than four" spectacle every fucking year. Carlton cheated their way to it, and I have no doubt we'll do exactly the same thing but it doesn't make it any more palatable.

Crowd Watch
28k. Absolutely pissweak effort by our fans. We whinge and moan about being given 15 1.10 Sunday games, but the moment they give us a game in the prime timeslot a handful of us show up. Any danger they might scan my membership, realise I've been to far too many losses in the last three years and ring up to say thanks? Now that they're getting into sending SMS'es to fans before games how about some credit for the people who have sat through this shit live rather than hiding in their loungeroom until we're good again?

Of course our next home game is Queen's Birthday, so we can assume that 30,000 once a year idiots will come out and embarass us all. Thanks for the gate takings and everything, but for fucks sake show up to the games.

Crumb Watch
Dial M for Maric. That is all.

2009 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes

Moloney shades Morton due to doing a truckload of work in the centre and throwing tackles like they're going out of fashion. Morton was important, but most of his were uncontested in the defensive 50. McLean also good once again.

5 - Brent Moloney
4 - Cale Morton
3 - Brock McLean
2 - Matthew Bate
1 - Aaron Davey

Apologies to Bartram (for the tag on Cooney only - please don't kick in again), Bruce, Cheney, Grimes, Johnson, The Stefan Martin Experience, Robertson, Sylvia and Whelan. Most of whom could have snuck in for 5th.

A word too for Lynden Dunn who I just like as a player. Didn't do a massive deal one way or the other today but I still think he's important to our structure.

Leaderboard

Sudden tightness at the top. Still no votes for the Strawbs O'Dwyer ruckman award but I'm throwing Johnson into the countback lead as he's gone very close two weeks in a row.

18 - Aaron Davey
17 - Brent Moloney
10 - Nathan Jones
8 - Brock McLean, Brad Green, James Frawley (LEADER: 2009 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
7 - Brad Miller
5 - Kyle Cheney (LEADER: 2009 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year), Stefan Martin
6 - Cale Morton
4 - Matthew Warnock, Jamie Bennell
3 - Matthew Bate, Ricky Petterd, Colin Sylvia, Cameron Bruce, Russell Robertson
2 - James McDonald, Jared Rivers
1 - Lynden Dunn

Kasey Korner
I'll be there tomorrow. Don't know about a full report, but I'll throw some thoughts on MFC listed players on here if I don't get lost on the way. Interestingly enough one Mr. A Yze of Box Hill will be lining up against us tomorrow. Hope he gets 45 touches, dominates and Casey still win.

2010 Captaincy Market
Thanks to our good friends and sponsors at betezy.com.au*

$3 - James McDonald
$5 - Brad Green, Cameron Bruce
$6 - Brent Moloney
$12 - Brad Miller
$5000 - Greg Healy

Personally I think McDonald will go around for one more year, so they're not going to bounce him. I'd expect that at the end of next year it will be a toss up between Green and Moloney. For mine as long as he can get through the next couple of years without getting seriously injured Moloney wins just for being a Melbourne fan as a kid.

* Not really, but they are an MFC sponsor. So bet big - but probably not on us.

Merchandise Manor
The new Hankook/Kaspersky Lab jumpers are in next week. Pre-ordered already and looking forward to rocking the first edition #34 SME jumper at the Hawthorn game.

Thus finally endeth the era of the Philthy Phil #28. We saw some good times in that, and a lot of shit times - and only once did somebody question me as to why the fark I had that on the jumper. Good times. Now, it's up to ol' Octopus Arms himself to do the number proud.

Next Week
Hawthorn @ the family friendly graveyard slot of 4.40pm. The good news is that it's not our home game so it doesn't matter when 25 people show up. 11 game members should note that if they can stay awake long enough they can get into this game free as the replacement for the Canberra match.

I expect, however, that we'll lose comfortably. It's one thing to push the Dogs to the line but another to do over the Hawks coming off a win. Garland rolled Franklin last time, now somebody else (Warnock?) has to step up and keep him quiet. Then you've got the other guy - it's about 5000% more formidible than anything the Bulldogs will ever serve up. I expect that once again the priority pick frenzy are pulling themselves over the prospect of another loss.

Final Thoughts
Is everything covered? Are we ordering 2013 Premiership t-shirts yet? Cheerio and go Dees.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

The Foregone Conclusion Cup

If last week was the equivalent of some really long and pointless Swedish movie that you can't quite understand, then this week had the potential to be a Cannibal Holocaust style violent slasher snuff film. In case you were hit on the head by a rogue Brent Grgic slice at Baytec Stadium and have just woken up from the resultant coma - Geelong are quite a good team these days, Grgic doesn't play for them anymore and nobody is quite sure what Kardinia Park is called this week. I'm not sure if the first two are connected.

We, however, are struggling. The green shoots of recovery are there somewhere but we're still a long way from seeing any real returns on our investments. Last week against Adelaide we were arguably half decent but let down by the complete absence of a forward structure for most of the game. The long awaited return of Russell Robertson addressed that issue somewhat, but the fact of the matter still remained that the worst team of the past two years was lining up against the best and a world class porking was on the cards.

Somehow despite the Cats racking up an all-time record for the most disposals in one game with two players on more than 40 possesions, and having 36 scoring shots it didn't happen this way. Whisper it quietly we were even winning at one point. Sure, it was for about two minutes at the end of the first quarter and it stirred the Cats into switching gear and putting us away but it was nice while it lasted. The freak who had a casual $500,000 on Geelong to win $25k surely wouldn't have been too concerned (after all you would have to have grapefruits the size of Peru to put a bet like that on in the first place) but he must have been wondering if Geelong could possibly find a way to throw the match. They couldn't.

Speaking of world records I'm not sure I've ever seen a quicker goal from the first - or indeed any - bounce that didn't involve a downfield free kick or a 50. For some reason Ablett, coming off about 4000 possesions in a month was allowed to stand all on his own in the centre. I'm sure everyone in the world could see what was going to happen next and lo and behold fate didn't disappoint. Straight into his hands, wandered to just outside 50 and slotted it in 9 seconds.

On the strength of that moment alone things looked like they were going to get really, really ugly but in reality after that we spent the next 25 minutes being better than we had any right to be while the Cats seemed to be suffering a major lack of interest. I can understand where they're coming from, having won 48 of the last 51 games including a couple of grand finals it must be difficult to get yourself motivated to be dragged into a slopfest against the worst team in the land. If we'd been able to kick straight we'd have made it even more interesting. The much welcome return of Robertson delivered a couple of nervous looking points but more importantly put somebody into our forward line who could go on a long lead and mark without tripping over and killing themselves.

Down the other end the Cats were going inside 50 without trouble, but a combination of excellent defensive work and poor kicking kept us from being totally destroyed. I'm going to say this every week but Frawley, Warnock, Martin and Rivers are starting to develop into a formidable unit. If we can keep them together in the future that's the springboard to build a decent team from. Even Rivers' luck must have swung around somewhat, the knock he got to the knee in Q3 would probably have ended up with him in hospital over the last few years but this time he was back within minutes taking grabs and filling gaps inside 50. The only blemish on his record was a sloppy shanked kick straight down Johnson's throat in the second.

Not surprisingly, as often happens a good team held to a points draw by a poor team in the first quarter realises what's going on during the quarter time break and come out to rectify the situation before half time. Suddenly they had free players everywhere and were putting more pressure on our players leading to turnovers left, right and centre and textbook rebound football on their behalf. Only Paul Johnson's late goal - and he was at least better than he has been recently - kept us within six goals at the long break and it seemed as if any remaining resistance was going to collapse in a screaming heap.

5 Geelong behinds and a goal to start the third quarter made it look like we were going to get bitchslapped, but Robbo's 2nd and 3rd goals - celebrated wildly despite the scoreboard - dragged it back to 30 points before they got a couple of late ones. We pulled off a couple of pieces of sublime linking football but time and time again we'd do the hard work and turn it over. At least they tried something different in the forward line by sending the Stefan Martin Experience up there for the first time. He gave off a couple of clever assists and looked lively but I'm hardly declaring him to be the future of goalscoring. Similarly Petterd was lively again without ever dominating.

The key fourth quarter highlight was Davey's flying smother in the centre. How good was that? I'm still convinced that we're lacking crumb, but I have to admit that he is dominating in his new role. Hawkins - aka the Geelong Newton - finally flounced his way to a goal to open the quarter but with Ablett off, Scarlett rested and most of their other players struggling to maintain interest we won the last. Incidentally Juice could make a fortune if he franchised his style of gameplay - Hawkins in Geelong, Gill in Adelaide. Could be big bucks in it for him.

Ironically we've now gone into games against Geelong twice in two years expecting to get massacred and come away with a creditable performance both times. Then when we were in relatively decent form last year and played them on the Friday night they cut us to shreds. The moral of the story? Throw ourselves on the mercy of the footballing world every week before we play them.

Nobody seriously expected us to win so what did we really lose today? The pro-tank bin scab faction were probably sitting there in Geelong scarves punting it home, and the rest of us saw a team that is a couple of years away from being truly competitive no matter who ends up joining us via the draft. I said I'd take anyth

2009 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes

5 - Aaron Davey
4 - James Frawley
3 - Russell Robertson
2 - Brent Moloney
1 - Stefan Martin

Varying degrees of apologies to Miller, Rivers, Jones, Warnock, McLean, McDonald, Petterd, Meesen, Sylvia and Morton

On the other side of the coin we have to work out what's wrong with Bate. Ever since he was one of a handful of contributors in Adelaide a few weeks back he has had three consecutive games of complete pox. You would have thought that the return of Robbo would free him up to play further up the ground, and while he got a little bit of it late on it was still well under his best.

Maric had an absolute nightmare. After showing a lot of promise last season and sneaking into the bests for Casey in most of their early games he turned up today and played undoubtedly the worst game since either of Weetra's spectacular performances at the start of last season. I suppose you give everyone a second chance but good god he'd want to improve significantly on the Keystone Kops trash he served up today.

Leaderboard

For the first couple of weeks it was how far Green, now it's Davey who is streaking to the title. Cheney still leads the Hilton on the strength of Round 1 alone but the voting system could prove controversial if he's still in that position come R22. In reality Bennell is really the moral leader at this point.

17 - Aaron Davey
11 - Brent Moloney
8 - Brad Green, James Frawley (LEADER: 2009 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
5 - Kyle Cheney (LEADER: 2009 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year), Nathan Jones, Brock McLean, Stefan Martin
4 - Matthew Warnock, Brad Miller
3 - Ricky Petterd, Colin Sylvia, Cameron Bruce, Russell Robertson
2 - James McDonald, Jared Rivers
1 - Matthew Bate, Lynden Dunn

Crowd Watch
Two things that should be outlawed - forcibly if required.

1) Grown men waving flags

It's bad enough as it is, but unlike kids who just swing the thing around without concern and nearly take your eye out the grown man flag waver goes about his craft with an intensity bordering on psychotic. They wave the thing around in intricate patterns as if not following the same sick ritual will cause the world to end.

Judgement - Nobody over 13 years old shall henceforth be permitted to wave a flag unless they are in a cheer squad.

Sure cheer squads should be shot as well but that's for another day.

2) Teenybopper female fans displaying homemade signs.

No person, male or female, older than 13 to bring a handwritten homemade sign declaring their undying love for a player. We're all for women in football here but ask yourself how many times you see a 16-year-old with an "I HEART PLAYER X" handwritten sign when your team is losing. The "ILUVROBBO24" faction dropped off the twig a couple of years ago, but they were out there in numbers and are waiting for us to fire up again so they can come back. There were two girls sitting in front of me today who must have been in their mid-20's and were waving signs about telling us how much they loved Joel Selwood. One day Geelong are going to turn rancid and these people will disappear.

Judgement: Handwritten signs to be banned. Sew a banner with a terrible pun a'la the cheersquad or at least spraypaint it on a
bedsheet and display the thing at the top of the Southern Stand.

Female fans of a legal age shall henceforth follow historical tradition and only declare their love for individual players on the internet or in the back seat of cars outside seedy nightclubs.

Kasey Korner
Caught the last three quarters of the game against Coburg. Newton kicked five and no doubt will get a recall sometime before the end of the season but I was most impressive by Danny Hughes. Would love to see him get a game before the end of the year. Whelan was impressive as well, but to be entirely honest I'm not sure where he fits into our plans at the moment. Bennell has been too good to drop, but I suppose it doesn't hurt to switch the two around at some point. The really interesting one is Wheatley - where does he come back? To be honest I don't see any point to him at the moment.

Oh and there was some kid called Watts who was quite good as well. Makes Morton look like Hulk Hogan at the moment though so I still can't support playing him before the halfway mark of the year. Could be an absolute stud in the future though if his senior debut was anything to go by.

The Tombstone Report
It's the year of players mysteriously getting injured. First Garland, then McDonald and now Sam Blease - leg snapped in two during a schoolyard kickaround. My god.

For this reason if Watts is going to play school football then I volunteer to go to each game and throw myself in front of him at every contest.

Radio Watch
Triple M is my preferred listening at a game, but overall it is an absolutely gash radio station. Don't you just want to stab Pete and Myf in the face? And the claim in their jingle that it's "the breakfast show that Melbourne wakes up to" should be investigated by the Advertising Standards Tribunal if the ratings are anything to go by.

Next Week
West Coast in Perth in the 4.40pm Sunday game. They're hardly setting the world on fire at the moment but there's more chance of peace in the Middle East than there is of us winning anywhere west of Melbourne at the moment.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Go West. Lose. Come Back. Lose Again.

In the interests of tackling global warming and decreasing the AFL's carbon footprint I hereby propose that the league don't even bother flying us to Perth or Adelaide for the forseeable future. For the love of christ I've lived in 5 different places since we last won in either city. We'll never forget Brock and Peter Vardy going nuts in the wet against Freo, mainly because at this rate we'll never see the next win.

At least today we can say we went as close as we have since that day. The difference between the two sides today was clearly that one is a fallen giant fall of premiership winners, and the other is rapidly scraping it's way off up from the bottom. Experience and cool heads in the balance was what it was all about today, and we're just not good enough to deal with that yet.

Meanwhile in a convenient twist of events when I couldn't be bothered going outside this afternoon - somehow Fox Sports just appeared on my computer screen. I can't explain it. It's a round 7 miracle. Choppy as fuck but well better than the alternative of having to watch the game with... people. Did make it bloody hard to work out what was going on at any given time though.

Glad I wasn't paying for it to be honest. The pre-game 'entertainment' consisted of footage of Spud Frawley and Jason Dunstall doing gymnastics in front of small children in ill-fitting footy jumpers. Completely meaningless television. Just before that Gerard Healy called Cale Morton a "forward target of the future". So many low moments in the history of TV in such a short time. Then they threw to an ad break and those CGU ads that make me wish for nuclear holocaust came on.

So, in a rapidly evolving tradition we copped a goal straight from the first bounce. Surely no team has ever gone two weeks in a row conceding goals within the first 15 seconds. It could only happen to us. Not surprisingly Johnson was demolished in the bounce by Dean Cox and off they went. We were lucky not cop a second from the next bounce when precisely the same thing happened. Indeed it looked like some of the most comical MFC rucking at Subiaco since Nick Smith in the finals against Freo.

First quarter also notable for boundary umpire fiascos. Cam Bruce shanks one that lands closer to Rio De Janerio than Brad Miller but half a metre inside the line and the umpires almost give away a free, then on the other side one rolls out right under the boundary umpire's nose, the players stop and the field umpire had to tell them to play on. Shambolic. Five minutes later there's a questionable Bate kick that lands on the goal line and takes the zaniest bounce in history. Was it over? Who knows/cares, but it certainly wasn't a great day to be one of the minor umpires. Not a great day to be any umpire really - one of them botched the bounce and was caught on the microphone asking "is there something wrong with this" about the ball. No, you're just shit at your job.

Much like last week the first quarter consisted of getting slaughtered at the first bounce, almost repeating the dose on the second and then breaking even thereafter. Only difference was that we weren't kicking goals. As per usual we were pumping balls inside 50 at will but with little reward. Eventually after getting nothing from ten minutes of domination Rivers stuck a kick-in right down LeCras' throat for the Eagles second. BT claimed it was a Mother's Day present - does that mean he's a mother? Don't answer that.

For a quarter where nothing of any interest happened for about 15 minutes, the second term was certainly action packed. Before the whole thing slowed down to a crawl Bruce got a cheap 50 for falling over like a housewife and then the Eagles dominated for a couple of goals. Johnson continued to frustrate Cox in the ruck to such a degree that they eventually moved Deano into the forward line. Sadly it didn't last long so we were only treated to one centre bounce featuring the Stefan Martin Experience. He still looked more likely than Spencer.

Suddenly Jones exploded into life and was responsible for two goals in a minute. First he ran down an Eagle for holding the ball in what would have been a certain goal, leading to a Miller set shot at the other end and then won it out of the centre bounce and set up Miller for a second.

At the other end Jared Rivers, the unluckiest man ever born, courageously got in the way of an almost certain goal and injured his ankle in the process. It went down the other end and Miller got his third in a row on the back of Rivers' courage, but more importantly Mr. Black Cloud was being carried off at the other end looking shithouse. Eventually turned out that he hasn't completely destroyed it, which is something, but he still ended up on crutches so he's gone for the next few weeks.

The Eagles got a couple late to undo all our good work, but it was no surprise that gaps started to open in the backline when not only Rivers was off but Frawley gone with an injury as well. Bate got a late one to close the gap, but with two players down, only one ruckman and the fact that we're generally shit hardly filled me with confidence.

As with every other week this year there were signs but a lack of quality. Some of our run - particuarly from Jones - was sublime, but when we try to hit up short targets and deliver to around the 50m line it all goes horribly wrong. No surprises that when we bombed it in a bit more we had some success. Miller was doing a good job getting it at half forward but we just couldn't get it to a target inside. Bate was ordinary in the first half but he fired up for a great performance in the second and played an important role. Grimes and Maric were also much improved on their first half performance in the third quarter.

Eventually we hit the lead. That wasn't in the script. Surely not supposed to happen. Indeed it wasn't, and justifiably didn't last. Cheap free kick out of a ruck contest to the Eagles and all of a sudden they go nuts and kick four in a row to redress the balance. The fourth was a farce - the West Coast bloke (whoever he was - I couldn't tell) tried to take half the world on, got tackled, hit the ground and THEN handballed for Hunter to soccer through. Just what we needed to really stitch us up. We got a late one back but still went into the last quarter two players down. They lost Kerr, but still had the numbers.

I'm not even going to go into the last quarter in depth. You saw it as well as I did (although presumably not in a tiny box on a computer screen). The Eagles missed a million chances to put the game away and we came home like a freight freaking train at the end. Petterd's goals put us within two kicks before Sylvia marked 50m out with just under two minutes left. He took his time over it and then botched it anyway. Gee, thanks a lot. Much to the chagrin of Cool Breeze Taylor in the Fox Sports commentary box the Eagles then proceded to refuse to ice the game and instead gave us about three more chances to score in the last minute. Sadly we weren't good enough. Meh - what did you expect?

Incidentally that was our first loss by under ten points since Daniher's last game.

Crumb Watch
Once again there was none. Maric did some nice things in the second half outside of 50. Mind you it's no surprise that crumb doesn't come into it when most of the time we turn it over at 50m.

2009 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes

5 - Nathan Jones
4 - Jamie Bennell
3 - Brad Miller
2 - Cale Morton
1 - Brent Moloney

Apologies to Johnson, Bruce, McLean, Grimes and Bate (second half only), Davey and Bartram.

Leaderboard

No votes for the leader this week. He went close with a great second half though. Frawley's injury could open the door for Martin in the Seecamp, and Bennell racks up his first votes of the year to put the heat on Cheney in the Hilton voting.

17 - Aaron Davey
12 - Brent Moloney
10 - Nathan Jones
8 - Brad Green, James Frawley (LEADER: 2009 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
7 - Brad Miller
5 - Kyle Cheney (LEADER: 2009 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year), Brock McLean, Stefan Martin
4 - Matthew Warnock, Jamie Bennell
3 - Ricky Petterd, Colin Sylvia, Cameron Bruce, Russell Robertson
2 - James McDonald, Jared Rivers, Cale Morton
1 - Matthew Bate, Lynden Dunn

Crowd Watch
Perfect silence in my loungeroom. Further proof that I'd be in a much better mood if I could sit in a superbox all season. I'd always rather be at the game but there's nothing like the chance to get away from others. Scored free tickets to North vs Port last night - that, and the Adelaide game, are about as close as you get. God forbid I supported one of the big four I'd have a nervous breakdown. Apparently Collingwood fans have to pay $400 extra to sit where I do in the Ponsford Stand. Hillarious!

Next Week
Footscray @ the MCG. 2.10 on Saturday. Great news for us that they're now back in form. It could get ugly. They haven't exactly got the best forward line ever but the way we're going we'll have to ring Phil Gilbert and ask if he's interested in a game.

Final Thoughts
In two years we'll play the same game and win it.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

The Foregone Conclusion Cup

If last week was the equivalent of some really long and pointless Swedish movie that you can't quite understand, then this week had the potential to be a Cannibal Holocaust style violent slasher snuff film. In case you were hit on the head by a rogue Brent Grgic slice at Baytec Stadium and have just woken up from the resultant coma - Geelong are quite a good team these days, Grgic doesn't play for them anymore and nobody is quite sure what Kardinia Park is called this week. I'm not sure if the first two are connected.

We, however, are struggling. The green shoots of recovery are there somewhere but we're still a long way from seeing any real returns on our investments. Last week against Adelaide we were arguably half decent but let down by the complete absence of a forward structure for most of the game. The long awaited return of Russell Robertson addressed that issue somewhat, but the fact of the matter still remained that the worst team of the past two years was lining up against the best and a world class porking was on the cards.

Somehow despite the Cats racking up an all-time record for the most disposals in one game with two players on more than 40 possesions, and having 36 scoring shots it didn't happen this way. Whisper it quietly we were even winning at one point. Sure, it was for about two minutes at the end of the first quarter and it stirred the Cats into switching gear and putting us away but it was nice while it lasted. The freak who had a casual $500,000 on Geelong to win $25k surely wouldn't have been too concerned (after all you would have to have grapefruits the size of Peru to put a bet like that on in the first place) but he must have been wondering if Geelong could possibly find a way to throw the match. They couldn't.

Speaking of world records I'm not sure I've ever seen a quicker goal from the first - or indeed any - bounce that didn't involve a downfield free kick or a 50. For some reason Ablett, coming off about 4000 possesions in a month was allowed to stand all on his own in the centre. I'm sure everyone in the world could see what was going to happen next and lo and behold fate didn't disappoint. Straight into his hands, wandered to just outside 50 and slotted it in 9 seconds.

On the strength of that moment alone things looked like they were going to get really, really ugly but in reality after that we spent the next 25 minutes being better than we had any right to be while the Cats seemed to be suffering a major lack of interest. I can understand where they're coming from, having won 48 of the last 51 games including a couple of grand finals it must be difficult to get yourself motivated to be dragged into a slopfest against the worst team in the land. If we'd been able to kick straight we'd have made it even more interesting. The much welcome return of Robertson delivered a couple of nervous looking points but more importantly put somebody into our forward line who could go on a long lead and mark without tripping over and killing themselves.

Down the other end the Cats were going inside 50 without trouble, but a combination of excellent defensive work and poor kicking kept us from being totally destroyed. I'm going to say this every week but Frawley, Warnock, Martin and Rivers are starting to develop into a formidable unit. If we can keep them together in the future that's the springboard to build a decent team from. Even Rivers' luck must have swung around somewhat, the knock he got to the knee in Q3 would probably have ended up with him in hospital over the last few years but this time he was back within minutes taking grabs and filling gaps inside 50. The only blemish on his record was a sloppy shanked kick straight down Johnson's throat in the second.

Not surprisingly, as often happens a good team held to a points draw by a poor team in the first quarter realises what's going on during the quarter time break and come out to rectify the situation before half time. Suddenly they had free players everywhere and were putting more pressure on our players leading to turnovers left, right and centre and textbook rebound football on their behalf. Only Paul Johnson's late goal - and he was at least better than he has been recently - kept us within six goals at the long break and it seemed as if any remaining resistance was going to collapse in a screaming heap.

5 Geelong behinds and a goal to start the third quarter made it look like we were going to get bitchslapped, but Robbo's 2nd and 3rd goals - celebrated wildly despite the scoreboard - dragged it back to 30 points before they got a couple of late ones. We pulled off a couple of pieces of sublime linking football but time and time again we'd do the hard work and turn it over. At least they tried something different in the forward line by sending the Stefan Martin Experience up there for the first time. He gave off a couple of clever assists and looked lively but I'm hardly declaring him to be the future of goalscoring. Similarly Petterd was lively again without ever dominating.

The key fourth quarter highlight was Davey's flying smother in the centre. How good was that? I'm still convinced that we're lacking crumb, but I have to admit that he is dominating in his new role. Hawkins - aka the Geelong Newton - finally flounced his way to a goal to open the quarter but with Ablett off, Scarlett rested and most of their other players struggling to maintain interest we won the last. Incidentally Juice could make a fortune if he franchised his style of gameplay - Hawkins in Geelong, Gill in Adelaide. Could be big bucks in it for him.

Ironically we've now gone into games against Geelong twice in two years expecting to get massacred and come away with a creditable performance both times. Then when we were in relatively decent form last year and played them on the Friday night they cut us to shreds. The moral of the story? Throw ourselves on the mercy of the footballing world every week before we play them.

Nobody seriously expected us to win so what did we really lose today? The pro-tank bin scab faction were probably sitting there in Geelong scarves punting it home, and the rest of us saw a team that is a couple of years away from being truly competitive no matter who ends up joining us via the draft.

2009 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes

5 - Aaron Davey
4 - James Frawley
3 - Russell Robertson
2 - Brent Moloney
1 - Stefan Martin

Varying degrees of apologies to Miller, Rivers, Jones, Warnock, McLean, McDonald, Petterd, Meesen, Sylvia and Morton

On the other side of the coin we have to work out what's wrong with Bate. Ever since he was one of a handful of contributors in Adelaide a few weeks back he has had three consecutive games of complete pox. You would have thought that the return of Robbo would free him up to play further up the ground, and while he got a little bit of it late on it was still well under his best.

Maric had an absolute nightmare. After showing a lot of promise last season and sneaking into the bests for Casey in most of their early games he turned up today and played undoubtedly the worst game since either of Weetra's spectacular performances at the start of last season. I suppose you give everyone a second chance but good god he'd want to improve significantly on the Keystone Kops trash he served up today.

Leaderboard

For the first couple of weeks it was how far Green, now it's Davey who is streaking to the title. Cheney still leads the Hilton on the strength of Round 1 alone but the voting system could prove controversial if he's still in that position come R22. In reality Bennell is really the moral leader at this point.

17 - Aaron Davey
11 - Brent Moloney
8 - Brad Green, James Frawley (LEADER: 2009 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
5 - Kyle Cheney (LEADER: 2009 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year), Nathan Jones, Brock McLean, Stefan Martin
4 - Matthew Warnock, Brad Miller
3 - Ricky Petterd, Colin Sylvia, Cameron Bruce, Russell Robertson
2 - James McDonald, Jared Rivers
1 - Matthew Bate, Lynden Dunn

Crowd Watch
Two things that should be outlawed - forcibly if required.

1) Grown men waving flags

It's bad enough as it is, but unlike kids who just swing the thing around without concern and nearly take your eye out the grown man flag waver goes about his craft with an intensity bordering on psychotic. They wave the thing around in intricate patterns as if not following the same sick ritual will cause the world to end.

Judgement - Nobody over 13 years old shall henceforth be permitted to wave a flag unless they are in a cheer squad.

Sure cheer squads should be shot as well but that's for another day.

2) Teenybopper female fans displaying homemade signs.

No person, male or female, older than 13 to bring a handwritten homemade sign declaring their undying love for a player. We're all for women in football here but ask yourself how many times you see a 16-year-old with an "I HEART PLAYER X" handwritten sign when your team is losing. The "ILUVROBBO24" faction dropped off the twig a couple of years ago, but they were out there in numbers and are waiting for us to fire up again so they can come back. There were two girls sitting in front of me today who must have been in their mid-20's and were waving signs about telling us how much they loved Joel Selwood. One day Geelong are going to turn rancid and these people will disappear.

Judgement: Handwritten signs to be banned. Sew a banner with a terrible pun a'la the cheersquad or at least spraypaint it on a
bedsheet and display the thing at the top of the Southern Stand.

Female fans of a legal age shall henceforth follow historical tradition and only declare their love for individual players on the internet or in the back seat of cars outside seedy nightclubs.

Kasey Korner
Caught the last three quarters of the game against Coburg. Newton kicked five and no doubt will get a recall sometime before the end of the season but I was most impressive by Danny Hughes. Would love to see him get a game before the end of the year. Whelan was impressive as well, but to be entirely honest I'm not sure where he fits into our plans at the moment. Bennell has been too good to drop, but I suppose it doesn't hurt to switch the two around at some point. The really interesting one is Wheatley - where does he come back? To be honest I don't see any point to him at the moment.

Oh and there was some kid called Watts who was quite good as well. Makes Morton look like Hulk Hogan at the moment though so I still can't support playing him before the halfway mark of the year. Could be an absolute stud in the future though if his senior debut was anything to go by.

The Tombstone Report
It's the year of players mysteriously getting injured. First Garland, then McDonald and now Sam Blease - leg snapped in two during a schoolyard kickaround. My god.

For this reason if Watts is going to play school football then I volunteer to go to each game and throw myself in front of him at every contest.

Radio Watch
Triple M is my preferred listening at a game, but overall it is an absolutely gash radio station. Don't you just want to stab Pete and Myf in the face? And the claim in their jingle that it's "the breakfast show that Melbourne wakes up to" should be investigated by the Advertising Standards Tribunal if the ratings are anything to go by.

Next Week
West Coast in Perth in the 4.40pm Sunday game. They're hardly setting the world on fire at the moment but there's more chance of peace in the Middle East than there is of us winning anywhere west of Melbourne at the moment.