Sunday, 28 June 2009

Northern Exposure

(Hello friends, I'd rather have stabbed myself in the face with a fork than backed up to write about this game. Thankfully George_on_the_outer from Demonology stepped up and gave us this straight from the game. Thanks George! And sorry for making you relive it all again - Mercado)

Supermercado came up with the literary version of the Hospital handpass by sending yours truly off to watch the Brisbane annual slaughter of the Demons. That, and some pathetic babble about having to take in more of the CUB version of Prozac, convinced the ghost writer that there was no way he could escape the trip up North.

Front up at the ground (which is appropriately on Vulture street) and the place is full of ferals just willing the locals to inflict some pain on the visitors. Good thing none of them can remember last year and how the CELEBRATOR got his nickname...

You want a cultural experience? Forget anthropological studies about the Collingwood cheer-squad, there is a whole city here ( maybe a whole state) that's the subject matter for the Charles Darwin of the 21st century.

Where else could you find designated non-drinking areas surrounded by miles of bars? More green shirted crowd controllers than MCG car park attendants? It’s all for good reason folks. On the TV you might wonder why the crowd looks so small.. Truth is that everyone is out the back loading up on any number of alcohol based options. And not only the beer, beer or more beer option, but have you ever seen litre bottles of Bundy laid out on tap at the Footy?

Still for the Demons supporters, the back room options should have been the more palatable than the garbage shown on the field.

Been doing this gig for a couple of years now, and one can be forgiven for having much in the way of expectations when we were playing against a side that won 3 Premierships in a row but that was when Voss, Black, Brown, Bradshaw, Akermanis and Power were running around... Bugger me most of them are still on the ground or coaching the side. And the expectations were fulfilled.

One match a couple of years ago was over 17 seconds in, when Black went to Power to Aker to Brown and the first goal was on the board. Take out Aker and the team has fallen. It only took 34 seconds this time. Proof that we ARE going somewhere because Geelong only took 7 seconds. Now we knew why the bars were nearby and headed there with the match already over…

Didn’t miss much over the next 2 quarters either. We certainly had them straining as the first goal in the 2nd only took 50 seconds and by ¾ time they were so buggered that it took fully 11 minutes! Trouble was that while the alcohol levels in the crowd slowly marched toward whatever the legal limit is in QLD, the Demons had only kicked 1 more themselves. And that was at 0.005.

Start focusing on something positive. It certainly ain't the scoreboard which the locals had given up pointing to. The Walpiri Warrior showed snippets including a strong overhead mark against Merritt when he shouldn’t have got his hands to the ball at all. His job and success would have been even better if Robertson hadn't kept getting in the way before he went back to his agricultural studies while lying on the ground.

The Messiah also shows some real class. Best thing about being at the match is that you can see what doesn't happen off the ball. The kid is only just shy of 2 metres, blonde hair and standing 25 yards out directly in front on his own. No future there kid when you have visually challenged team-mates in possession of the ball. Let's kick it to Robbo leading to the boundary line 50 metres out. He was still standing there as RR lined up for the kick and point.

Col Sylvia finally woke up in the final quarter and put some fire into the game. Again you wouldn’t have seen the off the ball work on the box, but 2 goals out of a team total of 8 was a fair return. Make it 4 quarters next time and the side can have a chance of being competitive.

Aaron Davey ran and ran and ran. All on his own. No-one else to help, no-one else cared. He would be defending at one point and then trying to kick a goal in the same play sequence. In the interim he passed all manner of players, with hands on hips or doing their agricultural homework, in anticipation of their 2010 careers. A couple of times he had friends in Bennell and Jetta which just gets the juices running for the day when the CELEBRATOR joins them.

But the best effort for the night was the Stef Martin Experience. Absolute shoe in for the Brownlow if points were awarded for efforts in each area of the ground. Rucked as a relief for Paul Johnson, who never got a touch all night against Mitchell Clark (not a bad fast bowler as well. Don’t know how he does it). While stats mean nothing except for Dream Team fans, the SME had more hitouts in 15 minutes of ruck play than PJ did for the match. Played full back, played full forward and took the only overhead marks around the ground for the whole team.

At 0.25 the final quarter started, but it was 13 minutes and 0.29 before the Lions got their first. And whatever was put into the drink bottles at the final change it worked. Maybe they were re-charged at the Bundy pumps behind the interchange gates. Goals started raining and in what is now a 2009 tradition the Demons outscored their opponents in the final quarter.

The levels dropped of with the long 150m walk but were soon recharged at the QLD Demons aftermatch at the appropriately named Pineapple Hotel. By the time we were all thrown out, we were convinced that we had some sort of chance against WCE next week. Somebody said they beat Hawthorn? No.. that means Scully and either Butcher or Trengove will be in the Red and Blue next year and we can afford to win. Pity is we just don’t look like being able to pull it off.

Supermercado doesn’t know what he is missing out on, so next year there can be no excuses for the original reporter on-site.

Krowd Watch.
Got off to a good start when you arrive at a Brisbane-Melbourne match and you see a fat balding 40 year old decked out in a Collingwood jumper and waving a Melbourne flag!! Just doesn’t add up..

Even more confused at the Hawthorn jumpers on similar types of individual, especially when they were purchased when the owners were 5 sizes smaller! If anyone can tell me why please?

All right, the local intellectually disadvantaged kids were having a night out to watch their team. And their commentary about the game started to get a little boring after the Lions were 10 goals up and Brown and Bradshaw had long kicked their bags for the night. But when one proudly announces they are feeling sick after eating too many hot-dogs, pies and fizzy drinks, you know it is time to move.

Problem was those kids knew more about the game than the rest of the 23K who rolled up. Even an intellectually challenged Collingwood crowd know when to call "ball" or "dropped it". The QLD crowd have to wait for the umpire to tell them. That’s if they’re watching in the first place or are more interested in their 10th Bundy and coke for the night. But then the AFL game probably attracted the States intellectuals on the night, since the All-Blacks were playing against Italy down the road.

Allen Jakovich Medal Points

5. The SME.
4. Aaron Davey
3. Cam Bruce….just because he got more kicks than the rest of them
2. Frawley and Warnock, for holding two of the games monsters to only 9 goals when they could have kicked 15 each!
1. Liam Jurrah for providing some hope and excitement.

(Editors note - no shared points, so unfortunately the Jurrahcane misses out for Warnock to move down a spot)

Leaderboard

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

Next Week
Oh hi, Mercado here again. Stay tuned sometime mid-week for our slightly late Demonblog half-year in review post. Should be uplifting and exciting reading. Don't forget if you cbf checking the site to find new updates you can always sign up to the Twitter feed. The kids are into it, and 23 followers can't be wrong.

Thanks for the fill-in George. Unfortunately I'll be back for next week.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Special Brisbane Preview

(This was written for the BigFooty Brisbane board. Preserved here for the sake of history.)

Greetings fellow Australians,

Before I start writing about Melbourne and getting depressed I wish to alarm you with a simple fact. You are the last team in the country who we are last start winners against. Twice if you count the pre-season. Doesn’t seem right does it? Especially in a week where we’re still the biggest laughing stock in the competition despite North Melbourne kicking three goals and ‘parting ways’ with their coach. In fact it seems such a long, long time ago since we spent the best part of the last minute buried in your forward line at the MCG waiting for it to all go horribly wrong.

These days there’s one hell of a black cloud hanging over us. I've seen worse - if you ever want a laugh go back and read the Melbourne board between Round 1 and Round 3, 2008. It was like a slaughterhouse. But back then, and every week since, we've had that old chestnut of rebuilding to fall back on. Hope springs eternal and all that. Then all of a sudden like a flash it‘s become like interviewing the survivors of a nuclear holocaust. Suddenly people have started to ask "what if we don't get better?" Various contributors have suddenly started developing the forum version of a thousand yard stare. They've seen too much suffering. In twenty years people will be having flashbacks to Brad Dick tearing us to shreds in the wet on Queen's Birthday.

Just a few short weeks ago there was a sense of enormous optimism surrounding Melbourne. We’d signed a 30 year deal with Casey to give us a training base for the first time in two decades, we’d run Geelong, Footscray, West Coast and Hawthorn close in ‘honourable’ performances and announced that Jack Watts was going to make his debut. Our fans had even erupted into open civil war when it appeared that we might win five games and ‘avoid’ the priority pick at the end of the year.

All the talk was about how we were turning the corner and were ready to start winning again. Not too much winning of course, as much as they deny it there’s no doubt that the pin would be pulled rapidly if we were on the verge of missing out on two top picks, but at least enough to make it interesting towards the end of the year. Imagine, a R22 blockbuster between the 21-0 Saints and 4-17 Demons where somehow we conspire to win and miss out on the priority pick.

Realistically it started to go wrong in the third quarter the first time around against St. Kilda, but everyone expected that. "As long as we go hard against the Pies" everyone said. Then they announced the coming of Watts and you'd be forgiven for thinking that all of a sudden we’d become raging premiership favourites. The Pies kick the first five and market confidence in the Melbourne Football Club went down faster than a Russian apartment block. "Never mind" they cried. "We can match Essendon". Oh yes we could – for about 20 minutes in the middle of the second quarter..

For a few beautiful minutes it looked, once again, like we’d turned a corner. First the Jacks - Grimes and Watts - kicked their first goals in league footy and then the man who should have CULT FIGURE tattooed across his forehead, Liam Jurrah brought both sides of the crowd together with a memorable first goal. He’d already had his first kick in footy touched on the line, which was thoroughly unromantic, but had shown enough early to convince you he wasn’t far from opening his account. When he did it was a thing of beauty. You’ve seen the replay a thousand times. It was hardly goal of the year material, but at the moment we’ll take anything even moderately exciting. Best debut goal I’ve seen in person since Andrew Lamprill in 1992 – and look how well he did for himself.

Of course as is our way we then copped a goal straight after and it was all downhill from there. Never mind the fact that we got mauled in the free kick count. It wasn’t the umpires that caused us to spend the first ten minutes of the third quarter with our entire team camped inside the Essendon defensive 50. We’d rebound it or concede a point there would absolutely nobody down the ground to kick it to. Cue the ball going straight back in again. Then, in the ultimate insult, the Bombers managed to find a spare player to pass to inside 50. Bailey tried to play this down in the post-match press conference as an attempt by the players to clear the ball because we were having trouble getting it out of the defensive 50. Sadly no journalist had the coconuts to ask him at what point the coach tells somebody – one player at least – to get forward of the centre in case the ball goes near them. Having one player make some sort of contest in the centre, albeit a 3 on 1 with no chance of success, beats the ball landing in Dustin Fletcher’s giraffe like arms and being pumped back into attack time and time again.

That’s Melbourne 2008/09 for you. I’m not one to turn on a coach (after all I remember Hawthorn fans calling for Clarkson’s head after they failed to score for a quarter and a half at the Gabba) but honestly who comes up with that sort of rubbish? Either you cocked it up in the box, or you should be roasting players alive on the sidelines for sheer stupidity.

So then, how about Saturday night? To go into depth about how you’re going to beat us would be dangerous. We could be here until three minutes before the bounce. So let’s take the much shorter route and look at the ways we could beat you. No really, there are a few. You know your side, so let’s talk about mine.

Backline
I’d hate to have been in the same room as Daniel Bradshaw when he found out that Nathan Carroll had been delisted. He must have been absolutely inconsolable. After all who’s he going to kick 9 on now? Take your choice of Matthew Warnock, James Frawley and Jared Rivers. All three have been a consistent highlight of our year. Warnock was on the fast train to unemployment when Bailey took over and ended up coming fourth in the 2008 B&F. Despite this most people still wouldn’t know who he was if it hadn’t been for the farcical attempts to use him as bait to land his brother from Fremantle at the end of last year.

Rivers and Frawley have both had their nervous moments this year, but both have also performed admirably in a backline that is usually under siege for most of the game. Rivers kept Franklin goalless in the second half of our clash against Hawthorn, and Frawley was monstered by Matthew Lloyd early on last week before bouncing back and keeping him goalless after quarter time. You’d think Warnock would get Brown and one of the other two would get Bradshaw, but it’ll be interesting to see which way Bailey and crew go if things go wrong.

The wildcard in the backline is the Stefan Martin Experience. After playing solely as a defender in his first fifteen games he’s been seen up forward and in the ruck recently with varying degrees of success. He’s unlikely to do much ruckwork if Jamar returns but don’t bet against him pinch hitting up forward. He’s hardly a natural forward but does boast two completely arsey snaps on the run from the boundary amongst his three career goals and provides a big target if nothing else is working – and it usually isn’t.

Whelan, Bennell and Cheney will take the small forwards and Cale Morton has been used sparing as a loose man in defence throughout the year. Not what I’d call a prudent use of a #4 draft pick but then again what do I know? You’re all familiar with Whelan’s work, but of the other two Bennell is the one to watch out for. Cheney is workmanlike, but the #43 has a little bit of that agile backman flair that keeps things interesting when you’ve got bugger all to be happy about.

Midfield/Rucks
This is our constant source of hope and frustration. At various points all of McLean, Moloney, Jones and Green have threatened to become stars. On paper none of them are having a particularly bad season, but together we just can’t seem to get it right. James McDonald is also lurking around, but despite being captain he’s no longer an automatic inclusion.

Aaron Davey has been removed from the forward line with disastrous results for our ability to crumb goals. He’s got a poise that a lot of our players lack when they’re trying to kick 60m running at full pelt, but as we saw last week he can rack up a ton of possessions that don’t have any impact on the opposition.

Your midfield beats ours hands down any day of the week, but what I fear most is Travis Johnstone having a corker. I’m not saying I’d give back Jack Grimes to have TJ back. In fact I was one of the happiest people around when we got rid of him, but just like when he killed us in that first game last year and just how Brent Grgic played his only good game for Geelong against us you know if he’s in he’ll going to have a field day just to make things even more depressing for us. If possible can we please order a few of the ‘laser-like’ kick-ins he used to deliver straight to the opposition?

I’ll also be interested to see how Daniel Rich goes. After last week’s avalanche of “why didn’t we draft Natanui?” posts it can only lead to the same sort of thing. I’m more inclined to ask why we don’t draft more ‘kids’ who have played senior footy before, because I’ll tell you I’d much rather have a Rich than a Morton right now.

Our ruck department is an odd one. Most people rose to applaud when they found out Mark Jamar was going to miss the first ten weeks of the season but in the two games since he returned, before missing again last week, he played the best matches of his life. First he belted Gardiner/King – before being actually belted by King – and then moved on to outpoint Josh Fraser as well.

His counterpart Paul Johnson had his best patch towards the end of last year (who’ll forget THAT chase-down in the MCG game?) but has been disappointing this season. Tagged first with Jake Spencer (not up to it) and then John Meesen (shockingly good before stress fractures) he’s been inconsistent at best. Not so bad in the ruck, but an apparent belief that he’s Chris Judd every time he gets the ball has caused a considerable amount of grief.

Much like last week when Johnson and Martin jumped all over Paddy Ryder on route to an overall win in the hitouts I don’t see having the advantage in numbers helping us a great deal with the way our midfield is playing.

Forward
The ultimate Achilles Heel. Even if our backline keeps the usual suspects quiet where are we going to get a winning score from? Sure, we look ok on paper but like an Ikea wardrobe just because all the parts are there it doesn’t mean you can get anything usable out of it. Even if Patfull and Merett weren’t coming back I’m not convinced we could have taken advantage.

Last week was the perfect example of the Melbourne forward line in action. Matthew Bate working his arse off with very little support whatsoever, Robertson alternating between trying to take mark of the year and hoodwinking the umpires into giving him a free and Miller playing in bursts and then going missing for hours on end. Watts, Jetta and Jurrah were there or thereabouts most of the night showing a bit but with nine games between them none was going to be a match winner.

Both Jetta and Addam Maric (you haven't got a monopoly on players with random double D's in their name) have been employed as the professional small forward this year but the redeployment of Davey and absence of Austin Wonaeamirri has absolutely slaughtered us in that area. If the big forwards don’t mark it we rarely capitalise. Thus the low scores, thus the ‘honourable’ losses, thus the frustration.

Changes
Jones, Jamar and Warnock are straight back in if they're right. Lynden Dunn has been pressing in the reserves for a few weeks, and Paul Wheatley is due a farewell tour at some point. I'd prefer Maric to Jetta but I think he'll probably get another game. Shane Valenti has also been amongst the bests for Casey recently and might come into contention.


The verdict
I'd love to be bullish and come on to tell you that you're going to get smashed, after all what is Big Footy if its not the home of people making wildly optimistic judgements about their own side, but frankly it's not going to happen. I'd love to go on the Melbourne board on Sunday morning, make like Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack and set off a gigantic party by yelling "Hey everybody, we're all gonna get laid!" but all realistic signs point to a sizeable beating.

Brisbane by 40. Oh go on, you deserve it - have another two goals. Brisbane by 52.

Friday, 19 June 2009

The Royal Shaft

Ever since the Collingwood fiasco all we've heard from the club has been about going hard and being competitive. Lovely, rosy stuff. Thanks to the split round two weeks of it. And so with the debut of another exciting youngster on the cards a great number of our fans went out to a stadium that is harder to get into at an Essendon game than Fort Knox and were served up something which was 9/10th's slop.

The sub-plots were there in droves as well. That is if you didn't just give up and go home at the prospect of having to stand in a queue for 20 minutes to get a 'seat' that you weren't going to use any way rather than just walking through the gate with your membership like any normal match. Watts 2.0, the debut of the Jurrahcane, Sylvia's continuing form, the emerging players in Jetta, Bennell, Cheney and Martin and crunch games for the likes of Miller and Robertson.

And after all that build-up we got smashed from the first bounce. Not only were we not getting anything on the scoreboard, but we were getting even less from the umpires. It took us until 25 minutes into the first quarter to get a free kick, by which time Essendon had kicked two from frees and another from a 50. I'm not one for conspiracy theories, or the idea that the free-kick count should magically align or it's a rort but for god's sake do they need to pay absolutely everything? Ok if a guy is on the ground and you do Bam Bam Bigelow's Greetings From Asbury Park onto his head then fair enough give a free, but am I the only one sick to death of players laying a decent tackle only to put a slight bit of pressure on the back and get pinged for a push? It's a farce.

Frawley was monstered by Lloyd early on and it looked as if we were going to see similar, or worse, to his eight goals and a mark of the year performance in the MCG fixture last year. At least this time we weren't wearing that vomitous silver number as the clash jersey. The white one isn't that much better, and it does have that hideous bi-curious pirate logo, but anything beats the silver. And to think you actually see people going around in that to this day. Unbelievable. What was wrong with the old red alternative jumper we used to wear? Was much better.

The second quarter was one for first goals all round. Jack Grimes started it, Jurrah followed it up with a corker of a goal off the ground that sent our fans off their collective nut and then Watts bobbed up for his first just when I was starting to worry that he was going to get completely put out of the game. More on Jurrah later, but Watts was interesting tonight. Once he gets it he's not bad, and he's obviously a great kick for goal but good god he's slight. Naturally greater bulk will come but for the moment it's like playing Cale 'Supermodel Diet' Morton as a key-forward. He's just getting swatted off the ball with the greatest of ease. Shows some wonderful signs but physically not up to it yet. Doesn't mean he shouldn't play the majority of the next ten games, but R1 next year with a full pre-season and half a year's experience in him is when we'll really start to see results.

Speaking of Morton, what the hell are we doing with him? A number four draft pick in his second year has got to be worth more than being used as a cheap kick collector Bowden-esque loose man in defence? We're not exactly playing to make the 8 here - can we throw him into a proper midfield position for the rest of the year and really test him out?

Now, the third quarter. I'm not turning on Bailey - it's far too early for that - but I am pivoting a bit and asking, rather stridently, WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON IN THAT QUARTER? We copped a couple at the end of the second after dragging ourselves back into it, but much like the last two games we came back from half time and were absolutely blown out of the water. Fair enough if it comes from being beaten by a better side, understandable even if you get the thing and stuff it up continually but when you just roll over and die like we did then you've got a lot to answer for.

I'm not claiming to be an expert in football, far from it, but what exactly does anyone expect to achieve by having 16 players inside the opposition's defensive 50, another two standing just outside and absolutely nobody forward of the halfway line? They kept kicking points and we kept not being able to get it forward because there was NO FARKING BODY THERE TO KICK IT TO. Jesus H Christ at least have one or two people down there. On a couple of occasions we finally got the ball out of the defensive 50 and had to bomb it forward to nobody because there wasn't a target. Shock horror when we went back to a 'traditional' set-up we started to look a lot more dangerous.

In the press conference Bailey tried to play it down like they were there to attempt to extract the ball, but I'd suggest that if you need 18 people get one football out then you need to find 18 new people. How many footballers does it take to extract a ball? (this is not awaiting a punchline, I really want to know) Surely one person, ONE OF 17 - 5.6% of the side if you prefer - could stay forward in case the ball goes down there?

Amusingly despite us having the Essendon forward line clogged with our entire team they still managed to kick inside 50 and pinpoint individual players on their own. Where's one of those FAIL pictures with our entire squad on it when you need it? We went the biff in the last few minutes but it was too little too late. Pickett and Neitz (pre-2006) aside when have we had anyone legitimately fearsome in recent years? Where are the big tough bastards who spend as much time suspended as playing? I wouldn't know where to start in realistically sourcing one from another club (oh go on, suggest we swap Miller for Daniel Kerr. Give us all a laugh) but it certainly beats throwing away ALL your picks on kids. Top 3 or 4 fair enough but if you can flog a third rounder for somebody who will come in, biff a few crunts and give the kids some belief in themselves then why not?

As happens so often with us the last quarter was a junk-time, garbagefest of the highest order. We got the first three goals but it was too far gone to mean anything. Jetta got his first and Bate got rewarded for being our only decent forward - save a short burst by Miller - with a second goal before the Stefan Martin Experience continued its 2009 world tour by landing in the forward line after a decent stint in the ruck. Didn't go too badly, and is going to be very handy as a pinch-hitter up there in the future, but will more fondly be remembered tonight for kicking a corker of a goal on the run from the boundary. His forward line excitement rating is high, having kicked 2 rippers from 3 career goals. Apparently got 99.5 on his VCE as well, so at least when he realises that we've made him hate football he can do something useful with his life. Sylvia missed a sitter that would have completely sealed BOG status for us, and Watts got a second but the sting was well and truly gone.

They got the last two. Nobody cared. The siren went. Goodnight and let's never speak of this again. I certainly won't be calling Name a Game to order my copy, and I doubt too many Essendon fans will either. The only re-watching of this game that's likely to take place in the next few days is by the tribunal to decide how long Mark McVeigh - who just ten short years ago was coming into the video shop I worked in to rent R-Rated adult features - will get for biffing Jared Rivers.

Speaking of Name of a Game, when I won the free DVD on Queen's Birthday the bloke at SEN said "somebody will give you a call" and I've never heard from anyone since. Maybe that's their scam? Don't say anything and hope the winner gives up. It's happened to me on there before - I got one question in the quiz, won some pissweak book that I didn't really want anyway and got hung up on before anybody could get my details.

As you would know if you saw the game tonight Liam Jurrah was a revelation. Having watched him play the last three games at Casey I knew what to expect, and of course he didn't get as easy a run as he did in the VFL, but what you saw tonight is raw talent. Sure, he can't handball all that well but do you think anyone is in the games he's grown up playing? Had a couple of good leaps, took some lead-up marks and for the sake of a few inches could have had three goals. Has the makings of the one of the biggest cult figures at the club, and in a group where there's not too many left since Davey stopped playing forward and THE CELEBRATOR got injured, we need it. My wildcard Jurrah highlight was his big thumping spoil in the last quarter. We were getting pumped but even that caused the MFC fans around me to shudder with excitement.

Amazing story too. Has anyone ever had to learn English to play AFL senior football before? Wouldn't have thought so. Several have had to learn to use cutlery, and a lot to stop punching taxi drivers in the head - but a whole language? Remarkable! Thanks to Collingwood for not bothering to pick him up, and well done to our recruiting staff for taking a punt on him. Didn't exactly fly under the radar tonight so it's not like they took it easy on him - will be a very interesting second game next week and somebody to look out for in the rest of the season. Oh, and whoever decided to call him THE JURRAHCANE should be given an award. I'm burning with envy that I didn't come up with it myself.

As for the rest of the year first players Bennell and Cheney were solid without being spectacular, but I'm still not convinced about Jetta. Was only playing his 6th game so I'm not burying him, and he was ok tonight, but I don't see what he really adds. Would rather see Maric in there for the rest of the year to be honest.

Underbelly's Kriminal Korner
Brock McLean was wearing a black armband for dear departed Tuppence Moran. Whatever, good luck to him but did he have to play like he was at a funeral as well?

Crowd Watch
Had headphones in all night. Couldn't hear a word any of them were saying. Glorious.

Koaching Korner
Rightly or wrongly this is the week where a bunch of people are going to start turning on Bailey. All I will say is CLARKSON. Talk to me at this time next year and we'll see if we're in Daniher mid-2003 anti-coach tantrum territory yet. Until then, sit back and watch the rubbish unfold. And don't tell me we should have hired Sheedy or I'll glass you.

Website Watch
The AFL website needs to be thrown off a cliff. First it laughably claims that Cameron Bruce and McLean were in our best, then it makes watching the post-match press conference impossible in Firefox. Cockheads the lot of them.

2009 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Colin Sylvia
4 - Matthew Bate
3 - Brad Green
2 - Paul Johnson
1 - Liam Jurrah

Varying degrees of apology to Davey (30 touches, hardly any of which did anything special), Miller, Moloney, Frawley (molested early, came back well), Whelan, Bruce, Grime and Martin (the ultimate troubleshooter - however now officially DQ'ed for the Seecamp Award due to his non-permanent defender status).

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

Tank Talk
We've won one fucking game. It was hilarious talking about 'only' winning four after the Richmond game, and looked almost fanciful after the Bulldogs/Geelong matches, but the way we're going we'll be lucky to match the three wins of last season.

Next Week
Brisbane @ the Gabba. Gee, I wonder what's going to happen there? We'll get smashed and I 100% will not be writing a report as I've committed to something else and will - at best - be listening to patches of it on the radio, being anti-social on my phone reading Big Fotoy, or running in and out of a room checking the score. Therefore if you want to write either email me via supermercado AT demonblog DOT com, PM me on BigFooty or leave a note on the windscreen of my car. Last time I tried this, for the St. Kilda game, the crowd went absolutely mild but can someone do it this time at least for the sake of keeping some integrity in the votes rather than having to rely on the shaky as shit newspaper variety.

Who's Bradshaw going to kick nine on this year? I bet you he kicked a bin over in anger when he heard that we'd delisted him.

Final Thoughts
Sports are shit. Your suggestions on how I could have better spent a Friday night in the comments section please.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Crusty Demons of Shite

Disclaimer - I care not for most of what happened today, and I'm not even going to try and fake it

Well, that was a waste of a public holiday. Sure, on a day where it's pissing down constantly there aren't that many other options but couldn't we have collectively found something better to do with our day? If the crowd was anything to go by, it seems many did. Bollocks to theories about the weather, if we'd been winning there would have been another 15k there. Don't believe me? 78,000 people in 2006 says otherwise. We've lost the once a year crowd. Damn. Nice if they didn't come back.

Anyway, the game. We were 50 points down three minutes into the second quarter without having kicked a goal. Enough said. I'd somehow managed to get roped into the Cheer Squad first goalkicker prize just by walking past. God knows what the prize was but the fact that we were almost 9 goals down and I was still punting Brock McLean home was purely farcical. Sadly it wasn't the only moment of high farce in the first quarter - a complete inability to match up on any opposition player, the most one-dimensional forward line structure in history and Paul farking Johnson full stop were worse.

Once again there was a complete lack of crumb. What's new? Down at the other end the Pies were crumbing everything. It was only Didak's attempts to kick stupid Motlop-esque goals instead of kicking drop punts that saved us on a couple of occassions. Apparently Dick was doing well. I would never have guessed except for the woman sitting behind me who kept yelling out DICK! DICK! DICK! every time he went near the ball.

Meanwhile nothing has shit me more this year than the number of times an opposition forward will take a mark inside, or just outside, 50 and be able to kick short to a teammate. It's going to happen a few times every week but we're copping it multiple times every freaking game. The backline is still doing well, even though they were clearly beaten today, but at least get the simple things right.

It started pissing down in the second quarter and we were all set to find out how good we are at playing in the wet. Answer - not very. Comical slip and slide bullshit from all involved. Congrats to the players who decided that playing dinky little sexy football in the defensive 50m was a good idea. A couple of goals early on dragged it back to respectability temporarily but it didn't last long. Quite frankly we were shit and even if I remembered what was going on I wouldn't waste your time and mine writing about it.

One interesting moment was Harry O'Brien getting pinged for the biggest holding the ball in history AND giving himself up only for the umpire to wave play on. Cue a Pies goal. Get fucked.

Robertson was an interesting one. He responsed to criticism about his chase and defensive pressure by.. err.. chasing and putting on defensive pressure but I still fail to be impressed. It's not his fault that they kick it to him EVERY F**KING TIME, making it easy for the opposition to chop it off, but he's got to stop trying to milk free-kicks every ten seconds. Somehow he's getting away with it but that says more about the stupidity of the umpires than anything else. The two kicks he missed at the end were fairly damning. I doubt he'll get dropped again anytime soon but there must be questions about his spot next year, especially if Jurrah fires up when he gets a game later in the season.

Jamar was dominant in the ruck. Shame nobody could get near it when it hit the deck. Consider how Fraser stooged the Johnson/Spencer combination in Round 2 with how he was stitched up today. The last two weeks must represent the best fortnight of his career. At one point I even thought he was going to crack the magical 5 kick mark so we could all get our t-shirts made.

Then there was Watts. Serviceable performance from a debutant, but for god's sake could we put any more pressure on the poor kid? I understand the frenzy during the week because clearly we were trying to get people to come through the gate (oh come on), but did we have to have him on camera every five seconds before the first bounce as well? Will get better, hopefully well removed from the media and club wankfest.

The one bonus feature of the day was when Sylvia kicked the goal at the end from outside 50m and I won the Name a Game DVD off SEN for being the first caller. No need for them to know that I wasn't even listening at the time and just knew to call from memory of listening to other games. I chose R21, 1993 - Jakovich and Lovell go crazy against Richmond on route to a 120 point win. Happy days. Happy days.

Speaking of Mr. Jakovich, here's some votes we prepared earlier.

2009 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes

5 - Colin Sylvia
4 - Mark Jamar
3 - Nathan Jones
2 - Jack Grimes
1 - Aaron Davey

Apologies to Moloney, Bruce and Bate.

Leaderboard

Davey wrests the lead back at the halfway mark, but the last month has all been Sylvia. Also in the last two games Mark Jamar has recieved 8 votes - before those games he'd scored 1 in his career. A big welcome to the leaderboard to J. Grimes for his first votes as well.

19 - Aaron Davey
18 - Brent Moloney
13 - Colin Sylvia
13 - Nathan Jones
11 - Brad Green
8 - Brock McLean, Jared Rivers, James Frawley (CO-LEADERS: 2009 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Mark Jamar (LEADER: Strawbs O'Dwyer Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
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
3 - Ricky Petterd, Russell Robertson, Matthew Whelan
2 - James McDonald, Jack Grimes
1 - Lynden Dunn

Crowd Watch
I would have bet anything that Jones would have got booed by the filth elements of the Collingwood fanbase. Certainly none where I was sitting, but that's probably because - as usual - I was stuck in the middle of a bunch of kids.

Tank Talk
Does anyone seriously think we're going to win more than four games this year even at 100%? Winning two games would be nice. West Coast (MCG), Port (MCG), Richmond (MCG) and Fremantle (MCG - do you see a trend?) are really the only realistic chances we have for the rest of the year and would need to win the lot to 'avoid' the precious top two picks.

Kasey Korner
Jurrah and Dunn amongst the best - though not if you read the drug assisted 'bests' in the paper - and Miller not terrible in doing most of his best work in junktime. Casey won in a decent performance but there wasn't much to write home about, Werribee were fairly awful. Jake Spencer wasn't too bad, he's got to be a chance of tipping out Johnson soon. If you're gagging for football in the split round they're playing Preston at Princes Park on Saturday.

Next Week
Mercifully absolutely nothing. A glorious week off from this grim season before facing Essendon at Docklands in our one and only Friday night game in two weeks. With Ryder getting suspended and the rest all injured they have precisely zero ruckmen. With Jamar having dominated in the ruck in the last two weeks I expect that this means he will go absolutely coco bananas in the middle. However this will mean absolutely nothing when they cut us to shreds around the ground.

Final Thoughts
John Anthony looks like an alien.