Saturday, 27 February 2010

It could be worse..

... you could be a Richmond fan aged 30 or under.

I can see the reason why an overwhelming majority of fans don't bother with practice matches. They're shit. Even the last one I saw us win in person, against the Tiges in 2006 (?), was only memorable because it was 30+ degrees, sunny and I got a corker of a tan - other than that they're completely disposable and you forget what happened ten minutes after you walk out the door. Halfway through the game today a Melbourne fan called me and asked where I was - it would be nice to be like that.

Starting with Green, Davey, McDonald, Bate and Bruce missing from our best starting lineup you couldn't expect too much - but when was the last time you ever had high expectations? Round 1, 2007? Those were the days. Now, we're overjoyed to win a quarter. What did people do in the days before the draft when they couldn't even pin their hopes on rebuilding through the draft? If I'd been around in 1979, with no internet to let my frustrations out on, it would have ended in murder.

With the Bombers fielding what seemed (for somebody who couldn't care less about opposition teams) like a pretty experienced squad we were - against all odds - surprisingly dominant in the opening few minutes. The problem was that, as has been the case so much in the last few years, we were let down by our forwards. Again Jurrah was being well beaten in the air, this time by Fletcher, and even when we did end up with a gettable kick on goal we'd miss. It was painful. Of course the moment Essendon got themselves together they went down the other end and started snapping goals out of their arse left, right and centre - that's just the way we roll.

The Stefan Martin Experience started in the forward line, and my god if I didn't have his number on my jumper I'd be melting the internet down with threads about how he should never be allowed down there again. He was creditable in the ruck but around the ground botched pretty much everything he went near. The one time it nearly worked was in the first when he threw a snap onto the boot from 30m out and it almost went in despite flying so high that it almost took out a passing helicopter. What there was of a house would have been brought down if it had gone in, but that was pretty much as good as it got for SME fans today.

We finally got our first goal late in the first quarter, which is pretty much par for the course these days. At least, unlike last week, we got one. It was a nice one too, Petterd kept a ball from rolling through for another wasted point and knocked it back to Maric in the forward pocket. The World's Most Depressed Man snapped one around the corner to Jones about 45m out. It was scrappy, but at least Ricky showed some desperation in trying to create something - most would have just gone for the point. Jones' kick was lucky to go through after it swung in on the breeze 3cm before crashing into the left hand goalpost. Grimes got the second not long after and it looked like the comeback was well and truly on - shame about the 6 to 25 minute mark of the quarter when we were abysmal.

Moloney kicked what would have been a 9pt goal under NAB Cup bullshit rules after taking a handball from The Jurrahcane, but that was pretty much the end of both of them for the half. As an aside would you agree that the only positive contribution that bullshit Cougartown show has made to society is ensuring that LJ is never called The Cougar again?

As the rain came, which was a surprise to those of us who had dressed for the forecast 33 degrees, Essendon got back on top again. SCULLGOVE were both looking promising, and Gysberts did a couple of nice things but we couldn't get any sort of momentum. You always knew that Essendon were going to hit back. Didn't help that Maric and Martin missed two sitters. The Maric one I could understand because it was off the ground in shit conditions and the ball could have been bobbing up anywhere, but the SME's one was terrible. He got the ball kicked to him all on his own 20m out, turned out to play on and missed it. Right then I would have been ashamed to have been seen in my #34 jumper, but to be fair I did buy it purely on his defensive contribution and have been stooged ever since.

By half-time we were fairly well stuffed. It was the same old story as every other week for the last few years. The backline did what it could but cracked under continuous pressure, the midfield showed a little bit of flair but cocked it up eventually every time, and the forward line didn't exist. How many times do we steal the ball on the counter and have nobody inside 50 to deliver it to? Cue somebody having to step around like an idiot waiting for an option to appear. Then it ends in anything but a six pointer. And how frustrating is watching us fire off four consecutive well-delivered, smart possessions only to see the last one - the one that could push us into attack or deliver us from the backline - stuffed up. Lightning fast handballs are great, but not when they're fired at somebody's feet.

Newton moved into the forward line for the third quarter and was about as useful as you'd expect. Fitzpatrick too didn't go near it despite spending plenty of the game up forward, he'll benefit from playing in the VFL but I can see why they're persisting with him - if we don't get something up forward soon we're just going to get blown away every week. Won't you join me in killing some chickens in voodoo style to try and get Jack Watts fit and firing? Today reminded me of how good Watts was against Essendon last year, dying to see him this year - hopefully in a game where we're competitive unlike two of the three he played in '09.

The story of the third quarter was Grimes with a side order of Petterd. Jack dominated the centre and looked sensational, with Ricky kicking two goals and providing a handy target up forward. When RP got his third goal 35 seconds into the last term we were back within fifteen points and the comeback was on. Then, as soon as it was on it was off and Essendon ran away with it comfortably. Get stuffed.

SCULLGOVE both had decent days at the office. Tom"Rush" Scully got a bit of it, and though he didn't hit the target much you can tell he's a superstar in the making. Trengove was pretty good as well, and though neither of them would get near the starting lineup of a top 4 team at the moment I'm assuming that both will play Round 1. And why not? They don't look fragile so they'd may as well get started now and hopefully play finals in 2020. There was a lovely piece of LEGEND OF SCULLGOVE interplay between them during junk time of the last quarter. Got me about as excited as I can get during a certain loss in a pre-season game.

Tell you who we reminded me of today, and don't throw your keyboard through the window when I write this, late period Fitzroy. Look at their best 22 in 1996 and project forward three years - would have been a corker of a side but at the time they were a mix of too young, too old, good ordinary players and people who just weren't going to make it. What they lacked is some kind of superstar to build the side around, and that's our problem at the moment. Luckily we've got more time then they did to get it right - and are travelling in a vastly opposite direction financially - but it's not going to be pretty in the meantime. I know we've tried to sign every decent out of contract player going in the last couple of years and been rejected, but we've got to get some good mid/late 20's players in the next couple of years.

Koaching Korner
I'll bet that after today the "Dean Bailey extension - why?" threads will be going bananas. People probably have a point in questioning it, but for once I'm going to put my faith in the club and hope this works. What it means is that he can coach towards a goal this year rather than trying to look good and keep his job. No matter what happens in the end as long as it doesn't end up with Garry Lyon being parachuted into the job from nowhere then I'll deal with it. Either Bailey gets it right or somebody else (and if we MUST have a former player ffs call Todd Viney) gets handed a list featuring the likes of SCULLGOVE with two years under their belt.

One thing that is concerning me is the seemingly glacial pace of improvement by players who have been around for years. I love watching Morton play but in a shit side his game isn't damaging enough. If you swapped him with Joel Selwood he'd probably be running around winning a Brownlow but it's just not doing it for me. Are we destined to have a club half made up of silky users of the ball who can't get it out of packs and half of rough nuts who can't hit a target from 20m.

*UPDATE* Looks like the injury Morton suffered late in the game could be serious. That's shit. He's had a great run with injury in his first two years, would be a shame for him to miss a lot of this one.

Whatever. I'm almost over this season already. Some other shit probably happened. If you were there you'd remember it, if you weren't just don't believe the ludicrous Age report which suggests that Bate was one of our best players. Idiots.

* I got a corker of a park despite showing up five minutes before the first bounce.
* Not having to pay to get in due to having a membership.
* Grime Time
* Ricky Petterd continually surprising me as a forward.

Paul Prymke Plate for Pre-Season Performance
5 - Jack Grimes
4 - Ricky Petterd
3 - Colin Sylvia
2 - Jared Rivers
1 - James Frawley

The bottom two pretty much slide in by default. Apologies to anybody who paid at the gate to watch that shit, and to any Essendon fans who think that victory means they're a decent team.

8 - Green
5 - MacDonald, Grimes, Jones
4 - Jurrah, Petterd, Rivers
3 - Trengove, Sylvia
2 - Frawley, Bennell
1 - McDonald

Next Week
No idea. If it's interstate or Saturday during the day I won't be there. Prepare to be called up as a guest reporter. What I would like to see is us play one of the better teams in the competition - we've been tonked by a couple of also rans so I'm not sure what slopping around with bottom of the table

Final Thoughts
It's going to be a long year, but at some point during the season we're going to have a moment that you'll look back on in five years and say THAT was the turning point. Whether that's in round 2 or round 22 may very well be the difference between me ending up in a mental institution or not.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Go West, We Are Putrid There

That was very nearly the perfect weekend. It was spent in a gigantic house in Gosford with seven pinball machines and some of the most amusing people on the planet. On Sunday we went to Sydney for UFC 110 - which dominated - and I started drinking again for the first time in two months. What more could you ask for? Well, until 8.39pm EST last night you'd say nothing that could be posted on a public forum like this. And then, as it so often does, football came along and ruined everything.

First a disclaimer. Blah blah NAB Cup means nothing, this result has no bearing on future endeavours, we always lose in Perth, [something about the 2008 draft], of course North aren't going to be better than Geelong just because they had a win etc.. I'd hate to start another epic smackdown like last year when the perfectly valid suggestion after round one that we were a little bit better but still quite awful caused the internet to melt down for about 6 seconds. In the immortal words of Alan Partridge, "Needless to say, I was right" - even if my embittered response was written on a phone while travelling up the Parramatta River on a ferry.

Refer to the above disclaimer, but don't try and kid yourself that we weren't second rate against a fourth rate team. What does that make us? An eighth rate team? Relegation candidates? Premiership favourites for the D2 Amateurs? All I know is that it means somebody is going to have to chain themselves to me in case I try and leap off the top deck of the MCG seven minutes into the first quarter of Round 1.

Much like this stage last year I convinced myself beforehand that as the match meant precisely nothing and was played under Mickey Mouse rules I wouldn't let it bother me. Cue wild scenes about three minutes in when, much to the amusement of everyone else in the house, the shits were well and truly cracked. At least last year it took until the twenty minute mark of the last quarter before the phrase "get fucked Melbourne, I hate football" was screamed.

The first quarter was bizarre. We copped a couple of early goals, but just when it looked like we were going to go down like a Brazilian airliner Freo let us back into it and we dominated for five minutes. It came to nothing though, and the forward line looked as dysfunctional as it has for the last couple of years. Having no apparent knowledge of football I'm not sure if I missed something but didn't it seem to you like we were playing with a one man forward line? Miller was playing vintage 2006 football by marking and dishing off handballs every time he got it, Maric was wandering around aimlessly up field, Fitzpatrick disappeared after the first five minutes and Petterd was wearing an orange vest on the bench. So it was left to Jurrah, who lest we forget has played nine games, to run the entire forward fifty on his own. He plays his first truly bad game in the red and the blue and consequently our entire forward setup is rendered completely useless. That our second point of the game came only because the Dockers stuffed up at running down the clock (hey, stop stealing our bit) said everything you needed to know about that quarter. Could Robbo not have gone around for one more year? Didn't we have a fortune left under the cap, couldn't he have played under a gentleman's agreement that he would play as long as it wasn't keeping anybody younger and more deserving out of the squad. If Jurrah, Watts, Bate, Maric and Petterd become the biggest hit since The Beatles he shakes everyone's hand, collects a paycheck and walks away with his head held high. Bleh.

More worrying for me was what was going on at the other end. It wasn't so concerned that we were conceding scores - after all the inside 50's were coming thick and fast - but it was the unhealthy reliance on Frawley as a playmaker. I'm still convinced that he's going to have a breakout season down there, but there's no doubt that his kicking is still a worry. The "look down as you kick" thing does my head in, it just looks like a Seconds From Disaster episode waiting to happen every time. He got it right once, but I'd much rather see him getting rid of it by hand - and let's never, ever have him kicking in again eh? Was he the one who roosted it straight down Sandilands' throat? I had started drinking heavily by that time so my memories are somewhat hazy. MacDonald, who looked pretty good all-round but is probably wondering what the hell he has got himself into, seemed alright with his kick-ins so hopefully he'll get the gig permanently. Then there's Davey, who if he's going to be all over the place again this year may as well help the cause with a few handy kick-ins - despite having done nothing in the last fortnight he's still one of the few reliable kicks we have.

Theoretically the second quarter was better - not that you'd have known it from when we copped the first goal a minute in. Ever had one of those days where you start to wonder if we're going to kick any goals at all? One day it's going to happen, and I really thought Adelaide last year was going to be it. If Pav hadn't missed a sitter not long afterwards I might have walked off and started playing the Whitewater pinnie again. How about we make an MFC pinball? Nothing on the playing field, low scoring, full of balls and ultimately ending in failure.

Finally Green got a nine-pointer, followed soon after by Davey with another 9. Has a team ever had two supergoals before they got their first real one? That's utter bollocks. Of course Freo kicked one straight away to make all our hard work useless (well, not really - the 9pt goal at least gave us 3 points more), because that's just what we do and have done for years. I'd love to see Champion Data stats on how often we fail to kick a goal for ten minutes plus and then concede one straight away. Meanwhile, in using the AFL website's game tracker to try and recap what the hell went on and in what order, tell me what's wrong with their call of Miller's goal.


Yeah, he's a regular sharpshooter. They also confused Martin with Fitzpatrick and suggested that Jurrah was looking good by the time he'd dropped two marks and had one kick. Work experience week at the AFL? Don't expect anything better from their horrible websites this year.

Just when it looked like we'd go into the half-time break with a respectable deficit Clancee Pearce (Clancee? Really?) kicked a 9 pointer before/on/after the siren and we were well and truly stuffed. Now, don't be fooled by the forensic investigation of Gerard Healy and Glen Jakovich (aka the "we all preferred your brothers" commentary team) who couldn't come to a conclusion if their lives depended on it, he kicked it after the siren. I'm not going to get on my high horse about it though, Sirengate 2.0 it was not. If they introduce video replay then fair enough, but you can't expect an umpire to make anything more than an educated guess in a split second decision like that. The ball was between hand and foot when the siren went - we were watching on television, he was there personally. There are better things to be slaughtering umpires for than that. We change every other rule for the pre-season, what's wrong with a video replay for rare scenarios like this? You don't have to employ five hundred people, just ask The Cockhead Twins from Fox to roll the footage and make a decision. They've turned 9 pointers into regular goals a quarter later before, it wouldn't have been hard to do it again if it was a really glaring error - but it was too close to call so what's wrong with the benefit of the doubt going to the attacking team. It can't hurt us in the real season so let's move on. Until the AFL bring the 9 point goal in and I take up watching competition lawn balls instead.

Anyway, the coin-toss decision went the wrong way and we were 51-27 down instead of 48-27. If only the bastard had decided to take another bounce it would have been 42-27 and we would have well and truly been game on. It wasn't, we weren't.

Davey was replaced by McKenzie at half-time, and Petterd came on for Fitzpatrick not long after. In a traditionally Melbourne move we couldn't even take advantage of the substitution rule - pretty much the moment we used the second sub Spencer hurt himself and had to come off. It looked pretty serious at first but turned out that he'd simply suffered a corkie. Which is lucky considering we're rapidly running out of ruckmen. Gawn is totally stuffed, Johnson is out and god knows where Jamar was after he played a good half in the intra-club. Spence hadn't been too bad rucking solo against Freo's giraffe in the first half. I'd have liked to see him go forward when we were struggling to do anything inside 50 early on, but Bailey seemed reluctant to give the SME a go in the middle. One way or another we were going to get touched up by Sandilands so it wouldn't have hurt to try something. As it was Martin was left doing the 40 years in the desert trick, wandering aimlessly all over the ground and not doing very much at all.

Once Spencer was hurt they were forced to make the change, and it's a good thing Stef didn't get hurt too because we would have been well and truly stuffed. I'm ashamed to admit that when five people were hammering me about how helpful if would have been to have a certain pineapple haired ruckman at that moment I started to think they might have been right. Because I'm a panicky idiot who needed somebody objective there to slap the taste out of my mouth and tell me to fire up. Good thing DB so wisely looked to the future by playing Miller in the middle against Richmond last year. That was the reason wasn't it? Just like when he put 1 goal Warnock up forward just in case he needs to win the Coleman this year.

Once again we had to wait until the dying minutes of the quarter to get a goal. Petterd kicked it, and even though he didn't do an enormous amount after coming on I think we've probably learnt our lesson about not starting him. Not to blow like the wind too much, but after declaring Maric as this year's next big thing last week I'm now kicking him out of my fantasy forward line again for Ricky. He was bollocks, and the next time anyone talks about his mystical goalkicking accuracy I insist you beat them to death - it's the biggest urban myth in years. He's also the most unhappy looking person since Dale Begg-Smith, but at least that guy won something.

Be an angry bastard, go around smiling manically like you're on mushrooms, show fierce determination or grimace like you hate life but show some sort of emotion.
Reminds me of The Iceman Dean Malenko (New nickname!) Maybe it said something that I was the only person anywhere that liked his game last week. Further proof that this is the least informed 2500 words you'll read all week.

Meanwhile, talking of nicknames there is no doubt that the UFC brings the best in the world. Just yesterday we had Wanderei "The Axe Murderer" Silva, Stephan "The American Psycho" Bonner (who disconcertingly came out to Tangled Up In Blue by Bob Dylan as his entrance music) and "The Polish Experiment" Krystof Sozinski. Even Dennis Commetti wouldn't be able to top that, and he clearly spends 100 hours a week working on his routine. And how good would it be if we had somebody to refer to as "The Ninja of Love"? Would help me get through the year that's for sure.

Fourth quarter? Who cares. We got the first two goals, I yelled something about the comeback of the century part two, then they got the next three. Even a native Queenslander walked in and asked "Aren't Freo supposed to be the shittest team in the country?" I tried to agree, but everyone else kindly pointed out that another team holds that honour two years running. Joy. Maybe we're the reverse Chicago Bulls and are going for the three-peat? That'll be depressing. Does this make our worst player for the season the reverse Michael Jordan?

And that was the end of that. Pure shit, but only worth mid-range panic so far. The best thing is that nobody will be moved to say anything stupid about us making the eight. Our decision making is absolutely toilet, but for god's sake wait until at least Round 6 before rushing to your nearest internet messageboard to demand Bailey be replaced by Scott West and the robot from Rocky IV.

Random Notes
* How bad was Jamie Bennell in the first half?
* If given the chance would you forcibly hold down Cale Morton and shave his head?
* How impressive is Jordie McKenzie choosing to stay with us rather than go to Adelaide? I just hope we don't ruin his life for it.
* For all the nervous breakdowns about our defensive gameplan is there any danger that we'd be any better with an offensive one? Would be easier to stomach though. How about adopting the West Coast Offence and just playing a completely different sport?
* Every time Sylvia went near the ball in the first quarter I yelled "HERE COMES THE FUTURE BROWNLOW MEDALLIST!" Didn't that come back to haunt me.
* Do Chris Mayne and Matt Priddis go to the same hair stylist? Has floppy poodle hair replaced cocaine as the done thing in Perth?

Umpire Watch
Any danger they could bounce the ball properly? I've never seen so many recalls in my life. And is just me or are there a billion free kicks being given in these NAB Cup games? Maybe it's just that I'm rusty from not watching modern footy since September and have spent the last three months gorging myself on games from 1988 thanks to 7TWO. Or maybe it's because no bastard - even umpires - can understand the rules these days.

Paul Prymke Plate for Pre-Season Performance
5 - Joel MacDonald
4 - Nathan Jones
3 - Brad Green
2 - Jared Rivers
1 - James McDonald

Apologies to Scully, Frawley, maybe Miller, Grimes and not many others.

8 - Green
5 - MacDonald
4 - Jurrah, Jones
3 - Trengove
2 - Bennell, Rivers
1 - Frawley, McDonald

KB's Rules Kommittee Korner
Is anyone else sick to death of all the bullshit changes to the NAB Cup. The nine point goal shits me to tears (even if it did mean the difference between us scoring 50 points or below), and the substitutions rule is baffling. Either extend the bench or don't - surely there's no need for this orange vest bollocks. If you're really going to piss around with team structures for the sake of the pre-season why not give clubs the option to play as many on the bench as they want? If you want to bring the entire list and have a bench that looks like the Tiger Airways check-in line then good for you, if you'd rather lock down on your best 18 and get some miles into their legs then you're catered for as well.

I'd ring Hungry for Sport at tell the man himself about my masterplan, but I'd never be able to do it without calling Patrick Smith a ***** **** and getting kicked off under the seven second delay.

Next Week
Essendon at Vi$y Park. 1pm on Saturday. An immense result for me considering I would have been out all Sunday. Not too bad a matchup for us, I'd rather play them and get some sort of realistic view of what we look like in Melbourne rather than getting tonked by one of the top sides. See you there, though exploring the abandoned sections of the ground a'la Cave Clan will undoubtedly be better than the football. Hopefully the washing machine is still in the staircase under the Legends Stand, I might take my laundry and get something constructive out of the day.

Will try to do various updates on Twitter @demonblog until dropping my phone down one of the many dank, unlit staircases in the ground.

Final Thoughts
At least one team I follow plays with heart.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Pre-Season Preview Spectacular 2010

Exactly one year on from the Demonblog TAB swinging its doors open for the first time we're back again. Get your chequebook out, it's time for some outrageous predictions.

Overall I think we can expect much better than last year, but I wouldn't be getting too excited yet. Some people were spotted talking about slipping into the finals shortly before they were spotted hooking into a crack pipe. Stranger things have happened (97/98?) but I can't see it happening. Anyway, that's all ages away - lets start with the most prestigious prize in international sports;

Allen Jakovich Medal for Player of the Year
Previous Winners
2005 - Travis Johnstone
2006 - Brock McLean
2007 - Nathan Jones
2008 - Cameron Bruce
2009 - Aaron Davey

For the fifth straight year (and have I really being doing this for five years?) the defending champion fails to back up. You will also note that the 2005 winner left in 2007 and the 2006 winner left in 2009 - so look for Nathan Jones to walk out at the end of next season. Bear the curse in mind if you're looking to get on Davey for the first ever repeat win.

Bail, Bartram, Bate, Bell, Bennell, Blease, Bruce, Cheney, Davey, Dunn, Fitzpatrick, Frawley, Garland, Gawn, Green, Grimes, Gysberts, Jamar, Jetta, Johnson, Jones, Jurrah, MacDonald, Maric, Martin, McDonald, McNamara, Miller, Moloney, Morton, Petterd, Rivers, Scully, Strauss, Sylvia, Tapscott, Trengove, Warnock, Watts, Wonaeamirri

Healey, Hughes, McKenzie, Meesen, Newton, Spencer

The most even market ever. I can barely separate the top four and all have their own claims to winning it, and then you've got the likes of Jones, the Jurrahcane and Morton floating around. Then look down to the line with Bate, Grimes and Frawley - the first two have threatened to turn into guns but have suffered with injury, and the third has turned up this season built like a Sherman Tank. Perhaps you fancy one, or both, of SCULLGOVE to double up and sweep the awards? This one could go anywhere.

$3.50 - Davey, Green
$4 - Moloney, Sylvia
$5 - Jones
$9 - Jurrah, Morton
$15 - Bate, Frawley, Grimes
$20 - McDonald, Rivers, Trengove
$25 - Bennell, Jamar, Miller, Scully, Warnock
$35 - Martin, Petterd
$50 - Cheney, Jetta, MacDonald, Wonaeamirri
$80 - Watts
$85 - Bartram, Dunn, Garland, Gysberts, Maric, McNamara, Strauss
$125 - Bell, Blease, Johnson, McKenzie
$250 - Tapscott, Newton, Spencer
$500 - Bail, Fitzpatrick, Gawn
$1001 - Healey, Hughes, Meesen

Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year

Previous Winners (Most votes for a defender in the overall tally. Must play the vast majority of games in the backline to qualify.)
2005 - Nathan Caroll/Ryan Ferguson
2006 - Jared Rivers
2007 - Paul Wheatley
2008 - Matthew Whelan
2009 - James Frawley

Frawley came from second last to take the title last year and goes in as red hot favourite this year.

$2 - Frawley
$6 - Rivers
$13 - Bennell, Warnock
$16 - MacDonald, Cheney
$30 - MacNamara, Bail
$50 - Dunn, Petterd, Martin (all unlikely to qualify)
$15 - Any other player

Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie Of The Year
Previous Winners (Highest player in the overall tally to play their first game that season OR to have played only in the last three rounds of the preceding season.)

2005 - No players eligible
2006 - Matthew Bate
2007 - Ricky Petterd/Michael Newton
2008 - Cale Morton
2009 - Jack Grimes

Grimes controversially beat Jurrah home for the award last year after qualifying by playing his one game of 2007 in the last three weeks of the season. This year I'm extending that to the last month of the season - as long as you make your debut in that time you're still eligible to win the Hilton. Good news for The Half a Minute Man Rohan Bail and Tom McNamara who stay in the hunt.

$4 - Jack Trengove
$6 - Tom Scully
$12 - James Strauss
$18 - Sam Blease, Jordan Gysberts, Rohan Bail, Tom McNamara
$22 - Luke Tapscott
$25 - Jack Fitzpatrick
$40 - Max Gawn
$50 - Hughes, Healey

Strawbs O'Dwyer Medal for Ruckman Of The Year

Previous Winners
2005 - Jeff White
2006 - Jeff White (2)
2007 - Jeff White (3)
2008 - Paul Johnson
2009 - Mark Jamar

Last year Jamar was described as "servicable in the ruck [but] he does bugger all around the ground", and so it looked on the basis of six completed seasons. When he spent most of the first half of the year injured his odds rose even higher but something amazing happened - he came back to play his best games ever, before being injured, then getting even better. Will we ever forget that fifth goal against Carlton? He's still under some sort of injury cloud, but he played well in the intra-club and frankly if he doesn't score I don't see how many of the other ruckmen are going to.

$1.50 - Mark Jamar
$5 - Paul Johnson
$7 - Jake Spencer, Stefan Martin (who may not qualify)
$18 - Max Gawn
$50 - Meesen, Fitzpatrick
$30 - Any other player

Top Goalkicker

$4 - Jurrah
$9 - Miller
$14 - Petterd, Bate
$17 - Davey, Green
$25 - Martin, Sylvia, Wonaeamirri
$29 - Moloney, Watts, Maric
$40 - Jamar
$65 - Johnson, Newton
$100 - Hughes
$25 - Any other player

PhotobucketThe Tombstone Award for First Long Term InjuryPhotobucket

$2 - Any played not listed
$5 - Rivers, Moloney, Wonaeamirri
$10 - Blease, Jamar
$14 - Watts
$15 - Newton

Actually, compared to less year that was less than spectacular. If you have issues with problem gambling call the Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Intra-Clubbed To Death

I'd like to preface my remarks by saying that from a spectating point of view the intra-club game is the biggest fraud known to man. It's nice that the club is playing the match on a Saturday instead of 2pm on Friday this year, but when it comes down to it what have we learnt? Not a lot. There were plenty of good signs out there today, and a few worrying ones - but in reality the match was nothing more than a glorified training run conducted in front of a crowd just to get some buzz up around the season.

To skip forward for those who are really keen on the result, the Red team beat the Whites by 9 points. Magnificent news for those who you who were backing the reds. I'm sure nobody cares about the match itself, but just to keep things interesting I decided to go for the white side purely because they had the Stefan Martin Experience on their side. It looked like a criminally poor decision when they were five goals down in the first quarter, but they charged back to hit the lead in the last quarter before the reds hit back to win. I suspect that the last quarter was shut down well before time as it only ran 17 minutes. Still, nobody got hurt - even the Casey bloke who went head first into the goal post managed to get up and assist in a goal not long afterwards - and we got a first look at The Legend of Scullgove.

At half-time Connolly was holding court on the grandstand balcony like Fidel Castro but I cbf walking over there to find out what was going on. If you have a run down then feel free to post in the comments.

Goalkickers were;
Jurrah 4, Green 3, Spencer 2, Moloney, Miller, Petterd + 2 from Casey fill-ins

Maric 2, Newton 2, Dunn, Morton, Hughes, Jones, Sylvia, Scully

1: Warnock - Solid as usual. Didn't do anything spectacular but will be important this year.

2: Jones - Has gone the sleeve tatt and looks as if he'd be better fitted to be punching on in the front row of the AC/DC concert. Had a pretty good game but turned it over a few times, most notably straight to Trengove for JT's first kick.

3: Bartram - Every time I watch him at Casey I think he's done nothing then he turns out to have had 30 kicks. If he did anything today it must have been on the grandstand side of the ground.

4: Watts - Didn't play. See below for a dissection section.

5: Gysberts - Appeared in the second quarter, botched a few kicks but looked very clean with his hands in tight situations. I'm bullish about his prospects.

6: Bate - Didn't play, and despite the fact that both Casey guys wearing #6 (one on each team) couldn't have looked any less like him if they were in the Jamaican bobsled team, there were still people standing there going "oh yes, that's Bate". Farcical.

7: Miller - Did some nice work at FF. Hold for next week to confirm, but I think he might play there permanently this year. A typical Miller game, he had some nice patches but never grabbed it by the scruff of the neck.

8: Frawley - I'm super impressed by him. Not only did he play a great game down back, but he is oozing with leadership qualities. When the defenders were doing their pre-match drills he was yelling at people, telling them where to move to and what to do. It was magnificent. He's got the weapons to be a superstar this season.

9: Trengove - Hyper impressive debut. Didn't get into much until the second term, but when he did he was something special. Tried his luck on beating opponents a couple of times, but even when they caught him he effortlessly flipped the ball out to a teammate. At one point he recieved a handball in traffic, stepped out of trouble, took a second and hit a pinpoint pass into the centre of the ground. A solid gold certainly for Round 1 if he stays fit.

10: Morton - Nothing special, but he was pretty solid. Plays with an effortless aura that could go either way and will either develop into sheer superstardom or leave him mired in the midcard.

11: Johnson - Didn't play.

12: Sylvia - Started slowly, but killed it in the middle two quarters. I've got no doubt that Brock will be a hit at Carlton, but if you'd suggested at the end of '06 that CS would be the more attractive proposition by the start of '10 most of our fans would have decked you.

13: McKenzie - Couple of nice things, should play a bit this season but I'm not pencilling him in as a regular just yet. Is definately improving rapidly though, second half of the year might be his time to shine.

14: Dunn - Once again shuffled all over the ground - but mainly on a HFF. I like this guy but he's going to get butchered by not having a particular job. He's better than being a tagger, but I'm starting to run out of options for him to do much else.

15: Petterd - Mostly played forward but wasn't great. Did some decent work up front last year, but like Dunn his role is up in the air. Will probably start the year forward but I'm not calling him a cert for R1 yet. Hold pending performances in the NAB Cup/Challenge.

16: Grimes - Not bad, but what he did was so good you know he's going to be a terminator when they gets some more experience into him.

18: Green - Excellent performance. Floated effortlessly around the ground and was in everything, but still managed to pop up as an effective forward target when required.

19: Maric - Very impressed with him. As blasphemous as this might be I'd say he's shot light years in front of Aussie for the small forward slot. Kicked two and could have had another, worked hard around the ground and added some good defensive pressure. This year is definately time for him to step up, and with Wona looking fairly proppy when having a ginger kick around (no offence to red heads) at half time I'd say the spot is his to lose. Has anyone ever seen him smile though? He looks permanently miserable.

20: Garland - Not playing. The red #20 looked about 1% like Watts, so of course muppets thought it was him. I suspect some actually went home wondering if JW had changed number.

21: Bell - God knows what he was doing. Again, if the action took place on the grandstand side I stand corrected.

22: Moloney - Good game, nothing spectacular but he was hard at it and generally used the thing well. Could be a big season for him if his body holds up.

23: James McDonald - Played most of the game and wasn't disgraced but there's no way he's going on after this year.

24: Jurrah - Much like Green he was in everything but still managed to get forward and kick goals. He's the kind of guy who will take a saving mark in defence and then twenty seconds later be up the other end taking a shot. Attempted the early MOTY candidate in the first term and almost kicked goal of the year in the last. Got the last two goals to lift his team over the line. The first one was special in its own way. Somebody took a wild snap at goal which floated across the face and looked like it was going to drop through for a point, The Jurrahcane rolled back to the line, read it perfectly and just stuck his arms up at full extension to take the grab. The sheer casual nature of it was beautiful. It's like he can do these amazing things without even thinking about it - he kicked the goal from a ridiculous angle to top things off. See also his rove off the pack and goal in the second quarter. WARNING - May NOT fall victim to "second year syndrome".

25: Cheney - Not sure he played the whole game. Was there or thereabouts in the first term but dropped out of the play after that. I like the guy.

26: Meesen - Has returned to not existing.

27: Rivers - Much like Warnock he did what he needed to do well but wasn't called upon to pull off too many remarkable manoevures. Dictionary definition of solid.

28: Joel McDonald - Gifted Spencer the first goal with a clumsy free-kick but had a pretty good game after that. Was entrusted with the kick-in duties at one point, which for us is the closest thing you can get to being handed a bottle of toxic waste and a note reading DRINK THIS.

29: Newton - Did a few nice things but just lacks that X factor to turn it on even semi reguarly at AFL level. Will be very familiar with Casey by the end of the season, and there's a big question if he'll play seniors again. Having said that the knobs who were heckling him every time he goes near it need slapping - it's a freaking intra club game. At least wait until the VFL season starts.

30: McNamara - He was playing but I can't remember anything he did. Sorry Tom.

31: Scully - Looked good. Kicked a nice goal near the end to put the whites in front. Didn't get an obscene amount of ball, and made a couple of errors but for a first game in the company of AFL footballers it was perfectly good. Dying to see him in a real game.

32: Bruce - Not playing

33: Wonaeamirri - Not playing. Was there and had a kick with family (?) at half-time but didn't look to be too mobile. Based on Maric's performance today Aussie might spend a bit of time at Casey before making it back to the 1's. The guy who did play in #33 will at least be able to say that once upon a time he stole the ball from Tom Scully and delivered a perfect pass for Brad Green.

34: Martin - Was taking a heap of goalkicking practice pre-match but played most of the game in the ruck for the whites against Spencer/Jamar. Did pretty well against both of them, but didn't get much of it around the ground. His position this year probably depends on how the forwards/ruck pull up. If Johnson isn't right he'll definately contend with Spencer for 2nd ruck, and if we get exposed for height up front early on he'll probably go there. One way or the other I'd say he's done as a defender for now.

35: Tapscott - Didn't play

36: Davey - Barely played a half, didn't do anything out of the ordinary but was solid.

37: Gawn - Not playing.

38: Hughes - Reminds me a little bit of Newton, he shows glimpses of being a really good player but seems to lack that little bit extra to make him a regular AFL player. In the event that one of them has to get a senior game this year I'd rather give Hughes a go, but I'm nowhere near convinced either is a long term option.

39: Jetta - Noticed him a couple of times playing up the ground but

40: Jamar - Played a half, and in that time had a decent battle with the SME in the ruck. But it was around the ground that he impressed. Showed so much more in his handful of appearances last season than he ever has before and looks ready to be a big contributor this year.

42: Spencer - Lined up at full-forward for the reds and kicked the first two goals from set shots. Those who remember his air-swing fiasco against North last year will be amazed to hear that they were two well kicked goals from about 40m out. Blotted his copybook with a shocker later, but did some nice work around the ground. Disposal is still an issue but will be one to watch in the NAB Cup.

43: Bennell - A potential gun. Another player who has the ability to effortlessly walk out of trouble and get rid of the ball. This year you will hear everybody say that he has a "touch of the Andrew McLeod's" about him. I'm jumping right on that bandwagon. More please.

44: Bail - The thirty second man had a really good second quarter, gave me hope that he might come on this year.

46: Blease - Didn't play

47: Strauss - Handful of nice touches. Should improve as the season goes on, but nowhere near a R1 proposition.

48: Fitzpatrick - Played mostly as a forward and didn't go near it much. Decent first up run for a late draft pick.

50: Healey - Had a couple of positive touches, and seemed to do some nice work in the clinches. Torched a couple of kicks though and while he moves well I'm not sold on him getting a game this season.

Paul Prymke Plate for Pre-Season Performance Votes

5 - Green
4 - Jurrah
3 - Trengove
2 - Bennell
1 - Frawley

Overall our skill level wasn't fantastic, but I'm not going to start yelling SELL on the basis of one timid hitout. Set the panic alarm for 8.40 next Sunday night and then let's talk.

[Insert Watts Pun Headline Here]
Please tell me we're not going to have another year of Watts vs Natanui bullshit. I have no doubts that the one with the experimental haircut is going to be a star but beating the shit out of an Essendon ruck division without any ruckmen of ANY note doth not an immediate superstar make. And for the 4000th time nor does it mean that we "made the wrong decision", "picked the wrong guy" or any of that hysterical bollocks. Talk to me again on this day in two years and I'll give you my honest opinion, but right now stfu about Jack, enjoy the fact that you've got a truckload of other high draft picks to ogle and let the kid do his thing.

Our ridiculous behaviour as a club before his debut helped create this monster but you'd have to be a freaking drug addict to expect anything from him at the moment. When he kicked that fluke goal out of his arse in the VFA last year we all suspended disbelief for a second and pretended he was going to be the instant superstar of the millenium, but guess what - these things take time. There's no need to become one of the increasing numbers of retarded fans we have who almost want the kid to fail just so they can say "I was right". It's embarassing - I expect supporters of other clubs to be morons about this sort of stuff, but for gods sake when our own people are doing it then it's time to open an upstairs window and leap out.

Final thoughts
The Casey Fields carpark is an absolute nightmare to get out of. I sat there for 15 minutes not even moving, and then spent the next five dodging the biggest potholes in history at 5kmh. Reminded me of Waverley.

Next Week
Fremantle at 2040hrs EST. Live on Fox Sports. In a wildcard move I'll be watching it in Newcastle after going to UFC 110 in Sydney. If Demonblog had more than one person involved and we were in an intra-club writing scenario the poor excuse for a report above would see me immediately dropped for the NAB Cup game. Not even a chance to sit on the bench and wear the orange bib. However, as this is the perfect example of a one person operation the bad news is that I'll be back with more next Sunday night.

Demon Wiki
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Wednesday, 10 February 2010

It's A Grand Old (Put Away Your) Flag

It has been my long held belief that nobody over ten should be allowed to wave a flag in a football ground. Security guards should be detailed to grab the things and snap them in two as the user is clearly not in any mental state to be carrying a metre long pole.

And so, from the media coverage of the Round 9, 1909 game against Collingwood;

Any person waving flags or banners inside the ground or stand enclosures will be expelled

Who said the world hasn't progressed in the last 100 years? I'd say they knew exactly what they were doing.

After the game,
The committee were commended for their decision with regard to the waving of flags. It was contended that the flaunting of flags is more likely to lead to a disturbance than anything else connected with football.

The supporter who considers it necessary to show his devotion to a club in that way is generally a weak-minded barracker whose support is rather baneful than helpful, or possibly one of a "push" deliberately inviting a disturbance.

This year the foolish fad is very noticeable, and leads sometimes to fighting but more frequently to abusive and foul language".

I invite you to direct 'abusive and foul language' at any grown humans you see waving flags at the ground this year. Whether or not you take this to heart and wade into the cheer squad throwing haymakers is your business, but remember this the next time some 40-year-old tosser almost takes your eye out while swinging one of these things around.