Saturday, 28 July 2012


Anybody still out there? If the Melbourne FC extinction program hasn't been brought forward a decade I suppose there is, and that we'll just have to put up with the next five weeks. Believe it or not there are two games in that five where we might even start as favourites, which will either end in much needed wins or the sort of outcry and self-loathing that Richmond fans provided the perfect template for us to take up and run with.

But before looking forward to the potential banana skins/outright debacles in our future it would only be polite to look back on another magic afternoon at Docklands. Our 14th 'magic' game there in a row. You'd like to think that set some sort of record for futility at a single ground, until you scroll down further to find out we've lost 15 straight at Football Park. And 12 at Subiaco.

All three of those (equalling 41 straight losses #statmybitchup fans) are still individually stuck behind the 16 in a row at the MCG between R15 1980 and R21 1981 and 17 at Princes Park from R11 1970 to R15 1982, but we're slowly getting there. Don't let anyone tell you that there's absolutely no reason to keep following this club, because at least you're seeing historic records tumble like nine pins. Wait, what do you mean I'm the only person on the planet who finds any interest in that sort of thing? Yeah, well you can find your own way to get through the next few years then.

Despite the black cloud of horror hovering over the top of everything we do I still wake up every match day with an eagerness for the contest. 'Eagerness' is probably overselling it - it's more like a wino waking up and looking forward to downing a six pack before eating a rat for breakfast. At least he can get it over and done with, I had to wait until 2.10pm to start chowing down on this week's edition of Black Plague Souffle.

So being the antsy, disturbed individual that I am midday rolls around and I decide the best thing to do is to walk to the ground in order to show up as close to the bounce as possible. It should be clear to anybody who hasn't given up yet that this is the best time to arrive at a Melbourne match. It's not like you're ever fighting for best placement, and if it's a home game you'll also miss that velvet jacketed poon warbling on his trumpet. If that guy's not the first delisting at the end of the season I'll [insert empty threat here].

Alas usually nerves get the better of me and I find myself sitting in an empty stadium an hour before the first bounce with nothing to do other than eat kransky and delude myself as to our chances of winning. Not this week though, I had it all timed perfectly to show up as close to the start as possible. Obviously the even more sensible thing to do would have been to walk the other way and go to Vermont South for no apparent reason, but as with every other week for the last six years misguided enthusiasm drew me towards the game and I was eventually rewarded with disappointment and disaster in equal measure.

Not only was the walk intended to fill two hours that I had absolutely nothing else of value to do in (yes, the fun never stops at Demonblog Towers VIII) but it was intended to be painful, a local version of those nutbags in the Phillipines who crucify each other every Easter for some arcane Jesus-based reason.

Punishment was duly dished out. Not from sore feet or the eventual result of the match but by pissing rain starting to 'fall' (or more accurately plummet) on me just as soon as I got far enough away from home to turn back for a car or away from any form of public transport. So I had that going for me. Then, quickening the pace as the prospect of being soaked through all day in a windy stadium, I hastened towards a major road and the security of a tram. Then just as I got there the sun came out again. Needless to say at this point I gave up well short of the city and instead of timing my run perfectly to avoid any pre-match 'entertainment' featuring James Sherry (another one one likely to Google himself a'la Hamish McLachlan and Tim Gossage) I ended up being there an hour early with about 75 other tragic individuals. None of whom were sitting within 15 rows of me thank god.

Believe it or not as much as everything above this line makes it sound like an experience on par with being dragged to the gas chamber I still like going to games. It still gives me a rush, albeit rapidly diminishing, to see the contest taking place in front of my eyes. It's just that the famous childlike optimism about potential for shock victory has been chipped away to the point where I'm showing up hoping for glimpses of decent football instead of a surprise win. Essendon will go down in history as the proof that 'anything can happen', but good luck pulling anything else off like that again in the near future.

In the end we got pretty much the margin I was budgeting for when first leaving the house all those hours earlier. If him from North had missed that goal after the siren I'd probably have said I was as happy as anybody could be with a near 50 point loss. Near enough is good enough the way we're going. All we got between the first bounce and that last kick was five minutes of decent football by our lot, a bog standard Jeremy Howe hanger, some criminal umpiring decisions in both directions and North putting on a clinic for the rest.

At least after our traditionally god-awful start we didn't get thrashed, and thanks to disinterest from our opponents even managed to win a quarter (by a point) before the match was finished, but if you think that means I'm going to take more than a handful of positives out of it you obviously haven't been reading very closely all these years.

Nathan Jones. That's your highlight. With apologies to Mitch Clark and his faulty foot it's unlikely that anybody will ever win the Best and Fairest in a more dominant fashion than he's going to this season. He's still the only person on the list to have improved post-186, and given that it started immediately after Bailey got the boot I choose to believe that's the reason.

It certainly helped having Moloney back. I wasn't as crazy about Beamer's game as everyone else was - and the rest of the midfield were plodding at best - but at least he was there to take some of the heat off Jones after two weeks in a row where the opposition knew he was our only decent player and persecuted him accordingly. That's what having midfield options does, and that's what almost every other club in the competition has. Forward options would be nice too, but let's work on one aspect at a time shall we? Oh, I'm just getting word through that we've been working in the midfield issue for five years and it's still unresolved. Balls.

Other than that good luck finding anything to be happy about other than the fact that nobody got hurt. Moloney wasn't particularly damaging, but at least he got his hands on it and provided the aforementioned cover for Jones to run riot. Frawley held Petrie as well as you can a man in that sort of red hot form on the end of 60+ inside 50's and Howe played his best game in six weeks but other than that you'd be reaching to find anything. Sylvia might have rorted a few newspapers into putting him in the 'best' list by playing a cracking junktime, but the rest of us knew that he couldn't get near it for the first three quarters and struggled to even pretend he cared most of the time. There were a lot of triers, but it's not Auskick 'everyone gets a gold star' day.

There weren't nearly as many kicking fiascos as usual, and our efficiency by foot only ended up 2% lower than North but that doesn't make much difference when you can't get the ball in the first place. If we'd got it more chances are we'd have stuffed it up more probably. Of all the Saturday games our kicking was third only behind North and Collingwood, who admittedly were playing an even bigger collection of witches hats than us. I'll accept that Carlton and Richmond were playing in slop conditions, and like most of the rest of Australia had no interest in the Sydney/Gold Coast game (44k TV audience - let the good times roll) but still, at least we did something well for once. Now for increasing the amount of kicks and finding a forward line to boot them at.

Even when we did get the ball they might not have been botching as many kicks as usual but you could tell more than once somebody wasn't following the plan - and most of the backline had a go at not following it.

At least three or four times in the first half somebody would mark it on the half-back flank, have a perfectly good switch option across the ground with another player running on from him but then chose to hoof down the line despite having a teammate standing right next to him screaming for the kick to go back across the ground. Then when they did try to kick one across the ground poor old Joel Macdonald ended up being made to look stupid for the third consecutive week when a slow, high kick gave his opponent three hours to close the ground and stop him from marking it. Maybe he called for it, but maybe you don't have to pretend it's a democracy and honour every request for a pass.

During my foolhardy walk I heard an ad on SEN about some innovative new machines footy clubs are using to teach their players to kick better under pressure. Having seen the switch debacle live from the very back row of the stadium I've been inspired to come up with my own to help our players in the event of them ever winning the kick count again when playing a non-poxy franchise team. It's based on the old Nintendo game Hogan's Alley. The premise is very simple, the players are led into a room with a football in hand and then some targets pop up;


If they kick it at their team-mate (aptly represented by the criminal) they can stay in the team, but if they kick it at the old man or the mother with child they have to go back to Casey. As you can see from the screenshot above Rohan Bail has just had a go.

Decision making problems solved, now to find a forward line - and that's not something you can get from a hi-tech simulator such as the one above. You know the issue as well as I do, so no need to get into it again. Unfortunately it's not going to solve itself in the next few weeks so strap yourself in for another five weeks of frustration as we aimlessly hit and hope to Bail/Couch/Magner surrounded by three opponents. Green will continue to try hard, and hopefully kick a few more goals to convince him to go another year, but you can see why he might be thinking another year is all too much hard work. Especially now that Jurrah is going to trial, meaning that even if he's fit for Round 1 next year he'll probably become 'otherwise occupied' at some point early in the season.

Most of his score might have come when the game was stuffed anyway but Green deserves credit for fighting on despite having nobody around him and getting rancid delivery. On the occasion of his 250th there's still not a lot he can do wrong in my eyes. Fun fact - in 2000 I was half cut the day Farmer kick 9 and tried to offer my then girlfriend to Brad. He wisely said no.

The good news is that forward line or no forward line (answer: no forward line) we're still on track to avoid being the lowest scoring MFC team of the modern era despite narrowly failing to reach our average score for the season. Unfortunately though, a percentage drop to 63.78 leaves us firmly stuck as the 8th worst side in club history. That sad tale in full;

1919 - 42.96
1906 - 48.75
1910 - 59.54
1997 - 60.81
1914 - 61.26
2008 - 62.61
1981 - 63.49
2012 - 63.78*

Now that we've covered the upside (i.e only being 8th worst) it's my unfortunate duty to report that several of our players had no idea. Neville Jetta copped the ultimate Demonblog curse by turning into a pumpkin a week after I'd all but declared his career saved, Trengove is getting the point where they may as well pack him up for the season, Garland couldn't get near it at either end of the field and both Bail and Blease still kick like (OBLIGATORY OLYMPIC REFERENCE FOLLOWS) Oscar Pistorius.

At least Blease is good for a couple of highlights every week even if goes missing more often than the Leyland Brothers. Not only did he kick another quality goal this week, but he also sealed his status as most alternative individual on the list by injuring himself running into a cameraman. Strange and amusing scenarios just seem to follow him around everywhere, and that's good enough reason as any to keep him out of the clutches of Miami Vice and sign him to another contract quick smart. Don't get roped into paying too much though, he's the sort of guy who will end up being crushed to death in a bizarre snooker table incident.

Credit to North for being quite good (and let's not forget, sports fans, that they got to this point without epic draft rorting. Not that they've won any more than we have mind you) but when a 26-year-old rookie playing his seventh game is getting 36 touches then clearly something is still amiss with the opposition. Despite the embittered siege mentality style claims of this guy it's yet another week where we've either made an unheralded youngster or average footballer look like a champion. That practically accounts for the entire Gold Coast list so next week should be fun.

Having recovered from our traditionally shitbox start to plug the gaping holes and actually win the second quarter a neutral observer might have been fooled into thinking that we were going to come out after half time and chip away at the four goal deficit in order to set ourselves up with a chance at the last change. Embittered Melbourne fans, on the other hand, know that there's nothing more likely to lead to uncompetitive, sub-standard football than the first five minutes of a third quarter.

Adding the three goals straight that North kicked that leaves us behind 15.14.104 to 5.6.36 for the year in the first five minutes of Q3 alone. How does a team come out from a 'break' and a 'motivational chat' and do that? Even when we kicked seven goals to no score against GWS our first score didn't come until 5.01. Is this club an elaborate practical joke? Where are the hidden cameras?

For comparative purposes, and without turning this blog completely into the sports equivalent of Antony Green's ABC election coverage, we are 6.5.41 to 9.16.70 down in the first five minutes of Q1, 8.3.51 to 9.14.68 in Q2 and 8.2.44 to 15.15.105 in Q4. So really, the fourth quarter isn't much worse than the third, it's just that we're 209-77 behind in total in second halves - and that's only counting ten minutes per match. I'm fully willing to sit back and wait for the Neeld revolution to take off but for god's sake can that be addressed? It's a pretty obscure stat, but being shit at it isn't helping us.

Anyway, turns out we were no good for most of the rest of this game too so why quibble about what happened in five minutes blocks? There's just not enough support for our good players, and the good players aren't good enough to cover for the VFL fodder. That's our lot in life at least until Round 1 next year, if not 2014, so get used to it. At least next year we'll have a whole new bunch of kids to put unfair expectations on.

One of the few draft picks we've gotten right in the last decade has been Frawley, and he's been a tower of strength in the dark ages, but if I was him I'd seriously start thinking about slapping in a trade request at the end of the year. How much of his career does he want to chew up being the punching bag for the garbage in front of him? It'd be a shitbag move for the fans, but he's the only player we've got who would walk into every top eight side in the competition - and he's got to know that barring a miracle he's going to spend another couple of years under siege before we even potentially turn the corner. Luckily Richmond have sworn off all Frawley's, because he's walk into that team with his eyes shut.

This is the kind of player that clubs are going to be pillaged of when free agency gets into full swing, while we're forced to try and replace them with leftovers like old mate from Moneyball who made for a good movie but still hasn't gone close to winning anything in real life. Effectively the moment you draft a promising youngster you'll have eight years to get good or they'll walk elsewhere. Fair enough, and you won't see me complaining when we steal players from other clubs, but it's a fair warning to clubs like ours that you can't just go on being shithouse every year on end anymore.

Speaking of free agency I hope we take the piss and go out to get a couple of nearly over the hill stars from other clubs just to provide some interest to fans. Roll on Paul Chapman if Geelong don't want him just for something different. Won't happen though, accepted wisdom will prevail and instead of picking 200 kids and getting one super experienced player for free we'll just pick 200 kids on their own and wonder why they all wander around aimlessly. Although to be honest the MFC are so boring at the moment I'd have Dustin Fletcher just for the novelty of playing a 38-year-old.

Either that or they could get Cloke/Goddard etc. But they won't. Well, maybe Cloke considering he speaks the international language of cold hard cash. I'm slowly coming around to the idea just because of my desire for some kind of circus element to be introduced to the club, but at a mil a year it still seems like they're assuming none of the other kids are ever going to be worth big money. Which is probably right.

2012 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
5 - Nathan Jones
*daylight equivalent to the flash of a one million megaton nuclear bomb*
4 - Brent Moloney
3 - James Frawley
2 - Jeremy Howe
1 - Joel Macdonald

Very minor apologies to McDonald, McKenzie, Green, Dunn, Sellar and Grimes - none of whom deserved a vote, but all could have snuck in on the back of the epic crapshoot that was me trying to decide between 4-3-2-1.

That's done it. With Watts detained in a Vietnamese prison, the dominant BOG performance by Jones opens up a gap that cannot be beaten under any circumstances - and that makes him the first man ever to win the Jakovich twice. He also breaks Brock McLean's record of 47 votes in a season - with the chance of plenty more to come. Well deserved, but should give a pat on the back to his teammates for making him look so good.

No movement in the other awards, but that's ok because now is the time to pay tribute to just one man. All hail the king.

48 - Nathan Jones (WINNER: Allen Jakovich Medal for Player of the Year)
20 - Jack Watts
17 - Mitch Clark
16 - Stefan Martin (LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year), Jeremy Howe
15 - Jordie McKenzie
13 - Jack Grimes (CO-LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), James Magner (CO-LEADER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year), Tom McDonald (CO-LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year and Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
11 - James Frawley
10 - Jared Rivers
9 - Daniel Nicholson
8 - Matthew Bate, Brent Moloney
7 - Colin Sylvia
6 - Sam Blease
5 - Clint Bartram
4 - Neville Jetta, Jack Trengove
3 - Brad Green, Mark Jamar
2 - Colin Garland, Joel Macdonald
1 - Rohan Bail, James Sellar

Crowd Watch
Another cracking turn-up for Docklands, and at least this time we can't be entirely blamed for it. Obviously more than a handful of North fans woke up, saw the weather and decided to stay in and 'enjoy' the 'professional' coverage on television. It's the only explanation for such a rubbish turnout considering how well North are going. That and the fact that it's a shit place to watch anything.

Mind you on that great day when the tank was running riot and The Spencil dropped the ball on his run in only 16,500 people were there so it can always get worse. Odds are that there were about as many of our fans there that day as Saturday considering the way we're going now compared to then (i.e exactly the same). What a day it was too - let none of us ever forget the fiasco that was Dunn on Goldstein all day. One of them has gone on to be a cracking player, and the other is Lynden Dunn.

MFC Facebook Comment of the Week
Feature cancelled. The last thing I need at the moment is to read the opinions of a bunch of illiterate numpties. I'll do the numptie opinions around here. So, in honour of the great year we've had let's send this feature off with a bang.

Next Week
It is absolutely no certainty that we'll beat Gold Coast in the Empty Stadium Match on Sunday, so it's no time to start taking the piss and playing kids just yet. Not that we've got any who deserve to play anyway mind you considering Cook and Davis have fallen off the face of the earth after almost getting a game a month ago. I'm down for playing both of them, Leigh Williams, Jai Sheahan straight from the thirds and anyone else who can walk by the last couple of rounds but let's insure against utter humiliation by getting past the Suns first?

Lack of suitable replacements aside it's not the time of the year for NO CHANGE so somebody's got to cop it in the neck. Based on scattered reports from Casey's victory over Frankston I'm going for the following.

IN: Gysberts, Couch, Fitzpatrick
OUT: Bail, Spencer, Strauss (omit)

Mind you Frankston are the VFL's version of us, so does anything done against them actually matter?

Apologies to Strauss but he may as well go back and play four quarters at Casey after two underwhelming sub appearances, and to Spencer who tries his heart out but is unlucky that it's not 1984 and ruckmen need to be able to do something other than just tap 'n tackle. Bail wasn't all that bad but somebody else had to go, so unless there's a mystery injury it'll have to be him. Watts would be nice too (especially as a damn forward), but he's obviously gone from minor injury to death over the last couple of weeks so I'm not holding my breath waiting for him to return.

Jetta certainly belted somebody, but with a clean record I suspect he'll just get a reprimand. In the event that the close-up reveals that he hit him with an iron bar and he's rubbed out I'll bring in Morton as well just for the laughs. If nothing else he can give a lecture to some of Gold Coast's promising youngsters about how things can end up going horribly wrong if you play with a bunch of manic depressives.

Final Thoughts
The moment I walked out of the stadium it started pissing down raining again. It's been that sort of year.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Begone vile creatures

Well that's that. With six games left we're three wins and a shitload of percentage 'clear' of 15th place. It's our equal worst finish in history, and we're officially the worst 'real' side in the competition. What a wonderful, character building environment sports provide us.

And what better venue to confirm that we're officialy disaster than at the one where Coles owned most of the boundary line advertising? Cue another round of "where did it all go wrong?" handwringing and Status Quo being invited to re-record our theme song.

I'm not trying to throw myself onto the martyr's bonfire here, but if there's any 'sports blogger' (CLICHE) who has had to come up with more new and inventive ways to describe harrowing losses since the start of 2007 I'd like to meet them and shake their hand through the straight jacket. Chances are there isn't one, because any sensible person who'd been through what we have over nearly six years would have given up by now and either stopped watching entirely or resolved not to let their emotional commitment go past the final siren. I have no idea how children work but there are probably kids who weren't born that night we beat the Saints in the finals and are now going to school. I don't care if you went through the same thing in 1974, this is a first for me and I'm starting to cope badly with it.

Good (?) thing then that I've got an urgent need to write something/anything about what I've seen in order to a) unload the mental burden into text format and b) preserve the full horror of what we are seeing for the benefit of future generations. It's either this or long, rambling forum posts that disappear into a zillion threads about why we should sign Daniel Connors, Fev and Pol Pot.

It gets harder every week, but no matter what happens I'm in this season until the bitter end. The extremely bitter end. Next year I'm likely to miss at least four games due to weddings, much needed overseas holidays and the like so the one thing this year's got going for it is that I can see the horror unfold in front of my eyes instead of sneakily trying to listen to it halfway down a church a'la the 2002 Grand Final.

Teams have had a worse 365 days than us before (e.g Fitzroy '96 - at least we get to come back for a few more goes at it) but if I can fiddle the calendar a bit and include the Round 18 match where Hawthorn tonked us on July 24 last year has there ever been so much on and off-field disaster crammed into 366 days? We got Mitch Clark, Jeremy Howe probably won Mark of the Year and we fluked beating Essendon. Pretty much everything else that's happened since then has been an unmitigated diaster.

Last night was the final chance to rescue season 2012 from being my most hated of all time. Avoiding the spoon (we presume) means nothing in a competition with experimental teams - who might still go right past us if we don't fire up soon - so in my book that already makes it worse than '08 or '09. Given that I tipped us to finish 13th it seems rude to say, but it's now become even more of a disappointment than 2007. Even last year, which lest we forget ended in us losing to Port, had eight wins (some even stirring) for every 186. It's just the last few weeks that made an SEN talkback caller openly cry on air while his dog barked in the background. Every time he comes up I speculate that he's probably dead now, but after last night there is no chance that man is still alive. For god's sake somebody go around to his house and rescue the dog.

One thing that can be said for this season is that at least we've managed to keep all our margins under 20 goals - though I'm not sure if this is an achievement to be celebrated. Unfortunastely we've very much made up for the lack of 30 goal losses over the rest of the year. If you're the person who wrote in on Twitter to demand 'more positive' stats you might want to look away now. Once we find some we'll let you know, but at the moment most it makes for heinous reading.

At this point last year we were a game out of the eight with a percentage of 100.6% (thanks Adelaide and Freo) before managing to lose the best part of 15% over the rest of the season despite winning one game and losing two by a total margin of 15 points. This year, so far, we're on 64.24% - a gain of 0.12% this week by virtue of losing by less than usual. I firmly believe we should take an extra penalty this week for losing to Port, just like Richmond should have had their entire percentage wiped for losing to Gold Coast.

Distressing reading I'm sure you'll agree, but secretly you must be a masochist or you wouldn't still be following the Dees so it's my duty to inform you that statistically this side could end up as the worst MFC outfit of the last 30 years. If you're subjective and use total score as the be all and end all measurement like I'm about to anyway.

So far this season we're averaging roughly 10.10 every week (THE EXCITEMENT MACHINES!), and if we keep that up until the end of the year we'll narrowly beat our lowest total since the 22 game season was introduced in 1970. Set in - drumroll please - everyone's favourite year of 1997. That year's squad managed 1477 points between them, based almost entirely on Farmer and Neitz booting 30 each, and we're currently on 158.164.1112 so there's some catching up to do but as long as kick half decent scores against Gold Coast and GWS, their record should be safe.

After that we're no chance of doing any 'better' than second worse - and that's only because the league has created two clubs with the deliberate intention of them being uncompetitive in their first few years before they win ten flags in a row between them. What's our excuse? That's why pound for pound, including the off-field piss taking, this year is my most hated ever and every possible chance of finishing as officially our worst in 42 seasons.

1 - 207.235.1477 (1997 - spoon)
2 - 234.225.1629 (2008 - spoon)
3 - 238.277.1705 (1970 - third last)
4 - 253.225.1743 (1996 - third last)
5 - 268.216.1824 (1981 - spoon)

If you've sat through this year as well as at least three of the others on the list above then take your head out of the oven and hold it high, for you shall eventually inherit the earth. Admittedly I paid scant interest to '96/'97 due to what I thought was being an emo teenager, but on these figures it might have just been because we were playing boring as batshit football. I hope that after this year I'm stuck on two forever and we never have to talk about this list again.

It's notable that in two of the five above we finished third last, and that's exactly where we're going to end up this time as well. With 1981 a near certainty to be bumped out of the list, that give third last finishes the majority amongst the all time most boring years. Which is odd. With nothing else to play for, the Jakovich all but won and the MFC Facebook page being too depressing to read without throwing my keyboard out of an upstairs window, the race to beat '97 will be the most notable feature on here over the next few weeks so if you're sensitive about us being a stream of bat's urine then I suggest giving up now.

Shit kicking for goal isn't helping either - the last time we finished the season with sub-50% goalkicking was also '97. No doubt that was a rancid season, but in reality we were lucky just to have a club so who could really complain? Also everyone got to take out their frustrations via the traditional MFC mid-season coach sacking. Mind you '98 was good.

People are always slagging off the early 80's, but other than the frustration of being out of the finals for 15 years and counting (we're getting there) it's clear from this list that fans then were having far more fun than we are now. Oh for a Robbie Flower, Jacko or Gerard Healy (pre-$cully style scumbag move) these days.

That said, if you're an incredible dumbass like I am you still turn up to/watch every game with an open mind, thinking that even if we don't win you'll at least see some good signs for the future. Then you get four quarters made up of one token good one, one full of disappointment, one that is a shambles and best described as a complete farce and claim you'll never be roped in again. Until five minutes before the bounce a week later.

As each week goes on it becomes even more difficult to understand how Essendon managed to lose to us, or more importantly how we managed to take advantage of their inability to win without falling over two metres from the finish line ourselves. Even though he didn't do a spectacular amount that night (other than milk a free and kick a crucial goal) it's all about Mitch Clark. Bless that man. For a good look at how he single handedly lifts otherwise mediocre things to a higher level you just have to watch his Ultratune ad where his baffled look makes him the best actor in it by a mile.

But it's no point talking about Mitch in the context of this season, because he's gone and he's not coming back. Still, it won't stop me from doing just that every single week in which we kick an embarrassingly measly score due to having nothing to fill his place. Not to mention missing a key ruckman (still convinced the SME is better though) and a midfield running on fumes where too much is left to too few and the opposition can plan for them in five minutes then go to the pub.

At least playing against Port Adelaide evened up the ledger somewhat. After all they might inexplicably be better than us all of a sudden, but it's not like playing finals contenders like Richmond ('good') or Freo ('good'). At least against those teams we managed to show something briefly - so if you're stupid like me you thought that instantly translated to a win, ignoring the fact that we showed next to nothing against Brisbane who are still 'not good' (but better than us). You just never know what you're going to get with this side, but you can be almost certain it will end up making you swear, kick something or both.

God help us all we actually looked good in the first quarter. Even the forward line looked decent with Green providing a decent target for the first time since Clark busted his foot, and the Stefan Martin Experience kicking the sort of ruckman's goal that would cause the commentators to have an eruption in the pants region if Nic Nat did it. Shame he didn't do much else for the rest of the night because they preferred to play The Spencil at the centre bounce, but at least his Morrissey inspired hairdo stayed aloft all night despite the sweaty conditions - our only four quarter contributor.

Oh the Spencil. He does have a massive bash, and when he does the Inspector Gadget arm flying tackles you want to believe that he's going to sell his soul to the devil a'la Jamar but he just can't kick to save himself, and his handballing is in question too after that debacle where every single person in the country knew what he was going to and the Port bloke duly smothered it. It should be noted that Jamar never reached five kicks in a game until his 49th match (!?) - and only cracked 10 for the first time in his 117th - so it's not all about possessions but I still don't get a good feeling about the Spencil Experiment. I'm starting to think he'll survive into next year just because we're short on 'experienced' options, but he's not exactly threatening to do anything other than be a trier. Mind you he's also 0-11 in his career now, so nobody's going to look very good when they've played in 11 straight losses. Feel free to refer to this post when he's winning All-Australian honours. If I haven't deleted it.

The problem with the Jamar/Martin combination being torn apart by injury is that with what we've seen of The Spencil and Fitzpatrick, they might be able to take centre bounces but they can't seemingly do anything else. As much as I'd love to have played the SME as the leading ruckman last night, it's been proven 11 times straight that Spence is not going to do anything as a forward. Apart from his snap out of the arse neither did Stef, but at least he's got form in the past. You could play Sellar for 25% of the bounces, but he's only marginally better as a forward target so I suppose for now we'll just have to cop it and give the fringe players their opportunity while we can afford to be shite.

Tell you who I did like in the first quarter, and that was Neville Jetta. Some of his kicking was shithouse, but if you shot everyone in our side who couldn't kick then there'd be nobody left. I'll admit thinking it was a bizarre decision to pick him off the back of just a couple of VFL games but he was great. Good pressure, good movement around the ground and apart from one traditional MFC shank out on the full while trying to play the boundary he hit targets more often than not. I had him as a definite out at the end of the year, but he'll have every possible chance to save himself in the next six weeks if he keeps playing like that. Most noticeably unlike so many of is teammates he didn't play with terror in his eyes like he was scared to death. We need more of that, so hopefully he doesn't get sucked into the cocoon of horror by the second quarter of next Saturday.

Green impressed in the first quarter too, and it made me think there might be life left in him as well. Everyone (myself included) was trying to ship him out the door a few weeks back, and he might not make it to the end of 2013 even if he goes on but if Cook doesn't look like a R1 starter and we never see Jurrah again then we've got to keep Bradley. Surely they've learnt their lesson and won't push him out the door, but it's getting to the point where they actively need to try and keep him if he says he's retiring. Why not steal a move from GWS and have him on the list as a playing assistant coach? He plays when required, coaches off the bench when not needed and starts as sub occasionally if appropriate. Then when he's done playing he moves straight into a proper off-field role and we keep one of our great players in the family. Or maybe he hates the new administration's guts for dumping him as captain and will be straight out the door at the first available opportunity, who knows.

Despite the likes of Howe and Trengove not going near it for most of the first quarter and Petterd having the sort of nightmare that causes those of us who whinged when he didn't get picked to start shredding documents at Free Ricky HQ we really did look good for most of it. We did this in Darwin the first time before disappearing from the face of the earth and falling over the line, but this time they were talking up all the preparation that they'd done over the last month to ensure we'd be able to run the game out so if you're an idiot like me you fell for the idea that we'd walk all over Port in the last quarter.

Unfortunately to acheive this it required us to not only be within striking distance at the last change (achieved), but to also be able to kick a decent score given the opportunity (no) and not fall apart like mental cases when the heat (implied, not actual) was on (most certainly not). All things I'd deliberately neglected to consider when getting my hopes up yet again.

It all turned out badly in the end, but when Sylvia kicked the goal at the end of the first quarter I wanted to believe. Being a hopeless romantic, I was willing to go along with the fantasy that the next three quarters would continue as the first had. After all why shouldn't it? Other teams seem to be able to string quarters together, so why can't we? Don't ask me, I'm as confused as you are. In the end we scored 30 in the first quarter and 29 in the next three combined. That should be illegal.

Romantic notions aside if there's one thing we've learnt over the last few years it's that when any combination of players in red and blue deliver one cracking quarter it's almost certain that they'll be lucky to score in the next. I think this this image by 'Jeebs' from the BigFooty MS Paint Thread (still the best thread ever) explains our plight better than any words.

And as the siren went to start the second quarter straight into the ditch we went. From five goals in one quarter to lucky to score a single point after the siren in the next. The internet started to melt down, and the only thing that stopped me from throwing the paperweight that I was nervously tossing from hand to hand through my living room window was the gallows humour being displayed by the people on my Twitter list. Social media might not have done much for sports or Brock McLean's bank balance, but at least it lets you know you're not alone when everything goes tits up.

Thank god for the support of the close-knit internet community when you follow a team that plays like an overcrowded third-world ferry. Far too many passengers, but most journeys start pleasantly enough before the whole thing capsizes the moment waters get a bit rough. Many casualties.

Good luck to Port though, they were defensively abysmal in the first quarter and deserved to be behind but if you follow them you'd be thrilled with the way they started playing properly not long after - even one player down after Pittard continued the trend for people with 'P' and 'ttard' to have an absolute shocker of night when he got his ribs shattered and had to be subbed out. Another potentially great result for any team who had just spent a month in the Dave Misson Swedish Sauna. He must have been pumping his fist in the sky when Pittard was being carried off with his ribcage sticking through his kidneys. Unfortunately you can do fitness training until you've got athleticism seeping out the wazoo, but it's no use if they're shithouse at the core business of playing football and your team has the depth of a garden pond.

God knows who half the Port team actually were, but I suppose that levelled the score for the 25 Power fans sitting at home going "who the fuck is Tom Couch?" Such is life for games between bottom four teams near the end of the year. Neutrals may have no idea what they're watching, but the chances are they're probably not watching anyway so the only real interest is in which group of success starved fans will have a nervous breakdown at losing the mental eight pointer that they'd foolishly worked themselves into believing they were a chance in.

Without even going to a forum, a Facebook page or a crisis meeting I can confidently predict that after this fiasco there will be a hailstorm of "stop selling games" panic, as if playing the match in Darwin was what cost us victory. We may very well have tonked Port if the match was being played at the MCG, but it's not a solid gold certainty. It wasn't the ground or the 'greasy conditions' that caused our forward line to cease to exist after quarter time or made somebody persecute Joel Macdonald with another farcical, floating kick to him in the middle of the ground. It's like belting the umpires for everything. Sure Joel Mac really was persecuted when his opponent fell over and got a free for a push/trip/god knows what but good teams rise above that. The umpires gifted Port a goal there, but we still only kicked eight for the game. Whose fault is that?

Sure it was (probably) as hot/humid as it gets at an AFL venue at this time of year, and sure we're having enough trouble getting our players to dispose of it properly in normal conditions let alone those resembling Bangkok but we had won there twice in two years, this is not Richmond in Cairns style stuff. This time it didn't even appear that the players were being forced to spend their time off the ground in a meat locker, so if we're lucky it won't affect us too much next week (although how will we tell the difference?) AND we banked another shitload of cash for it despite only 6000 people being there so at least we got something out of it to go along with disappointment and loathing.

That's what this whole experiment comes down to, cold hard wads of cash. Nobody wants to play these interstate games, but unless you can come up with a better way of paying the bills then we're stuck with it. It's not like the Northern Territory government is getting much for their money either with crowds like that, we'll be lucky if they don't ban us for being boring like the ACT after nobody turned up to see us play Sydney in '09.

Fox Footy might have done the shot of the sunset that they were contractually obligated to, but other than that there was nothing shown which made me think I wanted to visit Darwin any more than I did on Saturday morning. Instead of paying half a million dollars for 500 people to come from interstate to watch the game why don't they pay a thousand each to 250 people to tell everyone they know what a terrific place it is and save the other $250,000. The way our player values are going they could get a Brent Moloney and two Petterds for that price.

To be entirely honest I hope they don't. Please continue to keep wasting your money on us, because as much as I don't want us to play there we need the cash. It's unfortunate, but it's the reality of being a club with a small, ageing fanbase. The administration have a duty to insulate us against not becoming fantastically successful, because if we go badly into debt again in ten years time and have lost a bunch of members and financial contributors who aren't replaced it could end in tragedy.

What I'm most bitter about is that other than North Melbourne's ill-advised attempt at becoming the second Sydney team we practically invented this selling games lark with our Brisbane deal, and yet somehow both Hawthorn and North have sewn up belter deals in proper footy locations while we've been mucking around going from Brisbane, to Canberra and now Darwin. Now that GWS have got the ACT sewn up for good (especially when they move there in five years) and North have gotten it right at last by doing the deal to play in Hobart there's nowhere sensible left to go. Cairns is just as bad as Darwin, and that's your options exhausted.

St Kilda are going to New Zealand, and whether or not that works for them or they get the same amount of money we are is anybody's guess, but at least the players won't have to spend a month in a Turkish Bath to prepare. I'm all for taking the money while it's required but I am a tad bitter and twisted that we ended up with the worst venue despite being early adopters of the concept.

Having said that, once again the venue doesn't matter if the team is up to it - which they were in 2010 and 2011. That they weren't in 2012 is about far more than what happened on the night alone. TIO Stadium wasn't responsible scoring a point in the second quarter, and it certainly can't take the blame for us conceding a goal 50 seconds into the third because that seems to happen every single week. They've played like the town drunk at almost every venue in Australia in the last couple of years, it's only fair that this one should get to see them in their natural environment too.

That we were even in it at half time, and still even after copping that early goal in the third, said more about the company that we were keeping than anything good we were doing. Their nobodies were doing a better job than ours, but it was nothing more than two teams marking time with squads full of players who won't be there the next time they're any good. At the very minimum I can't see Bail, Couch, Magner or Spencer getting a game in any of the 15 teams above us - and now that Petterd is playing like a man who has seen a ghost he might be going down the same path. Throw in Dunn, who I thought played his best game in ages but is clearly on the way out the door, and unknown quantities like Strauss and Blease who can't string together quarters and there are just too many holes to fill at the moment. That's why you have to give Neeld time (and he'll get it whether you like it or not), he's seen the list now and can help mould it into what he wants. If we're still doing this in two years time see you at the riots, but for now relax and accept that we're going to finish in the bottom three this year and there's nothing anybody can do about it.

I won't judge Couch's full career based on his first two games, but I think we're starting to see why the internet's BFF hasn't had clubs banging his door down for the last five years. If he or Magner turn out to be anything more than a bit-part trier then I'll be shocked. They'll both get another year to prove that they're worth retaining, but neither of them is going to look anything more than average unless they get the right support around them to make them look good - and that support is sadly lacking at the moment.

Nevertheless, wafer thin midfield aside, when Rivers kicked his second goal we were still very much in it despite having done nothing for a quarter and half other than kick it out on the full or turn it over. We were having plenty of inside 50's, but the problem was most of them were either going straight down the throat of Port defenders or only counting because they rolled half a metre inside the 50 before going out of bounds. It would have helped having a long target to kick to, but it's not like they gave the makeshift ones we did have any help with the delivery. Even when we got away and were streaming down the ground and into attack you could tell nobody wanted to go long because they knew if Rivers/Green didn't get it there was nobody to stop it coming straight back out again. So they tried dinky short kicks in the pockets and onto the flanks which usually failed miserably and we kicked three goals in three quarters.

We certainly had enough chances to get it right. Jones and Sylvia started to find some room after doing nothing in the first half, but we just couldn't score. Not just couldn't kick goals, but couldn't score full stop. Other than the Rivers goal and Sam Blease booting the ball straight into the post from 20m out and then copping the most awkward 50 since Brock McLean threw the ball into some plastic chairs one Queen's Birthday we didn't score again until Howe took his weekly screamer and followed up with his weekly crap set shot 20 minutes in.

That's 1.3 in the 50 odd minutes from quarter time. Hooray then for Blease adding to the parade of players doing their special moves by kicking his weekly arsey goal only to act like he was Allen Jakovich himself, going for a run along the boundary line throwing high fives to the crowd. I know he's young, I know he's excitable, and I know when people have their hands out you probably feel obliged - but just like footy players on Twitter having the right to ignore people begging for retweets nobody will think less of you if you leave a kid hanging. Or at least save it for when the game is won a'la James Hird at Docklands. Needless to say he didn't do a similar lap of honour when he failed to make the distance from a 35m out set shot in the last quarter. In the immortal words of Foghorn Leghorn, that boy ain't right.

Either way, forget the running high fives with the people of the Territory, we'll put that down to youthful exuberance and the fact that he's clearly an eccentric character - what excuse did McDonald and Garland have for the DEBACLE which cost us the last goal of the quarter? When the Blease goal went in we were back within a kick, and while on one hand winning it from there would have been daylight robbery we did deserve some reward for effort at getting the ball down there so much.

Then after being two of our best all night the defenders stand there dumbfounded with the ball at their feet, each waiting for the other to do something, before Garland takes 2012's revival of the kick off the ground way to its horrifiyng conclusion and in panic hoofs a perfect pass off the ground straight onto the chest of the only Port Adelaide forward who isn't a complete numptie. Result - goal, and 11 point deficit at the last change.

Never fear though, because it was time for the Misson led Bikram Yoga sessions to pay-off. Unfortunately his job is to train players for fitness, not to make judgements on their mental state, and with looks of terror plastered over their faces again our brave lads went out again from the three-quarter time huddle within a couple of kicks of the lead and again delivered two thirds of fuck-all.

At least we got a goal in the last quarter this time, mind you it was only thanks to a free kick and did take until the last couple of minutes. Other than that it was all Port, doing exactly what we can't and manufacturing goals out of nothing.

Another game that nobody will ever see again after the coaching reviews are finished. Name A Game should do the world a favour and burn the master tapes.

2012 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
5 - Daniel Nicholson (Excellent stuff. Still not the world's greatest kick but at least he can run AND gets it more than five times a game)
4 - Neville Jetta (Presence, presence, presence. More please)
3 - Jack Grimes (Cheap stats across half-back aside he was solid)
2 - Colin Garland (Very solid other than the two goals he cost us)
1 - Joel Macdonald (Safer than you'd think, but please stop kicking shithouse passes at him in the middle of the ground)

Apologies to McDonald, Sylvia, Green, Dunn, Rivers and nobody else.

The master of NQR scenarios Blease was involved in another one when I had him on the leaderboard twice. This has now been corrected and his real score is displayed.

The correction doesn't make any difference to the awards though, Grimes moves into a tie for the Seecamp and Jones has got to the point where he could seal the Jakovich next week if he outscores Watts by two but other than that we're steady. Time is also running out for Jamar in the Stynes - the next time the SME scores votes he could very well be declared provisional winner. Unless the Spencil tears out four BOGs in a row, but if that happens I'll join the Hare Krishnas.

The good news for potential 2013 Rookie of the Year winners like Cook and Davis (even though Jack Viney will no doubt win it) is that they just need to hold on two weeks and debut in Round 20 or later to qualify next year on the 'last month of the season' rule, one that is clearly working for Tom McDonald who is tied with Magner for now but odds-on to pull in front before the season finishes.

43 - Nathan Jones (PROVISIONAL WINNER: Allen Jakovich Medal for Player of the Year)
20 - Jack Watts
17 - Mitch Clark
16 - Stefan Martin (LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
15 - Jordie McKenzie
14 - Jeremy Howe
13 - Jack Grimes (CO-LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), James Magner (CO-LEADER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year), Tom McDonald (CO-LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year and Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
10 - Jared Rivers
9 - Daniel Nicholson
8 - Matthew Bate, James Frawley
7 - Colin Sylvia
6 - Sam Blease
5 - Clint Bartram
4 - Neville Jetta, Brent Moloney, Jack Trengove
3 - Brad Green, Mark Jamar
2 - Colin Garland
1 - Rohan Bail, Joel Macdonald, James Sellar

MFC Facebook Comment of the Week
(This week presented by our new major sponsor)

This feature was on the verge of being cancelled again due to refusal to trawl the rubbish that is the MFC Facebook page, so lucky then that reader James sent in the following, showing the breaking of new ground in the noble art of misspelling player names.


I'd love to hear a 'Jedah' cover of this, otherwise I'll just assume that everything else that has been said is absolutely correct without looking at it. Let the nutbags reign.

Crowd Watch
Good to see that to get to the 6000 crowd not only did they have to rely on MFC fans flying in, but also on a bunch of US Marines taking leave from killing people to watch something far more brutal. I'll bet you they were thrilled to have been roped in to waving MFC flags around like a bunch of deadly 11-year-olds instead of doing what all military types are legally bound to do, humping as many locals as possible. No doubt many of them acheived this later on by virtue of their military status despite being the least fearsome looking group of soldiers since Dad's Army.

Commentary Corner

In a world where Dwayne Russell has been significantly less annoying than usual in the last few weeks, how unlucky were we to be treated to Tony Shaw and Matt Campbell? Even Dermott Brereton and Leigh Colbert, who I'm usually into, seemed to be heat affected - just like the coverage itself, which spent the first quarter dropping out as if it was being broadcast from the moon.

"We apologise for the quality of the incoming footage" said Fox Footy, as if to pretend that it's not they themselves providing the incoming footage. Luckily the audio stayed on or we'd never have heard about what an injustice it was that Martin and Jetta weren't in the team earlier in the year, how we had somebody called Crouch playing for us and that Pfeiffer had been subbed into the game despite being dropped on Thursday.

I think they put so much effort into not calling either Trengove 'Trengrove' that their brains shut down on all when it came to all the other players, which would explain why later on Robin Bail had a run. Then just to completely take the piss Campbell did a couple of Trengroves late in the game when nobody other than the Port fan and the most stupid MFC supporters were still watching. They also suggested that even though we're a shit football side that Jeremy Howe taking screamers would make people buy memberships. Bullshit, save that stuff for your promos and station ID's, the best thing Howe could do for memberships is to learn to kick a set shot.

To be entirely honest if I wasn't a Melbourne fan I wouldn't be watching either, so you can understand why they do bugger all research on our players. I thought last time we played there Channel 10 had just given up because they knew they'd lost the right, but now it looks like it was just a protest at having to call a game that only about 50k people nationwide care about. I haven't seen the ratings yet but I can imagine they're in Iron Chef territory, so just imagine what they'll be like when we play Gold Coast and GWS? You might as well send Phil Cleary and Peter Donegan to cover it.

Next Week

Surprise, surprise the VFL had another bye this week so it's another match where we've got to guess (even more than usual) as to what they might do at the selection table based on nothing.

The VFL like to blame the Foxtel Cup for all the byes, the rest of us say we don't give a flying about games played between Morningside and Glenelg in front of a hundred people at 10am so know your role and do your fixture like the glorified reserves competition you are. And if that means 2500 viewers don't get to watch Ainslie vs West Adelaide then bad luck.

The good news is that next year while they might stuff us all around for their precious cup, they won't have the excuse of an uneven amount of teams. The bad news is that Richmond have told Coburg to piss off, and in the unlikely event that they survive into 2014 we'll be back to byes every 20 minutes. They could at least have the seconds playing when the seniors aren't, I'm sure a guy like Michael Evans who is battling to save his career would appreciate a run in any match, even if it is glorified park football. The whole set-up is shithouse.

So based on the fact that Casey didn't play changes are hard to decide on. I'd love to see Gysberts out there soon, but I'd rather he do it coming off a match than a weekend sitting on the couch playing FIFA. There's something to be said for playing a bunch of children and debutants based on our current plight, but amusingly it's not like we've got a heap to bring in. Cook and Davis have to get a game before the end of the year, but like the Gys they've got to do it off the back of four quarters of footy. So I'm opting for a better the devil you know approach with additional Puttin' On The Fitz just to see what he can do against good ruckman for four quarters. Though the way we're going North will probably take the piss and hand Majak Daw his long awaited debut because they know he's going to get an easy ride against us.

IN: Moloney, McKenzie, Watts, Fitzpatrick
OUT: Couch, Petterd, Spencer, Bail (omit)

Given that we barely avoided disaster a fortnight ago when our members could get in for free, I shudder to think how badly outnumbered the handful of us will be at Docklands next week. Hopefully they keep the top level open so we're not forced to mingle with North fans.

Final Thoughts

Saturday, 14 July 2012

50 Shades of Brown

With my patience for this season rapidly wearing thin, and the prospect of having to watch four quarters of the two most boring teams in the competition 'duking it out' in mediocre fashion there was every possible chance on Saturday morning that this post was just going to be abuse directed at everyone who went out of their way to find a reason not to turn up to the match.

The only thing that saved you - the beloved reader - from this fate was that we put in a half decent (albeit ultimately fruitless) performance. Moreover the game wasn't nearly as tedious as you'd expect, and we not only managed to avoid the worst attendance in the brief, painful history of Docklands but it wasn't even our own lowest crowd at the place. In fact it wasn't even our lowest crowd against Freo in recent years, so is Docklands really to blame? Maybe not, maybe our fans just bolt for the exits whenever things get ugly late in the season? Another win for the Big Book 'o Footy Stereotypes.

Ok, so circumstances conspired against a decent crowd that day at the MCG, but it proves that it's not always all about the stadium. No doubt this week would have had a bigger crowd at the MCG - but financial considerations aside is it any less shameful to get 16k at your home ground than 13k at Aeroflot Stadium when you're forced to play there? Either way it's the sort of shit result that was odds on the moment they started broadcasting everything live so nobody should be too surprised.

Not that I'd give up the live telecasts of all the other games just to put an extra two thousand on the gate for this monstrosity but it does irk me when people use the stadium as their excuse not to turn up. I hate the place, you hate the place, everyone hates the bloody place but sacrifice is what supporting your team is all about. Horrible venue it might be, but to complain about one home game there a year when the best part of a hundred years was spent with people traipsing to slop venues like Victoria Park and the Western Oval seems a bit like a convenient way to say "I think we're going to lose, therefore I'm not going to leave the house" without looking like you've given up. Truth be told if money were no consideration I'd rather watch footy in crowds that size every week, but not because 2/3 of our membership can't be stuffed.

Sure you had to pay extra for a level 2 seat even if you had a premium membership, sure it costs $25 to park (unless you park at Harbourtown Shopping Centre where they're so desperate for a buck they'll let you stay there all day for about $10) and sure their "Snag Bar" gourmet sausages are just fecal matter in a roll compared to the Kaiser's Sausage but that's life. My favourite part was the AFL Members getting the same rubbish level one seats that the rest of us did. You give your money directly to the league and you get screwed, that seems apt.

I'm aware there are some of our fans who you wouldn't get to Docklands unless there were dancing girls parading up and down each aisle and they were giving away a million dollars at half time, but no doubt they'll be queueing en masse to get in (and if there's more than 15,000 people in the ground there will be queues) once we start winning there again. Just admit you're not interested because we're crap instead of coming up with dodgy reasons not to show.

Having said that, in a way I don't blame the majority of our membership (and extended hangers on) for finding any excuse not to be there. Not only was it being held at the ground with the surliest security guards around, but a battle between the team in 16th place and one with a fast growing reputation for putting crowds and TV audiences alike to sleep hardly promised a terrific spectacle. Still, what an embarassment of a crowd. Thank god for Richmond's ludicrous, MFC-esque capitulation against the Gold Coast and Harmeichal's 'fairytale goal' (copyright AFL media) to take the heat off us a bit.

Considering the surprising amount of Freo fans there it's fair to say that less than 10,000 of ours bothered. I know we're rubbish this week, I know we'll be rubbish next week and I know we've got bugger all fans anyway, but it really makes mocking Gold Coast and GWS' attendance figures redundant. Just like 186 ruined my joy of watching teams lose by 120, our crowds at Docklands stuff up my enjoyment of laughing at other teams for having nobody turn up.

No doubt some had legitimate reasons, but surely that's the same every week and we usually get at least 18k. If you really did have to go to your Aunt Hortense's 93rd birthday or risk being struck out from her will then fair enough. If you were legitimately otherwise occupied you know in your heart that you're pure, and I can at least understand where you're coming from if you just flat out refused to show up because we're shit but if you're hiding solely behind dislike of stadium then find a better excuse.

The best thing to encourage people to get out and make some noise again would be to win at the godforsaken place, and early on it looked like one of those days where nobody is in the ground but a year later everyone claims to have been there. Much like the '08 comeback against the Dockers where there were officially 19,423 in the stadium, but about 40,000 people reckon they were there.

Any expectation that it would be four quarters of grim, boring back and forth struggle a'la World War I were dispelled early when we kicked more goals in the first ten minutes than we usually do in a half. It's very rarely 'all happening' when you're a Melbourne fan, but this was about as close as you could get. Winning it out of the centre, going forward with some confidence, The Stefan Martin Experience continuing to show he's a handy enough forward target etc.. etc.. Bennell even managed to deliver some good old fashioned crumb shortly before the football gods punished him for going against the spirit of the MFC by blowing his knee out in spectacular fashion.

It could have been even more had they not goalled from a bullshit free kick (first of many), and had Petterd not missed the sort of set shot that you cannot afford to miss if you're in the precarious position he is. Then just as quickly as it started Freo realised just how ludicrous the situation was and started playing properly again. Normal service resumed and it seemed our brave uprising was about to be crushed when we recovered to kick the last two and take a handy lead off the back of our best first quarter of the year - against a real team too.

We've been here before of course, never before against Freo at Docklands but most certainly against Freo and at Docklands individually. Maybe nobody else remembers the return game against the Dockers at Subiaco in '08 when we kicked five goals to nil in the first quarter, then copped five in the second and wound up losing by 46. I do only due to the fact that I was forced to listen to it in bed after going to work half cut on at most one hours sleep (surely the statute of limitations has passed by now) post-epic youthful night out then having to help rescue people from a trapped lift. Another memorable day ruined by the Demons.

What you will remember was our performance against North last year when we were riding high on having thrashed Adelaide, and Juice briefly thought he was John Coleman before reverting to playing like Phil Gilbert. Result, a 41 point loss. Today we kick the first three, then steady to boot another two at the end of the quarter, lead at every change and lose by 34. One thing that following this club will teach you is not to trust anyone or anything ever.

The most bizarre aspect of the first quarter was that Joel Macdonald of all people racked up 12 possessions. He wasn't much chop for the rest of the game, and only had another ten for the match but it was still a bizarre start. How good was his handball at the end to set up Sylvia's goal? Nobody will remember that though, like Morton it'll be the blunders that everyone's talking about this morning.

Chances are that once Clark and (hopefully) Jurrah are back next year, allowing the defenders to go and do what they're supposed to do, he'll be pensioned off but I still carry a torch for him despite the occasional howler. After all nobody seems at that concerned at the moment that Tom McDonald can't kick to save himself. Bloody good defender though, knows exactly what he's doing with his opponent and takes a good overhead mark. Another reason why the next time Joel Mac is dropped that might be the end for him. Not to mention the mysterious figure of Demonblog's own Troy Davis who will inevitably play before the end of the season. At least they're young and can improve, to be fair Joel Mac is probably now exactly what he's always going to be and is rapidly running out of chances.

Speaking of the old defender switcheroo I wonder what the logic was behind leaving Rivers in the forward line and sending Garland back? Let's not get seduced by the day he beat up GWS, Rivers is no forward - so if we have to play one of them down there out of necessity why not play the one who at least has some history doing it? Not to mention that professional looking lead/mark he pulled off last week. Leading inside 50 must have contravened some sort of team rule, because that was the end of him.

At least this week when it went wrong it wasn't because we were getting it forward every five seconds and not capitalising - they just couldn't get it down there in the first place. Ross Lyon finally achieved his dream of boring everybody to death not long after the second quarter started, and that suited Freo perfectly. All of a sudden we couldn't get it past the middle of the ground and the defence standing up bravely was the only thing stopping us from conceding goals at a rapid rate. Unfortunately their disposal was usually part of the problem as well as the solution, and the amount of times they were called upon to stop goals would have been much less if they'd been able to clear it properly in the first place.

In the end all the good work was undone when Freo finally got a goal after nobody bothered to kill the ball as it floated through for a point from a set shot and Kepler Bradley - bizarre by name, bizarre by nature - marked and goalled. Later in the quarter Rivers failed to make the distance from 40m out (Garland would have got it) and the ball dropped neatly into a Freo player's arms because we had nobody standing in the vicinity. That said Freo player botched the mark and it rolled through for a point seemed at the time that it could come back to haunt them. It didn't. How many times have we not had players back - either in attack or defence - this season? These are the signs of players who need their heads read.

Considering how badly we were being outplayed in the middle the quarter didn't go too badly for us, they only took seven points off the quarter time lead which said more for our defence and their mission to kick it at Pav every single time than it did for anything the rest of our side did. With Jamar having gone off re-injured the SME was battling gamefully in the ruck, but with not a solitary option available to give him a rest you could see he was starting to fade even before half time. He also appeared to cop one in the plums at some point, which would slow any man down. Knowing our luck he'll probably be out for the rest of the season with a shattered cruet.

Grimes also hurt himself during the quarter, which you may not have noticed considering his atrocious kicking throughout the rest of the day. I've almost forgotten what it was like to have him play every week after his various injury shenanigans over the years but surely he wasn't this bad a kick early last year? There's no need to ditch him but how about a few (hundred) extra drills on keeping the ball inside the boundary line? Then there was his ambitious kick into the middle of the ground in the last quarter which absolutely brought the house down and caused all sorts of wild scenes. Very strange stuff, and I do wonder if the pressure gets to GRIMGOVE sometimes. Probably doesn't help them that the rest of the leadership group are dropping like flies, and that the old leaders are either playing for Casey, injured or trying to regain their own form without having to carry two kids.

While all this was going on wasn't there some absolutely farcical umpiring? Went both ways as it usually does, but how about Sylvia being spun around and having it fall off the end of his hand for play on? Then just to ensure equality later on Jones goes out of bounds and then gets done for a throw. And the 50 in the last quarter after the ball had gone 10 metres for a 'mark', which was just taking the piss out of us considering we'd already stuffed the match up by that point. There were probably about 10 other absolute howlers that I've pushed out of my memory. It feel like we were on the end of more of the shambles (though I would say that), but there were certainly ups and downs for both teams. Difference was that they got goals out of theirs and we got frees on the HBF, presenting us the golden opportunity to give the ball back in the middle of the ground.

The half-time lead notwithstanding you could tell that Freo had our measure. Already having lost Jamar, and looking like we were going to lose a second in Grimes (no thought yet to Bennell's disaster), they were always going to run over the top of us. It was just a matter of how long the resistance could hold out. Once they realised than an open, exciting game offered them absolutely nothing and started pressuring us again our kicking efficiency plummeted and any danger of going from one end to the other seamlessly was lost. In fact we were lucky to get it past half way.

It wasn't all massive doom and gloom, there were some positives. It was good to see Strauss out there again, unexpected as it was to even see him in the side at all before he came in late for Tapscott much less on-field ten minutes into the first quarter when Jamar went down. They probably didn't budget for him to play 95% of the match so it was no surprise that he faded as the game went on, but there were signs in the first half that he could be the accurate kicker out of the backline that we so desperately need at the moment. Deserves plenty more chances this year and I hope they stick with him next week even though he was lucky to be out there.

Alas it can't always be good news, even when you're winning. Crowley has taken everybody else out this season and did a good job on Jones for most of the day, Petterd and Bate did nothing, Howe has lost it a bit in the last few weeks and Blease went missing for most of the game when he wasn't kicking arsey goals. There were too many passengers for us to carry without a firing midfield. Trengove was better this week but I'm still not convinced he's 100% - would certainly help both him and Jones if Moloney could get back and start playing decent footy again. Bail was better than last week, which is not hard, and I'm continually impressed by Nicholson but the bit-part players need some marquee names in front of them to draw the heat while they knock around looking more fancy than they actually are.

I expect Tom Couch to fit the mould of bit-part player perfectly based on what I saw today. He'll get better with more games in the seniors, and in no way disappointed me, but despite the most concerted lobbying campaign in history there's a reason why he hasn't played until now. He's a spare parts man, and my expectations were set low accordingly so he could never really disappoint. He had a few touches, got a couple of clearances, didn't mind getting his hands dirty (CLICHE) and even got to replace Magner in all fashions by having a stint playing as a woefully outmatched and ineffectual forward option. Worth persisting with for a few weeks but in all likelihood neither of them is there if we're playing for a spot in the eight anytime soon.

Speaking of makeshift forward lines which did nothing, is there any danger of giving Howe another proper run down there? Even if he does kick for goal like Pegleg Pete, he's levelled out noticably in the last month playing around the ground so do something to try and get him back into the game. Franklin is a pox shot at goal most of the time too, but he has enough shots that he finally gets it right. If Howe could have four or five shots a week he'll probably kick two goals at least, and that's like seven or eight when you play in our forward line. Admittedly the loss of Jamar and subsequent permanent move of Martin into the ruck cost us a mobile forward target who was looking dangerous, but even with Green back to some measure of his old form we could have done with somebody down there who can jump over a pack. Petterd wasn't going to do it, Bate can't do it and no matter what combination of defenders you use up front none of them are going be taking screamers either. If you're that keen on Watts playing back then give Howe another go down there next week. Darwin is hardly the place to be for massive overhead grabs anyway so I can't see him delivering too much around the ground - let's switch to forward line plan C now that there's nothing to lose. Not that there was this week or last week either, except our dignity.

Those of you who have been following our fortunes at the start of third quarters as closely as I have this year will have noted with disgust the fact that we copped the first three goals again as it started to look ominous. At least only one of them was within the first five minutes this time (I've given up following the total for the season, it's too depressing). Then, even with Bennell going off for good, Martin out on his feet and Grimes clearly not fully fit something absolutely ludicrous happened and we booted four in a row out of our arse - right out of the left corner of it if Blease's goal was anything to go by - and were clear again.

Despite his penchant for youthful fading away in large swathes of the game, the last few weeks have convinced me that we've got to keep Blease out of the clutches of GWS. Reactivating the Miami Vice style partnership with $cully might be nice for him (and would provide the other with millions in the bank at least one mate in Sydney), but once Sam learns to impose himself (CLICHE) on the game for four quarters instead of flashing in and out his pace is going to be damaging. Hopefully it's damaging for us instead of against us. Very much worth trying to artificially get him into the game over the next few weeks.

When he kicked that arsey goal confidence hit sky high proportions both on and off field, and you could have been forgiven for getting a little bit sucked in and wondering whether we were about to do it. There was my your first mistake. The next thing the ball is bounced and 20 seconds later Freo are kicking a goal, totally negatating the absolute corker than Don Johnson had just kicked.

And that was it for the rest of the day, when the goal went in the white flag attendants both consulted the codes handcuffed to their wrists, punched them in and started to slowly unfurl in preparation for our surrender. I don't know whether to blame the decreased rotations after the dual game ending injuries or if they simply relaxed at opening up the lead near the end of the quarter, but the next goal came when the Freo sub (some guy nobody outside of WA has ever heard of) came on and ran right past Sylvia without even the slightest hint of pressure. Whether it was fatigue or just classic Col, Sylvia couldn't stop him, and couldn't get close enough in the chase to put any pressure on. We still led by seven but the writing was well and truly on the wall.

I thought the much needed rest provided by the three-quarter time break might delay the inevitable a bit longer, and that we'd make it 15/20 minutes in before total breakdown but in the end it took them just five minutes to put the game away. From there on they didn't even have to play boring football to trample all over us. Result, another goalless final term when the game was there to be won. Yet last week we booted a bunch of goals in the final term when the sting was out of the game (CLICHE). What does that tell us? It can't all be fitness, there's got to be something mental about it as well. Another result that puts the ridiculousness of the Essendon result into focus - if they'd been anything but completely incompetent at converting chances it would have been exactly like this result and we'd have been done by six goals.

There were times today when we looked like a real life league side, but we're never going to get anywhere by doing it for 10 minutes twice a game. We're still lacking options in the midfield, Jones can't do it every week. Also a CHF (and for god's sake not Travis Cloke please, I think I'd rather lose) and defenders who can pinpoint targets to complement the ones who can only hoof it long. Not to mention proper crumbers. And marking forwards. And players who can kick to a lead. And players who can lead in the first place. Pretty much everything really.

2012 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
5 - Stefan Martin (went hard all day, even when he was stuffed and/or had damage in the knackers)
4 - Tom McDonald (can't kick for shit but is still a permanent fixture now)
3 - Brad Green (our only useful forward target, but how much does he have left?)
2 - Daniel Nicholson (four quarters of taking the game on - CLICHE)
1 - Jordie McKenzie (kept Hill relatively quiet, laid ten tackles, nobody else deserved it)

Apologies of sorts to Sylvia (too many dumb kicks to nobody), Frawley (held Pavlich for the first half), Macdonald (first quarter), Strauss (encouraging), Grimes (marked down harshly for costly mistakes) and Bail (better than expected).

Jones fails to extend his lead, but with his next two closest competitors both absent there's no sign yet that provisional winner isn't going to turn into official winner. As it is Watts would have to be BOG every week through the GWS game to catch him IF Jones didn't score another point, so I think you can put this one in the bank for the $3.50 pre-season favourite. The good news is that these awards have absolutely no concern with 'fairest' so even if he king hits an umpire behind play he'll still win it comfortably.

The SME takes advantage of there being nobody else who was any good to put a stranglehold on his second consecutive Stynes Medal, and again I'm convinced that he was worth the votes and I'm not just getting horny over him because of favourite player status. God forbid he and Jamar can ever get on the same field again for more than ten minutes I'm even more convinced they can be a dangerous combo.

Also Tom McDonald moves towards an unprecedented double victory by grabbing the lead in the Seecamp and taking advantage of the time honoured 'debut in the last month' clause to tie the fast fading Magner in the race for the Hilton.

43 - Nathan Jones (PROVISIONAL WINNER: Allen Jakovich Medal for Player of the Year)
20 - Jack Watts
19 - Mitch Clark
16 - Stefan Martin (LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
15 - Jordie McKenzie
14 - Jeremy Howe
13 - James Magner (CO-LEADER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year), Tom McDonald (CO-LEADER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year, LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
10 - Jack Grimes, Jared Rivers
9 - Tom McDonald
8 - Matthew Bate
7 - Colin Sylvia
6 - James Frawley
5 - Clint Bartram, Sam Blease
4 - Jack Trengove, Brent Moloney, Daniel Nicholson
3 - Brad Green, Mark Jamar
1 - Rohan Bail, Sam Blease, James Sellar

Crowd Watch
The only upside to being forced to congregate with 'the people' in the bottom deck of that place is that you're forced to sample the full range of 'interesting' people instead of hiding from them in the top level of the Ponsford like I usually do.

During the first quarter I was sitting behind the cheersquad at the end to which we were booting goals out of our arse at a rapid rate. Which was, as you'd expect given the shocking action taking place in front of us, a great atmosphere except for the old guy behind me who yelled something along the lines of "AHHH GAN WANNA BUY YAH" in some sort of Irish/Scottish/Welsh accent every minute no matter what was happening on field. I thought he was a bit special, which would make it ok, but at one point when I turned my headphones down to try and make out what he was saying he was clearly heard to provide the guy next to him with the time in completely normal fashion.

After that I abandoned the art of sitting and took to standing out the back, which you can do without too many nutters when there's 105 people in the ground. It was there that I saw one of the great outbursts of recent times, reminscent of my shameful behaviour the day Petterd dropped the mark and we lost to Collingwood by a point. When Grimes did his ill-advised kick into the middle which ended in tragedy for Joel Macdonald a heavily bearded gentlemen, wearing far too much merchandise considering he was well into middle-age, stood up, barged his way past the three or four people in his row, delivered a lusty kick to the stairs, punched a seat and screamed "I CAN'T TAKE THIS FUCKING CLUB ANYMORE".

It was all a bit over the top, I know that having a shock win dangled in front of you and then snatched away can be traumatic and we've all cracked the sads in epic fashion over that sort of thing before but surely if you're the sort of person who is prone to outbursts like that you've already seen everything you need to break your heart over the last few years? Either way, that's passion - and you know that no matter what beardo screams at Aisle 36 he'll be back next time for more punishment. I recognised a fellow traveller, and saw a glimpse into my own future - except there will not be beards no matter how middle-aged I get.

There's one advantage of this stadium, if you tried to do that at the MCG you'd smash your foot to pieces but at Docklands the whole bottom level is made of wood so you can boot buggery out of it to soothe your soul all day long. To be entirely honest it did lighten my mood a bit in that last quarter, just when I needed it. I started thinking about how amusing it would have been if he'd tripped when he kicked the seat and gotten up to continue his rants with blood everywhere across the face and that put an undeserved, and possibly morally questionable, smile on my face. Then we copped another goal and I booted a Coke Zero bottle over to ensure the resumption of normal service.

Finally as I was walking home some munter with his hood tied up to the point where you could only see between his eyes and mouth gave me an "up the mighty Dees". I couldn't tell if he was being sarcastic or was another 'disturbed' character so he got ignored lest it ended with us having a life-and-death grappling session in the middle of Glenferrie Road.

Also, for want of anywhere better to put this, did anybody see the ad for the "Carlton Draught Substitute" where they tried to pretend that calling it that was some sort of anti-drinking message. They even dared to call it an 'initiative' at the end. Oh yeah, real community message against drinking - putting stickers on the back of the sub vests mentioning a booze brand and ramming a few more mentions of the brand down our throat on the scoreboard during the game. Yes indeed, how do these people live every day knowing that they haven't yet won a Nobel Peace Prize for their work in stopping people being pissheads.

I presume given that it's a community initiative that all the money they got from Carlton Draught as part of that particular sponsorship has been donated to charity? No, it's probably been donated to the GWS payroll fund like everything else this year. Also notable that it's Luke Power in the ad, just another excuse to roll out the GWS uniform and shove the fact that they're owned by the league down our throats. At least it's a step up on $cully and his Skoda ad where he smiles broadly because he knows there's a cheque in it for him.

MFC Facebook Comment of the Week
(maybe don't watch this video at work? Or in front of your granny. Original version here)

Plenty of the usual wailing and squealing like stuck pigs, but this guy was definitely best on ground. Not only for being so negative that he declares we won't win a game after we've won two - but for mashing the keyboard in such spectacular fashion that it appears to have broken.
Note that there were no comments featuring anybody calling him a 'wanker' etc so either they really do censor the civil war comments or he's completely off his trolley. Either could be true.

On the other hand this guy was absolutely nailed the essence of the MFC Facebook page.
This feature is officially cancelled at the end of the year. Having to trawl through the musings of these misfits and dead set nutbags is almost as depressing as watching the club itself.

Midweek madness

During the week I was lucky enough to have my number come out of the Hertz Rentacar 10-gallon drum and scored an invite to one of the famous Members Information Nights (or, if you're a Herald Sun journo 'crisis meetings'). Now they did ask for discretion in regards to certain stuff that was shown or said (none of it absolute dynamite mind you), so I'm not going to act like the Drudge Report and blow the lid on absolutely everything I heard but it was certainly an interesting evening and worth your while if you ever score an invite.

The masterstroke of the evening was that before they got to the question and answer portion of the evening, and the presumed cavalcade of angsty questions, Neeld showed match review footage from the Richmond game featuring some of the outright stupid things our players do off their own bat. Obviously you wouldn't edit the footage to make your own moves look stupid, but seeing some of the bonehead moves last week couldn't help but make you feel sorry for him.

On the other hand they did show some examples of things our players did right, with the implication that they weren't earlier in the year, so the implication was - as always - that they're making progress. Which in a way I understand, but the way people intimately involved in the club look at things can't possibly be compared to the way we see it. They're probably right in the end, and certainly have more wacky stats and camera angles with which to prove it, but they'll never understand the helplessness we feel watching slop week after week for five years and counting.

Not that I was ever going to tee off, but you can understand if they expect everyone is a salivating lunatic who is trying to sack everybody. The guy (EDIT - apparently it's a girl, the trauma still applies) who does the Facebook page must stagger past Don McLardy or Cameron Schwab, white as a ghost, sweating bullets and looking like he's just gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson every Monday morning. Luckily we're not all like that, maybe during games but not in our every day lives, so the Q&A session went off without any real unpleasantness.

I think the match review footage, and an overview of why what we were seeing was either good or bad (but mostly bad) took some heat out of the room. Nobody turned up looking like they were going to do their block and try to start a fistfight, but there was more than one person who walked in clutching a set of pre-prepared questions which they expected to be able to go through one-by-one. Luckily they were

Other than the first guy who asked a question and was so keen to get his hand in the air that he almost did his shoulder and then demanded a ruthless cull of the list, there was a noticeable lack of hysteria in the air. Thank god too. What it meant was that people could actually ask decent questions, and get decent answers.

The ruthless cull call was about as bad as it got. Obviously none of the footy department were biting, even if they're planning to do exactly that in two months time. They did have some interesting figures about how many players Collingwood and Richmond have axed over the last few years (short answer - heaps) which tended to hint that they will be opening fire after Round 23. It's not exactly the opening scene of Scarface, you can't just put everyone you don't want in a leaky boat and push them out to sea, but I can see a lot of changes either in exchange or via execution. Stand by for blood dripping butchery about 15 minutes after the plane lands on the return from Perth in Round 23. Either that or stand by for all the players that you hate being retained next year just for trolling purposes.

The last thing I'll say about is that Neeld could never be accused of not believing in his program. To an almost fanatical degree. He was doing a few gags throughout, but he had a convincing sounding answer to everything that was asked of him. Whether any of it stands up in the end or not is anybody's guess at the moment but at least you know he's fully committed to the cause and is unlikely to waver due to what you, me, the media or random nutbags think. The nature of the night didn't lend itself to follow-up questions but he'd be fascinating to sit down and have a one-on-one sensible conversation with from a fan's perspective.

Also I finally got to ask my question about support for players who are depressed at losing every week while the club gets flogged in the media. The answer is that there are no sports psychologists or shrinks on the payroll, but there is a Mental Skills Coach (and what do you know there is). God knows what he does but he's probably the busiest man at AAMI Park.

Now, I'm a soft touch for these sorts of things but it reinforced my belief that not smashing the panic button yet is the sensible way to go. I guess in our own special way we've all been guilty of gross disrespect of our sporting betters at one point or another, but usually as long as it doesn't cross into sporting vendettas or end up with Travis Cloke's house being shot at it's generally ok. Still, I'd love to sit behind the old two-way mirror and watch a session of Neeld vs the top shelf of virulently angry internet nutbags.

Next Week
After calling for a bloodthirsty chop at the selection table last week it seems strange to retreat from that in the face of a disappointing loss, but other than the injuries - and Bate who can go for Moloney - I'm happy to back them in for a full game. Apparently both the Spencil and Fitzpatrick were amongst the best at Casey, so one of them may as well have a go considering we've got nothing to play for other than giving ourselves a chance of finishing fourth last.

IN: Spencer, Moloney, Gysberts
OUT: Bennell, Jamar (inj), Bate (omit)

Even though Petterd was ordinary I'm prepared to give him another go at getting it right, but if he gives a similar level of doughnut then that could be it. Either way I'm not renewing the lease on Free Ricky Petterd campaign headquarters past this Thursday night. Couch gets another go too, but I'm not sure that he's not doing exactly the same thing Magner is and marking time until we find somebody else who can do it better. Such is life for a rookie list player.

Final Thoughts
Good to see them boot an Auskick game off for another round of AFL 9's. Memo to the league, nobody in Victoria cares - take your footy for ponces and showcase it in northern states. The goal should be to get as many kids as possible onto league grounds, not a bunch of middle aged dickheads who look like they're running around in a local park.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

MFC Power Rankings - July 2012

Looks like I forgot to do this at the start of the month. What a way to drop your own new feature in its third episode. So, let's assume nobody will ever be randomly browsing to see this and pretend nothing happened come the new version on 1 August yes?

Results below take into account everything from the Essendon game to the GWS match - including the bye and any VFL action. As always, all rankings are compiled with a formula solely devised in my head. A formula which stands up to the scrutiny of no man. Direct your complaints to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

(1) 1. Nathan Jones
(3) 2. James Frawley
(4) 3. Jared Rivers
(11) 4. Jack Watts
(7) 5. Colin Garland
(2) 6. Mitch Clark
(16) 7. Colin Sylvia
(6) 8. Jordie McKenzie
(5) 9. Jack Grimes
(14) 10. Tom McDonald
(8) 11. Mark Jamar
(9) 12. Jeremy Howe
(10) 13. Jack Trengove
(12) 14. Brent Moloney
(15) 15. James Magner
(20) 16. Sam Blease
(28) 17. Daniel Nicholson
(23) 18. Lynden Dunn
(29) 19. Joel Macdonald
(25) 20. James Sellar
(21) 21. Matthew Bate
(22) 22. Aaron Davey
(24) 23. Luke Tapscott
(17) 24. Brad Green
(13) 25. Clint Bartram
(18) 26. Rohan Bail
(19) 27. Cale Morton
(26) 28. Jamie Bennell
(30) 29. Stefan Martin
(26) 30. Ricky Petterd
(32) 31. Jordan Gysberts
(31) 32. Liam Jurrah
(40) 33. Lucas Cook
(34) 34. James Strauss
(33) 35. Jack Fitzpatrick
(36) 36. Troy Davis
(35) 37. Tom Couch
(37) 38. Josh Tynan
(38) 39. Jake Spencer
(39) 40. Jai Sheahan
(42) 41. Neville Jetta
(44) 42. Leigh Williams
(45) 43. Max Gawn
(43) 44. Rory Taggert
(41) 45. Kelvin Lawrence
(46) 46. Michael Evans