Monday, 13 August 2018

Unsafe at any speed

20 years ago this round I went to the MCG full of a mixture of hope and dread to watch us play Sydney for a spot in the finals. Back then there was none of this Round 23 nonsense yet, so victory was a lot more decisive in making sure we didn't win 12 games and miss the eight. Tony Lockett's 100th goal didn't help them in the slightest, we won by a comfortable 31 points, somebody waved a stolen USED CARS banner behind the Ponsford Stand goal and a good time was had by all.

Even after reliving the greatest season of my supporting life in lurid detail just two months ago, the coincidence between that season and this year didn't strike me until I found out that Footscray had overturned a five goal deficit to rumble North. Now a win would all but make our return to September certain, and I foolishly allowed myself to dream for a few minutes. It helped that we were winning reasonably comfortably at the time, and that the Swans would be short two players for the last three quarters. Then one blatant deliberate in front of our goal went unpunished and a complete tits up scenario ensued. Now we're the '98 equivalent of Richmond, likely to win 12 and finish ninth after being pulverised in the last round.

As exclusively revealed on this page several weeks ago - when even Brock McLean's mate Blind Freddy could see how things were going to play out - anyone continuing to reference Richmond as perennial 9th place finishers after this season will be on the same level as cheese gag strugglers. The Tigers have done it twice, so have St Kilda, neither of them in consecutive years. One of these three teams has also won a flag, while the other two just plod along wasting licences the AFL could give to Greater Even Further Western Sydney and Gold Coast South.

For some reason there was incredible optimism about us winning, and as much as I appreciate people trying to be positive there was no reason to send us in as such warm favourites. The Swans may have inexplicably lost to Gold Coast, but throw a rock inside the eight and you'll hit somebody guilty of disgracing themselves at least once. Who were we to point fingers after letting St Kilda score 120 points? Especially against a team that keeps running finely tuned anonymous players off a production line year after year. Never having heard of half of them was no reason to get overconfident.

Just because I didn't expect to win in a canter doesn't mean that it's any less painful to have once again lost courtesy of a few minutes of madness that left us in a crater too deep to climb out of. It narrowly missed qualifying as a Stranglewank, but was very much in the same spirit. It's at this point that we ignore winning 12/20 games and start to ask serious questions about on-field leadership. Jones' career should be celebrated but it's hard to argue against the number of times we've been buried in a landslide over the last few years. It's not just his fault, I'm assured that we're supposed to have leaders coming out the wazoo but the moment the bullets start flying everyone's legging it for safety instead of standing to fight.

If you expect a calming influence to flow from the top I'm not sure I've got anything for you. Viney is the obvious option, but he's been co-captain for almost as many debacles AND has a foot likely to fall off at any moment. What I'd like is for everyone else to step up around the captain(s) and lead without a title, which has been my frustration ever since we had about 10 players in the leadership group and were still run like the Marie Celeste. There's no J**d parachuting in to give Carlton fans a short break from their drab lives, we'll just have to do with what we've got. And if anyone suggests handing Oliver the poison chalice I'll knife them.

Who would honestly be a Melbourne fan? I've been demanding the club hold a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for years, and now the terms of reference should be extended to include the person(s) that convinced us to get involved in the first place. I can blame myself for living in Hawthorn in 1988 and refusing to follow the bandwagon, Murray Wrensted for not kicking that goal in the Elimination Final, the distant relatives who took me to my first game, or indeed the great Allen Jakovich for sealing my fate in 1991.

Speaking of Jako, it was a significant week for those of us who still worship his existence. He'd already come out of the cold late last year for a podcast, but a surprise TV appearance was another welcome step in his reintegration to society. Next step is to hire him as our forward line coach, he might have had a ping at goal from any opportunity but at least they were from scoring range and not hopeful 90 metre roosts to be picked off by any number of opposition defenders. I'm almost as upset at doing badly in front of him as I am about the performance in general. May he return again soon and deservedly be treated like a deity. During the week somebody Twitter searched his name and favourited about 50 different times where I'd mentioned his name since 2009. In my sickest, darkest fantasies I hoped it was actually him and he knows what he means to me. Anyway, enough of being creepy towards celebrities and back to this tremendous cock up...

I should have known the day would end in misery when I woke up feeling like I'd had a dodgy curry. There have been enough game days like that over the last 10 years like that to know it's was pure sporting anxiety and not microbes. There was a time when I thought they might relocate the club to New Caledonia at any minute and felt like this almost every week, now it's because we're on the verge of narrowly missing the eight again. As an added bonus I also found the skin on one of my knuckles mysterious grazed off overnight. It's possible that I was so stressed about this game that I sleep punched something 12 hours before the game even started. There was no further punching to be had, but as we botched a last desperate thrust forward I did tear my hat off and bash the seat in front of me with it like Boss Hogg from Dukes of Hazzard.

It's a filthy secret that I haven't sat in Row MM since clubbing the window after Maximum's miss in Round 1. Even worse, the last time I was in the cherished back row of the Ponsford was the infamous first quarter of Round 23, 2017. I don't believe in omens, superstitions or gods of any persuasion but the stress of the run-in sent me a bit loopy and I headed up there in the hope that a win would wash away all the bad vibes from that end of season debacle. Just like that day I didn't last the full game there, throwing a wobbly midway through and relocating to another stand in the forlorn hope that it would provoke a famous come from behind victory. Nope.

Considering we spent the first few minutes on the back foot with the Swans constantly attacking the forward 50 the opening quarter turned out pretty well. I think we were all scared to death of Franklin, but even though he ended up having seven shots he was pretty well held. Frost did exactly what was required, pushing him up the ground and making him take most of his shots from a mile out.

That Franklin (now holder of a proud 15-0 record against us) is one of the few players in the league who can convert from that distance was irrelevant. There was one great moment where Frost beat him one-on-one and took off through the middle of the ground that would be talked about for hours if done by a flavour of the month player on a popular team. To prove he could deliver antics anywhere on the ground, there was also a moment in the heat of the last quarter where he marked just outside 50 and went on an insane run, right through a nest of Swans players and barely escaped without being pinged holding the ball. He's bonkers and I love him.

While our defenders were busy forcing Sydney's best forward to travel hither and yon for goalscoring opportunities, their teammates contributed by thumping the ball into the attacking 50 like an out of control fire hose. Who didn't see Aliir Aliir's hot form for intercepting everything that came near him becoming a factor? I know absolutely nothing about tactics but could see that the interface of quick, athletic, marking player vs "just kick it" wasn't going to end well for us. It feels rude to criticise our forward structures when we're the highest scoring team in the league, but feeding on rubbish sides only to give up scores against anyone half decent and just missing the finals is all a bit 2011 before general turmoil blew the doors off. Now we don't even have an off field feud to blame, we're just hanging around the lower reaches of the eight in the hope that something will snap and everything will mysteriously come together just in time.

We tried to make Aliir accountable by putting vandenBerg on him, which seemed odd considering AVB has never jumped more than a couple of feet off the ground, but every once in a while the Sydney man would take a break from chopping off our attacks to fresh-air a contest and gift us a goal. After six behinds to start we had to earn our first goal through Petracca, before Aliir midjudged a leap and gifted vandenBerg the goal everyone had been dying for last week. I guess like Frost you have to take the good with the bad, because he also got in the way of about a dozen other aimless attacks that may have otherwise bounced off into the hands of a waiting forward.

Despite a shaky start, the two late goals set up an 11 point lead. That was more than enough for us to throw away, but a decent foundation to work with. The emotional part of me says it's better than coming from five goals down at quarter time, the rational says at least that provides three quarters to mount the comeback instead of having to compact it all into a frantic 30 minutes of unbridled enthusiasm and uncontrolled execution.

To outsiders untrained in the ways of Melbourne, the task looked even easier when Sydney emerged from quarter time two players down. Poor old Alex Johnson came back from five knee reconstructions then did the other one, and an All-Australian defender was DQed with a Garry Lyon-esque back/hamstring combo. But again, if you've been paying even the slightest attention to us over the years you know that no team is worse at taking advantage of the misfortune of others. They would later be forced to keep injured players on due to a lack of fit players and we still couldn't win. That's Demontainment.

For now though everything was coming up Melbourne. After two misses Hogan's even longer and sillier than usual run-up finally yielded a goal and we were three straight in front with eight more scoring shots. In one of the most ill timed interjections ever, this bloke turned up with some helpful advice just before the afternoon started to go horribly wrong:
Outsiders lecturing us about having faith is a bit rich. Shane, like David King after the famous "lie back and think of September" article from last year, could I please introduce you to the Melbourne Football Club. His helpful pep talk at 3.50pm AEST was rendered completely bloody useless within 30 minutes as the Swans knocked through six straight before half time to not only overtake us but set up a very handy lead. For one it looked like pissing rain was on the way, and secondly they were going to need a buffer for the last quarter when the lack of rotations hit. The rain never seriously came, but their collapse did after we'd kindly provided just enough buffer to make sure they were never seriously threatened.

I'm very happy that we can run up huge scores by modern standards against pish teams, shame about the top half of the comp. Or when we arseholed ourselves against the Saints. It's not the first year in recent memory where everything looks ok until the opposition get the ball. If nothing else, unlike the Collingwood debacle, we showed up for the first quarter before pissing off. But when we left it was at warp speed.

This time, unlike Round 23, there were a reasonable number of tackles laid. Mind you, that number was propped up by the likes of Oliver having 12 while three of his teammates failed to hit one and another three chimed in with just one each. It's not unprecedented, we had three with zero and four with one against the Dogs, but that did include a quarter where the other side barely touched the ball. I don't know if it's relevant, especially when the Swans reduced our opportunities to tackle by spending most of the game daintily chipping the ball around amongst themselves. It's probably got more to do with us firing off our load like a horny teenager in the backseat of a car whenever we got near goal.

At the other end the Swans kicked six without a miss, the seemingly cooked Charlie Spargo failed to make the distance from 40 metres, and Sizzle McDonald's goalkicking was suffering full strangulation from the media curse. It was another huge week for that much loved cliche, with Anal-Bullet responding to an article that painted him as the nicest man alive by playing a shocker, and Oliver only narrowly avoiding being squeezed to death by a double page Herald Sun spread. We can't be far from a full colour special celebrating Harmes' great second half to the season, I suggest the media manager turns his phone off for the next two weeks.

Even playing in perfectly calm conditions this week attacking from distance was not our go, but as the opposition were of slightly higher standard than the Gold Coast Suns we weren't allowed to walk 15 goals in from the square. Garlett was completely neutralised until the last quarter, and most of our points were from speculative long bombs or horribly mangled set shots. 3.12 was a putrid half time score considering how often we'd been inside 50 - and because we missed three opportunities in the last five minutes to get the margin back under 10. Look how much good that late goal in the first quarter against the Crows did us, but here we were just being wasteful and it cost us dearly.

Even after conceding our traditional violent burst of goals, 14 points at the break wasn't a death sentence. One thing you can say for this often rudderless outfit is that they're usually good for a few minutes of breathtaking football. Preferably one where the opposition never touch the ball, especially an opposition capable of kicking with surgical precision. Instead we conceded the first goal within two minutes, three of the first four and I was left trying to work out how to climb up one of the light towers.

Two in a row - including a much needed set shot for McDonald after about seven misses in a row across two weeks - recovered the half time margin. Given you could already see Sydney's midfielders waning I suspect all we needed to do was play out the last 10 minutes without going any further behind and we'd have steamrolled them. Instead we went back into our shell and let in the next two. The worst moment of the day was Sir Neville Jetta bringing a rampaging Franklin down in one of the most heroic/suicidal tackles of all time only for the ball to come straight back the other way for a goal. Way to pay tribute to the brave efforts of a teammate who is one concussion from retirement you pumpkins.

Pedersen drifted forward and got one back with a very strange finish, and it was going to leave less margin for error but I could just about have seen us overturning 22 points. Then we negotiated the last two minutes of the quarter like a drunk driver, needlessly conceded a goal and I went right off.

The only problem with Row MM life is that all sorts of dickheads get bored during half time and think it's a lark to clamber up to the most outrageous seat in the house. The whole point of going there to start with is so I can misbehave in peace without either a) ruining other people's day or b) having to be self-conscious about going off-chops. The visitors usually get oxygen deprived and rack off about five minutes into the third quarter, but this time I found myself surrounded by adults and kids alike. When Papley's late goal went in they got the full tantrum experience, an unhinged Kardinia Park style rant about how I hate going for this team before clambering over the seats in front of me and storming down the stairs, still carrying on like a wanker until I was well back into the single letter rows.

By the time I got to the bottom of the stairs and temporarily parked myself in the same standing area where I'd mounted the rail in celebration at the sealer against Brisbane last year, Sydney were about to launch another attack and the people in that area enjoyed a burst of my emotions as well. The only thing that saved us when we were ripe for the knockout blow was the Swans helpfully refusing to go forward in the dying seconds, even when the clock got to the stage where the only possible result was them scoring.

My antics were embarrassing enough, imagine how bad it might have got if I'd gone in thinking we'd win. The problem was (as ever) having victory dangled tantalisingly in front of me - in the most important game of the year - three minutes into the second quarter only for it to be snatched away without the merest resistance offered. The 2019 membership slogan should be "if you've got a back, we've got a knife".

Even against a rapidly fading team a 28 point lead was too much for us to overcome. We couldn't play a Gold Coast style trainwreck every week. And neither could Sydney. We'd had a few winners, but were not playing like a team likely to run over the top of anybody holding that sort of advantage. Maybe if they seas hadn't parted to gift them that last goal, but not with a lead of nearly 30 points. The only Sydney players who never looked tired were their defenders, who let three goals in via sheer weight of numbers but had more than enough in the tank to stop us completely breaking through their line.

On the other hand we had players who looked crocked even with a full set of rotations. I'll be buggered if Hogan is fit, and the line about Gawn "pulling up sore" after Gold Coast had hair all over it. His game on Sunday was nothing more than The Spencil could have put on, he did a couple of ripping hitouts but never looked like randomly popping up forward or back to do damage. The all eggs in one basket scenario worked a treat for a while but in retrospect maybe we should have risked a fiasco and given him the week off against the Suns? If you believe he wasn't already struggling you'll buy anything - including a jumper commemorating our record breaking double 9th place finish.

The Swans were so dominant at keepings off that they could have won first possession then just chipped it amongst themselves for the next 25 minutes while our players trailed sadly behind. We did our best to assist this by not starting Oliver on the ball at the first bounce. It's like we were trying to conserve energy for a one final heave against a side who were already out on their feet. The Hamburglar later tried to do a Franklin style dummy/run around the man on the mark and fell over, which said everything you needed to know about the way we finished the game trying to play at 110% speed when it wasn't required.

Then there was two players tracking a needlessly high ball into the corridor and neither of them marking it. I'd love to hear more from the people who got sooky during the week about me giving no respect to our chances of finishing top four. We're still nothing more than a fringe finals side liable to be torpedoed by any side with an ounce of heart. There's only one profession who spend more time on their back than us, and at least they get to work inside.

When Garlett turned up for his first kick of the day five minutes into the last quarter it was back to 18 points, but he missed a wild snap straight after, Brayshaw flubbed a set shot and it took 12 minutes for McDonald to get the next goal. Time was running out to kick three, but we might have been able to do two, and Jones recovered from the worst game I can remember him having in years to kick a vital goal that left us right in the mix.

The Swans were out cold everywhere but where it mattered, and now that we were one goal from putting them under real pressure I hope the crunts sitting around me at the end of the third quarter understood why that last goal caused me to do my block. I went off because I could see through time, we were going to mount a comeback and just fall short. Without that cheap goal I'm sure we'd have at least got it to less than six points and given ourselves a fighting chance instead of relying on absolutely everything to go in our favour for half an hour straight.

It goes without saying now, but the delivery into the forward line was the stuff of nightmares. I couldn't be any more pro-Pedersen if he was my dad, but what about when he set up mark of the year for Isaac Heeney via the worst possible kick towards Hogan in the pocket? Whatever Heeney wins  he should give Pedersen half. I couldn't give a rats who wins these frivolous awards, but encourage you vote for either of the other nominees so we don't have to be constantly see replays that remind us of the last quarter of this game.

After that we didn't score again, and even with the petrol tank flashing empty they were the ones who missed two opportunities to seal the game. There nothing like going down fighting and this was nothing like going down fighting.

It was another day where a burst of goals by a good team killed us. 14-2 combined against Geelong, 6-1 against Port and 7-0 here - and that's just the close losses. I can also offer you nine in a row against Hawthorn, 6-1 against Richmond, 5-1 vs Collingwood and the death by a thousand cuts insanity of the St Kilda game.  ⛷ Opposition fans, don't be the wanker who does 'funnies' about our supporters going to the snow. Say it about our downhill skiing squad instead. ⛷
And so, for the third year in a row I sat in the back row of the same stand and watched a season disappear before our eyes. In 2016 the Mighty Ducks Finish was a pipedream even before we ruined it against Carlton, then last year we had the backup scenario of the Eagles/Adelaide game the next day (fat lot of good that did), now there is at least one more shot at glory at the MCG but for all intents and purposes I'm writing this season off. Finishing with 10+ wins three years in a row is not to be sniffed at, but I can't wait any longer because the anticipation is killing me.

Let none of this Melbourne misery detract from Sydney's ballsy last quarter. This was not us barely avoiding drowning against the Crows, this was a classic battle of a gutsy, winning culture against a team that doesn't get it yet. I live in absolute, ball-tearing fear that they never will but am ready to be proven wrong.

2018 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
5 - Angus Brayshaw
4 - James Harmes
3 - Christian Salem
2 - Sam Frost
1 - Clayton Oliver

Apologies to vandenBerg, T. McDonald, O. McDonald and Tyson.

Oliver narrowly extends the gap at the top, but more importantly without Gawn registering a vote and Melbourne likely not registering a final the man who made Mooroopna famous is now almost certain to win back-to-back Jakos. The only previous multiple winner is Nathan Jones (x5), and his 2012-2014 threepeat represents the only time anybody's won it in consecutive years. Maximum battled hard, but as he's likely to find out on Brownlow night midfielders = medals.

Fritsch is also home in the Hilton. For the sake of probity we have to keep referring to him as a provisional winner in case Spargo logs four BOGs and a Norm Smith Medal from here but it's over. The Seecamp remains very much alive, but another good performance by Salem has cleared the malfunction at the junction from last week and left him as outright leader. Watch this space - I dare say our defence is going to get a severe workout the next two weeks so any of the chasing pack could deliver heroics and get back in the mix. Or the entire unit could fold like umbrellas and concede 23 goals, it's been that sort of year.

54 - Clayton Oliver (PROVISIONAL WINNER: Allen Jakovich Medal for Player of the Year)
--- No hope without at least one final ---
42 - Max Gawn (WINNER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
--- At least three finals needed ---
29 - Jesse Hogan
--- Officially done for ---
23 - Angus Brayshaw
18 - James Harmes
17 - Tom McDonald
16 - Bayley Fritsch (PROVISIONAL WINNER: Jeff Hilton Rising Star Medal)
14 - Nathan Jones
11 - Jake Melksham
9 - Christian Petracca, Christian Salem (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
8 - Jack Viney
6 - Neville Jetta, Jordan Lewis, Alex Neal-Bullen
5 - Jeff Garlett, Mitch Hannan
4 - Michael Hibberd, Oscar McDonald
3 - Dean Kent, Jake Lever, Dom Tyson
2 - Sam Frost
1 - Cameron Pedersen, Joel Smith

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year
Could nearly cancel this and put on the Earl Spalding Point of the Year instead, but in keeping with the general farceshambles nature of the afternoon I'm going to give the weekly prize to a man who probably doesn't even know how he kicked the goal. God only knows how Pedersen's kick evaded a defender to go through, but it was a timely intervention just as we were staring at death for the second time.

Cameron wins one of those puffy jackets to wear when he's back playing in sub-zero Casey Fields temperatures in a few weeks. He didn't do much today but should also win a new contract as a vital depth player. I unashamedly love him and would much rather give him another go than half the peanuts we employ.

Sydney put in a strong effort, with no questions asked the best kerning I've seen on an opposition banner ever. Good kerning was important, because they also tried to force in about 3500 words and rhyme "MCG" with "#proudlysydney". Nevertheless, had they not been up against our good cause charity banner I could almost have given them the points. But I won't. Dees 20-0 for the year

Crowd Watch (incorporating Matchday Experience Watch)
At one point in the third quarter I looked heavenwards in exasperation and saw this. Which was great, because then I expected a Huntsman to suddenly drop down the back of my neck and further improve the quality of my afternoon.
Even on closer inspection I'm not 100% sure of what the substance is, but if it stayed in place long enough for a spider to build a web it must be sticky. And you thought the only unsavoury things about Row MM were the language and the bird shit coated seats.

As for matchday experience (the sort that isn't just the team stabbing you in the back repeatedly), I've got no idea the Demon Dash returned, I was too busy shifting from the Ponsford to the Olympic via the Cluedo passageway in order to make a quick full time exit. The day was going so well that I'd forgotten I needed to go back towards the city, and this in fact made my trip home longer.
Media Watch (incorporating Coaching Corner)
Listening to Triple M is usually only good if you want to hear Cold Chisel, but I encourage you to tune into any game of ours featuring Paul Roos for his underground assassinations of Goodwin's coaching. It's all fairly polite, but there's a brutal undertone where you can tell he just wants to kick the door of the box down and take charge. Fancy that, somebody actually providing analysis in a call instead of screaming like an escaped mental patient. This time he was brutal about the extra man off the back of the square leaving us understrength in attack and Lewis as the spare man in defence. He also continued his love affair with Sam Frost but crucially hushed up on his usual praise for Garlett when he was doing two thirds of fark all.

It's a bit hollow considering he hired the bloke in the first place, but enjoyable nonetheless. Personally I'm conflicted, one on hand it does seem like we're squandering our best list since 2002 but on the other what are you going to do - get rid of him and roll in some random to start again? You're not getting Clarkson, so what's the point of somebody else who doesn't come with the two years of experience in the job? He deserves scrutiny but that's as good as it's going to get. I suspect there's a pre-flag Richmond style assistant coach massacre on the cards, hopefully to get somebody with experience in to tune up what has been a very wonky band.

Next Week
Here's a good news story for you, if by Sunday afternoon Sydney and Port have won by any margin and Geelong have thrashed Freo to the bejesus belt we will need to win for the GWS game to even come into the equation. That's how important keeping the Swans down was and we've blown it. Now the top four run that was never there in the first place is gone and we'll probably have to beat the Eagles away to stay alive.

It's been done before (though admittedly only once in about 20 years), and they are without three of their best players but compare their fighting win over a crippled Port to us playing like cripples yesterday and I think you know where this is headed. They could end up being the least deserving top two side ever unless we do something about it here. I'm not completely ruling it out, but there would want to be a widespread heart transplant program on offer this week at AAMI Park for us to stand any chance.

My first instinct is to sack everyone, but as we've so often found this season the stocks at Casey are thinning rapidly. If Hogan's whatever doesn't come up then Tim Smith or Weideman can have a go instead (although I'd rather Pedersen if we're being honest), but now Hunt is injured too we're shit out of luck in defence if Hibberd doesn't come up. Then there's Melksham, who is crucial but is now into his second week of 'minor' hamstring trouble. What did I say a couple of years ago about Essendon's drugs taking hold at just the wrong time and taking them out together? I'll assume he'll play, because if he doesn't we'll know they were just bullshitting about it being 'minor'.

The good news for Casey is that we might be ransacking their squad for players now, but that they should get plenty of VFL standard players back for the finals. Spargo can probably do with a week rest, but let's do our best to help JFK win the Liston Medal.

IN: Kent, Melksham, Hibberd
OUT: Hunt (inj/omit as required), Kennedy-Harris (omit), Spargo (omit)
LUCKY: Garlett, Neal-Bullen, Pedersen
UNLUCKY: Anyone fit who isn't in the side already

The All New Bradbury Plan

After we did our bit last week and barely anyone else joined in, this was a great week for other teams falling over in front of us. Then, instead of a graceful leap over their carcasses we stacked right into the pack. So for what it's worth this is your how to vote card for Round 22.

Richmond d. Essendon (this is crucial in the Port collapse theory, we don't want that game to come down to the winner being able to jump us)
Collingwood d. Port (it's like when America starts a war, you just have to swallow your pride and join in even if you know they're wrong)
Freo d. Geelong (more chance of Oscar McDonald kicking 14)
GWS d. Sydney (crucial in keeping the Swans warm for a last round run-down)
St Kilda d. Hawthorn
Adelaide d. North (crucial to entirely kill off the Roos).

Realistically the race is down to (in order of likelihood) Geelong, Port and Sydney making it and us and North being the clowns who win 12 and miss out. I've got us ninth if we lose the next two, but very much still in the mix (albeit not at all safe) by winning one. As long as Adelaide do the business on North next week at least we'll go into the last game knowing our fate is entirely in our own hands. Unless Port beat Collingwood, Sydney beat GWS + Hawthorn and Geelong have put on 30% slaughtering flotsam and jetsam in the last two weeks - then we can do as we please against the Giants in front of 2000 people and it will mean FUCK ALL.

Was it worth it?
Certainly not, and I wasn't at all happy leaving the house to go and see it. I should have listened to the wisdom of my daughter, who has proven to have the tipping acumen of the alligator that picks World Cup winners. Every week since Queen's Birthday I've asked her on game day "are we going to win?" and she's delivered the correct answer 100% of the time. If she says no next Sunday I might ditch the game, buy bulk weedkiller, play Ride of the Valkyries at full volume and destroy my garden instead.

Final Thoughts
We're 0-7 this year against the current top nine, so the next two weeks should complete the most unwanted set since the year we failed to win a single home game. What a farce, even in 2014 when we spent 22 weeks making scoring look more complicated than open heart surgery we knocked off 7th and 8th. Now we might be left relying on the Ultimate Bradbury where Port and North go to bits and let us in with 12 wins. I won't turn it down, but that's no way to break a drought.

It was an additional insult to exit the ground at the same time as Melbourne Storm fans. We rorted the salary cap and got a couple of token finals, they've built the sort of unbreakable culture that we can only dream of. In sport, like all aspects of life, there is the winning class and the rest. We are the rest. I was insane not to set up a self-managed super fund and invest the lot on us to miss the finals at 9-1. With that sort of payout I'd have entered September without a care in the world, instead of hate-watching finals while hurling off-colour abuse at my TV.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Standard "this post is delayed" notification

It's five hours before the game and I already know that scheduling conflicts will keep me from posting until Monday night. If you are reading this after 1800hrs Sunday I'm either uproariously happy or am on the platform at Jolimont Station trying to make contact with overhead wires.

Keep an eye on Twitter or Facebook for a link. In the meantime send any thoughts on the game via the usual channels and I'll incorporate/shamelessly steal them.

Cheerio and Go Dees.

Monday, 6 August 2018

The maim event

Now we've won by 96 points it's ok to admit that I didn't think there was any way we could lose to Gold Coast. I held appropriate respect for our history of doing insane things as favourites, but if we lost to the lowest scoring team in the competition, coming off a loss to Carlton, and with their two best key defenders out you may as well have called the liquidators in.

Instead, the secret concern was of a struggle to an unnecessarily difficult victory that actually hurt our percentage. When I turned up to find a strong wind blowing across the ground my fears seemed somewhat justified, were we going to spend the afternoon blowing opportunities left, right and centre on the way to an unsatisfying five goal victory? In the conditions set shots were not our friend, fortunately we also walked about 10 goals in from the square and had several others from within 30 metres. The tricky breeze also allows us to be delusional and claim that in calm conditions there would have been a 186 style landslide.

For at least the first quarter the spirit of annihilation was alive and well. Yesterday we were three points better off at the change than that oft referenced day at Kardinia Park, sadly failing to match Geelong's 12.1 to 1.1 second quarter. A league record might have been off the agenda, but when the margin extended to 75 a few minutes later I could see the all-time club record 141 point victory in the distance. It turned out to be a mirage, but at the same time it's nice to know that early in a match that there is no possible way to lose. It was such a slashing start that by the end people were legitimately angry that we didn't go deep into triple figures, and what a marvellous position that is to be in.

If you thought you'd seen this game before you were right. In 2011 we beat the newborn Suns and their gak happy rugby leaguist by what was perceived (by me anyway, and history showed I was right) to be an unconvincing 90 points, while a year later we dumped 6.6 to 0.2 on them in the first quarter at the MCG. Even adjusted for the disgraceful state we were in by Round 19, 2012 that game was probably the most frustrating of Neeld's rare wins. In the last appearance of both Gysberts and Morton we kicked the first goal of the second quarter then barely won the rest of the game. The title of that week's post was right, "You take it where you can get it", but we should have gone on to do terrible, morale boosting things to them. Seven seasons later neither side has played a final, but at least now we seem to the ones heading in the right direction while they're a rudderless shambles.

Just because I thought we'd win doesn't mean there wasn't a brief heart/mouth interface when Peter Wright - their only tall forward - easily marked within range in the opening minutes. Fortunately for us, Two Metre Peter was reduced to Two Minute Peter when he did his ankle in the marking contest, didn't make the distance with his kick from 40 metres and left never to be seen again. Shortly after the switch was flicked from 'contest' to 'procession' and we proceeded to rain fire down upon them in nearly unprecedented fashion. A 57 point quarter time lead was our equal fourth best ever, and eclipsed a 56 against 1990 Sydney as the greatest of my supporting life.

After that early scare the Suns provided such scant resistance that our players often became over-excited at the ridiculous variety of options available to them and failed to take proper advantage. See for instance an early Bayley Fritsch handball where he tried to loop it 30 metres because he could already see it unlocking the door and letting a teammate stroll into an open goal. That didn't work, but plenty of others did as the wind was removed from the equation by a truckload of close range kicks and tap-ins from the square.

We've suffered enough over the years that I'm happy to take vengeance on anyone, but as much as enjoyed it there was also something sad about watching a lifeless team that had absolutely no idea what they were doing being beaten to a pulp. Nothing to do with feeling sorry for the Suns, it just reminded me of some of the gash that we used to sit through. And this was the end they'd chosen to kick to after winning the toss. Without their only key forward it was hard for our defenders not to look good, and for the first quarter none of them put a foot wrong. Against degraded opposition it was hard not to enjoy Sam Frost running around like a lunatic, but Salem was the main event in calmly dismantling a series of attacks and getting forward for a goal himself. Later in the day there were some moments that made you nervous about what was to come, but you can only beat the opponent put in front of you. Or in this case you can spend the last three quarters trying to create drama because the other side is offering nothing.

The 'no porking' sign came down after five minutes when three Suns defenders (or at least players masquerading as) all went to a contest against Gawn only for the ball to fall over the back for an unguarded Jones to stuff home from close range. A despairing lunge by one of the hapless McDonalds uniform wearing backmen just failed to reach him. As far as defensive pressure went that was it for the visitors until about 15 minutes into the second quarter. The second came from Oliver walking through a pack like it consisted of wacky waving inflatable arm tube men, then Tyson kicked off his best game all year with a perfect handball to set up Salem's long bomb.

Barely 10 minutes since I'd fretted about the greatest fiasco in sporting history it was now clear that the only way Gold Coast could escape this afternoon with any dignity would be to phone through a bomb threat. To honour the surprise return of John Blackman as ground announcer they should have asked a panel of celebrity judges to rate how the Suns were going:

Ironically, amidst the wanton carnage Tom McDonald had his worst ever game as a forward. When the second goal was followed by a hefty Gawn torp out of the middle that tumbled straight into his arms, the much sought after Sizzle Slaughter was very much on the agenda. He stabbed at that shot, missed a snap from a slight angle in the second and poked unconvincingly after another strong mark in the third. Can we hush up about his accuracy from set shots now? Ever since people noticed and it started being highlighted whenever he got the ball he's dropped from a 90% prospect anywhere in the forward line to only slightly better than 50/50.

McDonald's travails were only a minor irritation, things were going so badly for the Suns that even after they kicked an arsey snap to ruin our hopes of a scoreless quarter Neal-Bullen got the reply straight out of the middle. The Bullet's performance was sponsored by the Curate's Egg, half of it very good and half of it rancid. By the fifth goal things were starting to get violent - though we weren't to know how serious yet - and we delivered the sort of ball movement that would have made the AFL spectacle police slide off their seats. It helps when one team consists of people both dressed and playing like traffic cones, but even then only the most pragmatic, hard-hearted bastard could fail to enjoy Petracca ripping a long kick from half back, which found Oliver at half forward, who wheeled around and hit one of the best passes you'll ever want to see onto Charlie Spargo running into the square.

You could see the life force ebbing out of the Suns players when even Petracca converted a set shot, and barely a minute later Truck was back in the play setting up Spargo's second. It was another day where Charlie looked good early before drifting out, but I have faith that when he matures and learns to play four quarters he'll be very handy. It was hard for anyone not to look dangerous in the midst of this terrifying rampage, and two more in the last few minutes stretched the score to a barmy 57-6. To prove that all the luck was flowing in our favour the last came after Anal-Bullet fumbled at ground level and his opponent still carried through with a two handed shove to his back.

Against the run of play we failed to add another in the remaining 49 seconds, having to be content with our second biggest quarter time lead in history. History backed up the feeling that we were as safe as houses, second only in absolute surety of victory behind an 11 goal to nil rampage against North Melbourne in 1972. If you're sad that we didn't carry on to a monumental victory please consider that even on that day a 71 point quarter time lead 'only' translated to a 108 point final margin. Unless it's at the highest end of the MFC victimisation scale that's usually how massacres go, it's hard to maintain the rage all day. Remember when Gold Coast was 93 points down at quarter time against Essendon and 'only' lost by 139? Then 13 weeks later we were the ones nearly making record breaking arseholes of ourselves in Geelong. Work that out.

To their belated credit Gold Coast managed to clog the game up for the first few minutes of the second quarter, not looking remotely like scoring themselves but also putting the brakes on us for a while. The crowd never got the vandenBerg goal they were gagging for, but he did set up Harmes' first and the resumption of the towelling by standing strong against a wank-handed tackle in the forward pocket. Ultimate chaos was firmly on the agenda when Hogan beat some hapless bloke called Spencer (sadly not Jake) for a simple mark in front of goal, then Jones, Harmes and Brayshaw added more. In the middle of this Gold Coast kicked one and like letting a kid take a set of table tennis off you out of pity nobody was really that concerned.

When Gus shoved off some bloke having a horrible day to mark in the square the margin reached 75 and we'd reached peak bloodbath. Regrettably we failed to add another in the last six minutes, remaining marooned on a reasonably impressive 14.6.90 at the break. A lucky goal to Kingsley nominee Alex Sexton at the end cut the margin to just under 11 goals, and once we've won a flag I might go back and re-watch Round 19, 2011 to understand how a team could ever be 50 points worse off at half time than the Suns were yesterday.

It sounds ungrateful to say, but it looked like the third quarter saw cue introduced to rack. We only won it by two goals to one, carrying on with some of the overly cavalier play that cost opportunities before half time. I'm not going to hold it against them, this was the last opportunity for fun before things get ridiculously serious and probably end in bitter recriminations so why not enjoy playing with total freedom while you still can.

There wasn't much to get excited about in the third, other than a Sam Frost shambleskick in defence inadvertently setting up a goal. Fortunately for him, after leaving a divot that the MCG ground staff will have a prick of a time getting out, Lewis was clobbered high trying to recover and launched an attack that ended in glory. His 15m kick fell short of Fritsch, who then forced Angus Brayshaw to run back with the flight of the ball into the middle of the ground in a moment that must have given his poor mum a heart attack. Then 90 minutes later her other son suffered a broken jaw after being punched in the head. After all the issues with Gus she may want to scour the internet for bulk Valium discounts.

Two goals to one for the term was nothing by the standards of the first term, but at least we were pulling away instead of putting our feet up and letting them recover a more respectable margin. With an eye to Round 23 it was hard not to compare with GWS' mutilation of Carlton across town, the difference was they might only have won by nine points more but due to an injury plague were occasionally getting around during the last quarter with two players less. And still kicked seven goals to one. Just a reminder that no matter how bad Carlton fans pretend they have it, that they're still six percentage points better off than we were in 2013. I feel bad that they haven't been able to release tension with a mid-season coach sacking, but until they can slice off that extra 6% I'm not listening to a word of their misery. Never mind Blues fans, look at us for inspiration - you too could be narrowly missing the eight three seasons in a row in a few years.

With fans becoming legitimately agitated that we weren't ruthlessly tearing them apart, we at least won the last quarter comfortably. It didn't start well, considering they've scored zero or one point in a quarter FOUR times this year by Christ (and have had four other quarters with 0-2 points), we sportingly gifted them a goal to begin the last term. A hopeful roost into the forward line evaded Oscar McDonald, took a bugger of a bounce and landed with Sexton for his fifth of six Gold Coast goals. It was a real feelgood charity job, and the Kingsley Kommittee were thrown into disarray as they debated whether a player could be inducted in a game we won by nearly 100 points. Yes apparently, and we welcome him to the Hall of Kingsley as the second Suns player inducted after Jarrad Grant.

Of course I wish we'd been a bit more sadistic in the last, but you couldn't fail to be entertained by moments like Hogan marking a dainty ANB chip into the square that any number of opposition players had all the time in the world to clear. On replay you can see his hapless opponent Not Jake Spencer wishing his manager had been one of those telling their players not to go to the Gold Coast.

Chin up son, at least when you go back to Queensland nobody will give a shit.

As the margin once again threatened the ton, the only bad news was Joel Smith being crippled in a tackle. It was unfortunate timing for him just as he'd had found a regular spot and started to win fans, but when you consider all our other injuries in defence it could prove satanic. If nothing else we were treated to the unique scene of him walking off under his own steam while using his remaining good arm to huff on the pain relief whistle. Those things should have been handed out at the 'G when we were the ones losing by 90 every second week. There's still three weeks to order in a crate of the 'finals heartache' cyanide flavoured ones.

The margin temporarily hit the magic mark courtesy of Garlett's second, third, fourth and fifth efforts in a contest, then another Petracca set shot. No more goals were forthcoming, and the cheap one down the other end that I'd feared so desperately in the Carlton game cut our advantage back to 94. If we hadn't already broken through for a 100 point win earlier in the season I might have been sour about not following through, but now that spell has been broken we were free to be satisfied with any old rampant victory.

Fritsch had one last chance to breach the popular three digit psychological barrier after the siren, but consistent with almost all our other set shots beyond 30 metres he missed. No harm done for anyone other than greedy milestone collectors like me. The actual result was very good, providing some much needed insurance against Geelong's piss easy finish of 120 point home wins against Freo and the Suns.

Does any of it translate to games against good teams? Based on what I saw yesterday no, but it's hard to accurately gauge anything against an opposition more unmanned than undermanned. 3.20pm next Sunday is everyone's time to go, and over the next three weeks we'll discover whether our lot are the sort to tackle the gunman or hide under a table. You'd like to think that they've come a long way since clamming up in Round 23 last year, and are about to have three opportunities to prove that they deserve to be considered the next big thing.

After a series of thrillers on Saturday, some interpreted Sunday's trifecta of massacres as a great result for the AFL's rule change campaign. Can't see why, all three games still dragged the average game score for the season up and would have provided plenty of opportunities for Channel 7 to show sexist Ultratune ads. That theory also ignores the fact that any 'trial' is a complete swizz that will have no bearing on a monopoly doing whatever it wants. A 6-6-6 lineup would have certainly helped scoring today, it probably would have led to the Suns and Carlton being even more spectacularly dismembered. While we're tormenting lesser teams why not remove a few rotations too? GWS playing with 16 was probably by league directive to test that out.

Whatever happens next year, it's a good time to be an at worst mid-table mediocrity again. Hopefully by the time our period of relevance is over (except in the unlikely event of doing a Sydney and hanging around like an unflushable nugget) Gil and Steve Hocking have been forced to escape AFL House in a helicopter like the Fall of Saigon and we can get back to enjoying the game instead of being told how awful it is. Until then it's incumbent on us to take advantage of whatever insane ideas they come up with by regularly clobbering the terminally horrible.

2018 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
5 - Jesse Hogan
4 - Christian Salem
3 - Dom Tyson
2 - Angus Brayshaw
1 - Clayton Oliver

Mega apologies to Garlett and Harmes. High level apologies to Vince, Frost, Jones, Jetta, Petracca and Lewis.

The field has cleared out to the point where not only are Oliver and Gawn (but mainly Oliver) the likely winners, but Hogan's score involvement laden BOG only barely keeps him in range of a miracle comeback. The Hamburglar has done enough over the last couple of weeks to make a back-to-back win all but certain, and in a regulation no chance of finals season could clinch next week. We suggest Maximum realises that he needs finals to stand a chance and plays the game(s) of his life.

Meanwhile in the minors, Fritsch remains the only rookie with a vote on the board, but the real action is in the Seecamp where Salem has vaulted to a 1/3 share of the lead alongside Jetta and Lewis. With Hibberd and McDonald a further two votes back there is potential for the widest ranging tie in Demonblog award history.

53 - Clayton Oliver
42 - Max Gawn (WINNER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
--- No hope beyond here without at least three finals ---
29 - Jesse Hogan
--- Officially done for ---
17 - Tom McDonald
18 - Angus Brayshaw
16 - Bayley Fritsch (PROVISIONAL WINNER: Jeff Hilton Rising Star Medal)
14 - James Harmes, Nathan Jones
11 - Jake Melksham
9 - Christian Petracca
8 - Jack Viney
6 - Neville Jetta (JOINT LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Jordan Lewis (JOINT LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Alex Neal-Bullen, Christian Salem (JOINT LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
5 - Jeff Garlett, Mitch Hannan
4 - Michael Hibberd, Oscar McDonald
3 - Dean Kent, Jake Lever, Dom Tyson
1 - Cameron Pedersen, Joel Smith

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year
In lieu of any real stormers, I'll go for the team effort of Petracca, Oliver and Spargo in the first quarter. The 35-Year-Old Man finished it, and he should get credit for running to collect but on a day where his disposal was way more off than usual Oliver's kick was the real winner. Charlie will have to console himself with the clubhouse lead for the season after his goal in Geelong, and for the weekly prize he wins a lovely romantic dinner with the Melbourne FC players of his choice:

Given their minuscule constituency it feels rude to go into too much detail on Gold Coast's performance. All I will say is that there has never been a banner in the history of the game featuringa higher proportion of curtain. It forced the text into a couple of size 10 font lines at the top and made you feel like the Demon Army should actually take them under their wing as proteges because it was all a bit tragic.

Our banner looks to have risked the most amazing forfeit in history, only just holding together in the wind to win. How about the solid kerning at the top? To ram all that into one line and keep consistent letter size is the mark of true professionalism.
I'd have opted for "with very good reason" in the second line, but that's a minor quibble. Another knockout victory for the good guys. I lost count somewhere and already had us 19-0 for the year last week. That's what you get for going to a state school.

Matchday Experience Watch (incorporating Crowd Watch)
The role of MFC Promotions Manager is as much of a poison chalice as running the membership department circa 2013. First Hogan's Heroes was neutered because one contestant necked himself, now somebody's done a hammy running the Demon Dash. If one person out of 100 landing on their head was enough to take all the excitement out of our quarter time entertainment this latest injury should see the three quarter stuff rebranded The Demon Walk.

Otherwise undocumented moments like this are what I'm going to miss the most next year (and for god knows how many after). You can watch a game on delay without knowing the result, but you can never replace the thrill of seeing a random crash to the ground as if he'd been shot by a sniper. There are several months more for you the secret millionaire to give me a job that helps keep weekends free, otherwise somebody else is going to have to start cataloguing these small, otherwise insignificant moments of farce and/or shambles for the enjoyment of future generations. If you are ready to pay me a motza I'd like to get started in time for AFLW, but the way old Hamfisted Forever is running it I'll be able to chuck one sickie and see the entire season.

There were a surprising number of Gold Coast fans there. I reckon at least 50 in my section and another 50 behind the goals. If you extrapolate that across the ground there might have even been 500 there, and while it sounds like I'm taking the piss I'm actually impressed that they got that many. I've got no sympathy for anyone who changed clubs to watch them, but imagine if you were either a jilted Fitzroy fan willing to get back on after 15 years in the wilderness or were taking the game up for the first time in 2011 and chose to go for them. How upset would you be now watching GWS regularly contending (and we hope continuing to fail in September), knowing that if you'd held on for another year you could have gone for them instead? In the end it will be good for them to enjoy the struggle, especially safe in the knowledge that they could be down to the same 500 fans at home games and the AFL would still keep them afloat.

Next Week
The last time we played an eight point finals contention game it ended with fans kicking each other in the head, and next Sunday could reach a similar conclusion. If we win the door opens to any number of results working in our favour, if we lose it's either win in Perth or hope that more than one of the other challengers spontaneously combust.

We have every right to be scared of Lance (never Buddy) Franklin's return to form, but as odd as it sounds I'm confident in Frost's ability to take him on around the ground. I'm more concerned about feeding the reigning #1 intercept mark player in the competition Aliir Aliir Oxley-esque numbers. We'll start favourites, but not by much, and are still not confirmed finalists even if we win so it promises to be a madcap Sunday afternoon that will probably end in me clambering on top of a train and trying to grab the pantograph.

It's hard to make changes to a side that delivered such a violent beating, but we're not a charity and have to recognise that the challenge next week is about 99.9% more intense than the garbage served up by the Suns. Melksham is an obvious in, but now we're hearing his supposedly 'minor' hammy is actually only a 50/50 chance of coming off. This I do not like. Meanwhile in the absence of Smith, Hibberd would be handy but is at least a week away. As for Jack Viney I suspect his foot has been eaten by a flesh eating bacteria and they just haven't had the heart to tell us yet.

It's hard to take anything from Casey obliterating a rubbish Carlton side (who like the ones were 53-0 up at quarter time and 'only' won by 91), but if the Milkshake is unavailable I'm keen to understand where Dean Kent is at. He's the only emergency who didn't play for Casey so nothing to go on this week, but even though neither of them did much wrong I can't take Kennedy-Harris and vandenBerg in the same side when we need a playmaker. I don't even know what a 'playmaker' is, I just know Melksham is one and Kent somewhat reminds me of him. The original recipe would be preferred, but not at the expense of rushing him and missing out on the last two games.

Considering Smith is finished for the year, it was good timing for Pedersen to be in the bests but I'm scared of unleashing an emergency option in such a massive game. Instead I'm going for Hunt with the option of sending McSizzle back into defence if necessary. Although I'm not sure how keen I am on McDonald going back to his roots, there are still horrible memories of him trying to take a kick in against Collingwood last year and stuffing it right down the throat of a pre-useful Mason Cox. Could we bring in Pedersen as a defender then swap them if he gets eaten alive? That's just one of the many variables which will probably restrict me to about 10 hours sleep between now and next Sunday.

IN: Melksham (or Kent), Hunt
OUT: Kennedy-Harris (omit), Smith (inj)
LUCKY: vandenBerg (in a tight one vs JFK, because if McDonald goes forward AVB is more chance of playing a role inside 50)
UNLUCKY: Bugg (to be unlucky x2 when Gaff breaking somebody's jaw is deemed only as bad as him thumping a bloke who played the next week), Pedersen, Keilty.

The All New Bradbury Plan

We did our bit, nobody else other than the Adelaide Oval video reviewer joined in. Saturday was one of the wildest days for neutral games I can remember (because deep down who really cares when there's no impact on us?), with three different Plan friendly results teased then snatched away from us at the last minute. The worst of the lot was in Brisbane, where Cam Rayner took up the $cully Challenge for #1 picks working against our interests and missed a sitter with 30 seconds left that would have all but knocked North out.

Now my rolling Bradbury ladder has 5th to 8th all on 14-8 and you know who becoming the first team ever to miss on 13-9. If we beat GWS (and I suppose it could happen) that would bump us up to 5th on percentage and eliminate somebody on 14-8. This is the most insane run home in recorded history, a fact that seems to be ignored while we're concentrating on ramming rule changes up everyone's arse like a spectacle suppository.

At this point the categories are irrelevant, the straight how to vote card is where it's at. For Round 21 we suggest.

St Kilda d. Essendon (only relevant by the narrowest of margins)
Hawthorn vs Geelong is as close to a genuine 50/50 as anything. The obvious Bradbury selection would be to assassinate the lower placed Cats, but given they've got a piss easy run home and Hawthorn has to play Sydney in the last round I'm going to risk it all by going for Geelong. Amendment - Wednesday 08/08 I'm switching to Hawthorn
West Coast d. Port Adelaide (a few weeks ago I wasn't buying the Port collapse theory, now they're below us with the second toughest run-in. I have nothing against Watts but it would be funny if we made the eight and he didn't)
Brisbane d. Collingwood (not so bonkers, they did Hawthorn twice so why not go one step better than the last game against the Pies?)
Adelaide d. GWS (happy to wear the very slim chance of the Crows getting in ahead of us to keep the Giants in sight)
Footscray d. North (absolutely crucial result. Deeply unlikely that the Dogs win, but will either be massive for us as a potential knockout blow if we beat the Swans or a saver if we lose)

Looking forward there's not many realistic paths to us losing the last three and still making it other than Port doing likewise and finishing beneath us on percentage. All three of their games are live for the plan, and the other big hitters from Round 22 are GWS over Sydney (possibly not relevant if we lose next week) and Adelaide over North. That one in particular is crucial, let's hope they forget the whole Lever thing and us mocking them for kidnapping their players and do us a big fat favour. At the same time it's worth remembering after last year that nobody else is to be trusted and just keep winning.

P.S - I'm aware that some people are doing Top 4 plans, and I'd like them to know that in the 1500s they would have bound and thrown into a river to see if they floated.

Was it worth it?
Marginally less than it would have been if Fritsch converted after the siren, but let's celebrate it for the thumping win it was. It may turn out to be a Pyrrhic pounding, but for now all we can do is keep the faith and/or reopen our dormant betting accounts to have $50 on us to miss the eight at 9-1.

Final Thoughts
Step 1 in the journey of this side was not having every win feel like a grand slam.
Step 2 is thumping flotsam and still being a bit sour about not winning by more
Step 3 is to win massive games against fellow top eight contenders, and I know a good time to start.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Attempting reentry

In the blood frenzy of sacking Jack Watts, Simon Goodwin unwittingly contracted the role of scapegoat for everything. That's not so unusual for a coach, it's just that our last two either deserved it or followed somebody who deserved it. Whether he can coach a finals side or not is still up for debate, but he's been great for content. Earlier in the season we got two weeks out of a casual Wolf of Wall Street reference, and when he compared us to James Bond this week, Demonblog Towers went off like Air Crash Investigation hearing about a controlled flight into terrain.

In having to justify why he didn't have several players executed in the wake of the Geelong capitulation, the coach suggested that 007 might have been a gentleman but he was also a killer. I've been an advocate of Gentlemania in football ever since Jimmy Toumpas deliberately sought out his opponent for a handshake in his first pre-season game (mind you, look what happened to him), but not sure I followed his line of thinking. Bond was more of a well-dressed mad rooter than anything. He also got his best gimmicks from a kindly old man, which could mean a comeback for Neil Craig.

Given the deep psychological trauma inflicted on me by the result at Kardinia Park - and as much as I kept it inside after Sunday it slashed my soul - any old gimmick would do to lighten the mood. I hoped Sam Frost would win the game by sprinting towards a pack like an out of control circus animal, leaping over the pack to deliver a key spoil, then ripping a red and blue parachute before floating gently back to earth...

... instead he won a free kick, played on behind the umpire's back, ran about 35 metres at warp speed without being pulled up and turned it over. But who's worried about that now? Especially after a night where the Homebrand backline did a fantastic job of holding Adelaide's key forwards quiet, then built a fort and grimly defended the lead for the last 10 minutes. It must have been a lot easier in medieval times when you could just pour boiling oil on your enemies. Had we lost I may have quibbled with the free kick and goal in the last two minutes from Frost's optimistic attempt to run through their forward line, but we didn't so all clear.

If last week was Geelong doing their impression of classic era Bond narrowly escaping a laser up his jaffas, this was like the hard to watch Pierce Brosnan era where you just wanted them to get to the end quickly. There was some enjoyment had, for the third week in a row we put on an exhibition of the game in the third quarter that you could package up and send overseas to get people interested in the sport. It's just the other three that had us dangling above a shark tank by our fingertips, thankful to the Crows for not being capable of putting us away.

The first half pointed to bad things, we were led to expect a fiery reaction to the Geelong debacle, but as far as I could see we were so focused on the last 10 minutes that nobody remembered to turn up at the start. The increasingly tired looking Gawn tapped to Adelaide players, Harmes tagged Sloane and kicked like he'd broken his foot as well as his hand, and as usual three of our players ran to every ball-carrier and left half a dozen opponents free on the outside. We spent so much time camped in the Adelaide backline trying to keep them out that it was a minor miracle to be less than 10 points down at quarter time.

Our standard operating procedure is to go inside 50 dozens of times for no reward, which was off the table when we couldn't get the ball across half way, much less close enough to aimlessly boot it into attack. Adelaide in Alice was a rare occasion where we killed a team in the first quarter and they stayed dead, and that season best 7.1 blitzkrieg seemed like a lifetime ago here. That day we barely let them hold the ball long enough to put our tackling to the test, this time they were walking through jelly-handed efforts with contempt. One Crow in particular regularly tripped the light fantastic through half a dozen players like he was coated in oil. Like most things, this improved later, before the rain came and the contest was reduced to nothing but tackling and the Chinese water torture slow drip of Adelaide goals.

Then there were the crab-like attempts to mark, keeping us from getting any sort of rhythm going. It always seems silly to have gone off like a pork chop when you come back to win, but at this point I was ready to borrow Don Pyke's kidnap bus and drive the team as far away from Melbourne as possible. There didn't seem to be any way to lift the weight off us long enough to play our natural game. Somehow we still scored 90 despite spending the last term under siege. Thank god for third quarters, a few years ago we came back after half time playing like the team talk had been given by a mime and now it's our best quarter. Since Round 6 we've kicked five goals in a third term nine times, with a couple of fours as well. The second half defence is not so good, but one issue per season please.

If Adelaide's early dominance had continued I'd have bitterly pointed to the incident which gifted them their first. Bayley Fritsch blundered by picking up a ball he should definitely have run out of bounds, only to be immediately buried in a tackle, hauled over the line and pinged for deliberate. The decision was very much a 'how the locals like it' IGA job, but what was he doing picking it up to start with? Because I've enjoyed the time he's spent playing for us I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he was desperately trying to find a way to get the ball outside 50 and start something positive.

After three goals the prospect of an interstate stranglewank was on the agenda, or a total interstate collapse like the ones we used to put on regularly at Football Park. Take some time now to reflect on what a graveyard that place was, during our great losing streak we played there in four finals seasons and were regularly humped senseless. Then Adelaide Oval opens in the mid-table mediocrity, no finals (yet?) era and we've had four wins and lost two thrillers in five seasons. It looks like it would be a nice place to go if the locals didn't show up.

Our belated response was textbook ball movement reminiscent of a finals team, it's just that most of them do it for four quarters a week instead of in random outbursts. Neal-Bullen hit a perfect pass from the boundary to Garlett in the corridor, who shielded the mark perfectly, then flicked it to Tom McSizzle storming inside 50 on a long run out of defence. He ran back with the flight waiting for it to drop for an eternity, took a high risk bounce and slotted it to get us back in the mix.

We should have been back out of the mix shortly after, but for an easy set shot hitting the post. It was not the last time an unnecessary interface of ball and woodwork saved us. Despite that we'd settled things down and stopped looking like everyone was suffering post-traumatic stress. Jordan Lewis was the unusual second goalkicker, profiting from a smart Melksham handball to kick on the run from 50. It was about 20 metres more than I thought he had in him, and to prove it wasn't a fluke he did the same thing from an identical spot in the third quarter.

On the occasion of his 300th game, Lewis picked a good night to rip out his best performance of the season. After copping significant shit this year - plenty of it from me - this was the perfect demonstration of what he can do under the right circumstances. Still think it would be prudent to pull up stumps at the end of the season, but I'll have more of this in the next four to eight weeks if he's offering. Meanwhile, did he deliberately call his kid 'Hughie Lewis'? And if so are the other two collectively 'the News'? (NB: for more MFC related references to the original Huey see the very poorly constructed Facebook Comment of the Week #20).

Those goals turned the momentum in our favour, but for no further reward before they kicked an steadier straight of their arse from the boundary line. This third goal from a forward 50 stoppage was a downer after battling our way into the game, but given how many times we've dug out of similar holes to get back to within a goal I shouldn't have been concerned. But I was absolutely shitting it, with one side of my brain watching the game and the other doing live ladder predictors to work out what we'd have to do to get in after a loss. The answer was plenty, an extra four points now was vital to make sure we were playing to avoid dropping out rather than relying on a 2016 style Ultimate Bradbury of unlikely results to go in our favour. West Coast stitched us up by going to pieces in Hobart today, making this win even more important.

The late seven point play got us back within 10, a staggeringly good result considering how they'd battered us at the start. It was a higher stakes version of the Port game where we mangled them for five minutes then conceded a last minute goal that gave them life. This time we got the full seven point play, with McDonald delivering the traditional reaction to his set shot accuracy being highlighted on commentary, before Oliver set up Fritsch for a goal after the siren. Of the two consecutive quarters featuring a post-siren goal this was certainly my favourite.

I wanted to believe that we'd cherish our second life and go on from there, instead we were straight back into trying to extract the ball from defence. We're so devoid of playmakers down there that if Gold Coast can get four centre clearances to begin the quarters next week they may be able to play out a nil-all draw.

The Fritsch goal was cancelled out in the opening minutes, before Frost gave away another via a downfield free and goal courtesy of a vigorous bump to the back of an opponent. It was a reasonably soft free, made up for later by Hogan getting one 10 times softer, but I'd argue that you're not going to do yourself any favours bumping a forearm squarely into an opponent's back while he's looking in the other direction. Everyone knows he was well aware that Frost was there and was trying to block his run but as marketing wankers say 'the optics' were not good.

Back to 20 points down again and having to dig ourselves out of a near autoerotic asphyxiation scenario for a second time it took a towering mark at the top of the square by Melksham from a lovely kick by Sir Neville Jetta to keep us alive. Nifty also set up the next one, catching his old rival Eddie Betts holding the ball in the middle of the ground, allowing Petracca to lob a long kick towards McSizzle in the square. His goal won us the quarter but only narrowly, after pulling off a Reverse DemonTime® in the first term we almost gave it back in the dying seconds here. The 'Hall of Shit MFC Spoils That Cost Goals' is unlikely to ever find a better contender than Jayden Hunt in the first quarter of Round 23, 2017 and while this one was on the wing it still directly contributed. Some random Adelaidian who I'd never heard of until last night missed from the forward pocket and we retained hope going into half time.

Turns out there was no reason to be afraid (at least until the last quarter), if Gawn was actually tired it didn't show in the second half. There were none of his usual towering marks forward or back, but he started to dominate the ruck duels and continued to play like a midfielder at ground level. Maybe he broke through the fatigue barrier, maybe it was Oliver, Brayshaw and yes indeed even Dom Tyson operating at high capacity below him, or maybe I was just reading the situation badly to begin with. This combination eventually broke Adelaide, but we had to get through a nervy few minutes first.

Lewis got his carbon copy second to tie the scores, then with clearances for the quarter at 7-0 within the first few minutes, Melksham picked the ball up and in one action kicked from 60 metres out, watching the ball bounce in multiple directions before getting it right on the last one and giving us the lead. Now we were not only in the game but bossing them, like a cover version of the Adelaide Oval 2017 game where we completed the Stranglewank then piled another seven goals on to make sure of it.

This time we had to surrender the lead once more via a defensive fiasco where three players jumped at the same ball. They all did very well last night allowing for the odd horrific blunder so I'm prepared to give them this one. Still not convinced by Joel Smith, I love his athleticism and enthusiasm but suspect that any team with serious aspirations would be playing him unless they absolutely had to. Nevertheless, the record shows that their three key forwards got one goal between them and even that was from a free, so no harm done.

The riot started in earnest when the Crows bloke who'd been so slippery earlier fluffed a simple kick going back into his own 50, Garlett bounced it around like a basketball for what seemed like an eternity, then flipped it out to Fritsch for the finish. On replay you will note kindly that a shepherd by the Anal-Bullet gave him the time he needed to finally gather and create the goal. This is why shepherding is a good thing, not just trying to get into open space to get a kick but actually working for your teammate. In this case result = goal, which should be all the evidence you need that it should be done more often. Next step is to eliminate everyone being pulled to the ball carrier like a magnet, only to leave multiple players free to take the ball.

After Fritsch came Kennedy-Harris getting his snap right this week, Petracca setting up McDonald's third, and Garlett booting one after perfect front and centre CRUMB to extend the margin to about where it was at the same point last week. If I had to be reminded of what happened of that night I'm glad it was for the right reasons and not for completing another epic choke.

In a sign that things were really going our way we finished the quarter with an outrageously bad free to Hogan, and he was having such a rotten night it was the only way he'd get a shot. I'll be buggered if he's 100% fit, and he added to whatever's ailing him by rolling his ankle shortly before this. Given he was hobbling around like the elderly I had genuine concern that he'd collapse in the middle of his excessive run-up, but he lobbed it through from right in front and the margin was over five goals. This was going to take a fantastic fuck up to lose from here. Where have I heard that before?

At three quarter time Mrs. Demonblog emerged from hiding and asked the traditional question "are you winning?" I didn't even want to say we were five goals in front out loud in case it contributed to jinxing it. As she went to bed I assured her that if noises of pain and anguish broke out we were probably throwing the game away. Suffice to say that she, the neighbours, and the people who measure seismic activity heard plenty more from me over the last 30 minutes.

This time kicking the first goal of the last quarter would have been as good as hitting the Chris Sullivan Line before the break, especially with pissing rain rapidly approaching the Adelaide Oval. Not that we can play the wet to save ourselves, but six goals would have been enough of a barrier to run out the rest of the game in a series of endless stoppages. Instead we let the first in within a couple of minutes, much to the delight of the commentators who were barracking hard for the narrative of us imploding again. The stoppages saved us in the end but it was far too close for comfort.

As the rain bucketed down and locals struggled to cope with plastic ponchos, we were still winning in the middle of the ground but unable to land the killer blow. Melksham had a chance to make the battle for survival less nervy by converting one of our few half chances, but he missed from the pocket and the Crows stayed alive. The difference between them and Geelong is that last week we conceded 8.0 to end the game, while Adelaide battled the conditions for a not quite good enough 3.7.

To the surprise of many Tankquiry era Demon fans, Kyle Cheney is still going after all these years. He's still only 28, but is sporting a haircut that makes him look about 13. We traded him (while he was in Hong Kong airport on way to the infamous Shanghai Surprise game) for the pick that later became Tom McDonald and you'd have had long odds that they'd be playing against each other eight years later. Speaking of the McDonald family going forward, there was a surprise cameo from Oscar in the last quarter. He's four games short of the night Tom opened his account against North, but this rank set shot from 40 metres out directly in front confirmed that he won't be following his brother's lead and becoming a breakout forward star any time soon.

Kidnap mastermind Pyke obviously thought we'd spend the whole night bombing the ball forward and parked Kyle down there to mop up a string of endless kicks. It would have worked a treat too if it wasn't for us either a) not being able to get it down there, or b) running straight them for goals. He came to the fore in the last quarter when we were just hacking the ball forward to get it anywhere other than Adelaide's forward line. The uncontested nature of his touches stopped him from qualifying as a Kyle Kingsley, but he was giving us all sorts of trouble. Until they were desperate for goals in the last couple of minutes and he was still parked down there waiting to have it kicked at him while we used Fritsch to do the same unchallenged at the other end where it mattered.

Melksham's miss was nearly the first step to me ending the night with a fork jammed in the toaster, because the Crows went straight down the other end for Betts to hoof through a goal like he was playing in the dry. The weather might have been our friend at first, but now they looked like the only side likely to score in it. We got away with murder multiple times, including two other misses from the square before the big one at the end. As the endless stoppages went on I was watching the clock run down at glacial speed, a few seconds here and there at a time as they continually threatened to blow the game wide open with another goal. We were still effectively three up when Frost tried to escape by foot and conceded a goal, and battled away to the last 60 seconds before handing them an opportunity on a platter.

Good guy Betts must have realised that another five goal capitulation would have caused a triple figure death toll, because he gathered the ball from one of the 230 last quarter stoppages, turned towards an open goal and defied the laws of football by putting it into the post from point blank range. About time somebody else lost a game by doing something amazingly stupid. This followed on from another Adelaide player missing a sitter from the square earlier when he kicked straight up in the air. If there are football gods they've done fuck all for us in my lifetime, so as a football atheist I just had to put it down as a ridiculous, inexplicable moment of good luck.

If he'd kicked it we'd still have been in front but wobbling like an overloaded lifeboat and vulnerable to another after the siren incident. Imagine how few people would have turned up to see us play Gold Coast next week if we'd lost from five goals up in the last quarter again? More people would have put their foot through their TV than would be in the MCG stands next Sunday. Now we might not go to that game entirely comfortably, but can leave the house without being subject to open ridicule.

You'd like to have thought that even had Betts converted we'd have sludged out the last 50 seconds, but it's more likely somebody would boot it straight down Cheney's throat from the centre bounce and allow them another chance. Best that he missed to take that off the table. We survived the kick-in (not sure how, I'd spun around shrieking as it hit the post and landed face down on the couch) and could now be sure there wasn't enough time for even us to concede two goals.

After 15 minutes of trench warfare I'd have been satisfied with running down the last minute, but with the Crows desperately pushing forward for one last heave we managed to nick an exclamation mark goal on the counter. Neal-Bullen finished it to wrap up one of his better games, and I've got no idea what a 'pressure point' is unless a pissed Fev is involved but he had 84 of them. I understand this is a good thing.

The greatest water-related survival story since Tony Bullimore was complete and relief was obvious both in my loungeroom, where I was making a scene second only to the McDonald winner at Subiaco, and in the coaches' box. Goodwin unloaded some of the tension from last week by going right off, and who can blame him? The underrated highlight of the finish was the absolute contempt of AFLX premiership coach Stone Cold Craig Jennings to the emotional reaction of his boss. You could say he didn't appreciate the stiff whack to the head, but he wasn't offering a cracker one way or the other before that either.
Victory wasn't without some moments of skull-crushing tension, and I've woken up with a cracking headache today from clenching my jaw so tightly, but mission accomplished. Thanks for nothing West Coast you secessionist slurpers of Satanic shlong, but one way or the other the circus remains open for another week.

2018 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
5 - Clayton Oliver
4 - James Harmes
3 - Alex Neal-Bullen
2 - Angus Brayshaw
1 - Jordan Lewis

Serious apologies to Tyson, The Brothers Sizzle, Frost, Jetta, Melksham, Petracca and Gawn

And the Hamburglar firmly sets his eyes on the prize, opening a two game lead over Maximum and necking the challenge off absolutely everybody else unless we play a minimum of two finals. Elsewhere we're confident that McDonald can't catch Gawn and reach the 10 hitout per game qualification mark for the Stynes so Max can have that now. There's also massive news in the Seecamp, where the much maligned Lewis has drawn level with Jetta, who could probably fill my car with cement and I'd still forgive him. They're the original Odd Couple.

52 - Clayton Oliver
42 - Max Gawn (WINNER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
--- No hope beyond here without at least two finals ---
24 - Jesse Hogan
--- Three finals needed for a share of the lead---
17 - Tom McDonald
--- Four finals needed. Fat chance ---
16 - Angus Brayshaw, Bayley Fritsch (PROVISIONAL WINNER: Jeff Hilton Rising Star Medal)
14 - James Harmes, Nathan Jones
--- Officially done for ---
11 - Jake Melksham
9 - Christian Petracca
8 - Jack Viney
6 - Neville Jetta (JOINT LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Jordan Lewis (JOINT LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Alex Neal-Bullen
5 - Jeff Garlett, Mitch Hannan
4 - Michael Hibberd, Oscar McDonald
3 - Dean Kent, Jake Lever
2 - Christian Salem
1 - Cameron Pedersen, Joel Smith

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year
I've got some love for the second Fritsch goal just because of ANB's shepherd, but I'll have to go for Melksham's long bomb. It's not like he knew it was going to take several zany bounces within two seconds, but it was worth it for the pick up on its own. He's got a vast collection of weekly prizes, so in this case we'll just wish him well that he escapes South Australia without running into one of their many hundreds of local serial killers.

Spargo still leads overall for the dance extravaganza and finish from the boundary against Geelong.

Considering how they've got about 150,000 fans it's disappointing to see that the Crows still can't put anything up that looks like it was made by adults of sound mind. In contrast to their primary school rubbish we were so excited to have somebody play a 300th game for us again that we put out a very nice commemorative Lewis effort. 19-0 for the year, and not much competition in the way of a perfect season.

Next Week
I suspect I'm not the only one who finally calmed down 15 minutes after the final siren and thought "shit, what if we lose to Gold Coast?" This would have been a significant concern under any circumstances, much less having just watched their score slowly creep to 44 against Carlton. On paper there is no chance in hell of Gold Coast winning, but I'll need a few flags before I ever go into a game 100% confident. If we could kill them off early that would be ace.

Considering the two last quarter fadeouts and playing in the rain, it might be a good thing that Casey had one of the 19 VFL season byes this week. But at the same time who's going to mess with a winning formula? I'm going to opt for minor changes, bringing in a quite literal fighter to provide a touch of niggle. JFK wasn't terrible by any means, but I just think that Bugg has more steel about him for what we're about to go through. Otherwise let's just hope they all remain well rested, and that whatever's ailing Hogan's ankle isn't terminal. I'm not keen on resting anyone because "it's only Gold Coast", but should he not be able to play for legitimate purposes I'll take Tim Smith to try and clear enough space for McDonald to kick 19.

IN: Bugg,
OUT: Kennedy-Harris (omit)
UNLUCKY: Hannan, T. Smith

The All New Bradbury Plan

The plan lives for another week, and now that Adelaide are finished it's a race for 5th to 11th. That's four who will make it and three who won't, and I'm still not convinced we're in the first group. The terrifying thing to consider is that North's win over West Coast today actually opens the door to winning 13 games and still finishing a full four points out of the final, and if that happens I will 100% self-harm.

Can win every week - will finish above us - Richmond and West Coast
Unlikely to be in the battle for 6th - 10th so may as well win - Collingwood, Port Adelaide
Likely to make the eight, usually still want them to lose - Geelong, GWS (↑) and Sydney (↓)
Lose against higher teams, beat lower teams, take games off each other - Hawthorn and North Melbourne
Preferred result depends on opposition, usually want a win against higher - Adelaide (↓) and Essendon
Win against higher teams, lose against lower teams - Nil
Good value as spoilers only - Brisbane, Carlton, Footscray, Fremantle, Gold Coast and St Kilda

Your Round 20 how to vote card:
Richmond d. Geelong (of course now that we need Richmond to win at the MCG they'll stop)
Essendon d. Hawthorn (it would keep the Bombers alive, but I'll risk it for the greater good because we need Hawthorn to beat Geelong later)
Brisbane d. North (if they win this on top of beating Hawthorn twice I'll put them in the Hall of Bradbury)
Adelaide d. Port (I'm just invested enough in the chance of Port stacking it that I can stand to keep the Crows barely alive for another week)
Collingwood d. Sydney (only because they're a game further back, we could still get something out of a Pies loss)
Carlton d. GWS (your 'fat chance' game of the week)

Around The Grounds
Not only did we win a crucial game that kept us neck-deep in the finals race, but Carlton's win over Gold Coast also handed us back the moral highground of living through the worst season by a team anyone cares about since Fitzroy. Fancy Blues fans thinking they had it worse than us in 2013 just because they'd won one less game, well now they've stuffed that up and will need to lose 10% in their last four games to even launch a challenge on the Neeld/Craig fiasco.

Speaking of Neeld, he's spoken in-depth about his tenure for the first time ever. I've not listened yet, but based on this article I'm expecting a load of old bollocks. He's trying to take the heat off wrecking Trengove's career, and has the strange quote about the older players that he "needed to be stronger in making my own mind about people initially". Who was he listening to then? Assistant coaches, CEOs, Ouija boards?

P.S - I've retired the old column name for stats, facts and figures due to it being a bit NQR. It served us well.

Hamfisted Forever

Imagine how much trouble we could have been spared if the Antichrist Football League had just introduced 6-6-6 positions (as opposed to the 6-6-6 finals), instead of fannying about the sham process of 'considering' all these other wacky rules. We'd have all been upset for a bit then probably realised it makes chuff all difference as long as you're not trying to defend a lead in the last 30 seconds, now they've made such a tremendous hash of the process that there's no trust left and even their puppets in the media are starting to nervously back away. That is the ones that aren't being handed brown paper envelopes with rules leaks in them.

Mission accomplished if they were going for the Donald Trump play of creating so much chaos that you're satisfied when the changes don't end in Armageddon. After all the bonkers stuff, including Malcolm Blight suggesting putting sandpaper on the ball so it would be easier to pick up because he's a moron, the starting positions don't seem so bad. I'm still not sure how this helps once the ball has cleared the centre, but obviously it's just swinging the door open for all sorts of other wacky shit. Like a goalsquare that pokes out so far you feel it may be compensating for inadequacies elsewhere. Apparently the Frankensquare is awesome because you'll be easily able to hoof the ball into the middle of the ground. Where the other team will have set up a wall because they know where it's going to go, for about 15 minutes until players realise that they should kick short again. Only this time there won't be the white-knuckle drama about them kicking it out on the full. Welcome to football for idiots.

The highlight of the week was the admission by Channel 7 errand boy Gil McLachlan that they were thinking about trialling the new rules in meaningless end of season games. Good on him for telling the truth, but the public reaction showed why real politicians haven't done that since about 1921. For a billion dollar organisation with delusions of taking over China they often seem to be run like a Thursday night indoor cricket comp in Dingley, but it would be a fitting end to a season they treated you like a moron for watching. I saw one suggestion that if the changes are inevitable you may as well trial them, but that takes the remarkably optimistic view of the trial being fair. It's like saying the North Korean election results indicate landslide support for the regime.

As we prepare for spectacle to be forced down our throat like foie gras, a reminder that you might have zero power to influence the league but you can choose to piss off your AFL membership and sink the cost into a premium MFC deal instead. Transfer your loyalties from an organisation that treats you like an idiot to one that's actually grateful for your business.

Final Thoughts
For the second time in five years I pulled out of plans to go to the Adelaide Oval and missed a famous victory (see also Round 7, 2014). It allowed me to retain my dignity and not sit in the crowd wearing a garbage bag, but makes it almost certain that when I do finally break my now eight season interstate game ban and go there we'll be mercilessly stuffed.

Future misery can wait, for now the dream of a finals berth before a) I'm stuffed for watching every week and/or b) they ruin the game with bonkers rule 'adjustments' remains in our own hands.  Diamonds may be forever, but any more games like this and I'll die of a heart attack by Round 23.

The Melbourne Football Club will return in 'Potential Banana Skin Game'