Saturday, 21 May 2005

Knock it down

So, farewell Optus Oval then. Can't say I'm entirely depressed at the turn of events - it was quite a nice place when there were 10000 people in the ground, but put 30000 salivating lunatics in there and it got ugly quickly. This wouldn't have been too bad today if the crowd had the usual 2/1 ratio of opposition fans to MFC fans, but unfortunately today it was even harder than normal to spot one of our supporters. Rumor has it that we were given a massive 500 tickets for it, which meant that those of us who had scabbed their way in on a Carlton members tickets were in a very, very small minority. In fact the two of us sitting up on the fence about 30m from goal in the Legends Stand (Brent Heaver = Carlton legend) had absolutely no support. I think the closest Melbourne fans to us were the cheer squad, and I don't want them on my side if it can be avoided.

Prematch highlight was the tickets only costing $12, which is a damn sight cheaper than the $30 I paid last time I went there in 2003 (lest we forget, I was too hungover to go to the game last season). We were then treated to a colossal Carlton wankfest, which probably meant something if you're a Blues fan but sadly fell flat for the seven or eight of us present who aren't. No footage of Earl Spalding cracking Jason Dunstall's skull like a coconut, none of James McDonald kicking a goal that may very well have been a point and winning us the game in '98 and most regrettably none of Luke Williams greatest moments on the day he kicked two goals, got twenty touches and we won. For reasons best known to them they concentrated on Carlton Premierships and great moments - which is a bit of a disappointment.

The lowlight was being completely SNUBBED by some Optus Oval ground attendant when I asked the perfectly legitimate question "Can I have your jacket when the game is over?" I copped the staredown and was completely ignored. Now, tell me what he's going to do with a green suit jacket with "OPTUS OVAL ATTENDANT" written on it now that the ground has been given the arse? It's not like you're going to wear it to a wedding - especially when it looks as if the ABC Lawn Bowls commentary team would refuse to wear it for being unfashionable. Bastard. Only marginally worse than when they were spotted trying to flog a three year old hot dog for $5.90 when it was listed on the menu @ $4.50. Genuine mistake, or cynical attempt to cash in one last time in front of the biggest Optus crowd in years? Shambolic. The poor kiddies on the cash register were recieving verbals left, right and centre. Yet we they continued to purchase. We're They're idiots.

The game started well enough. The Blues resembled a farcical Keystone Cops side with their falling over and kicking it directly to our players everytime they attempted to go inside 50. Which was nice. Except that we spurned more chances than the Brisbane Bears did in the entire 1991 season and missed the chance to kill the game as a contest at quarter time. We did, however, have two minor miracle moments as Ben Holland (more on that later), and Phil Read (recreating his kick in the last quarter of that final against Essendon last year) nailed completely uncharacteristic goals. The second term won't go down in any "That Was The Season That Was" video compilations, but we increased our lead so I'm not going to complain about quality. Even if Aaron Davey, who won't be ordering a copy from Name A Game, missed from 30 out directly in front. More pro-Optus wankery at Half Time as my Telstra mobile phone completely stopped working every time I tried to call somebody or send a message. I think shouted something about all Telstra customers celebrating the place being shut down, which didn't go down too well amongst the Carlton faithful. Fuck 'em, I can't see Optus still forking over money to their club to sponsor a ground that will sponsor no event bigger than the VFA Grand Final so they may as well join the campaign to bury them.

Now the third quarter was far more memorable. Not only did we run riot and increase the margin but Russell Robertson kicked four goals, Aaron Davey kicked the goal of the year only to see it shave the top of the goalpost padding on the way through and be reversed by the field fucking umpire and Ben Holland missed from the top of the square on the slightest angle possible. The plot was officially lost at this point. I thought we signed him to play in the backline? Sit him the fuck down there, especially with Jared Rivers suspended, and be done with it. The renaissance that I declared after his two in a row performances against Fremantle and Adelaide is over. Didn't last long. Not long after this disgrace he ended up in the backline and took a crucial mark on defensive 50. For once in my life I may have been right, but alas we were never given the opportunity to find out as he ended up back up front just minutes later. Some kid in front of me just went apeshit at him for the rest of the quarter telling him how he couldn't kick and was a complete hack. Reminded me of myself at an early age, shame about his choice of team.

Another quality highlight was Nathan Brown marking inside 50, running into somebody's knees Spalding/Dunstall style and just coincidentally having the much more reliable David Neitz standing beside him to take over when he couldn't kick it. Neitz goaled and Brown later returned to the ground, to the distress of the bogans surrounding me. At the 25 minute mark we were walking it in - we'd even done our traditional taking the piss tactic of resting Jeff White and replacing him with this week's dedicated replacement Mark Jamar (who, like every other player on our list this year, managed to get himself reported). Pisstaking became a new art when Alistair Nicholson somehow found himself on the wing (!?) and set up a goal straight from the bounce. The sound of razorblades being unwrapped across the general Parkville and Carlton area was deafening. We went to the last change ten goals in front with Robertson sitting on 6 goals, having already having cracked his personal best, and it was looking like a very ugly final term for Princes Park.

Then it almost all went horribly wrong as we turned the switch to "cruise control", started playing gimmick football and allowed the Blues to pile on six unanswered goals in the last term to get within three goals at the end. Sounds fairly comfortable but there was a point where it was starting to look very ugly - if my memory serves me correct they got within four goals with six or seven minutes left. Not completely unheard of. I'd be lying to say that at this point I wasn't having visions of entering the history books for the biggest fourth quarter choke in history. Even worse in such an important game given the amount of rubbish journalism and mystical wankery that would have been dragged out about the "ghosts of Princes Park" and "spirits of the legends" if they'd done it. Suffice to say that had we folded a little bit more and lost I would have been joining the f'ing spirits of the Park by leaping off the top of the Legends Stand. Credit to our undermanned, and often shit, backline as they held up most of the day before finally succumbing late. The triple teaming of Fevola was impressive, and even Nicho looked good at times. Whitnall, on the other hand, was complete shite. He wasn't the same Big Fat Ugly Kid who turned us over in the Wizard Cup.

Alas we won, and as they reluctantly played our theme song and I did my traditional throat shedder rendition of the theme song some of the assorted Carlton elite took minor offence and busted out one of the most bitingly sarcastic comments I've ever suffered. "No snow on this week?" he said. I'd like to say I died with either laughter or embarassment but that would be bullshit. My problem/salvation was that I couldn't actually speak properly after letting rip with the song so I could only manage to drag out some weak "Get a new cliche. That's the oldest one in the book. It's like me saying you lot should all be in a Centrelink somewhere" comeback. Then he put me away with a piece of irony that the world's great comedians would mark out for.. "Wait.. I've got another one... Umm.. No snow on this week?" How we laughed - at him. Seemed rather pleased with himself though, so I'm prepared to concede. It's important to keep the morale of the intellectually disabled up so they don't feel that they are completely worthless to society. Apparently there was some pissweak presentation of a cup, and many tears shed over the end of suburban football after that. No idea, I took the opportunity to get the hell out of there while grown men were opening weeping and beat the crowds.

I notice that Daniher didn't let the players sing the song after the game. That's a trend that I'm in favour of - they had very little to celebrate after that last quarter. Carlton were/are complete shit, and we should have waffled them.

Votes

5 - Travis Johnstone
4 - Russell Robertson
3 - Clint Bizzell
2 - Cameron Bruce
1 - Colin Sylvia

Player of the Year Leaderboard

15 - Cameron Bruce
7 - Brock McLean, Travis Johnstone
6 - Ryan Ferguson
5 - Brent Moloney, Jared Rivers
4 - Brad Green, Russell Robertson, Clint Bizzell
3 - Aaron Davey, James McDonald, Brad Miller, Adem Yze
1 - Russell Robertson, Colin Sylvia

Next week: Richmond. I'm officially scared. When Fevola broke free in the last quarter today he did us over - and we get to contend with Richardson and Troy Simmonds next week. "Simmonds is shit!" you say. You might be right, even if I would have him for half of what the Tigers are paying him, but has it not been proven time after time that players we've given the arse to always have their greatest games against us? Anyone else remember Brent Grgic, of all people, ripping us to shreds at Kardinia Park? I do, and I'm in counselling about it today. Then there's the Nathan Brown question, which takes on extra significance when you think about what J. Farmer and M. Williams have done to us in the last month. Luckily for us the Blues didn't have anyone better than Eddie Betts to play the role today and we got away with it. That's not going to happen next time.

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