Saturday 31 March 2007

Give me my Friday night back

Hands up if you understand what you saw tonight. When somebody sits down to compile a list of great unexplained phenomena Melbourne vs St. Kilda, Round 1, 2007 will go down alongside the Bermuda Triangle in the "unsolved mysteries" category. At what exact point did our gameplan suddenly turn from "normal" to "HANDBALL EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU GET NEAR THE BALL". That was officially one of the most depressing nights of football I have ever been involved with.

But before that there were two notable moments in the first quarter that say absolutely everything you will ever want to know about how this year is going to go. Firstly Matthew Whelan cleans up somebody (Ball? Koschitzke? Daryl Baldock? You know I don't care about opposition players) with a cracker of a hip-and-shoulder only to come off worse himself and not be seen again for the rest of the game. Then, in the biggest knife to the heart of them all, Brock McLean breaks his foot and will be out for six weeks. Yes, it's going to be one of those years.

When the gameplan was on "normal" we matched the Saints everywhere. Poor kicking made us look better than we were early on but weren't being disgraced. Then suddenly the moment the second quarter started the entire midfield and backline lost the plot and started trying to handball everywhere. Then there was the running - my god it was painful. Suddenly St. Kilda turned it up a notch and we were left pissfarting around with the ball in the backline and attempting to rack up a record for the most handballs in one game. Not sure what the actual record itself is but god dammit we must have given it a massive shake early on - some of the passages of play were so painfully rubbish that they defy description in text. Watch the replay and shed a tear.

In positive news Neitz and Robertson were good with the limited opportunities they got. In a game where we could barely get the ball out of the backline without a 72 step consulative process they took their limited opportunities well. God forbid we can actually get the ball down there this season they look like having good years. The New Next Big Thing (NNBT) Jones was good again, and will have his chance to step up in the role of the Previous Next Big Thing (PNBT) in the next month. McDonald resisted the urge to join in the grim handballing wankfest and actually kicked the thing - often to our advantage which was a welcome break from the rest of the game. Moloney was good for somebody who has barely played in a year, and Bruce gets a vote because - well because there really wasn't anybody else who deserved one.

We do have Pickett, Rivers, Sylvia and Dunn to come back - but to be entirely honest only the first two are vital at this point in time. Byron will add some much needed composure to the backline (and perhaps even the return of Nathan Brown wouldn't be out of the question) and Rivers means less reliance on Ben Holland who has a role to play in the team but NOT as the second string tall defender.

The good news is that as of the time of writing (1am on Saturday morning) the worse than ever before AFL website still has us holding onto a 0-0 draw with not one player having had a possesion yet. I'm happy to take the two points if they're offering.

Slop Watch
As promised this year we will be stalking and harassing focusing heavily on two players. Step forward Mr. Adem Yze and Mr. Brad Miller.

Yze didn't really do much, but he wasn't alone in that and did just enough to support him getting another run next week. I would like to think that he is on seriously borrowed time unless he rips something special out in the weeks to come but we all know there's more chance of me getting picked out of the stands to play CHF next week than there is of Daniher ever dropping him.

And speaking of CHF's could any other club in the league manage to have one who can't mark and can't kick? Would that we had anybody at all to replace him there is surely no way in the world that Miller would play next week. Sadly with the lack of anybody else to play the position we are going to be going to be subjected to another season of headless chickenry. His only actual contribution over the evening was to play a part in Russell Robertson's goal of the year at the end of the second quarter by dropping a diving mark, then recovering only to spin around and throw the ball straight up in the air. I suppose you have to make the highlights package somehow. Abysmal - he is offically the new holder of the Scott Chisholm/Luke Williams "Trains to Sandringham depart from Platform 10" Challenge Cup.

Philthy Watch
Apparently the great man is playing for the Geelong VFL side this year. Up the Cats? May as well really because as previously discussed I'm not touching that comp seriously until they bring back Camberwell (16 years and counting..)

Crowd Watch
I know it's hypocritical to slaughter anyone for vigorously celebrating a round one win when I'm simultaneously mourning one but somebody needs to tell the St. Kilda fans that a win in Rd. 1 is nice but actually means fuck all in the grand scheme of things. Here's a quality interlude from the first quarter (when we were good) between a mate of mine and some old lady sitting next to us.

Old Lady: "And who are you following then?"
Him: "Lady I don't really care, I go for Carlton and we've got 16 of them"
Old Lady: [SILENCE]

Probably the funniest thing I've ever seen at a game. Shame about what was happening on the field.

The only other person to annoy me tonight (apart from the idiots who had to get up twice a quarter to go to the bar - just stay at home and get drunk on cheaper and more potent beer you fucks) was the guy about four rows in front in the bottom deck of the Ponsford who celebrated every St. Kilda goal by unfurling a cheap knockoff of the Palestinian flag and waving it above his head vigorously in a carefully rehearsed manouvre. He even had a rehearsed way to get the thing to curl up again. The man did this with a fervour that you would expect a twelve-year-old or a cheer squad mutant to have but actually appeared to be a man in his early 40's.

Surely 90% of football audiences are only intellectually suited to play support to the Westgate Bridge. As much as a loathe the elitism of the MCC and the corporate "wear a tie or be executed" atmosphere of Telstra Dome there is nothing I would like more than my own corporate box so I could shut myself off from the clowns in the outer and do my block in peace.

Votes? Jesus this is going to be interesting...

2007 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Neitz
4 - McDonald
3 - Jones
2 - Moloney
1 - Bruce

2007 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender Of The Year: NO VOTES
2007 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie Of The Year: NO VOTES

You work it out Sherlock.

Next week
Hawthorn. I will reserve my comments until then - and if when Lance Franklin picks up where he left off in the NAB Cup and kicks ten I will self-immolate on the steps of the Ponsford Stand.

Anything I missed tonight? To be frank I was too busy going spaz for most of the last three quarters to notice any actual trends in the game.

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