Monday, 7 May 2007

The Spanish Inquisition

First things first a statement of priorities. I can no longer watch AFL football. If the game does not involve Melbourne I will not sit there and watch it for more than a few minutes at a time. Maybe I'll listen to it on the radio, or drift in and out every few minutes but the prospect of sitting there for four quarters is no longer a viable one. Once upon a time, before I could have been expected to have anything better to do, I used to catch every game I could on TV and go to a few non-Melbourne related games a year but now it even seems like a chore to watch us play. This isn't just because we're losing, but more due to the abysmal quality of the game and baffling rules that three High Court Judges couldn't work out let alone umpires trying to adjudicate at a million miles an hour with 20,000 ferals screaming at them.

We are left watching a game where the contested possession is treated with reverence. A game where players can blatantly turn around a run a ball out of bounds despite a perfectly good "deliberate" rule, but can't run a fingernail down somebody's back in a marking contest. The whole thing has turned into some massive scientific wankfest that you can't understand or analyse without the help of the Kray Supercomputer. How many serving AFL umpires are on the rules committee? Absolutely none. So who's there to tell KB and his cast of idiots that the changes they make to the game are impossible to police?

Give me a Melbourne premiership - just one - and let me walk away from this game that I used to love forever before it turns to complete shit in front of my eyes. This is a competition where the entire second half of seasons is spent with supporters WANTING their teams to lose so they can score choice draft picks. Where's the committee to sit down Andrew Demetriou and point out that a draft lottery is the way to go? How come we can spend a million years analysing whether or not to pay a free for breathing on somebody but nobody has noticed that the current draft system is totally counterproductive to effort and actually turns people (stupid people, but people nonetheless) against their own team.

Yes, under the current interpretation of the rules David Neitz gave away a free-kick today and Aaron Davey's winning goal shouldn't have counted, but fuck me what a ridiculous interpretation that is. God help us all if a Grand Final is decided on that abortion of a rule one day - then I'll bet you'll see people marching in the street and totalling AFL House like Fitzroy fans did when they got ripped off in Adelaide once. But when it's just 0-5 0-6 Melbourne with our 10,000 fans who haven't jumped off you'll never hear about it again.

So, I had my biggest outburst ever today. 16 and a bit seasons of following VFL/AFL football and it took this long to have a real vein popping, "Security to Sector 7" loss of plot. Queens Birthday 2004 was significant, and one in Geelong about 5 years ago went close but this was

And what set it off? After an entire day of Port casually running the ball out of bounds or handballing it to the line, plus an array of holding/dropping/throwing the ball decisions unpaid, James McDonald botches a handball with a minute to play and the margin five points, it rolls out of bounds and for reasons which still escape me to this minute he is pinged for deliberate. WHO IN THEIR RIGHT FUCKING MIND IS GOING TO HIT THE BOUNDARY WHEN THEY'RE 5 POINTS DOWN AND WINLESS 28 MINUTES INTO THE LAST QUARTER?

I'm not usually one for going spastic at umpires as I do understand that it's a hard job - with no help from the monkeys who run the game and their rubbish committees - but what in your right mind would make you think that was 'more' deliberate than any of the ones that had preceded it? How can you expect them to interpret any of the other rules when they can't even get a black and white decision like that right?

When that happened I just had a massive brain explosion and stormed out of the ground letting rip one of the biggest hails of abuse ever from the middle deck of the Ponsford Stand right down to the bottom. It's not big or clever but at that moment I never wanted to watch football again - it all seemed so futile. To be entirely honest I just wanted to sit down somewhere and cry in frustration at it all. I know we could be worse off - witness Footscray's premiership drought or Richmond's abysmal record during my lifetime - but sometimes I think it's almost worse to have it dangled in front of your face and ripped away than to never have it at all. As covered in previous posts all I want is one flag and then after a week of reflection and celebrations I can happily do the sensible thing and put my head in the oven. Memo to Melbourne - if you're playing just to keep me alive don't bother I'm not really that interested in living.

I was toying with buying an AFL Membership next year but fuck them they're not getting a cent out of me. The game is being strangled to death by these cunts and frankly they can stick it in their arse. The only way I could be any more disillusioned with the game would be if I were a North fan and I was sitting there watching the league openly trying to stab my team in the back. Morons one and all. Frankly I'm too shattered by the whole series of events to even competently re-dissect the game. In fact I can't even remember most of it save a non-stop series of decisions that weren't paid - it's a cliché of the highest order but it was the ones they didn't pay not the ones they did. Of course none of this will rate more than the smallest mention in the media.

'Twas an arm wrestle early on. Luckily for us Port couldn't kick straight to save themselves or we would have been out of it early - ironically enough if we'd been able to kick straight we probably would have won. We rarely ever got in front again, and if we did it was only by a couple of points, but we were in it and the boys fought like animals against obviously superior opposition. They were still prone to doing the sort of stupid things that make you wonder how anyone expected them to run top four but there was heart in it.

Too much farking heart at certain times if Byron Pickett was anything to go by – he somehow had half of his ear ripped off and yet still backed up for the second half. Great stuff. Ironic that he should cop the Evander Holyfield treatment on the same day of the first boxing match that people have cared about since the day Mike Tyson chowed down on Evander’s ear. Equally ironic that much like Oscar De La Hoya we fought our heart out against a tougher opponent and lost in a close one.

The only difference between the two was that Oscar didn't have to contend with a serious of rules that nobody understands and didn't have a referee who wouldn't have called a foul if his opponent had produced a sledgehammer and bashed him in the cods with it.

Matthew Bate played a sensational game at CHF and kicked a couple of goals but missed a couple of set shots. You certainly wouldn't have the man kick a set shot for your life but it good to see him take the sort of marks above his head that Miller flat out refuses to. After such a promising start to the season Brad might have shot himself in the foot with his awful performance today – he barely got a touch and was unsighted as Bate marked everything that came near him. Having said that I don’t trust anyone who is a better kick for goal on the run than they are from a set shot as a key position player.

Will be interesting to see how that one pans out for the rest of the year. Sylvia was hard at it but if you had been in a coma for the last five years and woke up to be asked what number he’d been selected in the draft you certainly wouldn’t say #3. I await his inevitable move to another team where he then turns it all around, goes nuts and wins a flag (see Pike, Ormond-Allen, Bishop, Jolly, Armstrong and probably Scott Thompson). Also needs to learn to kick for goal if he’s going to play anywhere near the forward line.

Rivers was a tower of strength in the backline and is increasingly our most important player. We desperately need Whelan down there with him and we can start to have some confidence that at least our defence is doing what it should. Daniel Bell also had a great game down back on the day. Add them to Warnock who easily played his best game yet, and even chipped in with a goal after a neat sidestep, and things are starting to look up. We officially bestow Warnock with the “BETTER THAN BEN HOLLAND” award for 2007. Nathan Brown started on fire and while he slowed down as the day went on he still played an important role – there’s life in the old dog yet.

Neitz provided a target that we’d been lacking for the last few weeks, and while he only kicked two and missed a couple more his presence appeared to lift the rest of the side. What are we going to do when he goes? I have no idea either. Panic? Too late.

VOTES

5 - Jared Rivers
4 - Matthew Bate
3 - Simon Godfrey
2 - Nathan Brown
1 – Daniel Bell

Apologies to

2007 ALLEN JAKOVICH MEDAL LEADERBOARD

12 - McDonald
11 - Bruce
10 - Rivers (Leader: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
8 - Green
8 - Miller
5 - Neitz
5 - Yze
5 - Bate
4 - Jones
4 - Petterd (Leader: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
3 - Davey
3 - Godfrey
2 - Moloney
2 - Dunn
2 - Brown
1 - Pickett
1 - Jones
1 - Bell

Apologies to Bruce, Carroll, Davey, Dunn, Johnstone, Jones, McDonald, Petterd, Warnock, White and Yze.

Crowd Watch
Another spanking 16k. I'm quite serious in saying that if you weren't at the Freo or Port game and suddenly show up for Queens Birthday because it's a "big" game then I hate you intensely. Of course I'm aware that the internet fans are probably the last ones left and people reading this are almost certainly either going or have an excellent reason for not going. It's the sort of idiots who suddenly appear during winning runs or the finals and gave us a reputation for having clown fans in the first place that will all pile back on when we start winning again (2010?). For those of you hanging in there I salute you. It's not easy being slop but at least we have our footballing integrity.

Next Week: Footscray at the Corporate Dome on Sunday. I'm supposed to be writing a preview for the Bulldogs Big Footy forum - god knows that's going to turn out darker than Charles Manson at a Cure concert.

P.S - You know there would be a book in these reports if we somehow turned around and won the flag. But we won't, so my career as an author remains stalled. Besides all the bits about ******* ******* being a kiddy fiddler probably wouldn't make it through the legal department anyway. Fuck it - I'll be back next week.

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