Friday 17 August 2007

We could have been a contender

I can't remember too many times when I have been prouder of a loss than I am tonight. Against a team fighting for a top four birth, and after a first half that only be described as execrable the boys came out of the blocks at a million miles an hour in the second half and almost pulled off the biggest comeback since the proverbial.

It seemed that everyone had been schooled in the Brad Miller school of playing on unnecessarily and handballing to a teammate's back. The Pies were already three goals up before we'd had more than a handful of touches, and it was shades of the Port Adelaide match again. Luckily the backline stood up (yes, read that again - the backline. Stood up.) and eventually we added goals of our own, to drag us back into the contest despite being completely shit for most of the quarter. Meanwhile why exactly is Mark Jamar in our team? I don't give a toss that he almost took mark of the year in the third quarter, he's shit.

Collingwood's tactic to have Harry O drag Robbo to all parts of the ground worked a treat in the first half, and the rare site of Russell Robertson playing in the backline was a rare moment that those of us who were there are likely to forget within a few days, before bringing it up in the pub when pissed in about five years time.

The second quarter saw us not only fail to kick a goal, but also lose Ben Holland possibly for the last time after he was sat on by the less talented of the Rocca brothers. Broken arm, dislocated shoulder, kracked kollarbone - whatever it is he's done for the year and after playing two great games, and outplaying Rocca across the first quarter the poor bastard left the ground looking as if he'd had his arm driven over by a jeep. As I said last week I support giving him another year on the list, but I wonder if this injury will wreck his chances.

The third quarter continued in the same vein as the second, and when Pendlebury goaled to put the Pies 41 points in front it looked like we were going to get massacred. Then in what is likely to be the biggest talking point in the media this week Ben Johnson massacred Daniel Bell and strangely things began to turn around. There will be general anti-Johnson outrage and the suggestion that he should be crowbarred in a carpark, but at the risk of being controversial I won't be involving myself. First things first we employ Byron Pickett, and if that's not enough said on the issue of players who belt people for no apparent reason I don't know what is, but the fact of the matter is that no matter how bad it looked it wasn't deliberate. A reckless piece of play that could have had tragic conseqeuences, but not the worst thing ever done on a footy field. The guy will cop his fair whack from the tribunal with a four game suspension that will mean he won't play again before the Grand Final if the Pies make the top 4 and win in the first week.

So that was two players down. When Robbo went down clutching his knee in the forward line it looked like things couldn't get any worse. He bounced back but was clearly not 100%. Somewhere in the midst of all this Aaron Davey went off with a hamstring injury and wasn't seen again - leaving us with the one fit player on the bench. For whatever reason this spurred us on to our massive comeback - Neita finally kicked straight after some serious wonk in the first quarter, and with Sylvia, Brock and Pickett chipping in we were just two goals down at the last change. I think everyone knew that we were going to get run-over one way or the other, but 20 minutes into the last quarter - with just one goal apiece added to the 3/4 time score we were still a chance. The boys were absolutely dead on their feet but they were still trying their hearts out. Robbo and Neitz both had shots to put us in front during the middle of the quarter but both of them were so out of it they couldn't convert.

Then Medhurst continued the Collingwood tradition of the shittest forward destroying us (see Tarrant, Chris) and kicked the goal that ended the contest. Jace Bode almost got us back within a goal but his shot was touched on the line. Game over.

Was good to see Juice Newton running riot right across the ground. He, along with everyone else, was run into the ground by the end of the game but he played a few great cameos in the backline. Definately one for the future - when the appropriate time of mourning has passed and I can retire the #28 Philthy Phil jumper, I'm almost certainly going up a number and #29'ing it up.

Meanwhile in the grandest "You give a guy a wrap...." tradition, just seconds after we declared that Paul Wheatley was in the the best form of his career the future winner of the Marcus Seecamp award turned into a poor bastard who had a night where every second kick went to an opposition player.

Random Observations
As you know I don't usually take any notice of what other clubs do but how good was Didak's bicycle kick in the 3rd quarter? If that had gone in it would have been the greatest goal ever. But if my uncle had tits he'd be my auntie - it didn't, and the title still remains with Allen Jakovich for his horizontal scissor kick against North Melbourne at the MCG in 1991.

Doesn't a little part of you die every time Jones or McLean get nailed holding the ball? God forbid they should get any help other than from James McDonald who is always there week in and week out doing his stuff.

2007 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes

5 - McDonald
4 - Brown
3 - Neitz
2 - Newton
1 - Jones

Apologies to Dunn, Green, Johnstone and Sylvia.


32 - McDonald
30 - Jones
27 - Green
19 - Bruce
17 - Bate
16 - White
16 - Wheatley (Shock Leader: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
12 - Johnstone
10 - Rivers
10 - Davey
10 - Holland
9 - McLean
9 - Brown
9 - Neitz
8 - Miller
8 - Godfrey
7 - Sylvia
6 - Robertson
6 - Bizzell
6 - Moloney
5 - Yze
5 - Bell
5 - Petterd (Equal Leader: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
5 - Newton (Equal Leader: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
5 - Carroll
2 - Dunn
1 - Frawley
1 - Pickett
1 - Ferguson

Crowd Watch
What a shithouse crowd. I blame the Collingwood fans as much as ours - at least they've got finals to play for - but how many of our fans sat at home when this was the night to come out and pay tribute to one of the great champions of our club? So it was an away game - so you had to pay for $20 to get in. Boo-fucking-hoo. It's no wonder we're a laughing stock. I can't wait to see the 15-year-old teenie boppers and other assorted fucksticks climb back on board when we're winning again. We must have the weakest fanbase in the competition - see you all when we're playing as the Bangkok Demons in a few years.

Next Week
Fremantle in Perth. Now I didn't think we'd win last week, and I didn't think we'd get within ten goals tonight - especially when the Black Death injury plague hit - but surely next week a rejuvenated Freo possibly playing for a finals place will smack us like we stole something. Once again all we ask for is a 100% effort, but is there actually anyone else left to play? Our interstate record is shithouse as it is this year, but it could be about to get a whole lot worse. I hate this season, but I know that the moment it ends I'll be counting down the seconds until the 2008 comp. Sad - very sad.

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