Monday, 19 May 2008

Normal Service Has Been Resumed: Melbourne Football Club Apologises For Any Inconvenience

Welcome back to earth. How was the last fortnight for you? Top of the world with happy memories of Wonaeamania running riot at the MCG and Mark Harvey looking shattered I'll bet. It was fun not being the biggest basketcases in football for a couple of weeks at least but now we're firmly back in town. Or perhaps you're reading this because you're one of the lost and lonely teenybopper set who post with names like ILUVROBBO24 and only bother to watch games when we're winning. In that case welcome back, piss off and I hope you get hit by a train.

In fact, even though we might have been spared from the title of 'laughing stock' by Freo's third Mark Williams-esque choke in a row, I don't think the result yesterday was beyond any doubt. I knew we were going to lose to Adelaide, you knew we were going to lose. There are people stuck under apartment buildings in China who knew we were going to lose to Adelaide. We don't win at Football Park in a good year, how are we going to do it in the middle of our worst run in a decade? Wipe the second half of the Freo game out and we have been vomit inducing so far this season. Adelaide, on the other hand, are a finely tuned machine led by a ruthless dictator and with 40,000 screaming lunatics united behind them.

I watched the game at the Club Hotel in Warragul. We were on the way to Sale to watch my greyhound Chickem Assassin make it's debut (a fighting 4th), and stopped along the way to find a pub to watch the game in. For the first five minutes of the first quarter the commentary was replaced with a My Chemical Romance song until we found somebody to switch the audio over, which was fairly apt because watching footy over the last couple of years has turned me massively emo.

I'd tipped us to lose by 50. Seemed like a fair margin at the time given the vast gulf in quality between the two sides. Did we really beat them last year? Nobody saw that coming. Then, just as we entered Drouin (Where? Why in god's name would you live in the country?) it was announced that Jared Rivers was a late omission, replaced by Paul Johnson and I immediately changed my estimated loss to a hundred points. Obviously Carroll had played in Sandy's 150pt win over Tasmania the day before so he was unable to be recalled, leaving us with a backline consisting of Warnock (6 games), Garland (6 games) and Frawley (13 games) to take on the likes of Burton, Porplyzia, Goodwin and Tippett. Game, set and match right there. Throw in their steel trap defence and our rusty as buggery forward line and it was a recipe for disaster.

Having said that we put in one of our better first quarters all season. With four goals it was certainly the highest scoring. Players were running and taking their opponents on and it looked for a moment like everything might be ok after all. Then the ball went inside their 50 and it all went horribly wrong. Given the vast gulf between their experience and their opponent's talent they tried hard but were just outgunned. It seemed every time the ball went down there the Crows would score with ease - there was no way we were going to match them without kicking a massive score, and the chances of that happening are remote at the best of times let alone against one of the better sides in the comp at their home ground. Two goals in the last minute gave the Crows eight for the quarter and effectively ended the contest.

The second quarter was all about waste. After being at least competitive, if nothing special, in the first we reverted to the horrific under 9's style of the first seven and a half weeks of the season. Not many were above criticism in this part of the match, however Davey, Morton and Wonaeamirri can't be faulted for their efforts. Shane Valenti looked comfortable in his first match, and while he made a few rookie mistakes you can tell that he's going to get better and be a handy player. The future isn't exactly bright, but I can see some light at the end of the tunnel. On the defensive side of the game while our backline continued to crumble Bartram was doing a sensational tagging job on McLeod, taking him right out of the game. Shame the rest of them were running riot then.

Further highlights are few and far between. To be honest I was too busy eating a chicken parma to do anything more than look up and try not to swear too loudly. How tragic was Jeff White getting called to play on and then being nailed by the tackle from behind for holding the ball? That's a cert to be alongside Phil Carmen headbutting the umpire on every footy bloopers tape from now until the end of time. Said it all about our season really.

By halftime we were stuffed, and then in the third quarter if the Crows could kick straight we would really have been stuffed. Apparently Kevin "this man makes the rules" Bartlett was on the radio telling everyone how we were a chance because of our comeback against Freo. There's nothing like taking one game out of 2100 and basing an entire theory on it.

Speaking of the rules everyone would have seen what a complete brothel the new interchange rule was. To recap you now need to fill in a slip, post it to the AFL c/o PO Box 2342 in your capital city, wait three weeks for a response, write a 2000 word essay on the influence of Marxist-Leninist thinking on Australian Politics and watch the entire first series of Birds Of A Feather twice before you can make any interchanges. The AFL are selling it as a response to the fiasco in the Sydney/North game a few weeks back, but there's no doubt in my mind that they're using that as a trojan horse to try and cut the number of interchanges down without openly putting rules in place to stop it.

How often have you ever seen a game influenced by too many players being on the field? Very rarely - and so to combat something that has happened once or twice in twenty years we now have a system more complicated than nuclear physics. Players already have enough to think about trying to playing the game without having to worry about their changes being submitted in a reply paid envelope to AFL House. Next week you basically gift an opposition side a goal if you don't get this fiasco of a system right. For once I'm down with the angry talkback caller crowd - this is a shambles that the league will refuse to admit is going to be a massive flop (hands in the back rule anyone?) until they're basically forced into it. Can't wait for the Grand Final to be decided on this - not that we'll be involved - and their headquarters to get firebombed.

Err, enough terrorism - back to the game if we must. We kicked the first three goals of the last quarter to put some respectability into proceedings. Then copped about a hundred in a row and got pumped. Dix.

Ruck Watch
Jamar backed up what was probably his best game ever last week with what may have been his worst. 16 taps which went straight down the throat of an opponent and 1 handball with five free kicks against. With Johnson marooned down back as part of the slops squad he played as the second ruckman all day to little effect. Had better play like his life depends on it in the next few weeks to make sure we don't finish last, or when Naitanui walks throught the door at the end of the year he'll pass the big #40 going the other way.

2008 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes

5 - Aaron Davey
4 - Clint Bartram
3 - Cale Morton
2 - Austin Wonaeamirri
1 - Shane Valenti

Apologies to Green, Miller, Moloney, Bruce, Garland (!?), Bell, McDonald, White, Bate, Jones, Buckley.

Leaderboard

This could be the most exciting feature of our season. With any of 5 or 6 capable of winning this year's Jako. Previous winners Jones and McLean are well in the mix, and perennial contenders McDonald, Bruce and Green are mixing it up as well.

In the battle for the minor prizes Morton and Wonaeamirri seem to be fighting neck and neck for the chance to join Matthew Bate and Ricky Petterd/Juice Newton for Rookie of the Year honors. With Wheatley seemingly out of luck, Carroll out of favour, Whelan out full stop and Rivers unable to stay on the field for more than ten minutes at a time without hurting himself the Defender of the Year is wide open.

Due to my overseas absence the votes for the Collingwood, Richmond, St. Kilda and Sydney games will be determined by either guest reporters or the results of the Big Footy board voting if the games aren't on TV over there. Queen's Birthday shouldn't be an issue but I don't hold out much hope for the rest of them. I will be listening to the games through the AFL website (why the fark did I take a four week holiday during footy season?) so I might even chip in with votes off the radio if I can.

14 - Nathan Jones
13 - Cameron Bruce
12 - Brad Green
9 - Brock McLean
9 - Aaron Davey
9 - Cale Morton (Leader: 2008 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
8 - James McDonald
8 - Austin Wonaeamirri
6 - Paul Johnson
6 - Jared Rivers (Leader: 2008 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
5 - Brad Miller
4 - Brent Moloney
4 - Clint Bartram
3 - Nathan Carroll
3 - Lynden Dunn
3 - Jeff White
2 - Russell Robertson
1 - Mark Jamar
1 - Shane Valenti

Draft Watch
I don't want to lose. I certainly don't want to finish last. If you can't get good enough players to build a team with top five picks then you're either not trying, or you have our recruiting staff from the past ten years. Like it or not we're not good enough to win more than one or two games for the rest of the year, and that means you're looking at this guy. Note that he was born in Penrith, imagine what's going to happen if we draft him and he turns out to be a gun - the AFL will move heaven and earth to try and get him to the new West Sydney team whenever it starts. Are you ready to be shafted? Whatever, I'm used to it.

Next Week
Hawthorn. Remember them? It's hard not to, we only played them about fifteen minutes ago. I've heard that they've got a handy player up front, could cause some problems for us. Some problems? How about he'll kick 19 in the first quarter and then sit on a deckchair in the goalsquare drinking Pina Coladas and popping ******* ***** [That's quite enough - Legal Department] for the rest of the match?

The Week After
We'll be getting spanked by the Saints. I'll be in Singapore, presumably getting spanked by a tranny. Given the way our season's going I reckon I'm probably still better off.

If you want to do guest reports for any of the St. Kilda, Collingwood, Richmond or Sydney games please either email me (supermercado AT demonblog DOT com) or PM me on Big Footy so I can give you the login/password.

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