Monday, 21 July 2008

Deathbed Football

First things first, if I may, a personal story and a warning to the kids of Australia from all of us here at Demonblog. When you're meant to work at an event where the whole purpose is to stand on your feet all day and talk to people DO NOT go out the night before, get home at 6 and go straight there on an hours sleep. It will never achieve anything other than perhaps a stroke.

Sure, I survived the day - and in fact I'd say I dominated (especially during a lift breakdown, people trapped crisis situation) but the real problem was that due to unsavoury scheduling of the Freo game I couldn't go home and sleep - I had to wait for the match to finish first. Given that I don't have Foxtel due to my impoverished status (cue a "We Are The World" style charity single with appearances from John Northey and Simon Eishold) and by this time was physically unable to get in a car and drive anywhere else to watch it options were few and far between.

The last time I completely missed a game due to falling asleep after being awake for god knows how long was when we beat Carlton at Optus Oval in 2001. This means I missed Luke Williams' best ever game, which is probably a factor in why I spent the next four years having a breakdown every time I saw him in the selected side. I went home, and much like last night climbed into bed with the radio on. Next thing I woke up, we'd won by a goal and Peter Walsh had pocketed 3 Brownlow votes for getting 24 touches and Scott Camporeale had none for 33. Sucked in hard. Then there was the game I completely missed at Optus Oval in 2004 because I had to get off the tram, throw up on a St Kilda Road nature strip and go home halfway there due to the worst hangover anyone has ever suffered. Hey, at least I tried - which is more than you can say for the team that day.

So, once again here I was listening to the radio from bed (and what does it say about the standard of the AM band when it was easier to listen to SEN through the AFL website than the radio right next to me?) but the crucial difference was that this time I had the alarm set for 4.40 so I wouldn't miss any of the action if I did somehow fall asleep. Which I didn't. Game on, and suddenly we were flying Air Demons - 30,000 feet high, clear skies and a potential massacre on the cards.

From the first bounce it sounded like Freo were an absolute five alarm shambles. After we got the first goal Chris Tarrant did what he does best and missed one from 20m out directly in front - then it was all one way traffic for the rest of the quarter. Miller got one, Newton avoided his set shot yips by booting one from the boundary, Morton got a second and PJ joined in as well. 31-2 at quarter time - not bad eh? Either that or a massive setup for them to do what we did to them earlier in the season and pull off a grand comeback. They couldn't be that bad for four quarters could they? And god knows we couldn't be that good for four quarters, so the case was pretty clear for the comeback. Then, when the commentators started talking about how a Melbourne win would mean the two Perth teams would be bottom of the ladder 'at the end of today' it became even more obvious what was going to happen.

Five minutes into the second quarter Mark Jamar used one of his four kicks for the day to slot our sixth straight, and given that he's never had more than five kicks in a match it was surely an omen of good times to come. Bollocks it was. From that moment on it was a full scale mid-air emergency as Air Melbourne plummetted towards the ground at a million miles an hour, and all the deployed oxygen masks in the world weren't going to save us. From 38-2 we lost the plot so spectacularly that at half time it was 39 apiece. Clearly the Freo side who were playing Three Stooges-esque football in the first quarter had somehow swapped into our jumpers during the quarter time break because it all went horribly wrong. When Pavlich, who couldn't get near the thing in the first quarter because his midfield were too busy falling over, started kicking goals you wrote us off on the spot.

But level scores at half-time isn't so bad - unless you've backed the quarter quad. The boys go into the sheds, sit down to regroup and be asked "WHAT IN GOD'S NAME WERE YOU DOING OUT THERE?" before formulating a plan for avoiding complete demolition. Plenty of time for Captain Bailey and First Officer Bruce to work out some way of avoiding being portrayed in an episode of Air Crash Investigation. They already managed to save the good ship MFC from one disaster against Freo this year, so why not again? After all, as every man and their dog was surely pointing out, we were almost ten goals better off this time than then.

And that piece of sporting trivia counted for precisely nothing when Shaun "I didn't know he was alive" McManus goaled about 20 seconds in to put the Dockers in front. Miller responded, but once again from there it was all Freo for the next 25 long, painful and drawn-out minutes. From 46-45, by three quarter time it was 81-47. Where had I seen this before? It was truly painful listening, so I'd hate to think what it was like to watch or see in person. Lest we forget that we've supposedly got the best record of any of the Melbourne teams in Perth. Fat lot of good that does when not one single player can hit a target.

At one point I think Antoni Grover was on world record pace for the most interceptions inside defensive 50 in one match. I heard his name used more times in the second half than I ever have before in total. You couldn't blame the forwards, they just couldn't get near it.

Final quarter - 34 points down. What chance the Dockers fall apart in the final term again? That the Bailey/Bruce machine pull out some unlikely crash landing with no wheels and save 29,000 odd lives before recieving a heroes reception? Absolutely none. 54 points it was, and that was with two cheap as chips junk time goals at the end when they'd stopped with shock at actually having won a match.

So, down went the Slop 747 with all hands on board. It reminded me of one of my favourite movies of all time, where the final scene is a jumbo jet stacking it to the tune of "Do The Hustle". Make of that what you will.

Just dandy. I hate this season so much.

2008 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
Given that I was listening to the game in a state of mental distress approaching that of a terror suspect at Guantanomo Bay I have no actual capacity to deliver votes. Given that I don't trust the newspapers in the slightest I refuse to take their votes either, so what I'll do is wait for the BigFooty votes thread to run out of steam and take their top five instead, so if you're reading and want to try and rig the voting so that your chosen lovechild gets a mention then get on with it.

UPDATE

5 - Chris Johnson
4 - Brad Miller
3 - Simon Buckley
2 - Shane Valenti
1 - Aaron Davey

Leaderboard
As above. Brace for updates.

UPDATE - Jones retains his lead despite putting in another ordinary performance.

23 - Nathan Jones
21 - Brock McLean
21 - Cameron Bruce
20 - Brad Green
14 - Matthew Bate
14 - Brad Miller
12 - James McDonald
12 - Colin Garland (Leader: 2008 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
12 - Chris Johnson
11 - Lynden Dunn
10 - Austin Wonaeamirri (Leader: 2008 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
10 - Aaron Davey
9 - Cale Morton
9 - Paul Johnson
6 - Jared Rivers
5 - Brent Moloney
4 - Clint Bartram
4 - Matthew Whelan
3 - Nathan Carroll
3 - Matthew Warnock
3 - Jeff White
3 - Simon Buckley
3 - Paul Wheatley
3 - Shane Valenti
2 - Russell Robertson
1 - Mark Jamar
1 - Adem Yze
1 - Stefan Martin

Draft Watch
Ok, so we got slaughtered in the ruck today. I guess that means we're going to be subjected to a Naitanui fest over the next week or so. Personally I think the match proved exactly why we should stay away from him. Yes, we need a ruckman blah blah blah but what about around the grounds? Where was the disposal there? What were we doing when the ball actually hit the deck? Fark all and nothing by the looks of it. And what about up front? Miller tried hard and Newton did enough to keep himself in the mix for another week but if we don't get a big KPP up there soon we'll fail to score one week. If there's a ruckman that they can get with the second pick, or if they can lure Warnock over from Perth, then more power to them but right now we desperately need an elite midfielder or key position forward more than we need somebody who can jump 25 foot in the air and not much else.

Kasualty Korner
Rivers, Moloney, Green, McLean and Robertson would have been fairly handy you'd think.

Rulebook Corner
(AKA: "How KB is going to wreck the game this week and then spend his entire radio career trying to justify it")
This has absolutely nothing to do with our game, but given that everyone else will be all over it this week I'd like to talk about the Joel Bowden affair at the MCG the other day. For those of you who didn't see it he basically wasted thirty seconds by deliberately rushing behinds. Cue journalist outrage and talkback meltdowns. It's the same theory behind a rushed behind in any circumstances, the trained seals in the crowd boo when the opposition does it but rise to applaud when their own player heroically runs one through.

And so it begins. The myriad suggestions on how to stop something that has happened once in a million years. This article contends that the three point for a rushed behind rule should come in during the regular season. Pure horseshit. People are always using the "what if this happened in the Grand Final?" argument to try and change the rules, so I'm going to use it to try and stop a rule. What happens in this supposed Grand Final (which Melbourne will presumably not be involved with) when it's 2 points the difference and in the last second somebody gets the ball and has a ping at the goals, the defender legitimately sticks his arm on the line to stop it and it flies through the points. Is the goal umpire then expected to pay a 3pt penalty and cost the team a flag? Do we not have enough subjective rulings in the game already (holding the ball, deliberate etc..) without throwing another one in and confusing everyone.

Let's not forget that the goal umpire has to stand right there after he's made a decision. Field umpires might cause sections of the crowd to threaten to kill them, but they're generally running around in the middle and get a police escort off the ground. Goal umpires are generally expected to stand in front of toothless mutant cheersquads with their backs turned after they've made their decisions. Surely they have a union to speak out against this potential cavalcade of flying cans. If rushing behinds isn't a good look for our game what is it when bodyguards have to flank a man in a white coat like he's the Prime Minister of Israel going for a stroll through the Gaza Strip.

Here's your solution. Once the player kicking in has played on he must kick the ball forward. Play the Sale of the Century theme for me because that's got it all covered. There's no reason why you would want to kick backwards from that situation, and it would be simple for an umpire to judge whether or not a cross field kick has moved forward or back. Or what about after they've played on making it that their next kick must go 15m no matter if it hits a target or not - that's simply adapting a current rule to a new situation. Err, anyway that's enough serious football discussion.

Next Week
North at the MCG on Sunday at 2.10. Earlier in the year when we were supershit they beat us, but without really getting out of first gear. We might be playing better now, but so are they. Given that they're right in the middle of the pack for the bottom half of the eight, and in danger of dropping out at any moment, I fail to see how they can possibly take us lightly enough to get rolled.

Then it's Essendon (loss), Geelong (oh my god), West Coast (surely), Port (HOME WIN) and Richmond. The draft can get stuffed, I'd love to wreck Richmond's finals chances in Round 22 again - it'll give me happy memories of Round 22, 1998. Except that then we were playing finals the next week, and this time our players will be getting arrested for being drunk and disorderly on the Monday. Like sands through an hourglass, these are the seasons of our life...

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