Friday, 19 June 2009

The Royal Shaft

Ever since the Collingwood fiasco all we've heard from the club has been about going hard and being competitive. Lovely, rosy stuff. Thanks to the split round two weeks of it. And so with the debut of another exciting youngster on the cards a great number of our fans went out to a stadium that is harder to get into at an Essendon game than Fort Knox and were served up something which was 9/10th's slop.

The sub-plots were there in droves as well. That is if you didn't just give up and go home at the prospect of having to stand in a queue for 20 minutes to get a 'seat' that you weren't going to use any way rather than just walking through the gate with your membership like any normal match. Watts 2.0, the debut of the Jurrahcane, Sylvia's continuing form, the emerging players in Jetta, Bennell, Cheney and Martin and crunch games for the likes of Miller and Robertson.

And after all that build-up we got smashed from the first bounce. Not only were we not getting anything on the scoreboard, but we were getting even less from the umpires. It took us until 25 minutes into the first quarter to get a free kick, by which time Essendon had kicked two from frees and another from a 50. I'm not one for conspiracy theories, or the idea that the free-kick count should magically align or it's a rort but for god's sake do they need to pay absolutely everything? Ok if a guy is on the ground and you do Bam Bam Bigelow's Greetings From Asbury Park onto his head then fair enough give a free, but am I the only one sick to death of players laying a decent tackle only to put a slight bit of pressure on the back and get pinged for a push? It's a farce.

Frawley was monstered by Lloyd early on and it looked as if we were going to see similar, or worse, to his eight goals and a mark of the year performance in the MCG fixture last year. At least this time we weren't wearing that vomitous silver number as the clash jersey. The white one isn't that much better, and it does have that hideous bi-curious pirate logo, but anything beats the silver. And to think you actually see people going around in that to this day. Unbelievable. What was wrong with the old red alternative jumper we used to wear? Was much better.

The second quarter was one for first goals all round. Jack Grimes started it, Jurrah followed it up with a corker of a goal off the ground that sent our fans off their collective nut and then Watts bobbed up for his first just when I was starting to worry that he was going to get completely put out of the game. More on Jurrah later, but Watts was interesting tonight. Once he gets it he's not bad, and he's obviously a great kick for goal but good god he's slight. Naturally greater bulk will come but for the moment it's like playing Cale 'Supermodel Diet' Morton as a key-forward. He's just getting swatted off the ball with the greatest of ease. Shows some wonderful signs but physically not up to it yet. Doesn't mean he shouldn't play the majority of the next ten games, but R1 next year with a full pre-season and half a year's experience in him is when we'll really start to see results.

Speaking of Morton, what the hell are we doing with him? A number four draft pick in his second year has got to be worth more than being used as a cheap kick collector Bowden-esque loose man in defence? We're not exactly playing to make the 8 here - can we throw him into a proper midfield position for the rest of the year and really test him out?

Now, the third quarter. I'm not turning on Bailey - it's far too early for that - but I am pivoting a bit and asking, rather stridently, WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON IN THAT QUARTER? We copped a couple at the end of the second after dragging ourselves back into it, but much like the last two games we came back from half time and were absolutely blown out of the water. Fair enough if it comes from being beaten by a better side, understandable even if you get the thing and stuff it up continually but when you just roll over and die like we did then you've got a lot to answer for.

I'm not claiming to be an expert in football, far from it, but what exactly does anyone expect to achieve by having 16 players inside the opposition's defensive 50, another two standing just outside and absolutely nobody forward of the halfway line? They kept kicking points and we kept not being able to get it forward because there was NO FARKING BODY THERE TO KICK IT TO. Jesus H Christ at least have one or two people down there. On a couple of occasions we finally got the ball out of the defensive 50 and had to bomb it forward to nobody because there wasn't a target. Shock horror when we went back to a 'traditional' set-up we started to look a lot more dangerous.

In the press conference Bailey tried to play it down like they were there to attempt to extract the ball, but I'd suggest that if you need 18 people get one football out then you need to find 18 new people. How many footballers does it take to extract a ball? (this is not awaiting a punchline, I really want to know) Surely one person, ONE OF 17 - 5.6% of the side if you prefer - could stay forward in case the ball goes down there?

Amusingly despite us having the Essendon forward line clogged with our entire team they still managed to kick inside 50 and pinpoint individual players on their own. Where's one of those FAIL pictures with our entire squad on it when you need it? We went the biff in the last few minutes but it was too little too late. Pickett and Neitz (pre-2006) aside when have we had anyone legitimately fearsome in recent years? Where are the big tough bastards who spend as much time suspended as playing? I wouldn't know where to start in realistically sourcing one from another club (oh go on, suggest we swap Miller for Daniel Kerr. Give us all a laugh) but it certainly beats throwing away ALL your picks on kids. Top 3 or 4 fair enough but if you can flog a third rounder for somebody who will come in, biff a few crunts and give the kids some belief in themselves then why not?

As happens so often with us the last quarter was a junk-time, garbagefest of the highest order. We got the first three goals but it was too far gone to mean anything. Jetta got his first and Bate got rewarded for being our only decent forward - save a short burst by Miller - with a second goal before the Stefan Martin Experience continued its 2009 world tour by landing in the forward line after a decent stint in the ruck. Didn't go too badly, and is going to be very handy as a pinch-hitter up there in the future, but will more fondly be remembered tonight for kicking a corker of a goal on the run from the boundary. His forward line excitement rating is high, having kicked 2 rippers from 3 career goals. Apparently got 99.5 on his VCE as well, so at least when he realises that we've made him hate football he can do something useful with his life. Sylvia missed a sitter that would have completely sealed BOG status for us, and Watts got a second but the sting was well and truly gone.

They got the last two. Nobody cared. The siren went. Goodnight and let's never speak of this again. I certainly won't be calling Name a Game to order my copy, and I doubt too many Essendon fans will either. The only re-watching of this game that's likely to take place in the next few days is by the tribunal to decide how long Mark McVeigh - who just ten short years ago was coming into the video shop I worked in to rent R-Rated adult features - will get for biffing Jared Rivers.

Speaking of Name of a Game, when I won the free DVD on Queen's Birthday the bloke at SEN said "somebody will give you a call" and I've never heard from anyone since. Maybe that's their scam? Don't say anything and hope the winner gives up. It's happened to me on there before - I got one question in the quiz, won some pissweak book that I didn't really want anyway and got hung up on before anybody could get my details.

As you would know if you saw the game tonight Liam Jurrah was a revelation. Having watched him play the last three games at Casey I knew what to expect, and of course he didn't get as easy a run as he did in the VFL, but what you saw tonight is raw talent. Sure, he can't handball all that well but do you think anyone is in the games he's grown up playing? Had a couple of good leaps, took some lead-up marks and for the sake of a few inches could have had three goals. Has the makings of the one of the biggest cult figures at the club, and in a group where there's not too many left since Davey stopped playing forward and THE CELEBRATOR got injured, we need it. My wildcard Jurrah highlight was his big thumping spoil in the last quarter. We were getting pumped but even that caused the MFC fans around me to shudder with excitement.

Amazing story too. Has anyone ever had to learn English to play AFL senior football before? Wouldn't have thought so. Several have had to learn to use cutlery, and a lot to stop punching taxi drivers in the head - but a whole language? Remarkable! Thanks to Collingwood for not bothering to pick him up, and well done to our recruiting staff for taking a punt on him. Didn't exactly fly under the radar tonight so it's not like they took it easy on him - will be a very interesting second game next week and somebody to look out for in the rest of the season. Oh, and whoever decided to call him THE JURRAHCANE should be given an award. I'm burning with envy that I didn't come up with it myself.

As for the rest of the year first players Bennell and Cheney were solid without being spectacular, but I'm still not convinced about Jetta. Was only playing his 6th game so I'm not burying him, and he was ok tonight, but I don't see what he really adds. Would rather see Maric in there for the rest of the year to be honest.

Underbelly's Kriminal Korner
Brock McLean was wearing a black armband for dear departed Tuppence Moran. Whatever, good luck to him but did he have to play like he was at a funeral as well?

Crowd Watch
Had headphones in all night. Couldn't hear a word any of them were saying. Glorious.

Koaching Korner
Rightly or wrongly this is the week where a bunch of people are going to start turning on Bailey. All I will say is CLARKSON. Talk to me at this time next year and we'll see if we're in Daniher mid-2003 anti-coach tantrum territory yet. Until then, sit back and watch the rubbish unfold. And don't tell me we should have hired Sheedy or I'll glass you.

Website Watch
The AFL website needs to be thrown off a cliff. First it laughably claims that Cameron Bruce and McLean were in our best, then it makes watching the post-match press conference impossible in Firefox. Cockheads the lot of them.

2009 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Colin Sylvia
4 - Matthew Bate
3 - Brad Green
2 - Paul Johnson
1 - Liam Jurrah

Varying degrees of apology to Davey (30 touches, hardly any of which did anything special), Miller, Moloney, Frawley (molested early, came back well), Whelan, Bruce, Grime and Martin (the ultimate troubleshooter - however now officially DQ'ed for the Seecamp Award due to his non-permanent defender status).

Leaderboard
19 - Aaron Davey
18 - Brent Moloney, Colin Sylvia
13 - Nathan Jones
14 - Brad Green
9 - Matthew Bate
8 - Brock McLean, Jared Rivers, James Frawley (CO-LEADERS: 2009 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Mark Jamar (LEADER: Strawbs O'Dwyer Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
7 - Brad Miller, Cameron Bruce, Stefan Martin
6 - Cale Morton
5 - Kyle Cheney (LEADER: 2009 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year),
4 - Matthew Warnock, Jamie Bennell
3 - Ricky Petterd, Russell Robertson, Matthew Whelan
2 - James McDonald, Jack Grimes, Paul Johnson
1 - Lynden Dunn, Liam Jurrah

Tank Talk
We've won one fucking game. It was hilarious talking about 'only' winning four after the Richmond game, and looked almost fanciful after the Bulldogs/Geelong matches, but the way we're going we'll be lucky to match the three wins of last season.

Next Week
Brisbane @ the Gabba. Gee, I wonder what's going to happen there? We'll get smashed and I 100% will not be writing a report as I've committed to something else and will - at best - be listening to patches of it on the radio, being anti-social on my phone reading Big Fotoy, or running in and out of a room checking the score. Therefore if you want to write either email me via supermercado AT demonblog DOT com, PM me on BigFooty or leave a note on the windscreen of my car. Last time I tried this, for the St. Kilda game, the crowd went absolutely mild but can someone do it this time at least for the sake of keeping some integrity in the votes rather than having to rely on the shaky as shit newspaper variety.

Who's Bradshaw going to kick nine on this year? I bet you he kicked a bin over in anger when he heard that we'd delisted him.

Final Thoughts
Sports are shit. Your suggestions on how I could have better spent a Friday night in the comments section please.

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