Sunday, 12 July 2009

Here I am! Rock you like a Jurrahcane!

Who would have thought that headline would have gotten a run so quickly? Especially since I've been sitting on it ever since the great man made his debut.

Now, I must start by pointing out that I had a really bad feeling about this game. Having been sick for the last month (perhaps it's time to see a doctor?) and waking up this morning feeling like death I was wildly unenthusiastic about today. Then I got to the G, bought chips and spilt half of them across the top deck of the Olympic Stand. More importantly Port had been in decent form and were surely going to beat us like the proverbial red-headed stepchild (Bate or Cheney - you decide!) Two in a row was far too much to ask for.

The stat on the screen before the match showing that we were 6-1 against them at the MCG raised an eyebrow. Lest we forget that horrific day we lost to them and I threw the biggest spaz of my life. Ugly stuff. But that was back when we were just five or six straight losses removed from a 2nd week of the finals performance. We didn't understand what had gone wrong so suddenly. Now, two years later, we're seasoned victims - used to being beaten by everybody. It's basically the sporting equivalent of the Stockholm Syndrome. Now we just expect to lose.

Then strange things happened. We actually played.. well. My traditional first goalkicker bet Matty Bate kicked the first goal - in the week where I didn't have a bet - and The 'Cane chipped in with one as well. If you choose to ignore Daniel Bell's ludicrous turnover for a goal then it was undoubtedly a quarter of beauty. Jurrah had three by the end of it, Jamar was smashing it out of the centre and Port were self-destructing at a rapid rate. They truly were a putrid outfit today.

Having said that they're a pretty putrid outfit at the best of times. Look away now if you're a Port fan because it's time for some home truths. Your nickname is gash, your song is like something specially written for a primary school musical and your away jumper is even worse than the silver monstrosity that we sported for a few years. Even my usually placid mother almost punched on with a Port fan a few years ago. I will admit that I went for them in a grand final but let's face it that was only because they were standing in the way of Brisbane winning four in a row. In fact the only thing I actually like about Port Adelaide is Choco Williams - mainly because he fits into my fetish for coaches who may also be serial killers - and they don't even like him. It's not all their fault though - Collingwood barring them from wearing their real jumper doesn't help. Hardly means that putting some white and teal abortion on instead is a sensible idea. Pointless enterprise all around.

Err, anyway - then there's the match. How good was Lynden Dunn's dive to draw the free on Chad Cornes in the second quarter? He was falling over before Chadwick even touched him. Not surprisingly Mr. Cornes mentioned rather vociferously that he disagreed with the decision - and hello it's a 50 and a certain goal. WIN! I was pretty impressed by Dunn - he's certainly been harshly done by having been marooned at Casey for the last month. I'm even more impressed by his acting.

After the champagne Hollywood performance to set up the Dunn goal, one of the few men in the league angrier than him - Brogan - got one back for Port before THE 'CANE marked again for his fourth... And missed the easiest shot yet. After all you can't be a cult figure if you don't mess up the easy stuff sometime.

The tale for the rest of the half was that we'd go inside 50 five times and finally get a goal, only for Port to get a cheap one straight away to peg us back. It's amazing that we were playing so well (relatively speaking) and they were playing so poorly but we couldn't jump more than two or three goals in front. Having said that we did cop one of the most ludicrous goals in history at the end of the second quarter. Witness David Rodan running a mile too far, then getting tackled, THEN THROWING IT and not getting pinged for any of them. Did the umpire get so confused at what signal to make that he forgot to do any of them? Tredrea goalled from it and you could stand to feel slightly persecuted. Then I remembered Dunn's dive and the cheapy that Robertson got at the start when he didn't make the distance.

So, half time and we were looking pretty good. Port, though, were well down and if they turned it on we might have been trouble. After all they're not a bad team. Rubbish sides always kill themselves by not putting a good side away when they have the opportunity, then getting run over when the better team realises what's going on. Fourteen minutes into the third quarter we were 30 points in front and that theory was being mocked. The impressive Petterd got his second before the man that some are trying to label The Cougar, but who we know only as THE JURRAHCANE used his gigantic octopus arms to take a mark on the goal-line and slot one from a rubbish angle for his fourth.

My boy the Stefan Martin Experience didn't have such a great one. His highest and lowest moment came at the same time when he took a contested mark on the 50, stepped around his opponent, ran to 40m with an open goal in front of him and sprayed it. He did alright in the ruck without bringing anything special but I'm worried that he's going to be squeezed out of the side by both the backline and - shockingly - the forwards - looking good. He certainly hasn't done himself many favours as a forward in the last couple of weeks with some very wonky kicking. If we're going to drop him again can he play a full 2nd's game in the forward line? Maybe even as FF in the Casey 2's? It's not a reflection that he's not good enough, just that he needs to play against some lesser backlines and hone his craft rather than trying to do it in the AFL.

I'm sure that even after our win last week somebody somewhere was saying "they don't know how to win", and maybe they had a point. On either side of the SME's sidestep and slop they kicked three goals to get themselves back into it. Thankfully Robertson, who had been completely outshone by the Jurrah/Petterd show, chipped in for one at the end to give us some breathing room.

Speaking of farcical errors what about Cale Morton's 5m sideways pass straight to a Port player? Absolutely abysmal! He was pretty good otherwise but that's the sort of shit that ends up in highlight reels.

And yes as always the last quarter of a win (YES, A WIN!) was filled with tension. One day we're going to come out and smash somebody in the 4th quarter and you'll know that we're back in town. After playing a great game on Tredrea all day Matthew Warnock fell apart in the last quarter and cost a couple of goals. 14 minutes in the margin was back to seven and things were looking very wobbly indeed. Mark freaking Jamar - playing another corker of a game - marked inside 50 but handed it off to Moloney who missed.

The highlight of my day was the insane lengths the Russian goes to in order to avoid having to kick the ball. The fact that he doesn't even have a shot at goal says it all. I hereby predict that we will never see him have more than five kicks in a game. Today it was 3 kicks and 16 handballs. I like it when a man knows his limitations. You're a ruckman, not Gary Ablett. Get rid of the thing, don't try and pinpoint a pass 40m down the line. Paul Johnson please take note.

Petterd kicked the winner - on a pass from guess who? - in what was undoubtedly his best game ever. Another performance like that and I might have to do subtle edits on the old posts that questioned him as a forward. Any eating of words that involves something playing well and not the other way around is worth it.

Still, even with the margin back out over three goals they were done with yet. Krakouer missed one he should have got, Tredrea another and then with just over a minute left Brett Ebert botched a pretty good chance to bring them within a kick. We tried to run the clock down again, and once again weren't good enough to actually execute it. Luckily they torched their chance and we got away with it for a win.

Relief at the siren. I'm not one for singing the song and going bananas when you win a game to go from 16th to 15th, but inside I was pretty pleased with the way it went. It was good to see the fans that did show up with a smile on their face for once. In years to come there will be about 30,000 people trying to claim that they sat through these years - we did and we should get a freaking medal for it. When I can't get a seat for the 2016 Grand Final because some teeny bopper has shown up in Round 22 and porked one of the players there will be a riot.

2009 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Cameron Bruce
4 - Liam Jurrah
3 - Ricky Petterd
2 - Brad Green
1 - Mark Jamar

Apologies to Bate, Davey, Dunn, Grimes, Jetta, McLean, Moloney, Rivers, Warnock, Wheatley

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

Crowd Watch
Where was everybody? I know West Coast have more fans locally, and there were quite a few travelling, but it hardly explains a 7k drop-off in attendance. Has it got something to do with Sunday? Or did everyone just think "surely we're not going to win again" and sit at home listening to the radio instead.

Welcome to the 21st century, you can listen to your radio AND go to the game. Don't make Jimmy write a cheque, he's still ill.

Koaching Korner
Any win is good news when you've been last for two and a half years like us, but I'm more happy for Bailey than anybody else. Like an idiot I started to question the masterplan when we were being beaten pillar to post a few weeks ago. He's gone through a lot of shit in the last 2.5 seasons and deserves a couple of wins in a row.

Although, with due respect to his injury, whoever decided to select Daniel Bell should be dragged out to write a public apology. I'm assuming Bennell was injured as he didn't play for Casey but my god can we not play him again? If the idea today was to put an Adelaide boy in the trade shop window for Port then it didn't work.

I didn't mind Wheatley today. He botched it a couple of times but was generally pretty cool in the contest and layed a couple of decent tackles. I don't object playing him for the rest of the year as long as it's clear that he's not going to be on the list next season.

The VFA Report
The team formerly known as Springvale demolished Frankston yesterday. Frankston, however, are about as much use as the Diamond Valley Under 9's so it's not a great form guide. The week before they hammered Bendigo who are so bad that even they lost to Frankston, so it's hard to get a line on where everyone is.

Miller and Newton dominated up-front but it really was like taking candy from a baby. The way our forward line played today I wouldn't expect to see either of them again anytime soon. The only question is whether Miller plays next year or we try to flog him to Sydney as a half-replacement for Barry Hall. I don't dislike the guy but god forbid we can wrench a second rounder out of them then take it and do the biggest runner since OJ Simpson.

September Watch
There's nothing worse than people thinking that just because you follow a Victorian club that you want one to win the flag. There's nothing worse because then we have to hear about it. That's why from now on I'll be punting Adelaide home - they're our best chance to send the flag elsewhere and not have to hear about it again. Up the Crows - they've got everything that Port doesn't. Decent song and decent colours. Still not sure why you've have a state called the Crow Eaters and a team called the Crows though. Does South Australia eat Adelaide? Explain that. No wonder State of Origin got the arse.

The only exception to Premiership Export rule is the Bulldogs whom I will cop as premier. St. Kilda on the other hand must crash and burn.

Encylopedia Titanica
Demon Wiki - open for business. Get amongst it. Ridiculously under construction at the moment but if you can get on and add a couple of pages then you are assured of going straight to information heaven when you die.

Tank Talk
Now it gets interesting. Let's just assume for a moment that we're going to go hell for leather for Pick 1 and either 2 or 3. Let's assume the Shane Valenti at Full Forward and Jordie McKenzie in the ruck angle is going occur. We're now off the bottom and have one win more in us before the shutters come down. However in the next few weeks we play more than winnable games against Richmond, North and Freo as well as an unlikely but not impossible clash with Sydney in Canberra.

I loathe the AFL for the situation they're putting us in. Thanks for the potential free #1 pick and all but why am I considering cheering against my own team. In what sort of world are we 5pts in front 28 minutes into the last quarter next week, about to pull off the upset of the year but still thinking "Well, this is going to stuff us up for the future"?

I'll be satisfied to get one more win but still finish above Freo and get Picks 1 and 3. That would require them to win one more and for us to beat them, or vice versa. Richmond and North I can take losing to, but I don't think we can possibly accept dropping a game to the Dockers at the MCG. How about this year we don't give up a 10 goal lead at half time though?

But on the other hand I'm of the opinion that if you can't get a decent player in the top 5 then you may as well be Freo. It's the extra pick and the ultra-hype around Tom Scully that make me nervous about advocating going out and winning five. I guess I have to shamefully back down and admit that as much as I hate myself for it I'm actually calling for the tank now.

I feel dirty.

Laughing Stock League
It's back! For the first time all year we're off the bottom in every ladder. Here's the LSL table

1-15 - Every football team in every code in the country
16 - Freo by a mile.

And fair enough too. How do we keep finishing below those slops?

Next Week
If I'd told you six weeks ago that we'd be going to Geelong with two straight losses to play them with two wins in a row of our own you'd have had me sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Doesn't mean we're going to win, or even get close, because they'll be in a fearsome mood but still bizarre nonetheless. Demonblog will be there, probably standing on the steps behind the goals and wondering why the hell I drove there for an hour just to watch us get humped.

Final Thoughts
At some point in the future we're going to have THE JURRAHCANE and THE CELEBRATOR in the same forward line. That stands every possible chance of being immense.

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