(I apologise in advance that this is really, really long. Maybe the longest ever, but as you're well aware by now the two things I don't do are directors cuts and actual football analysis. So take a stiff drink, remember that you've got a free day off tomorrow and get into it - Mercado)
Isn't the world a slightly more beautiful place when the Dees are winning? Not that the person in this picture knows considering how I ripped it off straight from Google Images, but you see my point. At the length this is likely to go on it'll probably be sunrise by the time I'm finished anyway.
Before the lid comes completely off and we get into 5000 words about how this is the greatest moment in the history of the planet etc.. a small personal indulgence if I may. Shortly after the 2006 season I changed jobs just to get away from having to work weekends and miss games (yeah sure it also had a bit to do with it being a soul destroying prick of a job but go with me here). From then on we have been utter bollocks of the highest (lowest?) order. The next year I even managed to find myself moving five minutes away from the MCG, just in time for two wooden spoon seasons. Since the start of the 2007 season I've missed four games in Victoria while overseas (R14 2007 and R11-12-13 2008) and thank god the second half of the Richmond debacle when it all got too much for me and I took an invite to go to a film premiere instead.
So like a lot of you I've seen some horrible things in person over the last three years. We've been trudging to the 'G, Docklands or - god forbid - Geelong week in and week out to watch losses, ineptitude and general buckets of slop passed off as football. We had wins, but other than a token early season victory over Richmond which we knew would mean absolutely nothing they've all come when the season has been dead and buried. Tonight is for everybody who stuck with us, bought their memberships even when they knew we were going to get thumped and stayed true. For everyone who copped shit from workmates whose sides have been in exactly the same position over the years. We're not out of the woods yet, but we're closer than ever before.
Ironically this week I finished in the job I took after the '06 season. I went out on a two game winning streak, but if tonight does turn out to be the official turning point that leads towards glory then the record book will show that the entire three year period I spent there was a footballing disaster. Onwards, upwards and all that shit.
Err, anyway some of you may be aware that we played a game of football tonight. From the lofty heights of 9th place we took on the undefeated United Nations of Brisbane in a rare Saturday night MCG game. How rare? So rare I can't even be arsed looking up the last time. Somebody mentioned that we'd not lost against them at the MCG since 1999, but neglected to point out that we've only played them there once since. Magnificent day that was. Remember Brad Miller of all people leading a blockbusting comeback in the dying minutes? What about Aussie Wonaeamirri [MIA] finally extracting the ball and taking off on a run after Brisbane spent the last 30 seconds camped in the forward line at the Ponsford Stand end threatening to steal the game back? Tremendous fun, loads of excitement for all but won when the season was well and truly buggered anyway. 13,000 more people there tonight as well - lids are coming off all over the place.
After beating two teams with a combined record of 0-9 the aim against the unbeaten Lions was to compete. I scoffed at the betting markets melting down when it was suggested that Jonathan Brown wouldn't play. I politely nodded away all week as people told me they "had a feeling" that we'd win. I dutifully put a bet on at the TAB that we'd lead at quarter time but none of the others, all the while confidentially expecting that we'd put in an encouraging but ultimately fruitless display and go down to a 4-6 goal loss.
Turns out that pundits, soothsayers and well wishers were right and that my prediction skills get plums. And how good does it feel? We've been involved in upsets here and then over the last decade, but I'm going to suggest that we've never pulled off anything as ludicrous as what happened tonight since Round 2, 1998 against North Melbourne. R1, 1997 against North again is the only other match that I can think of in the last twenty years that had bigger shock value than tonight - shame about the rest of the season but. In our up-down-up-down years we were never so bad that we rarely started the sort of colossal underdogs that we have so many times over the past couple of years. When we did, we usally did what was expected and got thrashed.
But even on the back of two wins we didn't just beat a 4-0 side, we absolutely pulverised them. There were some nervous moments but in the end it was a procession and we not only did it stylishly we did it ruthlessly. I hope the supposed 5000 international students at the game (which didn't hurt the attendance) went away thinking that we have been playing like this for years. Ring home and tell your friends/family/next door neighbour. Tell them that every time some guy called Grimes goes near the ball 20,000 hearts start beating that little bit faster.
Right off the bat what struck me was the ferocity with which our boys attacked the ball. Petterd got excited and missed a snap which might have opened the scoring, but we instantly looked like we could match it with the supposedly so much stronger Lions. Fev did his bit by missing a fair sitter down the other end before the game broke down into a power struggle, and one that we were well and truly pulling our weight in. Eventually Bennell, who is becoming one hell of an X-Factor player even if barely anything he tries ever comes off, managed to find Trengove on his own in the square for the opener.
Incidentally Trenners may as well just change his name by deed poll to Trengrove. Not only did commentators and fans spend the whole night adding the R but when interviewed after the match even James Frawley did it. Obviously the human brain cannot come to grips with there not being an R between the letters G and O. The best way to hammer home the correct spelling of is name is to get the bastard put up in the Hall of Fame. Over to you JT.
Not long after that Sylvia got the second and I started to think that maybe we were a chance. Just how last week when Richmond got the first couple I was convinced that we were rooted. Brown got the first for the Lions and then proceeded to be absolutely towelled up Frawley for the rest of the night. Injury cloud or not Chip stitched him up a treat after having a pretty ordinary one against the Tiges. When Petterd got two either side of a Lions goal born from an amazingly shit free kick (and if you ask them they'll tell you they were robbed by the umps. Humorous!) my eyebrows raised so far they almost hit the bloke behind me. Mind you the Brisbane fans had a point on the second one as Ricky's mark was immediately preceded by him sticking two hands in TJ's back and nearly dumping him to the ground before taking the grab.
There was also that bizarre Fev kicking in danger when it looked like our bloke (Frawley? Warnock? Phil Gilbert?) really just dived at the ball as Captain Bollocks was about to kick it off the ground. Should you really get a free when you've put yourself in the danger? Probably not, but everyone hates Fev so let's take it. Happily Warnock later forced Fev to kick out on the full before decking him and got away with it. The look on his face in the picture is priceless even if the way it's shot makes it look like he's done the Dusty Rhodes bionic elbow smash rather than what was in reality a gentle shove played up by a goose.
The ball came inside 50 a fair bit in the first term but the backmen were doing a solid job of keeping it out. All of Frawley, Warnock and Garland put in important spoils when Fev or Brown looked dangerous.
How good was The Stefan Martin Experience getting a free for out on the full when he kneed it over? Another brick in the "we were robbed" files from the other side, but I'll put every piece of umpiring shenanigan in the book up against the free that Bennell copped for pushing his opponent out in the forward line and will win every time. That was unreal, I've not seen the replay but if there was anything at all in that other than skillful bodywork then I'm not here. Stef didn't do a great amount possession wise, but he was great in giving a contest and working as a second ruckman. I loved when Bruce kicked it to him against three Lions in the last quarter and he managed to get the ball to the ground. If he can learn to take a contested mark like Jamar then he'll be well on the way to something big. Mind you it took Jamar six years to get it right.
Second quarter was a thing of rare beauty. I'm stoked to have been sitting pretty much right on top of the goals as we racked them up with ease. Davey on the run and Jamar from a set shot (and how underrated is he as a big man kicking from 30/40m out?) extended the lead to nearly four goals before Bennell was rorted out of the one that probably would have put the game away there and then. Luckily it only took another five minutes and we got it. I was lining up to buy a drink when Sylvia kicked the goal and the crowd went so collectively off their faces that the girl behind the counter actually covered her ears like something had exploded. Didn't contribute much to the situation myself by screaming "YES!" and throwing my hands in the air just as I was about to hand her the note. Not my fault he didn't take another bounce before he kicked it.
As it turns out that was the game, a blow that the Lions would never recover from. We were handballing forward, finding open players everywhere and kicking to targets inside 50. Even when we did hit them on the break and go forward with nobody inside 50 it never resulted in a ludicrous turnover in the middle of the ground. The whole thing was made of gold and the reaction of the crowd was unreal. I don't know how many people have jumped back on in the last week but the noise after every goal was a thing of beauty. Also loved the way every player running to the bench got a wild reception and round of applause, at one point I think even the runner got a standing o from the red seats. If you saw the game I don't need to tell you how good our pressure was, but I predict that you're going to see a shitload of it in highlights packages during the week. Six players with more than five tackles says it all.
When Trengove got his second not long after Sylvia's goal it was, for all intents and purposes, over. Fev got a late goal to drag it back to 26 points but just a couple of minutes later Green got a 50 after Josh Drummond the knob pushed him over post mark and replied with a towering bomb from 55m. Last act of the quarter was Jones booting one from outside 50 that was allegedly touched right on the line and would well and truly have stuffed the game for Brisbane with no prospect of a return. As it was they were lucky to go in only six goals behind.
The rain fell at half-time, good news for a team trying to defend a six goal lead, but eased up by the start of the third. Jordie "The Predator" McKenzie (leading tackler in the whole freaking competition IF YOU DO NOT MIND) ran in and let one fly from 50 and the margin was seven goals. Cue two goals in a row to the Lions to make it really interesting before Nate Jones kicked what must surely be a wildcard entrant for goal of the year. Taking the ball from a bounce he vaulted one hapless Brisbane player, ran around and slammed it home from outside 50. Useless stat of the week is that we kicked eleven goals from 40m or further out tonight. Who needs crumb when you've got B52 style bombing attacks like that?
Bater kicked another, the crowd were going troppo and somewhere we had all fallen through a big fat gap in the space time continum and landed back in time about four years. Hot Tub Time Machine my arse, this was the real deal. The Lions got the last two of the quarter, but how good was Davey's smother inside their 50? Fevola had just got a goal out of a dubious free against Grimes, and if Rischitelli had got their third in a row to cut the margin under four goals we could have been very wobbly but in a game full of outrageous defensive highlights from our boys Davey's was the best of them. He could not have been any more at full stretch to get a hand to the kick, and it said everything about the courage and desparation that these guys are playing with at the moment. Not to mention confidence. Big mofo swagging Fonzie from Happy Days confidence. The Lions were our Pinky Tuscadero and we were doing to them what the Fonz did to her in the back seat of his car at the prom (unscreened episode).
As previously discussed on every occasion that we have led at 3/4 since 2005 I do not have any confidence in any lead under 46 points. Horrible visions were going through my head of the Lions getting the first couple of goals and our guys completely falling to pieces under the pressure. It would have been a cruel way to lose after we'd put all the pressure on for the first three quarters. Like the Collingwood game it had gone from "we'd be happy to get within two goals" to "I will fairly neck myself if we lose it from here", and with my knuckles barely having recovered from SeatGate at that game I wasn't up for another grandstand heartbreaking finish if you don't mind.
Quarter opened well with that man Fev giving away a 50 after giving away a free to Warnock. We went down the other end where Green, named this week by The Age as the Demon who you would want kicking for your life, missed what would have been the long delayed sealer. Second place for magnificent defensive efforts on the night went to Brad Green for his predator like chase and tackle on Travis Johnstone out on the AFL Members wing. Just watch the way he avoids the half-hearted attempt at a shephard from TJ's and clamps him with the big grab. I had the feeling then that we weren't going to be beaten, but I'll bet there's a few Brisbane fans who felt that way before the Bruce/Miller explosion of 2008. Don't be confident in a lead kids, you'll just end up disappointed and bitter like me.
McDonald's goal was a contender for the most ludicrous and therefore satisfying sealers of all time. He won the free kick, realised that there was nobody to kick it to, thought he'd just roost it at the goals and hope for the best and saw it fly through. Cue absolute coco bananas wild scenes in the crowd and an exiting flood of Lions fans. I can't imagine for a moment what they must have been thinking. Flash back to 2006 again and the second time we lost to Carlton (lest we forget that 2 of their 3.5 wins for the year came against us). That's the closest I can get, and even then we at least fought the game out and didn't get thrashed. That day far more memorable for me due to the concerted campaign of hate I helped orchestrate against some Blue supporting arseclown in the crowd.
Then the moment you've been waiting.. weeks for, Scully with his first goal and his first truly visionary piece of kicking. He kicked the special second sealer by roving the pack and booting off his left on the run. Tonight was his first really good game for mine, he's had a couple of pretty good ones but finally his kicking started to match the quality of his handballing and it just took things to another level. Throw in the amazing desparation with which he attacks the ball and there's no doubt that we're onto a grade A, $45m Tatts jackpot solid gold superstar here.
Davey added another to take the piss and by this point I was in disbelief. Watch the highlights for the 'interesting' handball that Bate does off the ground before he kicks the goal. Innovative in a probably illegal sense. Apologies if none of the above made any sense, missed any classic moments or is just full of batshit insane ramblings but the whole thing seemed like a dream and I'm not sure I managed to take it all in. Without Foxtel I couldn't tape a replay and sit down to watch it while I wrote this, but I'm dying to see it all over again so if you can direct to a *wink wink* downloadable replay *REALLY BIG WINK* then message me on Twitter (@demonblog) or via email firstname.lastname@example.org. If we're going to do a St Kilda and put out a "THE STREAK" DVD then let me be the first to put my hand up and say I'd very much like a copy but can we at least keep going for a couple more weeks?
Despite my pledge never to sing the song again until we won a final (imagine if you'd said that in 1965?) I got incredibly excited and joined @somtum in an arm-in-arm belting rendition of the tune. Some old mate behind leapt on me in celebration and I even high fived his kid. It was that sort of moment. Makes a change from wondering if I should explain to the kid that you're allowed to change teams with no penalty once when you're young. Incidentally does anyone else get the urge to yell "WHADDA WE SING" in the national anthem after the line "in joyful strains then let us sing"? Really? Well I say get into it. Will make special events, Australia Day and school assemblies much more like a football match and therefore fun.
The lid was well and truly taken off and thrown across Brunton Avenue (closed at the discretion of the police operational commander at the time lest we forget) into the rail yards after the final siren. The theme song was belting out everywhere, cars were joyfully honking their horns and I shit you not I saw a small group doing an a capella, jazz hands, Glee style version of the theme song outside the AFL members. From platform 10 at Richmond all I heard for ten minutes waiting for a train was somebody yell words to the effect of "GO DEES" from the street below and everyone went off their nut. If it weren't such an offensive thing to say I'd liken it to the sort of behaviour that people exhibit when their nation is liberated after years of oppression. Like the Saddam statue toppling in Iraq, but presumably without the years of destruction, carnage and shattered dreams that followed.
I wonder how long it will take for winning to stop being an event? Every time we get up I'm barraged on Farcebook, Twitter and SMS by well wishers - mainly because I feel like I might be the only passionate Dees fan that some people know - but you can chart when you go from loveable losers to serious contenders when all that stuff stops and people start to hate you again. If I'd been a Brisbane fan listening to the radio tonight I'd have piffed it against a wall with the way the commentators were punting us home. That's the effect of having been doormats for so long, everyone wants to see the underdog get up but I tell you right now I am dying for the day when I turn the radio on and hear some clowns going bananas about us being challenged by Richmond, or North, or Adelaide, or the West Sydney Goats. That's when you know you're a contender. Lions fans, and god damn it if you've read this far you're a braver person than I would be in the same circumstances, instead of flinging your transitor off the top deck of the Southern Stand and killing somebody you should take it as a badge of honour. I want to be the hunted again. Bring it on you mothers.
The circumstances in which we attained SCULLGOVE are full of shame, but let's go with it. Not that I'd know (honest officer), but it seems to me to be like finding a suitcase full of hundreds of thousands of dollars and not turning it into the cops. There's a bit of guilt involved, and you're waiting for the whole ruse to collapse at any moment but for now you're spending money like a drunken sailor and having a great time of it. Now that we've stolen them (the suitcase) long may we continue to enjoy their financial (footballing) rewards. And let's hope I never try to get away with a tortured analogy like that ever again.
Speaking of corruption, the good news is that no matter what happens for the rest of the year thanks to the Storm and their creative accountacy practices we can't be the worst team to feature the word Melbourne in its name. Lucky when we rorted the cap they didn't have anything but draft picks to take off us. Meanwhile it's taken 12 years but finally I can say "that's why" when people ask why I didn't ditch Western Suburbs (later Wests Tigers) for the Storm when they came into the competition. Not a visionary, just hell bent on being contrary. Futhermore what the hell am I discussing Rugby League on here for? Never again.
Somebody needed to warm the crowd up for their Fev abuse before the opening bounce. Old mate in the velvet jacket who plays the theme song (and why does this still take place?) should have teamed up with Nick McCallum to run the crowd through a musical look at all the offensive things Fev has done in his AFL career, because from where I was seated not one person gave it any 'humour' when he had his first shot at goal. You'll be pleased to know that the situation was rectified at 17.30 of the first quarter when one local 'wag' was heard to offer "I'll give you five to one you miss". Oh how we... failed to laugh considering he kicked it. Cue a cavalcade of gambling comments throughout the evening, but not one in regards to his use of a mobile carriage service to transmit pornographic images. Mainly because not one person at the MCG not standing on the field has any chance of cracking onto Lara Bingle (or Jennifer Hawkins as I scandalously called her at one point when discussing potential sledge material) so they're prepared to put that one away. Either that or footy fans are too dumb to concentrate on more than one scandal at a time.
Worst sledge of the night goes to the guy who followed a wonky, rushed Brisbane shot at goal in the last quarter with a halting and farcical "That kick.. was crookeder (!?) than the books of the.. Melbourne Storm". Shambolic. Best went to the guy who rejoiced at Travis Johnstone taking a kick-in because he never once hit a target with one when playing for us. Unfortunately he then proceeded to keep his record of never having landed one on a player in red and blue by not turning it over. Sad.
Also a bit surprised at the lack of any ANZAC Day commemorations. At least we did something useful with the banner for once and mentioned it, but I'm surprised we didn't at least get the anthem. The AFL explanation is that they're only doing the Last Post once in every city this round. Fairly pissweak reasoning if you ask me, but that's their prerogative, I'm just surprised there was no anthem, minute's silence (something longer than the standard AFL 0.34 version please) or tribute to fallen players.
Anybody else surprised by the lack of Lions fans considering that they were top of the ladder? I went to the draw they played against Essendon last year and it seemed that there were thousands of them. Surely it's nothing to do with the whole logo debacle, but how dirty would you be that not only have they killed the Fitzroy lion and replaced it with something that looks like a costume in a primary school play but that they didn't even play in the Roys jumper? Horrible way to treat their Melbourne fans and I hope they make their feelings known. Why do I care? Probably for the same reason that I still refuse to call Footscray their gimmick marketing department enforced name - if we can throw all the other traditions of footy out (except the ones that should go like banners) then can we at least try not to fuck with club identity? And even though I'm the only person who doesn't mind our current logo can we bring back the god damned Demon already.
2010 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Jack Trengove
4 - James Frawley
3 - Brent Moloney
2 - Colin Sylvia
1 - Matthew Bate
Massive apologies to... pretty much everyone else. Bate was probably the stiffest to miss. Though not half as stuff as [CENSORED BY STEVEN CONROY'S INTERNET FILTER].
I'd also like to pay tribute to Clint Bartram. He's scored a grand total of eight votes from me during his career, so it's not surprising that he's not pushing the top five very often but he has been great the last couple of weeks. Most of us probably thought he was done for at the end of last year but he's been solid as over the past few weeks, great to see him back to his '06 form. Great to see everyone back to their '06 form? I'll wait a couple of weeks before declaring that.
In the spirit of betting agencies paying out on Richmond winning the spoon already I am hereby declaring Mark Jamar to be the winner of the ruckman of the year award right now. Between them Paul Johnson and Jake Spencer have only scored fifteen votes in five years so I'm going to go out on a limb and say that neither of them are going to rack up more than ten this year. Congratulations to the Russian, and to the punters who went large on him at $1.50 in the pre-season.
10 - James McDonald, Brad Green
9 - James Frawley (Leader: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Mark Jamar (WINNER: Strawbs O'Dwyer Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
7 - Jack Trengove (Leader: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
6 - Colin Sylvia, Brent Moloney
5 - Ricky Petterd, Jack Grimes
3 - Jordie McKenzie
1 - Jared Rivers, Joel MacDonald, Matthew Bate
No, this is not what you thought it was going to be. You filthy bastard. Last week I decided to start a tradition of eating a different violently evil fast food every time we won a game. Last week it was KFC (shithouse), this week Maccas (vile). Next week hopefully one of those soaking with grease horrid kebabs they sell outside of Etihad. If there's any justice in the world by the end of the season we'll have won a flag and I'll require a crane to lift me out of bed.
The way this week is going they'll probably win, but no matter what we're going to go in red hot favourites next week. Big danger game. Not only are we traditionally a far worse side at Docklands, but there's no doubt that we're going to be the biggest hit since the Beatles in the media during the week. Intensity is a MUST. Shouldn't be an issue given that we're playing like rabid dogs who have been starved for six weeks and let off the leash to tear somebody's face off but still..
No changes required unless somebody can't come up. Bail will miss a couple by the sounds of it and the SME deserves an opportunity. Rivers one of the best in Casey's win today (also featuring some bloke called Watts booting two goals) but probably needs somebody to fall over right now to get a run. Remarkable situation. Then look at guys like Cheney who are tearing it up in the VFL but can't sneak into the side. It could all go horribly wrong next week and lead to a Richmond style nine change slaughter session, but that's the only way I can see the likes of Cheney and Maric getting into the team right now.
DB's Musical Corner
Every week I'll post the song that sums up the performance on field. What better way to start with the track that the post title is ripped off from.
Now forget the Dropkick fucking Murphys, that's the sort of stuff they should be playing at the 'G.
Thank christ I don't have to do anything tomorrow, because there is no chance I'll be sleeping tonight. All this AND St. Kilda lost? This is a night to remember. Quoth the Notorious BIG, it's all good baby baby. He died, we are reborn. I'm not sure the two are in any way connected or if I have actually died and gone to heaven. Get up, get about, go off your nut you deserve it.
If you read all that then you deserve some sort of medal. Have the first ever Demonblog Order of Grinter for your contribution to the cause.