Welcome back to reality. You had to know that we were never going to get the same sort of armchair ride to glory that Brisbane provided last week. You had to know that North were going to throw everything at stopping our run through the middle of the ground. You had to know that there was every possible chance of a colossal letdown this week. I honestly thought we'd win a close one via tense arm-wrestle, but this was about as much of a danger game as you get without playing on a field on the outskirts of Chernobyl.
Didn't stop a whole host of morons charging to the internet and talkback radio to declare how we were a dead set cert and would smash North to pieces. Err, how about no. Amazing how excited people get when you're on a high for the first time in years. Especially when you're playing a team coming off a win. Pure stupidity.
They set out to smack us with the ugly stick today and did it perfectly. Despite being absolutely putrid in the first term themselves and copping the first goal they totally choked buggery out of us and you could where it was going to go from the first few minutes. Absolutely shattered that we couldn't take advantage of all the times they stuffed it or booted the ball straight out of bounds under zero pressure, but it was very much the story of the day. They cluttered up the corridor, they stopped us getting the ball out of the backline, they did enough to take a lead into quarter time despite arguably being the worse side in the opening term.
Second quarter, on the other hand, was complete domination on their behalf. We were sinking like a trace, the backline (apparently "much vaunted") weren't giving us much and every time we went inside 50 (remember this?) the ball came straight back out again. It was only North's rubbish kicking for goal that kept us in it. Petterd was getting zero up front, and not surprisingly when he tried the "hands in the back - push down vigorously" marking technique that was so successful last week he was pinged at light speed. You knew we had crossed into the twilight zone with that "not 15" call on the kick across the face of goal. At least the umpire paid one against North at the same end during junk time.
Game looked pretty much over at half-time, and when they got the first two goals of the third it was starting to get very, very ugly. The clearance stats might have been relatively even, after tilting towards North early, but we were just getting butchered out of the centre. Finally Jamar and the midfield started to get their hands on it in the third, we began to take the game on and look how much better things got all of a sudden. Six goals in a row, sparked by a great run by Brad Green, and suddenly we were back in it. North were on the back foot and with another five minutes before the last change we might have been even closer. Cue Michael Firrito starting a good old fashioned smackdown in the huddles at 3/4 time, and North came out full of fire. Balls. They put the game away early and it was all junktime from there. How about Warnock dropping the ball on the goal-line? Poor bastard has been relatively solid for the last couple of years while all around him stuff everything up, but his mistake costs us a goal and people went off their nut at him. Speaking of stuffing it up how bad was Joel Mac today? He was pretty good last week so I'll cut him some slack, but what was the deal with trying to kick it through North players rather than handballing over the top? Failed about five times.
The Russian took one of his trademark hangers against 27 opponents and kicked the goal (and have I ever said how I think he's a surprisingly good set shot?), Bartram got another, North scored a couple of charity goals from free kicks (the second continuing Fake Burger's shocker of a day) and nobody really seemed to care. Except the crunt sitting in front of me who thought they'd won the flag.
Due to a raging hangover and about two hours of sleep I might be coming back to this post in a few hours/days/weeks/years when I remember what else happened. For now all I know is that we suffered a rooster/feather duster interface. Is that such a bad thing for a young team? Whatever.
Don't talk to me about umpires. Umpires didn't make Col Sylvia kick at 25% efficiency. We were pox. Accept it.
2010 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Aaron Davey
4 - Brad Green
3 - Jack Grimes
2 - James McDonald
1 - Cameron Bruce
Apologies to Jamar, Scully, Jones, Bennell, Trengove and Bartram.
14 - Brad Green
12 - James McDonald
9 - James Frawley (Leader: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Mark Jamar (WINNER: Strawbs O'Dwyer Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
8 - Jack Grimes
7 - Jack Trengove (Leader: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
6 - Colin Sylvia, Brent Moloney
5 - Ricky Petterd, Aaron Davey
3 - Jordie McKenzie
1 - Jared Rivers, Joel MacDonald, Matthew Bate, Cameron Bruce
I'm a big fan of the Brad Scott hoodie look.
I loathe people who sit there and talk to themselves like they're having a conversation with the players. The North morons in front of me, who didn't mind having a good old fashioned swear in front of their kids, spent the whole day doing it. Every single touch was greeted with a cute nickname for the player. The only time they shut up was when one of them was yelling "HANDS UP!" every time the ball went to ground. Interesting humans.
Also off his nut was the old Melbourne fan sitting two rows in front and just sat there yelling ludicrous things all day. He even invented his own version of "BALLLLL" for contentious holding the ball decisions when he would scream "MANNNNNNNN". He also spent the whole day screaming his lungs out for them to "KICK IT, KICK IT, JUST KICK IT". How much do you want to bet that he was sitting there last Saturday night whopping off about the way we were slicing and dicing them with handball. How quickly we forget.
Meanwhile I still hate Etihad. The only decent night out I've ever had there was when North played Port, I got free tickets to the Medallion Club and there were 14,000 people in the ground. Any more than that and get ready to queue for everything and join in an unholy scrum on the way back to the station. And would somebody please smash the guitar of that idiot who plays nothing but Classical Gas outside the grounds? He must go to sleep dreaming of that tune. Thank christ we've only got to play there once more this year, unfortunately it's against the Saints and we'll probably lose by 200 points... if they're playing their defensive game.
Public Transport Shambles Corner
On the way home I was standing politely at the front of the carriage near the driver's door minding my own business when some clearly deranged bloke in a Hawthorn t-shirt came up and started talking to me in complete ignorance of the fact that I had headphones in. I took them out in time to hear him say "I fkn hope you get them next time". Err, thanks. I gave him my opinion that we're more likely to lose every game for the rest of the season, snubbed him and went back to reading. He wandered off down the carriage talking to himself about how much he hated North and how they were all - quote - "c**ts". Obviously he hasn't gotten over last week yet. I insist that the AFL schedule Hawthorn/North for Rivalry Round next year in honor of this true pioneer of off-chops conversation.
God knows what he went on to say because I headphoned up again, but I'm hoping somebody asked him the obvious question of why if Hawthorn were playing at the MCG he was catching a train towards Frankston.
DB's Musical Corner
No porky food consumed due to the result.
Would have been an absolute blockbuster if we'd won today. Footscray are wobbling a bit, and pitched against an emerging side on a four game winning streak it would have made for great viewing. Now they'll be licking their lips at the chance to play themselves back into it by tonking us.
Petterd will probably miss with his shoulder injury, Stef Martin is surely gone for all money after a rubbish performance and one of Garland, Rivers or Macdonald will probably go. Bail and McKenzie absolute solid gold certainties to come back, but if the Experience gets the arse who do we rope in as the second ruckman. Could this be the last roll of the dice for Paul Johnson? Speaking of people on their last chance could Ricky's injury open the door for a shock (and probably undeserved) comeback for Brad Miller? Apparently Watts is having a shocker for Casey against the Gold Coast right now, so he might have shot himself in the foot - still, may as well just play him, anything has to be better than Miller.
Learning experience. Two ordinary teams lined up, one perfectly executed their gameplan and got the win. Come September both sides will be doing exactly the same thing anyway, so as long as we learn from it then there's little damage done in the long term.
Fellow internet freaks, take your hand away from the panic button. The well trodden path from rubbish to glory is full of fiascos.