It takes hardy fans to still be coming out at this time of the year, in force or otherwise, when you're in the position we are. Everyone, even the club website which is contractually obligated to be frothy and as optimistic as possible, had conceded that we couldn't possibly play finals football this year. But nor are we, you would hope, going to be in the mix to finish last either. For the first time in god knows how long we're mired deep in a chasm between thinking (or hoping) we're good, and knowing that we're complete rubbish.
Come though we did and something ridiculous, magical and quite possibly fictional happened. I'm still waiting for the Candid Camera team to leap out from behind my office door and tell me that the whole thing was a humorous set up and that we actually lost by ten goals behind closed doors on Saturday night. Either that or I was collected by the number 247 bus on the way to the ground and had been transported, in complete contradiction to everything I believe in, to heaven. But further investigation seems to indicate that not only am I still alive - because having to show up at work on a Monday morning clearly indicates that you are NOT in heaven - but that it was a legitimate result in a match sanctioned by the AFL. The sun is a little bit brighter, the birds are singing and the Herald Sun predicted ladder has lost the plot and decided that we're going to finish 8th. These are strange times.
Interesting times as well at the selection table with Bate dropped for Emo Maric. Hardly a like for like swap but they had to reward Fallout Boy for his strong performances in the VFL and there wasn't really anybody in our forward line who deserved to get the boot. Sometimes it feels like Garry Lyon and I are the only people in the world who actually like Bate which is odd because I'm still convinced that he's an important part of our forward line. Still, the way we played yesterday he's hardly going to walk straight back into the side. Condemn me for supporting him now, history will absolve me.
Also out, late this time was Moloney. Again replacing him with Wona was anything but a straight swap but that turned out to be an inspired move when he turned out to play probably his best game all-round ever for us. His first quarter was unreal and now that he's got match fitness back he just needs to keep his hamstring from tearing apart every five seconds and he'll be a killer player in that forward line. The late swap meant that finally after almost two seasons of waiting we finally got to see THE CELEBRATOR line up on the same field as The Jurrahcane, and my god it was immense. There was one moment where they both tried to do something magical at the same time and it cancelled itself out but other than that it was pure and simple genius. I'm certainly a SCULLGOVE fan, but there's no doubt that these two could be the most exciting duo since Hall & Oates if they keep fit and on the field.
Interesting to see Wona flashing some sort of sign after kicking his goal as well. I doubt he's in a gang so god knows what it all meant. Why even question genius? They don't call him THE CELEBRATOR for nothing. Actually nobody calls him that other than me, but at least it's justified again nearly two years since that leaping fist pump after the goal against Fremantle which was captured on the front page of the Age sports section and is still pinned up on the wall in front of me here at my desk.
The loss of Moloney, not fully recovered from last week's injury, meant that Jamar lost his Psychic Friends Connection partner but any suggestion that it would affect him was thrown out the window from the first bounce when he tapped straight to replacement Psychic Friend Sylvia who roosted the first clearance out of the centre after about two seconds. So far so good, but it got better when the ball spilt to Bennell who turned on the afterburners and dropped the ball in the goalsquare for Dunn to gleefully smash home out of mid-air. In 20 seconds we'd achieved what it usually takes us 25 minutes and a five goal deficit to. Should have known that shenanigans were in the air.
Usually an early goal would be the cue to put the feet up and concede the rest of the quarter, but they must have put something in the water this week because the guys in red and blue unleashed a cyclone of epic proportions. Next stop was Thank God For Brad Green marking inside 50 and hitting the post.. but having it paid as a goal anyway - cheers for that! That got him on an epic roll and he kicked our next two as well to spark suggestions of a Le Cras-esque goal frenzy. He's having a spectacular season. Goal umpiring rorts aside he's never been better, and unlike most of our forwards he's one guy that I'm perfectly confident in seeing roaming the backline or midfield as well. As good a game as Bruce had tagging/destroying O'Keefe it still baffles me that in Junior's absence Green isn't acting captain. I'll be even more baffled, slash absolutely homicidal, if he isn't installed as the next permanent captain. Only Moloney, or the dreaded joint ticket, could cause me to restrain myself.
What's going on with the Bruce to GC rumours? Are they of the same calibre as the Didak to GC one that was going around yesterday only for him to resign with the Pies today. His disposal is still iffy (witness THAT kick against Freo) and I still wouldn't throw myself off a cliff if he went but if he's going to do terminator jobs on quality players like yesterday then I'll have him any day of the week, just not as captain. He even won an admittedly shonky free kick against ROK for the goal that pushed the first quarter over the line from "solid" to "bloody hell what's going on here". When Watts hit a perfect pass to The Jurrahcane after casually stepping out of traffic and connecting with the kick about half a second before being tackled we were in heaven. LJ kicked it and the alert level was lifted to "too good to be true". Then Jones kicked one on the run from 50 and the alert level just went totally off the scale. Goodes got one at the other end to make it a bit more respectable, but only for a few seconds as Dunn continued the trend of absolutely everything going right for us by wildly throwing the ball onto the boot from 40 and watching it float through.
At this point it was only 20 minutes in and with eight on the board it could have gone anywhere. Lewis Jetta provided a comedy highlight at the other end by getting a dish off handball from Goodes 20m out and botching the kick to take his career tally to 0.16.
Just when it looked like we were going to rack up a ten goal quarter and really put the game away the Swans managed to apply the brakes and stop our free flowing, sexy football long enough to get into quarter time a long way behind but not completely blown out of the game. Still, what a quarter. We got a lucky break on the Green goal, but I'll take that one to make up for all the other times we've been rorted by goal umpires this year. Other than that it was total football domination from end to end. The score was only a point better than the Richmond game but the difference in quality was huge. This was a decent team and this time we got the good start instead of conceding the first fifteen minutes and a couple of goals before sparking. They had slaughtered Carlton in the first quarter last week and we'd rolled over and died against Freo so it was almost inconceivable that they could be so bad and we could be so good, it was certainly an exciting way to (at least temporarily) bury our run of bad starts. Once we hit three goals I was happy, and then every one after that made me smile just a little bit more until the siren went and my face was stretched further than Kerry Anne Kenneally's.
Not surprisingly the end of season apathy that had descended on me last week lifted significantly as the quarter went on. By the time the 8th goal went in it's like last week's depression session had never even occurred. Funny what happens when football temporarily becomes fun again.
The Swans past players function in the Harrison Room behind us had a true funeral atmosphere. Serves them right for not inviting The Indian Rubber Man Jamie Lawson or Sanford Wheeler. Bob Skilton was standing at the window looking crestfallen, obviously not taking any comfort out of the fact that he used to coach us, but where was Kevin Dyson? Nowhere to be seen.
So a blistering first quarter was nice, but what chance we'd actually back it up and go again? Obviously you can't expect eight goals a quarter, especially given that we've never kicked more than 28 in a game, but the last thing we wanted was a repeat of the Richmond game where we followed up a scorching eight goal term by kicking none in the next. We'd built up what should have been a match winning lead but we've lost from better positions than that before.
What we needed was a sign, and it was nearly Demonblog's own Maric who provided it. Sadly he was clearly unaware that the whole crowd were going to be given My Chemical Romance tickets when he kicked his first goal and missed a snap to start the quarter. That would have absolutely bought the house down and caused emo fringe wigs to be sold in the Megastore. Speaking of the Megastore ("Meesen Magic" capes and "I Saw Mark Jamar have 6 kicks" shirts now 70% off) I loved the promotion that they were running where you got 20% off jerseys if we won. Bet they didn't think they'd have to pay out on that, but I support the addition of a Myer Doorbuster Sales element to our retail strategy.
The real sign was provided, as it so often is, by Green who kicked his fourth to really twist the knife on the Swans. Then Frawley tore the knife out, screamed "COP THIS YOU BASTARDS" and plunged it straight back in again with his second career goal. And a thing of beauty is was too. Poor Mike Pyke was having an absolute nightmare, even worse than the day I saw him get towelled up by the Meese in a practice match, and was already well on the way to ensuring no Canadian ever got near an AFL venue ever again before rising above the pack to punch Chip's kick through only to have a big old fresh airy and see it bounce through. Cruel but fair(ly hilarious). To say everything was going right for us would be the understatement of the millenium, Frawley even managed to stay in a chase with Jetta right down the Southern Stand wing long enough to put him off his kick. Sounds distinctly unimpressive unless you were there and saw the sight of this obscenely large necked beast of a man pissbolting after a pacy little guy and nearly catching him. Same goes for a similar Watts chase on Jetta but without the neck made out of concrete blocks.
Jamar (*swoon*) took one of his trademark massive big bastard hangers in the square and for all intents and purposes it was over. Anything could have happened from there, never forget the Freo 51 point debacle but it was more likely that we were going to get a repeat of the Essendon match with the other lot firing up briefly after receiving a blockbusting spray from the coach before we got on top again and put them away. Cazart! The slaughter continued almost unopposed. If it wasn't for Adam Goodes then Sydney would have been down by 500, if I'd been handing out the votes for them today it would have been the biggest gulf between 5 and 4 in the history of vote giving. Morton lost, but not by a knockout and he had his moments. It was really only when Goodes took him forward that he got killed in marking contests, other than that he did about as good a job as he could against the only guy on their side who had any interest whatsoever.
Amongst the rain of goals came one of the most beautifully casual finishes ever when Wonaeamirri ran into the not-at-all-open goal with a Swans player standing guard and dinked a tiny little kick into the corner with no apparent effort. Classic finish and a big fat gold star on a cracker of a day. Speaking of big and fat he is no longer either of these and looks as good as he did in the pre-season last year before his run of injuries started. Additional highlight of the quarter, and possibly the whole game was Brett Meredith (who?) getting the ball in front of his own goal and running around in circles forgetting to bounce until the umpire finally tired of him and pinged him for holding it, leading to Davey kicking a goal. Classic shambles, sign that guy up to play for us. Especially considering that after he got pinged he stood there with a hurt look on his face like he didn't know what he'd done, that just made it even more tragically comic.
81 points in front at three-quarter time and you just had to shake your head and wonder what the hell was going on. I turned around to have a look at the past players function behind me and not surprisingly the room was empty other than a few bored kids playing on the floor. Even Skilts, Mr. South Melbourne himself, had walked out. And can you blame him? Sydney had never lost by more than 72 under Paul Roos so this must have been something out of the ordinary for everyone involved. Dean Bailey lost his first two games as coach by more than that so we're used to it. A few minutes into the last, after Watts got his weekly charity free in front of goal and the man, the myth, the Jamar had kicked another margin blew out over 90 and it started to look like we might be in line for the magic triple digit win. Given that we've only done it 14 times since 1897 it would have been nice, but frankly I was just happy to be able to enjoy a last quarter without worrying about 50 point comebacks.
Sydney took advantage of a lengthy period of junktime, and you can drag the trashcan out and start sifting through your recyclables whenever Jamar goes to full forward and stays there ten minutes into the last, to make it a little bit more respectable. Having missed the last 100 point win against Carlton in 2004 due to work I've been waiting since Round 21, 1993 to see another one in person. How many posts have I written that reference that great day? Jakovich and Andy Lovell kick eight and a bird shat on me in the bottom deck of the Ponsford at three-quarter time. Don't stop me if you've heard this one before, I could think about it all day. Except I don't remember anything other than the score and the aerial bombardment and Name A Game can't offer a copy to fill in the gaps.
They dragged it back to 73 points, Goodes playing the lonest of lone hands by kicking the last two - the second a gift from Fallout Boy trying to hit a pinpoint target 60m away coming out of the backline. Why was he even in the backline? Who cares as long as stuffing it up didn't cause him to cut himself and/or blame his parents.
The Great Debate
If Jamar hasn't sealed at least the backup ruck spot in the All-Australian team now then the selectors officially hate our guts. Other than that giraffe Sandilands, Mumford was surely his only realistic challenger and he tossed him out of the way in rag doll fashion. The roar he got when he came off the ground in the last quarter was unreal. I was looking in the opposite direction and wondered what the hell had happened. Cometh the hour, cometh the MANBEAST.
Frawley and Green wouldn't have harmed their chances of at least getting a mention at the end of the year either. I doubt either could get in from here but it'll be nice to have some of our players in the mix for once.
Also apparently there is some sort of federal poll going on. It would probably be against the Electoral Act for me to tell you to vote improperly, but I'm suggesting that if enough people go into their polling station on August 21 and write "I LOVE THE JURRAHCANE" both above and below the line that we'll be well on our way to a better, more orderly society.
Sitting directly behind me was Guy Rigoni and family. His daughter is clearly a genius because both of the first two points that Sydney kicked were after she yelled out "KICK A POINT". Was a massive Rigoni fan in his day, but couldn't bring myself to do the typical fan thing of trying to have a chat. If I turned around to find Philthy or Jakovich there it would be a completely different matter.
Also behind us was a complete nutbag of a Swans fan who started yelling out slogans at the first bounce and, to his credit, didn't stop even when his side were getting beaten to a bloodied pulp. His entire day was screaming out the names of imagined infringements every time a player from either side touched the ball. We'd lay a tackle and he'll scream "IN THE BACK!" "OVER THE SHOULDER!", a Sydney player would do the same and it was "BALL! BALL! BALL!". Even the Swans fans in front of us were silently shaking their heads in shame and grief every time he spoke. Finally one of their players got pinged for holding it and the entire section, even including Clan Rigoni let rip with a big, satisfied "BALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL" just to give it to him.
My highlight was in the middle of the third quarter massacre when Sydney were trying, albeit comically, to get it out of their backline and he screamed "KENNEDY! KENNEDY! KICK IT TO KENNEDY!" and somebody yelled out "Kick it whoever you like, it's not going to fucking help you". Brought the house down. Hearing our fans ripping out arrogant lines again is almost enough to bring a tear to the eye.
I'm also convinced that somebody behind me yelled "EMO!" the first time Maric touched the ball, but I think that's more like wishful thinking.
This post is delayed due to going straight to see The Ghost Writer at MIFF post-match. I felt morally dubious paying to watch a Polanski film, but if people pay money to be members of St Kilda then I suppose I'm allowed to look at a film for the artistic merits and ignore the sleazy shenanigans of the director. Besides it's not my fault that the pissweak Swiss legal system (Swissweak?) let him go after I'd agreed to see the film. Don't bother with it, decent performances are ruined by some of the worst plot twists since episodes of Scooby Doo. Two stars Margaret.
Delays also due to the fact that for the sixth time in the Demonblog era I'm in the middle of moving house and have no internet at home. Despite the fact that I sit at work surrounded by legit Demons fanatics (all of whom I'm understandably too ashamed to disclose the existence of Demonblog to) there is only so much you can get away with when people wander past your desk and see you writing lengthy love letters to Russian ruckmen. Alt-tab has been getting one of the biggest runs ever today.
My previous claim that I'd eat fat porky food after every win until either we won the flag or I died has gone out the window. If THE CELEBRATOR can be trim, taut and terrific then so can some idiot off the internet. So I ate a salad. Bleh. Oh for the glory days of seasons 2002/03 when the fat man music from the start of the Carlton song used to play as I walked the streets.
2010 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Colin Sylvia
4 - James Frawley
3 - Cameron Bruce
2 - Brad Green
1 - Austin Wonaeamirri
Apologies to everyone else. The only two in any danger of missing out would be Watts and Johnson, and even they were handy. The Golden Child had a great first quarter before drifting out of it a bit but some of the stuff he did early on was epic. Look at the way Frawley has gone from promising but flawed to damn near superstardom within a couple of years and apply the same curve to Watts. Then have a lie down and try to stop hyperventilating.
Bartram, Jamar and Joel Mac were probably the next cabs off the rank for votes. Macdonald has had a couple of awesome weeks, now that he's got his confidence up he's playing bloody good football down there. Same goes for Garland.
Johnson didn't provide anything special but for the last two weeks he's done exactly what a second string ruckman should. He might be lulling us into a false sense of security with a Miller-esque 'end of contract' burst, but on the strength of the last two weeks - and pending the eventual arrival of GAWN - he might almost earn himself another year. The Spencil isn't ready, poor Meesen Magic is cooked and even if we draft another ruckman this year he's not going to be ready to step in from round one next year so PJ might just survive. Is he even out of contract or am I just assuming it? It wouldn't surprise me to see us go with just Jamar a lot next year, but for the lack of any other realistic options I'd be satisfied with having Johnson hanging around as a backup. Come back next week after he has a shocker to read how I firmly believe he should be traded to Northcote Secondary College Old Boys for a pack of Briquettes and a copy of Who Weekly.
And then there were two. Jamar (and conceivably McDonald) could still win from here but they'd need a miracle - there's no way that the red hot Green and Frawley are not going to pick up more votes for the rest of the year as long as they stay on the park. Either way it's going to be the sixth different winner in six years of the award (one each in order to Johnstone, McLean, Jones, Bruce and Davey). Have I really been doing this for six seasons? My god.
35 - Brad Green
28 - James Frawley (WINNER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
23 - James McDonald, Mark Jamar (WINNER: Strawbs O'Dwyer Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
19 - Colin Sylvia
14 - Matthew Bate
13 - Aaron Davey
12 - Jack Grimes
11 - Jack Trengove (Leader: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
10 - Brent Moloney
8 - Jordan Gysberts
7 - Jordie McKenzie
6 - Tom Scully, Lynden Dunn
5 - Cameron Bruce, Ricky Petterd, Jamie Bennell
4 - Joel Macdonald
3 - Matthew Warnock, Brad Miller, Colin Garland
2 - Neville Jetta, Clint Bartram, Jack Watts
1 - Jared Rivers, Nathan Jones, Austin Wonaeamirri
If you're the sort of person who wastes your leisure time reading MFC related forums you can't have helped sneak a look at the new logo that was 'leaked' during the week. I'm not sure leaked is the right term given that it was there on the IP Australia trademarks website for the whole world to see, but within a few hours the club were frantically running around trying to get the forums to take it down. Fair enough too, but I don't think it's such an issue that the handful of people who read forums got a look. At least the feedback was positive. Compare and contrast to the pasting the Brisbane and Adelaide cartoon slopfest logos got when they were leaked. The club might act hurt that it got out there but you can't tell me that they weren't treating the reaction as an impromptu focus group once it did.
I first saw it a couple of weeks ago but was asked to shut up about it so I did, but now that the cat is out of the bag there's no harm discussing it. The concept is sound, to toss out the idea of a cartoon Demon (including that rubbish one eyed Batman thing on our away jumper) and go to a real emblem, like a real football club. I can't fault that, and what they have come up with is pretty good. It's a little busy, but everything on there is there for a reason.
The masterstroke is the EST 1858 at the bottom, that's something we should never let anybody forget and the second piece of genius is the extract from the original rules in the background. Bugger of a thing for schoolkids to draw but a beautiful design touch. Don't forget next time some opposition peanut questions you on the rules, or suggests that we're getting a free run from the umpires, to yell "SHUT UP YOU PEASANT, WE WROTE THE BLOODY RULES". It's not our fault that everyone has ruined them over the years.
The only bit that I don't like is the Southern Cross. Even before that logo was hijacked by nationalist dickheads who drive cars with "Fuck off we're full" bumper stickers (*shudder*) it never resonated with me. Now that they're queueing up to get it tattooed on them it's even worse. Somebody has to take the symbol back from the fuckheads of society, and it may as well be fine, upstanding citizens like us but personally I'd lose that bit and it would be pretty much perfect. There's a footy on there too which looks a bit odd to me at the moment, but I'm sure it'll grow. I like the idea of not having any mention of footy on the crest/emblem/logo at all - we should insinuate that we're bigger than the sport itself.
If you haven't seen it I'll respect the club's position (maybe for the first time) and not send you a link, but suffice to say that you don't have to have Hollywood movie style "mad hack1ng skillz!?" to find it yourself. Unless of course they've wised up and changed the name of the registration from Melbourne Football Club to Jolimont Bakery or something to disguise it.
What I find interesting is that it was found by somebody who was trawling that website looking for the new Gold Coast Suns logo. They found our new emblem but never turned up the GC one. Did they just hide theirs better or was it not on there for some reason? Having seen it I probably wouldn't have even bothered trademarking it if I was them.
Speaking of the Gold Coast how much of a let down was their name? Suns joins Power as the worst nickname in the league. Dockers is a bit pox but at least waterfront workers have a storied history of shooting each other so that's got some edge to it. It's a headline writers dream but lacks that vicious "we're going to kill you" element that makes a good team name. You can forgive teams like the Swans for sticking with non-threatening ancient nicknames for historical reasons, but if you're starting a new side then at least give the fans something to get agro about. What's wrong with a good old fashioned Wildcat, Wolverine, Panther etc.. I don't care if there are no panthers here, there are no bloody Tigers either and that doesn't seem to have harmed Richmond's off-field image too badly. It's focus group thinking and it shits me to tears. It's the same reason that we've got an election between two idiots who are basically running the same campaign in different coloured jerseys. Here's hoping West Sydney are a bit more bold in their image. But I'm not the target market am I? They're trying to get 12-year-olds to ditch Rugby League and soccer, but tell me what 12-year-olds want if they don't want meaningless violence? At that age I was knocking people's digital blocks off playing Mortal Kombat (Johnny Cage fatality was fwd-fwd-fwd + high punch - keep that in mind), I can't see the kids of today firing up for throwing their XBox and whatever today's high violence video gaming equivalent is out the window to follow a team called The Suns. They didn't even get it right and include the greatest sun of all, the one on the flag of Uruguay.
And how about their song? The tune is automatically better than that of Port, Carlton, Footscray, West Coast and Freo already but the words are, predictably, terrible. It's unbelievable that after 12 seasons of "stop stop stop" "top top top" destroying the Port theme that somebody would sit down and include the lines "sun sun sun" "run run run". You're writing an anthem, not a Beach Boys song. And why would you have a line that says "We'll win the premiership for you". Do the players ever sing the song to the supporters? Of course they don't, so how stupid is that going to sound when they're in a circle singing it at the end of a game? And what sense does that line make when the fans are singing it? It might just have replaced "teamwork is the thing that talks" as the most baffling line in a club song.
Anyway, here's to them taking Miller off our hands, merging with West Sydney and relocating to Dubbo within a decade.
Brisbane at the Gabba. Now even if we'd lost today we might have gone in favourites for this one considering just how putrid the Lions have been since we derailed their season (and plunged it straight off a bridge) on that glorious night at the MCG earlier in the year. Now that we've slapped a legitimate finals contender upside the head in spectacular fashion it's almost certain that we'll go in at a short price. If the game was being played in Melbourne you'd pencil us in, but the shadow of the great travel curse looms large. One win interstate (is it still interstate if you go to a territory? Gillard/Abbott/Brown - sort this out immediately) by one point in the last three years says to me that evil surrounds us and anything could happen. Afterall the only game they've won since we beat them was against Collingwood there, and they didn't do too badly against St Kilda so I wouldn't put your house on it yet.
Interesting to hear talk that they might drop Fev. Sure he's suffering from a terminal lack of interest, and sure he looks like he's bought a lifetime subscription to KFC but surely his record against us saves him from the chop. I know he did nothing last time but if you're going to send him off to play in the QAFL it might be worth giving him his last chance against a side that he's cut up in the past. Here's hoping that he plays, does bugger all and is given the FanFooty hamburger logo.
The rest of the year
Come 4.40pm on the last Sunday of the season I'd love to be proven wrong and for the match against North to be a pseudo-Elimination Final but I still can't see it happening. Sure, we play some utter slop in the last five weeks of the year but it would take a set of fanciful Twin Peaks-esque circumstances to get us in. Firstly we've got to win games in Brisbane AND Adelaide, instantly doubling the Bailey away win tally and snapping the Football Park curse at the same time. Then it would take the likes of Sydney, North, Carlton and Adelaide to lose every single game that they don't start favourite in. If you've got holidays booked in September there's no need to call Flight Centre and try and get a refund yet, but if we win the next two you might want to start investigating putting your dirty weekend in Penang back to sometime in October.
I bet you just as I click PUBLISH that somebody will reveal that the game was a hoax.