I'm not going to waste your time and mental health by going into another lengthy dissection of the Football Park curse and why everything has been rooted since R2, 2001 but what I will say is that I'm calling upon Andrew Leoncelli to go to Adelaide, whip it out and take a slash in all four pockets of the ground. That's the only way we can lift the malaise that descends every time we enter South Australia. Chell, if you're reading we can pitch this to Fox Sports as a LeBron James style hour-long primetime special before next season - will rate its arse off.
As usual I got sucked right into the idea that we might finally win a game there. Ever since Mark Williams got the boot Port have been up down like a bride's nightie, and last week we were at least serviceable despite the fact that Hawthorn probably should have beaten us up in the same way that they slapped buggery out of the Freo B-team yesterday. Despite the fact that the Dockers doing the biggest tank since us circa 2009 firmly shut the door on any wafer thin hope we had of making a thoroughly undeserved appearance in September, you'd have thought that everyone would have been ready to do it for Junior McDonald on the week that he played his 250th and we knifed him in the back.
First have I ever told you how much I loathe Dwayne Russell? Are you aware how I'd nearly rather put the TV on mute and listen to Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music album at maximum volume on AM Radio played down a long distance phone line on a call made from the bottom of a Congolese copper mine? No commentator makes me want to gouge my eardrums out more. Managing to confuse Jack and Jackson Trengove five times in the first five minutes was one thing, until he gave up and started just calling them both Jack, but when he said we had chosen Jurrah over Cousins in the pre-season draft I nearly kicked the television in. In the spirit of the election it was a statement which may have been technically correct but was completely misleading. In what alternative universe was the prospect of us drafting Cousins ever raised anywhere other than an internet forum? And what about when the dickheads started whinging about why we didn't rush a ball through that eventually led to Port kicking a goal. Was nobody watching last week when Joel Mac got pinged for running one through? Why do you think they're slightly sheepish about openly rushing them now? No bastard knows what the umpires are going to call at any time, so when the commentators sit there going "well that wouldn't have been paid because XYZ" then what credibility do they have? Give Dwayne a whistle and a white/green uniform and let him give us the obvious decisions. Then throw a housebrick at him.
If you packed me into a time machine and ordered me to return to 1939 and kill Hitler I'd get to Germany, do a runner and take out somebody in Dwayne's family tree instead to stop him appearing forty years later. Going too far? Wouldn't have thought so. You'd thank me even if it did lead to a rip in the time space continuum which caused us to return to a world where Fitzroy are the reigning powerhouses of the league and Luke Williams is in the AFL Hall of Fame as a legend.
The shenanigans started well before the doors of the Fox Sports commentary box swung open and Captain Bollocks walked in. For some unknown bloody reason Rohan Bail was dropped after playing his best game ever for us, and Juice freaking Newton came back from the clouds to get a recall despite not having done much at VFL level. How would you feel to be Brad Miller? Two weeks ago you banged through ten goals, admittedly against a bunch of kids and rugby players, and now you're being overlooked for a man who even he himself must admit has had more than a fair run on the list and never delivered anything more important than a cracking mark in a near-empty Telstra Dome during 2007. At least Brad's got Pia to go home to, because he must be gone at the end of the year if he can't even sneak into a dead rubber match.
Johnson also got the arse after being ordinary but not terrible for the last couple of weeks. The accepted wisdom was that Juice can play a bit in the ruck, and was a fair swap for PJ. Like some sick science experiment it was almost worth a look at, and Juice did get a few hitouts but in the end it turned out to be the most ineffective change since IN: Gillard OUT: Rudd (omitted). Might be a solid VFL player, might end up kicking 300 goals for Sunbury but he's had his time at the top level - 24 games in six years on the list more than enough to know where a career is going. Sadly next month this one ends at Juice browsing seek.com.au.
Wacky selections aside - with Bail coming back in for Sylvia, who was apparently sick, in a move that treated my dreams of a massive Supercoach prelim final upset with contempt - we looked bloody good for the first ten minutes. Trengove got a cheap free and an even cheaper 50 in the first minute but missed the kick, and after that it was five minutes of pure footballing avalanche. Watts slotted the first (gambling fans, this is the second time he has been first goalkicker in a game played in the Australian Central Standard Time Zone - put your house on it next time we're in Darwin, Adelaide or Coober Pedy) and we had Port under siege. In true Melbourne fashion we somehow managed to turn this into a deficit by quarter time. I'm entirely sure how. It was pretty much all downhill after Morton missed an absolute sitter which would have put us a couple of goals in front halfway through the term. Bennell had a shot after the siren to put us back in front but continuing his month long run of doing bugger all he missed it and somehow we'd conspired to dominate them for most of the term but still go in behind. That's Demontainment!
Nice thank you ad about Debt Demolition from Jim Stynes during the first break, but I'm starting to get a bit nervous with all this talk about how we're charging headlong towards the finals next season and the beginning of a new glory era which will see one flag for mum, one flag for dad and one flag for the country. It's bad enough when journos say it, but when we're talking it up in ads ourself it makes me cringe. You've got to be positive and all that shit but how about we win a game in Adelaide first before acting like we're the superstars-in-waiting of the competition? The higher we set the bar the uglier it's going to get if we don't live up to the hype. All I ask is that we 'enjoy' at least 90% less false dawns than Richmond have in the last 30 years. Something tells me Bailey would have been standing there doing the universal hand gesture for "CALM THE FUCK DOWN" while Stynes was doing his voiceover about how we're on the verge of glory.
In other news what's going on with Alipate Carlisle's name? Every time I watch a Port game, which is thankfully not often, it reminds me of two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. I'm not expecting him to do a Liam Jurrah, owner of a frankly unpronounceable 'real' first name, and change it to something 'normal' and boringly Anglo but really, take a good hard look at yourself son you're a living Maccas ad.
From the second quarter on we were well behind the 8-ball. Again we could have nicked it but Port's [BUZZ WORD ALERT] "forward pressure" was killing us. We could barely get the thing outside of the defensive 50 and at the other end Port were taking marks straight in front and kicking ridiculous grubber goals with the greatest of ease. We got three of the last four to make it interesting, including another 55m cannon from Dunn - suddenly the Paul Wheatley of his generation - but the tide just seemed against us. It was all well and good when we were going forward but inside Port's 50 we were all at sea, and can somebody please sit down with Colin Garland and the entire backline and watch the video compilation package that proves the set play of hoofing the ball 60m to the boundary line has been rumbled by the entire competition? In the first half of the year Jamar would wander in from the side and take a massive grab to relieve the pressure, now the moment he aims in that direction 3/4 of the opposition run to the exact spot where the ball lands and either bring it to ground, mark it themselves or force it out of bounds. Next idea please.
Half-time and we were still a chance but we'd dropped off alarmingly since the first 15 minutes of the game. Port had successfully booby trapped the middle of the ground like a WW1 battlefield, we couldn't clear the ball out of our backline to save ourselves and they were killing us in clearances and uncontested possessions. For the second week in a row we hardly deserved to be a chance of winning but were. It's that sort of run of luck that teams can get behind like a Sherman Tank on a battlefield and ride deep into September - if they haven't already stuffed it up and been knocked out like us. Refusing to watching the 'analysis' of Liam Pickering and Danny "Brownless-lite" Frawley I started flicking and landed on Fox8 showing The Rock vs Brock Lesnar from Summerslam 2002 which was far more interesting and entertaining than anything coming from Football Park. Pity the match had to start again, I was having much more fun watching old wrestling than shit new football.
The vibe that we were about to be smashed seemed to be right on the pulse when they got the first two goals of the quarter, but once again we managed to keep within touch by getting the next two. Any chance we had of killing the curse once off and for all, before it becomes really distracting, was on life support but there was still a pulse. No need to pull the plug yet.
Arise young Jack Watts who had the honour of copping the flying teabag from The Jurrahcane as the Mark of the Year elect was hauled in above him. Not exactly Shaun Smith or Jeff Farmer (ROBBED) quality but it's hardly been a year for wild screamers. It might not even get the nod for the week based on Goddard's near identical grab last night, but everyone loves the 'cane so vote early, often and with far more enthusiasm than you did on Saturday when the nominations come out on the website later in the week. How much do you love that guy? As much as I love to see #24 pulling in screamers again like the good old days you can't tell me he wouldn't be the biggest hit since the Beatles if he was doing it in #48 - now THAT is a number I'd plaster on my jumper. One of these days, maybe when we're actually good, he's going to cut sick and kick ten and it will be a crowning moment in footballing history. As long as he can avoid blowing his shoulder out like an exploding truck tire on the freeway again. Was I the only one who cringed when he landed right on the shoulder and went off looking ginger after kicking the goal? Didn't hurt him in the end but it's a worry. His two half seasons so far have been epic so if he can play 20 next year there's every possible chance that it will be utterly immense.
I didn't mind Watts' game today, but he either has the worst luck with bouncing balls in the history of VFL/AFL competition (no sniggering please), or is simply shite at taking any ball that bounces up over his waist. Morton, on the other hand, has completely lost the plot in the last few weeks. Having stuffed up the absolute sitter in the first quarter he marked well within range but was clearly spooked by his earlier rubbish kick, tried to pass it off with an even worse kick and completely stuffed it up. It's no wonder when he's in and out of the side every five minutes, but after losing a points decision against Adam Goodes in the great Sydney massacre a few weeks ago he's been bollocks. Nearing the end of his third season he's got to get himself going for next year or risk being labelled a big fat draft bust. Putting on some weight and not looking like he's about to lift off in a strong wind would be a good start, getting in the middle and getting some real possessions would also be handy.
So after Jurrah won himself a car/TV/hamburger/full body massage/whatever you get for Mark of the Year these days we decided to put the cue in the rack and enjoy a lovely day out in the sunshine. Down the other end Port went to town, including the second goal for the day from a free kick after one of our defenders blatantly and openly infringed on an opposition player in a way that no player has ever actually gotten away with since Queens Birthday '07 when Ben Holland openly cheated for four quarters against Anthony Rocca and was not penalised once. First Warnock had given away a goal by slapping his opponent into an armbar submission as the ball came into the square, then Rivers practically locked a bearhug on and threw the Port idiot to the ground before arguing that he hadn't done anything. For his crimes Warnock eventually ended up in the forward line (!!!!) for the first time since the Jordan McMahon Richmond debacle. I thought the '09 model Tank was going to plow onto the field and start doing laps at any minute. All we needed was for another Lynden Dunn vs Todd Goldstein hilarious mismatch to really make it solid. Not surprisingly for somebody with one career goal Warnock provided absolutely nothing up front, but he wasn't alone. It took Jurrah to walk through the Port defence, who had by this time lost all interest in the match, to kick a goal that kept us under seven goals behind at the last change.
Final quarter was such epic junktime that it may as well have been sponsored by Visy and used as an excuse to put another $2m in Chris Judd's pocket. We outscored them due to a chronic lack of interest on their behalf, Green got his 50th goal for the season, The Jurrahcane tried to kick a goal over his head a'la Robbo at Subiaco and Scully topped off a BOG (for us) performance with a goal on the siren.
Just to make things even worse Russell the utter goose decided to bring up the time honoured "Brad Green tried out for Manchester United" line and Liam Pickering actually sold it like it was an interesting piece of analysis that he'd never heard before never mind that every lazy commentator has mentioned it whenever a ball had been kicked off the ground since Round 2, 2000.
I've filled enough columns with my distaste for the Port Adelaide football club before, so let's not go down that path again (putrid theme song, no fans, curtains covering large sections of the stadium, jumper upgraded from hideous to ordinary) but can somebody please do a survey to ascertain whether they have the pound-for-pound highest proportion of insane, knitwear sporting grannies following them? We're all aware that Adelaide is a different place, but every time they cut to the crowd some gummy old tart was doing her block.
At least unlike during the Adelaide game I didn't see some ad about Jesus flash up on the electronic scoreboard. Naturally nobody else could see it, making me wonder if I'd lost the plot and was about to end up perched in a belltower picking off innocent civilians with a sniper rifle.
Both the Green and Jamar for All-Australian campaigns have come to a grinding halt over the last fortnight. The Russian might sneak in as a second ruckman due to the lack of too many other contenders, but Green is sunk now. Never mind he'll have the captaincy to tide him over next season. I expect that at the very least Green, Jamar and Frawley will be on the shortlists for selection but unless one, or more, of them goes absolutely sick next week and puts themselves square in the selectors vision with a blockbusting performance I can't see any of them making it which will make it four straight seasons without anybody getting a guernsey - bold visions of the future there.
Like an idiot I just paid $20 for the novelty of going to All-Australian night. For that price it's fairly obvious that we'll be seated (!?) somewhere to the left of the toilet. Certainly won't be on the floor munching a chicken parma with the Russian that's for sure, but if he gets named in the side then I'm not ruling out leaping off the balcony a'la Otto Skorzeny at Gran Sasso to celebrate with the great man.
2010 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Tom Scully
4 - Liam Jurrah
3 - James McDonald
2 - Cameron Bruce
1 - Jordie McKenzie
Apologies to Frawley, Moloney and Rivers
Chip probably unlucky not to sneak in to steal one vote and send the Jakovich into a last round 1 on 1 smackdown, but he'll go in next week against the hardly exciting North forward line one behind. Under s163 of the Allen Jakovich Medal Act there is no tiebreaker or countback in the event of a draw and both men shall be declared joint winners of the award.
In Hilton territory Scully's fiver today all but lands him the award despite Trengove leading most of the year and Gysberts mounting a two match upstart campaign in the middle of the season. Stand by for news on what the new name for the Rookie of the Year will be from 2011 onwards (when I come up with one..)
38 - Brad Green
37 - James Frawley (WINNER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
27 - Mark Jamar (WINNER: Strawbs O'Dwyer Medal for Ruckman of the Year), Colin Sylvia
26 - James McDonald
15 - Aaron Davey, Tom Scully (Leader: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
14 - Matthew Bate
12 - Jack Grimes, Cameron Bruce
11 - Jack Trengove, Jordie McKenzie
10 - Brent Moloney, Lynden Dunn
8 - Jordan Gysberts
7 - Joel Macdonald
5 - Liam Jurrah, Ricky Petterd, Jamie Bennell
3 - Matthew Warnock, Brad Miller, Colin Garland
2 - Neville Jetta, Clint Bartram, Jack Watts
1 - Jared Rivers, Nathan Jones, Austin Wonaeamirri, Rohan Bail
Demon Wiki is up to 4781 pages. My mission was 5000 by the end of the season so that's a colossal failure, but hopefully in the next few weeks I'll be hitting the State Library to do some thorough research of old newspapers/documents to hopefully add a few more names to the list of old reserves and Under 19's players. If you've got any old Football Records will reserves/U19 teamsheets I would very much like to get my hands on them. Email me at email@example.com if you can send me some scans or, alternatively, lend me them briefly so I can scan them in and/or copy them. As payment I'll organise a night out with this guy for you and 12 close friends.
In other news I'm now paying for hosting DW and it's not cheap, so I've axed all the Google ads and their $0.5 a century payoffs and am looking for a proper sponsor. Proposals on a postcard to the above address please. Could be worse, you could sponsor Demonblog and get called up as a co-defendant when Dwayne Russell sues me.
What shaped up a couple of weeks ago as a shock last minutes of the season eliminator to decide who made the finals has instead become the ultimate dead rubber, interesting only for saying goodbye to Junior and speculating about who will be playing their last match for us. After it's September, so feel free to put your feet up and hurl foul abuse at your television screen all month. I might be the only one, and clearly I'll end up regretting saying this if it does happen, but as long as it's not St Kilda (*spit*) then I don't care if the Pies win the flag. Any danger Simon Buckley bursts into the Pies side on a wave of injuries and becomes the latest player to dick us and win a flag after we've given them the flick?
Changes? Alright, given the dead rubber status of the match here goes nothing. This is based on the Casey game where both Bate and Miller kicked five.
IN: Bate, Miller (goodbye, farewell and amen), Maric, McNamara, Johnson (one last chance to impress before obscurity beckons), Tapscott (novelty R22 debut a'la Grimes and Michael Clark)
OUT: Morton, Newton, Jones, Warnock, Bartram, Bennell
I don't for a second think that half of the above will take place - mainly because we haven't got the plums to do a six change bonanza - but for god's sake please give us some sort of interesting angles to this match. If Bate doesn't get a game after kicking five and being named best-on for Casey you can be sure that he's either going to the Gold Coast or has touched up a close relative of Bailey. Similar to Maric but substitute Gold Coast for Paramore and touched up to slashed with a razorblade.
One more win will do me nicely. Make sure you get there for a farewell to Junior - for god's sake the man started his career wearing #54, you might never see that happen again.