Monday, 27 September 2010

Draws, Ties, Replays and Six Degrees of MFC

It had to happen one day. After four corker Grand Finals out of six, interrupted only by Port delivering the shittest performance ever and Geelong kicking themselves out of it in '07, one of them had to land as a draw eventually.

And now after the 146th tie in 13,762 VFL/AFL games we have to put up with every person who half watched the game while at a BBQ, pissed off their nut, eating Samboy chips giving us their opinion on what should have happened. Pretending to be an intellectual I was watching ABC News Breakfast this morning and old mate who is usually the sports reporter but was guest hosting because somebody presumably threw a sickie sat there and with all seriousness suggested there should have been a penalty-shootout style "kick off" because "often the penalty shootout is the most exciting part of the match" in soccer. The filth and the fury directed at my television after hearing that turned the air blue. Nobody should be able to conjure up so many four letter words at that time of the morning.

Notwithstanding the fact that the penalty shootout is a flawed, but arguably necessary, mechanism to settle games in tournaments organised down to the minute or seasons with multiple competitions being played at the same time how can anybody who claims to be a sports reporter have no respect for the effect that such a stupid concept would have on players? Roberto Baggio probably got a horses head stuffed through his front door after he missed that penalty in the '94 World Cup final but at least he had an enormous pay packet and more endorsement contracts than you can shake a stick at to comfort him at night, not to mention a club career with its own unique set of rewards and distractions to help him forget that he was closer to hitting Townsville than the back of the net that day. Imagine instead Travis Cloke, actually no that's far too easy, imagine Nick Dal Santo lined up from 30m out directly in front needing to kick the goal to keep his side in it. One flag in 110 years and he totally shanks it. The Pies go wild, St Kilda fans everywhere throw themselves under trains and he's destined to have the piss mercilessly ripped out of him every fifteen minutes for the rest of his life. If a soccer player fluffs a penalty in a crucial match like this guy they can ask for a transfer to a different city or country on a fat pay packet. He tried a cheeky chip, fucked it up, got a song written about him and went on loan back to France. Where does Nick Dal go? You'd probably stay at the club and try to make amends but until there's a cup in hand there'd be a fair faction of grandslam arseholes amongst your own fans who'd never let you live it down.

Ridiculous suggestion all round. I can understand the call for extra time even if I don't agree with it. Maybe it's something to do with losing two Grand Finals by a combined total of 170 odd points in my lifetime or far more likely the fact that we weren't involved at all and I wasn't moved to a coronary. Some lady sitting next to somebody I know at the game went the big vom due to the tension. I know how she feels because that nearly happens to me during Round 2 games, there's no telling what would happen to my central nervous system and/or bodily functions if we were a point down with three minutes left and the ball bounced in front of goal, looked like it was going to go through and then took a big fat right break past a waiting forward (sucked in Milne, justice at last) and through for a point. Fair chance at that point that my eyes would have rolled back in my head and I've have tipped sideways onto the person next to me stone dead. But as an independant (and please, can we shut the everloving fuck up with the analogies drawing a line between the game and the election? Stab the next person who guffaws as they say it's lucky Rob Oakeshott isn't deciding the winner, then stab them again for me. Seven times) I'm loving the idea of coming back next week, even if the Pies stuffing it up cost me making money on the last day in September for the fifth year in a row.

How about the interviews after the game? Longtime readers of this page will know that I'm a confirmed St Kilda hater to such an intense degree that I was even collaborating with the hated filth Collingwood on Saturday, but the gulf in class between Nick Maxwell and Brendon Goddard was so immense that I'm willing to sit back and let whatever happens happen next week. Nothing will ever make me cheer for them (it all dates back to the 1998 finals..) but hearing Goddard's measured, reasonable interview immediately after Maxwell came on and whinged like a 15-year-old girl denied My Chemical Romance tickets (insert your own Maric reference). I can't guarantee that I wouldn't crack the shits and sound off like a bit of a wanker five seconds after a Grand Final with Richo holding a microphone in my face - after all what is this blog if it's not me sounding off like a wanker? - but is there anybody out there who believes that his side wasn't going to get spanked in ten minutes of extra time? If anybody should be cracking the shits it's Goddard, having helped drag his side back into the game and falling just short. Having seen Travis Cloke somehow conspire not to kick the ball straight into the post at the other end like a goose I'd have some sympathy for Saints players coming out and having a bit of a cry. To his credit Malthouse, who I have a grudging admiration for, was gracious about it. No bloody wonder considering it's his third final draw, and finally one not involving the Eagles. Either way you only support the Pies once in a lifetime and they've had mine. Here's to everybody doing their knee in the replay and who gives a rats who wins.

Enjoy it, because it's probably the last time it'll happen. Somehow Heath Shaw having to delay his holiday to Bali and whinging talkback callers will win out over $10m paydays for the league and they'll bring extra time soon enough. Maybe not next year, that would be too obvious, but soon. I just wonder how many of the half-hearted fans and corporates that were at the first game sat there at the final siren thinking "that was fun, when extra time starts I might put my book down and watch".

Oh, but before I go on was I the only one who spat in disgust when the AFL came out trying to play the good guy in having a "people's Grand Final" where club members still only get 40% of the seats? Spoken and authorised by somebody who refuses to be a member of the AFL (would rather join One Nation frankly) and has various philosophical objections to the MCC which should disqualify me from being a Melbourne fan in the first place and conveniently ignores all that key evidence about how the club, and probably the sport, wouldn't even exist without them.

So, how does all that fit into my favourite sport, connecting anything in the world to the Melbourne Football Club in one step? Well forget Darren Jolly's failed (for now) tilt at joining Martin Pike as the only man to leave us empty handed and win flags at two other clubs, and forget Simon Buckley sitting in the stands with his fingers tightly crossed hoping that 15 players blew their knees out during the warmup so that he'd get a game. And you can forget the 1948 Grand Final too, because even if we should still be laughing at poor Bill Brittinham kicking 2.11 for the Bombers in the first match it's too easy to pick a game that we were involved in.

The third drawn Grand Final has everything to do with us though. Forget Tom Hafey and Ron Barassi being this week's Barry Breen, dragged out to comment on the topic de jour by every single media outlet who can't be bothered to come up with a decent angle on the game and instead take a look at the ridiculous amount of past and future Demon players who lined up in the game. Don't worry Barass, you still get a run. And all but one of them played for us after this match. Not that we were throwing good money after bad to try and drag ourselves out of a 15-year-slopfest or anything.

Collingwood
Wayne Gordon (1979-1981)
Peter Moore (1983-1987)

North Melbourne
Ron Barassi (coach 1981-1985)
Stan Alves (1965-1976, the only guy smart enough to do a runner away from us and towards a flag)
Brent Crosswell (1980-1982)
Stephen Icke (1982-1987)
Peter Keenan (1981-1982 in his second stint)
Bill Nettlefold (1980-1982 and a stint playing the dad in Family Ties)
Xavier Tanner (1984-1985)

Beat that for a non-MFC Grand Final with more connections. Not only that, and the fact that there was a draw, but North also had a bloke wearing #60. Number 60 in a Grand Final? Utter genius for mine. Back to our involvement, because other than obscure numerology that's all I'm interesting in, it's tempting enough to blame Barassi for trying to recapture past glories by shelling out for half his old side but he wasn't responsible for Gordon, Crosswell (not surprising given that he'd already coached him twice and they probably hated each other) and the Steven Keaton lookalike. Either way not one single person involved in the '77 game, or replay, ever managed to play a final for us. Stephen Icke went closest, playing his last game in Round 17 of 1987.

The moral of this story is... buggered if I know actually.

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