Well, we can be well assured that this afternoon in stark contrast to the Gold Coast game we did NOT witness the worst ninety (six) point victory in league history. In fact if one of those wild flying shots from Bail or Dunn had gone through at the end and pushed the margin into triple figures I'd have been comfortable slotting it straight into my top ten all-time matches seen live.
Without actually sitting down and looking at the last 22 years in detail it would still be unlucky not to make it. After all it's not every day that you turn up at a game and every single gripe you've got with the team is addressed before you win by 16 goals.
Of course the smartarses are already creeping out of the woodwork, pretending they didn't lose the plot ten days ago after the West Coast debacle and sarcastically asking if we still all want to sack Bailey now. Coming out and pretending that you weren't livid about that performance, and those against Hawthorn and Brisbane, is all fine if it makes you feel better but the difference over the last week and a half is that everything that you, me and people who have been living in huge Pakistani mansions without phone or internet for five years could see was wrong with the team was addressed - and it worked gloriously.
First they picked Petterd and corrected one of the great injustices of the 2011 AFL Premiership Season. Not surprisingly that paid off in spades even before he started kicking goals in the second half - he just provides presence, not in a Brown/Franklin big bastard way but as difficult match-up in a forward line. Speaking of forward lines, my god we actually played with one. The bombing the ball to the top of the square reminded me a lot of the Gold Coast game, which makes me wonder if it was their intention to do it against the Eagles as well before we turned up and could barely get the ball down there. There was even a couple of kicks to leads nearer than 50 yards out which was worth getting excited about. Also note the additional times Watts spent up there - did a couple of ordinary things but also displays a touch of class when he's inside 50 that we're denied when they've got him, and the rest of the forwards , aimlessly wandering half back like Burke and Wills. You didn't even mind seeing him end up down there today because you knew it wasn't going to be the be all and end all of his game. This is a positive. Two good games in a row, we want more.
Thank god too that Bailey abandoned the ludicrous sideline cheerleading and head patting and went back to the coaches box instead. I'm sure the players didn't feel there was much of a drop in enjoyment from not having their heads rubbed as they came to the bench. Hopefully he enjoyed what he saw from a decent vantage point enough to stay there for the rest of the year. If they need to hire somebody specifically to show up on match day and slurp up to the players, telling them how great they are then I'm available to do it at cut price rates and promise not to leap on one of Jamar's enoromous tree trunk legs and try to hump him senseless. Also I've got to get some kind of job which means that I can say "bad luck, can't come" if somebody decides to have a wedding/birthday/funeral at the same time as a game. Could get a job selling the Footy Record but as a nearly 30 year old man that would have a touch of the Mr Kelly's about it.
Another reason for optimism was the balance between going through the corridor and playing wide as required. Showed a versatility that I don't think any of us thought the players or coaches had in them. The bookies and the optimists must have known something I didn't because it seemed almost certain to me that we were going to come out, serve up exactly the same slop as last week and get fingered in the old crackola again. Now it becomes apparent that the enormous difference between the two games is that last week we couldn't win shit out of the middle, the backline collapsed under siege and nobody had a chance to set up properly. That was horrific but today was nearly the complete opposite - you're not going to get the amazing run that the Psychic Friends Connection had today in most games but somewhere in the middle of the two should see us right as long as Jones (back into decent form), Trengove and Scully (can I have an autograph? Sucked in you just signed a new contract!) continue to give him a hand. Last week is what happens when everything is left to Beamer and they get on top of him work - let us never live through the horror of Nic Nat standing around with nobody near him then galloping halfway down the field unchallenged before shanking a shithouse kick ever again. Something tells me North aren't going to be so stupid as to fall for the same trick.
Adelaide were very, very ordinary today and Neil Craig deserves to end up in the same seventh circle of hell as Voss and Eade this week (with Bails desperately trying to crawl out of a half opened window a'la The Poseidon Adventure) but the final piece in the - at least temporarily - solved problem was his players putting on pressure. You can hack away at Bailey until the cows come home for not playing the press like every decent team in the competition but even his shock conversion to its virtues a quarter of the way through the season would have meant two thirds of bugger all if the players hadn't come to the party as well. Not hard to beat the amount of tackles inside forward 50 from last week given how few times we got it in there but today we outstripped our entire total from last week's entire match in the first term alone. Down the other end the Crows were trying hard but they could barely lay a glove on our defenders. That was a huge difference, and a huge reason why we won by so much.
We've seen a lot of dumb things written over the last fortnight, not least by king tit Kevin Sheedy in today's paper who suggested we stuffed up by making Green captain instead of somebody younger (who in god's name could you possibly have put who is significantly younger? Grimes? Give the guy a chance to put a few games together before expecting him to captain the side. Another injury to the poor guy today is unbelievable) but much of it by our own supporters. Surely I won't be the only person edging away nervously from some OTT comments in the last ten days.
Reading moments of utter, panicked stupidity serves you right for participating in forums (or reading this page) but for all my haste to join the queue of people throwing rocks at Bailey I never stooped to the level of trying to drop Green, Sylvia, Davey and Frawley. All four of those names were suggested at various times of the week as players who should have been dumped after the Eagles debacle. Unfit, not trying hard enough, just plain finished etc... All four of them killed it today. You just knew that Rodney Eade was going to ruin it for all of us by dropping Brian Lake because he was unfit, but surely nobody in their right mind thought that anything could be gained from giving one, or god forbid all four, of these guys the arse coming back onto the MCG? So Frawley looked rusty, so Green was having a poor trot, so Sylvia fell flat on his face while running with the ball. So what, they're still amongst our best players most weeks even when we have to struggle to find five players good enough for votes.
There's nothing to be gained from swinging the axe on players, especially the captain, in Round 7 and I was glad to see sanity restored after Green kicked that goal and grabbed the club logo (unless he was grabbing the Hankook symbol to celebrate driving excellence) to wild scenes from the crowd. I hope everyone who bagged him for giving company line answers in interviews during the week, for appearing on Channel 10 last Saturday night and on the Footy Show is taking a step back tonight and trying to find the delete button on posts they wrote about him. The smother in the last quarter said it all about him, didn't need to do it while we were a million points in front but the man bleeds red and blue. Could very easily be at Collingwood right now tearing the competition apart instead of having given us three years as one of the few you could count on to give 110% every week. Is practically untouchable in my eyes and I'm glad he stuck it up the whingers. Put this picture up on your wall and look at it the next time you doubt his commitment.
As for Sylvia and Frawley that was just stupid on either front and barely even worth mentioning here. The only one I had real, legitimate concerns over was Davey and today he quelled every fear I had that he'd lost interest in the game. Hasn't looked his usual self for most of the year, and other than slapping a few children around in the Gold Coast game he's barely had a decent touch all season. Probably helped that the Crows didn't bother to tag him, which certainly upset him against the Lions, but he was back to delivering quality kicks to his teammates today and was running around like he cared again. Love the guy, would never suggest he should be given the boot but was very worried that he was over it. Very pleased at his response to playing an absolute nightmare against the Eagles.
Setup and pressure aside we just looked one step better than them from the first bounce. I'm not sure if Adelaide are like us and can only play well at one ground, whether they're completely stuffed or if the St Kilda game meant anything whatsoever but we had them covered with ludicrous ease. They tried to stop Moloney from clearing everything but how could you stop the man? With Jamar putting every second tap straight into his hands nearly unchallenged it's no surprise that he's in career best form. Admittedly it didn't work last week but there can't be many more dominant combinations in the league than the PFC. J**d and any ruckman Carlton can put out there would probably rank as highly but the turncoat is bringing about 90% of that partnership, these two are equally epic. It was nowhere near Russian's best game this year around the ground but who needs to compensate when you're giving silver service to the midfield like he was?
It was especially satisfying as he was playing without a backup after the baffling (but omission of the Stef Martin Experience. No offence to Jack Grimes but if somebody was going to break their foot two minutes into the game I'd much rather it happen to him - or nearly anybody - than Jamar. He rucked one out in the centre for the first three quarters before Dunn was thrown in to give him a break. He got a hand around the ground with other players going third man up which helped him from running out of juice (speaking of supposed ruckmen) long enough to help get us in a winning position. Had one kick which was shite but it didn't matter today because he laid the platform from which Moloney broke/shattered our record for most clearances in a match since they started keeping the stat. Only thing that's going to keep the Russian from a second AA berth is that not only is the giraffe Sandilands dominating but that Mumford and Cox are too. Can he be inducted in a Scullgove style package with Beamer? Best tag team since The Quebecers.
In honour of the great man I've uploaded the video of him rightfully giving celebrity tool Andy Maher nothing and walking off halfway through the interview post-last year's Queen's Birthday. Watch, swoon, laugh at Maher's stunned reaction and desperate attempts to recover.
Best thing about today was the way that we kicked into a winning position without Jurrah firing. He got the first goal before deciding he was Buddy Franklin and trying to snap them out of his arse for the next two quarters. Worried? Not in the slightest. Lowlight was the hurried play-on after a free kick during the first but you've got to expect that from mercurial characters. Glad he got three - and had seven shots - in the end but it was hardly his finest hour. By the time we'd sewn it up he only had one and the other two came during the junk time rampage, but once we finally straightened up and stopped kicking points the goals started to flow from everywhere. Watts got a couple, making up for completely missing a mark in the square at the end of the first quarter, and both Tapscott (ROOST!) and Bartram went forward to boot one - and you know when the backline are kicking goals then everything is probably going to be alright.
Somehow despite dominating them in pretty much every facet of the game we were only 14 points in front at half time and every possible chance of suffering the counter attack from hell if they got their act together. When they booted the last two goals of the second quarter I started to get a bit nervous, especially considering the Hawthorn game debacle which started in almost identical fashion when we lost intensity in the dying minutes of the first half. Difference this time was that instead of them keeping us in the game with rancid kicking it was the other way around. Obvious solution was to start kicking straight which they did AND HOW.
Highlight of the first half for me would have to be Graham Johncock getting pinged twice for deliberate. Didn't even bother trying to disguise it and paid the price accordingly. Should have been done for a third one but the umpire took mercy on him despite it being the most obvious of the three. Cue the handful of Adelaide fans in the ground then demanding everything be given as deliberate - unfortunately one of the nine was sitting behind me and screeched it for the next quarter and a half until it became clear they were going to get tonked then shut her mouth and sat there silently fuming.
Any fears that Craig would take his "most exciting Crows youngsters ever seen" into the sheds, tear strips off them and send them out to run riot over us was well and truly blown out of the water in the first five minutes of the third. That man Petterd took a one hander and when Sylvia got the second we were back to where we'd been three minutes before the half. Straight out of the centre Col got another one then Petterd added his second and we were all but home. To nobody's surprise it was Moloney who set both of them up. For all the whacking off that the media did over Judd's performance against Sydney the only difference between him that night and Beamer today was that we won by plenty and there wasn't a royal wedding on the other channel.
Also, memo to all media outlets. Shut your mouths about Moloney's "indiscretion" and stop talking like he actually did something. There's no proof he whipped it out and took a whizz other than some random talkback caller, and if getting blind is a crime then the cokeheads and alcos in the media should be the last people to start getting moral. Ahem.
My only disappointment with the blitz that put the Crows away was My Chemical Maric kicking a point just when emo fever was about to erupt and engulf the MCG in an orgy of floppy fringes and self inflicted razor wounds. Still, it was easily his best game for us today - 31 touches and 15 'score involvements' which is some sort of mystifying stat that nobody can really explain but which can't possibly be a bad thing. What it showed was that he's not all about playing forward and kicking goals and is quite comfortable up the ground. Absolutely crucial for him because good luck getting a look in with Petterd, Jurrah, Watts and even THE CELEBRATOR down there. Who would have thought that we'd even be here talking about a forward line of any kind let alone one that looked like it belonged on an AFL ground. It's a Mother's Day Miracle.
Speaking of THE CELEBRATOR, how good was he in the third quarter? Was probably lucky to keep his spot after last week but those were two crucial goals in the context of the avalanche - and the first one was followed by a flying, fist pump celebration a'la Freo in '08. Unfortunately for him I have a feeling that Brad kissing the badge will be the picture on the front cover of the sports section tomorrow which will finally depose the shot of Aussie's celebrations against Freo from my wall at work. Unless the papers opt for more dreamy shots of Hird's windswept 1997 haircut while they furiously rub themselves over Essendon having another win. Either a possibility, hopefully the Herald Sun opt for Hird so I don't have to give them a dollar.
Any worries we were going to run out of gas with one player less for most of the game (and no, I do not want to hear about how good the sub rule was for us) was well and truly put to bed in that quarter. They could have brought Hulk Hogan on as their sub and it wouldn't have helped them with the rest of the team falling apart under our relentless pressure. Nevertheless Trengove did his bit by killing Dangerfield and will probably cop a reprimand from the tribunal for it once the TV stations have played it a thousand times and all but buried him.
8.5 to 1.1 in the third quarter and we were well and truly home with no concerns - a flat 60 points to the good and well over the Chris Sullivan line. Nice to have a last quarter where you can relax and enjoy attempting not to be shat on by a seagull. It even stopped raining a second time which was a relief for those of us looking at driving dinky Japanese cars out of the carpark 35 minutes later.
What I didn't want was a last quarter where the players put the feet up and let the other side get some sort of respectability a'la Sydney/Essendon last year. My wish list basically extends to a flag, somebody kicking 10 in a game and being there in person for another 100 point win so it would have been nice if we could have ticked off at least the third of those today. My goodness we went close too. If Bail or Dunn had managed to get a bit more hoof onto their desperate attempts late in the quarter we would have done it. Never mind though, when your biggest concern is 'only' winning by 16 goals you've had a great day out at the footy or are playing Gold Coast (gee, sorry to mention that Voss and Primus).
Cue the procession. Petterd got his fourth and everybody, probably including Ricky himself, simultaneously turned to the coaches box and said "where the fuck has this guy been for the last month?". Jurrah and Sylvia got a couple more each and Jones added to the carnival atmosphere with one of his trademark goals where he turns the defenders in knots before kicking on the run. The Jurrahcane's second put us within touching distance of the magical 100pts barrier, before we let them get one at the other end to shatter everyone's hopes and dreams. The torch was reignited a section time when Green ran into an open goal and gave Matty Bate ABSOLUTE DOUGHNUTS despite him standing on the line waiting for a handball and we back in record territory with 90 seconds left. Sadly it didn't happen and we'll just have to console ourselves with a 96 points victory. Oh drat, how will we ever go on?
Lucky Bate managed to toe-poke one in during the massacre because after a shocking game it was moderately uncharitable of Green to give him nothing in the square. At the same time it was completely fair because you could see Green shape to handball and then think "bugger this, I'm awesome" and all but tell him to get out of the way before booting it into the second deck.
I'm still not convinced this is the dawn of a new era, because we've seen about 13 of them in the last few years, but it makes me glad that I did do a semi-about face on Bailey during the week and took myself out of the "What's Todd Viney doing next week?" faction. Today certainly puts into perspective how stupid it was to even stick one foot in the same camp as the Facebook group starters and over-spazzers. Might go tits up next week, might be the best thing we see all year, might actually increase the pressure on Bailey if we go nowhere near playing like that again but with any luck the changes he made to address the issues of the past few weeks will stick and the corner will has been turned. If Bails was a stock I'd be upgrading tentatively from SELL to HOLD.
2011 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
What a change, trying to fit seven players into the last three spots instead of having to justify why one was slightly less shitter than another just to fill the numbers. Would like this problem more often.
5 - Brent Moloney
4 - Colin Sylvia
3 - Mark Jamar
2 - Ricky Petterd
1 - Brad Green
Intensive apologies to Davey, Maric, Trengove and Bail and level two apologies Frawley, Jones, Jurrah, Tapscott, Watts, Bartram, Garland + pretty much everyone else bar Grimes and poor old Matty Bate.
Three horse race! Here's to none of them leaping a fence and landing on unsuspecting punters at Warrnambool - unless it's Jamar taking a huge hanger over it then they can cop it. How come everyone is happy to take their kids along to watch horses snap their legs jumping over fences but when one takes equine revenge and lands on them in a death from above attack it's a scandal? Anyway, enough animal cruelty news - back to real sports.
19 - Brent Moloney
16 - Mark Jamar (WINNER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
14 - Colin Sylvia
7 - Colin Garland (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
6 - Luke Tapscott (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
5 - Rohan Bail
4 - Jack Trengove
3 - Jack Grimes, Liam Jurrah, Jack Watts, Nathan Jones
2 - Jared Rivers, Ricky Petterd
1 - Stefan Martin, Clint Bartram, Brad Green
Not a bad suggestion in the comments to institute a Darren Cuthbertson Award for forward of the year. I'll give some thought to it. Issuing retrospective medals for 2005-2010 is one thing but up until last week almost everyone would have been DQ'ed for not spending enough time up front.
Chatting with the stars
Held the door open for Nick McCallum as he was coming out of my office building this week and thought afterwards that I could have saved us all the usual pre-match wankfest by just shutting it on him. Not his fault (except for the QB09 fiasco when his voice cracked during an impassioned plea like the teenager in the Simpsons), you try firing up an MFC crowd before a game. We bat well above our average once the ball bounces but nobody gives a rat's clacker beforehand.
Thankfully, to everybody's surprise, not only did they quietly put the flag raising away in the "seemed like a good idea in a marketing meeting" file but also the man better known as Neil Mitchell's understudy was almost completely phased out in favour of Russell Robertson. Robbo of course now has plenty of time on his hands having resigned as captain-coach of St Joseph's in the Geelong league because he was copping too much abuse over the fence. No really. Either way with no disrespect to McCallum who is probably doing the job for peanuts, Robbo is a far less stuffy character to front up this sort of thing. He might have been gone from being called a crunt by tractor driving Geelong bogans to umpiring a kids goalkicking contest in the space of three weeks but at least unlike Hawthorn there were no (allegedly) recovering junkies involved shortly before breaking into your car in Yarra Park.
Pre-match entertainment is a lose/lose situation for anybody over the age of 15 who actually cares about the game so let's not try and overcomplicate it. Not sure how many times we needed to see the exact same video packages in the 20 minutes before the first bounce either. And while we're at it can we ditch the ponce with the trumpet? He's got one song to play, the least he could do is actually get it right. Can't be easy trying to belt out a tune in front of 20,000 people but it seems like every week he hits the same bum note. Imagine if the bloke playing the Last Post did that on ANZAC Day, the whole place would get torn down. The flag is the first victim of people power, we'll get rid of old mate in the velvet jacket before the end of the year if we stick at it.
Drove to a game for the first time since R1, 2009 (I remember it well because it was the Sunday of the Grand Prix and the game against North fit into me taking the longest lunchbreak in workplace history), because in the circumstances it would have been rude not to at least go and pick my mum up from home, and it's good to see that even a completely unexpected landslide victory doesn't give people enough joy to show the slightest bit of courtesy behind the wheel. In the end I was letting people in from ridiculous positions that they had no right to expect to be waved in from just to make a point. What it needed was somebody hanging out the window screaming WE LIVE IN A SOCIETY HERE like George Costanza.
Finally we escaped the parking lot, and having never driven to a game against a team with more fans than North Melbourne I'm not sure how people do it every week, only to find a car proudly displaying two Adelaide scarves from the window. There's a car full of people who need to take a good hard look at themselves. Even if it's kids doing it you'd think the parents might put a stop to it. Let them do whatever they like and the next thing you know they'll be acting like Port fans and stealing cars instead of hanging scarves out of them.
Mother's Day tribute corner
Horrific news for those of you who were stooged out of today's game by family related events. Lucky mine was there, and if it wasn't for her I almost certainly wouldn't have been (obviously, but hold on there's more to it..) so cheers to her.
Not that she's likely to read this, the only post on here that she ever did read was the one where I revealed how she nearly snotted a Port Adelaide fan on (ironically enough) Mother's Day 2003, and that didn't go down too well even though it was 100% true.
Anyway, my family is loosely connected to a Collingwood dynasty via my aunt having (once) been married to one of them so mum always went for the black and white filth out of duty rather than any actual interest in football. Poor woman must have been horrified when I came home shortly after the '88 Grand Final and declared that I was now into footy, not because it wasn't the Pies but because without any males to handball me to she'd have to take me herself. So we went to the G and Waverley (until they started charging for the buses) but never anywhere else. I was young, she was relying on me to get the fixture right and we managed to miss the Round 2, 1991 massacre against Fitzroy due to showing up at the MCG before realising that the game was actually at Princes Park. Neither of us knew where that was so I went home and listened to Darren Bennett dismantle the Roys while recreating the match in our hallway with a rolled up sock.
Not surprisingly looking back on old footy records from that era when I used to keep scores of my own versions of the games Melbourne always won very, very heavily. There was one I found not long ago from that same season where Allen Jakovich kicked about 45 goals but mysteriously I'd seen fit to give the opposition 1.1.7. Who said only children weren't generous?
So while sometimes (i.e last Thursday week) I wish she'd told me to do something else with my life all these years ago I'd like to say thanks for putting in all that time for me and, god forbid, eventually falling for the club and buying memberships of her own. I'll always have good memories of some plastered North fan pouring beer on us while going for a big grab in the crowd, Essendon's Chris Sullivan Line setting comeback, the seagull shitting on my hand in 1993 to the general mirth of everyone else, the Port fan nearly copping a belting, the horrified reaction to my enormous spray against Port in '07, her having to sit there for 20 minutes after the Freo comeback in '08 because she couldn't move due to tension inspired back spasms and the epic walkout when we played Adelaide in '09 and hadn't kicked a goal halfway through the third quarter.
I want a premiership for purely selfish reasons, but it would be nice as some sort of payoff to her for all the time and money she put into taking me during the early 90's. Incidentally her favourite player of all time is Brad Miller, but we won't hold that against her. Happy Mother's Day!
This all means very little if we lose to North. Given our woeful our record at Docklands nothing is more certain than us either getting rolled or at least making bloody hard work of it. The fact that we've never beaten them there should mean nothing in the circumstances but forget North getting humped at Kardinia Park yesterday (know the feeling), they're going to watch our game and try to lay a trap to drive a wedge through the Connection. Not to mention the likelihood that Brent Harvey will spend the entire game trying to fake that he's been hit to win a free kick and get reported.
Here's a sport for you, in the crowd of 25k try and spot the tool who took a limp wristed swipe at Daniel Motlop. There's no way he's not just showing up with a baseball cap on and non-North related clothes. Out him to the security guards if we start losing, it'll make you feel better.
Hard to make changes given a win like that, but I can see a couple of potential swaps. Dunn was actually quite good in the centre ruck contests late in the game but he only came in when we were well home so surely there's no way we can go one out against North and their 200 ruckmen. Not sure if Martin played for Casey today - he certainly wasn't listed in the bests - but I'll have him back in if it's all the same.
Depending on whether or not Rivers is right to go or not Macdonald (if we must..) could come in for Grimes, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Gysberts go down for a run in the 2's after a couple of average games. Bate is an interesting one, he was rancid for much of today but is there much point in dumping him straight away? The only forward seemingly knocking the door down for a game is Newton but in the three quarters he played for Casey today after being at the G as an emergency he didn't kick a goal - can't blame him given those circumstances but it's hardly a good run for coming into the seniors. Jeremy Howe got two but surely even if we are going to start kicking long to the square we still need a lead up forward. I'll give Old Bate one more, it's unfair to judge him on a solitary shocker. Perfectly fair to torch him for two in a row though so watch out for that next week.
The best news is that every week brings up one step closer to the return of McKenzie and Scully. Even Robert "the New Meesen - may not exist" Campbell played for Casey 2's this week. As long as Rivers/Grimes isn't the start of an injury avalanche then maybe, just maybe then things MIGHT turn out alright this year. And that's about as much optimism as you're going to get out of me.