Saturday, 28 May 2011

Zombie Nation

If you think we've got it bad spare a thought for the executives at Channel Seven. Friday Night Football rating its arse off is one of the great certainties of the Australian television industry. Men have built fortunes off the backs of bonuses for delivering big numbers following on from Better Homes and Gardens. Now these ponytailed spivs are left in the position of having to find some way, any way to make our second consecutive appearance on Friday night interesting enough to make anybody watch.

What I know for sure is that when the Melbourne Metro ratings started plummeting at about 9.15pm towards the levels usually enjoyed by shows involving Mick Molloy that at least one TV executive would have floated the idea of calling Andrew Demetriou and trying to use the "come on, we've paid a billion dollars for this" card to try and get us booted off next Friday night. It's hardly a week of blockbuster clashes but you can be absolutely sure that they'd prefer Collingwood/St Kilda, Geelong/Bulldogs or even god forbid Hawthorn/Freo in the 'showcase' timeslot than us coming out with a defensive mindset like Accrington Stanley trying to steal a nil-all draw in a cup game at Old Trafford. Just the sort of 'exciting' game style that people will be able to vote with their wallets and not turn up to watch next year when it's live on TV.

I couldn't tell whether it was a good omen or not when the toothless junkie bird on Southgate stopped me, slurred "yeah Demons yeah, we're gonna win yeah" and then stuck out a hand for a high five. I reluctantly obliged despite the obvious danger of catching a bloodborne disease. As the night wore on I started to wish she'd menaced me with a syringe instead. Does the fact that not only the dancing man of Kew Junction supports us, but that those who struggle to find a vein are starting to get on board mean that we're broadening our appeal to the community or that the whole place is about to go tits up?

After vowing never to make another First Goalkicker bet again after last week's Watts debacle I was sucked into it by them offering up Ricky Petterd at the generous, nay seemingly ludicrous odds of 41-1. Sure he was starting on the bench, but come on. I'm convinced that there's somebody from the TAB who reads this blog and sits there on a Monday thinking "now, how can I make this idiot part with another $20?". Because it's always $20. I never seem to have a tenner on hand and am too lazy/ashamed to queue up just to claim a tenner from the counter so some other ridiculous bet. So I threw the second half of the twenty on Maric in the hope that he'd get forward, throw one on the boot and bring the house down with one of his famous beaming smiles. Stupidity all round. If you see somebody in an SME jersey loitering around the Ponsford Stand basement TAB next Friday I implore you to crash tackle him to the ground. Hopefully it's me. Surely nobody else is supporting the Experience on their jumper.

Of course these antics in the TAB, including five minutes spent trying to teach an old man how to use the betting terminal only for him to find out you couldn't use coins in it (oh my god), caused me to miss the live Olivia Newton John concert. Which, as I'm not a housewife donning flashing red horns wasn't a big issue. From the footage I saw on the one screen downstairs that wasn't showing the Maitland greyhounds it looked pretty cringeworthy, but good on Jimmy for setting it up just so he could live his dream of sleazing up ONJ. Was hoping her missing husband who faked his own death might turn up wearing a green vest and reveal himself but it wasn't to be. Wouldn't be the last missing individual not to turn up on the night.

Contrary to popular belief, and what you read on here, I'm actually quite the optimist when it comes to football. We can all take a lesson from the interview with Robbie Flower on Fox Sports during the week where he said that every week he turned up at the ground thinking that he was a chance of playing in a winning side. He played in 88 wins from 272 games for a winning percentage of 32.35%. Ludicrously we have five players who have played more than 50 games and have worse winning percentages than this.

Even when I know deep down that we're no chance I've still got to try and find some sort of reason why we could possibly scab an undeserved victory, otherwise it would be hard for me to show up. Conversely when we're red hot favourites (thanks to Gold Coast for giving us the chance to have that feeling again) most of the week is spent finding ways for us to get done.

Even before the scurrilous rumors about J**d being out starting going around at 6pm (only to be quashed by the Blues at about 6.01) I'd tried to double our allegedly 'improved' performance last week into them missing their top ruckman and attempted to ignore the fact that our black death injury crisis had not only taken Tapscott (expected) and Davey (not surprising) but Bartram as well, the latest victim of a mysterious mid-week injury that nobody knew about until 5.01pm on Thursday. Realistically as long as J**d played we were always going to be in substantial trouble unless the midfield fired on all cylinders. They didn't, but they certainly weren't alone.

We were always on a hiding to nothing being forced to pick players who didn't warrant being there, but surely we'd all have rather lost by ten goals playing decent football than eight goals in a desperate attempt to minimise the damage? Starting Watts behind the ball was absolutely rude, and we got what we deserved with Juice being completely outclassed on his own up front with little or no support from Bate, Jurrah and Petterd - and Watts rewarding Bails with the sort of shit game is always going to play when they're being dragged dragged from one end.to the other on the whims of a coach desperately trying to plug gaps in a gameplan that nobody on the field seems to understand/care about.

It was all downhill the moment poor old Sad Panda Morton copped that free kick against him. We were already going for the world record of the most inside 50's without a score when he responded to a month of being slaughtered by all and sundry for having zero intensity by trying something physical, copping a free for it which directly led to the Blues first goal and then proceeding to play like a terrified 14-year-old schoolgirl for the rest of the night. Do we employ a sports psychologist at this club? If so can somebody please book Cale in for about three days of lying on the couch this week talking about his issues? He can't be depressed at being outshone by his brothers because they're both toilet as well, so what's the issue? For all the people wanting to ship him off to West Sydney good luck, because the last thing they need in a team that is going to spend its first two years being thrashed every second week is a mentally scarred kid who has spent four years wandering around the half-back flank slowly losing confidence until he's a wreck.

Up front nobody looked like they were any chance of scoring let alone kicking a goal. With Watts loose in defence, and playing quite well before taking a nasty turn for the worse in the second half and having about ten clangers in a row, it was left to Juice to be on the end of our traditional high bombs into the forward line. Never mind that pretty much the only time he ever looked half decent was against North when they kicked it to him so he could lead out to it, the ball was coming in high to marking contests and he was getting soundly and deservedly beaten in every single contest. Wasn't entirely happy about them not replacing him with Jeremy Howe, but if they were just going to kick it in like that anywhere then I'm glad that it's cannon fodder like Juice who got stooged instead of somebody who we're expecting to play a part in the future - as horrid a future as it may be.

Two goals down and our forward target de jour Juice takes a mark inside fifty and finally brings up a score. Of course he missed, and he would later disprove every theory I've ever had about how he might be a decent defender, but I'll you something about Newton. At least he has a crack. He's no good and everyone knows that he wouldn't be in the side if we didn't have a rash of injuries, and probably won't be in it for long but at least he's always having a go which is more than you can say for some players who are hundreds of times better footballers than him. If we're going to have to be slaughtered by injuries, shit coaching and shit drafting then at least we could have somebody with the slightest bit of desperation in him. Of course the reason that he's desperate is that he know that at any given time he's about five minutes away from working in Cranbourne Red Rooster next year but at least it's more than you can say for others.

If The Jurrahcane is 100% fit then I'm not here because he's going at about 50% pace at the moment. Flash back to the West Coast fiasco where he was so starved of opportunities by our rubbish tactics and the ineptitude of his teammates that he came up the ground, got his own ball and ended up leading our inside 50's. Then look at the last two weeks where he's barely moved other than when the ball is kicked straight to him or he's crumbed one of the pack. If he's not fit then don't play him, if he is then put him in the forward line and kick the fucking thing to him on a lead instead of over his head into a three-on-one pack.

Same goes for Green. He got plenty of touches in the middle of the ground last night but they were overwhelmingly ineffective or crap. Now that SCULLGOVE are poised to make their triumphant return to the tag team ranks next week it's surely time for Bailey to abandon the experiment of playing him in the middle of the ground and put him back where he kicked 55.27 last year. It's not like he'd be keeping Watts out of position considering that Jack has suddenly become a defender (oh joy), and Petterd has spent the last three weeks proving Bailey right for not picking him in the first place. Still, maybe if he was allowed to run onto a lead and all that..

Of course it won't happen for more than five minutes at a time, because apparently the people running this club seem to despise the idea of changing something when it's not going well (e.g Davey being tagged to buggery for four quarters, Morton only being allowed near the forward line against GC) so we'll just leave him in the centre until his confidence is completely destroyed and we're forced to put up with an entire season of retrospective punditry about how we should have made XYZ the captain. Some goose called SEN last night and first suggested Sylvia should have been made the #1 before calling Green a 'squib'. I almost stacked the car hearing that. I wish right now he had gone to Collingwood where he'd be a champ, instead of having to try and please the clowns that follow us. Rang up myself to issue a spirited defence of him, but after 25 minutes on hold totally forget to abuse the original caller. Missed opportunity.

Somehow despite our best efforts and getting smashed in the centre, where the Experience was winning the taps and not finding anybody other than J**d most of the time, we spent most of the first quarter in touch. Home viewers everywhere might have been flicking to see whether there was a far more interesting episode of Cops on another channel but we had given ourselves the slightest chance of nicking it if we could get our forward structure right and the backline held firm. Even with the Waite goal at the end of the quarter, and yet another of the world famous one goal Bailey Quarters we were only two goals behind. Might have helped if the mids could have given us anything but you can't have it all.

It all went horribly wrong from there, but we weren't being helped by some baffling free kicks. How about the Big Setant contributing to Warnock's horror night by leaping underneath him on the goal line and winning a free kick? Opened up a three goal lead and that was pretty much the end of us. Good on Rivers for telling the umpire he was a dickhead, for which a 50 was then paid. When the mark was already on the goal-line. Very effective. What happens if you kept giving away token fifties in that situation? Reported for time wasting? (even though the clock should have stopped) Free from the centre? Complete anarchy and the collapse of footy as we know it? Somebody's got to try it before the year is through. Where's our version of You Are The Ref?

Of course no umpiring rorts in the world could have contributed to the simple mark he dropped in the goalsquare. Had been ok the last couple of weeks but played an absolute howler last night. May as well have gone back to the tactics of Jordie McMahon Tank Day and played him at FF for all the benefit he or our actual FF were giving us.

But did we change anything after going three goals down? Of course not. The vain hope that we could somehow defend our way out of a 20 point lead and onto victory let us pretty much break even at two goals apiece in the second quarter they were always the better team, and as we blundered our way up and down the ground butchering chances galore it was left to, of all people, Michael J Newton, to thread a set shot from a difficult angle and keep us in it. And when that's your best forward option then give up. Or at least drag Petterd, Jurrah and Bate and ask "WHAT IN GOD'S NAME IS WRONG WITH YOU ALL, YOU'RE BEING MADE TO LOOK BAD BY JUICE!"

I couldn't help notice that at least one half of the pre-match shit bloke/ex-player theory was coming true and that the Chernobyl Child Mitch Robinson was doing as he liked in the midfield. Was obviously excited that Olivia did a concert in his honour beforehand, but it didn't mean our players had to avoid him like he was actually radioactive. Turncoat J**d you can understand getting off the leash, because for all of his personal faults he is actually a bloody good player BUT copping it from Robinson is a bitter pill. Olivia announced before the game that she had raised 45k for her foundation by singing about Mitch. That's nothing, J**d got 100k from Visy for getting up on Friday morning and putting the bins out.

The second half of the theory didn't go according to plan and Brock wasn't particularly good. Must have thought he was still playing for us and not a good team. Not sure why you'd boo him though, except as an excuse just to boo because you're hating life as a footy fan right now, because even though The Gizz had a shit night it's still the killer deal of the millenium for us. Right up there with Steve O'Dwyer for pick 3 and Troy Longmuir for the pick we got Green with in the history of great moments on the draft table.

He was no good, but at least he had a bash. I posted this on Twitter last night and people I'd never heard of came out of the woodwork to (wrongly) assume it meant I didn't want to trade him in the first place but I'd rather have had him in our side last night than Morton flapping about and Jones stuffing up everything he went near.

I had a sick fantasy about Brock during the week. He runs on off the bench to contest an early centre bounce, the Experience gets the tap down, J**d sharks it as usual only for Brock to block his path, knee him in the aggots, drop him with an uppercut, throw an elbow down as a tribute to the Macho Man and tear his light blue jumper off to reveal a shirt with the letters MFC on underneath. He then tearfully embraces The Gizz, walks off to the acclaim of the crowd once more and we go on to win by plenty.

In the extended version of the fantasy he walks to Bails (conveniently located back on the sidelines) and announces he's back in the MFC fold, to which Bails says "That's nice but I don't want you next year" and Brock says "never mind you won't be coach anyway" and (insert new coach here) signs him on a rookie list free where he spends the rest of his career as a Casey superstar, occassionally filling a gap in the seniors when everyone else is hurt. Well if Juice can take a spot on the list all these years....

From the moment the second half started and we copped a goal in the first minute it was going horribly in the wrong direction. It took Rivers roaming forward to provide a mark inside 50, the Blues continued their cavalcade of uncontested marks around the ground and Watts finally lost the plot after a month of good football and took off on his world record run of ineffective kicks. What pissed me off royally in the third was the amount of times we'd kick it to a three - or worse - on one situation, and then when the Blues won it back they'd kick to another three-on-one, for a grand total of six-on-two within the space of twenty seconds. That leaves four players wandering around aimlessly looking at seagulls a'la Geoff Hayward.

I hear Malthouse called Emo Maric a cheat for trying to rort the umpire into thinking he'd kicked a goal just before 3/4 time. Because I'm sure Mick has never, ever, EVER done anything deliberately outside the rules himself has he? Shit comments but the upside is everyone is going to be talkin' emo this week so it's a great time for Demonblog's own black prince to get some airtime. Because he did precious little else this week.

Nicholson, who replaced Warnock when they finally got jack of his shambolic performance, was good considering his limited game time, but Evans suffered the traditional second game let down when the opposition work out who he is and decide to put some time into him.

Looks like we attempted a belated go at the old forward press in the last quarter and it lasted about five minutes before Juice went for a howler of a kick across the ground to Frawley who cocked up the half volley from the rubbish pass and allowed the Blues to go straight down the other end and score. Then we all sat there and nearly died of boredom for the next twenty minutes.

Tweet like a Demon
"Disappointing result! Heaps to learn before next week. Can't wait for Friday night. Playing FIFA against Juice. Go Bulls. Parmas for lunch"

2011 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
There have been more than few games over the years where it was hard to fill the votes, but I don't think I've ever been there for a more even spread of rank ordinary players. No apologies to be delivered because about 15 could have slunk unfairly into this top five..

I honestly almost gave Newton a vote just for having a crack despite an abject lack of AFL standard talent.

5 - Jared Rivers
4 - James Frawley
3 - Joel Macdonald
2 - Stefan Martin
1 - Colin Sylvia

Leaderboard
19 - Brent Moloney
18 - Colin Sylvia
16 - Mark Jamar (LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
9 - Stefan Martin
8 - Jack Watts, James Frawley ((LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
7 - Colin Garland, Jared Rivers
6 - Luke Tapscott (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
5 - Rohan Bail, Jordan Gysberts
4 - Jack Trengove, Michael Evans
3 - Jack Grimes, Liam Jurrah, Nathan Jones, Joel Macdonald
2 - Ricky Petterd, Clint Bartram, Neville Jetta
1 - Brad Green

Crowd Watch
The only highlight of the evening was the Carlton fan being hassled out the door as I was coming in. "I've got a ticket" she screamed. "It's a child's ticket" said the MCG attendant. "IT DOESN'T MATTER!" she yelled going in the other direction. Odds on that she spent the entire first half trying to pull off the same scam at every ticket outlet in the ground.

How about the flames when the team ran out? Almost as bad as him on the trumpet and his velvet jacket. I was hoping at least Juice would fall in and make them worthwhile. I can't fault the club for trying to do something to get the kids in and distract us from the fact that the team is going nowhere but we're starting to do gimmicks that even American soccer teams would consider too kitsch, and they play at stadiums with names like Pizza Hut Park.

Shattered that the OPSM giant glasses gimmick seems to be a permanent fixture this year. It's a step up from junkies kicking for cash or the time we played up every stereotype by having fake snow outside the ground on Queen's Birthday, but bloody hell is it really worth downgrading your dignity in public on the off chance that some perverted cameraman will pick you out of the crowd (and how often is it young girls that they pick?) and win you a 'seat upgrade' for the last three quarters.

Even worse are the people who apply/wave around the promotional item in question even though the camera is clearly not showing any interest in their part of the ground. A grown man in front of me was going absolutely wild with the glasses despite it being abundantly clear that a) he wouldn't win for being male b) they always pick somebody in the front row and c) the cameras were focusing on the Southern Stand the whole time. Needless to say he didn't win the coveted 'seat upgrade'.

MCG Masterchef
Forget the floppy hot dogs in rock-solid, stone age bread that they sell inside the ground and your natural aversion to 'comedy' shop names and get into the Kaiser's Sausage outside the Ponsford Stand. Don't worry, this isn't a sponsored tweet for which I'm being given my bodyweight in kransky sausages (not that I'm not interested if you're reading Von Kaiser),
it's just a community service announcement. If like me you'd rather eat your own sock than a meat pie then honk right onto that German sausage. It costs about $1.50 more than the chemical shit that is sold inside the ground but provides about $6 more value.

Get into it before the MCG adopt the same Stalinist policies towards outside food as Corporate Stadium.

Next Week
With any luck Essendon will find some way to become depressed by the bye like we did and come out serving up the sort of utter garbage that we might be able to do something with. That is if we're not lining with 18 players behind the ball

Not even bothering with changes because somebody will suffer a mystery injury during the week and stuff it all up anyway.

Next Season
With no regard to their contract status I'm putting Morton, Warnock, Newton, Bate and Dunn in the departure lounge. Have given up supporting Bate, and the only one that I see even the slightest hope for amongst the rest is Morton is he gets his head right or finds a new role. Tom McNamara is going nowhere, James Strauss might be dead a'la Paul McCartney and even though the Spencils is - I think - contracted for next year there's fat chance he'll ever play seniors again.

Then there's the backroom staff. Bailey is hanging on by a thread, Schwab has had to shut up shop publicly recently, Connolly has been reduced to hosting sportsman's nights and god knows what the likes of Mahoney, Royal, West, Williams et al are doing at the moment.

There are going to be some very, VERY lucky survivors on this list at the end of the year. Roll on celebrity status at other clubs for the ones we drop.

10 comments:

  1. During the week Rivers had said "we can will take it to them". Well they took it and gave it to them on a silver platter. Where were the tackles? Why no contested marks? Why such poor decisions and execution of skills?

    No heart, no plan, no hope.

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  2. Was just talking to my mate that works at champion data. He had just finished chatting to Anthony Hudson who in turn just had finished interviewing Mick Malthouse. Mick told him off line that Dean Bailey can't coach and that he cannot believe we hired 2 assistant coaches that he interviewed and wouldn't go near them as they have no idea about the modern game. Don't know who the 2 are but speculate Scott West and Josh Mahoney.

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  3. Mahoney is definitely one.

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  4. Mind you, Mick can get fucked for potting Maric when he called Maric a cheat. Fucking hypocrite. Mick has spent a lifetime in footy embracing snide tactics. Blokes trying to con umpires happens 50 times a game. Liking it to a keeper claiming a catch is utter rubbish. Why not liken it to a bowler appealing for LB when he knows that batsman has hit it. Fuck off, Mick, you self-aggrandising, pompous, pretentious, wannabe intellectual, fat head.

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  5. Mind you time two. That bit about Malthouse bagging two Melbourne assistants has been doing the rounds for weeks.

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  6. Unless Essendon lay off 500 of their administrative staff during the early part of this week we stand no chance on Friday.

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  7. Pretty sure that Sylvia was best on ground for us. He was the only one really interested in contesting and being hard: 8 tackles, 5 clearances and 12 contested possessions.

    I also noticed that you have reopened the Jim Stynes Medal; nice.

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  8. When I used to compile the votes as a kid in my own personal version of the Allen Jakovich medal I would rate every player 0,1,2 or 3. I still have fond memories of Paul Prymke's triumph before completely stuffing his back and never being seen on a footy field again. Something to consider if you're concerned about giving undeserved votes. KK.

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  9. KK, I admire your even handedness - when I was a kid I would never have done votes like this without rigging it so that my favourites won every single time.

    Could never not give votes, it would ruin the statistical integrity of seven years of 5-4-3-2-1 magic.

    P.S - I marked Sylvia down for barely getting a touch in the second quarter when the match was going tits up.

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  10. This may sound a little strange but last night they were like the Hammersmith Flyover, fast, crowded and to the point. Those bobmers crashed down, see the bobmers crash down.

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