Saturday 25 June 2011

Let them burn and we shall all clap our hands

Match of the round status, a thumping last start victory and 60,000 people watching on in the only game in Victoria of a Saturday. What could possibly go wrong? Especially considering that even during our darkest days we've either beaten Richmond or had to cheat so openly and disgracefully that we still almost won despite playing Matthew Warnock at full-forward.

As I said in last week's post, which in review was clearly written with the sort of half-Ararat that only a 15 goal win can cause, something felt right about this match-up. It's no knock on Richmond as a team, who if they can avoid self imploding and throwing it away like so many others in the last 30 years should turn out to be quite good, and not just for one season this time. What last week showed us is that when the defensive matchups don't hang our players out to dry, and when we've got a decent forward structure which features both lead and crumb we're not a bad side. Not worldbeaters by any stretch, but at least good enough to put forth a decent campaign around the lower reaches of the eight.

What we have seen in the last few weeks is that our biggest problem was getting it inside 50. Essendon let us get away with it because they were inept until the second half to shake Freo off before poleaxing them. Even the Collingwood game would have been a lot less ugly if we hadn't been thrashed out of the centre. The return of Jamar and the reunion of the Psychic Friends Connection with Moloney couldn't hurt on that front, and with the option of rotating the Russian and the Experience in front of goal we looked even more dangerous down there.

Admittedly for us a "dangerous" forward line is hardly a free-flowing attacking masterclass, but you can't ask for everything at once. It certainly looks better now than any time since 2006 but to take advantage of it you've got to get it in there to start with - and with that you have the makings of the Collingwood debacle.

What we have got is a backline that unless everything goes wrong for them (e.g Collingwood) are absolutely dynamite. Rivers has recovered from his Queen's Birthday nightmare to start doing what he does best again, there's nothing more that needs to be said about how much Garland adds to this team and be completely honest about it how much do you love James Frawley?

The fact that we took Chip one pick before Jack Riewoldt in the '06 draft means that if he hadn't turned into the killer defender that he has we'd forever have been subject to "why didn't we" wailing and gnashing of teeth by fans and media, so thank christ that's been avoided. Think how much you wanted to go around to the office of the Herald Sun and kick some tables over when they printed that ludicrous article in their paper about how we should have picked Hurley in front of Watts. If we were still waiting for Frawley to deliver on his promise while Riewoldt was running around winning Coleman Medals you could multiply that by a million.

Right now it's a spectacular win/win for both sides. I'm sure nobody would be complaining if the tables were turned and we'd picked Jack instead but my god could the Tigers have done with Frawley down back today. Problem is that if they'd picked him he'd probably have spent the first five years of his career being gobbed at by freaks who still held a grudge about his uncle's coaching.

Either way both sides can be confident they made the right decisions considering that the next five players picked after Frawley and Riewoldt were James Sellar (21 games), Daniel O'Keefe (delisted at the end of '09), Mitch Brown (four games this year), Shaun Hampson (meh) and Leroy Jetta (double meh). Sometimes the system works, and sometimes your recruiting manager is Craig Cameron.

Ironically it seems that after all that they're set to play on each other in every match between the two sides until the end of time. Riewoldt won the first meeting last year and Frawley towelled him up in the second so the stage was set for what was probably the most crucial battle of the game. Even though he's leading the Coleman Jack hasn't been anything like as dangerous he was last year. But despite that, him being played further up the ground more often and the rumours that he was playing with an injury, the demolition job the Frawley did on him played as big a part as any in our win. The only downer is that his injury at the start of the year, and slow start on return, will probably cost him a back-to-back All Australian spot when he could very well deserve it. How about some of those storming runs he made coming out of defence today? Superstar.

Having said all that you'd never have known we were on the way to a relatively comfortable win seven minutes into the first quarter. Eventually after missing four gettable shots they settled for a ten point play when Dustin Martin, the man who tattoed his own surname across his neck just in case he forgot it, stuffed up my return to the welcoming bosom of the TAB and denied Jamar his god given chance to kick the first goal.

I should have walked away and called Gambler's Helpline when I saw that they were onto the prospect of Russian starting forward and only offered 13-1, but it had taken me long enough to get to the front of the queue that I went through with it and wasted good money that could have been spent fattening up Morton on the finest from The Kaiser's Sausage (who I am still waiting to come on and give me free kransky for endorsing every week).

When Newman added another before we'd even been inside 50 it began to look like another disastrous afternoon of following up a quality performance with some sloppy garbage. At one point the guy in front of me even got overexcited and yelled out "BETTER THAN SCULLY!" when Martin got a touch. Talk to me in October and I'll decide whether or not I agree with that, but acting like a teenage girl (or an epic perve) at a Miley Cyrus concert proved significantly premature by quarter time when we had somehow come back and kicked seven goals.

How much more like the first time we played them last year could you ask for? That day they got the first two goals, dominated us for the first seven minutes yet somehow managed to concede eight goals by quarter time. And what a feature lineup of players you'll never hear from again were on the scoreboard in that quarter Troy Taylor, David Astbury, Matty Bate. Remember the 8th goal when Petterd did the flying dive into the Punt Road end pocket to knock it back in for Bate in the square? Who would have thought it could possibly go wrong for Bater from there? Now he's all but forgotten and almost no chance of a recall unless Jeremy Howe gets hurt.

This year it was dual Green goals which got us back into it. That's two weeks in a row where he's been played in the right spot and has had decent supply, thus allowing him to play like it's 2010 again instead of floundering around the middle of the ground trying to cover gaps that he's not suited to in 2011.

By the end of the quarter, with the bleating about the umpiring already reaching fever pitch, we'd turned the match on it's head by shutting their midfield down and tightening up on their wonky defenders. Ricky Petterd was already well on the way to his record breaking game for tackles inside forward 50 when he set up Howe's goal. Add the Jurrah and Trengove goals and with seconds left we were somehow, mystifyingly almost three goals in front.

But just when you thought it couldn't get any better Watts managed to rort a free out of the umpire by running straight into an opponent and claiming a shepherd before kicking our seventh goal despite the twat who operates the siren trying to stuff him up by blowing it twice during the run-up. Good, and indeed, grief. This was not expected, especially based on the slop served up in the first seven minutes but once we started to put pressure on them they - to quote that bloke out of Dad's Army - didn't like it up 'em and fell apart accordingly.

Pretty much everything from the ten minute mark onwards was an important psychological blow but it mattered not a dot if we didn't follow it up in the second quarter. One of the most frustrating things about us, now that we seem to be moving away from Bailey Quarters just when they were about to become a worldwide sensation (and I'm not declaring them completely eradicated a'la Smallpox just yet) is when we follow up one blistering, high scoring quarter with a shit one. Happened last week, happened in that Round 4 game last year when we followed up 8.1 with 0.6 in the second and more importantly happened in the North game which wound up with us losing comfortably.

After North I won't trust another first quarter lead for the rest of this year. You'd be foolish to trust any five goal first quarter lead these days, and even in the Freo match that was when the shock subsided and we briefly let them get back into it. So hands up who else thought "oh christ, here we go again?" when they dominated us in the opening minutes of the second and got the first two goals? It looked plenty like the first quarter, right down to us winding up out of nowhere and somehow outscoring them in the end.

It was only one goal more, including one to *swoon* the Experience, but it could have been even better. Both Jurrah and Jamar missed fairly gettable goals which would have blow the margin out, but with Hardwick content to waste Deledio on trying to quell Watts they were letting us pretty much do as we pleased. Vickery got a couple early and Riewoldt his only one for the day but we had goalkicking options out the wazoo and used them accordingly.

Incidentally speaking of Jamar his miss of the sitter, which was by my count his third from a similar spot this year, is a good opportunity to bring out my favourite #statmybitchup fact that until the start of this year he was the most accurate set shot of any player since 1987. Ridiculous. Mind you it's discredited slightly by the fact that his 3.4 this year has pushed him below massive names like Michael Murphy, Matthew Capuano and Barnaby French but still, it shows that he's a more reliable kick than he's letting on at the moment.

Still, even though it helps he's not there to kick goals. He's there to dominate the centre bounce, form a Psychic Connection with Moloney and be the target for kick-ins 99% of the time. The spectacular rise of the SME meant that Bailey could be comfortable leaving Stef in the starting bounce today and playing with Jamar forward, but when Richmond started getting on top he threw the Russian back into the middle and that old magic was recaptured. Apparently the PFC are still the #1 ruck/rove combination in the game despite Jamar having missed all those weeks. What does that say? Other than if you stop Moloney we're pretty much rooted.

Stef was good too, and let's be fair he's a much safer kick around the ground, but I can't help but swoon whenever I see a Jamar/Moloney tap cracker. If that was his first game after six weeks watch out in the next month as he gets fully back into it, and watch out for he and the Experience to do some damage on the scoreboard as well. There was even a moment where the SME monstered his opponent in front of goal and I almost passed out from excitement. He didn't mark it in the end, but even though I know he's a fierce competitor when the ball hits the deck I never thought I'd see him throw somebody out of the way with ease. Sure, Richmond's backline is the most intensely pox part of their team but still...

And how much better is Moloney when he's working in combination with Jamar? He's been just ok the last few weeks but it's no coincidence that today was his best game since they tore Adelaide to shreds together six weeks ago. Hard to split my love for our ruck division at the moment considering that Maximum proved such a cult figure during his brief cameo. I'd even give The Spencil a hug right now.

The only thing was concerning me at half time was the chances of us kicking another 12 goals, or near enough to, in the second half. If you took out the first seven minutes of the first two quarters we'd actually put together an entire first half of decent football and even in our best wins we barely managed to do that.

Five of the goals came directly from defensive howlers, and you can't rely on any team to hand you them on a platter for a full four quarters. Though it's not to say it was complete charity though, our forward pressure set a standard that's going to make us look pretty ordinary if they don't put the same kind of intensity into terrifying the very ordinary Footscray and Port over the next few weeks.

For all the tension, and Richmond's early domination, we had the first shot on goal from a crashing Watts pack mark - the sort which makes grown men weep with joy - and even though he missed the Experience got his second soon after and we were out to a 38 point lead. Unfortunately Jack then got sucked in to some handbags at 20 paces biffo in our backline and the umpire, clearly regretting the farce of a free he'd just paid to Stef that led to the goal, gave them the ball in the centre which they instantly converted.

From there we delivered one of the shitest attempts at putting a game away that you'll ever want to see. No doubt we were playing well around the ground but how many times could we have ended it before missed a hurried snap or a set shot? Thank god Tyrone Vickery declined an easy handball to Miller in the square and stuffed up his snap after thinking about it for 2 hours because if that had gone in we could have been in real trouble.

The momentum shift had started after the Watts free, so it was only appropriate that he made up for it by eventually getting our second for the quarter right on the siren. And what a goal too, anyone piece of Jack Magic to make you want to call the Herald Sun switchboard and yell "STICK THAT UP YOUR COLLECTIVE ARSES YOU PURVEYORS OF A RAG WHICH I WOULD NOT USE TO HOUSETRAIN A DOG" to the baffled and traumatised receptionist.

He couldn't have known there was about three seconds on the clock when he chased down Houli in front of goal after Newman had set him up with a rubbish handballs, but how about the hurried snap and evil look on his face when he slotted it just as the siren went? Everyone loves bagging private schoolkids (except Melbourne supporters because most of our fans were one at some point), and not without some justification, but the evil look tells me that he's not only becoming a top shelf forward but that he's also injected swagger into his game.

I once wanted to hire Wayne Carey as our coach (unaware that he was fighting imaginary bats at the time), that's how much I love swagger. Almost as much as I love crumb. So when Jack was doing his post match interview and mentioned that one of the three C's which the forward line are supposed to live by was CRUMB I almost jumped and down in celebration. He's right too, we've had plenty o'crumb the last few weeks (Collingwood debacle excluded) and that can't be a bad thing. It's just a shame that Demonblog's own Emo Maric isn't there to share in the spoils after his crumbtastic performance in junktime against North. Get well soon Emo.

Still, the margin might have been five goals and we might only have lost a couple of points off the lead after botching all those chances but it was by no means over. 17 points below the Chris Sullivan Line I realised that Sullivan had ended his career with Richmond. Omen nearly became reality when they got the first two of the quarter.

Down the other end Green had the chance for a steadier and put it out on the full and it was starting to look a lot like the Essendon game all over again. Luckily it turned out to have the same result. Sylvia's goal steadied the ship, and even though they got another one and could still have nicked it Trengove's third did them in and as the game limped to a conclusion we even got a piece of Jurrahcane piss taking magic when he sold the gigantic dummy around half of their backline and kicked his second.

One thing I learned today while watching Brad Miller going around was just how ludicrous it was when people threw hissy fits about us dumping him at the end of last year. Still, some were shattered when we traded Travis Johnstone and look how that turned out. No offence to Bradforth because he seems like a genuinely nice guy and I'm glad he's getting a game somewhere but his first half showed exactly why it was premature for anybody to lose sleep about us giving him the boot.

Ignoring his ruck cameos, where he was always going to get carved to shreds, he didn't do a great deal for the first three quarters other than setting up the Grigg goal which wouldn't have been a goal if our whole backline hadn't jumped from the same side of the square. Compare and contrast to having Jeremy Howe down there, Watts starting to run riot and the option to play either Jamar or the Experience out of the goalsquare and it tells me that right now Bradforth would be lining up alongside Bate, Dunn, Maric and Fev in a killer VFL forward line but that he'd be a mile off getting a game with us. Would be surprised if he was even at the Tigers next year, but we all know what he's got waiting for him at home so it's fair to say Bradforth is still the overall winner.

After being Milleresque all day I suddenly realised he was on the verge of playing the 30 minutes of his life in that last quarter and knobbing us. He set up two goals and even managed to break even with Jamar at centre bounces a couple of times. Thank god the rest of them couldn't go on with it because after losing to Bruce, McLean and Buckley this year the last thing we needed was for an ex-player to drag his side over the line in an inspirational cameo performance. Pencil in Cheney as BOG when we play Hawthorn again.

Meanwhile it's been great to see the hated (by me anyway) sub rule get a bit of a kicking over the last couple of days, even if much of it has been driven by the sooks from Windy Hill, but the bad news is that for the rest of this year at least we're going to have to deal with it. Given that can we agree that Morton just doesn't work in that role?

After a fortnight of decent, if unspectacular, performances he donned the traffic controller vest and proceeded to stink the joint up with two shockers from his first three kicks after replacing Macdonald. He recovered a bit as the game went on but if you're going to bring somebody into a close game they can't need time to get confidence. One of these days we're going to be involved in a real thriller and the Sad Panda is going to get crucified if he comes on and makes a costly cockup.

Not sure who else you'd have had as the sub from our team yesterday - I was more than happy with Bennell on field - but if you're not going to pick somebody who can make an impact coming off the bench then just don't pick them in the first place. It's a shit rule and the sooner we see the back of it (or at least extend it to 4+1 on the bench so it becomes the domain of fringe players as it deserves to be) the better.

For all our attempts to kick ourselves out of it and let them back in it was still a significant win. Richmond fans will tell you they were robbed by the umpires (and the guy who rang Triple M to say they would have won by 12 goals if it wasn't for the umps was a classic) but it wasn't the guys in green who caused Vickery to give Miller nothing. They were doing fine in rorting themselves out of the four points without having to worry about the umpires - who were pretty ordinary both ways - hurting them. Still, sook if it makes you feel better you won't get anything out of it other than a phone bill for thousands of dollars from calling every sports talkback program in the world to tell your story.

To be entirely honest I was bursting with pride inside, but had no desire to stand around and celebrate what should be the second step in a four match winning streak which sets us up for a legitimate crack at the finals. If we win next week I'll start celebrating. The downside of this lack of celebration was that I walked out of the ground, past the Kaiser's Sausage (P.S - I WILL MENTION YOU EVERY WEEK FOR ONE FREE CHEESE KRAINER AT EVERY MATCH) and onto the bridge towards Flinders Street to realise I was the only person in a sea of hundreds who wasn't a Richmond fan. If they'd decided to kill me right there nobody would have known. Thank god all the real top shelf freaks are locked in down the other end of the ground.

2011 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
I've got a feeling, having seen a few sets of votes that are completely different, that opinions might vary on the top five and which order they go in. If you violently disagree please send death threats on a postcard to the usual address.

I feel a bit sad that I couldn't somehow push Petterd up the rankings just for the defensive game he turned in today. Forget the fact that he cracked the record for I50 tackles, but have you ever seen a bigger contrast between somebody's performance with the ball and without it? His possessions heinous (33% and that includes handballs) but he was ferocious when he didn't have it. Never did I think anybody who botched two thirds of their touches would ever not only win a vote but that I'd feel he deserved more but that's how good it was. Wouldn't expect to see Dunn win a recall anytime soon if Ricky's going to play like that.

Also can I freely admit that I've got a rude mancrush on Jordie McKenzie? He didn't totally destroy Cotchin today, but he did enough to make sure he wasn't a factor. I'm surprised at him only having five tackles because he always seemed to be there when somebody was tackled - probably because he's forever lurking, ready to leap on some poor bastard when they're vulnerable. Even looked comfortable kicking it today which is a huge step up from last week.

So after tossing up between the top two for about half an hour I eventually settled on the Million Dollar Manchild. Long may he reign.

5 - Jack Watts
4 - Brent Moloney
3 - Jordie McKenzie
2 - James Frawley
1 - Ricky Petterd

Gigantic apologies to Martin, Jones, Green, Trengove and Garland. Slightly less to Scully, Jurrah, Sylvia, Gysberts and Nicholson. Most others at least good.

It's a tie at the top, but with Watts and the entire ruck division lurking closely behind. Elsewhere Frawley has finally put his nose in front in the Seecamp and you'd want to back him home from here.

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

Crowd Watch
Once again the Ponsford Stand, around me at least, remained the bastion of all that is good and right with the world and despite being almost entirely surrounded by Richmond fans there wasn't a single moment of tension. I think that for Tigers games they make anybody who turns up in a gypsy caravan sit in the Southern Stand so that's probably where all the best action was. They can have it, I'm too old to be involving myself in wild scenes.

The only time I felt that it was about to kick off was when Watts got the free for the shephard at the end of the first quarter and the guy across the aisle and one row back went off his nut. Out the corner of my eye I thought he was about to throw a can (!?) in my direction and flinched at it. No, I did not spend the game tripping on acid so god knows where that came from. Expect that it had something to do with being in shock from the last 15 minutes of the quarter.

Speaking of the first quarter, halfway through it I saw one of the most shameless breaches of footy etiquette of all time. Now, tell me if I'm living in Cloud Cuckoo Land but if you want to get to the middle of an aisle is it not accepted that you stop at the end, get the attention of the first person then wait for them and everyone else to stand up one by one as you walk in?

Not so this Richmond gent. Despite the fact that he was carrying a coffee in one hand and a tiny kiddy backpack over his other shoulder (which is always a stranger danger alert as far as I'm concerned) he bounded up the stairs to the row in front of me and plowed straight through them without warning and with the coffee precariously hanging over the row in front threatening to scorch them at any minute. He then pushed through the startled crowd, almost to the other side of the aisle without waiting for one person to move for him. Mannerless peasant. Needless to say he wasn't wearing red and/or blue.

Ridiculously the first Richmond fans to pull the pin and leave went halfway through the third quarter after Jurrah marked on the lead. Never mind that he hadn't converted the kick yet or that countless teams have lost games from five goals in front in the third quarter, the moment the ball hit his hands, they stood up, waved to their friends and were gone. Don't worry that he missed, they would have been halfway up platform 8 at Richmond Station by the time the Tiges made it interesting in the last term and in Pakenham by the final siren.

The real exodus began with Sylvia's goal, and gradually a world record number of women with bald spots and/or men wearing team merchandise clearly found at Savers drifted out. By the time Trengove goalled the numbers of our supporters to theirs in Q34 had almost evened up, and by the end there were about three empty rows around me. Something tells me that a large number of them came expecting a win and were moderately disappointed about it. Wah, and indeed wah. Though it's not like our lot aren't guilty of the same thing.

You know why I like Richmond? Because you can use all the jokes about their fans that you would for Collingwood if they weren't so good. I wonder what happened to the guy who sat there at this game singing the Tiges theme song with altered lyrics about putting Terry Wallace in the electric chair.

Koaching Korner
Without delving completely into #welovehird/#sackhird territory you'd have to think the market on Bailey staying or going has been thrown into disarray over the last fortnight. It could all still go tits up so don't buy stock in him yet but today was a big step forward. Which is terrible news for all of you who had a sneaky fiver on the bloke out of the Deep Heat ad taking over. All I can do to comfort you is reveal that in a desperate attempt to find a picture of the Team Deep Heat coach I went onto their website and discovered that their product promises you "special 3 way action". Which is probably the best offer you'll ever get out of this page.

Personal Computing Corner - presented by Kaspersky Lab and
There's nothing more tragic, yet simultaneously hilarious, than supporters being rolled into posting impassioned defences of their club when somebody has a pot shot at it online.

Shamefully we've all been there, sometimes it might have even been justified, but if you didn't read this thread before the match then do yourself a favour and take it in now before somebody gets murdered and it's taken away as evidence.

There should be one thing written above all forums, and which users should be forced to print out and put above their computer before they're allowed to post, IT DOES NOT MAKE A SPOT OF DIFFERENCE IN REAL LIFE WHAT SOMEBODY WRITES ABOUT YOUR CLUB ON THE INTERNET. Popular legend has it that we're sexually aroused by snow and love nothing more than plowing down a mountain yelling PIP PIP old chap! This is unlikely to be true (though I've not been near snow since I spent a week hiding from it playing Galaga in a chalet during an 80's family holiday so what do I know?) but people are going to drag it out for the rest of time and that’s ok.

What do you do? You could smile knowingly, nod and admit that although it is a massive fiction that you'd rather be thought of as velvet jacket toting ski bunnies than heroin addicted armed robbers. Alternatively you could go out and try to round up some actual heroin addicted armed robbers to come along and cause a scene for the media, but what you should never, ever do – and take this from somebody who has been shamefully reading internet forums since the days when it took an hour just to see one boob come up on the net – is take it to heart and launch a furious, keyboard mashing defence of your club’s integrity/origin/supporter base. Because, and please look up above your monitor at the sign you have just printed out and stuck up, IT DOES NOT MAKE A SPOT OF DIFFERENCE IN REAL LIFE WHAT SOMEBODY WRITES ABOUT YOUR CLUB ON THE INTERNET.

Still, if you think it's going to get us somewhere by going into bat against 14-year-olds from Deer Park then go for your life.

Next Week
That was the hard one. The problem from here is not that we're playing Footscray (unconvincing, Ed Barlow starring) and Port (rancid song, hacks galore) but where the matches are being played.

Next Friday night against the Dogs we fully deserve to go in red hot favourites considering that they've served up two unconvincing wins against rubbish sides but I don't need to tell you how hideous we've been at Docklands during the Bailey era. The Dogs have gone from being shite to good and back again since we last won a game at that place. And what an afternoon it was too, with Ben Holland running riot and Jace Bode making his long awaited (!?) debut.

Since then we've lost a full ten in a row, but at least there were times during both our games there this year that we did look alright so against doctor's orders I'm getting sucked in and picking us. How long does it seem since that first Jamar-less quarter against North with Juice pretending he was John Coleman up front? More of that, less of the majority of the other 43 quarters (including pre-season matches) we've turned in there since 2008.

Then for pure financial reasons we play Port in Darwin where anything could happen.
Move it back to the MCG and we'd go in $1.10 favourites with a massacre on the cards, but put it in the humid conditions where they've already won this season and it's anything but a certainty.

At least we've got form there after last year's win. Who will ever forget Leigh Colbert conducting one of the finest post-match interviews of all time with an exhausted Jamar seated on the turf of TIO Stadium? More importantly who'll ever forget Miller kicking a career high five goals in his last great moment shortly before getting the arse.

Then it gets interesting. You can all but write off the game in Geelong (why am I going? Even worse, why am I considering catching a V-Line train there?) but if we can win against one of Carlton or Hawthorn then we're putting ourselves right in the mix. If we win both the lid will be torn off and hurled into the sky with such vigour that it will start orbiting the earth.

Of course we're operating in a different world to the likes of Carlton and Hawthorn. After what we've been through for the last few years just making the eight is treated like a major milestone. Small steps. Some subscribe to the theory that it's better to miss out than to just fall in, get thrashed and wind up with Matthew Knights being sacked acrimoniously. I spit on that theory and would dearly like to update this page at least once before the end of the year.

So, on Friday night can everyone just put their hatred of Etihad Stadium aside and show up? Apparently Joel Mac might miss, so pending any mystery injuries and with Casey having the bye this week I'll bring Tapscott in for him if fit. The shame for J.Mac is that after his best month of the season he might never get back in if Tappy plays like he did at the start of the year.

Was it worth it?
If you watched on TV you had to listen to Dwayne Russell. So it most certainly was.

Let's do it all again in Round 22.


  1. Lyall St Kilda26 June 2011 at 14:01

    The MSDS nearly kicked in in those first few minutes. Oh no, the bad Melbourne had turned up to play. I was almost heading for the bar to get some medication when they turned it around. Only kidding: really the good Melbourne had turned up to play. And they were very, very good, although it wasn't until the 17 and half minute mark of the 2nd quarter that I knew that it was all stitched up. (That was when we posted more scoring shots than the Tiges with, don't quote me, a behind that took the score to 10-2 to 6-5. As that truism goes 'Bad kicking is bad football'. Think, if those opening misses, and they were very easy, were in fact goals. Different scoreboard pressure but that's history.)

    All praise to the players. The rest of the world is at last seeing the class and the talent that I knew was always there. And they richly deserve the praise and accolades that they are receiving. (Yeah, those words 'swoon', 'passed out from excitement', 'weep for joy' and 'bursting with pride' all mean something to the long suffering. Is that a light at the end of the tunnel?)

    However I'm still not happy with the coaching panel. Come the last quarter Hardwick virtually capitulated and threw it over to his players to turn it around. Play it man on man. I am willing to be convinced that the Melbourne coaching panel recognised that the game was ours. It seemed that we played it out on their terms. It was the usual trench warfare routine, butting heads, winning some skirmishes, losing some skirmishes, all for what? Losing the quarter by 2 pts. I mean, after all, 'never give a sucker an even break.' So where was the plan to go for the jugular. Or the plan to ease it off. (Heaven forbid, these are young men, let 'em go for the kill.) You can be certain that Rodney Eade at Etihad Stadium won't give any quarter. Just like Collingwood he'll do his homework and he'll make sure his meagre resources go a long way to victory.

    Crowd watch: they're jumping on the bandwagon. I like the ones, who, to establish their bona fides as a long time supporter, give a running commentary of players names: 'yeah Sylivia', 'go Sculls' (note the abbreviation: extra kudos for that), 'whew Jack' (more points on for first name recognition), 'up there Russian' (bonus points for knowing nickname). And then there are the long termers, who now that they are on a winning streak (this is Melbourne we're talking about) abuse and curse any player who makes a glaring error or does a shit kick. Thank god when we're losing they suffer in silence.

  2. Steve Coogan "liquid....

  3. Pure gold: "Popular legend has it that we're sexually aroused by snow and love nothing more than plowing down a mountain yelling PIP PIP old chap!"

  4. Having narrowly avoided being mugged at the Punt Road end immediately before the game, I sat amongst the black and gold proletariat in the Southern Stand. The Tiger fans around me turned on their own part way into the second quarter when their disposal and decision making skills fell away badly. Even though the mob seemed ready to storm the ground when Vickery stuffed up the certain goal later at the City End, at least I didn't witness anything like the aisle invader you described. That sort of thing is just not on - try the stairs on the other side if you must.

    Jack Watts best on ground for contested marks/possessions alone. Shrugging off two opponents after a hospital handpass, then dobbing the goal allowed me to stick it up some Tiger fans nearby who were sensing that we had kicked ourselves out of it in the third quarter. KK

  5. Dear Mr D. Blog,

    While I enjoy skimming through your musings on this here website (whose entries I assume are written while sipping fine cognac and smoking a pipe), I would prefer it if you didn't attempt to shatter the illusion of internet arguments being entirely pointless and ineffectual.

    In collaboration with the Ponds Institute, we here at smfcboard think we are close to finally destroying the A-League, after having done nothing but whinge and whine on several internet forums about how awful all these new dawners are.

    Why else would we spend time on such a long and wearying project?

  6. Good morning,
    I just want to pass on my huge thanks to you for your weekly report. I am a similar age to you i believe and my Demon journey started in the mid to late 80's with Alan johnson in the back pocket and Danny Hughes at Full Back. I still have nightmares about Peter Daicos tearing up Stephen Newport. Your blogs are a highlight to my week. Im loving our kids and i can genuinely smell a succesful era coming. Keep up the great work. I have recentley compiled a Melbourne Football club draft dossier covering all picks and a summary of each player since the 2005 draft. (keep in mind i did this up 12 weeks ago and labbelled Stephan Martin a "project player", before he exploded!!) I will email to you for your thoughts.
    Cheers, Dave

  7. Yes, Jordie may have had only five tackles, but one of those five was just about the best I ever saw. Yep, the one I am talking about is where he leapt, Superman style, over a player lying prone on the ground to land on the full - ON THE FULL! - on the poor recipient of said tackle. Masterful. - Higgs (@R3mm3t)


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