Monday, 13 June 2011

One hit wonders

The Demonblog legal department called me at 5.05pm on Monday to inform me it had come to their attention that I'd been well and truly sucked in by the win against the Bombers, that despite their early form beating them is actually meaningless and that I would now need to post an apology for turning into an Essendon/Carlton fan overnight and swinging wildly from one viewpoint about the coach and club to another on the basis of flimsy, often falsified evidence.

So, raising my right hand I, Adam S Mercado* (*denotes fake name), being of fairly sound mind and body do solemnly, sincerly and truly declare and affirm that I will not, under any circumstances, get roped into believing that the Melbourne Football Club are 'back' or are 'finals contenders' on the evidence of one-off performances again until such time that they put together a decent run of performances and beat some teams that aren't utterly shite and/or from interstate.

Don't know why everyone was getting so excited about our chances in this match. You can understand supporters being roped in by one slashing third quarter amidst a month of slop but even respectable media types were talking up the prospect of an upset based on Collingwood's supposed injury/suspension crisis and the fact that we were one point worse than them over two starts last season.

To be fair the loss of Swan/Thomas/Jolly helped us, well it could hardly hurt, but it's not like our midfield is flying at the moment either so that was always unlikely to be the difference. In all the euphoria of the VE Day style celebrations at the end of last week it seemed to be forgotten that they'd actually smashed us out of the middle and it had been the backline which saved our bacon long enough to wear them down, kick away and almost cock it up again before the defence saved us a second time. If Essendon sans Jobe Watson can do it then the Pies sans half their premiership team are probably going to as well. Still, aren't we used to pundits saying outrageous things just to make themselves stand out from everybody else? Isn't that right Theo x?

Sure last year we had one unlucky loss and a draw. Meaningless in the context of 12 months down the track. The Petterd game gets nothing in retrospect because it's not the first time a good side have had a slow start to the season before getting it together and running away with the comp (Geelong anybody?), and even though in the end we could have won QB game with another ten seconds on the clock we were only there because the Pies were abysmal kicking for goal. They kept going wide, ended up having most of their shots from section Q32 in the Southern Stand and duly stuffed up their chance to win it easily. We had some mighty competitors that day (The Jamar/Moloney Connection anybody?) but it was a stalemate snatched from the jaws of defeat. One year on the Pies have lost two more matches and drawn a Grand Final, so what made anybody in their right mind think we were a chance of winning this?

Maybe if you'd offered me a six goal head start I'd have taken it (if I wasn't avoiding the TAB like the plague) but the $1.20 on the Pies head to head must have been the easiest money some people have ever made. Sucked in to the bookies who would have been taken to the cleaners by people throwing that into multis, good to see money going back to the punters where they will presumably give it back again by making irrational bets on teams called Torpedo Vladimir in the Russian Second Division.

Admittedly we didn't look all that bad for the first 20 minutes. Watts and Sylvia were on fire as a combo up front and other than Frawley who was having an early 'mare with his kicking the backline looked like it could cope with at least one of Cloke/Dawes long enough to at least keep us in the game into the second half again. Another third quarter blast was too unlikely to even consider but imagine how many times Bailey would have gotten to say 'competitive' On The Couch if we'd managed to stick with them until the last quarter? For the record he did say it seven times but I reckon he'd have multiplied that by ten if we hadn't gone tits up so quickly.

Problem was that before you could process the fact that we were not only playing well but actually winning we're suddenly about 20 inside 50's down, getting slaughtered out of the centre and any chance we had of hitting back was killed off by Green (and geez, aren't I glad I've spent the last fortnight defending his honour to the death before he pulled out an absolute stinker) missing a shot he would have eaten for breakfast a few years ago. Commentators must now be duty bound to point out alongside all the "did you know he tried out for...." anecdotes that he also used to be a frighteningly accurate kick. This year he's 15.13 and nothing near a certainty when it's a set shot. I'm keeping faith, mainly because he's the only player older than me on the list so when he retires the measure of "being old" that I came up with as a kid (when every single player on the list is younger than you) will finally apply and I'll have to go bald, buy a sportscar and start hanging around at Venue 28 Doncaster on a Saturday night. Long may Dustin Fletcher continue to play and make me feel sprightly.

You know you're in big trouble at a Melbourne game when the opposition start racking up behind after behind because eventually they'll get it right and we'll have copped a seven/eight/nine point play due to not being able to find a decent kick-out strategy. How many times yesterday were we forced into the big roost to the members/Olympic Stand side of the ground? And how many times did it come straight back again? When the best we could hope for was that it would spill out of bounds it became time to seriously reassess what the buggery we are doing with these kick-ins. The ridiculous disparity of inside 50's against us this year has got as much to do with the kick-ins as it does to getting beaten out of the centre.

The "play on to yourself then hoof it" tactic was fresh and new in the first half of last year when we had Jamar on the end of it, but even when he was in career best form in the second half of the season it stopped working because every other club knew exactly what we were up to. Now we're relying on it to get us out jail with players who don't offer a hundreth of what Jamar does in a contested mark and with a fourth gamer kicking it out most of the time, probably expecting that if he tries anything different and cocks it up he'll be back at Casey Fields next week.

Maybe with Collingwood's dominance out of the midfield the match couldn't have been salvaged no matter what we did, but my god could they have hung Rivers out to dry any more? He had the game of his life floating around the backline taking grabs last week, and surely everybody knows that's what he does best. So when he lined up against Cloke I started sweating a bit. Still, it might have worked. It didn't. I'm concerned whenever I see Warnock in our team but if there was any time to pick him this would have been it. He was pox against Carlton but horses for courses and all that shit. Would have been fair better suited to having Rivers jumping in from the side on the contests and taking grabs instead of suffering the media curse and playing like a man who had just had a double page spread in The Age.

It took five goals in a half of torment for Riv until the penny finally dropped and they moved Frawley onto Cloke. Even to a dunce like me who couldn't identify a tactical manouevre if it were explained in a series of illustrated diagrams it seemed obvious that the Collingwood masterplan was to clear everybody else out and give it to Cloke one-on-one with Rivers where he would monster him. Cue the entire second quarter. Even when he was trying to do the right thing he got stooged when The Experience killed him in the contest that gave Fassolo a goal with his first kick and allowed the commentators to unleash the second biggest cliche after Green spending ten minutes at Old Trafford.

Frawley was having his own issues, shanking kicks and being folded up like an accordian after his contest with Brown, but tell me he wouldn't have given us more in contests against Cloke than Rivers? Sure, maybe then you open up Dawes to run riot but at least try something different when it's not going well. Something that doesn't involve Watts and Morton being expected to play as tall defenders. Sure Morton was getting dragged back there etc.. etc.. etc.. and wasn't doing too badly when it wasn't contested but if you're expecting him to play as a semi-key defender you're having a laugh. Any danger they might try something different with him at some point? Have given up on him ever being sent forward but I'd like to see him thrown in the middle once the season is really dicked (2.45pm next Sunday) and if he gets his fragile sad panda bones snapped in a contest then at least he went down swinging and can stick two fingers up at the critics. I'll be over here waiting for him to wave them at me from an arm in a cast. On that cast I will write CALE - YOU ARE NOW A MAN and watch him win the Brownlow next year.

Once they eventually made the move Chip kept Cloke to one goal from a furious roost that no man could have stopped, and Dawes hardly went near it even when the rest of his team were queuing up to kick goals in the last quarter. Would love to have been a fly on the wall in the coaches box after the third or fourth goal on Rivers to see what the argument in favour of leaving him there was. The worst bit of it all for me was not only that they refused to make the change but that all of a sudden near the end of the second Watts was sent back as a loose man instead. That is not a solution, that's a confidence killer. Not surprisingly from there his game went to shit and he returned to Carlton level kicking efficiency. Would love to see a split between his first and last quarters because he seems to go missing in the second half of games a lot, usually after having been marooned in the backline while it gets machine gunned by the opposition.

The Cloke/Rivers fiasco had a hint of QB2003 about it. Remember Tarrant slaughtering Bizzell for the entire first half before Daniher finally made a change when the game was lost and Chris Lamb held him in the second. Big difference is that Frawley won't cop four goals from Ian Perrie in the first quarter next week, get delisted and end up pulling pints at the Bridge Hotel.

Nevertheless before Cloke really got going we involved ourselves in a cavalcade of shambles from one end of the ground to the other which ensured that there was no possible way we could kick a winning score. I don't blame Green for trying to shepherd Trengove's goal through but if the free wasn't 'there' I can see how the umpire got sucked in to it on the basis of the jostling in the square. Will always go against the player trying to take out the defender in that circumstances. Sylvia got his third not long afterwards and that was pretty much it for us. I'd be interested to see the quarter-by-quarter inside 50's because I reckon we went inside the most during the second but necked ourselves by stuffing it up so many times. Would have had even more if we could move it through the midfield without throwing 57 handballs to guys standing a metre away.

Even when we did finally sneak it inside 50 we just kept shooting ourselves in the foot. Green dropped a chestmark and missed another shot that he should have kicked, Scully missed a set shot and Jurrah tried a half arsed banana to an open goal which didn't even deserve to score. Somewhere Dwayne Russell was champing at the bit, leaping off his chair dying to scream the words "THAT COULD BE THE FIRESTARTER!!?11!!!!!11!" but we never gave him the chance. At least you can be thankful for that.

It wasn't so much the loss, or even the margin, that got to me but the collective head drop as the match went on. If you're going to get thrashed going at it 100% then so be it but even if you take out all the times that the Pies went from one of the ground to the other untouched (and my god there were many) where was the tackling? Where were the contested possessions? Fine if you get the thing and then stuff it up, that's to be expected. Alternatively you could try and take on half the opposition side needlessly a'la Jones before being pinged but that's not advisable unless you want to give everybody the shits. But to go down limply without a fight is what people lose the plot - and in retrospect makes celebrating last week's ultimately meaningless victory like we were the next big thing look unbelievably stupid. Other than a few notable exemptions we caved in yesterday like that horrendous Round 22, 2008 game against Richmond. This wasn't Round 22. Thankfully it wasn't Richmond either or we'd all have jumped into the ocean.

That's the problem with my abusive on-again/off-again relationship with Bailey. It's one thing to go off your nut when you beat Essendon, and I loved it when he started attacking inanimate objects and acting like he'd won Tattslotto, but put that up against the blind insistence on continuing with a matchup even though it was going horribly wrong and we're back to where we were before last week. But I'm still for the wild scenes after that match with no regrets. Who could have forseen that they'd turn up and get bullied from the first bounce? Well, most people I suppose, we're overflowing with workmanlike players but are well short on anybody who could be reliably asked to throw their weight around in front of a 75,000 crowd.

But wait, who did the Pies have in the midfield to do that? Pendlebury was well held by McKenzie early but even at his best he's hardly a fearsome character, striking terror in the hearts of men is he? In fact once Sylvia started playing through the middle more you'd almost say we would have had the advantage in that department and we botched it miserably.

The cycle we're in this year is utterly farcical, firing up for a week at a time based on media scrutiny, running around like world beaters thumping their chests/pointing at badges then turning in absolute garbage a few days later. I reiterate that this isn't based on the fact that we lost in the 1-88 points bracket yesterday. A win was never on the cards, it's that off-field we haven't developed a reliable tactic to clear the ball from defence and on-field the quality of pressure goes from being an "open heart surgeon" to "librarian" on a weekly basis. It's not to say that nobody would care if we were losing games after leaving a trail of blood from here to Timbuktu on a weekly basis, but it would make it easier to accept.

Even Brisbane, ruined for years to come by Michael Voss and his Ken Bruce has gone mad style player trading, managed to rack up a number of fighting losses at the start of the year. Sure they also lost to the Suns, have been flogged for the last fortnight and I wouldn't swap our position with theirs under any circumstances but at least they can point to their collection of hacks + kids and say that they've had a dip in defeat. So far this year we've been beaten by 45, 54, 41, 20, 47 and 88. Just the casual 49 point average loss then. When we're bad, we're rancid. When we're good we're just a week away from being rancid.

In the grand scheme of things the third quarter wasn't too bad. It will certainly look that way in the future when losers like me peruse the stats and go "oh look, they only lost the quarter by three points" but good god have you ever seen a backline so repeatedly under siege as ours were in the first 15 minutes? A non-MFC 2007-2011 one anyway. Did we even have a single inside 50 in all that time? I'm not sure we even went past halfway for about ten minutes at one point. Credit to Frawley and Macdonald (and to a lesser degree Strauss, Morton and Rivers) who kept them at bay all that time when it could have gotten really, really ugly even before we inevitably fell victim to one of the Pies renowned blistering last quarters.

Just when I was trying to find our last scoreless quarter (R19, 2008 in case you care) Howe got a charity 50 just to get us on the board. I really liked his game. He had bugger all chance of getting a kick up front the way we were going an dwent and hunted his own ball. It was a bit like Jurrah against West Coast, and we all hope that Jeremy won't suffer the same loss of interest that the Jurrahcane has in the last month. Ironically he was the other goalkicker for the quarter but it doesn't cover the fact that he was very, very ordinary again - even when the ball did go near him. Still reckon there's something not quite right there.

Given the siege that the backline was under for most of the third quarter it was hard to believe that we were only 40 odd points down at the end of it. There was never any question of nicking it but considering the Pies blistering record in final terms this season it would have made all the difference to have put up a decent fight. Even if we'd been done by ten goals after copping five in the last five minutes you could argue that fitness had something to do with it and gnash your teeth about how the Pies go to Arizona for pre-season while our players take a V-Line coach to Manangatang, but there was no such luck.

Scully and Sylvia combined for the first and the guy in front of me comforted himself by getting a little bit too excited at the prospect of a remarkable comeback but from then on it was all Pie, all the time with nary a fingernail raised in defence.

Reminded me of the Gold Coast game. Both times the underdog started well, slowly went under in the second, did a lot better than expected in the third and then got what they deserved in the last. Speaking of the Suns rumor has it that they raised a flag in celebration of... something.. on Saturday night. Good to see that we've made a buck subcontracting our stupid marketing ideas to somebody else, now sell them the fireworks from last Friday. Bit rude of them to pre-raise the flag they're going to win in five years though. Apparently the crowd went absolutely mild, so at least we've got that in common with them.

So, another great day out for the family then. The way this is going our crowds won't be able to utter the new MCG slogan of "meet you at the footy" without putting "I'd rather go on a road trip with the Milat family than..." before it. I'll meet you at Odyssey House if we keep on going this way for much longer.

One thing that will make me absolutely vom, even more than reading that worst of phrases "will he be in our next premiership team?", is if I pick up a paper or go online and see somebody citing Simon Buckley looking half decent in a team full of champions as a reason we should have kept him. Never a big fan myself but good luck to the guy, if we have to cop a Pies flag I hope he plays in it BUT at the moment he's like a midget hanging around with the Hells Angels. Looks like much more of a threat than he is because he can let Shaw/O'Brien/Maxwell etc.. do all the hard work and then stick the boots into the prone corpse. No thanks. I'm not entirely convinced by Strauss yet but I'd rather we completely exhausted all other avenues before panicking about whether or not we've missed the boat on Buckley.

Didn't mind Morton when he was doing what I expected him to do, mopping up around the half back flank causing very little damage with his touches. Even when dragged back deep in defence he did a couple of nice things but his whole day was destroyed by his dual failures to go up in the marking contest and also showing no interest in smothering. You might get away with some of that against shit teams and look alright but it'll fail miserably against anybody halfway decent. Good week to have ended contract negotiations as if any of us would be truly shattered if he walked right now. Still, it's got disaster written all over it if he goes to any half decent club. If Simon Buckley can look serviceable in that side imagine what Morton would do? Then again he could go to GWS and get murdered along with the rest of the 52kg bantamweight division.

Either way it's no good getting overjoyed about him going so that they can't have Scully. They could easily take Scully gratis then use the first pick in the PSD on any other uncontracted player they can get their hands on. Even though he's going nowhere with us if you were Senile Sheeds and the Puppetmaster Mark Williams you'd probably fancy him on a free at his age based on what he showed early on. Do we have to rig the Best and Fairest to make sure that we get decent compensation just based on him being a number four pick. Yes, he was a number four pick.

Losing Scully on the other hand would blow a gigantic hole in us. We might get out of it ok in the end but you just don't know, and off the back of his two games so far this year it's going to be a big hole to fill. Let the Visy style rorts begin. Give him a job kicking tyres at Hankook and installing Kaspersky software. Just do something. Unless, of course, they know that he's already signed. Then tell him to piss off.

So if he did walk, and could you really blame him for that price (A: Yes, because we're not rational people we're footy fans), it might be karma for us rorting the draft in the first place but that was our luck that they had such a shit system and we had people who were ready to cynically exploit it instead of listening to filthy hippies like me who have a sick belief in playing to win despite the fact that nobody else did it and that the league was poised to practically pre-hand premierships to two teams who will have 30,000 fans between them.

Everyone who thinks they know somebody or is trying to big note themselves will tell you he's officially gone. Everybody seems to 'know somebody' or they've heard something from their uncle who heard something at the Dapto dogs. Bullshit. Easy to pretend you're an oracle when there's only two options on the table and you're going for the red hot favourite - that's why the people who are saying he'll stay are only talking hunches while everybody else has a 'source' who apparently knows everything. Best one I saw was that theory - backed up by sources of course - that Scully and Bastinac's parents had signed agreements on each other's behalf that their kids would go to GWS next year. Fuck me if that isn't the worst theory you've ever heard in your life bar none, but people will go for anything at the moment. Kevin Sheedy gets up a lunch and claims he's signed two midfielders and everybody jizzes themselves that it's a sign of something. It's a sign of nothing more than a has been talking out of his ring piece.

Thing is though if Scully does go, and based on nothing else other than my own gut feeling I fully expect him to, everyone who has talked out of their arse about it for the last six months will claim that they were completely right and that they're footy geniuses. Rubbish. You're like a goalkeeper in a penalty shootout who jumped in the right direction. The worst offender of all is David Schwarz going on TV and blathering on about his sources and how he's 98% sure that the deal is done. I give Garry Lyon a lot of shit for being partially responsible for the comedy abortion that is the Footy Show but at least to his credit he doesn't come out with zingers like that to try and get himself into the papers. It's one thing to be an ex-player who is so wrapped up in his old club that he defends them even when it's stupid to (*cough* Lloyd *cough*) but it's another to unnecessarily stick the boots in like that just to get some cheap press for a show that nobody is watching.

Problem with this situation is that even after two games where he has proved himself a cut above most of the players on our list despite barely having a kick all year I find it hard to get too excited about anything he does. Certainly won't be sitting there with my arms folded if he wins us the game next week, and I won't rort him out of votes out of spite at him pissing us all around like this but to me he's basically a player on loan at the moment.

Imagine this scenario. It's Round 22 and we're presumably getting thumped sideways by Port because a) it's at Football Park and b) the velvet jacket trumpeter will be caretaker coach. Deep in the last quarter Scully turns to pick up a ball and goes down having blown his knee to pieces. Exclude yourself from this question if you fancy yourself as a Dalai Lama style figure and believe in peace and goodwill for all but are you a) shattered because our best young prospect will miss the entire next season or b) secretly thrilled that GWS have probably signed him up anyway and will get absolutely nothing out of him for a year? If they hadn't yet signed him but were intending to do they then pull the pin on the deal and leave us with him shafted out of millions and sitting on the sidelines for a year? Welcome to conspiracy corner.

Tweet Like A Demon
Unfollowing the lot of them. As much as I love Twitter I've got high standards for having to actually want to read what people are posting and the truth of the matter is that not only that they'll trot out the same old cliches this week but that none of them have written a single interesting thing since the Trengove debacle. Don't give a shit how much they love the Mavs, playing golf, beating each other at FIFA or drinking cafe lattes - if one of them moderately drifts into saying something interesting every man and their dog will retweet it anyway. Until then enjoy hearing about somebody eating a parma.

Talkback Corner
Worst thing about today is that it's open season for every goose on the planet to have their say about us playing Queen's Birthday. Forums, Herald Sun comments, SEN - you know, where all the stars congregate and North fans desperately try to make somebody believe that their club is worth taking notice of.

We were awful yesterday, some of it unavoidable, much of it self inflicted but what we end up with now is all the whinging pricks who support other teams going on about how we should lose Queen's Birthday because of it. It's not ANZAC day, we're not destroying the legacy of the troops by playing badly. It's an ordinary game that just happens to take place on a public holiday.

Were it the sort of game where they started handing out the Prince Albert Medal for BOG then maybe we'd be doing some sort of disservice to the community but as it is.. What's the harm? Kick us out and replace us with Richmond? Like they don't get enough. Boldly experiment with Footscray playing the Pies in front of 40,000 people? Get to shite.

Surely nobody can complain about the match on the basis of quality, otherwise the Pies would have been relegated from it after the second time Yze murdered them. But we'd already have been shunted into playing Freo after losing in '03. It doesn't work like that. The moment you start manipulating big games to suit the expected result is when you end up with an entire league of 'blockbuster' games the calibre of Footscray vs Adelaide this Friday night and are obliged to then start playing GWS/GC classics on ANZAC Day when they're dominating the league.

This is one thing I'm not concerned about the league stuffing up. Sadly at the moment the taunting that it is 'our grand final' is right, and we went along with the GF theme by getting trashed. Doesn't mean it'll happen again next year so get your hand off our fixtures vultures.

Law and Order: Football Investigations Unit
I know the league hate Trengove with a passion for making them look stupid when they suspended him before Dangerfield kicked six the next week but this is two weeks in a row he's been fined for running into an umpire. Scully can afford it, Trengove cannot. Leave him alone and start handing out the fines to the guy with the suspiciously bulging bank account.

2011 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Colin Sylvia
4 - Joel Macdonald
3 - Tom Scully
2 - Jordie McKenzie
1 - James Frawley

Apologies to Watts (first quarter only), Moloney, Howe and barely anybody else. Howe probably next cab off the rank on the votes but really only Sylvia deserved what he got and the next two were probably worth two and one only. Democracy doesn't work.

Good to see Macdonald storming into contention for the Seecamp just weeks after I wrote him off forever. Who said there's bias at play here? Or that I know what I'm on about. The only thing he let me down on today was that he didn't turn around after that Leigh Brown mark, grab Morton by the bonce and shake him vigorously while screaming the words "FOR GOD'S SAKE FIRE UP MAN" straight into his face. He looks the type. Happy to admit I was well out of order on him but where does he fit in when Garland comes back?

Leaderboard
So I guess Green isn't going to repeat as winner then?

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

2012 MFC coach: the betting market
D. Bailey - 2.75 (Only because I'm convinced Stynes will go into bat for him with positive thinking/crystals/enemas etc.. until he can't possibly defend him anymore. Cue the wildest of wild scenes next season with people burning shit in the stands.)
T. Viney - 5.25
Any other result - 10
M. Malthouse - 18
P. Roos - 20
The guy from the Deep Heat ad - 70 (in from 100-1 last week)

Crowd Watch
Ditched by all and sundry, family and otherwise, I moved to my reserved seat area for the first time all year in the second half just to get away from the filth. Was sure that the guy in front of me said something about Jurrah and jail when he missed that snap, which would be ironic coming from a Pies fan.

Despite my loyalty to the Ponsford I could almost get used to Southern Stand, Level 2, section N1 if it wasn't for the fact my money not only entitles me to 17 games and a guaranteed Grand Final ticket if we make it that I'll never have to use but also the right to be seated a metre from corporate boxes full of drunken arseholes who have no interest in the game itself and instead enjoy themselves by shouting out the worst attempts at comedy since that bloke said "Hey Cameron Bruce, you're loose" against the Bulldogs in '06. At one point when Jones did something stupid one of the clowns yelled out "that's why they bashed your dad". Great society we've got going here.

Was interested to hear something claiming on the radio this morning (SEN, where else) that somebody was tossed out of the Redlegs section for wearing Pies colours and that it's expressly forbidden to don opposition scarves/jumpers etc... in there. If that's true they must have missed the guy two rows in front of me who was sitting there in full black and white outfit. When I went in there the security guard showed so little interest in the card I showed him that it might as well have been a Blockbuster Video membership so I'm not sure they're taking it that seriously. Please advise if you can confirm or deny this. Seems a bit over the top to me. Justified if you're making a tit of yourself but when there's some guy on free booze screaming abuse from behind you for four quarters I'm not sure it's more offensive to wear another team's colours.

In other news surely nobody is still sucked in by the buskers who wait for the result outside the ground, slap on a scarf and start belting out the winning team's song. The only instrumentalist in Melbourne who isn't out there is the tossbag trumpeter. They would have made an absolute fortune if we'd won yesterday and the 20,000 once a year fans who don't realise that it's an elaborate scam (probably controlled by the Russian mafia) and give generously. I'm not advocating that you punch them in the face for their cynical attempts at making money but give your money to somebody who deserves it. Like The Kaiser's Sausage, who I will keep posting about until they recognise it and give me an endorsement deal. Best sausage ever.

In related news who decided that bagpipes weren't the worst instrument ever invented? There were two, TWO people making the noises of cats being murdered before you even reached the top of the bridge. Walking from Fed Square to the G is like wandering through ye olde Scotland before they all ditched music and took up knife crime. I swear I saw more street theatre between Southbank and the MCG yesterday than you would in four years of being at university.

Radio corner
It's shamefully lowbrow but I listen to Triple M at the games. No issue other than the fact that I wouldn't pish on the rest of their station if it was on fire BUT could they possibly ditch the 2000 promos about how allegedly hilarious Mick Molloy? His "I'm a fat chain smoking pisshead" act was midly amusing when he was being carried by Tony Martin 20 years ago, but now it's responsible for a trail of destruction and axed programs - both TV and radio - a mile long.

Almost worthy of changing and listening to a non-gimmick coverage but the problem is that you're always running the risk of hitting a Dwayne Russell, Mark Maclure or Matthew Lloyd elsewhere.

Incidentally speaking of commentators I will be entering this competition, and you will be helping me stack it so I can win and call a quarter of the R22 game against Port on SEN. All bets are off if I'm in the chair with KB when Scully does his knee.

Midweek Magic
During the week I picked up a cheap and nasty DVD called Footy's Funniest Moments. So cheap in fact it was free. Against the odds, and despite being hosted by a clearly irritated Sam Kekovich who looked like he'd been dragged out of bed to do 10 minutes of links to camera, it delivered the goods. For the price paid anyway.

The masterstroke, though I'm sure it was nothing but a cost saving measure, was to just show old Plays Of The Month clips from the 80's and 90's which they'd clearly bought in a job lot from Seven. What should have been an absolute disaster instead delivered some of the best highlights you've not seen since 1992. Contained within, shortly after a shot of Warwick Capper baring his arse on the SCG, was Sydney's Jason Love snapping a miracle goal at the SCG in the early 90's - at which point the greatest banner in the history of AFL football was hoisted behind the goals.

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Other trends shown which are now sadly missing included animals running on the field, fans having a BBQ in the outer at the Western Oval, ground invasions by the dozen - often with the perpetrator ending the chase by scurrying over a fence a'la Cops and legging it to safety (wait, that's back in vogue) - and that old chestnut of the past, punters leaping the fence to join in doing the goal umpire's signal. My favourite was when the Geelong mascot stole the Hawthorn mascot's head and some absolute gutter filth leapt the fence to punch on with the triumphant mascot.

Next week
Hopefully we cop a week of media scrutiny/beatings because it seems that's the only way that we could possibly get up enough to beat the Dockers. Did you know that of their ten wins at the MCG we've been on the wrong end of four of them? And if they hadn't imploded in spectacular, magical fashion on that day in 2008 then it would be right on half.

They've not won there since 2007, choked royally on their last visit and are battling an injury crisis which makes us look positively soft so tell me they're not going to be giving it 110% - especially as top four slips away and they're suddenly back in a position where they might not even make the eight.

Apparently Jamar is set to come back - though I hope we're not just rushing him out of panic - so Maximum will go back to the 2's with a 50/50 strike rate from his first two games. Wouldn't be surprised if they swapped Evans and Nicholson around just to try and give them games without having to play too many rookies and Jetta will go with his shoulder injury.

As for the ins Collingwood Reserves were dispatched ruthlessly on Saturday but the gulf in class between their real side and that side is enormous, except when half of them are in the seniors tormenting us, so how much can you read into Petterd dominating the midfield for BOG, Dunn kicking five and both Maric! At The Disco and Bate looking ok in patches. What I did like was Garland getting through the game without snapping in two, though where he fits in now that Macdonald is back and playing good football is a mystery to me. Maybe in for Strauss?

Warnock looked good against his less/not at all fancied opponents but he's missed the boat if he couldn't get a game against Cloke and Dawes. Certainly won't be required to take on any dual towers of terror against our next few opponents, though surely Miller will be the third time lucky ex-player to rip us a new one this season. McLean and Buckley haven't managed it (though at least both were part of a larger ripping) so surely he's going to kick 10.

So, if Warnock doesn't fit, Maric is in counselling with the Morton family and both Dunn/Bate have had their cards marked how about this:

IN: Jamar, Garland, Nicholson, Petterd
OUT: Jetta (inj), Evans, Strauss, Gawn (omit)

No malice in the outs, just keeping it fresh.

The next month
The good news is that we could very well beat Freo, Richmond and Footscray going into the bye then Port after it. The bad news is that if we don't win at least three of them any hope of sneaking into the eight will be dead and if it's two or less then the media circus will well and truly be back on.

Imagine if we lost the lot? People might be able to avert their eyes from a debacle against the Dockers but nobody will take losing to Richmond no matter how much better they are this year. Remember Daniher winning two in a row in '07, accepting plaudits for putting us back on the right track and then being invited to reapply for his own job when we went out and lost to the Tiges a few days later? That could be the absolute killer for Bailey so he'd want to make sure that not only do the players get up this week but that even if they don't win they at least put in a half decent performance in losing - because after those four it's Hawthorn, Geelong and Carlton - and we're more chance of winning the Eurovision Song Contest than beating any of them this year.

Deano, at least we'll always have the dugout punching. Which is not half as filthy as it sounds.

Was it worth it?
In that we made a fortune off the gate and didn't have to come back from Sydney on a bus afterwards it was a roaring success. Apparently some sort of sporting contest was also played on the day.

Final thoughts
Dearly wishing I hadn't set myself the challenge of watching every game this year to the end no matter what. Would love to have kicked a seat and stormed out on about nine occassions yesterday. Still, like the weather it doesn't matter what the forecast is for next week anything could happen so there's no need to smash the panic button into pieces by punching it vigorously. Yet.

6 comments:

  1. Alas I did leave with about 5 to play, which only succeeded in making it even more unbearable with I finally heard the end score.read all the way to the end of this blog though. :)

    surprised that the 'bailey' qtr of one goal or less endured in the second didn't get a run but entertaining nonetheless. Thank you

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  2. "Spirit, I'm very sorry to say that I didn't manage to work any of those references in this week even though they are Demonblog classics. If you could choose one to be forcibly jammed into next week would you pick

    a) The Honky Tonk Man
    b) Ravishing Rick Rude
    c) George The Animal Steele
    d) Rick The Model Martel"

    How about Don 'The Rock" Muraco or Barry O.
    I'd even take Ivan Putski.

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  3. Highlights:

    Theo x
    Receives Head
    Dugout punching.

    PS what was with our centre square set ups? We had Jetta in there early for some unknown reason. I thought the combo of Scullgove, Jordie, Jizz and Beamer in there served us well the week before. Why not try it again? Weird.

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  4. Lyall St Kilda16 June 2011 at 16:23

    I thought the days of pencilling in the losses had gone. We had got our draft picks. We were going to turn the ship around. How wrong was I? Out on the park was a rabble that was put to the sword by a well disciplined, well coached team. Comparisons to Gold Coast embarrassingly spring to mind (taught a football lesson) but we were even worse.

    It's a simple game and it's not called football for nothing. To gain ground and maintain control of the ball is a kick and a mark. If you're in trouble go to your back up with preferably a kick and a mark. When you're inside 50 have a kick at the big sticks, that's how you score.

    Collingwood plays the percentages and is well drilled. They get the ball and move it. Play it to where their players are or will be. None of this looking up to check, like Melbourne players, that the set up is what is expected. They deliver with the certainty that 90% of the time that their mate will be there. Melbourne with that hesitation leaves themselves to be either caught or making a completely dumb decision.

    Some of Mr Bailey's quotes, none of which have a positive spin:

    “You're not going to win too many games having 34 inside-50s. It's not enough from us.”

    “I thought our backs were let down. We didn't have enough midfield pressure to at least allow them to compete. A couple got him over the back, but the delivery or lack of pressure through the middle of the ground really showed.”

    “They applied a lot of pressure on us and we coughed it up with our handball which resulted in some A-grade turnovers for them to score goals from.”

    “Some of it was from overuse but there were also times when we had the ball in the middle of the ground where we were in an uncontested situation, low pressure and still we found a way to turn the ball over.”

    “That's the most disappointing thing. That reduces the number of inside-50s you can produce.”

    34 inside-50s could have won this game if there were at least 22 straight kicks. OK a bit fanciful but even if Collingwood also had only 34 inside-50s they still probably would have won because their scoring shot for inside-50 percentage was still higher. They're having a shot.

    But the real problem is the inside-50 count. There is little point of making a mad dash forward if you arrive in the midfield with no forward set up in front of you. Or at its best, of late, a low percentage set up. It's overuse because there is nowhere to go. (Here you have it, no, no you have it.) There are turnovers because the opposition is there ready and waiting. (Oops where is the read and blue.) What ground has been made with control? None! There's no forward movement with control, with the opportunity to move up the park and reset for the next thrust.

    Yes the backs are under pressure from the rebounds and the midfield receives the unfair criticism. (“It's not good enough.”) And still there is no strategy to beat the forward press pseudo offside pattern. The top sides all have a strategy to beat it. It's the coaching panel at Melbourne who need to have a good hard look at themselves before they point the finger. Obviously they know that there is a problem. Why can't they find a solution?

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  5. Lyall, your bits deserve a greater audience than the comments section on this hardly read blog.

    Shattered not to hear from Anonymous this week. He's getting his own top ten classics at the end of the year.

    P.S - Spirit, the day we get a Polish heritage player on our list the spirit of Ivan Putski will be reborn when they are called THE POLISH HAMMER!

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  6. JYD please with the 'Thump' trunks.
    Also the crawling headbutt as the worst signature move ever.

    Great work Adam, keep it up.

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