Victory. Don't it make you, as Paul Robinson off Neighbours reminded us way back in 1989, feel good?
I'm not going to come on here and lie about how I saw it coming. Some did and for that I applaud you, but maybe you don't suffer from the same chronic Melbourne Supporter Depression Syndrome (MSDS) as I do. Certainly when it came time to hurriedly do tips on Friday afternoon the Dockers were pencilled in without hesitation.
It's the MSDS that made me look beyond their ridiculously long injury list and the fact that they're as bad at the MCG as we are everywhere else other than the MCG. It's what made me think that somehow titans of the game like Clayton Hinkley and Ben Bucovaz would put in the same level of performance as the Pies did last week. It wasn't that we lost to the best team in the land last week, it was how we played and yada yada yada that's an argument to be had six days ago, let's talk about today instead and how wrong I - mercifully - was.
As promised early in the post about Monday's game I'm treating today's performance in complete isolation and not projecting anything forward about next week. Ok, maybe a little bit but there'll certainly be no going right over the top Darryl Eastlake style about it. The lid is not only firmly on, but I'm welding it up and throwing the whole pot down a copper mine in Mt Isa just to make sure there's no chance of getting overexcited about beating the brains out of an injury riddled team who spent the entire second half serving up utter filth that even we'd have been embarassed by at our lowest moments.
But next week is a problem to be solved on Saturday afternoon, for now let's talk about our biggest ever win against the Dockers. Hard to believe that we were four goals better today than that classic afternoon late in 2009 when it was pissing rain, nobody cared about us any more because we were filthy tankers and about 15 people showed up to see us thrash them. Since then Freo have turned out to actually be quite good, as long as they're not at the 'G anyway, before losing pretty much every quality player they've got to injury other than Pavlich.
There was some suggestion during the week that both Jamar and Sandilands were a chance of returning for a clash of the (not entirely fit) titans, and while we were robbed out of Russian vs Giraffe when neither of them made it at least it meant another week of Maximum Gawn Mania, a celebration of the next big thing in cult figures. If you could guarantee me that we'd still win by 15 goals I'd love to have seen Sandilands vs Gawn. Giraffe Jr. might have been thrashed but who wouldn't want to see the two most gigantic bastards in the competition jumping at each other?
Still, if you thought our tall men stocks were slightly wonky without Jamar how much must the Dockers hierachy have had to be held from jumping out the window when Kepler Bradley had to be withdrawn late? Ironically we've emerged from the Russian injury disaster with some credit thanks to the Stef Martin Experience thriving and Gawn being far better than he had any right to be based on the handful of VFL games he played before being promoted. Between them they comfortably looked after the all-star combination of Jonathan Griffin and Zac Clarke, and even though we did get beaten out of the middle for most of the first half it was anything but a disaster considering what we were doing around the ground.
Just think, if the Spencil hadn't done his knee and Juice his whatever we'd probably not have seen Maximum until later in the year, and then we'd have to have waited to have our suspicions about his cult figure status confirmed. His goal today was nearly my highlight of the whole thing, especially considering that farcical miss in the dying minutes against Essendon. Still say they should play this after every goal he kicks so we can sing along with MAXI! MAXIMUM! WHOA OH!
Gysberts going out late was a blow to us, but who could have forseen just how good Nicholson would be as a replacement? Finally given the chance to play a full four quarters instead of donning the council worker vest and riding an exercise bike for three quarters he was immense - especially considering that this time last year he was running around getting paid not a cracker in the amateurs. I see what they meant about explosive pace when he was drafted, the way he burnt off a cavalcade of nobodies and kicked that goal today was magic. It's suicidal to rate people on their first few games (you're talking to the guy who gave Kyle Cheney five votes on debut, but that was more due to the rest of the team being shite) but I'm putting him next to Maximum in my "Sure fire hits, absolutely no way they can turn out to be rubbish and make me look foolish" list. Tapscott would be there as well but I'm restricting it to players taken at pick 30 or under.
In retrospect the first quarter was great fun, but I have to admit to sitting there at the time being a depressed bastard wondering when it was all going to go horribly wrong. We weren't dominating out of the middle by any stretch, but with Scully going around getting touches at will (each one of them accompanied by this noise. At 100 touches he would have gotten an extra life), Freo botching chances up front and our backline returning to what they do best instead of being monstered by Donkey Kong style freaks we were by far the better team. "If we started winning this out of the centre we'd win by a 100" I said, unintentionally getting something perfectly right for once.
Now, like a handful of other people I was at the ground with no access to the television commentary but I will guarantee you every day of the week that there is no way whoever was calling the game for Fox would have been able to resist that old chestnut when Green smashed home the opener off the ground from close range. You just know that if Dwayne Russell (P.S - Best thread ever) had been there he'd have let rip with something like "THAT'S A GEM! HE SHORTS IT THROUGH THE GOALS JUST LIKE HE DID AT OLD TRAFFORD WHEN HE PLAYED FOR MANCHESTER UNITED! THAT COULD BE THE FIRESTARTER!" Sadly for me, but luckily for anybody who was watching on TV, he's doing the Port/Eagles game instead, where he will almost certainly suggest that "the firestarter" has just been kicked when Port snag a lucky one while 72 points behind. Still, at least if you're going to make cliched references to Green doing anything on the field not involving his hands at least today's effort would legitimately have been a goal in soccer unlike the one against Essendon which would have been more likely to decapitate somebody sitting in Row Z than trouble the keeper.
The question is did they also chance their arm on a soccer comment when Sylvia toe poked the second through? Slightly less risk to making comment about that spot of bother he had with his missus that time. Back to more savoury things I loved that goal because of the way he chased it right to the line before smashing it home after having jumped in the contest. Also because they played it in slo-mo on the scoreboard and even though the ball was clearly in play the Freo muppets around me started bleating about it.
It would have been easy to give up after jumping into the marking contest but he was rewarded for second effort. I'll bet everyone who spent the best part of five years posting "thank god we got McLean because Sylvia is going nowhere" rubbish is frantically denying they were involved now. Sadly nobody's going back through thousands of forum posts to make fun of them but I'm sitting here with years of posts that say exactly that. I WAS WRONG. My god was I wrong, and there's nothing better than being wrong when you thought somebody wasn't going to be much chop. Jamar + Sylvia = the greatest slow cooked duo ever.
In every aspect other than the clearances we were destroying them and our ball movement was pretty good going the other way. Was very happy to see Petterd playing more in the midfield after he dominated the VFL playing there last week, because how many times have you seen somebody playing in a different position in the seconds, dominating and then being recalled only to be put back exactly where they were before getting dropped in the first place?
He didn't dominate by any means but 18 touches, eight marks and 1.1 will do me very nicely as an up the ground forward/midfielder. Interesting to hear an interview from Chris Connolly before the game (yes, he is still alive and employed for more than just cracking funnies at the AGM) where he said their specific reason for dropping him was to send him back to try and get him to play more in the centre. Fair enough if it works like it did today, especially considering he could go forward as a secondary target or switch to running off half-back if required.
Funny thing about the first quarter was how few inside 50's we had for our lead. Old Owl Eyes Mark Harvey must have been tearing his hair out at how easily we were scoring when we did finally get it in there as opposed to how terrible his own forwards were. Whoever they were.
We didn't even have to rely solely on forward targets to get the job done - which was handy considering The Jurrahcane was trying his hardest but getting absolutely nowhere. Even though we weren't going inside much, and the game was being played in a gigantic rolling scrum between the two 50's, we were doing the job when we got there and I can't have been the only one beaming with favourite player pride when the Experience kicked his first goal of the year (well, there's at least two of us sporting the number on our jumper. Then there's his parents..) but even in the wildest dreams of the SME Fan Club (inc. 2009, surprisingly not by me) we couldn't have imagined that he'd get three. Even Frawley was wandering forward to have shots. Admittedly it was an absolutely putrid set shot at a time where we were really threatening to put them away, but what did you expect from a guy who had two goals in 72 games, both of which came from gigantic hoofs on the run from outside 50? I certainly didn't expect him to actually end up kicking a goal from a gigantic hoof on the run from outside 50 but that's just the sort of day we ended up having.
The last thing I wanted was to concede the last goal of the quarter, because that's always the slippery slope to throwing away a big lead, so when Clancee Pearce kicked that goal (and who can ever hear his name without thinking about Chief Wiggum's wife saying "oh Clancy"? Oh, just me? Carry on) to finally get them on board just when we threatened to keep a team goalless in the first quarter for the first time since I listened to the game against Freo on my deathbed in Round 16, 2008 and we eventually lost by fifty points (#statmybitchup).
Hooray then for Thank God For Brad Green who bounced back from his horror outing against the Pies to boot his second for the quarter on the lead (yes! leads! and oh there was so much crumb as well!) and kill their momentum going into the second quarter. His much vaunted accuracy was in question again today (as most "much vaunted" things usually are) but as an unashamed Green sympathiser I was thrilled to see him bounce back today because he's the barometer for this side.
Don't know what we expected him to do last week with the ball going inside 50 so few times (apparently the third biggest difference between teams ever on record, which is absolutely ludicrous) but he showed today what he could do with decent service. Almost killed Scully in a marking contest too which we might very well have looked back on next year and smiled about if he'd connected.
What I loved most about the first quarter, apart from the crumb and kicking to leads, was McKenzie vs Pav. I'm sure without their top goalkicker Bradley out there (yes, Freo's top goalkicker is Kepler Bradley. Start applying purple ribbons to the premiership cup now) they'd love to have played him forward from the start, but clearly that's not the done thing in the land of purple this year considering how he's not even in their top five goalkickers so far.
Problem for the Dockers is they can't have both Forward Pav and Midfield Pav. If they did you could play 15 x Jay Van Berlo and get away with it. Today at the first bounce it was Midfield Pav, and Midfield Pav was absolutely destroyed by the tackling machine from regional Victoria in that first quarter.
Can I take a minute to tell you how much I love Jordie? I'll say it every week if I have to, but we missed out big time not having him in the first half of the year. There's nothing better than a guy who just goes out there, knows his limitations and gets the job done. Today he had two kicks and 26 handballs, and that's just fine with me. Speaking of records that's got to be some sort of one. He only laid three tackles today but it didn't matter because he was damaging enough with his handballs that most of the time Freo were chasing him and not the other way around.
If Jordie vs Pav was a matchup inside 50 you'd laugh at it even more than Rivers vs Cloke, but in the middle of the ground the no frills option absolutely slit the superstar up a treat. Pav is easily my favourite player from another club but it was a delight to see him get stitched by Jordie to such a degree that they had to throw him forward in the second quarter even if it almost got them back into the game.
The move could have gone badly for us, he's dominated us at this ground before. Remember his first half that day we came from a billion points down and THE CELEBRATOR famously celebrated? Still, with the defence playing exactly the way it should again - with Rivers and Macdonald jumping all over the top and Frawley/Garland taking the big contested marks he couldn't get near it and only managed one goal from ten kicks. The big four didn't get a massive amount of help from the rest of the defenders, although Morton was ok other than a couple of howlers. Bartram and Strauss were ordinary at best, and I'm not entirely convinced by Strauss yet.
Gutted for Garland at hurting his ankle again though. You could see his frustration when he did it too, knowing straight away that he was going to be back on the sidelines again. Apparently wasn't iced up or on crutches at the end of the match so that's a good sign but it wouldn't be the first time that he seemed to have a minor injury and wasn't seen again for a year. At least it means they won't be tempted to drop Macdonald anytime soon, he more than deserves his spot at the moment. I've got a feeling that the New Jurassic Pack of Frawley/Rivers/Garland is going to achieve Seecamp/Ingerson/Shanahan '98 levels of underrated awesome in the next couple of seasons.
The only Freo player who could do anything up front consistently was the alleyway specialist Michael Johnson but they did look dangerous in that second quarter. When Watts marked and kicked the first goal within the first 40 seconds even I thought we were a chance of running away with it, but of course the worst thing you can do is get excited about a thrashing early in the second quarter because it always ends up going the other way. When they dragged it back to 19 points with a much improved forward line, were still winning easily out of the centre and had started stopping us from going forward I thought "oh shit, we're in trouble here". One to Pav and two to the alleyway specialist and we started to look a little bit wonky.
No need to mention that one of Johnson's goals was an absolutely criminal free against Bartram who couldn't get anything to go his way. There were certainly a couple of terrifying moments throughout the term, the worst being Macdonald's handball to Morton who looked up to find that there wasn't a single MFC player within 50 metres, causing him to try and hit a target 1cm inside the boundary which he missed and gifted Johnson his second goal. Still, I didn't mind his game at all today - mainly due to him never once being involved in a goalsquare marking contest.
Thank god, once again, for Green who kicked his fourth and for Frawley's epic roost which took the margin back over five goals. They got one late but for all our wonkiness in the middle of the quarter we only lost six points off the lead and were left in a position where it would take an epic cockup for us to lose. Exactly that sort of position where you're convinced if you're behind that you're no chance of winning and that if you're in front you're convinced you're going to get done.
They showed in kicking three goals in a row during the quarter that they could get a run on, and were still well ahead in the Inside 50's. I'd like to think that was the most troubling stat of all to Bailey and Co, and to the credit of all involved it was well and truly rectified in the second half.
Freo had even more injuries during the game and had to use the sub (*spit*) halfway through the second quarter but even losing their best tagger who had kept Moloney quiet until then it was no excuse for the absolute garbage they served up from the moment the ball was bounced in the third quarter. Watts got the first of the quarter within a minute again on a kick from Howe - who was super impressive again - and this time we were away to the races instead of sitting back and letting them get three in a row. Also on the podium of my favourite moments of the day was The SME, officially the smartest man in the AFL, running into the square to get the handball over the top from Trengove and stab home his second and our third from 1m or less out at the Ponsford end.
'GOVE, the half of the dynamic duo whose signature we do have on a piece of paper, was involved again with the next goal but the story of it was Maximum's tackle which set it up. That was pretty much the game done and dusted, much to the consternation of the woman sitting behind me who had a placard about her love for Freo which she barely got to wave in the entire second half except for the time it smacked me in the back of the head, so what better way to put the cherry on top of it than the Experience racking up his career high third goal after scoring a 50 which took him to the goal line? More proof that he's the smartest man in the AFL, not only did he get a 99.5 TER score but he also faux played on just enough to roll McPharlin into running off the mark and then stopping to point it out to the umpire. He's a genius. And according to my mum also the best looking player in the team, so if footy doesn't work (which doesn't look much like happening right now) at least he's got the 60-year-old woman market sewn up. Watch out for player sponsors next year, it could be the Mercado Family (all two of us) paying up to hang out with the Experience.
In all seriousness it was well and truly over at three-quarter time, but Howe's miss at the end kept us below the Chris Sullivan Line so I wasn't going to unfurl any COP THAT YOU SWINE banners quite yet. Shame for Jeremy because he was bloody good all day even before his first shot at goal. He reminds me of a more mobile Brad Miller who can take a decent overhead, contested mark - and realistically that was the only thing that stuffed Brad up (until he kicks nine next week) and stopped him from being more successful over the years.
Throw Howe onto the list with Nicholson and Maximum, and the good news is that he's proved to be far more than the bloke who took a screamer of a mark which got a few thousands views on YouTube. He topped off his day with a couple of goals during the avalanche in the last quarter which was a nice bonus for all the hard work he did pushing up the ground during the game. With that ability at contested marking he MAY end up as a big target inside 50 one day. Unless I'm getting roped into making stupid comments again just on the basis of another win over some hacks which is highly likely.
Any suggestion that we were going to go back into our shell was dismissed within the first minute of the last quarter when Watts - the first minute specialist - kicked his third straight opening goal of a term. How gutted would you be if you'd bet on him for first goalkicker today and then watched him do it in every quarter other than the first? He was bloody good today, even when he wound up playing Baileyball on the half-back line he used it well. A couple of times he was beaten comfortably in marking contests but that was usually when the thing was kicked on top of his head instead of to advantage.
Three goals and nine contested possessions amongst 24 works for me, and I'm perfectly happy for him to take the Jamar road and only kick when he's inside 50 and having a shot. Today showed why the next time Bailey picks up the phone to call for Watts to be sent into the backline somebody needs to jump on top of him, wrest the phone away and impersonate voice to cancel the instruction. He hasn't deserved to be there a couple of times this year but I'm glad we keep persisting, and he might not perform to the same level next week but his improvement this year is through the roof. We want more.
What a lovely last quarter it was. Reminscent of the Adelaide massacre we ticked off winning the game early and then it was party time for all. The sort of day where anybody who runs off the ground gets wild applause from the fans - people would have even risen to applaud Isaac Weetra they were so happy. From Nicholson's turbo powered goal to Jurrah finally getting two after a dirty day and Howe being rewarded for his performance the score crept nervously towards the big triple figures. When Jones got his goal to put us within two straight kicks of that magic mark at the 21 minute mark it looked like we could do it.
Sadly Freo then decided that they might actually try defending for the first time all half - they even kicked their second goal which was met by a mild smattering of boos from the hard to please Demon faithful who were dying to crack the ton. At least with Jurrah's second at the end we managed to wipe out the entire percentage we lost during last week's debacle - and added the extra 0.000000000000001% from winning by one point more. It's like Queen's Birthday never actually happened except that we've got a shitload of cash in the bank. Mind you we probably lost half of Monday's payday thanks to the rancid crowd who showed up today.
All in all a good day out and a fair re-enactment of the Adelaide game. As long as we don't continue the re-enactment theme and go five goals up in the first quarter next week before folding like a house of cards. For the third time this year the sporting defibrillator has been applied to our season and our fading finals heartbeat has been restarted. Any danger that this time we might take advantage of it instead of acting like somebody who gets a liver transplant and heads straight to the bar?
Even better news is that the victory has enhanced our push into the Chinese market. Yesterday the Dalai Lama was photographed giving it heave-ho in a Freo scarf, and today we do the job for our Chinese paymasters by smashing his new team. Cue an invite to tour again and to dine at an all-star glittering dinner with the Central Committee of the Communist Party and President Hu Jintao.
2011 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Stefan Martin
4 - Jack Watts
3 - Brad Green
2 - Jordie McKenzie
1 - Tom Scully
Massive apologies to Nicholson and Howe who were next cabs off the rank and then Jones, Petterd, Moloney, Frawley, Macdonald, Sylvia and Gawn in no particular order. Not too many liabilities today - Jurrah did his best work in junktime and Bartram was pretty pox but you can't get 21+1 of magic in every win.
Jamar had better get back soon because The Experience is storming towards the biggest upset win of all time in the Stynes. Unfortunately Garland's injury will cost him ground in the thrilling Seecamp race while Tapscott still has a handy lead in the Hilton, but he's been lucky that Howe has missed out narrowly two weeks in a row.
As for the overall it could still go either way at the top and Jamar hasn't lost a heap of ground in the last month. Have a feeling (and there's no corruption involved if it actually happens) that Watts is going to storm home in the last few weeks.
23 - Colin Sylvia
19 - Brent Moloney
16 - Mark Jamar (LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
14 - Stefan Martin
12 - Jack Watts
10 - Jordan Gysberts, Jared Rivers (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
9 - Joel Macdonald, James Frawley
8 - Jordie McKenzie
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 - Jack Grimes, Liam Jurrah, Nathan Jones
2 - Ricky Petterd, Clint Bartram, Neville Jetta
Scull and Crossbones
I'm so aggravated by the Scully saga that I almost don't want to post about it, but how can you avoid it? As much as I want to hate him for leaving, which he undoubtedly will (/reverse psychology), the article in the paper yesterday about how he will end up the most well paid player on our list if he stays makes me wonder whether it's going to end up being worth it.
Before I start I'll freely admit that I had a nightmare involving this blog last night. No really, it's almost too sad to admit. I dreamt that after writing something sensible yet dismissive of Scully that it got quoted in the papers and when he left he blamed my quote, leading to wild scenes online and bricks flying through my window. Fat chance any journos care what I say luckily, but all I will say is that good luck if you're going to chuck a brick because I live on the 11th floor. And if you're coming on here to write abuse in the comments at least get amongst the ads as well, not all of us are going to be on a mil every year.
Now, there are some potentially sensational players on our list - Trengove, Watts, Gysberts just to start with and Frawley who has already proven himself and will be due a fat pay rise in a couple of years. By my count the following players come out of contract over the next couple few years (and this is an old list, so if there are any extensions that I've missed let me know). Bolded are the players who I am sure would command a decent pay increase based on how they're playing at the moment. Drafted players from last year not included (all end 2012?)
Fitzpatrick, Gawn, Green, Maric, Martin, Morton, Newton, Scully, Sylvia, Warnock, Wonaeamirri
Bail, Bartram, Bate, Bennell, Dunn, Garland, Jamar, Jetta, Jones, Jurrah, McKenzie, Moloney, Petterd, Rivers, Spencer, Strauss, Tapscott, Trengove.
Blease, Davey, Grimes, Gysberts, Watts
So, take that list and consider that Green, Morton, Bartram and Jones wouldn't be coming cheap already and could still enhance their value. Then there's the likes of Blease and Strauss who could go anywhere from here. By 2013 the only players I can see any chance of dropping off that list due to age are Green, Jamar and Davey. Even if we flog the likes of Dunn and Bate to other clubs and replace them with kids how the hell are we going to pay to keep this group together if we suddenly vault a kid who has played 30 games to the top of our payroll just because we've been pitched into a bidding war with the AFL's equivalent of a soccer team owned by dodgy Russians with more money than brains.
Tom Scully will be a star, and almost certainly a superstar but one killer midfielder does not a team make. Good luck finding replacements for Frawley and Watts (presuming he keeps improving at this rate) without having to go through the same process of drafting kids and waiting with fingers crossed to see whether they're going to be quality or not. If we throw $700k a year at Scully for four years as per this article the pressure on him to not only be the best player on our list but to shoot straight into the top echelon of AFL players will be huge. I don't expect that it will affect him, but for 3/4 of a mil every year he's going to not only have to be the ice man in justifying that salary he's going to be pointed at when a Trengove, Gysberts, Frawley etc.. are given derisory contract offers in a couple of years and tell us to get stuffed before joining Carlton and winning a flag.
So I want to hate him for leaving but on the other hand it seems a bit insane to go to the ends of the earth to keep him when midfielders, admittedly not in the same ballpark as him, are probably the easiest position on the ground in which to find a capable replacement. Right now we're like an average looking guy with no money spending every cent he's got trying to win a supermodel when the other option is an ugly millionare who can afford to set her up for life. And how often do you see a supermodel turning down top dollar to shack up with some bloke from Airport West? This is Jamie Packer and Mrs. Packer. He looks like Chip Frawley after being bitten by a poisonous toad. He is also worth six billion dollars. Enough said.
I just wish he'd admit it, put the hand up, get up and tell his teammates he's doing it for dollars, buy a harbourside mansion and stop teasing us without signing on the dotted line. Either that or start playing badly so it doesn't seem like such a big loss when he goes.
Couldn't decide whether or not I was into the 31 - Please Don't Go banner being hoisted in the cheersquad or not. One side of my brain says it's a cute token of our desparation to keep him. The other half says it's a needy token of our desparation to keep him. Just never lose sight of the fact that this isn't a decision based on anything other than enormous wads of cash - banners professing love don't buy Ferraris and five bedroom houses here.
Just hope we don't sell the farm to keep him and wind up regretting it when others are going out the door and he's suddenly one out in a sea of slop a'la J**d in his first couple of years at Carlton. As much as I want him to stay, and I will want to start referring to him as $****y if he goes that article really made me start to wonder if once we get over the blow to our ego and realise that he's going for dollars and not out of love whether we'll really be worse off. This isn't just about one player now, we just don't want to be mucked around and lied to. Sadly I think that while we're still a chance of sneaking into the eight then the football club is going to play him no matter what they know about dodgy backroom dealings.
What crowd there actually was. 19,000 is what you get when you remove Pies fans, holiday neutrals and once a year bandwagoners from the Queen's Birthday crowd. It's no great financial result, but geez don't you love being able to get food at half-time and go for a whizz without having to queue? I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I had to go to games with 50,000 people every week. Especially if it was at Docklands, that would nearly turn me off from going to games once every match was on live. Thankfully we play at the decent ground and only have to go to that monstrosity once or twice a year.
Meanwhile do interstate fans get package deals for seats in the Ponsford Stand? Whenever we play West Coast they give the entire middle deck to 25 of them, and today it was full of every single Freo fan in the state of Victoria. It's probably because the cheer squad are in the same place but for the regulars it really inflates the impression that the place is full of them when there probably wasn't one other person heave-hoing anywhere else in the entire stadium.
The cheersquad hardly covered themselves in glory by busting out soccer chants with Freo in them instead of following convention and restricting themselves to (team name) *clap* *clap* *clap*. If you're going to lower your standards of living far enough to join a cheersquad you're not in a position to be trying to introduce new and exciting crowd participation angles. Despite this not once did they yell out HEAVE-HO! en masse which really would have made my day even before the massacre started.
I noticed a guy wearing a t-shirt that said BANNER TEAM, as opposed to the regulars who were just wearing CHEERSQUAD on theirs. What a terrible trend. Even worse than the guy I once saw with a St Kilda Cheer Squad Official bomber jacket. Sorry sir but being an official in a cheersquad is like being president of Burkina Faso for all the respect that normal people are going to give you. Imagine if you were sitting there and somebody told you off for not waving your pom poms with enough vigour? Normal people would snot them, but normal people wouldn't be waving pom poms. Surely nobody from our cheersquad reads this after seven years of questioning whether or not the people in them should be gassed.
Amongst the cavalcade of Freo fans around us, and their classic outrage when a mark wasn't paid in front of goal because it was touched off the boot which they didn't know because they were watching the replay of the mark and not listening to the radio, there was an odd Melbourne supporting character sitting behind me who would have absolutely erupted if we lost. I can't imagine the filth he was letting out last week, and even though I'm scared of describing people because they either read or somehow manage to find themselves being mentioned on here can I say that he was wearing a cracking combo of lime green sleeveless puffer jacket and yellow t-shirt. It was a fantastic look. If you were a member of Ned's Atomic Dustbin in 1988.
He was one of those guys who just yells players names out. Not just when they're frustratedly trying to will somebody to kick to a free player, but when they get a possession or more importantly do something wrong. His two favourites were Morton and Bartram but I couldn't tell whether or not he was for them or against them by the way his voice rose at the end of each voice for MorTONNNNN! or BarTRAM! He shut up in the second half, probably stunned into silence by us actually playing well for once.
Freo would be so much more popular if they'd just introduce my version of their song with more heave ho and less of the rubbish verses. In related news I'm the only non-Dockers fan in the state of Victoria who likes the song in any form.
It's a little known fact that I cracked the sads at the Melbourne Hawks so badly that at the time I vowed that I'd become a Freo fan if it went through. Presumably it would have lasted two weeks before there was either a shameful crawl back to the side with what truly would have been the WORST THEME SONG EVER or I'd given up on football entirely. Either way there is absolutely no doubt in the world that if I were sitting here wearing purple, writing Dockerblog and yelling HEAVE HO! at random intervals that my favourite player would be Garrick Ibbotson just because he's got an absolutely ridiculous name. 2nd place to Tendai Mzungu, Ben Bucovaz on the podium.
Massive, massive, massive, MASSIVE game against Richmond. Not just because either side is hanging on to the bottom of the eight by our fingernails, and not just because everyone will be holding their breath to see if we get ahead of ourselves again and turn in a stinker. It's most important because we've treated Richmond with contempt over the last few years when we were both in the bottom division of the league, so now that we're both promoted out of Club Slop - and that we've proven we can thrash other sides in our bracket - we've got to fire the first shot in what should be a quality rivalry over the next few years. And they're the only other Victorian team other than Essendon who we can beat, so don't look a gift horse in the mouth.
It's all about the midfield. Our forwards look ok against their injury riddled defence - especially if Howe keeps going and Watts plays there instead of the back pocket - and the New Jurassic Pack has got their opponents covered on paper (remember Frawley's demolition job on Riewoldt last year?), so even if Jamar doesn't come back - and sorry Maximum, we all pray he does - and as long as we can avoid getting killed out of the centre we should be ok. One thing I noticed today was that as long as we could get it to a secondary bounce we were ok. More of the same please.
Was it worth it?
Good god yes. Dum spiro spero as the Romans used to say - while I breath, I hope.