Welcome to Demonblog Playhouse Theatre. Tonight we present "An Evening At Deano's", the harrowing tale of an ex-coach watching his former team continuing to slide away into insignificance.
The image of Dean's house is provided by Donald McRonald from the BigFooty MS Paint thread. And now, our story begins.
INT - Stately Bailey Manor, evening
Dean Bailey is huddled in front of a fire, clutching a small transistor radio to his ear. The room is empty but for a milk crate which he sits on. He is holding an empty whisky glass.
The half time siren sounds with Melbourne 27 points behind. Bailey hurls the glass at the wall in disgust
END (he cheered up a bit in the second half but eventually had the last laugh)
So, now we can't even beat Richmond. How well is this year going? The three game winning streak gone. Baileyball's kryptonite like effect on the Tiges gone. The comedy value of their only win against us in three years being from us throwing the match gone. The knowledge that there was at least one Victorian side who we could be confident of beating... right out the window. In fact as the ladder stands right now we're the worst club in Victoria. There's a cause for celebration. The last two weeks should (SHOULD) lift us back over Richmond and/or Footscray but what a sad state of affairs we find ourselves in right now. If I don't finally get an AGM where somebody throws a chair it'll be heartbreaking.
But other than the usual background frustration at following a shit team through a shit season is there any point in getting upset about this loss? Not really. Thank god Sydney had already shut the gate on the sick, perverted fantasy that we could somehow Bradbury into the finals by beating St Kilda and by the first bounce the match was rendered utterly meaningless. I'd have almost gone the vom if the last few 'thrilling' minutes were spent with the people around me trying to do live ladder calculations to see if we could still make it.
The time it takes for you to get over losing a match is the most telling thing about the magnitude of the result. There are some games I'll never get over (The Chris Sullivan Line game, the 2000 GF, Geelong) and some that threaten to explode my keyboard via the furious punching of fat fingers hours after the final siren (most of the last four years) but tonight I was over it by the time I walked past the Kaiser's Sausage (*plug*) van and towards home. I'll admit during the last quarter I was cracking the shits in traditional fashion but the moment it was over I was more concerned about having to wake up and go to work on Monday morning than I was that we'd lost.
Remember a few weeks ago when we played Richmond the first time and it was being billed as an "elimination final"? Since that moment both teams have spent most of the time reclining, with head backwards and a pair of giant, sweaty plums being rested across the eyelids. "Sure we'll lose to Geelong" we said, "but it doesn't matter, because we'll win the last three and probably make the finals". It's been a long five weeks since then.
At least the Tiges had a win last week to give their fans some reason to edge back from the platform and not jump in front of the 4.32 limited express to Lilydale. We've managed to have the entire club explode, sack the coach, renew the contract of the nearly sacked CEO and play a grand total of one quarter of half decent footy in that time. Who doesn't think the Richmond coaching staff were pumping their players up all week with tales of how we think they're easybeats, and how we've been putting them in the same 'certain win' bracket as Gold Coast and Port? The punters weren't fooled and sent Richmond in as favourites.
In retrospect the last couple of weeks had a hint of 2010 about it - remember thinking that if we beat Hawthorn we'd roll over Port and North and storm into the finals? Then they didn't win any of them. At least this time we can be relatively sure that we'll win the last two. If not I hope responsible adults are put in charge of the knife draw in the hours after the Port game otherwise casualty wards are going to be full of people who have had a shot at themselves.
One thing you can say for these two teams is that at least you're going to get a half decent match most times. Ever since they destroyed us in the last game of 2008 there hasn't been a dud clash between them. Even when we beat them relatively comfortably last year at least there was a 13 goal first quarter to keep people entertained.
So, I look forward to another ten years of these matches being played as a battle of the alleged "Next Big Things" while both teams continue to slop around in the mid-card, threatening to be good at some indeterminate time in the future but never managing to string enough good footy together to make a proper challenge. They got us today, but their players will be doing the same thing ours are on Monday 5 September. Hopefully Fev tags along with the Dees to make it interesting. Hopefully he's not tagging along because he'll be playing with them.
At least tonight we managed to break new ground with an innovative move. Shame it was only to be the first club ever to start the captain as substitute. Cue the biggest walk of shame ever as the team ran through the banner and he slowed down deliberately to try and get somebody else to go through it first. I think Jack Trengove stamped his future captain status by just about dead-heating with Green. Have I ever told you how impressed I am at the font we use on our banner? All the other cheersquads seem to be like that annoying guy in the office who likes to use Algerian and Gaudy Stout on posters when a simple font will do.
The awkward question was whether Green would have to show up and toss the coin while wearing the council worker hi-vis clothing, but luckily for him he had the excuse of handing over the job to Davey on the occasion of his 150th game. Unluckily for Davey it was the closest that he got to being in the action for the first hour of the game.
The Worksafe Injury Report continued to be one of the biggest farces in footy as it announced that Scully and Bail were both out for another week. At the very moment Scully was warming up on the field. And would that be the same Bail who was one of the best on ground at Casey yesterday? Mind you Scully played like his knee was completely rooted so maybe Worksafe knew something we didn't? He was on and off for much of the first half having work done on it, so hopefully the papers are signed in Sydney and we can pocket the WorkCover style compo payments. Either way for god's sake pack him away now before he loses a zero off his contract offer. I'm thinking of his financial welfare here, if you're going to make a desperate grab for the cash you might as well do it properly. Not to mention if he hasn't signed and we've offered him something ridiculous he might take it.
Notwithstanding the fact that Richmond have jumped us in the past and we've come back to beat them comfortably I was concerned with them getting the jump on us today because we've not been this collectively mentally ill as a club since the glory days of 2007. Sure we've been shit but at least we've been shit with a clear head, ever since Geelong it's been depression central.
After playing four of the top five in the last month and getting blown away in the first quarter by all of them there was no telling what would have happened if rancid hacks like Richmond got the jump - we might have just walked off the ground and rung up Port to offer a merger with home games to be played in Halls Gap. So, considering that we were on the end of every shithouse umpiring decision under the sun in the first quarter, we were getting murdered out of the middle and half the side didn't have a touch it wasn't such a bad result to go in two goals behind.
The fifty that gave them their first goal was the start of an award winning run of shambles by the umpires. Bartram pinged for going within five kilometres of Dustin "shit neck, bad tattoo" Martin as he played on despite the fact that he was following his opponent. Baffling. But not quite as baffling as Miller spending the entire first quarter taking the piss out of us.
Congratulations to him on joining the "Fuck you MFC" club with Buckley, McLean, Bruce, Cheney and Jolly for ex-players who have beaten us this year (apologies to Paul Johnson and Scott Thompson for leaving them out) but before any Richmond fans who might have stumbled upon this post start getting excited about his performance I can tell you we've all seen it before. There's a strange phenomenon with Bradforth where he suddenly ramps it up at the end of the year and plays out of his skin before winning a new contract then turning in mediocre performances for the next year and a half before contract time rolls around again. He tried it last year by bagging 10 goals in a VFL game but we were finally wise to it. Somebody's probably hammering away a forum post right now saying we should have kept him. They're wrong.
When they got their third, the second courtesy of the umps, it was starting to look rude. Let us be blown up by Carlton and West Coast, but when we get thrashed by Richmond it's time to shut up shop. Thank god then for the combination of Trengove and Sylvia who dragged us back into it. Thank god too for Jordie McKenzie who continues to climb the Demonblog Top 40 Players chart every week. At least he cares. I might actually post the Top 40 (which does not, in fact, exist at the moment) as part of the end of season spectacular post.
Incidentally who else heard Brian Royal being interviewed on the radio before the game? Not only did he say "Trengrove" (and should therefore be sacked immediately) but when asked if we'd win he sidestepped the usual cliches and simply said that we would. A bold prediction. Also a crap one as it turned out. The interviewer asked if he'd (cliche time) throw his hat into the ring for senior coaching jobs at the end of the year. I'd suggest he'd be lucky to even have an assistant job considering some of the slop teams he's been involved with over the last few years. I don't give a rats what his coaching record is like, I'm just keen on a Stalinist purge against anybody employed by our club who says Trengrove. Remember his name, you'll be screaming it later etc...
There'll be a rush to blame the umpires for this result but don't forget that we rode the storm out in the first quarter and got ourselves back into it. Wasn't their fault we stuffed up an 8 point lead in the last quarter and kicked 3.6. Doesn't help to have two goals given away at the start of the game, and even though the two we got from frees were both legit (we would say that..) it still balanced out in the end. The game was ours to win, we cocked it up, we're mental cases.
The second free was probably luckier considering Morton only got it after declining the invitation to tackle the other Morton and then in true family tradition the Richmond one shat himself and handballed it straight out of bounds. Our one hit the pass straight onto Jurrah's chest and LJ got the first of what could be one of the worst three goal performances of the season in which he failed to leave the ground once. Maybe he's like the NRL player who is suffering from vertigo?
Equation for the first quarter was: Umpiring + natural ineptitude = disaster. Even though it was probably his best game of the season (in what is hardly a star studded field) our Morton perfectly demonstrated the way it was going when he won the ball in traffic and instead of giving it off quickly he hesitated long enough for somebody to get a hand on him and stuff it up. I'm convinced the poor guy needs to get on the pharmaceutical grade anti-depressant gear. He and Mitch should have started as subs and had a good together cry for three quarters with Jaryd hanging over the fence joining in. All in green vests.
He did lay a holding the ball tackle in the first quarter which was amazing and hit a few decent passes to free players but good luck finding a target under pressure. Hopefully he gets better over the next fortnight and stays for at least one more, injury free year. You'll get squat trading him now, so unless he cracks the sads (in a malicious non-sad panda way) and walks out it's better to wait and see what a new coach can do with him. After all how many experienced players can you get rid of in one year?
Even if they're not worldbeaters I've seen Bate, Warnock, Dunn, Maric, Morton, Bennell and Newton all written off in various places as if there's no way they'll be with us next year. All well and good but consider Scully going as well and how many kids are we replacing these guys with? For what's it worth I'd be saying farewell to Juice and shopping Bate/Maric/Warnock around but again what are you going to get for them? People are convinced that you can just package up three ordinary players and clubs will give you good picks. Maybe in video games, not in real life.
Considering the umpire giveaways, the shambolic structure and the fact that half the side were giving nothing 14 points wasn't all that bad a deficit. These two teams may never qualify for the finals again but at least they put on interesting first quarters.
We got the first two of the second quarter, with Sylvia running rampant and taking screamers up front, and the natural balance of things seemed to be restoring itself. Then the next thing you know bogan idol Jake f'ing King is bombing torps from 60m out, his horrible shanks are landing in the arms of teammates to goal and Brad f'ing Miller is having a Juice style half where he thinks he's John Coleman.
A moment please for Clint Bartram who is 'much maligned' (and rightly so) and still kicks like he has a prosthetic leg, but defensively towelled up Cotchin for the first three quarters. Not entirely convinced he'd be there if we were any good, and for god's sake don't let him have shots at goal ever but well done on today's performance.
The umpiring was so bad in the first half that Davey could afford to run past Mitch Morton and smack him the head with an elbow directly in front of the umpires without having a free paid against him. There was so much apathy going around that Richmond players couldn't even be bothered punching on with him about it. I know we've all wanted to belt a Morton brother but come on Aaron, you don't actually do it. Given that it happened right at the end of a half when he'd racked up one handball and had enjoyed 'banter' with somebody sitting behind the interchange it was a pissweak attempt to take out the frustration of not being able to get a kick.
Not that Viney et al tried to do anything different with him before he totally lost it. Whatever Brian Royal does other than make stupid statements and say Trengrove was there any danger he could have piped up? Of course not, positional moves and backup plans are not the done thing in these parts. Just keep plugging away hoping everything will be ok. At one point in the third quarter I thought Jared Rivers was going forward and almost declared it the birth of a new era. He didn't, it wasn't. FanFooty is convinced Joel Mac went forward in the third quarter but I didn't see it. Didn't last long if he did. The innovation alarm in the coaching box would have exploded with a move like that and Viney would have found himself out of a job.
Tagged to buggery and not handling it again, Davey could have done with a run in the forward line or across half back but it wasn't forthcoming. Still no excuse to clock somebody with a cheap elbow. Nobody cares that somebody misses a couple of end of season dead rubbers (and come on don't you think Petterd should have belted McGinnity and just taken the three weeks?) but if you're going to be back next year there's no need to be bringing in pesky carryover points. The tribunal will save us from having to drop him but I hope somebody sits Flash down and says "do you really want to be here? If not where do you want to be" and if that's somewhere else then send him there.
The club can lay off sending me scabby emails about me giving them money to pay extra to players if they're going hand out big money when the ones we've got now couldn't give a rats. Tell him to go away, think about what he wants to do and come back at the end of the year to decide if he's in or out. Certainly won't be remembering his 150th fondly, or the entire 2011 season for that matter. He improved marginally in the second half when they finally threw him across half-back but if he's not right physically or mentally he shouldn't have been there today in the first place. It's not like we're trying to run him into the ground a'la Scully so that he's ruined for somebody else, he should have at least another two years in him so if it meant writing off this year before his stray elbow they should have done it. Surely they weren't picking a team for today with the idea that we were still a chance of finals.
So, it's half time and we're going down the tube at a million miles an hour. Aren't you glad we had to wait until 6pm Sunday to get to that position? At least you got to enjoy your weekend before it was ruined by sports. But this is when it gets even more stereotypically Melbourne. All of a sudden they come out and it's sublime brilliance. Seven goals to one, Jamar running riot in the ruck, the Psychic Friends Connection reunited against the odds and Sylvia doing the sort of things that make you swoon and threaten to have money on him to win the Brownlow next year.
Then there was Jones. Now, I've had my issues with the 2007 Allen Jakovich Medal winner this year but if that wasn't the best quarter he has played in about three seasons then I'm not sure if I've been watching closely. You have to close your eyes and think "it's only Richmond, it's only Richmond" because he was brilliant, abnd like Moloney call me when he does it against a good side, but it was at least encouraging and that's about all we've got right now.
Even Green shed his vest and in replacing Howe came on to boot a goal with his first kick. Followed by some slightly over vigorous celebrating that the commentators suggested was a "message to somebody". Who? Viney? Bailey? Malthouse? Blinky Bill? I just think he gets excited when he actually lands one these days instead of kicking a captain's point.
Spare a thought for poor Jeremy Howe, the latest victim of the curse that says whoever is featured in a game day newspaper article will undoubtedly turn in an absolute shocker. It's happened more than once this year - Watts and Sylvia both got it and Dan Nicholson has never been the same since The Age wrote about him in glowing terms before the Footscray match. We could probably have done with him in the last quarter but if somebody down forward had to go for Green to come on then fair enough he was it. Just hope he plays the next two weeks because I harbour fantasies about an eight goal bonanza at some point in the next fortnight. Now watch them drop him for Juice.
Somehow we'd managed to get eight points in front at the last change. Not nearly enough, and unfortunate that we had to stop the third quarter because we were absolutely killing them. Sad then that it had to go backwards so quickly. Sylvia did his best to keep us in it, but we had multiple opportunities going forward and stuffed them up. Two goals at the end made it respectable but we missed our chances to put the game away, Richmond took them better and they got the four points.
Good luck to them. Enjoy that meaningless feeling and we'll see you for another couple of middle of the ladder pointless matches in 2012.
2011 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Colin Sylvia
4 - Nathan Jones
3 - Brent Moloney
2 - Colin Garland
1 - Clint Bartram
Major apologies to McKenzie, Trengove, Frawley and Jamar. Lesser apologies to Rivers, Macdonald and Blease.
If Sylvia hadn't biffed somebody and been reported he'd be nearly home in this one. I suspect that if his record means he misses the last two games then Moloney will almost certainly score four or more votes against Gold Coast or Port. Mind you just when you think you've got the answers this club changes the questions so he'll probably get nil.
I should point out at this time that in the event of a tie there'll be no countback bollocks to separate them and they'll share the medal. The equation is fairly simple now, only those two, Martin, Watts and McKenzie can win it. All the other awards are still open but you'd have your money on the current leaders (Martin/Frawley/Howe) holding on from here.
I don't know what the rest of you are doing to get yourself through the rest of this year, but if I didn't have the stats bonanza that is the Jakovich Medal to keep me interested I'd probably just give up.
Note also that nobody has ever won the top award twice, which doesn't bode well for anybody's career. Here's hoping Sylvia is not accepting the award shortly before shaking hands with John Longmire and pulling on a Swans guernsey.
32 - Colin Sylvia
28 - Brent Moloney
24 - Stefan Martin (LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year), Jack Watts
23 - Jordie McKenzie
18 - James Frawley (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
16 - Mark Jamar
14 - Joel Macdonald
13 - Jack Trengove
11 - Ricky Petterd, Jared Rivers, Jeremy Howe (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year), Colin Garland
10 - Jordan Gysberts
8 - Brad Green
7 - Nathan Jones
6 - Luke Tapscott, Lynden Dunn
5 - Rohan Bail
4 - Michael Evans, Tom Scully
3 - Clint Bartram, Jack Grimes, Liam Jurrah
2 - Neville Jetta
1 - Addam Maric, Matthew Bate, Sam Blease
With every single MFC fan I know refusing to go to a 4.40pm game I used my reserved seat for the second time, and isn't it great to sit somewhere where you get mobile phone coverage for two minutes once every half an hour? Sure I'm a Vodafone customer so I should be used to this sort of thing but it was telling that the moment you walked twenty metres the other way everything worked fine. If you're looking for me next year I'll be back in the Ponsford Stand wondering what possessed me to a buy a membership just because it offered a guaranteed Grand Final ticket if we make it. Talk about throwing good money after bad..
I'm pleased to report there were a few ferals going off their nut in the Redlegs section. We've seen from the MFC Facebook comments that our club has as many complete munter fans per capita as anybody else (tonight's special - why we should trade Watts because he's soft. My god, people put their real names to this stuff) but it's good to see some people doing their block in real life too.
Sadly nothing will ever beat the guy who called SEN after the game and broke into tears about how badly we're going. It was quite incredible. Sadly they cut him off for his own sake and pretend to be sympathetic (although there was somebody audibly pissing themselves laughing when he cracked up) instead of giving him ten minutes to really indulge in some primal scream therapy. God knows what he was like after the Geelong game if that's what a dead rubber thriller against Richmond does to him. I hope the club offer him counselling (get in line behind Maric, Morton, Davey et al) because he sounded as if he was about to crack up. Go wild, throw a phone, kick your dog, slap your kids, do whatever you have to do but for god's sake keep your dignity when you're calling talkback radio. Good thing it wasn't TV or he'd be entering the AFL Hall of Fame with this guy.
Everyone knows half the people calling SEN are doing gimmicks but if that was acting then I tip my hat to one of the great masterclasses of our time. Remarkable.
Back at the MCG I expect the person with the "That Was E-E-Easy" banner in the Richmond cheersquad hasn't heard the news that Clive Peeters has gone tits up and become Harvey Norman. He can't have put a radio on in the last week because all I've heard on the wireless is Gerry Harvey admitting his "big mistake" in buying them in the first place. Probably didn't help that one of Clive's staff knocked off $20m to fund their gambling habit but isn't this the same guy who is always whinging that it's the internet which is putting him out of business? Try not buying so many other companies you rich prick.
But before we leave socialism corner I didn't know whether or not to applaud or be horrified at the guy who stashed a pie in his pocket at half time and walked off without paying. The guy on the counter had no interest in stopping him, presumably because he's getting paid $5 an hour, and by the time the supervisor yelled with exasperation that they'd been swindled the bandit was well gone, presumably getting his money's worth by having red hot 'meat' running down his arm while he bit into a frozen centre.
Part of me applauds him for taking direct action against the ridiculous prices that they charge for goods that cost them next to nothing to buy and which are served by desperately underpaid 15-year-olds and/or grannies. The same part was having the usual guilt at being sucked into handing over $5 for a floppy hot dog in a rock hard crusty roll and wanted to applaud somebody for sticking it to the man. The other side says that first it's stealing a pie and next thing they're putting in the windows of JB Hi-Fi and helping themselves to an Xbox. The law and order side of my brain won out and I was hoping he'd be crashed tackled to the ground by the fuzz and capsicum sprayed, but just like Aaron Davey and the guy who let the pie thief walk straight past him police and security had no interest.
Finally may I just say that after having gone to the Collingwood/Brisbane game Saturday night on a freebie and sat in the Pies members reserves that there are some small mercies in not following a wildly popular, premiership side. The bloke sitting behind us, my god feel free to not say everything that comes into your head and sing songs about players on your own. Also feel free not to start touching me during the game and telling me to fire up when I clearly have NO INTEREST. Congratulations to @amul82 who annoyed him by responding to the question of "Where do you think Mick will be next year?" by saying "Melbourne". It was like sitting in front of the SEN Gladiators of Sport. My worst nightmare.
There was also one guy in a dress and one guy in the most 1991 LA Kings jacket you've ever seen in your life. Like a Sydney fan pining for the return of Lockett you just know that if you sidled up to old mate in his puffy jacket with gigantic stars across the shoulders that made him look like Bret The Hitman Hart the only hockey player he'd know would be Gretzsky. I have no problems with men in dresses, I have massive issues with 1991 sports clothing.
And how the attempt by the Pies to get everyone to respect each other in the wake of the Milne debacle by asking members of the crowd to hug each other in order to win Pies merchandise. In the second round they asked for people to kiss for the cause (!?) and in the only entertaining moment all night the winners were a mixed couple and when the Brisbane guy was handed a black and white scarf he piffed it on the ground. All that money and that's the sort of "fan for hire" James Sherry fronted entertainment they put on? Makes me think Nick McCallum and the trumpeteer are actually cutting edge.
IN: Jetta, Bail, Dunn (am I banned from having Tom McNamara as well?)
OUT: Sylvia (susp), Davey (susp), Scully (inj/not committed to the cause).
Somebody else will either get mysteriously dropped (Dunn) or will step into a pothole outside Casey Fields and do their knee a'la every other mystery injury we've had in the last few years. Morton has to play out the season and Bennell needs to be rewarded for playing a half decent game so I'm going to hold on to both of them. No chance Bennell avoids being sub two weeks in a row though.
Lucky there's a high probability of victory (a certainty? Good god no) or there would be 25 people here. Sadly, even if there are I'll be one of them. Something tells me that whatever ends up on here next Sunday night it won't be my entry for the Pulitzer Prize because I am so over this season it's painful.
Was it worth it?
At least we had a fighting loss for once. Shame it was against an equally retarded team.
I care not how much he's on and off like a tap, if we lose Sylvia I will end up in a padded cell. Luckily things are looking good on that front.