Today had a big old touch of the 2009's about it (pre tankfest). Everyone knew we were going to lose to a good side so as long as we didn't get absolutely thrashed it couldn't really turn out too badly. How sad it is to find ourselves back in exactly the same place two years later. Next thing people will be suggesting we up sticks in the last two games and lose to Gold Coast and Port just to get first round draft pick 72 instead of 74. Even the 90's aren't fashionable again yet, so how come '09 is suddenly so popular? Next thing The Spencil will be dropping the ball on his run-in, Jamar will kick five and we'll draft somebody who does a runner for massive wads of cash two years later.
The blind belief of some people that we're a chance to win every game is admirable but there's a time and a place where you've got to throw your hands up in the air and say "no, we're shit and we just have to admit it". If you're ever depressed (as a Melbourne fan? Never!) and need a laugh just read the comments threads on one of the MFC Facebook posts. I've got no idea how to link to an individual post but if you can find the one about today's game it's absolutely hilarious. The first 50 posts are of ridiculous bravado about how we'll win and pack the joint, then the next 150 are of nervous breakdowns about how shit we are interspersed with obscene comments about the Morton family. And that's the stuff they haven't deleted - imagine being the moderator on that group, it's the online equivalent of being the receptionist who has to take calls from nutters every Monday morning.
The only surprise from today's thread, which seems to be treated like a live chat room by most people, is that only one person suggested we recruit Fev. Usually that's 80% of what's on there. I don't know why I ever read it to be honest but there's a touch of the masochistic looking at comments on the Herald Sun website about it. You know it's going to be full of nutbaggery but you just have to look and get a bit outraged.
Fev fever isn't entirely confined to excitable Facebook fans though, there's a fair bit of it flowing through the general community. Thank god there's more chance of us getting Darren Cuthbertson and Shaun Smith (who has only just retired from country footy at 42) back so I won't take offence. It's telling that most of the time when somebody suggests it they open with a "call me crazy BUT" or "this is only my opinion BUT". When the list of "buts" and conditions are as long as your arm what's the point unless you're recruiting an absolute star? What did Ben Cousins honestly do for Richmond other than sell a bit of merch and give everyone at Tigerland the chance to pat themselves on the back and pretend they were good blokes for giving him another chance. Also turned the place into a media circus for two years and delivered bugger all on the field.
How many years has Fev got left in him anyway? Do we really need another 'good' forward when we've already got about five of them. Tell me we can recruit Franklin or Jack Riewoldt and I'll slice off a plum to get the deal done but this is just too ludicrous to even consider.
It's not Jamie Shanahan coming straight out of a Grand Final side to shore up a defence which has spent two years under siege. It's taking a massive risk on somebody who even if he doesn't get himself into any shenanigans off-field is no leader, defensively suspect and has been out of the big time for the best part of two years. No thanks. Not to mention that we'd look like the filthiest hypocrites on the face of the planet after carpeting Casey for signing him because it would "ruin the development of our players" only to then take him ourselves. I'd rather keep Juice for another year, and knowing the charmed run he's had over the last few years that will probably happen.
Get the midfield right first. Win some clearances against good teams and stop our defence from having to defend 75 inside 50's weekly then talk to me about going out and getting a 29-year-old ex-superstar forward. Can't believe I'm dedicating so much space to even discussing the idea but it seems people are convinced that he's the answer to all our problems and that's more baffling than Baileyball.
A forward line featuring some combination of Watts, Jurrah, Howe, Petterd, Dunn, Green and Sylvia has a lot to like about it as long as we can feed them properly and not have the ball breaking down 50 times a game before they get the chance to do something with it. Throw in some CRUMB and we're really talking but you can have anybody you like down there and it's not going to help a jot if kicks are getting cut off across half-back or wild handballs are going straight up in the air and landing in the hands of somebody with an opponent riding them like Phar Lap. Feed the forwards, let them know it's Christmas time.
Speaking of forwards is it too early to declare a love for Jeremy Howe which is approaching rude levels? It could all go backwards, and it usually does, but he's been great so far. Should have had four today had he not botched the absolute sitter for the last one but his work around the ground is great and he's got bucket hands which will hold pretty much everything. If we go out and sign some guy who used to be good five years ago and stuff up his development I'll kick buggery out of something. Nobody will ever approach the same category of illicit love as Jack Trengove got after signing a contract extension this week (TAKE NOTE SCULLY. ACTUALLY WAIT, DON'T BECAUSE I'D PREFER THE COMPO) but he's in the same category.
Even happier with Jeremy was @amul82, who not only saw the Pies win a Grand Final in his lifetime but also showed up today just to boost the attendances, got in free and then had twenty on JH for the first goal at 21-1 just because he'd seen a world class Jeremy* (* new readers will be baffled) walk past him on the way to the TAB. Some people have all the luck.
I was happy too considering it took ten minutes for the first goal to go in AND it was us who got it. Problem was they booted the next seven. Welcome to an action 'flashing (R) in the corner a'la World Cup Mexico 86' repeat of last week, in which we played decent, intense football against a top four contender for the first half of the quarter before dropping off and getting smashed after having botched numerous chances to put a decent score up. Even Garland was down there having shots, which was interesting. Shots which put pay to any suggestion that he's the next big thing for our forward line.
"He was drafted as a forward!" they cry, "Don't piss him about like Brad Miller" I reply. Kicked ten in a club game the year before he was drafted. Not with shots like the one he took today I'll bet. Is a worthy defender, just leave him there. The only one I'd even consider trying to throw forward for gimmick value would be Rivers, and even then there's no need for it at the moment because as previously discussed (18 times before today) if we GET THE BALL TO OUR FORWARDS THEY ARE ACTUALLY NOT ALL THAT BAD.
From then on just assume near total domination by the Eagles for the rest of the quarter and complete mental disintegration on our behalf. Fan favourite Morton did his bit to win back the love of the community by totally stuffing up an attempt to roll a fancy shot through the goals when a good old fashioned drop punt would have probably done the job. Unfortunately even though he was given every opportunity to play on the wing and in the middle of the ground he just wasn't good enough again. Snapped a nice goal at the end but the damage was done.
May as well keep playing him considering the season is stuffed but he's going nowhere. Still, what are you going to do. Trade him? All well and good but what are you going to get. It's one thing to cite him as a number four draft pick and suggest that we'd get something half decent but who's going to give you anything for a player who hasn't fired a shot for two years? Especially when you could get him for free in the pre-season draft. I don't want to have to lose him, but where's he going if he stays? Even when he had clean possessions today they didn't hit the target, and that's the biggest issue. I don't expect him to smash through packs, win hard ball and extract it like he's J**d but if you're going to be an 'outside' player then at least hit 30m passes with accuracy. Nobody's falling for one of our mutton dressed as lamb trading coups after the Johnstone/McLean trades. Look forward to him winning a flag for the Pies next year.
Amongst 22 players who can't kick most of the time there's also Jordie McKenzie. But the difference between the two is that while Jordie is ordinary by foot at the best of times his heart is about ten times bigger. He's the one we're expecting to dive into packs, put on tackles, tag people to buggery and extract the ball from the middle by hand. Probably gets paid a damn sight less than Morton too. Given that we all know there's one thing he's not all that good at it seemed odd how many times he was used as the playmaker coming out of the backline today. No bloody wonder we spent most of the first half turning the ball over if he's the guy we're expecting to set the play up. It's clear that his first instinct is to handball every time, so don't expect him to be banging 50m passes to a target. He knows his limitations, now everybody else feel free to join in and play to them.
We were utter balls for most of the first half, and our defenders made their fair share of mistakes with everyone else, but I did like Frawley and Macdonald coming out of the backline. At least they were (wild footy cliche alert) taking the game on. Problem was that they either ran around an opponent and looked up to see nobody or they'd get it to somebody in time for the next kick to end in tragedy. Garland was good too, and although it seems Rivers has become a whipping boy for some people I didn't mind his game either. Don't forget the sort of attack we were against today. Kennedy, Lynch, Le Cras, Naitanui, Nicoski. It's hardly a sloppy lineup. Given that we were killed out of the middle in the first half they did as well as could be expected.
Meanwhile I was surprised at Green as a late withdrawal, and coming in the same week that there was allegedly a meeting during the week featuring 'heated discussions' (aka: doors slammed, kettles swung around the head via an electrical flex and crockery smashed) I expect that a full range of conspiracy theories about his 'soreness' will be all over the net by the time I've finished writing this. Could be that he was legitimately sore, could be that he ended the meeting turning blue in a Todd Viney headlock. Either way you can be sure that footy's greatest muckrakers are currently coming up with some fantastic bullshit to explain it. Hutchy, Caro, Barrett - this is your time to shine.
Suffice to say that when we were seven goals down at half time and looking like we were about to be on the end of another thrashing the mood amongst the Melbourne fans in my section was subdued. There were clearly more than a few people who were wondering why they'd bothered to turn up at that hole of a ground and watch yet another week of stinky garbage football. Dunn tried to start a fight to keep himself amused but nobody was taking somebody with a tiddly little moustache like that seriously and it died out pretty quickly. I'll admit to becoming frustrated at another pissy, unconvincing show of aggression and abusing all and sundry. I wouldn't be surprised if somebody saw/heard it considering it seemed to be "run into people you know" day.
I wish somebody would realise that the perfect time to take out all your frustrations by biffing somebody in the scone is starting to run out. Nobody cares if you get a three game ban now, it's hardly #freetrengove time where we think that we're actually good. Now if anybody does it and gets any more than two weeks they'll have to serve it next year and it's a waste. Sad. Not much chance any of our lot could do damage with a punch anyway. You can show all the Enter Sandman backed hype videos you like of players boxing before the game and I'll still refuse to accept that any of them are going to win in a stand-up fight. And while we're on the subject of novelty music at sports can I repeat my suggestion that the darts music gets played at the end of every quarter? The crowd would go wild. Especially if, a'la the darts they were handed blank placards and could write foul and offensive statements about Stephen Milne on them.
If you're going to play pop music garbage anyway at least play something the crowd (or at least just me) can get into. Atmosphere sorted.
At least we made of a fight of it in the third. When they kicked the first goal of the third it was starting to look very, very ugly but from there we weren't at all bad. Howe's goal from 50 nearly caused me to bar up and despite Nicoski (he's got Mark Harvey eyes) kicking a goal by thumping it straight into
Unfortunately after doing precious little all the day the current leader of the Allen Jakovich Medal could have given to Dunn for another one straight after his first but went for the solo and cocked it up. Bartram missed another one running straight into an open goal 40m out and they went straight from one end to another - as they did so many times today - and kicked a goal which pretty much snuffed out any hope of a ludicrous comeback.
We were at least winning consistently out of the middle during the third quarter. Jamar and The Experience were hardly dominant at any time during the day but they put the brakes on the Cox/NicNat show long enough for Moloney/Scully/etc to start getting their hands on it. West Coast were rattled but too bloody late, we'd already let them get a million points in front so fat lot of good it did. When Trengove kicked that (future) captain's goal after the 3/4 time siren we were still a million to one to win but if it had been the other way around I've been absolutely shitting it.
Have I ever told you how much I love Trengove? Apparently his sister won the City To Surf this morning so there's clearly some unreal genes going around in that family. Who didn't swoon when they read about his extending his contract even when he didn't need to? I know we've killed Brock McLean and condemned Jack Grimes to a lifetime of serious injuries by previous anointing them as the next captain and we're far too conservative to do anything crazy like give a kid the top job but how much would you love to fast forward to the point where he's ready to take it over? I love Grimes and hope he's in the leadership group for many years to come but he needs to concentrate on getting his body right before being considered for anything.
I'm backing a Moloney/Trengove ticket but can you really ditch a captain and keep him on the list? Easier said than done. He might be into it but I can't see a ten year player willingly put his hand up and admitting "I am a rubbish captain". I'm not sure I even think he is. Many people seem to but maybe it's just what he's got to work with? The new coach provides the cover for a change so it'll be interesting to see if they do something radical (and for god's sake say either say NO to co-captains or name 46 of them) or continue 100+ years of MFC tradition and opt for the steady as she goes approach. I think I'm just dying for us to do something bold. Knowing my luck when it comes it'll probably involve relocating to Albury/Wodonga.
Bartram could have upgraded the contest from barely interesting to semi-exciting when he missed another shot at the start of the quarter. God knows how he's kicked 16 goals in his 93 game career but I'm not surprised that six of them were in 2006. He was alright following Kerr around today but skills are deplorable for a sixth year player. Will almost certainly be back next year because he's contracted to the end of 2012 but seems to be treading water massively. He was once fifth in the Rising Star you know. Then you look that year's award up, see they voted for Danyle Pearce over Marc Murphy and realise that the judging panel were at best misguided and at worse on the piss. Andrew Raines was second? I remember absolutely nothing of '06 that wasn't MFC related but that just shows the Rising Star is about as faulty a judge of future potential as the draft.
The Eagles missed three in a row, then Petterd kicked OOF and time was rapidly running out for a shock victory. They boot two of the last three, we lose by almost 50 points and nobody actually cares that much. Expectations have been squashed so flat that half a century seems like a step in the right direction. This club is in a bad way and what I hate about it even more than my own selfish reasons is that Jim Stynes has taken another turn for the worst and is absolutely battling for his life having to watch this. I wasn't expecting us to rampage to the flag in his honour but what a kick in the guts for the guy to watch this trash. At least he's not busting out of hospital to watch it now. Don't even bother with this stuff Jim, just forget football exists for a few months - they're not worthy of your fighting spirit.
Did anything else happen? Chances are if it was on the other end of the ground I wouldn't know. That's the magic of sitting on Level 1 at Docklands. People actually pay more for that you know. Utter madness.
Tell you who I did like and that was Sam Blease. He's quick, he's a good kick and for a second game player who wasn't scared to grab the ball and run with it. Absolutely must play the last three games of this year. If I wait until 4.40pm next Sunday to find out that he's wearing a green vest and sitting in the dugout for three quarters I will not be held responsible for my actions.
2011 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - James Frawley
4 - Joel McDonald
3 - Jeremy Howe
2 - Brent Moloney
1 - Sam Blease
Apologies to Petterd, Jones, Garland, Watts, Dunn, Rivers, Jones and Trengove.
So, with three games to go we're no nearer to deciding on the overall winner out of the top five, but the Experience is all but home for the biggest upset in history in the Stynes (though given that we paid out on Jamar earlier in the year it's almost guaranteed to go backwards.. and surely the Russian will absolutely feast on Gold Coast and Port). Lucky he didn't get votes playing in the backline today or there might have been a steward's enquiry as to his eligibility.
Frawley and Macdonald have cleared out in the Seecamp, with Rivers and Garland needing at least multiple 5's or 4's in the next three weeks to stand any chance. And with apologies to Tapscott I think Howe should win the Hilton from here in canter given that he's achieved next big thing status. Previous NBT's include Jones, Dunn, Bate and .. oh fuck I am so sorry that I've done this to you Jeremy.
27 - Colin Sylvia
25 - 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)
10 - Jordan Gysberts
9 - Colin Garland
8 - Brad Green
6 - Luke Tapscott, Lynden Dunn
5 - Rohan Bail
4 - Michael Evans, Tom Scully
3 - Jack Grimes, Liam Jurrah, Nathan Jones
2 - Clint Bartram, Neville Jetta
1 - Addam Maric, Matthew Bate, Sam Blease
It was looking a bit grim at 12.50 when there were only about 7,000 people in the ground, but my panic that we'd pocket the record for the lowest attendance at Docklands to go in our anti-trophy cabinet with the Geelong debacle didn't take into account that even when there's a handful of people at Corporate Stadium it still takes ages to do anything easy like, say, buy a ticket. As I learnt when foolishly trying to get into one of the other lowest drawing games in the ground's history (Port vs North) you have to get the attention of the woman in the ticket booth first and once she's finished having her conversation with the person in the next booth you might actually get a ticket.
Luckily the crowd 'streamed' in just in time for us to only pocket the 11th lowest. Never fear, we've still got second place locked up. And there's a phrase you're not likely to hear again for a few more years (unless it involves the biggest losses).
You don't need me to tell you what a horrible, soulless, shell of a place it is, but it's even worse when there's nobody there. Usually that's a bonus because you can at least get food, take a whizz, get the hell out of there etc.. quicker than usual but at least when we play an interstate team in front of a garbage crowd at the MCG there's some semblance of atmosphere. Even the Eagles fans couldn't be bothered getting excited when they were running away with it today, and we didn't give a peep until the run in the third quarter gave us some misguided hope of a blockbusting comeback. Nobody cared. Massive end of season slop game.
Speaking of food did anybody else notice the heavy push that they were giving to "Cobs"? No? Well it's entirely likely that I'm the only person who pays attention to this sort of thing. Just when you think the place couldn't embrace any more wanky causes they start trying to encourage you to eat boom foods like corn at the footy. Why? God knows. Suffice to say I don't think you should buy corn futures based solely on the future of Cobs because if the success of the Healthier Foods (i.e only half as deadly) stand is anything to go by the whole enterprise will be shuttered up and in the hands of liquidators by lunchtime Wednesday.
Footy fans do not want corn, they want some mushy indeterminate meat inside a rapidly disolving pastry which will almost certainly explode in their lap, burning them in sensitive areas yet simultaneously being cold by the time it gets to their mouth. For some reason they will pay $5 for this privilege. Nobody's paying for corn. It's like
Truth be told it wasn't too bad where we sat on the wing but the problem when they lie about "improving the atmosphere" by forcing 90% of the crowd onto the bottom level you actually end up losing the one thing that you've got going for you by following a shit team, the option to not have to sit with everyone else if you don't want to. Suddenly it's like you are at the MCG amongst 75,000 people and you've got idiots clambering over you every 20 seconds to get beers and drunken yokels standing at the back screaming random comments. Give me the top deck of Docklands any day.
I know they shut it to save money, and because it will look even worse on TV when 15,000 are spread across three levels instead of two, but I reserve the right to be greedy and totally ignore the financial reasons. We're going to be handing over a substantial amount of cash for today anyway, why not just hire a few Romanian orphans to come in at 3/4 time with brooms and clean the top deck on the cheap?
And did we really need to wheel out the trumpet? The prospect of the jazz odyssey version of our theme song not being played for once was the only thing that being at Docklands had going for it. Imagine if they hadn't ditched the farcical flag raising ceremony after two weeks? I'd have been on the field in London fashion, snapping the flagpole in two by piffing the trumpet through it.
The only thing I did enjoy was the woman they had in the hype video at the start who screamed a lot but managed to get a reference to Docklands as "this desert of a place" past the censors at the start. Watch us cop a fine for that on top of the shit crowd payout.
Also Dwayne Russell walked right past me outside the ground. For those of you who watched on TV I apologise wholeheartedly for not trying to delay him by saving his cat had died ("HORRENDOUS LUCK FOR TIGGER!") or that his car had been set alight in the underground parking lot ("THAT COULD NEED THE FIREFIGHTER!"). Or even just crash tackled him to the ground and defended myself to the police as a sufferer of Melbourne Supporter Depression Syndrome. If people can smash shop windows and steal Playstations while claiming social exclusion surely you could take out your most hated commentator and blame Cale Morton.
Radio Watch + Koaching Korner
Enjoyed Mick Malthouse picking apart everything that was terrible about us on SEN. Clearly his co-commentators had been instructed that he'd walk out if they even jokingly made any comments about him coaching us next year because there were about fifty times that he'd highlight some old bollocks that we'd done and there'd be an awkward silence for a second as somebody caught themselves before saying "So, what are you going to do about that next year?" or ask him if he has Sylvia in his best 22.
He'd be insane to spend what should be his retirement years trying to fashion this team into anything half decent, but god knows if he got to a Grand Final with a team featuring Carl Steinfort, Rupert Betheras and Steve McKee AND almost won then come on down. He can clearly identify where we're shit but let's see what he does about it.
Failing that I'll have Mark Williams just because he's an unhinged nutcase and it will pave the way for #chokeyourselfwithatie to become the next big thing in Twitter hashtags.
Good timing for Richmond to snap a six game losing streak with a win over half decent (albeit fading rapidly) opposition today. Should set them up nicely to twat us at graveyard o'clock next Sunday. We were one grade above them the last time we played, and while they might not have gone anywhere since we've been steaming backwards at a million miles an hour so it's a perfect match. Poor Bradforth J Miller, left alone in the queue with Paul Johnson and Scott Thompson as McLean, Buckley, Bruce, Cheney and Jolly all take their turns giving us a kicking. It's his turn next week - one last chance to kick ten. And you know very well that he saves his best work for the end of the season when it's contract renewal time. Be afraid.
If you blindly cheat the ladder predictor (press up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A then start on the opening screen) we can still make the eight but come on don't be silly. Here's what Viney should be saying if any journo is mental enough to ask him about the possibility.
As for in's and out's I'm not going to throw Davey and Morton to the 2011 scrapheap yet but they've got to show something soon or there'll be no point playing them. Davey has got a lot more credit in the bank than the anorexic Maric style emo, and he was pretty good when he did get it today but the problem was that he didn't get it enough. If he needs time to get away and get his head right then give it to him, otherwise he's just got to keep playing and hopefully will finish the year on a high.
There's also not many players who I'm dying to see come out of the twos. Gawn goes
without saying, and given Richmond's putrid defence we might as well pick all three of them next week. Why not throw Robert Campbell in there as well and have a ruckman foursome? After all we did pay $15k to upgrade him off the rookie list for some strange reason. May as well really take the piss and add Jack Fitzpatrick as well. Thrown in the The Spencil rolling about in a wheelchair if you want, just play the Gawn/Jamar/SME trio of terror because eventually we're going to have to pick two of them to go with.
Green/Jurrah are a given (or are they?) and Jetta deserves another go before the end of the year but who else is there? Jamie Bennell has been played time after time and contributes nothing. Bate was one of the best this week but is clearly not wanted in our senior side based on being the sub twice in a row and coming on for the most of the game just to be underwhelming last week. Tom McDonald maybe but Maric is gone, Davis and Lawrence are probably not going to be ready this year and Tom McNamara is a mystery to everyone.
T-Mac was amongst the best on ground for the Scorpions the other day but we can't even play him due to being on the rookie list can we? Makes it even more baffling to me why we upgraded Campbell. The chances of him being legitimately required are 100-1 because it would take dual ruckman injury/suspension debacles within the next fortnight for him to play even one game. McNamara, on the other hand, is a 21-year-old kid who hasn't played a senior game for nearly two years but has shown some decent (if not world beating) form for Casey. He's either got a future or he hasn't and surely one or more of the three slop sides would have been the right opposition for him to play against for us to at least get an idea? Obviously not.
Sucked in if you donated $15k at the Foundation Heroes dinner only to turn on your computer the next day and find out that your hard earned has been used to promote somebody who probably won't play a game. Is it some sort of rort where we've had somebody ask about trading for him but we can't do it if he's a rookie? Surely not. Nobody, not even Richmond, could be that desperate. And what's pick 100 going to do for us anyway? PASS on all fronts. I'd rather keep $15k in the pocket or give T-Mac/Lawrence the chance to play in a meaningless end of season match. Just the usual baffling move that you've come to know and love from this club. Would be nice if somebody came out and explained these things but as we all know now they're too busy behind doors trying to knife each other in the back to have any time for football matters.
Oh, and if you're looking for Lucas Cook he's in the Casey 2's. And I think to myself what a wonderful world.
Was it worth it?
The worst thing was having to hear the Eagles theme song with its killer synth drums a'la the theme from Eastenders.
The tradition continues. Drape a green jacket across Etihad Stadium and put a red vest on our season.