Nothing is ever easy around this place. You know that, I know that and the city of Adelaide certainly knows that because they've been taking the piss out of us every time we've gone then for a decade. Still, even if you started to doubt it as the game got closer surely you thought somewhere, deep in the far recesses of your Melbourne Supporter Depression Syndrome addled brain that this was going to be the day we'd finally do the right thing in South Australia.
First and foremost Port have been utterly shite this year. We were hardly convincing in beating them in Darwin but that was easy to put down to the conditions. Secondly it wasn't being played at Football Park where we might have won some Wobbies World glorified practice matches under invented rules earlier in the year but realistically hadn't fired a shot at for a decade (Chell, if you're still reading I'll save you the blushes of yet another round of talk about THAT goal in '01, suffice to say it's still the best thing to happen in that city since white settlement).
A + B = four points right? Far too easy an equation. I couldn't work out whether or not the fact that they were still a chance of avoiding the spoon helped us or not. Bad news for us that the only good thing the introduction of the new teams has produced, the devaluing of 'winning' the spoon, turned out to be our downfall in the end. As profitable as rorting the draft turned out to be (in getting Trengove and two kids courtesy of the $cully Bequest) it must be nice to actually want your team to avoid the humiliation of finishing last instead of punting it home like the last 100m of the Cox Plate.
For more evidence of why we couldn't possible lose, see also Port's shattering fadeout against the Bombers last week. If that had of been us the whole place would have gone into meltdown and we'd have showed up the next week and copped nine goals to nil in the first quarter. That's what you'd expect out of Port given that they've spent most of the year doing exactly that but of course today they decide to be spurred onto victory in front of a crowd featuring 10,000 people who haven't been to a game all season but decide to turn up just because the match wasn't being played at the Bulgarian government constructed concrete jungle at Westlakes.
You'd have thought that getting away from Football Park would have helped us, considering the absolute spasticity that strikes the entire club the moment we walk through the door of the place but sadly it turned out moving the game to Adelaide Oval didn't help us in the slightest. In fact if you're the sort of person who believes in crowd atmosphere having any bearing on things it probably condemned us. The presence of 29,000 toothless simpletons and bearded ex-dock workers (who Channel Seven insisted on highlighting repeatedly when they weren't bouncing the camera angles around like an episode of NYPD Blue) certainly didn't hurt them in the umpiring stakes.
But you know what, being rorted by umpires who are too scared that some filth is going to smash the windows of his car doesn't come close to explaining why today was so disappointing. I'd love to say things about how GC's wooden spoon and pick four is just another one of their concessions from the AFL, but despite some of the most baffling decisions ever, an umpire who couldn't bounce the ball straight and wasn't even being taken seriously by Port players by the end, we could have and should have still won today - and that's what makes this even more of a dog vomit heavy slopfest than it would have been otherwise.
How's that set of circumstances that would catapult us into the finals looking now? Smash Richmond, smash Gold Coast, smash Port, get knocked out by Carlton. Seemed logical enough but clearly didn't take into account the massive smell of fish that's coming off this club at the moment. It's a shattered lump of a place and unless we either land the coaching or playing free agent signing of the year I'll be open mouth gobsmacked if we don't lose 5000 members. One thing you can be pleased with is that surely this year the AGM is going to be more of a chair throwing battle royale than a gigantic sporting circle jerk like it has been every other year in recent times.
The worst thing is that if I look at our team on paper I'm still convinced they're not that bad, but you're talking to the guy who went into '08 thinking '07 was an abberation that would be corrected en route to an '09 flag tilt. For all the negativity on here maybe I'm not actually critical enough about our playing list? Or maybe they're decent enough in isolation but can't put it together as a team? Maybe somebody shagged a witch during the 1964 Grand Final post match celebrations?
Tell you what I am critical about and that's the inability of this club to win the centre clearances when it really matters. I know that there's no mystical formula that you can apply to suddenly start dominating - or you'd probably be playing a Qualifying Final this week - but for god's sake is there any danger next year that we might at least attempt to put the brakes on other clubs winning out of there so easily? I don't care if they have to lock it up for ten bounces but the amount of times this season that we've won a tap and had it go straight to an opposition player who roosts it forward is a disgrace. Jamar had 40 taps today - between Moloney, Jones and McKenzie we would have had a mere handful of quality clearances.
And there's the problem. 40 taps to Jamar, dominating Brogan and Lobbe in the air and all of Moloney, Jones and McKenzie being amongst our best players but almost every centre bounce, or secondary bounce, saw Port winning the ball. Their massive ineptitude saved us from the sort of total disaster that would have occured if we'd played like that against a good club - and with their slightly vaunted key forwards doing nothing it was the best invitation you'll ever get to steamroll somebody. And we cocked it up.
Butcher, the new Darren Cuthbertson, did absolutely nothing and will probably have to stay at Port now that he's been exposed as a flash in the pan. Ironically he wasn't alone, all their tall forwards were well held (at least until Westhoff dicked us in the last quarter) but that didn't stop them scoring goals while we were botching chance after chance down the other end. Not that our talls were doing much either - Watts and Green barely touched it in the first half and by the time Howe got into the game he spent 20 minutes being ripped off by the tossers who were umpiring.
We might have been in a better place at half time if we'd taken half the chances we'd been offered to run away with it. Don't forget that in the end the difference in the Port game was the first quarter and Emo Maric going off his nut with crumb (doesn't that seem like a long time ago?). We could have done with some legitimate crumb today but it's seemingly still not the done thing at this club - please address this at the draft table for god's sake. As much as I loved seeing Howe snap one around his body that's an additional bonus, not what should be happening every week.
As it was the ball was leaking out of our forward line as soon as it went there - thanks to Port for finally deciding to try forward pressure six months into the season - and even when we did have chances we were muffing them. At the other end they had guys booting torps after the siren. If I'd shaken a magic 8 ball at that point it would have come back ALL SIGNS POINT TO NO.
It was not a day to be Sam Blease. In a year where the "profile in the paper" curse has taken out half the squad (and Daniel Nicholson has never been the same again) it seems that the Rising Star nomination curse has taken another a victim - and it's got The Gizz twice in two years so it's a potent bastard. Poor kid was absolutely pox. It didn't help that he got dropped head first onto a cricket pitch but he was already heading towards a shocker. Eventually got subbed out with five frees against and one behind where he could probably have handed off for a goal. Watch today's tape once and burn it kid, last week was where it's at. Probably doesn't play Round 1 next year but there's a big future there - especially if Grimes necks himself 20 minutes into the season again. Viney said he had a migraine in the press conference, I hope that came from being poleaxed on centre wicket and wasn't there before the game because if so he should either not have played or come on as sub.
Tell you who I did like in the first half - Matthew Bate. Never thought I'd say that again but he was good in the middle and handy around the ground. Drifted away in the second half but for the first time it became apparent how he's been managing to rack up 25+ touches in the VFL so often. I've got a soft spot for Old Bate, and even though he faded away in the second half I hope we keep him - he's never the answer to our chronic issues in the middle of the ground but he could definitely do something off half forward if given a decent chance and not shuffled in and out of the side and played as sub every second week. Still don't know why he got the boot after being one of the few people to come out of the Geelong debacle with any credit but who am I to argue with this mighty football club.
Poor old Sad Panda Morton saw another 50k slashed off his 'wait until the end of the year' contract price. He was pretty good in the first quarter to be fair, and I could have almost worked him into my votes at that point for want of five good players but from then on he was almost completely unsighted other than a couple of hamfisted efforts late in the game. Keep him (under suicide watch) for next season if he's keen but if [new coach] doesn't make his first act to go over and start shaking him vigourously and screaming in his face I'll be very disappointed. Also feel free to sign up a sponsorship with KFC and force feed him some of those burgers where the bun is replaced with pieces of chicken.
Another thing that shit me up the wall about today, and helped contribute as much to our demise as farce umpiring, rubbish forward structure and getting killed out of the centre, is the amount of times the Port players were allowed to run free to take a kick or a handball 20m clear of an opponent. Most of the time they cocked it up because they are not actually any good (I know the feeling) but give them enough chances and they're going to eventually score. Seems like we've been here before in the last five years? About 50 times to be precise.
Meanwhile at the other end we've got Jack Fitzpatrick playing the worst debut game since Isaac Weetra and Tom McDonald hitting the post with one of the shonkiest kicks at goal ever seen on the Australian mainland. McDonald was ok down back, and I'm certainly not expecting him to kick set shots but can anyone explain how Fitz booted five for Casey last week? I know they were slaughtering Preston and even I might have got on the end of one if I'd stayed out there long enough but his kicking style is heinous. It was almost Spencil-esque the way he looked down for an eternity before putting ball to boot, and usually spraying it. Good on him getting a goal in the end but in the spirit of playing at the Adelaide Oval all I will say is Michael Clark.
I'm not putting him in the Weetra/Bode division yet but I'd rather not see him in the ones again until at least halfway through next year. Inauspicious doesn't quite cover it. Why was he playing anyway? Ok he kicked five last week but surely if there was going to be a third tall played we owed it to MAXIMUM GAWN to give him another go. Would have been the perfect time to start Jamar at FF. Don't tell me we're trying to make up for the karma of destroying Casey's finals chances a couple of years ago by removing all of our players by letting them keep Max this week (and fat lot of good that did against the other Port) instead of giving him another vital hitout against AFL players.
A point down at half time and you might of thought it couldn't get any worse. After all we'd ridden the sham umpiring, our own chronic lack of structure, the COMPLETE AND UTTER REFUSAL TO KICK TO A LEAD AT ANY TIME EVER and some absolute skill howlers to be just a point behind. When Jones got that first goal my blood pressure dropped from STROKE IMMINENT to STROKE LIKELY, before going all the way up to AMY WINEHOUSE when they got it straight out of the middle and goalled thirty seconds later. Half a decade of Melbourne style football summed up right there.
In the massive list of things I'm sick to death with at this club second only to not being able to kick-in properly (and didn't "Viney's Vacuum" prove to be the biggest one hit wonder since Tommy Tutone?) is when we spend what seems like hours (and often is) struggling to create a goal and then the other side go straight down the other end from the bounce and boot one without raising a sweat. Then to really rub it in they added another four without even the slightest hint of perspiration. It was almost like we were playing somebody half decent.
In the middle of this madness Howe was denied a mark that would get paid every other day of the week but that was about as good as it got because they were carving us at stoppages, running free all over the place and kicking goals at will.
It's at this point that, confronted with yet another Channel 7 shot of some codger in the crowd and Bruce McAvaney's 93rd anecdote about what happened to Glenelg in the 1968 SANFL Grand Final that I might have punched buggery out of a couch. For the first time. At the end of the game it still had dints in it but don't worry dear owner of said couch they seemed superficial and should even out eventually. All the structural damage was to my hand. Only Trengove's goal at the end saved me from total despair. And wasn't it good to hear the umpire call the Port Adelaide variety "Trengrove". Sack the man immediately. Send Tim Watson with him for calling our one "James". Abusing Bruce would be like killing Bambi but even he managed to call Dan Nicholson at some point despite him being in another state.
We managed to stage a brief revival in the first few minutes of the last quarter but from there on it was pure shambles. Garland's attempt to take on Westhoff and the subsequent dropping the ball decision (surely not holding the ball considering there wasn't a tackle) said it all about the way we're going at the moment. Next thing you know we're four goals down and the sound of people trying to bend their membership repeatedly so that it will snap in half starts to echo across the Melbourne metropolitan area.
Another belated comeback made it half interesting for a minute or so but we'd left it too late. Port avoided the spoon, we continued to be utter shite west of Bordertown and the Melbourne Football Club managed to turn the knife in the collective backs of their fans one last time before shutting up shop. What will the players do if they can't tweet about how disappointed they are, pledging to do better next time?
Bailey would have been at home pissing himself laughing in front of the TV. You have to laugh. Unless you're busy scaring the neighbours by screaming abuse at the top of your voice. I reckon I topped this guy's performance today. Thank god there was nobody there to record it.
2011 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Brent Moloney
4 - Jordie McKenzie
3 - Jack Trengove
2 - Matthew Bate
1 - Nathan Jones
Apologies to Martin, Howe, Bail, Jamar, Rivers and Frawley.
Congratulations to Beamer who stormed to victory with an undisputed BOG, removing any danger of a 3, 2 or 1 vote performance and the requisite teeth gnashing and guilt about having him narrowly win, lose or draw the most tainted award in AFL Footy. Beware sir, there's a reason nobody has ever won it twice - ask Green what it did to him this year.
Frawley holds on for back-to-back wins in the Seecamp while Howe takes advantage of Blease's horror afternoon and Tapscott's green vest to hang on to the Hilton in his own right.
A word too for McKenzie who managed to finish just seven votes shy in third despite missing most of the first half of the season. Clearly there's a fetish at play here so expect him to poll well next season too.
35 - Brent Moloney (WINNER: Allen Jakovich Medal for Player of the Year)
32 - Colin Sylvia
27 - Jordie McKenzie
24 - Stefan Martin (WINNER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year), Jack Watts
18 - James Frawley (WINNER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
16 - Mark Jamar, Jack Trengove
15 - Colin Garland
14 - Joel Macdonald
11 - Ricky Petterd, Jared Rivers, Jeremy Howe (WINNER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year), Nathan Jones
10 - Jordan Gysberts
8 - Brad Green
6 - Luke Tapscott, Lynden Dunn, Sam Blease
5 - Rohan Bail
4 - Michael Evans, Tom Scully
3 - Matthew Bate, Clint Bartram, Jack Grimes, Liam Jurrah
2 - Neville Jetta
1 - Addam Maric, Tom McDonald
There was always something unnerving about Viney coming out on the back of a battling win against the (eventual, thanks to us, sorry about that) wooden spooners and saying that he was considering changing his mind and applying for the job full time. Maybe wait and see if you can beat the worst (eventually second worst, thanks to us, sorry about that) team in the competition first?
It's hardly fair on him that he's been handed a gigantic steaming turd and been told to polish it but when he said from day one that he didn't want the job at the end of the year everyone was willing to sit back and let him go, with the understanding that he'd do his best and stand back at the end of the year.
Surely the job application was put through the shredder this afternoon and he gladly goes back to being the Development Coach (though given that we've gone backwards this year it's anybody's guess how much development is actually taking place) instead of formally applying and almost certainly being rejected. Given the absolute carnage that I'm convinced will be occuring with our assistant coaches when the new guy (whoever he may be) comes in he should probably be happy just to stay.
Not to say he wouldn't be a fine coach with a stable, non-mental playing group and the benefit of a pre-season but at the moment unless everybody else both experienced and senior assistants tell us to get stuffed I don't want to take the chance.
Unless it was some sort of rort in the road to springing Malthouse from the Pies, then I'm for it.
As for who it will actually be who bloody knows. Won't be Lyon (either of them), almost certainly won't be Laidley or Williams, probably won't be Eade and I'll eat my hat if Malthouse somehow manages to get out of the Westpac Centre and to another club without Eddie having him assassinated first. Whoever it is they're going to have a whale of a time trying to sort this mess out.
Ironically tonight I was flicking through the book about the Daniher brothers at somebody else's house, and naturally turning straight to the page marked in the index as MELBOURNE FOOTBALL CLUB it had Cam Schwab attempting to lure Neale to Melbourne only for the then Freo assistant coach to say he wasn't sure because the club was a shambles on and off the field. All was well that ended well, but 14 years later what's changed? Different shambleses, same vibe - and there's no Jeff White + absurd salary cap rorts coming over the horizon to save us next season.
Scull and Crossbones
Take your dirty money and piss off. In a season of unwanted distractions that saga has ranked only slightly below Baileygate in unbalancing us. I hope all the players who were carted out to testify what a fine upstanding citizen he was who, Abraham Lincoln style would never tell a lie, get the chance to belt him once each when we play them next year.
Of course if he comes out tomorrow and announces he's signed the above paragraph might disappear. But wouldn't you be slightly peeved if he put us through that whole year and then just signed anyway? Good thing it's not going to happen thanks to GWS being given the blank cheque from heaven to spend whatever they like, and they don't turn out to get value for money then who cares just go back to the league and ask for another handout.
Just don't take him on any pre-season tours of China in case he sooks it again. And Tom, if you're reading don't come out and say you were thinking of staying until some knob on the internet wrote mean things because we all know that will be an epic lie and [I think that's quite enough of this segment - legal department]
Was it worth it?
In that it gives me something to seethe about for six months yes. Also good for draft picks, but really how desperate are we to be thinking that going four picks in the higher in the mid teens is going to help us?
So for the seventh time we come to the end of the Demonblog season - and for the fifth in a row it's tinged with disappointment and/or outright depression. Thanks to all the readers, the commenters, the lurkers, the Twitterers, people who took an 'active interest' in the ads and all the opposition fans who come on here just to piss themselves laughing about what a shambles we are. To be fair I'd probably still be writing this as therapy even if nobody was reading but it's nice to know somebody else has half an interest.
If you're not entirely sick of the whole thing and wanting to forget it ever happened there'll be the annual year in review post on here sometime in the next week and I'll get around to doing a full update on Demonwiki as well.
After that actual posts will be scarcer than a Melbourne centre clearance so keep an eye on Twitter for any wildcard updates around trade week, the coaching change or the drafts and we'll get back into it with gusto again next year.
It's certainly been interesting...