Sunday, 22 April 2012

Rock Bottom Redux

NOTE: Apologies for any bizarre formatting in this post. Blogger has switched to a new interface which randomly changes font sizes and includes mystery line breaks where they're not wanted. I'll take 'credit' for foul typing, shocking punctuation and paragraphs that randomly end in the middle of a sentence but everything is their fault. Switched back to old Blogger interface so from next week all the farce is home grown other than the fact that it's all changed to some hideous font that I can't get rid of.

And now, a massage from the Swedish Prime Minister...


Aren't you glad you waited the entire weekend for that? At least if it had been against somebody you could be absolutely 100% certain we were going to lose to then you could have spent the last two days preparing for our inevitable demise. Maybe you correctly assumed that we were going to be reheated, homebrand slop and didn't bother leaving the house. Sadly I was roped in to the dream that in the desperate race of the Melbourne and Footscray football clubs to ruin the game of football we'd take advantage of the fact that they had no forwards or defenders and scab a much needed four points before its too late.

Of course we didn't, but it's not we were blown away in a classic game of footy. As far as dignified spectacles the match ranked somewhere between the expedition of Burke & Wills and the Battle of Iwo Jima. We're no good, they're no good, nobody's any good and the quality of the match reflected it. Unfortunately they're about four goals less vile than we are at the moment and good luck to them for that.

If it's any consolation we got a lot closer to the Dogs than we did last time. Everyone should remember that night well, it was when we were violently tipped out of the Next Big Thing bus onto the Fiasco Highway where carcass still lies, splattered just that little bit more each passing week.

You may now either bite down on your carefully secreted cyanide pill or tear open the DOOMSDAY SCENARIOS envelope because if we couldn't win today we never will. In the short term against a decent team at least - the prospect of a free four points from Gold Coast is looking shaky, and even a double over GWS isn't guaranteed anymore. Today I was in a house that randomly displayed the 1995 Fitzroy team photo - even they won two games.

How I loathe these Sunday graveyard shift games. It's not just because we've been utter garbage ever since they started, it's because usually by the time we've been beaten up and I get home to whichever suburb I'm living in that season (and it's been one each for every year of the dark era) there's usually no time to lower my stress levels by indulging in a sport of good old fashioned keyboard mashing.

Somebody's Russian grandmother once said the secret to a successful marriage is to never go to bed angry. Same goes for football teams. If I had to wait until tomorrow morning to alt-tab furiously on my work computer trying to make it look like I'm doing something important than I'd have wasted a night lying awake pondering the mysteries of sporting life anyway. At least now I can press publish and get on with my life. Until every man and their dog wants to review the match in person tomorrow. Maybe it's time to take all the MFC propaganda off my desk and move to another office where nobody knows me.

Had I not paid for the privilege of showing up every week I wouldn't bother any more, I'm officially disheartened. It's not just the horrible run we've got coming our way, it's five years of seeing us get a kicking week after week. I'd rank the way I'm feeling now alongside 186 and when we went 0-9 in '07. At least one of those times we won the next week, and both were cloaked in the feint hope of ransacking the draft and rebuilding. Now I've lost confidence that we can even get that right. Better to trade this year's picks for magic beans and Jarrad Oakley-Nicholls rather than ruining more careers.

Tell me where it starts getting better in the short term. The gameplan might be mastered eventually but it's not going to happen overnight, and even then can you really, honestly, deep in your heart say that you've got confidence in the current group to be a top 8 side? You can't swap more than a few every year so set your clock for about 2015 at this rate. Until then we're going to have to keep enjoying players who wouldn't get a game in any other club unless it's as Warnock-esque filler at GWS or Gold Coast. Somehow we've only lost 3000 members from last year, god knows how many are going to do a runner before next season.

I'm starting to see how even neutrals might be starting to take a sick fascination in our club. People seem drawn to epic tales of farce and disaster. Just look at all the coverage the Titanic's getting at the moment, everyone loves a shambles and secretly a lot of us take an interest in losers and less than heroic failures.

Even as we were turning a Grand Final appearance into a mid-table waste of a season during 2001 I was enjoying a sneaky affair with the Fremantle Dockers and their epic quest to go a whole year without a win. Are James Sellar, Lynden Dunn and Joel Macdonald this year's Robert Hadrill, Keren Ugle and Daniel Metropolis? The way it's going they might be. The difference is that when it's somebody else's club you can laugh heartily and feel conflicted when they finally go 1-17 by storming back from five goals down at half time to beat Hawthorn. Freo even managed a second win, and this is in the days before the AFL provided a pair of easybeat sides for everyone bar Port Adelaide, Richmond and presumably us can score free wins off.

Sadly the disaster tourists don't contribute anything (god knows I gave nothing to Freo that year apart from support to their theme song), and unless you can really get yourself onto the verge of extinction a'la North Melbourne nobody's handing over hard cash out of pity so if we don't have some sort of late season glimmer of hope they're going to have a hard time coming up with a membership slogan that isn't just "Aww, come on".

Suddenly we've become the club people pat on the head and wish well. Nobody's taking an interest in us due to the champagne football on offer and the swashbuckling, end to end footy where we rack up a guaranteed 20 goals a week. Maybe 20 goals a fortnight if you're lucky. No, people are tuning in to see how bad it can get and what sort of comedy capers we're going to deliver. It's like when somebody collapses on the street and everyone stands around going "ooh, isn't this terrible. What shall we do?" all the while doing everything they can not to take photos, or tweet a shot of some giblets on the footpath.

Even your mate and mine Jeff Kennett has managed to weigh in during the week. We've been there before, the last time we were unexpectedly free falling to our death he tried to get us to move to the Gold Coast. Then the greatly respected and loved Jim Stynes came along and he shut up for a few years. Now Jim's gone and Jeff feels free to pipe up again. This time it was a proposed merger with the Roos, and just like Jason Akermanis he got exactly what he wanted when we all spazzed out and abused him, giving him much sought after talk of the town status for a few days before he's forgotten again. Surely nothing to do with the fact that the Roos are horning into his team's racket in Tasmania?

Surely by now he's managed to alienate every single person who actually liked him during the 90's (including yours truly). Shut schools, sell the power stations, do whatever you like pal but be buggered if I'll take important footy advice from the bloke who stuffed up an unloseable election and eventually landed us with John Brumby as Premier. Was also keen on the Melbourne Hawks. Dear sir, take your brown and gold jacket, roll it up and stuff it down your gob. We can stuff this up without your help.

Jeff's waffle aside it wasn't that bad a week. Sure we're rock bottom of the Laughing Stock League for another record breaking span but we gained one new sponsor during the week and then another on match day. Sadly off-field activities and doing a piece of cracking business was about as far as heartfelt tributes to Jimbo went, because when the game started they were few and far between.

You could argue that it was an emotional day and etc.. etc.. etc.. but bollocks to that. I'll accept that after round one but no more. By now it's every man and their dog playing for his survival like they're on the desk of the Costa Concordia and it's about to tip sideways. There's a lot of players who know they're in the Neeld gun-sights at the end of the season and are trying to avoid playing for Aberfeldie or Doutta Stars next year.

Not that we didn't have our chances mind you, and really if it had been against Sydney or Carlton it'd have been an honourable defeat (and that's as good as we can get at the moment) but it wasn't. It was a limp loss against a side in our division who continually opened the door for his to take advantage and got away with the fact that we are collectively too spaz to do so.

Missing all those shots in the first quarter was the killer. We could have built up a decent lead (of course if one had gone through then the game would have been different and yadda, yadda, this isn't a screening of Sliding Doors) but Howe, Clark, Trengove and Watts should all have kicked goals from relatively easy shots. You could forgive Mitch his first one where he was so far on the boundary line he had to throw a plastic seat out of the way, and Trengove deserved to miss because he received it from a bullshit free kick but do you care how they come at the moment? It seems like such a long time ago that we put in those free scoring performances against Adelaide and Fremantle. The banner today said WHATEVER IT TAKES, and if that means proper cheating (not just staging for free kicks) then I'm into it.

It really was criminal that we were so close at half time. Said it all about the opposition that we'd fumbled and bumbled around, kicking to nobody in particular and were still half a chance thanks to Bate kicking a goal on the siren. In a throwback to his NAB Cup form he was easily our best today, but if we're relying on him to be the best every week it's going to be an ugly ride. He can play a role but it's got to be complimentary, and for all the hard work of Jones and Moloney who turned up in force during the second half we still can't move the ball around to save ourselves. Clearances weren't even that bad today, it was more of a problem when we had to get the ball from one end to the other.

With all the times that our chain of possessions amounted to one it's no wonder that we were smashed in the disposal count again. Having the ball a million times doesn't mean much if you just dink it around and go nowhere but even that's sometimes preferable to lobbing it forward to nobody or killing your teammate in a contest. If you take out the disposals where we switched it from one side to... slightly further along the same side.. then it's probably even more of a discrepancy. At least they were a bit more free to go into the middle today.

Apologies to the half decent Rohan Bail for writing him off last week, and god forbid Cale Morton could actually hit a target and attack the ball he might have had a good game, but is there even the slightest chance that Aaron Davey's going to be there in Round 1 2013? Like I said last week there's probably no point ditching him now because who's going replace him but surely he can't show up next year and take his huge paycheck with a straight face. Ok so there was one cracking tackle and some classic era crumb, but other than that he's a shadow of his best.

After two good games in a row poor old Tom McDonald put in an absolute stinker. If they had to bring in Joel Macdonald, and god help us all if that's the best they can do at the selection tables, then it might have been worth trying Tom up forward this week. We can't just rely on Clark every week, Lucas Cook doesn't exist and Jurrah's not coming back any time soon so they've got to find another option somewhere. And he did kick three in a VFL game before he was recalled so why not at least try it for five minutes? If the ball comes down there and he flails at it before kicking out on the full from 10 metres out then fair enough but you never know. Instead he was left down there looking silly in his fifth game while Tapscott sat on the bench wearing the stupid bloody green vest.

With so many doing absolutely bugger all (Sellar? Dunn?) I don't know why we didn't do the sub late in the third quarter when the Bulldogs got back on top after our ever so brief period of dominance. By the time Clark TKO'ed himself out of the match they were already back on top we were stuffed and by having to take out Clark we had to leave in about five players who didn't deserve to be out there.

Speaking of Clark I love his aggression at the ball, and his throwing of the plastic seats, but he really had nobody to blame for almost permanently wrecking himself with that ludicrous attempt at a mark. Still, as long as he's not seriously injured that's exactly what we want him to do. As overly ambitious as it was, and I was closer to marking it in the Southern Stand, at least he's having a crack in the air - and other than Jeremy Howe and Rivers today there's not a great deal of other players on our team who you can say that about.

Loved the way he waved off the stretcher and walked from the ground too. His OTT paycheck could have seen him blamed for all our problems but he's rapidly turned into one of the biggest fan favourites around - and not just for his starring performance in the Ultratune ad.

It showed how crucial he's become, and how much we don't know what we're doing, that when the game was on the line in the last quarter and he wasn't there they kept bombing it forward hoping for the best with nobody there to do anything about it. If he doesn't play next week then surely they're going to have to put Howe down there instead. Without Jurrah and Green as options there's really nobody else who can kick goals. Watts and Petterd perhaps, but with the the level of respect he's being shown Ricky probably won't even get an invite.

I do know that if Petterd isn't preferred to Dunn for this week's game then the man with the stupid mo might slip to the same level of popularity with 'the fans' as Morton. Anyone see that shambles where he fell to the ground clutching his face like he'd been punched in the face then climbed up completely unscathed when the umpire sensibly ignored his shithouse acting? Ok we're lacking a hardman, but he's not it. Every day of the week I'd rather have Petterd down there putting proper pressure on and kicking goals than Dunn attempting to be a gangster when nobody takes him seriously. Good last week as a sub when it was a junkfest but if he's not going to do it over four quarters then go to Casey, have a shave and get back to me. Of course I seem to swing from one extreme to another with him every week so even if he does play against the Saints I'll probably come out of it going "aww, he's not that bad". I am vowing to never support him again no matter what until he loses the mo. Please remind me of this if I get sucked in again.

Given our record in third quarters this year I was all ready to kick the chair in front of me to death if we'd put in the same sort of effort tonight as we did against Brisbane or Richmond. Luckily nobody was sitting in it, and I admit it did get a bit of a nudge during the last quarter, but surprisingly for about fifteen minutes during the third term there was no destruction of inanimate objects required.

I will admit that when the Bulldogs kicked the first goal of the first quarter I may have yelled out an audible obscenity. Maybe everyone else around me was as well, but I had headphones firmly in to avoid having to listen to people, and considering that the reserved seat section were enraptured by the trumpet player I'm not sure there's any hope of radicalising them. Then, in one of those great moments where you feel like you're going to be proven wrong in a good way we spent the next quarter of an hour playing like an honest to god real AFL team. It was temporarily ace.

The Dogs were on the run, the fans were going as off their tit as Melbourne fans do these days and the margin came back to a point. Shame we couldn't take proper advantage and at least get in front before reverting to type and delivering a string of circus music worthy moments. First was Watts, once again ok without doing anything special, dropping a mark and gifting them a goal then every target actually hit for the previous few minutes was counterbalanced by one completely missed in the next few before the umpires joined in the Great Moscow Circus-esque atmosphere by somehow not paying the most obvious dropping of the ball decision in history and gifting them goal. Would have been nice if Frawley had just rushed it through in the first place mind you, but it doesn't excuse the fact that old mate picked the ball up and dropped it cold in the tackle and the plonkers in charge waved play-on.

The goals from Watts and the umpire (Jordan Bannister, who is about to become the next Ray Chamberlain as the umpire everybody refers to by name because he's the only umpire whose name they know) put us right back where we started from before our purple patch. Then just when you were celebrating that we'd broken even in a third quarter and thought we were still half a chance in the last we came out and copped the first two goals of the quarter. And off went half the fans in my section. Don't know why people would take their kids home when things start getting ugly, stop protecting them from the harsh failures of real life and force them to watch the full four quarters of this rubbish. After a few years of that they'll have survival instincts honed so finely that they'd survive a plane crash in the Andes.

Admittedly the moment the Bulldogs kicked the second goal of the last quarter I lost interest, feeling that if watched too intently from there I'd say something that would cause my membership to be revoked. There were also children present, but the little bastard sitting three seats to the right of me deserved to have his life ruined by a string of obscenity because he spent half the day tipping the seat down just to hear the noise when it sprung back.

So, not wanting to trip the anti-social behaviour hotline I started doing Monday's work on my phone and missed Davey kicking the 2005 era snap out of his arse. Glad he did it, still didn't mean he had a good game. What it does show is that even though he's almost finished he's still got more natural flair moments in his wrecked body than most of our fit players put together.

A goal by the people's favourite Morton goal made the prospect of a ridiculous comeback at least feasible but that's where it ended. Footscray went right back into their shell after he got it and allowed us to 'attack' relentlessly up to the point where 'attacking' involves having actual scoring shots on goal. We got a couple of points but nobody looked even remotely threatening. Surely if we'd got a goal closer they'd have decided to start playing proper football again and we'd still have lost. Either way it would have been nice to test them.

As the chief whipping boy Morton is going to cop it again this week but that goal he kicked was actual honest to goodness quality. Let's give up the fantasy that he's going to be a top quality midfielder and give him a go as a forward. Obviously he's not to win body on body contests because he weighs as much as a supermodel but he's at least nimble on foot. We could do with some pace around the forward line at the moment, even if it's from a guy who looks scared shitless and hasn't played a good game in years.

So ok, we were relatively close in the end and we were moderately rorted by the umpires but it's still not an excuse. For god's sake show me something next week, it's getting hard to drag myself out of the house for this stuff. I've heard all about being patient, and really for me this is patient, and I tipped us to come 13th so it's not exactly a surprise but we've been here before - the first thing I want to confirm is that we're not going to go winless or win one match. Easy to say "oh, of course we won't" but you don't know that for sure. Nobody does. At least get the single victory on the board then even if we suffer the greatest injury crisis known to man we'll be no worse than the 1981 variety MFC failures.

2012 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
5 - Matthew Bate
4 - Nathan Jones
3 - Jared Rivers
2 - Brent Moloney
1 - Jordie McKenzie

Very minor apologies to Jamar, Frawley, Bail, Howe and Watts. Dunn was defensively good on Murphy in the second half but I refuse to apologise to him because he was shite in every other aspect of the game and has silly facial hair.

Leaderboard
By the end of this year this could be the most discredited award since Milli Vanilli won at the Grammys, but as Hunter S Thompson said "in a generation of swine the one eyed pig is king" so somebody's got to go in the history books as the winner. At least the current leader, and possible first two time winner, can't be accused of not having a go every week.

Also is there any danger Magner might be challenged for the rookie award? Maybe Lucas Cook will make a late run? More chance of world peace.

13 - Nathan Jones
10 - James Magner (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
9 - Jeremy Howe
5 - Matthew Bate
4 - Mitch Clark, Jack Trengove
3 - Stefan Martin, Jack Watts, Jared Rivers (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
2 - Brent Moloney
1 - Tom McDonald, Jordie McKenzie

Facebook Comment of the Week
Feature cancelled. The nutbags are all correct.

Crowd Watch
Nice of 1500 Bulldogs fans to turn up. Has there ever been a more muted victory celebration at the MCG? Mind you, good luck getting a substantial amount of our 'fans' that turned up to come back again. I've never seen so many five year old membership scarves and Reject Shop variety scarves that read MELBOURNE in a too-narrow font outside of Queen's Birthday. Good luck seeing any of that glory hunting swill for the next five years.

Good week to open the famous Prayer Rooms. Did anybody get abducted into one of them and violenty forced to your knees in order to pray to a random deity? Didn't think so, but if you listened to some of the people whining about it during the week you'd think that by converting Utility Closet 27B into a room where whatever denomination can go and do whatever it is that gets them through the day that society was about to crumble and Genghis Khan was going to ride down Brunton Avenue beheading the Police Operational Commander.

Personally I couldn't give a rats. Nobody started a picket line when they opened prayer rooms at the airport so why should anybody care if they have one at the MCG? I'm moderately offended by having to stand up for drunkards to go to the bar every five minutes but whatever, you deal with it. Or in the case of the prayer room scenario you'll probably never even know it's there

If you need any further proof that it's not all that bad an idea, other than the fact that you never have to go near the place if you don't want to, is that our Jeff was decrying it in the same breath that he was trying to rope us into a shotgun marriage with North.

Speaking of religious experiences I might be ye of no faith but I can imagine what hell would be like and it consists of Daryl Braithwaite doing endless renditions of Horses. For the first time in the history of a 'legacy' act I think I heard somebody yell "play something off your new album". Unfortunately for us the new album is probably Daryl: Live at the Burvale and consists of 12 live performances of Horses. But, you know, good on him for showing up a tribute and playing for (presumably) free. He was playing for free wasn't he?

I'm more in favour of Old Mate The Chocolate Cake who is at least a confirmed Melbourne tragic. Not that, to be entirely honest, I'd have any idea who My Friend The Chocolate Cake were if he wasn't a confirmed Melbourne tragic but that's a matter for another day – at least he wasn’t singing Horses. I'd rather see Monte Video and the Cassettes "Rock the 'G" than suffer another round of Horses.

The Stynes fiesta was nice but I've got to admit that after a month I'm all tributed out. Even though it was mostly video packages that we've all seen fifty times in the last four weeks with a bonus guard of honour (featuring Travis Johnstone still rocking the Bumfights beard) it was good for closure. Not sure why it should have any affect on the players, and it certainly didn't in a good way.

St Kilda is undoubtedly our last chance to score a win against a side even remotely close to our division before the run that will end with some of our fans finally tipped over the edge, perched from a belltower opening fire on innocent civilians. First its 186 Pt. 2, then Hawthorn (smashed), Sydney (bored to death, then smashed), Carlton (smashed), Essendon (no longer in our league) and Collingwood (perhaps not smashed but fat chance we'll win). 0-11 every possible chance going into the bye. Something to look forward to there. And you can imagine what happens when we enter the match against GWS with that hanging over our head. Disaster looms large on the horizon.

Plenty of spots available for our last half winnable game for six weeks so it's shame then that with the exception of a handful of Kelvin Lawrence-esque delistment fodder who played Casey reserves everyone not involved today was sitting on their arse due to the shitbox VFL having a bye. Blease and Tynan maybe? That's about as deep as our depth goes until Sylvia's spine is fused together or Jurrah is freed on a legal technicality.

Apparently Sylvia is actually fit and ready to go but they forced him to serve his suspension in a week where he was available. Great news for discipline fans, not much good for our footy side. I'll assume that he's going to be rushed back in then. Forget fitness, even if he has to come out with a walking frame he's a better option than some of our list.

So, on that note I'll opt for;

IN: Couch, Petterd, Martin, Grimes, Sylvia
OUT: Macdonald, Davey, Dunn, Sellar, McDonald

McDonald unlucky because he's been good the last two weeks but he's had his fair run now, time to give somebody else a go. How's Demonblog's own Troy Davis going? If the VFL ever restarts we might find out.

Morton survives because there's nobody to replace him and I refuse to consider the possibility of Bennell returning. I suppose if Clark doesn't come up from piledriving himself in epic fashion then Sellar will have to be in for another week. We've got three games out of him now, surely that's what's expected out of a mid 50's draft pick, the experiment is no longer required - bring back the Experience and let's forget it ever happened in the first place.

All well and good to play Fantasy Selection Committee but there's no chance Davey will get dropped in real life is there? Mind you I said that the first time, and about Green and they both got the boot so you never know. I just think that the two goals will cover up everything else. We're going to get belted aren't we?

Final thoughts
Remember, it's all $cully's fault. You're another week closer to your chance to take it out on him, even if it's rapidly proving to be the smartest decision that anybody's ever made.

6 comments:

  1. ...I'm trying to decide if I should use my free time doing more important things.

    Oh, and missing the St Kilda match may be good for my soul. Unless we win, in which case I'll be even more shattered because I won't have been there.

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  2. This blog is actually the highlight of my week ...

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  3. Nice work again Demonblog, but Davey and Morton were terrific. If the rest of the side could anticipate them we'd have won.
    In fact anticipation is now the major problem.
    And Rivers was great.
    (dont forget 9am thurs for yer Kardinia tix...with the stand down theyre only selling 7 - you wouldnt want to miss a freeze snap 186 pts Part II in only 12 days time!)
    TC

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  4. Epic whipping boy status aside I could have almost slid Morton in as an apology if he didn't butcher the ball half the time he got it.

    186:2 be buggered. Even worse that the place is under construction. I'll sit at home and hurl abuse at Dwayne Russell in order to make myself feel less like self harming.

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  5. Thank you Demonblog. Given the state of our team, at least we have one highlight each week reading your blog

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  6. I thought I was the only one who read this...great analysis as ever.

    Neeld should give coaching from the bench a go...the players are probably so scared of the lunatic having him on ground level might scare them into action.

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