The Melbourne Football Club as a whole should face investigation from the ACCC for breaches of Trade Practices Act. Club my arse, it's a lurching shambles. Everybody from the top down should be forced to testify at the enquiry, excluding only the poor lady who has to answer the call and the guy who has to read all the kooky nonsense (copyright Ricky Petterd) that people write on the Facebook/Instagram/Twitter pages.
To have gotten out of that game with just a 23 point loss is almost laughable. It was up there with the Essendon match in the all time top ten list of matches in which the opposition found new and innovative ways to stuff up goalscoring opportunities in an increasingly comical fashion. Unfortunately unlike that other great night we couldn't keep the total score low enough to take advantage of it, and eventually handed them enough chances on a silver platter that they couldn't help but take advantage.
What Richmond shows is that with a core of consistently 'good' players you can get away with seven changes, your spearhead kicking like he has a wooden leg and half a team full of players nobody's ever heard of and at least contend for the eight. They might not make it, and on today's performance I'd be surprised if they did but at least they're one or two surprise wins away. We're one or two surprise seasons away. Of course if anybody knows about your team getting within touching distance of meaningful progress and before turning into a pumpkin at midnight it's us.
If you can say anything for our army of coaches and assorted hangers on today it's that they learnt their lesson from last week and didn't waste everyone's time with wacky experimental moves like Watts vs Riewoldt. Instead they put Dunn down there and he opened up the debacle by giving away the most blatantly obvious push in the back free kick of all time. Funny what happens when you play your defenders in the forward line and your forwards in the backline. Forget Baileyball, Neeldball might be the next big thing come Round 23. Still on his side but I'm convinced he's just taking the piss now because he knows we're absolutely stuffed no matter what he does.
The Tigers were good enough to botch numerous chances, but it wasn't like we were making them pay in any way - meaningful or otherwise. Just letting them reload and have another go. Had that been us we'd have spent the first five minutes attacking viciously, got no reward and then given up. Like the third quarter. They persisted before breaking through the scant resistance and then proceeded to kick the shit out of us for the next 25 minutes until like so many other times this year the match was over by quarter time. Just like the Collingwood game we got back into it eventually, and nudged close enough to make it interesting, but had necked ourselves so badly with the start that it was too much to overcome.
Not that it deserved to be overcome the way we were playing. Before Blease kicked another one of his trademark 'from arse' goals on the boundary line I was scrambling for this list to find out the last time we'd gone into quarter time on nil - forgetting that it was just four years ago for god's sake - especially after the Stefan Martin Experience celebrated the fact that he'd shown up with Morrissey's haircut by taking the (to that point) most miserable shot on goal we've had all year, missing the lot when even a point would have done.
In the end, even allowing for the cavalcade of junk time goals in the last quarter, we were quite productive when we got it inside 50 but good luck getting it there in the first place. If you removed the garbage, blindly hoofed inside 50's from our total it probably shows that the attack was quite 'potent' but what's the good of that when they're all standing down there looking glum while everybody else shanks it straight out of bounds on the full or misses the simplest of targets by foot? Garland even led, marked and goaled at one point - which is basically the holy trinity for me - but he spent most of the day standing around doing diddly while his ex-chums in the world of defence shat themselves under a midfield assisted barrage.
It's no surprise that the defenders are going to cave in eventually under that sort of pressure (have I written this every week for five years?) when your 100 game backmen are playing gallant but ultimately fruitless cameos in the forward line and several forwards are 'plying their trade' (CLICHE) for a VFL team whose results we realistically couldn't care less about. I ask you what harm it would have done to put Lucas Cook out there today, even if a month ago I wasn't sure he was real. Nobody expects us to kick big scores, and unless it's against a franchise we don't, so give the guy a go and hope for the best. Can't have been any worse an option than Magner. See also Watts - especially when the game was completely lost anyway.
Now, I'm all for Magner don't get me wrong but if you're not playing him in the midfield then why are you playing him at all? For the last two weeks he's done chuff all up front, not even managing to nick a junky goal to pad out his stats a'la Bail. For my own sick, nerdlinger reasons I'm thrilled that he's cracked the record for most games ever played in #49 for the MFC but time to give somebody else a go. Maybe even the internet's BFF Couch just so people stop waffling on about him at any given opportunity despite probably never having seen him play.
About the only thing Magner did was play his part in the controversy of the day, another in the long line of fiascos involving the accursed video review system. Whether it was a goal or not I have not the foggiest, but the fact that the goal umpire was receiving advice from everybody in the stadium rather than making his own decision was comical. As was the replay which showed absolutely nothing of any benefit other than that the ball and Ivan Maric were somewhere in the same area code. Last year they'd have paid it one way or the other and we'd have all gotten on with our lives, but the fear that there'll be another outrageously bad decision when it counts a'la Hawkins in the '09 Grand Final means we have to go through multiple repeats of footage which proves nothing and ends up with them making a guess anyway.
Given that we're no hope to be in it and I don't give a rats about ruining the game for future generations it is my last remaining hope and dream of this season that somehow one of Carlton, Collingwood or Essendon are robbed blind out of the premiership in a similar scenario and their outraged fans ransack AFL House. Or anyone really, but best if it's not an interstate team or they'll never shut up about how there's some Victorian conspiracy on.
Anyway, revenge fantasies and hastly introduced rules backed by shit technology aside the decision was most unfortunate because it robbed us out of what would undoubtedly have been the worst MFC goal of the modern era. The only one I can think of that even compares is Nathan Carroll's single career goal which was a wonky helicopter from 30m out directly in front after he'd been given a fifty. Magner's foul kick had that covered about ten times over, and having righted the ship somewhat at that stage we could have done with six points, but somehow it almost got through untouched. Or maybe it did, who knows - not the umpires that's for sure. Having said all that the decision process might not have been an issue had he kicked it properly in the first place. Or not pinched it off Rivers who was about to mark it and who has proved against all odds to be a half decent set shot.
Luckily they stuffed up three more chances between then and the end of the quarter or Magner - and everyone involved in the video farce - would have copped it even worse. Thanks then to Shaun Grigg for putting in his own contender for worst kick of the century by missing from the sort of angle that we all fondly remember Ben Holland for and keeping it respectable.
Sadly that Hollandesque miss was nothing more than charity considering they were clearly not going to do the morally correct thing and roll over for us. The only thing it did do was stop half the crowd from self-immolating while the Auskick game went on. How typical of Melbourne to tickle the balls (or lady balls if you prefer) a bit and make you keep watching with wide-eyed, childlike optimism only to be disappointed in the end.
Despite Martin and - god forbid The Spencil - doing a decent job in the middle it was all for nowt considering that only Jones and to a much lesser extent Sylvia were going anywhere near it once it left their hands. Starting Moloney as the sub was interesting to say the least, and I'm absolutely certain he should have come on at half time and the damn the consequences if we copped an injury, but as long as it gave him time to get on the phone to his manager and try and cut a new contract elsewhere his time wasn't entirely wasted. Unfortunately for him his price is spiralling like the Greek economy, and the only option he might have left is to accept a bailout package from the MFC and work next year for peanuts. Either that or go and be a bit part player in a good team and look a million dollars again like most of last year.
One thing I'll say for the Spencil is that even though he's up there with the worst disposers of the footy in history at least he has a red hot bash every time he's out there. His flying tackle on Nahas was a cracker. It must come from the fear of living on the edge of oblivion, unlike the likes of Watts, Morton and Travis Johnstone who know they'll be given a trillion chances to try and justify their hefty price. He's still not worth a spot on the senior list but I grew to love The Spencil a bit today. If he'd somehow managed to pull down one of those marks in the last quarter and kick a goal I might have even snuck him in for a vote. How about a delist/re-rookie job? If we leave him until the last pick I doubt anyone else will jump in first, and if they do then good luck to him. Needs to develop a kicking style that doesn't involve looking down at the foot before dropping the ball - but Jamar has proven that you can turn into a decent ruckman without kicking it more than a handful of times each game.
I welcome the return of Jamar next week (and there's something suss about his claim pre-match that he almost played against Brisbane but didn't so he's out this week as well. Eh? Long service leave?), and it might be outrageous, filthy bias towards my favourite player but I almost prefer Martin at the moment. In tandem they should be one of our few bright spots, but the Experience holds his own at the bounces (and what's the point of winning 50 hit outs if nobody gets them anyway?) and is far more damaging around the ground. With apologies to Gawn, Puttin on the Fitz and The Spencil this is the combination I want to see for the next few years. Gawn is next cab off the rank but he can work on his game, and stopping his knee from exploding at the drop of a hat, with cameo appearances until Jamar pulls the pin in three/four years time as he alluded to in a pre-match interview.
One other bright spot was Blease upping his tackles from an average of one per game to seven. He didn't get much of the ball, and when he did he more often than not botched it, but he's getting there. Now wait for him to walk out on us to play Tubbs to Scully's Crockett at GWS.
I'd like to say god knows how we were still within 40 points at the last change, but I know exactly why - because Richmond's kicking for goal was rude. Knowing almost exactly what it feels like to follow a team of their ilk I'd be taking the four points and running a mile without too many complaints but they'd have to be at least a bit distressed at the wasteful nature of it all. Especially Jack Riewoldt, who still had seven shots on goal despite being relatively well held by his nemesis Frawley, but took them with the air of somebody who would much rather be elsewhere. The good news is they're playing Gold Coast next week (who they lost to last year let's not forget) and he should be able to turn up half-hearted again but good luck with those kind of shenanigans when the finals race gets tight. At least he'll be there.
There was token resistance in the last quarter, but how Melbourne is it to scrape desperately for five goals in three quarters and then 'pile' on six in the last quarter when the opposition have lost interest? Emo Maric might have been kind enough to give us the first via a comedy turnover, and Tapscott might have turned up for the first time all day to kick another one a couple of minutes later but in an even more cliched MFC move the very next time the ball was bounced Richmond went straight out of the centre, Nahas made Nicholson look silly by running around him in witches hat fashion and the match was re-sealed. At least after the next goal we managed to hold them out for a couple of minutes rather than just bleeding the clearance and replying goal. Then they got it anyway. Token "don't drop me" performances can only go so far.
And that was that - we won the last quarter but big deal, what does that mean other than mass disinterest amongst the opposition? It certainly doesn't mean a spanking first quarter is on the cards against Freo next week. If I had my way it wouldn't matter because half the players wouldn't be appearing next Sunday, but more on that later.
Finally it can't pass without comment that the umpiring was shit for most of the day, but anybody using that as an excuse is kidding themselves. We were on the wrong side of more coin toss random decisions, but if you're a good team you can rise above that sort of garbage and still put in a decent performance. It's not the fault of the umpires or the ridiculous rules they're supposed to interpret that our players can't hit a target by foot (or increasingly by hand) to save themselves and usually run around like they're all mentally ill.
2012 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
5 - Nathan Jones
*THE DAYLIGHT OF A MILLION SUNS*
4 - Colin Sylvia
3 - Stefan Martin
2 - Jordie McKenzie
1 - James Frawley
Apologies to The Spencil, who other than his comedy capers kick across goal exceeded my remarkably low expectations. Nicholson can have the next lot of apologies as well as Blease for his tackles. Everyone else can cram it, because I expect better from them.
And with that I see no reason not to declare a provisional winner. Even if disaster strikes, and like Goldmark it's usually just around the corner, he's got enough distance on the pack to stagger unsteadily over the line. It's more likely that those around him are so bad he'll set a Fred Fanning style record in this award which will never be beaten.
43 - Nathan Jones (PROVISIONAL WINNER: Allen Jakovich Medal for Player of the Year)
20 - Jack Watts
19 - Mitch Clark
14 - Jeremy Howe, Jordie McKenzie
13 - James Magner (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
11 - Stefan Martin (LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
10 - Jack Grimes (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Jared Rivers
9 - Tom McDonald
8 - Matthew Bate
7 - Colin Sylvia
6 - James Frawley
5 - Clint Bartram, Sam Blease
4 - Jack Trengove, Brent Moloney
3 - Mark Jamar
2 - Daniel Nicholson
1 - Rohan Bail, Sam Blease, James Sellar
MFC Facebook Comment of the Week
Let me guess, before I even open this page - (1) sack Neeld, (2) where's Tom Couch, (3) play the Casey seniors instead, (4) burn Bate like Joan of Arc (5) I'm never paying to watch this crap again; and (6) one outrageous spelling error of a player's name.
Unfortunately they've taken a bit of air our of the nutbags this week by only doing a single pre-match post directing people to live chat on the website. God help us all if a transcript of the stuff people were trying to get through the moderators on that ever comes out but between Facebook and Twitter I reckon we can tick all six of these off. Here we go;
Ding ding ding! All without even having to resort to Twitter. Thank god. Tempting to leave the names unblocked due to the fact that it's in a public forum anyway, but the last thing I want is another fuckhead writing in with a complaint about my Twitter feed and CCing the MFC in on their threats thinking that it was somehow run by or on behalf of the club. Save yourself the trouble of writing a furious email that will be deleted by two parties, send all your complaints directly to the Demonblog legal department c/o the dumpster behind KFC Swan Street.
In a rare moment for a Richmond game there were no women plagued by baldness or thinning hair. There were about 45,000 people tormented by a tragic recent history, but at least more than half of them can delude themselves into thinking their side is going in the right direction. Like we were at this point last year. It's like in The Spy Who Loved Me when the two guys get in the helicopter and shake hands, thinking they'd gotten away with it only for the thing to blow up.
Appropriately this week marks a year (same round anyway) since we went into that Friday night Bulldogs game expecting to walk all over them and ended up getting humped by ten goals, setting us on the path to 186 (randomly enough via the bye and a win) and the tremendous mess we're in now. And what a mess it is. Sometimes you've got to laugh or you'd be caught trying to jam a fork in the toaster.
No doubt Casey will get pummelled by Port Melbourne, so I'm not even bothering waiting for that match OR putting any stock in anybody's performances during it. Doesn't matter anymore, just make a statement that being mediocre AFL players isn't good enough and try something else.
Of course the chances are you'll be reading this Monday morning once the game has been completed, and either half our listed players would have turned in absolute filth shockers or done an ACL so circumstances might be drastically different BUT let that not detract from the fact that the senior side were balls and lucky to get away without being thrashed. This is no time to get seduced by the margin, or the fact that we won over the last three quarters, it's time to machine gun everybody.
IN: Jamar, Petterd, Cook, Gysberts, Strauss, Davey, Green
OUT: Trengove ('injured'), Bail, Bate, Spencer, Magner, Bennell, Tapscott (omit)
LUCKY: Dunn, Macdonald
Obviously people will be smashing the door down for Couch as usual, but given that he's gone back to the rookie list call me when he's actually available for selection and we'll talk. And has played a decent game for Casey recently. Other than that it means the only ones I'm opting not to bring in are Davis, Jetta, Sellar, Morton, Tynan, Green, Fitzpatrick and Williams. Add a couple of them to the discussion too if you want, it's not going to happen anyway. As usual conservatism will mix with some baffling decision and Petterd will get screwed.
If by some tremendous stroke of miracle my picks come off or I'm invited to do work experience on the selection committee and the everyone else is taken out by a Smallpox pandemic on Thursday afternoon, leaving me alone to pick the squad it will be impressed on Davey that he might be under contract but if he doesn't fire up or retire gracefully as a champion of the club we'll force him out by using him in ridiculous scenarios a'la George Costanza at Play Now. At least at his best he can hit a target by foot at some decent sort of rate - and that's more than you can say for most of the rest of them. If he can do that through next year he might go some way to being worth the rude money we're paying him.
We can at least be heartened by the possibility that Ross Lyon will turn up intent on playing his usual brand of 'exciting football' and that will mesh with our unintentional brand of 'exciting football' to cause a low scoring game which we might accidentally take advantage of. More likely that I'll be sitting on my own with 20 empty rows on either side despite the top level being closed, watching us get royally fisted in the traditional manner.
The rest of the year
Strangely enough it's only two Victorian teams out of the last eight games, and assuming we're not going to beat North or St Kilda (which we aren't) that will be the full five years since we've beaten any Victorian club other than Essendon or Richmond (and we can't even beat them anymore).
That's right, the last time we beat any of Carlton, Collingwood, Footscray, Geelong, North or St Kilda we had the likes of Ryan Ferguson in our side AND the other team were trying to lose. They even let Jace Bode kick two goals, which is up there in the Hall of Fame for blatantly trying to lose with the Warnock to FF Bailey move against Richmond. Bate, Dunn, Green, Jamar and Jones are the last players left from that night. The rest of our list has never played in a win for the MFC against the above named clubs. And that's just sad.
We may be in for many more years of this if they're not careful. If we somehow get away with paying peanuts for Viney (and there's a lot of talk about the intentions of GWS when it's blatantly obvious they're going to finish last and not risk it, so why aren't we focusing on Gold Coast?) they'd better hit on at least one out-and-out superstar on the other first round picks because we've had enough of good ordinary players - you are never going to win anything with a team half full of them and half full of VFL fodder. Also can we get an NQR street thug with face tatts similar to those sported by Dustin Martin's dad in the rookie draft please. Just for my amusement.
Signing Garland, McDonald and McKenzie to new contracts is great (and there goes my controversial Garland trade theory) but that's not the vanguard of a new, successful era. They could all play a big part in it, but not without more than one big hitter coming in - via the draft or from another club a'la Clark. If not they'll play out their careers (or eventually dick us via free agency and go somewhere good) for nothing and we'll be going around in circles forever.
The fun never stops at this club. At least until the first bounce.