Sunday, 26 August 2012

I've grown accustomed to your farce

No time to proof-read this. Anything could happen up to and including paragraphs that end abruptly and spelling so disgraceful that my school teachers would throw themselves out of a window. May re-read and correct errors during the off-season, may just look back in shame in five years time

Another week, another milestone, another retirement of a champion, another shithouse crowd and another thumping loss. Business as usual then, and a great way to pay tribute to a guy who (let's remember this for the 500th time) could very easily have gone to Collingwood and probably played in a flag for the benefit of millions rather than slopping around in front of 18,000 of us and winning STUFF ALL.

His in the end foolish decision to remain in the jungle a'la Colonel Kurtz rather than go for widespread public acclaim and lobster thermidor with Eddie McGuire already makes him a legend in book without even referring to the 254 games and 350 goals. It didn't seem a big deal that he'd played the 6th most games for us, after all we have only have one 300 game player, but the same figure would leave him 8th at Collingwood, 11th at Carlton and 13th at Essendon so notwithstanding our god awful record for producing long careers it still puts him in pretty rare company.

We've had some pretty good times in those 254 games too. Having played THAT final against Carlton in his 18th game set the bar pretty high for exciting moments, and from being belted repeatedly in the Grand Final onwards he was never involved in such remarkable scenes again - but what he gave us was 12 more seasons of solid, dependable football in which he played the vast majority of 10 of them.

I was unnecessarily down on him for a few years after that first season, which is odd considering he kicked 72 goals combined in our bottom of the harbour '01 and '03 seasons. No idea why, but unfortunately there's an archive on my outdated, wonky, Melbourne Supporter Depression Syndrome influenced views on this club dating back to 2005 which is there for everybody to see and as late as the 2005 pre-season I was refusing to rate him. It seems the tide had turned come Round 7 at which point I had done an abrupt about-face and by the end of the season he'd achieved to the point of running 3rd in the inaugural Allen Jakovich Medal.

Also in a post from that 2005 pre-season I declared Paul Gardner a great man just because he said "Let's pump the Bombers. I'm sick to death of the Bombers. Let's get rid of the Bombers" to a crowd of supporters AND ended up getting mentioned in The Australian for doing a spectacular flip/flop on the Byron Pickett 'fat porky or tortured genius?' question so it's fair to say that in my mid 20's I was well mental. But you should have seen the early 20's.. Double mental.

I came to really like Brad at that point, but it wasn't until 2007 and the wheels fell off like a Yugoslavian hire car (yes kids, there WAS a time where we were shocked at being no good) that I underwent total conversion and really appreciating him, to the point where last year I spent considerable amounts of time (well, two calls but I was on hold for ages) calling talkback radio like a nutbar to defend him against other nutbars who seemed to think that every time we had a bad loss that it was somehow his fault.

It was the day that we finally broke through for a win that year, after weeks where I went insane like never before or after (Port anyone? Junior McDonald? Handball? Deliberate? GET FUCKED) then finally broke through for a win against Adelaide. He had what would ultimately be his career high 37 touches and basically dragged us over the line single handedly after taking 18 marks, then got rolled for three Brownlow Votes by Daniel Bell of all people who must have done something statistically insigificant but good because I still gave him four votes but nothing compared to Green's game - and not just since Bell became the second least popular DB ever by suing us. 18 marks in a match is still the most by any MFC player since proper records have been kept (which is only 1974, but it's still impressive. And Cale Morton is equal second and equal fourth on the table but it's STILL IMPRESSIVE).

It seems odd that he booted 350 goals but never had more than five in a match, even the next five below him on the all-time list had at least one haul of six, but it's also fitting because he was always solid and dependable without being flashy.

From my perspective he'll leave this year as by far the all-time highest vote getter in the all-time Jakovich votes after finishing 3rd, 5th, 2nd, 2nd, 8th and 1st before dipping to 16th this year and equal 19th with one round to play this year. Sylvia will be the closest active player about nine BOGs behind.

So, as commentators finally pack up their tired Manchester United references we remember the first man to play out a really good MFC career entirely in the 2000's and wonder if anybody could find something negative to say about him. Surely not, you'd have to be a total cu.. oh, look it's olympic-grade shit bloke Aker.

Usually I'd say ignoring this farce of a human was the best course of action, but nobody's reading this so it doesn't count. At first I thought surely it was a fake account and I was going to be #carowhined for reporting some top shelf gimmick as fact but apparently it really is him carrying on like a 15-year-old. What's prickdust got to say now?

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Err, yeah. He can't even troll without making as much sense as an SEN talkback caller. My undoubted highlight is the judgement of a man's value by what he's won, because there's no doubt that Aker won a shitload of stuff that most players would team their left plum off for but in the end it only landed him in a one-man travelling circus of regional radio and rural footy hotspots. While Brad Green will be welcomed back to the club at every opportunity until the day he dies the only club that will open their arms for a return will be the Yarrawonga Sea Monkeys.

Even Fev will go down in history as a loveable pisswreck, Aker on the other hand won't even qualify for Warwick Capper/Mark Jackson style Yobbos Up The Guts cult status. He's like somebody who's a miserable turd before they win the lottery and still has no mates afterwards. Also I've never followed him on Twitter but apparently he gets shirty and hits block if you call him names, so I'm not suggesting that you use a carriage service to transmit obscene or offensive material but give him one for me.

Back to the matter at hand, as much fun as it would be to sit down and list the rest of my top ten hated people in footy, we return to the MCG and the MFC's fitting tribute to the solid and dependable career of Brad Green - featuring a solid and dependable loss. How else would you want to leave this club? Not everyone can be lucky like Nathan Brown/Clint Bizzell and go into their last game against a team furiously tanking their way towards a draft table extravaganza.

Our Brad went out the way he played most of his games, having a massive bash and kicking a couple of goals. Of course a'la Russell Robertson trying to take mark of the century in his last game when he could barely get off the ground there was also a fair whack of hungry attempts to kick miracle goals but that's what your last game is all about. It's the footy player's equivalent of spending your last day at a job looking at YouTube clips of skateboarding cats.

They weren't the only footy cliches on offer, there was also that other old favourite which involves Melbourne starting the game well and ending it respectably but getting murdered in the middle. Special 2012 cliche bonus for conceding two goals in the first 90 seconds of the third quarter too. That's 18.15.123 to 8.7.55 from 0.00 to 5.00 of Q3 now this year - a figure which has actually, believe it or not, improved in the last month. Last year we won the same stat 12.14.86 to 12.10.82, so there's a freebie for the Mark Neeld statistical whiteboard and Reality Bus Driving School. Fix that next year. Even during 186 we only conceded one. Shame about the end of the quarter and most of the other three.

Stereotypical third quarter capsizing aside the day didn't start all that badly. Mind you expectations were low and damage control was very much the order of the day so anything less than conceding a ten goal first quarter would have looked good (didn't have long to wait). It would have been even better if I'd have gone through with my original idea to have one last fruitless first goalkicker bet and put my money on Green for sentimental value. Then on approach to the mobile TAB van outside the Olympic Stand I was momentarily distracted by Mitch Clark being mobbed by fans in front of an Opel 4WD and then proceeded to talk myself out of it by reasoning that we'd lucky to kick a goal let alone the first one.

So hoorah for him kicking goals, but boo for me being too poxy to waste another measly tenner after years betting fruitlessly on scrubs like Emo Maric doing it. Strangely enough the only player I've ever won a first goalkicker bets on are Will Minson and Tom Lonergan.

It certainly helped us get off to a good start, but the goal was the product of a good start already underway. I know players always come out firing when there's a big milestone or a retirement so I was on guard for a massive reversal, but clearly Adelaide weren't up for it at the start. Then they answered goal one with goals one, two and three and it looked like they'd finally decided to take things seriously and we were about to get stuffed like a turkey.

Against all odds the rollover was briefly averted, and when Green's second began to prompt thoughts of a Fred Fanning style last game assault on the record books we were back to within a goal. I'm sure somewhere somebody was screaming for us to drop dead so that we didn't wind up above Footscray on the ladder, but just like that last game of 2009 against St Kilda that the Herald Sun is convinced we threw everyone knew class was going to win out in the end - it was just a matter of how much it would win out by.

It was easy to compare to the last time we played them at the MCG and wail about how unfair life is, but only 25 of the 44 players were the same this time - and we were lacking Moloney and Jamar who put on one of THE all time ruck/midfield combination performances that day. Other than those two you might pick Bartram and Gysberts but the rest were pretty disposable and/or Emo Maric having the game of his life en route to 31 touches. That match was just tinged with weirdness, the two don't even deserve to be compared. It should, however, be noted that we set up our win with a slashing third quarter performance - which should give Neil Craig nightmares after being on the end of two in a row in these games.

'Luckily' for those of you running Excel spreadsheets on how we can get ten first round picks and Jack Viney as part exchange for a Daihatsu Charade as soon as we got close the shutters went up, they kicked the last two goals of the first quarter and it was all but over. It might have been closer if Green hadn't missed the two shots at the start of the second, but you can't blame him for getting nervous given the occasion. He should have made it easier for himself by pretending nobody was there. Because nobody was.

Down the other end we were being treated to a showcase of exactly what the Crows were lacking last time, Taylor Walker showing interest and Kurt Tippett full stop. Other than the obvious have you ever seen our backline so badly dominated by so few? Even in games we've been thrashed in over the last few years the defence has generally held out alright under a torrent of attack caused by the inability of anybody to keep it away from them, but this was just terrible. Even the Jack Watts defensive experiment went so horribly wrong after he declined to pick a ball up and gave them a goal that Neeld had to cave in and finally move him back to the forward line again.

Between the two beast like forwards (is Cloke cheap enough to consider yet?) and cameo players like Callinan they scored 40 times from 51 inside 50's which is an absolutely absurd ratio. Thankfully we kept the number of I50's down by not shanking the ball out on the full every ten seconds when kicking along the boundary line or it would have been much uglier.

What's even more ludicrous than their spectacular scoring strike rate is that we had exactly the same amount of inside 50's despite being flayed in the middle of the ground. That goes to show the difference between a real forward line and a made in Taiwan knockoff consisting of ruckmen, defenders and at times nobody. Also showed the value of taking your chances - I really liked Sellar's game in the end, and he was taking some quality contested marks but the sprayed shot which missed everything from almost directly in front was nearly criminal. Still deserves another season.

If it wasn't for our wafer thin forward stocks we could have done with him down back. Garland was wandering around looking stoned, Macdonald was giving away stupid free kicks that a man who is potentially a week away from getting the arse should not be giving away (secretly I loved it, angry angry man) and if Frawley was fit then I'm not here. He looked like he could barely moved last week against a team made up of abducted orphans, so it was always going to end in tragedy against a decent side. As long as he's not going to slap in a trade request and then go on to have kids who are the greatest players of all time I'm not sure what harm it would have done leaving him on 99 games until next year. He tried hard, and was pretty much the only defender who could hit a target when he actually got it, but it was not the day to be playing against two key forwards who were running riot. Also not the day to be botching handballs at the top of the goalsquare. Apart from Grimes and to a lesser extent McDonald (not one showreel clanger this week!) the rest weren't much chop either, permanently a step behind, and unable to stop anything that came near them.

At least for Dunn's sake Walker continued to be rampant after that seemingly ill-advised match-up was cancelled after quarter time. He survived to play another decent match and further boosted his chances of scoring another year in the job. Very reminiscent of another ill-advised late season Dunn clash - with either Goldstein or Riewoldt (you choose) - in 2009. One which according to the Herald Sun is evidence that we were throwing the game, so just wait for the tape of this one to be wheeled out in evidence as well.

There was a bit of life in it until midway through the second quarter, but after Rivers kicked his second (and secretly I like Rivers as a forward, but I do wonder why they prefer him to Garland who started this racket in the first place) it was time to man the lifeboats and get ready to do our usual imitation of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The last four goals of the quarter in the space of ten minutes, including the Frawley goal-line handball debacle, and it went from probable loss to possible ugly beating.

The inability to stop teams when they get a run on has killed us all season, so why not deliver the goods one last time in front of the loyal fans? Another three to open the third quarter before we briefly made it a little bit more respectable... before copping the last five goals of the quarter again. It's infuriating, and it's been going on for too long. Most people probably look at it the other way around but I can understand kicks going off the side of the boot or doing ten handballs too many out of panic but I can't understand how this happens to a side so often. If it was once or twice a year ok, but this happens every week.

Incidentally I've pretty much finished the new Jim Stynes book, and if you want to skip straight to the brutal end of the Baileyball era open to page 289 and listen to the great man's own words about the Round 2, 2011 match against Hawthorn. "What was most disturbing was that we had led the Hawks by three goals in the second quarter, only to allow them to score the next sixty-three points unanswered. Good teams, with good on-field leaders and good coaches, simply do not allow that to happy". Two pages later he's ringing up Bailey to give him the arse.

Now in the space of just over a year it's happened to three different coaches, including Todd Viney against Carlton, so let's put it at the feet of the players for once. GRIMGOVE are young and they're developing themselves as leaders and footballers at the same time but any chance the rest might stand up and give them a hand? It's hard to tell from the outside though, as much as we try to analyse everything, I loved Green still directing traffic and telling people what to do 28 minutes into the last quarter of his last match but another shock revelation from the book is that at one point last year the team didn't fancy a time trial so they declared it cancelled - and you would have to think that wouldn't happen without the captain's endorsement. No wonder the entire leadership group got the bullet if that was the sort of shenanigans that were going on. I challenge any of them to go in and tell Neeld they're too busy smashing parmas and playing FIFA to do a session - he'd probably headbutt them.

I've said it before, our 2011/12 seasons would make a cracking ESPN 30 for 30 style documentary. There are just so many incredible moments of farce and shambles that you could do two hours on it. Please promise me if you make it I can come on and give my views on $cully.

The only good thing about the third quarter was Rohan Bail suplexing Doughty into the fence and it making a satisfying thud as he hit it. He was quite good too Bail, I still wouldn't go out on a hunger strike if they delisted him but at least he is a trier and you can tell that's the sort of thing Neeld would be well horny for so chances are he's not going anywhere.

Other than Bail's audition for the WWE it was all pretty much disaster central. Thank god we managed to capitalise on rubbish kicking and total disinterest in Crows players getting injured to keep the final margin respectable. We even got to see The Spencil kick another goal, which is almost worthy of a line of merchandise in the Demonblog Megastore.

Another underrated moment which was almost up there alongside the fence fiasco was Sylvia absolutely giving it to Watts for not leading at him in the last quarter. At least it shows he cares. Also that Jack has forgotten how to play as a forward after spending so long in the backline. Insert your own joke in the space provided below:

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It was nice of the Crows to form the guard of honour for Green at the end, but what a bloody shambles the whole thing turned out to be. Mind you it was very fitting for anything honouring a modern MFC champion to end in disaster. First he had to delay his exit so that the AWFUL new Adelaide theme song could go through its horrendous second verse, then just as it ends he decides to take off down the other end and meet with the cheersquad at the Punt Road end.

Just as this point the guy doing the sound realises that he's giving everyone the shits and cuts the song off halfway, but by now Brad is off past the middle of the ground so the sound guy thinks "geez, we don't like silence do we, I'd better play a track" and for some reason hits the 12" of the Crows theme again when he surely meant to roll the video tribute that played once Brad was well and truly gone down the tunnel.

All of this is happening while the poor Crows are standing there trying to show respect but having the piss taken like when we made St Kilda wait around for 15 minutes while Robbo high fived everybody in the crowd after his last game.

So as he approaches the cheer squad and the edge of the centre circle Brad, being the consumate good guy he is, realises he can't leave Adelaide standing out there all night so he turns back towards them but by then the extended version of the Crows song is only halfway through so it takes until he's halfway off the ground, hoisted on the shoulders of his teammates for the guy in the sound booth to realise what he's doing and cut the song halfway through.

High farce all round. Would probably have been better if they'd chaired him off so the Adelaide players could have gone and done their thing while Brad ran back out onto the ground to take his well deserved bows, but why would anything that we're involved with work smoothly? Then to add insult to injury GRIMGOVE carried him off in a way that almost tore his clacker in two:

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No wonder he was grimacing, what a way to go out. How apt to have plum distress as your last memory of being an MFC player.

2012 Allen Jakovich Medal
5 - Colin Sylvia
4 - Jack Grimes
3 - Nathan Jones
2 - Jeremy Howe
1 - Rohan Bail

Apologies to Green, McKenzie, Spencer, Dunn and Sellar.

Leaderboard
As Jones continues to further push out the all-time Jakovich record to a point where nobody has any chance of ever beating, I'm officially handing the Seecamp over to Grimes. You could argue that Watts deserves to remain in the running, but I'm DQing him for playing forward for the first five weeks.

55 - Nathan Jones (RAMPANT WINNER: Allen Jakovich Medal for Player of the Year)
27 - Jeremy Howe
23 - Jack Grimes (WINNER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
20 - Jack Watts
17 - Mitch Clark
16 - Stefan Martin (DEFAULT WINNER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
15 - Jordie McKenzie
13 - James Magner (CO-LEADER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year), Tom McDonald (CO-LEADER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year), Colin Sylvia
12 - Jared Rivers
11 - James Frawley
10 - Sam Blease
9 - Brent Moloney, Daniel Nicholson
8 - Matthew Bate, Joel Macdonald
6 - Lynden Dunn
5 - Clint Bartram, Brad Green
4 - Neville Jetta, Jack Trengove
3 - Mark Jamar, Luke Tapscott
2 - Rohan Bail, Colin Garland
1 - James Sellar

Crowd Watch
On a day where absolutely nobody bothers to turn up and we only just beat our crowd against Gold Coast despite a large amount of Crows fans coming over for the guaranteed victory you'd think that there would be a lack of highlights amongst the people who did turn up. Thank god then for the Adelaide cheersquad. Not only did they have a guy who stood up and did a jig whenever they showed fans on the big screen, presumably so they'd choose him next (they never did), but they also had this guy:

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He sat there all day with that glove puppet on, waving it around whenever they kicked a goal and at one point engaging a bemused security guard in 'conversation' with it. Oh to know what 'it' was saying to this poor, yellow jacketed fool who was being paid to stand there and face the crowd.

He continued to thrust it around for the rest of the match as if it was talking, even mouthing the *Adelaide* in [team name] *clap* *clap* *clap*. It left South Australians as the second easiest comedy target of the week, after LL Cool J who was caught knocking somebody out.

Next Week
I'm aware that the Casey Scorpions have qualified for the finals, and that they represent the only chance of any Melbourne Football Club related organisation to win anything in the near future, but they're our feeder club and not the other way around so bad luck they've got a second chance if they get beaten, let's do something for our own future.

IN: Gysberts, Fitzpatrick, Moloney, Tynan, Jamar
OUT: Green (ret), Frawley, Rivers (inj), Jetta, Spencer (omit)

Not much point giving Beamer a farewell game on the other side of the country if he wasn't going to get one at the MCG but I'd give him another go just for sentimental purposes - and to reunite the Psychic Friends Connection one last time. Who knows, maybe there will be no decent suitors, he'll go around in 2013 free of whatever wrecked him and we'll all remember this season as a cruel joke while he's pocketing a second B&F? More likely if picked he'll say "I'll be right" and stay home or 'accidentally' miss the plane.

Thanks to Freo being a certainty for the top eight we should be ok for a foot off the gas non-massacre IF Geelong beat Sydney at home, which is by no means a certainty. Otherwise North and Freo will be in arms race to see who can poleaxe GWS/us by a bigger margin to claim the home final. So quite frankly up the Cats or up North by a slender margin.

Of course if Hawthorn beat West Coast on Friday night Freo can achieve the dream scenario of a home final against the Eagles by stealth if they lose to us. As novel a scenario as it is to have a team throwing a game to improve their position for the finals a'la Olympic badminton there's no way they could get away with it without being called up to the Tankquiry with the rest of us.

Would certainly be an interesting way to snap our 12 game losing streak at Subiaco, but it's not going to happen. Hooray then for ending the year on a 43 game losing streak in Perth, Adelaide and Docklands combined. Can we get to 50? My god yes we can.

If anybody wants me next Saturday night I'll be on my couch hurling abuse at the television one last time before that Tim Rogers fronted September exhibition match rubbish starts.

Final Thoughts
The only legitimate upside to the day was seeing the thinking man's Nic Nat, Stef Martin loitering around one of the other Opel promotion stands before the match. It's almost my highlight of the season that he was clearly surprised to see me go past wearing his number. Hopefully the fact that he was hanging around with Petterd and Moloney doesn't mean he's in the departure lounge with them. I did feel bad after letting out a "See you next year Stef" when he saw the number then realising 30 seconds later that by giving Ricky and Beamer NOTHING that it implied they wouldn't be seen next year. Possibly true, but still rude on my behalf

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