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A sleazy wink from Stringer Bell is where the good news ends for now, because the barbarians are at the gates and if the media show trial is anything to go by the next month can't possibly end well. Caro broke the story, so she's also taken the opportunity to declare that we're guilty as charged - despite not having been charged with anything yet. The media bandwagon is rolling and eventually the Herald Sun will join in too and then, once a paper people actually read gets involved, we'll really be stuffed.
The media never blow a story in one day when they can string it out to three our four, so I don't doubt that there's at least one more day - and one more set of accusations - in this one. By Friday we'll have been accused of having hidden Osama Bin Laden in our secret Pakistani training base - and by Monday the famous Demetriou denial of tanking will have been laughed at by so many people that he'll be absolutely bursting to play his part in fucking us right up. Instead of each our picks at the next two drafts the cameras will cut to him giving one of these:
You can't get done for defaming an organisation, so without properly accusing anyone of being involved she's going as far as possible with outright accusations that we did it, so there's got to be at least something going down because what there is now is a bit too pissweak to be putting her reputation on the line by declaring it a done deal. Mind you according to her other story in yesterday's paper Adelaide will be kicked out of this year's draft. Maybe they will, but it's either a red hot guess or somebody inside the AFL is prejudicing their own enquiries by leaking information to the press before they're actually completed.
So how did she get the details of what allegedly happened at this meeting? Either somebody working on the investigation is leaking details or somebody who is being investigated is - and if you'd spent the last week being waterboarded until you provided the appropriate information to the investigator would you think that turn the investigation into a media frenzy would actually help your cause? If we get done watch and see who of the supposed attendees either mysteriously gets off scot free or appears at another club under a fake name wearing an unconvincing wig and you'll know who cut a deal to lag us out.
That's if there is anything to lag us out on. What you've got right now, pending whatever tomorrow's revelations or secret audio recordings prove, is claims that it the idea of losing to maximise draft picks was discussed in 'a meeting' and a bunch of theories surrounding a few games at the end of the season.
Despite having still never seen the second of the Richmond game (other than the winning goal, and that will do me) I've just always gone along with the list of supposedly dodgy moves we were supposed to have pulled off during that day. In a game that we were winning at the final siren, and a game that - let this not be forgotten in any way - DID NOT IN ANY WAY AFFECT OUR DRAFT POSITION. If McMahon had missed they might have done something dodgy against Fremantle instead of winning by ten goals, but he didn't so we'll never know, and you can do a lot of things in a show trial but you can't take us apart for something that might have happened under different circumstances.
I don't doubt for a minute that the desire of various people within the club late that year was to finish dead on four wins and get the priority pick, but that's my theory and I've not got a shred of proof to prove it. Other than the game which we lost off another player's boot would we have won any of those other games? Probably not. So show me the evidence or go and get stuffed. If the papers don't deliver the smoking gun evidence by the end of the week I'm prepared to believe that it doesn't exist and the whole thing is based on what people reckon they heard in a meeting.
As I said yesterday if they do uncover 'the truth' I'll put my hand up and say that we deserve everything and that there should be a bloodbath, but if the evidence is based on some sort of list management meeting where somebody said "We'll pick $cully with 1 and Trengove with 2 if we get the priority pick for not winning another game" then they can cram it because that was a statement of fact, not a suspicious plot. If a senior or assistant coach who could have made a difference (as much as any coach can) is proven to have agreed that they had to lose then fine, ban everyone involved and wreck us as is necessary but if it was a list manager or CEO and the coaches aren't on record as agreeing then how can they be said to have influenced the result? That's like going into the 2009 Big Footy archives and tabling a bunch of posts where people say we should throw it - because the two have roughly the same amount of influence.
Where does it end? If everything which happened off-field in losses at the end of that year why isn't the on-field activity also in question? Ricky Petterd was nice enough to go on the radio yesterday and make it clear, despite us having just sacked him, that there was no directive to the players to chuck it. But then again he would say that having played a cracking game. Was part of Brock McLean's interview with the investigators a question about why he had 26 touches and two goals in a win in Round 20 and 'only' 16 the next week in a win. How far do you go without proper evidence from people who had the ways and means to make the directions of others come true. I'd love to know what Bailey said, because if he pulls the "I was only following orders" defence and gets away with it I'll chuck shit.
If he, any of the assistants or a player wants to come out, put his hand up and say that he deliberately manipulated the result and cop the subsequent life ban then ok but if you're going to talk about us playing forwards back and backs forward as actual evidence then you might be right about we were up to that day but you're officially putting every late season 'list management' manoeuvre, experimentation or close loss into question until the draft is abolished. Was it ok to do that against Essendon in the middle of this year, but not late in the season if draft position is on the line? They've have to find, unless there's real evidence, that coaches can do whatever they like with their team selections and positional moves or from that date onwards every last month of a season should be a non-stop investigation into what any team outside of finals contention is up to.
Ok, they dumped priority picks but there's still plenty of incentive for teams not to win. Going into Round 21, 2009 against Carlton at Docklands we could still have avoided finishing last with a win, so even if the priority pick was off the table why wouldn't they have played Jamar at full forward (the glorious five goal day) anyway and damn the result? Taking advantage of the system is no defence if it can be proven, but otherwise you're going to have to legislate about what coaches can and can't do - and that would be the pissiest rule change of them all.
You know what the worst thing about all this has been? When our (supposed) own people decide to pile on to get themselves a headline. You hear nothing from Neil Mitchell for about five years and then all of a sudden he's doing editorials about what a disgrace it all is based on what he's read in an article by his fellow 3AW presenter Wilson. Thanks for the help Neil, you wouldn't by any chance be lining yourself up for a crack at the presidency if things really go tits up with this inquest?
Then out rolls Paul f'ing Gardner to stick the boots into the same administration who forced him out of the club because it was stuffed and about to go under. Either you're helping the club or you're not, and there's no doubt that this guy is not helping whenever he opens his mouth and does his 'wounded fan' act. The worst part of his interview with fellow depressed supporter Mitchell (on the link above) is that he talks about a game that he's convinced we tanked in but doesn't make it clear that the game in question took place in 2003 even though he's previously said it. Once again, not helpful but a fine 'fuck you' to the people who helped get rid of him.
No matter where this goes from here brace for the worst and you'll either be right or pleasantly surprised. Just don't be the dickhead who rings up and blasts the poor receptionist or tweets/Facebooks at the club like it's Schwab and McLardy sitting there and reading every message. Win, lose or draw there'll be plenty of time for burning effigies on Brunton Avenue or driving offensive moving billboards past AAMI Park - just make sure you're aiming at the right people.
Also if we get busted for it don't act like you weren't cheering for it at the time, the only thing 90% of our fanbase (sadly including myself) will have any reason to get upset about is that we were shit at cheating because you, me and pretty much everyone wanted them to get those picks at the time and most people would have gone off their nut if we hadn't done it. Now the same people are acting like they've somehow been dudded and hated it all along, what a load of rubbish.
One thing to remember is that the club will go on no matter what happens here. It's bigger than any individual or group of, and as long as our members get behind the club itself and don't try and vote us out of existence again we'll live. There might be pain, and whatever they do to us might put the brakes on the 'revival' but at least that gives us an excuse for being shit for once. It will be painful, it will get bloody but don't throw everything away and walk off because if this goes wrong the club needs you more than ever before.