It's unlikely that circumstances will allow it, firstly the shock value of losing to Gold Coast is already diminishing, and in a couple of years it will be the same with GWS. But for now the idea of losing to them anywhere - much less on your home ground - is enough to make grown men cry and/or get the sack. Ask Matthew Primus, who until he ran into them last year had actually improved his side from the year before and the next thing he was signing on down at Alberton Centrelink.
We've got Rounds 7, 19 and 20 to get through yet before we can confidently retain our "at least we've never lost to..." status, but at least the pressure valve has been released a little bit now. Next get the entire world to presumptively write obituaries for the coach before the match after a shite run of results, include a wildcard midweek 'drug' scandal, then find a way to twice blow good chances to put your opposition away before going into the last quarter three goals behind.
Difficult enough to engineer all that, but at about 3.40pm, with Herald Sun sponsored mobile death squads pulling up to the MCG carpark to take advantage of the "free entry in the fourth quarter" policy, if you'd told me that I was about to watch Michael Evans and Jeremy Howe be the face of the greatest quarter EVER played by the Melbourne Football Club in any game from 1858 onwards I'd have treated you to some of this:
And you would have deserved it, because if Mark Neeld is (as everyone would have you believe) a condemned man, then when the three quarter time siren went with GWS 19 points in front and with momentum he was strapped into the electric chair and about to cop it full blast. Then this improbable record breaking quarter comes along and he gets a stay of execution with a retrial starting next Sunday. Football is stupid.
No doubt when we're 19 goals down to the rapidly plummeting Brisbane (why did I get sucked in by pre-season form and almost put them in the eight?) the original verdict will stand and he'll be walking The Green Mile again, but until that happens (or until later in this post) let's concentrate on the fantastic, absurd turn of events which today saved a coach from almost certain death.
Considering we opened the game conceding two goals to The Big Setant first up after a year out with a stuffed knee we weren't actually all that bad early on. It was certainly better than last year's first 15 minutes when they kicked three in a row and we all adjusted our Mexican wrestling masks nervously as it looked like a gigantic shambles was on the cards. We eventually recovered that deficit to rack up a big (by our standards) win, but what 2012's Carnival of Hate lacked compared to the modern day Carnival of Self-Hate was well over the top celebrations from an insane Irishman.
Good luck to him too, if your career is hanging on like a thread and then you do your knee you should celebrate a successful comeback by throwing wild haymakers in the air and dancing up and down on the spot. It would certainly be rude of a Melbourne fan to abuse him for it after Brad Green's similar antics in an equally pointless match against Gold Coast late last year. As soccer fans say whenever somebody gets busted for souveniring chairs, passion is not a crime.
It was certainly Setant Time in the first quarter as he made the King of Sizzle look a bit foolish early on, but in the grand scheme of things have you ever seen a worse five goal performance? You may as well play for yourself when you're in the position he is (employed 95% for comedy value) but that was something special. McDonald didn't have a great day, or even a good one, but the difference between the two when the ball hit the ground was criminal (except when it hit the ground and gifted him goals with a novelty bounce), and that's why Tom will play 150 games and TBS will be lucky to make it to a 100. The KoS will be back bigger and better, Setant will probably not kick another goal for the rest of the year but will be able to take his seat at the table with Beau Wilkes and Kent Kingsley at the Royal Society of Forwards Who Only Play Well Against Melbourne.
When I say "we weren't all that bad" that's in the context of a game which was poor to an almost satanic standard. A good side would have cleaned us up in spectacular fashion, but such is life for a bottom four team - if you don't take advantage of the other teams in the same leaky boat then you deserve everything you get. Later on they'd be the ones taking advantage of us, but all's well that ends well eventually.
Once we'd put Setanta back in his box (temporarily at least) it looked like the natural order was about to restored. Byrnes and Pedersen were showing signs of why we recruited them and Maximum Gawn was furthering his status as a monster fan favourite and cult figure by playing like Jamar circa 2009-2010. Imagine a ruckman who actually wants to get the ball around the ground? THIS HAPPENED. Also is there anything more thrilling than one of Jeremy Howe's screamers actually leading to a goal? Vote 1 his grab today after the Giants botched the kick-in for Mark of the Year because for once it wasn't when we were 50+ points down, didn't end in us turning the ball over five seconds later and (eventually) took place during a win.
Underrated highlight of the first quarter was Clark's run down the wing, unnecessarily bouncing the ball about six times when two or three would have sufficed. Considering he's looked like he's hardly been able to get out of more of a light jog for the last couple of weeks it was heartening to see him bolting at full stretch, but I'm hoping that wasn't the forerunner to whatever foot injury he ended up with later in the game. Sadly, but happily at the same time, instead of trying to kick a Franklin style goal of the year he gifted Pedersen's first goal at the top of the square. Assuming his injury isn't lethal this is why he's so important - Mitch has hardly gotten out of 1st gear so far this season and he's already kicked seven goals. Big whoop in the grand scheme but for us anybody on target for 40 is a crucial part of the plan - now he's also got Howe and Byrnes heading in that direction too, which is nice.
Sadly everything has to be put through the shit team filter against sides down at our end of the ladder, where you ask yourself "would we have done this against a real side?" (this is usually what the fans of opposition clubs are asking when they play us), and I'm pleased to report that yes for once we might have. The tackling was good, we were ok in the middle of the ground AND we were racking up scoring shots too. Ok, the last one probably doesn't pass the STF but take if wherever you can get it and run for your life. Pedersen faded out after quarter time, but Byrnes was great - if he can put in performances like that against real teams and add that to what he's been hired to do off-field (i.e. teach the secrets of success from Geelong) then he'll be the most valuable of the four recycled players, and we might get a useful second year out of him on-field.
Unfortunately for fans of blood feuds and vendettas we were also letting $cully run riot. That's how well we're going, letting him play his first half decent game in years. He even kicked it to his own teammates most of the time, which isn't much change from when he used to play for us and would kick it towards anybody who wasn't wearing red and blue. Unlike the original Carnival when he copped hell from the crowd AND didn't get a kick it did get a bit silly when everyone was booing him as he was belting us. It's much more fun to shout proper abuse instead, but in the end he's still going home to a gigantic Uncle Scrooge style bank vault so 1-0 to him and I look forward to his second value for money game of the year against us on Saturday 3 August.
We were, uncharacteristically, the better side in the first quarter and could have built up enough of a quarter time lead to be relatively safe if Clark hadn't given away a free for jostling behind the goal as Matt Jones was about to take a shot on goal. If MJ never kicks another goal he'll probably curse Mitch until the day he dies, but I was at the exact other end of the ground and haven't seen the replay so not sure if there was anything in it. There probably wasn't, and they probably get told to piss off all the niggle in GWS games in case it scares "the parents" of West Sydney out of letting their kids play AFL. "The parents" are probably not even watching because they're more interested in Rugby League matches where everyone beats the suitcase out of each other.
The Clark incident created the cliched two goal turnaround - assuming Jones would have kicked straight - as the Giants went straight back down the other end and that man Setant kicked another. It was a blow, but we were still on top. Witness for instance their kick-ins, which were in a state of disarray because for once we had pressure on. You do not have to wait for a GWS to come along before putting pressure on an opposition side kicking in, this can be done against anybody.
To be honest I put so much into the last quarter that the middle two are a bit of a blur to me, but I do distinctly recall them battering us in the first few minutes of the second but not being able to kick a goal before Byrnes got two in a row to give us some breathing space. At the time I remember thinking that we were all over the top of them after his second goal, but looking back it seems that I've pushed the four goalscoring opportunities they had (for 0.3) before then out of mind. So should it really be all that much of a surprise that almost immediately after the second Byrnes goal they then put on a burst and took the lead? So, one of them was a dodgy video review (one of many) but we looked wobbly again. Thank god then for the ex-Geelong man who somehow managed to squeeze a fluke goal, his third, through from the boundary courtesy of Jamar and Giles knocking each other out of its way and the defender trying to rush the ball over the line and fresh airing it. Take it however you can get it.
By this point we were back to just playing 'ok'. When we did that at West Coast it ended up with them being applauded off the crowd despite being 10 points behind, but when we did it against GWS everyone was still filling up Molotov Cocktails, ready for the mass outbreak of civil disorder in the event of a defeat. We were still lucky that the Giants were playing like the motley collection of children and rejects from elsewhere (hold on..) that they are and keeping us in it. Luckily we still had one of our famous third quarters to come.
The good news is that this week the queue for the Progressive Insurance Psych Couch will be significantly shorter, but the downside is that at the front of the queue there will be two marquee names. Any danger either of Frawley or Watts is going to be with us next year? They both look totally disinterested on field, and not just because they've been bullied by Luke Darcy into shaving their beards off. At one point in the third quarter there was a loose ball right on the GWS 50m line and in the midst of all the chaos Chip just stopped for a second with his back turned and stood there. It was like one of those shots by war photographers when bullets are flying everywhere and some poor, haunted civilian just freaks out and stands there in the middle of the battle. Forget sticking tree bark into Lynden Dunn, give Chip a hot one full of Xanax and sit him down for "a chat" with a qualified mental health care professional.
As for Watts could it be that he just doesn't give a shit? We can't seem to win with top picks, either we go for the laconic (Watts, Johnstone) and they never live up to potential or we picked a brutally serious, Soviet style player ($cully) and he knifes us. Hopefully either Trengove turns out to be the best of them all because he's normal or Smilin' Jimmy Toumpas kicks in the door for jolly players everywhere.
It's fine to be laconic sometimes, but not when you're playing in the backline. If the ball comes to him his kicking and decision making is a cut above almost everyone else on our list but if it doesn't then he'll be right with a light jog in its general direction. In an ideal world he wouldn't be like that, and he'd just happily do whatever he's told but it's not an ideal world and other than two games last year when he was a world beating defender - until we got excited and played him on Jonathan Brown in Brisbane - there's nothing to suggest that it's where he's going to play his best footy. Once he came back from injury in the last few games of 2012 he didn't do anything remotely interesting, and his finest work in the pre-season was pushing forward and kicked goals.
Yes, he was the king of intercept marks in 2012 but so what? If he and Rivers swapped I'm sure Riv would have done exactly the same. Either get him back up front, play him on the ball or just give up on him and watch him walk out the door and into a better team at the end of the year. We're not going to make the finals, so they've got to make it their mission to rebuild him by the end of the year. I want to see him doing random blind turns around nobody and kicking goals again. If he doesn't want to be out there at all he should at least put his hand up and say so, but if he just hates playing down back then stop trying to smash the square peg into the round hole. See also sending Blease forward again so he can follow his natural instinct and wreak havoc kicking goals instead of having to go within 10km of an opponent.
Then again they both looked as happy as Larry when singing the song at the end, so who am I to judge what's going on in their heads. If either of you are reading this (and if so, why? Do you not have a FIFA tournament of some type on?) I ask you to give us a sign that you care in the form of your signature on a new contact and some acts of near suicidal desperation next week. Look at Rohan Bail for inspiration, there's a guy who wouldn't get a game at another club if we ditched him and who's one concussion away from having his entire career wiped out and he's still diving on footballs with reckless abandon. You are both better than this.
There was some slight nervousness at half time, but deep down you knew we were the better team whether we wanted to show it or not. It took us 15 minutes of the third quarter to level the scores, but yet again just when it looked like we were about to break their back (and make them humble) the Giants rebounded to finish off the quarter with three goals and dark mutterings began to sweep the ground again.
The last came after Neville Jetta booked himself a fortnight minimum off by poleaxing Whitfield (continuing the MFC tradition of trying to ruin top draft picks) and while I was absolutely cursing him for giving away the downfield free/goal at that point (after originally abusing Jamar in a case of mistaken identity before the replay showed he had nothing to do with it) thank god somebody finally decided to belt someone. I'd have preferred if he'd set himself the ultimate challenge of trying to clock Josh Kennedy last week (would have bounced off), but if we have to bully some 18 year old to make ourselves feel better then so be it.
After being not very good at all in the first half Jetta was quite good in the second. Probably got excited and decided to thump somebody, and that's the sort of player I can support. He even managed to get on the highlight reel for performing a suplex that Taz would have been proud of. I've noticed that if opposition players run into him he's a gun tackler, but on the run they usually just go around him. Can't see him being there for 200 games - or next year at this rate - but handy enough in the interim while we sort ourselves out this year.
He was especially good in the last quarter, but mind you, who wasn't? Even I might have gotten a kick in the avalanche that was to come, but for the moment after his
Even I, foolishly (and at times unconvincingly) in the "don't sack anybody yet" camp, was starting to see which way the winds were blowing and that it was almost certain that they'd have tossed him out in the street if we'd been rolled. I don't believe in the Sports News First conspiracy theory that we'd already lined up T. Viney 'just in case' (mainly due to the fact that the guy who writes it has got a rumour file strike rate of about 12% - link presented as a source only, no need to click it and give them ad revenue) - and if we had then chalk up another reason why we're a spaz of a club - but I'm sure they would have caved in to 'everyone' telling them to do it just to try and avoid having the fourth receptionist this year put in a compo claim for mental distress from nutbars calling in and abusing her. Not to mention whoever has to moderate the Facebook page and the ASADA troubling cocktail of anti-depressants they must be on.
Considering the start to the season we've had and the new revelations during the week about us allegedly lying our arses off about players being injected with monkey glands in a Coles carpark it would have been easy enough for the players to roll over and die there and then. They had gotten themselves into enough trouble that even a slight win in the last quarter wouldn't have saved them, and we'd have been going for the golden sombrero of coaches sacked midway through the season.
Most of the players who are any good would get a game somewhere else, so if they're not playing for pride what do they care? And thank god that for once pride won out long enough to shatter the Giants' fragile spirit and allow us to eventually beat the shit out of them. When Byrnes got ripped off out of his fourth goal in the first minute (admittedly after costing himself the hassle free goal by stumbling over 25 different attempts to soccer it through) it felt like everything was going to conspire against us. This on top of that goal late in third quarter when KoS McDonald had a bouncing ball covered only for it to take a bastard bounce straight over his head and into Setant's arms for a goal. Then there was some, err, questionable umpiring but we would say that wouldn't we? I'm interested to sit down for the replay and watch the 2000 cutaway shots to Neeld in the coaches box to see what his expressions are like when all of this is going on.
For the next few minutes we teetered on the edge of disaster, one GWS goal away from a four goal deficit with a crowd rapidly turning (especially on Watts, who went from supportive cheers to low murmurs as the day went on) and ready to start kicking seats into plastic shards. Then Nathan Jones took over. Beautiful Nathan Jones, the only player to have actually significantly improved under Neeld.
He wasn't getting as many clearances as he had in the other weeks (was apparently the league leader before today. Work that out), but he was one of the few we had who could claim a four quarter effort then went absolutely off his tits in the last. You don't need a title to lead, and he's practically the third captain at the moment. His goal opened the floodgates, before Maximum kicked his first from the square to fire the crowd up. It was a popular goal too, almost killing the goal umpire as payback for her complicity in the Shannon Byrnes rort and seemingly smashing a GWS fan wearing a comedy wig straight in the head, which serves him right on both fronts. Would have better if it had been one of those dickheads dressed as monks, but you can't win them all. Maximum didn't apologise for his path of destruction, and for that we love him.
There was one slight bit of nervousness after we levelled the scores, when it once again looked like we were going to run away with it and then let them get the lead back again but from there on it was a procession - led by the aforementioned combination of Evans and Howe who booted seven for the quarter between them. It was all quite ridiculous. With 13 minutes to go we had still been losing. Cue a landslide, and cue GWS playing like we do when somebody puts the heat on. How are we in the same boat as teams like this?
All this without Clark who had disappeared with an injury that for the second time against the Giants at the MCG threatens to take all the fun out of it. I swear he's not been fit for one minute this year, so winnable game next week or not if he needs the rest give it to him. Not entirely sure who'll play up front in that case (Pedo? Sellar? Jamar? Hogan in a blonde wig with Troy Davis' number on?) but having him for 16/17 other games this year is more important than running him into the ground.
Howe is always a consistent performer, one of the few who can put his hand up every week even when we're shit, but I've been thrilled by Evans' performances over the last couple of weeks. There were eyebrows raised when he got promoted off the rookie list despite missing all of last season, but on the strength of last week and today you can see why they were keen to have him available. He looks like somebody from the crowd who has blagged their way onto the field in a Melbourne jumper, but unlike most of our other players who plays like he belongs, and if he's going to kick goals too - including some CRUMB - so much the better. Happy to have recognised his potential two years ago when I gave him 4 votes on debut behind some bloke called Gysberts who has since disappeared.
The rampage got to the point where even Colin Sylvia was bursting through the middle, knocking off teenagers like Jack Darling on school camp. I'm definitely applying the STF on that piece of play, because no real team would have allowed it and if he could do it against anyone he would more than once a year but his last two weeks have given me some hope that we'll at least get a great season out of him before he dicks us and goes elsewhere.
In the end the mood swung around from mass distress to Carnivale, with every goal ratcheting up the good times metre but while it was nice - and I was loving the goals don't worry about that I was hardly in the mood to celebrate. I'm glad for the players, coaches and everyone else properly involved but we're not out of the woods yet. For now there's no blood on the players' hands (which would mark a third lot for Davey, Dunn, Jamar and Sylvia who must spend a lot of time washing theirs Lady Macbeth style) but after the (subdued) elation of victory wears off they're going to have to look at why were we in that hole in the first place when the Giants weren't actually playing all that well themselves.
They were quick, and were taking advantage of us to get loose players all over the shop but their general kicking and disposal was shite and that's what kept us on the same level long enough to wear them down before clocking them in party time. Strangest part of today was how Jack Viney had held his own against grown men in shit sides for three weeks, then when we get a fair and balanced matchup against kids he goes missing. Never mind, one so young cannot be expected to be on top every week. I expect that once we get to the Facebook Comment of the Week I'll find at least one person suggesting that he was 'tanking' in order to try and get his dad the senior coaching job. I did like how he initially refused go to the middle of the circle for the club song, and had to be reluctantly forced in a'la the Speaker of the House.
Speaking of the coach, the Trial By Seemingly Everyone Except Me is adjourned for another week, but no doubt there's another belt of it on the way soon unless something dramatic happens. Beating Brisbane would be a good start, if we can get past Moloney's inevitable 47 possession game and the SME kicking six. Their losing margins haven't been quite as drastic as ours, and their win over a new club was a lot more heart stopping, but they're under the pump too. Imagine if Moloney has a shocker next week and Voss gets sacked, then Neeld cops it in the neck later in the year - Beamer could be the first man ever to contribute to two coaches being sacked in one year.
They're flat as a tack, but there'll be nothing more that'll get them going again than beating us. Do we get the rampaging elephant version of the MFC? Probably not, but I'll take the first half of the West Coast game variety again if they're offering - just for four quarters this time. Suddenly we're not the ones under all the pressure, time to stick the knife into somebody else for once.
Like it not Neeld is going nowhere this week and hopefully we can have some rest from a thousand articles about how bad we are and how he's a terrible guy for doing whatever. Speaking of, we've all got our historical issues with Matthew Lloyd, and he does often come out with some tremendous bollocks, but this article about how bad we are does make some sense - at least compared to Luke Darcy's anti-beard crusade and Damien Barrett performing frottage on a cardboard cut-out of Kevin Sheedy as he tries to extend yesterday's hero's coaching career into a 12th decade.
When he resists the temptation to write the exact same article as everybody else has for the last six months ("OMG, shit drafting. Should have picked Nic Nat/Dustin Martin/Jack Darling/Jaxon Crabb etc.. Thanks for the newsflash arseholes) he makes sense in saying the board - who are on shifting sands themselves - have to either back him or sack the coach. Last week I said that there was nothing to be gained from sacking him, and I still believe that, but I do take the point that the board either have to properly support him (and not just with glib statements) or we're just going to be a sideshow after every loss.
There's no need for a random extension of contract or anything, we've got him until the end of next year and with a record like he has there shouldn't be any worry about Ross Lyon-esque midnight phone calls. The board can say under no circumstances will they remove him before the end of the season and at least give him and his team the chance to have some clear air until the end of the year. If we're still ratshit then and they've got no faith in it turning around then they can make the move, we can wheel the next victim in and go back to square one. If we've improved and go backwards in 2014 they can still give him the arse, and if we improve and keep improving then I'll be as surprised as anybody. If there are players who come out and say "I will only stay if you get rid of the coach" then trade them as soon as you possibly can even if you are going to change coach.
Also assuming that the likes of Leigh Matthews and Paul Roos are quite happy in the media, Clarkson doesn't fancy swapping quality for horsemeat and Kevin Sheedy is finally wheeled into "Past Glories Retirement Village" (where like today he can stand around talking to himself because nobody's given him a headset) can somebody provide a primer as to who the potential candidates are in the event of a replacement being required at the end of the year. Who are the key assistants and why should be even remotely interested in going back to square one with any of them?
During the week I saw somebody claim that "nobody would want to coach us at the moment", which is absolute bollocks because bad football clubs are like prostitutes - there's always a man out there somewhere who thinks he can save them (and who will presumably wind up broken and bankrupt both morally and financially). Ok, you may not convince Chris Scott to walk out on Kardinia Park but there's 17 other teams chock full of assistants, most of whom would be champing at the bit for a crack. Sure, you might not get a 'big' name, but Ken Hinkley was hardly Port's first choice and all of a sudden he's being hailed as a messiah. If all else fails there's always this guy.
Still, for the moment I'm going to stay in the (online at least) minority and stand by the man. Mistakes have been made, and ok Rodan/Pedersen/Byrnes should probably be stepping aside for the youth of tomorrow eventually but if anybody can locate these supposed killer replacements please contact the Melbourne Football Club courtesy of AAMI Park.
2013 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Nathan Jones
4 - Shannon Byrnes
3 - Michael Evans
2 - Max Gawn
1 - Jack Grimes
Apologies to Bail, Davey (pro rata), Garland, Howe, M. Jones, Pedersen, Sylvia and Terlich.
It's beginning to look a lot like 2012 at the top. Grimes still doggedly avoiding the Seecamp DQ, and welcome for the votes for the very first time to S. Byrnes of Geelong.
15 - Nathan Jones
9 - Matt Jones (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Rising Star Award)
7 - Jack Viney
5 - Jack Grimes (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
4 - Shannon Byrnes, Jeremy Howe, Colin Sylvia
3 - Michael Evans
2 - Aaron Davey, Max Gawn (JOINT LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year), Mark Jamar (JOINT LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
1 - Mitch Clark, James Frawley, Jordie McKenzie
Just over 20,000 apparently, and I see that inventing fictional crowd numbers for GWS games now extends to their away matches as well. That said there's no doubt there were a lot of neutrals there who took advantage of decent weather to come along and see an execution, and to them I say thanks for paying to get in (although you probably got a free ticket) now you can jam it in your arse.
Considering the crowd it was almost obscene how many GWS fans were there. Who did these people barrack for two years ago? They can't all be natives of Sydney's west who have just discovered the game and decided to travel to the MCG. If you're actually from the area I'll pay it reluctantly, but there seems to be more than a handful of adults in Melbourne who have done a total about face and selected a new team. How can anybody over the age of 13 do this with a straight face? Do you know somebody like this, can you please ask them what the hell they are doing?
Not to mention anybody who lets their kids follow them or Gold Coast. Ok it's practically child abuse to force them to go for Melbourne, but if your kid walks in and says "I HATE THE DEMONS" (and why wouldn't they?) before declaring they want to go for one of these plastic franchise teams it's your duty to steer them away. If they can't be steered back to the red and blue then at least get them to follow a real team, then refuse to ever take them to a game except when their new team plays us and even then they have to sit there and STFU for four quarters. Further advice on child rearing is available by sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Demonblog Towers.
But while we're at it thanks to the various turncoats and street performers who helped boost the crowd numbers a bit. It's fair to say that not many of them made it to the top deck of the Ponsford which was very sparse populated, but apologies to the people in front of me who were inadvertently on the end of a massive anti-Scully spray featuring most of the big gun obscenities after he gave away that downfield free kick in the last quarter. Also apologies to the MCC for battering the bejesus out of the seat in front of me in Q32 whenever we kicked a goal in the last quarter, I was so
Meanwhile how bitter and twisted would the AFL and (secretly) the MCC be that they have to put games like this on at the MCG when they could be making millions more without us. Imagine if they could rig it so that on any given week there were two/three games there that involved Carlton, Collingwood, Richmond or Essendon as the home team? I know it's 'our' ground and all but we need to watch our back with all this boutique stadium talk going around, because if we're not careful we'll be strongarmed into playing at Punt Road Mk. 2 instead of the MCG so that everyone except us can make an extra buck.
Sure the MCC Members would crack the sads for about 20 minutes until they got reciprocal rights at the new ground and a letter from the MCC saying "you're free to hand in your membership if you're not happy, we have 500 million others on the waiting list", but I've noticed in our club constitution that while there's a clause about the members having to approve any mergers there's nothing in there about relocation or changing home ground. I'm sure there'll be bigger fish to fry, but I think we should rectify that at the next AGM. Make it so that any move to relocate more than four home games a year to a ground other than the MCG has to be approved by the members. The AFL will still get their way if they want, and they'll bully us into it in the end but at least we can go down with a fight and put our disdain on record. Think about it and I'll see you at next year's AGM for the big vote.
Facebook Comment of the Week
This week, we have premature evacuation, bizarre third party comments and why tanking is the right thing to do as long as there's no draft picks on the table.
Enjoy seeing your hard work in print - next week I'm going to take advantage of the fact that everyone will be at home watching by switching to the MFC Tweet of the Week, highlighting the best things sent to @melbournefc during the game. This is highly dangerous as no doubt either you or somebody you know will get a run and I'll cop even more hell than that time I bagged Black Caviar.
When we were lined up against Port in the opening round it was a disaster because the resulting wild scenes from the loss dynamited any confidence the team might have had left BUT now we've got a team who are in our league while we're coming off a confidence boosting quarter. If we go back to being turnips then resume the executions, but it's a good chance to start again and - god forbid - undeservedly get somewhere near the top eight.
For the first time in about three years I managed to be at enough of a loose end on Saturday to justify going to watch Casey play. It didn't hurt that I wanted to go to Windy Hill at least once, even if it is a hollowed out shell of what it used to be and several times a game of bowls next door was interrupted by a footy bouncing onto their green. They did, however, have a proper food caravan which is a step up from the primary school canteen at Casey Fields.
The good news is that the Scorpions had a win, but don't get too excited because it was an Essendon C team with barely a game of AFL experience amongst them other than from Matthew Bate, who looks like he's lost half his body weight (send canned food for him C/O Essendon Post Office) and didn't appear to get a touch until late in the 2nd quarter.
I have no idea who their ruckmen were or what EDFL team they played for last week but they allowed the unheralded combination of Jake Spencer and Jack Fitzpatrick to look like Dean Cox II and Dean Cox III. Unfortunately for both of them Jamar looked reasonably good today, and Gawn has absolutely sewn up his spot in the team so they'll both be playing for nothing until one of them is injured. It was still bizarre to see the Spencil so dominant. He was also not bad with his disposals when he had time (i.e from mark/free kick) but he's still an absolute disaster in traffic.
At least Fitz could have an argument (not a very convincing one) for a spot in the forward line if we get desperate, but at the risk of having rotten fruit lobbed at me I'd like to suggest that if Clark can't play and we don't have any other forwards that we park Jamar down there for four quarters and play a Spencil/Gawn ruck duo. It's not pretty, it might not be effective, but at least it's some kind of target without having to rely on Howe to stand on heads just to get a shot at goal. Fitzpatrick lost me a bit when he took a mark 30 metres out on no angle and did that bullshit kick around the corner thing.
'Essendon' were a lot like Melbourne were against real Essendon, they were terrible from centre clearances, conceded a rush of goals in the third quarter which killed the contest (at least they kept it to one quarter), had one good forward target who they couldn't get it to enough and a backline who battled manfully but were eventually overwhelmed by sheer weight of numbers. Was nice to be on the 'other' side for once even if it was only the VFL.
All the MFC players put in at least 'good' performances (and how could you not in an 80 something point win?), and excluding those who can't play like Magner, Couch and Hogan (who I command you to DROOL over. His marking and pack crashing will bring tears to your eyes in a good way even if his set shot run-up is even worse than Dunn's) the better players were Spencer, McKenzie and Rodan. Jordie is a certainty, and as for the other two the first is not required with Gawn/Jamar in the team (assuming my selection theories are not of interest to the match committee) and the third has hit a massive dead end in the seniors, but to be fair to him he has only played one full game. Still, we know what our lot is for this season now so we may as well stick to playing one or the other of he and Byrnes and giving the other spot to a 'kid'.
Taggert was probably the next best, playing up forward for a couple of goals and some good defensive pressure, and all of Clisby, Kent, Strauss and Tynan had their moments but other than Jordie nobody stood out as a player who will actually impact what's drastically wrong with us on-field. Strauss was probably the best of the defenders coming off half-back, and he'll get his opportunities eventually but nothing to get over excited about yet (in his fourth season). Magner might help plug the gap in the middle but he can't. Troy Davis was ok too, but with respect to the man himself who looks like a lovely gent I'm still confused as to why we kept him at the end of last year.
Then there's Blease and Nicholson, who both had their moments but neither could claim to have played anywhere near four solid quarters. The amount of times Blease collects the ball, beats an opponent with pace and proceeds to kick it straight down the throat of one of their players is ridiculous. I'd pack away this obsession about turning everybody into a midfielder and put him back inside 50 where he did the most damage last year.
So, assuming Clark can't play and Jetta won't be allowed to play I'll opt for...
IN: McKenzie, Blease (maybe Taggert for novelty?)
OUT: Clark (inj), Jetta (susp)
If Clark makes a miracle recovery I'll just take a straight McKenzie for Jetta. Toumpas didn't play yesterday, and that hardly did wonders for Watts' confidence so I'd like to see him playing VFL before he gets a recall to the 1's. Watts and Blease to both go forward and Davey to replace Jetta in the starting lineup.
Was it worth it?
To have been there for history (in a good way for once) makes it worthwhile overall, but I still feel like we've just papered over the cracks for a week. I'm over the moon that the monkey is off the back of the players a bit, and hope they can treat next week like Round 1.
Melbourne Football Club, get well soon.