Monday 6 May 2013

Last Exit To Brunton Avenue

It feels like I'm the last person to have come to this conclusion, but I've officially lost any sight of the proverbial light being at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Not just for the near future either. Any hope that the uncharacteristic rampage against GWS would finally herald a new era has been wiped away, and the suggestion that I'm supposed to find positives out of the last two weeks indicates to me that we're such tremendous garbage that I'm supposed to stand up and clap like a seal whenever we avoid a 100 point loss against a real side.

Hello to everyone who has been firmly in that camp for a year, sorry for stupidly being mildly optimistic but now I know exactly what you're on about. We've spent a fortune on our football department only to still having everything on field stuffed up, the players are generally not good enough to be in an AFL side and whatever the coaches are doing they can't wring anything out of this list other than a few token quarters here and there. There's a feeling in the air, and it's the feeling of the club being completely rotten.

I'd say that despite the ups and downs, downs and more downs over the last few years that I've been reasonable in my criticism. Isaac Weetra and Tom Gillies may wish to disagree, but considering how much we've had to pay for the privilege of sitting through since 2007 I've held onto the childlike "everything will be ok" sense of innocence long enough. There was always somebody you could sack to make things better. Strangely enough having players, coaches and administrators rotating through the slaughterhouse hasn't had the desired effect, now I'm not even sure that can help us. I'd like to say I give up, but that's not going to happen.

It's reached the point where footy's not even making me miserable anymore. That's like how people stop shivering just before they die of hypothermia. Not even seeing 'effort' is good enough anymore - all the signs are misleading, we're terrible from top to bottom and at the moment are worse on-field than the dying days of Fitzroy - who could always blame their $25 footy department and constant uncertainty about the club going tits up. All this AND the prospect of public humiliation and a major crisis when we hand Gold Coast their first ever win at the MCG next week. I can't wait that long, let's just play it tomorrow afternoon and get the horror over with.

'Effort' was certainly there against Carlton (though we did lose the tackle count comfortably despite having a hundred less disposals, so work that out) but effort will only get you so far. It might be the tie-breaker between two teams on a similar level, but at the moment there's only one other team on our level - and while 'effort' (but more their total collapse) did help us to beat them we're still going backwards in comparison.

If you're keen on draft picks this should be the continuation of a golden era for you, personally I'm sick to death of the bloody things and wish we could go back to picking between #10 and #20 where there's significantly less chance stuffing up a dead certainty (well, unless you pick Lucas Cook over Jack Darling. Or unless you eventually turn pick 11 into Casey's own Cam Pedersen). If we make it to the end of the year and have people telling us we should be going out to lose games to get pick 2 instead of 3 or 1 instead of 2 I will politely invite them to cram it in their arse. I've had enough of being kicked to death by everyone, I don't give a shit about tactical rorting of the system anymore because we'll just cock it up anyway.

Whatever caused us to explode and fall to earth in a million pieces after 186 this stat is so damning of everybody involved with the club that it's almost enough to make you shed a tear. Read that and weep - one win and 27 losses against 'real' clubs since that day. We've gone from being able to beat interstate teams, Essendon and Richmond at the G, Port in Darwin, and Brisbane at the Gabba if we're lucky to only being competitive against sides full of kids who will pull in front of us before long. Even then three out of five victories against GWS and Gold Coast have been more slog than quality.

So get stuffed if you want me to find positives out of the last fortnight. I'll admit there have been brief moments where we've looked like a real football club, but that's not good enough. Every club has that at some point - even GWS and Gold Coast in their first seasons. They will prosper eventually but how could they not? Even if half their top draft picks are duds they'll still be fine. Whereas we went to the ends of the earth to get half as many picks and haven't got one solitary star out of it. We've had some good players sure, some of them have even continued to be half decent for more than a few weeks at a time.

On paper everyone we get seems to have something going for them (although I will grant there are questions regarding D. Rodan) so why does everything that goes in the MFC door come out twisted and battered to the point of uselessness? Questions have got to be asked of everyone - which naturally includes the coach, but should in no way start and stop at him.

There might be some road to being a proper finals contender again within the next couple of years, but I'm stuffed if I can see it. If we kept Frawley, Sylvia and Watts and they all played at their best (in Sylvia's case I won't expect it every week) - if Trengove was resurrected, if Clark could stop getting injured every ten minutes, if Viney and Toumpas don't stack it on the first corner like so many others we could be ok. If, if, if, if and if. Basically if everything went right we'd be half decent. Well that's something to build a future on, why don't we dismiss the coach and hire a motivational speaker instead?

Getting a touch would be a start. Before this week the league average for total disposals this year was 175 and we've had 1544 - which is about 40 less a week. This is in a side that's had the fifth most hitouts in the competition (mind you also the second least clearances) and the most contested marks. So our ruckmen can get the taps, but fat chance they go to anybody and then good luck having any meaningful link-up play around the ground before somebody either stuffs it up or hoofs it out of bounds. That is if they're not handballing it to a flat-footed teammate with two opposition players standing a metre behind him. Apparently if we kick to a contest enough we'll take marks, but it's not 1984 you can't win by blindly whacking the ball downfield at every opportunity. You have to have some sort of run - and it would be absolutely magnificent (take note R. Bail and D. Nicholson) if said run could also be coupled with the ability to hit a target by foot.

Every week I turn up and sit there thinking "how did this happen when we drafted so many midfielders?" Going through our litany of draft disasters is about as cliched and boring as using the term 'Moneyball' in articles about AFL list management but it's not needed because you know the story as well as I do. Forget about everything that has happened off-field in the last few years - how did we manage to go through all this shit and STILL wind up with players who can't get ball in hand? All that heartbreak and toying with our emotions and we've never unearthed one actual star. Trengove was on the way, now he plays like a 70-year-old.

For all those reasons and more Mark Neeld has been loaded into the New Balance Coaching Cannon again, with the fuse set for about 8pm next Sunday night. Fair enough too, we haven't advanced in the last year so fair enough you'd be under the pump. My faith in holding off until the end of the season is holding on by a shred, but I know that he won't be there in 2014. At least we'll always have this to remember him by.

Good luck to whoever wants to take this smouldering train wreck over. Popular wisdom is that whatever was wrong with us post-186 he has made it worse, but I say when a plane is plummeting to earth out of control then no pilot's going to be able to stop it. Think it will solve anything immediately? I don't. It doesn't matter if Leigh Brown, Neil Craig, Jade Rawlings or me are coaching next Sunday afternoon, it'll be pretty much the same side without adequate time to come up with a new and exciting game plan which will restore us to our rightful place as a mid-table possessions team.

Obviously everyone will play their guts out for a new coach for about five minutes, and given that it's Gold Coast who are just in our league (i.e they're almost completely in front of us, but we're just holding on) they might even have a win but it's all papering over the gaping cracks which have been there since 2011 (assuming that you, as I do, treat 2010 as an absolute golden age of footy).

Then come August we put the feelers out for somebody to take over and it's back to square one again. Which is ok, I'm starting to come to terms with the fact that no matter how much I wanted this to work and for Neeld to escape from the slaughterhouse with the opportunity to stick two fingers up at everybody that it's not going to happen - at least not quickly enough to prevent his assassination.

But pack away your fantasies about 'big name' coaches, we'll just end up with another untried assistant who will be charged with doing the rebuild of a rebuild of a rebuild. I'm sick of hearing about how we should be going out and throwing a billion dollars at Paul Roos or Alastair Clarkson - yes we should, but we're paying out a CEO (sacked due to 'the people'), paying off a tanking fine (following a strategy overwhelmingly endorsed by 'the people') and are about to be paying the last year of a contract to a coach (who 'the people' are desperate to get rid of). Sadly Clarko didn't take our bait at the end of 2011, but unless you're going to give him half of the Bentleigh Club now good luck being able to afford him at the end of this year. Also good luck convincing Paul Roos to ditch his cushy job frothing over Adam Goodes in the Fox Footy commentary box - why would you ruin a legacy hitching yourself to us?

So over to YOU Generic Assistant Coach 27b. May your Toumpas and Viney be bountiful, may you and the recruiting staff use pick 1, 2 or 3 to land us the superstar that we so richly deserve and may you find a way to heal whatever evil spirits afflict Jack Trengove's entire body. May you also talk Frawley and Watts off the ledge and convince them to stay and be a part of the fourth rebuild, as exciting as that must sound for talented players.

Whether or not the board would fling Neeld out this week even if we did lose to Gold Coast is debatable. Under the nuclear pressure from media and supporters they might have to, but they may as well follow if that's the case. One thing I will say is that if his job rests on winning this game (and why should it be any different to the GWS match?) then I'm not sure why they even bother waiting until next week to get rid of him except to save their own blushes. Either he goes through to the end of the year and 'we' lump it or they should make the move now. Otherwise we just continue to be a "will we/won't we" sideshow to help fill a few minutes here and there on SEN.

Putrid performances by Brisbane and Footscray might have taken some of the heat off, but in the end nobody in the Victorian media cares what happens to Michael Voss and McCartney won't be in the same deep shit for at least another year because everybody knew that the Bulldogs were right at the bottom last year - whereas we're fielding a team largely similar to the one that was supposedly the next big thing a couple of years ago. The heat is still firmly on, and I doubt we've got another blistering 12 goal quarter in us if he needs saving again. What a humiliating situation to find ourselves in again. Haven't we done this all before? At least we got good times out of Balme and Daniher, and the brief promise of good times from Bailey. Under Neeld we've had nothing but epic misery, and while I'm not sure he's at fault he'll wear it when we look back in the future.

I've preached calm and stability, but if he was to go right now the most damning thing about this era would be the way that Nathan Jones is the only senior player to have improved during his reign. I'm not counting Howe because he barely played under Bailey, or Sylvia because he operates in his own universe - but Frawley, McKenzie, Jamar, Trengove and Watts (three weeks of glory aside) have all gone backwards since the start of 2012. Blease, McDonald and Nicholson had bursts where they looked good and then fell back to earth before long but of course they did, they're talented players. Who's harnessing the talent? For all the supposed advances in preparation and training that we've put in since the alleged Camp Bailey era whatever's broken has created a beast far uglier than the pre-186 sides. How stupid do you feel now about whinging every second week about how badly we had it during 2011? It was no 2010, but 186 aside that was a great year compared to the weekly discovery of new ways to hit rock bottom that we're suffering now.

To be entirely honest I've got the point where I don't care one way or another what they do. Sack him, keep him, play him on a half-back flank, do what you like. I refuse to get excited about anything anymore, I'll go every week where possible but it seems more and more like a chore. There's still a buzz on game day, which usually lasts until five minutes into the first quarter, and that's what drives me to keep going instead of sitting on my couch smashing remotes but the whole thing has become more of a joke than a tragedy. I'm not upset for long after games now, I just come on here and belt the keyboard lightly to get some of the frustrations out before getting on with my life. I want to go back to an era where footy would ruin my working week if we lost, because it wasn't expected.

One of the perception problems this lot has got is that we simply don't do honourable losses anymore. That's what annoys a lot of people, and rightly so. Look at the other teams in our league - Gold Coast sadly might confirm their promotion next week, but they beat St Kilda, almost beat Brisbane and stuck with Fremantle longer than they had any right to. Footscray have been shithouse but on either side of some awful defeats they flogged Brisbane and put in a creditable performance against unbeaten Geelong. GWS were ok against Sydney and Essendon.

We beat GWS (just) and were ok in the broadest sense of the word against Brisbane. That's it. Putrid against Port, beyond putrid against Essendon, still putrid against West Coast but not as much as the week before and just plain shithouse against Carlton.

I've accepted the fact that we might never beat any of Carlton, Collingwood, Footscray, Geelong, Hawthorn, North Melbourne, St Kilda ever again but since the start of last year the nearest we've come to 'losing a close one' was against the Saints when we went down by 18... then didn't score in the last quarter. Fluke of the millennium against Essendon and a few wins against expansion teams aside we've not got within three goals in a year and a quarter. Why do they think everyone's out for their heads? Noble aims about being the hardest team to play against are one thing, but it's not a Hollywood movie - you've actually got to do something to get the fancyboys and powderpuffs to comply. He made the mistake of waiting a year to bring his own people in and it's totally necked him - he should have killed EVERYONE at the end of 2011 and started again. Now, too late the irreparable damage is done.

Considering how far expectations have fallen, and how we did have some legitimate excuses today (e.g the lack of a forward line) I shouldn't be as upset as I am, but there was something about it that extinguished the pilot light of hope for good. Of course we weren't going to win, but did it have to be another ten goal loss? When we briefly got a run on in the second quarter couldn't we have bravely kept the damage against a finals contender down to four or five goals? That would have been something to take positives out of, not a five goal loss to a Brisbane side who are almost as shit as we are. There have been precious few games over the last couple of years when we've won respect from anyone, so it's no wonder that we're treated as a joke club now.

We've been blessed with this amazing draw that has us playing 12 of the first 14 at the MCG and we're not even using it to push teams even remotely near the limit. The fact that this was our 'best' loss of the year at our home ground so far is comical. We're so deepressed that we don't even expect to win against fringe top eight sides like the Blues anymore, but we just want to see one game where they're given a scare. How we all howled when the same team accused us of 'bruise free footy' a few years back. And how they were right then and still are now. If you're anywhere from 1st to 14th on the ladder we're a bye. Who's going to stand up and do something about this?

Admittedly had we fielded any sort of forward option we might have gotten off to a better start, because not for the first time this year we came out and looked like a proper footy team for the first five minutes. That's certainly a good thing, and far better than the dross we usually serve up in the same time frame during third quarters, but the idea that it means something was totally discredited the night we did it against Essendon then turned in the third worst performance in club history across the other 95 minutes. You can lose honourably, but you have to put in something approaching a four quarter performance to do it. Even three quarters would be nice. Funnily enough we 'won' a quarter today, which is almost worth celebrating until you realise it came because of a double goal and not actual encouraging play on our behalf.

I can (sort of) see the dilemma they had in selecting who was going to play forward. With all of Clark, Jamar (break open in case of emergency) and Watts completely unavailable they were left with the choice of Pedersen or Sellar as a full-forward. Tapscott is (angry) spare parts. Howe's an option, but even though he had a shite day you can't waste what he brings to the team playing up the ground on the off chance that he might get on the end of a few rare inside 50's. And now options are running thin. Fitzpatrick will have to get another chance at some point, but like Spencer, Tom Couch and Juice Newton before them he's trapped in the twilight zone between AFL and VFL, never to break through the glass ceiling.

There was Dawes of course. If I was being mean I'd suggest that he could have played this week but they knew we'd lose anyway and wanted some of the rust off in a 'winnable' game. Otherwise I can accept a conservative approach, but wouldn't he be as likely to re-injure himself playing a full VFL game as an AFL one?

The forward set-up is where it all got too odd for me. Fair enough Sellar is all but gone, and Pedersen hasn't been much better but considering who was out wouldn't this have been a fair time to give Pedo a full game up front as a focal point? It might not have worked, but relying on Max Gawn (as magnificent as he is most of the time) to be your full-forward for the entire day is nigh on suicidal. Then to not pick any obvious crumbers or proven goalkickers to play at his feet is doubly baffling. Sam Blease kicked 19 goals last year and has spent all this year in and out of the side because he can't play the midfield role they want. Today he was sitting in the stands as the ball was aimlessly pounded inside 50 only to bounce back again five seconds later. Carlton hardly have a world class backline, he could have caused some damage - but instead he's flicking through the record and trying to communicate with his home planet.

Then they pick Dean Kent to debut as a forward and start him as the sub. This is the kind of stuff that causes me crippling doubt no matter how much I want to convince myself that the people in charge know what they're doing. It's a shame it had to happen under the circumstances it did, but I'm glad he got to play most of the game. He didn't do much but he did kick a nice goal and deserves another go. Ironic he's from Clackline, because that's where I feel the club pokes me most weeks.

For all the people who have suddenly 'remembered' how much they loved Dean Bailey and how we should never have sacked him this game must have been a real blast from the past. How many times did a player get the ball and look up to see nobody in front of them inside 50? I swear there was one bit where Sylvia was 3/4 of the way into dropping the ball onto his boot to roost it hopefully forward before he realised nobody was there. Even if you're not going to play with a forward line at least get somebody down there so you can kick it to them while they're desperately outnumbered Baileyball style.

Funnily enough we didn't do too badly out of the middle despite getting well beaten in the hitouts. It seemed that most of the goals that killed us in the first quarter came from turnovers, which came from a combination of our own ineptitude and insane pressure from Carlton players. Somebody should have told them that you only need to put moderate pressure on us and we'll fold, save the real butch stuff for a real opposition. We tried similar but from the moment they got the first goal c/o some funky off the ground pass by Waite half our team decided that they'd probably had enough for the day.

One rare and surprising winner was Dunn doing one of his infrequent tagging demolition jobs on J**d, which was good news for us in trying to avoid a triple digit loss but bad news for Dunn himself as he will presumably be used in that role regularly now - a move which worked for about three weeks in 2008 before he went back to the endless Brad Miller-esque cycle of going forward, then back, then forward again, then as sub a million times, then back again. No doubt in the world we'll try to repeat the dose next week and Ablett will have 57 touches on him.

Other than that we were just vomitous. Charity double goals from free kicks aside they had our measure in every aspect of the game. I'll be brutally honest here and say that I tuned out for most of today because I got so bored waiting for us to get our hands on the ball. When we did it was usually crap, but at least watching the King of Sizzle punt a ball 20 rows back out of sheer panic is interesting. Pretty much the only other highlight of the whole day was Luke Tapscott's bump, he's been trying to hit somebody for two weeks and finally managed it. The umpire shat himself and reported him, but he'll get off. Nothing wrong with it at all, and even though I'm still confused as to what he's supposed to be doing in the team I'm happy to keep him now just because he's intent on being an arsehole to opposition players - I just hope he's ready to be invited to inspect the scoreboard by pretty much every opponent until the end of the year.

The defence was decidedly average again. Frawley wasn't too bad (playing for a big contract elsewhere) and McDonald has completely lost the plot since pocketing the Demonbracket title earlier in the year but thank god for Colin Garland. He had his rocky moments earlier in the year, and he's passed the stage where he's even going to develop a second facial expression, but has come good in the last couple of weeks. I did enjoy their three small forwards making an absolute mockery of the fact that we had none (unless you count Rohan Bail and I most certainly do not) - do you not think Blease could have done something at least similar instead of sitting in the stands hoping somebody was going to blow their hammy in the warmup?

The problems with the defence being beaten in the air and on the ground by pretty much everyone are nothing new (have not kept a non-expansion team under 100 points since Port Adelaide in Darwin last year, and since 186 we've only managed it four times, while conceding the century on 22 occasions) but maybe if we could move the ball out with any fluency it wouldn't be so much of an issue? There's always these odd moments of magic where the opposition forget what they're doing for a second and we rampage down the ground untouched, usually to cock it up in the forward line, but if somebody could get a hold of the Champion Data "Squeeze" stats (which show unimpeded movement from one end of the ground to the other without the opposition touching it) I guarantee you we're bottom of the FOR and AGAINST tables. Everything is a grim struggle, up to and including watching it all.

We might have made a better game of it if we'd taken advantage of our brief period of domination in the second quarter - but perhaps if we hadn't got ourselves five goals down in the first place it wouldn't have mattered? We didn't even have to wait until the start of the third quarter to throw the game away this time (though we did do that as well) because after that first five minutes where we could have gotten off to a decent start but either cocked up chances or didn't have anyone to kick to we rolled over and died like everyone expected us to. This is not a side built for confounding expectations. Brief bursts once the game is shot is about as good as you're going to get against anybody half decent.

All this against the backdrop of poor Jack Grimes destroying his collarbone/shoulder in such spectacular fashion that he had to be cut out of his jumper due to the pain. He'd got through a whole year without getting hurt, surely you had to know it was around the corner somewhere. It's one thing to be a Daniel Menzel/David Schwarz style figure and keep wrecking the same part of your body but at least that can be rationalised, this guy has now hurt his back, smashed his foot and now wrecked his collarbone/shoulder. Stuff the on-field impact, we know we're buggered anyway, I just feel terrible for the guy personally. I'll even forgive him for getting us off to a shithouse start by kicking out on the full in the first couple of minutes. Just another reason to hurl abuse at the footballing gods for allowing us to get ourselves into this state.

Going into the last quarter there was plenty of time, just like the West Coast game, to turn our brief flashes of competitive football into a 100 point loss. Thankfully we got two of the first three goals to at least take that off the agenda. If you thought that we were set for a repeat of the St Kilda game last year when we made it 'respectable' after starting the last quarter 50 points behind you were wrong, because if there's something we do well it's rolling and dying. So we did. Rinse and repeat, week after week and yes you are right I have lost the will to live.

In the last few minutes the experience of being a Melbourne supporter was perfectly encapsulated by putting my hand out and copping a murky spray of green bird shit all over it. So now I've got Bird Flu to go alongside Melbourne Supporter Depression Syndrome. Which is nice. The last time that happened to me, also in the Ponsford Stand and also on my hand, was Round 21, 1993 - when it didn't mean so much because a) I was not entirely deepressed yet, and b) we were 13 goals up at the time. Now it's just another #fistedforever moment to put in the memory bank.

2013 Allen Jakovich Medal
5 - Lynden Dunn
4 - Colin Garland
3 - Colin Sylvia
2 - Matt Jones
1 - Luke Tapscott

Apologies to Evans, Frawley and Jones.


15 - Nathan Jones
11 - Matt Jones (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Rising Star Award), Colin Sylvia
9 - Shannon Byrnes
7 - Jack Viney
6 - Michael Evans
5 - Lynden Dunn, Colin Garland (CO-LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year) Jack Grimes (CO-LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
4 - Jeremy Howe
2 - Rohan Bail, 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, Luke Tapscott

Crowd Watch
How many Carlton fans were dropped on their heads as children? If my team had been shit for a prolonged period (hold on a minute...) and were all of a sudden at the point where we'd not only landed a legendary coach but were also swatting away rubbish teams with the greatest of ease I'd probably sit there and enjoy the serenity of success rather than crying about every free kick under the sun when 50 points in front.

The highlight was Betts getting done for a push in the back featuring not only two hands resting (which is a shit rule) but two hands pushing (which is a perfectly normal rule). The mutants were still bleating 45 seconds later when Kent was kicking a goal at the other end despite a replay proving beyond any conclusive doubt that there was a push. These people shouldn't be allowed to vote.

Other than that my highlight was seeing Todd Viney giving a guided tour of the MCG to Maia Westrupp and his parents. No doubt they got them over here this week, because if they'd tried to demonstrate how great a club we are in front of two men and a dog next Sunday he'd have gone straight back to New Zealand pissing himself laughing at us. Apparently he's 18, but he looks about 14. Don't hold your breath on seeing him out there anytime soon - even Cale Morton could eat him for breakfast at the moment.

MFC Facebook Comment of the Week

Either everybody has given up or the moderators have had to go insane, because the amount of comments are disappointingly low on all the posts from today. I'd love to do a special report on all the people who said TrengRove but we'd be here all day.

Sadly none of the real top shelf, keyboard mashing nutbags have turned up. But when you can't find any top shelf identities from your own club there's anyways time for other legends of the internet to step in with special comments.

Like everyone else I've had more than a handful of run-ins with old mate Sooz over the years. Halfway through his first engagement as coach in the NAB Cup I posted this frightening but sarcastic vision of the future and got a spray for being a terrible individual who was trying to get the coach dismissed during his first match. Threats were duly issued, I remained unbanned by Twitter and in the end Neeld really is going to get sacked.

To be honest like most other things involving this club I'm almost over this feature. It's just a cheap excuse to keep promoting the HELLO MELBOURNE! jingle as sung by Sandy Roberts and Lou Richards.

Next Week

Our top ten lowest crowds at the MCG since 1987 range from 10,307 (vs Brisbane, Round 18 1987) to 15,494 (vs Fremantle, Round 20 1996) and if a 4.40pm game against Gold Coast on Mother's Day when we're utterly wank on field isn't enough to qualify for that list - if not push for the #1 spot then I'll be jaw droppingly shocked. Even the 5000 vultures who showed up just to watch the coach get sacked when we played GWS will opt to stay home and watch this fiasco on TV.

After winning a surprise victory against Judd I await the inevitable Dunn vs Ablett matchup and the even more inevitable 57 touches for GAJ. With any luck it'll be one of those games where his teammates spend so much time looking for him that they forget to be any good themselves, but don't count on it. I have the feeling we're going down and that by the final siren there will be lucky to be 5000 people in the ground.

Dawes comes in to try and provide some sort of aerial target, Blease likewise but to add speed and ability to put ball between the middle posts (unlike, say, Bail). Magner finally gets his chance courtesy of Grimes' injury, and no doubt the feelgood factor will last even less time than the Tom Couch one did last year but at least he can be rewarded for good VFL form.

As for the outs we surely can't play Trengove after the last couple of weeks. I don't give a rats that he's the last captain standing, because he's barely doing that. Jones can stand in and you won't be able to tell the difference. Send Jack to a health farm or something, preferably one of those where Buddhist monks beat the piss out you with sticks for theraputic reasons. As for McKenzie I've been a longtime fan but he's woefully out of form at the moment.

IN: Blease, Dawes, Magner
OUT: Grimes (inj), McKenzie, Trengove

Hopefully if he's going down because of this game Neeld kills somebody first. Shame nobody will be there to do see it. I'll claim to have been looking down at the time.

Next Year
More than a quarter of the season has now elapsed, and I've started to have my suspicions about who isn't going to be there no matter who the coach is. At the moment I've got 13 out, with some surviving based on their contract status only (yes, The Spencil IS contracted until the end of next season). If you think our average games experience is bad now, wait until this lot go.

Sylvia (Will fancy one last roll of the dice at a non-spaz club who can carry him being on and off like a tap)

Frawley (Hawthorn's first pick if we're lucky. Will 100% leave)
Watts (Whatever we can get to avoid losing him for nowt in the PSD, no way he'll want to stay).

Couch, Davis, Fitzpatrick, Gillies (may survive as cover if we lose Frawley), Jetta, Macdonald, Sellar, Taggert

Davey, Rodan

And that's without the random trades that come from nowhere. If you can make a case for any of the delistees surviving the firing squad I'd be happy to hear it. Obviously the top three would be more than welcome to stay (I'm still suss on Sylvia mind you). God knows how we're going to pay our salary cap minimum next year without them - Mitch Clisby might end up on a mil. That could be the only chance we've got of landing some belting free agent, but can you see anybody choosing us over any other club after they've seen what's happened to Clark and Dawes?

Was it worth it?
To indulge the childlike sense of pre-match excitement yes. From about 3.25pm to the point where I walked back in the front door via being sprayed with avian faeces it was a complete bloody waste of time with barely one highlight to recommend it. I will be back next week.

Final thoughts
The Doomsday Clock is back, and I don't doubt that there will be a lot of people not so secretly hoping we lose next week in order to trigger 'the move'. It's perverse but I sort of see where you're coming from - if Neeld can get through this game nobody will expect to win any of the next four (Richmond, Fremantle, Collingwood, Hawthorn) so barring any more 150 point fiascos he'll make mid-June intact and the next Russian Roulette match will be on June 29 against Footscray.

I can't believe I'm reduced to thinking like this six rounds in. Somebody save me from my addiction to this shithouse club.


  1. I have loved Garlo these last two years but I think his regular opponent kicked 4 goals. He is one of the few defenders who actually watches the ball not just his man and spoils. The only problem is, if you are playing on a small crumbing forward (as he was) and the punch goes anywhere near him then it's curtains.

    He still does the least number of spastic things of any of our defenders (who actually play negative roles [you are disqualified Good Times Grimes])

  2. Lyall St Kilda7 May 2013 at 18:21

    I hate to admit it but I think that you are right. We are locked into this nightmare for the rest of this season. But I just couldn't believe Neeld, who has worked with Malthouse, hadn't worked out a strategy to beat him. How many times had he watched the back line switch at Collingwood training and successfully executed by Carlton on several occasions with resultant scores? Clearly Neeld is only at assistant standard with the skill to get a team fit and trained and onto the park each round. Unfortunately for us long suffering supporters he has no idea of football strategy, no idea how to maximise the ability of the players on the list or any idea of how to pull it all together into a series of viable game plans. And as our morale plummets spare a thought for the players. As you point out what a dismal prospect the MFC is for any of the high rating draught picks that we are bound to receive. Would any professional footballer worth his salt want to join the club?

  3. Hmmm, I hate 4.40pm sunday games but this time at least we can have mothers day lunch before the game and roll in half tanked. Getting the train home from losing to GC on a sunday night in this weather with the wine worn off and the sunday night upfield timetable turning provincial with the snowy fog will be a new low. We can't lose this one or we'll be slinking home in slow motion at 11pm expecting jack the ripper to finish us off. Garland left the ground in the last qtr holding his 'hammy' area. Is he ok? Without him we are 100% going to lose to Cold Ghost. With him, and with a fwd line, and with someone crumbing a fwd line should one exist, like Blease or Davey or anyone, should some fwds be there, we can win. They're big ifs though. Very big ifs. Kent should start without a sub jacket....because he can kick the ball. This is a stop the press moment at Melbourne the guy has a foot! He seemed a little pacey too. Not as big as I hoped. But I almost detected confidence in him. No sub jacket! I was against the Rodan 'experiment' from Day 1...until the brisbane game when i realised he was the only one who can get the ball out with handpasses vaguely favouring his team mates - he didnt waste the touches - and then he is dropped just when the 'experiment' works? wtf? I don't blame the coach for our mess, mainly because he is not to blame for it, but there are some stunning decisions on top of it that I don't get. Playing guys every seond week, and out of sub jackets then dropped etc, can't do anything any good. Dragging guys 150 mts to the bench for a 'rest' after theyve finally done something amazing like kicked a ghoul is likewise dumb. (ie watts last week, ie moving sylvia to fwd pocket two weeks ago after his starburst match winning hulk out of the centre bounce)I'm not blaming the coach but we are in no position for extra stupids!
    Basically I agree with your surmations except we need to keep J Watts - one can only imagine him going in the draft to GWS. The kids would be broken things. The future would never come.
    TC, from Hell.


Crack the sads here... (to keep out nuffies, comments will show after approval by the Demonblog ARC)