Sunday, 4 August 2013

Abandon ship


One day you'll have a set of highly amusing anecdotes to tell about the last few years following this club, it's just a question of whether or not there'll be anybody left who wants to hear them.

It would obviously also be nice if by then there's still a club to follow, but every time we put in another heartless performance which further chips away at the miniscule fanbase that have stuck with us this long we strike another blow to our hopes of rescuing this club in time to take advantage of the AFL's (presumably) generous bailout package. In a way it saddens me to see that outwardly normal people are starting to come to terms with the sort of bizarre conspiracy theories I've been running with all season about how we're in MASSIVE trouble for the future, but at the same time at least everyone's starting to realise that we are in no way 'too big to fail' and must either get it right relatively quickly or see the world's oldest professional football side cark it.

Would you blame your kid if they came out of this week's game saying they wanted to follow the Giants? It's up to you to bribe or threaten them into continuing your legacy but you're fighting an uphill battle considering we've already turned off a generation of kids who are going into Grade 2 never having seen us get closed than arm's length of respectability before imploding in the greatest shower of debris that the professional football world has ever seen.

It's not losing to GWS that's the problem. I'm not suggesting that I'm happy to be beaten comfortably by an 0-17 team who hadn't won in 364 days and chuffed that we botched the chance to put a winless season on Kevin Sheedy's record out of pure spite, but if you're at all realistic about the way this year has gone they have been at least our equals if not better. But for one out of the blue quarter in Round 4 or the bounce of a ball in either of our matches against Footscray we're practically the same. The only difference is that at the moment we're both at the bottom but one side's heading towards a glorious future and the other is on the fast track to putting itself out of business.

I won't pretend there's no shame in what happened today, after all they're probably going to win eight flags in a row starting soon and Scully will perform the biggest 'fuck you all' to us by becoming a triple Brownlow Medallist, but it's the typically weedy way we went under without more than a token fight that irks me. The scene was set right from the start when Brogan started roughing up Watts before the first bounce - as is his right - and all our players just stood around watching while Jack offered token resistance. It's one thing to not go out and flatten somebody cheaply a'la Sylvia against the Suns (though it depends who it is, I'm sure we'd also rise to applaud if he'd done it against Boomer Harvey) and I respect that Nathan Jones and Tapscott have copped melee fines this year but how can we not have the balls to stand up for ourselves against a team of kids and angry veterans? Can't we at least engage in the macho bullshit push and shove game for show rather than just meekly going along with the script and getting tonked by them?

Humiliation is hardly a new sensation if you're a Melbourne fan, in fact if you're old enough we've (kind of) been here before against a much worse side (26 straight losses), but the horror of that day was at least tempered by having just won three games in the previous month. It was also soon forgotten when we won the next two. This year we've had a month where we kicked four goals twice, lost by 20 goals once, limped to what sadly constitutes an honourable loss and would celebrate a win in either of our next two games like we've won Tattslotto. This is a new level of bleakness.

Confident that we were going to find a new way to mine rock bottom in this game I set out during the week, in a frankly scandalous use of work time, to discover who or what dug the greatest hole in history. Surprisingly neither 186 or Mark Neeld and his 'hardest team to play against' comments featured, but I did learn about the oddly named Kola Superdeep Borehole.

This hole, officially the deepest ever until we lose all our remaining games by over 100 points, was started by the Soviet Union and - for reasons that aren't entirely clear - reached depths of more than 40,000 feet by the time they gave up. As I read on it became clear that the borehole and the Melbourne Football Club had a lot in common, both of them started to go downhill at a tremendous rate during the 70's and both were abandoned in 2008 when funding ran out. Eventually when there was no money left and no point in going on any further they welded the top of the hole shut, walked away and left the entire complex to fall apart. Sound familiar?

In modern footballing terms it's hard to tell if a rebuild from this position is possible because nobody's ever gotten themselves into as deep shit as us, much less lived to tell the tale. Even Fitzroy decayed with more on-field dignity than we've got at the moment.

The closest would be the triple spoon and twice 15th Carlton, but at least they could blame draft sanctions for slowing their rebuild to a crawl and point to Fev kicking a shitload of goals as a good reason why people should still bother turning up to watch every week. I would still contend that they were never as awful and painful to watch as we are today - averaging 76, 92 and 81 points a game in their three wooden spoon seasons. In comparison we might have avoided at least one spoon but are going at 66.7ppg this year following on from 72 last season without the prospect of a billionaire tipping a fortune in (unless you count the AFL) and without us even getting the half decent return from our litany of top picks that the Blues have. They got J**d for big money and he won a Brownlow, we bought Clark for plenty and his foot fell off.

The only other example I can find is Sydney, who did alright to recover from three spoons in a row in the early 90's to play in a Grand Final by '96. There are plenty of similarities between us and them too. They did nothing in the draft with a ton of top 10 picks (Jason Spinks, Darren Gaspar, Glenn Gorman, Adam Heuskes, Anthony Rocca and Shannon Grant. It took until the '95 draft and Jared Crouch to get somebody would stay around for more than 100 games), topping up with a bunch of average discards from other clubs and being financially bailed out by the league before finally getting it right. Would be nice if the league could go out and get us today's equivalent of Tony Lockett as well though. At least the triple spoon Swans went down swinging, averaging 90, 92 and 91 in their those seasons - if anybody in Sydney had given a rats about the team at least they'd have been proud knowing that their side was having a go and could have some confidence that if they turned up to a game something interesting was going to happen.

There is no such guarantee with the MFC. Right now we're dead on with the Roys last season in terms of average score, and have an only marginally better percentage than they did at the same point before completely giving up and getting thumped for the last four weeks of the season as we're every possible chance to do.

All this would still have been relevant had we beaten the Giants, but any sort of win would have momentarily swept the misery under the carpet instead of sending us all off the deep end once and for all. Not that I personally expected us to win, but one can always live in hope. It would also have helped to have gone down battling instead of being run around circles by a better prepared, quicker, smarter side - seven of whom had never played in a win and one who held the ludicrous career record of 0-21.

If only they'd managed to beat the Dogs a few weeks ago and would have stood to lose pole position in the race to auction off pick #1 to the whole league I've got no doubt we would have 'found a way to win', no matter how unsatisfying it would have been. No doubt J. Cameron would have had something sore which caused him to pull out and $cully would be temporarily sidelined with a sore back from picking up his wallet.

As it was the Giants had no call to employ any sort of shenanigans. With a full two wins between the sides the match was 'live' (not that an team would ever set out to avoid winning) and the AFL's pride and joy child had every motivation to tonk the uncontrollable shambles of a kid that the league has been accidentally lumped with because somebody forgot to take the pill for five minutes. We even managed to ride the wave of having several shithouse decisions go in our favour and still couldn't take advantage.

In a frightening flashback to the Neeld era any confidence I had in winning went out the door on Thursday night when the teams came out. Not only was Frawley gone but Dawes also suffered a mystery injury, robbing us of arguably our most important players at either end. Then against a lightning quick side who spent most of last week making Collingwood stupid as they flew from one end to the other with ball movement that made light of the fact that they'd lost by 20 goals a fortnight earlier we pick three ruckmen (with respect to Spencer having played a last start career best game) and expect Gawn to play as a centre-half forward instead of sending Pedo up there and using a proper defender like Davis - or god forbid Gillies - to plug the gap at the other end. With Garland and Tom Mac in the side they wouldn't have had to take the best forwards anyway, and if we were going to play without our first choice CHF at least do it with somebody who can take a mark and played his best game for us against the Giants in the forward line. It wasn't fatal but it certainly put a lot of stock in Gawn's ability to get possessions as a forward.

Then there was Kent over Blease. I know neither of them was much good last week, but Sam is still the player who kicked 19 goals last year - and his set up for Tapscott to miss in the third quarter last week was outrageous (in a good way). His disposal is a farce sometimes but he makes things happen, and that's exactly what we needed against a side who we were at least well matched up with. I respect the idea of leaving him out against sides where we need an all hands on deck defensive effort or of giving him full games in the 2's for form, but what's the point of that at this time of the year? On the other side Kent has played six games in a row and done almost nothing as a starter or a sub. Maybe they were worried Blease would turn heel on us halfway through the game and re-form Miami Vice? Either way Kent can afford to spend some time in the seconds, but we should be getting as many games into Blease as possible going into next season.

Selection issues aside (insert something about Magner here) I still believed we were at least a chance of winning, and while we did get the first goal again we were lucky that Matt Jones didn't get done for holding the ball in an admittedly cracking tackle from $cully (as usual playing out of his skin against us just to rub it in) after Terlich handballed it to him then didn't bother trying to lay a shepherd and just wandered off instead. Not the last time it happened for the day either. Does anybody ever shepherd on this team? Other sides appear to do it all the time. It's a fundamental of the bloody sport after all. There must be a bit of blocking and bumping going on 'in the clinches' (CLICHE) but I still reckon the only player I've seen legitimately sprint to help one of his teammates out all year was Jake Spencer - which is a tremendous indictment on the rest of them.

Just like last week the first goal was followed by a five minute period where we could barely get our hands on the ball, and when we did stuff all came out of it. Watts redeemed himself by kicking two goals in the first quarter before going missing again, but his attempt at a quick handball which squibbed off his hand and rolled pathetically to Garland with an opponent right up his clacker was hardly befitting a player who is making a big song and dance about holding us over the barrel until we fulfil all his desires. Good luck delivering handballs like that at Carlton next year and having Mick Malthouse scream obscenities directly in your face until you cry.

When we did go forward it predictably came flying out the other way at lightning speed due to us having about as much forward pressure as crumb. Absolutely nil. A brief period where we slowed them down long enough to get a few chances was completely wasted by missing them all, and whenever they got the ball back they'd find players free all over the place. They wanted it more, and you could tell it. The best thing to do to a team in that situation is strangle them at birth and reassert control but this is Melbourne we're talking about here - a team that has about as much successful in asserting themselves as a substitute teacher.

We were being sliced and diced from one end to the other, which was playing right into their hands. This made the fact that we then kicked three goals in a row (admittedly one from a technically correct but morally rubbish 50) totally confusing. Were we actually going to play a majority of decent football across more than one quarter? Of course we weren't, our loose attitude to chasing opponents cost us a couple of goals and when Puttin' On The Fitz brought back the old Lolpatrick days by missing an absolute sitter we went into quarter time behind, handing the Giants every clue they needed to believe that they could beat us.

Admittedly they were in a similar - if not better - position last week and lost, but we're hardly Collingwood. In all honesty I thought we actually did really well in the first quarter considering we were basically three players down with Gawn totally cut out of the game by being played out of position, Kent useless with zero touches and Sylvia further proving his status as one of the league's hottest free agents by being flogged to death by somebody called Mark Whiley.


Down the other end we were coping alright when the ball came in slowly rather than as part of a blitzkrieg style attack, but it was more often going backline - midfield - forward line in three hops like a game of netball and leaving us woefully exposed. The flavour of the month Jeremy Cameron might have got one, but McDonald was doing a decent job on him and even Pedersen - whisper it quietly - was marking strongly. He can take a great grab Pedo, but if we're going to play him down back we'll have to find ways to moderate his shambolic disposal. Like McDonald if he can be persuaded not to try and hit 50m passes and just dink it around or handball it then he could still be useful, but I'm not sure how many players like that you can have down there and still expect to move the ball quickly. Remember Tapscott in his first season? Why can't I have those days back instead of playing him as a half-forward flanker who doesn't kick goals. Though it's not like any of our players run to get in free positions anyway so what's the point?

Against the odds the midfield was ok. Spencer was doing reasonably well in the ruck, but he's well inferior to Gawn around the ball so once again I can't come to grips with playing both of them at the same time and almost totally sacrificing Max to some sort of pipedream that he's going to play like Paul Salmon. At least Viney was providing rare support for N Jones in the middle, allowing the soon to be three time Allen Jakovich Medallist to bust free and rack up touches - and more importantly some centre clearances. They usually didn't go anywhere other than straight to a GWS player but at least it was novel and unique to see us winning out of the middle occasionally.

I did enjoy Clisby having the odd run in there as well, but for once it wasn't being smashed in the middle of the ground that was doing the damage. We actually won the centre clearances for once, it was that we had nothing to kick to up forward so when the ball came loose GWS players were running around like they were possessed while most of our team loped about waiting for the final siren to save them. We have such an amazing inability to get the various parts of our game going at the same time that I'm convinced at some time in the next month we will kick 24.16.160 and still lose due our defence allowing somebody to kick 14 goals.

Still, at quarter time we might have been behind and outplayed but scoring wise at least it was a reasonable quarter by our standards. So what more typical Melbourne response was there than to turn up and kick one solitary, stinking goal for the whole second quarter? And even that was from a 50. Even Scully hitting a red and blue target by foot for the first time in his career wasn't a big enough hint for us to start playing properly. Our ineptitude even spread to times when we did have periods of dominance but couldn't make anything of it - witness for instance Toumpas storming inside 50 then shitting himself only for the ball to spill to a marauding Pedo who didn't realise he had about three weeks to turn around and kick the goal and instead tried a zero percentage snap instead. 1.5 for the quarter, and once again it might not have been all that bad going into half time if we hadn't conceded a goal to Jonathan Giles on the siren courtesy of some of the most lobster handed attempts at tackling in the history of AFL football. Somewhere Mark Neeld was sitting at home screaming that it wasn't just his fault that we were so dominant in the 'attempted tackles'.

By five minutes into the third quarter panic was starting to set in both on and off-field. Nobody should be surprised that they're a better side than we are. It's not like our two wins have been all that much more impressive - one belting final term when they had outplayed us and a narrow win over the Dogs where they were narrow losers. They lost two games by 100, so did we. We're horrid and need about five priority picks to rescue this gash list but every once in a while show random five minute periods of looking like a proper footy team - and from this we somehow actually cut the margin by a goal by the end of the quarter. Pedo let rip with a long bomb (play him forward perhaps?) and Kent turned up for one goal and one shithouse shot on goal and we were just a couple behind safe in the knowledge that GWS often fold like an accordion in the final term.

So, at this point what do you do? Do you a) Kick 12 goals in a record breaking quarter and win comfortably, b) engage in a grim slog for 30 minutes which could go either way or c) allow the player who claimed he was going to 'check out the facilities' then signed a multi-million dollar contract instead to act like Chris Judd by setting up two goals in the first two minutes. You only get one a) in a lifetime, and we're too shit for b) so I guess it'll have to be c) and total despair then. We got a few token goals after that but it was all over, they deserved their win fully and good luck to them - it's the coach killing loss we should have to them had months earlier.

Doesn't make it any more palatable, and I'm still furious about how terrible we are many hours later but I'm angrier about the place as a whole. This is just more insult added to injury which won't look as bad in a couple of years when GWS win a flag but right now it's just another humiliation which should ensure we shed a few thousand more fans and end up with a 2014 membership tally lower than Opel's car sales in Australia.

'97 Watch
Today's above average score of 12.15.87 takes us to 174.159.1201 in our quest to overhaul 203.235.1477. Thank god the team of '97 couldn't kick straight or we'd be no chance. We now require an average of 69 points a game to reach that mark, and that is going to be a hard slog with two of the four remaining matches being against Freo and Adelaide at Football Park. Stay tuned.  

2013 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Nathan Jones
4 - Mitch Clisby
3 - Jack Viney
----- SO MUCH DAYLIGHT ------
2 - Cameron Pedersen
1 - Matt Jones

Apologies to none. Even the last two didn't deserve it, and if we're being entirely frank neither did the top three. Nevertheless congratulations to Clisby and Pedo for scoring their first votes - it doesn't matter how you got them when we look back on the tally in the future.

Leaderboard
On a dark day some good news is that with Frawley out Jones officially WINS his third Jakovich. At worst he'll have to share it if Sylvia rips out four BOGs while he scores nil from here on. Also pre-season favourite Viney has moved to within striking distance of Jones in the Hilton.

41 - Nathan Jones (WINNER: 2013 Allen Jakovich Medal)
22 - James Frawley (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
21 - Colin Sylvia
20 - Matt Jones (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Rising Star Award)
19 - Jack Viney
18 - Colin Garland, Jeremy Howe
17 - Dean Terlich
16 - Jack Viney
11 - Tom McDonald
10 - Shannon Byrnes
8 - Lynden Dunn, Jack Watts
6 - Michael Evans
5 - Aaron Davey, Chris Dawes, Jack Fitzpatrick (CO-LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year), Max Gawn (CO-LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year), Jack Grimes, James Magner, Jack Trengove
4 - Mitch Clisby
2 - Rohan Bail, Mark Jamar, Cameron Pedersen
1 - Mitch Clark, Jordie McKenzie, Jake Spencer, Luke Tapscott

Media Watch
I suspect that some were probably threatening to kick their TV in due to the commentators actively punting GWS home, but why bother? It's the done thing to cheer home a team full of loveable losers. Everyone loves an underdog story and a team bouncing back from losing 2000 games in a row to have a win is the best possible example of that.

Imagine what Essendon fans felt like last year when we were pulling off a startling upset to the soundtrack of Brian Taylor practically flopping it out and having an Uncle Doug in the box. The best way to avoid alleged commentary bias being an issue is to either be the shit team who has a breakthrough win or even better to not be an abject failure to start with.

On a related topic didn't it feel like somebody was taking a piss playing that Opel Performance Centre ad considering that their whole Australian operation had folded the day before? I know they still need to shift a few units (or to be more precise, shitloads, considering they expect to sell 15k cars a year and actually flogged 1500). Serves them right for pretending they sent Grimgove and Howe to Germany when everyone could see that they were driving around any old generic racetrack in Australia.

Crowd Watch
Special guest @lachyg89 travelled to Skoda Stadium so you didn't have to. He filed this report:

One favourable advantage of going to the Melbourne pre match function was being able to beat the football "traffic" to the Sydney Olympic Precinct. I liked the idea of being on a quite peaceful train over being packed in with the "Expansion Family of Giants Fans" with their fake dreadlocks, novelty sized hands, jumpers with the scab's number on the back and any other merchandise that might still have the price tag it came with. This moving parade of orange, white and grey is offensive enough on the eye but would be unbearable to be in their company knowing the success starved fans would be frothing at the mouth at the thought of playing everyone's favourite percentage boosting bunny in red and blue.

Surely being on a train to Olympic Park (Sydney's answer to the Bermuda Triangle because it's a bunch of stadiums, restaurants and a bar in the middle of NOTHING!!!) four hours before the game would guarantee peace and quiet...? WRONG!!! Each carriage was packed with nicely dressed men and women with nametags. At this stage I wonder who's filming what and where??? I muster up the courage to ask a woman "what's this crowd all about?"... that was a BAD MOVE!!! "It's a Jehovah's Witness convention at Allphones Arena" OK, there's a Jehovah's Witness convention next door to a football game featuring a team with a satanic nickname. Despite being dressed head to toe like I clearly already had something planned for the day this woman continued to tell me everything I need to know about the convention. And whilst I couldn't power walk away from her fast enough, it was nice to know that if I was overcome by a 3rd quarter Red and Blue emotional spiral, I didn't have to go far to find spiritual shelter.

Well-dressed religions aside, once done with pregame formalities I could no longer avoid the condescending orange parade glaring at anyone in red and blue like it was an endangered species. Giants fans appear to get the Etihad Stadium treatment every week with the upper deck of two of the six stands being cordoned off, I can understand with the lack of numbers but one of these stands is located on the wing, a prime viewing point I would have thought. Skoda Stadium boasts the "biggest screen in the southern hemisphere" which means absolutely NOTHING if you locate yourself in the away teams section therefore sitting in front of it facing the other way. I can accept not having a view of the novelty item but it is the only screen and time-clock that the stadium appears to have. How many regularly-used AFL grounds have one and only ONE screen and game clock??!! Cut half the novelty sized bastard and put it on the stand that they clearly have no intention of using until 2018. Had it been a close game I think I would be in a neck brace (Lucky that idea got turfed in the first 2 minutes of the last quarter).

At quarter time I couldn't resist the idea of feeding my face. Skoda Stadium is a great place to feed one's place as they have evolved from the Footy Food Standard Selections (pies, hot dogs, etc) the food variety is one of a food court in a shopping centre... The place has a Subway... A SUBWAY. With all this said I still went with the hot dog (livin' the dream). On my way back from the Skoda Foodcourt I was walking behind two casually dressed individuals... One said to the other "I'm sick of seeing all these Demons fans!".... Really??? There could have been 160 Demons fans there today... Hardly an invasion from the south. Does this bloke go into fits of rage when Collingwood come to town?? But because this individual who was not physically associated with any team playing is sick of this Demons Fans epidemic, we will leave the Giants to bask in four digit crowd figures meanwhile have our own live site outside the ground to watch future games at Skoda Stadium... As long as the Jehovah's Witness don't take it as a satanic gathering to rain on their parade.

The Giants cheer squad appear to have adopted the round ball supporter concept of making constant noise. They have hearts of gold but in the clubs infant years they don't have the numbers yet to pull it off yet. The Orange monk people didn't seem to be there today... I guess that's not a 'thing' anymore. As for the rest of the fans, they seem respond louder to the MC than their own team kicking a goal. At the end of each quarter the announcer call for the fans to "Get behind YOUR team" to which everybody just makes noise... The heart is in the right place but given there is no play going on it's just irrelevant noise. It's not a basketball game!!! Which brings me to my next grinding gear. It is August 2013... Gangnam Style has dropped out of the charts... there is no longer a need to have the song FULL BLAST at halftime. Again... IT IS NOT A BASKETBALL GAME!!! But the loudest and most intimidating sounds of the day came from above courtesy of Sydney's traditionally low-flying airplanes. They even cut through the GWS theme song for about 15 seconds.

It fills my heart with bliss knowing that even a year on from the #carnivalofhate, even on the Giants patch of grass, Tom $kully still gets booed by the Melbourne faithful if he goes anywhere near the ball. I say before every game that I'm over abusing but I'm lying to myself as I still get a thrill out of giving him an earful and making the slightest mistake sound like an abortion.. an expensive abortion. Unfortunately today was the day he got his win and that joke was on us. As the Giants players ran to the fence to hand out the now mandatory 'we won the game' items to fans, I was hoping the scab would have the nerve to come our way and maybe he would cop a beer over the head 'Brad Johnson GABBA style'.. He went nowhere near us. Thankfully the words to the Giants theme song don't appear to be second nature to the majority of the fans so there was no carrying on in or outside the stadium from the hosting fans after the fulltime siren.

Thanks Lachy, and we hope you enjoyed the scoreboard that explains what free kicks are for. How does a scoreboard know when the rest of us - including the players - usually have no idea?


Next Week
Gold Coast or not I couldn't give a shit if we lose by 100 points (what's another one?) as long as I get vengeance at the selection table. Without the Casey game having happened yet, and assuming Dawes' injury was of the minor variety and not some 18 month Mitch Clark style debacle I'll opt for the following.

IN: Blease, Dawes, Davis, McKenzie, Taggert,
OUT: Byrnes, Davey, Spencer (unlucky), Tapscott, Toumpas (omit)
LUCKY: Kent (have to admit that he was one of our better players in the second half - still not convinced)
UNLUCKY: Barry (only because I'm self bullying myself into keeping Kent), Magner (no point even trying to rescue him now is there?)

Two debutants in one match? Why not, at least we'd have an excuse for being horrible. If Dawes isn't fit then I'd rather Sellar come in and let Pedo go forward where he might be lucky to get on the end of one of our 25 inside 50's.

Presumably McKenzie tags Ablett, because otherwise he's going to have 70 touches instead of just 50. It hurts me to see Grimes playing as a tagger at the moment and I insist that it's stopped immediately. It's ok to have a player 'do a job' every once in a while, but your McKenzies and Magners are the sort of players who should be used as taggers, not allegedly blue chip players on a weekly basis. Also if he was supposed to be tagging Ward he didn't do much of a job of it.

Gold Coast by plenty. Another chapter to be written in our sorry history.

Next Year
We've reached such a tragic point that right now I'd be willing to accept a four win spoon season in 2014 as long as it's in the spirit of West Coast's 2010 campaign where they still managed a percentage of 77 and an average losing margin of just 24.

It might seem like a complete lack of ambition to be aiming at a spoon, and it'll be a backwards step on the ladder if GWS pack their season away and happily take last from here, but what's the hurry? We've been no good since dial-up internet was popular so what's another season as long as we are officially 'competitive' instead of going into every game expecting that we're going to get thrashed. Also something about draft picks.

God knows what poor kids we're going to pick this year, but can any draft experts tell me if there are any really ugly, Dustin Martin style criminal looking types in the mix? The success of Nat Fyfe and Rory Sloane proves that looking like a member of One Direction should not preclude you from being a top shelf player but I just feel that at this time in life we need somebody who looks like a member of the Hells Angels rather than another teen idol.

Also if we don't go out and get a proper small forward I'll spit (I hear Ahmed Saad may become available on a free transfer..) because days like today show that Davey is finished, Byrnes is a bit part player at best and if Kent's kicking goals it's not from crumb style situations. Even if they have to go out and get a state league player to provide an option then do it - imagine next year if Clark is ever fit again and we have him down there with Dawes and Hogan. They can't all mark it every time, but will certainly be putting the wind up opposition defenders by flying in so you can expect the ball's probably going to land on the deck every once in a while. Would be nice to hold it down there for more than five seconds at a time.

Elsewhere our out of contract players hardly did their asking price any favours. This week I was spruiking the idea that the Giants should ignore Franklin and instead pick up a bunch of free agents/out of contract players including Sylvia and Watts via Pick 1 in the PSD. Can't think either of them would have convinced Leon Cameron that they could offer any more than the players he's already got. GWS are insane if they spend enormous amounts of dosh on Franklin with Cameron and Patton in the mix (if they send Cameron into the backline everyone involved deserves to be arrested) but I still think they'd do better to go out and get a few players for the same price. Either way I've gone cold on Watts staying during the week so I now don't expect either of them to be with us next year. I'd certainly have him, but if you're going to put off contract negotiations until the end of the season just leave it at that instead of doing a Moloney and sending your agent out to deliver public pot shots at the club.

On the coaching front now that Neil Craig is unfortunately finished (unless everyone else tells us to piss off) I was thrilled to see Richmond take another big step forward by thumping Hawthorn to further my claims that Choco is the genius behind Damien Hardwick. Another big benefit is that he would have been otherwise occupied and wouldn't have had the chance to watch our game. He's the sort of driven, semi-insane character who would probably rather start at the bottom again as the boss instead of being a subordinate at a finals club but unless there was some mega financial gain I know which club I'd be at next season given the way they're going.

Another big winner out of today was Paul Roos. If you still believe that we're going to have our fourth "last crack" at him then he can either tell us to get stuffed and nobody will honestly blame him for not wanting to take on this horrible job, or he can bang another 200k p/a on his asking price and rely on 'us' being so desperate for a major figure to defend the indefensible that we'll do anything no matter how degrading to find the money to pay him. Don't come with your hand out to me though, I'd rather go on my knees to Damien Drum and beg him to coach us than be blackmailed for more money on the assumption that if Roos touches us (so to speak) that we'll turn to gold. Let's just have one more go at whatever outrageous price he's asking in the first place then shut the gate for good instead of running a sham selection committee who will be dismissed the moment we've scrambled together enough cash and promised the AFL enough degrading favours in the future to afford it to get him.

As for the hotly contested (for some reason) Presidency the Bartlett rumours have gone cold in the last week, and have been replaced by a renewed tilt by A. Stockdale. He's even got a website going, which I suppose you owe to yourself to at least look at and see if you agree. There's nothing remarkable in there, and the suggestion that we're somehow about to get in bed with the Herald Sun if he's President is odd, but I remain resolute in sitting back and copping whoever the AFL tells us to cop. If there's the huge groundswell of support that Al's hoping for and he gets up then good luck to him. If we weren't being run by the league I might even vote for him in an election, but considering where we're at I will do whatever they tell me to do at the moment and follow whoever is put in charge.

The future
It's hardly a revelation that we've been no good for the last few years, but I've love to know how much money this has cost us. Can anyone at the club slip me a covert Wikileaks style breakdown of the various membership categories that have made up our total numbers from 2008 to this year? We've only gained 506 in that time (total 33,106 - down from the all-time high of 36,917 in 2011 when we'd been roped into thinking we were at the vanguard of a glorious era) but is there a higher than previous proportion of AFL club support and novelty three game memberships?

I'm concerned about the AFL Members. If you've got one then good luck to you, I'm not here to tell you what to do, but there's a big difference between lapsed ordinary members who are roped into renewing at the cheapest possible price when Tom Couch rings them up and people who crack the shits and climb aboard the AFL Gravy Train never to return.

We still get the number counted in our membership tally, so it's not so much losing the ordinary member or people that never signed up in the first place that concerns me, it's the amount of money we've lost during the 'dark years' from people who have tossed out their premium memberships and switched to the AFL variety. The unconfirmed word is that club gets the equivalent of a normal, 11 game adult membership ($199), but the amount of people I know who have either ditched a premium membership for the AFL or are planning to is frightening.

(UPDATE, 11.30am Monday 5 August - The AFL has confirmed via Twitter that it's just $138 from every AFL Club Support membership to the club. Now I don't want to be the sort of person to lay a guilt trip on you here, and you might give money to the club in all sorts of other ways, but that's a pissweak amount. Thanks to the AFL's Twitterist for going out of their way to confirm it but I can see why their bosses are vague about the contribution to clubs in their brochures. I'm not here to tell you what to do, but just consider what this is costing the club before you switch over.)

That's dollars from 15 game ($320), Redlegs ($479, can't believe I pay that every year), Trident ($540) or Legends ($920) memberships out the window - replaced by $200p/a. We are never, ever, ever going to get those people back, and I don't blame them. It's a good deal for the fan - $690 for the first year, $399 a year from then on for silver and assuming not all that much more for gold. It's not for me (because I don't give a rats about going to game not involving the MFC) but more and more people are going to pull the pin as we get worse, and it's going to keep costing us. God knows how you convince people to pay more to get less in the future, and that's money going straight into the AFL's pocket. Admittedly much of this is coming back to us anyway but we're never going to get off handouts at this rate.

Was it worth it?
It made me feel like walking into the sea with a pocket full of rocks.

Final Thoughts
As we crawl on our knees towards our doom at least we're going down artistically. This from Twitterist @jhuntersmith says it all.
 

3 comments:

  1. This club has a pulse as long as Demonblog is updated every week. When that stops, I'm officially off to Russia to jump down the Kola.

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  2. Just got sent the link for this. Fantastic blog - sums up my feelings from yesterdays game.

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  3. I think uncorking the Kola and throwing your membership down it would be a remarkable gesture that would make a Richmond fan (circa 1983-2012) proud.

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