Sunday, 13 April 2014

The Yes Movement (Formerly "Pain, Blues and agony")


Sorry torture porn enthusiasts, the streak is over and the weekly session of hand-wringing and fear will be temporarily suspended and replaced with both joy AND optimism. The last 288 days of premiership point free football have been shithouse, and I don't care how it was achieved or to what degree the opposition are in crisis it was magnificent. To quote Ron Barassi, as he provided inspiration for the future casual press conferences of Mark Thompson by chowing down on an apple, "a win is a win is a win". But this was better than that.

In a way it's nice when Melbourne win and the footy world grinds to a screeching halt. I can only close my eyes and imagine what it would be like to win a Grand Final, but if general outpouring of public support is anything to go by I suspect it wouldn't be much different to the way my phone went into overdrive yesterday. Except that I'd have blown a blood vessel in my head and wouldn't be reading any of it. For now it was tweets out the yin yang, texts from about 25 different people and general communication carnage. It's often the same people who write in when we have a surprise win, but tellingly the Essendon fans who were quiet on that night in 2012 were right on board today and Carlton fans who were keen on laying the boots into the Bombers for committing football suicide against us then weren't as keen to comment when it was their own side jumping out the window.

On the other hand it's also a bit unfortunate that we're seen as comic relief for the rest of the football world. Winning will never stop being fun, and it's even more entertaining when the entire football world is on your side but it's still a mark of how much tripe we've served up over the last few years that everyone can cheer on Mick Malthouse's nervous breakdown because they know that the MFC threat level hasn't been above 'guarded' since 16 July 2011.

Continuing the spirit of love and openness (has somebody spiked my drink?) I'm prepared to admit the following - Carlton were two men down for most of the second half, they botched easy chances galore, that downfield free kick which got us a goal in the third quarter was rubbish and we will still almost certainly finish last or second last in 2014 BUT I know another struggling side who have had similar rotten luck in winnable games over the last couple of years so at this point in history who gives a rats about any of that? I'm grasping this win with both hands and running around the house hoisting it above my head. Let's temporarily forget the horrors of the past and enjoy the reason we got into this caper in the first place - spending every waking minute of our life until 3.19pm next Sunday enjoying the luxury of the winner's circle.

Apart from my own glee at the result, reward for effort by the players and the rare chance to see broad smiles on our fans walking to the train station after the game (including the two guys who had thrown decorum out the window along with Carlton's finals hopes and were opening whizzing against the railway bridge), I'm so happy for everyone in a non-football role at the club. It must be a far happier place to work when we're not rock bottom in the laughing stock league. Even the receptionist will be answering the phone on Monday morning without flinching in anticipation of some peanut yelling at her.

The odd thing about this game is that I actually thought we were going to win. That's usually the first step to coming out of the weekend disappointed, disillusioned and with my tips in disarray but this time it seemed clear that they were gettable - and gimmick content aside I'm glad that this was the week I got to immortalise my tip as part of the BigFooty Melbourne board unofficial preview.

When I predicted something special to happen at the first bounce I was thinking more of McKenzie hurling Marc Murphy to the turf with furious vengeance, not Spencer giving away a silly free and Cross an even sillier 50m penalty to gift Carlton a goal. When they had two by the time we'd had all of one handball I was wondering whether it was time to finally try and retrieve that Cyanide tablet that I shelved late in 2011. But from there we scared the living bejesus out of the Blues and found out - to quote that old bloke from Dad's Army - "they don't like it up them".

I didn't tip us to win because I thought we'd suddenly start playing champagne football (and let's be fair, apart from a few great moments we didn't) but with this being the 497th post in Demonblog history I think what I've failed to grasp in match and tactical analysis I've more than compensated for in knowing a mentally haunted team when I see one. When Malthouse dropped Waite and Garlett - who had combined to belt the living suitcase out of us last time - it became even clearer that had everyone involved with the club had lost the plot and were ripe for the picking. This wasn't a surprise implosion like Essendon 2012, they were like a ship rapidly taking on water.

Still, after those first two goals they might very well have realised who they were playing and decided to mash us into the ground. As the West Coast game showed we are certainly not capable of mounting comebacks from 40-1 down at quarter time just yet. And admittedly we lost almost every statistical category except botch goalscoring opportunities but the players kept the pressure on, spent the next 100 minutes running their heart out and jumping on Carlton players at every opportunity. And they were rewarded accordingly.

It didn't hurt that our forward line looked 500 times better with Dawes down there and Frawley playing up front in non-Hurricane conditions. There have rarely been better eight possession performances than the one Dawes put in, and that's taking into account that the fact that he was about to keel over and die from exhaustion in the last quarter. Now that we've come to the realisation that he will actually never play alongside Clark I can instead cope with him linking up with Jesse Hogan (should he ever play) or newly minted forward line superstar James Frawley who I would probably have paid 800k a season yesterday I was so randy.

Last week I was insinuating that he was just down there because he's going to chuff off at the end of the year anyway, and that may be correct, but Chip has clearly decided that if Mitch isn't coming back then he'll just play in the same style. While it was a fun experiment in the slop last week, this time in dry weather it was glorious. As far as key defenders mysteriously thrown forward (non-Tankquiry department) it had less goals than Rivers vs GWS in 2012 but better in every other aspect. Hopefully Peter Jackson dressed as a kid and held a long-term contract over the fence at the end of the game disguised as an autograph book.

He was magnificent, but he certainly had a hand from Dawes. Could this finally shut up the delusional people who complained about signing him because they expected 75 goals a season? Players "straightening up" teams is one of the great cliches but if it's ever been relevant it was yesterday. Compare and contrast his performance, as underdone as he was, to the horrible struggles of Cam Pedersen up front in the first two weeks of the season and the difference between the two as forwards is clear. I'm not suggesting he's going to single handedly drag us into the eight or win the Best and Fairest but he runs his guts out up and down the ground and both sets up and kicks goals - twice from outside 50 this week. That will do me nicely thanks. Besides, it's rare that rushing somebody into the side after not playing a game of any variety in months actually works or they don't break down in the middle of it so that should be celebrated as well.

He played his part in the first goal, but it was set up by Jack Viney - who was sensational all day - battling hard to win a ball on the boundary line. He could have just taken it out for a throw-in, but instead he fought it hard, kicked towards Dawes who bumped his hapless opponent out of the way and then dropped a perfect kick on Watts 25m out directly in front. It was easily the best passage of football we'd put together for the whole season. Fun fact - apparently before this week we'd only taken one mark within 30m of goal in three games.

The record for "best passage" didn't last long, and it was topped by the next goal. Bernie Vince was kicking in and was about to do the usual "bomb it long and hope like buggery" thing when he noticed that Jordie McKenzie was all on his own down the middle on defensive 50. At the last minute he changed direction, hit the target perfectly, McKenzie kicked to a hard leading Frawley, he nailed Dawes with a perfect pass and voila we were back in the match and - whisper it quietly - having a good time of it.

Suddenly we looked like we had a reasonable forward line. Dunn is playing out of his skin at the moment, and will probably get picked up as a free agent now just to spite everyone who hung shit on him for his moustache, and with all due respect to Shannon Byrnes and his mate who went spaz in the comments of the unofficial preview for daring to suggest he should be dropped, Jay Kennedy-Harris might have kicked less goals but his chase and pressure was about 100 times better. The run-down tackle to save a near certain goal in the first quarter was something else we've not seen enough this season.

Carlton's struggles aside we even managed to ride out Vince having an ordinary game and Tyson not getting a kick in the first quarter. They won the centre clearances but after some aimless 'throw ball on foot' hoof kicking in the first quarter we spent the rest of the game hitting more targets than at any time in recent years. For the people who like to boo any kicking that doesn't go forward there was also a significant reduction in side-to-side dink, because more often than not there was actually more than one forward down the ground.

It wasn't just the forwards though. Don't discount the contributions of Cross, Viney, McKenzie and out of nowhere Rohan Bail in pressuring the Blues into turning the ball over or making Melbourne-esque skill errors every five seconds. Or The King of Sizzle running riot in the backline. God help us all it was the classic team effort.

It was the mark of a quality day out that not only did we kick - what is for us - a decent amount of goals, but that three of them were genuine contenders for Goal of the Year (read on to find which of the great goalsneaks it's been named after). Usually we struggle to get three sloppy goals, today people were kicking them from all angles. It's hard to believe that last year we kicked as many goals in one quarter as we did Saturday afternoon yet this still seems like a good result, but since that day we've only got to 12 goals five times so there is something meritorious (relatively speaking) about it. And more importantly, admittedly aided by some shocking misses, we managed to stop leaking goals at the other end as well.

The first of the contenders came in the second quarter. Dawes knocking Dale Thomas out of the way to allow Cross to gather the ball on the boundary, he gives it to Tyson who puts a horror first quarter behind him by handballing to Nathan Jones to kick a goal under pressure on the run from the boundary line. If confidence wasn't up Cross would have just taken the ball out of bounds, but this was a new adventurous spirit because they realised they were up to their eyeballs in the match.

You can't argue with five goals in a row for the first time (I assume without looking it up) since that avalanche against GWS last year, but in the interest of demanding higher standards it's a bit of a shame the pressure fell away late in the quarter and we let them get a couple of goals back. They could have had more too if they hadn't kicked like total muppets, but then again we had three shots on goal through Vince, Bail and Frawley. They might all have missed, but there are some games where we don't get three marks inside 50 for an entire half so thank god for small mercies.

Part of the reason for the hot period in the second quarter was Nathan Jones' demolition job on Marc Murphy. For somebody supposedly doing a defensive job he was racking up touches left, right and centre - not to mention kicking the goal out of his arse from the boundary line. He wasn't the only one who fired up though, Dom Tyson had been tagged to buggery in the first quarter before coming good and even The Spencil delivered a highlight with his one armed inspector gadget style tackle on Yarran.

The problem with Spencer is that high profile kicking cock-ups aside he is actually somewhat useful around the ground as a #1 ruckman but completely at sea in the forward line. So what do you know if Jamar/Gawn come back? Use them as the 'forward' who chips-in at centre bounces like Pedersen did yesterday? It's a nice dilemma to have, but god knows what it means for the career of Jack Fitzpatrick.

Our third quarters are legendary so I think everyone was bracing for farce, shambles and disgrace after we'd had a competitive performance dangled tantalisingly above our eyes, but not only did we stay above water we did it courtesy of some sexy football. How about JFK handballing over his head to Dawes who slaps it into the arms of a running Bail to kick a goal on the run? How about Bail full stop in the second half. At half time I was ready to continue my campaign to have him dropped to the Casey Reserves but he came out and put in an absolute belter of a second half a'la that first NAB Cup game. More of that please.

They'd cut the margin back to nine when our second contender for goal of the year came. Dawes played his part again without registering a stat, bring the ball to ground for Kennedy-Harris who snapped around the corner despite being decked in a tackle at the same time and watched the ball almost roll into the post via a novelty bounce. If it had he'd probably be getting slaughtered for not handballing back to Dawes, but as it went through I'm prepared to declare it a magnificent and rare piece of crumb.

Then somehow from Spencer and Warnock lobbing haymakers at each other the umpire reported the man who once failed to fall for our famous Powerpoint presentation, picked a free to us at the other end of the ground and gifted us a goal, which caused every Carlton fan in the ground to lose the plot. It was all going gloriously right for us for once.

There's no doubt that we had the wobbles on in the first few minutes of the last quarter, but bless Carlton's little hearts they kicked about six points in a row instead of piling on a few goals and causing us to pack it in. When we went down the other end and Watts got his second it was like the usual script had been turned around, usually we toil away for 10 minutes for no reward only for the other side to kick one, two or 11 goals in a row to punish us.

I was starting to believe, but Melbourne Supporter Depression Syndrome (MSDS) is a lifelong affliction so when Michael Evans' snap (how I love a snap. Have you noticed?) took a comical bounce instead of going through and sealing the game with a few minutes to go I just naturally assumed that it was setting the stage for a heartbreaking comeback. When they kicked a goal almost straight after it seemed a near certainty. Then, enter Pedo (not that one), the man whose struggles up forward in the first two weeks are legendary but who has found a new lease of life in the backline since, who suddenly found himself forward, dropped a mark then stood up, gathered the ball and under ludicrous pressure kicked possibly the most glorious sealer since Adem Yze against St Kilda in the 2006 Elimination Final - and good luck to him too, he deserved it after two good performances in a row. It's ironic that he ended up kicking a goal when he wasn't supposed to be down there, but his last two weeks have shown he's a far better defender than forward.

And that was it. Cue the sort of wild scenes that come of shit sides having any sort of win. Fans of Geelong or Hawthorn must shake their head looking at the joy and wonderment that we get from even the least complicated of wins, but believe me outsiders your club might have been pox at some point in its recent history but unless you're a Fitzroy or University fan you may not be able to understand the feelings that follow ANY sort of win in a competitive match.

Good news, we're 15th and it's possible that both Brisbane AND Carlton might be in far deeper crisis than anyone expected. The teams below us might change but suddenly my prediction of 16th seems realistic when a week ago I'd decided we'd go 0-22 and have to hand our licence over to a consortium from Great Keppel Island.

2014 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
5 - James Frawley
4 - Nathan Jones
3 - Tom McDonald
2 - Jack Viney
1 - Jack Grimes

Apologies to ALL even if they don't deserve them - but mainly to Rohan Bail, Daniel Cross and Chris Dawes who might have all snuck in for one.

Leaderboard
The minor awards have never been in so much disarray with Dunn and Frawley flirting openly with disqualification by playing up front so much. It doesn't matter what position they get their votes in (see for instance Fitzpatrick picking up a ruckman award last year) but both of them are teetering on the brink of being kicked out by the Seecamp committee. If they keep taking 25 marks between them every week then the committee can do as they please. Meanwhile Nathan Jones just continues to win at football.

14 - Nathan Jones
9 - Lynden Dunn (Leader: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
8 - Daniel Cross, James Frawley
6 - Dom Tyson
4 - Jack Watts
3 - Tom McDonald, Dean Terlich
2 - Jack Viney
1 - Jack Grimes, Jeremy Howe, Jake Spencer (Leader: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)


(Thanks to DemonsBeth for the new graphic, which I think brings a touch of class to this feature)

Having been alerted to potential kerning issues with the MFC banner I was ready to give Carlton's effort a chance but found myself tremendously disappointed. Did they have a lot of sickies at banner preparation night? All it had was "Prove them wrong" on one side (how's that going?) with an upside down W used as an M and something equally asinine on the other. The worst bit was the pre-torn curtain, so large that you could drive a tank through it (too soon?), causing superstitious players to have to reach to their full extension to get a touch of it. They later suffered two shoulder injuries. Coincidence? I think not. 4-0 Dees.

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year
Congratulations to the one time Allen Jakovich Medallist and one time Paul Prymke Plate winner for achieving the honour courtesy of the many goals he pulled out of his proverbial during his career. As alluded to earlier we have a new winner, and while the first two both have their supporters I can't go past Cameron Pedersen from the members boundary line to seal the game.

It wasn't just the fact that he got up after dropping the mark and was almost being throw into the fence when he kicked it BUT that it just fell over the line and into the corner of the goal - close enough to confuse and frustrate both Carlton defenders and fans alike. Congratulations Cam, and commiserations to Bernard Vince whose reign at the top lasted three weeks.

Crowd Watch
Wasn't it glorious to be the ones causing others to slip their moorings and go into full scale panic mode for once? We've done enough 'red faced men over the race' work in the last few years so it was nice to cause some Carlton humanoid to hang over the race waving his membership around. What an empty threat that is, at least throw the thing at them. It would be tremendously amusing if Carlton tracked him down, cancelled his card, sent him a refund and told him to piss off. More likely he'll be co-opted to the board.

Being a Carlton home game we were treated not only to supporter-for-hire Pete Lazar pretending to be a huge Blues man shortly before ducking off to pull on a St Kilda polo shirt but a half-time "dance competition" which was featured on "dance cam". Now, you'd think this is the sort of thing that kids would do and that would be ok I suppose, but my god there were a lot of adults and people of advanced years cutting a rug in the hope of winning whatever poxy prize was on offer. Plenty of Melbourne fans too, clearly not understanding that if it's a Carlton home game you could dance the Tango De La Muerte up and down the steps of the Southern Stand until you dropped dead and they wouldn't give you the prize.

As a promotion it was still better than their gimmick of letting people tweet the scoreboard. It was in the same class as our "send your selfie to the scoreboard" concept, but because of focused on text rather than pictures we were instead allowed us to read the thoughts of the criminally insane and/or 8-year-olds who probably shouldn't have Twitter accounts in the first place. It was hard to miss these intrusions because they kept putting them on the screen in the middle of the game instead of being polite to the 30,000 people who don't give a shit if @lukegriffo enjoyed the dance contest. Sadly the Blues didn't take the opportunity to put the rest of Luke's tweets up on the screen where he was going off his nut like a Melbourne fan and declaring everyone to be pissweak. Which is a shame. People wonder why everyone's stopping going to games, but I can tell you that the answer is not giving them a chance to make a dick of themselves on the scoreboard.

Other than the default setting of fear and loathing amongst opposition supporters the major highlight of the day was a new married couple showing up in the top deck of the Ponsford Stand midway through the last quarter to have their photos taken. I hope they weren't Carlton fans, because they'll have to Photoshop the scoreboard in the background. God only knows why they were there otherwise. Maybe they just wanted shots at the ground and the MCG told them to get stuffed so they decided on guerrilla tactics? In a classic money saving move they even waited until the fourth quarter so they could get in for free - because when you're spending $50,000 on a wedding why not skip paying to get in, then drag your dress worth thousands of dollars through spilt beer and squished mustard packets? The reason I was paying so much attention was that right in front of where they were taking the photos was a Carlton fan in a Manchester United jacket so I was waiting for him to snap from stress on both fronts and start swinging punches at the happy couple.

The lid was well off on the way home, not only was there overt public urination going on outside Richmond Station but some bloke was going up and down the train carriage declaring "Melbourne can beat anyone, I told you" despite the fact that he'd clearly never met anybody else on the train in his life. You have to admire his optimism, but I feel like he might have been getting a little bit ahead of himself. We might be able to beat any of the shit teams on our best day, but if we got within 300 of Hawthorn the way we played I'd be thrilled. At one point between Burnley and Heyington he had to interrupt his Barassi style pep-talk to take a phone call and assure the person on the other end of the line that he definitely was coming home. I'm not sure he was all there,

Next week
It'd be nice if the momentum didn't come to a quick end next Sunday. The pay-off for getting a couple of mil from the league is to play the lowest drawing MCG game of the year on Easter Sunday. It's arguably a better result than playing the same fixture on Mothers' Day, but without consulting the calendar there's no doubt we'll be playing a lunchtime game against Kilsyth that day too. At least being on a one game winning streak should ensure that more than 10,000 people turn up at the odd time of 3.20pm.

Having said that at least we can go into the game on a high for once. Who didn't become slightly excited when the saw Gary Ablett clutching his arm in the Hawks/Suns game? Did no Hawthorn player think to yank on the thing?

I doubt we'll win, but at least there's the tantalising prospect of a bizarre Frawley vs Warnock battle of the full-forwards. Doesn't seem much reason to make changes, but we could very well have a glut of potential ins. Trengove and Toumpas would want to fire up for Casey on Sunday if they want to come back in to a winning side, and Jamar could probably do with another week in the 2s just so we don't tinker with a winning formula too much. We don't find a winning formula often, may as well enjoy it.

Assuming Terlich's hamstring is going to keep him out...

IN: Clisby
OUT: Terlich (inj)

... and may god have mercy on us all. Gold Coast were just pulverised by Hawthorn, but almost everyone's going to cop that from the Hawks this year so it's hard to tell. From half watching it they did appear to be playing reasonable football at times, but the margin of victory probably cost us any chance they'll rest Ablett after his arm/shoulder injury. Sounds like a job for the MFC Armbar Squad.

Was it worth it?



Final thoughts
The doom and misery has lifted slightly courtesy of this week, but never let your guard down for a minute there are still plenty of people trying to shuffle us out the door. At the risk of Kevin Sheedy yelling at me for applying war metaphors to football (which is wrong, except when he does it) I encourage you to climb into the Betta Electrical Foxhole and fight for this club like your life depended on it. If you need any motivation I suggest reading this thread full of hillbillies with modems trying to fold, relocate or merge us. Living well is the best revenge.

Now, what did I do with my login/password to that dodgy footy torrents site?

7 comments:

  1. Great win, great post.

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  2. Great win. Enjoyed the post thoroughly. Incidentally that old bloke from Dad's Army was Jones! Quite aptly named in the context don't you think?

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  3. Don't worry about nothing, Adam. I have a feeling that Gary Ablett is going to have a little accident that might keep him from playing with the Suns this week, heh heh heh.

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  4. Guy, I'm afraid I won't be to play this week. My old gimpy arm has gone akimbo again.

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  5. Ooh! Guy...that precision assault popped it back into place. Thank you, masked stranger!

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