Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Unofficial preview - Round 4 vs Carlton - Tuesdays with Mickie

Originally posted on the BigFooty Melbourne board.

Once a week I'm forced to attend an anger management course at AFL Headquarters in Docklands. It's part of the 2012 High Court judgement of Scully vs Lunatic Fringe but that's not important right now.

Every Tuesday I sit in a room full of overheated SEN listeners, the people who they cross to whenever there's a contentious umpiring decision and Garry Lyon (who everyone knows is just there practising how to fake being upset when James Brayshaw does a 'gag' about him being hairy) while the league's psychologist attempts to calm our frayed nerves by playing replays of comedic Mark Thompson press conferences for a couple of hours.

It doesn't always work out, but for most participants the therapy allows us to get on with our lives after another stressful weekend at the footy. At least until the teams come out on a Thursday night and we find ourselves screaming tweeting obscenities to melbournefc when Rohan Bail is named in the forward pocket as if the person who reads the incoming tweets is actually the Chairman of Selectors.

I stepped out of this week's session, filled with a love of life after listening a one hour loop of Bomber saying "Triple M" for no apparent reason. As I walked towards the front door I noticed a new face grappling with the 200 page admission form. I recognised him as that guy who was quite successful coaching Collingwood then gave it all up to yell at people in press conferences. What a coincidence to run into him in this of all weeks. My team is shit, his team is shit, we're playing each other on Saturday, I'm due to write the unofficial preview. It was a remarkable coincidence. I waited until he filled out his Next of Kin as a Mr E. McGuire from Collingwood before interrupting.

"Excuse me Mr. Malthouse" I said, politely trying to get his attention. He spun around and pulled a small knife from his pocket, thrusting it at me and screaming "what do you want you prick?".

It could have ended badly, after all we've all heard those rumours about him filleting one of Hutchy's unpaid interns in the carpark of Optus Oval for sneezing during a press conference, but as he looked me up and down he realised that I wasn't wearing media accreditation he quickly apologised. As he stashed the blade back in his pocket he took a small paper bag out of the other.

"Journalist?" he said.

I shook my head.

Mick thrust the small paper bag at me. "No, I mean do you want some journalist? This one was from The Age. He asked if I thought I'd underestimated Carlton's list when I took over. I ate his liver with some Fava beans."

As he scooped his hand into the bag then ravenously chowed down on the still twitching fingers of a cadet sports writer I politely declined. There was a moment of awkward silence while he wiped some blood from the corner of his mouth before I continued.

"How do you think you'll go against the Dees this week?" I asked. There was another moment of silence as he put the bag down on the reception desk. His head bowed slightly and the colour drained from his face.

"Mate, I'm worried" he confessed. "You know my record, you know I've done it all. I've coached more premierships than Footscray and St Kilda have won combined. But I'm in real trouble now".

Carlton's woes are well known, but having watched Melbourne spontaneously combust several times in the last few years I've got little sympathy for them. After all it may have taken a quirk of fate and a major AFL investigation for them to make the finals in 2013, but weren't the Blues in exactly the same position after three rounds last year? Was Mick just feeling the weight of entitlement, and a substantial contract, on his shoulders?

He leaned towards me and admitted that there was something different about 2014. A fear of failure. The chance that his legacy might be tainted by failing miserably with a Blues side who had been quite capably but unspectacularly led by Brett Ratten before his unceremonious execution.

"Now after three rotten weeks to start the season I have to play Melbourne. Melbourne. Can you believe it?"

"What's so bad about that?" I said. "Haven't you been watching the first few weeks of the season? We're neck deep in quicksand and sinking rapidly".

He shook his head and looked at me as if I was stupid.

"Mate, your team can't score in the first quarter and my team can't stop other teams scoring in the first quarter. What does that tell you?"

"It'll be a nil-all draw?" I said, wincing as the last word came out in the expectation that he would garrotte me on the waiting room floor.

"No peasant, it means that the mental cases I'm in charge of are deeply vulnerable to any team who can gather up even the slightest bit of confidence. Your players go into every game expecting to lose. Good god you even had to drop one to the VFL just so he could have an enjoyable week, but mine still think they're finals contenders. And you know how that's working out."

"Yeah, but Mick.. err, Mr Malthouse, it's Melbourne. You were there the Friday night we played for a nil-all draw against Carlton. Remember, you called Addam Maric a cheat. Well, things have got a lot worse for us since then let me tell you"

A lone tear ran down Mick's face. The fear had gripped him. The fear that your side will be the one to finally hand a basketcase its first win of the year. He gripped me by the shoulders.

"I'll tell you what I'm afraid of son. It's that your mentally flattened, joke of a club who were flogged in the tackles by a bunch of 15-year-olds and Heath Shaw last week actually come to play from the first bounce. That they will throw themselves at the ball like maniacs and throw my players into the turf at every opportunity. That this will be the week that they decide to go out and regain their dignity."

After 12 straight losses dating back to June 2013 I wasn't sure how to respond to this claim, so I stayed silent and let him finish.

"Look at a guy like Jordie McKenzie. He's not the most talented player in the competition, but he can tackle, and he can chase, and he can harass. Imagine he pins one of our players with a strong tackle in the first few minutes, and his kick forward is marked by a player actually running to space, and that when his shot on goal falls to the ground after one of your makeshift talls offers a contest that there's a player there to crumb it for a goal. We'll go to pieces. The mental battle will be over. We've got more to lose than you have, don't you forget that mucus."

I didn't doubt that last statement for a second. We're expected to lose, while a Carlton defeat will lead to even more Blues fans openly admitting that like Robert Walls they never liked Mick in the first place, but a piece of play ending with a Melbourne player crumbing a goal did seem highly unlikely.

I had to admit that he did make a good point. All the pressure is on them this week. They're coming off two shocking first quarters, and if any team should know more about how broken spirits in the first few minutes can ruin a team for the rest of the game it should be us. It's never been more vital to get off to a good start than this week (well, it's always vital, but work with me here).

Mick started laughing through the tears. "If you see Paul Roos tell him not to pick McKenzie. We'd rather play against a bunch of fancyboys racking up their attempted tackle stats in the rain. While you're at it rest Jack Viney, Daniel Cross and Nathan Jones too. The last thing my lot need is to run into players who try their guts out every week."

I thought I'd impress the master coach with a stat. I said "Did you know that Jay Kennedy-Harris has had as many tackles for the season as Shannon Byrnes despite playing about 25% of the game time?"

"I don't even know who that is" said Mick.

"Which one?"

"Either of them"

At this point the receptionist interrupted. "Excuse me Mr Malthouse" she said, "Mr. Scott and Mr. Clarkson are here. We can start the session now."

The coach of Carlton bid me farewell with one piece of advice "Watch what happens at the first bounce" he cried before turning his back so that the straight jacket could be applied.

I bade the master coach farewell, pulled my collar up and walked back onto a wind strewn Harbour Esplanade. Maybe the first step up the ladder of respectability will come by stepping on somebody else's throat?

Dees by 28
Once a week I'm forced to attend an anger management course at AFL Headquarters in Docklands. It's part of the 2012 High Court judgement of Scully vs Lunatic Fringe but that's not important right now.

Every Tuesday I sit in a room full of overheated SEN listeners, the people who they cross to whenever there's a contentious umpiring decision and Garry Lyon (who everyone knows is just there practising how to fake being upset when James Brayshaw does a 'gag' about him being hairy) while the league's psychologist attempts to calm our frayed nerves by playing replays of comedic Mark Thompson press conferences for a couple of hours.

It doesn't always work out, but for most participants the therapy allows us to get on with our lives after another stressful weekend at the footy. At least until the teams come out on a Thursday night and we find ourselves screaming tweeting obscenities to [USER=48712]melbournefc[/USER] when Rohan Bail is named in the forward pocket as if the person who reads the incoming tweets is actually the Chairman of Selectors.

I stepped out of this week's session, filled with a love of life after listening a one hour loop of Bomber saying "Triple M" for no apparent reason. As I walked towards the front door I noticed a new face grappling with the 200 page admission form. I recognised him as that guy who was quite successful coaching Collingwood then gave it all up to yell at people in press conferences. What a coincidence to run into him in this of all weeks. My team is shit, his team is shit, we're playing each other on Saturday, I'm due to write the unofficial preview. It was a remarkable coincidence. I waited until he filled out his Next of Kin as a Mr E. McGuire from Collingwood before interrupting.

"Excuse me Mr. Malthouse" I said, politely trying to get his attention. He spun around and pulled a small knife from his pocket, thrusting it at me and screaming "what do you want c**t?".

It could have ended badly, after all we've all heard those rumours about him filleting one of Hutchy's unpaid interns in the carpark of Optus Oval for sneezing during a press conference, but as he looked me up and down he realised that I wasn't wearing media accreditation he quickly apologised. As he stashed the blade back in his pocket he took a small paper bag out of the other.

"Journalist?" he said.

I shook my head.

Mick thrust the small paper bag at me. "No, I mean do you want some journalist? This one was from The Age. He asked if I thought I'd underestimated Carlton's list when I took over. I ate his liver with some Fava beans."

As he scooped his hand into the bag then ravenously chowed down on the still twitching fingers of a cadet sports writer I politely declined. There was a moment of awkward silence while he wiped some blood from the corner of his mouth before I continued.

"How do you think you'll go against the Dees this week?" I asked. There was another moment of silence as he put the bag down on the reception desk. His head bowed slightly and the colour drained from his face.

"Mate, I'm worried" he confessed. "You know my record, you know I've done it all. I've coached more premierships than Footscray and St Kilda have won combined. But I'm in real trouble now".

Carlton's woes are well known, but having watched Melbourne spontaneously combust several times in the last few years I've got little sympathy for them. After all it may have taken a quirk of fate and a major AFL investigation for them to make the finals in 2013, but weren't the Blues in exactly the same position after three rounds last year? Was Mick just feeling the weight of entitlement, and a substantial contract, on his shoulders?

He leaned towards me and admitted that there was something different about 2014. A fear of failure. The chance that his legacy might be tainted by failing miserably with a Blues side who had been quite capably but unspectacularly led by Brett Ratten before his unceremonious execution.

"Now after three rotten weeks to start the season I have to play Melbourne. Melbourne. Can you believe it?"

"What's so bad about that?" I said. "Haven't you been watching the first few weeks of the season? We're neck deep in quicksand and sinking rapidly".

He shook his head and looked at me as if I was stupid.

"Mate, your team can't score in the first quarter and my team can't stop other teams scoring in the first quarter. What does that tell you?"

"It'll be a nil-all draw?" I said, wincing as the last word came out in the expectation that he would garrotte me on the waiting room floor.

"No peasant, it means that the mental cases I'm in charge of are deeply vulnerable to any team who can gather up even the slightest bit of confidence. Your players go into every game expecting to lose. Good god you even had to drop one to the VFL just so he could have an enjoyable week, but mine still think they're finals contenders. And you know how that's working out."

"Yeah, but Mick.. err, Mr Malthouse, it's Melbourne. You were there the Friday night we played for a nil-all draw against Carlton. Remember, you called Addam Maric a cheat. Well, things have got a lot worse for us since then let me tell you"

A lone tear ran down Mick's face. The fear had gripped him. The fear that your side will be the one to finally hand a basketcase its first win of the year. He gripped me by the shoulders.

"I'll tell you what I'm afraid of son. It's that your mentally flattened, joke of a club who were flogged in the tackles by a bunch of 15-year-olds and Heath Shaw last week actually come to play from the first bounce. That they will throw themselves at the ball like maniacs and throw my players into the turf at every opportunity. That this will be the week that they decide to go out and regain their dignity."

After 12 straight losses dating back to June 2013 I wasn't sure how to respond to this claim, so I stayed silent and let him finish.

"Look at a guy like Jordie McKenzie. He's not the most talented player in the competition, but he can tackle, and he can chase, and he can harass. Imagine he pins one of our players with a strong tackle in the first few minutes, and his kick forward is marked by a player actually running to space, and that when his shot on goal falls to the ground after one of your makeshift talls offers a contest that there's a player there to crumb it for a goal. We'll go to pieces. The mental battle will be over. We've got more to lose than you have, don't you forget that mucus."

I didn't doubt that last statement for a second. We're expected to lose, while a Carlton defeat will lead to even more Blues fans openly admitting that like Robert Walls they never liked Mick in the first place, but a piece of play ending with a Melbourne player crumbing a goal did seem highly unlikely.

I had to admit that he did make a good point. All the pressure is on them this week. They're coming off two shocking first quarters, and if any team should know more about how broken spirits in the first few minutes can ruin a team for the rest of the game it should be us. It's never been more vital to get off to a good start than this week (well, it's always vital, but work with me here).

Mick started laughing through the tears. "If you see Paul Roos tell him not to pick McKenzie. We'd rather play against a bunch of fancyboys racking up their attempted tackle stats in the rain. While you're at it rest Jack Viney, Daniel Cross and Nathan Jones too. The last thing my lot need is to run into players who try their guts out every week."

I thought I'd impress the master coach with a stat. I said "Did you know that Jay Kennedy-Harris has had as many tackles for the season as Shannon Byrnes despite playing about 25% of the game time?"

"I don't even know who that is" said Mick.

"Which one?"

"Either of them"

At this point the receptionist interrupted. "Excuse me Mr Malthouse" she said, "Mr. Scott and Mr. Clarkson are here. We can start the session now."

The coach of Carlton bid me farewell with one piece of advice "Watch what happens at the first bounce" he cried before turning his back so that the straight jacket could be applied.

I bade the master coach farewell, pulled my collar up and walked back onto a wind strewn Harbour Esplanade. Maybe the first step up the ladder respectability will come by stepping on somebody else's throat.

Dees by 28
Once a week I'm forced to attend an anger management course at AFL Headquarters in Docklands. It's part of the 2012 High Court judgement of Scully vs Lunatic Fringe but that's not important right now.

Every Tuesday I sit in a room full of overheated SEN listeners, the people who they cross to whenever there's a contentious umpiring decision and Garry Lyon (who everyone knows is just there practising how to fake being upset when James Brayshaw does a 'gag' about him being hairy) while the league's psychologist attempts to calm our frayed nerves by playing replays of comedic Mark Thompson press conferences for a couple of hours.

It doesn't always work out, but for most participants the therapy allows us to get on with our lives after another stressful weekend at the footy. At least until the teams come out on a Thursday night and we find ourselves screaming tweeting obscenities to [USER=48712]melbournefc[/USER] when Rohan Bail is named in the forward pocket as if the person who reads the incoming tweets is actually the Chairman of Selectors.

I stepped out of this week's session, filled with a love of life after listening a one hour loop of Bomber saying "Triple M" for no apparent reason. As I walked towards the front door I noticed a new face grappling with the 200 page admission form. I recognised him as that guy who was quite successful coaching Collingwood then gave it all up to yell at people in press conferences. What a coincidence to run into him in this of all weeks. My team is shit, his team is shit, we're playing each other on Saturday, I'm due to write the unofficial preview. It was a remarkable coincidence. I waited until he filled out his Next of Kin as a Mr E. McGuire from Collingwood before interrupting.

"Excuse me Mr. Malthouse" I said, politely trying to get his attention. He spun around and pulled a small knife from his pocket, thrusting it at me and screaming "what do you want c**t?".

It could have ended badly, after all we've all heard those rumours about him filleting one of Hutchy's unpaid interns in the carpark of Optus Oval for sneezing during a press conference, but as he looked me up and down he realised that I wasn't wearing media accreditation he quickly apologised. As he stashed the blade back in his pocket he took a small paper bag out of the other.

"Journalist?" he said.

I shook my head.

Mick thrust the small paper bag at me. "No, I mean do you want some journalist? This one was from The Age. He asked if I thought I'd underestimated Carlton's list when I took over. I ate his liver with some Fava beans."

As he scooped his hand into the bag then ravenously chowed down on the still twitching fingers of a cadet sports writer I politely declined. There was a moment of awkward silence while he wiped some blood from the corner of his mouth before I continued.

"How do you think you'll go against the Dees this week?" I asked. There was another moment of silence as he put the bag down on the reception desk. His head bowed slightly and the colour drained from his face.

"Mate, I'm worried" he confessed. "You know my record, you know I've done it all. I've coached more premierships than Footscray and St Kilda have won combined. But I'm in real trouble now".

Carlton's woes are well known, but having watched Melbourne spontaneously combust several times in the last few years I've got little sympathy for them. After all it may have taken a quirk of fate and a major AFL investigation for them to make the finals in 2013, but weren't the Blues in exactly the same position after three rounds last year? Was Mick just feeling the weight of entitlement, and a substantial contract, on his shoulders?

He leaned towards me and admitted that there was something different about 2014. A fear of failure. The chance that his legacy might be tainted by failing miserably with a Blues side who had been quite capably but unspectacularly led by Brett Ratten before his unceremonious execution.

"Now after three rotten weeks to start the season I have to play Melbourne. Melbourne. Can you believe it?"

"What's so bad about that?" I said. "Haven't you been watching the first few weeks of the season? We're neck deep in quicksand and sinking rapidly".

He shook his head and looked at me as if I was stupid.

"Mate, your team can't score in the first quarter and my team can't stop other teams scoring in the first quarter. What does that tell you?"

"It'll be a nil-all draw?" I said, wincing as the last word came out in the expectation that he would garrotte me on the waiting room floor.

"No peasant, it means that the mental cases I'm in charge of are deeply vulnerable to any team who can gather up even the slightest bit of confidence. Your players go into every game expecting to lose. Good god you even had to drop one to the VFL just so he could have an enjoyable week, but mine still think they're finals contenders. And you know how that's working out."

"Yeah, but Mick.. err, Mr Malthouse, it's Melbourne. You were there the Friday night we played for a nil-all draw against Carlton. Remember, you called Addam Maric a cheat. Well, things have got a lot worse for us since then let me tell you"

A lone tear ran down Mick's face. The fear had gripped him. The fear that your side will be the one to finally hand a basketcase its first win of the year. He gripped me by the shoulders.

"I'll tell you what I'm afraid of son. It's that your mentally flattened, joke of a club who were flogged in the tackles by a bunch of 15-year-olds and Heath Shaw last week actually come to play from the first bounce. That they will throw themselves at the ball like maniacs and throw my players into the turf at every opportunity. That this will be the week that they decide to go out and regain their dignity."

After 12 straight losses dating back to June 2013 I wasn't sure how to respond to this claim, so I stayed silent and let him finish.

"Look at a guy like Jordie McKenzie. He's not the most talented player in the competition, but he can tackle, and he can chase, and he can harass. Imagine he pins one of our players with a strong tackle in the first few minutes, and his kick forward is marked by a player actually running to space, and that when his shot on goal falls to the ground after one of your makeshift talls offers a contest that there's a player there to crumb it for a goal. We'll go to pieces. The mental battle will be over. We've got more to lose than you have, don't you forget that mucus."

I didn't doubt that last statement for a second. We're expected to lose, while a Carlton defeat will lead to even more Blues fans openly admitting that like Robert Walls they never liked Mick in the first place, but a piece of play ending with a Melbourne player crumbing a goal did seem highly unlikely.

I had to admit that he did make a good point. All the pressure is on them this week. They're coming off two shocking first quarters, and if any team should know more about how broken spirits in the first few minutes can ruin a team for the rest of the game it should be us. It's never been more vital to get off to a good start than this week (well, it's always vital, but work with me here).

Mick started laughing through the tears. "If you see Paul Roos tell him not to pick McKenzie. We'd rather play against a bunch of fancyboys racking up their attempted tackle stats in the rain. While you're at it rest Jack Viney, Daniel Cross and Nathan Jones too. The last thing my lot need is to run into players who try their guts out every week."

I thought I'd impress the master coach with a stat. I said "Did you know that Jay Kennedy-Harris has had as many tackles for the season as Shannon Byrnes despite playing about 25% of the game time?"

"I don't even know who that is" said Mick.

"Which one?"

"Either of them"

At this point the receptionist interrupted. "Excuse me Mr Malthouse" she said, "Mr. Scott and Mr. Clarkson are here. We can start the session now."

The coach of Carlton bid me farewell with one piece of advice "Watch what happens at the first bounce" he cried before turning his back so that the straight jacket could be applied.

I bade the master coach farewell, pulled my collar up and walked back onto a wind strewn Harbour Esplanade. Maybe the first step up the ladder respectability will come by stepping on somebody else's throat.

Dees by 28

7 comments:

  1. I'm a forlorn Dees supporter who has all but given up the club and for that matter then game at the highest level.

    This article was so entertaining and humorous that I am actually inclined to watch the game this weekend.

    Pissed myself laughing when I read the line, "..... but a piece of play ending with a Melbourne player crumbing a goal did seem highly unlikely."

    Go Dees.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Pffft no need to throw a cheapshot at Byrnesy in your lame story you tosspot... The tiny bloke should be in the group of players 'who try their guts out every week', FFS he hits targets 100% more often than his incompetent teammates and he has kicked the majority of Demon goals this year. Plenty deserve a bagging before him so get your head out of your pooper. I also don't see how he is meant to lay many tackles when the ball is never down his effin' end?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous, the comparison is obviously between him and Jay Kennedy-Harris. Both have had six tackles, both play practically the same role, one has played 67.3% of the first three rounds, one has played 36.0%

    Have a go at getting a responsible adult to read it to you again and explain the comparison slowly using short words.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Shouldn't you be at training Shannon?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Please direct all further comments regarding S. Byrnes to the Melbourne Football Club c/o Paul Roos, Brunton Avenue, East Melbourne.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Fuck yeah go dees

    ReplyDelete
  7. "Demons by 28".....nice call Adam, almost a very nice call.

    ReplyDelete