Sunday 18 May 2014

The sweet sound of mid-table mediocrity

How's the tension sports fans? Three close games in a row for two wins. What in god's name is going on? I don't know about you but my blood pressure is approaching the record levels set in 2007 and 2013 - and this time it's for the right reasons. It's joy and terror alternating several times a game and it's magnificent.

Do you think it's possible to ever get sick of winning? Even if it does involve opposition sides committing astounding acts of footballing suicide to facilitate the victory I'd like to think that for me the answer is no, but. of course you could, I've seen the way Hawthorn, Geelong, Collingwood etc.. fans react to beating us. Recent success will do that to you. On the other hand constant batterings by all and sundry only make the heart grow fonder.

The sense of wonder over success in a stupid sport played under increasingly bizarre rules by 24 men all younger than me is still there. Ever since the Carlton win the emotions I've felt are what I imagine it would be like to become a born again Christian - whatever that actually is. I feel the spirit of Paul Roos running through my veins.

Before launching into a lengthy celebration of all things MFC we may as well get the obvious out of the way, Richmond totally stuffed themselves by kicking for goal like drunken sailors on shore leave. If they'd taken their chances better they would probably have beaten us comfortably but if we'd taken advantage of 5000 inside 50s last week we'd have won too. What the fickle finger of footy fate takes one week they might just give back the next. Richmond fans, it's not like we didn't give you dozens of chances to get it right by continually turning it over from kick-ins or failing to clear it outside of defensive 50. In the end we probably ended up supplying more than half of their goals from the sort of pure, white-hot cock-up football that we've specialised in since Round 19 2011 and still managed to register our highest score of the year with a mixture of goals between forwards and midfielders.

When you consider how we murdered them in the centre clearances (us, murder somebody in centre clearances), dominated in hit-outs to advantage (again, us?) went forward so many times and played them a man down for the last quarter and a half with a fresh sub it would have been shattering to lose - but this is the third week in a row we've either had a man advantage in the second half or an opposition player has been injured (though it didn't stop Tom Williams from kicking three goals) and we've failed to run away with the game once. We can't have this sort of luck every week, so let's see what happens when our opposition manage to keep everyone out of the casualty ward for four quarters.

Sure poor David Astbury's knee was hardly the result of anything more brutal than a neat Jack Viney sidestep, but I can see how our newly manic approach to tackling and willingness to crack in and have a crack might be causing sore bodies amongst opposition players. They don't stick every tackle (who does?) but when they do they're hitting like a train wreck. It wasn't even left solely to the usual suspects like Viney and Jones this time, both Dawes and Pedersen had eight tackles each. On a day where he didn't have a great personal game it was further proof that picking up Dawes was one of the great moments of Mark Neeld's tenure. As was - potentially - one C. Pedo, whose famous three year contract has been held up as an example of all that was wrong with the previous administration (e.g - wouldn't two have done for a guy who hadn't played a game the year before?) but now looks like a stroke of genius as he runs around playing like Matthew Pavlich.

Who knows, maybe Neeld got it all right and if he hadn't done his knee David Rodan would have gone ballistic this year as well? Alternatively you could give all the credit to Roos (and to Cam himself of course), because after that first fortnight when he toiled for no reward up front I'd have said there was no chance in hell that he'd ever look like a decent forward. Now he's taking pack marks the length of the ground, tackling like a man possessed and slotting goals from the boundary line like a pro. For a year and a half the North fan in our office who insisted that we'd done well in getting him has been the subject of countless abusive emails from Melbourne fans, but now we're all forced to admit that he may very well have been right. I'm so impressed by the redemptive qualities of Roos that I'd almost have Morton and Gysberts back on the rookie list to see if he can rebuild them from the ground up.

With apologies to Pedo's greatest game ever there's no point even trying to avoid spoilers in the votes, because Tyson is one of the biggest shoe-ins for a maximum in Jakovich history. What a guy. After a great debut he had a slight dip early in the season but is now playing out of his skin. He 'only' had 23 touches today, but go back and look at some of his running into space - even in the times when he wasn't used. He just keeps trying his guts out all day, and was still going strong in the last quarter when others were starting to fall apart. Six weeks ago the Herald Sun was running articles about what a horrific blunder we made in trading pick 2 for him (and Salem, but no need to mention that), now they've realised that it might not have been such a bad idea after all and the author of the original article will be begging to have his name removed and replaced with 'staff writers.'

Nathan Jones will still get the most Brownlow votes for us at the end of the year because the umpires will just give them to the guy they know (and god knows he could be in the top 10 overall at this point), and he'll probably still win the Best and Fairest because it rewards consistency even when we're wank overall but have your house on Dom finishing right behind him. The return of Jamar has also been a boost to the mids, and unlike Herald Sun journalists I'll admit that I was wrong when I suggested we should be playing him forward to concentrate on a Maximum Pedo ruck combination for now. Max was really good today and is definitely the future, but with Jamar looking like it's 2010 and Pedo defying all logic with his All-Australian form (only half kidding based on today) there's a spot for all three of them at the moment - and the Russian has shown plenty in the middle of the ground in the last couple of weeks.

Outstanding performances by Tyson, Pedo and several others aside we could very well still have lost in traumatic fashion today. The umpiring is going to cop hell from everybody, but you could tell how it was going to go in the first few minutes when first Dawes laid a perfect tackle which should have been holding the ball and got nothing, then almost straight after Terlich got caught in front of goal, dropped the ball and got away with it. I know people go on about consistency, but I'd rather they put filthy mistakes in the first few minutes behind them and get on with umpiring properly for the rest of the game instead of 'putting the whistle away' to the point where nothing's getting paid - because that makes it even more obvious what they've been doing when the game is on the line in the last quarter and they start paying anything out of their arse.

I blame the football consumer (myself included) who got excited at the first scent of competitive football and went wild about the umpires 'letting the game go' across the elongated first round. Suddenly the AFL's media monitoring department are presenting the umpiring department with line graphs and pie charts showing how much we all love it when players can be spun around five times and tossed to the turf, or be decapitated in front of umpires without winning a free. Then just to keep you on your toes they rip some ridiculous free out of nowhere which makes absolutely no sense and causes both sets of players to stop and wait to find out which way it's going to go.

Disinterest in doing the job you're paid to do aside (see Melbourne Football Club 2013), as much as Richmond fans are queuing up to piff themselves over a cliff there were aspects where they were still far superior to us. How many times - and this is an age old story - did their kick-ins get to the middle of the ground via two or three players while down the other end we were labouring away bombing the ball long hoping for one of Jamar, Maximum or Pedo to get on the end of it? At one point Jamar was standing right next to Dunn for the kickout and he still did the frantic roost to the Members' Stand play just because. The Tigers were good enough to stuff it up in the middle of the ground often enough, but we were certainly was living on the edge.

There was a couple of times when we either short first, or somebody led hard to the 40, got the ball and started us on our way but considering how many times the Tigers kicked a point you'd have thought we'd have consistently gotten it right eventually. There was also one kick (possibly Dunn to Tyson) which was so ridiculously pin point that I feel it must have been accidental. You can't do that more than once a week without it end up costing you goals - I understand why they just hoof it out towards the boundary when trying to hit passes like that is an alternative option, but after the two seconds when it looked like the worst kick ever it turned out to be the best. I don't need that sort of threading the eye of the needle six times a game but something other than 'roost it long' needs to be in the playbook.

Inside 50 we might have pulled off a ton of contested marks, but when they got the ball forward they were much better at getting players loose. It was just that they couldn't kick for goal to save themselves. At one point in the second quarter they were 3.3, and if we converted like they did for the rest of the game I'd be half pleased that we had that many opportunities but absolutely shattered that they were all pissed away. Though having said that if I were a Richmond fan I'd also be my kicking my fence over and sending the kids to bed without dinner at the thought of all the horrible skill errors. Believe it or not (and I missed the whole thing due to a migraine) this team played finals last year.

We gave them more goals via heinous turnovers, but they stuffed up plenty of good chances via dropped marks, missed handballs and shonky kicking. It was glorious, but a lot of it came down to the pressure they were under. Would have been nice if the pressure had occasionally been rewarded with a free kick but you can't have everything. Having whinged at length about the umpires not giving frees where appropriate I went to see where this game total (24 frees) stood in the all-time record list. It's nowhere near the top 20, and it turns out that 2003/04 was truly the era of paying absolutely nothing.

I don't care how many are paid as long as when reasonable and the umpire's not blindsided/lying on the turf they're there. Fans will always pretend that their team gets rorted and that there's a giant conspiracy against them (because it's fun) but even allowing for the difficulties of being an umpire etc.. etc.. etc.. both teams could have had another 10 frees today for blatantly obvious infractions. Instead we're going to end up with the game being stretched to buggery to try and force more attractive play. Good luck with that when you still can't ping a guy who does so many rotations in a tackle that he almost goes the vom after being let go or players can just hand the ball to each other.

We also had fantastic luck on some of our goals, the first one (and as it turned out only one in the first quarter, which is very MFC) from Nathan Jones could easily have run into the post, and Tyson got that ridiculous bounce later - but in two weeks time the ball will probably be going against us in every possible way so take it where you can get it. Also too often when there wasn't a tall target to kick to they tried to bomb it onto the head of somebody like Salem or Bail with disappointing results. It's partially on them for not leading so it can be kicked to their chest but you've got to play to your strengths, and while Jeremy Howe is taking screamers every five seconds in the backline (and holding them this week) it's unlikely that pressure king Bail will suddenly replace him as a noted aerialist down the other end.

Overall I thought it was hard to fault too many players. Matt Jones (who was otherwise good at getting the ball, played a blistering third quarter and removed some of the monkey off his back from last week by kicking a goal on the run), Terlich and Jack Grimes will be wincing when they see their abysmal kicks which led to opposition goals and The King of Sizzle continues to polarise the community by being brilliant in one-on-ones then turning the ball over by attempting a bounce. They were all pretty good otherwise, and even though his disposal was suspect sometimes of the time McDonald did as good a job on Riewoldt as Frawley usually does.

If Dawes could have held a few marks, and Gawn had the same luck taking grabs inside 50 as he did around the ground we could have kicked an even better score, but up bobbed Watts as a forward again and he was great. I know I've been on and off his bandwagon on a weekly basis this year, but I do remember saying that if you can get him free inside 50 to mark on the lead he is a great set shot and can kick goals. Give him space, let him run at the ball or kick it to him running back into space and reap the rewards like we did tonight. At 12 points down in the second quarter that goal he kicked after a pass from Toumpas (who Sandy Roberts appears to have been calling ToumpAss for some reason) was a perfect example. There are plenty of players who would have botched that but he is almost worth putting your life on from 30m out on any slight angle. Sure most players should kick accurately from there but you know as well as I that they don't.

Once Jetta succumbed to the green apple splatters during the warm-up I was surprised that JFK didn't get a late reprieve and start with Toumpas as sub, but maybe the withdrawal came so late that you can't alter who your sub is at that point? If so it seems an absurd rule, because as long as teams aren't faking injury/illness then they're forced to start a player who they didn't even want in the team over one they did. All's well that ends well though, Toumpas played one of his better games, Jay kicked the sealer with a clutch goal and Jetta got to do whatever he needed to do instead of giving us his impression of Robert De Castella in the 1982 Commonwealth Games Marathon.

For the second week in a row we were involved in a game that would have annoyed 'football purists' (most of whom don't actually know what they want as long as it's not what they're getting right now) and which had more than its fair share of stoppages, but was in itself a beautiful, back and forth contest where goals were so important because they were rare. People are up in arms that no game has had both teams score +100 yet this season, and I can understand that but imagine if they cracked the game open to the point where matches were being won 140-130 every week. It would be interesting for the first six weeks then somebody would decide that there's too much scoring and that we need to make changes to bring it back down again. You can't win so we may as well just get on with it and enjoy.

Given that we haven't reached the Chris Sullivan Line before three-quarter-time for about four years I'm not sure I let myself believe we were going to win until Kennedy-Harris kicked the sealer, but the bit where I started thinking that we might have actually been a chance at holding on was the Viney goal when Astbury got hurt. It wasn't because the injury left them a player down just after they'd made their sub, but because of the fantastic sight of a Richmond player winning the ball then falling on his arse and handing it to Viney for the fatal side-step and goal. That's when even though I don't believe in fate I thought it was surely going to be our day. The problem was that with Melbourne you should never dare to dream, because then after Matt J's shithouse kick gifted them a goal the momentum completely flipped around and they were all over us for the rest of the quarter. Thank god then for bad kicking, because we really should have gone into the last quarter behind.

The belief that surely they were going to start kicking properly eventually and run over us if we gave them enough chances seemed to be coming true when they got the first of the last quarter courtesy of yet another free player inside 50. I was changing my distress setting to 'maritime' and getting ready to rip a flare in preparation for a classic MFC capsize where emotion would sweep the Tigers to a popular win, but enter the Gawn/Vince combination for a perfect tap and a goal on the run from outside 50 to steady things a little bit.

Still plenty of time to go though. It made the margin 10 points again but what is 10 points but one goal from potential disaster, and when the umpire finally decided to pay a holding the ball for the second or third time all day when he pinched Terlich directly in front they cut the gap back to four. Sure he'd had the ball for half a second, and sure both sides had gotten away with far worse all day but what better time to start plucking line-ball (at best) decisions out than halfway through the last quarter directly in front of goal?

Thankfully Watts got his second to open the gap up again, but we then went into shutdown mode 15 minutes into the quarter with everyone flapping their arms like a bird after taking a mark then waiting until every single player was matched up before kicking. What could possibly go wrong? Well Richmond could go from one end of the field to the other in seconds, find Cotchin in his own time zone straight in front of goal and watch him do what his teammates couldn't and convert. Might not have happened if we'd kept playing our natural game and tried to get another goal. I'd almost started to get confident after the Watts goal, thinking that 10 points was nothing but it was beyond the Tigers - now they were threatening to pinch it in heartbreaking fashion. Who didn't see the script ending with the much maligned Tyrone Vickery with ball in hand 50m out on the boundary line when the siren goes. Ball hits boot, Ty throws arms up in celebration, freeze frame, fade to sepia, roll credits.

Bless his natural forward's heart Watts then turned up again, doing what nobody else could all day and crumbing inside 50 to kick a goal. Now I felt confident, but still guarded, and when JFK took the mark with three minutes left I thought that even if he missed he could at least wasted enough time to make sure Richmond didn't get two in a row. Then he kicked it and I almost fell out of my seat. What a feeling. Stuff the fans for once, we can make our own fun but what a positive for all the coaching staff and players. Hard work is starting to pay off, and while there are still areas that are wobbly we've at least reduced them to the minority - admittedly without testing against a really good side since we kicked five goals against Sydney. There were also several times where two players would run to one opponent, who would handball over the top to the guy who had been left all on his own. These are minor issues against other teams who are no good but try that sort of thing against Hawthorn and they'll pop the balloon by kicking 30 goals.

We're moving the ball so much better. Kick-ins and occasion jaw-dropping fiascos aside we're moving the ball really well out of defence, with hard running midfielders looking to get on the end of long kicks - and a willingness to go into the middle of the ground where possible. There's still an issue with the half-forward line unless Dawes is taking marks, but at least if they can get the ball to the ground we're winning significantly more there than we were last year. There are still times when we kick to a 2-on-1 out of necessity but even though it's obvious Toumpas isn't going to take a huge contested mark nobody gets over there to help him out if the ball lands on the ground.

Elsewhere Salem continued to look good when he gets the ball but goes missing for long periods (can and will only get better with experience). The Pornographer (NSFW) was handy, took a nice mark before his goal, received an appropriately liquid reception in the circle at the end of the game, and will be a handy option to have around in the future. How many clubs can you go to and still get the Gatorade shower? If that sort of nonsense was around the 80's and 90's Dale Kickett would probably have lost his sight.

Am I losing the plot? (Part 72)
Speaking of the fourth quarter could somebody please confirm that I'm not going completely insane and that at one point Bernie Vince was the centre-bounce ruckman with Jay Kennedy-Harris as one of the midfielders. If so and it's not just psychotic delusions then what in god's name was happening? Luckily we got away with it.

(Update: Thanks to anonymous in the comments and the replay for confirming that it did actually happen. No need for intervention from the authorities, and we somehow managed to get a goal out of it. Somewhere Malcolm Blight is standing to applaud.)

2014 Allen Jakovich Medal
5 - Dom Tyson
4 - Cameron Pedersen
3 - Jeremy Howe
2 - Nathan Jones
1 - Jack Watts

Significant apologies to Cross, Viney, Vince, Garland, Gawn, Terlich, M Jones (sans calamities), Dawes, Dunn and Jamar.

Important news for fans of the minors as Jeremy Howe is officially now eligible for the Seecamp. He's giving Dunn a substantial head-start but if he keeps taking ludicrous grabs to get us out of jail then who knows what's going to happen? With Pedo ineligible for the Stynes the battle remains between Jamar and the Spencil with Gawn threatening to run over the top of both of them.

28 - Nathan Jones
19 - Dom Tyson
13 - Lynden Dunn (Leader: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
12 - Daniel Cross
9 - Jack Viney
8 - Chris Dawes, James Frawley, Cameron Pedersen
5 - Jeremy Howe, Bernie Vince, Jack Watts
3 - Matt Jones, Tom McDonald, Dean Terlich
2 - Jay Kennedy-Harris
1 - Jack Grimes, Mark Jamar (Co-Leader: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year), Neville Jetta, Jake Spencer (Co-Leader: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year
Pedo reigns supreme, with his nomination for this august award (instituted: 2014) in the Carlton game proving the spark that he needed to rebuild his career and become one of the unlikeliest fan favourites in recent times. The weekly winner, pocketing a coupon for three ballroom dancing lessons with Darren Jolly, is former clubhouse leader Bernard Vince. He's nominated for the second time this season for a powerful long-bomb from outside 50. Now that we're actually kicking more than four goals a match (hopefully not speaking too soon) it's becoming harder than ever to decide on a weekly nominee. Apologies to Dom Tyson's wacky bounce goal which almost won extra points for the supporting cast because of the look of glee on Max Gawn's face as it went in.

I'd love to get into the spirit of things and give the points to Richmond for their Tom Hafey tribute banner. It was full of nice sentiment, had a little cartoon picture of the great man, and improved significantly from the abortion of a banner they served up in the first game of the season, but font is such an important part of the process they let themselves down badly. Even Fitzroy managed to come out with nice looking, clear, block letters when their club was going down the tubes.

I was also let down by the fact that they came out spruiking some amazing display and ended up delivering something that was functional but at best on a par with the sort of stuff our team delivers every second week. I'd like to take the moral highground and complain that the other side of their banner was an ad for tiles, but ours was for batteries.

Twitterist @CJPelican neatly sums up our performance:

So that's 9-0 Demons going into the bye, with apologies to today's opposition who tried hard in difficult circumstances. Richmond might have suffered defeat, but at least they're not in total disarray like North's lot who put this crepe out then tried to distance themselves from it almost immediately. I take it that the 'outrage' is mostly about the top line and the bottom line, even though they're clearly not related but a more accurate reason for disgust is a) the use of a cultural reference so outdated even I'm not into it and b) blatant disregard for the idea of centering text.

Speaking of cheersquads I don't know what was going on with those weird hand gesture things that were being waved about in ours but I'm saddened that nobody thought to create one in the shape of a fist.

Crowd Watch
After walking to the ground for the first time all season in a tribute to.. the fact that I didn't have anything better to do this morning I intended to hide in what I've since discovered is Row MM not LL and spend the afternoon being anti-social. Then people I know (and who may very well be reading, so hello and didn't we have a lovely time?) randomly showed up to sit amongst the humanoids around Row AA, so I joined them instead. In the end it was nice to share the win with likeminded individuals.

A run down of my personal affairs is absolutely fascinating I'm sure, but the point I'm getting to is that it was the first time all year I'd sat amongst any large number of 'people' and there was a strange vibe in the Ponsford. I'm not sure whether it was because there was a lot of disengaged Richmond fans who had turned up just because of the Hafey stuff - and the guy in front of me with his two kids basically sat there in silence all day giving their side nothing before walking out after JFK's goal - or because I was convinced a group of hipsters further in front were there undercover before breaking out into a public protest like on Q&A. Nobody pulled out a banner and started yelling about Tony Abbott being a shit bloke, but it's odd that just as everyone else pulls the pin on live footy hipsters suddenly decide to get into it.

Pre-match entertainment is a mixed bag, because you're probably forced to do something by the AFL and are never going to appeal to anyone BUT how pissweak was the Richmond version of that segment we have where people risk breaking their collarbone by taking a screamer over Russell Robertson? Theirs was exactly the same except the contestants were just trying to catch the ball without any special skills required. Absolutely riveting stuff there which really had the crowd on the edge of its seat. They're also persisting with the furious John Bonham style mass drumming before the match which is only a step above our now thankfully retired Trumpeteer.

As for the 'match day hosts' it was nice that Richmond had somebody of their 'own' as well as rent-a-crowd James Sherry but it might have been her first day on the job - in the 'classic goals' segment she described Michael Roach receiving a 'free goal' which brought up his '100th career goal". I'm assuming that as thousands of people ran onto the ground after he kicked it that it might have been his 100th of that particular season. Thank god nobody's got any footage (or at least I hope they haven't) of my disastrous two game stint doing a similar job at another Melbourne sporting club.

There was another ridiculous gimmick at half time where instead of a little league game (or whatever it's called now they can't keep score) in the area around the Ponsford Stand goals they had the 'winners' of some Mars Bar 'competition' having 'a kick'. There was no competitive element to it (if it's good enough for the kids and Jack Riewoldt..) and nobody was playing to win anything, they were quite literally just booting the ball back and forth because they'd won some lottery where suspiciously all the winning tickets were between 0001 and 0040. Rotten.

Once all the usual pre-match rubbish was wrapped up and they moved on to the reason 15,000 of 57,000 were there for - the tribute to Hafey. It was all very nicely done, none of it seen by Neville Jetta who was presumably confined to the can throughout but will hopefully be able to catch it on YouTube, and I thought the minute's applause instead of silence fit nicely with his reputation for vitality and a positive outlook on life. You're not going to do the same for Ross Lyon or Paul Roos are you? A minute's silence will fit them just fine. In true AFL fashion it lasted about 35 seconds, but at least with clapping instead of silence you couldn't hear generic iPhone ringtones going off or dickheads yelling things out. Under the circumstances it was hard for the crowd not to properly observe the occasion, but at the risk of coming off as the oldest 32-year-old ever should people not remove their hats for a tribute even if it wasn't a silence? I have no idea why this is the case, but it seemed like the right thing to do.

Despite being vastly outnumbered by Richmond fans there was surprisingly little nark where we were - even after Dawes biffed Rance, even when it got tense in the last quarter. Apparently there was some potential for biff on Brunton Avenue after Dees fans broke into a mass chorus of the GOF but I didn't see it. I think the ones around us were all just feeling the fear of knowing that even a win would just delay the inevitable slide back towards the bottom of the ladder. This may come across as patronising or as mockery but it's not, I genuinely felt bad for them. Somewhere else in the stadium there was probably some filth who I'd have loved to have seen spontaneously combust, but the ones around us were just slowly deflating and losing the will to live. We've all been there, see you at the support group meetings.

On the way out at the end of the game it looked like somebody had fallen head first into a stereotype trap and thrown his Richmond membership to the ground in anger, but sadly when he was alerted to it we discovered that he'd dropped it accidentally and was pleased to get it back. One day I'd like to see some merry pranksters go to ridiculous lengths to smuggle a microwave into the ground/liberate one from a food outlet then wave it around over the race as the players come off after a shambolic defeat. Extra points if they can connect it to a power source and get the coveted light on/spinning turntable combination.

Next Week
Not only were the AFL kind enough to prop us up last year with a major cash injection, but they've also delivered a piece of scheduling genius by giving us the bye on the exact weekend of my wedding anniversary. Andrew Demetriou and team, like Jack Watts I never doubted you for a second no matter what the archives say.

For this reason footy can do one next weekend. I don't know what games are on and I don't care to find out. It's not even the right time to contemplate a mid-season 'review' which just degenerates into "oh my god", "how much better than 2012/13 is this?" and "boy was I wrong about [any of seventeen different things]" One will be forthcoming after Queen's Birthday (featuring all your favourite mid-season segments like Buy/Sell/Hold, early delisting predictions and waffle) whether or not we've plummeted to earth with a violent thud or not.

The Week After
Port in Alice Springs and speaking of coming back to earth forcefully that should put us in our place. Stranger things have happened, but it's not like Traegar Park is the north face of Mount Kilimanjaro so I'm not sure if the experience of playing one pre-season match there is going help us all that much. As long as we do as we did in that game against Geelong and stick with a better team most of the night I'll be happy.

As for changes it's hard to project this far out, but you would think Jetta comes back in for Toumpas - with no ill will towards Jimmy T  and Frawley would replace somebody (not entirely sure who though thanks to Pedo running riot as a forward). It might be Dawes after his 'crude' 'shepherd' in the first quarter, but I feel like he'll be ok. It doesn't help that nobody seems to have a database of carry-over points, but what I can work out from hamfisted research involving Google and nothing else all his points should have expired and while I have no doubt he's going to get cited for what he did I suspect it will be extremely low-grade, discounted to buggery with an early plea and he'll be free to play. In searching for information I did find this Facebook link which will hopefully not become relevant again.

If he doesn't go then I have absolutely no idea who to drop to bring Chip back. You certainly can't get rid of Gawn after today. What a situation to suddenly find ourselves in, with too many players fighting for spots. More will get their chance - we're on 33 players used for the season now which is just above the lowest figure since 1987. Last year we had 39 in a sad attempt to find some sort of decent combination, and with all of Blease, Clisby, Hogan (god forbid), Nicholson, Strauss and Tapscott likely to feature at some point before the end of the year we could be in line to match that but with the club in so much better shape. So, so, so, so much better shape. All of 2013 covered in the first nine weeks, superb stuff.

Stat My Bitch Up
After two consecutive season high scores our average points-per-game is up to 63.22. Remember, the total we're aiming for to beat last year's worst ever 22 game season result is 66.13 so there's still work to be done. We've won one more game than last year already and are still 2.9 points a game worse off. There'd be something wrong about that if it wasn't for the way we've cut opposition scores. There's no point even comparing the points against across the two years because we're so far ahead that it would make your head spin.

On a more local level I loved the stat Roos pulled out in his press conference where we only conceded 0.1 from 15 defensive stoppages. Finally we're playing with pride again. Also good to hear Roos throw political correctness out the window and refer to Pedersen as Pedo. He did do a lightning run out the door at the end of the press conference though, maybe he'd had dinner with Nifty Nev the night before?

Was it worth it?
There's obviously less suspense in this section when we win, but quite obviously yes it was. To the day I die I will never tire of seeing beaming smiles on the faces of MFC fans or having random strangers patting backs, shaking hands and generally going right off their nut about something so simple as a home and away victory.

Final Thoughts
We're only a game and (a lot of) percentage out of the eight you know. Forget #deesforthe17 let's have #deesforseptember then #deesfortheflag. Better buy your Queen's Birthday tickets now, because the queues will be 75 deep with all the bandwagoners who are going to climb back on board (and 150 deep for the queue of social rejects wanting to do 'empty ski fields' gags). A small part of me wants to get angry with these people, but the rational part of my brain says climb on the MFC rocket one-and-all as we set the controls for the heart of the sun.


  1. I was so pleased to rate a mention on the banner this week

  2. RE Vince in the ruck, yes you were seeing right. I was above the bench in the members and Jamar was stranded on the bench yelling at Gawn, who was walking back to the goalsquare. Surely that's what the runner is for?

  3. I was happy to rate a mention on the banner too

  4. Just on your comment about the pre-match entertainment, my club (WB) is a client of one J. Sherry, and I really enjoyed the things the MFC did when we played at the G. As someone connected with the club, Robbo actually seemed like he was there to enjoy the game, and it came through in his presentation.

    As for our efforts, we've done certain physical challenges (like trying to replicate an arse-over-class goal from the last match), but the real benchmark was a half-time quiz called "Higher or Lower than Lower", where contestants were shown one of the players and had to guess whether they were taller or shorter than Nick Lower. Now THAT'S an act deserving of the #slopfest tag.

  5. Now, I'm not saying that "Higher or Lower than Lower" sounds like a 'good' idea, but the perverse part of me likes the idea of something so bizarre and thought out at 4.59pm on a Friday like the North banner.

    It makes a huge difference having your own people doing the pre-match. J. Sherry is fine at what he does but it must be hollow when you show up to an away game against Richmond and he's pumping everyone up to smash you.



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