Monday 25 May 2015

Love Theme from Melbourne Football Club

Given how much time I spent complaining about the media changing their tune on teams several times a week it would be hypocritical to pretend that a single win against a mid-table side represents a great leap forward, but scientists have proven that a Melbourne win produces sunnier weather, promotes the blooming of flowers and heals the sick [citation needed]. So that’s something.

It turned out to be a grand afternoon out at the 'G, but while we're in no way 'back' or have ‘turned the corner’ it was nice to once again confirm that there are teams on our level and that not every week needs to end in a battering. Fair and reasonable people knew this for the last three weeks, I was ready to call in the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse if we got thrashed.

While the lid remains firmly welded down it would at least be polite to admit that after three weeks of complaining about every tiny aspect of team selection, substitutes and anything else to make myself feel better this was a game that was won up and down the board by both players and coaching staff alike.

What happened in the last three weeks aside, and temporarily ignoring conspiracy theories that we effectively rolled over in preparation to be right for this game which is a claim right up there alongside the moon landings being faked, the off-field team appear to have done a spectacular job righting the ship after the Hawthorn debacle. We were always going to bounce back to some degree against a side firmly in our division and I wonder if I'd be similarly complimentary if we'd blown the lead (answer: no) but they did exactly what they needed to do from the start - immediately from the start in Jesse Hogan's case - and absorbed an early period of dominance before comprehensively out-muscling them. And how often do you get to say that about a Melbourne team? Talk to me about the old 17/5 fixture again, I want to play games like this every week let alone the last five matches of the season.

With respect to the rest of the coaching staff I’d like to think the whole thing was masterminded by Brendan McCartney with spite oozing from every pore and Daniel Cross having to tell him to settle down as he screamed bloody murder and demanded revenge against those of his enemies left at the Bulldogs. I'm sure he was actually highly professional about it all but I like to imagine the sort of scenes when Essendon eventually beat us again and both Mark Neeld and Neil Craig sprint down the boundary line yelling indecencies at us.

Contemplating the game during the week I felt that we wouldn't win but that unlike the last three weeks we could, and promised myself that if we did I'd try not to treat it like we'd won the grand final for the third time in eight weeks. In the end I just about managed it other than several joyous outbursts during the last quarter. There was no leaping into the arms of strangers and no throat-shredding rendition of the theme song – just dignified celebrations and enjoyment of a job well done by other people while I was eating a hotdog so unsanitary that it stuck to the wrapper.

Unsurprisingly after a few flat weeks where people started to think I was going to take up rugby union instead the win did wonders for recharging my batteries but roll on next week and do it again and I'll start to get properly excited. As a long-term Melbourne Supporter Depression Syndrome sufferer I'm not conditioned to expect a let-down and my heart can't take it. Ironically as we found out after the Richmond game wins can ultimately lead to even deeper de(e)pression if followed up by a string of heinous performances.

As wonderful as it was to climb off the canvas and temporarily step out of the media circus big top the best bit was seeing players who I'd previously written off playing a starring role. Forget Watts and Toumpas (for now, we’ll get back to them later) let’s hear it for Fitzpatrick and Spencer. When I heard they were turning Puttin’ on the Fitz (or if you prefer, POTF) into a defender at Casey my first reaction was horror, and my second was that even if it worked there he had no chance of translating it into an AFL match. Nevertheless when it was reported that he'd done himself a mischief landing on his head in the VFL last week it seemed like we weren't going to get see the experiment on the seniors anyway but when he came to they must have told him he was Steven Silvagni because he played an unexpected blinder.

Now Tom Boyd is obviously no Jesse Hogan but even at a rate of about $1m per goal he's proven himself to be handy over the last few weeks but never got near it. Fitz had the speed, he had the reach to punch and he had the teammates who ensured he rarely got left in a one-on-one battle. While it makes no sense to compare two players who have absolutely no interaction during the game it's hard not to draw comparison to the other end of the ground where Hulkamania was running wild with pack busting marks, well-taken set shots and even a lightning, instinctive handball that Gary Ablett would be proud of to set up a crucial goal.

Even though they were getting thumped it seemed defeatist taking Boyd off instead of trying to get him into the game another way but they did kick about five goals in a row when he went off so what do I know? He must have been slightly bitter and twisted to be sitting there watching us gift his teammates goals after two and a half quarters of steel trap defence had squashed the life out of him but he'll be back to tear us apart in the very near future. Anybody who escapes from GWS is a good guy in my book.

The best thing about Fitzpatrick playing in defence was that it freed Jeremy Howe to go forward. On an extremely small sample Fitz played a better game in the backline than Howe has all season and while Jeremy did absolutely nothing for the first quarter and a half when he took the screamer at the top of the square it showed exactly why he can be so damaging up front. Imagine being a defender worried about Hogan (and as it turns out Pedersen) carving through the pack, Garlett scooting around at ground level AND Howe standing on your head? I'd be shitting myself. Also gets us on the back pages of the paper and on TV. You wouldn't have him kick a set shot for your life but the fact that he's having them is a step up on most of the people we've played down there.

So while it was odd enough that Fitzpatrick - a man with a career record of 1-18 before last night - was convincingly playing as a key defender and beating up one of the league's next big things what about when you double it with The Spencil running around like Dean Cox. For about two years I was practically his only defender, then the moment I jump off he plays the game of his life. And more power to him for it.

Where would you rank the moment that he stormed out of the centre and hit Pedersen on a lead directly in front of goal in the greatest moments of your footballing life? If you have not said Top 100 then you're kidding yourself. Regular readers will know that my dream in life is to see a players leading straight down the middle of the forward 50 for a teammate to hit them with a pass right on the teet, and while it's easy to imagine Pedersen being involved as the marker the idea of Spencer as the kickee is almost impossible to believe. 'Glorious' is a term thrown around all too loosely in these parts but when people open a futuristic animated dictionary looking for a definition they will just see that passage play running on an endless loop.

It wasn't just that two minutes of glory, he was genuinely good for the whole day. Had eight kicks, and while his streak of effective possessions ended at 19 with a gigantic shank out of the pack it showed a genuine aptitude for not only the tackling and chasing we've always known about but also for getting a kick as well. Having said that the Bulldogs did spend considerable time running with a Brett Goodes vs Aaron Sandilands match-up last week so I'm not sure how much stock you can put in any opposition they put up. Not to mention that Dogs fans seem to think about as much of Ayce Cordy as we do/did about Spencer until 3.19pm yesterday but it was still genuinely encouraging.

It’s hard to be a flash in the pan when you’re playing your 32nd game in seven seasons but as much as I pine for Max Gawn to turn up and destroy the joint Godzilla style I've got everything crossed in hope that Spencer can go on from this.

Speaking of being horribly wrong it's a good thing that I wasn't on special comments anywhere after vandenBerg's first two kicks. When they were best described as 'shit' I started to think he had taken that deadly turn down James Magner Avenue where spectacular early form comes to a grinding halt, inevitably ending in arguments with buffoons on social media and a stint selling bicycles. He kept at it, and after those two ghastly disposals he only went and (spoiler alert) put in a best on ground performance. He had a couple of down weeks, but so did 95% of his teammates. I think he's a keeper, he's one step above a battler but has the size to be able to crash through his limitations.

Not only was I privately writing off players prematurely (which makes a change from most footy fans who just go for it venomously from the first bounce) but when the Dogs kicked their second goal to take the lead and spent a few minutes relentlessly pounding the ball inside 50 I thought to myself "we're going to get run over here". Which is why I'm the Chief Football Writer of a lightly read blog and nowhere else - disinterest in 17/18 clubs probably plays a role but it's never stopped Mark Stevens.

Speaking of 'written off' as predicted Watts' decision to apparently drop himself ended up being used as a reason to whack him once we'd played like arseholes against the Hawks. I thought that Roos could have played the mutual decision aspect of it up a bit more but am still comfortable with somebody putting their hand up and admitting if they're having a shocker. You know what the ads says, walk away, don't chase your losses etc.. He hardly tore the house down on return but there were a couple of moments of sublime football where he was in heavy traffic and danced around like he had all the time in the world before using it effectively.

It was more than enough to go on with for now, but as with all of them one win doesn't make everything ok so let's see more of the same. After a much better Round 1 game I thought he'd turned the corner and look how that went, so it doesn't have to be BOG performances but just give me those poetic moments where he looks like he's dodging bullets in The Matrix and I'll be happy. I still think for his own sanity he should trade himself somewhere where nobody gives a toss about footy like Queensland or Sydney and the footy media consists of one guy who'd rather by covering the NRL.

If we suddenly turned good there'd be people everywhere pretending they supported him all along but you can see what's in his future otherwise from the reception of his first touch (generally encouraging cheering) and his first failed attempt to take a Howe-esque screamer or drive somebody headfirst into the turf with murderous intent (general disdain, much muttering). I'm over emotionally invested in him doing well now but in a masochistic way I'd enjoy seeing him tear us to shreds elsewhere in the spirit of the SME pocketing three Brownlow votes last year and causing me to kick a dead horse by erupting into an anti-Neeld tirade.

It was also good to see Toumpas play arguably his best game ever, he didn't star but for the first time this year he didn't look as if he was worried a giant hook was going to drag him off the ground. His issue has always been getting enough of the ball in space to use his natural skills and I could see a change to that as well as more poise around the ball. How much of that was progression and how much was Footscray not being interested will be revealed in the next few weeks but it's a good platform to work on so let's promise not to try and have him shot from a cannon if he doesn't back it up next week. Either way it vindicated the decision to stick with him for a few weeks instead of giving him the Viv Michie in-out-in-out treatment as if playing Hawthorn one week and Mordialloc the next is going to help his confidence. I might be guilty of this with my pre-Spencilmania demands for Jamar but we are not playing for a flag here so give him a go.

Even Grimes, the forgotten captain, was on for the first time since we blew his career up by saddling him with the top job of the club mid-implosion. It was one of those rare days where everything works, even Riley as sub paid off and he enjoyed the rare opportunity of removing the hi-vis vest with the game in the balance to have 10 touches and lay several trademark bone crushing tackles. With apologies to vandenBerg I think Riley's my favourite of all the battlers, and not just because he shares names with the director of Butthole Whores 4 (obviously the porno version was utilised as a mid-series substitute in much the same way as his football namesake).

There's an argument that when you play good teams you should start a player like him so he can wind up the opposition with a few piledrivers while the sub is somebody more fancy that can make a difference if it's close but will still benefit from the run if we're being pulverised. On the other hand you go fancy against poor sides and try to get the job then bring the thumper on to bring it home. Well it worked yesterday anyway. After whinging endlessly about how picking players like Riley or McKenzie as the sub doesn't provide 'impact' last night demonstrated that impact need not be measured by gazelle like running down the wings and goals snapped out the arse in junk time.

Bail and Jones weren't terrible, but there were some concerning moments when the ball went inside 50 and they were the only players available to contest. Needless to say we didn't get very far on those occasions. It has been put to me that Jones was playing as a defensive forward and effectively strangled Robert Murphy. There's a position I still don't understand, it's the ultimate in baffling positions for internet loudmouths (forumites, bloggers and Twitterists alike) who don't care for the subtleties of the game and secretly deep down wish they would just kick it. We've got opinions out the wazoo but any technical discussion of the game is about as useful as a conversation in Esperanto.

Nevertheless everything looks about 50% better when you win and we can't afford to play them both except in emergency circumstances. If Kent was fit we certainly wouldn't be, but given the choice between the two there's still something that draws me to Bail. His profile with everyone else wasn't helped by missing the shot on the three quarter time siren after they'd come hard at us (whereas to Jones' credit he took his set shot opportunity well before being sniped behind play) but there's something I like about him that I can't put into words. He has nice hair I can certainly say that. We're not winning anything with either of them but we're not winning anything without them for a few years either so happy to keep them around as depth players for now.

When Pedersen got the goal which put us ahead at quarter time it felt unusual considering how many times they had the ball inside 50 but the delivery was horrible and our defenders too good. I went from thinking we were about to crumble to them being ripe for the picking within 15 minutes because I am a fickle footy fan. Then when they were the better side of the first 10 minutes of the second quarter it seemed like things were evening out - then we whacked them execution style and it started with Garlett selflessly squaring the ball for Hogan at the top of the square instead of blazing away from the pocket in hope of a goal. He'd probably have kicked it considering the things he can do but it was a great sign of where his head is at.

The first two goals of the third quarter gave us a lead of over five goals, which is when I really started shitting myself. And rightfully so because that's when the Dogs finally started playing. Even Stringer who had spent the first two quarters missing set shots for fun decided to roll a novelty goal in from the pocket which looked like it was going through for a point until the very last minute. The one that really hurt was the one on the run which brought it down to three goals, and they added another shortly after to really kick off the nervous adjustment of collars and obvious sweating.

I started to tense up, and while it would have helped if Bail had kicked that goal at the end of the third quarter nothing under about 40 points would have done in a season where teams are tossing away five goal leads almost daily. I needed a reminder of why footy is supposed to be fun, and blowing a five goal lead would NOT have helped. When they got a run on in the third quarter It might have been slightly chilly or I might have an undiagnosed serious illness but the three quarter time break was spent shaking with what I think was nerves rather than the DTs (nothing to do with fantasy sports but a similar indication that you've buggered your life up) as I imagined the horror of a reverse.

At least it would have freed me from reading the papers and watching the Monday night footy shows, but I was nervous enough about the perceived humiliation of blowing a lead against them in a meaningless pre-season game so you can only imagine what my central nervous system started doing when they cut the margin to seven. It probably had the same physical effects on me as drinking a bottle of carpet shampoo but without the soapy after-taste.

Enter Bernie Vince - his crucial on Boyd in the middle when they were threatening to go forward again immediately. As great tackles in the middle during the last quarter go it was up there with Garry Lyon against North Melbourne in Round 2, 1998 when we'd just blown a 40 point lead. Put my suggestion that we were wasting him as a tagger down as another golden (shower) prediction, even before then he'd slaughtered Bontempelli without having to resort to the sort of legally dubious tactics he'd employed against Dangerfield. He topped it off with two goals, the first after another cracking tackle to catch Bontempelli HTB.

From there it was a beautiful procession. Hogan flipped a handball to Pedersen for a goal which caused men and women alike to slide off their seats, Garlett kicked an absolute belter from the boundary line which we'll be hearing more about later (unless you subscribe to the actual AFL Goal of the Year competition which ignored it, so they can get stuffed).

By this time both Hogan and Pedersen were on three goals apiece and it seemed sure that one or both would finally help us shed the most unwanted record in goalkicking and boot four goals in a game for the first time in 631 days. Alas it was not to be, but one of them or Garlett is going to do it eventually and when they do I'll treat it in a similar fashion to when McDonald kicked those two goals in the last game of 2014 and go right off. Somebody with access to better databases than I should do a list of every player who has kicked four or more in a game since Round 17 2013 and I guarantee it will absolutely horrify you.

UPDATE - for your horrification @ethan_meldrum has done the maths. I apologise to Watts for crediting the last four goal performance to Fitzpatrick for the last few weeks/months. Now I remember that last game of the year against the Dogs when his leading was a delight and James Sellar almost kicked goal of the century about one minute before being delisted. It's yet another insult - at least this time inadvertent - from a Melbourne fan towards Watts. Will anything ever go right for him? Oh perhaps not.

By christ that's grim, but don't let it detract from the fact that we won. Which was delightful but it pays to remain sceptical for now. I thought we'd turned the tide last year and achieved the desired mid-table mediocrity after the Essendon game but that prediction proved to be about as good as George Bush unfurling the Mission Accomplished banner - and like today's Iraqi army we occasionally seem to be on the offensive before the tide turns and everybody runs screaming for their life in opposite directions. Here's to them actually watching the video this week. In fact once I'm done with this I'm going to watch the last quarter again myself - for research purposes of course, not to treat it like a grand final victory.

2015 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
5 - Aaron vandenBerg
4 - Cameron Pedersen
3 - Bernie Vince
2 - Jack Fitzpatrick
1 - Jake Spencer

Apologies to Cross who narrowly lost out on the last spot and to all of Hogan, Grimes, Brayshaw, N. Jones and McDonald who deserved to be in consideration. Practically everyone else deserves to be mentioned in dispatches for their performance. Trying to fit 10 players into five votes? We must have had a win.

A week after Jamar's reprieve in the Stynes when the new "average 10 hitouts" rule came in on the drop of a hat he is again forced to shift up the ruckman sized couch and share space - in this case with the much maligned (usually, this year at least, by me) Spencil.

No change at the top other than Pedersen and Vince getting within four BOG performances of first place. With both Jones and McDonald only managing apologies that leaves the Sizzle three and a bit BOGs in front with plenty of time to play. With a lead of 23 on Salem - who won't be seen for a month - and 27 on both Fitz (!!) and Lumumba we shouldn't be too many weeks away from declaring a winner in that race. In the other minors vandenBerg nudges in front of Hogan in the Hilton but that battle is nowhere near over yet.

29 - Tom McDonald (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
13 - Nathan Jones
10 - Cameron Pedersen, Bernie Vince
9 - Aaron vandenBerg (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Rising Star Award)
7 - Jeff Garlett, Jesse Hogan
6 - Christian Salem
5 - Angus Brayshaw
4 - Jack Viney, Jack Watts
3 - Daniel Cross, Viv Michie, Dom Tyson
2 - Jack Fitzpatrick, Heritier Lumumba
1 - Mark Jamar (CO-LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year), Ben Newton, Jake Spencer (CO-LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)

Affiliated teams
These days I'm lucky to get to the ground in time for fair and impartial judging of Banner Watch let alone for a curtain raiser starting three hours before the main event, but congratulations to all involved for another win in the women's game. From what I saw of the live stream through the AFL website (and considering their track record it's amazing that the site wasn't accidentally showing a Petanque tournament from the Cayman Islands instead) the women took their status as Melbourne players far too seriously and fell off the cliff after playing a strong first quarter.

That I only saw the middle two quarters meant missing every single goal kicked by a Melbourne player, which must have been how my mum felt the day she walked out halfway through the third quarter against Adelaide when we hadn't kicked one a few years ago.

If there's anybody who needs to open the club up to new markets it's us so getting involved in this has been one of the best things we've done in recent years. After three wins in a row it's almost certain that there will be rorts to get the Dogs a win in the rematch later this year so enjoy it while you can but I've got a real sense of pride about our involvement.

The only problem with these games is that their success is going to push the AFL to rush to put together a national league which is more likely to play games at Casey Fields than the MCG and have media focus for about two weeks before the novelty wears off and its consigned to the same coverage as the VFL if not worse.

Which is not to say they shouldn't still do it but when it does happen will we still be involved? I doubt it, we're working hard enough to stay solvent putting out one professional side every week so unless the AFL are going to fund it I'd reluctantly step aside and let others take over. Being involved - especially if one of a handful of AFL clubs - would have huge benefits but I'd need to know it's not going to come at a cost to the core business. Anyway, for now we have a team and in the spirit of trying to compile names of everyone who has played a game at any grade for the club bios for all the women players 2013-2014 has been added to Demonwiki and yesterday's players will be added as well when I've got time.

Crowd Watch
In an attempt to reinvigorate myself on the blood, sweat and tears (mainly the tears) I forwent the solitude of the Ponsford Stand and parked myself in the middle of 'The People' of the Redlegs section. It provided a mixed bag of entertainment, much of which would have driven me to murder during one of our traditional losses where we kicked five goals.

Naturally after years where not one MCG attendant had showed an interest in whether or not I had the right membership just on the day I wanted to sneak somebody in they put somebody on the gate who wants to forensically check the card front and back to make sure no shenanigans are afoot. Lucky I got there early enough to work out where the alternative entrance was near the bar and we had better luck flashing an AFL membership at a seated and clearly bored attendant then walking straight through.

We sat next to Angry Headphone Man, who wears a set of cans larger than the ones seen in 80's music video clips and he was indeed angry. I sit there so rarely that it's hard to get a feel for the people but he's one memorable character - just going bananas all day with no indication of how loud he's being because he's got such enormous headphones on.

Even when I have gone in there I've never sat any closer than two rows from the back, and it was a different world at the front. I remembered why I hate sitting near footy fans after Nathan Jones' brainfade kick cost us a goal in the third quarter and about five different people started moaning. One of them even said "Come on Jones, you OWE us one" as if he hasn't earned the right to cost us a goal after carrying the whole bloody club ON HIS BACK for years. I refused to pay any attention to what he was saying after that but I'm sure stood up and stormed out when we copped the first goal at the start of the last quarter which struck me as odd but maybe he relocated himself to somewhere more anonymous so he could unleash hell in the event of a loss.

The most terrifying part of it all was deep in the last quarter when we were high on the winning vibe and all of a sudden the trumpeteer showed up within shooting range and started tootling away.

Congratulations to the guy with the binoculars for showing absolutely no interest. I must say that now his role has been reduced to only playing for a win I can handle this gimmick - because it means he's won. You do have to wonder how long he stayed around last week or if he claimed to be double booked for an eisteddfod somewhere to avoid having to show up and be humiliated.

Considering how many clubs are throwing dignity out the window in the name of 'matchday experience' (for instance Brisbane entering the Gabba through an inflatable lion's gaping anus - paging the other A. Riley) I can't fault the Bulldogs for having a go at using their banner to try and get a few laughs with their slogans.

Having watched Fremantle trot through THANKS TO OUR MEMBERS a few weeks ago I've got a grudging respect for this sort of thing despite the words failing to scan convincingly and the bizarre GWSesque substitution of 0's for O's (did they get the cheersquad in the Boyd deal? Any paid actors dressed as monks thrown in as a sweetener?):

Now that's quite literally biting satire, but there's at least an old school 80's/90's feel about it (though try getting away with this now. And in case you think it was all good times in the past let's not forget Collingwood's sensitive and subtle response to the Damien Monkhurst racism furore) instead of attaching the sponsor name to on airship and having it hover around with a curtain hanging below. If nothing else it at least led to furious social media debate about exactly what Buffy slayed.

May I suggest retaining the comedian but pairing him with a copywriter in order that the gags may thrive instead of landing with a loud clanging noise. In the interest of community service for all the horrible things I've said about cheersquads over the years I'll do it for a year's supply of pita bread from Mission Foods. On our side I enjoyed the barely concealed frustration and menace on our banner - as well as the possibly unintentional reference to the greatest music video ever produced.

There was a somewhat contentious Bulldogs banner earlier in the season and when looking for more information (e.g for likeminded people who were also confused by it) I stumbled upon the appointed banner writter explaining that he had to submit it for approval three weeks before the game. Sounds like he's trapped in bureaucratic hell to me, how long does it take for somebody to rubber stamp a badly scanning rhyme about the price of consumable products in Western Australia? Unless our cheersquad sent this one through for approval three weeks ago knowing we were going to get turned over royally in the previous weeks then I call bullshit on that approval period being a league-wide standard. He should threaten to withhold his banner novelties until the process is improved and force the Dogs to bring in a scab banner writer trained on the Dubai waterfront.

Even the words for our women's game banner scanned properly with no discernible drop-off in quality of construction or kerning. At the time the teams were running out for the curtain raiser I was being thrown up on by an infant but I'm reliably informed that the Bulldogs one was completely blank on the off-side and that half the people holding it up were provided by us so try harder next time thanks. Having said that it was the first banner constructed by those particular people and there was no gag slogans because the comedian obviously refused to do double duty so they win a participation award. For the first time this year it's two banners, two matches, two wins and the juggernaut rolls on. 9-1-0 Demons.

Matchday Experience watch
The Melbourne Music segment is a nice touch that doesn't involve supporters gurning for the camera, and it was a nice touch to have selections by the stars of the women's team as well, but aren't you a bit concerned that nearly everyone picks songs that sound as if they were recorded in a basement in Northcote by people unnecessarily wearing glasses. The man who bucked the trend was your hero and mine King Sizzle who played up his fan favourite status by choosing Back In Black. Whether it qualifies under any criteria is debatable given that it's sung by a Geordie fronting a band from Perth but it's still preferable to the sub-Mumford and Sons bollocks everyone else was picking. The first player to select Greg! The Stop Sign!! wins my undying love.

Tell you what I didn't like, and that was the segment where people were commanded to run up and down on the spot to try and win New Balance shoes. I'm not used to sitting with people above me and when it started I was naturally buried head first in my phone and thought the world was ending when the stand was shaking. It was bad enough when somebody flew a plane over the ground during the match but I was comforted by the fact that if it plowed straight through the corner of the Southern and Olympic stands at least I'd have died with the Dees in front.

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year
Jeff Garlett has got the sort of hold on this award that Bernie Vince did last year, which presumably means he won't end up winning it despite being nominated about 10 times. Nominated again he is - and god damn it he has officially succeeded himself as the clubhouse leader for that outrageous banana from the pocket in the last quarter. His nonchalant celebration to the members made it even better.

Remember when I started to think we'd only paid fair rates to Carlton for him instead of robbing them blind? What a dickhead. It's not quite Troy Longmuir to Freo for pick 19 which became Brad Green but it is up there with turning Colin Sylvia into Vince.

An honourable mention for Pedersen's crumb that opened the third quarter and his goal at the start of the last courtesy of Hogan's lightning handball. I'm still refusing to admit who my favourite players are because it'll kill their careers stone dead but I will say he's been amongst my favourites since early last year and I'm moderately bitter about him ending up at Casey to end 2014 and starting there in 2015. While I've had to retire his original nickname due to its unsanitary connotations I have serious doubts around the club Twitterist's attempt to get "Pedalenko" up as a replacement. I can imagine the marketing team receiving a meeting invite for a one hour workshop to try and come up with a suitable family friendly alternative but that's not it.

Chris Dawes strikes me as a lovely guy but Pedersen has been in such rich form the last couple of weeks that he's going to have to wait his turn in the VFL. The bad news is that when I put Brunton Avenue to Casey Fields on a Saturday into the PTV Journey Planner it said there were no results so he's going to have to carpool with Justin Plapp.

Stat My Bitch Up
The late Bernie Vince goal gave us our second score of over 100 in two months - and while we've still got the lowest points for in the competition our PPG has climbed back to a slightly more stately 70.25. Helps when you don't score 50 for the fourth week in a row. The shorter this segment the better.

Next Week
If you believe the press Port are gone and will be playing for draft picks by Round 15 so that'll be fun to deal with when they come in angry on Saturday afternoon. They'll be travelling to Alice Springs with the sort of disappointment that can only come from having to defend your premiership aspirations in Round 9 in Alice Springs but I refuse to believe that we can beat them. Prove me wrong boys, prove me wrong. I'd like to say I wouldn't concerned by a loss as long as we put in a good performance but I'd have said that last week and nearly swallowed my tongue when they kicked that goal to open the last quarter.

It's hard to make any major changes after a win where everyone did their bit, but as much as Grimes played his best game in years if Neville Jetta doesn't come back in (not necessarily in place of Good Times) or at least plays a week in the 2's to get back into it while we wait for the side to go tits up again then he's never coming back - which would be extremely cruel considering the way he's reinvented his career.

Surprise Spencil was bad news for Jamar, though he's all but been handed the details of removalists who operate between Melbourne and Adelaide so it's even worse for Gawn. After a rocky start to the year Maximum finally puts together a couple of really good performances at Casey only for the mystery selection in front of him to play his greatest game. Time for his agent to pick up the phone and start dialling clubs at random. We look forward to his first All-Australian selection.

IN: Jetta
OUT: M. Jones (inj)

Community Corner
I wasn't into celebrities pouring ice water over their heads just be seen last year. Much happier to just hand over my money for the Rev instead.

Was it worth it?
Undoubtedly. Proves again that even if we're total wank against good sides we can at least tackle the mid-table teams with confidence. Were we to beat just Brisbane, Carlton, St Kilda that would put us well ahead of where we were at last season - with plenty of sides between fifth and 13th vulnerable on our best day.

I wouldn't have accepted it as an excuse last week but it's a fact that the four teams we've lost to are all in the top seven - and we're 3-0 against teams from 8th down so perhaps there is some mid-table carnage to be had? Everything changes with a win so ask me again when we lose to the Saints in a fortnight and there's blood dripping down the walls.

Final Thoughts
Not sure how you pick up a point while listening on the radio, but if this is true then it's the much vaunted return of arrogance. Easy for Hogan when he managed to avoid last week's pantsing, but he already walks on water as far as I'm concerned.

If there's a fund I can donate to (preferably tax deductible) to sign him to a Franklin style 10 year contract now then please send details. All this plus Christian Petracca signing a new contract AND telling off Ballbag Barrett on Twitter in the same week? Outstanding. Sometimes even pessimists can have fun.

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