Sunday 26 July 2015

Throwing deckchairs off the Titanic

Friends and sympathisers, I've not yet had time to proof read the post below so buyer beware. Which is also what it says on the back of our membership cards

In a week where the lesser Hulk Hogan has been exposed for being a bit of a racist it seems all that's left for us in 2015 is to take our vitamins and say our prayers that the red and blue one isn't sunning himself at Subiaco by Round 1 next year.

There were plenty of signs that this was not a day that would get the international market excited about football (first hint - the teams involved), but for Melbourne fans the second half of last week was probably all that was required to indicate there was a fiasco in our very near future. 

I've got no regrets at being happy about winning then, because as discussed at the time with our record you take it wherever you can get it, but the idea that it would translate to two in a row against a side in significantly better form than us was fanciful. Not that it was by any means an 'unwinnable' game, but St Kilda has vaulted off the bottom and straight past us at a million miles an hour this season. 

Even though we'd won the same number of games and might have beaten them a few weeks ago were it not for bungled timekeeping the last fortnight should have demonstrated that they would have more than enough in store to see us off. A sudden shock return to Kardinia Park style magic couldn't be ruled out, but after quarter time last week we were equal to or worse than the bottom side in the competition so I expected a next start let-down.

So it's not so much that we lost to St Kilda, if I couldn't handle that I'd be in a loony bin by now, but the way we set about totally dismantling ourselves to the point where by the last quarter nobody had any bloody idea what was going on.

When it comes to rebuilding quickly it helps to be able to revolve your side around one of the greatest players of a generation, and to have a solid crop of experienced players from a (relatively) successful recent future to complement the wide array of draft picks. We've had Nathan Jones rise from the backbenches to shoulder a herculean load, but what a luxury to have a future Hall of Famer like Riewoldt to hold it all together. 

Surely this is the year we at least get a player on the All-Australian shortlist (Vince or Jones, sadly Sizzle has slid too far down the board since Queen's Birthday) but shit sides who have finished below us on the ladder always seem to have at least one player in the team itself. We are trying to rebuild with no superstars, a handful of good players, promising kids and dregs - it's going to take some amazing luck to turn this around in any meaningful way before Jones' time is up - and it makes me sad in advance that if we are ever going to get better he might miss out. On what we saw yesterday the captain would have to drag out his career to absurd Dustin Fletcher style lengths to be involved. 

Fortunately, if the day had to turn out as the sort of footballing disaster that causes me to go off on massive philosophical tangents about how stuffed we are - the lightly read footy blogger (when do we get our TV show?) wheel of fortune spun in my favour and I wound up in a corporate box. Which at least meant I was physically comfortable while being tormented mentally.

This brief interlude as one of footy's rich and famous (hardly) didn't preclude me from being randomly selected for a metal detector check as I walked in the ground to scan my membership before walking straight back out and going in on the free ticket in an attempt to rort the attendance figures by one. It was 'random' in that there was absolutely nobody else going in so who else was he going to pick? I'm not suggesting it's a completely useless procedure, because one day somebody will try and get a rocket launcher into a Melbourne game, but given that it failed to detect any number of metal objects in my pockets let's just put it down as a token gesture rather than a serious attempt to catch people carrying samurai swords.

Having to get there 80 minutes before the first bounce was a small price to pay to avoid the elements. I'm too overly invested to walk out on any game early these days, and would have otherwise sat there until I couldn't feel my hands being 100 times more bitter and twisted about the disaster unfolding in front of me. Which would be saying somebody because days like this make me nothing if not bitter and twisted at accidentally following a club who turned a promising start into a decade long cover of the theme from Benny Hill.

I'd certainly never say no to an invite (PS this is not a hint), but in reality since I turned 18 and stopped being a drunken disgrace in superboxes I've been a terrible box mate. The expected behaviour is obviously to become uproariously intoxicated, make use of the suspiciously long and otherwise pointless steel bench in the toilet to do a Harley Bennell then spend four quarters scaring children by yelling obscenities out the window. Even with the motivation for self-destruction that comes with following Melbourne I'm too old for that now, and the only potential for drama all day was when some knob opened the window and as Arctic winds ripped through me I considered tipping him out.

The point to not being outside was that you didn't have to wear 13 layers of clothes, and here we have people throwing the window open and enjoying the elements. I'm a massive fan of winter but that was just too much. Nevertheless first world (actual world, not AFL world where we'd be lucky to cling on to third world status) problems aside you will be pleased to know I enjoyed the opportunity to eat about 13 sausage rolls and all but confirm a massive, fatal heart attack at three quarter time of the 2032 Grand Final just as the Dili Demons are finally poised to win it all.

Due to the early start the carnival atmosphere of free pastry and all the booze I wasn't interested in drinking was interrupted to study our initial warm-up, and the only thing of any note I manage to take from it was that Jesse Hogan was wearing an enormous pair of headphones. We used our industry connections to find out what he was listening to, and were not shocked by the results.

In another sign that the day wouldn't end well he nearly killed the one kid standing on the fence by getting soccer fever from the still-visible world game pitch imprinted on the MCG turf and attempting an ill-advised kick off the ground towards Nathan Jones which whizzed over Chunk's head and clacked into the top of the fence. A foot higher it would have caused the kid to do a full 360 and wind up in the Epworth. That's all we need, another lawsuit on our hands.

Whether you thought pouring rain or lovely sunshine was better for our chances of winning, Melbourne's weather had something for you before the game. By the end our team was so confused that even though the ground would have been heavy from all the rain just minutes before - and during - the game that they decided to play like it was taking place on Copacabana Beach instead of just hoofing it long to a contest. Not that hoofing it long helped us much when we actually did it, but it didn't have as much negative impact as trying to handball St Kilda to a standstill and hit laser like passes. It should be noted that in similar circumstances against the Bombers I was grumpy at them instinctively kicking long so at the moment I'm about as confused as our forward line set-up.

The long sleeves on St Kilda's jumper made them look like they were wearing a bio-hazard suit, which would have been exceedingly apt for the sort of poisonous slopfest they were about to be involved in. Let the record show that while we were absolutely slaughtered by the umpires we were playing so badly that even if they'd given us the free kicks we'd have handed the ball straight back anyway. In a low scoring game the Saints got some goals from questionable frees but when your entire side kicks six it's difficult to get up in arms too much about being rorted once or twice.

Yes, it was another glorious day for Melbourne football - the most damaged brand in the world of any organisation that hasn't killed somebody (although you could make a case given our recent history, let's see what toxic horrors turn up when they redevelop Junction Oval). The club that is single handedly fighting a rearguard action against knee-jerk rule changes by proving some players couldn't hit a target no matter how free and open the sport was engineered to become.

From the start you could tell something was wrong, much like the Essendon game Gawn was tapping everything and we were getting nothing out of it. They left the gate open by missing chances early, Hogan botched a sitter from right in front, simple disposals by both sides were failing to land in the same area code as their intended target and you knew it was going to be the sort of game to launch a thousand newspaper thinkpieces about the state of the game.

Once we did get our hands on it our forward line couldn't have been more dysfunctional. My kingdom for a properly functioning half-forward line. After his best game of the year last week Dawes started the game by taking a good overhead mark, then spent the rest of the quarter balancing the ledger by stuffing things up. Garlett was absent, McDonald was battling hard up the ground but couldn't get near it inside 50 (and should he have to? I'd much rather he went back on Riewoldt and did what he does best) to make a scoreboard impact and until Jones took it on himself to kick an absolute corker from the boundary line it was threatening to be a nil-all draw decided on behinds.

That was as good as it got for us, and the game was all but lost in the next few minutes when we caved in ans conceded four goals in a row. Our ball movement was absolutely putrid, and theirs wasn't much better but at least they managed to get players into space and string two kicks together instead of going around in circles by hand and foot until turning it over. Their first goal came when Riewoldt was left a mile in the open like a rookie (and never mind, their rookie forward was having a day out too) and managed to recover from a shithouse kick to set it up. In the process Nathan Jones did something which symbolised his last few seasons, putting his body on the line in a desperate attempt to stop them scoring but only coming out of it battered and bruised. Fortunately it wasn't serious because he's built like a brick shithouse, but it would have been an apt way for him to get hurt - trying to save the club without a teammate anywhere to be seen.

Riewoldt got a goal of his own a minute later, and he deserved it for having rescued his side from disaster to get the first one. Meanwhile at the other end we had players trying wild soccers off the ground and missing short passes to totally unaccompanied teammates. There's the difference between the sides for you. One of the many issues was that too often Hogan was up the ground taking strong marks and kicking it towards Dawes rather than the other way around. 

He might have been a bit down because his Hulkamania gimmick has been wrecked but we only managed to get it to him one-on-one in the forward line twice, one for an easy shot missed and one where he marked in the goal square then started his run-up in Williamstown before fortunately kicking it. Hulk Jesse tried hard for little reward, but he must get frustrated being on the end of that delivery. I love when he pushes up the ground and takes big grabs but unless there's somebody for him to kick it at what's the point?

What chance somebody takes a mark 60m out then turn around and kick it to a forward before opponents can get back and force a contested pack mark? Nil apparently. Then again, when St Kilda went down the other end and did the exact same thing they enjoyed the farcical scene of our defence parting like the red sea and straight into a forward's arms. Gleeful.

Jack Grimes was racking up possessions left right and centre but if there's a stat about attacking impact of a player he would have to have been near zero. Can't help when you look up and you've got a teammate one foot away but you don't have to give it to them - and he wasn't alone on that front. Lumumba's game didn't do much for me but at least he knew that when he got it the best course of action - after doing a bit of twinkletoed dancing - was to just roost it and hope for the best.

Max Gawn continued to press his claims as the #1 ruckman for many years to come by not only getting taps galore but quality possessions, and big marks. He's also the only player who tries to take contested marks in our defensive 50 rather than merely punching the ball towards the line but I suppose it helps that he's 7 foot tall.

On the other end of the scale vandenBerg was having a shocker, and we all hope that he's not about to plummet off the cliff Magner style but we'll know it's serious when he ends up being converted into a half-forward flanker.

It was a shit game, and one goal first quarters make the baby Jesus cry, but let's not go off on one about the future of the sport based on clashes between bottom sides. Quality of game discussions should take the same view as figure skating and knock out the highest and lowest scores to get a better picture of the real figure.

Quarter time was highlighted by Roos storming out and waving his arms around like a madman in the huddle, so we can only assume that if he thought that quarter was worth cracking the shits about that his post match review is going to involve a white sheet and a shotgun. I wouldn't say he was totally without fault, he was seemingly hardly reacting to make changes to things that weren't working and it looked like the only adventurous move all day was to send McDonald back into defence as a loose man late in the second quarter after we'd kicked two goals in a row. I know that 95% of all posts on here involve me whinging about us giving goals straight back after kicking them but that felt slightly defeatist. Good to see him pinching moves off noted coaching legend James Hird though, that will end well.

The blast must have had some effect because we dominated the first few minutes of the second quarter, but in another throwback to that well-loved Essendon game we were throwing away chances like they aren't precious - and got to 1.6 before kicking another goal. The Entertainers are back.

Meanwhile in a nod to last week (if we're going to do nostalgia can we look at 1998 instead?) it was like we expected the opposition to keep playing like arseholes all day to keep us in it, but unfortunately unlike Brisbane the Saints were capable of rising above that level before it was too late. We got the two late goals and kept them without one but were hardly looking likely to run away with it. Somehow at half time each side was reported to have a 76% disposal efficiency, which was like having a body that was 76% burn free and 24% which had been charred by Napalm.

You'd think considering the way we were playing the heavy rain which fell early in the third quarter would have helped us, instead it was the cue for St Kilda to turn it up a notch and start kicking set shots like it was dry. Meanwhile we sat around with our thumbs collectively up our arses watching them do this, putting those thumbs in danger of serious injury considering how often players were falling on said arses.

I'd like to think that by using the sub wisely the game could have been altered, but while 'Having a Vivian' is usually rhyming slang for taking a slash, in Michie's case it may as well stand for sitting on the bench for half the game wearing a high visibility vest then getting dropped immediately. He was ok when he came on for the struggling vandenBerg - and certainly better than when he came on against the Saints last time - but by the time he was let free they already had their tails up. Not expecting him to come on and play like Gary Ablett but something different would be nice instead of cheerily going off to the gallows without protest.

It was a lovely Riewoldt (who else?) goal that did us in - from a ball up towards the Members' Wing where we didn't have anybody goal side and the ball was slapped straight into the hands of a running player who kicked it down his throat. By this time the players were starting to look frazzled and I do wonder if playing all the seniors players in the pre-season is starting to get to them. Still the right thing to do, but having some depth to give them a break would be great.

Just to add to the fun there was a second during the quarter where I thought McDonald had done his knee in Jonathan Patton "still able to run off" style. Turned out that he'd just been clawed in the face during a marking contest. No need for a free kick though, even though it was the AFL's annual PAY EVERYTHING Round to try and stop the media whinging.

What a real fillip the sudden change of umpiring this week was for the game in this difficult time (4000 per game under the all time record for average crowds which was set before every game was on live, just shut the league down we're all doomed), and I know many fans who have been hoping for the weeks that the league would put every club on double secret probation and start pinging them for every minor indiscretion. 

It would be fair enough if they started doing that in Round 1 then continued it through to the final siren of the Grand Final, instead of introducing it in Round 17 then dropping it at the end of Round 23 just so commentators can tell us how great it is that the whistle is put away in the finals.

Fortunately the Sizzle eyes and knee both game good and he returned, thrown into defence again late in the quarter when we had got back into it only for us to crack open and let them kick a late goal. Tyson had the chance to cut the margin again right at the end but if anybody's knows what has happened to the Dom Tyson of 2014 please advise the Melbourne Football Club immediately.

The star of the third quarter was Jack Viney, who was tagging Jack Steven into the ground and racking up touches at will. Even his disposals weren't as wonky as usual, capping off his best game yet. Taking the piss out of individuals for poor kicking in a team like this is impolite, but other than the one that caused a goal in the first quarter his turnovers weren't as damaging as others. He is rapidly growing in stature as a tagger who can also do damage but let's see what happens when other sides work it out and start hunting him instead. Either way he'll go as far as somebody who throws themselves into the game that hard can before their head caves in and they have to retire to the couch.

The wind was in our favour in the last quarter so if Tyson had kicked that (I can't slag us for conceding the one before so soon after complaining about the use of the loose man) we were an outside chance, but in another tribute to the Essendon game we'd left ourselves with too much to do. This time we didn't even have it in us to give them a scare and the Saints trotted away to an easy victory.

Throwing Garlett into the middle for the first bounce of the last quarter was great, and he hoovered up the first hitout in expert fashion then did the right thing by just lobbing it in quick and hoping for the best but a St Kilda player got in the way (as they so often did) and that was our last gasp. We go straight down the other end and Jetta - who had played a really good first half before it all went tits up for him - gifted the Saints his second goal in a row and it was officially over.

Sadly 'officially' didn't mean that everyone got to pack up and go home, so we enjoyed the two sides going through the motions for the next 30 minutes. Despite the conditions half the team hadn't had a tackle to this point, and we only managed 57 for the game so there's your weekly statistical indictment.

It got to the point where even the umpires had given up, and after guessing all day they managed to ping Jack Watts for handballing over his head. Watts has had a hard enough time, that's the last thing he needs. He got the ball enough but I didn't think he played a particularly good game, and looked like he wanted to be almost anywhere else. Maybe if he can't get to sunny Queensland where nobody knows who he is he should try and get traded to an Docklands side to avoid having to play in the conditions?

There was one other farcical moment where Jack had his legs taken out but the umpire paid a free to the opponent for in the back. There was some suggestion the free had happened before the slide but if the rule has been introduced for the safety of players why doesn't it supercede everything else? If you got pushed in the back then punched somebody in the face they would get the free, why isn't it the same with sliding? Perhaps because it was another knee-jerk rule introduced at the drop of a hat, leaving umpires with another interpretation to confuse everyone with.

Against all odds by the five minute mark of the last quarter I was the only person in the box left seriously watching the game. Even the father/son Melbourne fans behind me were talking amongst themselves only to chip in with swearing when we did something wrong. At the end of the game I accidentally insulted one of them when in a conversational mix-up he said something about Watts having a good game and I said "get stuffed" immediately after. The misunderstanding was never cleared up.

Even though everyone else had turned to eating scones and sinking as much free piss as they could in the remaining minutes, leaving me to enjoy the spectacle even I was starting to get bored and spent more time refreshing Twitter on my phone to enjoy the cleansing experience of seeing other Melbourne fans losing their minds while the team shits the bed. It wasn't until this point that I realised the game was being shown on the in-box TV (I had a headphone in, just one though because two would have been anti-social) and that's why all day I thought I'd been hearing mystery umpiring whistles - because the television was a few seconds behind the play. Turns out I wasn't losing my mind after all, other than having left the house to watch this rubbish and then stayed to the end 

By then Channel 7's clock had quit and was counting up by the last quarter. Which is the exact opposite to how their ratings were going.

We lost, we didn't deserve any better. Throw a rock and you'll find somebody guilty, but don't downplay how much it helped St Kilda to have Riewoldt down there. There's something for Hogan to look at, the guy is never going to win a premiership but he is going to go down as a legend of club and competition. More importantly he will not be leaving the game as a poor man, there's cash to be made as a one-club player - and if we lose Jesse now then our poor membership department may as well relocate to Uganda so he should think of them then block the phone number of anyone involved with Freo.

Didn't seem to me that we were set up as if all that concerned about launching a comeback in the last quarter. Not even claiming a $500k Tankquiry deposit is required, just that was a missed opportunity. If Garlett in the middle was the extent of it then it was a good start but what happened to the other 19 pages of the plan?

The season is shot right up, and at this point I'm very keen on Roos opting to swap roles with Goodwin for the last month. As long as it's not done just in time for Freo to dismember us. There's no doubt he's been involved in a lot of improvements but what a great opportunity to shuffle things around and give the future coach a taste of the good stuff.

2015 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
5 - Jack Viney
4 - Daniel Cross
3 - Max Gawn
2 - Jeremy Howe
1 - Nathan Jones

Apologies to McDonald and Grimes.

An all-night meeting of the Demonblog National Conference has made a decision regarding eligibility for the Seecamp. The player must appear in at least 50% of the games in defence AND earn at least 50% of his total votes there or he shall become ineligible. Great news for the King of Sizzle, who now looks certain to add the defender's medal to his Hilton and Demonbracket successes of the past. On that note I'd like to congratulate him on being declared the provisional winner of this year's award. If he gets enough votes to disqualify himself now he'll be winning a much more important medal anyway so either way he's making out like a bandit.

At the top neither of the top two scored again, so the big mover was Jack Viney who storms into fourth and is just a game and a half behind the leader. Nathan Jones also moves within striking distance of the leaders and has become a big chance of lifting his fifth Jakovich. In the other minors there's no movement on the Hilton front, but Gawn has almost confirmed victory in the Stynes. There are still 30 votes available, so the dreaded dotted line will be appearing for the first time next week as players are eliminated, but realistically it's down to the top four now.

30 - Bernie Vince
29 - Tom McDonald (PROVISIONAL WINNER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
25 - Nathan Jones
23 - Jack Viney
19 - Jesse Hogan (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Rising Star Award)
17 - Angus Brayshaw
13 - Jack Watts
11 - Daniel Cross, Max Gawn (LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year), Cameron Pedersen
10 - Aaron vandenBerg
8 - Jeff Garlett
6 - Christian Salem
5 - Colin Garland, Dom Tyson
4 - Chris Dawes
3 - Viv Michie
2 - Jack Fitzpatrick, Jeremy Howe, Heritier Lumumba
1 - Lynden Dunn, Mark Jamar, Ben Newton, Jake Spencer

It was nice to get pre-warning that our effort would be sponsor heavy. Well, you have to pay the bills somehow and at least we've got it in writing somewhere that we're excited about the 30 year partnership with the City of Casey even as both parties are probably both scouring the contract to find if there's a way to get out.

Interestingly there was no rotation, which I feel is a first. Indeed it did have nice kerning, but we were very lucky to be against St Kilda and their banners that look as if they were constructed in a primary school art class because if we'd been against Hawthorn's fantastic effort on Friday night featuring a perfectly drawn cartoon bird waving a cutlass about there's no way even in a competition this rigged that I could have declared us the winner. 

As it were the only thing that stopped their thin sliver of a banner from being totally see through was a giant Dare Iced Coffee logo on our side - and all I could see poking through were the words "let's win tonight" for a game that ended at 6pm. Here's hoping their banners can rebuild as quickly as the club. 17-1-0 for the season.

Matchday Experience Watch
Should have known we were in for a dud day when there wasn't even a near tragedy during Howie's Hangers. Other than that everything was as normal, except for the trumpeteer being allowed to go home about a minute into the last quarter. Meanwhile I hope by next year they've got a better Hells Bells/Grand Old Flag mashup, it's a good concept but the mix is comically unmatched at the moment and it skips from menacing to jaunty in one second. I once edited a new version of Freo's theme song, I know audio mixing and it needs to make use of the fade in/out feature.

Last week one old lady sitting near me was horrified at the idea that they weren't even going to play the theme until it hit out of nowhere just as they came through the banner, in difficult times we can't afford to toy with people's emotions like this.

Meanwhile in matters that aren't directly under the control of the Melbourne Football Club it was good to see the Little League kids wheeled out at 2pm to play in front of approximately 125 people just so half time could be occupied by overweight adults playing AFL 9's (or as the league call it 'Australian football rules 2020') and the sponsored 'kick-to-kick' session. I thought this stupid idea had been retired last season, but at least now they're not trying to pretend that the 'lucky' people who get to wear a t-shirt promoting a chocolate bar while they aimlessly punt the ball around (also known as "playing for Carlton") are randomly selected, because I'm sure if anybody other than me cared about these things I'm sure nobody would be fooled.

You can do whatever you like at half time and unless it involves full frontal nudity or a public execution nobody will care, but I still find it tremendously rude that these kids are given a token run in an empty stadium (in this case, in pouring rain but I won't hold that against the league). As if they're going to remember that fondly, and isn't the whole point to create memories that will rope the kids in as life-long fans? Don't ask me, I turned down the chance to play in Grade 6 because I didn't want to go to Waverley on a Friday night but I'm sure it would have been memorable. It's just that you may as well get the kids there after school on a Thursday if you're going to treat their 'big day' with that sort of contempt anyway. Unless it's the league trying to get them over as a curtain raiser because they know while we all demand the reintroduction of Reserves games after two weeks none of us will be bothered to show up for them.

Crowd Watch
Nobody was there, but what a surprise that people would rather watch a game live on free-to-air television than leave the house to freeze their tits off with half the carpark closed and dickhead football firmly on the agenda. As with last week and the week before it, good luck legislating to create interest in games where players can't hit a target by foot from 20m under no pressure and handball to teammates a foot away. Maybe just legislate against us as a start? I notice the Carlton game on Friday night was refreshingly open and free-flowing, and look how well that turned out for them?

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year
Poor Jeff Garlett, you dominate the competition all year and get about 13 nominations only for Nathan Jones to nip in and steal the clubhouse lead with a few weeks left. His banana on the run while simultaneously being pushed to the ground during the first quarter was a thing of beauty, and it pushes Garlett vs Footscray and vs Geelong into second and third places. He was beaten to the Hilton in his first season by the late great Matthew Bate but has won every other competition he's been eligible for so I wouldn't be surprised if he switches into defence in his declining years and pockets the Seecamp as well. And I will build a statue of him if he finishes his career with us, so he's got that going for him as well.

Stat My Bitch Up
Every time you think sub-50 scores are a thing of the past they come back to mock us. We outscored Carlton, they lost by 135 points and we're still behind them for overall scores this year. A forward line that is led by Levi Casboult and ? is nine points better off than us and people think it's an absolute certainty that we're going to beat them in Round 21. Our defence is better though, which is comforting in a way. Now the only side we've kicked more points than - at 70.18ppg - is Brisbane so thank goodness we've got them covered.

Today somebody was telling me about how their kids are "old enough" to now flat out refuse to go to the footy, and is it any surprise considering how many times we've finished below 50 in the last few years? A handful of 100+ scores every year aren't going to rope the children in, consistently scoring over 70 instead of swinging from one end of the scale to the other on a weekly basis might help. I've said it before and I will say it again, as the older members die off we've got about five years to replace them before we're going back to the AFL with our mooching sack again - and this time they would be well within their rights to tell us to piss off.

The Demonblog Megastore
During the week Taylor Swift contentiously launched her 'TS 1989' range in China, a nation which rather remembers 1989 and the initials T.S more for some major unpleasantness in a public area rather than the birthdate of a pop idol. 

Because everything in my life eventually relates back to the Melbourne Football Club the first thing I thought of was a future debacle where we somehow end up releasing merchandise with 186 emblazoned across it. Meanwhile she was born in 1989 and is worth tens of millions, while I went to my first game that year and have seen stuff all success since.

I also found an apt sponsor in the carpark pre-match. 1300 FORK should have shown up for the MFC hat trick.
Next Week
Collingwood in crisis! Cloke out! Well that's a certain morale boosting victory for them then isn't it? As the greyhound industry has successfully demonstrated you can't beat a bit of live baiting, and either we're going to come out and have an almighty bash or the less than traditional Pies away game is going to turn ugly.

Hope we get a montage of classic moments from non-traditionals of the past like Petterd's dropped mark and Ben Johnson hitting Daniel Bell so hard the space/time continuum tore and we were the ones who ended up being sued. Incidentally does anyone know what happened with that case? How much did it cost us and who left the insurance forms in the top drawer of a $30,000 oak drawer so we weren't covered.

Not our home game so who gives a shit but I can't see many Demons coming out to enjoy playing the old enemy (well our old enemy, they are not interested in us) back into form while 40,000 simpletons who have never been further than Epping make snide remarks about the snow. The good news is there's a Press Red for Ed session of Fox Footy if you want to recreate the experience. I'll do Press Yellow for Slander if Foxtel will put me up in a warm commentary box.

The initial thought is to make wholesale changes and see what else we can do, but no offence to Jordie McKenzie but when he's the best in the VFL then the stocks are thin. Looking forward to getting Salem and Kent back but neither is fit yet (Kent's hamstring didn't even get through a comeback game in the thirds) and that doesn't leaves us with much to get excited over. No offence to the two I'm omitting, just think that they've had a reasonable go the last few weeks and should go back and get a lot of kicks in the VFL for a week or two instead of a handful in the seniors. Also keen on bringing in Riley for his 50% bone-jarring tackles, 50% in the back free kicks routine and hoping that we get more of the latter.

IN: Neal-Bullen, Riley
OUT: Harmes, Stretch (omit)
LUCKY: Brayshaw (tired - if not this week will be rested soon), Dawes (up and down like the proverbial), Grimes (can get it, can't use it), Howe (getting to the "what's the point?" stage), Lumumba (I will never say no to somebody playing merely out of spite), Michie (will probably get dropped anyway, because that's what they do with him), Tyson (one more go)
UNLUCKY: Spencer (just because I like him), Hunt (amongst the Casey bests a few weeks in a row), McKenzie (I'm all for rewarding form but there really is no point now)

After next week
Imagine the sort of crowd we're going to get against GWS at Docklands if we somehow contrive to lose to Carlton in our last Victorian game before that. Turns out I might not be there either, a holiday booking disaster saw the as yet unscheduled last round treated as the first week of the finals. If it's the 3.20 or 4.40 Sunday game I might still make it just to wonder why I bothered. Somebody's got to go, otherwise it'll just be our cheer squad sitting in an empty stadium. Even those GWS 'monks' don't bother now that the AFL aren't paying them appearance money.

It's late enough in the year that you can now honestly admit to looking at the top five draft prospects (did you know there's a GWS Academy player called Harry Himmelburg? Surely they've got enough other players to bid on that we can get that zany Zeppelinesque name on our list). It's also a great time to start making uninformed speculation about contracts. We haven't had a contract extension for a while so there are a few decent names left with their future in the air and a few weeks left to either save themselves or squeeze out a few

Daniel Cross - Must get another year on current form. Might not last the full 2016 but has to be there at the start. Knowing our record for making ludicrous decisions we'll probably suggest he retires only for him to go back to Footscray and win the flag.

Jack Fitzpatrick - When he was flogging Tom Boyd as a makeshift defender a few weeks back you'd have thought he was a certainty. I expect him to get another go in the next few weeks but hopefully his career isn't going to suffer Death by Tunnelball.

Colin Garland - He's going isn't it? Hard to tell if he's got the Thousand Yard Stare or if that's just the way he always looks but I guarantee you he's not having any fun whatsoever playing in that backline, and if he hasn't made the decision already he will when he sees Frawley waving the premiership cup over his head in early October. Will probably wind up at Hawthorn - because everyone does eventually - and at least then he'll get to play games in Tasmania.

Max Gawn - Write out contract for a reasonable amount of money, put contract in front of him, file signed contract with AFL. He does not in any way seem to be the sort of guy who would dick us at this stage of his career but #fistedforever is not just a hashtag, it's a life philosophy.

James Harmes - Has done enough in the last few weeks to be retained for another year, but not sure if he's worth an upgrade to the senior list yet. My limited understanding of player contract rules is that you're allowed to retain one third year rookie for a third year.

Jeremy Howe - I'll assume the contract talks that were slated to start during May have 'stalled', and am absolutely convinced he'll be off at the end of the year. He can do a Garland and go to North to enjoy the opportunity of playing 'home games' in Tassie.

Jayden Hunt - Has been in the bests for Casey a few times recently, so may as well give him a go in the seniors at some point over the next few weeks. Maybe it's better for him if he gets to the end of the year without demonstrating what he's like in senior company just in case we don't like what we see. I will suggest he gets another go no matter what due to mass drain of players elsewhere.

Mark Jamar - Hope he gets a go somewhere else for a year or two, never my favourite player but can't deny he's put in over the years while playing in some filthy sides.

Max King - If you can only have one third year rookie then either he or Harmes is going to have to be promoted. Booted five in a game at Casey and will survive based on the theory about ruckmen taking longer, but not sure if senior list or rookie. Might depend on what happens to Fitzpatrick.

Jordie McKenzie - Gone. Remember the good times, like when Adelaide wanted him to join them and go straight to the senior list but he choose to stay as a rookie with us. That should have tipped us off to a penchant for poor decision making.

Cameron Pedersen - Finally coming to the end of the ever popular three year contract, which against the odds turned out to be one of Neeld's few great moves. Was doing really well before injured so he's got to stay.

Jimmy Toumpas - Trade value sadly negligible, but if he's interested in making it back to South Australia we should get something for him. Another classic MFC success story.

Mitchell White - Never seen him play in my life but usually rookies get two years so best of luck to him.

Nobody seems to know how long Rohan Bail, Sam Frost, Viv Michie, Ben Newton, Aidan Riley, Dean Terlich or Dom Tyson are signed for. I'm sure Tyson, Newton and Frost are signed up for longer but we just don't know about it, but surely if Bail or Terlich are only there for this year - and you'd think so but we've done stranger things - they are gone. As for the other two neither are shooting the lights out but if my predictions are correct and we lose seven (Garland as a free agent, Toumpas and Howe as trades, Bail, Jamar, McKenzie and Terlich as delistings) I think both will get the time honoured 'one more go' to keep senior bodies on the list.

Roos wants another A-grade midfielder, and fair enough because who doesn't? But I look forward to a trade period of being linked with everyone under the sun only to settle for the comeback kid Cale Morton on a free transfer. Unfair comparisons aside I would take him if it cost nowt and he agreed to undergo the same sort of basic training that turned Private Pyle into a killing machine in Full Metal Jacket. I fear even if it did make perfect sense (and it doen't, but I'd love us to have a redemption story), that he'd walk through the door and be so traumatised by the memories that he kept going out the fire escape and into the Yarra.

Freudian Slop
The other night I had a wonderful dream that we had won a grand final. No idea how we did it but Bernie Vince and Daniel Cross were involved so the fantasy can't have been set too far in the future. The telling bit for psychologists both pro and amateur to tear apart is that I was watching in my loungeroom and after it became obvious we were going to win and I'd shed tears of joy I then went off to find somebody else to share the elation with but nobody was interested. Next thing I was at some rinky dink local market where somebody was selling guinea pigs and got home just after the Norm Smith Medal winner had been announced.

Fanciful stuff, possibly pointing towards total mental breakdown.

Was it worth it?
If only just to 'be there', and for the free food because otherwise it was bad football played badly in front of a bad crowd in bad weather. Will still be there hate-watching next week, waiting patiently for the levee to break and our remaining fans to go right off their collective nut if we stink the joint up again.

Final Thoughts
We're like a minor political party now, just on the ballot out of habit and treating any minor success like it's life changing. It's just a slapdash collection of battlers hoping for the best. Appoint the receivers now. Look, we're better than Brisbane. That's got to be some sort of comfort doesn't it? No? Fair enough, carry on then.

Update - I bet you're glad you plowed through all that misery when commenter 'Anonymous' has summed it all up in three words:

And how!


  1. Listened to the debacle while OS!! Not sorry to be not there! But surely the Roos game plan is passe ! Unlike the Saints we have senior players who never experienced success ! Besides a couple of , quite frankly were Pie discards! So no real onfield leadership , Nathan Jones battles , does his best , but thats it ,, headless ! Confused , rudderless, without skills and careless!
    What a team , go Dees ! Roll on the draught
    Great piece again Adam !

  2. If 'Throwing deckchairs off the Titanic' is original, it deserves a prize. I'll nominate it if you just tell me where. Bitterness & resentment are nurtured by fresh air and biting cold. Get back outside.


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