Monday 14 March 2016

Beware the tides of March

Apologies for the lateness of this post, I've been on the phone to AFL authorised resellers trying to book a Grand Final package. At least for the NAB Cup final, where at some point before Round 1 we're going to take on Fremantle and Collingwood in a triangle match for the chance to win the classic pre-season trophy that looked like a squat toilet and was obviously just as popular if the reactions of these previous winners is anything to go by:

The last time we won three games in a row in any competition it was the first three weeks I was cracking onto my now wife, and now my kid is a three year member despite not even being two years old so we've obviously all been through a lot since then. The difference between the glorious hat-trick of 2010 (which included the famous dismantling of Sydney and the "next powerhouse" game against Richmond) and the last few weeks is that when it comes to meaning those victories had us sitting on the verge of an unexpected and undeserved finals run while the equation of our trips to cultural hotspots Elizabeth, Craigieburn and Docklands is 3 x 0 = 0.

Winning all these games doesn't prove anything for Round 1, but it's refreshing to see actual signs of recovery including but not limited to a new era of unsociable football. We never win a premiership, at least not until one year after I die, but at least we can go down driving opposition players into the turf with vicious intent. Maybe that's the secret formula that will lead to success (why am I even mentioning that word, has somebody left the gas on?) like it did for Hawthorn. Ask me in five years, for now we're winning and no matter how poxy the games are it's an enjoyable feeling.

Today said nothing about our capability of beating a top four side, though it did suggest we might be able to scrag them into the ground, but after two weeks where the opposition had provided questionable opposition it was as close to a real game as we were going to get against a team in our own division so a good opportunity to test where we're really at.

Now we've beaten close to a full squad in a fair fight with a minimum degree of fuss and all of a sudden I'm feeling a new level of tension that I haven't had for many years. There have been Round 1 games that I've thought we should win in the last 10 years (usually against St Kilda) but now I'm suffering from actual expectations. It's no longer show up and expect to lose so anything else is a surprise, this is the first time we've really had to perform for years and I don't like it. We're on the way to Round 1 unbeaten, Jeremy Cameron is about to rubbed out for biffing somebody and it's either good times or the sort of let-down which sends people to their graves.

We're not going to know which way it will go for at least another two weeks, and I caution you in advance not to take too much out of Round 1 no matter how angry the sight of $cully makes you, but at least we've managed to get through three games without seriously injuring any of our best players. Even the one that did look like a heartbreaker turned out to be not so bad after all, so maybe our luck really is changing? And now that I've said that let the cavalcade of disasters begin.

For a week that started with so little actual footy news that Chris Dawes' calf injury was the lead story on a sports bulletin things picked up noticeably across the league by Sunday afternoon. First came 2016 free-agent elect Jack Watts suggesting shortly after climbing out of a tub of grapes which he'd been stomping alongside a woman who hasn't been relevant since Good Morning Australia with Bert Newton that he would "explore his options" at the end of the year.

With stuff all else happening this quickly became the equivalent of "I'm putting off contract talks to the end of the year" and it was implied that he'd be over the wall and off to freedom as quick as possible. Never mind that he all but said he was going to stay. In the nicest possible way for once nobody seems all that worried that he'll go but if he does there's going to be an interesting crossover between people who have gone out of their way to slaughter him for eight years and those who take grave offence at him going elsewhere.

I suspect that as long as we don't instantly revert to pumpkins at the next bounce of a ball and if our supporters can bring themselves to demonstrate basic human decency towards him that there's no point in leaving just as things are starting to turn for the good. Hopefully he maximises his returns with a strong first half of the year before re-signing. Until then I'd be thrilled if they gave him the same treatment as Rivers and Frawley in their last year, putting him in the forward line and leaving him there.

While most of our fans (other than the same people who have been saying "if everything goes right..." since 2008) have accepted that we should just be happy that there appears to be something in the pot for once let alone flinging the lid into orbit there was a surprise intervention from the non-more-March article enquiring whether we could have "a Western Bulldogs style resurgence" this year. We all love and willingly participate in clickbait but that was optimistic then and not much more realistic after another win. We could become the next big thing ahead of schedule, but it's about as likely as us sending a coxless fours team to the Rio Olympics (nominations on a postcard please) or asking Dean Kent to swear his way to the top of Mt. Everest.

Don't cancel your September holidays yet, but another win was a great way to end a pre-season that has dragged like none before. Our part in it was delightful, watching neutral games was like death. The answer was not to watch them at all, and while the opportunity to see your own side broadcast live no matter what obscure ground they're at should be welcomed as an innovation on the same level as the invention of the wheel the 10 minutes I saw of Adelaide vs Gold Coast proved that just because you put two AFL teams on television it doesn't make it worth watching. On Saturday what sounded like an otherwise reasonable standard Collingwood vs Footscray game featured a Dwayne Russell/Tony Shaw commentary combo and I'm not putting up with that without premiership points on offer.

Unless we start playing intra-club games at a friendlier time than Friday morning and in a more central location than Cranbourne I'll reluctantly stick with the current format but Damien Hardwick had the right idea on Thursday night, just give up when you've had enough. By the last 15 minutes of yesterday's game when it was clear that we'd done enough to at least claim a moral victory even if we'd stuffed it up I was more interested in why Max Gawn and Jesse Hogan were still on-field and not sitting next to each other on the bench enjoying that winning feeling from afar than the game itself.

The suggestion that we should care about the rights of people insane enough to bet on practice games or broadcasters who know full well nobody cares was interesting. If the AFL had agreed with Hardwick's suggestion that they just call the match off halfway through the last quarter I'm not sure Fox Sports would have sent an invoice for the $43 share of the broadcast rights that game represented. Given that they'd cancelled a whole match the week before it didn't seem so radical, but when they said now he just started removing players from the field. Sadly Port didn't follow suit and leave the last few minutes to tick down with nobody on field. Dwayne would still have found a way to blow an o-ring calling it.

Fortunately for Hardwick we learnt years ago that you can rort the pre-season all the live long day when nobody minded that Paul Roos himself told a Sydney player not to kick a goal in a close game. Paul was also the same man who took Jordie McKenzie to Etihad Stadium last year, applied a green vest and forced him to run up and down the boundary line all night without ever bringing him on. At least yesterday Viv Michie may have gone unused but he didn't have to do it in a luminous vest.

By the end of the week we were reportedly on the verge of losing our lucrative sponsorship deal with the Northern Territory (at least according to the newspaper who once led the front page with the headline "Why I put a cracker up my clacker") with the excuse that we'd not done enough community programs. There was a suggestion that the NT government wanted Essendon, who wouldn't play a game there if their life depended on it, instead which makes some sense in the short term because they've have a lot of players who haven't got anything to do for the next 12 months and could run daily sessions if that's what's required..

It sounded like a convenient excuse for backing out to me, and not without some justification considering it's one of the smallest economies in the country. Tourism is big business but handing over millions of dollars for a mediocre footy team to appear a couple of times a year seems odd. But while they keep writing the cheques, we'll keep cashing them.

Given that we'd already been run out of the ACT via the road with a turn-off to the Belanglo State Forest (home of the world's most ironic"please be careful" sign) we're running out of territories to take a huge pay-day from if this doesn't go well. There was much back slapping when we signed the token pledge not to take sponsorships from gaming companies during the week, but if this deal goes tits up forget the money we're raking in from the pokies at the Bentleigh Club we'll have to open a casino to cover costs.

But enough of the 2011 style off-field intrigue, we had a clash with St Kilda in the famous graveyard shift at a ground so lifeless that people want to bulldoze it and start again. With both sides fielding proper sides and the actual interchange cap enforced for the first time all year it promised to be the best guide yet to what's going to happen against GWS - who warmed up by tonking Brisbane in the early game. Whatever happened I went into the afternoon resolving to keep the lid firmly jammed on, because if it comes off this early there's every possible chance that by Round 3 people will be hurling it around like a weapon if things don't go to plan.

For the first five minutes it looked like our luck had run out, with nobody other than Matt Jones (!) able to cleanly get the ball out of defence and the Saints responding to our attacks by bouncing from one end to the other with the greatest of ease. When Josh Bruce took advantage of the first of many defensive blunders in the first quarter, this time from the unlikely boot of Christian Salem, to lead and mark in a phonebooth sized space I was ready to accept a 10 goal loss and take it as a learning experience before the real stuff began. If I were in a war I'd be France.

Like George Costanza when he thought God had given him cancer just as he was about to become successful ("Negative is good?") Jones must have been cursing through his concussion because in the 18% of the game he played he was our best player, setting up attacks off half-back like we'd never seen him do before. At that point he would have been under consideration for Round 1, even though his profile had dipped so badly that in the warm-up he walked through the bottom of shot on the big screen and I thought it was Jake Melksham. That's about the only selection decision that would have been bolder than playing the 2013 superstar on the half-back flank to start with, but for a time it was working a treat. I am not actually sure who is coaching us at the moment but they got that one right before he was knocked goofy and withdrawn from combat.

Speaking of lookalikes, from a distance Ben Kennedy looks a bit like Addam Maric but the key difference is that he's obviously channelled his emotional issues into the hatred of opposition players rather than himself. Today was his most complete game, delivering the first goal courtesy of first winning a holding the ball free then a 50 metre penalty, and later in the quarter delivering a textbook legal bump to a player crouched over the ball which not only put the St Kilda player on his arse while avoiding injury/sanctions but also set up a goal. He's quick, he's angry, he's a welcome addition to the side. How's Jeremy Howe and his Robert Allenby style book of excuses for off-field injury going at Collingwood anyway?

Once we finally got the ball out of defence we moved it better than usual. For an example look at Pedersen's goal which was set up by a combination of Nathan Jones setting up from back of centre, Gawn taking a huge mark and Frost expertly finding him in space. The issue was extracting the ball from defence to start with. Both Garland and the Sizzle Brothers both did reasonable defensive work, but when the ball came to boot they were all guilty in a series of comedy capers which did nothing for my nerves. It would be ironic if after saving our bacon for so long the backline suddenly loses the plot just as everyone else gets better, but they got better as the day went on and St Kilda proved more than our equal for suicidal defending.

Rookie Josh Wagner also had a touch of the shambles, and while I'm not writing him off because they must have faith to play him right through the pre-season I don't like his chances of the first round debut that was for some reason being discussed before he'd even played a game. He did a couple of nice things later in the game but if it works it's not going to be an instant coup like Magner (temporarily) or vandenBerg (hopefully permanently).

The highlight of the first quarter was Jack Watts playing like he was Matthew Pavlich, and won't it be the ultimate in FML (Fisted Melbourne Lifestyle) when he has the season of his life and Freo buy him for a fortune to link up with Hogan later? The overhead contested mark which led to his first goal was the sort of thing that we've been waiting to see for years. It didn't even offend me when he ended up sneaking into defence later because he'd done so much good work forward.

Even with two goals it was probably Hogan's worst game ever, and shudders ran down the spine of MFC loyalists around the world when his first set shot revealed that he'd taken his already 'charismatic' goalkicking routine and thrown in some more fancy footwork. The ball flew out on the full and we all wondered how in god's name that can have been allowed to develop throughout the pre-season without anyone taking him aside and saying "come on mate". I know we don't want to annoy him at the moment but somebody's got to have a word because we can't allow that to go on for much longer. Josh Kennedy has proven beyond doubt that a wacky run-up doesn't need to be fatal but last season's version was surprisingly accurate so can we at least revert to that for now?

It wasn't all bad news for Hogan, other highlights included the blind handball to set up Kent's goal in the second quarter and when he dropped the mark and looked at his hands like The Ultimate Warrior after he'd been cursed by Papa Shango even though he'd buttered up (CLICHE! I don't even know exactly what it means) to kicked the goal off the ground. I'd like to say there's no need to panic but I panic about everything he does so why not add the kicking routine to the list as well?

The Saints weren't stupid and finally decided to try and stop Jack Viney rather than just letting him run around and do whatever he wanted. It worked reasonably well in the first half before he got off the leash, and while the Cosmic Connection with Gawn wasn't as dominant as it had been in the first two weeks that was fine because alongside him we had the man for all seasons Nathan Jones and the Hamburglar going at it like a 10 year veteran.

When Jason Holmes came on for the second half the beard to be feared met his match for a player who could leap over the top of him, but unlike Max who was playing like the total package with 10 contested possessions and six tackles the American offered exactly zero when the ball hit the deck so I know which one I'd rather have.

The reliance on Gawn is almost as terrifying as watching Hogan change direction and waiting for his knee to explode. We've never had all our ruck eggs in one basket like it before, and once the game was won it seemed a reasonable time to give Pedersen or Frost an extended run on the ball just to make sure they're going in with some recent competitive experience if required.

My favourite thing about Maximum, and there are many, is that he always looks like he's about to keen over and die from exhaustion when he's not involved in the play but pushes through to the end of the game with minimal breaks and no noticeable drop off in his performance.

By my count Frost took one centre bounce, late in the game and he demonstrated an excellent leap where it seemed to me he got the tap though the stats suggest otherwise so there might be something there. With the Spencil out injured and the two Kings clearly unwanted in the senior conversation at the moment he might come in handy now that the controversial 'Maximum Pedo' ruck combination looks like being halted by the Match Review Panel courtesy of Pedersen's malice free but clumsy bump in the last quarter. He's got a clean record and there was no damage done so he might get away with a warning, and if any MRP members are reading this before deliberating it should be pointed out that's a far better result than the possible depressed fracture of the cheekbone suffered by the guy who Cameron hit in similar circumstances so you should definitely rub him out.

We had our moments of slapstick but for a quarter where we conceded nine scoring shots and only got within a goal courtesy of Watts kicking another on the siren (*swoon*) it was entertaining to watch, other than Hogan's set-shot (which the highlights package is nice enough to cut out after showing his mark) and some horrendous kicking in defence. It's one thing to switch play but defenders trying to nail pin-point passes inside defensive 50 then launching kicks flatter than the proverbial hat is unwelcome in any circumstances. Just kick it up the line towards Gawn, no matter how tired he looks he will jump for it, and we'll go from there.

Maybe they were too terrified of the new deliberate rule to consistently head for the boundary. For the third week in a row we were pinched under the new interpretation of "pay everything", with the first one happening in the forward line to complete the hat-trick of McDonald being nabbed in defence against Port and Garland on the wing against the Dogs. The other two were just for effect, including one deep in the final quarter with nothing on the line when a hurried kick forward spilt out of bounds and instead of taking a principled stand against bad policy the dickhead umpire paid it. I look forward to our players earnestly trying to keep the ball in to their own detriment in Round 9 two months after umpires have stopped paying it.

My anti-deliberate antics prompted much tutting and filthy looks from the majority St Kilda fans sitting around us, so after we were far enough ahead I was dying for them to get done for one as well so they could all understand the stupidity of it/loudly brand them a bunch of filthy hypocrites. Sadly it never came. The deliberate rule is alive and well but it looks like they've given up on the sliding one if the player who flew through Nathan Jones' legs in the last quarter getting away with it under the umpire's nose stood for anything.

The start of the second quarter saw most of the problems which had befallen us in the first ironed out. The fun started with Kent's goal courtesy of the Hogan turn and handball (and tell me Watts hadn't been infringed with in the contest. Why not fall in love all over again with this troubled young man as he rebuilds his shattered life?) and continued with Kennedy ironing out the poor bastard who had been set the task of collecting a shithouse kick from a teammate to set up Oliver's first.

Part of the reason they were making so many mistakes in defence was that we were intimidating them into it. Between Kennedy, Garlett, Kent and even unlikely suspects like Hogan and Pedersen we have not had forward pressure of that standard since Aaron Davey invented it in 2004. The third goal was a perfect case study, the ball spilling free from a marking contest and the Saints defender tapping the ball straight to Garlett to run into an open goal after shitting the bed in a tussle for the ball with Hogan.

After St Kilda got the next two - though we could have had another when holding the ball specialist Dom Tyson benefited from Kent worrying his opponent out of it - we were fortunate to benefit from a piece of indiscipline so heinous that the ridiculously named Blake Acres should have dragged himself. Kennedy took a mark and for no good reason whatsoever was pushed over to concede a 50. In that situation putting your hand up, saying "yes, it is true I am an idiot" and going off to sit next to Viv Michie was the only honourable thing to do. It came at a perfect time, with the lead less than a goal. Thanks dickhead, feel free to apply for a new name.

One of the most pleasing aspects of the win, and a rare score of over 100 points, was how we were making goals even without Hogan providing the towering presence that we hope he will for the next 23 weeks (even when we've got the bye, and yes I am ending it at 23 weeks because what do you think this is OptimismBlog?). Witness for instance Sam Frost's tap on to Watts who set up Garlett early in the third quarter.

Jeff (never, ever...) played a really good game too, I'm used to him ghosting through the game to be on the end of a few goals every week and setting a few up for teammates but his chase, tackle and contested possessions were a welcome feature today. While we're saying 'thanks dickhead' let's give a hand to the side who traded him for pick 61. The best bit about that trade was that due to my complete disinterest in the goings on at other clubs I thought he was about 28 when it turns out he's got a good five years left in him.

Mick, you might have called Emo Maric a cheat on the radio, refused our lucrative overtures to coach and recommended Mark Neeld for the job, but this might make up for all of them*.
* the first two at least.

Just when it seemed we'd broken the Saints and might be able to put our feet up for the last quarter the bastards kicked two in a row to keep it interesting. The tide was temporarily held back by a tough Bernie Vince tackle in front of goal, and even though I'm sure they're still holding him back somewhere he played a really good game mainly in defence with random stints in the midfield. Here's to the reigning Best and Fairest player being a Round 1 surprise packet.

After conceding those two goals my concern was that we were going to wilt under the pressure of having to conform to the 90 interchange limit and when St Kilda got the first goal of the last quarter there was as much nervousness as you can get for a game that means precisely diddly squat - especially if you lose and have to put a brave face on it.

We were saved by Christian Salem's long bomb accidentally rolling through for a nine point goal, our first since the first NAB Challenge game of 2014. As much as I hate that rule in inverse proportion to how much Dwayne Russell loves it I was glad for the extra score when we pulled off that oh so Melbourne move of struggling for minutes to kick a goal then giving it straight back out of the centre. It was down to a three point play before we turned the tables and got the goal straight back ourselves, returning it to a nine point advantage after all.

God only knows why they persist with the novelty goals in what is supposed to be a full dress rehearsal for the real stuff but at least we can take the $500 in footballs that are supposed to go Salem's junior club and instead send them to the Northern Territory so the Chief Minister will stop trying to run us out of town. A search of his name and the world scandal will show he's got form but I don't want to be read into the Hansard of the NT Assembly as justification for ripping up the sponsorship deal so do your own research.

Hogan's snap, which proved that like so many other of our forwards over the years he'd better off just playing on, was effectively the end of it. I wasn't listening to SEN at the time but given that every other aspect of their broadcast is sponsored by somebody it must have been the cue for 1300 Got Junk Time to begin. Not that we took even the slightest precautions with our most important players, leaving the door open for the first time a coach has ever been lynched from a goalpost by supporters after a win if any of them had been seriously injured. We'd already gotten away with both Garland and Jetta hobbling off during the game, if any of the big guns had dropped in the dying minutes there would have been a second consecutive night of street violence through the CBD.

The last remaining highlight was a screamer and goal from Tomas Bugg. Even before that he'd played his best game yet for us, stopping only to indulge in some agro with Nick Riewoldt as afters to belting him last  year. It's legitimately enjoyable when imports bring their personal vendettas with them, and it will help them fit in to this team which is fast developing a core of players who are either nasty, insanely fearless or both.

Bugg's mark revealed for the first time this year that he's sporting a moustache only slightly less ridiculous than the one Lynden Dunn insisted on wearing for two years. It can't have cropped up in the last week but I'm sure I'd have noticed if he had that dazzler on his top lip against Port. This one is better because unlike Dunn sporting what looked suspiciously like the bumfluff of a 14-year-old this suited him much better.

This is what we were reduced to in the last few minutes, grading the facial hair choices of Melbourne players. Which is quite a length better than the previous past time of yelling obscenities and storming the race to call them all bastards.

Save us from ourselves, start the real stuff a week early.

Paul Prymke Plate for Pre-Season Performance votes
5 - Jack Watts
4 - Ben Kennedy
3 - Clayton Oliver
2 - Jeff Garlett
1 - Bernie Vince

Apologies to N. Jones, Tyson, Viney, Gawn, Bugg, Kent, Harmes, the Sizzle Brothers (without ball in hand) and M. Jones (per capita)

Final results
Congratulations to the Million Dollar Manchild for lifting his first ever piece of Demonblog silverware. May it be the first of hundreds.

14 - Jack Watts
9 - Jack Viney
8 - Max Gawn
6 - Clayton Oliver
4 - Jesse Hogan, Nathan Jones, Ben Kennedy
3 - Lynden Dunn, Aaron vandenBerg
2 - Jeff Garlett, Bernie Vince
1 - Neville Jetta, Christian Salem

For the second time this pre-season it's a walkover for Melbourne as the opposition side show a criminal disinterest in hard work by neglecting to put together an entrant. If you take into account the one-sided Bulldogs banner our side has produced six sides to one this pre-season. And this is from people who have watched football for the past few years variously described as "no good", "heinous" and "worse than going to jail". Fans of 'successful' clubs (for St Kilda and Footscray this is comparing them to us recently, not historically) feel free to either have a go or disband.

Ours was nothing spectacular, just a good solid pre-season effort. Considering some of the see-through efforts with fonts from 1982 that the Saints have gone with in recent years I suggest they would have won even if it wasn't a walkover. Dees 3-0 and unlike the next award these numbers do carry through to the regular season.

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year Pre-Season
Of a few reasonable contenders I'm going to go for the left-field option of Dean Kent kicking a goal from the square because of how much I enjoyed Hogan's no look handball over the head and Kent's finish where he had to dance around like Michael Flatley to get on the correct foot.

The overall prize winner is vandenBerg for his casual checkside against Port. For lifting the pre-season trophy he receives the grand prize of absolutely nothing. Which is coincidentally the same thing you get for winning the major prize.

Crowd watch
One of those great days out at Docklands where they're too cheap to open the top deck so you get to sit amongst 'the people'. Not that there was enough people there to run into anyone truly offensive, and if you did there were thousands of spare seats to shift to.

Of the Melbourne fans near me I noticed one kid who had absolutely butchered his jumper by getting the world's pissiest looking number applied in shonky fashion so it was half over the margin at the top. If you're going to buy a jumper (and how I miss my days of being a half-kit wanker) get it from the club and spend the extra $10 for them to do a proper job instead of allowing some clown at Rebel Sport

Also in the same area were an older couple who greeted the first airing of the theme song by clapping along in 'pattycake' fashion while laughing uproariously about how hilarious their routine was. These are the sort of people who have kept the trumpeteer going for so many years.

It's still a rubbish place to watch football but the idea that we should knock it down and build another stadium is lunacy at its best. Perhaps just try opening the top deck first?

Slip, Slap, Slopfest
Considering the number of telegrams that have been arriving at Demonblog Towers during the week expressing concern for my health after sitting in the sun all day in Craigieburn without a cracker of sunscreen I would like to give this advice - never suffer a case of sunburn, because for the rest of the week people will feel the need to point it out as if you didn't know. How many times in five work days can people say "Did you get some sun?" as if there's some chance that my plight was actually due to an industrial accident and not indifference to the dangers of skin cancer?

Even better, it's the real thing (formerly 'next week')
Because there is no next week, other than a few days to shepherd everyone through training unhurt, watching endless tapes of GWS and thinking up creative ways to abuse $cully that don't open the door for him to unfurl his bank statement for your inspection. Now there's a banner watch where I would have to give it to the opposition, 22 players storming through a giant version of his bank balance while he evilly strokes a small white cat like Blofeld.

I've got five changes to the side as selected in the season preview assuming Pedersen goes, but the only other enforced one is Brayshaw who can rest up while the Hamburglar runs riot. Elsewhere we've not seen Harry O yet and there's been little interest in either Newton or Anal Bullet so far in the pre-season so they're hardly likely to parachute any of them into the side now. ANB especially has been hard done by, but not as much as Dean Terlich who might have a limited future with us but has cruelly been selected in the original squad for all three games so far then left out at the last minute.

I can't understand why Newton isn't more popular, and in an effort to find out if he was injured tried to find details on the website only to discover they gave up doing video reports after Round 20 last year. Wherever he is I hope he knows I miss him and want him back.

The last two inclusions aren't particularly exciting, but for all the waffle about how it's going to be a hard side to get into this year I'm not falling for that until most or all of Brayshaw, Petracca, Dawes and Trengove are ready to return.

IN: Frost, Oliver, Harmes, Grimes. M. Jones
OUT: Brayshaw (inj), Lumumba, Neal-Bullen, Newton (omit), Pedersen (susp)

B: Jetta, Garland, Dunn
HB: Salem, T. McDonald, Bugg
C: Tyson, Jones, Oliver
HF: Kent, Frost, Watts
F: Garlett, Hogan, vandenBerg
Foll: Gawn, Viney, Vince
INT: Grimes, Kennedy, M. Jones, Harmes

Despite everything that's happened so far I still don't think we'll win, but that might be a coping strategy against disappointment as much as anything else. Put me in the stocks and unload your annual supply of fruit and veg, but the team we played in the last game of 2015 was not representative of what will be out there in a fortnight. Mumford alone is worth several times what $cully will offer (now watch the turd have a day out), meaning we won't enjoy the same dominance in the ruck from Gawn jumping all over some nobodies for four quarters. There's no reason we can't win, but it's far from a slam dunk and we may as well get used to losing to these bastards again before they're handed 12 flags in a row.

Let's all pledge that if we don't win that the reaction is one of calm, and that supporters don't derail the side before the Essendon game by getting in the papers doing their block. We've got to concentrate on at least getting through that game, because there is no way I'm going to accept defeat after watching them hold a Nuremburg Rally style celebration of all things Hird. Otherwise I'm going to start a petition to make this our new theme song.

Gamble responsibly
Updated betting markets for the Demonblog awards will be provided during the week, don't all break the internet by pressing F5 repeatedly until they're posted.

Was it worth it?
Undoubtedly, free is the right price for watching a game at that stadium and the result justified leaving the house. From here I can't promise victory, I can't promise good times but I can promise that as of today when people ask if we're suited for mid-table mediocrity I can say we're closer than ever before.

Final thoughts
If we end up being good before schedule (2019) my entire gimmick is stuffed.


  1. Kennedy is the new Filthy Read!

  2. Bugg shaved his beard and left the mo. Acceptable in March, illegal in Movember.


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