Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The Melbourne Football Club's Greatest Hits

Join Adam 1.0 and Demons Beth for this irregular six part off-season series reliving the excitement, drama and outrage of some of the Melbourne Football Club's most memorable modern moments.

Warning - we're enthusiastic amateurs not Rick Rubin, so like Robinson Crusoe it's as primitive as can be. Next episode at some time before Round 1, 2018.

Episode 1 - Breathing into a paper bag
Round 10, 2012
Saturday 2 June
Essendon vs Melbourne

We were 0-9, they were 8-1. What could possibly go right? Coverage of second half action from the MCG...



This is a Brunton Avenue Will Be Closed For 20 Minutes After The Match At The Discretion Of The Police Operational Commander Publishing production.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

New Jack Watts City

In the flash of a tweet the most divisive project since the Stanford Prison Experiment ended with a whimper. After nine years of dialling W for Watts the number you are trying to call has shifted to an 08 area code and is no longer connected. For reasons more emotional than sporting I'm cut up about it. All that mental energy spent willing him to do well so we he could shove an arm deep down the throat of all the detractors comes to an end as he's practically given away for the equivalent of a packet of chips just as we're starting to come good.

I'm not going to use his obituary to rewrite history and turn him into something he wasn't, but I wouldn't have thought he formed the barrier between mid-table mediocrity and a finals berth at the very least. Since Hogan arrived he was no longer expected to kick massive bags, he was there as a forward option and a cog in the larger machine. An cog who made good decisions in a sea of people who had no idea what to do next except get rid of the ball as quickly as possible. Obviously he could have done more like knocking a few people over or taking screaming pack marks, but even if he was never destined to become a Hell's Angel who'd kill your grandmother to get to a hard ball, his positive attributes surely outweighed cashing in for pick 31 and starting again with some random kid.

In a career where he's been blamed - sometimes fairly, but usually because he was an easy target - for everything but the rise of ISIS let's focus on the positives. Like his wonderfully casual nine-iron goalkicking, and how he was a bloody good lead on the rare occasion where we'd kick to the advantage of forwards rather than panic roosting towards the square. For somebody regularly slaughtered for not being enough of a raw meat eating alpha male fuckstick he was also our most dependable forward to drop back into defence at the end of a quarter. Who floats back to take the saving mark and gets us out of jail with an on-target kick now? I'm probably Sizzle McDonald's #1 advocate but while he's got the marking covered I don't particularly fancy him having to hit a target when we're a point up with 30 seconds left.

It wasn't always smooth sailing, but I had a Come to Jack moment against Sydney in Round 6, 2014. He only had five kicks, cost us a goal by dropping a mark in defence and was being treated by many of our fans (some who are probably throwing themselves onto the funeral pyre in despair now) like the man who invented leaded petrol. That night I realised that it didn't matter where we'd drafted him, he was never going to win the Brownlow and the best thing to do was to bunker down, enjoy the good times for as many games as possible and accept that he wasn't going to play 22 stunners a year. From then I've been much calmer, no longer wanting to throttle his detractors or engage in pointless arguments with Twitter eggs about how he did just as much as Nic Nat. Live and let live.

Since then he's gone up and down like a rollercoaster, but on the whole I've genuinely enjoyed him. If you believe the ham-fisted propaganda campaign there could have been issues with intensity of training and setting of standards for younger players etc.. etc.. etc.. but really just how bad could it have been? Did he have a dodgy pre-season or was it 23 consecutive home and away weeks of running diagonally across The Tan and pouring a bottle of water over the head to appear sweaty? Could I get an itemised list of all the minimum standards that he wasn't achieving, rather than that being used as convenient shorthand for "I have no idea but am trying to sound knowledgeable".

I'm not convinced man management is about everyone necking themselves until their hamstrings are about to tear out and fly down the Yarra, but maybe there are things we don't know. Things that make punting him out the door in exchange an almost derisory draft pick make sense. That's why I can't get properly outraged, but I am terrifically grim at what is probably the most emotionally draining trade (even including the SME going) of my supporting life. Wasn't all that fussed about Woewodin, didn't give two shits about Johnstone, but this has torn my heart out. Behind Nathan Jones he's the player I most wanted to molest over the fence after a winning Grand Final. To be fair what's happened today probably enhances my opportunity to see him win big. Probably after knocking us out of the eight after another Round 23 debacle.

Speaking of Round 23 (because I'm never going to stop until we're good), there was a lead and goal that didn't make the highlights package but which should be required research for Port on how to best feed him. Meanwhile we've got our fingers crossed that a whole-hearted defender who's had one Cuthbertson-esque purple patch and a thin kid who's spent most of two years in the reserves are going to successfully play foil to Hogan. You never know when a seemingly weird decision is going to cause magic to fall from the sky, but I'll wait for solid evidence before being convinced this wasn't just the execution of a scapegoat. Like when dictators publicly execute a few criminals at random as encouragement for everyone else to straighten up and fly right. In this case, at least, he gets a chance to redeem himself. I hope he does so well that we get somebody good at 31 and still regret having made the trade.

I'm not going to burn Simon Goodwin in effigy on Brunton Avenue yet. At least not until we're kicking 4.8.32 every week next year because Hogan's injured, Pedersen's a 31-year-old journeyman who can't be expected to deliver every week and McDonald is no longer playing with the element of surprise. But what shits me about this debate, even until this afternoon when I was holding on to hope that he'd stay and be a redemption story worthy of a Rocky movie, is how people were happy to throw him in the bin just because he's never going to become a superstar of the comp.

I've heard and understood the case for trading him. In fact I think he's doing the smartest thing by going somewhere else for a fresh start, and I'm determined to wait and see what happens with the pick and forward line in general next year, but gut feeling is either something very dodgy has gone on behind the scenes or this is a tremendous cock-up. I don't know if I'd be any happier if were for pick 20 or 25 (even though that leaves you effectively selecting from the same group of players), but there's a psychological barrier about the 30s that makes it feel like an extra ounce of piss has been extracted. This is not how a sane and rational man thinks, but I'm not a sane and rational man I'm a Melbourne supporter.

Forget what happened years ago (except for how his pissweak teammates refused to defend his honour on debut by punching on), 150 games later it doesn't matter that we picked him first or 99th he filled a role, and every team needs role players. Richmond and the Bulldogs had about 15, and if you're confident that Oliver, Petracca, Hogan, Lever are heading for the stars then what's the point of getting through all the difficult years then folding the moment things start to turn in our favour? If it turns out well then I'll kneel down and join the Mahoney/Goodwin Kiss My Ass Club, but until then I reserve the right to hold healthy scepticism about the deal and conveniently emerging negative stories. Next there'll be Russians plastering that one about his locker all over Facebook.

There is suggestion that salary cap pressure contributed to us having to chuck him but, a) who's the dickhead who got us into that position after 11 years without finals and not one genuine, fully developed superstar on the list, and b) funny how that only came out after people had been cracking the shits for a few days, and after it had already been suggested that he could stay if he wanted to. 

So what would have happened if he had decided not to go? Pretty high risk signing Lever to big money without having a contracted player officially off the books. They must have been reasonably confident that the negative press dumped in the last fortnight was enough to make sure they got the desired outcome. Who's running this joint, Harvey Weinstein? Then it turned out we might be paying part of his salary next season anyway and it became apparent that the manager of a Tijuana whorehouse had seized control. At least I don't think there's a membership brochure in the mail featuring his beaming face on the cover. Though it does represent the final death-knell for my proposed '2018: You Ready?' campaign.

Anyway, this has left me gloomy as all fuck, but at the same time once the shock of leaving his comfort zone and having to live in Adelaide wear off I'm sure at least he'll be happy. I look forward to a dramatic resurrection in this career of Jimmy Toumpas as they create the most lethal combination of MFC draftees in history.

As for us the best thing to do next year is to keep a calm head (remember, the receptionist and the Twitterist aren't the ones signing off on the deal - at least try to be civil) and remember that the club will - we hope - outlive the careers and probably lives of everyone currently on the list. I'm not your mother to tell you what to do, but this doesn't feel like the sort of thing you'd refuse to renew a membership over - especially if you sat through fielding a guy who'd threatened to kill a witness to him kicking a woman around and joyfully clapped like a seal while we were throwing games for draft picks.

None of this post was pre-prepared, because even though it was always coming I didn't think I'd be emotionally affected so much. So, because I cannot fathom any more #wattschat I leave you with my top 10 memorable moments of a thwarted career.

Honourable mentions
The time in the early days of Facebook when Juice Newton forgot to turn the privacy settings on and we got to see photos of him and Watts running riot with housewives in Bali.

The Energy Watch ad, where despite being an amateur he was a better actor than the father/son team who were so wooden you could make a table out of them.

10. The debut - Round 11, 2009
What an appropriate MFC-sized clusterfuck it was. First he was rolled into the team well before he was ready just to try and spark a few thousand extra people through the gate. He had a VCE exam the next day, but player welfare be buggered who needs to concentrate on education when you're a #1 pick?

For the grand total of +1700 on the previous year's Queen's Birthday crowd we treated him like the second coming Jesus in videos and live announcements, then when he finally trotted off the bench for the first time Collingwood players mugged him while 17 teammates stood around going "gee that's rough". The only thing we can be thankful of is that it would never happen again today, half our side would be rubbed out for a month if anyone tried it.

9. Blind turn around no one - Round 20, 2011
In a complex side that went from good to bad to good to fucking awful, this was his best season to date. He played every game, he kicked multiple goals a few times and looked like he was on the up. Then 186 and associated sagas turned up and ruined everything, but in the week immediately following that shemozzle he lifted our spirits with this piece of video game style trickery. Now it seems funny that the closest player to him was Brock McLean, another high draft pick we couldn't get 100% out of and flogged to another club.

8. The troubled Neeld relationship - 2012/13
It shouldn't surprise anyone that a guy operating at an intensity level like Michael Douglas in Falling Down was going to struggle to cope with somebody who didn't always look like they were about to launch a killing spree. His motivational tactics started with a public potting in November 2011, and things never got any better. Neeld has perhaps been slightly unfairly treated in that people will believe any old story you make up about him, but I hope that now Jack is free to tip the bucket on the club we'll find out if it's true that the coach really did scream in his face that he was a "weak cunt". Which would have been ironic for a man who had a chintzy Keep Calm And Carry On sign in his office.

7. In defence - Round 10, 2012
In a way the coach's reasoning to sending him into defence was sound. If he wasn't going to kick goals he might as well use his good skills and decision making elsewhere. It had started two games earlier, when back in the side after a fortnight out he had 34 touches against Sydney. It wasn't hard to rack up possessions in the backline that night considering we lost by 101 points, so this was by far the better

On the night where Colin Garland played a starring role forward, Jack was dominant in defence and scored his first of three maximums in the Brownlow. It was one of several dozen false starts where we thought he'd finally discovered his niche, but like everything in those two years things didn't take long to sour. He was not a defender. But to be fair, in that team neither was anyone else.

4. Enter the scapegoat - Round 2, 2013
People had been coming for him from about 10 minutes after he was drafted, including notorious Melbourne player assassin Leigh Matthews who piled onto him after about six games, but this was where it originally hit the big time. When he was the unlucky one to be subbed off amongst 21 other players who could have gone with him, there were sounds like might have been triumphant, mocking cheering from Essendon fans, our lot emptying their frustrations on the easiest target or a healthy mixture of both.

He was clearly becoming mentally frazzled, so when he was dropped it seemed like a good opportunity to either give him a rest or a casual trot at Casey. Instead we did neither and brought him along to the next game as an emergency. When asked why he was there Neil Craig said because they didn't want to have to play The Spencil if there was an injury - to which I asked why did you pick him as an emergency in the first place then you lunatics?

5. On the loose at lastRound 13, 2013
Arguably his best ever performance, coming at the start of a purple patch that not surprisingly coincided with his nemesis getting the arse. In his 64th game he finally got off the leash as a forward and was able to lead and mark, instead of battling for overhead marks that he wasn't suited for or withering away on a flank.

He kicked four to help set up a big lead, before the Bulldogs piled on seven goals in 15 minutes to reduce the margin from 44 to two. Given that we were 1-11, and had only won by a last quarter avalanche against an expansion team full of kids the importance of holding on cannot be understated. If we'd lost it would have been worse than the Chris Sullivan Line game (and that would have been replaced with the Jeremy Howe Line), but after helping build the lead he then went into defence and took a mark on the last line to hold them out and deliver a popular win. We didn't get another one for about 10 months.

4. Another round of lows - Round 6 2015
Roos had convinced Watts to stay at the end of 2013 when it looked like he was going to walk, and might have got the best out of him in 2016 but the first two years were a mixed bag. Three goals in Round 1 of 2015 were another false dawn, and by Round 6 he was starting as the sub and coming on to half encouragement and half Bronx Cheers from dickheads who wanted him to do badly so their point would be proven. He was going so badly even that poon 'Stevo' could crack gags on him.

After this it was suggested that he'd dropped himself, which sounded like a face-saving way of hiding being dropped to me. And it turned out to be good news for him because he missed us losing to Hawthorn by a hundred. Despite this rocky start the coach would eventually call him the heart and soul of the club, only to leave and watch it all go tits up. Given that Goodwin was actually coaching in 2016 are we to understand that he had the footy side covered and Roos was there to successfully spread good vibes and appear at press conferences?

3. The last great game - Round 4, 2016
It may be telling to his ultimate fate that the last time he absolutely tore a game to shreds was the start of last season. This was an underrated demolition job on the Pies that obviously nobody except me watched, because it was entirely forgotten by the time he did them in with one kick a year and a bit later. Four goals in a near flawless performance, save for an uncharacteristic miss from right in front, much to the visible disgust of the Pies mutant I was sitting with.

2. The winning goal - Round 19, 2016
With five games left nobody was yet thinking about the Mighty Ducks Finish run to the finals, and they might never have had a chance if it wasn't for this. That we stuffed it up in the end shouldn't detract from the casual way he chipped through the winner under immense pressure. See, sometimes a player being casual isn't cause to crucify them. I hope you prefer watching tormented run-ups that veer from side-to-side like Luke Hodge approaching a booze bus.

1. Queen's Birthday redemption - Round 12, 2017
It was far from his best game, but that run and finish to win the game was . The same journalists who had been potting him for years queued up to talk up how he'd finally 'arrived' 18 months after he'd started playing really well. There was such a carnival atmosphere after this that victory was celebrated in a guerrilla Facebook Live session alongside Jayden Hunt from inside a spa. That's the sort of comic genius I want, even if he's not suited to living a Bear Grylls style existence on the side of a mountain.

Ironically it (the game, not the Facebook extravaganza) was his last great moment with us, he did little coming back from injury and clearly had his cards marked after that. If there's one life lesson to be learnt from the Melbourne Football Club it's that you should never be happy because a let-down is just around the corner.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

2017 End of Year 'Spectacular'



Friends, interested onlookers from other teams, and flat out bad humans who are just here to revel in the misfortune of others. Welcome to picturesque Dawson's Field in the Jordanian desert, where we gather tonight to celebrate a season in which the Melbourne Football Club won more games in 22 rounds than any time since 2006 and still left fans wanting to walk into the sea with pockets full of rocks.

For supporters of a club whose promises are emptier than a seat at Spotless Stadium it's a night to remember the good times, the bad times, and that time our season fell to bits as we didn't lay a tackle for 10 minutes. Where we come to terms with a world that contains both Footscray and Richmond premiership players, and to hug a St Kilda fan in solidarity as we're left together on the bottom of the historical Laughing Stock League.

This is a formally constituted meeting of Every Day Is Like Sunday - Demonblog.com with all commissioners present. Please rise for our anthem:


Distinguished guests and people who accidentally found this by a rogue Google Search, our first presenter is a man who knows a lot about almost getting there then going to water, welcome to the stage professional golfer Jean Van De Velde.

"Well hello sports fans, it's fantastic to be here tonight. At least I know the desert is one place I'm not likely to end up ankle deep in a pond HA HA HA...

...

Anyway, I've been asked to introduce a night of celebration for a team that made significant progress before necking themselves with a catastrophic failure at the final hurdle. I can sympathise, nobody wants to talk about my $1.5 million career prize money, they're only interested in when I could have won the British Open with a six but put the ball in the drink.

Like my now forgotten three rounds and 17 holes of glory at Carnoustie, nobody's going to want to talk about the time the Dees pulled off a roaring comeback against Adelaide and won running away, or when they strangled the reigning premiers and hit the Chris Sullivan Line for the first time in five years. All that they'll remember about 2017 is a six goal to one first quarter in Round 23 where barely a fingernail was raised in defiance.

Fortunately it's not my job

But tonight I've been asked to look back to a happier time, those sunny weeks where everything's made up and the points don't matter, as we look at the best of the pre-season."

2017 Paul Prymke Plate for Pre-Season Performance

  

With no countback in operation (because they are a tool of Satan), we have the first triple tie in Demonblog award history. And what better award than the one that started as an excuse to use a gimmick name. With a three game window of opportunity to score votes it's hardly Goodes/Ricciuto/Buckley, but for us it will do. We'll have half a dozen plates struck next season.

9 - Jesse Hogan, Jayden Hunt, Clayton Oliver
7 - Max Gawn
5 - Christian Petracca
3 - Jake Melksham, Bernie Vince, Jack Viney
2 - Dion Johnstone, Nathan Jones, Jordan Lewis, Christian Salem, Jake Spencer
1 - Jay Kennedy-Harris, Joel Smith

Honour Roll
2008 - Aaron Davey
2009 - Cameron Bruce
2010 - Brad Green
2011 - Colin Sylvia
2012 - Nathan Jones
2013 - Nathan Jones (2)
2014 - Jeremy Howe
2015 - Heritier Lumumba
2016 - Jack Watts
2017 - Jesse Hogan, Jayden Hunt and Clayton Oliver

Our next presenter was booked by accident. We asked head office to get us somebody famous for choking, and the next thing old time singing sensation Mama Cass turned up. Well, we've paid for her now so we may as well push on.


"If you did your research properly you'll find that I actually died of a dud heart, and not from choking on a ham sandwich. But I've not had much work since 1974 so this will have to do.

It's my pleasure to present an award that recognises the best player on Melbourne's list who played their first AFL game during the year, no matter how many years they'd been on the list. Players from the previous season remained eligible if they debuted in the last four weeks including finals if relevant (NB: they are never relevant). Christ on a bike, this award has more exclusions than a credit card application. I'm going for a Kentucky...

Jeff Hilton Rising Star Medal

What a fizzer this year's Hilton was. It's not been so poorly contested since 2005 when the fact that zero players were eligible should have provided a glimpse into the grim, dystopian future that we were about to suffer.

Last year only three players polled, but Hunt, Petracca and OIiver had 34 votes between them. The early favourite - having debuted i in the last month of 2017 was Sam Weideman, but when he declined to turn up the winner was free to motor around collecting votes at his own pace.

Corey Maynard can consider himself unlucky given that he holds a two vote a game career average that suggest he will win every award he enters for the rest of his career, but the good news is that having debuted in Round 19 this year's 500-1 shot will be in the running next year.

Leaderboard
4 - Mitch Hannan
2 - Corey Maynard
0 - Lachlan Filipovic, Liam Hulett, Dion Johnstone, Declan Keilty, Mitch King, Pat McKenna, Joel Smith, Tim Smith, Sam Weideman

Honour Roll
2005 - No players eligible.
2006 - Matthew Bate
2007 - Michael Newton
2008 - Cale Morton
2009 - Jack Grimes ($4 fav)
2010 - [REVOKED] ($5)
2011 - Jeremy Howe ($30)
2012 - Tom McDonald ($8)
2013 - Jack Viney ($5)
2014 - Jay Kennedy-Harris ($15)
2015 - Jesse Hogan ($4.50)
2016 - Jayden Hunt ($50) and Christian Petracca ($10)
2017 - Mitch Hannan ($15)

Demonbracket VI

It was another great season for Australia's number one bracket based sports voting competition, with record numbers of voters. Let's not get sidetracked by that only being around 100 people, that's more than decide the TV ratings and people jump out of windows over those.

In what turned out to be an otherwise rotten season, Max Gawn at least got to take one honour home. I'm sure he's filed it away in his trophy cabinet along with the All-Australian blazer and the BOG for Queen's Birthday 2016 that he comically flexed like a dumbbell.

Honour Roll

2012 - James Frawley d. Nathan Jones
2013 - Tom McDonald d. Mitch Clark
2014 - Nathan Jones d. Jack Watts
2015 - Nathan Jones d. Dom Tyson
2016 - Jack Viney d. Nathan Jones
2017 - Max Gawn d. Jack Viney

2018 seedings

As always, the defending champion has the honour of being seeded first. He's then followed by the top seven placegetters in the Best and Fairest, giving them all a bye through to the first round and a favourable draw where they'll avoid each other until the quarter finals at the earliest. The 7th Bracket promises to be the most hotly contested yet, and will kick off shortly after Australia Day. More details in early January.

1 - Max Gawn
2 - Clayton Oliver
3 - Jack Viney
4 - Nathan Jones
5 - Jordan Lewis
6 - Neville Jetta
7 - Michael Hibberd
8 - Christian Petracca

In Memoriam

A tribute to everyone and everything we've lost this year.

Liam Hulett

*Light applause, plus much disappointment that we didn't find a way to be upset with him so he could leave on a "Hulett - the dog's out" headline.*


Mitch White



*Intermittent applause, with one person screaming something barely audible but certifiably offensive about the Sydney game*

Ben Kennedy



* Moderate applause, several people going "oh yeah, didn't he play for us once?" and much disquiet about how we haven't recruited a successful player from Collingwood since Peter Moore*

Jake Spencer



*Me going bonkers, everyone else barely moved. Heavy suspicion that if nobody else is keen we'll be welcoming him back as a rookie anyway.*

Jack Trengove




*A tearful standing ovation and flowers handed over by brother of a premiership player and fellow anti-MFC class action member Jack Grimes*


The joy of hanging shit on Richmond



* Sobbing, wistful resignation and snarky comments about why their players end up with The Killers and ours with The Career Killers *

The right to be moralistic about $cully doing a runner


Nah, you can stick this one up your arse I'm not accepting it. And it's not even because this guy is coming (until he changes his mind or the Crows stooge us) via a proper trade, and not bolting in the night to leave us to our own fate with compo. Or that we're nicking him with our own money, not the AFL's blank chequebook.

None of that means it's morally correct, and that's what makes it so good. Nobody's telling the GWS fan not to enjoy the $2 Million Turd's Cliff Young style running and Yiannis Kouros-esque disposal, and I'm not here to tell Adelaide fans that they should be calm about this. In fact bring it on, let's have a real 2018 style Carnival of Hate. I'll bet my house that they won't manage to be even moderately as amusing as we were, and that it will instead involve munters climbing the dugout for the first time since Darren Milburn KOed Stephen Silvagni.

So howl freely Crows fans. Like we still strive to prove to the players who've left us in dubious circumstances (and failed on Frawley), living well is the best revenge.

The chance of playing in an elimination final



* General commotion, stamping of feet and people trying to call an EGM to sack the coach, board and receptionist*

Jack Watts



*Amazing scenes of chaos and turmoil, as the 50% pro-Watts camp in the audience launch violently into the 50% antis. Innocent children are forced to flee in every direction as knife-wielding assailants are mowed down by folding chairs thrown from the other side of the aisle. Eventually heavily armed riot police are forced to intervene and quell the madness *

The 2017 End of Year Spectacular will resume shortly. Resist the temptation to read or talk to loved ones. Do not attempt sexual relations as years of following the Melbourne Football Club have left your genitals withered and useless



As the last waft of tear gas clears the stage we're able to resume, and who better to welcome to the stage than a lady who knows all about leaving a room full of people in tatters and crying. Like Melbourne fans she too has suffered, from confronting her husband's insatiable appetite for rooting on national television, to flubbing an unloseable election against a terracotta dickhead. If the presidency was decided in a popular vote like Mark of the Year she'd have won. From New York it's Hillary Clinton...

"You know, I've had a lot of time to think since November 2016. Most of that time has been spent thinking about the shitful existence of Melbourne supporters. But in January the spirits of Demons fans everywhere were lifted by a side playing for the love of the game.

They set the blueprint for the men by narrowly missing the finals, but because you knew they were always trying it didn't leave you wanting to self-harm by dropping bricks on our head in the style of Christian Salem.

It is now my pleasure to present the inaugural award celebrating the club's top female player"

Debbie Lee Medal for Women's Player of the Year

Our longest serving player was pushed all the way, but much to the delight of that kid in the Chemist Warehouse ad Daisy not only finally kicked a goal, but she got the votes to become our first Women's Player of the Year.

Added bonus, if you're thinking about having a kid any time soon there's a chance that Daisy's safe hands may be at the business end. She promises not to flick out a quick handball to a passing obstetrician, but you never know when muscle memory will kick in. Your child would be honoured.

Let's be entirely honest here, we're pro-Debbie but when Daisy retires this award will be renamed after her within the hour.

Leaderboard
26 - Daisy Pearce
22 - Karen Paxman
18 - Elise O'Dea
10 - Lily Mithen
9 - Alyssa Mifsud, Cat Phillips
4 - Laura Duryea, Katherine Smith
2 - Lauren Pearce
1 - Deanna Berry

Honour roll
2017 - Daisy Pearce (next year we'll be sullying the purity of the women's game by introducing betting markets like all the other major awards)

2017 Year in Review Part One

Hi everyone, I'm the man who has lived in a bunker since 2010. The organisers have asked me to ascend to the surface and find out what happened this year for the first time.

Round 1 vs St Kilda - Awakenings
"Well surely we're not going to win in Round 1 again. Or at Docklands. Or against St Kilda ever again? Well bugger me, it seems we did. Nice start, let's have more of it. Could do without going four goals down every time though..."

Round 2 vs Carlton - The Mediocre Escape

"It was uncomfortable and involved unnecessary violence but we got there. Our first 2-0 start in many years, meaning we really only need to go 10-10 from the remaining games and rack up a bit of percentage and we'll make the eight. Then I might move back to ground level".

Round 3 vs Geelong - Kicking into danger
"We had a stroke of luck here, playing an away game against Geelong somewhere other than that taxpayer funded East German concrete shithole. Oh, goodbye Max Gawn. And accurate goalkicking. And four points. At least we've got an easy game next..."

Round 4 vs Fremantle - Touching cloth

"WHAT IN THE NAME OF CHRIST WERE THEY DOING? What hope is there for any of you? Tell you what I'd do, cut up my membership and post it to SEN".

Round 5 vs Richmond - Reinventing hell

"Where we might very well have won if we hadn't lost two players for 3/4 of the game. Needed more Richmond numpties prematurely trying to sack their coach. At least we'll always have the Tiges to make us look good right?"

Round 6 vs Essendon - Fortress Shithole

"A third trip to Docklands in six weeks should have been cause for en masse slashing of wrists and people throwing themselves onto the electrical wires in the Southern Cross train yards, but what do you know we got away with it. It's starting to look suspiciously like we play this place better than our home ground".

Round 7 vs Hawthorn - But then the demon, much too soon, returned one Sunday afternoon

"So Hawthorn are no good now right? And we beat them last year even when we were still shit, so obviously that's going to happen again now and... oh dear".

Round 8 vs Adelaide - Whale Oil Beef Hooked

"If I'd known about the Hawthorn debacle I'd have put a plastic bag over the air pipes to the bunker, and at five goals down here it still seemed like a good idea. Then we went bananas, rampaged to victory. If Foxtel could run a cable underground I'd have been left trying to remember what the PIN number was to access the adult movie channel".

Round 9 vs North Melbourne - Stranglewank Sunday

"Oh for fucks sake we didn't lose to them again did we?"

Round 10 vs Gold Coast - Nobody does it better
"For the fourth week in a row we went well behind before finally having a go. This left us 2-2 in those games. It really is no way for a sensible team to go about things".


Round 12 vs Collingwood - The slaves will grow wings and overthrow their masters

"Oh Jack, lovely Jack. What a finish. It's definitely onwards and upwards for you from here. Nothing will hold you back now".

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year


This is where we come together and celebrate the great goals. It was much easier when we only kicked about three a week, but now that they mean something it's significantly more rewarding sifting through them to find a weekly nominee.

Most career nominations

19 - Jeff Garlett (2015-2017)
6 - Christian Petracca (2016-2017)
6 - Jack Watts (2014-2017)
5 - Bernie Vince (2014)
5 - Dean Kent (2014, 2016)
5 - Nathan Jones (2014-2016)

2017 nominees
Round 1 - Mitch Hannan
Round 2 - Jeff Garlett
Round 3 - Jack Watts
Round 4 - Christian Petracca
Round 5 - Jayden Hunt
Round 6 - Jordan Lewis
Round 7 - Jack Viney
Round 8 - Clayton Oliver
Round 9 - Sam Frost
Round 10 - Jeff Garlett [2]
Round 12 - Jack Watts
Round 13 - Jack Watts [2]
Round 14 - Tom McDonald
Round 15 - Christian Petracca [2]
Round 16 - Jake Melksham
Round 17 - Jayden Hunt [2]
Round 18 - Jeff Garlett [3]
Round 19 - Jake Melksham [2]
Round 20 - Jake Melksham [3]
Round 21 - Mitch Hannan [2]
Round 22 - Cameron Pedersen
Round 23 - Cameron Pedersen [2]

The route to success in this competition is now clear, kick a match-winning goal. Now three of the four all-time medallists have been for moments that won a game. Salem (with assists from half the side) and Watts did it from set shots, and now the unlikely figure of Tom McDonald joins them for this mighty effort.

2018 Coleman Medallist Tom McSizzle can also be thankful for assists. Oliver's lightning hands and Hibberd's perfectly weighted kick to the square that we in no way acknowledge might have been a shot got the ball to the square, but the end was pure gold. He refused to go down in a vigorous tackle from a man who looks like a pub brawler, then when all was lost lobbed the ball in the air and pinged his foot at it for the best horizontal MFC goal since Jakovich vs North in '91.



Honour roll
2014 - Christian Salem
2015 - Nathan Jones
2016 - Jack Watts
2017 - Tom McDonald

And now a sportsman who knows what it's like to try and unsuccessfully scale Everest. For the Dees 100 point wins, finals and flags remain elusive, and for this man winning Wimbledon was as likely as crossing the Sahara atop an ostrich. Bugger me it's Ivan Lendl!

"I'll have you know I also won eight other Grand Slam tournaments and $21 million dollars in prizemoney so..."

*gives the international sign for a fist up the keister and walks off in a huff*

Well that's never happened before. It's $21 million and out, because we're not paying for him tonight.

Guess I'll take over, as we pay tribute to those brave few big men who take big bumps at the bounces, and are usually injured in any year that doesn't start with 2 and end with 016.

2017 Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year

If you're coming in late this probably looks like a rampant victory, but the full story tells a much sadder tale. As long time readers will remember, there was a rule change after the 2013 season when Jack Fitzpatrick won despite barely playing a centre bounce all season.

The qualifying mark became 10 hitouts per game (though we never considered a minimum number of games, a loophole that will probably be exploited at some point), well above the 6.54 the now sadly Puttin' On The Fitz ripped out in his title winning season. This guarantees no more than three or four eligible players a season.

In 2017 we had three until the last week, with Cameron Pedersen doing a Fitz by getting his votes as a forward but only after reaching the all important qualification mark during Gawn's absence. He hit the lead late in the season, while just hovering over 10 per game, before dropping to 9.8 after the final round. This disqualified him, vaulting Maximum back to the top of the pile. Shattering news for the man with the most NQR nickname in footy.

Leaderboard
12 - Max Gawn
1 - Jake Spencer
DQ - Lachlan Filipovic, Sam Frost, Mitch King, Tom McDonald, Cameron Pedersen, Jack Watts

Honour Roll
2005 - Jeff White
2006 - Jeff White (2)
2007 - Jeff White (3)
2008 - Paul Johnson
2009 - Mark Jamar ($3)
2010 - Mark Jamar (2) ($1.50 fav)
2011 - Stefan Martin ($30)
2012 - Stefan Martin (2) ($12)
2013 - Jack Fitzpatrick ($50) and Max Gawn ($45)
2014 - Mark Jamar (3) ($5)
2015 - Max Gawn (2) ($10)
2016 - Max Gawn (3) ($1.80)
2017 - Max Gawn (4) ($1.25 fav)

Our last major presenter of the night is a man who knows about being tarred with the choker brush after one moment of madness. We've already done the golf gimmick, but what theme night would be complete without a visit from the Shark...

"So why am I here? Oh yes, that'd be right. When you need somebody who stuffed up an unloseable sporting scenario of course I'd be your man. Nobody ever calls and asks me to talk about winning majors or getting your gear off in the great outdoors, it's all six shot lead this, Nick Faldo that. I'm sick of it.

Speaking of men who can't hold onto a lead for shit, it's time for our next award".

Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year

He came, he saw, he got injured quickly. Then he returned to become the first defender since Tom McDonald in 2015 to seriously challenge for the Jakovich.

We enjoyed him racking up possessions like a midfielder, taking marks and roosting the ball down the line with all sorts of abandon, he probably didn't enjoy seeing Essendon play finals after we died in the arse at the last minute. Looking forward to more of the same in 2018, preferably with more realistic facial hair and a finals appearance.

Leaderboard
31 - Michael Hibberd
21 - Neville Jetta
18 - Jayden Hunt
12 - Sam Frost
9 - Christian Salem
5 - Oscar McDonald
4 - Bernie Vince
2 - Josh Wagner
0 - Colin Garland, Declan Keilty, Heritier Lumumba, Joel Smith, Billy Stretch, Mitch White
DQ - Tomas Bugg, Corey Maynard, Tom McDonald, Jake Melksham, Cameron Pedersen, Jack Watts

Honour Roll
2005 - Nathan Carroll and Ryan Ferguson
2006 - Jared Rivers
2007 - Paul Wheatley
2008 - Matthew Whelan
2009 - James Frawley ($22)
2010 - James Frawley 2 ($3.50)
2011 - James Frawley 3 ($4)
2012 - Jack Grimes ($7)
2013 - James Frawley 4 ($2.80)
2014 - Lynden Dunn ($25)
2015 - Tom McDonald ($14)
2016 - Neville Jetta ($13)
2017 - Michael Hibberd ($16)

2017 Year in Review Part Two

Round 13 vs Footscray - This machine kills finalists
"This is more like it. What a performance, we squashed them straight out of the gate and merrily wandered off to our most comfortable win against a good team in years. Keep this up and there's no way we'll miss the eight.

Round 14 vs West Coast - Start the bulldozers, the job is done
"Pardon me, Tom McDonald did WHAT? At Subiaco? Well bugger me, miracles do happen".

Round 15 vs Sydney - The big fizz
"Ha ha, that crazy Tom Bugg, always getting involved in crazy scenarios. Actually, I have no idea who Tom Bugg is".

Round 16 vs Carlton - The Big Steal

"It's like a Bizzaro World version of 2006, where in this case we only just beat Carlton twice and probably just miss the finals instead of just scraping in".

Round 17 vs Adelaide - Malfunction at the junction

"Geez, I hope folding like a house of cards in the last quarter and losing by heaps doesn't come back to haunt us in Round 23" 

Round 18 vs Port Adelaide - The plot thickens

"Alright, we're back on track. Just need to beat North and we're practically home"

Round 19 vs North Melbourne - Fear of Flying
"I am going to go right off if we lost to these bastards again...

FUCK"

Round 20 vs Greater Western Sydney - Australian Capsizing Team

"Well that's an innovative way to continue a run of poxy opening quarters"


Round 21 vs St Kilda - The dream shall never die (but I might)
"Well if we're usually terrible in first quarters and we won it by heaps this time then it stands to reason that we'd go on and beat them by 20 goals doesn't it? 
Apparently not"

Round 22 vs Brisbane - Breathing into a paper bag
"Oh joy, we might incredibly hard work of this but at least it's left our fate in our own hands going into the last round. Could have done with a few more goals in the last quarter I reckon"


Round 23 vs Collingwood - Home and broken hearted
"Well that title doesn't sound particularly promising. Wait a minute, where is the Elimination Final? Is there a part three of this review somewhere?

*flicks through the pages, quickly becomes agitated and mouths the phrase "what the fuck is going on here?" to nobody in particular*

What? That's it? Bugger this, I'm going back downstairs and sticking a rolled-up newspaper in my oxygen vent".

And that's the last we'll see of that guy, until this time next year when we need content to fill an end of year post. That's almost all we've got time for this evening, just one more award left to present. But it's the biggest of them all, an award that pays tribute to the man who defines 'cult figure', a colossus of the early 1990s who until recently hadn't been seen in polite company for 20 years. We hoped he might present the award in person, but he's busy in Manilla. So I'll do it on his behalf, ladies and gentlemen this is your....

2017 Allen Jakovich Medal for Player of the Year


We're so used to second year player self-immolating after a grand start that everyone must have been holding their breath for The Hamburglar in 2017. End result - the first second year player to win the Jakovich since Nathan Jones in 2007, the longest priced winner since betting markets began, and a special merit award for doing funny things wherever he goes like a improved model Sam Blease.

In between feuding with cricketers and plonker Carlton fans he found time to rack up ridiculous numbers, defying every attempt to stop him. Sure there were a bunch of one metre handballs to a player already under the pump, but we would have withheld the award for years if the top vote-getters were disqualified for minor flaws. Let's instead concentrate on all the times he heroically extracted the ball from a minefield, plowing in and getting rid of it so quickly that at one point umpires just started guessing and pinging him for throws.

Can he keep it up? All signs point to yes, he just has an instinctive ability to find teammates that surely can't be coached or Melbourned out of him. Unlike the similarly fast starting Brock McLean nobody's turning a blind eye to the occasional bout of weirdness and making strange noises about him becoming captain. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. If MFC history is anything to by we'll be trying to trade him to Port Adelaide for pick 30 by this time next year.

And so could I ask you to all to please stand...



Not you...

... and before he leaves on a Yobbos Up The Guts style comedy tour of regional Australia, please join me in a toast to this year's Every Day Is Like Sunday - Demonblog.com Player of the Year. Mr Clayton Oliver.

Leaderboard
35 - Clayton Oliver
31 - Michael Hibberd
27 - Nathan Jones
25 - Jack Viney
24 - Christian Petracca
21 - Neville Jetta
18 - Jayden Hunt
16 - Tom McDonald
15 - Cameron Pedersen
13 - Jeff Garlett
12 - Sam Frost, Max Gawn, Jack Watts
11 - Jordan Lewis
9 - Christian Salem
8 - James Harmes
7 - Jake Melksham, Dom Tyson
5 - Jesse Hogan, Oscar McDonald
4 - Mitch Hannan, Bernie Vince
2 - Dean Kent, Corey Maynard, Alex Neal-Bullen, Josh Wagner
1 - Jake Spencer

Honour Roll

2005 - Travis Johnstone
2006 - Brock McLean
2007 - Nathan Jones
2008 - Cameron Bruce
2009 - Aaron Davey ($8)
2010 - Brad Green ($4)
2011 - Brent Moloney ($9)
2012 - Nathan Jones (2) ($3.50)
2013 - Nathan Jones (3) ($2)
2014 - Nathan Jones (4) ($3.50)
2015 - Jack Viney ($15)
2016 - Nathan Jones (5) ($8)
2017 - Clayton Oliver ($35)


And that's a wrap comrades. Football gods willing, nothing will occur that requires an emergency post between now and the end of the year so we'll be shutting up shop until then, moving the entire operation to Twitter and potentially Facebook. The projected return to posting will either be the Demonbracket 2018 preview post in early January (with the actual tournament kicking off after Australia Day again) or the start of AFLW season coverage.

Until then, hug a Demon, buy a membership, take an interest in other sports and sit by the banks of a river long enough to see your enemies float by.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Home and broken hearted

After a traumatic start to the week where nerves stopped me from being a functioning member of society, a surprise wave of calm came over me sometime on Thursday afternoon. I was still worried about winning, but decided on the balance of probabilities that we probably would. Big mistake. When the margin hit 41 points in the third quarter I was like a mother watching her habitual offender son go back to jail for the 10th time. The anger had gone early, now there was only a mixture of disappointment and sadness. In the last quarter the anger came back.

I'd been further sedated by sensible, sober team selections that removed a pair of strugglers and replaced them with good ball users. Neither Salem or Watts are going to win the UFC Award for vigorous play, but surely with everything on the line for us and nothing for Collingwood the game would be left wide open enough to play to their strengths. Going about it that way might not win you a final, but that will be a moot point if we never qualify for one.

By Friday night I'd settled down to the point where I was actually able to sleep properly for the first time all week. It wasn't until about 10:00 Saturday morning that I started to panic again, plowing through a block of chocolate like it was my last meal on death row. Then I went to the MCG and got another reminder of why you never, EVER believe in this shambling wreck of a club. It's an unreliable entity and has been for the vast majority of my supporting life. We'd risen above losing to Freo and North x2 to go into the last game with a chance to seal our own finals berth, and by quarter time we were 32 points behind with barely a hand laid on an opponent in anger. What a prick of a club.

You would never go back five years unless you were a supermasochist, but at least by the end of 2012 we'd stopped getting our short term hopes up. It was painful, and I have to seriously doubt whether I'd be as committed to the process if we ended up in that position again, but if nothing else (and there wasn't much else) you knew where you stood. Now hope brings a crushing level of tension, followed by nothing. And now six months without a game, and probably a full year until we can even potentially be playing finals again. By which time I'll most likely have dropped dead from a heart attack or been hit by a bus. What a downer. I'm well aware of how it would have gone against Port in the first week, but that wasn't the point. I was prepared to go there, lose comfortably and know that we'd snuck one last finals appearance in before the arrival of the wildcard system/global thermonuclear war. Maybe we won't make it for another 10 years? Do I need to bring up 1976 again?

Winning three games in a row as favourites was improbable, but do you think there's any way we'd have turned up like that if we needed a win just to stay alive and still had to rely on other results? More power to Collingwood for playing their hearts out in a dead rubber, but it's hard to imagine a 100% do-or-die game opening with such a distressing mix of players who seemed disinterested or spooked. Even Neville Jetta, the steadiest hand in the side and a man whose commitment will never be questioned, had more errors in the first 10 minutes than he's had combined all season. Whatever the mixture was it tasted like Drano and burnt both going down and coming up again. By the time we were launching a third comeback it felt sarcastic.

Having one of those days at just the wrong time fits in with my theory that a few players were about to keel over and die from fatigue, but that doesn't explain running straight out of the sheds and into a brick wall. If a young side (Collect your 1x Coaching Cliche bonus) fell apart in the last quarter of Round 23 you'd almost understand it, but starting like this was extracting gallons of piss from the suckers who religiously turn up to watch every week. And all the people in 2009 membership scarves who were hoping to time their return perfectly. In the end we put our fate in the hands of others and got exactly what we deserved.

Ending the day still in the race was only peripheral comfort, after a near miss with self-sabotage last week this was a snatch of defeat from the jaws of victory that would have even cheered Hillary Clinton up. But who was really surprised? Even if you'd been suckered into believing in false idols like me, you must have had clammy hands every time an outsider spoke about us like we were definitely in. Let nobody accuse our fans of getting ahead of ourselves, it was overwhelmingly bullshit from outsiders talking like it was a done deal. There were plenty of Demons in my circle hopefully talking about winning and where they'd be flying to in a fortnight, but not many were locking it away as certain. We were just trying to be hopeful, and look how that turned out? Then with five minutes to go on Sunday there was another moment where it looked like the Bradbury Plan might pay off in the most absurd fashion, that lasted about 30 seconds.

Nobody's flunked a final exam like this since Year 12 VCE Psychology where I didn't know any of the answers so wrote in nonsense for the amusement of whoever was marking it. If the 22 players involved yesterday care as much as they would publicly profess I hope it burns them that they didn't lay a tackle until we were three goals down and only eight for the first quarter. I suppose it's not easy to grab somebody when they're belting around in acres of free space, but still it's an indictment on the lot of them. A handful of players - chiefly Nathan Jones and Christian Petracca - redeemed themselves by playing the rest of the game like their lives depended on it but the damage was done. Had things gone the other way in Perth I'd have had to wind back a bit of my venom and refocus on the eight, but now everyone can get stuffed.

In a year where the MFC Stranglewank went from a local concern to worldwide infamy it would have been appropriate to ride one into the finals, and like Queen's Birthday 2015 we had two goes before coming out empty handed. This time we narrowly failed to trip the criteria for a SW by never getting within a goal, but morally it had all the hallmarks before we ran out of time, options and gusto. Then later willing accomplices.

For those keeping score our first quarters for 2017 are now 56.52.388 for and 69.69.483 against. In a ruthless statistical analysis this just cancelled out the 6-1 opener against St Kilda. Like the Saints we rallied to get close in the last quarter but had dug ourselves in such a deep crater that being the better side for large parts of the game didn't matter. Winning the last three quarters was no adequate consolation prize.

There's no call for an individual autopsy of the Pies first quarter goals - because that would mean watching the highlights to see them again - but suffice to say we looked a million miles off. If Garlett hadn't rushed a snap which would have been the first after absorbing a couple of minutes of pressure maybe things would have turned out differently, but as much as we love to pick out individual moments to blame players (e.g. that gimp in #29 for Adelaide who kicked it out on the full) that doesn't mean it's his fault. He wasn't the one watching the ball spirited from one end to the other with the greatest of ease, as half a dozen opposition players plowed into the forward 50 unchecked while we desperately struggled to keep up. He might have done more to stop them evacuating the ball at warp speed but that goes for everyone. It's a collective failure, and I'd say throw them all out of a plane but they've got no need to go in one now BECAUSE THEY WENT FROM 7TH TO 9TH IN 26 HOURS.

The first Collingwood goal didn't do much for my nerves, but the second pulled up danger signs so large you could see them from the moon. They just merrily chipped the ball around until it landed within scoring range, while everyone in red and blue stood looking dumbfounded. Then when a ruckman marked in a five-man pack and kicked truly to make it 3-0 I started to panic and developed a sweaty head that ended up feeling like I'd been in a shower by the final siren (NB: in the first draft of this post I'd written 'finals' siren. Psychologists, commence your analysis).

After the third we were given a series of lives via missed shots, before finally getting some clean run forward and finding Petracca to kick a goal on the run. That should have been the opportunity to reset and try something different, instead barely two minutes later we set up Howe's latest massive screamer and he created the fourth.

It was another day where inability to consistently take overhead marks under pressure cost us - not even contested marks but the ones where a player confidently arrives in the middle of a number of opponents to take the strong grab. Like Pedersen last week, but all over the ground instead of just when a young backline forget where they're supposed to stand. The worst of them all was Hunt's 'spoil' that cost the fifth. I thought he was pivotal in the comeback(s), but this was a disaster. With the ball flying into the square he might have taken the mark, but even a strong spoil for a point would have done the job. Instead he aimlessly stuck an arm out in the ball's direction, only propelling it into the path of a Collingwood player to merrily stuff it home. But if you sacked every one of our players who had a brain explosion yesterday we'd have to recruit next year's squad via Seek.

There was a distinct lack of fight on display, but it's not like we were playing for anything special after a decade of being fisted up and down the country. You'd have thought that somebody would have suplexed an opponent or thrown somebody into the fence to give us a break after the first couple of goals to get the boys fired up (and Bernie Vince gets reported for everything else so why not him?) but we carried on like a bunch of traffic cones. Then to really rub it the sixth was another masterclass in easily moving the ball through an opposition who weren't interested in stopping it. Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

The game wasn't over, but as we've learnt so many times in the last few years, coming from that far back removes your margin of error and requires everything to go right. On rare occasions you get away with it, most of the time you don't. It's one thing ripping out a triumphant comeback in Adelaide early in the season, but even on our home deck against a supposedly inferior side it seemed clear that there were too many nerves to do it again when it really mattered. That we eventually overcame the tension - and a second round of shambles - to get within 10 would be cause for congratulations if we were the under the pump strugglers trying to keep up with a potential finalist. It counted for nothing when it involved only slightly lower mid-table mediocrities monster us like they were 1980s Hawthorn.

I started the day in the Ponsford Stand, even though it's solid Pies territory for their home games. Where else would I go? After 10 years of enduring immeasurable abuse together (middle deck 2007-2011, top deck and/or Row MM 2012-) it just seemed right to be together for either the first day of the rest of our lives or another horrific letdown. To keep the theme of the #fistedforever/mid-table mediocrity eras going I showed up ridiculously early, scarfed a pre-match Kaiser and accidentally ran into somebody I worked with until chucking my shift work job at the end of 2006 to watch the Dees play every week. That's been a solid decision, god knows how much money I've cost myself watching us lose for 10 years in a row, then make a complete hash of a winning season too. Good thing we never sent out an email about how the finals were on the way and... oh shit.
Technically it was correct, September is around the corner. Other than that - and the fact that they were probably mandated to send it by the AFL - it was needless provocation to an already stressed group of people waiting for any reason to believe that we were going to have the rug swiped from under us. It's like going back to 1987 and ringing every member up individually to tell them we're going to make it for Robbie.

Even though there was still nobody for several rows, and not one person had turned around to look at me mockingly when I turned the air blue at Hunt's 'punch' I had a moment of panic at the quarter time siren and just had to bail out. Like a crashed airplane I deployed the slide and ran for my life, only pausing to have a small moment of personal crisis in the Ponsford to Olympic Stand Cluedo shortcut. If you were in the MCC during the break and heard a massive thud from above that would have been me.

With no reserve seat available, the only option was to go somewhere I've never been before. To Row MM of the Olympic Stand. Which is exactly like its Ponsford equivalent, only with a side-on view and no overwhelming stack of opposition fans to likely end up in a fight with. I didn't like what I saw on-field, but the view of it was fantastic. Maybe it's time I moved on from the years of turmoil and shifted for good. It should still ensure not having to mingle with other supporters, and provides a quicker escape from the ground.

Maybe it would have been better if we'd just crumbled to dust instead of launching a comeback, it would certainly have saved me some pain and suffering the next night. But like that guy who cut his own arm off to survive a rock climbing accident, it was only when we were at our most desperate that we decided to have a go at staying alive. The difference between the first bounces of the quarters was immeasurable, this time we ripped into them right away and were rewarded with a much needed goal after 30 seconds. That was more like it, if you're going to clamber out of the Grand Canyon may as well get a start on it quickly. After a few minutes where we were by far the better team but couldn't convert, our latest disaster-fated forward combo of Hogan and Watts combined for another and the margin was back to a far more manageable level.

It was classic Melbourne, we often looked good streaming forward with the ball in hand but the moment the other side got it everyone panicked like somebody had yelled FIRE! in a crowded theatre. For now we were well and truly back in it, and had either Garlett or Gawn kicked sitters I might have even let myself get some confidence up again. Then after 15 minutes of domination we let them go down the other end for a goal courtesy of Jamie Elliot - who might not have a punchable face in the Toby Greene mould, but at least a slappable one. By the time he was finally kept quiet - after a goal ripped straight out of his arse, kicking across the body while being tackled - he'd done enough to set up the win.

Garlett kicked a set shot at the second opportunity to cancel out Elliot's first of the quarter, before Collingwood kicked two more to drag us back to no more than four points better off than we'd been at the first change. We even contrived to concede a goal because everyone was too scared to rush it, the kick was smothered out of bounds, and they plucked a Melksham-esque goal from nowhere from the throw-in. Another bonus to sitting high in the Olympic, you can see all the people walking out at half time with no intention of returning. Like those who escaped 186 while it was still only 114 I knew they had the right idea, even if I could never bring myself to follow them.

Our hopes of overhauling the margin were not helped by Hogan disappearing with a hamstring injury. His season has been a perfect metaphor for our club, climbing off the canvas after a shocking run of bad luck, returning to deliver a tantalising burst of magic football, then falling to bits again at the final hurdle. It's not his fault, in the immortal words of David Brent if he fell in a barrel full of tits he'd come up sucking his own thumb. When he re-emerged after half time to warm-up, even after the club had already written him off for the day, I visualised the greatest against-the-odds half since Farmer kicked nine in 2000. Then he walked off, pulled the tracksuit on and was never seen again.

At four points a quarter it was going to take us another 1 3/4 games to even get a draw, so even without Hogan it was time to get on with it. This was the grand final for everyone who has speculated that our attack functions better without him, and when Neal-Bullen pushed forward for the first goal of the third quarter there was life in us yet. He had a weird day, doing some nice things but also butchering a majority of his possessions. I have faith in him yet, certainly more than I do for Tyson who is just doing nothing for me these days. It's all well and good to do things around the pack - even an Oliver style 1m handball to a teammate under the pump - but what's his attacking impact? Not much. Some people love him, and good luck to them but I'm out.

The reasoning behind getting him and Salem for a pick was still sound at the time, but that journalist we've been hanging shit on for years for saying we stuffed up is probably feeling cheery now. Maybe there's still time for us to parachute in with a blockbuster offer for Josh Kelly? I try not to think about other clubs, especially GWS, but he looks like the kind of player you'd give a knacker/ladybit for. Even after seeing him shamble around with our season on the line I'll take Jake Lever as a consolation prize to boost our defence, but would much rather another class player in the midfield. Knowing us we'll probably rookie list Morton. And not even Cale.

Quite literally immediately after Anal-Bullet's goal we were treated to a passage of play so ridiculous that only Melbourne could be involved.
  • We won the centre clearance - but turned it over
  • We took a strong defensive mark in front of goal - and kicked it out on the full
  • The Collingwood player was stopped from playing on - when he flubbed the pass
  • His shot was initially called touched on the line - which was reviewed and found to be a goal
... and that was the instant reply. That should have been the end of us, and for the next 10 minutes it was. When Collingwood introduced a late change with the initials KK all the talk was of the first official Kingsley Klub nomination of the season, but what we didn't see was that it would come from a different angle. 18 months after he was promoted from the rookie list before they played us, only to be overlooked for Jesse White in an insane misreading of how we'd deal with a lanky international, Mason Cox finally climbed the famous dais at Kingsley Manor and took his place in the Collingwood wing alongside Brad Dick x2 and Adam Oxley.

He kicked his first for two in a row, then they added another not long after as I started casually glancing into Yarra Park and thinking how I'd love to be amongst the increasing numbers of Melburnians running for their life to avoid humiliation. But why try to avoid it now? My dignity was stripped long ago. If you're an opposition fan accidentally stumbling upon this let me state clearly for the record, there is absolutely no hokey, breakfast radio quality gag you can lay on us that stings even nearly as much as following this club up and down the S-Bend.

Then just when all seemed lost greatest traditions of the Stranglewank erupted - and this game at least deserves observer status in that Hall of Fame. We turned on a blistering 10 minutes where it looked like we'd beat anyone in the competition and the opposition looked like rank amateurs. The next significant step in our development is to not have to be 5' 11" under before doing it. It's for this sort of blistering footy to be the standard gameplan instead of a reaction to being in a near hopeless position. We did it two weeks ago (then clammed up), but that was being force-fed by the opposition playing like lunatics. If you sorted out whatever we've done in opening quarters this year we'd have qualified for the finals weeks ago and this would have been a victory lap, waving two fingers at the Pies as we left them for dust. Now the whole country knows we're a shambles and #fistedforever is trending on Twitter.

It was not Pedersen's best day, either due to having to share space with Watts or because he wasn't playing against a defence full of randoms trying to adapt to a new system, but he started the comeback with a brave contest inside 50 which eventually allowed Garlett to set up Milkshake. It looked like far more effort than absolutely necessary, but was much appreciated to stop their run. Before you knew it we'd caned through four in a row and now Collingwood looked completely lost. They even missed the set shot we gave them in the middle that would have killed our momentum. In the end the only thing that could put the brakes on our run was the three quarter time siren, leaving us three goals down and needlessly inflated with belief again.

The Pies suffered some nasty second half failures this year, notably that complete debacle when Adelaide drew after the siren but as recently as last week when a hot start against Geelong was followed by three quarters of steaming shite. At this margin I was relying on them to lose it rather than us winning. Given that it was unlikely to turn into a GWS 2013 style comeback avalanche I knew that any win was most likely going to take until the final minute to confirm, and may have ended with me falling to the concrete theatrically and crying.

We could have done with another cardiac collapse, it was either going to be Collingwood or me. At this point I took the Row MM prerogative to stand up for the rest of the game (well, until it was confirmed that were going to lose anyway), and spent the entire three quarter time break walking back and forth between seats 11 and 17. Before that I'd been in 14 (still love you Lynden) because it was the only one not caked in years old bird shit. It was another scenario where I'll be lucky if nobody was filming me, because until that last goal went in I was continued prowling Row MM like a panther, reacting to everything in what would seem like an over the top fashion to anyone else but was perfectly natural for me.

With one final massive effort required we disappeared into footy's Bermuda Triangle again for the first 10 minutes. After they kicked the first goal of the quarter the degree of difficulty on our comeback was up there with a reverse 4 1/2 twist dive in pike position, into a tiny opening amidst a pool of biological waste. Then again we got a run on that would have carried us to victory in a game where we hadn't GONE 32 FUCKING POINTS DOWN AT QUARTER TIME TO START WITH. Last quarter specialist Hannan appeared after a day of anonymity to kick one courtesy of a bullet Lewis handball, then set up another for Melksham with a perfect lead and kick. The margin was back under 10 when we unlocked their defence and left Pedersen to walk into an open goal. Then we kicked one more point in the last 10 minutes.

It was not a great day to be a McSizzle fan. From the heights of the West Coast game it was a long way down to this last quarter. He's a passionate man, as evidenced by continually going off at the umpires over perceived frees to the point where I thought he was about to launch a John Bourke style assault, but the last quarter was party time for his detractors. It was enough to make me want to throttle the next dreary person who cracked a 'hilarious' cheese joke. Mind you, at least they're up with contemporary comedy topics, unlike like garden variety fuckwits who greeted our demise with snow gags.

I understand why he couldn't play forward with Hogan, Pedersen and Watts all in the side, but he hadn't done much to help settle down and organise a backline that was in complete disarray either. So when they threw him forward in our hour of need it made some sense - albeit at the expense of opening the door for a giraffe-like American to have the time of his life. In Hogan's absence he was helping, if not looking like he was going to rip out four goals in quick succession and win us the game singlehandedly. Then in an all-hands-on-deck moment he found himself back in defence, decided to try a quick kick-in and stuffed it right into the hands of the aforementioned Cox. The last time I'd sat even remotely close to Row MM in the Olympic was 2008, on a day where Jamar marked on the line and as I looked down he tried to play on and missed. This time I nervously glanced down after the behind, and only looked up when I heard the tell-tale "something's gone horribly wrong" roar.

Cox missing was a lifeline, and if we'd kept going and won it might have been a Hilarious Anecdote in years to come. Then McDonald went down the other end, took a strong mark on the 50 and landed a perfect pass in the arms of a Pies player. Was it Howe? It may as well have been, we kicked it to him more often than we did when he played for us. He'd have loved it too. Dunn went about his job professionally, and probably felt a bit sad deep down about us losing (now you send me footage of him joyfully belting out the theme song like he'd single-handedly won World War II) but Howe probably whacked off over beating us before going to bed. If his hands were up to it after marking everything we kicked at him.

There was still time if we held our nerve, but that would have been difficult given that it was seen floating down Brunton Avenue a minute into the first quarter. Somehow Garlett ended up at the wrong end, being marked over a Pies forward and that was it. It left us needing three goals in three minutes, and despite our random outbursts of champagne football it just wasn't going to happen. There was more to play out the next day, but the MCG season finished in a similar way to last year. As the winning goal went through I firmly planted one foot on the ground to avoid an embarrassing slip and kicked the shit out of a Row MM seat. Different stand, one week later, slightly better opposition, same result.

That would have been a fitting conclusion to a season where so much emotional energy was expended for little gain, but we were left waiting until early Sunday evening to know whether there would be more to come. Safe in the knowledge that Fremantle were only here to play Essendon because the AFL wouldn't let them forfeit, it all hinged on the result of the West Coast vs Adelaide game. Or so I thought, until the Dockers decided to launch one last desperate attempt to claw back respectability after 208 points of losses in a fortnight and took the Bombers deep into the last quarter. When that didn't work it was

If nothing else our thwarted comeback built a bridge of about three goals that West Coast had to overcome while winning. Which we naturally assumed they would, even before GWS' capitulation in Geelong ensured the Crows would be minor premiers no matter what. When they took Taylor Walker and Daniel Talia out of the selected side and replaced them with Lance Ringo and Hammond Von Schlitzingburger you knew they weren't taking it seriously anyway, and with Josh Kennedy five goals behind in the Coleman Medal race it was action stations for him to go bananas and carry his side over the line. Ironically he was well held, and all the damage was done at the other end where Adelaide attacks were regularly chopped off.

It was a bit rich to expect the Crows to give a shit about us when they had absolutely nothing to play for, and after kicking the first goal they switched to an appropriately Melbourne-esque gameplan of panic handballs and long kicks to a marking defender. Not only were the Eagles and Subiaco taking revenge on us for the epic finish of the McDonald game, but George McGovern too had the time of his life mopping up dozens of aimless forward kicks. Our buffer had already ebbed away before quarter time and it looked like the effort of the Eagles - which was admirably like what you'd expect a finals contender to deliver, unlike some other shithouse sides - and the disinterest of half the Adelaide side was going to sink us with plenty of time left.

A slight revival and a last minute goal kept us ahead at the half, but you just knew that the Eagles had too much in store. I'm impressed that they even bothered to mount a comeback, maybe like me they were dying for what would have been a hilarious scenario of the Eagles winning and all their fans having a cry while the theme song played. I'd cry if you played that soft rock abortion to me as well. Then somehow, and I don't even know how it happened because I was already in a state of psychological torture, Adelaide kicked two goals in a row to put us back in front. We were about to cash in our Money In The Bank contract and steal one of the simultaneously least and most satisfying victories of all time. Until the Eagles scored practically straight out of the middle.

All was not lost with four or so minutes left, one more goal would tip it in our favour and who better than the Crows to mysteriously kick some bullshit over the top goal from a metre out? Then some deadset numpty defender shanked a simple kick straight out of bounds, and who else but our old mate Jack Darling bobbed up to take an uncontested mark on the line. I wonder what Lucas Cook is doing these days. He kicked the goal, we were finished and I turned off with 20 seconds left. They should have bulldozed the place when we finally won a game there, without waiting to let the crowd out.

The body was barely warm before open season was declared, with arseholes of all colours piling in on us. You can understand it from some quarters - Bulldogs fans after the #youready incident, West Coast fans and Damien Martyn after the diving fiasco (how apt that the Eagles qualified for the eight because we took a dive), and Sydney fans salty over the Bugg punch. Even Richmond supporters - flush from being good for the first time in 35 years - are piling in about Bugg "shhhing" mutants behind the goals 18 months earlier. But I will not cop shit from the Carlton cheersquad, a group so poxy that a marketing company has to write their still shithouse slogans (to be fair they later tweeted a withdrawal and apology, but you have to wonder why more than one person has the password to the account). Still, when you make fools of yourselves on an unprecedented scale it opens the door for arseholes of all shapes and sizes to have a go. We can all play at that game, keep a log of everyone who shits you in the immediate aftermath and resolve to do them mental or physical harm (your choice) at the first available opportunity. If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by.

And so it's not quite a new low, but it's as close as we'll get without suffering a decline so serious that the club will mercifully be wound up. We've missed the finals by the narrowest percentage margin in history, choked like Greg Norman at August, GWS are going to win a flag and even Mark fucking Neeld has made the eight before us. There's only one thing left to do:


2017 Allen Jakovich Medal for Player of the Year
I think I'm the only person who thought Jones played well yesterday. If you don't like it create your own bloody medal.

5 - Nathan Jones
4 - Christian Petracca
--- A few thousand lux of daylight ---
3 - Jordan Lewis
--- Further distance ---
2 - Jayden Hunt
1 - Jake Melksham

Apologies to Oliver, Salem and Watts who were in contention for the last two

Leaderboard
Muted congratulations to Oliver and Hibberd for finishing 1-2 and both going home with their first ever awards. Also to Mitch Hannan for winning the least competitive Hilton race in years. And finally, to Max Gawn who despite being shithouse for two weeks has become the only man to win anything via a Bradbury Plan style accident. Until yesterday Pedersen's hitouts average was over 10, but only having two dropped him down to 9.8 per game and handed the title back to Gawn.

35 - Clayton Oliver (WINNER: Allen Jakovich Medal for Player of the Year)
31 - Michael Hibberd (WINNER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
27 - Nathan Jones
25 - Jack Viney
24 - Christian Petracca
21 - Neville Jetta
18 - Jayden Hunt
16 - Tom McDonald
15 - Cameron Pedersen
13 - Jeff Garlett
12 - Sam Frost, Max Gawn (WINNER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year), Jack Watts
11 - Jordan Lewis
9 - Christian Salem
8 - James Harmes
7 - Jake Melksham, Dom Tyson
5 - Jesse Hogan, Oscar McDonald
4 - Mitch Hannan (WINNER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year), Bernie Vince
2 - Dean Kent, Corey Maynard, Alex Neal-Bullen, Josh Wagner
1 - Jake Spencer

Many of the following segments were written on Sunday morning, so they may seem to be unnecessarily light and airy. Let me assure you that at this time I hate life and hope a comet drops on us tomorrow.

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year
Secretly I hate them all because they meant nothing, but with apologies to the one that started with Melksham's leading mark (because this is not the David Neitz Medal for Lead of the Year) I'm opting for the one that via Hunt, Garlett, Melksham let Pedersen run to the line and bring us within 10 points. It's not a strong contender for the overall result, but I enjoyed it at the time. For the weekly prize he wins 100 extra signatures on this well-meaning petition intended to force a change in his nickname.

Ironically considering what happened at Subiaco today, McDonald still wins the overall award. Maybe I'll put some more excitement into that announcement in the end of year post because for now it feels hollow.


I came out of this game so traumatised that I can't even remember what the Pies one said. It was certainly something generic, and disappointingly not at all of the "we're going to stuff up your season" genre that Brisbane tried. They've stuffed themselves up, because if they'd done that just before it happened I'd have ignored their ugly font and given them a prophecy bonus that would have delivered victory. Instead ours wins, and though I'm sure several months without passing judgement on crepe paper slogans will have me champing at the bit for more I'm getting tired of this segment. Dees 22-1-0 for the season.

P.S - Sad my suggestion of Arrive, Raise Hell, Leave never got a run. Or in the case of yesterday - Arrive. Leave. Try to climb back in through a side window.

Crowd watch
As part of my efforts to be privately positive I wondered if it wouldn't be better to go with somebody so I could share the joy. That lasted about 15 minutes until I became so gloomy that even if I'd gone to the game with a reincarnated Nelson Mandela we'd have fallen out by the end. In the end I got the right result, not a single interaction with another supporter for the entire day.

I've got no issue with Pies fans going off like they'd won something major at the end, there would have been similar satisfaction if we'd ever managed to close a disappointing season by torpedoing somebody else's finals hopes (except 2009 when it would have caused people to self-harm) in the last round. What I don't understand is their obsession with Jack Watts. It can't be the Queen's Birthday goal because he was getting it before that. Presumably just the politics of envy because he's paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to lope around laconically and have a significant amount of sex with groupies while they toil in the cotton fields. Considering their Richmond-esque stance on ex-MFC players I'd calm down in case he ends up playing there next year.

Opposition watch
It would be comical if Eddie McGuire was distracted enough for the rest of the board to sack Buckley now. At least when Stan Alves and Grant Thomas got sacked it was for losing finals to us, now we're running the risk of having our first coaching Kingsley nomination then watching him being shown the door a few days later. This club is not to be trusted with an easy job, remember when we stuffed up what was supposed to be James Hird's last game?

Matchday experience watch
It seems churlish to mock the Pies for anything after they've ruined our season, but in the numerical order team listing around the boundary line they had numbers 4, 5, 16 and 7 in a row. Otherwise there was nothing offensive about it, certainly not a Carlton style vulgar display that's transparently to try and project the image of a big club. Instead the fans got a few rounds of Kiss Cam, the chance to bleat at Jack Watts like social underdogs and a win to end the season. Best of luck to them, we can all sit on the same couch and watch the exhibition series together.

Is it safe?

No, and it never will be.

Next week/the week after that
Nothing. Zero. As long as $cully doesn't win I couldn't give a shit what happens from here, and probably won't bother tuning into the Exhibition Series until at least the prelims. In fact, let's see how long I can go without knowing when and where we would have played.

Next year
The building blocks remain there, but we're still desperately lacking polish. Bernie Vince can hang them up, I've lost interest in Tyson, and after yesterday Hogan will probably demand a trade as far away from us as he can get. If it's not too much to ask for find me a solid marking defender, an outside midfielder and another marking forward. If that is too much to ask for, never mind I'll still come back year after year like an idiot. Beat me, whip me, abuse me I still secretly love it. Roll on 2018 and we'll see how that can be stuffed up too. If I can bring myself to do an end of year post we'll huddle together, have a good cry, take a more in-depth look at the list and realise that it's not so bad.

Was it worth it? (Saturday edition)
Only for potentially having been there when we removed the monkey from our back and threw it in the sea. Given the pus dripping slopfest that actually happened I wouldn't piss on the experience if it caught fire. To round off the theme of the day I had a shithouse of a trip home, missing one train by literally seconds and having to wait an hour for the next one. Then I got home to discover that my child had stolen a gag from the Harry Taylor playbook, taken an MFC mug from the cupboard (as distinct from the general fanbase, who are mugs for watching this shit) and stuffed it full of ham.

Was it worth it? (Sunday edition)
Only because I didn't have to leave the house, and was able to reject all phone calls from people who remarkably thought it was a great time to pick up the phone and have a chat immediately post-siren. I will get back to you all sometime around November.

Final thoughts (original version)



Final thoughts (06:00 Monday morning version)
I'd say I've had time to sleep on it, but that wouldn't be entirely correct. I've had time to bitterly mull over it and wake up half a dozen times during the night. And I don't know why I'm so upset, but it feels like I've suffered a genuinely traumatic incident. Admittedly a low grade one, and you can send a list of all the worse things going on in the world to GPO Box 9994 in your capital city, but I've rarely been flatter.

Missing out on the finals by a razor thin margin isn't even the most important thing, it's that there were probably six moments between 13:45 Saturday and 19:00 Sunday (2x MFC comebacks, 2x Freo comebacks, when Adelaide kicked their first and last goals) where I allowed myself to genuinely believe that for the first time since 1987 - when I was six years old and too busy crashing my bike into a tree to care about footy - that everything was going to go spectacularly right for us.

That's what it was about, not the right to spend hundreds of dollars going to Adelaide for them to squeeze us so hard our heads popped off, but just to have something amazing happen in our favour to try and make up for having endured the most traumatic sporting run of the 21st century. I haven't even updated this famous list for the last three seasons and it already featured enough misery to last anyone other than a Fitzroy fan (though Richmond supporters will be welcomed to look on if they go out in straight sets) a lifetime.

Sure a couple of our players have made dicks of themselves over the last couple of years, but which club's players haven't? I regret nothing anybody did to make outsiders hate us, because it's far better to be despised than pitied, but we'll still be here when every player on the current list is gone so what about something for us? Could the generally absent football gods not have given us just one monumental leg up?

Falling in on the last day because a side didn't win by enough would have been a cheap way to do it, but who would have minded? Certainly not me. We'd have had the best part of two weeks to dream. Now it's another bleak September, and I'm left genuinely scared that we'll find a way to stuff up on a larger scale and never make it. There's nothing rational about that line of thinking, but equally there's nothing rational about following a club through thick-and-thin when they continue to drop steaming turds wherever they go.

And to answer all the people who have asked about an updated version of the book to cover this deebacle, it's a no. That was the story of 2007-2016 and a finale where we lost by 20 goals couldn't have been any more appropriate. This is the first chapter of the sequel, which will be published after five seasons or when we win a flag - so look out for it at the end of 2021.

Thank you to everyone who has written in with kind words, and no thanks to my work for failing to have an employee assistance program office ready at my desk. They should be grateful that I've even turned up, by the time you read this I may have bashed some office comedian to death with a printer.

Wonder how this guy is going...



Final thoughts (Wednesday afternoon version)
It's taking the piss to have a third 'final' thought, but I'm confident nobody else is reading by this point so what does it matter? Besides, that's more times than you've seen the 'f' word in one place for a decade so embrace if where you can.

Last night I finally hit the 'acceptance' stage of grief. First there was "they can't be doing this to me" denial at about 2.20pm Saturday, then anger at the last Pies goal, bargaining on Sunday when somebody said the Exhibition Series matches were late to be confirmed and I thought "well, maybe there's been a botch with the percentages and we'd qualified after all and into a grand funk on Monday. Then about 30 seconds into a surprise media appearance on the Dees Podcast I just realised that there's no point keeping my head in the oven forever. We humiliated ourselves, and like the Chris Sullivan Line game it will probably leave me distraught forever but it's not going to change anything now.


This surprise outbreak of calm and rationality was terrible news for the podcasters, who were probably counting on a defamation laden spectacle which turned the air blue. Alas no. Even the provocative move by the club's twitterist to post a handy update on our draft position didn't stop me from packing the sniper rifle away and clambering back down the metaphorical bell tower. If you took off one other win, beat the Pies and were still tipped out by the Eagles we'd be rushing to throw flowers at the players as they walked down the street, but fold under pressure and you're remembered along with that guy who put the ball in the drink at the British Open.

Anyway, cope however you feel best (NB: unless you're the sort of bell-end who actually does ring up receptionists or send your membership back in pieces) but - and I can't believe this is coming from me - don't let the misery consume you. I hope that the AFLW season will help gently bring us back into the game with positive memories of a Melbourne side.

After the smoke cleared on Tuesday a fringe work colleague who had no idea about my allegiances said "you were PMSing hard yesterday". One day I hope to be PMSLing hard. But not yet.