Sunday, 14 May 2017

Whale Oil Beef Hooked

If you're as old as me you'll probably remember an entertaining season we once played called 1998. It also featured a promising start, before we fell off the face of the earth in the middle of the season via a pair of unholy beltings at the MCG. This year we've had thrillers rather than thrashings, but as they were to worse teams it all balances out for the purposes of the story.

I can't remember if everyone wrote us off - after all the media had so little interest until late in the season that one week 'Leon Chelly' got a mention in the paper - but being prone to sporting stress even at 16-years-old I was certainly feeling the tension. Winning in Perth wasn't as far-fetched then as it seems now that we haven't done it in 13 years, but the idea of toppling the Eagles was still ridiculous. Then a team featuring Mark Bradly, Donald Cockatoo-Collins and a lot of other players who you probably do want to remember pulled off a ludicrous upset. If I hadn't lost the VHS somewhere I'd pause writing this, fire up Hotter Than Hell and relive the whole thing via the recollections of Todd Viney from his kitchen.

Back then, when our website looked like this and nobody dared try to operate a 24-hour sports talk radio station, there was probably some sort of supporter discord after those losses, but unless you happened to know a fellow Melbourne fan you probably kept it to yourself. I certainly did, despite a search of ancient MFC websites that reveals I did try to set up some sort of forum in the late 90s it wasn't until 2002 that I actively sought out the views of others. Three years later Big Footy recruited me to write a blog and here we are a million words and no flags later.

That year we also had a new coach, but the difference was there was zero expectation as it followed a putrid four win season, coming off a solid attempt to vote ourselves out of existence. We were just happy to still be alive. The point (surprisingly there is one) is that you really had to go out of your way to make a public statement of disappointment in your club. The gold standard for fan outrage will always be chicken hearts and manure dumped on the doorstep of Punt Road, now all you have to do is target your tantrum at an outlet that is starved for publicity and it will become famous.
The guy waving a white flag against Gold Coast was a master of prop comedy, this yellow streaked coward should be issued his refund and banned for life unless he's prepared to make full disclosures at the MFC Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Let me guess, the missed membership years included either or both of 2012 and 2013.

It was probably one of the worst timed tantrums ever. Like when a fan started a Sack Bailey Facebook page that got some media publicity only for us to roll Fremantle by 95 points the same week. Or earlier that year when I went off on one about our tepid loss to West Coast, only to nearly steamroll Adelaide by the ton. We've all been there, but it's when you start making it personal that you risk coming off as a dickhead.

No doubt the writer - whose only sensible decision was to keep their name secret - is claiming credit for helping lever Kennedy-Harris out of the squad. There is equally no question that he will be on the phone to the membership department on Monday morning claiming he lost his card and needs a new one issued. Anyone who tries that this week should be forced to provide a handwriting sample that can be matched against the letter. I'm still suspicious that it's a Protocols of the Elders of Zion style false flag attack to make us look bad, but until further evidence comes to light or the writer publicly confesses all we can do is take it at face value.

I don't understand how anyone (presumably) sat through the up-and-down pre-186 part of 2011, the apocalypse itself, the entire Neeld/Craig era and two years under Roos where we had to go to the ends of the earth just to kick a single goal and what finally triggers him to lose the plot is the coach picking JFK for one week too many. One win against Hawthorn in a decade and people suddenly start going into convulsions when we revert to type. I wasn't happy - and indeed am still not happy about it a week and a win later - but short of nonces, murderers and all other actually terrible people there's nothing worse than a grandstander. Cut your card up, flush it down the toilet, put it in your Nutri Bullet and drink it like a smoothie if you must, but going to the media to try and get publicity for your attempts to bring down a seven game coach is the sign of a deeply NQR individual. At least Goodwin got through seven games before this happened, remember when people were trying to sack Bailey after two and Neeld eight months before coaching his first? They might have had a point on the second one.

If this poltroon had been a member for the best part of 25 years as claimed he'd be well aware of the Spirit of '98 significance of going to Adelaide on a seemingly hopeless mission, but once we'd reeled their lead in and built a five goal gap of our own I was thinking of something slightly more recent. Namely that bonkers 2002 semi final against the Crows where we went from a mile down, to a mile up, to preparing for Mad Monday in the space of two hours. In the end the only thing the two nights had in common was that I watched both on TV, but this time was not provoked into throwing a remote towards the screen (fortunately inaccurately) to protest the side keeling over in the last quarter.

I'm determined never to fall into the trap of prematurely trying to kill a coach off. I guarantee to complain about at least one thing he does every week, but even in the darkest days of you-know-who presiding over total disaster I held on for one season and half a game before losing faith. To ensure perspective I still have my ticket for 186 on the wall at work as a reminder that things can always be worse. Which is probably why by midday each day Monday to Friday I'm acting like this:
Even allowing for Adelaide playing a first quarter into the wind last week that we'd be ashamed of at our worst, I refused to even consider the prospect of exiting South Australia with four premiership points. I doubted we'd even be able to escape with a sliver of our dignity intact, but here we are in the afterglow of the third in a trilogy of epoch-making victories since the start of the Roos era. Oddly enough none of them - Geelong 2015, Hawthorn 2016 or this - have been achieved after Jesse Hogan was a late withdrawal. This has to be more of a coincidence than our version of that strange phenomenon where early Gold Coast would play better when Ablett wasn't there to have 50 touches. In Hogan's absence our forward line effectively ceased to function, but led by a third string ruckman who shouldn't be playing, a professional irritant, and a defender sent forward to get amongst it because nobody else looked likely we scored 107 points and won in glorious fashion. Football. Bloody hell.

It was fair enough for Hogan to pull out if he was ill, especially after the run he's had recently, but I know I wasn't the only one who had a minor nervous breakdown when Weideman replaced him after doing chuff all in the VFL since being dropped. The obvious point was "who else are you going to play in that role?" and the obvious response was to come up with a new plan that didn't rely on key forwards. He still hasn't cracked the secret of getting the ball in dangerous positions inside 50 against an adult defence, but you'd have to be a hard-hearted bastard not to have appreciated his defensive effort in this game. When Hogan's right he's an automatic demotion to the VFL to work on earning his return, but he played a fantastic defensive game last night.

You didn't have to go back to '98 or '02 to recognise what happened in the first five minutes. The projected battering we were supposed to receive from the Pedersen vs Sam Jacobs match-up certainly happened on paper, but in another blow to anyone taking hitouts seriously we usually had somebody at the fall of the ball to make sure no real damage was done. And thank christ for that after a string of games where we tried to go on as if there'd be a puff of smoke and Gawn would magically appear to deliver a sweet tap. Jacobs had 74 hitouts, and he could have them because our midfield were winning everything once it hit the ground. Not many players have had that many hitouts in a game, and I'm sure none have ever done it when their side has been so comprehensively turned over. Match reports talk like it's amazing how they lost when had that many, but I guarantee you Don Pyke (and how fun is that name to say?) isn't giving him a big pat on the back and telling him how desperately unlucky he was.

With Bernie Vince celebrating his 200th game by using Rory Sloane to do a cover version of the day he tormented Dangerfield we dominated the play for a single point. Any chance he can do that sort of role against somebody other than an ex-teammate? Because I much preferred it to how he's been playing in defence. He got a hand from various teammates plowing in and (legally) belting Sloane as well, especially the resurgent Viney who looks like he'd open doors for little old ladies and help the blind to see but has a raging case of white line fever that will eventually see him pass Nathan Jones as our most fined player. Early in the game as he was going out of his way to jostle with anyone who came near I thought he was an absolute certainty to be writing the AFL a cheque early next week. Turns out that won't be required because so few Crows players were up for the fight.

Without Hogan the forward line looked like it wouldn't even get a chance to fire blanks, because they'd never get the ball to start with. Watts tried hard to be a target but died badly in the circumstances, especially before we tore a hole in Adelaide's defence and were forced to rely on the old panic bomb to 20 metres out. T. McDonald snuck forward for the first set shot, which went about as well as you'd expect, and it was only when we did the surprise Sizzle Switch for good after half time that the Crows started to be properly troubled by our long kicks. For we now spent the opening minutes desperately trying to create space for somebody to take a mark, only for the ball to ping down the other end for Jacobs to take a McEvoy-esque ruckman's grab against half our defence. Good guy Sauce realised that us conceding goals in this situation is become cliched and missed a sitter. It was not the first piss easy shot the Crows would spray as they briefly looked like running away, before crumbling in spectacular fashion.

Speaking of crumb related activities, without a winning forward structure in sight we had to first rely on a Crows defender putting a howler of a kick straight down Jones' throat, and then the ultimate spare parts man Cam Pedersen to gather the ball in a pack and kick the second goal. Neither was well worked, but I'm about eight premierships in my lifetime away from rejecting goals in any fashion. This was going well, we'd weathered our own initial score-free success to come back and get two goals in front.

We were holding our own in the middle, and tackling anything that moved. As long as it didn't break into a free-flowing, high scoring extravaganza we'd at least get a couple of good quarters before Adelaide realised what was going on, resumed bouncing from end to end at warp speed and crushed us like a bug. Or apparently not. Maybe it's because I wasn't perched high in the stands and one step ahead of the play, but even allowing for Fox Sports' obsession with extreme closeups it didn't look there was as many opposition players pouring down the ground with their arms in the air and not a Demon within a kilometre.

Thanks to the Crows doing a Melbourne and blowing numerous shots on goal we got to quarter time in front. At two goals to one the match wasn't going to win any awards for quality, but we had them covered in practically every aspect of the game other than getting first hands to the ball at a stoppage and scoring freely. That would do me for now, considering I had nightmare visions of turning up and being 50-1 down at quarter time. Given their stock of tall forwards and our slightly ropey defence it was as good as a win. Until we actually did win, and at this point that seemed as likely as a UFO landing in the middle of Adelaide Oval.

My highlight of the first quarter was another athletic display in defence from Sam Frost. I knew from that day in Ballarat when he chased a much smaller Bulldogs player from one end to the other that he was quick, but you can't fault his unbridled enthusiasm. I'm sure he's right on top of team rules, set plays and all that other bullshit but to the naked eye he just runs around doing things on instinct like an animal that's just broken loose from the zoo. I'm having tremendous fun watching him this year and look forward to much more in the future.

The lead didn't last long. Betts briefly slipped the now traditional Jetta demolition job to kick a freak goal, before McDonald Sr. flubbed a kick coming out of defence and it was starting to turn sour. Other than Sloane, who was being persecuted by Vince and a cast of anti-social young men everywhere he went, they finally started to play like they wanted to, while we reverted to the terrified panic handballers of the first quarter against Hawthorn.

We had a reasonable run with the umpires, but there was one free as the Crows started to take advantage that proved this is a village competition that will never be made perfect by rule changes and razzle dazzle interpretations. Two of ours hit a perfect tackle, brought the player to ground, then were pinged for gently rolling into his back after he was already no chance of getting it clear. Say it with me again, if it doesn't impact the actual contest or the player's ability to get/dispose of the ball then who gives a fat rat's clacker? I know 'we' are trying to avoid stoppages at all costs, but this is bureaucratic madness. And I am the AFL's equivalent of the person who writes letters to the paper saying stupid things like "this is political correctness gone mad!"

Shortly after this insane decision one of the field umpires was forced out of the game when Vince - now revelling in his villainy - inadvertently knocked seven shades of shit out him at the centre bounce. If it was the guy who paid that free the failed concussion test came too late. Not only was the emergency umpire - who as a South Australian was naturally named 'Rowan' - called upon to officiate the rest of the game, which was good news for players who wanted to indulge in light wrestling and not have a bloke in tracksuit pants tell them off, but when another ump pulled out at three quarter time due to a bad case of cramp we had possibly the first two umpire quarter since the 1992 Grand Final. The standard of officiating didn't get any worse, but after the first three quarters there wasn't much further down for it to go.

On this night the wheel of umpiring managed to fight the natural gravitational pull of an interstate crowd going off their tit for everything to spin in our favour. The undisputed highlight was when we committed about five illegal acts from one end of the ground to the other, then ended up getting a free right in front of goal. The locals were not happy, but but they never are. It's hard to feel sorry for them after 25 years of enjoying mob rule.

As the Crows bombed through five goals in a row to open a near 30 point lead no wacky umpiring could save us. After spending the first quarter and a bit hovering over my TV I was back to a resigned slump on the couch, thinking "here we go again". Just because it's my comfortable place doesn't mean I like being there. The famous Veil of Negativity has been threatening to drop for weeks - not helped by munters sending whiny letters to the media - and it was on the phone to air traffic control for clearance into Adelaide Airport before we regained control and began a famous match-winning run of goals. In previous years we'd have been 10 goals down and flicking through the Yellow Pages for counselling services by half time, in this case I was soon back on my feet and nervously pacing around the living room. This time I'd mysteriously ended up holding a pestle, which was lucky not to fly out of my hands into in the television at several times during the middle two quarters.

For once stuffing a bunch of players behind the ball and trying to drop anchor for a few minutes worked. Usually it leads to them ducking around us via the side gate, while we're left winning turnovers then returning the ball as there's nobody to kick to. First Bugg - seemingly thrown into the cursed defensive forward position that gave James Harmes a week of glory before being dropped - steered through a crucial set shot, then the wonky Crows backline gifted us another and the margin was back under 20. It didn't feel deserved, but in reality it was just reward for working our arse off to put the brakes on them.

Surprise goalkicking sensation Bugg got another, courtesy of a lovely Oliver kick to Jordan Lewis' advantage, and Lewis shrugging off a half-hearted attempt at a tackle. By half time it was only 10, as we began to run them around in circles until most Crows players looked thoroughly fed-up with the game. After years of teams doing it to us the most satisfying thing about mid-table mediocrity is the rare days where we psychologically dominate another team until they collapse in a sobbing heap. So much the better if it sends 40,000 of their supporters home unhappy. To prove everything was going our way we didn't even concede a goal in the last minute, though that was entirely down to a Crows miss rather than anything we did right.

This is the bit where Simon Goodwin comes to the fore, finds the address of whoever wrote that letter and leaves a flaming bag of turd on his doorstep. Considering we had all the momentum before the break he might have rested on his laurels, gone out with exactly the same set-up and watched the Crows quickly restore the balance. If the game kept being played like it was in the first quarter we'd have needed to keep it to 50-40 to win, and even allowing for several of Adelaide's star forwards playing like scrubs we didn't have that in us. So, recognising that we might very well concede but wouldn't win without improving our scoring he sacrificed Tom McDonald from defence and played him as centre half-forward with sexy results.

Unlike Hunt forward in the second half against Hawthorn this wasn't a panic move, but a well calculated one that paid off in spades. He provided the contest that Weideman couldn't, and heaped more pressure on the Adelaide defence. If they'd continued to get the ball forward every five seconds it might have backfired badly, but the combination of our midfield hoovering up everything Jacobs went near, and the forwards helping keep the ball in front of goal meant the Crows barely got a kick for the full quarter. Even when they did go forward Hibberd was mopping up everything that came near him, and Frost was making a nuisance of himself against Walker, Jenkins and all the other Adelaide forwards who we don't care enough about to learn their names.

After they missed a golden chance to kill our momentum, we went the other way and kicked a goal to bring it under six points. McDonald made it look difficult by dancing hither and yon before finishing, but it was made by Jayden Hunt necking himself in spectacular fashion by charging full pelt - which in case is like watching in fast forward - right into Sam Jacobs. It was like the classic era of Rugby League, when front row forwards would plow into their opposite number, then stagger around with a major concussion for the rest of the game. Only this time there was a significant size difference, and Hunt was out cold before he hit the ground. If you absolutely have to be driven off the field in a motorised cart wearing a neck brace it was exactly the sort of brave effort you'd want to have made to get you there.

Fortunately he was ok, waving to the crowd on the way off, before being shown in high spirits in the dressing room not long after. The same patron who continually hijacked the effects mic when we beat Port there last year was back again, kindly making owl noises as a gesture of solidarity to our fallen comrade. Hunt later posted an Instagram story that I have no idea how to link to because I am old, where he encouraged the rest of the team to sip on a Nippy's chocolate milk as concussion medicine, then finished the video by laughing maniacally into his phone. What a legend.

Losing our spark off half-back might have proven an issue if the Crows didn't respectfully respond to his loss by falling off the face of the planet. At half time Taylor Walker was shown going through written instructions with his midfield, and it must have been a piece of paper that just said FOLD LIKE A HOUSE OF CARDS. McDonald got another one immediately after, setting off the second greatest quickfire double of his career after he combined with Dean Kent twice in a minute during the last game of 2014 to enter the off-season as our most potent forward. I love that Frost is going so well we can afford to use him as a break in case of emergency forward option.

Now we were in front, and because there was the best part of two quarters left we had to go on with it. First a Bugg contested mark (!) set up Petracca, Pedersen and Garlett to raffle a goal without an Adelaide player in sight, then The Hamburglar kicked what had better win Goal of the Year or I will chuck shit at AFL House. In exactly the spot that Eddie Betts goals cause Dwayne Russell to shoot the zip off his pants into orbit, he battled alongside Mitch Hannan to beat a pair of Crows to the ball, turned inside towards the boundary, then kicked some sort of reverse banana from an impossible angle with a defender desperately trying to smother.

The lead was now only 14, with plenty of time left, but the goal made me so happy that I jumped up and down on the spot in joy for about 30 seconds. It was a lot like Garlett vs Richmond last year, but the difference was then he was 40 metres out and had huge swathes of goal face to work with while Oliver was threading the eye of the needle. If it was a complete fluke don't tell me, because I won't acknowledge it. The goal was only part of his contribution - he had about as many possessions as against the Hawks but they were of so much more attacking benefit this time. Other sides will come for him soon, and if he can get through that he's heading towards glory.

It was another recovery from more than four goals down, once again fulfilling the deviant needs of whichever member of the coaching panel has the horn for comebacks. Whenever they cut to the coaches box I was hoping we'd get a clue by seeing somebody trying to cover up with a laptop or a notebook. The culprit remains at large, but if as suspected he only truly gets his jollies when we go within seconds of blacking out before achieving total ecstasy this was a rare time where the tactic actually worked. Like the St Kilda game it's probably because we launched the comeback early enough that there was no thought of getting narrowly in front then trying to massage our way to the final siren.

The McDonald show continued as he set up the next two goals, leaving us 26 points in front and rubbing our eyes to make sure it was real life and not just fantasy. Mother's Day has wrecked my chance of #watchingthereplay, and my step-by-step account of the process that got us to that point will be full of holes because as we ruthlessly put them to the sword I was having an out of body experience. Talk about emotions, that was better than nearly anything footy related I've been involved with other than thrilling wins.

Even when Adelaide got a fluky late goal to reduce the margin to 20 and give us all nightmare flashbacks to the Richmond game, things were going so well that we powered out of the middle again for the instant reply courtesy of Petracca using his strength to rip the ball away from a Crows player and set up Viney. I was still terrified that this was all just setting us up for a horror last quarter collapse, after all we were still nowhere near the much vaunted Chris Sullivan Line. We never are, and that doesn't stop us from occasionally winning but you can understand why I'm not bursting with faith.

The only thing more outrageous than simultaneously responding to an opposition goal and kicking one deep into the quarter was that we were the ones having another shot when the siren went. Even if Garlett had kicked it I still wouldn't have been confident, but it would have helped. Turns out it wasn't necessary, Adelaide had packed up for the night and we were free to do as we pleased.

We were given a leg-up early in the last quarter by one of the two surviving field umpires paying the ugliest deliberate decision since the guy who was pinged having a shot on goal. I'm not going to say it was 'wrong', because with the way the AFL sets the rules he probably did exactly the right thing, but what a mean-spirited way to treat players by penalising them for making a split second decision like that when the ball was bouncing around randomly. I was thrilled that we got it, but had it been one of our players copping it in that situation there would have been blood smeared down the front of my TV. It's still hard to understand why where the player takes the kick from is determined by the angle the ball was rushed on, but despite being stuck in the pocket Garlett converted and the margin was back to more than five goals.

If Adelaide's spirit hadn't already been broken that decision did them in permanently. Not that I was calling it yet, there was more than enough time for us to collapse and let them start scoring for fun like they had against almost every other team they've played this year. Realistically it was never going to happen, but I never fully relaxed until there was three minutes to go. The pain runs deep.

Kent got the next, rescuing what was probably the worst post-internet frenzy game since we spent weeks advocating for Ricky Petterd in 2012 only for him to get picked and play an absolute mare against Hawthorn that his MFC career never recovered from. In the end Deano managed to pad his stats enough to make it look like a decent performance, but he's got to do more than he offered last night. A bit of defensive pressure wouldn't go astray, but I'm prepared to overlook almost anything after a win like this and give him another chance next week.

The margin was nearly 40 by the opening minutes, and as much as I'd have loved to press on an absolutely massacre them that was wishful thinking. At least once again after they'd worked their arse off for a goal we went down and kicked the reply immediately after. You don't get a finer psychological blow than that. From there everyone might as well have negotiated a margin and gone home, because junk time was officially declared. I was happy to get out without anyone else being injured, and with several minutes to drink in the glory of springing a tremendous surprise.

At the risk of sounding like the most miserable person alive it won't mean squat if we don't go on with it next week. This was another Beyond 2000 style glimpse into the future of the MFC - a hard tackling, hard running, hard spoiling football machine. It's just that I don't have any faith yet that they'll be able to do it two weeks in a row.

2017 Allen Jakovich Medal for Player of the Year
This was brutally hard, because even the team not showing up for half a quarter is about two quarters better than any other game this year. There were contributors out the yin yang, and it's not fair that they can't all get a vote. I'm sure the far more generous best and fairest system will see them rewarded where it actually matters.

5 - Jack Viney
4 - Clayton Oliver
3 - Bernie Vince
2 - Michael Hibberd
1 - Christian Petracca

The most apologies to Jones, and then in descending order T. McDonald, Frost, Jetta, Pedersen, Salem and Bugg.

Leaderboard
Here comes the defending champion. After a quite frankly shithouse opening to the season Viney has gone ballistic in the last three weeks and has shot back into contention. Unfortunately for him he's got to get past the Hamburglar, who has opened up a gap of more than one full BOG on his closest rivals. No movement in the minor awards, and still nobody's claimed a vote in the race for the Hilton. Could we be looking at a repeat of 2005 when nobody was eligible?

Perhaps the unluckiest player is Pedersen, he's well over the qualification mark to be eligible for the Stynes and only needs two votes to claim a share but is trapped in the apologies every week.

20 - Clayton Oliver
13 - Jack Viney
12 - Jack Watts
11 - Jayden Hunt (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
9 - Jeff Garlett
7 - Christian Petracca
6 - James Harmes, Michael Hibberd, Neville Jetta, Nathan Jones
5 - Sam Frost, Christian Salem
3 - Dom Tyson, Bernie Vince
2 – Max Gawn (LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year), Jordan Lewis, Dean Kent
1 – Jesse Hogan, Jake Spencer

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year
The judging panel convened in the carpark of Bell Street Maccas at 1:05am and were on their way again at 1.06. There has never been a more popular winner, and with apologies to Jack Watts vs Geelong we have a new clubhouse leader. If I was a betting agency I'd go for some free publicity and announce we were paying out now on him winning.

Good luck to anyone on the list who has designs on beating this, you will have to unload a bicycle kick from inside the centre square while standing on somebody's shoulders at Shaun Smith height before coming down and planting your boot right into an opponent's cock a'la Dom Tyson on that Crows player with the Top Deck hair.

Slow motion does it no justice, so I'm hoping to replace this with a full speed version eventually.
For the weekly prize he wins $2,000,000 of insurance on his golden hands, and a pair of padded oven gloves to wear at all times when not engaging in football duties.


Fox Sports must agree with the lady off the Footy Show that banners should be abolished, because they steadfastly refused to show the front of either team's effort. Instead we got the rear of ours thanking SA members for their support (and god knows they went through a lifetime of slurry before Adelaide Oval opened), while the Crows one had an ad for some typically Adelaide sounding company that probably has a CEO with another classic SA name like Heinz Von Stieglitz.

Fortunately thanks to Twitter we know that ours had a lovely graphic of Bernie Vince, some attractive silver numbers and a winning V theme. On the other hand a search for 'Adelaide banner' brings up nothing from the last four days, and 'Crows banner' features nowt but Newcastle United fans and Americans who are keen on Christ. Even Googling for 'Adelaide Cheer Squad' to at least try and pretend this award is judged fairly gave me Port fans as the top result. Dees 7-1-0 for the season.

Capitalism Corner
Just as it looked like I'd be able to snap up the rights for the back of the jumper on the cheap, iSelect decided they were so happy with what they got out of sponsoring our AFLW team that they'd double down and throw cash at the men as well. You can't entirely trust a company that used to employ Brian Taylor to do live TV ads, but the results speak for themselves so far. The logo looked good on the back of the hideous away jumpers. Not sure how it will go on blue, but as long as there's money changing hands it doesn't matter. Here's to another sweet deal like when we were sponsored by Progressive (this image may be relevant to your sickest fantasies) and I got a $50 MFC member payout just for renewing an existing policy that was about to run out.

Next Week
After conquering the city of Adelaide, Docklands Stadium, Hawthorn, and St Kilda there are only two great losing streaks dating back to the glory years of the #fistedforever era. One is Subiaco, where we've got one more shot this year before it closes, and the other is North. Who would probably close to if they played a decade like us.

For the love of all that is good in the world can this week be spent reminding the players not to get ahead of themselves? I don't know who Channel 7 annoyed to have to broadcast us at 3.20pm on a Sunday, but against the odds their news might get a decent lead-in after all from neutrals turning on to see if we get too comfortable after a glorious win and shit the bed as favourites yet again. On paper we should waffle them, but they do have a list almost entirely populated by potential Kingsleys, and I can't bring myself to believe we'll be able to turn being dominated in the ruck to our advantage like this again two weeks in a row.

My changes are being submitted in advance of Casey playing - if they are, there must be a state game or a random bye coming around soon (UPDATE: For god's sake, there is actually a bye week in a fortnight so non-AFL players can take on the WAFL. Could the represented players not just miss a week NRL Origin style so we can carry on with the important stuff?) - but there's not many moves to make anyway.

I'm assuming that even though Hunt was furthering his status as the funniest character since Sam Blease (except in this case I think he means it) by chatting up women and tucking into free food in the dressing room less than an hour after being poleaxed that he will miss because we don't want another scenario like Daniel Bell suing the pants off us. Here's to him summoning the power of the owl to bust through the concussion tests and play, because he's hard to replace. Naturally Hogan returns, he's only banned from games where we need to pull off an outrageous upset.

IN: Hogan, Stretch
OUT: Hunt (inj), Weideman (omit)
LUCKY: Hannan, Kent
UNLUCKY: Kennedy every week

Final thoughts
There cannot be a more bizarre and baffling experience in world sport than following us. Imagine a glorious future where you can be reasonably sure which version of the team is going to show up? For now it's upper mid-table mediocrity, and all the random, unexplained shit that entails. Which as much as you might forget it sometimes is better than when we could be absolutely sure they were going to turn up and be bulldozed every week.

Sometimes you just want footy to go away for a few weeks, sometimes you're desperate to charge into the next battle. Guess which one it is this week...

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