Saturday 1 July 2017

The big fizz

"Hamfisted attempts to tank. Jack Watts on a half-back flank
Mark Neeld's gonna get the sack. Shit memories" - Midnight Oil

From Saturday night until about 8.30pm Friday was the best week to be a Melbourne fan since the 2006 finals. That the good times ended in limp defeat with one of our players disgracing himself wouldn't have been such a problem if it wasn't for Jack Viney also suffering a serious injury. Having gone in with more excuses than George Pell we'd have moved on to the next game already, now there's renewed tension about our EOFY (end of finalsless years) dream going tits up.

The high water mark of supporting Melbourne in recent years wasn't Tom McDonald's miracle goal in Perth, but the moment where it was revealed the West Coast player had been suspended for his light brush of Clayton Oliver's chin. It wasn't because I wanted him to be banned for something so innocuous, and was quite satisfied with him getting off on appeal, but because it made thousands of people who didn't already hate us after the "you ready?" controversy go off their nut. At long last we were more to be despised than pitied.

Before the suspension came the most unusual Twitter feud since Bernie Vince vs an NBA benchwarmer (albeit one who just got paid $50 million) last year, as Clayton Oliver punched on with a two time World Cup winning international cricketer. His burn on Damien Martyn was barely sub-par, but even as a fetishist for WA's 90s Sheffield Shield winning sides I was into it at first. It played right into my desire to be hated, and I was hoping while he was at it he'd also ask Brett Lee why he was carted by Namibia.

Then Clayton crumbled under the pressure of the a few thousand secessionists calling him a shit bloke, changing his Twitter picture to one that clearly showed the Eagles bloke connecting with the elbow. I wasn't surprised he did it, after all he is the guy who annoyed Jack Viney into slapping the piss out of him last year, but it was unusual that the picture was still on there 24 hours later. I'd have thought it would have survived an hour before anyone at the club from the water-carrier up rang him to do a Kerry Packer and say "get that shit off the air". It wasn't quite Peter Caven joyfully taking to a Tony Lockett mannequin with a baseball bat, but it was as close as you'll get in 2017.

His Twitter antics ratcheted up the pressure to deliver on the big stage or look like a bit of a tit. Then we sat him on the bench for half the first quarter, he barely got a touch after that, and pretty much everyone except us laughed heartily. I suppose this is the end for the proposed website series where he'd taunt well-known Australian sporting figures from Dawn Fraser to the 2012 London Olympic swim team about the times they failed miserably.

While all this was going on - and especially in the time between Schofield being suspended and winning his appeal, when It's Time To Raise Hell may as well have been the national anthem - I knew deep in my heart that he was going to have a shocker. In the interests of trying to be positive I tried to convince myself that he'd rip Sydney to shreds, have 40 touches, and celebrate a crucial fourth quarter goal with an ironic diving celebration a'la Jurgen Klinsmann but I've followed this lot long enough to know what was coming next.

By the time the game started I'd nearly forgotten about Oliver's antics, because the focus had turned to everyone employed in the broadcast media forming an orderly queue to tell us how awesome we are, and why we might win the flag. Which was then and is now even more complete cobblers, but it didn't stop us from reading every article in the hope that they might actually be right. David King even took time out to chastise us for living under a permanent veil of negativity, betraying the complete misunderstanding of the experience of being a Melbourne fan that you'd expect from a stats wanker who fancies himself as that bloke out of Moneyball. Then Jack Viney's foot fell off.

"Why don't they think they can win?" he asked. To which we turned and pointed at the changes of OUT: Salem, Garlett, IN: Wagner, White. Though I was prepared to overlook an average score of 48.2 in our last five games against the Swans because this is the All New Quite Good Melbourne. My natural suspicions were not helped by a week where office productivity was demolished by people coming from all angles to talk about the Dees - for the right reasons at last. This number included the guy who bought a membership just because he liked the way we played last week, and who is now probably scouring the fine print to see if he can get a refund.

Considering our absences, and the unlikely scenario of winning five in a row, victory would probably have the seen the media curse finished off once and for all by the lid flying through it on its way into space. How desperately I wanted to believe we'd win, even when every sensible element in my body screamed that we'd pushed it as far as we could before getting some reinforcements. Even after three consecutive six day breaks (666 eh?) and the addition of the VFL All Stars to an already stretched squad I tried hard to believe that we'd make the most of our first proper Friday game since 2012 (Richmond two years ago just fell on Anzac Eve rather than them choosing to put us there). We'd only been kept out of the top four by Fremantle collapsing in the last quarter at Kardinia Park six days earlier - what did it matter if it was bright lights, big city, bring a Casey player, or that we've proven to be better this year on every ground in Australia other than the MCG?

It was false bravado, like swinging violently on Twitter when you know you've made a dick of yourself it was all false bravado. We'd waited years to get to Broadway, only to finally make it and discover the major roles being played by understudies. Five minutes in I knew that we didn't have the players to break through Sydney's pressure, and that only a spate of injuries which left them with 13 fit players would let us win.

By the time they were 0.6 to 0.0 I could very easily have gone home, safe in the knowledge that we were going to lose. Soon enough I was unexpectedly going home, but more on that later. For now I remained in place for a weird and wonderful first quarter where despite being battered at every aspect of the contest a five minute burst of counter-attacking magic left us with a lead of more than a goal. We'd been aided by Sydney's inability to turn their dominance in accurate shots on goal (and in this cae they were so dominant that they probably would have had the subsequent scoring shots even if they'd kicked the first), and until we conceded after the siren it was heading towards the worst quarter ever played by a team who'd kept the opposition goalless. Sadly every Melbourne fan in the stadium who didn't jump on the bandwagon last week knew that when we were defending in the last 15 seconds that it could only end in a Sydney goal.

We did still manage to set one world record during the quarter, with Tomas Bugg set to register the most weeks suspended for an incident in which his side ended up getting the free kick. I feel moderately guilty for him going from buggery to thuggery, having helped boost the profile of the Cult of Niggle to astronomical levels over the last few weeks. Like an Brit who voted for Brexit but didn't expect to end up leaving the EU, I didn't foresee that he'd tip over into outright violence and biff somebody in the face. Even though it put the Sydney player out of the game with a concussion and he'll be lucky to get out with a five week ban we still got the free thanks to a Swans player decking him in retaliation. Like Oliver he reacted to his notoriety not by dominating and sticking two fingers up at his critics, but by doing two thirds of fuck all for the rest of the game.

His hit was crass, unnecessary and indefensible, but live by the sword and die by the sword I suppose. After praising our anti-social football each week it would be hypocritical to turn into the morality police when somebody takes it too far. I enjoyed Sydney fans taking the high-ground about it in the same week Barry Hall was in the media talking about the time he knocked Brent Staker's block off then threw his arms out to ask "what?" when questioned by the umpire. There's no need for fans of any club to try and pretend they haven't employed a player who hasn't done the same or worse over the years. The tribunal will sort him out, and given his role and performance post-biff he may not be seen in the seniors again this year. I'm available to act as a character witness for his trial, but by the time I've finished excitedly cataloguing all the evil deeds he's committed they'll give him an extra two weeks.

With the biff went any hope of the "You Ready?" 2018 membership campaign. Good thing I paid my respects at his shrine on the way to the ground, because they've probably pixelated his face by now. Or replaced it with a 'street art' of him pulling a jumper over his head like somebody being shuffled into the Supreme Court.
We assume this will be the end of his reign of terror, and he's not going to adopt the Troy Shannon Plan and cop a one year ban for spitting at the umpire who reported him as they leave the tribunal.

To the delight of Richmond, Footscray and a large proportion of our supporters you'll have to find alternative sources of buggery for the near future. At least it solves the problem of a forward line with him, Harmes and Melksham in it. Maybe it was the ultimate piece of self-sacrifice to try and take the heat off Oliver? If so it would have had more impact if The Hamburglar had been on the ground instead of patrolling the boundary line for the first 15 minutes.

It's not the first time in recent weeks he's started on the bench, so it wasn't a specific response to the West Coast controversy, and I'm sure they were trying to get him on for a few minutes while the ball was stuck on the other side of the ground, but what a defeatist, minor-league move not to play him from the first bounce. Would we not want Sydney players trying to be macho and rough him up in the hope that he'll plummet to the ground again? If it was a fitness problem I'd rather he helped get us off to a good start then spent the last 15 minutes picking splinters out of his arse. Instead by the time he came on we might have been doing alright on the scoreboard, but the Swans had full control of the game.

I loved the burst of four goals that temporarily made it look like we might punish them for their inaccuracy - especially another towering McDonald forward mark that made my comments about his aerialism on Queen's Birthday look terrible and a golden Petracca goal on the run - but that was just delaying the inevitable. It might turn out to be a decent metaphor for our season - battling through shithouse adversity to get ourselves into a decent position then falling short anyway.

The problem was that we barely had a spare blade of grass to run into, which ruined any hope of playing like we wanted to, especially without a forward line. For once the Plan B envelope was empty, and other than a few minutes at the start of the third quarter the Swans never stopped squeezing the life out of us. Part of the problem was a lack of run out of defence - with Hunt forward in a brave but ultimately failed attempt at replacing Garlett, and Frost with his hands full of Lance (never Buddy) Franklin there was nobody who could - as the kids say - break the lines. Hibberd was as close as it got, but even then he never had anyone to kick to further up the field and the ball usually came straight back.

The Hunt forward experiment was one of those things that you think sounds reasonable, before very quickly realising it wasn't going to work. Other than one goal during the first quarter where the seas parted and the ball landed in his arms he looked highly unlikely to get a kick, much less do a Garlett style phantom appearance on his own in the square for a tap-in. I wonder if there was anything in the pre-match rumours about him carrying an injury. If he was in any way not fit I'd rather have elevated Dion Johnstone from the emergencies. Not sure how he qualified to be an emergency ahead of either of the Kennedys (UPDATE - because they were both in the Pisswreck Four, but buggered if I'm going back and changing this whole post now), but at least he'd have provided forward pressure. Hunt kicked a couple of surprise goals against Hawthorn, but we now know he does his best work piss-bolting out of defence, not trying to run at the ball.

Maybe it didn't matter whether it was Hunt, Johnstone or fellow emergency Weideman because it's not like we were consistently getting the ball inside 50 to begin with. McDonald was trying his heart out again, but Pedersen could barely get near it and like the golden eras of Neeld or early Roos we were practically playing without a HF line. This makes scoring almost impossible, but even though it was clear five minutes in that our structure wasn't working we were all out of surprise moves and had to carry on with it in the hope that lightning would strike.

It took 10 minutes and several Swans behinds for the ball to go inside our forward 50, and even that came from a Sydney player kicking backwards. Then, on our first real attack Sizzle took a towering pack mark and kicked a smash 'n grab goal to leave us level. With no other shock moves left, McDonald was forced to make cameo appearances in defence and the ruck as well and battled manfully in each role. Otherwise the attacking cupboard was bare. You'd think Ben Kennedy would have come in handy, but he must have followed the grandest traditions of that surname and rooted somebody's wife because they've entirely lost interest in him. (UPDATE - Yes, I know why he was out now. Could the papers not have published this story tomorrow? What's their excuse for not picking him every other week?) At least he's a forward - as we discovered last night there is a maximum number of ring-ins from other areas of the ground that you can stuff inside 50 and still expect to kick a decent score.

The problem with taking Hunt out of defence - other than it killing almost all our run, leaving defenders hopefully forcing the ball onto their boot only to see it landing straight with a Swans player - was that it tempted the selectors (do such people even exist anymore?) to play both Josh Wagner and Mitch White. One of the two not so bad, both at once were in no way an acceptable replacement for Hunt and Salem. At least Wagner looked enough like Hunt for commentators to think they were the same people, and he wasn't terrible. On the other hand, with due respect to his status as an AFL professional White was not very good at all. I know we're starting to struggle to get a side together at the moment, but he is not the answer to any question that doesn't involve Casey Fields.

So while up front we had Hunt, T. McDonald, Harmes, Melksham and Bugg trying to pretend they were forwards with varying degrees of success, down back we had Oscar doing well with the ball in the air but panicking when he had to kick it, and both Wagner and White struggling to come to terms with Sydney's suffocating pressure. It wasn't all gloom, Frost did well to push Franklin up the ground for a while before the goals inevitably came, Jetta played a great pressure game in the first quarter, and Hibberd racked up touches galore. Those three were creditable, but with the exits closed up the ground we were never going to survive the ball coming back the other way so many times.

Each of the first quarter goals against the tide was a highlight in itself, but the best of the lot was Petracca's on the run which gave us four to nil. There was an added bonus for the live audience, when in the immediate aftermath the big screen cut to a shot of Russell Robertson with a marking drill bag strapped to his back for an upcoming Hogan's Heroes looking gobsmacked. If we'd managed to get through those last 15 seconds without conceding it may not have helped in the end, but it would have been a good way to go into quarter time and do whatever regrouping we could. Instead it got them going and we were stuffed.

We can save a lot of time by skimming over the second quarter. What's there to say when you barely get a kick? The only surprise was remaining within a respectable range at the break. On the odd occasion we did get the ball it was like guys with STOP/SLOW signs were posted all over the MCG to thwart every attempt at moving the ball quickly. Only Christian Petracca showed an aptitude for busting out of packs into the open, with a few twinkle-toed steps, pivots and turns. Meanwhile the other side were repeatedly playing on into space, wrong-footing opponents and trotting past them easily while our player was left grasping to stay upright like a dog thrown onto a hockey rink. Somebody who only watched the first half asked me today "was it raining?", and I can see why they thought that. If they were only watching Melbourne players.

In every aspect other than the margin we were gone at the half. There had been so many +24 point comebacks that this year that you'd have been mad to rule out another, but we'd finally run out of the juice and personnel to pull off insane revivals. This was ok, even if I sensed Channel 7 and AFL executives exchanging messages about us going from lots of Friday night games next year to a handful at best. This is bad for the club's bottom line, and for those who like to get footy out of the way so they can do something useful on their weekend, but a welcome development for those of us who have to fill six hours between the end of work and first bounce. The NRL's 6pm weekday kickoffs are vile, but would actually work a treat for me.

At this point everything went on hold as I received noticed of a child having a Chris Mew all over the place and had to leave. Being an absolutely shit bloke I partially skimmed over the plight of my family, and left clear instructions that the rest of the game had to be recorded. Once that was confirmed I turned off my phone and escaped into the night. Oh the shame, I don't think I've left that early since dragging my mum out of a game as a sooky kid in 1990.

I worked hard to cover my colours so nobody knew what I was up to as I snuck to Jolimont Station under the cover of darkness. There I found a surprising number of other people evacuating the 'G - unsurprisingly all Melbourne fans. Most had kids in tow, but there were a few lone adults who I freely judged while they were probably doing the same to me. Two hours later I was ready to pick up where I'd left off, via an ordeal trying to find the platform at Flinders Street to connect to Southern Cross that frustrated me so much I violated the Transport Act 1983 and used indecent language in a public place.

There was a brief period of terror where the Foxtel box was turned off and I thought I'd have to wait for a replay to come on and pick up the second half from there. With Hashtag's third birthday extravaganza set for the next day I might not have got a chance to find out what happened until Sunday at that rate. The easiest thing to do would have been to just give up, open the AFL website and see what I'd missed. Instead I went through a ridiculous ritual of making sure the TV was muted and wouldn't open onto Fox Footy, Channel 7 or any other station that might blow the result so I could scour the TV guide for the next time the game was played. Turns out the panic was unnecessary, the box had taped the remainder of the game then turned itself in protest.

Almost the first thing I discovered was that Jack Viney had gone missing for the start of the third quarter. The downside of watching on TV was never better demonstrated when he re-emerged on the bench and that excitable dickhead Brian Taylor confidently screamed that he'd just had an injection in his shoulder. Then he pulled a jacket on and it turned out he'd hurt his foot. I'd have been much better served listening to the radio and waiting for a competent boundary rider to provide the real story. To prove that saying stupid things to fill time is not just a BT thing, Bruce McAvaney claimed at the start of the last quarter that for us to be a chance Petracca would needed to have six touches. Show your working.

The injury epidemic is getting silly now. Since the game it's been revealed that Tyson's done something to his knee as well, with rumours of everything from a dislocated kneecap to an ACL. Remember when we thought we'd emerged from the depths of our midfield nightmare? We might have to recall Matt Jones and James Magner next week. Did somebody secretly re-hire 2007's favourite internet scapegoat Bohdan whatshisname? When I said last year's injury run was too good to be true I didn't mean for it to be corrected in a similar fashion to that ad with the Grim Reaper knocking people over like 10 pins (albeit without anyone having caught HIV yet, but the way we're going I'd advise all players to rubber up).

When Gawn went down on his haunches, left the field gingerly and didn't return for the start of the second quarter everyone except Jake Spencer was cursing their damn luck. He returned, looking either under the weather or worn out for the rest of the game, paving the way for Viney to become the headline injury of the night. The remaining members of the leadership group are Gawn, T. McDonald, Lewis and Vince - all of who must be looking nervously over their shoulder and waiting for the next mystery injury. They won't have a quorum soon if things keep going like this.

Everyone points out how the Bulldogs being decimated by injuries last year didn't stop them winning the flag, which is moderately relevant to us as if we make the eight we should have almost everyone back but at the same time they were a year of finals ahead of us. Last season we weren't good enough even with a full list, this year we might not be good enough because of a decimated list, next year watch out if everyone stays upright.

Even before Dr. BT's expert diagnosis and what actually happened to Viney, we came out and had a massive bash at the start of the third quarter. In real life this was probably about the time I was cracking the shits at Flinders Street, but at 11pm it was still real to me. McDonald kicked another dead-on set shot from an angle, then almost immediately after a flubbed kick-in landed in Harmes' arms for a sitter that would have reduced the margin to less than 10. He must have decided that as he was no longer in competition for a spot with Bugg that he'd give his teammate a fitting send off with a poxy set-shot.

Not long after our brief period of domination was ended by a Swans goal, and from there they were free to do as they pleased. They had just as many homebrand players as us, including one who seems to have been called Pelican, but the difference was a vastly superior (and more importantly healthy) top end of players that contributed to gubbing us effortlessly for the next 45 minutes. The last quarter was almost as insignificant as the second, but this time even the Swans were easing back and getting to the end with the bare minimum effort. We battled on without ever being completely overwhelmed, and I'm only bitter than injuries are making an otherwise throwaway game more meaningful than it should have been.

Defeat was not the end of the world considering the players we've got to come back, but after Champion Data fatefully gave us a more than 80% chance of playing finals this week my focus has now turned to defending our spot rather than seeing how high we could go. During the week one newspaper article looked forward to us finishing third, it was a spectacular week for people jumping to ridiculous conclusions. Now Carlton next week is a massive game, without several of our best players, and if we lose that the focus will entirely shift to cheering against St Kilda, Essendon, Fremantle and Footscray to make sure we fall into the eight.

The issue wasn't losing, I always thought one of two against the Eagles and Sydney was the best we could ask for. It's just that we got them in the reverse order to what I'd expected. Now as our best players are cut down like the cast of Nightmare On Elm Street I'm wondering if we might be applying to play fill-ins by Round 23. Harry O is still officially on our list isn't he? He might be required by then.

At least we're still a going concern, and with a foothold in the eight this year instead of hoping for a series of unrealistic results to get in like last year. Or scouring draft profiles for top five talent before that. If we lose next week there will be more people on the AFL Ladder Predictor than, but in the space of a few days I've gone from outside hope of the top four to focusing on 2018 and taking anything I can get from this season as a bonus.

2017 Allen Jakovich Medal for Player of the Year
This was difficult, nobody particularly stood out with the ball so I'm betting on rock solid effort - and you can rely on Nifty delivering that nearly every week without fail. At various times he was left to spoil and tackle Franklin and did a fantastic job of it. All Australian selectors, feel free to use your eyes and not rely entirely on his stats.

5 - Neville Jetta
4 - Tom McDonald
3 - Christian Petracca
2 - Michael Hibberd
1 - Jack Viney

Apologies to nil. Most of the above don't deserve a vote let alone anyone else. I might have had Oscar McDonald for the last vote, but Viney did enough in a half to stay on the leaderboard. Unlike Matthew Bate during 186 he gets a vote for playing 50% of a match for what he did, rather than for not being responsible for the bulk of the losing margin.

It's on big time at the top, with Hibberd now firmly in the running to become the first defender to win the big one in its now 13 year history. If Viney is finished so are his chances of a second Jakovich, but otherwise it remains a wide-open race. If Jones comes back in three weeks he might still have time to mount a challenge, but otherwise the battle is likely to be between four new faces in Hibberd, Oliver, Jetta and Petracca.

There's no change in the minors, except Jetta pulling to within one game of Hibberd in the Seecamp. Pedersen only had six hitouts, but remains the leader for the Stynes with his average of 12.4 a game. Ironically thanks to badly thought out eligibility rules it would be better for him to get dropped now and protect his average than play and go under. Mind you, if Gawn doesn't score at least two more votes this year we're stuffed anyway.

21 - Michael Hibberd (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Clayton Oliver
20 - Jack Viney
16 - Neville Jetta
15 - Nathan Jones, Christian Petracca
14 - Jayden Hunt
13 - Jeff Garlett
12 - Jack Watts
8 - Sam Frost, Tom McDonald, Christian Salem
6 - James Harmes, Cameron Pedersen (LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
5 - Max Gawn
4 - Mitch Hannan (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year), Bernie Vince
3 - Oscar McDonald, Dom Tyson
2 - Dean Kent, Jordan Lewis, Jake Melksham
1 - Jesse Hogan, Jake Spencer

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year
Back to the era where there are so few it makes picking a winner easy. At least we don't have to settle for a second rate one, with Petracca's running goal in the first quarter the standout winner. Given Gawn's tap as he went past I assume it was a set-play, but the run in and finish was sublime. The game never got any better than that, and Petracca wins a lifetime voucher for hair and beauty services to look his best for all the big stage games that he'll be tearing apart in years to come.

I'm still undecided about the battle for overall yearly honours between Oliver vs Adelaide and McDonald vs West Coast. I might employ a prediction animal to assist.

Whether they were trying to be sarcastic about Brian Taylor being banned from the rooms last week or not, anything that refers to that buffoon is an automatic disqualification. The only points in their favour were the lack of a curtain. On the other hand we had a lovely Demon that was significantly more terrifying than anything we did other than punch unsuspecting players in the gob, and even what looked suspiciously like an upside down 8 on the reverse share trading ad can't get in the way of a home win. Dees 13-1-0 for the season.

Crowd watch
From where I was sitting the crowd looked dire before the bounce. They must have all come late, sat on top of where I was, or also been working the same scam to enter twice with a spare ticket that I was because it ended up being our biggest MCG attendance against them since 1998. Otherwise not a cracker of interest happened to me in the stands during the time I was there. Back to the Ponsford next week, I've had enough of flirting with other stands. I have a premonition that I'll be in a shit mood, Row MM may be deployed for the first time this year.

Next week
Suddenly the B-Team have it all on their shoulders against Carlton, who may be down the ladder but have been playing reasonable football. They've also scared the shit out of us once this season, and we had a much better line-up then. I've already started to justify to myself why we'll miss the finals from here, and the injuries make it so much easier. I was always looking forward to next year, where we will probably win the bloody flag if we have the same sort of luck with injuries as last year rather than the rolling emergency department of 2017.

IN: Kennedy, Hogan, Kennedy-Harris, Trengove
OUT: Bugg (susp), Viney (inj), Tyson (inj), White (omit)
LUCKY: Wagner, Melksham, Harmes
UNLUCKY: Corey Maynard had a lot of touches for Casey. No idea if he's eligible to play, but if he is it won't be long before he's getting a go.

(ANOTHER FUCKING LATE UPDATE: Well they're not going to pick Kennedy or Kennedy-Harris after the drinking 'scandal' are they? Not like we've got a season to save or anything - just fine the bejesus out of them and pick a proper bloody team. At least I know now that Dion Johnstone was actually no chance, and was just filling an emergency spot to spite somebody else. And what does that say for Trengove?)

Was it worth it?
Given how much time I wasted before the bounce only to be there for a half not at all. You'd be surprised at how difficult it is to run down that much time when you've given up on participating in polite society. I walked from the city to Richmond, and took a detour to where I lived for the 2008/09 spoon seasons.

There I saw the fence that I'd spewed over after doing a proto-Jayden Hunt and trying to steal a painting of an owl from my mate's housewarming, confirmed the newspaper hoarder with the mouldy windows from next door was still going (or they haven't found his body yet) and reminisced about the time I woke up find blood on my door, a woman's shoe wedged between it and the flywire screen and a mobile phone on the doorstep. To cut a long story short she rang the phone, claimed her brother was a Hawthorn player who'd stolen her phone as a laugh, completely no-sold any questions about the shoe or the blood and offered to 'make it worth my while' if I gave the phone back. I lagged to the cops instead.

Then I went and sat in a park. All of which was a much more effective use of my time than watching a half of generally bad football.

Final thoughts
The injuries might sink us this year, or at least force a much longer battle to make the eight than we'd want but no need for despair or sooky open letters to the coach. We're in fine shape for 2018 and I'd be happy to fast forward to March and start the new season now. That's when we'll really have to start shining on the big stage. For now let's all remain calm, not engage in any digital fisticuffs with famous sportspeople, and build a small shrine in our hearts to the thick band of tissue that connects Jack Viney's heel to his toes.

1 comment:

  1. Their best 22 was better than our not-best 22 by some margin. Coaching and selection did not overcome the difference. We've had worse results and worse performances. Next week will be interesting and scary. Feeling nervous already.


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