Monday, 26 March 2018

Gloom, despair and agony

It's taken me so long to finish this that by now you're probably at an advanced stage of sporting grief, and think I'm just being pointlessly miserable. Like a racist 1930s cartoon you'll just have to accept it as a product of its time.



Everyone knows somebody whose life is not complete with endless drama. I'm aware of two football clubs operating out of the Jolimont/Richmond precinct that have a similar psychological urge for white-knuckle excitement. This week one of them commenced a year long scientific experiment to find out what it's like to live with siege conditions lifted. The other is Melbourne. And look how that turned out.

I wouldn't know what to do with myself if everything was going smoothly, and will have to wait at least one more week to learn. It's not like losing to a perennial finals team - or having to launch a futile comeback from nearly five goals down - came as a surprise. In fact it was a fitting way to end a week that started on a wave of public approval courtesy of winning a plastic trophy and some mid-tension practice games. There were even people paid generously to think about Australian rules football for a living tipping us to win the flag.

Even before the usual quarter of pressure-free madness and/or Gawn's miss short-circuited the bold attempt to climb from a cavernous hole of our own making, the universe was already hard at work making sure we didn't get too far ahead of ourselves. Usually a period of MFC excitement ends with a loss as red hot favourites, but even without the threat of losing a Round 1 game against University 1914 there was still plenty to get mopey and defensive about.

It was one thing having the camp debacle dredged up again, seemingly for no reason other than as clickbait, and I hope that there will still be a chance for players and coaches to turn the story around and shove it elbow deep down the throat of our detractors. The uncontrollables were more troubling. For one there's Jack Viney foot, seemingly on a Mitch Clark-esque slide towards the point where he goes into retirement and becomes a professional Instagrammer. After predictions ranging from 'back before Christmas' to 'will play a VFL practice match' he's now out until at least Round 8. And the rest of it. By next weekend he'll have had it amputated and will be trying to get back to training on the stumps.

Then there was Tom McDonald, who celebrated playing 87 of the last 88 games by seriously injuring his toe just as he was to be at the vanguard of a new era of forward play. It can't be coincidental that I ordered the SizzleCard with my membership this year. Sorry Tom. At first it was supposed to be a minor issue, then he was doubtful for Round 1, and by the time the teams came out on Thursday he'd been lumped into the two month club with Viney. This is the worst toe related disaster since Sam Frost went from 'a bit sore' after Round 3, 2015 to not being seen again until March 2016. I'm poised to throw toys from cot and denounce everybody involved when we discover that playing a kick and clap tournament on a thinly veiled carpark roof had something to do with it.

In the season where hunted was supposed to become hunter, and #fistedforever turn into #fistingforever, Angus Brayshaw's pre-season injury drama was minor on the Viney/Sizzle Scale, but is there any scenario more MFC than a player's wisdom teeth exploding a week before the first game? Not on December 13, not halfway through January, but right as it can cause us trouble. It eventually kept him out of the side, but I suppose we should be happy that the dentist didn't slip while extracting the chompers and drop a knee into Gus' face. There was at least some good news, with Oliver re-signing until 2021, at which point we'll either be playing salary Tetris at maximum difficulty or will have all taken poison.

I was ready to go early on the hemlock Gatorade last night. It's not say I thought we were going to win, but there's a special psychological torment about having an unlikely win snatched away at the last minute. When you know (or at least heavily suspect) more wins aren't far away it's a bit easier to take than the old feeling that it may have been the last victory you'd ever see. On the other hand if, like me, you held hopes of stumbling into the lower end of the top four it's a wasted chance to get one up on the rest of the mid-table mediocrity crowd. Cue final round heartbreak again.

Omen punters would have had their house on Geelong if they'd seen me run into an ex-workmate at a train station for the first time since before 186. I probably turned the same pale colour after the game this year for the exact opposite reason. You didn't need to confront me with fringe colleagues from years ago to know something was up, suspicions of a debacle were raised as soon as the Cats forward line was revealed to be our long term nemesis Tom Hawkins and five people nobody outside of the City of Greater Geelong has ever heard of. With Kent Kingsley risking RSI making notes for future inductions, this cavalcade of debutantes and battlers was given a leg up by a defence that seemingly ceased to exist for an hour.

It certainly started well, with Gawn committing homicide on his opponent, our midfield in complete control, and Clayton Oliver trying to start fights with anyone who walked past. I'd seen this film before, where early dominance goes up in smoke the moment the other side get it. Scoring six goals for the quarter came as a surprise, conceding five did not. Every year teams kick larger than average scores for the first few weeks, everyone hails the return of exciting attacking football, and by June when the numbers are back in the toilet the same people are petitioning to change the rules. High scoring excitement came at a bad time for us, I've wanted to play a genuine finals contender in Round 1 for years and am now looking back wistfully at the last three years of beating also-rans.

In a none-more-2017 scenario, we looked like world beaters with ball in hand. Bayley Fritsch lobbed up for a goal on debut, and the opening six minutes were almost entirely consumed by us attacking. That almost every avenue to goal was to just roost it high and hope for the best was concerning, but there was a sense that we had to break through eventually. Realistically, the writing was on the wall when Geelong's first decent spell of possession saw them launch from one end to the other unchallenged, and only a flubbed kick inside 50 to a player acres in front of his opponent prevented a score. It didn't take much longer, a free kick in defence was easily worked forward through a series of Grand Canyon sized holes, into the arms of a first gamer with Jake Lever trailing sadly behind and wondering whether it wouldn't have just been easier to stay in Adelaide and deal with murky tap water.

No first year player could have wished for an easier introduction to league football, and while everyone at Demonblog Towers wishes Esava Ratugolea the best for his future career, he'll never get a cheaper run at it then he did yesterday. He undid all our earlier good work by kicking the first, and as he lined up for a second I was getting nightmare flashbacks to Marcus Baldwin's proto-Kingsley three goals from three kicks on debut. You didn't have to be forward to reap the benefits - though it helped considering we conceded scores from about the first 10 inside 50s - they had new players everywhere chuckling heartily about how this AFL stuff isn't nearly as difficult as it's cracked up to be. Good luck being driven face-first into the turf next week.

With Dangerfield on the sidelines working on his next side-splitting comedy routine, the main event for Geelong fans was the return of Gary Ablett. It seemed a bit desperate and undignified to collectively reach sexual ecstasy whenever he touched the ball (until he'd done it so many times they were spent), but I suppose once you've played in a flag you can take a several year mercenary detour and still come back to a warm welcome. Our players were so pleased for him that they all stood to one side and let him kick a goal. If on-field donations were tax deductible we wouldn't have paid an ATO bill since the one that got lost in somebody's desk.

Goals aside, his near 40 possessions weren't terrifically damaging. No more than anyone else's easy touches up and down the ground. We were giving them so much space that even a middle-aged porky like me might have gotten into double figures given enough game time. Maynard spent a lot of time on him and did about as well as you could hope from a second gamer. The more pressing problem was Selwood, especially when he gave Salem flashbacks to the original Camp Chaos by tunnelling him onto his head. Typically even though he was left hobbling around half injured towards the end Selwood (or "Sels" as the imaginative Geelong fans called him) came back helped win the game. Typical.

It wasn't like they even needed to rely on superstars. We were willing to give any tired, poor or huddled mass 20 metres of space and 10 pressure-free seconds whenever they got the ball. The warning signs were there well before some bloke who looked like Jack Watts after a five day ice bender waltzing through half a dozen players to kick a goal during the second quarter.

You'll recall how absolutely diabolical we were in first quarters last year, finishing about 130 points in the red across the season. In many ways this was a bizarre genetic splicing of the first quarter where we thumped St Kilda (then almost lost) and the first quarter where we failed to arrive against Collingwood (then almost won). In some ways - many of them involving Christian Petracca - we were irresistible, but as welcome as the goals were they masked major structural problems. For the first time in recent memory I can confirm we've got a coach with a Plan B, now time to work out where Plan A is kept.

If our forwards had been able to get any space we might have taken better advantage of the early dominance, but they just operated in a moving clump and jumped at the ball simultaneously. God knows how much we'd have won by if we had at least one player staying down at every contest forward or back. When you come into the season as the 16th best contested marking team and lose the guy who took more than 5% of them to a mystery toe injury it would be prudent to address that instead of everyone trying to take a massive grab like they're playing kick-to-kick at school.

In a quarter where it simultaneously felt like we should be five goals up and five goals down, we were given a leg up by one of those delightful administrative 50s that bring so much excitement to the competition. Somebody ran within Hogan's general vicinity as he was lining up for a set shot, and the resulting penalty handed him a goal on a platter. I'll never turn back a goal, but what a crock of a concept. I'd cite the possibility of them deciding a Grand Final like that, but as we all know the hot rules of Round 1 are usually forgotten within a month.

After a few minutes in the middle of the quarter where the Cats looked like they'd worked us out and were busily running up the score by playing keepings off from one end to the other, Anal-Bullet cropped up with a delightful crumbed goal to steady the ship. The joy of that lasted about 25 seconds before we formed the honour guard for Ablett to kick the reply. In an unlikely twist (at least for us), this led almost immediately to Hogan's second and we were in front of the deal after all. With apologies to the 'goals = excitement' crowd I didn't fancy a shootout until we found where the backline had got to and put some pressure on Geelong when they got the ball. The first one came eventually, but even deep in the last quarter with the game to be one we were still watching half a dozen Cats players in an orderly queue to take the next kick.

Five goals each would have been an appropriate result in the battle of efficiency vs brute force attack, before dear old Cam Pedersen continued the finest purple patch of his career by pulling down the second great inside 50 mark of the quarter. It may have also been our last until the final 30 seconds. He finished it, and we'd kicked six in one of the zaniest first quarters for years. The problem was that we were being forced to work for our goals, while they were banging them through at every half opportunity. The latter is the more sustainable tactic. It was the first time we've kicked six in a first quarter and lost since Round 8, 2011, but to be fair there have been some years since where we were lucky to get that many in a fortnight.

Ablett was about the only player who did get tackled in the first quarter, leading to him running off for a teary eyed sook to the umpires. Not their fault he didn't hear people coming after him, get used to playing in front of a crowd larger than friends and/or family again. Keen viewers of our disaster era will recall that this is the second time in five years we've driven him to moan to umpires at the first break. I was hoping that his Gold Coast years would also be acknowledged by a post-match bust-up with a fan who then mysteriously has his membership withdrawn, but no dice.

If all this sounds familiar - and we haven't even got to the 30 minutes of rolling over and dying yet - that's because it was. Like post-war people being happy to eat tinned rat instead of being shot at, everyone likes to pretend nothing's gone wrong since Paul Roos turned up but in one day we got a grand exhibition of all the recurring themes that give me the shits since then. The absence of contested marks, the crowded forward line, hopeful long bombs to the square, structures falling to bits when we lost the ball, attacking opportunities actually feeding opposition scores, launching fruitless comebacks from hopeless positions. They were all there. Somewhere Jade Rawlings was having to be restrained from Twitter searching his own name and abusing everyone who'd hung shit on his defensive structures for years.

Another self-destructive MFC habit is the inability to take to advantage of the opposition losing players early. With Harry Taylor departed by quarter time, and at one point Geelong's entire remaining bench was undergoing some sort of medical treatment. Did we use this an excuse to run away to a rampant fourth quarter victory? Did we bollocks. We won the second half, but that was rendered irrelevant by the most modern of Melbourne traits - falling asleep for 20 minutes and conceding a match-winning lead. It was a lot like that Collingwood game again, just with our nervous breakdown coming in a different quarter.

The second term started well enough, not conceding for five minutes and then getting the first goal through Oliver. Which is where the bad news starts. At half time I was ready to take up a collection to have Jordan Lewis pensioned off to Casey Fields. He redeemed himself in the third quarter by helping the backline calm down and not concede on every forward entry, but was there a lower moment all day (even including the end) than the goal he gifted them from a 50? That didn't just kill our momentum, it did the rest of its family and burnt the village to the ground.

The free kick itself was a perfectly sensible one to give away, scragging the Geelong player who was about to burst past him and towards an unguarded goal. I thought he'd done it deliberately to hold the play up, then for reasons known only to the player himself he decided to tell the umpire to stick the decision up his arse and it became a certain goal. So either he didn't mean to give the free away and just blundered into doing the right thing or he's taking method acting too far. Either way, I stand by my pre-season comments that we can't play both him and Vince. For now his third quarter leaves him slightly ahead, but time to look at whether a Brayshaw, Stretch, Tyson etc.. etc... can do similar. Or as much as I liked Salem's cameo appearances in the midfield just stick him down there and let him hit targets. Leadership is good, but it's overrated in the grand scheme of things - we could have put Abraham Lincoln in our defence and he'd have just stood there wondering where everyone else had got to.

It was not the finest day for our defence. We've lost games by over 100 where the backline has stood up to more pressure than they did in the first half.  The star attraction, much to the delight of hate-watching Adelaide fans, was Lever having the most painful introduction to an MFC defence since Tom Gillies. My understanding (given that I didn't know who he was until about Prelim Final week) is that he's supposed to be a fly-in, fly-out defender who intercepts anything coming near him. So now after an All-Australian season doing that we play him one-on-one in a defence which is having the ball coming towards it as if shot by a cannon. Bold thinking.

Surely at some point as Adelaide was tearing towards a Grand Final opposition coaches devised plans to try and make him more accountable and failed, so it can't just be that Geelong finally cracked the secret formula. It feels like we blundered not having another tall to free him to roam around chopping off attacks. With Sizzle Sr off the agenda for multiple reasons, Frost is the only other reasonable option. After seemingly being picked just to take Watts' place as a whipping boy, Wagner played a much better second half but may have to step aside for that old chestnut 'team balance'.

Once the landslide began it was good luck finding a Melbourne possession to focus on, for the next 20 minutes we were on the ropes being punched senseless. It helped that the Cats got hold of Petracca and Jones after strong first quarters, and that we were still panic bombing into attack with whatever limited opportunities we got. I've seen this happen so many times before that it was hard to get all that upset about it, other than a few obscene mutterings. That was until we declined to stack the defensive 50 in the last 30 seconds (has there been a memo?) and they found a free player for the goal that took the margin to nearly five goals. That's when I went spare. I just despise these helpless quarters where we stand there with eyes agog like a kid meeting Santa for the first time. It's all well and good trying to punch on with everyone before the game, now they couldn't even get close enough for a macho bullshit jostle.

If you believe the rest of the game would have turned out the same with a smaller half time margin, it's that last goal that ultimately killed us off. I could see a way to claw back a four goal lead - especially considering Garlett, Hunt and Melksham had barely touched the ball - but nearly 30 points was too much. It almost wasn't, but when you stuff up so badly in half an hour that everything ends up resting on the elongated leg of a 208cm man then investigate the root cause.

Ironically Gawn got the fightback started with a set shot, and at long last we were making them accountable (cliche!). Even Lever was finally able to float around and take out his frustration by spoiling like a madman. Vince and Lewis belatedly turned up in defence to help calm everyone down, Hannan bobbed up in attack for the first time all day and before long the margin was under 10. Cripes. The issues with elastic positioning weren't entirely dealt with, there were times early in the term when Geelong players had so many teammates free that they turned the ball over being too ambitious in trying to kick to furthest option. If they'd just done the sensible thing and chipped short a couple of times our entire lineup would have vaporised and allowed them to trot into an open goal.

When Petracca kicked one, and was lining up for another that would bring the margin back under a goal I wanted to believe. Of course, because nothing is destined to be easy around here his dead-eye set shot kicking from 2017 went out the window (just like Bugg's 2016 aim went tits up last year, to the point where he wasn't even trying to punch somebody in the head but got six weeks) and he missed.

Still, we had new life. Possibly undeserved, but it would take some remarkably gritty quarter with outrageous Australian cricket team style cheating for me to turn back a win under any circumstances. If our record against wounded teams wasn't so bad I'd have held out hope of bulldozing them in the last quarter, but we weren't going to get that easily if our forward 50 entries were anything to go by. In the absence of McDonald's lovely leads we could have done with Watts, if not for his ability to run at the ball when kicked inside 50, but for one of his numerous Round 1 'turning the corner' false starts.

For a team that had 12.9 in the first three quarters I didn't have much faith in us adding too many more. That lack of belief turned out to be entirely accurate. If we weren't going to score at a first quarter rate we couldn't afford to get too far behind, so when they got the opener I was looking longingly out into Yarra Park, jealous of the people who had already decided to leave. Hogan got the reply and we lived to fight another day.

It should have been over with plenty of time to play, Daniel Menzel fluffing one of the simplest shots you'll ever see from the top of the square. I'll bet he was breathing an extra sigh of relief when Maximum missed at the end. For the next 10 minutes we desperately tried to bash the door down to get in front, Gawn and Oliver both had flying shots that went through for a point, before Petracca was handed a gift shot on goal by the ball fortuitously bouncing off a defender's foot near the boundary line. I was more confident that he'd kick it around the corner from hard on the boundary line than I was with Gawn's shot, but that's probably down to knowing there was still time to win it if he missed. And indeed he did.

The last two minutes until Gawn's mark is a blur, punctuated by a couple of massive blunders. ANB (who other than the nicely taken goals wasn't nearly as influential as I'd hoped) kicked out on the full, but helpfully a Geelong player responded by doing likewise. Remember these passages of play, and Corey Maynard cramping like buggery while Ablett ran off to do as he liked, when people introduce loopy ideas like further reducing interchanges to make players more tired.

After the second OOF, the ball was left in Pedersen's hands hard on the fence 50 metres out. He took the sensible, high percentage option of hitting the ball towards the top of the square instead of trying to be a hero. Given that he was the only tall forward all day who'd taken a decent overhead mark I wondered if it might be better for him to just blaze away from distance. He didn't, laying a perfect ball for Gawn to attack, not far out and almost directly in front.

Had he been 10 metres further away I'd have been more confident. My conviction that he was going to miss didn't come from anything sensible like science or experience, it was because he'd been on every media outlet except Al Jazeera in the off-season so his day just had to end with him looking like a goose. It was the only appropriate way for the great Truman Show style pisstake on my life that is the Melbourne Football Club to end the day.

I seem to recall a strange calm about Christian Salem kicking that goal against the Bombers in 2014, and I tried to fake myself into believing this time. After vigorously pacing up and down the otherwise empty aisle (I'd already been standing since three quarter time) a couple of times waiting for him to kick it I had to fight the instinct to shut my eyes as ball went towards boot. Chris Scott had the right idea, retreating to the whizzer to watch it on TV.

People make fun of sitting in the back row of the stadium, but as the shot missed and I knew we'd lose I shamefully turned around and punched the bejesus out of the plastic, bird shit covered window. Nothing personal against the MCG, it was just either that or throwing myself down the stairs in a cry for help. I'd never tested the density of one of those windows before, and am pleased to report that it was surprisingly springy, saving me from Marc Rosset style broken hand embarrassment and/or a cut that turned gangrenous after being mixed with seagull emissions.

One of my great fears in life - along with the planet becoming inhabitable due to pollution and $cully winning a flag - is that somebody will have a camera on me in a situation like this and my antics will end up being mocked by TV comedy hacks doing 'Plays of the Month' style segments. This week at least the heat is on some poor bastard in a Sydney pub who had a meltdown, but I'm worried my time will come. Won't stop me though, the older and more concerned about never seeing a flag I get the worse the white line fever becomes. The lusty punch to that plastic window was in no way ironic or for comedy value, it was an outpouring of frustration. This is why I try to stay away from other fans as best possible, nobody needs to be next to somebody having a nervous reaction like that.

Geelong negotiated a last kick-in without putting it out on the full, and on the siren the ball was left in the hands of Jayden Hunt about 75 metres out on the boundary line. The umpire generously ignored him playing on just as the game ended, and let him have a bash at a miracle goal from Malcolm Blight plus range. From an even more hopeless position than the one against Adelaide last year, he didn't get as much on his furious torp and it fell 20 metres short. But good on him for trying, and for at least having it land somewhere near the goal instead of embarrassingly flying out on the full at right angles.

I'm usually bang against mingling with fellow supporters on the train, but having removed my headphones to avoid hearing Geelong sing the song I was roped into a group therapy session with fellow sufferers. Amongst a suspect list longer than what was considered by the Warren Commission some dullards incapable of digging beyond the surface tried to pin the blame on Gawn, as if he hadn't rucked all day and drops the ball from the same height as the Empire State Building. I say - for I think the 15th time since mid-2014 - don't get angry at what ultimately costs us the game, hurl your abuse at what left us in that scenario to start with.

2018 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
5 - Christian Petracca
4 - Max Gawn (LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
3 - Nathan Jones
2 - Clayton Oliver
1 - Cameron Pedersen

Major apologies to Harmes and Hogan for losing the last vote on a countback. Minor apologies to  Salem, Fritsch and Wagner (second half only)

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year
There will be no viewing of the highlights after a loss, so I'll just have to do this by memory. With apologies to his other goal, your first winner of 2018 is Anal-Bullet for his lightning crumb and snap in the first quarter. For the weekly prize he wins a peerage and a seat in the House of Lords, where his surname will be fully appreciated instead of twisted into something tawdry (and they've probably got a use for the nickname too).


After an AFLW season watching players run through a curtained corporate banner it was a much needed welcome back to home-made designs featuring new slogans. Geelong opened the season with a strong challenge, a nicely designed tribute to Joel Selwood that might have won if it had appropriately tilted downwards as players run through it then splashed blood everywhere. Other than some dodgily ruled text lines it looked ok, and will likely be our strongest challenger of the first three weeks.

In this contest though, victory goes to the Dees. In what may be the first ever crepe paper reference to the 1986 Timbuk3 (see what they did there?) one hit wonder The Future's So Bright (I Gotta Wear Shades). I'm fairly sure that song is about impending nuclear holocaust, so right at home being involved with us. It had two well-designed caricatures, even lines of text, perfect kerning and suitable leading. Dees 1-0 for the season.

Matchday experience watch/Crowd watch
After a pre-season featuring so much unnecessary speculation about the game's future that you thought they just had to be covering something up, the AFL's final act before the season began was to re-record all the club songs. I assume releasing them at the exact same time people were starting to get excited about footy instead of worrying about it being changed to a 7-a-side wankfest was part of some grand strategy. At one point the league tried to justify it by suggesting the quality of the original recordings were deteriorating, like every 90s rental copy of Under Siege around the bit where Erika Eleniak comes out of the cake.

After an unnecessarily lengthy period of deliberation the Dees opted to stick with the original song. To be fair I could barely tell the difference between the versions anyway, and would have gladly listened to Jive Bunny and The Mastermixers if we'd won, but it's the principle of the matter. If it ain't broke etc... It would be rude of us to complain about people messing around with the song, when our own club has the team run through the banner to Hells Bells before crudely switching to the Grand Old Flag.

Another magic innovation was getting rid of the pre-match warm-ups, so clubs could blow the minds of members, customers and theatre-goers alike with new and exciting pre-match entertainment. Arriving 40 minutes before the first bounce must not have been early enough to catch one of these thrilling  'matchday activations' (now there's a phrase to make you spew up), because by the time I arrived the only thing on the field was a loose formation of security guards. The organisers could have at least sent out fake ground invader for them to tear apart greyhound live baiting style.

My second expedition to Row MM of the Olympic Stand had its issues, while the back of the Ponsford looked beautifully empty I spent the third quarter with some bored child a few rows over playing games on his phone at full volume. He then took one of the most impressive tumbles down MCG stairs I've ever seen, tripping on the top step, nearly recovering but losing his balance and falling down to the next one about five times over before finding a seat with his hand. When I couldn't get down the stairs after the siren for all the Geelong fans standing in the aisle clapping like seals I was looking around the see if I might be able to throw him through them like I was at AMF.

Speaking of crowds, can I express my solidarity with the guy in this video. The way he is so nervous he just has to walk around hits too close to home. The only difference is that a) I wouldn't live in Sydney if you paid me, and b) instead of throwing the scarf I'd have throttled a stranger with it. @mattdoran22 - shine on you crazy diamond.
Next week
Brisbane at the Gabba on Sunday. This doesn't just have 'danger game' written on it, but graffitied in 20 foot high letters. They gave the Saints a reasonable shake this week, but must have conceded the most dinky over the top, open goals since Port put about 15 past us in Alice Springs 2016. So that's something to aim for, especially considering we didn't get - or even look remotely like getting - one all day yesterday.

On paper we should win, and we may very well do but I reserve the right to be distressed about it all week.

IN: Frost, Brayshaw
OUT: Vince, Hannan
LUCKY: Lewis, Maynard
UNLUCKY: Tyson

Administrative announcements
If you haven't been on Demonwiki for a while there has been a metric shitload of content added over summer. Granted most of it is the sort of stuff that no sane person would care about like 1925 Seconds scores, but I know there are others like me and I am here for you. Traditionally updates slow to a crawl during the season proper, but there should be plenty for you to work through until September.

Also, on the occasion of another comical defeat it would be stupid to miss an opportunity to make a buck. I've got a couple of copies of this spare if you want to purchase directly. Good for dropping on your head when you've had too much and/or beating the snot out suspects in police custody.

Hollywood Boulevard
Now that we've endured Round 1, there's never been a better time to go back and listen to me being reasonably optimistic about it. To enhance the realism of your listening experience, insert the sound of a rapidly deflating balloon whenever it sounds like I'm hopeful for the future.
Was it worth it?
I'll get back to you with an answer in two weeks. If we recover from this to kick the shit out of Brisbane and North then we'll put it down as a learning experience. Otherwise I'll just count it as another furious cock-up that will leave us agonisingly short at the end of the season.

Final thoughts
It's a scientifically proven fact that narrowly falling short of winning a game inflames passions like nothing else. Long time readers will remember (and first time readers will have given up long before now) the famous "I can't take this fucking club anymore" outburst by the guy against Fremantle in 2012. He had the right idea kicking things during a meaningless loss, but even if we're throwing games into the bin with one quarter of madness, and Watts is running riot at a less psychologically tormented club but there's no point dipping yourself into a vat of hot oil yet. Until you realise that now we've got to go at least 12-9 for the rest of the season to barely scrape into the finals. One vat of oil please.

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