Monday 16 April 2018

Things can only get bitter

Due to a spectacularly incompetent reading of international time zones, the work I thought I'd signed up to do immediately after our game ended up starting 10 minutes into the first quarter. So, I shut my eyes, hit record, made sure I didn't go anywhere near spoilers and started watching from scratch at 6.07pm.

In the end this was probably a good thing, allowing me to concentrate on what needed to be done instead of wiping tears away and occasionally screaming "WHY?" at the top of my voice. Still, if I'd known in advance that I'd have to ignore our game until it was over I would have probably turned back the money and trudged all the way to the MCG to see this screaming shitshow.

On the balance of things I'm happy that I got the money and the emotional distance that comes from not being there live, but it was still difficult to come to terms with the idea that my beloved (?) Melbourne was playing a real life, competitive, important game in the background and I didn't have any idea of what was happening. Could the universe please align to the same deal that I have with my family, where I'll do anything they like in the off-season if I get to indulge in this self-destructive pastime approximately 25 times a year.

Trying to media ban a game is surprisingly difficult, especially when your counter offer contractually obligates you to watch television and operate Twitter. There is always the nightmare scenario - as seen in an episode of George and Mildred - that you get all the way to the last minute before watching and something spoils the result. With the TV set up so that even an accidental hit of the back button would take me to a safe station, and alternative spoiler-free social media accounts in place, the closest I came to necking myself was at about 5.30 when I accidentally hit some obscure keyboard shortcut that ignored incognito mode (to avoid unwanted pop-ups, not because I was doing a XXX cam show) and tried to open my real Twitter feed. I just closed the window before it revealed fans lining up to drink from a foamy vat of poison.

I can't explain why I was so desperate to watch, nervous all the way through that the recording might not have worked and having to keep my phone in an entirely different room to avoid picking it up as a nervous reflex. Like the old days of the replay where they'd say "make sure you stay watching to the end!" seeing 50 notifications would have left me fretting that it either meant we'd done really well or really badly. Turns out we did both, with the bad recovering from disappointing returns in the early booths to win in a landslide.

It would have saved me a lot of time if something had gone wrong and exposed the score before I started watching. Even when I was finally free to start the tape, with Foxtel kindly keeping the recording instead of deleting it like my 75 saved episodes of classic era Simpsons, I expected some sort of last minute fiasco where a triple stretcher job caused a 58 minute last quarter that meant the recording cut out at the end. Ironically it did, ending one second before the siren, which in some circumstances may have posed a problem. Fortunately by that stage I was reasonably certain we weren't going to launch a comeback.

History was against me from the start, the last time I watched an entire match on delay we lost to Essendon by 148, and when I had more important things to do than go to a Hawthorn game in 2015 they thumped us by 105. Considering how much slime we've put on over the years I've certainly avoided a few rippers. Like my record at Kardinia Park, I must be about 500 points in the hole under these circumstances. The Essendon win last year was like the time we unexpectedly beat Geelong away, a small slice of excitement amidst an otherwise horrendous run.

There was a deep sense of guilt stretching from 3.20pm to 6.07pm about not at the very least watching live, but admittedly when I finally did tune in and the crowd looked colder than a witch's tit part of me was comfortable with having skived off under a heater. Now that I've missed being at the ground for half a dozen howlers in the post-Bailey era, I can confirm that it brings a welcome level of detachment. Had I been at the ground yesterday the second half would have been mostly spent howling derisively to nobody in particular, but safe in the knowledge that I didn't have to pack up and spend 90 minutes trudging home after the final siren the last quarter avalanche just washed over me.

There would have been a different reaction for a close game, especially when the recording died at the 0.01 second mark, but even when it was going reasonably well in the first quarter I just sat calmly without getting overexcited. Maybe it was the safe bet that we wouldn't play two good quarters in a row, but had it been an interstate game where I had no realistic chance to be there in person I'd have been hovering over the TV having nervous tics like Bruce McAvaney watching a horse until at least half time.

The option to stay inside for the rest of my supporting life is tempting, but it feels hollow. It's the little things you miss, like children falling down the stairs of the Olympic Stand, kids spewing on the wall of the Ponsford, opposition fans making a Rex Hunt of themselves and the inevitable severed spinal column from Hogan's Heroes. I'll be back for the Richmond game, to enjoy having people who've only just had a win in their lives hanging shit on us.

What TV does give you is a look at the ridiculous scenario of 22 grown men emerging en masse from their rooms through a set of comfortably wide double doors, then having to go into single file to get through a narrow roller door. Equally ludicrous is the idea that Brian Taylor is paid enormous amounts of money to talk from his arse for two hours. Pre-game he called Nathan Jones "a man of few words". Learn from him.

The original man of a few words was tasked with chasing possession magnet Tom Mitchell all day, and while he did a creditable job in keeping him to half the disposals as every other team you wonder if blowing arguably our most important midfielder (with apologies to Oliver's devil may care attack on the ball and lightning hands) on a near 100% negative job cost us. It sure felt that way when Max Gawn was merrily extending his own club record for hitouts in a game and most of them were falling to Hawthorn players.

If nothing else - and for us after the 25 minute mark there really was nothing else - the game started well. If you ignore the goal we conceded in the first 20 seconds. Jake Lever discovered why my advice is the last thing you should listen when he tried a gigantic Tom McDonald style overhead mark and failed to land it, leaving the ball to spill free to two Hawthorn players that had so much time they could even afford to have a Three Stooges style collision and still run into an open goal.

So far so shithouse, but after starting last week like everyone was on opium I wasn't panicking yet. But despite North bollocking Carlton on Saturday night (and have you noticed they found a place to sell home games to that actually helps them?), the road back should have been significantly more difficult against Hawthorn. Even this version, which is half premiership players and half guys from the VFL who are in all sorts of shit when the stars retire. At least that's what my experience with rebuilding suggests. Given that it's being done under the auspices of a highly successful and well performing club they will probably win a flag while we're still flapping around in mid-table mediocrity land.

On the topic of Hawthorn players, are the two guys with flowing mullets doing it for charity like the AFLW player or have they got significant personal troubles? I've come to the point where I'm prepared to welcome nigglers and probably armed robbers if they help us qualify for the finals, but after staying silent when Dunn was getting around with shit smeared across his lip I'd launch a board challenge if any of players turned up looking like that.

One of the mullets had more immediate issues when he unnecessarily gave away a free kick to Kent in the square as the ball was going through for a point. That was something, but it's not like it was a well-crafted goal that gave you confidence, we just got lucky with a long range hit-and-hope kick and ill-disciplined defending. Luck was not to go our way many more times before the final siren, probably because we rarely put their defenders under any pressure again.

The early signs suggested that it was going to be another day of endless attack for very little reward. When Garlett picked up the ball 20 metres out and refused to do one of those well received kicks straight back over his head towards goal I did start to shift nervously in my chair and wonder if this game was going to end very badly indeed. Nevertheless, Kent's first goal did launch an exciting run that caused me to (somewhere in the far recesses of my mind) wonder what it would be like to miss a game where we finally massacred a Victorian team. I continue to wait patiently for that opportunity.

Gawn's dominance in the taps was wasted for most of the day, but shortly after Kent's first he got another go via a Salem clearance. This time he had to convert from 40 metres out instead of five but whacked it through with the same violent intent and the only way was up. The unexpected good times continued when Hogan profited from one of the great bullet handballs/handball receives from Jones and Fritsch to snap a third.

I still didn't trust it, we were doing fantastically when we had the ball but how many times over the years have we seen games where everything looks like it's going swimmingly until the other side start to get a kick? Then an unseen switch flicks and we go from Harlem Globetrotters to Washington Generals, with nobody seemingly able to wrest control back and slow things down long enough to at least stop the other side attacking relentlessly.

It's one thing to slaughter the coach - and surprisingly good fun - but what of the on-ground leadership? If a team is going to have 360 disposals in a game who gives a fat rat's clacker if one player them gets 40 on his own? I'm comfortable with the hard tag at the start, but when we hit half time looking completely lost it was time to set Mitchell free and work on stopping the rest of them from slaughtering us. I don't know if Jones would have had any capability to change things if he was free, but it makes you wonder who else is going to step up in hard times. Do I need to cut my famous promo about not needing a title to be a leader again?

For now the good times were rolling along like an out of control freight train, Kent kicked his third, we were that many in front and looked dangerous whenever we got the ball.

You've heard of Clayton Oliver does funny things, this is where we got our first look at Alex Neal-Bullen does funny things. In a moment he'll be hoping nobody else remembers, he celebrated Kent's landmark goal by gleefully bumping into a sad looking Hawk in the middle. Shortly after he gave something back to the Hawks by handballing straight to one of them, then did a bounce handball to one of our players when stuck in a tight spot and celebrated a brave Brayshaw smother by vigorously patting him on the head. It might have had an effect, after a hot start Gus was barely ever seen again. After celebrating the fourth goal like the fall of the Berlin Wall, ANB would go on to kick our next two entirely goalless quarters later.

Oliver has cut down on the number of funny things he's done so far this year, but when you've built a reputation for mischief like he has controversy isn't too far away. After he kicked the ball out on the full the camera cut to a baby crying its eyes out. The commentators were clearly as perplexed as anyone else because they didn't say anything, but the insinuation was that the wild shot on goal had bonced the kid. I say who's bringing a child of less than one year to the footy on a freezing day AND sitting within 30 rows of the fence? At least the child was nominally a Hawthorn fan, meaning they will grow up to think footy is a piss easy pursuit where you only to wait a few years between flags.

The first sign things were going to stop going our way very quickly was when Lever took a mark on the line, which was good, then played on when he was behind the goal and gave away a point, which was bad. Like Van Halen taking out the brown M&Ms to make sure their 100 pages of stage instructions had been read, it wasn't such a big deal that he gave away the point but it just indicated a worrying lack of care and poise. He's looked less at sea since Frost came back, but I'm still concerned that he's being hung out to dry. I've got no idea what an untethered defensive zone is, but this Twitterist seems to know what's going on...

Despite watching the game on the vibe and refusing to participate in modern tactics, I've been concerned about the way we push up the ground too far since the days of Roos. I know you have to balance it against all the times it does work and creates goals, but surely if nothing else on a wet day you keep somebody hanging out the back to look after hopeful long bombs? Apparently not. We got  away with a couple of times in the first quarter where the whole team was forward of centre and a turnover saw the ball thumped the other way, skidding towards goal on a wet ground. I'm sure something was changed to compensate, it just wasn't apparent to the naked eye. Or as it turns out, in any way effective.

Considering Gawn went on to have 66 hitouts, it sure did feel like James Harmes was doing a lot of ruck work in the first half. Was the idea to keep him fresh for the end? If so that seems to be the only tactical gambit all day that worked. The Harmy Army would have enjoyed their man throwing himself over the top of his opposite number at a throw-in. At his apex he adopted the exact same pose as Michael Voss that time he broke his leg in Perth. We all love an unusual ruckman - third only behind outfield players in goal and wicketkeepers bowling - but as much as he tried hard it was ineffective. This is where Pedersen would have come in handy, not to mention giving us some sort of target inside 50 other than Hogan.

Gawn provides an excellent forward target, but only when he's 40 metres out. He marked in practically the same spot as the Geelong game, and under much less strenuous circumstances did exactly the same thing. Which at least proves his first miss wasn't because he was overawed by the occasion. Two weeks after thinking that Dean Kent's career was going down the gurgler, I suggest Maximum has a look at the footage of his two set shots and sees that no matter how close you are to goal you can kick with the same action. Like glory era Mark Jamar he is a surprisingly accurate set shot overall, but what's the point in having him take towering marks 20 metres from goal if they're going to spray everywhere?

It took until late in the first quarter, deep into DemonTime, to discover the full horror of what was about to befall us. With less than 90 seconds left all we needed to do was shepherd our nice little lead into the break, hopefully identify some of the issues that nearly tripped us up, and presumably come out to be thrashed anyway. Instead everyone was too shitscared to rush the ball and allowed a Hawthorn goal off the ground, leading to that grand traditional of commentators mocking players for "not understanding the rule" when nobody can be certain what the rule is from one week to the other.

That was bad enough, but when the ball flung straight out of the centre and into the arms of the reasonably well held Jarryd Roughhead with 10 seconds left my blood pressure tipped into dangerous levels for the first time. The siren meant he couldn't run around from an obscure angle and he missed, but it should have led to flashing red lights in our huddle. Instead we came out like Lemmings and dutifully plummeted off the cliff without protest. That's Melbournetainment.

If it wasn't for the last minute I'd have been half-tempted to think that in real life we'd already won and everyone other than me was enjoying a party atmosphere. At that point I just wanted to know what happened good, bad or otherwise (spoiler: bad). This watching on delay caper was doing nothing for my mental well-being. Being quite sure that we weren't going to follow a good first quarter with an equally good second - because we never do - it dawned on me that I'd never heard of half their side, and the idea of losing felt more offensive than the days where their premiership stars would regularly clean our clock.

There was a mild outbreak of macho bullshit at quarter time, and we must have got all the testosterone related activities out of our system there. James Sicily, like GWS' Lachie Whitfield a dead ringer for a random Trump child, was at the heart of it and good luck to him. Every team needs at least one antagonist who everyone else wants to punch in the head. Coincidentally by the end of this game I wanted to punch Bugg, and it had nothing to do with him niggling me.

Like the passengers who caught the Hindenberg all the way from Prussia to New Jersey before it burnt to buggery, nobody could have seen the journey ending as badly as it did at this stage. I could certainly contemplate that we'd lose (in fact I find it hard to think otherwise), but to go to pieces in that sort of lifeless fashion was offensive.

It's not until you don't have them that you start to appreciate the pause for contemplation that quarter and three-quarter time give you. Half time can piss up a rope, but the other two are a short break from brain squeezing tension. Of course I could have just sat through them instead of fast forwarding, but when you know the game is already over there's a rush to catch up so you can join the celebration/anguish (delete as applicable) with everyone else.

When you kick five goals in the first quarter it would obviously be nice to get another five (if not more), but for the moment I'll settle for at least three and breaking even. It seems rude to be complaining about not kicking enough goals when we used to struggle to five for the whole day, but didn't we sit through those years of criminally low scores in an attempt to teach everyone how to defend? Did we not place enough emphasis on letting other sides run riot up and down the ground while all our players stand around quietly contemplating the mysteries of the universe?

From the first bounce of the second quarter Hawthorn clamped the handcuffs on and beat the suitcase out of us. That we were still winning inside 50s deep into the last quarter tells you all you need to know about that useless statistic. We missed gettable chances, but the majority of entries were of the half-forward line averse "I'll just roost it down there and let somebody else take responsibility" sort, whereas our former merger partners would bound forward and find a backline so disarranged that the players often had to call long distance to speak to each other.

In the circumstances Oscar McDonald did great work, everyone else less so. Occasional flashes of brilliance aside, Hibberd is not getting any space to run and Jetta seems to be suffering a Demonbracket hangover because he's only been ok so far this year. From an outside perspective the backline doesn't seem to have anyone in charge. Is this what Vince and Lewis are supposed to do? Time to think about what we're doing there.

The bad times were brewing early, and when they kicked the first goal to cut the gap to less than six I felt like it was about to turn bad. When you haven't hauled yourself to the ground you don't have to bother holding out hope. What I wanted most was to do my usual nervous reaction of flicking through the world famous Dees Twitter community and feed off the distress of others. But I couldn't, so I just had to sit there on my own, wallowing in my own defeatist attitude.

We couldn't even take advantage of Frawley spending the entire second quarter on the bench with a mystery injury. Lack of a killer instinct continued to hurt us. For most of the quarter the ball was trapped in the middle of the ground, but the difference was that when we went forward we kicked points and in the same situation they got goals. It wasn't the weather for talls, but it feels like we could desperately have done with a second target down there - or just one to free Hogan to play further up the ground and try to at least create a contest and bring the smalls into it.

Yes, we did have smalls. Garlett played one of those games you've got to endure to get to the good ones. He refused to kick over his head, laid one ripping run down tackle and was barely seen again. Kent too was practically unseen once his opportunities dried up, almost his last appearance was gifting Roughead a goal via a stupid 50 after McDonald had beaten him all day.

Not for the first time this year we could have done with a Hogan at full forward and centre-half forward, because when he was in one nobody was in the other. It was just the sort of day where Watts would have gone missing, but I still can't help feel that he would fit the bill of a forward who can lead to the ball and semi-convincingly go into the ruck. It was one thing having Hogan try and drag a mature age first gamer to the square, but he had to be able to go towards the ball in those circumstances rather than waiting for it to be punted on his head. He didn't play a bad game by any means, but old mate VFL veteran more than held his own on debut.

Our Alf Ramsey style wingless wonders formation that had worked so well in the first quarter did bugger all in the second, but that didn't stop us from giving it a red hot go again after half time. For a time we did have the play at our end, but with nobody looking even remotely likely up front nothing came out of it. Then a long bomb down the middle found some Hawthorn bloke dashing into goal with three of our players trailing behind. Game, set and match. Some players clearly didn't fancy the conditions, others tried hard but looked a mile off the pace. Not sure it would have helped if we'd played in the dry, Clarkson had his opposing number on a leash.

Hawthorn was so dominant that they could afford to send the injured Frawley to play at full-forward. Either that or he was perfectly fine and they just wanted to put him where the action was. About time there was some respect for all that development work we put it into him in his last contract year. Later there was a great shot of him on the bench with his head in his hands that would have been great if he'd been concussed and we could pretend that he'd woken up thinking he still played for Melbourne.

A lame attempt at a spoil set up Hawthorn's seventh goal in a row, but considering we didn't look in any way likely to run down a 15 point margin what harm was another six points? Or another 50 as it turns out. When somebody finally got on one of Gawn's taps for the first time in 45 minutes, and Salem pumped the ball forward to Bugg we got the chance at an immediate reply but he fluffed it and hit the post. With respect to him having a career day a week earlier, his conversion rate is not good enough. He can obviously find space because he's having all these shots, but so often crucial opportunities are wasted. We need another tall, and now that Kent has come back to life it's time to take the niggle to the VFL.

As a spectacle the game was dead and buried. It was like one of those boring Roos era matches where we couldn't kick a goal for the life of us. The only difference this time was kicking five quick ones at the start before packing up shop and letting their defence do a similar number on us as Richmond vs Brisbane the day before. At least the Lions got a goal in the third quarter.

We carried on playing like it was dry, which was questionable at the start but even more so when it actually began to rain in play. We'd fall victims to cheap kicks over the top to nobody, everyone would jump for the one ball in defence without a player on the ground to mop up, and so, so many long kicks went to nobody. This team can find space and execute a string of disposals, I have seen them do it. Yesterday was like 2014 Appreciation Day, with a far better side playing like a far worse one.

The only surprise is that it took so long for us to completely crack. For those who've been following our record of games against teams that lose players to injury, you won't be surprised to know that we really fell off the cliff when they lost two players - on top of Frawley gingerly going through the motions inside forward 50. We were putrid, we played putrid football. I was pleased that Gawn tried a ridiculous snap in the last minute that went straight out on the full, because it was still a better attempt than any other bastard.

In the last quarter I started cheating to get to the end faster, 2x fast forwarding when the ball rolled out of bounds, and not waiting for any post goal analysis before skipping to the next bounce. As far as a last three quarters go it was about as limp as the Sydney game last year. The only question by now was how badly we were going to be beaten. They kept piling on the goals and I said thank the good lord Jakovich that I didn't turn back work and effectively pay hundreds of dollars to watch live. By this time I'd have been standing on top of the train on the way home trying to make contact with overhead wires.

After 75 long minutes Neal-Bullen got the sixth goal, and true to form we didn't even deserve it. Salem passed it to him after a free for bending over with the ball and doing a pro wrestling style backdrop on his opponent where he should have been done for holding the ball. Junk time had already been welcomed in long before that, but as that goal quickly gave way to struggle again I had to strongly resist going into x60 fast forward mode. About the only thing of note to happen in the last 10 minutes was Jimpey kicking Bugg in the jimmies during a marking contest. Otherwise we just conceded goals hand over fist in an attempt to make sure that this year our percentage doesn't narrowly keep us out of the eight.

The natives were restless, and there was a great collective murmur when Lever unnecessarily punched in a contest instead of marking. At least there was from those who hadn't been pictured piling up the stairs at top speed 30 seconds earlier. The work colleague who compared him to Diamond Jim Tilbrook a few weeks ago has since been dismissed (not because of his anti-Melbourne stance let me add), but I feel like tracking him down and saying that maybe he had a point. Jake did some decent stuff, he was not alone in doing some terrible stuff, but the price paid in draft picks is starting to hang around his neck like the millstone of old. Apparently his dad got into an argument with fans who were complaining, which is always excellent entertainment.

Even the VFL players were seen taking off early, with good guy Cameron Pedersen the only one who looked like he was staying. He didn't just stay, he happily clambered over the seat in front of him to improve where he was sitting. What a man. The way we were going I'm surprised he didn't slip and snap his ankle in a folding seat.

Thank christ it eventually ended. If anything happened on the siren I don't know about it. In fact whatever happened in the last 10 minutes was nothing more than a blur of Hawthorn goals. Can't play Brisbane and North every week. And when we do play Carlton they will live up to Team Kingsley reputation and give us a torrid time. As it started to go tits up in the third quarter I made a note that "at least now when we have a miserable loss that makes you question everything you believe in it is only by 30 points rather than 130". Then it became 40, 50, 60 and 70 and the spirit behind the message it was somewhat lost.

Simon Goodwin woke up this morning to worse polling figures than Malcolm Turnbull, but could everyone at least wait until mid-season before making football fans of themselves and trying to sack him? I'm traditionally overly cautious when it comes to turning on coaches, because eventually one of them has to be a success, but you know as well as I do that they're not going to get rid of him now so it's just pointless venting.

When I finally dared to look at a phone again I had the luxury of a 1000 tweet buffer to catch up on, and in the middle of a lot of reasonable questions about why we set up so badly in the wet there was all too much "there's no plan B!" going on. If you look back at the history of Goodwin's coaching career Plan A is usually the issue, leaving us often having to climb out of a Buffalo Bill style "it rubs the lotion on its skin" pit of death at some point in the first half. It's either that or we fire off to an early lead like this, Brisbane, either of the last two St Kilda games before everyone clams up with embarrassment at actually playing well and lets the other side launch a comeback.

Contrary to popular belief, the Sporting Stranglewank didn't originate with Melbourne circa 2014. Go back and look at Australia's 2006 World Cup campaign, where Guus Hiddink is feted for nearly getting us to a quarter final but really just got away with a string of death or glory moves when his side was in deep shit. This may work in a three group game tournament a'la the early 2000s Ansett Cup, but you can't spread it over 22 matches.

Melbourne fans accusing a coach of being without Plan B is, like Beauty and the Beast, a tale as old as time. When the Norm Smith/Checker Hughes combination was trampling everyone in the 50s there were probably still fans hanging over the fence demanding answers about what was going on with Denis Cordner.

God only knows who half those Hawthorn players were, but they sure made us look like arseholes after the first 20 minutes. Remember when we tried to throw millions at Clarko to become our coach and he laughed at us? He's not the best coach of the modern era by accident.

2018 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
None deserved. Some less undeserved than others.

5 - Clayton Oliver
4 - Nathan Jones
3 - Max Gawn
2 - Oscar McDonald
1 - Dean Kent

Apologies to Hogan for missing the last one narrowly and something nice for Neal-Bullen, Brayshaw and Salem.

Another good day for the usual suspects, and finally the breakthrough votes for Sizzle Jr that see him dismiss 'No Eligible Player' in the race for the Seecamp. Still nothing on offer for followers of the Hilton.

13 - Max Gawn (PROVISIONAL WINNER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
12 - Nathan Jones
10 - Clayton Oliver
8 - Jesse Hogan
5 - Jeff Garlett, Christian Petracca
3 - Dean Kent
2 - Oscar McDonald (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
1 - Cameron Pedersen, Christian Salem

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year
Back to the glory days of this competition, where we had less choice than a North Korean at the ballot box. By the time ANB got his goal it was almost getting to the perverse stage where you want to see how far we could go without one, so obviously the winner here is going to come from the first quarter.

With respect to the two Kent goals that didn't come from the square, I'm opting for Hogan's big snap around the corner. For the weekly prize he wins a flash to the eyes from a Men In Black style laser that helps him forget this game ever existed. I'm still not convinced we've seen anything like a winner of this tournament yet, so we will not be naming a clubhouse leader until that happens.

Hawthorn had more respect for this competition than to drag out one of their pre-printed industrial strength banners. Still didn't think much of it, the font was too weedy for my liking. Ont he other hand ours had a font so strong that you could drop it on a Syrian mustard gas factory. The white/red letter contrast is magnificent, I'm thrilled that it looks to be a permanent fixture now. Dees 4-0 for the season.

The Sponsor Shack
I know sponsor recall is important to clubs, so best they explain what the hell CSG is at some point. Hopefully it's coal seam gas, to replace pokies as our morally suspect money spinner.

Crowd Watch
What about the humanoid who threw the ball at Salem's feet after the deliberate in the last quarter then went back to his seat looking absolutely chuffed with himself. Get back to digging ditches for a living. Second place to the guy in the Hawthorn hat and scarf who realised he was on TV and unzipped his jacket to show a Hawks jumper as well. That answered my question, and several others.

Next week
Take a reasonable break before the Anzac Eve game. After a week as the best team in Victoria we're sure as shit not going to beat the new champions playing like this. After Dustin Martin took one hapless defence for six goals yesterday I expect that they'll have him go down there and rip the piss out of us as well.

I dispute our alleged depth at either end of the ground. We've got midfielders coming out the yin yang, but forwards and tall defenders are in short supply. I'm just opting for Pedersen ahead of Weideman or Tim Smith because we somebody who is a competent second ruck. Whatever second round pick we end up can we somehow acquire a forward who can also play backup to Gawn? Pedersen won't last forever, and Weideman is on the Cale Morton starvation plan so he's not going to do it.

IN: Pedersen
OUT: Bugg
LUCKY: Lever, Lewis, Melksham, Vince

After that it's Essendon, who could do anything, then the season defining run of St Kilda, Gold Coast and Carlton. If we don't win three of the next five I'll assume it's over until they do something to convince me otherwise. Who else would you rather follow?

Was it worth it?
From my perspective you're damn right it was. Imagine I'd left the house to watch this garbage? Could do this more often to be honest. I may as well have given in to what I felt was going to happen at quarter time, confirmed the score, had a five minute tantrum over the margin and got on with my Sunday night. Instead I struggled to the end, deleted it from my Foxtel box and went to bed.

Watching Essendon emerge from light crisis mode to handle Port Adelaide without raising a sweat, it is clear that mid-table mediocrity could stretch to about 15th on the ladder this year. This is why the Brisbane and North wins were so important, we might be kept alive longer by teams unexpectedly winning or losing but I don't fancy us to do anything great until Sizzle Sr and Viney are back.

Final thoughts
No club can possibly have had as many losses that have blown the wheels off and caused massed panic. One day Paul Roos will come out and admit the veil of negativity is justified, and David King will apologise for telling us not to be so worried. We've even reached 'should I raise my kids as Melbourne fans?' stage. The answer is obviously yes, they may suffer through decades of insipid football but at least they'll be a moral cut above the riff raff urchins that follow other clubs.

I still think this is the core of the group, but fortunately never thought it was the year. The idea was to establish a bridgehead in the eight - which we still may very well do, let's not commit hari kari for a few more weeks - and go for it in 2019/2020. Those who tipped us to burst into the top four should be commended for their optimism and faith, but they were suffering from delirium based on two surprise premiers in a row. At this point I'd settle for finishing where the Bulldogs did in 2016 and forget the remarkable run to the Grand Final.


  1. Thanks to the lady that cut in front of me and smashed my car in the morning, causing me to miss the game while I went on the hunt for a replacement. I got home in time to watch the second half of the game which fit my mood perfectly. Go Dees

  2. Watching from Europe via WatchAFL for approx $250(!), I got up to watch the game and clicked on 'Watch from the Start' and went straight to the live broadcast at 3/4 time to be told we were trailing by 32 points! It only got worse. As always, your report was great. Is there a record of games where not one good thing emerged. This would qualify.

  3. PartTime Zombie23 April 2018 at 10:42

    FYI I am pretty sure CSG are the crowd formerly known as Konica Minolta. If you're in the market for a bunch of photocopiers they will probably take you along to the MCG to watch the Demons.
    I wonder if that will get them many sales?


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