Monday, 21 May 2018

How to make friends and eviscerate people




What a weekend for royals, the disco blue jumper officially became the greatest clash strip in the history of the sport and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex can look back fondly at how the weekend of their wedding coincided with the Melbourne Football Club finally casting off years of tedious doormattery and violently abusing vulnerable opposition.

I haven't had a Sunday post out on the day of the game for a year, and this edition was delayed even further by not knowing where to start. It is a quite literally unprecedented scenario in the life of this blog to win a game by more than 96 points. That was not an inconsequential victory (especially if you were Jack Trengove and copped three weeks because Patrick Dangerfield has a porcelain head) but lacked that last important push over the psychological barrier of 100 points. After being involved in eight hundred plus decisions since the last time we topped the ton it was nice to finally get on the positive side of the equation.

It was only the second triple figure win of my spectating life, following on almost 25 years later from that infamous day where the bird shat on my hand at three quarter time of Round 21, 1993. I suppose the statute of limitations has passed where I can freely admit that as we racked up our previous record win against the Blues in Round 6, 2004 I skived off from work and hid in Royal Park listening to it unfold on the radio. I'm still bitter at having missed that, which is why after being pus for so long this thumping victory meant so much to me. Even just symbolically going into a three figure margin left me with a little tear in my ey

Losing to us by the largest ever margin in a series dating back in 1864 was a fitting culmination to a crazy week in the life of the Carlton Football Club. First a drought breaking victory got Mark Neeld fired from Essendon, then they ended up on an episode of Law and Order: AFL courtesy of two brothers both illicitly touching umpires on the same day. First the Curnows got away with fines, then on an appeal launched by the league's spectacle police my second cousin in law was suspended (it's true, consult the 'tenuous connections' branch of the family tree), only for the one who escaped with a fine to miss with injury anyway. On paper the absence of their best forward and a handy midfielder looked good for us, but Melbourne fans everywhere sharply inhaled as we expected the replacements to come in and clean our clock. I think the guy who took Charlie's place is still standing on the G now waiting to get a kick, but the original recipe might not have done much better considering the haphazard way his teammates just hoofed the ball down the line blindly and hoped for the best.

While the Blues were engaged in legal drama we were quietly returning from Queensland with minimal fanfare after dismantling the Suns. Nobody even knew that Clayton Oliver had surgery for a broken finger, which makes a welcome change from the days where Caroline Wilson had written a story about what type of biscuits they had at the board meeting before it finished. He even suffered the injury playing footy, not sticking it in a dog's gob, halting a run of novelty injuries that was likely to end in somebody contracting black lung. At full time I'd like to have seen him remove the Nintendo Power Glove and rehab his middle digit by sticking it in the face of that mouthy Carlton fan from last year.

What turned out to be a momentous occasion started slowly, and it sure didn't look much like a record thrashing was on the cards in the first quarter. We were undoubtedly the better team, but in an unwanted repeat of last week an avalanche of inside 50s came to little, while the inferior team managed to nick goals from limited opportunities at the other end. By the end we could barely go inside 50 without scoring something - usually a goal - as confused Blues defenders stood around wondering where their opponents had gone.

Projecting towards more competitive games in the future, do we really need to play Tom McDonald on the wing for the first five minutes of every quarter? It's difficult to argue with how they've got him going - or scoring 300 points in two weeks - but recent history has shown that Hogan is a better option up field and Sizzle is the man to aim at inside 50, so why not start Hulk there? I assume the idea is for McDonald to run around with his opponent for a while then slip unnoticed into the forward 50 while nobody's looking, but there has been more than one time where we've hoisted a long kick forward in the first few minutes and I've longed for him to clatter through the pack and mark it. All's well that ends well etc... etc... but resting on our laurels after a memorable victory is a well-known MFC trait that should be abolished.

The problem for Hogan yesterday was that there was no point being a hardworking link-up man in a side that didn't need one. We were sweeping from end to end so effortlessly that he could afford to just play a solid, but unspectacular game even after getting the sooks on about not being paid an obvious free in the first quarter. It's an excellent sign that we could wait until we were 102 points in front before he kicked his first goal. You know my views on the footy butterfly effect, maybe we wouldn't have been 102 points up if he'd been paid that first free. We might have been 200 up the way Carlton played the last three quarters. The best bit about him not getting it was that he stopped to argue with the umpire and was still the first man to the loose ball. Sure he got pinged for diving on it, but it was quite the recovery from having a mid-play whinge.

At that stage we were the best part of 10 minutes in, neither side had kicked a goal and I started to think a disaster was looming. Which in hindsight was silly, how many times did we hold on for a first quarter when we were a shipwreck side only to be eventually squashed? As long as we didn't have to reel them in from five goals down we should have known that weight of attacking numbers would eventually win out. Fortunately Carlton's sixes and sevens defence didn't consider that getting away with one free was good fortune and change their ways, because almost immediately after I first started to get nervy Jake Milkshake was vigorously attended to in a contest almost directly in front barely any distance out. The way he's been kicking set shots this year it was no certainly, but he steered a dinky 9 iron of a kick through and was off to what would his greatest day.

The AFL Player Ratings are as reliable an indicator of performance as a Ouija board, but in this case I'm happy to go along with the slightly ludicrous suggestion that Melksham played the best game of anyone in the AFL this year. First he set himself for a lucrative career on the Asian AFLX circuit (where you can never see the huge crowds because they're always in a corporate marquee), now this. Even adjusting for the quality of the opposition it was easily his best game for us. He has the occasional day off - and did kick 0.7 in his first four starts for the season - but Half Forward Milkshake may finish second only to Forward Sizzle in the list of great Simon Goodwin innovations. Remember when he turned up as a defender and everyone wanted to delist him after three weeks? Now he's done the reverse Clint Bizzell with great success. In third place on the Renovation Rumble set they've somehow converted Bayley Fritsch from a handy VFL goalkicker into the new Jayden Hunt. If the coaching thing doesn't work out Goodwin should start a consultancy for reconditioning players.

At the other end of the ratings spectrum came Bernie Vince, below even the hapless Blues defender who spent the first half giving away unnecessary free kicks and the second watching the ball fly over his head. The process of dishing out these points (or in Bernie's case taking them away) is a mystery, but I suppose it's hard to lose them when you can't get close enough to the opposition to do anything. In an otherwise high watermark game - surpassing McDonald sinking the Eagles at Subi as the peak of our post-finals era - not much went right for Bernard. His best moment was a cracking shirtfront in the first quarter that would have been celebrated in the days before people realised that brain trauma is a bad thing. Dale Thomas bounced back to his feet unscathed, and despite leaping at him like he was coming off a trampoline, the equal most reported player in club history avoided another charge. Could probably do with a week off anyway to be honest...

The star attraction of the first quarter was the war between Michael Hibberd and Jed Lamb. I'd never heard of Lamb until he was famous sledged by some Essendon goose last week, so I'll just assume he was still playing angry because of that. Later, when the game was well and truly over Hibbo 'accidentally' lobbed a footy into his face. At least, he maintained the rage for about 30 minutes before his teammates evaporated around him. There was much mirth on the Blue side when Hibberd and Oscar overran the ball and gifted him a tap in from the square, before significantly more amusement was had from us kicking 22 of the next 26 goals. Another dark day for Brendon Bolton, formerly the cheeriest man in football and now somebody who looks like he's having a significant personal crisis. Can't coach Hawthorn every week.

Carlton only kicked seven goals, but there must have been about four that they then gave back straight out of the centre. Wasn't it just like watching us five years ago? You go through all that toil to get a goal then it's wasted immediately. The added bonus to the first one was Liam Jones bravely running back with the flight of the ball to mark, only to have all his efforts wasted by his teammate holding Fritsch out of the contest. The rest of Liam's day was spent trying to pick which of the four Melbourne players running past him to goal that he should concentrate on and often choosing none of the above. Their second goal was handed back even quicker than the first, with Gawn roving his own ball from the ruck, booting it off the ground to the resurgent Neal-Bullen, who launched long to Tom McSizzle goalside of that man Jones. How you end up with your man that far clear almost in the square within 15 seconds of a bounce is a mystery to me. I will assume it was the new John Coleman's positioning that created it.

At three goals to one entering the last minute I think we all knew what was coming next. Now that we've racked up a blockbusting win we can laugh heartily about our failed attempts to desperately hang on in DemonTime™. The obscure defensive combination of Hogan handballing to Tim Smith ended in a free 40 metres out right in front, feeding into my almost fanatical belief that Cameron Pedersen is perfect and would have carefully helped us run down the last few seconds of the quarter. Then the fun really started, with the Carlton bloke kicking into Gawn on the mark, prompting several of our players to trot in and laugh merrily at him. The problem was that Maximum had been adjudged to have crept over the mark and while players from both sides were left engaging in manly jostling the Carltonian was galloping down to the square to kick the goal from point blank range.

The highlight - retrospectively now that we know the result - is Maximum's look of wounded disbelief at being pinged. Not to mention the Carlton players exhausting their last bit of fight by running in to give it to him. Despite the score they were playing such Keystone Kops footy that we should not have bothered with a man on the mark for the kick and hoped that they'd do something stupid like play on after the siren.

It was a source of some bitterness that after dominating them for the first quarter that goal only left us three points in front. Like an unwanted replay of last week it was clear to see that the opposition were no good, but at the same time you wouldn't have staked your life on us winning. In a much more positively received replay of last week we soon made amends for the first quarter by battering them unmercifully. It still didn't look as easy as some of the 100 point games we've been on the wrong end of over the years. Here's to doing it again many times over in coming years so we've got something to compare with.

We should have known what was coming when Smith made up for his pre-quarter time shenanigans from almost the exact same spot by setting up Viney's comeback goal. It wasn't so much the goal, but that Smith juked, jived and did everything but play on and they still missed Jack running up the middle of the 50 mark uncontested. I'm sure nobody was expecting an instant classic from Viney in his comeback, but he was pretty good. Certainly nothing to complain about on return to top level competition for the first time since mid-August after no pre-season. As the ball went through I delivered the time honoured footy fan pledge that I would crack the shits if we lost to this rabble.

It didn't take long to add the next, with a Melksham/McSizzle combination through the middle setting up Petracca from a range where even he couldn't miss. Things were starting to look good now, but when it comes to Melbourne it's sensible to stay calm until victory is absolutely confirmed. The defence especially were all over their opponents. It's hard not to look good when matched against the least fearsome attack since us in 2014 but I've got faith they've worked out how to play with each other now. We're not going to get this easy a run against the good sides, but the blocks are in place. Stop the good teams getting the ball in there quickly and count your money.

With respect to Original Recipe Lever doing the full FIFO thing whenever the ball came near him, and to Lifetime Achievement Award winner Neville Jetta, I love Oscar McDonald. He may be referred to as Sizzle Jr by association (much like Troy Longmuir being called 'Horse' because he looked like John Longmire, not for reportedly having a gigantic dong), but is so no frills that he should be simply listed on team sheets as DEFENDER but he's just quietly ticking away doing his job every week. This is not a bad thing.

I still wake up in the night mourning the season we left Lynden Dunn in the VFL all year - and fully still expect him to play finals before us - but on current indications it was the correct call to focus on Oscar. But be vigilant, I remember another defender of the same name having a blistering first half of the year that put him in All-Australian contention then being torn to shreds on Queen's Birthday and rapidly dropping out of calculations. Incidentally, the goalless Junior is only 10 games shy of the game where Tom kicked his first two, so we may as well try him up forward one day and see if forward play is in the family DNA.

As the second quarter went on the hits started coming at a more solid pace, with what was ultimately the knockout blow delivered courtesy of Lewis riding a bump 10% as savage as the one Vince had ironed out Thomas with earlier and finding that man Melksham miles in the clear with a perfect handball. Likewise, Melk saw McDonald caning into goal with nobody near him, dropped a delightful kick over the top to him and we were building a solid wall against the Blues ever turning up again.

The non-stop flow of goals from 20 metres was reminiscent of the day Port kicked a winning score entirely from the square in Alice a few years ago. Wherever Jeff Garlett was watching from he must have been spewing to miss out on a festival of kicks bombed over the top of a confused defence to waiting forwards, and cheapo handballs to players running into an open goal. Bad time to get dropped and by all reports do nothing in the seconds. For now I'm comfortable that everyone being picked instead is offering more across four quarters than he does. At this point - as we have to find money for two McDonalds, a Brayshaw and Jetta, you start to wonder how much money he's on and whether he might be jettisoned at the end of the season to clear cap room.

They kicked a nice running goal to steady the tide for a bit, only to hand it back in less than a minute again. If I was a Blues fan - and had the Dees lost the 1988 Prelim I would still have been too young to properly appreciate their '95 flag - I'd have been ropeable at the inability to hold the game up in the middle. This was one of those golden moments where the team who kicks one goal end up wishing they hadn't, because it leads to two immediately from the following centre bounces. When Melksham took a perfect over the top handball from Hogan to run into the goal and celebrate lustily with the cheersquad I secretly felt like we'd broken them. But kept it to myself. Which was fortunate because we then instantly gave up a seven point play courtesy of a nutbag Vince kick and the Blues had won the exchange by a point.

The excitement of the goal by Cripps - who must be on his way to Nathan Jones style neck surgery from carrying so many teammates - lasted a bit longer than the last one, but ultimately the result was the same. The ball bounced off the back of a pack to McDonald standing on his own, he was up to four and by any realistic reading of the situation we had the game won. I remained on high alert for a shambles.

Any suggestion that the newly miserable Bolton would deliver a spray for the ages and encourage his troops to overturn a five goal deficit went out the window within the first 30 seconds of the second half. Another ball fell over the top of the pack to a free player, where that man Melksham decided to swap close-range goals for a crumbtastic turn and snap from 40. This was the football equivalent of "you can actually pinpoint the second where his heart rips in half" from The Simpsons. I've seen enough overmatched teams enter panic mode and start playing like they're escaping a sinking ship over the years. I've nothing personal against the Blues, not since J**d retired anyway, but eventually somebody had to play victim for our triumphant return to respectability and they just happened to be standing in the way at the wrong time. Or in the case of their defenders, standing as far out of the way as possible.

If the first goal didn't cause them to bust out the lifeboats and start singing Nearer My God To Thee, the one we added about 15 seconds later must have been the last push over the edge. Brayshaw lobbed a long kick at goal that was probably going to beat everyone and bounce through anyway, before Fritsch made it more exciting by sprinting diagonally into the square and narrowly avoiding necking himself on the goalpost while taking the mark. I've enjoyed the extended highlights and there are looks on the faces of their fans behind the goal that are hauntingly similar to how I got around for most of 2012-2015. Only I was sensible enough to sit where the cameras couldn't catch me looking like it was the worst day of my life.

The carnival atmosphere kicked off in earnest when Petracca double fist punched a loose ball to Milkshake in a way that would never have come off a few years ago. He'd have got both hands to the ball only to see it bounce into Row A. This time it dropped directly into Jake's pocket to turn and snap a simple goal. Finally, a two handed fisting in our favour. It was the best thing Petracca has done for weeks, forget tripping over one dog playing basketball or being eaten alive by the other, a lucrative career on the off-season volleyball circuit awaits.

Five minutes in, courtesy of Anal-Bullet plucking a ball off the ground with the greatest of ease, we were 59 points ahead and goal umpire David Rodan must have been baffled at the idea that this was the shambolic wreck of a team he played for. We were making Rodan work so hard he might have done his knee again, almost straight after Neal-Bullen's goal Gawn added another after his opponent comically fell over in the contest, then the Bullet stormed right out of the middle for another and it was the most dominant stretch of MFC play since the 12 goal slaughter quarter against GWS.

At this rate we might have been a hundred up by three quarter time, but charitably calmed down for a few moments and let them kick a goal. You won't be surprised to discover that this was almost instantly wasted. Immediately cancelling out an opposition goal was one thing, but the most outrageous part was that it came from an Oliver vs Kruezer ruck dual. I can't believe he was meant to be there, and The Hamburglar didn't bother to contest. He just waited for it to come down and did what he normally does, with a similar result as Harmes goalled seconds later. It must have been galling to the Carlton man to finally get a chance to rest against somebody not a) called Gawn and b) likely to make him look stupid then watch the ball shoot off for a goal anyway.

We conceded in DemonTime™ again, but the Chris Sullivan Line had been breached to a point where you couldn't even remotely imagine us losing and it being renamed the [No Name Carlton Forward] Line. For once we could quite comfortably sit back and enjoy the last quarter, even if you did expect us to slow down or the Blues to try and claw back some dignity. Last week showed we'd discovered the joy of burying ides but still I couldn't bring myself to believe we'd go on with it beyond a 70 or 80 point victory. When you last saw a hundred point win aged 12 it's hard to find a point of reference.

The expected last-ditch fightback never came, and the score kept clocking upwards at a rate of knots. With it suddenly all to play for I very much enjoyed the Melksham goal where Salem ripped it long to a one-on-one, Jake bumped his man out of the way and had it sit perfectly in his hands to run into an open goal for a fifth. As McDonald kicking that many is no longer ludicrous, Jake instead goes into the Hall of Novelty Fivers alongside Slamming Sam Blease.

At three quarter time I'd resolved to sit back and enjoy the last quarter for what it was, but after the first three goals got us close to the line with plenty of time to play I was back to riding every kick like it was a thriller. For the first time since our three near misses in the first half of 2011 I had that rare feeling of your blood pressure going up with the margin as it cartwheels towards the hundred. It's the only scenario where you get more stressed the higher the score goes. Getting angry at players trying Hollywood kicks when you're 98 points up is a bit rude, but the three digit win meant a lot to me. My kid didn't care, but she'd at least reached three quarter time before becoming bored (quote: "we have already watched a lot of footy") and failed to appreciate that if we made it she'd have seen half as many 100 point wins as me in three career starts (+1 in utero loss to the Gold Coast Suns)

With more than 10 minutes left the margin crossed 90, and two minutes later Neal-Bullen was strolling into an open goal to put us within one kick of the promised land. This was no time to rest, seven years ago some Adelaide shit got a pointless late goal that held us out long enough to keep the margin to 96. With the weight of history on his shoulders, Charlie Spargo missed a sitter that would have made it 103, before Oliver took the ultimate revenge on the plonker he'd been forced to issue an insincere apology to last year by gleefully thumping home the decisive goal. He could have run a lap of the boundary looking for the guy, but would probably have had to run to Richmond Station to locate him.

With several minutes left - not that you'd know listening to the radio these days as they pretend there isn't a countdown clock in front of them - we were left in the ludicrous scenario of going home slightly unhappy if the Blues got a cheap one late and we 'only' won by 98. They had their chances, hitting the post once then missing a snap from the pocket in quick succession. I was almost ready to throw punches if they'd toppled us from here (not sure who at - probably a seat), before the Blues delivered a heritage round throwback to the first quarter by giving away a needless free. Hogan continued his run of kicking a goal in every game and the cherished margin was safe.

Absurdly it could have been even more. With the ball in hand for his 10th goal in two weeks, the league's new glamour full forward McDonald chose the most consequence-free moment of the season to finally miss a set shot. For half a second I was disgruntled that we didn't win by 114 points, but quickly snapped back to reality and what a great moment it was.

The sort of people who go to a 100th birthday party and say "gee, you look old" will mock us for celebrating this in lieu of finals or flags, but if you've lived the toil and struggle like we have you are well aware of what it meant. Of course I'd rather have beaten Collingwood in Round 23, 2017 and won this by 99 points but for where will sit in the world at the moment thrashing the pants off an incompetent team will have to do. Let's do it again sometime.

2018 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
5 - Jake Melksham
4 - Max Gawn
3 - Alex Neal-Bullen
2 - Tom McDonald
1 - Nathan Jones

Apologies to everyone, but especially Lever, Brayshaw and Oscar McDonald.

Leaderboard
Maximum strikes back, further entrenching this as a race in four. Though Jake Milkshake in the form of his life might fancy himself an outright chance to at least make it a big five. The second division makes for exciting viewing, with Sizzle catching up to his brother and Anal-Bullet making his first appearance of the season.

24 - Max Gawn (PROVISIONAL WINNER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
22 - Clayton Oliver
17 - Jesse Hogan
14 - Nathan Jones
11 - Jake Melksham
5 - Jeff Garlett, Mitch Hannan, Christian Petracca
4 - Bayley Fritsch (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Rising Star Medal), Jordan Lewis, Oscar McDonald (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Tom McDonald
3 - James Harmes, Dean Kent, Alex Neal-Bullen
2 - Angus Brayshaw, Michael Hibberd
1 - Neville Jetta, Cameron Pedersen, Christian Salem

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year
Two weeks in a row of having 20+ options to choose from puts all sorts of stress on the voting panel, but given how many came from walking past Carlton's open door defence into an open goal we can narrow it down to a handful of truly worthy contenders. The winner is former clubhouse leader Jake Melksham for his crumb and lusty blow to calm the nerves at the start of the third quarter.

Jake doesn't win back the overall lead, which is still held by Dom Tyson at Docklands, but for his second weekly prize of the year and a rare votes/GOTY double he wins this match on Laserdisc, VHS, DVD, Blue Ray and digital download.


For the second week in a row the opposition went with social issues on the run-through, but while Gold Coast's slogan had to skimp on text size to accommodate a massive curtain Carlton's was just a lazy, effort free hashtag. I think they stuffed up and held it the wrong way around, because the other side had the far more detailed message explaining what was going on. We had a supporting message on the back of ours that even rhymed properly. That, my friends, is a mark of quality. Dees win as usual, 10-0 for the season.

Crowd Watch (incorporating Matchday Experience Watch)
It's noble that Carlton Respects, but how about a round of Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing?


Talk about injuries in footy, I was casually walking back to my seat after a nervous pre-match whizz when I saw this and nearly did a tendon in my arm trying to get the phone onto camera mode before it disappeared. Maybe they realised that the extra letter would have pushed all the other text down a line and thought it fit in with the reduction of waste theme?

Handing out GWS style orange flags then issuing farcical, unclear instructions about their disposal (who were they supposed to hand them back to? Just lob it over the fence at Hype for Hire Pete Lazar?) was about as dynamic as the entertainment got. They didn't even bother trying to put on a show to prove their superiority, holding a quarter time Worksafe friendly version of Hogan's Heroes featuring an AFLW player gingerly kicking the ball to children and another iteration of Richmond's "Are You Paying Attention?" generically called 'Oblivious Cam'. Don't waste all your creativity at once.

Otherwise there was not a cracker from the crowd. We were surrounded almost entirely by Dees fans and the lone Carlton guy in front of us didn't even get sucked in during the first quarter. In fact I don't recalling him moving once during the game and he may actually have died in Q33 of the Ponsford Stand. What a great place to go. If I snuff it please smuggle the ashes in to a home game, spread them across Row MM and thrown the empty tin down the stairs when we lose a thriller.

Stat My Bitch Up
First time seniors and reserves have ever won by 100 on the same weekend. Good times.

Next week
We go into a top four game as the higher placed team, for our first genuine match of the round since god knows when. That should drag at least 5000 people through the gates in Alice Springs. On paper it should be the most exciting non-natural disaster event in the Territory's history, and venue aside we're probably getting the Crows at the right time. They're girt with injuries, and have just had to slog through the wet to win. We had to deal with rain too, but scooted across the top of the water like nobody since Jesus Christ.

The prospect of a massive let-down has to be considered, after all just look at the turd Carlton served up to follow their grandstand victory. I live in hope of extending this streak into a win against a contender, but pending how we play it's almost a free hit. The most important thing is not to shit the bed after beating a horrible team and let the Crows jump us. Here's to Taylor Walker enjoying another week of hamstring awareness, and Lever warming up for his Round 19 Carnival of Hate at the Adelaide Oval by taking 20 intercept marks. Or alternatively to Kyle Cheney mysteriously returning for 52 touches.

I'd like to hear more about Oskar Baker, though it's hard to judge anything based on a VFL game against a suburban side in disguise like Frankston. That will unfortunately count against Pedersen, whose six goals will be marked down accordingly. Smith did just enough that the patron saint of the 'unlucky' column won't be considered. Of course, if we're discarding older players to give the kids a run you'd be fair to ask why we wouldn't drop Vince even if he did beat MRP Lotto.

It's hard not to think we won't make a couple of cosmetic changes at some point in the next couple of weeks. You don't want to mess around with a winning side, but there's three games to the bye and Queen's Birthday is shaping up to be an actual blockbuster for the first time in years so there may be gentle massaging of the squad to keep players fresh. Best do that coming back from interstate, for now minimal alterations.

IN: Wagner
OUT: Vince ('rested')
LUCKY: N/A
UNLUCKY: Pedersen

The All New Bradbury Plan
What a spectacular weekend for The Plan. I ran a homebrew ladder predictor yesterday that had us winning all the obvious games and losing to top four contenders and it still landed us in a death-or-glory match against the Giants in the last round. Geelong and Hawthorn both unexpectedly stuffing up against spoiler only sides has given us a bit of a leg-up. From the lofty heights of third I'm not making any changes in the seedings, but Gold Coast can consider themselves lucky not to be sliding into the bottom five.

Can win every week - will clearly be above us - Richmond and West Coast
Unlikely to be in the battle for 6th - 10th so may as well win  Adelaide
Lose against higher teams, beat lower teams, take games off each other - Collingwood, Geelong, GWS, Hawthorn, North MelbournePort Adelaide and Sydney
Preferred result depends on opposition, usually want a win - Footscray and Fremantle
Win against higher teams, lose against lower teams - Gold Coast
Good value as spoilers only - Brisbane, Carlton, Essendon and St Kilda

Now that we've got through the month of potential doom unscathed I'm pleased to announce your first Bradbury Plan how to vote card of the season for Round 10:

Bulldogs d. Collingwood
St Kilda d. Richmond
Brisbane d. Sydney
Carlton d. Geelong
Essendon d. Giants
Eagles d. Hawthorn (NB: Originally showed the other way around. I was excited ok?)
Freo d. North

No 50/50s this week, that is your card for maximum benefit. You never know, but I can't see any of the Plan friendly sides getting up except Freo. Still, who'd have seen Essendon beating Geelong? A cold as ice Jack Fitzpatrick apparently:
Was it worth it?
It's difficult to envision a scenario in which this wouldn't have been worth it. Perhaps if I'd contracted dysentery then slipped down the stairs on the wreckage the day would have gone down as a draw. My luck extended to parking, I'd never driven to a game with more than about 25,000 people, and only narrowly got in before they shut up shop, then ignored parking instructions from some galoot in a high vis vest that would have caused me to collide with another vehicle and shared a "what in god's name are these people doing?" look with the near other party in an insurance claim. Being practically on Punt Road I expected to still be waiting to get out at midnight, but instead was out the door and back on my way within minutes. I didn't even have to use my A.K. I got to say it was a good day.

Final thoughts
Back in the glory era of arcade gaming you didn't mind losing your coin once you'd have a fair go, and that's how I feel about the last month. It's a long way from the near turn on Goodwin in the second quarter in the Essendon game to a record breaking victory, but we've done exactly what we were supposed to in the first half of the season and that's set us up for a reasonable bash at the top eight. I won't be happy if we lose next week, but we've put ourselves in a position where beating the Crows would be a massive step towards building a siege mentality style fortress inside the eight. Forget family, friends or organised religion, clear your calendar for 3.20pm AEST next Sunday, the only event this week that matters a damn.

P.S - After nine games we've scored more than anyone else in the league despite totals of 48 and 56. What the bloody hell is going on?

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  3. Sitting in the Carlton Social Club on Sunday, alongside the only other Demon, we started feeling sorry for the Blues.... until they said O’Brien’s cowardly hit on Fritsch was legitimate, and we remembered the ‘bruise-free’ comments, and then started laughing. I was at The Stadium Formally Known As Telstra Dome, for the 100+ Win in ‘04, and was there again on Sunday. Very few clubs I’d prefer to see humiliated before Carlton.

    Big test against an injury-depleted Crows next week.

    I’m not a Wagner fan. Is Hunt worth another go? Loves a Territory Torp™️... Vince needs a breather...I’m finding it harder to keep him and Lewis in the same backline: their lightning pace is a worry for opposing forward lines (sarc)

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    1. Bill we beat Carlton by 100 points in 2004 at the MCG.

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  4. AJ pretty unlucky to kick 8 and not receive even a single brownlow vote..

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  5. Fuck yeah dees

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  6. We really carved them up in the madfield

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  7. Yup, like I typed: I was at Telstra Dome that day feeding the pigeons. Listening to the ABC on my transistor radio.

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  8. Miss Fortescue noted that Mr.Ramsbottom had the most delightful curly hair, rather like Vin Catoggio when he played for the 'Dees and Carlton.

    She was minded to talk to Mr. Ramsbottom on items of little significance, small talk if you like. However, Ramsbottom seemed in a more serious mood and was rather sheepish when asking if Miss Fortescue's family were able to lend him some money until his "boat came in."

    He confessed how foolish he had been in engaging in a wager with Mr.Brampton shortly after the 1995 Grand Final.

    "I'll be damned if Carlton don't win at least three out of the next four..." he had foolishly exclaimed. Mr. Brampton replied "arse biscuits...they won't win another Premiership for at least 23 years!"

    So I had rashly placed my entire family's fortune on this foolish flight of fancy and now I'm ruined."

    to be continued

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