Monday, 6 August 2018

The maim event

Now we've won by 96 points it's ok to admit that I didn't think there was any way we could lose to Gold Coast. I held appropriate respect for our history of doing insane things as favourites, but if we lost to the lowest scoring team in the competition, coming off a loss to Carlton, and with their two best key defenders out you may as well have called the liquidators in.

Instead, the secret concern was of a struggle to an unnecessarily difficult victory that actually hurt our percentage. When I turned up to find a strong wind blowing across the ground my fears seemed somewhat justified, were we going to spend the afternoon blowing opportunities left, right and centre on the way to an unsatisfying five goal victory? In the conditions set shots were not our friend, fortunately we also walked about 10 goals in from the square and had several others from within 30 metres. The tricky breeze also allows us to be delusional and claim that in calm conditions there would have been a 186 style landslide.

For at least the first quarter the spirit of annihilation was alive and well. Yesterday we were three points better off at the change than that oft referenced day at Kardinia Park, sadly failing to match Geelong's 12.1 to 1.1 second quarter. A league record might have been off the agenda, but when the margin extended to 75 a few minutes later I could see the all-time club record 141 point victory in the distance. It turned out to be a mirage, but at the same time it's nice to know that early in a match that there is no possible way to lose. It was such a slashing start that by the end people were legitimately angry that we didn't go deep into triple figures, and what a marvellous position that is to be in.

If you thought you'd seen this game before you were right. In 2011 we beat the newborn Suns and their gak happy rugby leaguist by what was perceived (by me anyway, and history showed I was right) to be an unconvincing 90 points, while a year later we dumped 6.6 to 0.2 on them in the first quarter at the MCG. Even adjusted for the disgraceful state we were in by Round 19, 2012 that game was probably the most frustrating of Neeld's rare wins. In the last appearance of both Gysberts and Morton we kicked the first goal of the second quarter then barely won the rest of the game. The title of that week's post was right, "You take it where you can get it", but we should have gone on to do terrible, morale boosting things to them. Seven seasons later neither side has played a final, but at least now we seem to the ones heading in the right direction while they're a rudderless shambles.

Just because I thought we'd win doesn't mean there wasn't a brief heart/mouth interface when Peter Wright - their only tall forward - easily marked within range in the opening minutes. Fortunately for us, Two Metre Peter was reduced to Two Minute Peter when he did his ankle in the marking contest, didn't make the distance with his kick from 40 metres and left never to be seen again. Shortly after the switch was flicked from 'contest' to 'procession' and we proceeded to rain fire down upon them in nearly unprecedented fashion. A 57 point quarter time lead was our equal fourth best ever, and eclipsed a 56 against 1990 Sydney as the greatest of my supporting life.

After that early scare the Suns provided such scant resistance that our players often became over-excited at the ridiculous variety of options available to them and failed to take proper advantage. See for instance an early Bayley Fritsch handball where he tried to loop it 30 metres because he could already see it unlocking the door and letting a teammate stroll into an open goal. That didn't work, but plenty of others did as the wind was removed from the equation by a truckload of close range kicks and tap-ins from the square.

We've suffered enough over the years that I'm happy to take vengeance on anyone, but as much as enjoyed it there was also something sad about watching a lifeless team that had absolutely no idea what they were doing being beaten to a pulp. Nothing to do with feeling sorry for the Suns, it just reminded me of some of the gash that we used to sit through. And this was the end they'd chosen to kick to after winning the toss. Without their only key forward it was hard for our defenders not to look good, and for the first quarter none of them put a foot wrong. Against degraded opposition it was hard not to enjoy Sam Frost running around like a lunatic, but Salem was the main event in calmly dismantling a series of attacks and getting forward for a goal himself. Later in the day there were some moments that made you nervous about what was to come, but you can only beat the opponent put in front of you. Or in this case you can spend the last three quarters trying to create drama because the other side is offering nothing.

The 'no porking' sign came down after five minutes when three Suns defenders (or at least players masquerading as) all went to a contest against Gawn only for the ball to fall over the back for an unguarded Jones to stuff home from close range. A despairing lunge by one of the hapless McDonalds uniform wearing backmen just failed to reach him. As far as defensive pressure went that was it for the visitors until about 15 minutes into the second quarter. The second came from Oliver walking through a pack like it consisted of wacky waving inflatable arm tube men, then Tyson kicked off his best game all year with a perfect handball to set up Salem's long bomb.

Barely 10 minutes since I'd fretted about the greatest fiasco in sporting history it was now clear that the only way Gold Coast could escape this afternoon with any dignity would be to phone through a bomb threat. To honour the surprise return of John Blackman as ground announcer they should have asked a panel of celebrity judges to rate how the Suns were going:



Ironically, amidst the wanton carnage Tom McDonald had his worst ever game as a forward. When the second goal was followed by a hefty Gawn torp out of the middle that tumbled straight into his arms, the much sought after Sizzle Slaughter was very much on the agenda. He stabbed at that shot, missed a snap from a slight angle in the second and poked unconvincingly after another strong mark in the third. Can we hush up about his accuracy from set shots now? Ever since people noticed and it started being highlighted whenever he got the ball he's dropped from a 90% prospect anywhere in the forward line to only slightly better than 50/50.

McDonald's travails were only a minor irritation, things were going so badly for the Suns that even after they kicked an arsey snap to ruin our hopes of a scoreless quarter Neal-Bullen got the reply straight out of the middle. The Bullet's performance was sponsored by the Curate's Egg, half of it very good and half of it rancid. By the fifth goal things were starting to get violent - though we weren't to know how serious yet - and we delivered the sort of ball movement that would have made the AFL spectacle police slide off their seats. It helps when one team consists of people both dressed and playing like traffic cones, but even then only the most pragmatic, hard-hearted bastard could fail to enjoy Petracca ripping a long kick from half back, which found Oliver at half forward, who wheeled around and hit one of the best passes you'll ever want to see onto Charlie Spargo running into the square.

You could see the life force ebbing out of the Suns players when even Petracca converted a set shot, and barely a minute later Truck was back in the play setting up Spargo's second. It was another day where Charlie looked good early before drifting out, but I have faith that when he matures and learns to play four quarters he'll be very handy. It was hard for anyone not to look dangerous in the midst of this terrifying rampage, and two more in the last few minutes stretched the score to a barmy 57-6. To prove that all the luck was flowing in our favour the last came after Anal-Bullet fumbled at ground level and his opponent still carried through with a two handed shove to his back.

Against the run of play we failed to add another in the remaining 49 seconds, having to be content with our second biggest quarter time lead in history. History backed up the feeling that we were as safe as houses, second only in absolute surety of victory behind an 11 goal to nil rampage against North Melbourne in 1972. If you're sad that we didn't carry on to a monumental victory please consider that even on that day a 71 point quarter time lead 'only' translated to a 108 point final margin. Unless it's at the highest end of the MFC victimisation scale that's usually how massacres go, it's hard to maintain the rage all day. Remember when Gold Coast was 93 points down at quarter time against Essendon and 'only' lost by 139? Then 13 weeks later we were the ones nearly making record breaking arseholes of ourselves in Geelong. Work that out.

To their belated credit Gold Coast managed to clog the game up for the first few minutes of the second quarter, not looking remotely like scoring themselves but also putting the brakes on us for a while. The crowd never got the vandenBerg goal they were gagging for, but he did set up Harmes' first and the resumption of the towelling by standing strong against a wank-handed tackle in the forward pocket. Ultimate chaos was firmly on the agenda when Hogan beat some hapless bloke called Spencer (sadly not Jake) for a simple mark in front of goal, then Jones, Harmes and Brayshaw added more. In the middle of this Gold Coast kicked one and like letting a kid take a set of table tennis off you out of pity nobody was really that concerned.

When Gus shoved off some bloke having a horrible day to mark in the square the margin reached 75 and we'd reached peak bloodbath. Regrettably we failed to add another in the last six minutes, remaining marooned on a reasonably impressive 14.6.90 at the break. A lucky goal to Kingsley nominee Alex Sexton at the end cut the margin to just under 11 goals, and once we've won a flag I might go back and re-watch Round 19, 2011 to understand how a team could ever be 50 points worse off at half time than the Suns were yesterday.

It sounds ungrateful to say, but it looked like the third quarter saw cue introduced to rack. We only won it by two goals to one, carrying on with some of the overly cavalier play that cost opportunities before half time. I'm not going to hold it against them, this was the last opportunity for fun before things get ridiculously serious and probably end in bitter recriminations so why not enjoy playing with total freedom while you still can.

There wasn't much to get excited about in the third, other than a Sam Frost shambleskick in defence inadvertently setting up a goal. Fortunately for him, after leaving a divot that the MCG ground staff will have a prick of a time getting out, Lewis was clobbered high trying to recover and launched an attack that ended in glory. His 15m kick fell short of Fritsch, who then forced Angus Brayshaw to run back with the flight of the ball into the middle of the ground in a moment that must have given his poor mum a heart attack. Then 90 minutes later her other son suffered a broken jaw after being punched in the head. After all the issues with Gus she may want to scour the internet for bulk Valium discounts.

Two goals to one for the term was nothing by the standards of the first term, but at least we were pulling away instead of putting our feet up and letting them recover a more respectable margin. With an eye to Round 23 it was hard not to compare with GWS' mutilation of Carlton across town, the difference was they might only have won by nine points more but due to an injury plague were occasionally getting around during the last quarter with two players less. And still kicked seven goals to one. Just a reminder that no matter how bad Carlton fans pretend they have it, that they're still six percentage points better off than we were in 2013. I feel bad that they haven't been able to release tension with a mid-season coach sacking, but until they can slice off that extra 6% I'm not listening to a word of their misery. Never mind Blues fans, look at us for inspiration - you too could be narrowly missing the eight three seasons in a row in a few years.

With fans becoming legitimately agitated that we weren't ruthlessly tearing them apart, we at least won the last quarter comfortably. It didn't start well, considering they've scored zero or one point in a quarter FOUR times this year by Christ (and have had four other quarters with 0-2 points), we sportingly gifted them a goal to begin the last term. A hopeful roost into the forward line evaded Oscar McDonald, took a bugger of a bounce and landed with Sexton for his fifth of six Gold Coast goals. It was a real feelgood charity job, and the Kingsley Kommittee were thrown into disarray as they debated whether a player could be inducted in a game we won by nearly 100 points. Yes apparently, and we welcome him to the Hall of Kingsley as the second Suns player inducted after Jarrad Grant.

Of course I wish we'd been a bit more sadistic in the last, but you couldn't fail to be entertained by moments like Hogan marking a dainty ANB chip into the square that any number of opposition players had all the time in the world to clear. On replay you can see his hapless opponent Not Jake Spencer wishing his manager had been one of those telling their players not to go to the Gold Coast.



Chin up son, at least when you go back to Queensland nobody will give a shit.

As the margin once again threatened the ton, the only bad news was Joel Smith being crippled in a tackle. It was unfortunate timing for him just as he'd had found a regular spot and started to win fans, but when you consider all our other injuries in defence it could prove satanic. If nothing else we were treated to the unique scene of him walking off under his own steam while using his remaining good arm to huff on the pain relief whistle. Those things should have been handed out at the 'G when we were the ones losing by 90 every second week. There's still three weeks to order in a crate of the 'finals heartache' cyanide flavoured ones.

The margin temporarily hit the magic mark courtesy of Garlett's second, third, fourth and fifth efforts in a contest, then another Petracca set shot. No more goals were forthcoming, and the cheap one down the other end that I'd feared so desperately in the Carlton game cut our advantage back to 94. If we hadn't already broken through for a 100 point win earlier in the season I might have been sour about not following through, but now that spell has been broken we were free to be satisfied with any old rampant victory.

Fritsch had one last chance to breach the popular three digit psychological barrier after the siren, but consistent with almost all our other set shots beyond 30 metres he missed. No harm done for anyone other than greedy milestone collectors like me. The actual result was very good, providing some much needed insurance against Geelong's piss easy finish of 120 point home wins against Freo and the Suns.

Does any of it translate to games against good teams? Based on what I saw yesterday no, but it's hard to accurately gauge anything against an opposition more unmanned than undermanned. 3.20pm next Sunday is everyone's time to go, and over the next three weeks we'll discover whether our lot are the sort to tackle the gunman or hide under a table. You'd like to think that they've come a long way since clamming up in Round 23 last year, and are about to have three opportunities to prove that they deserve to be considered the next big thing.

After a series of thrillers on Saturday, some interpreted Sunday's trifecta of massacres as a great result for the AFL's rule change campaign. Can't see why, all three games still dragged the average game score for the season up and would have provided plenty of opportunities for Channel 7 to show sexist Ultratune ads. That theory also ignores the fact that any 'trial' is a complete swizz that will have no bearing on a monopoly doing whatever it wants. A 6-6-6 lineup would have certainly helped scoring today, it probably would have led to the Suns and Carlton being even more spectacularly dismembered. While we're tormenting lesser teams why not remove a few rotations too? GWS playing with 16 was probably by league directive to test that out.

Whatever happens next year, it's a good time to be an at worst mid-table mediocrity again. Hopefully by the time our period of relevance is over (except in the unlikely event of doing a Sydney and hanging around like an unflushable nugget) Gil and Steve Hocking have been forced to escape AFL House in a helicopter like the Fall of Saigon and we can get back to enjoying the game instead of being told how awful it is. Until then it's incumbent on us to take advantage of whatever insane ideas they come up with by regularly clobbering the terminally horrible.

2018 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
5 - Jesse Hogan
4 - Christian Salem
3 - Dom Tyson
2 - Angus Brayshaw
1 - Clayton Oliver

Mega apologies to Garlett and Harmes. High level apologies to Vince, Frost, Jones, Jetta, Petracca and Lewis.

Leaderboard
The field has cleared out to the point where not only are Oliver and Gawn (but mainly Oliver) the likely winners, but Hogan's score involvement laden BOG only barely keeps him in range of a miracle comeback. The Hamburglar has done enough over the last couple of weeks to make a back-to-back win all but certain, and in a regulation no chance of finals season could clinch next week. We suggest Maximum realises that he needs finals to stand a chance and plays the game(s) of his life.

Meanwhile in the minors, Fritsch remains the only rookie with a vote on the board, but the real action is in the Seecamp where Salem has vaulted to a 1/3 share of the lead alongside Jetta and Lewis. With Hibberd and McDonald a further two votes back there is potential for the widest ranging tie in Demonblog award history.

53 - Clayton Oliver
42 - Max Gawn (WINNER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
--- No hope beyond here without at least three finals ---
29 - Jesse Hogan
--- Officially done for ---
17 - Tom McDonald
18 - Angus Brayshaw
16 - Bayley Fritsch (PROVISIONAL WINNER: Jeff Hilton Rising Star Medal)
14 - James Harmes, Nathan Jones
11 - Jake Melksham
9 - Christian Petracca
8 - Jack Viney
6 - Neville Jetta (JOINT LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Jordan Lewis (JOINT LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Alex Neal-Bullen, Christian Salem (JOINT LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
5 - Jeff Garlett, Mitch Hannan
4 - Michael Hibberd, Oscar McDonald
3 - Dean Kent, Jake Lever, Dom Tyson
1 - Cameron Pedersen, Joel Smith

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year
In lieu of any real stormers, I'll go for the team effort of Petracca, Oliver and Spargo in the first quarter. The 35-Year-Old Man finished it, and he should get credit for running to collect but on a day where his disposal was way more off than usual Oliver's kick was the real winner. Charlie will have to console himself with the clubhouse lead for the season after his goal in Geelong, and for the weekly prize he wins a lovely romantic dinner with the Melbourne FC players of his choice:

Given their minuscule constituency it feels rude to go into too much detail on Gold Coast's performance. All I will say is that there has never been a banner in the history of the game featuringa higher proportion of curtain. It forced the text into a couple of size 10 font lines at the top and made you feel like the Demon Army should actually take them under their wing as proteges because it was all a bit tragic.

Our banner looks to have risked the most amazing forfeit in history, only just holding together in the wind to win. How about the solid kerning at the top? To ram all that into one line and keep consistent letter size is the mark of true professionalism.
I'd have opted for "with very good reason" in the second line, but that's a minor quibble. Another knockout victory for the good guys. I lost count somewhere and already had us 19-0 for the year last week. That's what you get for going to a state school.

Matchday Experience Watch (incorporating Crowd Watch)
The role of MFC Promotions Manager is as much of a poison chalice as running the membership department circa 2013. First Hogan's Heroes was neutered because one contestant necked himself, now somebody's done a hammy running the Demon Dash. If one person out of 100 landing on their head was enough to take all the excitement out of our quarter time entertainment this latest injury should see the three quarter stuff rebranded The Demon Walk.

Otherwise undocumented moments like this are what I'm going to miss the most next year (and for god knows how many after). You can watch a game on delay without knowing the result, but you can never replace the thrill of seeing a random crash to the ground as if he'd been shot by a sniper. There are several months more for you the secret millionaire to give me a job that helps keep weekends free, otherwise somebody else is going to have to start cataloguing these small, otherwise insignificant moments of farce and/or shambles for the enjoyment of future generations. If you are ready to pay me a motza I'd like to get started in time for AFLW, but the way old Hamfisted Forever is running it I'll be able to chuck one sickie and see the entire season.

There were a surprising number of Gold Coast fans there. I reckon at least 50 in my section and another 50 behind the goals. If you extrapolate that across the ground there might have even been 500 there, and while it sounds like I'm taking the piss I'm actually impressed that they got that many. I've got no sympathy for anyone who changed clubs to watch them, but imagine if you were either a jilted Fitzroy fan willing to get back on after 15 years in the wilderness or were taking the game up for the first time in 2011 and chose to go for them. How upset would you be now watching GWS regularly contending (and we hope continuing to fail in September), knowing that if you'd held on for another year you could have gone for them instead? In the end it will be good for them to enjoy the struggle, especially safe in the knowledge that they could be down to the same 500 fans at home games and the AFL would still keep them afloat.

Next Week
The last time we played an eight point finals contention game it ended with fans kicking each other in the head, and next Sunday could reach a similar conclusion. If we win the door opens to any number of results working in our favour, if we lose it's either win in Perth or hope that more than one of the other challengers spontaneously combust.

We have every right to be scared of Lance (never Buddy) Franklin's return to form, but as odd as it sounds I'm confident in Frost's ability to take him on around the ground. I'm more concerned about feeding the reigning #1 intercept mark player in the competition Aliir Aliir Oxley-esque numbers. We'll start favourites, but not by much, and are still not confirmed finalists even if we win so it promises to be a madcap Sunday afternoon that will probably end in me clambering on top of a train and trying to grab the pantograph.

It's hard to make changes to a side that delivered such a violent beating, but we're not a charity and have to recognise that the challenge next week is about 99.9% more intense than the garbage served up by the Suns. Melksham is an obvious in, but now we're hearing his supposedly 'minor' hammy is actually only a 50/50 chance of coming off. This I do not like. Meanwhile in the absence of Smith, Hibberd would be handy but is at least a week away. As for Jack Viney I suspect his foot has been eaten by a flesh eating bacteria and they just haven't had the heart to tell us yet.

It's hard to take anything from Casey obliterating a rubbish Carlton side (who like the ones were 53-0 up at quarter time and 'only' won by 91), but if the Milkshake is unavailable I'm keen to understand where Dean Kent is at. He's the only emergency who didn't play for Casey so nothing to go on this week, but even though neither of them did much wrong I can't take Kennedy-Harris and vandenBerg in the same side when we need a playmaker. I don't even know what a 'playmaker' is, I just know Melksham is one and Kent somewhat reminds me of him. The original recipe would be preferred, but not at the expense of rushing him and missing out on the last two games.

Considering Smith is finished for the year, it was good timing for Pedersen to be in the bests but I'm scared of unleashing an emergency option in such a massive game. Instead I'm going for Hunt with the option of sending McSizzle back into defence if necessary. Although I'm not sure how keen I am on McDonald going back to his roots, there are still horrible memories of him trying to take a kick in against Collingwood last year and stuffing it right down the throat of a pre-useful Mason Cox. Could we bring in Pedersen as a defender then swap them if he gets eaten alive? That's just one of the many variables which will probably restrict me to about 10 hours sleep between now and next Sunday.

IN: Melksham (or Kent), Hunt
OUT: Kennedy-Harris (omit), Smith (inj)
LUCKY: vandenBerg (in a tight one vs JFK, because if McDonald goes forward AVB is more chance of playing a role inside 50)
UNLUCKY: Bugg (to be unlucky x2 when Gaff breaking somebody's jaw is deemed only as bad as him thumping a bloke who played the next week), Pedersen, Keilty.

The All New Bradbury Plan


We did our bit, nobody else other than the Adelaide Oval video reviewer joined in. Saturday was one of the wildest days for neutral games I can remember (because deep down who really cares when there's no impact on us?), with three different Plan friendly results teased then snatched away from us at the last minute. The worst of the lot was in Brisbane, where Cam Rayner took up the $cully Challenge for #1 picks working against our interests and missed a sitter with 30 seconds left that would have all but knocked North out.

Now my rolling Bradbury ladder has 5th to 8th all on 14-8 and you know who becoming the first team ever to miss on 13-9. If we beat GWS (and I suppose it could happen) that would bump us up to 5th on percentage and eliminate somebody on 14-8. This is the most insane run home in recorded history, a fact that seems to be ignored while we're concentrating on ramming rule changes up everyone's arse like a spectacle suppository.

At this point the categories are irrelevant, the straight how to vote card is where it's at. For Round 21 we suggest.

St Kilda d. Essendon (only relevant by the narrowest of margins)
Hawthorn vs Geelong is as close to a genuine 50/50 as anything. The obvious Bradbury selection would be to assassinate the lower placed Cats, but given they've got a piss easy run home and Hawthorn has to play Sydney in the last round I'm going to risk it all by going for Geelong. Amendment - Wednesday 08/08 I'm switching to Hawthorn
West Coast d. Port Adelaide (a few weeks ago I wasn't buying the Port collapse theory, now they're below us with the second toughest run-in. I have nothing against Watts but it would be funny if we made the eight and he didn't)
Brisbane d. Collingwood (not so bonkers, they did Hawthorn twice so why not go one step better than the last game against the Pies?)
Adelaide d. GWS (happy to wear the very slim chance of the Crows getting in ahead of us to keep the Giants in sight)
Footscray d. North (absolutely crucial result. Deeply unlikely that the Dogs win, but will either be massive for us as a potential knockout blow if we beat the Swans or a saver if we lose)

Looking forward there's not many realistic paths to us losing the last three and still making it other than Port doing likewise and finishing beneath us on percentage. All three of their games are live for the plan, and the other big hitters from Round 22 are GWS over Sydney (possibly not relevant if we lose next week) and Adelaide over North. That one in particular is crucial, let's hope they forget the whole Lever thing and us mocking them for kidnapping their players and do us a big fat favour. At the same time it's worth remembering after last year that nobody else is to be trusted and just keep winning.

P.S - I'm aware that some people are doing Top 4 plans, and I'd like them to know that in the 1500s they would have bound and thrown into a river to see if they floated.

Was it worth it?
Marginally less than it would have been if Fritsch converted after the siren, but let's celebrate it for the thumping win it was. It may turn out to be a Pyrrhic pounding, but for now all we can do is keep the faith and/or reopen our dormant betting accounts to have $50 on us to miss the eight at 9-1.

Final Thoughts
Step 1 in the journey of this side was not having every win feel like a grand slam.
Step 2 is thumping flotsam and still being a bit sour about not winning by more
Step 3 is to win massive games against fellow top eight contenders, and I know a good time to start.

4 comments:

  1. Watching Tyson take possession is akin to hitting the pause button.
    Whilst his kicking was mostly brilliant, his decision-making was far too slow...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fortunately in this case the opposition was like a fine mist.

      Delete
  2. I’d start McSizzle on Franklin next week. Franklin doesn’t have the stamina to chase repeatedly when Sizzle runs off him to create midfield/forward options. Even if it doesn’t work, Sizzle goes forward permanently and creates another headache for Sydney.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think Frost can do the same thing

      Delete