Tuesday, 12 November 2019

2019 End of Year 'Spectacular'

In the biggest surprise since Pearl Harbour we're back at the bottom of the ladder. While we wait to discover which of the last two years was a fluke, let's concentrate on the non-stop carnival of misery that was season 2019. Can't see why you wouldn't want to reminisce about it. In an equally significant surprise I've finished the end of the year post before December, so we'll get the party started after these important words...



And now, from a generic South Pacific republic about to be enveloped by rising sea waters, please welcome your host, back by popular demand, the man who has lived in a bunker since 2010.

Heyyyy, what's doing everyone? After that Collingwood fiasco at the end of 2017 it was all getting a bit too much for me and I decided to sit out season 2018. I didn't miss anything major while I was away did I?. Let me just catch up by rifling through these conveniently placed papers...

** Multiple scores of over 150. Bet we still missed the eight...
** The inevitable dip in the middle of the year. Yes, much as expected, how are we going to stuff this one up?
** Hold on, beating West Coast in Perth to make the eight. Are you sure this right?

Several minutes of dead air while he argues with a producer, so much so that the emergency broadcast tape kicks in:


** Well bugger me we did make the eight again, but I bet we did something stupid like lose our first final by 85 points? No? This is outstanding.
** Oh there it is, massive Preliminary Final capitulation. I told you that would happen. Well at least we've still got Jesse Hogan, so I suppose things only got better. How many finals did we play in this year?

He is handed a copy of the 2019 ladder.

** Oh for fuck's sake. Is this upside down? I'm off to drink varnish.

Well, I guess I'll just have to take over then. How's everyone going out there?

Crickets

Does anyone here follow... the Dees?

Some murmurs

Well stuff you then. Let's get on with it you miserable bastards. For our first two awards of the night let's return to a time where there was much hope and we believed anything might happen. The hotter the weather got, the more it looked like Melbourne might win a premiership of some sort. Then the women ended the season with one goal in mind, and the men weren't much better. Why would you support anyone else?

AFLW Season in Review

Here at Demonblog our crack team of reporters is right into AFLW, and we will continue to be until the last of the semi-professional joy is squeezed out of it and it becomes the same old sad corporate wankfest at the men's league. There's also a residual bitterness that we never finished off a flag in the first three years when we had the chance and now it's going to be downright impossible due to the over-eager expansion of the competition.

Round 1 vs Fremantle
What to expect when you're expecting
Where we immediately put ourselves on the back foot by losing to a team that was comprehensively trounced on their last visit to Casey Fields. Given this start it's a miracle we even got the chance to cock things up in the last round.

Round 2 vs Collingwood
Unsack everyone
Where I had to dial back my earlier demands to dismiss the entire coaching staff as we wobbled to an unconvincing win over a putrid Collingwood side. They didn't kick a goal until the last quarter and we still only confirmed victory late. In retrospect this should have exposed that the season wasn't going anywhere. Somehow we dragged it out for another five weeks and would have made finals if they had one combined ladder instead of bullshit conferences.

Round 3 vs Brisbane
Venue: Hickey, Opposition: Sucked
Where I was simultaneously thankful for a genuinely thumping win over a decent team, and for the chance to do a B+ novelty headline.

Round 4 vs North Melbourne
The Cardiac Club
Where after weeks of beating everyone without raising a sweat, the expansion North Melbourne side nearly came a cropper. A 2-2 record left us needing to win all our remaining games and have other sides fall over in front of us. Had we been in the loser conference it wouldn't have mattered a shit, and we'd have skated into the finals without raising a sweat.

Round 5 vs Greater Western Sydney
Protect and Survive
Where we avenged that shambolic season one defeat to GWS in Sydney but were still left so far behind that the Ms. Bradbury Plan (and indeed only Bradbury Plan for the year as it turned out) suggested we were bugger all chance of making finals, even with just under half the season to play.

Round 6 vs Footscray
The show goes on
Where I demonstrated a spectacular incompetence in understanding percentage and thought that this win (as thrilling as it was courtesy of a clutch Tegan Cunningham goal), meant we could beat Adelaide by any margin in the last round and make finals. Turns out my high school math teachers were correct, I couldn't count for shit.

Round 7 vs Adelaide
I did but see her premiership window pass by
Where we needed to upset a red-hot Adelaide by several goals to qualify for the Grand Final but ended the season as it began, looking silly at Casey. One goal for the day and our lowest score in the three seasons. It was almost Round 23, 2017-esque in its last round ineptitude.

Daisy Pearce Medal for Women's Player of the Year

In winning her second consecutive title Karen Paxman makes the idea that this award is named for one of her teammates seem a bit stupid. However, given that Daisy was unavailable this year due to furthering the survival of the human race it sets up a ripping 2020 contest. Even if Paxy wins x3 I'm not renaming it, but it will further prove that she's awesome.

They didn't win so they don't get their picture displayed, but credit also to Elise O'Dea on a third top three finish, and to Lauren Pearce, who blazed a trail for Max Gawn by threatening to become the first ruck to win a major Demonblog award for most of the season before being pipped in the closing weeks.

20 - Karen Paxman
18 - Elise O'Dea, Lauren Pearce
10 - Lily Mithen
9 - Tegan Cunningham, Maddison Gay
4 - Harriet Cordner, Meg Downie, Aleisha Newman
3 - Bianca Jakobsson
2 - Tyla Hanks, Kate Hore, Eden Zanker

Honour Roll
2017 - Daisy Pearce
2018 - Karen Paxman
2019 - Karen Paxman (2)

Paul Prymke Plate for Pre-Season Performance

And now the men, who unexpectedly proved to be as useless as tits on a bull. As wonky as the losses to Richmond and Brisbane were nobody would have believed we were going to be so bad after the pre-season. Except, as it turns out, the club, who'd internally been thumping the panic button until it needed replacing.

I was willing to overlook the two practice match losses on 1) beating the Pies in a low-intensity unofficial game where the coverage was interrupted for 10 minutes by somebody kicking a cord out, 2) the Richmond game being played in excessive temperature and 3) well, there isn't a #3 because I was genuinely concerned by the Brisbane game - especially Steven May's ongoing compulsion to assault Lions players.

It was the most average of times, but one man stood out above them all. In a leaderboard that looked a lot like the real thing (other than votes for Preuss and Smith), Maximum joined Nathan Jones as the only two time winner of the Plate. Build yourself an extension to the trophy cabinet son.

10 - Max Gawn
7 - Clayton Oliver
6 - Christian Petracca
5 - Angus Brayshaw, Christian Salem
4 - James Harmes, Braydon Preuss
3 - Joel Smith

Honour Roll
2008 - Aaron Davey
2009 - Cameron Bruce
2010 - Brad Green
2011 - Colin Sylvia
2012 - Nathan Jones
2013 - Nathan Jones (2)
2014 - Jeremy Howe
2015 - Heritier Lumumba
2016 - Jack Watts
2017 - Jesse Hogan, Jayden Hunt and Clayton Oliver
2018 - Max Gawn and Christian Petracca
2019 - Max Gawn (2)

2019 Year in Review Part 1

Must we? I'm not sure if I can handle this. Oh go on then. I've asked my wife to block up the air vents with newspaper so I'll probably be dead by Queen's Birthday anyway.

Practice match vs Collingwood
Or as it turned out, five to go. You couldn't seriously take a hands-off, early morning weekday practice match as a pointer to how the season would end up but at the same time it's hard to deny that this was the high point of optimism for 2019.

JLT Community Series Match 1 vs Richmond
Alternative commitments meant that for the first time in my life I had to block out a result until the next day. Wouldn't have been all that upset if I'd accidentally found out that we'd lost, and admittedly I came out of this thinking we hadn't done too badly. Sure we blew a four goal lead (actually this was the high point of optimism) and lost, but a spread of 12 goalkickers including four between McDonald and Weideman suggested that all was well post-Hogan. It was not.

Also, Preuss stamped himself as a novelty character by doing this:
By the end of the year the only person picking up anything was Grimes collecting another premiership medallion.

JLT Community Series Match 2 vs Brisbane
Panic on the streets of Cranbourne
Still got no idea what JLT do, but I know what Steven May does - belt Brisbane players. He gets the red mist whenever he sees their colours. I know the feeling, by Round 23 I had the same reaction to the Melbourne jumper. A suspension for light but stupid contact started a disappointing season for him, but he did more than Joel Smith - who looked like a star kicking four here but also blew his grundle to the bejesus belt, inexplicably played on, and was never seen again, prompting his dad to blow up on Facebook like a stereotypical 50 year old man.

Round 1 vs Port Adelaide
Extraordinary people doing bloody ordinary things
At three goals to nil halfway through the first quarter it was so far so 2019. By quarter time McSizzle kicked one and was so confident he could gift another to Melksham. Then *sound of a balloon rapidly deflating*. By half time we looked dire, and after a three goal burst early in the third quarter briefly regained the lead we went to sea again, not kicking another goal for the quarter. Still, that left us going into the last within 12 points and a Spirit of '18 style goal blitz couldn't be ruled out. Then we didn't score again and Nathan Jones did a blunder so spectacular that I'm not even going to subject you to a replay. Things didn't get much better for him in the next 21 games.

Round 2 vs Geelong
Let thine eyes with horror stare into that vast perpetual torture house
Realistically the only place worse for rebooting the season than Kardinia Park would have been the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, but I tried to remain calm, describing Geelong as "gettable" shortly before they beat us by 80. You can't say we didn't have chances. In a display of impotency that John Wayne Bobbit would have flinched at we kicked six goals from 70 inside 50 entries. For once the worst stat in the world told an accurate story. Meanwhile, at the other end Geelong was kicking goals for fun, May got injured on debut, Angus Brayshaw was offered potato chips over the fence, and we went home in a substantial trench.

Round 3 vs Essendon
Four quarters and a funeral
In a Friday night battle of teams that have offered their supporters non-stop aggravation for years, our season came to a screaming halt. Unlike Kardinia Park our forward line fired. Unfortunately this was at the expense of the backline playing like they'd taken Magic Mushrooms. Afterwards I ran into an Essendon supporting colleague and cut a sour promo on how they wouldn't beat any good teams playing like that. That was one of the few predictions I got right in 2019.

Comment of the evening went to The Hamburglar:
Round 4 vs Sydney
The comeback is on
At four goals down in the second quarter I was rifling through my cupboard looking for hemlock, then the emotional rollercoaster carried us all the way back up to hope of a 2006 style revival. Nathan Jones had the best bit of his season with a couple of well taken goals, we won comfortably in the end, and for the briefest few moment it looked like there was something in the tank..

Also, Braydon Preuss did this and I fell in love.
Sadly, bar a goal in the first 30 seconds the next week, it never got any better for him. Didn't get any better for the club either, spiraling back towards the bottom of the ladder almost immediately.

Round 5 vs St Kilda
The comeback is off
Even when we had a surprising loss to the Saints in 2018 it came after 15 minutes of domination. This time 30 seconds of superiority before going tits up and letting a distinctly ordinary team look like world-beaters. Any faith I had left went out the window here. Meanwhile, Alan Richardson's side sat second on the ladder at 4-1, and there's no way he'd have know he'd be working for the opposition 12 months later. I hope his first act as the [insert job title here] was to roll the tape on this game and tell Goodwin where we went wrong.

Round 6 vs Richmond
Best we forget
Even with the Tigers at their (relatively) lowest ebb, beset by injuries and sitting outside the eight there didn't seem much hope of toppling them. I turned up out of loyalty and was surprised when we got the early jump. Sadly the jump turned into a plummet and for the last three quarters we played at a level that wouldn't have qualified for the VFA. As that glorious banner once used to taunt Collingwood fans on Queen's Birthday said: SEASON OVER. Also - Jack Viney was bumped into oblivion by a first year player.

Round 7 vs Hawthorn
Not drowing, waving
In a week where we put Christian Petracca in a swimming pool and left him to sink, our season was also saved from a near-death scenario with what would have been a famous win in a good year but has instead already been forgotten. Fittingly Petracca was the amongst the most buoyant at the end, playing a key role in the victory. Match also famous for Hawthorn's shithouse banner and one of the world's worst non-50 calls.

Round 8 vs Gold Coast
We got the goldmine, they got the shaft
Now, this will be remembered long into the future. The last 90 seconds anyway, everything before that was as pleasant as finding dog vomit on your carpet when you don't have a dog. Everyone knows what happened next, but just think if we hadn't pulled off that spectacular comeback Gold Coast probably wouldn't have got a priority pick. Which would be fine except we'd all have necked ourselves and not been around to see Melbourne use pick 1.

Round 9 vs West Coast
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** ***k
After wobbling over the line against one Coast, I didn't much fancy our chances of going to the opposite side of the country and rumbling the other. We gave it a furious bash, and who's to say that a win leaving us 4-5 wouldn't have been the springboard to bigger and better things? We'll never know, like many games we finished as if completely maggotted and didn't even get within 10 points. Some As The Locals Like it umpiring in the last quarter didn't help, but we easily did as much damage to our own chances as they did. Also involved Mark of the Year being taken on us for the second consecutive season and players standing around dumbfounded while some poon who fell arse backwards into a flag taunted Sir Max. We didn't have one player suspended in the regular season, it's almost like nobody gave the fattest rat's clacker.

Round 10 vs Greater Western Sydney
Can't get there from here
Emblematic of our season we were woefully outmatched, but the opposition pulled the pin just time to let us get out of it with a margin that didn't cause the entire football community to come down on us like a tonne of bricks. This was the first time this year I had to check the lowest scores I'd ever seen in person at three quarter time just in case we didn't kick more goals. We just go away with it but without any honour. GWS made the Grand Final and discovered what it feels like to be comprehensively outplayed on the MCG.

Round 11 vs Adelaide
(I Just) Died In The Arse Tonight
After lamenting how we only started playing against the Giants when they were a mile in front (or more appropriately when they gave up), this was a lesson in being careful what you wished for. We lost again, this time in heartbreaking fashion. Sam Weideman was the face of defeat as his last ditch set shot missed, but there were plenty of guilty parties as we spent the last quarter in a far less sweatier than usual Darwin unsuccessfully peppering away at goal like arseholes. Would it have made a difference if we'd won? Probably not.

Jeff Hilton Rising Star Medal

Like being the best captain on a crashed plane there's not as much prestige in winning this award in a year when we were complete wank. Usually in terrible seasons this award is highly competitive due to the large number of new players being trialled, but in this case there wasn't even that. 

The loose criteria allows Marty Hore to win at age 23, and fair enough too. I stand by my claims that he is Neville Jetta's natural successor, and though injury and form (both his and the team's) slowed him down towards the end of the year it was still a fair step-up from VFL to AFL, and we should get several more years out of him.

From next year the eligibility rules for the Hilton will change, it will now be open to anyone with less than five games AFL experience at the start of the year. This means Tom Sparrow remains eligible, while Kyle Dunkley is shafted out of a start by one match.

11 - Marty Hore
6 - Jay Lockhart
0 - Kade Chandler, Oskar Baker, Kyle Dunkley, Declan Keilty, Tom Sparrow

Honour Roll
2005 - No players eligible.
2006 - Matthew Bate
2007 - Michael Newton
2008 - Cale Morton
2009 - Jack Grimes ($4 fav)
2010 - [REVOKED] ($5)
2011 - Jeremy Howe ($30)
2012 - Tom McDonald ($8)
2013 - Jack Viney ($5)
2014 - Jay Kennedy-Harris ($15)
2015 - Jesse Hogan ($4.50)
2016 - Jayden Hunt ($50) and Christian Petracca ($10)
2017 - Mitch Hannan ($15)
2018 - Bayley Fritsch ($4.50 fav)
2019 - Marty Hore ($8 fav)

Demonbracket VIII

Or as it was better known, the year I got a bit sick of it. The humiliation of forgetting to include Steven May in the draw didn't help, and we pledge to be better in 2020.

Considering my barely concealed disinterest for the competition - which might have been a portent of evil for the season to come - the voters certainly came out of the woodwork, as we expanded to Demonland for the first time.

For about the sixth straight year there was barely an upset to be had in the early rounds, before the people chose Clayton Oliver as their #1, putting him past big names like Viney, Gawn, then Jetta in a Grand Final thriller that was the best match of the season.

See you in January for edition IX, where Oliver and Gawn will start on opposite sides of the draw and the red-hottest of favourites to go through to the final. Surprise me and set Austin Bradtke off on a magic giant-killing run.

Honour Roll
2012 - James Frawley d. Nathan Jones
2013 - Tom McDonald d. Mitch Clark
2014 - Nathan Jones d. Jack Watts
2015 - Nathan Jones d. Dom Tyson
2016 - Jack Viney d. Nathan Jones
2017 - Max Gawn d. Jack Viney
2018 - Neville Jetta d. Clayton Oliver
2019 - Clayton Oliver d. Neville Jetta

In Memoriam

Lots of assistant coaches
I have no idea what these people actually do so it's hard to get upset. Which is not to say they aren't useful, certainly more so than people who spout shite over the internet, but it seems like a revolving door of cogs in the wheel. The only one I'll be sad to lose is Stone Cold Craig Jennings, whose emotion free box antics gave us so much joy last year. Didn't have as much to not get excited over this season, and ironically when we beat Gold Coast he went off his nut. Probably should have known it was over for him at that point. He clearly covets a senior job, which should prove interesting when he has to front the media five times a week.

Sam Frost
While fully accepting the theory that his antics do as much harm as good I'm legitimately glum about this. In a season where we were as interesting as watching paint dry his escaped circus animal act was one of the few reasons to continue watching. Now we're going all in on Lever and May, who have spent all their time with us either injured or suspended, Harrison Petty, and Oscar McDonald, whose career has hit the skids but probably doesn't need fans treating him like Idi Amin. Vale to the era of free expression and outright turbo insanity.

Jeff Garlett
Speaking of people who played like they were loose on ice without skates, here's Jeff (For the last time never Jeffy), somebody who gave us great joy at a discount price for about 2.5 seasons, was there or thereabouts for one, and no bloody where for the rest. Still, fantastic value for what we paid. All the best highlights will come from the first couple of years, especially one pearler of a goal from the boundary line against Richmond on Anzac Eve. He goes home with the most nominations for goal of the year but never won it.

Joy of life and the dignity of being a finals contender
As much as I expected this to continue for a couple of seasons, is anyone really surprised at things going wrong at the first opportunity? What an absolutely Melbourne turn of events, on par with the drop from 2002 to 2003, only with a significantly younger list and at the end of that disastrous campaign we got a priority pick instead of watching some other pricks bank one for being marginally less terrible.

Celebrity fan Natalie Portman
Wonder what she thought of it all.

Declan Keilty
Deserved a go for sheer perseverance but never really looked likely at senior level. Cards marked when he couldn't get a game in a forward line held together by sticky tape and converted defenders at the end of the year. As far as two game MFC careers go it was better than Tom Gillies or Isaac Weetra, not as good as Danny Hughes or Adrian Campbell (five goals!) and on a par with Troy Davis or Hayden Lamaro.

Jordan Lewis
Much piss was taken out of him over the last couple of seasons, and not just for the synthetic hair, but no doubt he played a key role in his first two years. Not often that successful players pick Melbourne, even at the tail end of their career, so I'm just grateful to have been wanted. Career highlights packages will contain scant MFC footage but I'll always remember the kicking backwards scam he cooked up with Anal-Bullet to beat Carlton. Back as an assistant coach, which is probably where he should have been shunted to midway through 2019.

Corey Maynard
Scored Jakovich votes on debut, got dropped, had one more ill-advised appearance as a tagger and was never seen outside the VFL again. Injury finished him off but I'm legitimately upset that we didn't get more of an opportunity to see him in the seniors because I reckon he'd have done a half decent job.

Billy Stretch
Like Frost I recognise the science behind this but still don't feel good about it. I know you've got to cut somebody to make room for imports, and admittedly 47 games should be long enough to pass judgement but I reckon he was handy. Never played a great game (career total in the Jakovich - 8 votes) but was safe enough when he did play that you didn't want to self immolate. I didn't anyway, you were welcome to torch yourself over him at any time. Speaking of players who provoked ridiculous, attention seeking public protests....

Jay Kennedy-Harris
When they do a list of all the players we've had over the years who were great at VFL level but couldn't translate it to the big time he'll be up there. Has been a handy enough depth player for the last few years but time to try something else. We'll always have the vaguely racist insinuation that he could be a small forward just because of his heritage.

Pick 2
You could argue that karma finally got us for 2009 and the semi-whitewash of the Tankquiry. Alternatively you could point out that we were much worse in 2013 and got fuck all. All the focus was on Gold Coast's 18 game losing streak, but let's say they spread them out during the year, does that make them a better team? I'd say they weren't that bad in the first place. Speaking of things handed to the Suns on a platter...

Darwin
From a sweaty Mark Jamar conducting his post-match interview to Weideman missing his chance to this year we've ridden the gamut of emotions at Marrara Stadium from A to Bullshit. Remember when the crowd was bolstered with US Marines and even they, never having seen the sport before, knew we were cactus? It was the same night Jeremy Howe ill-advisedly wiped his blood on an opponent and nearly took Mark of the Year. Maybe also when Sam Blease got so excited at kicking a goal in the second quarter that he high fived the crowd.

So much the better that we get another MCG game but I say where's the $600k shortfall going to be covered? Win games and make money they say. Look at last year's financial report when we did and tell me where we'd have been without half the NT money I say. Congratulations to the AFL on not scheduling us as the away team for Gold Coast next year.

Next year's first round pick
This is either going to be genius or something to be mocked about for the next 20 years. Historically I know which one is more likely.

Profitability
The post-2018 membership boost kept something in the tank, which will probably be wiped out by the Anzac Eve/Queen's Birthday away games and the shouse crowds for the last three home games when fans were ready to put their head in the oven. So instead of boffo money we'll probably break even, and might again next season when you factor in the inevitable membership drop but the pair of home blockbusters. Then the pokies go and we've got to find another $2 million under the couch. Still reckon we're a chance of being allowed to wither and die without long term stability. And on that cheerful note...

Welcome to my vendetta

Darren Burgess
Don't pretend to know if this is a good thing or not. The cycle of fitness gurus is they're lauded as geniuses when hired, then everyone turns on them after two hamstrings explode, and by year five they're either the genius behind a flag or scapegoat for everything, including collision injuries that they couldn't have any control over.

Alan Richardson
NFI what he's supposed to be doing but the internet tells me this is a good thing. If all goes wrong, which I'm not convinced it will, he'll be in line for a crack at the job. I think the people, myself included, will inevitably demand Adem Yze because a) he used to play for us, and more importantly b) has come from a club that wins trophies for fun. 

Ed Langdon
Runs fast, kicks [?], hangs his tongue out all the time and has the hair of a 15-year-old girl in a commission flat. As we learnt from the Frost experience I'm easily seduced by speed, so look forward to acres of excuses for his clangers while simultaneously scourging Angus Brayshaw for a few loose kicks into the forward 50.

Adam Tomlinson
I don't know what he does, but I do know we gave him the only win of his first 30 odd games of league football so he's got to have a soft spot for us somewhere. Paid attention to him for the first time during the Grand Final, was probably a bad time to start.

Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year

Quite the rooting here. For the second year in a row Max is the only man to score. He's been dominant for so long that the last other ruckman to score was Jake Spencer. It's not easy to even get the 10 hitouts per game to qualify - only six players on the list had 10 in total. That left Max (39.47 per game) and Preuss (19) in the field. Maximum got a lot of votes, Preuss made it to the apologies once. 

This is Max's fifth win in a row in this category, extending his record haul to six Stynes' in total. 

56 - Max Gawn
0 - Braydon Preuss
DNQ - Austin Bradtke, Tom McDonald, Sam Weideman

Honour Roll
2005 - Jeff White
2006 - Jeff White (2)
2007 - Jeff White (3)
2008 - Paul Johnson
2009 - Mark Jamar ($3)
2010 - Mark Jamar (2) ($1.50 fav)
2011 - Stefan Martin ($30)
2012 - Stefan Martin (2) ($12)
2013 - Jack Fitzpatrick ($50) and Max Gawn ($45)
2014 - Mark Jamar (3) ($5)
2015 - Max Gawn (2) ($10)
2016 - Max Gawn (3) ($1.80 fav)
2017 - Max Gawn (4) ($1.25 fav)
2018 - Max Gawn (5) ($1.10 fav)
2019 - Max Gawn (6) ($1.50 fav)

2019 Year in Review Part 2

Round 12 vs Collingwood
Declaration of bore
The first away Queen's Birthday game since [can't be bothered looking it up] ended like most of the home ones. We went down without much of a fight to opposition so confident that their players were comfortable betting on themselves to kick goals. We didn't kick goals full stop, this left our tally in 'blockbusters' as 13.21 in eight quarters. This was the point where people started fantasising about sacking the coach, as if we can a) take the piss out of the only guy to get us to the finals since Neale Daniher and, b) afford to pay him out.

Round 14 vs Fremantle
Shelter from the Storm
What might have been another miserable afternoon was saved by the Dockers losing a bunch of players to injury by three quarter time, including the late Jesse Hogan, allowing us to stage a popular last term revival, powered by the all of a sudden much-maligned Tom McSizzle. By now some of us were still harbouring ambitions of mid-table mediocrity, while others were depressed that we were damaging our position in the draft. There was something coming for that lot, we called it the last seven rounds.

Round 15 vs Brisbane
What a terrible mess I've made of my life
I don't think it will have the same impact as the Hawthorn 2007 pre-season game, but here was two teams crossing in opposite directions. We did enough to make it interesting until the third quarter before the locals kicked away. The highlight was undoubtedly Steven May telling off Frost for being butchered in a couple of contests, leaving some delusional people thinking that was why Frost left.

Round 16 vs Carlton
Survivor Series
A near reverse of the Freo game, where we were the ones who lost all our players for the last quarter. This time we just held on, against a team that had been even worse than us in the first half of the year but would ultimately dash finish two games and 6% better off. It featured a welcome full return to form for McSizzle, who had six goals when he was crippled by an innocuous collision. It was a bit like Mitch Clark being stepped on when he was set to kick a bag against the Giants in 2012, hopefully not with the same tragic ending. Jayden Hunt kicked a clutch goal to win it - god bless him - yet Carlton went within one post-length of snatching a draw. Good times.

Round 17 vs Western Bulldogs
Same Old Story
A solid gold opportunity to pull away from the bottom of the table with a third win from four blown in a contest memorable for little else than Harrison Petty going forward for the first time in his life out of necessity, taking bucket handed marks and kicking three goals. Otherwise, the first of two disappointing outings at a ground we'd started to play well at.

Round 18 vs West Coast
17 and counting
For the second time we gave the Eagles a scare before packing it in after three quarter time. In front of a 'home' Alice Springs crowd that largely couldn't give a toss for anything not wearing yellow, we climbed out of a 20 point crater at quarter time to lead at the last change before finishing with a one goal last term. That was 2.5 combined in last quarters against the Eagles, both times from winning positions. Says almost everything you need to know about how we were prone to going down like an Indonesian airliner under the slightest pressure.

Round 19 vs St Kilda
You'll Never Walk Again
After pledging weeks earlier not to get upset for the rest of the year I stuck to my plan for three and a half quarters, before snapping and going off my face in the last 15 minutes when we rolled over and carked it again. It was deadset piss, and injury-riddled side or not everyone involved except this lady deserved censure.
Round 20 vs Richmond
Everybody Hurts
The first half of a weekend that should have been a financial windfall started with a stadium full of away Tigers fans watching their side toy with us like a wild beast pondering when to deliver the coup de grace to its helpless prey. By this point I had to accept the reality that my beloved Nathan Jones, a titan across 10 years of unending sadness, was starting to look like a broken down horse dreaming of the knackery.

Round 21 vs Collingwood
Longshot kicks bucket
Even less of our fans backed up the next week, leading to the lowest MCG crowd between the sides since Ron Barassi was in charge. The ones who stayed away were right for the first three and a half quarters when we were threatening an abysmally low score, but I got to see Oscar McDonald kick a goal in person so stuff it. Nearly missed the momentous event while tooling around on my phone as bored as buggery with this shitbox season.

Round 22 vs Sydney
Friday night and the gates are low
Could have stretched myself and gone on a few hours sleep, did the sensible thing and decided to stay home and watch on the Megawall I acquired early in the season with the new Demonblog Towers. Didn't see one win on the wall all year, but to be fair I only saw two in person. After two disappointing but far from abysmal performances against top teams we went to pieces here against mid-level slop, letting them treat us with contempt not befitting the fact that we beat them running away five months earlier. If I'd gone the night would have ended in making contact with overhead wires at Jolimont Station. Some UFC bloke was pictured holding our jumper before the game and was surprisingly not mortally wounded in his next fight.

Round 23 vs North Melbourne
The battle of who could care less
A year unexpectedly from hell ended in none-more-Melbourne fashion, losing, and by under a goal for the third time out of three against North in Hobart. Bonus points for going down in shambolic fashion, holding a lead until the last 90 seconds then cracking like an egg and allowing them through for the winner. The four points went begging - and we'd still have finished 17th so you were morally ok to enjoy a win no matter what your position is on tampering with the draft order.

Best Finals Player

Piss off.

Honour Roll
2005 - Not awarded
2006 - Brock McLean
2007-2017 - Not relevant
2018 - Jack Viney
2019-TBD - Not relevant

Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year

After five years of double figure odds winners the favourites are back in business. Salem rides his hot start to the year to register a comfortable victory. Had Fritsch gotten any closer he might have been in danger of being DQed for registering most of his points as a forward but he did play the majority of the season in defence.

Salem becomes only the second man ever to win the Seecamp twice, leaving him in hot pursuit of four time champion James Frawley. With Frost now after Frawley at the Hawks, the man to watch in 2020 is Steven May. His strong performance from limited games suggests I have a tremendous bias towards him, which should help him if he plays enough games.

27 - Christian Salem
19 - Bayley Fritsch
15 - Steven May
11 - Marty Hore
7 - Sam Frost
6 - Michael Hibberd
1 - Jordan Lewis
0 - Neville Jetta, Jake Lever, Oscar McDonald, Josh Wagner
DQ - Jayden Hunt, Tom McDonald, Harrison Petty

Honour Roll
2005 - Nathan Carroll and Ryan Ferguson
2006 - Jared Rivers
2007 - Paul Wheatley
2008 - Matthew Whelan
2009 - James Frawley ($22)
2010 - James Frawley (2) ($3.50)
2011 - James Frawley (3) ($4)
2012 - Jack Grimes ($7)
2013 - James Frawley (4) ($2.80)
2014 - Lynden Dunn ($25)
2015 - Tom McDonald ($14)
2016 - Neville Jetta ($13)
2017 - Michael Hibberd ($16)
2018 - Christian Salem ($20)
2019 - Christian Salem (2) ($4.75 fav)

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year

Nobody was surprised when Hore won the Hilton, but this is the most outrageous twist in the award's short and wonderful history. He's only got one for his career but it was a bloody pearler, kicked on the run, from outside 50 at an absolutely clutch moment when we still had an outside chance of rescuing something from this diabolical season. Spoiler - we didn't.

We also say farewell to Hall of Fame medal legend Jeff Garlett, the most nominated player of all time. Unlucky never to win it, possibly because we thought him doing unreal things was par for the course and didn't get as excited as we did for others unexpectedly doing something ace.

Nominees
Round 1 - Christian Petracca
Round 2 - Jay Lockhart
Round 3 - Corey Wagner
Round 4 - Braydon Preuss (these are the weirdest nominees ever)
Round 5 - Braydon Preuss (2)
Round 6 - Jay Lockhart (2)
Round 7 - Alex Neal-Bullen
Round 8 - Marty Hore
Round 9 - Jayden Hunt
Round 10 - Oskar Baker
Round 11 - Nathan Jones
Round 12 - Christian Petracca (2)
Round 14 - Jay Lockhart (3)
Round 15 - Bayley Fritsch
Round 16 - Jayden Hunt (2)
Round 17 - Jordan Lewis
Round 18 - Clayton Oliver
Round 19 - Christian Petracca (3)
Round 20 - Jordan Lewis (2)
Round 21 - Oscar McDonald
Round 22 - Billy Stretch (not official as it wasn't actually a goal, but I was clearly depressed by this point and willing to do weird things)
Round 23 - Alex Neal-Bullen (2)

Honour Roll
2014 - Christian Salem
2015 - Nathan Jones
2016 - Jack Watts
2017 - Tom McDonald
2018 - Mitch Hannan
2019 - Marty Hore

All time nominations (2014-2019)

16 - Jeff Garlett
11 - Christian Petracca
7 - Jack Watts
6 - Jayden Hunt, Jake Melksham
5 - Mitch Hannan, Jesse Hogan, Nathan Jones, Dean Kent, Bernie Vince
4 - Tom McDonald, Cameron Pedersen
3 - Max Gawn, Jordan Lewis, Jay Lockhart, Jack Viney
2 - Angus Brayshaw, Chris Dawes, Mark Jamar, Alex Neal-Bullen, Clayton Oliver, Braydon Preuss, Chrisian Salem, Dom Tyson
1 - Oskar Baker, Sam Blease, Chris Dawes, Jack Fitzpatrick, Bayley Fritsch, Sam Frost, Marty Hore, Matt Jones, Ben Kennedy, Jay Kennedy Harris, Heritier Lumumba, Oscar McDonald, Ben Newton, Aidan Riley, Charlie Spargo, Corey Wagner

2019 Allen Jakovich Medal for Player of the Year


And now, the main event of the evening. Where we pay tribute to Max Gawn, a man who stood taller than 10 Max Gawns with a Charlie Spargo on their shoulder while all crumbled around him. Somehow he got hosed into having the share the Best and Fairest (we still love you Clayton xoxoxoxo) but in this arena he is king.

He needed a last round BOG to make sure of it, but there's no doubting Maximum's contribution to the cause. He's either sole captain in 2020 or we punch on.

Don't just focus on the taps, as good an exhibition of an otherwise useless statistic that they were, think about how many times his bucket handed marking got us out of the shit this year (at least temporarily) and how often he'd contest the centre bounce then win the clearance as well. What a man. What a mighty fine man.

Congratulations also to the ruck fraternity for their first title. That just leaves defenders and key position forwards to break their duck.

56 - Max Gawn
49 - Clayton Oliver
32 - James Harmes
27 - Christian Salem
21 - Jack Viney
19 - Bayley Fritsch, Jake Melksham, Christian Petracca
15 - Steven May
13 - Angus Brayshaw
11 - Marty Hore
9 - Nathan Jones
8 - Jayden Hunt
7 - Sam Frost
6 - Michael Hibberd, Jay Lockhart
4 - Tom McDonald, Billy Stretch
2 - Harrison Petty, Corey Wagner
1 - Jordan Lewis

Honour Roll
2005 - Travis Johnstone
2006 - Brock McLean
2007 - Nathan Jones
2008 - Cameron Bruce
2009 - Aaron Davey ($8)
2010 - Brad Green ($4)
2011 - Brent Moloney ($9)
2012 - Nathan Jones (2) ($3.50)
2013 - Nathan Jones (3) ($2)
2014 - Nathan Jones (4) ($3.50)
2015 - Jack Viney ($15)
2016 - Nathan Jones (5) ($8)
2017 - Clayton Oliver ($35)
2018 - Clayton Oliver (2) ($3.25 fav)
2019 - Max Gawn ($9)

A million congratulations to Max, who can be justifiably proud of his effort in hoisting 38 other men on his shoulder and carrying them across the swamp. If we gave out courage under fire awards he'd have been mentioned in dispatches for 20 weeks.

On a personal note thank you again for your support of everything I've done across this difficult year. The option of whinging on the internet is the best thing about being a Melbourne fan. Imagine having to relive the 1970s or early 1980s without being able to dash off abusive tweets?

But now, to 2019 we say farewell and piss right off you spawn of Satan. Bring it in boys...



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