Tuesday, 10 March 2020

International Day of Record Wins

Remember the days when a Melbourne side would discover completely outmatched opposition and pummel them into submission? If so, you probably think fondly of the month in 2018 when the men were an attacking juggernaut, the likes of which we hadn't seen in years. Most of the rest of the time they struggle to kick 6.6.42. Likewise the women, who have spent the last two seasons struggling to wins with scores that are even low by AFLW standards. This was partial redemption, dismantling an expansion side that were in more trouble than the early settlers from the first bounce.

For undisclosed reasons I watched the pre-game with subtitles and the very first thing I read was "it's windy at Casey". What a surprise. Shortly afterwards Bec Goddard was referred to as Adelaide premiership coach 'God God', which is a nice promotion for her. After that I had to go to mute, subtitles coming up five seconds after the play is fine when you don't care about the result, but for your own team it's too distracting.

Simply being better than the opposition isn't enough for this side, I've seen us dominate and come out with nothing to show for it more than once. One goal doesn't mean much, but there were still absolute SCENES for the #releaseTex community when Sarah Perkins - finally taking advantage of our black death style injury list to get a game - nailed a hapless defender holding the ball directly in front. As keen as I was on her kicking the goal she resisted the temptation to play for person glory by passing to Eden Zanker in a better position. She converted, and for about the second time in four seasons we scored a goal first, instead of working our way there via a series of misses.

Considering the wind we should have had more, but you could argue it wasn't a factor at all given our rampant fourth quarter. Maybe the Patron Saint of Broadcasting, Jason Bennett explained what was going on. I'll never know. You don't want to be greedy, but two goals was poor reward for playing all over them. There was dozens of opportunities, and Tex was in everything, but it took the Irish combination of Goldrick and McEvoy to get the next one. Unless Brian set up Jim or vice-versa, and given that Sean Wight was born in Scotland, it might have been the first all-Irish goal in club history.

The chances kept coming but to no avail. However, while we still may be the only team ever to keep opposition to zero inside 50s in the first quarter and still lose, it was clear that West Coast were completely crap and there was no chance of them launching a surprise victory. Then just as I relaxed wouldn't you know it, from the first attack of the second quarter the Eagles kicked a goal from 40 metres out on the boundary line. As with the men, the phrase "here we go" got an airing. Unlike the men, we then kept the opposition goalless for the next two quarters and 19 minutes.

West Coast had one last go in them before the white flag went up, once they missed a chance to level the scores they reverted to being expansion strugglers. They didn't even score again, which looked unlikely when they briefly had control of the game in the middle of the quarter, but broke down going forward even worse than we usually do. Being an expansion side didn't stop St Kilda finding a cannon-legged forward, but they had less than zero in attack.

Via a series of handballs that walked the tightrope between quality ball movement and "can't somebody else do it?" panic, we settled the question of Collapse or No Collapse immediately after half time. From there the rest was a procession. As a demonstration of how expansion sides should be treated cruelly this was a far better effort than the St Kilda fiasco, a fair few inside 50s were blown via panicky hit and hope kicks, but we converted some of them. Which is more than you can for the last three quarters at Moorabbin.

It was a who's who of goalkickers in the Melbourne forward line, Hore, Zanke and Scott. Even Cunningham, who has been shizen this year, and was ready to be written off after one kick didn't make the distance from 30 metres out redeemed herself. As far as forwards went I was all about Tex, even though she didn't kick a goal until right at the end her work on the ground was admirably desperate and she was always working to set up her teammates. Let's keep her. Hopefully it's an option when other players start coming back.

The best goal of the lot, and how nice to have one where there's a lot of options, was Shelley Scott mastering the Casey Fields wind to put through a set shot that swung so hard it looked like it came from the hand of Wasim Akram.

West Coast could have played until Wednesday and not reached our score, so there was no concern about blowing it spectacularly at the death. We do things on a grander scale, botching entire seasons in the last game. No drama here, they started thinking about what a prick of a trip it would be from Cranbourne to the airport, became depressed, and surrendered to brutal defeat.

There was no sense of theatre from the umpire when #ReleaseTex snatched the ball, played on, and kicked a high, wacky bouncing goal around the corner that got called back after a free. Looked in one motion after the free from me. Fortunately, Parry did the right thing and converted anyway.

That put us in range of the 54 point record winning margin from season one against Freo. As a fanatic for novelty statistics I was almost off the chair when a Lily Mithen set shot was headed for goal and looked to have crossed the line before falling short at the last minute. There was some sort of indeterminate goalmouth scramble that ended with a rushed point and I started to get gloomy about missing out. It was like when we hammered Carlton in 2018 and I reached a state of ecstasy of such pure ecstasty in the last quarter that I would have been genuinely upset to 'only' win by 99 points.

Enter your friend and mine Tex, finally getting reward for an excellent game with a pass that left her kicking for the record after the siren. Not sure she was thinking too deeply about extending the margin beyond 54 points, but I certainly was, riding it home like a kick after the siren to win. Through it went, and the indignity of being powerbombed by our greatest ever margin shifted from one part of Western Australia to another. Dry your eyes with iron ore.

Daisy Pearce Medal for Player of the Year
5 - Karen Paxman
4 - Eden Zanker
3 - Elise O'Dea
2 - Shelley Scott
1 - Sinead Goldrick

Leaderboard
It will be hard for Birch to drag this back. Hard enough to get votes as a defender anyway, let alone having to recover 11 in somewhere between three and five games.

23 - Karen Paxman (PROVISIONAL WINNER)
12 - Libby Birch
9 - Kate Hore
6 - Elise O'Dea, Shelley Scott
5 - Maddie Gay, Daisy Pearce
4 - Eden Zanker
3 - Tyla Hanks
1 - Harriet Cordner, Sinead Goldrick



Another walkover victory, I'm going to stop doing this in pre-season and AFLW if other teams aren't going to take things serious. 3-2-0 for the season.

Ad Chat
The Tyla Hanks for Bunnings ad was an unexpected addition to the collection of MFC players in commercials. I rated her performance below that of Mitch Clark for Ultratune and Daisy Pearce for Chemist Warehouse, but above Jack Watts for Energy Watch.

Next Week
Carlton on Saturday night at 'TP'. Turns out this is Traeger Park and not 'toilet paper'. You want spectacle? Replace the footy with a roll of Quilton and players will tear each other apart to win the hard ball.

With the Bulldogs unexpectedly as bad as the expansion teams (Libby Birch was right, they are a rabble), the race for the top three is down to four. We've got a game on Collingwood now, so a win over the Blues would leave us needing a spectacular Greg Norman-esque choke to miss out. On the other hand, lose and the next trip is to Perth for a Freo side in good form, so might be worth barracking hard against the Pies for the next few weeks just in case we stuff it up. There's also significant opportunity for a real MFC calamity when we play Gold Coast in the last game.

Next week's TP Cup is a 50/50 proposition, before this landslide we were one of the worst scoring teams in the competition, while the Blues are equally have one of the best attacks and leakiest defences around. Can't play West Coast every week, so I'm not convinced we'll kick another (relatively) big score. On the other hand, we've always been good against Carlton. Just win baby.

Final Thoughts
We're within striking range here, but there's no way we're converting well enough to beat top sides. I guess we'll find out over the next fortnight whether we'll be serious challengers or just making up the numbers. First things first, I'd be happy just to make the finals. So, pretty much the same as any other season played by a version of the Melbourne Football Club.

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