Friday, 24 January 2020

Demonbracket 2020 - your full voting guide

Rules

  • The voting criteria for each match-up is your personal business. It need not have anything to do with football if you don't want it to, but if does then the best of British luck to you. We won't ask questions, and nor should anyone else. Vote shamers will be denounced.
  • Voting will be conducted between 0700 and 1900 AEDST unless otherwise noted
  • You must cast a valid vote for every match that day or none of your votes on that day's matches will count (I'll try and remind you where possible by there are no guarantees).
  • You must pick a winner in every match up. No half votes, no "I can't split them". Yes you can, and you must.
  • Non-MFC fans are more than welcome to vote as long as you follow all other rules
  • Players are more than welcome to use social media, real media or paid advertising to promote themselves. Outright bribery is not permitted.
  • Any players left on social media may vote for themselves as long as they also vote in the other matchups of the day
  • In the event of a tie both players will advance to the next round, except in the case of the Grand Final where a replay will be held the following day.
  • If a match features three or more players and two or more tie for the most votes they will advance with all other players eliminated.
  • We reserve the right to refuse an excessive number of multiple votes from the same person using multiple accounts
  • Voting will be conducted in an open format via Twitter, BigFooty, Demonland and Facebook. If you're intensely private or hate social media you can email votes daily via demonblogger AT gmail.com and I'll add you to the list of email voters.
  • The decision of the Demonbracket Organising Committee is final. Unless somebody takes us to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lucerne.
Tournament schedule
Friday 24 January - Live draw from 18:00 AEDST
Monday 27 January - Preliminary Round/Round 1, part 1
Tuesday 28 January - Preliminary Round/Round 1, part 2
Wednesday 29 January - Round 1, part 3
Thursday 30 January - Round 2, part 1
Friday 31 January - Round 2, part 2
Monday 3 February - Round 2, part 3
Tuesday 4 February - Round 2, part 4
Wednesday 5 February - Round 3, part 1
Thursday 6 February - Round 3, part 2
Friday 7 February - Quarter Final day
Monday 10 February - Semi Final day
Tuesday 11 February - Grand Final day

Preliminary Round

Adam Tomlinson d. Austin Bradtke 94-27
Ed Langdon d. Trent Rivers 94-27
Toby Bedford d. Aaron Nietschke 92-29
Mitch Brown vs Kysaiah Pickett
James Jordon vs Luke Jackson

Round 1

Braydon Preuss vs Ed Langdon
Toby Bedford vs Joel Smith
Oskar Baker d. Corey Wagner 101-20
Mitch Brown/Kysaiah Pickett vs Marty Hore
Harrison Petty vs Kyle Dunkley

Kade Kolodjashnij vs Tom Sparrow
Jay Lockhart vs Charlie Spargo
Jake Lever vs Adam Tomlinson
James Jordon/Luke Jackson vs Sam Weideman
Steven May d. Kade Chandler 109-12

Round 2

4. James Harmes vs Alex Neal-Bullen
Neville Jetta vs Aaron vandenBerg
Toby Bedford/Joel Smith vs Nathan Jones
Oscar McDonald vs 8. Angus Brayshaw

6. Bayley Fritsch vs Jayden Hunt
James Jordon/Luke Jackson/Sam Weideman vs Michael Hibberd
Mitch Brown/Kysaiah Pickett/Marty Hore vs Harrison Petty/Kyle Dunkley
Tom McDonald vs Mitch Hannan
Jake Lever/Adam Tomlinson vs Kade Kolodjashnij/Tom Sparrow

7. Christian Salem vs Oskar Baker
Jake Melksham vs Steven May
Jay Lockhart/Charlie Spargo vs Josh Wagner
Braydon Preuss/Ed Langdon vs 5. Christian Petracca

Round 3

1. Clayton Oliver vs Toby Bedford/Joel Smith/Nathan Jones
Neville Jetta/Aaron vandenBerg vs 8. Angus Brayshaw/Oscar McDonald
6. Bayley Fritsch/Jayden Hunt vs Jake Lever/Adam Tomlinson/Kade Kolodjashnij/Tom Sparrow
Jake Melksham/Steven May vs 4. James Harmes/Alex Neal-Bullen

3. Jack Viney vs James Jordon/Luke Jackson/Sam Weideman/Michael Hibberd
Tom McDonald/Mitch Hannan vs 5. Christian Petracca/Braydon Preuss/Ed Langdon
7. Christian Salem/Oskar Baker vs Jay Lockhart/Charlie Spargo/Josh Wagner
Mitch Brown/Kysaiah Pickett/Marty Hore/Harrison Petty/Kyle Dunkley vs 2. Max Gawn

Quarter Final

Oliver/Bedford/Smith/Jones vs Jetta/vandenBerg/Brayshaw/O.McDonald
Fritsch/Hunt/Lever/Tomlinson/Kolodjashnij/Sparrow vs Melksham/May/Harmes/Neal-Bullen
Viney/Jordon/Jackson/Weideman/Hibberd vs T. McDonald/Hannan/Petracca/Preuss/Langdon
Salem/Baker/Lockhart/Spargo/J. Wagner vs Brown/Pickett/Hore/Petty/Dunkley/Gawn

Semi Final

vs
vs

Final

vs

Friday, 10 January 2020

Demonbracket 2020 preview

It's the most wonderful time of the year, when we invite you to make a judgement about which Melbourne player you prefer, based on whatever arbitrary criteria is most important to you.

It's the only democratic institution that you can still have faith in. It's Demonbracket. And the ninth edition of football's original grand slam kicks off on Monday 27 January.

Rules

  • The voting criteria for each match-up is your personal business. It need not have anything to do with football if you don't want it to, but if does then the best of British luck to you. We won't ask questions, and nor should anyone else. Vote shamers will be denounced.
  • Voting will be conducted between 0700 and 1900 AEDST unless otherwise noted
  • You must cast a valid vote for every match that day or none of your votes on that day's matches will count (I'll try and remind you where possible by there are no guarantees).
  • You must pick a winner in every match up. No half votes, no "I can't split them". Yes you can, and you must.
  • Non-MFC fans are more than welcome to vote as long as you follow all other rules
  • Players are more than welcome to use social media, real media or paid advertising to promote themselves. Outright bribery is not permitted.
  • Any players left on social media may vote for themselves as long as they also vote in the other matchups of the day
  • In the event of a tie both players will advance to the next round, except in the case of the Grand Final where a replay will be held the following day.
  • If a match features three or more players and two or more tie for the most votes they will advance with all other players eliminated.
  • We reserve the right to refuse an excessive number of multiple votes from the same person using multiple accounts
  • Voting will be conducted in an open format via Twitter, BigFooty, Demonland and Facebook. If you're intensely private or hate social media you can email votes daily via demonblogger AT gmail.com and I'll add you to the list of email voters.
  • Harley Bennell is a preliminary entrant. If he isn't an officially listed Melbourne player by Friday 24 January he will be ineligible to participate
  • The decision of the Demonbracket Organising Committee is final. Unless somebody takes us to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lucerne.
Tournament schedule
Friday 24 January - Live draw from 18:00 AEDST
Monday 27 January - Preliminary Round/Round 1, part 1
Tuesday 28 January - Preliminary Round/Round 1, part 2
Wednesday 29 January - Round 1, part 3
Thursday 30 January - Round 2, part 1
Friday 31 January - Round 2, part 2
Monday 3 February - Round 2, part 3
Tuesday 4 February - Round 2, part 4
Wednesday 5 February - Round 3, part 1
Thursday 6 February - Round 3, part 2
Friday 7 February - Quarter Final day
Monday 10 February - Semi Final day
Tuesday 11 February - Grand Final day

Honour Roll
Nathan Jones remains the only two time winner, but all three of the top seeds are looking for their second title so this could be the year for another multiple winner.

2012 - James Frawley d. Nathan Jones
2013 - Tom McDonald d. Mitch Clark
2014 - Nathan Jones d. Jack Watts
2015 - Nathan Jones [2] 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

Seeded to Round 3
1. Clayton Oliver (reigning champion/best and fairest winner)
2. Max Gawn (best and fairest winner)
3. Jack Viney (next higher best and fairest finisher)

Seeded to Round 2 (next five highest best and fairest finishers)
4. James Harmes
5. Christian Petracca
6. Bayley Fritsch
7. Christian Salem
8. Angus Brayshaw

Enter at Round 2 (next 11 most total MFC games)
9. Nathan Jones
10. Tom McDonald
11. Neville Jetta
12. Oscar McDonald
13. Alex Neal-Bullen
14. Jayden Hunt
15. Michael Hibberd
16. Jake Melksham
17. Mitch Hannan
18. Josh Wagner
19. Aaron vandenBerg

Enter at Round 1 (remainder of MFC senior players)
20. Sam Weideman
21. Charlie Spargo
22. Jake Lever
23. Marty Hore
24. Jay Lockhart
25. Corey Wagner
26. Joel Smith
27. Harrison Petty
28. Oskar Baker
29. Steven May
30. Braydon Preuss
31. Kyle Dunkley
32. Tom Sparrow
33. Kade Kolodjashnij
34. Kade Chandler

Preliminary Round (new draftees, trades, and next lowest games total)
35. Ed Langdon
36. Adam Tomlinson
37. James Jordon
38. Toby Bedford
39. Austin Bradtke
40. Aaron Nietschke
41. Luke Jackson
42. Kysaih Pickett
43. Trent Rivers
44. Mitch Brown
45. Harley Bennell (if signed by Friday January 24)

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Demonblog's top 50 wins of the decade

We sent the Demonblog staff on a three day retreat to a desert island in the South Pacific and asked them to come up with their agreed list of 50 favourite wins from 2010 - 2019. This is what they came up with. In unrelated news, Melbourne has sold two home games a year to the island. Thanks for the almighty Melbourne Footy YouTube channel for the majority of the video evidence.

50. Round 15, 2010 vs Essendon (+19)
In an awful field, 2010 was probably our third best season of the decade behind 2018 and 2017 (tragic ending notwithstanding), but by this stage things were threatening to blow up. The three memorable wins earlier in the year were long forgotten, followed by a one point win, seven losses, and the Queen's Birthday draw. Nearly three seasons into the job Dean Bailey was under real pressure for the first time and got a much needed victory here.

The margin flattered them considering we were 32 points up and they gave away about five goals from 50 metre penalties, but I'll never forget Jamar finally having more than five kicks in a game, a measurement that nobody except me gave a rat's about. Also, forgotten until I watched this highlights video was the colossal defensive fuckup that gifted Green a goal.



49. Round 19, 2012 vs Gold Coast (+42)
Rewatch the rampant first quarter where we kicked six goals to nil, don't waste your time with the rest. One year to the round after the horror of 186, it didn't matter that the Suns were still kids and broken down veterans, after two years of teams teeing off on us without resistance the opportunity to pummel somebody else was most welcome. Even the guy in front who wouldn't stop turning around for a chat during the first quarter rampage couldn't ruin it. Like an album with one great track there was nothing else to do it, we only won the last three quarters by two points.

I ended in sitting in the AFL Members for the second half because the crowd was too slender for them to protect the door. Also memorable as the last appearances of Jordan Gysberts and Cale Morton, tying together the career of two highly ranked draftees who were Melbourned to within an inch of their lives.

48. Round 1, 2016 vs GWS (+2)
Not the greatest win in quality, but an important opening round statement against an up and coming side. I was very keen on a) coming back from 21 points down at the last change, b) Clayton Oliver being nominated for the Rising Star on debut, and c) Tomas Bugg wearing a weird jacket in the rooms after. Did not like a) being 21 points down to begin with, b) Giving up a goal with nine seconds left, then nearly conceding another one to lose. With an Essendon side decimated by drug scandal suspensions to come the following week we were a near certainty to start 0-2 and... oh fuck it.

47. Round 9, 2014 vs Richmond (+17)
There's a lot of Richmond in this list, because for a long time they and Essendon were the only Victorian teams we were competitive against. How rude that they went on to win two flags and become a dominant force while we're still splashing around at the shallow end. For now this was an enjoyable victory. We played one slashing quarter, then withstood a comeback to win comfortably, beating our win total from the previous season in just over two months. Neville Jetta was a late withdrawal with the green apple splatters.

Roos already had two wins in the first eight weeks, but this was the win that made you wonder if the rebuild was going to happen sooner than expected. It didn't, but how was I supposed to know that at the time.

46. Round 7, 2019 vs Hawthorn (+5)
A rotten season means this result ultimately meant stuff all, and we might have only won because a Hawthorn player dropped a mark inside the forward 50, but nonetheless it was exciting at the time. Ended with Sam Frost doing an turbo speed, escaped greyhound clearance that convinced the Hawks to buy him at the end of the year, and Christian Petracca bouncing back from nearly being drowned at a training session to play a key role in saving the game. Also featured the worst unpaid 50 metre penalty in all of football history. Hope was temporarily, and mistakenly, restored that we might catch fire and romp through the rest of 2019.

45. Round 4, 2011 vs Gold Coast (+90)
After our (relatively) great leap forward in 2010 I went into the new season with great expectations, only to start with a draw, a loss and an unconvincing win. After beating one Queensland team we confirmed that there was a whole state worse at football than us by thumping the competition's newest entrant, but hardly by the earth shattering margin required to put us on the map.

Even in the week some talkback nuisance caller accussed Brent Moloney of taking a piss on a bar I was as convinced as I'll ever be that we couldn't lose, but as the Suns had lost their first two games by 119 and 71 points I wanted to get involved in the big wins as well. Indeed we did thump them, but having travelled to see this live I left sour like a spoiled child thinking we'd underperformed. We had, but even if the margin was only boosted by an eight goal to one final term against a bunch of kids and an out of his depth rugby leaguist it wasn't all that bad. Certainly better than the next seven years of interstate trips.

Strangely enough Gold Coast won their first game the next week, then conceded 15 goals in the first quarter after that. I guess we landed in the middle somewhere. Even stranger, it was the first of our three +85 points wins for the year and we still ended it in near fatal crisis.

44. Round 17, 2018 vs Footscray (+50)
Having already humbled the Dogs once at Docklands, we did it at home as well. This was a massive danger game on the road to finals and we came out of it alive courtesy of a slashing third quarter, kicking eight goals in 12 minutes in the sort of exhibition you'd package up and send to internationals if you were really keen on introducing them to the game. Instead they get AFLX, which I can assure you will not feature in the next 46 entries.

43. Round 8, 2017 vs Adelaide (+41)
Adelaide hadn't held many fears for us since the shutters mercifully came down on Football Park, now we added a rattling comeback to our South Australian portfolio. From a near death position we not only passed the Crows but stuck two fingers up at them on the way past, and it looked for the first time like we might be a realistic shot at playing finals.

A disastrous second quarter left us five goals down, before Tom McSizzle was thrown forward because he was doing bugger all in defence, sparked us with two goals, and discovered the role that landed him a hefty payrise a year later. The game loses some points on the "why did you get into such a big hole to start with?" rule, but is still worthy of a mention for the 12 goal to two second half. Locals still blaming umpires by the final siren.

42. Round 23, 2015 vs GWS (+26)
A nothing game watched by almost nobody, but the end of one of the worst runs in a single stadium ever recorded. Finally, after over eight years we won at Docklands, and having seen almost all of them this meant a lot to me. The quality of football was toilet, Jeremy Howe was only playing to get him to 100 games for future father/son purposes, and Daniel Cross almost killed himself in his last game falling head first on a concrete surface, but not only did we win at the cursed ground but for the first time in years ended the season on a high. So few people took notice that when we won our next start at Docklands it was widely referred to as the droughtbreaker.

41. Round 4, 2015 vs Richmond (+32)
The first Anzac Day eve game, where Jesse Hogan made Alex Rance look like Tom Gillies and we held them to one goal in the last three quarters. Rance bounced back reasonably successfully, Hogan continues to have the worst luck since Lee Walker's knees.

40. Round 11, 2018 vs Footscray (+49)
This Dogs were well off premiership form, but I still appreciated celebrating Nathan Jones' 250th by touching them up. Shame we had to concede the first three goals and Jake Lever's ACL but all's well that ends well.

Meanwhile, at this point how many flags did you think we'd win in a row?



39. Round 1, 2015 vs Gold Coast (+26)
Gold Coast is the interstate Richmond, appearing on this list far too often because they were one of the few teams we consistently beat in our worst years. Sadly, when the reverse list of the worst 50 losses comes out they'll feature prominently there too. The Suns peaked in 2014, and were within striking distance of the finals a few weeks out, so rumbling them in the opening round with seven new players was a welcome reminder - after losing the last 10 of 2014 - that there was some life in this team yet. Also involved one of many false starts for Jack Watts.

38. Round 20, 2018 vs Gold Coast (+96)
The opposition was as useless as tits on a bull, but it was still a much needed reminder of our attacking power as we battled to qualify for the finals. At nine goals to one in front at quarter time it should have been a massacre for the ages, and even though we narrowly missed the ton on a kick after the siren, it was still an impressive shellacking. You don't often see 99% of the people in a stadium having genuine fun, but when we were 75 points up in the second quarter the whole place had the collective horn. Should have challenged the record 141 point win from 1926, but was still a vital reminder that we could score heavily given the right circumstances - namely shithouse opposition.

37. Round 21, 2016 vs Port Adelaide (+40)
After a narrow, fall over the line win against Gold Coast, and a much better received drought-breaker against Hawthorn, we were still an outside chance of catching a free-falling North Melbourne for eighth with three to play. First task was to win in Adelaide, and that we did in style, going six goals up at half time, surviving a third quarter comeback and kicking away to win easily. Buggered it all up against a lowly Carlton the next week.

36. Round 18, 2010 vs Brisbane (+10)
Another late season game that had major implications on slim finals chances, and another time where the win ultimately meant BUGGER ALL because we weren't good enough. In the case of 2010 we'd done all the damage to ourselves by dropping off in the middle of the year. It was good at the time though, providing that the morale-boosting win over them earlier in the season was no fluke. The Lions had gone from top of the ladder the first time around to the bottom but it still took all sorts of work to get rid of them. Dunn was gifted a stupid 50 and kicked the winning goal and I resisted the temptation to throw my couch off the balcony.

35. Round 14, 2011 vs Richmond (+27)
More Richmond, from the day we beat them to officially become the competition's Next Big Thing. Featured both sides of the Jack Watts equation, giving away a stupid free, then making up for it with a crucial goal that made you want to die screaming in a ditch for him. He was more good than bad, and I still miss him every day, caring not an ounce that he didn't have the training ethnic of Milo of Croton.

Victory left us in a fantastic position to make the eight, if not for a follow up match against the doomsday combination of Docklands and St Kilda.



34. Round 8, 2015 vs Footscray (+39)
A much welcome return from the dead after losing to Hawthorn by 105 points the previous week. Also memorable for Hogan hanging shit on Tom Boyd, shortly before Goldenballs pocketed a couple of a million, a flag, and got out of the professional game before it destroyed his body. Four match points to Melbourne, four life points to Tom.

33. Round 4, 2013 vs GWS (+41)
The ultimate in "you wouldn't need to launch a comeback if you weren't so far behind", as Mark Neeld went within a quarter of being lynched before his team - usually tedious battlers - took advantage of the wearying Giants to boot the highest score any Melbourne side has ever recorded in a final quarter.

The rest of the game - and season - was so awful that it probably doesn't deserve such a lofty position on the countdown, but that insane last quarter is very dear to my heart. Especially when Maximum kicked a goal straight into the head of some poon wearing a GWS comedy wig. All 1625 people to have viewed this three second video are blessed:


Later that year we were lucky to kick 12 goals in a month.

32. Round 5, 2016 vs Richmond (+33)
Them again, this time in the best of the Anzac Eve games. Back when Richmond was a basketcase. This had it all, including Tom Bugg gleefully starting fights, then shhhhing the Tiges cheersquad after a goal (they may have had the last laugh), Garlett kicking one of those pearler goals he did all the time at the start, and Watts' teammates steaming in to protect him with murderous intent after he was whacked about the head. I think about this night regularly, especially the Richmond fans ringing Finey's Final Siren fanging to sack a now two time premiership coach.



31. Round 8, 2019 vs Gold Coast (+1)
Like the GWS comeback six years earlier, this suffers from feeling like we should never have been in that position to start with, but how can you say no to such a wacky finish. Neither team was any good, but we'd battled to a lead deep in the last quarter when we cracked like an egg and let them go ahead by six with a minut left, causing me to kick shit out of a desk in frustration.

Then, in a scenario that scientists are still debating, defender Marty Hore snuck forward to tie the scores with an absolute Howitzer from 50 metres out. I'd probably have taken a draw, but the Suns midfield went missing and allowed us to forward again in the dying seconds. McDonald dropped a mark right in front of goal, but recovered to toe poke it onto the post for the winning point with seconds left. Undeserved but welcomed.

30. Round 4, 2016 vs Collingwood (+35)
Pies fans would have crucified Buckley after this if he was anyone else, but for us it was another vital step forward towards respectability. Not only was it a relatively big scalp early in the season, but there was much personal satisfaction from watching with a mouthy Pies fans. There's a trend in this list of games where we thought Watts was going to blossom into a superstar, I think the problem is he did that more in the 70 games we did win than the 770 we lost.

Also famous for Sam Frost kidnapping the ball for a rare goal. Insert dated reference about a Channel 9 camera crew in Lebanon


29. Round 1, 2017 vs St Kilda (+30)
Played in equatorial conditions under the Docklands roof at the tail end of summer, it looked like more of the same for this dreadful outfit when we were four goals down in the second quarter. Then out of nowhere came a free-wheeling comeback that landed us five goals up 10 minutes into the third. It didn't get any better than that, and Joel Smith's debut was ruined by stacking it in a marking contest, but after dropping a giant turd in the opening round against the Saints at the same venue the last time we debuted a coach, Goodwin's entrance was much more successful.

28. Round 4, 2014 vs Carlton (+23)
After 12 losses in a row dating back to mid-2013, the first win under Roos, and our first against Carlton since they threw the Kruezer Kup was obviously well received. Even better that it plunged the Malthouse era Blues into crisis. Ended with a tremendous Cameron Pedersen goal from the boundary line that nearly finished with me running into the shots of the nutters having their wedding photos taken in the Ponsford mid-last quarter.



27. Round 13, 2017 vs Footscray (+57)
I'm fantastically jealous of how the Bulldogs came from nowhere to nick a flag, and even though they'd gone back to the middle of the table team they'd started September 2016 as it was still extremely satisfying to carve them up here. In the aftermath a supporter who'd just waited up to 53 years to see their club play in a Grand Final called to say she was so disgusted that she stormed out of a match before the end "for the first time ever". Try some bloody perspective.

26. Round 23, 2018 vs GWS (+45)
We'd already qualified for the finals (yes, really), next step was to ensure we played a home Elimination Final instead of going to Sydney for another game against the Giants. Without this win we don't get the first bananas finals crowd, and while GWS basically couldn't give a rats, we still had to avoid a post-qualification comedown. That we did, playing with the freedom of a team with nothing to lose except a home final. Everyone came out of it satisfied except Dean Kent, knocked out of the finals team with a crocked shoulder and never to be seen again.

25. Round 4, 2010 vs Richmond (+55)
Funny what happens when you start trying to win again. In our last start against the Tigers we did our best to lose and could still only go down to a goal after the siren, now unencumbered by draft rorts we tortured them to the tune of nine goals. It was one of those days where Colin Sylvia played a game that made you think he was going to win 12 Brownlows, kicking five. We got eight goals in the first quarter, the best of which involved the much missed Ricky Petterd flinging himself a loose ball in the pocket like Wayne Harmes and batting the ball back to Matthew Bate.



Naturally we followed this by a goalless second quarter, but the second half was an enjoyable procession that set up a better win the next week. No finals though.

24. Round 8, 2018 vs Gold Coast (+69)
After a few weeks of scoring at a Roos 2014 level we'd started to wind up a fortnight earlier with 108 points against Essendon, but this kicked off three mega scores in a row. For slightly less than a month we were quite frankly abusive to anyone who got in our way, and it was wonderful. "It's only Gold Coast" they said, "far cough" I replied.

23. Round 11, 2011 vs Essendon (+33)
For the second year in a row Bailey entered a game against Essendon one loss away from being plunged into crisis. I'd already tried to sack him five weeks earlier, now we were one win from our last five and sliding down the ladder like a waterslide. For a rare Friday night game the coach rolled the dice on debuts for Gawn and Howe, and saw his side recover from a 10 point deficit in the second quarter to kick six unanswered goals in a blistering third term.

A half-strength comeback twice got the Bombers to within three goals, before a triumphant burst of three goals at the end made it safe. Bails punched the roof of the box and the exploding water droplets briefly looked like shattered glass, Watts took a screamer, Gawn missed a goal from the square and we were temporarily back in action before losing our next start by 88.

22. Round 9, 2010 vs Port Adelaide (+1)
We'd been in reasonable form, but after losing 13 games in a row outside of Victoria, the odds were against us breaking the drought in sweaty Darwin. After hiding in a meat locker during the breaks we shot away in the third quarter, and were 33 points up at the last break. All good if both teams faded, but Port ran it out while our lot were searching for oxygen.

By the last quarter lone ruckman Jamar was so stuffed we had to resort to Sylvia as a centre bounce ruckman, which went about as well as you'd expect. Somehow we held on in the face of eight last quarter goals. Jack Trengove whacked a point through to put us in front, we still nearly lost, and Russian was so rooted by the end that he had to conduct his post-match interview on the ground. To nobody's surprise we lost by nine goals the next week, kicking off a lucrative but usually troublesome relationship with the Northern Territory.

21. Round 7, 2016 vs Gold Coast (+76)
When people get upset about Simon Goodwin they like to pretend that the Roos era was a non-stop cavalcade of fun and frivolity from day one, when in reality we were as boring as batshit for most of his term. Part of this was out of necessity considering he took over a side that usually haemorrhaged goals. The shackles finally came off in his last season, and this was a grand example of what we could do.

We'd already scored 130 points twice in the first six weeks, but this was the first time we visibly bullied a team. All the action came after half time, where after eight goals each in the first two quarters we went boonta, piling on 16 to six after the break. There's plenty of similarities between this performance and the attacking juggernaut we (briefly) unleashed on the competition two years later.
James Harmes played like Gary Ablett on Gary Ablett, I got so excited during the third quarter that II did a lap of celebration around the house, 12 players kicked goals and life was good until we went back to losing the next week.

20. Round 13, 2012 vs GWS (+78)
If winning our first game against Gold Coast by 90 points was unconvincing, this was arguably an even worse performance, but it ranks highly due to the comedy value of the original and best anti-$cully Carnival of Hate. Never before, or since, have football fans protested with such a high degree of comedy and wit.

While this guy became a Gimmick Hall of Fame legend...



... some dickhead sat in the crowd wearing a Mexican wrestling mask, which had no clear link to the protest, leading to a rare moment of silence from Channel 7 commentators as the camera cut to him and they didn't know what to say.

19. Round 18, 2015 vs Collingwood (+37)
By late 2015 we were no longer a confirmed wreck, and had taken a massive scalp at Kardinia Park a few weeks earlier, but were wobbling all over the place late in the year. When late goals in the third quarter cut our lead to eight and half the players looked like they were about to die it seemed that we were going to be steamrolled by the finals chasing Pies. This was the day we were introduced to 120 minute man Max Gawn, who went into the last break sucking so much oxygen the first three rows passed out but emerged unscathed to play a pivotal role in the final term.

18. Round 12, 2016 vs Collingwood (+46)
Double your Collingwood with the day where we finally threw the Queen's Birthday shackles off after nine years without a win. And in some style too. You'd have preferred a larger margin but beggars can't be choosers. After conceding a two quarter time lead the unusual scenario of Tom Bugg tagging Steele Sidebottom into the ground helped inspire a comeback that left us 22 up at the half. In his second game back from a year and a half off, Jack Trengove kicked a goal that brought the house down, we cartwheeled away to an easy victory. Finally an enjoyable public holiday Monday.

Best on ground in all senses was Max Gawn. He kicked three, annoyed an overly sensitive chrome dome, and when presented with a trophy flexed it like a dumbbell.



17. Round 20, 2016 vs Hawthorn (+29)
We reached the last month of the season a way outside chance of making the eight, but with a triple premiership side that we hadn't beat since time immemorial in the way it seemed highly likely that our improbable run was going to end here. After all, we'd been lucky to beat Gold Coast a week earlier in a victory so unconvincing that it didn't even qualify for this list, so what chance the top of the ladder Hawks? Unusually plenty chance. We led at every change, never looked in serious trouble, and had the Viney/Gawn combination playing like they'd been kissed on the dick by god himself.

In 2007 we lost to them in a pre-season game that saw them pass us at warp speed on the way to becoming one of the great units while we spun into a uncontrollable death spiral. I really did hope that this was going to be the return leg, but while they've never seriously contended for a flag since neither have we. Still a monumental last quarter when we took off and left them in our dust.

16. Round 13, 2014 vs Essendon (+1)
Something of a false alarm considering we lost every other game for the rest of the year but forget that for now. Also ignore a dreadful first quarter where the Bombers continually teed off on us but lacked the attacking power to put up an unbeatable score. With James Frawley doing his limited best at full forward a comeback from 33 down early in the third quarter seemed unlikely. I bet some walked out at that stage and missed all the fun. Even four of the next five goals only cut the gap to 22 and you'd still have got long odds against us winning.

Somehow we kicked four straight to take an eight point lead midway through the last. The only problem was that we'd accelerated the comeback so much that it left us with 10 odd minutes to defend. Cue the Bombers kicking two in 90 seconds to take the lead, then only narrowly being denied the sealer from the next bounce when Lynden Dunn - who played a monster game in defence that left him typecast as a backman for the rest of his career - narrowly got a hand to it on the line.

With time almost out the ball was still deep in their backline, before a passage of play where absolutely everything went right. Pedersen bent out out of an attempted tackle like he in The Matrix, then the ball went through Jones, Frawley, McKenzie, Tyson, Viney and Cross, before landing in the arms of seventh gamer Christian Salem with 20 seconds left. The obvious Melbourne scenario would have been for him to miss, become permanently psychologically damaged and see a promising career destroyed. Somehow he rose above the tortured history of this club and made himself the hero.

Nothing comes easily around here so we still had to survive another inside 50 in the dying seconds before being confirmed winners. Cue much excitement. It prompted some betting agency dickheads to stop stealing money from the vulnerable for a few seconds and print a cardboard cutout of Roos as the Messiah. In a rare sign from the heavens we were punished for this blasphemy by falling to pieces, not winning again until the last round.



15. Round 13, 2011 vs Fremantle (+89)
For the second time in 2011 we came off a terrible defeat, thumped by Collingwood on Queen's Birthday, to wreak terrible havoc on an interstate side at the MCG. Five goals up at quarter time there were some concerns about a 2008 style collapse, especially when the Dockers won the second quarter, before ending the game with a 12 goal to two avalanche. Very satisfying. Ultimately meaningless six weeks later when Geelong pulverised us and tore the joint in two.

14. Round 7, 2014 vs Adelaide (+3)
Of the many frustrations I've got from the last 20 years, our fecal record at Football Park is near the top of the list. Even when we were good in the mid 00s we'd go to water under Central Standard Time. Of course when we turned to total sewage in 2007 we kept losing there. Our record at the ground was so bad that they conveniently guaranteed the Crows a farewell win by fixturing their last game there against us. Could have played Port, could have recreated their first AFL game when they thrashed Hawthorn but no, it was send in the clowns and we did our bit by not only losing but allowing somebody called Lewis Johnston to Kingsley us with six goals.

There was scant confidence that we'd open our account at the redeveloped Adelaide Oval here, then.bugger me we were six goals in front in the second quarter. Everyone knew there was a comeback on the cards, and when the margin was slashed to 12 at three quarter time it was how far Adelaide. Somehow we held on, staying marginally ahead until the siren, even after an errant kick by Frawley with 22 seconds left gifted them the opportunity to snatch it. Thousands of Adelaidians missed the fun because the cowards had evacuated the ground when it looked like we had it won.

Not quite as groundbreaking as it seemed at the time, but I made so much noise in the last quarter the neighbours must have thought there was a murder on. Also involved Jack Grimes delivering the first positive fisting involving Melbourne for several years.


13. Round 14, 2013 vs Footscray (+4)
Regular readers will be across the concept of the Chris Sullivan Line, the mark by which all comfortable leads are judged. This almost toppled the famed Round 6, 1992 collapse that gave birth to the line. In the early 90s you could be sure there was another win coming from somewhere, by mid 2013 I thought we might be put into liquidation before the next one. That's why this meant plenty, but the near disastrous circumstances make it even more memorable.

The only win under Neil Craig came against a team only one spot ahead of us on the ladder, but light years in front for the retention of dignity, and as it turns out winning premierships. When we conceded the first goal within a minute it was so far, so 2013, but with the players going at it like they'd had a giant Neeld shaped veil of negativity lifted from them, then bounced back to be nearly five goals in front at half time. Didn't expect it to last, but on the night where I unexpectedly found a dead mouse under my seat, the hits kept coming. David Rodan provided the highlight of his MFC career with a belting goal, which we can now freely admit shouldn't have been counted because he stepped out of bounds, and the unlikely forward combination of Jack Watts, Chris Dawes and Jack Fitzpatrick ran riot with nine between them.

When we went 42 points up halfway through the last quarter even I, foolish and young, thought there was no possible way we could lose. Then we nearly did, clamming up in spectacular fashion and conceding seven straight goals to not a cracker in a 15 minute explosion that made the Bulldogs look more like 186 Geelong than the barely competent side we'd been running rings around a few minutes earlier. We survived because Watts, lovely Watts, decided he'd done enough to win us the game by kicking four so he may as well drop back into defence and save us with a goalline mark. We held on, there were scenes and we quickly went back to being complete shite.

12. Round 9, 2018 vs Carlton (+109)
If you'd told me we'd have a decade like this and our only triple figure win wouldn't make the top 10 wins I'd be incredulous but here we are. After being the competition's chopping block for years a thumping win like this was much needed vengeance. What a wonderful feeling - and I hope to have it again before I die - of being deep in the last quarter and being scared that the margin's going to drop below the century with the same tension you get defending a narrow lead. 18 months later they finished above us on the ladder. Even the royal lady was surprised:



11. Round 5, 2010 vs Brisbane (+50)
A traditional opening round debacle aside, we'd been very good in the first month of the season. The near miss against Collingwood with the Petterd dropped mark carried us through to a battling win against Adelaide, then we tonked Richmond to sit 2-2. Now came the big test, against a glamour Brisbane side that had topped up an already finals calibre list with goalkicking and amateur pornography sensation Fev and were unbeaten through four.

Honourable loss expected, remarkable victory obtained. A five goal to one burst in the second quarter set up victory, and after narrowly losing the third we held our nerve, them goalless in the last, and kicked away to a thumping victory. Draft sensations Scullgove were key. What could possibly go wrong? Also gave us this classic photo of a gleeful Matthew Warnock putting Fev on his arse while a Lions fan in the background has a shit one.


Reportedly Fev's numerous personal issues also ran afoul of the comedy stylings of Joel Macdonald, suggesting he was going to win a TV for best on ground, only for Joel to reply "at least I have a house to put one in". These days he'd be fined $5000 for being hurtful. If the MFC Facebook page had its way they'd have been teammates two years later.

10. Round 12, 2017 vs Collingwood (+4)
After breaking our Queen's Birthday losing streak a year earlier, and with more than a hint of finals about us, one of our biggest crowds in years enjoy a classic finish. After an off-chops game which swung from us leading by two goals, to being four down, then a point up at the last change, it reached the dying minutes within us ahead but looking for all money like a side that was going to concede a late goal and lose by a point.

Enter Jackson Redvers Watts, unfairly maligned for the best part of a decade, now going for a run down the Southern Stand wing and inside 50 with the chance to make himself a hero. The well-worn negative Watts cliches suggested he'd fall flat on face or shank it out on the full but he steadied to smash it home and provoke the biggest roar of the decade to date. It was especially exciting after spending the day listening to a corporate box fulling of moaning Collingwood peanuts abusing us. Abuse was delivered at the siren, only for the Pies to take their revenge in the last game of the season by helping ruin our finals chances.

It quite literally never got any better for Watts, first injured, then tossed on the scrapheap for a bargain price. We'll always have this.



9. Round 12, 2015 vs Geelong (+24)
Talk about a slow burning breakthrough, it took us another three years to play finals after what felt like a major step forward. To say it took me by surprise was an understatement, stung by the years of endless misery at Kardinia Park and crestfallen by the timekeeping fiasco that cost us a win against St Kilda a week earlier, I tipped us to lose by over 100 points. The last time I got something that badly wrong was thinking we'd beat Footscray by 10 goals in 2011 then them doing the reverse on us.

Lucky I was right in the middle of my having to go to every game no matter what phase, because otherwise there's every chance I'd have chickened out on this trip . Instead, unlike every other match I've ever attended in Geelong except 2005, I returned home radiant. Maximum announced his arrival with a blindling game, Anal Bullet kicked three in his second start, The Spencil looked like he was ready to run wild (ironically, Gawn's emergence quickly killed that off), and one of the great curses was killed. We extended our glee for an extra week via the bye then lost by nine goals.

8. Round 7, 2011 vs Adelaide (+96)
A constant theme of this list is times that you thought everything was going to be alright. This, our second biggest win of the decade, isn't really one of those moments. Obliterating teams by nearly 100 points will never get old, but this was more of a relief than anything, coming after a rocky start to the year and defeat in Perth a week earlier that led me to ask - not unreasonably - what time Todd Viney was available to replace Bailey. Didn't take long to get to that, but in the meantime this was Bailey's Revenge.

With future Demon mastermind Neil Craig allowing the combination of Moloney and Jamar to run rampant in the centre, and the Crows players looking like they'd rather be anywhere else we took flight. Temporarily anyway, it was back to losing a week later. Still, on the day it was the best fun I'd had in years, including an eight goal to two romp in the last quarter that briefly threatened to take the margin over triple figures. Brad Green grabbed at the jumper, Jim Stynes joined in the huddle, and all was right for a few days.

It wasn't all good news, Jack Grimes broke his foot (you were truly never more than five metres from a Grimes injury), Jamar did so much heavy lifting in the midfield that his knee gave out for a month, and Trengove was suspended for three weeks because Patrick Dangerfield (who kicked six the next week) had a porcelain head that went to bits when tackled. Never mind all that, and who knows what impact those players going out of the side had on our eventual spiral into death, this was a day of good, clean, family entertainment.

7. Round 10, 2012 vs Essendon (+6)
Nine weeks into the Neeld era those of us who'd bought into the vision of being the hardest team to play against were starting to get nervous. Nine losses, two by over 100 points, and even parody Twitter accounts were taken seriously when they suggested the coach might be about to get the arse. Under the circumstances, beating an 8-1 Essendon who'd won three games by over 60 points seemed as likely as peace in the Middle East. Then they didn't even score 60, falling victim to full forward Colin Garland, in a plot twist so extreme that if it were a TV show you'd complain on the internet.

From 15 points down in the third quarter we clawed our way back in front, hanging on grimly in the last quarter against a side that kicked 6.16 like they were affected by powerful hallucinogens. I was so scared that we were going to throw it away in the last quarter that my legs didn't move for 20 minutes, and when the siren went they'd stopped working. There I was sitting in Row MM of the Ponsford Stand unable to exit the stadium because I could no longer walk down stairs. It provided excellent time to reflect on what a magnificent result it was, even if much of the credit went to the Bombers playing suicidal football.

In the wake of the surprise result Neeld coined the phrase 'reality bus', then spent the next 12 months being repeatedly run over by it.



6. Round 10, 2018 vs Adelaide (+91)
The most remarkable thing to happen in the Northern Territory since Lindy Chamberlain's retrial, a side that played a Grand Final 11 competitive games earlier was dismembered so violently that their coach spent three quarter time silently eyeballing his players like he was about to go full Bradley John Murdoch.

In the last of the Trilogy of Terror games, we made scoring look so effortless you could have deceived yourself into believing the free scoring was ere going to last forever. Lever whopped his old side, Hogan kicked an effortless five, Brayshaw played like he was going to win multiple Brownlows and we registered our biggest ever win outside of Victoria. As far as crises go, the one that we dumped the Crows into here wouldn't rank in our top 20.

The Criterion Collection - genuinely great wins

5. Round 17, 2010 vs Sydney (+73)
By the standards of the rest of the decade, a three year run at the bottom of the ladder wasn't so bad that we needed a life-affirming victory to convince us to go on, but this was the day it seemed everything was going to come good under Bailey. That even if we didn't fall into the finals that year, we were a near certainty for 2011. Just because we were losing by 31 goals barely a year later doesn't mean this wasn't still magnificent.

From 18 seconds in when Dunn, still wearing his dastardly moustache, kicked the first goal it was a dead-set procession. An eight goal first quarter and we never looked back. In the days before the middle deck of the Ponsford was walled off to the common man, I was sitting in front of a Swans past players function and at half time poor old Bob Skilton was finding no comfort in once having coached us, gazing miserably out the window.

We might have put the cue in the rack there and called it a job well done, but pressed on to a bonkers 14 goal lead at the last break. It was going so well that James Frawley not only chased Lewis Jetta halfway down the Southern Stand wing but also chipped in for a goal of his own. Brad Green put on five, Bruce McAvaney screamed "The Dees are going to be something!", and he wasn't proven wrong for a year. I left the ground thinking that everything was going to be ok. It wasn't.

One fan was so enamoured of McAveney's screeching that they intercut an otherwise perfectly normal highlights video with a cartoon rendition of Bruce cranking one out in celebration. I assume nine years on that no legal action followed.

 4. Round 22, 2018 vs West Coast (+17)
The final margin goes no way to telling the story of this bonkers match. We'd spectacularly botched a chance to qualify for finals on home turf a week earlier, now the equation was win in Perth or go into Round 23 a red hot chance of buggering it up like 2017 again.

After finally getting it right in our last start at Subiaco (more on that shortly...), we now had to win first up at the new Perth Stadium. Two victories in a row in Western Australia felt like a bridge too far, but when we scooted to a 26-0 lead midway through the first quarter it looked like all our dreams were about to come true. Of course there was toil and struggle in our future, and by midway through the second quarter the Eagles were a goal behind and threatening to overrun us. Then something strange happened, three goals on either side of the break restored a 21 point lead.

You thought "surely we can't throw this away twice?" and you were wrong, even two goals late in the third term were pegged back by a DemonTime special at the 31 minute mark, leaving us just eight points up and wobbling all over the place like a drunk driver. Enter a baffling last quarter where we kicked the first goal, then conceded three to be behind at the 18 minute mark. Had we lost from there I might have missed the final game due to hurling myself in front of a train, then first Jake Melksham took advantage of future premiership player Tom Barass falling on his arse to put us in front, then the ice-cold Dean Kent landed a set shot that extended the margin beyond a goal.

It was really going to happen. Unless we did the full Melbourne and conceded two goals in the last two minutes. Then Melksham marked in the square, kicked another and it was beyond doubt. As the Legion of Doom used to say, what a rush. The only downside was being in a house where not one other person appreciated the gravity of the situation, interrupting the wild celebrations at about the 10 minute mark of running around the house nearly in tears of joy to ask "so does that mean you're in the finals then?" Oh yes it did, and it was fantastic. Sour old tart Chris J**d complained that players celebrated the win too much, confirming everything we'd known about him since 2007.

Have a dramatic AFL360 highlights package to remember it by:

 

3. Round 14, 2017 vs West Coast (+3)
There were closer wins, and the one above meant a lot more, but not many that came as late, in such outrageously ludicrous circumstances from a completely unlikely player, or had genuine finals implications.

Like Football Park, we were treated with contempt at Subiaco for over a decade. The difference was that in our last appearance at this ground we battled like bastards to come back from a dreadful position and win. Sure, Subi had its revenge when the result there in the last game tipped us out of the eight but we only had ourselves to blame for that. If you marked wins down for what happened next this list would be a top zero.

Everyone knows about Tom McSizzle throwing the ball towards his boot while being tackled at the top of the square with 20 seconds left, putting us in front with his fifth, what's often forgotten is that it was our third goal in a row - and McDonald's second - after being 16 points behind midway through the last quarter. At a ground we traditionally died in the first, second, third and fourth quarters at.

A long hoof by Michael Hibberd from wide on the boundary bounced fortuitously off the hands of Cameron Pedersen, to McDonald, who did the best stand up in tackle ever, manoeuvred himself towards the goal, chucked the ball in the air and threw his boot at it successfully. Some Eagles fans claimed it was a throw. They are morons. Being the quiet, unassuming character he is, Tom refused mass celebrations and instead ordered his teammates back into defence, where they defused a final attack and got us over the line.

I fell to the floor of my loungeroom, pounding the ground with my flat, open palms, screaming "YES! YES! YES!" like I was in the throes of ecstasy. Because I was.

The Melbourne Football Club went on to completely fuck up the rest of their season.

2. 2018 Elimination Final vs Geelong (+29)
1. 2018 Semi Final vs Hawthorn (+33)

Obviously these are the two highest points of the decade - and arguably any time back to the 2000 Preliminary Final - and a case could be made for either of them as number one. Part of me wants to declare them the joint winners and be done with it, but that would be cowardly so I'm going to make the hard decision and opt for the second game.

First, Geelong. Even in the decidedly ordinary collection of wins we've had since 2010 there's no shame in being second best, and this was a brilliant night. Despite Ticketek falling apart like an Indonesian airplane earlier in the week we contributed a minimum of 70% of the most overwhelmingly pro-MFC blockbuster crowd since the 1987 Semi vs Sydney, and true belivers united with bandwagoners to go right off their nut.

After 11 seasons of pain and suffering, and nearly stuffing this season up after thumping teams left, right and centre earlier in the year, the anticipation level was off the charts before the bounce. I nearly painted the Ponsford with a massive vom before the bounce. After absorbing a few minutes of pressure we countered with a vengeance rarely seen against good clubs. Especially against Geelong, who had spent most of the previous decade ripping the piss out of us, most recently with that after the siren goal at Kardinia Park a few weeks earlier.

Five goals to nil by quarter time meant that at least if we were to lose it would give us something to moan about for years to come. By the time Weideman had his second I was legitimately sitting there mouth agape, in complete shock as to what I'd just seen. Realistically there was no way we were going to lose from there, but I've seen us throw bigger leads against worse teams so wasn't going to get excited just yet.

That we only kicked one goal in the next two quarters and let them get to within 17 points shouldn't detract from the overall joy of the evening, including Joel Selwood giving away a needless - some might say unlucky - free off the ball that cost them a red hot chance on goal.

Though they'd only kicked three goals to the last change, almost unbelievable for those of us who were there that fateful afternoon at Kardinia Park, I couldn't trust a 23 point lead. Then less than a minute in Nathan Jones, the friendly face of a decade of disaster, smashed through a steadier that caused the place to become unglued. They got a goal to make it interesting, before Mitch Hannan (remember him?) did his big run for the acknowledged sealer. Piss off to the GWS and their big big sound, that was the loudest thing I've ever heard at a footy game. There was half a quarter to play and we were barely any further in front than we had been 15 minutes earlier but you just knew there was no coming back.


I was so excited that I took a wrong turn driving home, ended up in the country, and didn't get to bed until about 4am but had no complaints. We were free to wallow in the glory of being a finals winning side, and to dream of the off-possibility of rumbling Hawthorn seven days later...

... which we did, in front of another crowd that was so overwhelmingly pro-Demon that for one night nobody could accuse us of being tally-ho shouting cravat wearing ponces. The decade peaked here, and even though it lacked the single swashbuckling period of the first game, Selwood making an arsehole of himself, or one shining Hannan-esque moment, I loved it more because it was hard fought. Not heart attack worthy, but the satisfaction of working hard to build a workable lead before going off our nut late in the third quarter and opening a five goal gap.

That should have been the end of it, but you don't get anything easily around here (see for instance - 2019), and for the first 11 minutes of the last quarter Hawthorn threatened the great comeback. Three goals to nothing, the margin was back to 12 points, and my bunghole was clenching like the jaw of a rabies addled dog.

Then, a moment of pure ecstasy that was great even before you heard BT's career peak with the "GEE GOD BOY WOW" commentary on replay. Melksham instantly replied out of the middle, everything was steady again, and we were shocked out of our lethargy to pile on another two decisive goals.


As the sealer went through I made the snap decision to go to Perth, trying hard to book a flight on a mobile phone with hands shaking all over the place. Via all this I looked up to see Spargo kick the last goal and the place came unglued again. It was bloody magnificent, and the reason I rank it higher than Geelong was because of what it meant. We were one win away from a Grand Final, and though it would take a trip to the other side of the country to get there, we had a ticket in the lottery. That ticket turned out to be fraudulent, but winning here set up eight days of dreaming that the next time we walked into the MCG it would be for a Grand Final.

Fans of successful clubs will fall about laughing at the idea of a winning Semi Final sparking such joy, but the looks on the faces of the fans as I left the ground that night almost (almost) made the years of vicious poundings and humiliations worthwhile. It doesn't matter what happened the next week, though the following year was a bit of a concern, this was the peak of our existence for the 21st century.

Thank you all for your custom in the 2010s, we go again for Demonblog's third decade (!!!!) from 2010.

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...