Monday 28 February 2005

Seasick, yet still docked

For the first time since that fateful one day in September the jumper was ON, the scarf was ON (although it didn't last long), the balaclava was just for show and league football in Melbourne was back. Well, something resembling league football anyway. 17,000 fans 'packed' into Australia's most overrated stadium for Wizard Cup Quarter Final action. My traditional feud with Yuppie Stadium continued as the first entrance to level three that I could find was wrapped up in the red and white tape so beloved at that ground with a sign indicating that the entire top level was closed. I don't want to say that the place is run like a brothel or anything but I walked around the next corner straight into the open third level where a couple of thousand people were already seated. Enough said. I can't stand the lower decks at that place, they do nothing for me and if you end up sitting above the Medallion Club you might end up having a nervous breakdown at the sight of people watching the golf as I did last season.

I sat down in my seat, two rows from the front, started taking deep breaths and telling myself that the game didn't count for much and it didn't matter what happened but as the first half wore on I started to sweat a little. I know that the backline was without Nicholson and Rivers, our two key defenders, but the ease with which Fevola and The Big Fat Ugly Kid (copyright Carlton fans - so don't write in) ripped the likes of Bell and Ferguson apart was outrageous. I'm aware that neither of them is being groomed to play key defensive roles for this season at least but I cringe at the thought of the "big" two of our already slightly wonky backline going down with long term injuries during the year. Could get ugly if today's two pronged Carlton attack was anything to go by. Bring back Chris Lamb - call up Bratislava, Slovakia or whatever European city he's touring now and ask him to come back as cover. Who could resist the urge to play alongside Justin Blumfield in another big Sandringham premiership? Sure this happens to me before every season but it was noticeable today - we were touched up like a 17-year-old on a ** ***** end-of-season trip.

The other worrying trend right across the game was inaccurate kicking for goal. It's been going on for a couple of years now but the number of set shots we missed today was painful. Even usually reliable suspects like Neitz (yes, he was actually out there) and Green were spraying it everywhere. There's nothing I hate more (well there is, and believe me you'll hear about it as the season goes on) than wasteful kicking at goal. I understand it if you're kicking from the carpark, 50 metres out on the boundary line - though even Phil Read managed to nail one of those against Essendon - but when you see professional players paid for little more than their ability to kick goals marking 30m out and just sneaking it in for a point you've got to wonder what's going on. I'd love to have a look at the goalkicking accuracy stats from the last five years, I doubt you'll find us in the top eight of any year. I've just walked in the door and turned on the replay to find our goalkicking labelled as "atrocious". How true. The backline was under siege but on several occasions they held up in the face of the Carlton barrage only to see the ball go down the other end of the ground and land in the hands of a forward who did his best to keep it as far away from the newly extended big sticks as possible. There's nothing more irritating than that. Of the goals we scored most were tap-ins from the goalsquare, then there was the Robertson one where the ball was clearly out of bounds from a smother before he snapped the 6 pointer. I have a stat I like to look at in these situations labelled "legitimate goals" - this is where we take out all the goals from dodgy free kicks, total flukes and opposition cockups and come up with a more accurate picture of things. On this soon to be famous statistic the Blues wiped the floor with us. They fully deserved their victory. I grew so bored during the halftime break as the Auskick kiddies ran around that I took a picture of my shoe.

Despite all this an air of calm came over me when I looked down to see Luke Williams run down the wing past me. I thought to myself that no match where he was on the ground could be considered that important. He even found time to have a shot at goal and miss it wildly like everybody else on the day. He did, lest we forget, play his greatest of 48 games at Optus Oval against the Blues in 2001 where he ran riot and we won by seven points. Today there was to be no repeat. Guy Rigoni would have been sitting in the dugout looking at what he's behind in the pecking order and silently shedding a tear. I'm sure Peter Walsh's trade to Port Adelaide had a lot to do with him wanting to return to SA but I'm not convinced he still isn't better than a few players on our list.

At three-quarter-time, and 31 points behind, I ironically called for a repeat of the 2000 finals series where we had ripped out a comeback from a similar position and I almost threw up in the top deck of the Ponsford Stand (RIP). For the first eight minutes of the quarter the Demons duly delivered and by the halfway mark of the final term we were within a goal. The tide turned again when Carlton kicked a 9point goal and it looked as if the big steal was dead, but when Brent Moloney struck back with a Jesus Christ Supergoal of his own (the aftermath of which is pictured above) the dream lived. Even I, the most strident of pre-season pessimists was starting to get excited at the prospect of a blockbusting come-from-behind victory that would set our season up. Then Carlton lifted again and put the game away. We got back to within ten points in the final couple of minutes but the end result was fairly well signposted by this time. When the only prospect of a win lies with a player kicking a 9 point goal, being poleaxed after the kick and getting another shot at goal you know the horse has already bolted.

James McDonald, Nathan Brown, Brock McLean and Russell Robertson came out of it with credit. Paul Johnson wasn't bad, and Moloney did alright. Bruce and Bizzell were average at best. It's hard to assess those at the lower end of the depth chart in games like this as they're off and on the ground every ten seconds. Jeff White was AWOL for most of the game and I tended to notice Mark Jamar more often. It's fair to say that David Neitz and Aaron Davey were amongst the more disappointing performers on the day. Brad Miller did nothing up forward and ended up in the backline.

As outrageous as it may sound I have some doubts about the future of Neitz. His second half of last season was nothing special and he had the sort of performance today that would see a lesser man sent back to the 2nds. Is this unnecessary panic so early in the season? Perhaps it is, but you can't deny that we need to develop more tall goalkicking options; it became painfully obvious when trialled in the spot late last year that Brad Green will never be it and I think, despite his adventures in the backline today, that Miller is far better suited at CHF. There's some talk of Nick Smith but it's hard to judge on the ten minutes of total game time he enjoyed during his brief stay in the senior side at the end of 2003.

Colin Sylvia may very well be the next messiah but he's yet to show anything in league football. Feel free to think like I do and believe that none of your previous Jesus/Allah saviour types ever performed any miracles in their first two seasons either - but then again they weren't coming back from Osteitis Pubis. The pointless 50m penalty he gave away when we were starting to get on top in the last quarter was absolute rubbish - completely unnecessary and as much as I love players who double as complete pricks I'd rather they keep it to squirrel grips in the pack and casual elbows into the genitals during boundary throw-ins than flattening players who had just legitimately outmarked them in direct view of the umpire.

On the other side Carlton looked impressive at times. I'm still working on my predicted end of season ladder but I've got to give them some credit on their performances so far, even against the Essendon 2nds last week, and put them in the running for a finals spot. Lance Whitnall played out of his skin, though admittedly he wasn't against much. It will interesting to see how he goes throughout the rest of year. That's about as much comment as you're going to get on opposition teams on this site. There's a Carlton blog coming soon - I'm sure they'll have more to say about their club than I ever will. The only thing I will say is that the tactic of giving the cheersquad placards with a phone number on it to ring for memberships was a bit of a failure. Given that it's the kind of tactic that the poverty-line clubs like us would stoop to it was disappointing to see one of the "big four" break it out. I suppose it was designed to show up to the tightarses sitting at home and wavering on whether to buy a membership or not but it looked pretty ordinary in person. One step up from waving a sign with nothing but a sponsor name on it, a'la West Coast fans and Hungry Jacks, but not by much.

So we lost and another crack at the 2nd biggest title in the game is over. I'm not too depressed. As far as second string championships go it hardly ranks against winning the FA Cup or the European Football Championships. Would have nice to see some glory for the first time in god knows how long but yet again it's not to be. Instead of playing Footscray at Telstra Dome next week we'll probably line up against the West Australian Regional Under 13's in Bunbury instead. Roll on Round One - I wouldn't say I was overly enthusiastic after that showing but there's no telling until the legitimate stuff begins.In fact I didn't take any offence at the result until I walked into a supermarket on my way home only for a checkout chick to run from behind the counter and ask me what the score was. "Carlton by 10", I said. She pumped her fists and celebrated loudly before noticing that I hadn't actually bought anything yet and hardly looked amused. "Sorry", she said unconvincingly, and walked off. How depressing.

Friday 25 February 2005

Around The Grounds

The Age reports that Melbourne's first Wizard Cup game next year may be in New Zealand. Road trip?

The league hopes New Zealand can become a land of the long, white Australian football goal posts.

The AFL's focus on expansion has shifted to New Zealand, with community camps to be held there next year, as well as a Wizard Cup game, probably between Geelong and Melbourne.

The two clubs have been sounded out about the idea, with the Cats particularly keen as the club is popular among the burgeoning Auskick centres in NZ.

Positive strides have been made in converting predominantly expatriate playing stocks to a 50-50 split with local players.

I'm so there.

Meanwhile the Herald-Sun have dragged out their annual hillarious "let's interview the less famous Nathan Brown" story. I think the last time they did it he was waving a giant hose around.

WHEN Demon Nathan Brown's wife Tamara tells people her husband is an AFL footballer, she is often met with the same response.

"What's his name?," they ask.

"Nathan Brown," she says.

"Oh, he's a really good player. Didn't he move from Footscray or something like that?"

It's a story Brown tells all the time.

But the Melbourne backman isn't concerned about being confused with his high-profile Richmond namesake.

"That doesn't bother me, he's a gun anyway," Brown said.

I like him so much that I'll even forgive his contribution to the trend of farcical children's names,

He and Tamara are adjusting to life as first-time parents after the arrival of Kynan Sandler last month.

Brown was granted naming rights on the middle name, with actor Adam Sandler providing the inspiration.


Thursday 24 February 2005

... and welcome to Countdown

In a new and potentially exciting feature we'll be taking a weekly look at music from, and inspired by, the Melbourne Football Club. If you've got anything - now matter how tenuous - please let me know via the comments.

Anyway for the first edition of this new special feature we've got to go with the obvious. First off the rank,

The Fable Singers - Melbourne FC Theme Song (1.57mb)

How predictable was that? Don't tell me you didn't see it coming the moment you read the first paragraph.

Now, in a completely unbiased way let me say that I love this song. I rank it the third best in the league behind the ubiquitous Richmond effort and the operatic stylings of Geelong. In my uneducated musical opinion the trademark of a good theme song is one which can be delivered at maximum volume towards a group of opposition supporters without sounding corny. Could you imagine somebody yelling the Carlton song into your face? You wouldn't take it seriously would you? But this is genius. Let's run through it bit by bit:

0:00 - The instrumental barrage at the start is a perfect lead in. It's instantly recognisable and gets the heart flowing. Attempt to fire yourself up to the Port Adelaide song and you'll get nowhere.

0:08 - The big orchestral bit drops out just at the right time for the old man singers to fire up a perfect rip-off of George M Cohan's American patriotic anthem "You're A Grand Old Flag". I defy any MFC fan not to go wild when they see that episode of the Simpsons where Lisa walks in the room singing it.

0:22 - The first verse ends with "the team of the red and the blue" and there's a short instrumental break. A few seasons ago I attempted to pioneer a "YEEEEEEEEEEEEEHAH" in this break but nobody, NOBODY went with it. Shame.

0:29 - In the break after "and we sing this song to you" it has become traditional to yell out "WHADDAWESING?" without taking a breath. I'm personally a bit suspect of this attempt at injecting Richmond style "Yellow and Black" personality into our already excellent song and refuse to indulge unless I'm particuarly excited about the result or we've just won a thriller. In this situations I like to alter the phrase so it comes out as "WHADDAFUCKDOWESING?" instead. It's very hard to squeeze the extra word in, and parents can often be seen covering their children's ears at that point, but it's all necessary in the post-match 'cooling off' period. Very occasionally, in the presence of kids, I have been known to insert the word "Hell" instead of other terms. Usually only happens at Wizard Cup games.

0:38 - The song finishes for the first time. Softer members of the supporting fraternity, and old ladies, give up here. The rest of us take a few deep breaths, enjoy the spirit of '64 with a full brass backing and maybe throw in some comments to those around you before launching into a second round.

1.08 - By now, if you are me, you will be turning purple from all the energy expended in screaming the first part of the song at the top of your lungs. Your voice - already shot from the four quarters of heartache, drama and ultimate victory - is starting to crack and you're wondering if you'll be able to get through another thirty seconds without collapsing but you press on regardless. If you die now it's ok. You'll go while you're happy.

1.29 - Nobody who has belted out both sets can possible entertain the prospect of doing a "WHADDAWESING?" at this point so it's left to all the people who have been clapping for the 1.28 previous to come in and do it for us. We're dying here.

1.36 - The voice on the tape goes up an octave for "keep your eye on the red and the blueeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" but you've totally lost yours by this point. You couldn't hit that note if you had a gun to your head.

1.38 - One final trumpet blast and it's over. They'll play the thing twenty five times more but you couldn't possibly sing it. People will just clap along and then drink it in. Collapse on your seat and feel satisfaction that you've just given the opposition fans a minute and thirty-eight seconds of hell. Hopefully repeat the next week and ad-bloody-nauseum to the end of the season at which point we win a Premiership and I drop dead from joy on the spot.

Later in the season we'll be back for a full-scale dissection of opposition club songs. It's slightly off topic, and may open up several feuds with other members of the empire but it's a necessity.

Bigger than Jebus

Ladies calm thyself; there's a giant picture of Colin Sylvia on the Melbourne OS. Fear not though, hetrosexual males, there's something for us as well - the great man is BACK. Unseen since his VFA* Grand Final massacre, "The Future" has shaken off injury and is threatening to run riot throughout the regular season. Get on the bandwagon now.

Melbourne has included the highly-regarded Colin Sylvia and developing defender Nathan Carroll in a 28-man squad ahead of its Wizard Home Loans Cup quarter final against Carlton this Sunday.

Sylvia, the No.3 pick of the 2003 National draft, has played just three senior matches after being injured several times last year. He is able to play in this match despite serving a one-match suspension arising from last year's VFL grand final. Although the Demons are fighting this ruling, he will miss the season-opener against Essendon.

The injured Jared Rivers (hand) and Cameron Hunter are out of the Demon squad.

Carroll was a likely inclusion this week given the injury suffered by Rivers during Melbourne's defeat of Brisbane in Cairns last week.

It's expected Carroll, Clint Bizzell and Ryan Ferguson will be charged with quietening Carlton's Lance Whitnall and Brendan Fevola.

The Blues meanwhile, have included Glen Bowyer and Setanta O'hAilpin in their squad, after losing Scott Camporeale to a suspension and Digby Morrell to an ankle injury.

Irishman O'hAilpin played one match in the pre-season competition last year, but is yet to make his senior debut. Morrell was cut from Carlton's squad last week before the side took on Essendon.

Squad: Chris Heffernan, Clint Bizzell, Brock McLean, Matthew Bate, Brad Miller, David Neitz, Paul Johnson, Colin Sylvia, Adem Yze, Lynden Dunn, Travis Johnstone, Brad Green, Daniel Bell, Brent Moloney, James McDonald, Russell Robertson, Nathan Brown, Luke Williams, Simon Godfrey, Paul Wheatley, Cameron Bruce, Jeff White, Ryan Ferguson, Aaron Davey, Mark Jamar, Nathan Carroll, Guy Rigoni, Matthew Whelan

Sunday predicts a Melbourne win by 21 points. Don't excited - we're not in the habit of being optimistic and it almost certainly won't extend into the Home and Away season but let's be entirely serious here. We're playing Carlton. Carlton are shit. We are marginally better than shit. Therefore we should win. Damn the good year/bad year theory - I'm officially declaring it dead. More on that later.

Apparently there's a reserves game on at Optus Oval at 10am Saturday. Should I completely lose all reason to live and find myself at a loose end I might show up, stand on the terraces, take pictures of the empty stands and attempt a report.

* Be warned that the VFL, Kangaroos and Western Bulldogs don't exist on this website. They will be known exclusively as the VFA, North Melbourne and Footscray.

Wednesday 23 February 2005

Unbridled scenes of jubilation and joy in the streets of Melbourne

"Who Wants To Be A Sandringham Zebra", Australian Football's biggest reality drama since The Club, is reaching a conclusion. We're down to the final two.

MELBOURNE is likely to announce its replacement player, Justin Blumfield or Kris Barlow, for Asian tsunami victim Troy Broadbridge today.

The Demons spoke to former Hawthorn utility Adrian Cox yesterday, a day after meeting Cox's ex-teammate Barlow and Essendon premiership player Blumfield.

Late yesterday the Dees were waiting to talk to AFL football operations manager Adrian Anderson to finalise details.

Although coach Neale Daniher said a decision had not been made, it was understood Cox was out of contention.

Daniher said the chosen player would be behind schedule as far as pre-season training.

"It's definitely going to disadvantage them," Daniher said. "But I think we can overcome that."

If you want to vote for Blumfield then SMS "Justin" to 014656
If you want to vote for Barlow then SMS "Kris" to 014657
If you want to bag both of them out now but have a dramatic change of heart if they turn out to be in any good then join the queue behind me.

Tuesday 22 February 2005

Football Retro

Over the season we'll be dragging posts from the last few years out of the archives and give them the airing they deserve. Here's one from way back in February, 2003. The subject was the first round of the Pre-Season competition. 

Begin flashback mode 
I f'ing hate Colonial Stadium/Telstra Dome/Hell on Earth. Really I do. I quite enjoyed Melbourne's 43 point win over Richmond tonight, but it's all ruined by having to play at that overpriced sanitised shithole of a ground. 

 Mind you i'm not happy with the MCG since they killed my beloved Ponsford Stand, i'll have to put up with the Olympic until they knock that down and replace it with another awful Southern Stand-style atrocity. 

 Other points from tonight, a) The Wizard Cup rule changes are awful, I hope this is the last year of the madness. b) Richmond are SHIT. Brisbane would have beaten them by 150 tonight. They might run Carlton close for the spoon this year. Football, it's nice to have it back. 
End flashback mode 

As you may have guessed I was thoroughly unpleasant in 2003. I was, however, almost right about Richmond and they would finally achieve their goal of winning the spoon just one year later. Expect to see more of these retro reposts as the year goes on - I promise some of them are even coherant.


The last thing we need is an injury crisis. I'm aware that one player hurt doth not a crisis make but you say that enough times and the next thing you're scraping the bottom of the ladder, playing for draft picks and changing your name to Fitzroy 1996.

Quoth -

Melbourne's star young defender Jared Rivers has been sidelined by a fracture in his hand, and will miss the Demons' Wizard Home Loans Cup quarter final against Carlton this Sunday.

The 2004 National Rising Star winner was diagnosed with the fracture after being x-rayed following Melbourne's 45-point defeat of Brisbane in Cairns last Saturday when he was among the Demons' best players.

Rivers, 20, completed some training with his teammates at Sandringham Oval on Tuesday morning, but wore a bandage over his injured right hand.

Or am I just seriously over-reacting?

The club described the injury as a small fracture that would require a week's layoff.

The answer is almost certainly yes.

Meanwhile the search for a second-rate Broadbridge replacement continues (from the same article)

Former Bomber and Tiger midfielder Justin Blumfield and ex-Hawk defender Kris Barlow have already been interviewed by the club, and though coach Neale Daniher wouldn't confirm it on Tuesday, it's widely believed the third candidate is recently-delisted Hawk utility Adrian Cox.

"We had a chat to Kris and Justin. We'll have a chat to maybe one other and we'll just go through a process probably of having a look at them, getting them medically assessed and hopefully get a look at them on the track," Daniher said.

Daniher said the club wasn't favouring any type of player, but the decision needs to be made within four weeks, prior to opening round of the home-and-away series.

"We'd like to do it as quickly as we can and with that, the decision may be that we don't take anyone."

"It could be that we've decided that we may want to just keep promoting our younger players. It might be a financial consideration as well, we're not flush with funds at the moment."

Am I a terrible person if I'm not wildly excited about a bunch of AFL rejects trying out to take their rightful place in our reserves side? I'm aware that occasionally players will come back from nowhere and end up being a success (Josh Mahoney etc..) but I'm not taking the threat seriously this time. Besides we all know there's only one man who can save the Melbourne Football Club now...

Join the "Re-draft Jakovich" campaign immediately. Rally at the State Library, 4pm today.

Monday 21 February 2005

Take the money and run

Are there people out there who actually need to see a big pre-season campaign mounted before they'll buy memberships? Are these the same people who give tin-foil to their kids as Christmas presents?

From the Herald-Sun,

MELBOURNE coach Neale Daniher expected nothing less than a victory over the depleted Brisbane Lions in Cairns and says his side's determination to win the AFL pre-season Wizard Cup is financially driven.

The Demons are hoping to push deep into the Wizard Cup finals to drive their membership campaign.
Last year the club was able to announce a profit, but only after it received a $1.5 million cash injection from the AFL's competitive balance fund.

"It's important, particularly for selling memberships, that we perform well in this competition and give our supporters hope," Daniher said.

The 45-point win on Saturday night provides the club with some unexpected cash.

Brisbane collected $16,000 as a first-round loser but Melbourne will receive at least $27,500, even if its loses to Carlton on Sunday.

The pre-season champion receives $200,000, while the runner-up is paid $100,000. Semi-finalists earn $50,000.

Daniher said there was no boardroom pressure on him or the players to make an assault on the pre-season competition purely for prizemoney.

"No one from the board has come to me and said we need the prizemoney," he said.

"That is not the motivating factor for us. Memberships are important, though."

If it takes a 45-point win over the Brisbane 2nds (1991 reserves Premiers, lest we forget) for people to decide that they're going to jump on board we may as well fulfil every other stereotype fantasy about MFC fans and drive our 4WD's to Mt. Buller on Grand Final day whilst simultaneously beating our butler about the head and planning our annual holiday to Majorca. Shambolic. Drag your wallet out and sign up NOW - they're threatening to play more games interstate and that's never a good sign. Fitzroy started off with some 'experimental' games in Canberra and Hobart and now they're a few letters on the back of another club's jumper and a D-Grade amateurs side. I fully expect all the tightarses to sit at home contributing squat until we end up as the Auckland Demons or something - and then they'll start whinging.

Of course we all know what the best way to boost memberships is. Start talking up a merger and watch the numbers go through the roof as everyone tries to stack the vote. See, for example, 1996 and the "sign your entire workplace up to vote YES" campaign. I'm still wondering why we didn't round up the yes voters and shave their heads French Resistance style.

Harsh? Yes. Justified? Absolutely.

Sunday 20 February 2005

Cairns reaction

Next week = Carlton on Sunday @ Telstra Dome. Time to be confirmed. An early start would suit me very nicely so make it happen Demetriou. (Update: Game is at 5.10. Bah) Serious media - and the Herald Sun's - reaction to last night's game is as follows..
Demons too hot
Melbourne has started its Wizard Home Loans Cup campaign in terrific style after it easily accounted for the Brisbane Lions in front of a capacity crowd at Cazaly Stadium in Cairns on Saturday night.

The Demons 3.10.11 (98) defeated the Lions 0.7.11 (53) by 45 points in front of a crowd of 9486 and in the process set up a second round clash at Telstra Dome against the winner of the Essendon and Carlton match that will be played on Sunday.

Although the season has barely kicked off, Melbourne showed plenty to like about its game and showed genuine signs of breaking the up-down-up-down cycle, which has been plagued the club in recent seasons.

Demons sizzle under tropical skies
OPPORTUNITY knocked at Cazaly Stadium in Cairns last night, but it was Melbourne who answered the call with a 45-point win.

While players such as Brisbane's Anthony Corrie had speed and Daniel Merrett had nous, Melbourne took full advantage of a Lions outfit missing half its premiership players.

In all, the Brisbane Lions blooded eight debutants last night -- including last year's first draft pick Cameron Wood -- while the Demons fielded only one in Lynden Dunn.

The Age website doesn't even mention it. They're taking the rest of the AFL 20/20 series seriously enough so we'll just assume it's an oversight.

P.S - Yes, you are right. The Melbourne OS isn't serious media either. But then again what is?

Enter Spaanderman

Llane Spaanderman that is. One of the crack Brisbane Lions 3rd's troops that came, saw and were flogged by Melbourne in Cairns last night. We looked pretty impressive at times but you had to take into account the fact that we had an almost full-strength squad and Brisbane were missing half their Premiership players and were probably no better than last year's Richmond second best side.

Like the town-oaf of football reporting that I am I missed the entire first quarter travelling back from a soccer road-trip to Frankston. Didn't appear that I'd missed much, and in a happy coincidence just as I walked in the door and turned the television on we started to run riot and put the Brisbane Under 12's to the sword. To be honest I couldn't take the footballing equivalent of 20/20 cricket seriously enough to fully concentrate on it for the full four three quarters. It was only when I turned around and saw Tiffany Cherry on my television that I really started to thank Fox Footy for the bounty they had provided for us.

By three-quarter time the margin had extended to 52 points and, despite the best efforts of the commentary team to keep interest in the game by going ballistic when the Lions kicked a couple of early goals, there was to be no heroic comeback by the Children of the Gabba. And thank god for that - the last thing I need is some indication that we're going to spend the whole season throwing away leads in the last quarter a'la 2003.

And thus the televised training drill ended. There were certainly encouraging signs but given the opposition I'd prefer to wait until next week and start to gauge performance against a real side - or Carlton.

Final score:
Brisbane: 0.7.11 (53)
Melbourne: 3.10.11 (98)
9pt Goals: Wheatley 2, Bruce
6pt Goals: Robertson 4, McLean 2, Yze 2, Bruce, Neitz

Sunday will be at Telstra Dome next Sunday for a full report on our match against the toothless bogans or the toothless bogans. I'll be high up in the top deck casting a critical eye on the fans, the stadium and maybe even the game if you're lucky.

Friday 18 February 2005

Around The Grounds

A daily wrap-up of MFC related news. Click links for the full story.
* Gardner sets his objectives
Melbourne president Paul Gardner says he wants to remain chairman of the club until it has achieved at least three key objectives. Gardner wants the club to be financially stable, based in the MCG precinct and to add to its 12 premierships, the last of which was won way back in 1964

* Daniher cool with Cairns heat
Melbourne coach Neale Daniher is not concerned with the warm weather in Cairns for Saturday night's Wizard Home Loans Cup clash against the Brisbane Lions at Cazaly Stadium.

Daniher said the local starting time of 7.40pm was not an issue for the team, but he added the players would be carefully monitored after the match and in the ensuing days.

* Neitz keen on Dees' prospects
Melbourne skipper David Neitz says there is no reason the club cannot reach the grand final and go all the way in 2005.

Neitz, who in 2005 is poised to set a new club record for the most matches as captain, said the Demons' playing list had the ability to be a genuine threat in September.

But he was realistic enough to know that a lot of water had to travel under the bridge before any silverware could be held aloft on the last Saturday of September.

* Gardner stresses club/city relationship
Demons President Paul Gardner says Melbourne, the club, is strategically placing a greater emphasis on aligning with Melbourne, the city.

Gardner said it was imperative to be "putting the town of Melbourne back into the Melbourne Football Club and the Melbourne Football Club back into the town".

"I read with some interest how Collingwood are going to be global. Collingwood would kill to have the Melbourne name, but anyhow they haven't, but we think it's a great asset," Gardner told Sportal in Cairns.

Herald Sun Footy
* Demons wary of pick to replace Troy
MELBOURNE has been granted its wish to replace Troy Broadbridge on its list with a mature-age player, but coach Neale Daniher says there is still no guarantee the club will pick anyone.

Real Footy
* Miller puts leadership ambitions aside for now
Brad Miller insists he is nothing like a leader at Melbourne yet. But if former St Kilda and Brisbane rover Danny Craven is any sort of judge, it's only a matter of time.

Craven was Miller's first senior coach with AFL Queensland club Mount Gravatt in 2001, when Miller captained the Queensland under-18 side. He was so taken by the strapping youngster that, after half-a-dozen senior games, he decided to appoint him senior captain the following year.

* Demons not set on new addition
Melbourne received permission from the AFL Commission yesterday to add an experienced player to its list but may not take up the right.

The Demons have identified three former league-level players they consider worthy of consideration but are yet to decide if they will replace defender Troy Broadbridge, who died in the Boxing Day tsunami.

Essendon premiership player Justin Blumfield and former Hawks Adrian Cox and Kris Barlow are the contenders for a late recall to the highest level, something Melbourne recruiting and list manager Craig Cameron said yesterday was "more likely than not".

* I've got no idea what they're doing with their new site. It appears they've decided to bump news off the front page for more sponsors ads. That's nice of them. You'd hate to, you know, provide a service for the loyal supporters who take all sorts of other crap from you without complaint. Next thing they'll be selling all the Grand Final tickets to corpora.... Shit. Too late.

Saturday Night Palsy

There's a certain point on the calendar where all things football related start to heat up. Sure you might had a summer of wild gossip and rumor on the back page of the Herald-Sun (not that we did..) and some startlingly misleading intra-club matches - in the past you might even have had farcical international challenges played on astroturf inside the Toronto Skydome - but until there's some hint of real competition nobody takes the threat of a looming football season seriously at all. Unfortunately history fails to record the results of the Melbourne FC 1896 pre-season campaign but judging by a first up 17 point win against South Melbourne at the Lake Oval it's fair to say that the boys were all fired up under their new coaching staff and were ready to go.

Of course in the 19th century they weren't lucky enough to have the Escort/Panasonic/Ansett Australia/Wizard/Whatever it's called this year Cup pre-season competition and thus were spared a month of glorified practice matches tarted up as serious competition. Of course in the last few years the Cup has taken a turn for the better with the introduction of all sorts of crazy new rules and laws that nobody, let alone the umpiring staff, can possibly decipher. This is clearly an indication that we are not to take the process seriously or make any judgements on the future of our playing list until well into the regular season. Say.. quarter-time of the first game? That will do. And if last year was anything to go by I'll declare us a lost cause shortly before we win the next 10.

Melbourne open their 2005 Wizard Cup campaign against Brisbane at Cazaly Stadium in Cairns tomorrow night (7.40pm AEST. Live on Fox Footy). The AFL Official Site's match preview is attempting to talk it up as a potential classic - but then again they would wouldn't they? I prefer to look at it as an extended training session held in Far-North Queensland. That said, with eleven Brisbane Premiership players missing from their squad against our relatively small injury list of Nicholson, Read, Smith and Ward we should (should) benefit from the Lions amazing habit of throwing not coming up for first round Wizard Cup games and progress to a match against either Essendon or Carlton at Telstra Dome next week.

Naturally I'm not writing the whole thing off as a wasted exercise - witness, for instance, the performance of Aaron Davey in 2004's competition - but I won't be reaching for the hot towel and razor blades if we don't win by ten goals or (god forbid) actually lose. Conversely if we treat the good people of Cairns to the greatest display of Australian Rules football in history and win by 225 points I won't be breaking open expensive bottles of champagne, putting in for annual leave in September and dusting off a spot on the mantlepiece for my commemorative "MFC 2005 Premiership" medallions. It just doesn't.. mean.. anything. The Lions have made a career of getting knocked out in the first round and they haven't done too badly for themselves in the past few years.

Pre-season cynicism aside I did sit for ten minutes in silence with my hands in my head when we lost that semi-final to Geelong last year. That was different though - when you're sitting on a 1965-2005 record of a couple of night Premierships and two Grand Final floggings you've got to take everything you can get. I saw the words "grand final", got a little bit excited and forgot that it was for a competition where you can play-on if the ball bounces off the post.

Having said all this - and effectively dismissed the entire match as a farce - it will be good to see the side back in action again. I'd like to erase the Essendon finals debacle from my memory as soon as possible. Of course a lot has gone on since then - we've picked up at least one quality player, some highly prized recruits and a few unknown quantities. We also lost a player in circumstances I'm sure need no explanation here. How will it all come together? I've got no idea and am not prepared to make an ill-informed and random judgement yet. Give it a few weeks and we'll come up with something.

Here's to the start of a new season. I promise to go wild when the real stuff starts.

Prediction: Melbourne by 25 points and at least seven seperate threads on the Big Footy forums declaring us Premiership certainties.

P.S - Yes. This is what passes for analysis on this site. Never fear - the links to the real reporters will be up soon.

Thursday 17 February 2005

Day Zero

Welcome to Every Day Is Like Sunday - the first blog dedicated exclusively to the Melbourne Football Club. In the coming months we'll be attempting to cover everything of relevance to the MFC, while taking a look at the lighter side of the sport and some of the great (and .. erm.. not so great) moments in the club's history. 

Sunday is not an attempt to rival the club's official site or any of the number of excellent independent MFC sites on the net (links pending). It will serve as a diary of our season; featuring my personal reminiscences, rants and raves. Maybe it'll be a good year and you'll be reading posts full of sunshine and love, or it'll be a repeat of 2003 and this will end up as the sounding board for paranoid conspiracy theories and outright lunacy.

Stay tuned - we'll be reprinting some classic anguish from the files of my personal blog in the weeks to come. Feel free to let fly with suggestions, complaints, (god forbid) praise and any other comments you might have. As the AFL pre-season wears on we'll be fine tuning Sunday in preparation for Round One of the Home and Away competition. Here's to a big season! 

 P.S - Do you think Morrissey would appreciate the irony in having one of his song titles ripped off for sports writing? I expect the lawsuits to start dropping on the desk any day now.