Friday 15 September 2006

Weekdays and Bleakdays

So yeah. That's it. Another season flushed down the crapper with little more than a teasing glimpse at Premiership glory. Depending on how you look at it our year either peaked at 3/4 time against Richmond when we'd held them to three goals or five minutes into the Round 18 game against Carlton when we were winning. After that it was pretty clear that this year was going to be just like the one before it, and the one before that, and every fucking one before that right back to 1965. If it's any consolation, though, it was a better year than 1981. We won more games anyway. Don't ask me I wasn't born until Round 20.

I don't know about any of you but I live for this football club and it hurts to end every year with any aspirations for success crushed beyond recognition. Is one flag too much to ask for? Just one. Then you can run a bus over me, give me ass cancer, send me off with a gun to die on some godforsaken foreign beach - whatever I don't care. All I want is that moment where the siren goes and we've won the bloody thing. Gah. It's never going to happen. Or if it is I'm destined to have been in a plane crash two months beforehand - which is good for you but an absolute debacle for me.

And yes, one year we certainly know it won't happen in is 2006. For a quarter and a half we were in it against the Dockers tonight. Tough efforts all over the field and pressure everywhere. Sadly, as has been the key in most of our losses this year, the amount of effort expended to kick a goal (usually via a free kick or a fluke snap) was completely disproportiante to that which we conceded them. Fifteen minutes of guts and all toil would almost always be rewarded with a goal that was cancelled out thirty seconds later by a cheap clearance from center and a man standing on his own inside fifty. How are you supposed to win anything like that? Might come off nicely against slop sides but it's never going to work in the finals.

Jeff White was slaughtered in the middle by Sandilands. As you'd probably have expected Nick Smith wasn't much of a second option. Romantic notions of him coming in and running riot aside we must not have expected much more out of a guy who was until this week playing against Frankston. He tried hard but in the face of an opponent in superb form somebody who hasn't played a game in three years - and who wasn't very good then - is going to get smashed like a guitar. At least if nothing else we saw Smith play another game and will always know the answer to the cheap trivia question about the player who missed three years and then played a final. Which is, I suppose, some consolation. And if you're into the sort of trivia night where they're likely to ask a stupid and obscure queston like that then I want in immediately.

The second half was abysmal even if we did somehow stay within touch and threaten early in the last term. All credit to the Dockers they turned the flamethrower up to a million and roasted us alive. Even Jeff Farmer decided to stop throwing girly hissy fits and start playing the sort of football we remember him playing a few years back. The lack of pressure around the ground that we've suffered for years reared it's ugly head again, a few unlucky bounces went against us and it was over. Had the Dockers kicked more accurately and not hit the post every five seconds we would have been wiped off the face of the planet in the last five minutes of the first half so I suppose it was a triumph just to be in it for that long.

A word, if we may, on the performance of Brad Miller. I've been critical of him throughout the year - and a lot of what I've said still stands - but tonight was one of his best performances yet. It wasn't just the marks but the fact that he had the balls to back himself when he got it and not turn around and handball it to the first person who'd take responsibility. Still lacks the killer edge when it comes to delivering a ball inside 50 after marking it but there's an entire off-season to work on that. His performance tonight has saved him from even being considered as trade bait. Six months of work on decision making and kicking to leads and he can be a key player next year.

Brock McLean was, again, great. His performance fell apart in the second half but then again didn't everyone's? I've said it before (pretty much every week) and I'll say it again - put your house on him to win the Brownlow next year. Barring injury or suspension he's a huge chance at presumably decent ($50 or over) odds. If you can find somebody who'll take bets on our B&F put somebody else's house on him as well becuase he'll win by a thousand.

On the other side of the coin we have Adem Yze. Now, he's done a lot of good stuff in the 250+ games he's played for us but aren't you slightly concerned that he's poised to pass Neitz and become our games record holder in a few years time? I don't know if he's playing injured or what but he has been absolutely awful for the last month. Just doesn't seem concerned with what's happening unless it involves him being on the end of a handball into an open goalsquare. If this were Round 17 and he'd played like he had for the last month you'd drop him. Unless you're sucked into the whole "consecutive games" thing. The fact that he will probably pass Jim Stynes - a man who went at full throttle for four quarters every week in many sides with substantially less talent than we have now - for that record is the biggest farce of them all. You'll excuse Cameron Bruce for having a shocker this week because he's hard at it, has had a great year and will bleed about his performance but there's no excuses for Yze. Presumably somebody will come on here and go ballistic at me for questioning him but I know I'm not the only one who at the end of his tether.

Hard to give votes given that the first half performance was so much better than the second but here we go anyway.

5 - Brad Miller
4 - Brock McLean
3 - Nathan Brown
2 - Colin Sylvia
1 - Daniel Ward

Apologies to Bell, Carroll, Davey, Green, Johnstone, Neitz, Pickett and Rivers who tried hard.

Apologies for Cam Bruce who saved his worst game of the year for tonight, Rookie of the Year Matthew Bate who was disappointing but shows a lot of promise and Jeff White who had to try and contend with a flipping giraffe in the middle of the ground almost single handedly.

No apologies for Yze who can at least hand back some of his salary if he's not going to bother to make an effort.

And a big "shut the fuck up" to Tim Lane for his gimmick commentary. If you want to call cricket then go to Punt Road in December and talk to fifteen people about how Victoria have been forced to follow on or something. Don't do it on the call of a game that people actually care about. Idiot. Robert Walls, as always, trod the precipice between enlightenment and annoyance but made sense more often than note. On the other hand I thought Luke Darcy was excellent. His spot in the commentary box is ready and waiting for him when his career is over. And my mum thinks he's hot too (go on, admit it) so he's got that key demographic all sewn up.

2006 Allen Jakovich Medal FINAL TALLY

47 - Brock McLean
45 - Cameron Bruce
40 - James McDonald
29 - David Neitz
23 - Brad Green
20 - Aaron Davey
19 - Jared Rivers (WINNER 2006 Marcus Seecamp Medal for defender of the year)
17 - Travis Johnstone
16 - Byron Pickett
14 - Colin Sylvia
13 - Nathan Carroll
12 - Matthew Whelan
11 - Daniel Ward
10 - Matthew Bate
7 - Adem Yze
7 - Brad Miller
6 - Russell Robertson
4 - Chris Johnson
4 - Ben Holland
4 - Nathan Jones
4 - Nathan Brown
4 - Jeff White
2 - Brent Moloney
2 - Clint Bartram

Congratulations to Matthew Bate for winning the Darren Cuthbertson Award for Rookie of the Year (previously known as the Craig Smoker Rising Star Award when won by Colin Sylvia in 2005) and to Jared Rivers for taking out the Marcus Seecamp Medal for best defender. We didn't hand out that award last year but looking back at the votes we're retrospectively giving the 2005 award to Nathan Carroll and Ryan Ferguson who polled the same amount of votes. And if you need to know who won the Darren Kowal Award for Cult Hero Status then you haven't been reading closely enough. It's Philthy first to ninth and a token 10th for Smith because I was hanging out all season just for him to play one more game.

Next week: Who cares? Freo may as well win the whole competition for all I care now. Them, Fitzroy, Northcote Park - I don't care anymore. Sports are for the tip. Demonblog may very well be back for cameo posting throughout the off-season (and surely more than last year when I went overseas and forgot my login details for six months) but it will be sporadic at best. Check back if anything interesting happens. Or just catch up on everything come February next year - you're the reader it's your choice.

Next season: If the mystical Premiership clock isn't passing 11pm with a bullet then I'd be surprised. Neitz has two seasons maximum left in him and unless we trade for one I can't see anybody else on our list who's going to be able to go to FF and kick the 50+ goals a year that he adds. I know our midfield kicks a few but unless you've got one the quality of West Coast then try scoring enough to win a flag with it. They've got the ultimate in luxury midfields and they still couldn't kick a winning score in a grand final. Next year is the time to go for it. Sit Miller down in the off-season and show him every videotape of Wayne Carey that you can. Ring Akermanis up and offer to shower the road from Brisbane to Melbourne with rose petals and have him and his family carried here on somebody's back if he'll ditch the Dogs and go for us instead.

Contrary to what the prawn sandwiches brigade might think that I believe I know there's promise in this list. McLean is set to explode next year and Sylvia has showed his worth on the big stage in the last fortnight. Bate/Dunn/Jones etc.. It's almost enough to make you become aroused. But I know it and you know it that they'll tease us again and in twelve months I'll be writing exactly this same post again after we're knocked out of the finals by Sydney or Collingwood. I don't believe in curses and all that ye olde shit but if anything's going to make me start it'll be AFL football.

So yeah. Do whatever you want to amuse yourself for the next few months. If anyone's left that hasn't stuck their head in the oven yet (tip: that doesn't work anymore) I'll be back in a few days with the end of season review and an awards special. Then it's delistings, trade week, the draft and the inevitable news that the entire club has been wound up and sold to Russian businessmen for scrap.

Cheerio. It's been a top year. Thanks to everyone who has sat through my ramblings and who has commented or contributed. One day we shall meet as one and leap off the Westgate Bridge together whilst holding hands and singing the theme song.

With love until next time.

Adam S. Mercado

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