Saturday 30 June 2007

The hits just keep on coming

You'd think that after having had my heart broken by football on a near weekly basis for the last twenty years that I'd be over it by now. To a certain degree you'd be right, now that we've at least won two games this season I'd be less inclined to have a coronary at losing a game with six seconds left in the last quarter, but it's still like a dagger to the heart given the circumstances surrounding the match.

If we had won tonight it would have sent Daniher off the right way and provided a neat ending to a chapter that began all those years ago in Wellington, New Zealand of all places (it's true, look it up). Last week this result wouldn't have haunted me, and next week I'll probably throw my hands up and go "who cares, we always lose to Carlton" but to see the boys throw themselves into the game at a million miles an hour in the last three quarters tonight and to be beaten like that is a heartbreaker of the highest order.

The initial reaction was to question (once again) the wisdom of hiring the fitness guru with the unpronounceable name to help us run games out, but in retrospect I suppose the boys had run themselves into the ground so spectacularly in the second half that it was inevitable that they'd fall apart at the end. It didn't help when Robertson and Neitz suddenly forgot how to kick straight when it really counted - though under the circumstances I choose to believe that they were so desperate to ice the game as a mark of respect to ND that they psyched themselves out of it. Yet somehow we almost got away with it - had somebody just got a fist on that last ball we all we would have had to do is get one kick in right and we would have taken the points in a fairytale result. Yes, I know we rarely get kick-ins right at the best of times but with just six seconds left they could have chipped it short and milked the clock openly.

And who didn't feel like doing exactly what Nathan Brown did after the final siren? Lucky he had (alleged) turf underneath him when he started beating the ground because if we tried that it would have ended in a tragic cavalcade of flying seats and blood splattered across concrete. In the grand scheme of things the result meant absolutely nothing but in context it was so important. Next year/month/week we might not give a toss but at the time it was the footballing equivalent of finding your prom date making out with your dad.

I realised we were in trouble when Brown did his patented "turn around and rush the thing from 30 metres out" move. That's fine against your slop teams but against a highly professional outfit coached by the inventor of pretty much every dubious move in the playbook it's like pouring blood into a shark tank. Then we tried the bullshit 'chip it around' move against a team who do it better than anyone in the game and obviously know how to play against it. Cue it ending in tears and costing us the game.

Yes, before Lucas kicked the goal that put them within six points we were ripped off out of a free kick when Cameron Bruce had the figure four leglock put on him just outside 50, but given that we were on the receiving end of two of the worst free-kicks ever throughout the night I'm not complaining about anything. There was probably some arcane rule that explained the one in the third quarter where the Essendon player bumped Matthew Bate with his body and somehow got done for a push in the back but I must confess, along with 45,000 other people, I was mystified. Then there was a perfect tackle laid on somebody (McDonald? Bruce? Green? Ormond-Allen? I can't farking remember) which was also pinged for in the back. Cue righteous indignation and whispers of a conspiracy from the opposition fans - once again I ask that if the umpires are corrupt in your favour and you're 2-10 how bad would you be if they were AGAINST you? Idiots.

Crowd Watch
To be entirely honest for a club with so many fans I rarely run into a peanut Bomber fan at a game. They're undoubtedly out and about, and let's face it we've got our fair share of nutbags too, but I've had the good fortune to avoid them all. Extra points to the two guys in front of me who were drinking from 1 litre bottles of Solo that clearly did NOT just have Solo in them. Then when they ran out two bottles of Pasito appeared. Smuggling your alcohol through the gate inside the most unfashionable soft drink ever invented? What an angle. If only they'd had the same bag inspection guy that I had ("Want to see my bag?" *silence*) they could have dragged an entire bar in. Ironic given that the the Dome isn't much more than a glorified bar for corporate scum.

Juice Newton Watch

Oh, the player? Well he was alright. The mark he dropped in the last quarter was absolutely criminal but at least he showed life, which is more than you can say for the usually heavily sedated B. Miller. Will undoubtedly get better in the weeks to come if given enough of a chance.

Dome Watch
It's the new Optus Oval - decent enough when half full but an absolute nightmare when a crowd show up. Despite having a reserved ticket it still took me forty minutes to get into the ground

Interesting enough they showed the crowd figure with a special mentioned for the 6000 odd "Ticketed Absentees" who paid their money and didn't bother to turn up. This is definitely something I've never seen before. It might turn into the 2007 equivalent of the St. George kick predictor piece of shit and give bored fans the chance to come up with a random number off the top of their head and then pretend to have a well developed knowledge of football when they get within 50% of the actual answer. Either way I can't believe that so many people actually forked over $'s and didn't bother to show. Obviously here and there people are going to have family emergencies or pick up in the bar before they even get to the ground but 6000 of them? Madness. Interesting a vast number of these empty seats were on the ludicrously expensive Level Two. If you're that keen at throwing your money away feel free to cut me a cheque you elitist bastards.

So yes, we were shit, then we were very good, then we were average, then we were good again, then we were shit again and then the siren went. Another wasted evening that could have been spent with my head in the oven.

2007 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
I'm going to be controversial here. I have been a vocal critic of tonight's five point player but apart from anything he actually did with the ball tonight he played his heart out defensively and went into everything like his life depended on it. Put the chicken wire net up to stop the broken bottles hitting me square in the face and step forward,

[4-1 edited the next day due me being a crackhead and forgetting Jeff White]

5 - Simon Godfrey
4 - Jeff White
3 - James McDonald
2 - Travis Johnstone
1 - Russell Robertson

Apologies to Sylvia, Green, Davey, Bate, Bruce, Ward and god knows who else.


And it's a new leader. Wonderful - now can we start 2008 already?

19 - Bruce
18 - Green
18 - McDonald
11 - Johnstone
11 - Bate
11 - White
10 - Rivers (Leader: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
10 - Davey
9 - Jones
8 - Miller
8 - Godfrey
7 - Sylvia
6 - Neitz
6 - Robertson
5 - Yze
5 - Bell
5 - Petterd (Leader: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
5 - Wheatley
4 - Bizzell
4 - McLean
3 - Holland
2 - Moloney
2 - Dunn
2 - Brown
2 - Carroll
1 - Pickett

I've got to get away from football - it's doing my head in. I sit here thinking "one flag and I can at least walk away for a couple of years", but what if the one flag never comes? There was probably a South Melbourne fan saying exactly the same thing in 1952, and you can be sure that he died a week before they finally won the fucking thing. It's the same principle of slaving for forty years to pay off a mortgage and then getting hit by a bus as you cross the road to walk into the bank with the final cheque.

Next Week
You lot can do as you like, I'll be at the Asian Cup soccer football tournament. Guest reporters will hopefully be filling the not inconsiderable void. If you're lucky they might even bother to analyse the game.

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