Sunday 23 March 2008

The Winter Of Our Discontent

"Shouldn't death be a swan dive? Graceful, white-winged, and smooth, leaving the surface undisturbed?" - Johan Grimonprez, Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y.

At about 2.20pm yesterday as I was walking towards the city down Wellington Parade two things struck me. One was why, ten minutes into the first quarter there were so many idiots in Collingwood jumpers casually wandering to the ground - and the second was how excited I was for footy to be back. About how much better I feel to be able to listen to a game on the radio, and how the expectation of a new season is enough to give you a tingle even when everything looks as if it's going to go horribly wrong.

See, despite the abortion that has been our pre-season, you just never know what's going to happen in round one. Maybe The New Junkyard Dog DB was going to shock the world and unleash a footballing juggernaut the likes of which had never been seen again. Neitz with 13! Brock has 72 touches! Simon Buckley participates in a live sex show in the centre square with three supermodels and a polar bear! Well, it'll always be the dream.

So we got there, we sat down and we waited for something to happened. And frankly even though I've sat for four quarters and returned home I'm still waiting for that 'thing' to occur. All I saw today was a vomitous performance that made me embarassed to walk out in a Melbourne jumper. I've seen a lot of horrific stuff over the years but never before have I actually considered covering my colors up to avoid embarassment. It was THAT bad. But I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.

In the first few minutes an important trend was established. The ball would go into our forward line Juice, Neitz and Robbo would all jump for it - nobody would actually connect and the ball would drop straight into the hands of a Hawthorn player who would clear it with ruthless efficiency and run it unchallenged to their attacking 50 where they would score. Again and again it happened. At half time when we'd kicked 1 goal and were down by 50 we'd only had a couple less inside 50's than the Hawks. On paper we should have been a chance, but the reality was much more obviously that we were going to get smashed.

It's just that the delivery to the forwards was so abysmal that they couldn't get near it most of the time, and even when they did they either botched it or had it 50m out on the boundary line. It was so abysmal I couldn't even manage to get upset about it. At one point we were even winning the free kick count by a ratio of 2:1, and when you can't even capitalise on that to get within a million points then you know something is wrong. Part of the problem with the forward line was a complete lack of crumb - I know Weetra was playing his first game but he needed to be there more at the drop of the ball. As much as I love Davey in the midfield I'm afraid that for us to rack up any sort of decent score this year he will need to be hanging around the forward line both creating and delivering scores.

To be entirely honest the backline wasn't awful. Wheatley was mince, and Garland didn't show much but given that the ball was down there every 30 seconds the likes of Bell and Carroll didn't completely disgrace themselves. We even, shock horror, looked alright from the kick ins. Result aside I can't believe that there would be anyone who was dying for a return to the Travis Johnstone led kicking efficiency shambles that we suffered coming out of defence last year. In fact getting the thing outside 50 was probably the best bit of our performance today - it was just that Hawthorn had the center of the ground locked up like Fort Knox so that we had to go wide from there and usually cock it up. It we didn't find someway to screw it on the wing then it was usually the ball that went inside 50 and not near anybody.

Maybe they let us get the first couple of kicks in so they could take the piss afterwards? Who knows. Would make sense knowing that we're likely to panic like schoolkids and completely botch it.

In the last quarter, after taking it out to a game high of 115, the Hawks did their bit for intra-club relations by taking their foot off the pedal at the 20 minute mark of the last quarter and allowing us to close the gap a bit but even with their help we couldn't manage to get within a hundred, and for only the 20th time since 1896 we managed to get turned over in the regular season by the mythical 100 points. First time since Round 18, 1997 (Mark Bayes? 6 goals?) if you're keeping score.

And that was that. The siren went, the Hawthorn fans did a load and we skulked out like the losers that we were. The New Junkyard Dog became the first coach since 1952 to lose his first game in Round 1 by more than a hundred and a little bit inside of me died. I'd love to bring you a full report of his press conference, but thanks to the new and improved AFL website, run by the monkeys at Telstra this is what happens when I click the link to view it,

Warning: mysqli::mysqli() [function.mysqli-mysqli]: (00000/1040): Too many connections in D:\Apache\bptv-iad\libraries\db_api\mysqli.php on line 46

Makes even less sense than our gameplan.

This is the lowest moment of my MFC supporting career, there's no doubt. Having been too young to really appreciate the last time we put in a performance like this - and having been exposed to John Longmire kicking 14 in a 130 point loss in about the second game I ever went to - it's heartbreakingly awful. Especially after so much build up, and so much off-season planning towards today. We should have known from the practice matches that it was going to be an apocalypse, but just how much is a shock to me. The guy who made this prediction must be feeling pretty justified now,

Originally Posted by Supermercado
Scoreline: Hawthorn plenty, Melbourne not much


In the immortal words of Mene Gene Okerlund. Fuck it.

Logo Watch
Hawthorn's new one looks like a startled chicken, but when you win by 105 points you can afford to get away with having a giant cock on your jumper I suppose. After all, we've got about 20 of them in ours *boom boom*

Crowd Watch
Second level of the Ponsford there was a surprising amount of Melbourne fans, especially given that outside the ground I spotted about seven. We were also treated to two clown Hawthorn fans who didn't shut up for the first three quarters - before mysteriously disappearing after somebody told them to shut the fuck up - and delivered one of the worst double comedy acts since Mel and Kochie.

Bonus points in the crowd watch category for the guy sitting behind me who had a nervous breakdown every time Newton went near it, lost the plot at everyone for everything and yelled "HE'S A LEFT FOOTER!" intermittantly throughout the first half. I've said it before and I'll say it again - the only thing that ruins footy is footy fans.

You knew we'd hit rock bottom when some tart in a Carlton scarf in front of me said "this is embarassing". When they can see it you know it's all over. Speaking of Carlton, I wonder why exactly Chris "DO YOUR KNEE YOU TRAITOROUS DOG" Judd didn't want to come to us? The crunt is obviously a fortune teller.

Fanbase Watch
I'd like to think that everyone reading this is a paid up member of the club, but I'd still like to address this to the wider community.

If you are sitting at home trying to decide whether or not to buy a membership or not and have decided, on the strength of today's performance, that you are not going to sign up this year then I have a message for you. Fuck off and die. The scum who only jump on when we're winning are the cancer that eats at the heart of this club. If we're going down in 2008 then we're going down with all hands on deck. I don't care if we're 0-22, I will be there every week other than when I'm overseas. In two or three years when we're decent again there'll be another 10,000 people who suddenly discover their love of Melbourne - and every one of them should be force fed into a cement mixer.

2008 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Nathan Jones (By default for having a crack)
4 - Brent Moloney (Enjoy him before he necks himself again)
3 - Paul Johnson (?!?!?!?)
2 - Brock McLean (Meh)
1 - Brad Green (Double meh)

Apologies to Carroll (shaded by a superstar with little support), Morton (not great, but for a first gamer he showed signs) and Dean Bailey (I'm sure your lawyers can get you out of your contract)

No apologies to Yze (still unwilling to bend over and pick a ball up), Neitz (no delivery, but not much from him either), Weetra (not good enough yet), White (28 H-Outs but F-All around the ground), Newton (pff, look interested),

What do you think?

Karma Korner
Now, don't you feel a little bit bad about laughing at Carlton's performance on Thursday night? Actually, neither do I - we've still got about three more years to go to reach their level of slops.

Next Week
Footscray at the MCG on Saturday. We didn't do too badly against them in the pre-season - in the first quarter at least - so you never know. One way or the other it's going to be a horrific season so strap yourself in and get used to it. Stay firm in the bad times.

Changes? In - Sylvia, Dunn, Rivers, Whelan. Out - Garland, Weetra, Yze and a player to be named later.

Do the Herald Sun even bother watching these games?

Melbourne: S Buckley B Moloney B Green. Buckley? Six kicks and thirteen handballs? You're taking the piss.

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