Friday 8 August 2008

Friday Night Follies

So, you stayed home because it was freezing and there was some kind of opening ceremony bollocks on? Usually this is where I'd say you should be thrown headfast into a vat of boiling oil, but it turns out you made the right decision. Why not get into the Olympics after tonight? Now that you've been to the footy and seen the sort of brutal suppression of hopes and dreams that hasn't been on offer since Tianamen Square you may as well have the real thing. 

Or perhaps you're one of the hundreds of private school parents and assorted jabronies who showed up for the Melbourne Grammar vs Scotch College private school wankfest curtain raiser and then left immediately afterwards. Again, usually you'd be going straight into the Demonblog Luke Williams Memorial Vat of Oil but like the timid stay at home Olympic fans you probably made the right decision. Besides, who's sitting in the outer at the footy when they own a 5 million dollar house in Brighton? Well, I would be - so where's my fucking house? 

Anyway, let's stop beating around the bush. We got flogged. Not even in a good, painful but sort of hot S&M fashion. This was the equivalent of when they used to tie some poor bastard to four horses and then let them all run off in opposite directions. Except that this time the horses only did half the job and somebody had to come in and finish us off with a shovel like roadkill. Usually I go back and look at the AFL Game Day tracker to check the order of goals and jog my memory about any major incidents that I'd forgotten. Not going to be much use tonight is it? Remember when we went to Geelong in Round 3 and were going to rumbled by about 300 points but got away with a five goal loss which earnt us respect? Well, they got their massacre eventually. 

I had the misfortune of not being there for the curtain raiser Rich Prick Challenge Cup because I was hurtling through traffic across town to get to the 'G for the first bounce. If I somehow managed to get done for speeding somewhere along the way I'll be attaching the fine to tomorrow's sports section and sending it in to the cops with a "don't you think I've suffered enough?" message attached. 

So, I got there and the only news of any significance was that Jamar was this week's player to suffer the "mystery injury" and had been replaced late by Jeff White. Fair enough I suppose, give the big man a chance to rescue himself from VFA mediocrity in the last few rounds. Fine time then to play one of his worst games ever. He may as well have done a lap, slapped a few hands and called the press conference on the spot because if Jamar really is injured (*nudge* *wink*) then the only thing that will keep him anywhere near our starting lineup is that John Meesen is a fictional character who nobody will ever see actually play. 

What's there to say about the game itself? Well they were playing "Pleasure and Pain" before the first bounce, which was apt. We held them scoreless for the first three minutes, that was nice. We struggled to rebound the ball out of our 50 a couple of times, they managed to repel our advances without even breaking a sweat. It was going to be one of those nights, but the real question was how much of 'one' it was going to be. As you know in the event of an expected thrashing I consider the TAB Sportsbet line to be the score to beat. Tonight they gave us +60.5, which I considered excessive. I was wrong. From 0-0 at 4.22 of Q1, to 0-53 at 0.00 of Q2 I have rarely seen a more demoralising 25 minutes of football. We've had our share of last quarter fadeouts over the years, and the odd opening quarter of doom but never before have we looked so massively inept. Sure you're playing the best team in the land, but they're not making you handball it to the guy 25cm from you with two players almost already tackling him. I know that run and carry is the eventual goal of Bailey and Co but surely there's a point where you go "well, it's not working tonight and probably won't. Let's try something else and leave it until next week". Not tonight. It was pissy chip football ("Poofball" as an Un-PC acquaintance refers to it) all over the place, even when it was pissing down raining. Result? We were spanked. Often somebody would take a mark 50m out and, so fearful of our dysfunctional forward line, kick it 20m backwards to somebody who would then go across field again before it inevitibly broke down and caused me to cry.

Speaking of forward lines, we didn't have one. The sick "Sylvia as Midfielder" fantasy was back in vogue tonight with the same decidedly mixed results it always has. Meanwhile we were left with a rotating cast of forwards who tried hard but really had no idea what they were doing. Inside 50's is one stat, but how about some inside 20's, we didn't have too many of them. And those that did happen often resulted from somebody hoofing the ball downfield straight into the arms of a waiting Geelong defender. So, until the 9.13 mark of the second quarter we scored precisely nothing. And even then we only managed to get on the board when a Geelong player botched a mark and dropped the ball through the points. So, morally it was still 61-1. Then, 23 seconds after they gave us a sympathy point the Cats went up the other end and kicked a goal. Cue a complete loss of the will to live. 22 minutes in and we had racked up a massive 0.3 to be behind by a casual 70. Finally THE CELEBRATOR managed to get on the end of a long ball and slot one home. Not much fucking celebrating to be done under these circumstances though. Especially when, surprise surprise, they went up the other end and booted a goal a minute later. 

Positive - In Round 12, 1998 they were 84 points in front of us at half-time. We have had worse halves against Geelong. I remember not going to that game either because for some crackhead reason I'd been roped into doing the 40 Hour Famine and, being a fat bastard in training, had practically physically broken down by the next day. I stayed at home, listened to it on the radio and had something to eat. Don't judge, the poor kiddies got their money one way or the other. 

Second half. Same shit, different quarter. Goals, goals, goals. Some mong looking bloke started standing up after every goal and giving it to everyone sitting behind him. Not sure why given that there were about 3 Melbourne fans in the entire section, and that had dropped to two when my mum walked out in disgust five minutes into the third. He eventually settled down when one of his own fans told him to sit the fuck down before he got copped a backhander. 

Eventually Valenti got another one, from a goalmouth scramble which led to Lynden Dunn briefly losing his mind and celebrating like it meant something. The only thing it meant was that we got back within a hundred points. It didn't last long, by the time Paul Johnson was kicking the most improbable goal in recent memory (like Newton against North but even more unintentional and therefore impressive) three minutes into the last quarter we were again dragging ourselves back to within the ton. Guess what? They responded by kicking a shitload of goals. Bollocks. 

Valenti got a second and noted goal-kicker (!?) Chris Johnson dobbed one after the siren but that was it. Some shit happened in between. We got beaten to a pulp. I hate footy. 

Meanwhile has anyone else noticed the only two team rules that are being executed perfectly at the moment? Never kick the ball to Bate unless he's got three guys on him, and when Shane Valenti, the smallest man in the team, is on his own in the middle of four opposition players try and set up a high ball so he can take the mark over them. Thank god we're getting something right at least. With all these kicks to 2 or 3 on one contests (I'M LOOKING AT YOU WHEATLEY) you'd think that we'd have loose players or be manned up across the rest of the ground. Well you'd be wrong.

Positive - Well, we still came out better than Port did in the Grand Final. And it wasn't quite as much as they belted us by in 1996 (Greg Doyle 4 goals and both Cockatoo-Collins brothers on debut? What a dream clash). Having missed both that spectacular clash, and Sydney's 116pt smackdown the next year I can comfortably say that tonight was the biggest massacre I've had the pleasure of witnessing in person since that fateful day in 1990 when John Longmire kicked a casual 14.2 and North beat us by 130 (Danny Seow! Jay Viney! Just, get me the Name A Game DVD now). 

Negative - Cram it with walnuts. 

Star Watch
I walked past Garland and (*gasp* mancrush) Rivers. Given the amount of ball in our backline today I don't think the defenders did such a bad job, but when these two are back we'll be a lot better off. I'm still waiting for Rivers to join his own Farcebook group

Crowd Watch
The guys sitting behind me were your typical annoying football twats, but they did have a couple of lines which I made a mental note to steal (completely uncredited) for this report. Then I completely forgot them. 

2008 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
Last week we lost and there were about 10 people worthy of sneaking in for one. This week I'm struggling to find any. As much as I'd like to give no votes to anyone that would not only be cheap and nasty but also throw the integrity of this whole important competition into question. And we can't have that can we? 

5 - Matthew Whelan (One of the few who looked even half comfortable using the ball)
4 - Shane Valenti (In everything. No polish, but plenty of guts)
3 - Brad Green (Like the RACV, he's always there)
2 - Addam Maric (Good poise around the ground. Looks confident in game three)
1 - Stefan Martin (Saved us from further demolition on more than one occasion) 

Minor apologies to Buckley, P. Johnson and McDonald. Everyone else? Sit in the corner and think about what you've done. 

A new joint leader at the top, and with Valenti hitting the front in the Hilton all the action for the minor prizes is suddenly concentrated in the 12 vote bracket. Never before have so many players received so many votes for doing not much. 

23 - Nathan Jones, Brad Green
21 - Brock McLean, Cameron Bruce
18 - Matthew Bate
17 - Brad Miller, James McDonald
14 - Lynden Dunn
13 - Paul Johnson
12 - Colin Garland (Joint Leader: 2008 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Chris Johnson (Joint Leader: 2008 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Shane Valenti (Leader: 2008 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
11 - Aaron Davey
10 - Austin Wonaeamirri
9 - Cale Morton, Matthew Whelan
6 - Jared Rivers
5 - Brent Moloney, Simon Buckley
4 - Clint Bartram, Stefan Martin
3 - Nathan Carroll, Matthew Warnock, Jeff White, Paul Wheatley
2 - Russell Robertson, Addam Maric
1 - Mark Jamar, Colin Sylvia, Adem Yze

Next Week 
The bottom of the harbour super spectacular against the Eagles at the MCG on Saturday. Remember when we played them at Optus Oval a few years ago and 9000 people turned up? Well you may as well play it at Royal Park Primary School next week because you'll be lucky to get 900 after that performance. I'll be there - because I'm an idiot.

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