Saturday 25 April 2009

Player Watch

I was driving around the back streets of St. Kilda today cruising for hookers trying to buy a house. Turned a corner and who do I see hooning around on a BMX sans helmet but Bradford J. Miller.

Tempted to scream pro-MFC propaganda out the window but expected that he'd vault over the handlebars and I'd cause him to neck himself.

At least the pro-tanking spineless coward faction might have sent me a bunch of flowers as a thanks.

The Truth Is Out There

In the last twenty years I've watched Melbourne in four states and one territory. I've seen us win by 120 points, lose by the same, blow a 47 point lead in the last quarter and come back from 51 down at halftime. However I can confidently say that what we saw tonight was the most bizarre match I've ever witnessed.

Seriously, that shit was like an episode of Twin Peaks. 3.5 quarters without a solitary goal and then at the 17 minute mark of the last quarter we're in it up to our necks. Explain that? I sure as hell can't.

Usually, I sit there for four quarters stressing and ignoring minor details such as what's actually taking place, so the goals act as mental cues to fill in the blanks of any particuarly interesting happenings. That's not going to happen for obvious reasons. In fact I'm not sure if anything particuarly interesting happened all day. They told us it was going to be Hurricane Katrina-esque weather conditions, and even though it was colder than a witches tit the rain didn't come in any noticeable fashion.

Sadly, nobody bothered to tell the players who proceeded to serve up one of the most anonymous, pointless and god damn it nearly awesome games of footy for years. You would have understood a 51-34 scoreline if it had been pissing down with a force 10 gale, the sort that sends sailors to their deaths, blowing across the ground but it really wasn't. In fact other than the temperature issues it was a pretty perfect day for football. When the Meesen Magic jumped like a gazelle in the opening bounce and put it straight into the hands of Moloney (or was it Jones? Nothing came of it, so Jones is a suspect) who whacked it inside 50 I thought that we were set for something special. We weren't.

Let the future record show that our scores at the end of each quarter were as follows;

0.1, 0.3, 1.6, 4.10

This is our lowest score of any sort since we racked up a casual 3.9 and got Neil Balme fired in 1997. The last time we went so low in Victoria was R16, 1996 in Geelong. Stats fans rejoice, though, that it's not our lowest score at the MCG in the last 50 years. Step forward the R12 1989 debacle vs Geelong when we racked up a big 2.8.20. Before that you have to go back to R16, 1971 for a 4.10.34 against the mighty Fitzroy.

However I'm willing to bet that none of those games featured us goalling at the 17 minute mark of the last quarter to be within striking distance. To say the Adelaide fans started to get a bit nervous was an understatement. They didn't quite wear the same look of abject terror that Freo fans had when we turned them over last year, but another goal and it would have gotten interesting.

Frankly I can't even be bothered trying to remember what happened tonight. From memory it went a bit like this;

* Scrum in the centre
* Ball goes towards our forward line
* Ball is rebounded under very little pressure
* Ball hangs around in the middle for a while
* Adelaide kick a point
* Everyone dies a little inside.

It took the forgotten man of the forward line Lynden Dunn to get our first two goals, and just as he was scrounging for the record books to find out how many people had been their sides only goalkicker, McLean added another to ruin his fun but make things interesting. Newton missed his second sitter and Jetta an easily gettable chance before McDonald slotted one to drag it back to within three goals.

Unfortunately after briefly threatening glory the forward structure once again fell to pieces and the Crows managed to lock it down for a win. Of interest to Meesen fans was his flying shot from 50m out which didn't make the distance, or score, but bore a distinct resemblence to the one and only shot on goal I ever saw Jamie Shanahan take.

Once again we were stooged for a lack of a forward line. The defence is still our strongest point, and the midfields and ruck division aren't losing out TOO badly (except Johnson who has been pox) but what's the point when you've got nobody to kick it to? Miller and Petterd are trying their arses off but getting nothing, Bate has been disappointing recently, Jetta needs time in the 2's, Sylvia has played his one good quarter for the year and put the queue in the rack and Newton is just shit.

Robertson kicked five in the 2's today. He's hardly the future, but at the moment he could be the difference between competitive and uncompetitive up front. If nothing else he'll take the heat off Miller. Surely next week it's Robbo and THE CELEBRATOR in - Jetta (omitted), Newton (shot dead).

There was a lot of "we're being rorted by the umpires" feeling going on. I'll admit there were a couple of slightly dodgy ones, but I don't think it explains Newton the tit missing two sitters and McLean hoofing the ball into the hands of the opposition at every opportunity.

Finally I don't usually care for the opposition, even to the extent of learning who half their players are, but Adelaide aren't particuarly good are they? Everything else is going to overshadowed by our floppy forward performance, but it's not just me who thinks they weren't very good today is it? Granted our defence played well, but all over the place they were just ordinary. Restricting a slopfest to a tiny score is one thing, but can they really hang their hat on it given the abysmal state our forward structure is in?

That's it. I have nothing more to say.

2009 Allen Jakovich Medal

5 - Brent Moloney
4 - James Frawley
3 - Aaron Davey
2 - Jared Rivers
1 - Lynden Dunn

Buggered if I'm giving votes to Turnover Machine McLean. Everyone else will, but 28 possesions mean nothing when kicks are in the minority and hardly any of them hit a target. Eight tackles are great, but they don't get you in single handedly. See also Jones, Nathan.


12 - Aaron Davey
9 - Brent Moloney
8 - Brad Green
5 - Kyle Cheney (LEADER: 2009 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year and LEADER: 2009 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Nathan Jones, Brock McLean
4 - Matthew Warnock, Stefan Martin, Brad Miller, James Frawley
3 - Ricky Petterd, Colin Sylvia, Cameron Bruce
2 - James McDonald, Jared Rivers
1 - Matthew Bate, Lynden Dunn

Crowd Watch
14,000 my arse. That's the dictionary definition of 'seasonally adjusted'. Imagine if the weather had turned out like it was supposed to? The place would have been empty.

Chief nutbag of the day was the woman behind me who spent all four quarters yelling "COME ON CROWS [pause] COME ON!" every five seconds. By full time she'd become a cult hero.

Armoured Personnel Carrier Corner
Fact: I'd rather win five games than four.
Fact: We're not good enough to win five anyway.
Outcome: Pro and anti-tank factions are happy even if they do want to cut each other's throat.

Numerology Corner
In case you're wondering Stefan Martin isn't the only person ever to change to a higher number during their career (excluding people who changed back to a previous number like Farmer in '99). One of Sydney's cavalcade of nobodies in the 80's tops everyone.

1985 - #46
1986 and 1988 - #12
1989 and 1990 - #33
1991 - #50

Now, Darren McAsey was hardly likely to be anyone's favourite player anyway but imagine trying to keep up with that on your jumper?

Incidentally if you're old enough to remember the 80's and early 90's but want to completely confuse yourself just look at some Sydney teamsheets from that time. You are guaranteed to see names that you've never seen before in your life. I'm not talking about cult figures like Sanford Wheeler and The Indian Rubber Man Jamie Lawson - I'm about Brett Page, Aldo Dipetta and the briefly glamorous Jim West. Speaking of briefly glamorous - Shane Fell - 1 season, 30 goals and goodbye. That's odd.

Perhaps the hapless Brisbane Bears of the late 80's are more your go? Try 1992's Adam Kerinaiua, or Rudi Frigo? How about 203cm monster Ian Kidgell or his svelt 60kg colleague Corey Bell? Me, I'm a Richard Umbers man myself.

Can't decide? Then Matthew AhMat is your man - 8 games, 8 losses spread between both great teams.

Mind you, let's be honest, does anyone other than a Melbourne fan have the slightest idea who Scott Simister was. And what exactly did Haydn Robins do for two seasons before he was flogged to Richmond as part of our ongoing 'talent' exchange scheme (Chris Sullivan, John Howat, Michael Pickering, Clay Sampson, Strawbs O'Dwyer, Phil Egan, Simon Eishold, Ross Funcke et al)

See, wasn't that a great deal more educational than anything you saw (or didn't) at the game today? Forget this season, how about a sponsorship from Name a Game to write reviews of early 90's matches instead?

Next Week
God help us all it's Geelong at the far more sensible time of 2.10 on Sunday. Make no mistake, they won't be as charitable as the Crows were in keeping the scores down. In fact they're likely to slap the living bejesus out of us. Remember 1 billion to nothing at quarter time last year? I guess if that's all you have to beat then it shouldn't be too bad a day.

If I was playing Fantasy Selection Committee it would be (*drum roll*)

IN: Robertson, Maric, Spencer, Wonaeamirri
OUT: Jetta, Newton, Sylvia, Johnson

Maric didn't play in the 2's today, but I have a feeling that might have been as cover in case Bartram didn't come up after losing his dad yesterday (RIP). Showed enough at the end of last year to warrant a decent run of matches now, and what better time to come in then when we're face-to-face with the apocalypse? That'll be dandy for him.

Final Thoughts
That was nice. What time does the real game start?

Sunday 19 April 2009

Bring Your Quarter To The Slaughter

Jubilant scenes on Brunton Avenue, 4.59pm

I don't need to tell you this, but the weight lifted off the shoulders by realising that you're not going to go 0-22 is amazing. The fact that it came against a unit imploding like a condemned building is not entirely important right now. Neither is the fact that if we'd played another two minutes we'd probably have lost. Like a horse that bolts to a massive lead in the Melbourne Cup and almost dies in the last 100m before winning by a nose it's the result that counts.

It's sad that it's come to this, but before we go any further I have to point out one important stat. That was the first game we have won in the first month of a season since 2006. Even then we had to wait until Round 4. You remember, Rivers copping the worst 50m penalty of all time in the longest 4th quarter EVER and we eventually made the 8. Today the 50's were deserved, the quarter was short as and we certainly won't make the 8 but it was still satisfying.

Let's be quite honest, the first quarter was one of the biggest slopfests you would ever have seen in your life. We gave away the first goal before the first bounce after Warnock biffed Morton, but other than that - and a couple of early misses for the Tiges - the story of the quarter was that the players of Fitzroy 1996 would have been hanging their heads in shame at some of the mistakes. It was absolutely comical football. Not only was the ball being butchered by almost everybody with extreme prejudice but even when we did get it forward we managed to hit the post four times. In a row. After he and Moloney both rushed shots they should have snaffled, Miller got the first to give us the lead going into quarter time.

The obvious lowlight of the first quarter was Brad Green's injury. Crunched in a perfectly fair contest (read: the AFL will probably issue a 92 week suspension) he looked at first like he was dead, then seemed ok. The radio called it concussion, then it was scans at the Epworth, then he was going for surgery for a broken jaw and is out for 8 weeks. Fark. I know I said it's easier to understand an injury when it takes place during a game but did it have to be to one of the few people we have who actually knows what they're doing? It seemed that he and Moloney were the only ones who could hit a target early on and I thought that without him we were rooted. Not so.

Unfortunately due to watching Green being carried from the ground many may have missed one of the more amusing errors in recent times. The Richmond guy (who? As if I care) picks the ball up in the centre, turns around and drops a 20m handball right into the hands of Jamie Bennell who doesn't have a Richmond player in the same postcode. Welcome to every blooper reel for the next ten years whoever you are.

The second quarter was like masterpiece theatre compared to the first. The Tigers continued to pile on absolutely comical errors and we managed to drag ourselves back to normality on-route to an eight goal quarter. For all my angst about him I have to admit that Colin Sylvia played an unbelievable quarter. Two running goals from outside 50, clean disposal and chase like a madman. He was making a mockery of the D-Grade reserves style stuff that Richmond were serving up. Suddenly as he kicked his second we were 34 points up 13 minutes into the quarter, and we were either set for a memorable victory or a heartbreaking capitulation.

Then they invented some sort of forward line structure and threw Richardson down there to take a few marks and got a few in the middle. You thought "oh god, here we go" but late goals for Bate - pretty much his sole contribution - and a last minute snap from Miller about a second before the siren gave us back a handy advantage.

As usual I don't pretend to know anything about football but tell me they wouldn't have gone a lot better had Richardson been playing up front for the whole four quarters? We were doing whatever we liked before he went up there and provided some sort of a target. It's very cute having him rumble around the wings picking up touches and almost winning the Brownlow but that means fuck all if your key forwards are for the tip.

Incidentally it was our best second quarter against Richmond since 1993. A game I remember extremely vividly because;

a) It's the biggest win I've ever seen us have
b) Jakovich and Andy Lovell (!?) kicked 8 apiece
c) A bird shit on my hand in the bottom deck of the Ponsford during the 3/4 time break. Very traumatic for a 12-year-old.

Other than Green's injury things were looking pretty positive. Bate didn't get near it until he kicked his goal and the Tiges started to look a million times better when they got their forwards right, but 31 points is the biggest half time lead we've had since Round 10, 2006. In a game we only won by 13 points (he says for dramatic foreshadowing purposes).

Then, after what surely must have been the biggest spray of all time from the soon to be unemployed Wallace, the Tigers came out and... copped the first goal. Their skills were indisputably better than they had been in the first half, but when Davey snapped one after about eight minutes and we were 38 in front it looked like party freaking time. Alas something must have snapped in their collective brains as they suddenly realised the gravity of the situation and started having a massive crack. While Richo still looked like their only truly dangerous forward we started to miss tackles and butcher the ball going forward and they took advantage of it with a couple of goals.

The enigmatic Newton missed a sitter from 25m out on a slight angle and then backed up thirty seconds later by kicking a goal on the run from 50m out to keep our lead at just under five goals. He's an interesting one Newton - in a way he played a great game today but is it wrong to expect more? His kicking for goal is generally shite, but do you take that for the surprisingly decent defensive intensity and the two goal hauls? Could have some sort of a future if he, and Miller, were packed off to the Self Confidence boot-camp but in reality there's a sign on his car space saying "RESERVED FOR J WATTS". Does he go for Robbo? At what point does Jurrah push for his spot? I was relatively satisfied with his game today - other than that miss from right in front - but he's got to crank things up a bit if he wants to be there next year. At least if he gets the arse he can join another Melbourne delistee Nick Gill in forming the "Awkward Tall Forwards with Mixed Returns" coterie group.

The last quarter was what you would officially describe as "nerve shattering". Only one down on the bench, but you'd think we'd had no rotation since the 2nd quarter as everyone stopped dead. They butchered their chances early on, but even with Warnock and Johnson double-teaming Richardson you just had the feeling that he was going to sink us. However, before that could happen Ricky Petterd basically saved the game with a heroic passage of play that should be on all sorts of highlight tapes. He threw himself backwards into an absolute meat mincer of a marking contest, hit the deck and still managed to lay a huge tackle on the Richmond bloke for holding the ball. Duly converted and a little bit of breathing room.

Ricky was good today. I still dispute the idea that he's the answer to small forwardry, but overall he's been quite good down there this year - and his kicking for goal is much better than expected. Interested to see what happens when Robertson comes back though.

In the end it turned out to be absolutely crucical as we really did stop dead after that. Deledio showed up and goaled after doing precisely nothing all day and Richo managed to get one on target to cut the gap back to 16 with about six minutes left. Cue arseholes the size of manhole covers in the stands - forget the distraught Richmond fans I think throwing it away from there would have caused me to neck myself. Richo botched another one (thanks son) and both Jetta and Newton had chances to ice the game but missed. 26 minute mark and the margin is cut to nine with a goal. There were only thirty seconds left (fuck countdown clocks, take a radio if you really want to know how long there is left) but when they went forward and Morton snapped at goal you just visualised somebody giving a free kick away out of the centre + 50 and having us lose the game. Happily he missed and even though the umpire chose not to pay the biggest dropping the ball IN HISTORY against Frawley in the dying seconds it wouldn't have mattered as we had it locked up.

Siren and wild scenes, tempered by the fact that we know we beat nothing, and a massive weight off our shoulders.

Crowd Watch
Strangely subdued performance by the Richmond fans in the top of the Olympic Stand. The wild comeback probably saved them from a bit of blood in the streets treatment on the day, but there's no telling what random animal waste is going to end up on the doorstep of Punt Road tomorrow morning.

The only person of interest was the guy sitting a row over from me who had obviously hit his frustration limit and spent four quarters abusing Richmond and calling for Wallace to be executed. A particular highlight was the tuneless rendition of their theme song with "Tigerland" replaced with the words "Gold Coast". Not sure exactly what it all meant but I could kind of feel where he was coming from. He was only about 30 so it's not like he can take any pride in Premierships won when he was 2 years old.

Other than that it was a look of shell shock all round. Poor bastards.

2009 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes

So hard this one. Throw a blanket over most of the teamsheet, put it in a blender for three minutes, serve cold andcome out with this...

5 - McLean
4 - Miller
3 - Sylvia
2 - Petterd
1 - Bruce

Could have gone anywhere really. In fact on Big Footy I used my 12 votes on 12 different players. So, enormous apologies to (in order);

Davey, Dunn, Meesen, Newton, Moloney, Johnson, Frawley, Bartram, Bennell, Warnock, Rivers, Morton, Martin.

It's cruel, but it's good in the weeks where it's hard to even fill five spots. Which, let's be honest, happens far more often than weeks where there's too many to fit.

Pretty much everyone except Green, Bate and Jetta were major contributors. I was impressed at times by Nifty Nev - especially his spin out of traffic - but another 53% efficiency tells me he needs to develop more. At least he was responsible for our solitary front-and-centre crumbed goal of the year.


With Green gone, and Cheney having dropped out of favor after a fast start the field is well open for the Jakovich and Seecamp. For those of you who give a rats the winning scores in the past have been;

2008 - 29
2007 - 34
2006 - 47
2005 - 38

2008 - 14
2007 - 16
2006 - 19
2005 - 10

2008 - 17
2007 - 5
2006 - 10
2005 - n/a

No votes yet for the Strawbs O'Dwyer for ruckman. Johnson won with 13 last year, but nobody has come close to polling until the Meese today.

9 - Aaron Davey
8 - Brad Green
5 - Kyle Cheney (LEADER: 2009 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year and LEADER: 2009 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Nathan Jones, Brock McLean
4 - Matthew Warnock, Brent Moloney, Stefan Martin, Brad Miller
3 - Ricky Petterd, Colin Sylvia, Cameron Bruce
2 - James McDonald
1 - Matthew Bate

Kasey Korner
Lost by 4pts to Port Melbourne in a random night game. Unfortunately I couldn't go, but by all accounts Robertson continued to get better. Still don't understand why Maric isn't playing seniors for us, and Jurrah continued his development.

More importantly in the 2's the Ayatollah of Rock and Rollah Watts made his debut. Allegedly solid and kicked a goal. Straight to the VFL 1's I say. It's pearls before swine having him play against thinly veiled suburban hacks in the reserves.

Next Week
Adelaide at the MCG in the absolutely bizarre timeslot of 4.40pm. Say f'ing what? No problems for me as I live next door to the ground and - frankly - have nothing better to do with my life but it's not exactly family or country supporter friendly. When is anything other than a Perth game scheduled in that timeslot? Another big handout from the twats at the AFL.

As for the game itself you'd think that even having just been bitchslapped by Geelong at home that they'd be too good for us, but we've got a good record against them at the MCG. I'm not going to put my house on a win but I would expect us to continue our good work from this week in preparation for the Geelong game.

Here's a visual representation of what that game will look like;

Cue our new forward line;

Final Thoughts
It's not the journey, it's the destination.

Tuesday 14 April 2009

In The Event of a Major Disaster The Season Management Plan Will Swing Into Immediate Action

In order to avoid Demonblog being added to the Federal Government blacklist of tasteless and offensive websites I choose to focus mainly on the first quarter and a half of today's game. For the first few paragraphs anyway, then it's on for young and old.

To be honest I spent most of the second half with my head in my hands anyway, so expect even less than usual. I'd watch the replay to relive the fun but in a moment of rare quality control my television committed suicide rather than show it.

Any mention of today's first half must be prefaced by saying that Collingwood were sloppy and allowed us to do pretty much whatever we wanted - but my god it looked good when we did. Despite getting rumbled out of the centre from the first bounce we looked great running with the ball and were cutting the Pies midfield to shreds on route to *gasp* half decent delivery into the forward line. We comprehensively dominated the first ten minutes and there's was nothing they could do to stop it. Goals to Miller (on the second go) and Green put us 13 points in front and by quarter time we had not only kicked five goals in a first quarter at the MCG for just the second time in a year and a half but were looking like we were up to it as well. Traditional MFC style cock-teasing, or a beautiful glimpse into the future? You decide.

The Stefan Martin Experience (featuring Matthew Warnock) consistently rebounded the ball out of the defensive 50m cooly and calmly. Having seen the way they (and poor Col Garland) have played over the last couple of seasons depresses me that one of them wasn't around when we were good and relying on the likes of Nicholson for defensive 50 possessions. I'm dying to get Whelan back in there as well. Said it last week, will hopefully say it for the next five months but our backline is our best asset at the moment. It could all come crashing down, but a few fairly cut price selections have come off which is just the sort of luck we could do with elsewhere.

There was even a brief flash of centre bounce dominance where Spencer and Johnson started getting taps and winning the thing. In fact for the first fifteen minutes of the second quarter it looked as if there was some danger it was going to continue. Somewhere deep inside I was even warming up for a bit of GOF at the final siren. Even Collingwood's goals came mainly from our errors - if we'd been cleaner we'd have restricted them even further.

The best statistic was the one that had damned us so much the week before. 6 contested marks in the first quarter alone represented an increase of 5 on the entire four quarters of last week. Those marks, as much as anything else, contributed to the strong position that we found ourselves in early. SME fans rejoice, he top scored with two.

Unfortunately when you're in our position while you expect to give up a few goals from bad play, you've got to take your own chances sometimes to even it up. Nathan Jones ran to 50 just before the end of the quarter, after the Pies had gotten a big error-assisted run on, and sprayed it. Petterd had one in the forward line where he did everything he could despite being criminally outnumbered but didn't have any support whatsoever.

And that's where the joy ends. Summary - we spent a great deal of time playing a top 8 side off the park. Stop reading here, because after this it all goes horribly wrong.

Repeat - If you are of the persuasion who prefers to think that every sign is a good sign then you might want to look away now.

6 contested marks in the first quarter, 4 more in the next three quarters. Suddenly after we'd botched a couple of chances to get a mini-break in the 2nd quarter, and Cheney had sliced a kick straight onto Didak's chest to level the scores it all started going horribly, horribly wrong. Or more to the point it started going very right for the Pies.

Everyone knows they're a much better side than us and suddenly they decided to play like it. The first 45 minutes reminded me of the 2007 Queen's Birthday game when they sat back on our notoriously dodgy kick-ins all day and let us do whatever we wanted - resulting in a bag of 7 from Robbo (remember him?) and a shock victory. They weren't going to make that mistake again. Suddenly the pressure was turned up and we couldn't handle it. Possessions were flying everywhere and the backline was under siege. Ten minutes into the third quarter we were officially stuffed and looked out on our feet.

Once again it was the backline that saved us from a fearful massacre. The usual suspects were doing their best to keep the inevitable at bay, and Davey added another layer of calm to the defensive effort but like every other week of the last couple of years there's only so many times you can keep a superior team out before they make you pay. It's ok if you've got some sort of decent forward line, or can get the ball down there (think how badly Carlton and their toilet backline would have been in the last few years without Fev?) quickly and accurately. When the Pies started manning up and we lost the motivation to go quickly inside 50 we were stuffed.

None of Bate, Miller or Petterd can claim to have had a great day at the office but I refuse to actually blame any of them (except maybe Sylvia who was shite) because they were trying to deal with wonky delivery, being outnumbered and rarely - if ever - having somebody there to mop up the crumbs. As much as I liked Davey's game in the backline and midfield this is exactly the role he needs to be playing in the absence of Robertson and THE CELEBRATOR. It's all well and good to play well defensively but unless we kick a decent score that's not going to count for much. And, as in today's case, eventually the pressure on the midfield and defence will be too much and the other team will smash you.

The last quarter was an absolute disgrace, but what is there to write about that? We barely got hands on it enough times to do anything worth talking about. You knew that the world had turned on it's axis when Travis Cloke - a player so shit that I'm surprised we didn't swap the #1 pick for him - started kicking goals. Did that man seriously win a Best and Fairest? I can take the likes of Anthony and Didak cutting us to shreds, but when the bloke who has an accurate goalkicking record only because they don't count the 30% of OOF's and shots that didn't make the distance, starts strutting around like he's single handedly won the thing then it's time to pass the bucket around for a spew session.

I've almost hit the wall after the last two and a half years. Just two weeks in and footy has already becoming exceedingly depressing. Now I know what it's like to be a Richmond fan. I'm fully aware that we've got the likes of Grimes, Strauss, Blease and Watts to look forward to - as well as a couple of super high draft picks next year - but when you watch the likes of McLean and Sylvia go around does it give you any faith that we're going to find a genuinely game changing superstar anytime soon? Today was one of Brock's few bad games - and last week was another - but can we finally admit that Sylvia is never going to be anything special?

Heartbreaking to think that even if you traded some of these people for picks that we'd probably draft somebody even worse.

Speaking of Richmond I hope that somebody takes notice of their performance at Skilled Stadium today. Much like last year when we went down there in even worse circumstances and put up a credible fight, they played Geelong as a laughing stock today and came out with some credit.

In conclusion... at least we kicked accurately?

Rookie O Rama - Week Two

The (sometimes) Fantastic Four had their second starts for the following results;

Cheney - Not so great. Obviously had signficantly more respect paid to him by the Pies and struggled to get clean touches. Retains his place for now but could be in trouble when Whelan and Wheatley are back in the frame. Definate future though.

Jetta - Rotten day, highlighted by his failed attempt at a fingertip mark right in front of the oncoming Miller. Needs to go back to the 2's and work on things. Is a certainty to be dropped for next week if Wonaeamirri is right.

Bennell - Surely out for Whelan. Didn't do.. much? Hard to judge so far due to almost complete anonymity.

Spencer - Better than last week, but still got monstered in the centre. Sure he's lively around the ground but after a couple of botched kicks last week he has seemingly given up and taken to handballing it all over the shop instead. It won't happen but I still want to see if Meesen does any better. Needs time in the reserves to hone his craft and we're not exactly going anywhere that means we shouldn't at least try somebody else.

Johnson wasn't up to much either. I'd say a ruckman is going to be top of the shopping list at the end of the year.

2009 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes

Difficult again due to there being a big fat cluster of 'decent' performances and no standouts. Davey comes out of it on top due to the fact that he kicks the bloody thing rather than constantly indulging in handball circle work like everyone else.

5 - Aaron Davey (24 kicks, 4 handballs. Will be instantly dropped for this serious breach of discipline.)
4 - The Stefan Martin Experience (I heart old octopus arms. Had novelty and junk time goals kicked on him but there should have been plenty more)
3 - Brad Green (Potentially the only player on the list good enough to waltz into any other team in the comp)
2 - Nathan Jones (Gets a heap of it, actually used it well occasionally. Needs to stop getting done for holding the ball every five seconds)
1 - Matthew Warnock (Reliability plus)

Apologies to Morton and Bruce who got a bit of it, and didn't butcher it too shockingly BUT hardly created any excitement.


5 - Kyle Cheney (LEADER: 2009 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year and LEADER: 2009 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Aaron Davey
4 - Matthew Warnock, Brent Moloney, Stefan Martin
3 - Brad Green
2 - James McDonald, Nathan Jones
1 - Ricky Petterd

Crowd Watch
I can, under oath, state that there were officially a significant amount more Collingwood fans there today - and not just in the spaz heavy top deck of the Ponsford either. We did seem to have the run of the bad decisions today, and didn't we hear about it? Chief critic was the guy two rows behind me who never actually managed a complete sentence and communicated in grunts and random words. When we got given the most obvious deliberate OOF in history you could hear the veins nearly burst out of his forehead.

Psychology Central
What we've seen from opposition fans in the last couple of weeks has been fairly typical of the position we're in. You can dredge up as many stereotypes about them as you like, but the fact of the matter is that we've got as many nutbags as anyone - the difference is that people really lose their mind when they play the percieved (actual in our case) worst team in the competition because they're scared to death of losing. Don't deny it, in the odd times when we've been good we've had the same feelings. I remember playing the Sean Charles led St. Kilda when they were at their lowest ebb and feeling like I was going to hurl for three quarters because they were beating us. There is a terror of being beaten by the bottom side that causes otherwise odd people to turn into raving monsters.

Sponsor Watch
Now that the Russians are on board how about a bit of this? Or a taste of this for opponents. Embrace the Russian lifestyle comrades.

Next Week
Port Adelaide at Football Park. And my, what a magnificent record we have there! Your correspondant will be live in Adelaide to see the horror unfold first hand. Never once in the history of this website have we won a game there - we haven't even got within 50 points since 2003 for gods sake.

UPDATE - A few hours later and with more time to think about the game I think that I've reached the "brace for slop" level already and will comfortably ride out the season in a wave of depression.

Of course everyone else knew that this would be the case before the start of the year but for some stupid reason I tried to convince myself that we were going to pull off a miracle and not finish in the bottom four. Now it's clear that we will and I'm just... shattered.

But sometimes what happens on the field pales into comparison with what happens off it.

THREE Collingwood fans were arrested for allegedly bashing a Demon player's father outside the MCG after the game yesterday.

Witnesses said they were sickened by what they described as an unprovoked attack on Brad Jones, the father of Demon Nathan Jones, as he was leaving the ground with son Zac, 14, after the Magpies' 53 point win.

Witnesses said the Collingwood supporters were abusing Melbourne fans outside the ground before allegedly punching Mr Jones in the face and upper body as Zac watched on in shock.

During the brawl one of the attackers lost his shirt as Mr Jones tried to defend himself.

Police arrested three men at the scene about 5pm.

A crowd gathered to watch the arrest and Pies and Demons fans swore at the men in disgust, witnesses said.

The sad thing is you're only reading that because of the connection to a player. That sort of shit shouldn't happen to anybody but it does. The sooner that spastics of all variety are cleansed from the football community the better. They certainly need to have a look at the way they serve alcohol to all comers.

Monday 13 April 2009

Chasing AAMI

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This post brought to you by the letter "A"

A is for Adelaide Airport. The place where I finally lost the plot and had to admit that my addiction had gone too far.

Wasting god knows how much money to go there despite almost certain defeat was one thing. It's what we do. Failing to realise that the place is as big as Ballarat and turning down to an early flight to end up sitting in the airport for 5hrs is another altogether. Especially when you're sitting there questioning the closest thing you have to a religion. Let me tell you, Adelaide "International" (no, really) Airport is not the place to be having an existential crisis. It's a good thing they don't let cults recruit at airports because I would have been tempted to sign up, run away to a compound somewhere and never be seen again.

Before we go anywhere else, here's what I learned over two days in "Sensational" Adelaide;

a) It's a nice enough place for a day, but I wouldn't want to live there unless I was 72 or in the Witness Protection Scheme.

b) No matter how inexpensive and 'right in the middle of the city' it is never, ever, book a hotel directly opposite two night clubs. It's hard enough to sleep in strange rooms with 1972 decor, no fire escapes and a lift that asks you to close the door behind you without having to listen to Lady GaGa until 5am.

So it's no surprise that I was already in a foul mood before the game even started. Given the choice between a direct bus to the ground full of opposition fans, or the stopping all stations variety I opted for the later to try and avoid being dragged into awkward conversation with yokels. Somehow, despite specifically asking to sit with Melbourne fans I ended up in a sea of Port supporters three bays to the right of the cheersquad. I learnt once in Brisbane that sitting in the cheersquad is never a good move, so I stayed put and braced for the inevitable four quarters of 'good natured' abuse from the locals. Surprisingly this never arrived, which is a shame as I was hoping to recycle my favourite geographical commentary of all "I'd rather support a shit team than live in Geelong Adelaide". Never works in Sydney, but great cut through in rural markets.

The week's action started at the selection table where the man, the myth, the Meesen finally got a game. Six weeks ago he was a figment of our imagination and now here he was in front of our very eyes. All it took was the worst team in the world to have an injured ruckman and an inauspicious debut for a rookie. I instantly pledged to buy a cape and write "I SAW THE MEESEN MAGIC" on it if we won. Nice idea, but frankly I wasn't calling my cape maker to whack in an order.

The other incident of note was the mystery hamstring ailment that kept McDonald out. First Garland walks off one week never to be seen again, and now this. Somehow, somewhere we've been cursed - right back to popular media buffoon Schwarz doing his knee in Albury in front of 92 people. At least when you saw Robbo blow his foot off (unless you're me, heard it in a Singapore internet cafe and swore loudly) you could understood what happened. It makes sense. But how do you get your head around not knowing until 5.20 on Thursday that your captain is rooted? He'll be back soon, but who's next?

All I'll say is that if I were driving and looked over to see Jared Rivers in the lane next to me I'd slow down in case his car spontaneously flipped over and caught fire. I have a theory that when Jakovich ALLEGEDLY did his back porking in the back of his car after training that he actually shagged a witch.

The game? Oh, must we really? You saw it on TV, you've got a better idea of what happened than I do.

Meesen Magic went straight into the centre at the first bounce and was - to be honest - beaten, but at least unlike Spencer he was getting some hitouts and somewhere near the ball instead of waving wildly in mid-air as if he were playing an imaginary Theremin. They're not going to start stocking the MM Capes in the Megastore anytime soon, but in light of Jamar's injury and Johnson's rubbish start to the year he might score a few more games.

Speaking of disappointing draft picks I'm officially over Sylvia again. His main contribution for the day was getting sucked into dropping Josh Carr, giving away a 50m/certain goal and being reported. I'm already playing Fantasy Trade Week where he's concerned and wondering what we'd get for him. If old Laser Disposals Johnstone (who now has more hair on his face than head) was worth 16 and Meesen 32 then what do you get for a #3 pick who has ever so briefly flashed genius and spent most of the time getting into trouble? Split the difference and take something early to mid 20's? Nobody's giving that up a year before the Gold Coast come in to wreck the draft for everyone, but surely we can sucker the likes of Freo into continuing our ongoing talent exchange scheme. They love an average recycled player so he'd probably slot straight in as captain. Presumably we'll trade him and win a flag, but that's the luxury of having cover from a good team. Look at Chris Johnson - the mad bastards at Carlton have even got him kicking in.

The first quarter was deeply reminiscent of last week. They wiped us out in the centre, got a couple of goals on the board early and looked as if they were going to smash us. We had our opportunites up front but still looked unlikely to score even when we went inside fifty. Every time the ball went up there for the first fifteen minutes the Port defenders would spoil, th eball would hit the deck. Then nothing. Miller and Bate were trying hard but the complete absence of crumb murdered us. Nifty Nev got the first but never seemed to be at the drop of the ball, and the less said about Petterd's day the better.

Davey was cutting in the cheap possessions department down back and even though he's one of the few people you can rely on for clean and crisp disposal most of the time I still think we need to sacrifice this to inject some sort of forward line pressure into the mix. In the absence of Wonaeamirri we've had absolutely no chase there. As much as we will welcome the returns of Robertson and Maric somebody has to put the blowtorch on opposition sides rather than letting them casually dink the ball out of the backline and set up their own attack. God forbid even the much maligned Newton showed more grunt in the pre-season than anyone else has this year.

Eventually we managed a couple of goals and went into quarter time a respectable - though arguably undeserved - 8 points adrift. Once again it reminded me of the Pies game - occasional flashes of run and carry gold mired in a sludge of poor decisions, sliced kicks and dysfunctonal delivery inside 50. At least last week we could rely on Travis Cloke to be terrible, but yesterday Port's forwards always looked likely to spark up and go bananas at some point.

And lo as it was written it happened. We matched up with them respectably for the first fifteen minutes of the quarter, with the margin staying around two or three goals but you could see trouble brewing. We would work our arses off to get a goal and then they would win it out of the centre and get it back 45 seconds later. The Stefan Martin Experience battled against Ebert but the rest of the Jurassic Pack were comfortably stitched up. Tredrea, who hadn't kicked a goal yet this season, was doing as he pleased and Warnock/Rivers/Frawley were powerless to stop it. The defence wall was shaky at best but it didn't help that apart from Jones and Moloney nobody in the midfield was doing anything to keep the ball from going down there.

Then in the last ten minutes of the half the wall not only fell over, but it fell over a cliff and was washed out to sea. Suddenly the midfield completely lost interst and Port blasted us out of the contest. How can we have drafted so many midfielders in the last few years and still see so much failure? 4.1 to blot in ten minutes put the game away without us appearing to ever get our side of halfway once. Even at the end of the quarter as they were chipping the ball around trying to waste time they managed to find time to crumb a goal. Crumb? Never heard of it.

Also losing interest was Peter Burgoyne who mysteriously decided that he was Bam Bam Bigelow and wanted a couple of weeks holiday by dropping the big knee into Davey's back. Speaking of tribunal matters, is it wrong that I was secretly hoping that one of our players would liven things up by going the biff in a cheap Grinter-esque violent assault of an opposition player?

We were being put out of the contest with extreme prejudice but you'd never know it as a neutral. I've rarely seen a crowd - all 21,000 of them - celebrate with as little passion. Forget cheering, as we were being put to the sword in those last ten minutes half of them couldn't even be bothered to clap. It was bizarre. Even Carlton fans showed more appreciation for goals on that night that they all wanted to lose.

One incident from Q2 that I'm interested in was footage that was shown on the big screen of Morton seemingly doing a runner when somebody tried to biff him. I assume it was taken out of context and he was actually trying to get to the ball, but it looked like a Benny Hill chase scene. Cale is far too placid - he needs to biff somebody. For added effect he might as well start on his brother next week.

It's no wonder they're struggling for inspiration if the half-time
entertainment was anything to go by. If a round of Timberlake's "Sexyback" set to footage of fetid old ladies going ape and young children eating hot dogs is your go then back away from the screen and seek professional treatment. Or move to Adelaide. Deviancy aside the only other continuous motif throughout the day was Farmer's Union Iced Coffee. As far as I can tell that stuff is bigger than Jesus in South Australia.

The third quarter offered up more of the same junk but in even fouler qualities. To be honest I spent most of it with my head in my hands so your guess is as good as mine as to what happened. In the first 14 minutes they tacked on a casual 3.4 to a point and suddenly we were staring straight at a 100+ point massacre. From what I can remember these few minutes can be summed up fairly simply;

* Port wins from the centre
* They try desperately to turn it over but we don't want it
* Eventually they get it forward and score
* If it's a point we clear it but somehow manage to bugger it up in the middle anyway.
* Rinse and repeat.

Late on we got a couple to keep it respectable, but frankly we were lucky to only be 61 behind having been smacked from pillar to post for the best part of 45 minutes.

The last quarter was pure and simple junk time from the first bounce. We got the first three of the quarter when Port gave up and farcically there was a ripple of panic throughout the stadium. It was at this point that the fans actually fired up - why? They're a special breed of people, even the curtain raiser took place after the game at 3.30.

Basically I just sat there roasting like a Christmas turkey in the mid-afternoon sun and wondered why the fark I get so worked up over something that is - effectively - meaningless. There were more important problems in the world to consider. War, hunger, AIDS and the fact that my flight home wasn't for another five hours. Tragedies one and all.

Later that night I saw the team in the airport. They looked exactly as you'd expect. I just wanted to run up, leap on somebody and tearfully yell "WE STILL BELIEVE" before falling to the floor and curling up in a foetal position before being removed by security, but I thought it might have been considered a bit uncouth.

Following us at the moment is like supporting the Australian Democrats. You wonder what the point of going on is when you're being continually slapped by all comers and there's no light at the end of the tunnel. At least we have a charismatic leader (Stynes that is, not professional Robocop impersonator Bailey) and can rebuild through the draft. They're just rooted. Maybe we should institute a merger and start our own political party?

Crowd Watch
Graveyard timeslot, 1240 on Easter Sunday against the bottom side but 21000 was still a toilet turnout.

As previously mentioned it was a funeral atmosphere for most of the day. Not once was I, the lone and defenceless opposition fan, heckled or abused. The only time they really fired up was in the last quarter after we kicked a couple of goals, then you couldn't shut them up. 32 minutes into the last term and ten goals in front and these peasants are crying about umpiring decisions. Despite this they were, undoubtedly, the most boring and passive crowd ever invented.

The only lunatic of note was the guy who greeted every touch we had in the final term by yelling out "COMANCHERO!" for no good reason. Let's hope for his sake he doesn't end up getting shot in his driveway like the real Comancheros. I'm calling for a more loving local touch involving a bank vault and a barrel.

2009 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes

5 - Brad Green
4 - Aaron Davey
3 - Nathan Jones
2 - Cameron Bruce
1 - Matthew Bate

Apologies to Bennell, Miller, Martin and Moloney and anyone else who wasted money to going to see this slop.

9 - Aaron Davey
8 - Brad Green
5 - Kyle Cheney (LEADER: 2009 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year and LEADER: 2009 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Nathan Jones
4 - Matthew Warnock, Brent Moloney, Stefan Martin
2 - James McDonald, Cameron Bruce
1 - Ricky Petterd, Matthew Bate

Talking Box
Dear Dean Bailey,

Enough of being calm. Just go absolutely ape already.



Kasey Korner
They must be stoked to have joined up with us. Just the casual 100 point loss to our former underlings Sandringham today. By all accounts Maric was BOG (STRAIGHT IN!) and Jurrah kicked a couple of goals (why the fark not?) But the real news is that Watts will play for them next week. HOT HOT HOT.

I've had a few

Next Week
Richmond at the MCG on Sunday at 2.10. Now this is an interesting one. We knew that we didn't really match up with alleged premiership contenders North or Collingwood, and you could be fairly sure Port were going to beat us but pending a major upset in today's game then next week becomes an 0-3 Bottom of the Harbour clash between the two teams considered the worst in the league. I have concerns that they're not as bad as they seem, and will have followed a similar path to us last year in playing three of the better sides, but if they completely outmatch us then we are in really, REALLY big trouble. Especially given that two weeks after that comes Geelong, and if we don't fire up considerably they will absolutely disembowel us.

If you were in the "throw games and get draft picks" camp you'd be loving this, but I ask do you really think we actually need to try and lose to get four wins or less this year? Under what circumstances does anyone see us going 5-14 over the rest of the year?

Final Thoughts
I'm so very sick. All I want right now is 2.10 Sunday. At this point replacing football in my life with I.V drug use seems a healthier - nay more costly - option. Collapsed veins, or collapsed dreams? We report, you decide.