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.

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