Sunday, 24 May 2009

Armpit vs Deodorant

Surely nobody seriously expected to win this. All week the talk 'around the traps' (i.e forums and pissed blokes in pubs) was how we were a huge chance of knocking them over and how it was a danger game for the Hawks. Danger my arse. They might not be the same well-oiled killing machine that they were last year, and they might have been whacked fiercly with the injury stick, but they're still a much better side than we are. 

Honourable losses galore are lovely but it doesn't bridge the gap in class, and doesn't compensate for a forward line matchup featuring two guys who have kicked 54 goals between them. Especially considering our entire squad has only kicked 90 in the same time frame. 

That's why we were never going to win this game, and of course, we didn't. Again. How many more times can I write the same report before I just start cutting and pasting with altered names and votes? At least there were signs (oh really? Tell us something we haven't heard every week). Colin freaking Sylvia went absolutely bananas for one, The Stefan Martin Experience moved forward with promising results and Rivers and Warnock contained the goalkicking machines in the second half. 

Despite the vast gulf in class there was a point in the middle of the first quarter when we were playing well and could have taken the lead. We were winning out of the centre, Robertson had got the first from his third criminal free kick in two weeks (welcome back gifts are tax deductible) and Davey had a set shot from pretty much straight in front to give us the lead. He misses, Hawthorn start dominating the middle, they kick the next four and it's effectively over. 

At times it seemed like the Hawks got bored and tried to indulge themselves in a Goal of the Year contest instead. First Bateman tried to dribble through from 30m out on the boundary line and almost got away with it, then in the second quarter Rioli took a handball from a diving player, did a 360 degree spin that practically left our guy flat on his arse before hitting the post. May I remind those of you who frantically whop off over top 5 draft picks that he was a #12 pick and dominates on a weekly basis. 

According to the pissweak AFL website highlights neither of these were considered good enough to make it. Laughable - more on that later. Speaking of things were in the "of the year" file we come to Russell Robertson. The mark? Probably a top 10 or 20 contender. The blooper? Every possible chance of taking home the Lada Samara at the end of the year. He takes a great mark in the square, and while lying flat on the ground farcically tries to kick it through. Gary Moss (should I know who this is? Why is anyone called Gary in the 21st century?) says "I'll have that", grabs it out of mid-air and we don't even get a point. Think of Jamar trying to play on in the square against Essendon last year and botching it - then multiply by 50. At least Jamar scored one. 

I'd been pro-Robbo this season, but there's never been any moment more worthy of turning on somebody over. He got a couple of goals but that will go down in the top 5 of the lowest moments in our wilderness years. The rest of our forward line wasn't offering much either. Martin was trying hard but couldn't get near it, Maric was looking good playing up the ground, Petterd was all at sea and Bate was trying hard with no support at all. 

Miller, especially, was having one of his worst games in years. Right from the first quarter where he could have had a flying shot at goal but decided to piss around with it he was totally devoid of any confidence. For somebody who has come from the brink of uselessness to be a key player in the last couple of years he was rubbish. Needs to stop thinking so much and be a bit more selfish. We know we're not going to win anything, nobody's going to have a go for a couple of snaps that sneak through for a point. 

Half time led to one of the most undignified displays since Football Park played sex music over footage of grannies. I know there's $5000 on the line but does anyone with half a brain really ever involve themselves in those competitions where you have to wave something in the air for the cameras? For one you may as well not bother if you're male because women always win it, and two have some dignity and not be another whore at the capitalist gangbang waving some corporate logo around over your head for a one in 25,000 chance at cash and prizes. You may as well go to New Orleans during Spring Break and bap out for the Girls Gone Wild cameras. Erm, anyway - moving on. 

With a massacre on the cards and Franklin/Roughead (Roughlin? Frankhead?) having seven between them Frawley was given an honourable discharge from the battle and replaced with Rivers. JR then kept him goalless in one of the better 3 possession performances you're likely to see. Warnock also did a good job on Roughead and kept him scoreless. Unfortunately they have goalkicking options up the wazoo so stopping them just means more quality time for everyone else, but at least it didn't develop into the full scale slaughter that it promised late in the second quarter. 

Random Thought
At what point was anybody going to realise that Hawthorn spent the entire game switching the play diagonally across the ground? Even I, the least informed analyst of all time, could see it. Stef Martin was an interesting one in the forward line. During the first half he didn't get near it, but in the second he started to come alive. Two goals, including a hot snap from the boundary line, made it a worthwhile experiment. I only hope that it's left as an experiment and he doesn't end up as a Miller 04-06/Petterd/Dunn type player who gets shuffled around every five seconds until they completely lose the plot. At least switch it around and give us the Rivers in the forward-line tilt that we've been dying to see ever since he bagged a couple against the Pies a few years ago. 

Speaking of Petterd and Dunn do you think they get together at training and wonder if they're being persecuted for having bizarre first names (watch out Cale, Stefan and Austin). Both of them get shuffled around every week, never left in one place and, in Dunn's case, dropped on a whim. I like Petterd but is there any point in playing him next week - Queensland homecoming angle aside - if he's not actually going to get any sort of role other than wandering aimlessly in the forward line? 

Shame Gold Coast isn't coming in next year, because you may as well try and wrench a few draft picks out of them for these guys rather than just burying them in mediocrity. Dunn especially I'm concerned about - every time he's played forward he's shown promise but after his first season he's never been left there. I'd much rather he do what Petterd is doing now, but neither of them seem to figure greatly in anyone's plans. Shame. Who wants to bet on Dunn being the next person to join the Clay Sampson "Sacked by Melbourne, wins a flag elsewhere" Club? 

Johnson was solid throughout. He's improved greatly since he's been the lone ruckman (SME cameos aside). Doesn't mean we shouldn't bring Jamar back next week - and did you ever think you'd hear me say that? - but still deserves a thumbs up for his performances since the tragic loss of Meesen Magic. Unfortunate not to sneak into the votes for the third consecutive week. 

When the Hawks kicked the first two goals of the 3rd quarter to blow the lead out to +50 it looked like things were going to get absolutely craptacular. Sylvia got our first from a running set shot - I think even he's realised that he can't kick one off a normal run-up under any sort of pressure. Then he crumbed one (CRUMB! CRUMB! CRUMB!) and snapped another for three in a row to add to his otherwise sensational work around the ground. Easily the best of his 78 games so far. 

Hawthorn got the margin back out again but going into the last quarter two players down with injury they put the shutters up early. We got a few goals (including the SME's hot snap), to the point where only the truly neurotic are even slightly tense about losing, and suddenly they were chipping it around in one of the ponciest displays ever seen. Even their own fans were booing them, which is odd. First thought was "I withdraw going for them in the Grand Final last year. Bring back Geelong etc.." but I suppose once you've necked yourself for four quarters you're hardly going to indulge in some pointless last minute contests just to keep the crowd interested. 

They did deign to involve themselves in some pointless last minute brawling though, which was nice. I'm still waiting for one of our fringe players to properly clock somebody though. Morton fired up a bit in the scuffles - surely one day he's going to make all our dreams come true, and all future Morton family gatherings awkward, by giving one of his brothers a right hook to the head. 

Second thought is for fucks sake Melbourne man up and stop them doing it. Then you remember that they've been out there for four quarters as well and probably can't be bothered running anymore either. Easy enough for us fatties in the stands I suppose, would be different being out there. The only problem is that even in close games we don't stop teams from doing it. We ended up with a goal out of the chaos after Sylvia got a 50 for being whacked in the head in the marking contest. Nothing more in it than a stray hand trying to spoil but presumably the tribunal will give Muston a 25 game suspension to try and entice a few more 4WD owners into letting their kids play the sport. So, we barely deserved to get that close - and line punters everywhere were probably throwing bricks at their televisions - but we certainly deserved to avoid being blown out of the water. Like most games this year we'll take it and look to the future. 

Web Watch
The AFL website would have to be one of the worst in international sports. Try watching highlights videos on it. I got through the first half in one browser, at which point it would re-direct me - no matter what I chose - to another Big Pond video website for overseas customers that you not only needed a subscription to but couldn't view in Australia. So, I switched to another browser where halfway through the 2nd half highlights an ad came on from which it refused to return. 

It's an embarrassment of a set-up that we're subjected to year after year while they pocket ad money from the continual reloads. Then there's the insistence that if it wasn't a goal then it didn't happen. Can you seriously tell me with a straight face that Bateman and Rioli's near goals or Robertson's blooper weren't highlights? I don't expect them to show punch-ups but for god's sake give us something. Imagine being somebody from overseas who wants to know what happened on the weekend. Good luck unless you subscribe to their premium service - even then it's full games or bastardised highlights. 

Crowd Watch
Sat in the Olympic Stand for a quick exit. Surrounded by Hawthorn fans including a family of complete knobs behind us who couldn't be bothered controlling their kids. One of the little bastards wouldn't shut up for the entire half - I don't know what they did to him at half time but he appeared heavily sedated from then on. Of course just as the kid went quiet they found a friend to join them. Cue a half of "GO THE HAWKERS" every five seconds. Better than the kid because he didn't alternate yelling things with kicking me in the back. Oh for a 'child free' zone at the football. An idiot free zone (yes, Hawthorn nonce with a tea-cosy on his head giving it large at the final siren, I'm talking about you) would be too much to ask, but can we at least hand out free Gameboys or something so the little freaks can amuse themselves until they actually understand the game. 

2009 Allen Jakovich Medal 
Probably the biggest gap between the 5 and 4 votes in history. Where has this Colin Sylvia been hiding for the past few years? 

5 - Colin Sylvia
4 - Cameron Bruce
3 - Brad Green
2 - Stefan Martin
1 - Jared Rivers 

Apologies to Maric, Johnson, Whelan, Warnock, Davey, McLean, Jones, Johnson and McDonald just for losing his rag in the third quarter. 

18 - Aaron Davey
17 - Brent Moloney
11 - Brad Green
10 - Nathan Jones
8 - Brock McLean, James Frawley (LEADER: 2009 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Colin Sylvia
7 - Brad Miller, Cameron Bruce, Stefan Martin
6 - Cale Morton 
5 - Kyle Cheney (LEADER: 2009 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
4 - Matthew Warnock, Jamie Bennell
3 - Matthew Bate, Ricky Petterd, Russell Robertson, Jared Rivers
2 - James McDonald
1 - Lynden Dunn 

Next Week
You'd expect that St. Kilda would smash us, even at wildcard venue Carrara, but given the way we've managed to avoid being murdered by the three best teams of last year in consecutive weeks (though it was a close run thing tonight) we just might be able to avoid copping a massive backhander in this one. Besides, all the interest will be in the following week when even the dickless pro-tank brigade will be cheering on a win against the Collingwood filth. 

Next Year 
McDonald, Whelan, Wheatley, Robertson. Who stays and who goes? I'd say Wheatley is probably done for - he's not the worst player ever but he doesn't really add much to a rebuilding side. If he's lucky he might sneak into an established side in the pre-season. Definitely deserves games in the second half of the year though, has been a good servant. Morton, wasted as he is in the backline, is doing his job with 100% better efficiency. 

McDonald and Whelan aren't exactly the future but I'm not going to try and axe either of them. Have both been great players and deserve to go one more year (two in Whelan's case) if they want. Whelan's tackle on Franklin is enough to convince me that even in a world featuring Cheney and Bennell that he's got a role to play. 

Robertson is the interesting one. Blooper aside he's filling a role at the moment. One or two goals a week, he kicks 30 for the year and what have we lost? If there was somebody else desperately pushing for the same spot I'd say he was in danger but the fact is there isn't and even if we're going to get rumbled every week we still need to kick goals to avoid thrashings. Unless we're going to trade for a forward, or somebody like Watts comes on big-time in the second half of the year I think he can go around for one more next year with the disclaimer that he might not make it until R22. 

Interestingly, it seems a lot of people have turned on him in the last few weeks. Has always been a polarising player - except for the two or three years of his prime when he was running riot - but recently there's been a lot of hate directed his way. Even before last night. Meh, I'm philosophical about the whole thing. He's a bigger star amongst housewives than he is on a footy field these days but good luck to him, we're hardly pressing for the finals so let him do his own thing and give him a crack next year with the big "fire up or get the train to Cranbourne" disclaimer. 

Procedural Announcement I'm massively burnt out from writing about loss after loss, so next week I'm taking the now traditional Demonblog mid-season break. Last year it was overseas, this year it's in my loungeroom. So, first in first served if you want to write the St. Kilda game. As usual you can do whatever you like as long as you give the votes. Email to Supermercado -> or PM on Big Footy. Or you could message me on the world-famous Demonblog Twitter feed. If you're really keen.

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