Sunday 5 July 2009

One for the boss

First things first, a random Jim Stynes anecdote not actually featuring the man himself. It was the late 80's and I was in Grade 2. Somehow it came to my attention that the great man himself was working as a teacher at a school near where I lived. So straight away I march in to see my mother and demand to be traded to this school so that I may be taught by a legend.

Farcically enough she actually takes this seriously and tries to enrol me. Unfortunately to get in you have to survive a 'family interview' with their head honcho priest and all around keeper of the religious flame. And no, this doesn't end up in a courtroom and years of therapy. Anyway, we were already well in trouble when we walked in and he realised she was a single parent. Then he started off with the Jebus Appreciation Test (think George Costanza trying to be Latvian Orthodox) and we fall apart completely. "When did you last go to church?" he asked. "Err..." we paused. And the old goose went right off "You can't come here if you're not willing to go to church every week! I want to see you in the front row on Sunday". Err, sure why not. Will you be doing magic tricks? Not surprisingly I was absolutely terrified and refused to go anywhere near the school or that bloke ever again - and was therefore denied the chance to have a Brownlow Medallist as my Grade 2 sports teacher.

There's no doubt that Jim Stynes commands respect. His is one of the most inspirational stories in Australian sporting history, and something we're never going to see the likes of again. How many people would dare to go to a press conference to tell the world you've got cancer and not only raise the 1987 'incident' as a key part of the dialogue but also reveal the jumper that you wore that very day. Most people would have taken that #37 out and thrown it into the sea two days later.

No matter what people think of our club, and don't fool yourself there's a lot of people who hate us for no apparent reason, the messages of support from throughout the footballing world for Jim throughout the week proves that he's the sort of guy who transcends the usual football boganry and commands respect all round. He's highly unlikely to be reading this - after all if anyone from the club did I'd have been sued about 3 years ago - but it goes without saying that we wish him all the best in his recovery.

I can't for the life of me remember how to change the colors of this page. So instead of making it green in tribute, here's a picture of the first other green thing I could think of.

Another wildcard Stynes memory was being on a family holiday in Sydney on Brownlow night 1991 and cracking the sads enormously when I found out they weren't showing it on TV. The first thing the next morning I rushed out to the newsagent to buy the Melbourne papers and confirm the suspicion that he was going to piss it in. During that first year when I really got into football Stynes had as much to do with it as one Mr. A Jakovich of no fixed address.

Anyway, on with the footy. It had been so long since we'd played another bottom of the barrel side (Division Four = Us, Richmond, Freo, WCE) that we'd started to believe the publicity about how awful we were. Yeah, we're pretty bad but fark we've played some handy teams in the last few weeks - the chance to get the 2nd worst travelling side in the competition (oh go on, have a guess at who is first) - at the MCG was too good an opportunity to miss.

It was heartening to see our emerging band of psychopaths (Moloney, Rivers, Sylvia, Warnock etc..) starting fights all over the place early on. Much more exciting than that sort of faux agro bullshit we're used to seeing from the distinctly non-intimidating likes of Miller and Green. Somehow despite only being a fringe member of the nutcase brigade Aaron Davey managed to get himself reported for striking. Explain that. Can't have been anything too vicious though given that nobody noticed.

Also reported was Ricky Petterd for abusive language. What do you have to say to an umpire to get reported for being abusive in 2009? Especially considering the ball was at the other end of the field at the time. As far as I can remember the last player we had to be convicted of such a heinous crime was the great man Jakovich in 91 or 92. But that was a different era. A time before we had access to an internet filled with 8 billion different websites featuring doe eyed Ukranian women being led blindfolded into stables.

How often have you seen a 50 paid for 'abuse' in the last few years? Plenty. And how often has the 'abuse' been of such a high quality that the umpire has decided to pull the book for it? Never. I had my doubts about Ricky's future, but now that it turns out he's even more of a foul-mouthed Kevin Bloody Wilson figure than Lynden "F*CK!" Dunn he's gone up a notch in my book. Of course being 25% more popular to some scrub off the internet doesn't mean much when you're forking over $1500 to the A. Demetriou 2009 Cyprus Holiday Fund at the tribunal on Monday night, but whatever he said I want to put on a t-shirt. It can sit alongside the "Meesen Magic" cape and "I saw Mark Jamar have more than 5 kicks" t-shirt in the Demonblog Megastore.

Back to the first quarter. We copped the first goal, but then again we always do. At least for once it wasn't in the first minute. Ricky "Bloody" Petterd got our first (maybe he is a forward after all?) before Green slotted one on the run to level it and the Jurrahcane goaled to put us in front.

It was all coming together very nicely, due mainly to a complete lack of pressure from the Eagles. Even our forward line seemed potent. Robertson looks so much better with another strong marking target down there. Jurrah is a lock to play out the rest of the season the way he's going. Anyone who thought he might be overwhelmed by the senior game was wrong, wrong, wrong. He was even handballing with confidence yesterday. Promises to be an absolute gun in the next couple of years.

It's a shame Watts didn't play, because yesterday was just the game he was waiting for. I'll take their word for that he was sick all week but today would have been a great opportunity against a lesser team to show what he's got. Not that he's done anything particuarly wrong yet, but I'm sure everyone - including him - is sick to death of hearing speculation about why we drafted the wrong guy.

In case you missed it the guy we 'should' have drafted got 0 kicks, 8 handballs and 5 hitouts. Can everyone, and I mean everyone, now admit that you can't judge a first year player on a handful of games. One more idiotic "we picked the wrong guy" thread on a forum and I would have gone postal.

At the other end of the experience scale we had Wheatley. Inexplicably recalled after a dog of a game for Casey last week he was dishing up more of the same at this level. Luckily for him West Coast at the MCG are actually worse than Williamstown at Point Gellibrand so nearly got away with it. His kicking might have been pox but at least defensively he was ok. The difference between a 150 gamer and a 10 gamer is usually that the more experienced guy instinctively knows where to go, and that paid off a couple of times today. Doesn't mean he shouldn't get the big handshake, gold watch and boot out the door at the end of the year though.

Frawley's defensive work was great early but his kicking is still a concern. His technique is, to be polite, awkward and it looks to me like he hesitates between thinking about dropping the ball and actually doing it. It's no wonder that his kicks get chopped off all the time. Has been great this season but needs to work on disposal. Take a look at Rivers, he not only marks anything coming near him but hits a target most of the time.

The other big member of our backline unit Stef Martin has suddenly turned into the ultimate utility player. One minute he's in defence, then he's winning hitouts, then he's going forward and kicking goals. Or completely spraying them in a farcical manner like in the second quarter. He doesn't look a natural forward but given that he can take big grabs as well as hold his own in the ruck he might be forced down that path simply for lack of spots in defence. God forbid Rivers keeps managing to avoid getting injured and Garland returns next year there's really nowhere for him to go. I prescribe a summer of set-shots at Casey Fields.

Our hardness at the ball was a feature of the day. Not only did everyone try to go the biff with their opponents before the first bounce but they jumped all over them during the game as we racked up tackles all over the place and worried the Eagles players out of it. Five goals in a row in the second quarter gave us a nice break at half-time, but as commentators will queue up to tell you "they don't know how to win". Whatever that means. I disagree seeing that half of this side have played in winning reserves teams several times this year.

Undoubted highlight of the second quarter was Sylvia's goal on the run from platform two of Jolimont Station. His kicking on the run from outside 50 is almost flawless. Shame about the set shots though. Apparently he's also whacked somebody and might be in trouble on video evidence. Whatever. Son you've had the month of your life - take a rest!

And indeed the third quarter seemed to prove that they were going the right way. The SME marked and goalled, Nathan Jones got killed by Wirrpunda's ass but bounced back to come on and kick a crucial goal, and Mark f'ing Jamar topped off yet another of his career best games but kicking a snap around the corner. Jamar! Snaps! How could we lose? Well copping a goal right at the end of the quarter didn't help. We seemed to be lost between running down the last two minutes and trying to score again. Eventually it turned out to be half of one, half of the other and a bit of dinky chip ended up with a speculative bomb inside 50 from which the Eagles rebounded and goaled. And thanks to that the Terror Alert was officially raised,

Had we goalled with that last stab forward it would have gone from yellow to blue, but instead shot right back up to orange due to a strong and credible threat that we were about to completely fall apart.

The alert was raised to a new, never before seen, level (brown) when they got the second of the last quarter to cut the margin to just over 2 goals. Especially considering how we were torching opportunities to put the game away all over the place. Even when Robertson kicked what turned out to be the sealer we had no idea there was only a minute or so left and panicked appropriately. No need. Siren. Win. Relief. We're better than Fitzroy 1996 after all.

It was hard to get obscenely excited at the end. Yeah we won, and that was great but who did we beat? The Bunbury Under 12's? They were gash. I'll be looking for the same intensity and flow against the much better Port next week.

2009 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes

Votes for people who deserve them? Well it had to happen one day. How good was Grimes? Is there any doubt that we're going to be the big winners from the Johnstone trade? He'd be stiff not to get the rising star nod this week. Unlikely to win it, but fark me what a game yesterday. Not surprisingly he leaps into the lead for the Hilton Medal.

5 - Jack Grimes
4 - Brock McLean
3 - Mark Jamar
2 - Russell Robertson
1 - Jared Rivers

Apologies to Bate, Bennell, Bruce, Green, Jones, Jurrah, Martin, McDonald, Moloney, Petterd, Sylvia, Warnock

23 - Aaron Davey
18 - Brent Moloney, Colin Sylvia
13 - Nathan Jones
14 - Brad Green
12 - Stefan Martin, Brock McLean
11 - Mark Jamar (LEADER: Strawbs O'Dwyer Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
10 - Cameron Bruce, James Frawley (LEADER: 2009 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
9 - Matthew Bate, Jared Rivers
7 - Brad Miller, Jack Grimes (LEADER: 2009 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
6 - Cale Morton
5 - Matthew Warnock, Kyle Cheney, Russell Robertson
4 - Jamie Bennell
3 - Ricky Petterd, Matthew Whelan
2 - James McDonald, Paul Johnson
1 - Lynden Dunn, Liam Jurrah

Crowd Watch
Being in a corporate box with eleven other people, none of whom actually care about the result, is no way to live. It's nice to get away from the sort of terrace slop who make you want to start killing people, but some passion would be nice. As it was we were raining goals and eleven people were hooking into the beef. Meh.

Nice of them to give the entire middle deck of the Ponsford Stand to West Coast fans too. Why then did they all choose to sit on the far right hand side? Is there some stigma about having to watch the game through a set of goalposts that I wasn't aware of?

Milat Family Serial Killer Korner
Barry Hall wants out of Sydney. We need a massive full forward. *ducks a shower of cans* Well, why not? Let's fantasise for a second and pretend that Footscray won't throw everything they've got at him to secure the FF they desperately need. And let's assume that somebody the wrong side of thirty would want to play for a team that never win a flag in his time. What then would be the issue? Yes he's 'eccentric', and we might get three games out of him before he gets the electric chair for murdering somebody on the ground but wouldn't you love to see a big strong, possibly insane, bastard marshalling our forward line?

I wouldn't spend trade-wise anything on him. It'd be ultra-low picks, PSD or nothing but it would at least bring some interest to the club. Haven't we suffered for long enough without a potentially violent serial offender on our list? Rod Grinter fans I know you're with me.

We need to get over this obsession we have with recruiting all youth and nothing else. Generally it's the right way to go, just look at what happened to Carlton after they stacked their side with mature age discards, but would it really hurt us to have one or two big bodies thrown into the more specialised positions while the kids develop?

If we went back in time and applied today's standards to, say, the 1998 season would we have used PSD pick 1 on Jamie Shanahan? Probably not. We would probably have picked some kid from Warracknabeel who you'd never have heard of again. Joel Smith went at #2 but didn't play for the whole year - hardly of use to us - and Matthew Bode @ 3 was a decent player at best. Shanahan on the other hand gave us one great season and one ordinary season for basically nothing. Then Chris Lamb was supposed to come in and replace him. Didn't quite work that way, mainly due to Daniher hating Lamb with a passion, but you see my point. It's not a crime to throw one solitary older player into a bunch of kids to see what happens. Just don't put him in the boxing ring with Watts.

Ok, maybe it's not going to happen but can we at least consider the prospect of grabbing a big KPF from one of the state leagues on the cheap? I have no idea who Brant Chambers is (wasn't he down that mine in Tasmania) but he's kicked 100+ goals for the last two years in the SANFL. Has played 150 games for them so he can't be that young, but fark me if you get three or four years out of somebody for free then what have you lost?

Of course he might have absolutely no interest, but at least pick up the phone and ask him. Everyone bags West Coast for using a PSD pick on Troy Wilson @ 28 years old but he kicked 40 in his first season. Wouldn't somebody who could kick 40 goals in a year look good right about now? Need I remind you that last year Miller won our goalkicking with 26. Matthew Bate is currently on 18. FRED FANNING KICKED 18 IN ONE GAME FOR GOD'S SAKE.

Kasey Korner
Was tempted to go to C. Fields for the Bendigo game on Sunday - especially considering how it should be a thumping win against a trash side but am pulling the pin due to being rather ill. The last place I want to keel over and die is 2km outside of Cranbourne.

Around the Grounds
Even after all these years I still hate St. Kilda. Having watched the Bulldogs dismantle Hawthorn in one of the most amazing first halves in modern history I'll be more than happy to back them in September. Geelong will do as a backup.

Collingwood would be unfortunate only because they have the record number of idiot 'fans' who have never been to a game in their lives but will instantly don black and white and pretend they're the biggest fans in history if they won.

And nobody else has a snowballs chance in hell of winning the flag so why bother discussing them?

Of course I'd love an interstate team to nick in and win it, because then we wouldn't have to hear anything about it and all the fake 'fans' could stay living under rocks until the next time the team they claim to follow just to be in with the friends/workmates are doing well. Unfortunately the interstate teams are completely pox - some more than others if today was anything to go by - and have as much chance of challenging for the flag as a D4 amateurs side.

Next Week
Port Adelaide at the MCG. Surely not. Unfortunately they've hit their straps this week by flogging the Lions and will probably beat us comfortably. Unfortunately now that Choco Williams has re-signed as their coach it means that there's still something I like about them. If he'd gone and all we'd been left with was their putrid song and 1982 colour scheme then it'd be a lot easier to hate them.

Administrative Announcement
Demonblog is still moving to Blogspot whenever I finish transferring all the old posts over (only the 2006 season to go!) However there's another even more important project that a few of us are working on at the moment that you might want to know about. Go to this site then consider an MFC version in a similar format. Hot? I reckon. If you're interested in contributing please email supermercado AT or Twitter me @demonblog . No tourists yet please, we need people who will add content or help with design.

1 comment:

  1. how do you write so much? great to read your post after a win. Although - you've got to say the planets aligned for this one.

    I too would have like to see Watts play last weekend. He reminds me a little of a young Saint Nick. After watching yesterday's game, we can only hope.

    Not sure if I agree with you about Hall. If we are going to be a super team in a few years time, we need to give our young blokes as much time on the ground as possible. I'd like us to have another punt at someone like Jarrah instead.

    Demon Ronny


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