Saturday 29 May 2010

Wasted Weekends

Pop Quiz, what was the stupidest concept that you heard about this week?
a) 3D television
b) the iPad
c) Dropping Jordie McKenzie

The answer, of course, is d) all of the above. You'd think that against a team of guns like Geelong you'd value pressure highly. I know he only laid one tackle last week but bloody hell he's been on the prowl pretty much every week of the season and led the comp in tackles at one point. I'd be interested to see if he plays for Casey tomorrow but it appears at the moment like he was simply dropped and I can't for the life of me work out why. Especially if you're going to rest a guy like Scully who is young and fierce at the ball, why get rid of another guy who has about 25% of the raw talent but goes at every contest like his life depends on it? Seems stupid to me, but what do I know?

I'm not that concerned about them resting Scully and Trengove. Long gone are the days when a guy like Woewodin could play more than a hundred straight games from debut. What I don't understand is why they didn't rest one this week and one next week - and why we even need to rest them at all right now considering that we get a week off after the Queens Birthday game.

So, with all that done and dusted by Friday morning the main question for me today was "Why the hell am I here?" Forget every fairytale, Mighty Ducks movie and Specky Magee book that you've ever seen an improbably, amazing upset in. It just was not going to happen. Multiply that by the fact that there was every possible chance of a Hurricane Katrina style downpour throughout the day and I woke up this morning wondering if I should even bother going outside today. It's a wonderful life.

But, bad luck I'd already bought tickets so I had to go. Actually I did that especially so I couldn't chicken out of my mission to go to every match in Victoria this year. There was also the storyline of taking somebody who had never been to game anywhere other than the MCG and not telling her that not only did we have to stand up all day but that there was no shelter and that we'd almost certainly be surrounded by a bunch of grand slam muppets. Oh, you should have seen the look when we got to the top of the steps and I stopped. "Where are we sitting?" Any other questions I can help you with?

The only thing I necked myself on was showing up too late to get a decent carpark. Cue a mad scramble around the back streets of Geelong looking for somewhere to park. Didn't find anywhere that would cover me for the whole afternoon, and I assumed that the council would be smart enough to go around and pick off hundreds of cars every time there's a match in town so eventually we settled for a two hour spot and decided to hope for the best. So not only did was there a potential flogging and drenching but now I was sitting on the chance to hand over $60+ just to get flogged. Speaking of random trivia some guy came up and asked what number Gysberts was - I reeled #5 off without even thinking about it. Didn't turn out to be some kind of competition. Shame. At least he would have known who he was cheering for, unlike the people who sit there going "FLASH! FLASH! FLASH!" every time Bennell gets the ball.

You know the only thing that could have made my mood any darker? Copping the first two goals without ever getting the ball over our half of the field. And thanks heaps to the club for providing that scenario for me. Oh dear. Interesting move to start Gysberts on Ablett, but while it didn't last long and Jones ended up going onto him they way Gys ended up playing it didn't turn out to be such a ridiculous move. At least we put somebody on him this time. Remember when we played them at the MCG and he got a goal after 9 seconds due to being completely unmarked at the first bounce? We're learning. Slowly.

After kicking three goals they missed a chance for a fourth that might have opened up the floodgates before we finally got one through Bennell - who then proceeded to do absolutely nothing for the rest of the day. We were kicking into a two or three goal wind, but that factor is absolutely bollocks when you're completely overmatched like we were. Also doesn't help when most of your attacks involve the switching the ball from one side to the other five times and going via Rio De Janerio before kicking inside 50 to a one-on-three contest.

When Jetta got our second after busting Hogan for holding the ball we were almost in it. You could have made an argument that factoring in the wind and our putrid start that we would be exactly where we deserved to be, then Hawkins kicked his second and we were stuffed again.

And so it continued. It was well and truly a better first half than the one that caused me to lose the will to live last year, but there's no doubt we are still a long, long way away. I know that we couldn't win a game in Geelong even when we were good and they were pox, but the way that they spread out and got free almost every time they rebounded out of 50 was satanic. And the forward line - my god. Who knows what Mooney, Podsiadly, Hawkins, Stokes etc.. would be like without the same sort of silky delivery but bloody hell what we wouldn't do for one or two of them - yes, even the Tomahawk - inside 50 for us. Miller gave us the full Bradforth range by kicking a goal, a point and an OOF in three shots on goal, Watts had one shot touched on the line and did very little else and... that was it as far as our forwards went - other than Brad Green who we should build a statue of for the effort he's put in over the last couple of years.

At least after they got the first goal of the second term (that man Pods again) we held them off for a few minutes. Jamar was, as usual, doing a mighty job in the ruck (albeit with an increased amount of cameos from Miller) and more than once hit his psychic friend Moloney with the tap to set up a raid forward. But we just had nothing up front. Watts was unlucky not to get the goal - indeed some claim it went over, though it didn't look like it to me - but at least we stopped bleeding them at the other end. Other than Frawley who was a rebounding machine and nearly took Mark of the Year our backline was getting slaughtered. Sylvia was playing his best game in a month in the centre and for a few minutes, topped off by Davey's snapped goal, we looked alright against them. Didn't last. Never does.

Kardinia Park has come a long way in the last few years. Remember when they used to have a late 80's style analogue time clock sponsored by Target? At least they've got a proper timer and a video screen now. Shame there's only one screen though, and that means that when you're standing directly under it you end up with a thousand people turning around for every single little thing that happens during the match. Do you really need to see a replay of somebody taking a simple chest mark on the goalsquare? Apparently you do if you were the people standing in front of us. No idea why they don't put another one at the other end of the ground - unless it would cause that rickety as old stand to crumble like a Russian apartment block. Either way I'm glad we only have to go there once a year. Any danger that one of the 'big' clubs might go down there sometime though? It's a tad unfair that the likes of us, North and the interstate clubs are forced to go there every year because they can make more money out of playing games against Essendon in Melbourne. Absolute garbage, if you're going to benefit from a killer stadium deal then don't get greedy and try to make money elsewhere. We'll see what happens when they stop winning, the AFL drops them like a hot potato and there's 15,000 people at the matches.

Last quarter was pure and simple junk time. The crowd didn't care, and seemed the Cats didn't either. We got three of the first four goals of the quarter to make things look more respectable but it was obvious that Bomber Thompson had jammed the cue in the rack. Ablett was sitting up forward and causing havoc there (and oh didn't we hear such HILLARITY from the crowd every time he went near the ball. According to some wags at the footy he might be going to the Gold Coast. Heavens! See also Stokes, Matthew and "White Line Fever" calls) and his teammates were fumbling around trying desperately to get to the line and get into the sheds without needlessly injuring themselves. At this point my main interest in the matter, other than whether I'd had my car towed or not, was in the bet that one of the peanuts behind me had made that the Cats would win by more than 50. Was really, really hoping the goose would do his money. Then they kicked the last three. Fucksticks.

So I think for the first time ever I managed to stand on the steps at Kardinia Park and not say something involving the words "yeah, but you still live in Geelong". They were actually very civilised (more on that later). It became clear soon after leaving the ground that not only would I not get a fine but that you'd have to park your car sideways across the railway line in front of a V>Line train to have anything happen to it. My favourite was the forlorn guy with a 4WD parked on an angle up a hill surrounded by cars on all sides. Imagine if they all didn't come back? He might still be there now. I'm buggered if I can work out how he got in there in the first place though, unless he was being super charitable and wanted to leave the real park on the road for somebody in a smaller car. Baffling.

So the trifecta was eventually achieved. No hundred point loss, no drenching, no fine. Next year I might catch the train. Next year I might not even bother going at all.

2010 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Jordan Gysberts
4 - James Frawley
3 - Aaron Davey
2 - Brad Green
1 - Colin Sylvia

Apologies to Moloney, Jamar, McDonald and Grimes. The Gys becomes only the second player ever behind Kyle Cheney to score BOG in his debut game. Let's hope he doesn't go missing for half of next season like KC seems to have.

20 - Brad Green
18 - James McDonald
17 - James Frawley (Leader: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
13 - Mark Jamar (WINNER: Strawbs O'Dwyer Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
10 - Aaron Davey
9 - Jack Grimes
7 - Colin Sylvia, Jack Trengove (Leader: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year), Matthew Bate
6 - Brent Moloney
5 - Ricky Petterd, Tom Scully, Jamie Bennell, Jordan Gysberts
3 - Jordie McKenzie, Matthew Warnock, Brad Miller
2 - Neville Jetta
1 - Jared Rivers, Joel MacDonald, Cameron Bruce

Crowd Watch
Quite impressed by the amount of Melbourne fans there were in the standing area. Relatively speaking of course. We were probably outnumbered 9/10 but compared to the farce last year when there were about 15 of us freezing our norgs off it was a vast improvement. Sadly due to the utter disinterest of the home crowd in the match (and let's be honest it must be hard to get excited about four quarter junk time matches against rubbish teams) it was left to our fans to yell out stupid things all day and generally humiliate us as fellow supporters.

Here's my simple request. If you want to whinge about the umpires learn who they are. Waste $5 on the Footy Record (and really that would have to be the only reason you'd waste a fiver on that rubbish), turn to the page where they give the umpires numbers, work out which one is which and abuse accordingly. Don't just continuously shout out garbage about the one umpire that you know because you've seen him on television. The peanut behind me spent the entire first quarter yelling things about McLaren even when the umpire paying the free kicks quite obviously had a full head of hair and was not the man in question. Same thing used to happen to Darren Goldspink, people knew him name because he'd been in the papers and wouldn't stfu about him all day. Shits me up the wall. Goes right up there with this ludicrous theories people have about how certain umpires hate us and how we're the victims of a gigantic conspiracy. Personally I thought the umpires had a nightmare today, but let's be entirely fair and rational - as strange as that might be on this site - and admit that they were getting it wrong both ways.

There's something about Kardinia Park that brings out the siege mentality in our fans. We either disgrace ourselves unloading torrents of abuse at opposition fans or ramp up the shit talking to try and compensate for being practically alone in a sea of locals. The first time I went there in 1999, nowt but an innocent 17 year old who should have been out cracking onto birds instead, I had to tell some lady who was going off her nut at Geelong fans in ultra-foul fashion to settle down before she got us all killed. And lest we forget my unbelievably over the top reaction to Matthew Egan missing THAT kick in 2005.

There were also celebrity lookalikes for Stefan Dennis and Mick Hucknall. Also a strange man pulled a balloon animal out of his bag and handed it to a child who was not his own. Sinister. Who said nothing interesting ever happens in Geelong? Not Victoria Police that's for sure.

Next Week
Carlton on Saturday. Presumably they beat West Coast at Docklands tomorrow afternoon (though god knows we've probably played the Eagles into form in Melbourne) fairly handily and go in warm favourites against us. I feel like we'll have to lose one of the tall defenders (and if Garland is injured then it makes the decision for us) and make room for Trengove and Scully at least. McKenzie also deserves to come back but who knows what they're doing with that guy.

You'd think they'd beat us but stranger things have happened. At least we're back on the 'G though, that's crucial.

Final Thoughts
Teams who we have ruined by playing so far this year. Hawthorn, Brisbane and Port Adelaide. Anyone willing to say that the same will happen after today? Didn't think so.

Saturday 22 May 2010

Seconds From Disaster

How's your heart? Smashed your television set with six minutes to go and missed the finale? Incredible stuff. Having beaten Adelaide and Brisbane unexpectedly (on pre-season predictions) and lost to North and the Eagles we were pretty much level with my expectations of where we'd be. Now with that gutsy, but altogether too nerve wracking, win we've nudged back ahead of the ledger.

Our first premiership match in Darwin had the potential for disaster. We hadn't won interstate for nearly four years (but let's be frank we've barely won in Victoria in that time either), we were coming off a listless and shithouse performance on our home ground against a rubbish side and Port had four games worth of experience playing at Marrara against our one NAB Cup match in 2006. Port have been playing decent football as well, far better than most expected them to serve up this year anyway.

Either way I've been conditioned to expect low scoring first quarters, so it was a surprise when we had two goals on the board in the first couple of minutes. First was Watts, mocking my decision to back him as first goalscorer last week, with a nice finish from a set shot before Miller (remember him?) got his first. Two goals from free kicks, but given the amount of farcical frees we've been on the end of recently I won't be giving them back.

Watts was in absolutely everything early. He had two goals, was making contests and laying off slick handballs for teammates. Got rumbled a couple of times by bigger bodied players, and as the game went on he looked more like a 5th gamer again but bloody hell the upside is enormous on this one. Miserable arseholes like Leigh Matthews might soon be called upon to issue retractions. After appearing on The Bounce Matthews must know all about being part of a high priced failure. The only difference is that Jack is going to play 200 games and The Bounce got axed after five episodes. Sorry Lethal, right now I'd rather be chained to a radiator listening to the best of Dwayne Russell and Tony Shaw than to hear any more of your bollocks.

Err, moving on. One move that looked absolutely inspirational almost immediately was the late change to bring Nifty Nev Jetta in for his first game of the season in place of The Spencil. They argued that Spence's back "hadn't come up", but whether or not that's true (and who am I to claim it's not?) or whether as later suggested they thought it was going to rain and wanted to go shorter he paid off like a faulty poker machine. His defensive pressure was a highlight early, and Watts' second goal was directly from him chasing hard. Easily his best game for us yet, and I'd suggest that he's probably here to stay for the near future.

At the risk of Adam Goodes naming and shaming me in his next column, do you think Bailey has been taking notes from the success of Carlton's Yarran-Betts-Garlett indigenous trio over the last few weeks? Jetta, Wona and Bennell could play a similar role - and when you throw in Davey's forward cameos as well we've got something potentially special down there. Maybe even magical? Bad luck Adam, it's the truth.

The returning Wonaeamirri and Morton were both slow to get into the game, but as the match went on they seemed to get the hang of things again. There was one moment early when Wona didn't chase but you'd have to think he copped a bollocking from the coaching staff for it because he was hard at it again after that. Even kicking a well taken goal from a set shot in the second term. No celebrations, but it did take his career record to an actually quite ludicrous 25.4. But back to the second quarter later.

Just when it looked like we might be onto something, three goals in front with Miller booting set shots, aided and abetted by Brett Ebert missing a criminally easy kick from straight in front Port got back into it through the second best J Trengove in the AFL. Green got one back from there on in it was all Port all the time. Only a bloody good set shot from Bennell after the siren restored any comfort to the scoreboard. Either way we were looking pretty good, the movement through the corridor was back even if both teams were indulging in an epic game of fumbles.

We got the first three goals of the second quarter, both featuring Watts the Wonderboy, and it was looking a lot like the first term all over again. More importantly one Bradforth J Miller esquire was on three goals. Who saw that coming? It became even more like the first quarter, though, when Port stitched us up towards the end of the half. Still, we were looking bloody good - and with Jamar dominating the middle I was fairly confident we could go on with how. How is the connection he's got with Moloney this year? Those two are running their own personal Psychic Friends Network in the centre-circle. No wonder we rarely bother with a second ruckman these days.

The third quarter was where we really did the damage. With the likes of Trengove running around mopping everything up, Jones playing an unfamiliar role as a tagger on Pearce and doing a fine job of it, and Frawley stitching up Motlop in what originally looked to me like a ludicrous matchup (but what the hell do I know?) we ran all over them. Almost didn't start well when Schulz kicked a point that almost got paid as a goal. Thank christ for the umpire who made the point of saying "If you're not sure then it has to be a point". Unlike the goose in the Bulldogs match who proudly announced that he was guessing this guy clearly knew that he was miked up for the world to hear. Lucky they did pay it a point too given that it clearly missed. Every possible chance that I would have kicked the TV in if we'd been rorted by another goal decision overrule. Didn't help that Schulz (and really, when you've been sacked by Richmond it might be time to give the game away) showed absolutely no interest in the decision whatsoever. That's how much it missed by - not that you'd know from the people who are paid to make decisions. From there on it was a procession, Port got one in the middle of it all but the real story was Miller getting five. In years to come people will ask "where were you when Brad came back from Casey and kicked five". He was great, but this guy has been reborn more times than the Dalai Lama. Even though he got a couple of cheap ones he was pretty bloody good, and I'm not expecting five goals every week but to quote White Men Can't Jump "the sun even shines on a dog's ass some days". WE WANT MORE. At least he did it mid-season and not right at the end of the year when his contract was up.

So, well in front at the last change and it looked pretty good. Williams kept his side on the ground in the 27 degree heat and 88% humidity, while we adjourned to a cool room. You'd think that would have had some impact on keeping some sort of fitness advantage for the last term, but by christ you'd be wrong. Suddenly Port decided they wanted to play, and suddenly the likes of Motlop turned up for the match. Cue a wild scramble that gave me horrible Vietnam War style flashbacks to that day when Essendon did the 48 point turnaround at the MCG.

They got the first two goals and you started to wonder if we could possibly "forget how to win" so badly that we'd hand over a five goal lead, then Green kicked his third and it looked like everything was going to be alright with the world. Then came the ultimate proof that we cannot possibly allow Jamar to go around single handed again this season, even if it means The Spencil or Johnson getting a game. Poor Colin Sylvia who has been absolute plums for the last three weeks, but had started to find his touch again - nearly pulling in two Mark of the Year contenders along the way - before he was thrown into the ruck. The Russian had run himself into the ground, and three times Sylvia contested for what turned out to be three goals for the Power. He did bloody well considering how much of a disadvantage he was at, but it was clear that we had to get MJ back in there even if it killed him in the process. Rivers stuffed up a punch to gift Motlop a goal, before Ebert, Hitchcock (who looks like a bit of a crunt let's be honest) and Rodan added more to put them in front.

At this point we looked absolutely out on our feet, and like Ivan Drago beating the living bejesus out of Apollo Creed (deservedly too may I add) while Rocky refused to throw in the towel we were clinging desperately to a margin of under a goal. If they'd got another one there we would have been absolutely stuffed, but all of a sudden it seemed like Port hit the wall as well. With ten minutes left it seemed like they were going to beat us by five goals, but all of a sudden a pissweak attempt at a spoil in front of goal by Brogan (another cruntesque figure) gifted Bennell his fourth goal of a great performance and we were back in front. Didn't last long, but Port were no longer teeing off on us for target practice anymore. Suddenly there was a belief that we could get back into it, and when Green kicked the clutch goal on the run to level the scores with just a couple of minutes left I was just about ready to do a David Parkin and let rip with the big vom. Can't even remember when it happened but how about the Scully HTB when the ball ended up behind his back and somehow he was deemed to be in perfect control of it?

The last minute is simultaneously crystal clear in my head and an absolute blur. Jamar took that mark in the goalsquare and it looked like we were home, only for it to be paid touched and a ball up called for. A'la Russell Robertson against Hawthorn in 1999 somebody (ok it's not THAT crystal clear to me. Was it Trengove?) jumped up and whacked the ball through for a point to put us in front. All well and good, but we'd just spent the best part of the last twenty minutes with Port slicing and dicing us all over the ground so it wasn't like they weren't well equipped to kick out and go coast to coast - as the kids say - down the other end for somebody to pull another miracle goal out of their arse.

Then two all beef patties from Port completely stuffed up the kick-out and we were gifted a bounce at the top of the square. How often do you see that happen every year, four or five? What a time to do it. The commentators called on them to whack through another point to reset for another kick out, and there's no doubt they would have done it under the old rules - but surely, SURELY there would have to be some question from the umpires about whether or not you're under pressure enough to rush a behind from a ruck contest. Would have almost made up for the Jamar debacle if that had happened, but to keep things 'interesting' Port cleared it via Morton getting pinched for HTB as far as the wing for the throw in. Jamar, now sporting the look of the guy who ended the Hawaii Ironman crawling over the line, won the tap to Davey who roosted it forward blindly. Port get a mark from what looked like a fair case for a push in the back against Miller and go forward. With under five seconds left the ball goes inside fifty, hits the deck from a contest and gloriously spins away from the Port player who could very well have thrown it on the boot and at least kicked a point. Siren, players on the floor, me on the floor, everyone on the fucking floor. Unbelievable ending. 35 minute final term too, imagine if you were at the game and didn't know how much time there was left?

And what was with everyone punching Colin Garland in the guts tonight? More importantly how did we not get a free for the second one when it was right in front of the umpire? Peanutry all round.

Commentary Corner
Tony Shaw was significantly less annoying than usual, but what is it with Foxtel showing replays in slow-mo after a point has been kicked. Did they miss the AFL memo that said players don't have to wait for the flags to be waved?

Also there was very nearly violence when the TV stalled with the screen stuck on Bennell after he kicked his fourth. If I'd missed the end of the game Foxtel would have died. Just came back in time to see Port knife us out of the centre. Wow thanks.

One thing I do rate on the Foxtel coverage is the boundary rider work of Leigh Colbert (and thank god they haven't resorted to referring to him as a "sideline commentator" like Seven do for Tim Watson). His interview with Jamar sitting down after the match was classic - especially enjoyed the Russian tempting fate by questioning that touched decision.

2010 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
Some immense performances tonight. Bennell and Jetta played undoubtedly their best ever games for us, and Miller did what most of us doubted he could ever do and kicked a moderately sized bag of goals.

Special mention to Jamar though. Awesome performance for a guy who only had one kick. Not only is his ruckwork killing it, but his ground level pressure is awesome. Hopefully he at least gets shortlisted for All-Australian selection. He doesn't get enough kicks to force his way into the populist bullshit AA sides, but his contribution this year is immeasurable. If he gets injured we're rooted.

5 - Jamie Bennell
4 - Brad Green
3 - Brad Miller
2 - Neville Jetta
1 - Mark Jamar

King sized apologies to McDonald, Trengove, Davey, Frawley, Watts, Sylvia, MacDonald and Jones

18 - James McDonald, Brad Green
13 - James Frawley (Leader: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Mark Jamar (WINNER: Strawbs O'Dwyer Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
9 - Jack Grimes
7 - Aaron Davey, Jack Trengove (Leader: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year), Matthew Bate
6 - Colin Sylvia, Brent Moloney
5 - Ricky Petterd, Tom Scully, Jamie Bennell
3 - Jordie McKenzie, Matthew Warnock, Brad Miller
2 - Neville Jetta
1 - Jared Rivers, Joel MacDonald, Cameron Bruce

Chub Corner
No way I could eat after that. Hedged my bets by hooking into chocolate nervously throughout the last quarter.

Next Week
I think it's fair to say that the winning streak stops at one. Geelong at Kardinia Park should be much too strong, but it's a good test of where we're at - especially considering that we've nearly rumbled the Pies and Dogs already this year. Prepare for an afternoon of cold and misery sounded by 20,000 people who should be thrown off the mainland of Australia. See you there.

Are Bate and Bruce ready to come back next week? I know they will, but I wouldn't even pick Bruce. Thought Joel Mac was pretty good tonight. If Warnock is good to go then I'm going to ditch one of Garland or Rivers for him, and Miller's form makes it hard to find somebody to throw out in order to bring back Bate. Moloney is reported, but surely he's not going to go for THAT is he? I also want one of Spencer or Johnson, and I'm going to plump for Spence just because he's younger and we need to know sooner rather than later what he's all about. Hard times at the selection table, but I'm sure there will be random general soreness style injuries coming out of nowhere that will make things easier to work out.

Final Thoughts
Didn't Carlton throw an entire season from four wins at this point once? Not required.

Saturday 15 May 2010

Footy gets plums

Well, haven't we just been clubbed with football's irony stick. Even pre (and lets face it post) round one when we were expecting to be a bottom four side every single one of us probably pencilled today in as a win. When we started winning the pencil became pen (can you pen something in?), and then after nearly knocking over the Dogs last week the whole thing was supposedly signed, sealed and delivered. The rationale being that if we could beat the Eagles at the MCG in two seasons when we were completely pants then there would be no way that we could lose to them when we'd supposedly improved. And then we turn in our worst performance in seven weeks. Rodney King's clubbing (early 90's reference! Kids, look baffled) has nothing on what we imposed on ourselves today.

And make no mistake it was self-imposed. There's no doubt we were flogged by the umpiring in the first quarter, but as usual you can keep that line of excuse to yourself - let's talk about where we stuffed it up royally off our own bat. That's the 18th time under Bailey that we have kicked one goal or less in the first quarter. In the same time frame Richmond have done it 9 times, West Coast 11 and Fremantle 8. Why are we such slow starters? Forget the Richmond game which was played with a criminal lack of defensive accountability (and was far more enjoyable for it), we must be the worst starters in the league.

And so it was that the Eagles got the first two goals after Kennedy took Rivers to school and slotted a pair of well taken set shots. One thing I'm glad we did do was persist with Riv because he managed to get it together as the match went on. I fully expect people to smash their monitor upon reading that because he has become a Miller-esque hate figure for some of our fans, but I didn't mind him. Our defense was far from the problem today - they might have stuffed up getting the ball outside 50 but what are you supposed to do when you've got nobody to kick to and the forward line is standing next to you. Frawley was good without being spectacular, but that goes for most of our side today.

You could tell that it was going to be one of those days where everything we did up front would turn to manure. Davey was botching kicks into the forward line, Bate rolled his ankle and went off for most of the quarter and for some baffling reason Danny Hughes never appeared to go anywhere near the forward 50. I've watched Danny in the VFL and he's a forward not a wingman - he battled well given the circumstances and has some good hands but what's the point of picking these guys if we're not going to use them properly? Brad Green saved us (as he so often does) from the indignity of ANOTHER goalless quarter when he snapped one after a sharp handball from Watts, and even though they got another one we still looked the better side.

Frankly the Eagles were putrid in the first half. The only problem was that we were almost as bad but without the fall-back position of having a half decent forward line to kick it to when we did get it. Or any kind of forward line whatsoever. Things straightened up a bit when Bate came back on but he barely looked fit and as the game wore on you could see that he was more and more rooted. Sore ankle and sore shoulders from trying to carry the rest of the side. He's another one that 'the internet' hates for some reason. Possibly due to people living next door to chemical plants or playing on train lines as children. Or because he's red and you're all discriminating against him.

Particular low moments in forward line play were provided by Paul Johnson's near comical attempts to play as a marking forward - I'd have liked to have seen Jamar go down there and provide an option but unfortunately as Johnson was also providing zero in the middle he was probably doing less damage as a shambling 'target'. Has he really been on our list since 2005? Six seasons and out I would have thought. To have any chance of survival he'd have to hope that the Spencil doesn't come on, Meesen remains permanently crippled and Max GAWN doesn't manage to make it onto the field at all (even at Casey) this year. And that we can't recruit another tall, or find a mature one through the rookie draft. Any way you slice it he's rooted, which is a shame because through '07 and '08 he looked pretty good. I hear Frankston have a lovely VFL side which needs players, off you go son.

Having said all that there was a point in the second quarter when we were well and truly back into the game, and if we were in any way serious about being a competitive force (or god forbid a finals contender) we would have turned it up a gear and smashed them. Telling in retrospect that two of the goals which helped us hit the lead/get back into the match were from a free straight in front of goal and a 50 that brought Hughes to the line. Still, take it where you can get it - if the other side wants to keep you in it then good luck to them but for god's sake work out what you're doing wrong and take advantage. Cue us kicking one more goal for the whole match. Embarassing.

What I don't understand, watching from the position of somebody who has scant interest in actual footballing analysis, was why they didn't throw Sylvia deep into the forward line in the last quarter when we went a couple of goals behind. He was absolutely awful today and barely hit a target - and this wasn't the sort of Tom Scully missed targets where it goes a couple of feet wide and we all think who cares he's a gun nonetheless, I think at one point he was going around at 12% by foot. In fact he's been awful in all three of our losses. Did we overestimate the impact he'd have this season or is this the price we'll have to pay until we start winning consistently? There were whispers around that he might miss through injury but I'd like to think that considering how much we love the late change that there wouldn't be an issue with taking him out if he wasn't 100%. Either way he might have sparked something that was in no danger of suffering from spontaneous combustion because he was doing nothing but harm being up the ground.

Also after the kick-ins have worked fairly well for the last few weeks we were well and truly stitched up today. The (what I assume is a set play) move where they flog it wide towards the boundary and Jamar ghosts in to take the grab was completely rumbled by the Eagles as the match went on - thus allowing Natanui to nick in for two screamers that Channel 10 can use to plaster all over their coverage for the next year despite the fact that he did bugger all else until the last quarter. The Russian battled manfully today against the Eagles rucks, especially considering that the ex-Eagle ruck that he was teamed up with was giving him - and us - absolutely nothing.

The most telling stat of the whole messy shambles is that of the five marks we had inside 50 one came from a muffed Eagles kick and one was a dinky short one to McDonald. No penetration isn't just a rude phrase anymore, it's a way of life for our club. We had the triple threat of forward line bollocks today - either they weren't there at all, the delivery was terrible or the ball was carelessly bombed in for the Eagles backline to mop up easily. They weren't much better, but the difference was that they at least had forwards standing there to kick to whereas usually ours were switching the play on the defensive 50.

Now, let's talk WATTS. And why not because he was quite good. Consider for a second that he has now played in four losses, three of which have been absolutely putrid performances and tell me you're not dying to see him in a side that gets it together and puts more than a handful of goals on the board. Despite the fact that our "no forward line" policy often saw him chipping in across half-back, and he didn't get any goals (not Robinson Crusoe on that front..) he looked like he belonged out there. Highlight was the clean handball to set up the first goal. He'll keep his spot and will get better. Maybe we'll even give him somebody to kick to one of these days. Very happy with what we got out of him today considering the putrid nature of the game and the way we were using the ball. The usual internet retards who expected him to have 30 touches and kick 8 will post their disappointment in the performance but patience is going to pay off handsomely in this situation.

Jukebox Jury
I'm not just saying this out of bitterness but the Eagles song surpassed Port's as my most hated in the league. Absolutely rancid 1970's soft rock abortion of a track. Fit in well with the bizarre selection of music pre-match when Roxy Music's art rock 'classic' Avalon seamlessly (?) blended into Cold Chisel's bogan power ballad Breakfast At Sweethearts. Then this came on and suddenly it was heritage week. It couldn't sound any more 70's if Stevie Nicks showed up and rerecorded it while being spit-roasted by the blokes out of ABBA at Studio 54. It's an affront to football and the unwritten law that all songs must be sung by what sounds like a barbershop quartet.

2010 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - James McDonald
4 - James Frawley
3 - Mark Jamar
2 - Matthew Bate
1 - Jack Grimes

Apologies to Green, Watts, Hughes, Jones, Moloney, Rivers (post Q1)

18 - James McDonald
14 - Brad Green
13 - James Frawley (Leader: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
12 - Mark Jamar (WINNER: Strawbs O'Dwyer Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
9 - Jack Grimes
7 - Aaron Davey, Jack Trengove (Leader: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year), , Matthew Bate
6 - Colin Sylvia, Brent Moloney
5 - Ricky Petterd, Tom Scully
3 - Jordie McKenzie, Matthew Warnock
1 - Jared Rivers, Joel MacDonald, Cameron Bruce

Crowd Watch
Surprised at how big it was, but equally surprised at how many Eagles fans there were. They obviously saw something coming that the rest of us didn't.

One thing I find interesting at games is what tips people over the edge to make them leave. The vast majority of people who walk out do it after goals, but there's always one or two who go at strange times. Today when we were five goals down with about four minutes left one of our players cocked up and shanked one out on the full and the guy in front of me stood up and was off. I can't believe that was the difference for him. Not sure if he thought there was ten minutes left or something, but it seemed a very odd time to be tipped over the edge.

Of course nothing will ever beat the game we played against North in 2004 (Col Sylvia's debut don't you know) when halfway through the first quarter that North fan with the blonde hair, goatee and tatts galore walked past me towards the exit yelling "I CAN'T TAKE THIS ANYMORE" and was seen after the match cooking a BBQ in the carpark. Stylish.

Next Week
Port in Darwin. They'll flog us but I'm hopeful that injury and shitness is going to mean a heap of new faces into the side next week. Casey beat the Bullants comfortably with Morton kicking three goals (WANT), Gysberts getting 30 touches (why not) and Miller BOG (DO NOT WANT) but interestingly Wonaeamirri geting through another game unscathed and amongst the goals. Could he come in closer to goal for a bit of crumb. Somebody may as well because the talls aren't getting near it.

Final Thoughts
I'm now retrospectively furious about our last two losses. Welcome back to football purgatory. Out coached, out played, out of contention.

Saturday 8 May 2010

Kasey Korner

Got down to Casey Fields today and learned a number of things;

a) Casey Fields is a great name if you're thinking of getting into porn
b) Richmond, and everything involved with them, are worse than anything we served up over the last two years.
c) Everything's gonna be alright.

Now, don't ask me anything about what happened with the Casey defence because I spent the whole day following our forward line from end to end like a lovesick puppy. What I will say is that the ball seemed to fly out of the Coburg forward line at a million miles an hour. They kicked a lot of points but there was wild snaps all over the place - the Scorps backline completely stitched them up. One guy I did notice was Daniel Bell streaming through the middle and doing as he liked. One guy I didn't notice was the Stefan Martin Experience, because he wasn't in the side. Not sure if he played 2's because I arrived just as the reserves game ended and the Coburg players were celebrating like they'd won the flag.

So not only did the backline completely smash their opponents but the Spencil was absolutely dominating in the middle - shame he still can't kick to save himself. He goes hard and is decent at the contest, and not bad with his hands but he's never going to be anything more than a bit part player if he doesn't manage to get his kicking right. Interesting to see John Meesen playing Casey ruck coach and tutoring him at the breaks. I might be the only person other than Meese to be dying to see him back playing again but apparently he's only a few weeks away from resuming - we'll see if he can force his way back into the senior side by the end of the year because I don't think it's unfair to say that he's probably finished at the end of the year otherwise.

Now, down front it was good news all over the place. Aussie Wonaeamirri got through the whole game without having one of his hamstrings leap out of his leg a'la Alien, and he looked bloody good. Didn't get any goals but his defensive work was great. Same goes for Jetta who was all over the place, laying tackles, spoiling and setting his teammates up. Miller and Newton both got amongst the goals but were Miller-esque and Juice-esque in the way they did it - you just know that you're not going to get anything special if we promote them into the seniors.

But let's talk about Watts. I know he was lining up against a rank side who just did not care - though to his credit old pencil 'mo Jordan McMahon had a crack, possibly driven by the wild reception he got from our fans every time he touched the ball - but some of the stuff he did makes me think he will break into the seniors soon and do some damage before the end of the year. He got his first two goals from 45m on a slight angle, the first from a cheap 50m penalty and the second on a sweet lead and pass from our very own homegrown emo Addam Maric (who looks even more miserable up close). Both great kicks from the set shot, then for the third he led into the opposite pocket, pulled in a one handed mark from an ordinary kick, ran around to find himself confronted with an opponent on the goal-line, stepped around a bit and totally confused the poor bastard before snapping it. Top stuff.

Got another one from a set shot in the last quarter before he missed a couple. Was particuarly unlucky on the last one when it hit the post 90% of the way up at the last minute. Now not only was he marking and kicking goals, but he set up a couple for his teammates with his attack on the ball and some fancy work on the handball. Looked really good. Having said that I wouldn't necessarily rush him into the side next week, Dunn is gone for all money but Hughes deserves another shot after an encouraging debut. I'm leaning towards treating him like a pitbull and starving him a bit more to make him really up for it, but I was quite impressed with the leadership he showed in the huddles - telling the likes of Miller and Newton what to do. And no, his advice wasn't "Don't be shit".

Another highlight was Daniel Connors saying the following phrase to the Golden Child after a free kick was paid to Wona in the second quarter. "Go and pick the fucking ball up Jack, that's all you're good for". This coming from the guy who is suspended by the worst club in the league for getting pissed and punching his teammate. Time to put some perspective into your sledging to peanut.

Jetta is another chance to come in, but right now both he and Wona are probably going to be kept out by the form of Jamie Bennell. Jet definately deserves a game on today's form, but if you take Dunn out and put Morton in (he didn't do much at my end of the ground but it's pretty much a no brainer for him to come back even if he didn't do much at the other end either) then who do you drop for Jet? We could trade down on one tall defender (Garland or Rivers) for a small forward, but with Josh Kennedy going bananas with six goals tonight and the likes of Lynch, NicNat and Cox running around can we afford not to go in with the same backline?

Gysberts was also good in the midfield. He's got to be close to getting a game soon.

I'm going to make like the UK election and pick conservatism but with no confidence. Barring any injuries, suspensions or mid week shenanigans I'm going to go with;

IN - Morton
OUT - Dunn

Friday 7 May 2010

Not A Dry Seat In The House

At the risk of having being sacked as a card-carrying member of the "Internet Football Writing Lunatics Association" I'm not going to come on here tonight and go off my tits about how we were rorted by the umpires. Let's skip straight to the end and say this - we had the four points well in our grasp tonight and threw them away.

First the two overturned decisions. Now, I don't want to get philosophical and start talking about the Butterfly Effect but it's unlikely that if the first one had been paid then the second one would have ever taken place so it's a bit optimistic to suggest that we were robbed out of two goals. Having said that, whether they were right, wrong or too close to call the two overrules were absolutely ridiculous. In the first quarter the field umpire said he was pretty sure that the ball was touched and changed the decision made by somebody standing right in front of it. In the last quarter the boundary umpire came in and said that he was pretty sure. Why even bother having goal umpires? Or if you are going to come in and change a decision then for god's sake just lie and say that you're absolutely sure you saw it touched.

Maybe they'd have bounced out of the centre after the goal had Dunn's been paid (and now that he's 4.11 for the season Lynden needs a lucky break) and kicked the next six to smash us. Either way it would have bloody helped. Whatever. See also the angst over Frawley's deliberate call late in the piece. Bullshit. He stuffed it up. I don't think he expected to the ball to stay in and just instinctively took it over without thinking about it. He's a defender, they're not renowned as a race for being deep thinkers. Besides, he got away with a criminal one in the middle of the ground where he was tackled and kind of batted the ball with one hand. One of the biggest incorrect disposals possible on a footy field short of throwing it in the air and heading it to a teammate but it wasn't paid. Was there any doubt they'd pay it after Cooney was rolled for the one where he dived for the line rugby style in front of the members?

No, we stuffed it up. Despite all these apparent conspiracies and umpires who hate us (but if you ask Bulldogs fans they hate them too) we were nine points in front with a handful of minutes left after Danny Hughes kicked the goal and should have held on. We didn't, deal with it and move on. So far, so much the Collingwood game but at least time I had a few seconds to come to terms with the results before the final siren and didn't disgrace myself by punching buggery out of a seat. In fact other than a bit of a short and forced bit of anti-umpire abuse at the top of the stairs I wasn't as upset as I should have been.

How ironic that after a week where almost every one of our fans slaughtered (and quite rightly too) Docklands for being a horrid place to go we ended up playing in monsoon conditions. Roof would have been nice right? Well, no - I don't know about you but I was sitting undercover so it didn't bother me much. And would we have gotten anywhere near as close in the dry? We'll never know, but I'll bet we might have held more than a handful of marks in the first half. They were lucky enough to get the Field of Women on, and almost off the ground before the rain came but when they did it was absolutely pissing down. And out the window went any hope of a free-flowing, exciting game of football. All of a sudden it was slog, slog and more bloody slog on the agenda. Just the thing to convince a Friday night audience to turn over to the Rugby League test match.. for about five seconds before coming back.

First quarter was just weird. I've grown increasingly used to not kicking a goal in the first term (lest we forget this was the 6th time since 2007 that we've managed it. Just one more to tie Daniher 1998-2006), and you couldn't expect anything even approaching liquid football in Typhoon conditions but it was terrifically disjointed. Just look at the first goal they got, free out of the middle and a short kick to a guy standing all on his own who waltzes in and boots one. Down the other end we're fanging torps inside 50 to nobody, missing shots, players are having wild snaps and somehow we end up having more scoring shots but kicking three less goals. One thing I learnt is that Jack Grimes is by no means the next Mark McGough - thank god I hear you say, but I'm talking about the wet weather specialist stuff here. He must have had a near death experience with water as a child because absolutely nothing he did in that first quarter went right, in fact he barely hit a target all day. I'll forgive him everything though for some of the beautiful one handed pickups throughout the game, and for the fact that he has killed it for most of the season. Can we stop referring to him as "the next captain" though? If Brad Green doesn't get that job we're a joke of an organisation.

Also floundering in the wet early was one J. Bennell who could not hold a mark to save his life. Much like Grime time he salvaged his game with some sublime gathers, the mark of the day and an absolute solid gold contender for Goal of the Year during the second quarter. Having said that I'd like to see them not give the goal of the year to a dribbled kick just to make a point against the fact that everybody's doing them all of a sudden. Ironically the first target that Grimes hit all day was perhaps the first mark that Bennell held.

It took Davey to bob up and kick the first goal to spark us. We had enjoyed a truckload of ball in the first quarter and a half but couldn't make it count on the scoreboard. How often has Flash been the catalyst for a revival in the middle of games over the last couple of years? He's an immense player. If you had to have somebody in our side hit a target to save your life you could do worse than pick him. Not long after he got the first goal, Bate added another one and ridiculously we were back in it. We then stuffed up a kick-in to give the Dogs a goal before Bennell kicked his ludicrous goal from the boundary line. The best bit about it wasn't just how he rolled it in from the Bay 6 Administration Office, Ground Floor Ponsford Stand but the way he fought his heart out to get the ball in the first place. Sublime.

Half-time, still raining but we were in it. I'm still not sure how because we were getting beaten out of the centre and stuffing it up almost every time we touched it. There was too much trying to kick to a target inside 50 in terrible conditions, and not surprisingly after copping the first goal we finally went long and Bate kicked his second. Ten minutes into the third and we were only a point behind. I was still baffled at how we were so close but who cares, take what you can get. Then the Bulldogs steadied, Akermanis turned up for the first time all night to extend the margin over a goal before Hill added another. Aker had another shot to all but put us away but missed it, leaving the gate ever so slightly open. We go down the other end, Scully kicks a goal and we're back in the contest. When Jones got one right at the end of the term we were well and truly back in it having dominated the start and the end of the quarter.

A word on Bate if I may. If you have any doubts that he's one of our most important players then please be my guest to have a good hard look at yourself. Next time you get excited with him having one bad game and rush to the internet to write some stupid post about how he should be dropped I suggest you step away from the keyboard and jam a fork directly into an electrical socket. He's up there with Warnock as players who people blame for everything that goes wrong. Surprise surprise they have bad games - we've won 10 games in three seasons, they all have bad games. Just look at the demolition job Warnock did on Hall tonight - it might not have been the best conditions for a big man but even when long and high balls came into the Footscray forward line he didn't let BBBB outbody or outposition him once. I'll go into battle for those two any day of the week.

Cometh the last quarter, cometh the kid Scully. 19 touches in the final term might have been blotted slightly by a couple of tired kicks in the dying minutes that went straight to Bulldogs players but can you blame him for getting tired with that sort of quarter? Six inside 50's and six rebound 50's says it all. Will take a fair performance by somebody else during the weekend to tip him out of a Rising Star nomination after that performance. We hit the front five minutes in when Bate got his third, and having won all but one last quarter for the season even I - surely in the top ten percent of the most pessimistic fans in the worst - started to wonder if we could get up. Bater could almost have had his fourth just after but he missed a snap he probably should have kicked, before Dunn got rorted had his goal overturned by Boundary Umpire Slapnuts.

Then my usual footballing depression kicked in and I realised we were going to throw it away. Even when Danny Hughes, who played a perfectly acceptable first game, won the free-kick and goalled to put us nine points up it just had disaster written all over it. We needed that one more goal to put it beyond doubt, but Brian f'ing Lake of all people went down the other end and got one to put them back into it. Frawley got pinged for the deliberate, Lake missed (despite his criminal attempt to rort the goal umpire into thinking he'd kicked it) but surprise surprise the ball came back less than a minute later. Clint Bartram tried to pick a ball up that he probably should just have booted towards the line and it bounced out to Griffen who snapped the winner. You wouldn't believe it. There was 90 seconds left but we never even went close to scoring again. Game, set and buggering match.

Chalk it up as one that got away but don't get too upset about it. In rotten conditions we were never going to play the sort of freewheeling Harlem Globetrotters footy that we did last start at the 'G. But we did bring the defensive performance and the tackling intensity. Even the mythical tall forward wouldn't have helped us much tonight - what we do need is a crumber. Austin Wonaeamirri where art thou?

2010 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Tom Scully
4 - Matthew Bate
3 - Matthew Warnock
2 - Aaron Davey
1 - James McDonald

Apologies to Bruce (next cab off the rank), Bennell (burst player, big game coming), Trengove, McKenzie, Frawley, Green and Jones.

14 - Brad Green
13 - James McDonald
9 - James Frawley (Leader: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Mark Jamar (WINNER: Strawbs O'Dwyer Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
8 - Jack Grimes
7 - Aaron Davey, Jack Trengove (Leader: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
6 - Colin Sylvia, Brent Moloney
5 - Ricky Petterd, Tom Scully, Matthew Bate
3 - Jordie McKenzie, Matthew Warnock
1 - Jared Rivers, Joel MacDonald, Cameron Bruce

Fashion Week
Seemed a bit odd that the umpires were wearing pink when we were as well. But unless I find out that we complained before the match (as long as they knew) then we deserve what we get. Clearly a couple of players handballed to the colours but if it was such an issue we should have demanded that they change at half time. Who cares if they don't actually have a change, at least it's on the record that we demanded the change before the clash supposedly cost us. Doubt anybody would have made anything of it had we won mind you.

Crowd Watch
Surprised at just how quiet the Bulldogs fans around us were. At 3/4 time I said "Why are there no Dogs fans up here?" and turned around to see a whole group of them to our right. Clearly

Meanwhile the Bulldogs have done a fantastic job roping in the African community. They're basically locking down entire generations of support that otherwise might be lost to the game or split amongst other clubs. Yet another advantage for a club with a natural geographic base. The best we could do would be to sign up squirrels from Yarra Park.

Public Transport Nutbag Watch
Some maggoted Footscray supporting idiot was holding court on the train telling everybody his philosophies on footy. He was quite fair and balanced in his analysis, suggesting that if we had "Morton, Jarrah and that other guy Oonamiri" we would have "thrashed them" and that those three "do that crazy shit spastic leg in the air thing". Whatever that is. He then proceeded to tell somebody that he knew what was going on at St Kilda because he lived near Linton Street. He said this just as the train left Moorabbin station - which is practically next door to Linton Street. Barking.

Chub Corner
If we keep going like this I might lose weight. Unacceptable. We need to start winning - you don't fuck with the Colonel.

DB's Musical Corner
Every week Friday night footy reminds me of the opening of The Last Boy Scout. But without as much of the murder-suicide action. I think the Channel 9 NRL coverage actually ripped this off at one point.

Kasey Korner (There's too many corners on this blog so I have to spell one with a K)
As long as it's not pissing rain and colder than a witches teet I'm heading down to Casey Fields for the game against Coburg tomorrow. On the strength of tonight I'm going to suggest that Dunn is absolutely g-a-w-n Max Gawn for next week and will be watching Watts, Jetta, Wona (aka: THE EX-CELEBRATOR until he celebrates again) and Maric closely to see who might come in up front. On the other hand Morton is an absolute walk-up start next Saturday if he gets through the match, so maybe they'll throw him forward to get him back into it? Has certainly played a couple of decent cameos down there in the past.

Stay tuned to @demonblog for live updates from Casey, or if it's a bit rainy outside I'll tell you what's going on in the 1983 UK Election that I'm currently watching on YouTube. Because as it might surprise you to discover, I have no life. (Spoiler alert - the sour faced old bird wins).

Next Week
No matter what the Eagles do against Hawthorn tomorrow night we must, must, must, MUST beat them next week. There is no point going through the slog in the dry against North and the slog in the wet tonight only to get beaten in a thriller just to go out and get beaten by a side that nearly has a worse interstate record in the last few years than we do.

Here's to a dry day and a big fat fuck off victory against the Eagles. Then? God knows, as long as we stay out of the bottom four I'll be happy.

Final Thoughts
I had a spectacular day today where everything that has been stressing me for weeks came off in quality fashion. Had we won it would have been an unbelievable cherry on top, but bad luck I can't let a football match kill my buzz today.

Saturday 1 May 2010

Riding High In April, Shot Down In May

Welcome back to reality. You had to know that we were never going to get the same sort of armchair ride to glory that Brisbane provided last week. You had to know that North were going to throw everything at stopping our run through the middle of the ground. You had to know that there was every possible chance of a colossal letdown this week. I honestly thought we'd win a close one via tense arm-wrestle, but this was about as much of a danger game as you get without playing on a field on the outskirts of Chernobyl.

Didn't stop a whole host of morons charging to the internet and talkback radio to declare how we were a dead set cert and would smash North to pieces. Err, how about no. Amazing how excited people get when you're on a high for the first time in years. Especially when you're playing a team coming off a win. Pure stupidity.

They set out to smack us with the ugly stick today and did it perfectly. Despite being absolutely putrid in the first term themselves and copping the first goal they totally choked buggery out of us and you could where it was going to go from the first few minutes. Absolutely shattered that we couldn't take advantage of all the times they stuffed it or booted the ball straight out of bounds under zero pressure, but it was very much the story of the day. They cluttered up the corridor, they stopped us getting the ball out of the backline, they did enough to take a lead into quarter time despite arguably being the worse side in the opening term.

Second quarter, on the other hand, was complete domination on their behalf. We were sinking like a trace, the backline (apparently "much vaunted") weren't giving us much and every time we went inside 50 (remember this?) the ball came straight back out again. It was only North's rubbish kicking for goal that kept us in it. Petterd was getting zero up front, and not surprisingly when he tried the "hands in the back - push down vigorously" marking technique that was so successful last week he was pinged at light speed. You knew we had crossed into the twilight zone with that "not 15" call on the kick across the face of goal. At least the umpire paid one against North at the same end during junk time.

Game looked pretty much over at half-time, and when they got the first two goals of the third it was starting to get very, very ugly. The clearance stats might have been relatively even, after tilting towards North early, but we were just getting butchered out of the centre. Finally Jamar and the midfield started to get their hands on it in the third, we began to take the game on and look how much better things got all of a sudden. Six goals in a row, sparked by a great run by Brad Green, and suddenly we were back in it. North were on the back foot and with another five minutes before the last change we might have been even closer. Cue Michael Firrito starting a good old fashioned smackdown in the huddles at 3/4 time, and North came out full of fire. Balls. They put the game away early and it was all junktime from there. How about Warnock dropping the ball on the goal-line? Poor bastard has been relatively solid for the last couple of years while all around him stuff everything up, but his mistake costs us a goal and people went off their nut at him. Speaking of stuffing it up how bad was Joel Mac today? He was pretty good last week so I'll cut him some slack, but what was the deal with trying to kick it through North players rather than handballing over the top? Failed about five times.

The Russian took one of his trademark hangers against 27 opponents and kicked the goal (and have I ever said how I think he's a surprisingly good set shot?), Bartram got another, North scored a couple of charity goals from free kicks (the second continuing Fake Burger's shocker of a day) and nobody really seemed to care. Except the crunt sitting in front of me who thought they'd won the flag.

Due to a raging hangover and about two hours of sleep I might be coming back to this post in a few hours/days/weeks/years when I remember what else happened. For now all I know is that we suffered a rooster/feather duster interface. Is that such a bad thing for a young team? Whatever.

Umpiring watch
Don't talk to me about umpires. Umpires didn't make Col Sylvia kick at 25% efficiency. We were pox. Accept it.

2010 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Aaron Davey
4 - Brad Green
3 - Jack Grimes
2 - James McDonald
1 - Cameron Bruce

Apologies to Jamar, Scully, Jones, Bennell, Trengove and Bartram.


14 - Brad Green
12 - James McDonald
9 - James Frawley (Leader: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Mark Jamar (WINNER: Strawbs O'Dwyer Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
8 - Jack Grimes
7 - Jack Trengove (Leader: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
6 - Colin Sylvia, Brent Moloney
5 - Ricky Petterd, Aaron Davey
3 - Jordie McKenzie
1 - Jared Rivers, Joel MacDonald, Matthew Bate, Cameron Bruce

Fashion Week
I'm a big fan of the Brad Scott hoodie look.

Crowd Watch
I loathe people who sit there and talk to themselves like they're having a conversation with the players. The North morons in front of me, who didn't mind having a good old fashioned swear in front of their kids, spent the whole day doing it. Every single touch was greeted with a cute nickname for the player. The only time they shut up was when one of them was yelling "HANDS UP!" every time the ball went to ground. Interesting humans.

Also off his nut was the old Melbourne fan sitting two rows in front and just sat there yelling ludicrous things all day. He even invented his own version of "BALLLLL" for contentious holding the ball decisions when he would scream "MANNNNNNNN". He also spent the whole day screaming his lungs out for them to "KICK IT, KICK IT, JUST KICK IT". How much do you want to bet that he was sitting there last Saturday night whopping off about the way we were slicing and dicing them with handball. How quickly we forget.

Meanwhile I still hate Etihad. The only decent night out I've ever had there was when North played Port, I got free tickets to the Medallion Club and there were 14,000 people in the ground. Any more than that and get ready to queue for everything and join in an unholy scrum on the way back to the station. And would somebody please smash the guitar of that idiot who plays nothing but Classical Gas outside the grounds? He must go to sleep dreaming of that tune. Thank christ we've only got to play there once more this year, unfortunately it's against the Saints and we'll probably lose by 200 points... if they're playing their defensive game.

Public Transport Shambles Corner
On the way home I was standing politely at the front of the carriage near the driver's door minding my own business when some clearly deranged bloke in a Hawthorn t-shirt came up and started talking to me in complete ignorance of the fact that I had headphones in. I took them out in time to hear him say "I fkn hope you get them next time". Err, thanks. I gave him my opinion that we're more likely to lose every game for the rest of the season, snubbed him and went back to reading. He wandered off down the carriage talking to himself about how much he hated North and how they were all - quote - "c**ts". Obviously he hasn't gotten over last week yet. I insist that the AFL schedule Hawthorn/North for Rivalry Round next year in honor of this true pioneer of off-chops conversation.

God knows what he went on to say because I headphoned up again, but I'm hoping somebody asked him the obvious question of why if Hawthorn were playing at the MCG he was catching a train towards Frankston.

DB's Musical Corner
That's life..

Chub Central
No porky food consumed due to the result.

Next Week
Would have been an absolute blockbuster if we'd won today. Footscray are wobbling a bit, and pitched against an emerging side on a four game winning streak it would have made for great viewing. Now they'll be licking their lips at the chance to play themselves back into it by tonking us.

Petterd will probably miss with his shoulder injury, Stef Martin is surely gone for all money after a rubbish performance and one of Garland, Rivers or Macdonald will probably go. Bail and McKenzie absolute solid gold certainties to come back, but if the Experience gets the arse who do we rope in as the second ruckman. Could this be the last roll of the dice for Paul Johnson? Speaking of people on their last chance could Ricky's injury open the door for a shock (and probably undeserved) comeback for Brad Miller? Apparently Watts is having a shocker for Casey against the Gold Coast right now, so he might have shot himself in the foot - still, may as well just play him, anything has to be better than Miller.

Final Thoughts
Learning experience. Two ordinary teams lined up, one perfectly executed their gameplan and got the win. Come September both sides will be doing exactly the same thing anyway, so as long as we learn from it then there's little damage done in the long term.

Fellow internet freaks, take your hand away from the panic button. The well trodden path from rubbish to glory is full of fiascos.