Friday 25 June 2010

Touch It You Rubbish

I'm sure if you went back and looked through every single post on this site from 2005 onwards about games where we played in Adelaide there would be some mention of Andrew Leoncelli, his goal with three seconds left, and an increasing frustration that we've never been able to win there since. Save yourself the trouble and wait for Demonblog: The Book, I'll tell you that it's been a heavy motif. At first when the streak was sitting at four years it was more of a curiosity, in the same way that in 1968 winning a premiership didn't seem so long ago, but as the years have worn on our average losing margin to both Port and the Crows has blown out to something approaching the score in the 5th set of that match at Wimbledon and it's just not funny anymore. And before you do anything else make sure you go down to 4.05pm in this report of that match and read on for what is almost certainly the greatest piece of sports writing since Hunter S. Thompson went to the Kentucky Derby.

Various theories about our inability to win in Adelaide have been floated over the last week, but whatever the reason is the fact remains that from three seconds after Leoncelli kicked his winning goal we've fielded sides more likely to win a shuffleboard tournament aboard the QE2 than a game of football in South Australia. It's no wonder Joel Macdonald got a recall, at least he's played in a winning side there for the Lions - for whatever that's worth. Bruce and Green played in wins there during 2000/2001 but I wouldn't surprised if even they can't remember it. The last time we won there was Darren Jolly's first game for god's sake and he's played for half the league since.

"But Adelaide are pure rubbish!" everyone cried, "if we don't beat them now we never will". I thought that once too - 'twas mid 2004, Gary Ayres had been run out of town on a rail and some old mate nobody had ever heard of called Neil Craig was in charge of his first match. We'd won three in a row and had shot up to second on the ladder, while the Crows languished in mid-table obscurity. "What about the excellent record of first game coaches?" you probably said at the time, "Pure urban myth!" I spat back (or so I'd like to think). They duly tonked us by 72 points. The next week we beat the top of the ladder Saints by ten goals. This is a cursed place that we're talking about.

The win in Darwin took some of the curse off our inability to win anywhere west of Docklands, but when we haven't even won in Perth since 2004 - despite at least one of Fremantle and the Eagles being rubbish for almost every year since then - where else were we supposed to go to try and get our mojo back. East Timor?

And so, thrown into the odd position of being one of only three games for the second half of the split round the papers were alive with stories about our players, all eyes were on Football Park to see if we could break the drought. In fact with it being easily the least interesting of the three matches for the week I'd be surprised if there were more than a handful of eyes (both full and Victoria Park style one real/one glass varieties) on the match. Fox Sports executives were obviously so worried that people would turn over the South Park marathon on the Comedy Channel or repeats of Cops episodes from 1992 that the commentators (more on them later) were instructed to talk the match up as a titanic contest which could be the difference between us playing finals and not. It wasn't, we won't and halfway through the second quarter I started to consider flicking over to Cops to see some criminal behaviour that I didn't have an emotional interest in.

By the time the ball was bounced I'd worked myself up into a frenzy about how this was the time, this was the team and how history (relatively speaking) was going to be made. Then five minutes later the Crows had kicked 1.5 to nothing and for all intents and purposes we were stuffed. Collingwood had let us off the hook two weeks ago with rubbish kicking but at least we were getting something out of the middle that day, this time the Crows learnt the lesson and just sat on us in the centre like some kind of sick German fetish video. Surely nobody was surprised that after the Jamar/Moloney Psychic Friends Connection had been talked up so much over the last fortnight that Adelaide would subject Beamer to the mother of all tags. I suppose he might have busted the tag, got 35 touches and racked up three Brownlow votes, but he didn't and we were much worse for it. And we don't do Plan B. Not only could he barely get near it, but when he did he sprayed the thing everywhere on route to a 58% disposal efficiency. He's still a great man, but surely opposition coaches were sitting on their couch yesterday going "ahh, there's an idea", and his future is being tagged to death for the rest of the season.

Speaking of Jamar he may have got very little around the ground yesterday but he was serviceable in the centre again, especially considering that once again he had zero help other than a brief cameo from Miller who just leapt in the air and threw his arm out in hope more than anything. He got more hit-outs than the entire Crows team combined, but with the midfield clamped down something rotten we were getting no benefit out of it. I just hope we're not about to turn him into the next Nathan Carroll, sans peacock haircuts and alcohol fuelled violence. Remember how halfway through 2006 Carroll had shot from also-ran to a potential All-Australian only to get a bit of publicity, get completely exposed and end up being teed off on by the full-forwards of the world for the rest of the year. I'd like to think The Russian (or is it The Belgian?) is made of sterner stuff than the other bloke, but there's no doubt that by the time the media have started writing stories about how well you're going, that 15 other coaches are all over it and working on plans to counter you.

Eventually after a quarter of epic toil against the general run of play we managed another one of our famous one goal first quarters, but at the other end Adelaide had effortlessly kicked four - including Tippett capitalising on the sort of comedy capers not seen since the 2006 when we played the Eagles and stuffed up a kick-in FIVE TIMES IN A FREAKING ROW before they finally took pity, and an 11 point play, by kicking a goal. First Bartram walked out of the square kicking in, and not even at the top end of it like he was trying to get distance, then despite everybody in the ground, watching on TV and sitting in a hut in Outer Mongolia knowing that the first thing Jamar would try to do was rush the ball from the bounce Tippett was allowed to get free in the square. The punch lacked a bit of vigour, the Crow lacked an opponent and the simplest of goals was duly kicked. Shut the gate, stick a fork in it, *insert your favourite cliche* we were stuffed.

Realistically we were only 21 points down, but that was never going to last. Suddenly the Crows were playing like last year when they were good, and we were unfortunately playing like last year when we were shite. Still, I'm sure if it was that easy to stitch a side up just through pressure they would have done it well before now rather than waiting until they were scraping the bottom of the ladder. We were nothing if willing participants to this massacre. They've been in better form than we have recently, and don't forget since the Brisbane miracle we've won 1.5 matches by 1 point in total, but the fact remains that they're sporting a player called Rory Sloane who looks like Leif Garrett and if we're going to allow ourselves to be pushed around by that sort of outfit we might as well put the FOR SALE sign up and move the team to Poowong.

I know that rebuilding a team from scratch via the draft is like trying to put a third world country back together after a natural disaster, but like the poor bastard whose house has just fallen off the side of a mountain in Bolivia I'd like to know that there's some light at the end of the tunnel and we're not just wasting our time waiting for a miracle. The only thing you can be sure of with this team is that once we're well out of the game they'll start having a proper crack at it, the only difference was that today instead of doing it when they were five goals down they waited until the margin had blown out to 47. Dunn, who I thought was bloody good, and one of the few to come out of it with much credit, got one after the siren to make it a slightly less outrageous shade of disrespectable.

Next thing you know we're only four goals down and things start to look at least moderately interesting again. I'd love to see a comparison between our first quarters and third quarters for the year, because it seems to me whatever they're saying at the long break is having significantly more effect on the team than whatever they're saying before the match. Adelaide did their bit by kicking 1.9 for the term and, much like the Carlton game, we'd come back from a potential third quarter caning to at least within striking distance at the final change. We've lost from better positions than 25 points in front at the last change, it wasn't insurmountable. But the problem was we should have been about 65 down. Moloney had broken the shackles a bit but the Crows had a truckload of chances to put us away and couldn't manage it. A good side would take advantage. A good side wouldn't have come from 47 points behind.

Once again we were treated to the sight of key forward prospect Watts taking marks across half-back and roaming the midfield. I know we only ever seem to kick to targets inside 50 if they're running back with the flight of the ball and nobody in the same coloured jumper within miles but is there any danger at all that he could be put up there as a target sometime soon? I know he's built like a supermodel and will get killed in one-on-one situations but I'm not suggesting leaving him up there on his own and booting the thing a mile in the air to the contest. He's obviously got good hands - ignore the one he dropped in the third term - kick it down there with him, Bate, Dunn and god help us even Miller down there and see who can pluck one out of the air. Seems to work for the teams who play against us, and has been a tried and true staple of the game for a hundred years so it might be worth a crack at some point.

I liked Dunn's game, just as I did against the Pies, and I'm crossing my fingers that he's finally going to hold down a spot in the side and be left in one place for more than a game at a time. But can somebody explain to me what's going on with his facial hair? First there was the ludicrous vaudevillian moustache he sported in his pre-season profile photo, and now there's some sort of really bad teenager looking growth stretching across his lip that is threatening to make me ill. I couldn't quite make out if it was a mo or not at first - and maybe that sort of thing is the reason they invented 3D TV's - but the general consensus was that he's rocking some sort of really bad job across the top lip that was being accentuated by the wearing of a mouthguard. It's unnatural, immoral and needs to be stopped as soon as possible - by force if necessary. What I did like was the goal he kicked when he grabbed it out of the ruck contest and dribbled it in from 20 metres out - that's the sort of inventive stuff that we're sorely lacking at the moment. If I show up next week and he's tagging Nick Dal Santo I'll scream.

Also interesting to note that Watts is pretty much the only player who we might want next year that we haven't signed up. Just imagine the outrage if it came out that he'd dicked us and signed with the Gold Coast. I've threatened the internet collapsing on football related matters before, but this really would be the end of it. He'd probably be the biggest heel at Melbourne since Barassi left, and at least Ron did something before he went and redeemed himself later. There's not nearly enough hate for J**d from our fans, but if this happened? Batten down the hatches when we play them for the first time because it might get violent.

Speaking of draft picks, where's Morton at? He looks good pushed up the ground but I'm starting to have Nicholson-esque heart palpitations every time he gets the ball. Did we really use a #4 pick on somebody just to use him as a loose man in defence? I'll cut SCULLGOVE slack in their wonky kicking to targets because they've played about 20 games between them, but 45 games into his career what are we doing with this guy? I preferred his first year model when he kicked 12 goals in a rancid team. Now he's just hanging around, doing a couple of good looking things here and there but generally being anonymous. He's probably suffering from intense psychological trauma from playing in just 7 wins in 45 matches - lie him down on the couch and bring in a psychologist if you have to, just give us our Cale back.

Then there's our backline. What has stood up masterfully in the face of constant bombardment over the last few years suddenly looks brittle and ready to snap at any minute. Frawley is the only one of the talls I've got any confidence in at the moment, and although Garland played a great last three quarters against Collingwood he always looks panicked. Maybe it's something to do with the fact that his facial expression never changes. Also according to my mum he is a dead-set lookalike for Ben Holland, which is no consolation at all. I'd almost have the Stefan Martin Experience down there - if I knew what had happened to him - the injury list on our website is notoriously out-of-date and wonky but he's not listed on it, nor did he play in the Casey/Williamstown fiasco of a fortnight ago. Another cult hero (for me anyway) chewed up and spat out by the system.

The worst thing about being rubbish is that every Monday morning I have to play Football Inquest with every single person in my office, because obviously none of them have ever met a Melbourne fan before in their lives. The number of times I've had to having a standing conversation about why we can't win at Football Park so far this morning is ridiculous. If I knew why we weren't I'd be too busy writing a 400 page dissection letter to the club/South Australian travel brochure ("watch out for Snowtown, don't ask what happened to the Grand Prix") to stand around having chats and gossips about why we don't consider playing with a forward line to be crucial in today's football.

Fashion Week
Those white jumpers are truly awful. They're a step up on the silver monstrosity of a few years ago, but it wasn't much of a benchmark to beat. Firstly why did we have to wear our clash jumper in the first place? Was it just because the Crows play with a dark jersey? Don't tell me we're forever destined to have to wear different jumpers if there's the slightest of clashes after that pink umpire debacle. And what's wrong with a red clash jumper? Maybe if we're playing Essendon I'll accept that the white might be an option - as if a sash really makes any difference - but outside of that there's no excuse for it.

And what's the obsession with the winking Batman logo? The mailout during the week promised that a new logo is going to be unveiled before the end of the year, and I can tell you that if that rubbish character is featured on it then I'll riot. Even the 80's logo which looked like a trident wielding child molester would be preferable to that rubbish.

Crowd Watch
The scrolling advertising signs at Football Park put me off. You're watching a piece of sparkling play (not by us) and suddenly in the background there's an ad for Farmers Union Iced Coffee. No wonder we can never win there. Did anybody else see the one that said JESUS today? I'm glad the people I was watching with saw it as well otherwise I'd think I was going crazy. Getting messages about religious figures from your television set is the first step, and the next thing you're running from the cops across the MCG footbridge carrying a shotgun.

Kommentary Korner
If you gave me the option of sacrificing my life for one of the commentary team today I'd offer you all three of them. Healy is at best a chat show host, Frawley's only half decent role in life is to the Billy Brownless-lite buffoon for Triple M and Dwayne Russell... My god. How many times did you count him refer to something we did "last week" as if the split round had never happened? And what about when somebody has a shot to the goalsquare with an opposition player sitting there patiently waiting to mark it and he flies off the handle like somebody's kicked one to win the Grand Final. Face facts Dwayne, for all your glib catchphrases and attempts at comedy you'll never be even a low rent version of Dennis Commetti.

The only one who comes out of that lineup with any credit is Colbert and he's exiled to the boundary line. I never thought I'd be hankering for a Liam Pickering/Matt Campbell double act, but there you go. In fact I'd go as far as saying I'd given the choice rather be tied in a chair and forced to listen to the Gladiators of Sport on SEN (the worst radio program ever, including community radio) than to be forcibly subjected to the Best of Dwayne.

Stat My Bitch Up
Great news for Nathan Jones, despite our continuing mediocrity his career win/loss record (24.39%) is now only good for third worst amongst active players. Step forward Paul Johnson (20.63%) and Josh Kennedy (23.28%). If it's any consolation to them at least they're better than Ted Hall who went 1-72, and got his only win on a technicality in a protest after the match had finished.

Bad news is that he has to go on Twitter and apologise for our performance after every loss because nobody higher up than him has the grapefruits to do it. At least he cares.

2010 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
Only the first two are really deserving, but for the sake of the permanent record some others sneak in. Frawley's votes push him to within striking distance of the leaders and an epic Jakovich/Seecamp double.

5 - Matthew Bate
4 - Lynden Dunn
3 - Jack Grimes
2 - James Frawley
1 - Brad Green

Apologies to absolutely nobody. I'm completely baffled that Scully not only got our BOG in The Age, but he snuck into the votes as well.

25 - Brad Green
23 - James McDonald
19 - James Frawley (Leader: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
18 - Mark Jamar (WINNER: Strawbs O'Dwyer Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
14 - Matthew Bate
13 - Aaron Davey
12 - Jack Grimes
10 - Brent Moloney
8 - Jordan Gysberts (Leader: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
7 - Colin Sylvia, Jack Trengove
5 - Ricky Petterd, Tom Scully, Jamie Bennell
4 - Lynden Dunn
3 - Jordie McKenzie, Matthew Warnock, Brad Miller
2 - Neville Jetta, Clint Bartram
1 - Jared Rivers, Joel MacDonald, Cameron Bruce, Nathan Jones, Colin Garland

Next Week
St Kilda at Docklands on Sunday afternoon. By all rights we should be in for an absolute pasting given that, like Football Park, we can't play there at the best of times. Then there's the imminent return of Riewoldt who will presumably come out and wrest the title of "best in the family" back off his cousin by kicking 11.

Post-match Bailey forecast a hard week on the track for the players and all-round changes at the selection table. How about taking some responsibility for once and making yourself run 50 laps? When we let St Kilda jump to a seven goal lead there's not going to be any foot off the gas third quarter comebacks, we're going to get smashed. Sylvia and McDonald should walk back in but other than that if he's going to talk the talk about swinging the axe let's see it actually happen. We're going to get smashed next week anyway so why not ruin the weekend of a few more superstars of the VFL. Miller and Rivers should be absolute certainties to get the boot, and I'll send Jetta and Macdonald off with them. In come The Spencil (I never thought I'd write that), Cheney, Maric and Bennell. Hard to justify bringing four players in off the back of a 20 goal loss in the 2's, and a week off, but what is there to lose? Cheney and Maric especially have got to get a go soon, I'm not prepared to consign them to the Newton/Meesen "gone for all money" file yet but it seems the club might have by the looks of it.

The only tiny, microscopic sliver of hope that I have for pulling off a colossal upset is that Riewoldt's return somehow manages to stuff up what they've been working on for the past few weeks. Fat chance there. Maybe there's something in the fact that we seem to get up for big games (eventually) but show scant interest in playing against teams at our level. Who am I kidding, we'll be lucky not to go under by a hundred or more.

Final Thoughts
By this time next year I shall have been carted off to the insane asylum.

Thursday 17 June 2010

Demonblog's Mid-Season State of the Union address

So, here we are. Close enough to the middle of the season to start making wild judgements about how well it's gone, and it has gone pretty well all things told. We've had our issues but all things told we're in a much better place than most of the 'experts' had us three months ago. With a bit of luck we might have beaten Collingwood (twice) and the Bulldogs, but then we went out and got totally outplayed by the absolutely shite West Coast Eagles.

The last ten minutes of the first quarter against Richmond was unreal - especially the Bate goal after Petterd kept the ball in play - but beating up on the Tigers at that time was like driving through the National Under 12's cycling championships in a Sherman Tank.

So instead fast forward two weeks to that glorious Saturday night at the MCG when we went up against the unbeaten flavour of the month Brisbane and demolished them. Choose to conveniently ignore the fact that their key forwards were both crocked, and instead go back and look at the way we killed them through the middle of the ground. Three wins in a row, everyone (including me) suddenly got excited about making the finals and... we lost to North the next week. Welcome to the wide world of supporting the Dees.

Honorable mention - The first three quarters against Port, bits of the Collingwood and Dogs games, beating Adelaide.

We couldn't have gotten off to a worse start than the Hawthorn debacle, and a bit honorable mention to the last five seconds of the first Collingwood match but there's no way I can go past losing comfortably to the Eagles at the MCG as the most distressing moment of the year.

And now for the hits and misses. Before you get excited and start packing letterbombs to send in it's all in alphabetical order. Shall we?

Clint Bartram
Jamie Bennell
Aaron Davey
James Frawley
Brad Green
Jack Grimes
Jordan Gysberts
Mark Jamar
James McDonald
Jordie McKenzie
Brent Moloney
Ricky Petterd
Tom Scully
Jack Trengove

Cameron Bruce
Lynden Dunn
Paul Johnson
Joel Macdonald
The Stefan Martin Experience
Brad Miller
Michael Newton
Jared Rivers
Jake Spencer

Neither Here Nor There
Matthew Bate
Colin Garland
Danny Hughes
Neville Jetta
Nathan Jones
Cale Morton
James Strauss
Colin Sylvia
Matthew Warnock
Jack Watts
Austin Wonaeamirri

Where Are They Now?
Rohan Bail
Kyle Cheney
Addam Maric
John Meesen

In the event that you gave up on the QB report before the votes, and I don't blame you, here's the leaderboard as it stands after round 12.

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

So Jamar is home in the Strawbs, Frawley is about $1.01 for the Seecamp but everything else is wide open. Gysberts shot to the top of the Hilton on the back of two quality performances in his first two matches, but both SCULLGOVE are waiting in the wings to nip in and steal it off him. I will not be held responsible if it somehow ends up as a draw between them and looks like I've rigged it.

I expect Green to win from here, but I wouldn't rule out anybody down to Moloney.

The next ten weeks
Thanks to the Pies game we're 6pts above where I thought we'd be at this point of the year. The Brisbane, Adelaide and Port wins plus the Pies draw were unexpected wins I didn't see us having but I would have taken any money on beating North and West Coast.

The rest of the year;
Round 13 - Adelaide (FP)
Well if we're ever going to win a game in Adelaide again this is pretty much it. Unfortunately for us they're on a half decent run at the moment, and we've had the week off and lost a bit of momentum after the Collingwood game. I'd like to think we can get the job done here, but we couldn't win at Football Park when we were good so who knows what's going to happen now.

Round 14 - St Kilda (Docklands)
They'll tonk us. Good test though.

Round 15 - Essendon (MCG)
Completely flaky side. God knows where they'll be at by the time we meet them. They could lose the next couple and beat us or win the next couple and lose. Crackhead football.

Round 16 - Fremantle (Subiaco)

Round 17 - Sydney (MCG)
Slaughtered by injuries up to this point. We're some sneaky chance for this one as long as we can keep our own injury list down.

Round 18 - Brisbane (Gabba)
Well they're not going to let us do whatever we like again. Having said that they're wobbling something chronic right now so they could be doing anything in six weeks time. Another one we could pull out if we get things right.

Round 19 - Richmond (MCG)
A couple of weeks ago you'd tick this one off as an absolute sitter, but god knows what they're going to be like now that they've started winning again. One things for sure they've got very little incentive to roll over and finish last this year so we won't be paid back for the Jordan McMahon fiasco with a free win.

Round 20 - Hawthorn (MCG)
If there's any justice in the world they'll go back to being slop again. There isn't so it's probably another belting.

Round 21 - Port Adelaide (FP)
Surely even if we don't beat the Crows then we can take this rabble. Could be the end of Mark Williams if we do them over.

Round 22 - North Melbourne (MCG)
Playing out of their skin at the moment. Hopefully for our sake they're well out of finals contention and depressed by R22 so we can sneak another cheap victory.

I'll go for three wins and a 7-1-14 season.

Friday 11 June 2010

The writers of Demonblog humbly apologise to Mark Jamar for every single post written pre-2008. We now recognise that he is the greatest human alive.

What follows is going to be different for two different reasons. Firstly it's the first draw I've ever sat down and written about. The only game in Geelong that I've missed in the last ten years was the draw in 2006 (Guest reporter 'Sideshow Bob' did the honours, and before that the only one I'd ever been to was the Round 7, 1992 debacle against Sydney - and frankly nobody wants to read the thoughts of Adam aged 10.5yrs less than Adam aged 28.5yrs.

I had been to a draw at the MCG before though, last year's Brisbane/Essendon game, so the oh so hillarious novelty of playing "No Second Prize" in the absence of a winning theme song was old hat to me. Lucky too as my sides might have split to a dangerous level at the hilarity of it all. Given the rock bottom standard of music played at the 'G these days I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't a joke at all and was just another track on the "I love the 80's" CD that they get the rest of the tunes from.

The other difference is that for the first time in recent history I've stewed on the game for more than 24 hours before sitting down to write about it. Circumstances have dictated that I've barely picked up a newspaper or had time to trawl through forums for reasoned (!) and intelligent (!!?) debate about what happened. It's a far cry from the glory days of 2007/08 when I lived next door to the MCG and could be at home furiously mashing at the keys with my fat fingers before the press conferences. So I've had more than a day to make a decision about whether what happened yesterday was a tragic theft of a magical upset by the evil empire or a battered underdog taking shot after shot but holding on for a draw in the last round of a title fight. And all these hours later I'm still not sure. I'd love to watch the last quarter again, but like a complete moron forgot to set the tape to record the game. There's always the AFL website, but it would be easier to go back in time and kill Hitler than to get it working.

Every year I wake up expecting to hear that Her Maj QE2 has gone gently into that good night and that we're actually playing the Pies in a much anticipated King's Birthday clash. Then you remember that her mother was a Robocop style figure who charged through the century mark in rude health before finally giving up the game at nearly 102 years of age. This match could be referred to as QB for many more years to come.

As much as I loathe the way that we treat this match like our Grand Final - because we're too shit to make a real one - and as much as I want to go around slapping headlocks on the once a year fans who would rather die than come and watch us play Fremantle I'm glad we used it as an excuse to get the surviving members of the 1960 premiership out there. Are you as concerned as I am that we've only got one more 50 year reunion to go? At least we'll always have St Kilda, Footscray and Freo to make us feel better. And by the time they've won the next three flags between them we should be cherry ripe to have a crack at it ourselves.

Somewhat more baffling was the opera singer. Sure she put on a better performance than the last few opera singers to grace the MCG (the Three Tenors and that bird who cocked up the singing at a Grand Final), but it was all a bit random wasn't it? I'm all for singing odes to heroes but how about a bit of Grand Old Flag opera style? If we have to listen to the goose in the velvet jacket belting it out on a trumpet every week then I'm sure somebody can locate an operatic arrangement of it. If in doubt call the Mormons.

Speaking of the guy on the trumpet what was the deal with him suddenly opening with a warm-up blast of Ride of the Valkyries? Now that might very well be the most sinister and foreboding piece of music ever written, but it doesn't quite translate to one bloke on a trumpet in a velvet jacket. Compare and contrast;

Not quite the same was it? If we had a shit theme song like Port, Carlton or Footscray I'd totally lobby to have this adopted as our theme music but give me the full opera version (and wouldn't it have been nice if there was an opera singer present?) or give me death. Either that or a helicopter full of soldiers strafing the Pies cheersquad with machine gun fire. It was interesting to see the Velvet Fog answer the critics who have accused him of being a ring-in that doesn't even follow us by letting out a big "Go Dees" at the end. Actually I don't think there are any critics other than me - and the only thing I've ever seen to back up the claims that he wasn't a Melbourne fan was a forum post by some internet nutbag so it's basically been slander the whole time. Still, we've been paying him for three years so even if he is a Hawthorn fan it's about time he fired up and did something other than playing acid jazz (whatever that is) versions of the classics every second week.

Another nice touch was the retro slogans plastered around the place. Initally seems a bit ludicrous to have signage up claiming what a great team you are when you're two time reigning wooden spoon winners and are struggling to avoid being dragged into that mire again this year but as a nod to history and the old school premiership team it was a winner. Next year I'd like to see one that has no historical background but simply reads "WE INVENTED THIS GAME SO SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP YOU FILTH" - which should speak to Pies fans in language that they will clearly understand.

But that's all warmup. There's no point going nuts on the ceremony if the team of the day is going to walk meekly to their deaths a few minutes later. And if you're going to refer to yourself as the "Masters of the MCG" then the least you can do is come out and try to fool the people by playing like it for a quarter. Cue ten minutes of utter ineptitude which threatened to see his five goals down by the time we kicked one ourself for the first time since... last week.

Travis Cloke did his usual trick of kicking the first goal, missing one soon after and then doing absolutely nothing for the remaining three quarters. The inexperienced observer might have thought that he was set for a day out in the Pie forward line, but do the maths and see just how little he does in the second quarter onwards. From then on Warnock pretty much beat his brains out and might have even snuck himself into the votes if he hadn't botched the kick which ultimately led to us not getting the four points. Admittedly beating up on Travis Cloke is to AFL full backs what crossing the street is to the rest of us, but if you kick it at somebody that big they're going to grab one eventually. And if they have enough shots on goal they're finally going to kick one. Quoth noted street poet Sydney Deane in White Men Can't Jump, "The sun even shines on a dog's ass some days".

Still, after Pendlebury got the second and Neon Leon managed to find the ball whilst bludging off the back of a pack for their third we seemed to be entering a world of hurt. Most weeks we're lucky to kick three goals in a half let alone giving that start up to a red hot team of premiership contenders.

Every week it's a lottery between Bate and Green as to who will spark us after our inevitably shit start, and this week the toss was won by Bater who marked in the goalsquare and goalled courtesy of the most token 50m penalty in AFL/VFL history. What happens if somebody is already kicking from the line and you just start acting like an arsehole to them? Run across the mark, push him over, whisper something in his ear about what their mother gets up to on Polish fishing trawlers. Can you get given a second free kick before you've had the first? A free out of the middle? Or is the threat of getting reported for time wasting the only thing behind somebody making a complete idiot of themselves in this situation? There has to be some get out option for the umpires or I'm sure given the sheer amount of freaks who play footy out there some suburban team would have done it in protest. Alas we weren't treated to any sort of petulant exhibition, and Bater took his kick from 3m closer to goal, on a 1 degree better angle and slotted it. So much so typical Bailey era MFC, the only difference being that our token first quarter goal came sometime before the 27 minute mark.

Wait, then strange things happen. Bradforth J Miller, the man that the term "much maligned" was invented to describe got one as well and somehow we were only ten points behind. This made absolutely no sense given that we'd only been inside 50 about four times while at the other end the Pies forwards were teeing off on us while our defenders wobbled around like drunken sailors in a Mexican whorehouse. Their inability to kick straight, and complete and utter refusal to attack directly down the ground meant that we managed to weather the storm long enough to get back into the contest. It was such a surprise that even Bailey - usually silent and fuming at best - openly cracked the shits when Rivers got turned inside for a mark (thanks to the AFL website for loading the highlights nine hours later) by Cloke just before the siren. Not surprisingly Cloke missed and we were off the hook again. Somehow just ten points down when we probably deserved to be in the same position as last week if not worse.

One thing I'd like to achieve before I die (which will inevitably be about two weeks before we win a flag) is to stand around the huddle of an AFL premiership match and watch a coach work his magic. We’ve all seen suburban coaches in full flight, but they're nothing more than glorious amateurs trying to forget that on Monday they have to get up and go to work in offices, factories or on street corners like the rest of us. Even the VFL coaches lack real spice and belief in their delivery, Peter German was a great one for going off his trolley at the players but it always seemed forced to me. He’d start softly, coaxing his players towards a big effort, and when he wanted to make a point he'd slowly ramp his voice up until it GOT REALLY LOUD AND FORCEFUL before tapering off again. I wonder if a Malthouse or a Thompson use the same playbook for their speeches. You can see Clarkson as a quiet, LOUD, quiet man but what about Bailey? Even Neale Daniher, sometimes so laid back that he was in danger of slipping into a coma, seemed more prone to the quarter or three-quarter time explosion than Bails. The only time our man has ever really publically flipped his lid was the Geelong game in 2007 when we were ten goals down at the first change, and if that’s not going to cause you to go right off and start screaming at people then it's debatable that you’ve even got a pulse.

How do you want your coach to act? Realistically as long as the team is winning then most people would take Kim Jong Il in the box, but oh for the chance to be one of these violently fickle Carlton or Essendon fans who rack up thousands of dollars worth of phone bills praising their coach on talkback radio one week and burying him the next. We had a low rent, Big Issue version of the phenomenon after the first Pies game this year but you've got to be winning nearly half the time at least to get the full Ratten/Knights "are we good or aren't we?" sideshow.

So, take wins out of the equation for a second - I'm dying to see Bails really fulfill his promise as a coaching psychopath. He's already demonstrated a bit of the Laidley/Clarkson-esque slice and dice in press conferences when he's received a stupid question and given the reporter a caustic, sarcastic answer. Even better when he answers a question with a question. But let's see some real emotion, let's see him violently shake Jack Watts in a quarter time huddle, screaming "God damn it man, you could be the best". His face so close to young Jack's that he's visibly taken aback and frightened. Let's see him waving John Meesen's prosthetic foot above his head in a huddle.

It's all well and good to look at the thousand yard stare of Mark Harvey and say "well he's not doing too badly", but give me Aaron Sandilands and Matthew Pavlich and I'll give you a decent side as well. Despite the Dockers being a team who achieved the dream of kicking 1.7 in a match before we did, we're still well further back in the pack than they are. We have no recognised superstars. Green is an uncrowned star, both Davey and Jamar (!) have their claims and Chip Frawley is about five seconds away from breaking into the top shelf of defenders but generally it's a mixture of promising kids and ageing warriors. I want a coach who these kids are going to walk over broken glass for. Maybe that is happening, look at the reaction Bails gave to Chris Johnson when he dropped in at training to say goodbye and look at Beamer Moloney's barbed speech about Brock McLean at the B&F. But how long is that going to last for? If we finish bottom four at the end of this year and sit in the same spot next year then the coaching staff may as well start ringing around pizza shops to see if they need a delivery boy because they are Max G-a-w-n. His job is safe for another year, and if we don't start winning there's no miracle short of buying the club outright that'll save him so how about he really starts talking up the kids win, loss or draw. Challenge them publicly if they don't perform. Run down the stairs and start throwing high fives at the crowd when we win a close one. Emotion means nothing if it's not backed up with wins but I just have this sinking feeling that we're going under in a sea of good intentions. Somebody needs to crunt up, and it might as well start at the top.

Am I overanalysing it? Probably. Anyway, what do I know about coaching - if you go back far enough in the archives of this very website you'll posts written by my good self suggesting that the only alternative to Daniher was to go out and sign up Wayne Carey as coach. At that very moment the object of my desire was probably snorting lines off the muff of a Miss Australia and grappling with imaginary dragons in a Gold Coast penthouse.

Err, anyway - there was some sort of match on that had three quarters to run. And somehow we were a chance of winning it. A sneaky half chance, but against a side who insisted on using their natural talents to go forward via platform 11 on Richmond Station at every available opportunity, it wasn't the most ludicrous idea. When Nifty Nev nipped in at the back and stuffed one home for the first goal of the term it was still ludicrous but somehow we'd managed to wrest the momentum away - even if the Pies had kicked two behinds to open the quarter. There was a moment of sheer beauty after one of their points, god knows which one as there were so many, when Davey took the kickout and hit a pinpoint pass to a teammate standing on the edge of the centre circle. It was an absolute work of art, and he was on fire in the second term. After being totally shafted by the Blues last week Flash bounced back to play a big part, third only to the dominant Jamar/Moloney partnership, in getting us back into the game.

Speaking of Jamar, when he laid it off to Garland by hand for the long bomb that put us in front it kicked off a remarkable comeback for Col - beaten from pillar post in the first term, and looking desperately nervous over the last few weeks, he played a magnificent second half and was, without completely pre-empting the votes, one of my best. Amazing what playing with a bit of confidence can do for you? Equally amazing how much confidence you can get against a backline of prize spuds like Cloke, Davis and Medhurst.

Of course we couldn't hold onto the lead. Brad Dick, the man who has become to QB games what Mark McGough was to 'the wet' put them back in front and commentary boxes all over the ground nearly imploded in a rush to do a gag about his name. "Lucky Cox, Goldsack and Ball aren't playing" Grow up you peanuts - get yourself into the sort of sophisticated humor that the readers of Demonblog can enjoy on a weekly basis. And now I'm off to a completely unrelated scene at the Cabana Motel.

We lost the plot going forward in the third quarter, but just like the first all Collingwood could do was miss. When Morton kicked a cracker on the run in the last minute we were still well and truly in. Not sure what to think about his game to be honest, it was a great goal and he seemed much more useful when he pushed up the ground but the first quarter and a half it didn't seem like he was any danger of hitting a target. Understandable if you're, say, Al Nicholson but if you're going to be playing the quarterback then you've got to be cleaner with it. Would still love to see him thrown right into the middle one of these weeks, or even forward - from my uneducated position I'm not convinced that we should be wasting a number four pick doing the mop up work around the back. Now watch him win a Brownlow doing it.

Cue the sort of tension that I imagine can only be matched by being involved with the third day of an airline hijacking. Perhaps mindful of my disgraceful showing after the Bail/Petterd fiasco in Round 2 I sat there with my jaw so tightly clenched that at 8.20pm the next night it still hurts, and my forehead thumping with tension like a bass drum. Apparently there were two old birds sitting directly behind us hootering and hollering for the last five minutes like they were being murdered by the Manson Family - I didn't notice it.

Miller got the goal that put us back front, one of the wonkiest snaps of all time and didn't he know it. Had a pretty good game I thought - at least for somebody who we've basically all written off as a lost cause and who had one kick last week. Was pretty much the Brad we've come to know (and love? Only the ladies), a couple of goals, some marks up the ground and dish off handballs like they're going out of style. May as well keep him in the side for now, but let's not get sucked in by a sudden flourish of late season form just when contract time comes rolling around.

What I did notice from listening to the radio is that we had absolutely no idea how long there was left thanks to the ludicrous Channel 10 coverage and their shithouse five minute warning. Any danger one of the radio stations might actually employ their own timekeeper at some point rather than relying on the 'host broadcaster'? They can give you the stats on how many effective kicks anybody has had on a Saturday in May for the last ten years but can't tell you how long there is left unless the right people are showing the game on TV. Farcical.

Jolly got a handball into the square from *Comedy Surname* (who else?) to put them back in front but until then he'd done absolutely nothing. Of course in true "stick it up your old club" style he later appeared to lay out the pass for the game-tying goal. Happily he'd spent the rest of the game getting a lesson from The Russian, and the Lockyer goal was the first time the Pies had taken a set shot at goal from anywhere closer than Brunton Street so I'd say we just about got away with that one.

*Amusing Last Name* showed up again (really? Where do they keep this guy the other 51 weeks a year?) to boot the goal that put them back in front before the man, the myth, the ruckman of my dreams rose from nowhere 20m out directly in front to mark and kick the equaliser. Where was his opponent? Where indeed. Poor Josh Fraser was about 50m away pondering the meaning of life and the Pies defence went out in sympathy. He's actually quite a good set shot, and that put him to 34.13 lifetime. Would have been 35.12 if he hadn't tried to play on in the goalsquare against Essendon in '08 and stuffed it up. But that was many, many years ago when he was starting to dominante the centre but was still a comedy figure around the ground. Now he's a titan and a colossus. If I wasn't convinced it would destroy his career completely I'd go out and buy a jumper with #40 on it.

By this point I felt like a junkie about three days off the juice. Cold, shaking, wondering if maybe there weren't about five million more important things in the world to be getting angsty about. The answer, emphatically is no. Must be sort of how election night feels when you're really into one side of politics or the other and don't just think they're both a bunch of crooks. This year I'll be voting 1 for the Jamar/Moloney Psychic Friends Connection ticket.

Bate put us back in front with a clutch kick, but what I was most impressed with was Watts leading to him 30m demanding the ball. More on the kid in his own special section later on, but given that he'd stuffed up and cost us a goal not long earlier it was a gutsy call. I remember thinking to myself that it was all set up for him to play some part in the finale - probably stuffing it up just to give various internet and media spastics the chance to hammer him. Didn't get it in the end but I was damn impressed that he would lead for it anyway given the situation. Question is why doesn't he lead at other times? Answer is because he's usually on the wing wondering what sort of tactical genius has him looking up to see an empty forward fifty.

Of course we could have been further in front, even before Bate's kick - Green hitting the post at the last minute. Still, that would have had us eleven points in front and we all know what happened last time we got into that situation against the Pies. So, a goal in front but with plenty of time to stuff it up - and up we did indeed stuff it. Warnock's kick just falling short into the arms of Jolly who will probably get dropped for kicking it to a player 40m out in front and not to somebody 50m out on the boundary line. Not surprisingly this simple piece of football put Lockyer in the perfect spot to kick a goal and he did. Too much time left, both teams almost out on their feet, this was always going to end in heartache and by christ it nearly did. Nathan Jones erupted in the last couple of minutes with some unbelievable defence efforts - the smother off Dane Swan was absolutely immense.

Eventually via some frantic action in the middle of the ground the siren beat everybody and it was a draw. Cue whinging from talkback gits (Gerard Healy I'm looking at you) about playing extra time. I can't tell from the highlights if Davey was going to cleanly pick the ball up just before the siren but unless he was then I'm glad the siren went because we were nearly out on our feet so if the Pies had managed to clear the ball from that pack it could have gotten ugly. The fact that they hadn't been able to kick straight all day stood for very little when all they needed was a point any way they could get it.

Feels defeatist to say I'm happy with a draw, and every half-arsed Collingwood fan in my workplace has spent the day trying to convince me that we're pissweak for not being upset at not winning but bloody hell how can you not be happy? Forget the fact that it might have gone forward and we might have scored. Ignore the shithouse kicking for goal by the other lot. On form we should have lost that game by ten goals, we took it to them and almost got away with it. It won't affect either side, they'll finish top four and we'll finish bottom four - but what it will do is put another 5000 on the gate next year. I'd rather four points now but bloody hell I'd have taken it with grabby hands if offered at any time in the last six weeks.

I'd love to see Jamar's interview after the game. Everything I've heard about it, and the one second in the 'highlights' confirms the slow-burning (six years in the making) man crush I have on him. Unfortunately due to my poor command of the record button and One HD's refusal to replay it anytime soon it's straight to the torrents. Don't blame me Demetriou, the broadcaster is making me do it. Buy it from Name The Game? How about you blow me Andy.

Kids Korner
Forget SCULLGOVE and Q*Berts for a second - let's talk Watts. I'm not any more certain about his performance yesterday than I am about the result as a whole. He's a bloody good set shot at goal, takes a decent mark and his pass to Dunn in the 2nd quarter was a corker but bloody hell what was going on those two times that he got the ball in traffic, spun around a bit and then got tackled? More importantly what the bloody hell is he doing there in the first place? Put the kid inside 50 and leave him there. I'd love to see how much of his gametime he actually spent inside the 50, because most of the time he seemed to be wandering around half-forward or the wing just waiting to get buried by some black and white tool a'la QB2009.

I vote we keep playing him for the rest of the year - what is there to lose? But for feck's how about playing to his strengths a bit more instead of trying to rope him into this bollocks attacking style that we're so insistent on playing. What I do know is that the next time he gets the ball and traffic and has nobody to give it off to he'll almost certainly just torp it forward rather than go through that again.

Crowd Watch
Playing two of the "big three" in consecutive weeks gives us a good chance to rate just who has the uglier fans. I'm going to say from my perspective there were more ugly Collingwood fans in attendance yesterday, but given that there were probably twice as many of them as Carlton fans the week before it's an undisputed (!) scientific fact that the Blues have uglier fans. Your findings may vary.

I was concerned that the guy two rows in front of me who looked like an 80-year-old Ric Flair was going to have a coronary with the way the Pies were refusing to go through the middle of the ground. Every time the ball went wide down the boundary line he'd bounce up and down on his seat and yell, more to himself than anybody else, "kick it! Just bloody kick! Kick it kick it kick it". Despite the presence of a small, seemingly terrified child two seats to his left I'm not sure he was there with anybody.

Now, post match I attended a birthday party and despite the pleas of the Collingwood fans present not to publish this story I've decided that their reputation has been so irrevocably damaged enough by this that nothing can make their fans appear any stupider. Publish and be damned. So, we're sitting there being the sophisticated gentlemen we are - drinking cheap slop fine wine and discussing Supercoach philosophy when a young lady walks in wearing a Collingwood scarf. "Here we go" I think to myself, already outnumbered by about 7-1 by black and white types, when she walks up to ask and asks "Who won?" Pardon? "I was at work" Not knowing this person I thought it would have been rude to ask "Do you not have a phone, a radio or internet access? In fact do you work on an off-shore oil rig you bint?" But I was thinking it. Somebody told her that they won by ten goals and she was relieved. Then somebody said we'd won and she was horrified. At this point I seriously considered smashing myself over the head with the bottle I was holding and leaping, screaming like a banshee and covered in blood, from the second floor balcony. Didn't do it.

Loser Stats Freak Corner
Don't be ashamed, I'm as big a loser stats freak as anybody. The good news is that we're currently living in a glory era for draws. Our last four were Round 18, 1971, the 1992 Sydney debacle and the 2006 game in Geelong - so we're well ahead of our average at the moment. See you somewhere between 2014 and 2031 (against the Yokohama Robochickens) for the next one.

I'd also like to know the last time teams played two Home and Away games in the one season for a draw and one point result (some examples of similar stats here).

One thing we can’t allow is for the league to give in to pressure from journos – and it’s always journos because nobody else cares – to do something stupid like introducing extra time to home and away games. Of course the media want to get rid of draws, they're not selling many extra papers on the back of them. Please tell me the 'fans' don't really want that rubbish, even if professional ambulance chasers and 'opinion makers' like Hutchy try to tell us you do. If we're going to start taking the long handle to the traditions of the game how about starting with the superfluous shit like cheer squads and the banner. And golden goal. Really? Even the sport that invented it gave that away as a stupid idea.

Talkback Mountain
I know people get excited after a close match, but if you're going to ring up and defend the club's dignity against the barbarians at least be rational. The first two callers to Triple M after the match yesterday made a point of how Pies fans "couldn't handle losing" to us. Let's not go over the top shall we?

2010 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
Maximum votes for the PFC, and Garland sneaks one after giving a great last three quarters after providing 100% pure plums in the first term.

5 - Mark Jamar
4 - Brent Moloney
3 - Aaron Davey
2 - Clint Bartram
1 - Colin Garland

Apologies to Bate, Jones, Frawley, Miller, Morton and Dunn

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

Next Week
Nothing. Unless you’re the sort of sick freak who is considering heading down to Pt Gellibrand to freeze your norgs off watching Casey against Williamstown (and by christ I'm tempted) you can devote your weekend to something more positive and constructive. Take your dog for a walk, kick the footy with the kids, crack onto your partner. Even better, crack onto somebody else's partner.

The Week After That
Adelaide in Adelaide. If we lose this we’ll enter next year a full decade from our last win in the state of South Australia. Despite the fact that they’ve picked up their act over the last couple of weeks there has never been a better time to snap our losing streak at Football Park. Ten goal loss coming your way.

Not sure on the changes. Nobody really deserves to go, but you've got to bring Sylvia back if his foot hasn't fallen off, and at some point we're going to have to

Final Thoughts
There’s nothing boring about following Melbourne. Except our first quarters.

Saturday 5 June 2010

Hurricane Shithouse

Today had all the ingredients of a shit day out at the football, and by christ it nearly delivered everything you could have hoped (!?) for. Had the feeling we might go alright today - this was based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever other than a pure white hot hatred of the Carlton Football Club, their shithouse song and the grand slam cockhead who does their pre-match 'entertainment'. Today's 'entertainment' featured kids kicking footys into a bin as part of the day long effort to convince us that Visy are a legitimate sponsor of the club and not just there to pay players outside of the salary cap.

Speaking of the Visy Cap I thought it was a nice touch for the Blues to run through the banner with an ad featuring J**d instead of the one with the traditional (allegedly) inspirational message on it. Scum club, scum business and I wish nothing but bad luck on everyone involved including the estate of Richard Pratt - hopefully the bird that he was (allegedly) knocking off and (allegedly) promised $500k a year to gets everything she's suing it for and more. And while we're at it, fuck recycling - I'm not going to the trouble of separating plastic and paper just so they can use the proceeds to pay players.

About the only thing I do like about them is their coach. Our midfield has never purred like it did when Ratten was in charge, and in retrospect I'm slightly aggrevied that we didn't find a way to piss Daniher off and replace him before he went back to the Blues. The other thing I like is how they gave us pick 11 for Brock McLean, but more on that deal later.

And there's no doubt that Ratten joined the seemingly endless list of coaches who have tactically stitched up Bailey this year. It didn't help that our players got sucked into the physical stuff that the Blues dished out before the opening bounce - luckily for Warnock the free kick he gave away to The Irish Juice Newton was pretty much the only kicked Setanta O'Spud got all day. Then there was Davey's running battle with Carazzo - surely the rest of the league have worked out that Flash gets sucked in easily and plays badly when he's involved in a stoush with someone? It's no coincidence that when the game calmed down in the second half he became more useful.

So, by quarter time the match was pretty much over. In fact had we not fired up at the last ten minutes it could have gotten very, very ugly. We might have kicked two goals and avoided the chance for me to update the famous "shit starts" stat, but by copping six goals at the other end we may as well have not even bothered. Surely I'm not the only one who is starting to worry about our backline - for the last three years it has stood up under the pressure of our forwards giving nothing and the midfield getting smashed from pillar to post but the last couple of weeks it has been shaking like a leaf. Not sure why they dropped Warnock instead of Garland in the first place, but I'm really starting to worry about Col and Rivers. Frawley and Grimes the only ones that I've got any confidence in anymore. Morton did alright mopping up around the back in the second half but eventually he's going to have to start becoming a match winner.

One thing that has been constant for years is the utter shambles that is our forward line structure. I'll just say this every week in case it hasn't got through to some people - thank fark for Brad Green. If that man is not our next captain then just walk away because the club don't deserve to have you as a fan. He's seen Jurrah and Petterd drop around him, he's had to contend with flaky types like Dunn and Miller, and he's got Watts down there frantically trying to learn the game under live conditions and through it all he just does his thing with a minimum of fuss. Absolute heart and soul of this club.

Now, even if we bear in mind that Petterd and Jurrah both went down on the verge of being very good players who are we to blame for the fact that our forward structure is always a shambles. Bailey? Mahoney? The players themselves? Given that he's the most expendable of the three I'm going to suggest that whether or not he has got anything to do with it, and as forward coach you'd think he might, that Bails might very well toss Josh overboard at the end of the year. He's going to be in more trouble than the early settlers if we're playing like this at this time next year, so there's no doubt in my mind that he's going to have to try something different at the end of this year. I doubt anybody is going to be parting with a decent key position forward at the end of this year, so unless we can pluck somebody from nowhere to kick goals then it's going to be down to the likes of Watts, Petterd, Jurrah, Green and Bate to play as targets in the future - and what's the point if they're all over the bloody shop every single week. If somehow Scott West gets the boot at the end of this year I'll start to think that Bails is running scared.

What I can't wrap my head around is whether Bailey gets it consistently wrong in the first half of games, whether he's just trying to implement a plan that his side can't get right or whether the players are just utterly shit. The latter might be true for some, but you can't help but notice that we give teams leads and suddenly play a lot better when caution is thrown to the wind and there's nothing left to lose. Is the Brisbane game going to end up going down as our Buster Douglas style one-off shock moment of glory? Are we the new Richmond? Is it right to become this emo over sports? And frankly, is anybody still reading this self indulgent shite?

Speaking of the forwards - as we were about twenty paragraphs ago - what are we supposed to draw from Watts' four games so far this season? Much like last year he's come into the side just when we've hit the wall. Did well against Port, but the other three games have been pretty ordinary stuff. Doesn't ever seem to lead, but is alright when the ball is on the deck and takes a decent shot for goal but there's no way right now that we can rely on him as a key forward at the moment. In a better team you'd park him next to a couple of guns and he'd probably win the Rising Star - where we're at right now he's got to get somebody else down there that means he can play long instead of having to go up the ground to get his kicks. Cue another week of idiots flooding the internet with stupid posts about how we should have picked the other guy. I'll handle the knee jerk reactions around here thanks very much.

The midfield is also doing my head in. Gysberts has been great in his first two games but surely opposition sides will start taking some notice of him soon and clamp down. Didn't seem to do a great deal of damage with his touches either, but he's got ball magnet written all over him and unless Brock fires up for the Blues sooner or later this might turn out to be Grimes vs Johnstone Pt. 2. Both Moloney and Jones were fairly good but Scully and Trengove didn't get much of it (should have rested one this week, one last week) and Sylvia seems to be torching it by foot more often than not these days. The biggest positive in the middle of the ground is Jamar - obscenely predictable as it is that he will try to tap it to Moloney every time, we would be getting sliced and diced by every team in the comp if he wasn't in the centre at the moment. The only problem is that they're going to have to come up with some sort of Plan B for the job because right now if he goes down with an injury - and let's face it he has form - we're royally screwed.

Two goals in the first quarter (wow, we're really going places in the world) were followed by one in the second (normal service resumed) and realistically the game was over. Looked even more likely that we'd get tonked when the heavy rain started, especially given that our kicking efficiency had been woeful up to that point - but what it did do was force us to play direct, and dragged the Blues down to our level in the blundering stakes. All of a sudden we had a run on and got the margin back to just over three goals at the last break. Personal highlight was Jones' 60m bomb after realising that there was no chance that anybody he kicked it at inside 50 was going to take a mark in the conditions.

So, we were in it at three-quarter time and even though it was still a longshot - and in fact would have been absolutely criminal if we'd got up - I still thought we had some kind of shot. Then we failed to score for twenty minutes. Welcome to the wonderful world of supporting Melbourne. After doing absolutely nothing for three quarters, roundly smacked by McDonald, J**d got off the lead in the last quarter and basically won them the game. Watch him somehow still end up with Brownlow votes despite doing bugger all for most of the game.

Don't know why I bothered staying to the end. Must have wanted to hear the Blues funeral march song to convince me that even though 2010 has been a completely rubbish year in music, there was worse being written in 1898. And lest we forget the song it's based on is as racist as it gets. Once a club of arseholes, always a club of arseholes.

Crowd Watch
Nobody cared. Football season is rubbish. If only there was a decent sport to play in the summer I'd be dying for the year to finish.

2010 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - James McDonald
4 - Brad Green
3 - Jordan Gysberts
2 - Matthew Bate
1 - Nathan Jones

Varying degrees of apology - in no particular order - to Jamar (despite the 7 frees against!), Bruce, Moloney, Davey (2nd half only), Rivers, Morton (2nd half), Nifty Nev and Grimes.


Thanks to the vagaries of the voting system Gysberts has launched into the Rookie of the Year lead after just two games. Morally Trengove leads, but here at Demonblog morals don't come into it.

23 - James McDonald
24 - Brad Green
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, Matthew Bate
8 - Jordan Gysberts (Leader: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
7 - Colin Sylvia, Jack Trengove
6 - 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, Nathan Jones

Next Week
The Pies will spank us something chronic. Forget about payback for the R2 fiasco, we are nearly going backwards from that point at the moment. Garland and Miller have to go. If Frawley is feet he's an absolute moral to come in, and given that Dunn kicked eight for Casey (!?) he's probably earned himself another crack - as long as we play him up front and not hung out to dry on a wing somewhere. We need to persist with Watts, but one more week like this and he'll need to go back the 2's for a spell as well.

P.S - If Jordie McKenzie is fit and doesn't play next week then I'm going to officially lose the plot with Bailey and his coaching panel.

Final Thoughts
It might not surprise you know that I was in a foul mood today. You know what's going to make me feel better? Wasting a public holiday next week to watch us get tonked again. Shit.

Wednesday 2 June 2010


The listings of most popular player pages on Demon Wiki make interesting reading. The following 24 players appear in the 100 most read pages on DW.

1. Allen Jakovich
2. Jim Stynes
3. Andrew Lamprill (!!!!)
4. Garry Lyon
5. David Schwarz
6. Peter Maynard
7. Craig Nettelbeck
8. David Cordner
9. Carl Ditterich
10. Daniel Hughes (the new one)
11. Darren Kowal
12. Jack Watts
13. Stephen Tingay
14. Rod Grinter
15. John Meesen
16. Norm Smith
17. Shaun Smith
18. Ron Barassi
19. Robert Flower
20. Martin Pike
21. Ray Biffin
22. Jordan Gysberts
23. David Neitz
24. Jack Trengove

Meesen over Smith and Barass? That's rude.

P.S - We love you Meese.