Friday 23 July 2010

One for the true believers

It takes hardy fans to still be coming out at this time of the year, in force or otherwise, when you're in the position we are. Everyone, even the club website which is contractually obligated to be frothy and as optimistic as possible, had conceded that we couldn't possibly play finals football this year. But nor are we, you would hope, going to be in the mix to finish last either. For the first time in god knows how long we're mired deep in a chasm between thinking (or hoping) we're good, and knowing that we're complete rubbish.

Come though we did and something ridiculous, magical and quite possibly fictional happened. I'm still waiting for the Candid Camera team to leap out from behind my office door and tell me that the whole thing was a humorous set up and that we actually lost by ten goals behind closed doors on Saturday night. Either that or I was collected by the number 247 bus on the way to the ground and had been transported, in complete contradiction to everything I believe in, to heaven. But further investigation seems to indicate that not only am I still alive - because having to show up at work on a Monday morning clearly indicates that you are NOT in heaven - but that it was a legitimate result in a match sanctioned by the AFL. The sun is a little bit brighter, the birds are singing and the Herald Sun predicted ladder has lost the plot and decided that we're going to finish 8th. These are strange times.

Interesting times as well at the selection table with Bate dropped for Emo Maric. Hardly a like for like swap but they had to reward Fallout Boy for his strong performances in the VFL and there wasn't really anybody in our forward line who deserved to get the boot. Sometimes it feels like Garry Lyon and I are the only people in the world who actually like Bate which is odd because I'm still convinced that he's an important part of our forward line. Still, the way we played yesterday he's hardly going to walk straight back into the side. Condemn me for supporting him now, history will absolve me.

Also out, late this time was Moloney. Again replacing him with Wona was anything but a straight swap but that turned out to be an inspired move when he turned out to play probably his best game all-round ever for us. His first quarter was unreal and now that he's got match fitness back he just needs to keep his hamstring from tearing apart every five seconds and he'll be a killer player in that forward line. The late swap meant that finally after almost two seasons of waiting we finally got to see THE CELEBRATOR line up on the same field as The Jurrahcane, and my god it was immense. There was one moment where they both tried to do something magical at the same time and it cancelled itself out but other than that it was pure and simple genius. I'm certainly a SCULLGOVE fan, but there's no doubt that these two could be the most exciting duo since Hall & Oates if they keep fit and on the field.

Interesting to see Wona flashing some sort of sign after kicking his goal as well. I doubt he's in a gang so god knows what it all meant. Why even question genius? They don't call him THE CELEBRATOR for nothing. Actually nobody calls him that other than me, but at least it's justified again nearly two years since that leaping fist pump after the goal against Fremantle which was captured on the front page of the Age sports section and is still pinned up on the wall in front of me here at my desk.

The loss of Moloney, not fully recovered from last week's injury, meant that Jamar lost his Psychic Friends Connection partner but any suggestion that it would affect him was thrown out the window from the first bounce when he tapped straight to replacement Psychic Friend Sylvia who roosted the first clearance out of the centre after about two seconds. So far so good, but it got better when the ball spilt to Bennell who turned on the afterburners and dropped the ball in the goalsquare for Dunn to gleefully smash home out of mid-air. In 20 seconds we'd achieved what it usually takes us 25 minutes and a five goal deficit to. Should have known that shenanigans were in the air.

Usually an early goal would be the cue to put the feet up and concede the rest of the quarter, but they must have put something in the water this week because the guys in red and blue unleashed a cyclone of epic proportions. Next stop was Thank God For Brad Green marking inside 50 and hitting the post.. but having it paid as a goal anyway - cheers for that! That got him on an epic roll and he kicked our next two as well to spark suggestions of a Le Cras-esque goal frenzy. He's having a spectacular season. Goal umpiring rorts aside he's never been better, and unlike most of our forwards he's one guy that I'm perfectly confident in seeing roaming the backline or midfield as well. As good a game as Bruce had tagging/destroying O'Keefe it still baffles me that in Junior's absence Green isn't acting captain. I'll be even more baffled, slash absolutely homicidal, if he isn't installed as the next permanent captain. Only Moloney, or the dreaded joint ticket, could cause me to restrain myself.

What's going on with the Bruce to GC rumours? Are they of the same calibre as the Didak to GC one that was going around yesterday only for him to resign with the Pies today. His disposal is still iffy (witness THAT kick against Freo) and I still wouldn't throw myself off a cliff if he went but if he's going to do terminator jobs on quality players like yesterday then I'll have him any day of the week, just not as captain. He even won an admittedly shonky free kick against ROK for the goal that pushed the first quarter over the line from "solid" to "bloody hell what's going on here". When Watts hit a perfect pass to The Jurrahcane after casually stepping out of traffic and connecting with the kick about half a second before being tackled we were in heaven. LJ kicked it and the alert level was lifted to "too good to be true". Then Jones kicked one on the run from 50 and the alert level just went totally off the scale. Goodes got one at the other end to make it a bit more respectable, but only for a few seconds as Dunn continued the trend of absolutely everything going right for us by wildly throwing the ball onto the boot from 40 and watching it float through.

At this point it was only 20 minutes in and with eight on the board it could have gone anywhere. Lewis Jetta provided a comedy highlight at the other end by getting a dish off handball from Goodes 20m out and botching the kick to take his career tally to 0.16.

Just when it looked like we were going to rack up a ten goal quarter and really put the game away the Swans managed to apply the brakes and stop our free flowing, sexy football long enough to get into quarter time a long way behind but not completely blown out of the game. Still, what a quarter. We got a lucky break on the Green goal, but I'll take that one to make up for all the other times we've been rorted by goal umpires this year. Other than that it was total football domination from end to end. The score was only a point better than the Richmond game but the difference in quality was huge. This was a decent team and this time we got the good start instead of conceding the first fifteen minutes and a couple of goals before sparking. They had slaughtered Carlton in the first quarter last week and we'd rolled over and died against Freo so it was almost inconceivable that they could be so bad and we could be so good, it was certainly an exciting way to (at least temporarily) bury our run of bad starts. Once we hit three goals I was happy, and then every one after that made me smile just a little bit more until the siren went and my face was stretched further than Kerry Anne Kenneally's.

Not surprisingly the end of season apathy that had descended on me last week lifted significantly as the quarter went on. By the time the 8th goal went in it's like last week's depression session had never even occurred. Funny what happens when football temporarily becomes fun again.

The Swans past players function in the Harrison Room behind us had a true funeral atmosphere. Serves them right for not inviting The Indian Rubber Man Jamie Lawson or Sanford Wheeler. Bob Skilton was standing at the window looking crestfallen, obviously not taking any comfort out of the fact that he used to coach us, but where was Kevin Dyson? Nowhere to be seen.

So a blistering first quarter was nice, but what chance we'd actually back it up and go again? Obviously you can't expect eight goals a quarter, especially given that we've never kicked more than 28 in a game, but the last thing we wanted was a repeat of the Richmond game where we followed up a scorching eight goal term by kicking none in the next. We'd built up what should have been a match winning lead but we've lost from better positions than that before.

What we needed was a sign, and it was nearly Demonblog's own Maric who provided it. Sadly he was clearly unaware that the whole crowd were going to be given My Chemical Romance tickets when he kicked his first goal and missed a snap to start the quarter. That would have absolutely bought the house down and caused emo fringe wigs to be sold in the Megastore. Speaking of the Megastore ("Meesen Magic" capes and "I Saw Mark Jamar have 6 kicks" shirts now 70% off) I loved the promotion that they were running where you got 20% off jerseys if we won. Bet they didn't think they'd have to pay out on that, but I support the addition of a Myer Doorbuster Sales element to our retail strategy.

The real sign was provided, as it so often is, by Green who kicked his fourth to really twist the knife on the Swans. Then Frawley tore the knife out, screamed "COP THIS YOU BASTARDS" and plunged it straight back in again with his second career goal. And a thing of beauty is was too. Poor Mike Pyke was having an absolute nightmare, even worse than the day I saw him get towelled up by the Meese in a practice match, and was already well on the way to ensuring no Canadian ever got near an AFL venue ever again before rising above the pack to punch Chip's kick through only to have a big old fresh airy and see it bounce through. Cruel but fair(ly hilarious). To say everything was going right for us would be the understatement of the millenium, Frawley even managed to stay in a chase with Jetta right down the Southern Stand wing long enough to put him off his kick. Sounds distinctly unimpressive unless you were there and saw the sight of this obscenely large necked beast of a man pissbolting after a pacy little guy and nearly catching him. Same goes for a similar Watts chase on Jetta but without the neck made out of concrete blocks.

Jamar (*swoon*) took one of his trademark massive big bastard hangers in the square and for all intents and purposes it was over. Anything could have happened from there, never forget the Freo 51 point debacle but it was more likely that we were going to get a repeat of the Essendon match with the other lot firing up briefly after receiving a blockbusting spray from the coach before we got on top again and put them away. Cazart! The slaughter continued almost unopposed. If it wasn't for Adam Goodes then Sydney would have been down by 500, if I'd been handing out the votes for them today it would have been the biggest gulf between 5 and 4 in the history of vote giving. Morton lost, but not by a knockout and he had his moments. It was really only when Goodes took him forward that he got killed in marking contests, other than that he did about as good a job as he could against the only guy on their side who had any interest whatsoever.

Amongst the rain of goals came one of the most beautifully casual finishes ever when Wonaeamirri ran into the not-at-all-open goal with a Swans player standing guard and dinked a tiny little kick into the corner with no apparent effort. Classic finish and a big fat gold star on a cracker of a day. Speaking of big and fat he is no longer either of these and looks as good as he did in the pre-season last year before his run of injuries started. Additional highlight of the quarter, and possibly the whole game was Brett Meredith (who?) getting the ball in front of his own goal and running around in circles forgetting to bounce until the umpire finally tired of him and pinged him for holding it, leading to Davey kicking a goal. Classic shambles, sign that guy up to play for us. Especially considering that after he got pinged he stood there with a hurt look on his face like he didn't know what he'd done, that just made it even more tragically comic.

81 points in front at three-quarter time and you just had to shake your head and wonder what the hell was going on. I turned around to have a look at the past players function behind me and not surprisingly the room was empty other than a few bored kids playing on the floor. Even Skilts, Mr. South Melbourne himself, had walked out. And can you blame him? Sydney had never lost by more than 72 under Paul Roos so this must have been something out of the ordinary for everyone involved. Dean Bailey lost his first two games as coach by more than that so we're used to it. A few minutes into the last, after Watts got his weekly charity free in front of goal and the man, the myth, the Jamar had kicked another margin blew out over 90 and it started to look like we might be in line for the magic triple digit win. Given that we've only done it 14 times since 1897 it would have been nice, but frankly I was just happy to be able to enjoy a last quarter without worrying about 50 point comebacks.

Sydney took advantage of a lengthy period of junktime, and you can drag the trashcan out and start sifting through your recyclables whenever Jamar goes to full forward and stays there ten minutes into the last, to make it a little bit more respectable. Having missed the last 100 point win against Carlton in 2004 due to work I've been waiting since Round 21, 1993 to see another one in person. How many posts have I written that reference that great day? Jakovich and Andy Lovell kick eight and a bird shat on me in the bottom deck of the Ponsford at three-quarter time. Don't stop me if you've heard this one before, I could think about it all day. Except I don't remember anything other than the score and the aerial bombardment and Name A Game can't offer a copy to fill in the gaps.

They dragged it back to 73 points, Goodes playing the lonest of lone hands by kicking the last two - the second a gift from Fallout Boy trying to hit a pinpoint target 60m away coming out of the backline. Why was he even in the backline? Who cares as long as stuffing it up didn't cause him to cut himself and/or blame his parents.

The Great Debate
If Jamar hasn't sealed at least the backup ruck spot in the All-Australian team now then the selectors officially hate our guts. Other than that giraffe Sandilands, Mumford was surely his only realistic challenger and he tossed him out of the way in rag doll fashion. The roar he got when he came off the ground in the last quarter was unreal. I was looking in the opposite direction and wondered what the hell had happened. Cometh the hour, cometh the MANBEAST.

Frawley and Green wouldn't have harmed their chances of at least getting a mention at the end of the year either. I doubt either could get in from here but it'll be nice to have some of our players in the mix for once.

Also apparently there is some sort of federal poll going on. It would probably be against the Electoral Act for me to tell you to vote improperly, but I'm suggesting that if enough people go into their polling station on August 21 and write "I LOVE THE JURRAHCANE" both above and below the line that we'll be well on our way to a better, more orderly society.

Crowd Watch
Sitting directly behind me was Guy Rigoni and family. His daughter is clearly a genius because both of the first two points that Sydney kicked were after she yelled out "KICK A POINT". Was a massive Rigoni fan in his day, but couldn't bring myself to do the typical fan thing of trying to have a chat. If I turned around to find Philthy or Jakovich there it would be a completely different matter.

Also behind us was a complete nutbag of a Swans fan who started yelling out slogans at the first bounce and, to his credit, didn't stop even when his side were getting beaten to a bloodied pulp. His entire day was screaming out the names of imagined infringements every time a player from either side touched the ball. We'd lay a tackle and he'll scream "IN THE BACK!" "OVER THE SHOULDER!", a Sydney player would do the same and it was "BALL! BALL! BALL!". Even the Swans fans in front of us were silently shaking their heads in shame and grief every time he spoke. Finally one of their players got pinged for holding it and the entire section, even including Clan Rigoni let rip with a big, satisfied "BALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL" just to give it to him.

My highlight was in the middle of the third quarter massacre when Sydney were trying, albeit comically, to get it out of their backline and he screamed "KENNEDY! KENNEDY! KICK IT TO KENNEDY!" and somebody yelled out "Kick it whoever you like, it's not going to fucking help you". Brought the house down. Hearing our fans ripping out arrogant lines again is almost enough to bring a tear to the eye.

I'm also convinced that somebody behind me yelled "EMO!" the first time Maric touched the ball, but I think that's more like wishful thinking.

Pomeranz/Stratton Corner
This post is delayed due to going straight to see The Ghost Writer at MIFF post-match. I felt morally dubious paying to watch a Polanski film, but if people pay money to be members of St Kilda then I suppose I'm allowed to look at a film for the artistic merits and ignore the sleazy shenanigans of the director. Besides it's not my fault that the pissweak Swiss legal system (Swissweak?) let him go after I'd agreed to see the film. Don't bother with it, decent performances are ruined by some of the worst plot twists since episodes of Scooby Doo. Two stars Margaret.

Delays also due to the fact that for the sixth time in the Demonblog era I'm in the middle of moving house and have no internet at home. Despite the fact that I sit at work surrounded by legit Demons fanatics (all of whom I'm understandably too ashamed to disclose the existence of Demonblog to) there is only so much you can get away with when people wander past your desk and see you writing lengthy love letters to Russian ruckmen. Alt-tab has been getting one of the biggest runs ever today.

Chub Corner
My previous claim that I'd eat fat porky food after every win until either we won the flag or I died has gone out the window. If THE CELEBRATOR can be trim, taut and terrific then so can some idiot off the internet. So I ate a salad. Bleh. Oh for the glory days of seasons 2002/03 when the fat man music from the start of the Carlton song used to play as I walked the streets.

2010 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Colin Sylvia
4 - James Frawley
3 - Cameron Bruce
2 - Brad Green
1 - Austin Wonaeamirri

Apologies to everyone else. The only two in any danger of missing out would be Watts and Johnson, and even they were handy. The Golden Child had a great first quarter before drifting out of it a bit but some of the stuff he did early on was epic. Look at the way Frawley has gone from promising but flawed to damn near superstardom within a couple of years and apply the same curve to Watts. Then have a lie down and try to stop hyperventilating.

Bartram, Jamar and Joel Mac were probably the next cabs off the rank for votes. Macdonald has had a couple of awesome weeks, now that he's got his confidence up he's playing bloody good football down there. Same goes for Garland.

Johnson didn't provide anything special but for the last two weeks he's done exactly what a second string ruckman should. He might be lulling us into a false sense of security with a Miller-esque 'end of contract' burst, but on the strength of the last two weeks - and pending the eventual arrival of GAWN - he might almost earn himself another year. The Spencil isn't ready, poor Meesen Magic is cooked and even if we draft another ruckman this year he's not going to be ready to step in from round one next year so PJ might just survive. Is he even out of contract or am I just assuming it? It wouldn't surprise me to see us go with just Jamar a lot next year, but for the lack of any other realistic options I'd be satisfied with having Johnson hanging around as a backup. Come back next week after he has a shocker to read how I firmly believe he should be traded to Northcote Secondary College Old Boys for a pack of Briquettes and a copy of Who Weekly.

And then there were two. Jamar (and conceivably McDonald) could still win from here but they'd need a miracle - there's no way that the red hot Green and Frawley are not going to pick up more votes for the rest of the year as long as they stay on the park. Either way it's going to be the sixth different winner in six years of the award (one each in order to Johnstone, McLean, Jones, Bruce and Davey). Have I really been doing this for six seasons? My god.

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

If you're the sort of person who wastes your leisure time reading MFC related forums you can't have helped sneak a look at the new logo that was 'leaked' during the week. I'm not sure leaked is the right term given that it was there on the IP Australia trademarks website for the whole world to see, but within a few hours the club were frantically running around trying to get the forums to take it down. Fair enough too, but I don't think it's such an issue that the handful of people who read forums got a look. At least the feedback was positive. Compare and contrast to the pasting the Brisbane and Adelaide cartoon slopfest logos got when they were leaked. The club might act hurt that it got out there but you can't tell me that they weren't treating the reaction as an impromptu focus group once it did.

I first saw it a couple of weeks ago but was asked to shut up about it so I did, but now that the cat is out of the bag there's no harm discussing it. The concept is sound, to toss out the idea of a cartoon Demon (including that rubbish one eyed Batman thing on our away jumper) and go to a real emblem, like a real football club. I can't fault that, and what they have come up with is pretty good. It's a little busy, but everything on there is there for a reason.

The masterstroke is the EST 1858 at the bottom, that's something we should never let anybody forget and the second piece of genius is the extract from the original rules in the background. Bugger of a thing for schoolkids to draw but a beautiful design touch. Don't forget next time some opposition peanut questions you on the rules, or suggests that we're getting a free run from the umpires, to yell "SHUT UP YOU PEASANT, WE WROTE THE BLOODY RULES". It's not our fault that everyone has ruined them over the years.

The only bit that I don't like is the Southern Cross. Even before that logo was hijacked by nationalist dickheads who drive cars with "Fuck off we're full" bumper stickers (*shudder*) it never resonated with me. Now that they're queueing up to get it tattooed on them it's even worse. Somebody has to take the symbol back from the fuckheads of society, and it may as well be fine, upstanding citizens like us but personally I'd lose that bit and it would be pretty much perfect. There's a footy on there too which looks a bit odd to me at the moment, but I'm sure it'll grow. I like the idea of not having any mention of footy on the crest/emblem/logo at all - we should insinuate that we're bigger than the sport itself.

If you haven't seen it I'll respect the club's position (maybe for the first time) and not send you a link, but suffice to say that you don't have to have Hollywood movie style "mad hack1ng skillz!?" to find it yourself. Unless of course they've wised up and changed the name of the registration from Melbourne Football Club to Jolimont Bakery or something to disguise it.

What I find interesting is that it was found by somebody who was trawling that website looking for the new Gold Coast Suns logo. They found our new emblem but never turned up the GC one. Did they just hide theirs better or was it not on there for some reason? Having seen it I probably wouldn't have even bothered trademarking it if I was them.

Franchise Watch
Speaking of the Gold Coast how much of a let down was their name? Suns joins Power as the worst nickname in the league. Dockers is a bit pox but at least waterfront workers have a storied history of shooting each other so that's got some edge to it. It's a headline writers dream but lacks that vicious "we're going to kill you" element that makes a good team name. You can forgive teams like the Swans for sticking with non-threatening ancient nicknames for historical reasons, but if you're starting a new side then at least give the fans something to get agro about. What's wrong with a good old fashioned Wildcat, Wolverine, Panther etc.. I don't care if there are no panthers here, there are no bloody Tigers either and that doesn't seem to have harmed Richmond's off-field image too badly. It's focus group thinking and it shits me to tears. It's the same reason that we've got an election between two idiots who are basically running the same campaign in different coloured jerseys. Here's hoping West Sydney are a bit more bold in their image. But I'm not the target market am I? They're trying to get 12-year-olds to ditch Rugby League and soccer, but tell me what 12-year-olds want if they don't want meaningless violence? At that age I was knocking people's digital blocks off playing Mortal Kombat (Johnny Cage fatality was fwd-fwd-fwd + high punch - keep that in mind), I can't see the kids of today firing up for throwing their XBox and whatever today's high violence video gaming equivalent is out the window to follow a team called The Suns. They didn't even get it right and include the greatest sun of all, the one on the flag of Uruguay.

And how about their song? The tune is automatically better than that of Port, Carlton, Footscray, West Coast and Freo already but the words are, predictably, terrible. It's unbelievable that after 12 seasons of "stop stop stop" "top top top" destroying the Port theme that somebody would sit down and include the lines "sun sun sun" "run run run". You're writing an anthem, not a Beach Boys song. And why would you have a line that says "We'll win the premiership for you". Do the players ever sing the song to the supporters? Of course they don't, so how stupid is that going to sound when they're in a circle singing it at the end of a game? And what sense does that line make when the fans are singing it? It might just have replaced "teamwork is the thing that talks" as the most baffling line in a club song.

Anyway, here's to them taking Miller off our hands, merging with West Sydney and relocating to Dubbo within a decade.

Next Week
Brisbane at the Gabba. Now even if we'd lost today we might have gone in favourites for this one considering just how putrid the Lions have been since we derailed their season (and plunged it straight off a bridge) on that glorious night at the MCG earlier in the year. Now that we've slapped a legitimate finals contender upside the head in spectacular fashion it's almost certain that we'll go in at a short price. If the game was being played in Melbourne you'd pencil us in, but the shadow of the great travel curse looms large. One win interstate (is it still interstate if you go to a territory? Gillard/Abbott/Brown - sort this out immediately) by one point in the last three years says to me that evil surrounds us and anything could happen. Afterall the only game they've won since we beat them was against Collingwood there, and they didn't do too badly against St Kilda so I wouldn't put your house on it yet.

Interesting to hear talk that they might drop Fev. Sure he's suffering from a terminal lack of interest, and sure he looks like he's bought a lifetime subscription to KFC but surely his record against us saves him from the chop. I know he did nothing last time but if you're going to send him off to play in the QAFL it might be worth giving him his last chance against a side that he's cut up in the past. Here's hoping that he plays, does bugger all and is given the FanFooty hamburger logo.

The rest of the year
Come 4.40pm on the last Sunday of the season I'd love to be proven wrong and for the match against North to be a pseudo-Elimination Final but I still can't see it happening. Sure, we play some utter slop in the last five weeks of the year but it would take a set of fanciful Twin Peaks-esque circumstances to get us in. Firstly we've got to win games in Brisbane AND Adelaide, instantly doubling the Bailey away win tally and snapping the Football Park curse at the same time. Then it would take the likes of Sydney, North, Carlton and Adelaide to lose every single game that they don't start favourite in. If you've got holidays booked in September there's no need to call Flight Centre and try and get a refund yet, but if we win the next two you might want to start investigating putting your dirty weekend in Penang back to sometime in October.

Final Thoughts
I bet you just as I click PUBLISH that somebody will reveal that the game was a hoax.

Sunday 18 July 2010

Cruntry and Western

(Check back tomorrow, I might add something to this when I'm not suffering from such a terminal lack of interest)

(Nope, doesn't look like it. Missing the first quarter in traffic totally ruined my flow and the rest of the game passed in some sort of bizarre blur. The only positive to come out of the whole shambles is that Watts isn't copping the universal - undeserved may I add - shoeing I thought he'd get for missing that goal at the end. Remind me not to send this out as the review chapter for the book...)

Before the game today I jokingly said "Bet you any money we're six goals down at quarter time". Oh the hilarity, oh the shambles that followed. The upside to the whole grim setup was that I was trying to drive from Richmond to St Kilda Road to watch the game. Had I left before the Richmond/North game finished it would have taken me ten minutes and I'd have been forced to watch the whole thing. As it was the next thirty minutes was spent getting slaughtered in traffic listening to it unfold on SEN. By the time I walked in a few minutes into the second quarter it seemed like it would have been a better idea to find something else to do with a Sunday afternoon and not to waste my time on another pissweak first half effort.

But anybody who has watched us for the last couple of years should know that this is exactly the time you should start watching us, because that's when we kick goals, take risks and play bloody good football. I had other things on my mind today, couldn't take the game seriously - maybe I've hit the wall with season 2010 and it's going to be an even bigger slopfest on here than it is on the field from now on? Either way I have to admit sparking up in the third quarter when we got that run on. How good was Frawley's run out of defensive 50? How equally beautiful was the Jamar handball to Davey at the very last minute before he got wrapped up, and the dancing sidestep Flash took before he snapped the goal. We charged back into it at a million miles an hour, and the same players who looked like shite in the second quarter (and presumably the first) looked like world beaters.

Why does this always happen to us? What causes us to put together so many one goal first quarters? There's only so far you can hide behind being a 'young team' before somebody has to take the blame. Get some sports psychologist idiot in there if you have to, do a bit of watch swinging hypnotism if required. Tell them that they're in the 50's and that Bailey is Norm freaking Smith for all I care, just do something.

By three-quarter time we were back in it, but all the momentum had come and gone by the end of the term. We'd done enough to get into a position to possibly nick it, but it would have been daylight robbery

2010 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - James Frawley
4 - Colin Sylvia
3 - Joel Macdonald
2 - Colin Garland
1 - Tom Scully

Apologies to Davey, Bail, Morton, Rivers, Green, Jones, McKenzie, Bennell, Johnson (surprisingly good..) and Jurrah

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

Coaches Corner
Why does Mark Harvey look like a startled owl?

Commentators Corner
Thank god for no Dwayne Russell, and no having our comeback destroyed by him screaming catchphrases to stop you from turning over to The Simpsons. Also how much would you have given to swap Gerard Healy/Glen Jakovich for Greg/Allen?

Live from Casey Fields... it's Saturday afternoon
Made the horrible mistake of not only going to arctic Cranbourne criminally underdressed but also aiming to make the second half of the two's to watch Monster Max GAWN in action for the first time. God knows what I was thinking expecting a guy who hadn't played a game in 14 months, coming off a knee injury, to play a full game in the reserves on a surface that resembled a Civil War Battlefield.

So by the time the main event started I was cold and disillusioned. With a strong wind blowing diagonally across the ground any chance of a decent contest was ruined. Maric and McNamara looked good at either end, but by the time Port got a hold of the wind in the second quarter the ball didn't go inside the Scorpions 50 for about ten minutes. The NQR boundary rider on Casey Radio said without a trace of irony, as the players trudged off for half-time, "that's one of the best halves of football we've ever seen". That was enough for me, I left and went shopping at DFO Moorabbin Airport instead. Much warmer, and I listened to most of the 3rd quarter on the way there anyway. Not sure how Miller (in #81 if you don't mind) snuck into the best - much less second best - unless he had an unreal last quarter because he was good in the first half but nothing special, certainly not better than Maric up front or McNamara down back. Football's #1 emo surely has to get a run next week, don't ask me who he dislodges but he'll be on suicide watch if he doesn't get a game soon.

Numerology for Idiots
Is it too cynical to get a #40 on my jumper next year, or an accurate reflection of the love story that stopped a nation? More importantly is being designated my favourite player going to kill his career like it has to everybody else who has ever had the distinction? The SME jumper is practically useless now that his career his going the toilet, and as much as I love Green he's more of a ladies man. The Jurrahcane is out because he stopped having a novelty number, and apart from the Philth I've never been one to support midfielders so Moloney is out. Petterd is an option, but what about going early on GAWN? The only problem is that they'll probably tease us and then make him change his number to 11 when Paul Johnson gets the arse.

More importantly aren't I getting a bit old to be indulging in this childlike footy jumper ritual? My belief is that you can wear a footy jumper until you're bald, then if you're not on the field it just looks weird.

Your suggestions on potential numbers in the comments or via Twitter (forget Gillard and Abbott, follow @demonblog).

Next Week
Sydney at the MCG on Sunday. I expect that they'll touch us up but god forbid we get off to a decent start you never know. Anything that involves not having to catch up from six goals behind would be nice. After being beaten by not disgraced by Sandilands, Jamar vs Mumford could be a one-on-one clash for the second All-Australian ruck position. See you there, I might go a bit Medallion Club and start finding other ways to amuse myself halfway through the match.

Sunday 11 July 2010

The Great Shark Hunt

Even before they thrashed us in the 2000 Grand Final I had a deep hatred of Essendon. It's never quite reached the same level of enmity that I've got with St Kilda, or latterly the Visy Blues and J**d but it's been there, seething deep inside of me ever since the day they came back from 46 points down in the last quarter to beat us in 1992. Then there was Kevin Sheedy, who I was always felt was up to something dubious. By the time Michael Long cheap-shotted Troy Simmonds on that one long day in September just under a decade ago relations were already strained to breaking point and that just finalised it. Victories over them have been few and far between. We got a cheap win in 2006, the last time they were at rock bottom, they got Scott Lucas stealing Daniher’s last match in the final ten seconds and a bunch of other wins.

So, what better time to plunge their club into football hell than on the day they celebrate the tenth anniversary of that premiership triumph? Just when the media started to get depressed that they wouldn't have a coaching roundabout to encourage this season Mark Williams' lightning fast demise has provided the blood in the water and the sharks are about to be released on Matthew Knights. For the last three years Bombers fans have been skitzo about him anyway, swinging wildly from love to hate via loathing and lust on a weekly basis. Now the pressure of not only losing to us, but of dropping to 13th on the ladder – only above Port and Richmond on percentage is about to cause talkback radio and internet forums everywhere to explode in a shower of sparks. No point listening to SEN tomorrow because all you'll hear is idiots ringing up crying about how their side gets monstrous plums again. Given the way they provided absolutely nothing to the finals last year I refuse to accept any theory that invokes finishing 8th in 2009 as a triumph. I'll bet that by 9am tomorrow Kevin Sheedy will have been everywhere giving his theories on why the side is so shit despite the fact that if he'd realised that he'd lost the plot and quit a couple of years earlier they might not be in this position right now.

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people really, unless of course I achieve my dream of seeing St Kilda driven into the sea by force. But thank god this isn't Bomberblog and we don't have to waste our time on other crisis clubs when we've got enough problems of our own. Except tonight we don't have any problems. Forget the generally insipid last two months of football and forget that we started the day every possible chance of finishing last again, because the world is instantly brighter and more beautiful after a win.

Finally in the sixth year of writing this crap I finally scored some sort of backhander with passes to the change rooms for before and after the match. Not from the club I may add, because I'm sure that if they knew about this site and went back for a look through the archives they'd not only ban me for life for being a negative, spiteful bastard but also launch thirteen different legal actions. They'd also recommend that I go back to school and learn to spell at a minimum grade three level, but that's beside the point.

The action pre-match is pretty much as you'd expect it to be. Seen the footage on TV of players warming up? Then you've seen it all. The only difference is that this time you can feasibly disgrace yourself by sticking your hand through the fence and grabbing a player on the arse. I spent my time in there trying to forge a psychic connection with Jack Watts to tell him that I'd had a tenner on him kicking the first goal @ 17-1 so would he be kind enough to oblige. Had absolutely no success so I'm seriously considering taking a class in Psychic Connection and Mindreading from Jamar-Moloney University in the off-season.

Maric was there as the "just in case" emergency and I think I even saw him smile at one point. Unprecedented, but fans of Emo Maric will be pleased to know that just seconds later he was back to leaning against the wall with hands in pockets looking like he was thinking about machine gunning his high school maths teacher.

Obviously we were celebrating our part in the 2000 Grand Final debacle because there was a cavalcade of ex-players in the rooms. Robbo, White (he of the least interesting Twitter account in the world), Ingerson, Brown, Nicho, Matthew Collins (underrated), Leoncelli, Powell and Anthony McDonald were present and apparently Febey, Neitz, Yze and Simmonds were all hanging around as well. No Ben Beams? You'd think he'd be dining out on the day he played in a Grand Final and got as many touches as Leon Davis. For a minute I got excited about all the old school players being around and started to dream about Philthy walking through the door. I have no concern that he didn't play for us for another four years, he should have been there just so I could go to pieces and embarrass myself in front of him.

Finding himself just four quarters of rubbish football from 15th on the ladder and a potential media frenzy of his own, Bailey stood back during the warmups and watched the magic unfold in front of him. My personal highlight was Scott West cracking full pelt kicks at Jones and Moloney who were catching them a metre and a half away. Once he'd bored of trying to snap their fingers off Westy picked up a device which looked like a cross between a Spanish Inquisition era torture implement and something you'd use to clean your pool and made them do close quarters marking practice. Then when the boxing gloves came out guess which two players were first in to beat the living bejesus out of the poor bastard holding the gloves on the other side? I'd still love for us to find a Ballantyne/Baker style arsehole player that people will hate, but at least you can be sure that we've got some legit nutcases in the side.

Bailey's major coaching masterstroke of the pre-match rev up was to make sure that the only words any of the assembled crowd could hear were "fuck", "fucking" and various other derivatives of that popular Anglo-Saxon term. You get what you deserve taking your kids into a footy locker room in the first place, but that was magnificent. Get the young un’s swearing early I say. Oh how I remember the golden day when during a family session of the Wheel Of Fortune board game I answered a four letter word starting with "C" with the new word I'd heard in the playground and duly copped a backhander.

Oh, and nobody made me sign confidentiality agreements before walking in so I can exclusively reveal that Clint Bartram totally has a tramp stamp.

So being in the rooms pre-match was all well and good for something new, and god knows it only took me 20 years to get in there, but there was no way I was going back if we didn't win, that's strictly for people who had a hand in the birth of a player or are currently having sexual relations with them. Same thing at some clubs. In the event of a win though, it's all hands on deck for the wild scenes and an opportunity not to be missed. The problem has been that for the last few years the only sides we've beaten at the MCG, or anywhere really for that matter, have either been from interstate or are called Richmond. The last time we beat the Bombers Philthy, Pickett and Chris "where are they now?" Johnson were playing for us, Courtney Johns was 'starring' for the Bombers and Chris Heffernan was in his second spell with them post-mediocre career with us.

They might be rubbish again now, but they're that special breed of rubbish where you can't tell from one week to another what side is going to turn up. They're as likely to beat a top four side one week and lose to Tooleybuc the next so who knew what was going to happen coming off a thumping by the Crows in Adelaide (been there done that) and a week of rumour about unrest between players and coaches. It certainly looked dicey for us when they kicked the first goal after Rivers stuffed up in the backline (Another week, another lost first goalkicker bet. There's no justice that the only time I've ever gotten it right was on Will Minson at a Footscray/Hawthorn game). Became even dicier when Riv took a mark just inside defensive 50 on the Olympic Stand side and kicked it out on the full so spectacularly that the ball must have only travelled inside the field of play for about half a metre before going over the line. Thank god he recovered to play a half decent game because it was the sort of horror start that can kill somebody. Warnock was pox against Adelaide but it's not like he isn't a chance to come back if Riv completely loses it.

Sylvia, back from losing half his leg to frostbite or whatever it was, got our first after five minutes once we'd steadied the ship a bit and Green got another thirty seconds later as a gift from the bumbling fools in the Bombers defence. So we’d already beaten our average first quarter score this year. On the defensive side Dunn was prominent early putting the big tag on George Oscar Bluth Watson II. Not only was Watson getting absolutely nothing himself but Dunn was carving it up around the ground. When I saw the move at the opening bounce my heart sank a bit because after two relatively successful weeks in the forward line the last thing I wanted for Dunn was for him to be thrown around the ground filling gaps again, which is pretty much what derailed his career in the first place. Luckily for one of the few times in the last couple of years a Bailey first quarter innovation came off without costing us six goals in the process. The tide is turning.

We already had two goals on the board when Jamar missed one with his first kick of the day (stay tuned because that becomes relevant later), but Green got a second and Trengove added another on either side of some Bomber idiot kicking one before the Great 50m Penalty Spree of 2010 began. And what a spree it was, almost certainly unprecedented in AFL history. Teams have probably received more in a match, but it's unlikely that any of them have ever pocketed five goals from the first five of a game. Essendon fans will wail and bemoan the over the top umpiring that caused the 50's, and in some cases they might have been right but don't hold your breath waiting for me to give any sympathy after some of the rorts we've been on the end of this year.

We copped a couple of dodgy ones today too (Ryder kneeing Jamar in the ruck contest and slapping him about the chops and still getting a free? The rubbish free to the non-nifty Essendon variety Jetta at the end of the second? Not our fault they couldn't convert from them), but there's no way either of the first two weren't there. Dunn took a mark and got pushed over, which brought him to within kicking range. He topped off a near BOG first term with the goal - thank god he's finally started to kick straight - and Trengove's goal from the 50 against non-Nifty equally justified. They might have been stiff on a couple after that, but let's face it once you've copped two goals from 50's in the first 35 minutes of a game you're going to have an epic persecution complex that makes anything look like evidence of a massive conspiracy against you. I still remember Matthew Lloyd going over in the square after Nicholson breathed on him in '03 for the free and double goal so cram it with walnuts Bombers fans, you reap what you sow.

Before we could even get to the second quarter, and the true birth of the Windy Hill Complex Theory, there was a goal at the end which was beautifully executed that it nearly caused me to crack one through the covers. With the clock having ticked over 32 minutes Bruce and Jones involved themselves in a bit of one-two handballing beauty running inside 50 for Bruce to eventually finish it off. It's usually our destiny to be stitched up in that scenario by the siren going just before somebody drops it on their boot. When the ball went through there was 8 seconds left, so I suppose we had some breathing space but a little too close to comfort for me. Still, great finish by Bruce who had an excellent game after a few shockers this year. The cavalcade of people waving him goodbye when the "Bruce to Gold Coast" rumours came out this week was well over the top, but not without some justification on the strength of his performances this year. Wouldn't be the end of my life, or even a major irritation, if he did go but today showed that there's life in him yet.

Underrated in the build-up to that goal was the flying, diagonal shepherd from Jordie McKenzie to allow Bruce through in the first place. Another solid performance from J.Mac 2.0 with seven tackles. He's an absolute solid gold certainty for an upgrade to the senior list next season and another winner that we've picked off the rookie list. Only problem is that if all these rookies keep playing well and we're forced to do the Newton/Meesen style banishment off the senior list move too many more times we'll never get a real live pick in the rookie draft again.

So, six goals in the first quarter and, forget allowing them to kick three, it was easily the best we've looked in a first term since running riot against Richmond, and even then it took us 15 minutes to get interested and start banging them home at a million miles an hour. What odds can I get from Sportsbet that by the time he finishes coaching us Bailey can break even on total scores in the first ten minutes of games? With 365 odd points to catch up on I'd spit at anything under 100-1.

God help us we even came out for the second quarter with purpose. THE JURRAHCANE took a mark, after nervously botching a couple in the first term, stuffed the kick from the pocket royally but shortly after Trengove got his (allegedly) rort assisted goal the great man ran onto one inside 50 and with no Essendon player within the same timezone sprinted into the open goal to send the crowd wild. His general field play was rusty but that's to be expected from a guy who has only played a couple of games in four months. The most important thing was that the touch of class that we remember so well from the second half of last year was still so obviously there. If he can avoid being crippled in regional South Australia during next year's pre-season and play a whole year this guy might absolutely tear the roof off the competition next year. Absolute freak.

Green got his third from another 50 (oh dear) before missing two gettable kicks in two minutes. Never mind the misses Green is absolutely carving it up at the moment. I've been going back over old posts in anticipation for Demonblog: The Book (are you a publisher? If so I promise to come up with a better name for it if you agree to publish it) and it's almost embarrassing how much I slaughtered him for being soft in 2006. It wasn't until halfway through 2007 that he (because obviously it wasn't me who was wrong) fired up and started the journey that must surely end with him becoming the next captain of the club. In the space of a year he went from a pretty boy who never lived up to his early promise barely holding a spot in a good team to a rock solid leader who you can rely on forward, middle or back. He is total football. We have a saying in my family, and so simple that I should have written it on a bedsheet and held it up to win the $250 voucher at half-time "Thank God for Brad Green". I don't even believe in god and I'm thanking him for the guy, how much more of an endorsement do you want? When he jumped across half of the Essendon backline and came up with the mark that was very nearly a religious experience for me.

So, call the engraver and get ready to stick his name next to 2011 CAPTAIN then? You won't hear me complain, but I can't dismiss Moloney so easily. No surprises that Green and Beamer were the most vocal amongst the players during the "shout slogans" portion of the warmup. Let's assume that my preferred scenario comes off and that McDonald goes around again but hands over the captaincy a'la Lyon in '98, I'm starting to sell out and feel like the co-captain scenario that I've hated all my life isn’t such a bad idea. Good thing Brisbane took it to a ridiculous degree and had four captains a few years back to make having two look a little less ridiculous. I just can't split the two at the moment, Moloney is a lifelong MFC fan who absolutely bleeds red and blue, and I'll never forget Green turning back a move to Collingwood which would probably have ended up with him becoming a superstar of the competition to stay and slog it out with the slops just as we hit rock bottom. So that's it, you can take Gillard/Abbott and the Federal Election and piss off, I'm voting Green/Moloney '11.

Last goal of the quarter came off another 50, this time to Bennell and I thought their fans might have gone absolutely spaz at this point but they were either stunned or secretly celebrating the fact that our five goal lead was going to cause Knights to get the arse. Just as I started to wonder if the umpires were ever going to start the inevitable square-up dodgy free kicks to the Bombers, Jetta got his cheap free against Moloney inside 50. Not as Nifty stuffed it up and god help up us we were 32 points in front at the long break. I'd like to say that only Melbourne could stuff up a game from that position but Port Adelaide proved that theory to be false on Friday night. The only difference was that they were playing with a howling wind and post-sacking emotion, whereas we were just playing fucking good football. Essendon were rancid going inside 50, and even when they did they missed gettable shots. After a shaky start the backline was playing well and rebounding confidently, Garland especially looked good after living on the edge in the first few minutes. Meanwhile in the middle Jamar was collecting another pair of scalps, Inglorious Basterds style, by slaughtering Ryder and Bellchambers (great name, not so great ruckman).

More importantly than his growing scalp collection The Russian went into the long break on world record pace for his kicks PB with five by half-time. He only needed two more to top that glorious day out at Etihad when he had six kicks for five goals and we lost by ten goals (don't worry readers of the future, apparently we didn't want to win). The moment the ball hit his boot for the 7th time balloons were set to fall from the roof, fireworks would go off and everybody in the stadium would get a free copy of the new Kylie single. He only had one kick in the third term to equal the record, but stay tuned because big things - and free CD's - are on the way in the fourth.

The reason he only got one kick in the third term was because Essendon spent the first ten minutes beating the shit out of us. They got the first goal within the first minute, which wasn't such a concern and then another one a minute later - which made me start to sweat a bit. The third in five minutes, cutting the margin to under three goals sent me into panic. They had more opportunities after that but thankfully for us botched them - it could have gone really, really wrong if they'd got four in a row and gotten to within ten points. Thankfully our karma pushed further into the red when Watts stuffed up a kick on the run but got one of the worst frees you'll ever see in your life for an alleged push that was nothing worse than a guy lunging to tackle and blowing air on his opponent's back as he missed. Jack, in the midst of another creditable performance, slotted the good old fashioned steadier and that was pretty much the end of Bomber resistance.

During the third Essendon finally started to get a few dodgy frees and didn't the fans love it. Not content with trying to get a 50m penalty of their own every single time one of their players took a mark they proceeded to bronx cheer every free that the Bombers got. You only get one bronx cheer, after that you're a twat. Same goes for calling for everything to be deliberate for the rest of the game after your side gets pinged for one. For all the square-ups in the world they couldn't get closer than 13 or 14 points, and by the time Green marked and converted a clutch kick for his 5th after the three-quarter time siren we'd only lost five points off our lead during the quarter. Have I ever told you how much I love that guy? Most of the time when a guy is running in to kick at goal and the siren goes off he either shanks the kick out of surprise or stops, goes back and stuffs it up. Not our Brad. Having missed two easier shots in the second he went back and thumped it through. Genius.

Now, just under five goals up going into the last quarter the two big questions were how far Demons (and on the b-side "Surely even we can't stuff this up" by the Melbourne Football Club All-Stars), and can Jamar get his 7th to trigger the mass giveaways and street parades. The question of whether we'd stuff it up was answered in the first 15 seconds of the quarter when Watts took a big hit to allow Sylvia to pick up and kick the first goal. We weren’t out of the woods yet, but it was getting closed. We messed up another couple of chances to really put the game away, Jurrah with a rusty shot on goal and Trengove hitting the post, before Bruce got his second to finish it off for good. Now, the Jamar question. The people sitting in front of us thought I was completely insane when he got a free and I loudly groaned at the handball to the player running past, but after a brief scare when Michael Hurley treated him like a taxi driver but somebody didn't give away a free, the 14 minute mark was when the great man had his great moment. A free kick from a ruck contest followed by yet another 50 and his seventh kick of the day was duly slammed home for a goal, sparking wild celebrations both at the ground and in Moscow.

Though some revellers took things too far and disgraced themselves;

On the Continental Tyres stat sheet that marks the second time that he has topped his career kicks PB with a goal. The people sitting in front of me found my utter glee at him topping the PB rather amusing. Sadly my childlike enthusiasm for this epic moment wasn’t being played for laughs, it was for witnessing history god damn it. Forget the moon landings (which weren’t faked by the US government) and the 2000 Grand Final (which was), people should take note of what they were doing this afternoon because it will come up in trivia contests for years to come.

Obviously sensing the prospect of even bigger celebrations in the future The Russian Record Holder was then benched for the rest of the quarter. From there on, with the great man taking his bows on the bench, it was pure and simple junktime slop for everybody. Great news for the 15 or so Essendon players who would have been looking over their shoulder wondering what godforsaken ground they’d be lucky to avoid visiting with the reserves next week. Finally given some space GOB Watson helped himself to a bunch of cheap touches and they got the margin all the way back to 19 points. No harm done other than to the idiots who had a double with Melbourne 25-48 as one of the legs. Thank god the Bulldogs touched up Carlton by significantly more than I had them to or there would have been bitterness. The rudest moment was when Davey took the mark and kicked the set shot - I've watched one half of the Davey family long enough to know that they're a toss of the coin from set shots at the best of times. Now was not the time to start getting it right. Rude. Still, the TAB can have small amounts of my money any time they like as long as the reason I lose is because the team wins. Shame we had to let them back into at the end, but the cue was jammed firmly in the rack fifteen minutes into the term so enjoy it for what it was, a rare moment of sheer indifference with the four points locked away.

Like an idiot I took too long to get to the rooms post-game and missed most of the action (although from the video on the website it didn't look like anybody was in there when they sung the song anyway). Cue heaps of standing around watching shirtless men do stretches. I did enjoy seeing Miller and Danny Hughes on their phones knowing 100% that they were posting to Twitter, then checking minutes later to find out that was exactly what they were doing. I was equally excited to discover that not only has former cult figure contender John Meesen got into the Twitter, but that his username is The Meesiah. Damn straight, can’t we send him to Europe and get that foot right? We want Meesen Magic at the MCG and we want it now.

Advertising Standards Tribunal Watch
Forget the sexist drivel that is "The Brut Code" and their rubbish TV ads, how's that Bet 24/7 one that they play at games where old mate gets offered a happy ending by the masseuse? Good luck explaining that to your kids if they ask what it means. As we discovered earlier in the day the only place for children to be exposed to filthy language and depraved concepts is in a football club change room.

Even more offensive is that the character in the ad was from a TV show which was on for ten minutes before being axed due to a staggering lack of interest from the viewing public. Yet somehow somebody in an advertising agency thought the concept was so amusing that they handed money over to use the character in an ad. Tremendous stupidity and I hope both the advertising agency and the betting company both go down the tubes for it.

Coaches Corner
After Richmond completed their six week transformation from "utter slop" to "half decent" (won't last) on Saturday night I had a sick fantasy that if we'd lost today the start of Bailey's press conference would go a little like this.

Reporter: "So Dean, Brad Scott and Damien Hardwick seem to be going pretty well in their first season as coach. What's wrong with you?"
*Bailey leaps the desk and strangles the reporter to death with a microphone cable*

Might still have happened I suppose, but homicide thankfully not required due to the win, which is bad news for those who believe that a few journos getting strangled might raise the quality of football reporting.

2010 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Brad Green
4 - Mark Jamar
3 - Colin Sylvia
2 - Lynden Dunn
1 - Cameron Bruce

Apologies to Trengove, Frawley, Moloney, Cheney, Garland, Bartram, Bate (second half), McKenzie and Macdonald.


Green out to a near unassailable lead in the Jakovich, and we pay out on Frawley in the Seecamp next week unless another defender gets at least four votes. Interesting none of the top five have ever lifted a Jakovich before, with defending champion Davey a massive 20 votes off the lead with seven games to go.

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

Crowd Watch
You'd think that the perceived rorts that the Bombers were subject to all day would have caused their fans to turn homicidal and burn the joint down. Maybe they did somewhere else, because in the Demonblog section of middle deck of the Ponsford they were surprisingly quiet. Guilty conscience I reckon because deep down they knew the decisions were right. The best they managed was a bit of half hearted booing at the end of the second quarter, and one guy in front of me leapt up shouting and waving his arms in the air like Jake Spencer standing the mark.

Draft Corner
5.5 wins and no more priority picks of any kind. Thank christ for that. Here's to this win closing the gate on our shameful era of existing on charity handouts…

Financial Crisis
… but speaking of handouts need I say what a good idea it is to donate to Debt Demolition? You won’t get a chicken dinner with Josh Mahoney out of it and you can’t deduct it from your taxes, but even if you can only tip in $20 everything counts. Can you imagine what we’d be like today if Gardner/McNamee had still been in charge? If there’s any reason to give it’s to say thanks to the Stynes/Schwab team who have dragged us off the canvas financially over the last two years.

Next Week
Fremantle in Perth. Well, we all know what's going to happen there don't we? Surely the Dockers won't let themselves get dudded at home after dropping a match to Richmond. Either way the irresistible clash is going to be Jamar vs Sandilands - surely The Russian is already a cert to at least make the All-Australian bench, but if he wins the big clash next week then he's got to at least be in contention for the top job. If you'd told me I'd be writing that two years ago I'd have had you committed under the Mental Health Act 1986. The world is an amazing place.

Final Thoughts
Right now we're only 1% closer to 16th than 8th. Stop the season, I'll take 11th.

Monday 5 July 2010

Welcome To The Leisuredome*

(* Let the fact that it's not, nor has it even been a real Dome detract from the ordinary, Frankie Goes To Hollywood inspired, title. Frankie Say Relax.)

The omens for this afternoon were bad a long time before the tipping dog in The Age picked every other game to be closer than ten points, and for St Kilda to win by 99. Ridiculous tipping by the worst newspaper dog since Fred Bassett aside, we were in trouble for this one from the moment the ball was bounced at Football Park last week. For, in case you've been held hostage in Iraq for the last few years, St Kilda are quite good. Relatively speaking of course, because most things could be considered 'quite good' when you've got 110 years of losing to compare it with. Contrasting the air of moral bankruptcy which wafts over Junction Oval, Moorabbin, Frankston wherever they play this week, was the Melbourne Football Club. Cornerstone of all that is right and true in Australian society we may be, but after four years of playing punching bag to the world only the most optimistic or masochistic showed up to Corporate Stadium to watch us today. I was in the second camp, and the question was whether it would be more or less painful to go to the game or to a BDSM dungeon and let somebody go nuts with the whips.

First surprise of the day was that we were only $6 in the betting. It seemed fairly low odds considering our respective successes and disasters in the last round. Admittedly that still puts you as a massive underdog in a two-horse race, but we've been at bigger odds against worst teams in the last couple of years. It can't have been Kosi's omission that did it, he wouldn't trouble a school side this year, but there must have been somebody out there with too much time and money sensing a miracle in the making. Maybe it was a reaction to the Saints taking the piss in a massive way by sending out a side to face us featuring Peake (Freo reject), Pattison (Richmond reject) and Dawson (Hawthorn reject). Was never going to be an issue anyway because the match was the real life equivalent of when you play somebody in Supercoach who put their team in before Round 1, lost interest and haven't made a change all year. You can get away with three zeros because your opposition has got a squad with more holes than Swiss cheese and will score nothing. In case you're having trouble following this ludicrously convoluted analogy we're the cheese – and not the one that smells nice.

In the world of technological innovations Bailey joined the bandwagon and coached from the sidelines for the first time. Fair enough if you want to try something new and exciting because everybody else is doing it (I love how coaching has the sort of peer group pressure that you see in high schools. If Paul Roos starts ripping Winnie Blues on the sidelines it's all over), but if you're the sort of guy considering starting The Spencil at FF then you'd might as well coach from a payphone at Kananook railway station for all the good it's going to you. Maybe he’s starting to feel guilty about hanging around all the assistant coaches and assorted flunkies that he’s going to have to sack at the end of the year to try and keep his job next season? I can see it now, Josh Mahoney sitting there going “Yeah Dean, we’re going to be great next year aren’t we?” and Bails nervously adjusting his collar and starting to blush.

So, for all the talk of how our intensity had been shithouse and how we were going to come out and make a big stand at the opening of the match this week we proceeded to be absolutely shit for the first fifteen minutes. Remember a week ago when we made a big song and dance about how we were going to get our farcical travelling record right, and now this. Next week for god’s sake nobody is allowed to mention the 2000 Grand Final or the day Matthew Lloyd took a dive against Nicho and got the double free to win them the match. There was a stat on SEN that is probably the most damaging thing that I've ever heard about The Bailey Era, correct me if I'm wrong on what I heard for I can't be arsed doing the maths myself, but I'm sure they said that since he took over we are down 350 odd points in the first ten minutes of games. That is an inexplicable outrage. You'd like to think that a coach would have no control over that sort of thing but bloody hell somebody's got to put their hand up and say something's wrong because we've had a lot of players go through the team in that time and they can't all be responsible.

Truth be told Spence wasn't too bad at the centre bounces (relatively speaking), but he was pretty rank around the ground. My highlight was when he took his first mark and the crowd gave off a little cheer, then he completely torched one that was about 500 times easier. Later on he'd drop a sitter in the square to cost us a goal. It was that sort of day. So we've got two options, exile him back to Casey to go around with the rest of the forgotten men or to just throw him out there for the rest of the year and hope for an absolute miracle. I'll give you scenario (C); we play him no matter what just to protect Jamar. We've finally struck gold on a ruckman who is in career best form, what do we gain from here by running him into the ground by playing him on his own in the ruck for 90% of the game when we're not playing for anything anymore? Gawn won't play seniors this year, Johnson is proven mediocrity and Meesen is veering dangerously close to Harold Holt style "we can't prove that they're dead but we're pretty sure of it" territory.

Our options are to go in with two proper talls and hope for the best or to flog Jamar to death with token appearances in the middle by forwards who have no idea what they're doing AND aren't tall enough to even convincingly fake it. I have no faith in the Spencil selling his soul at midnight to the devil and suddenly becoming a gun in the next six weeks, but I know that we've finally got one ruckman in the best form of his life and I want to make sure that he's ready to go come Round 1 next year when we can realistically expect to be a better side.

It's not tanking, it's an insurance policy against our future because unless we can trade for a decent ruckman in the off-season - which is unlikely - then we're one Russian disaster away from having to go to the likes of Spencer anyway. I want Jamar to play every game, and I want him to play the majority of the game in the centre but let's be frank any half decent team is going to have to absorb some spud-like players in the team and compensate so we'd might as well get a handle on it now.

So after being bashed senseless for the first fifteen minutes of the match we finally got a goal through Nifty Nev and for the rest of the quarter it was like a completely different team was out there. Dunn missed an absolute sitter for what would have been our second, but after the Spencil stuck a big mitt out and intercepted a Goddard handball to set up Green then Beamer got one, god help us all we were nearly level with them at quarter time. The way we’re going I’ll take ‘nearly’ as a victory. Reminded me a bit of Round 22 last year except this time we might have had some minor interest in winning instead of rolling over to rort the draft.

Then in the second quarter a pattern started to emerge when the Saints smacked us around for the first fifteen minutes again before we did anything. This would happen again in third, and then to a ridiculous degree in the last where we took a good 25 minutes before even going inside 50. That we got so close without the Saints ever really pulling the pin and letting us back into it is a good sign, but bloody hell how big was the gap between the sides? Even when we got back into it during the third quarter there was this feeling that they were just playing with us. I despise their club openly and every time somebody uses the term "Saints Footy" I want to garrotte them with piano wire, but they've definitely got something about them at the moment. On the odd occasions where we actually had a forward line and kicked it in there they'd outnumber us, then get the ball out to the wing with free players running everywhere and kick inside 50 to at least a one-on-one, if not another guy on his own. At least in the clinches we were putting pressure on and causing them to make mistakes, that's the least you can do when a team is going to run around you all day - make them work for it when the ball hits the ground. It's all the other times that it gets dicey.

At least no matter what else you remember from today you can say you saw, live and in person, one of the worst misses in VFL/AFL history. On one hand I'm surprised it didn't come from one of our players, but realistically you have to get the thing down there first before you can stuff it up. Stand proud then young Rhys Stanley (never heard of him), who managed to completely cock it up in the square and ensure that he will feature in every single highlights package put together from now until the end of time – possibly with the Benny Hill Show music playing in the background. When they announce that the meteor is finally coming to kill us all at any minute there will be people charging to YouTube to watch it one more time before we're all wiped out. I'd say the guy (was it Malcolm Blight?) who stormed into the open 'goal' and kicked it straight through the points would probably have him covered for the all-time best but this would have to go close. My favourite bit was the pissweak effort he makes at kicking it out of the air just before it bounces through. Mind you they almost got one back in the last when the ball landed in front of Jamar just outside the square and almost bounced back in on a ludicrous angle. I feel like this is where I should write something about the Saints and justice but there's nothing to say that wouldn't land me with a cease and desist letter. Speaking of Blight, what the hell is he wearing in this video?

I can't split the award for worst miss I've ever seen in an MFC jersey between Ben Holland missing from the square in the last game at Optus Oval, or Jamar marking on the line and stuffing it up trying to play on against Essendon in 2008. Both worthy contenders that I will be screaming bloody murder about and blaming while being wheeled into an operating theatre after having my third heart attack. The blame on the first two are reserved for Ronald McDonald and Colonel Sanders respectively.

Speaking of Jamar related disasters (and we get so little chance these days now that he’s a great man) how when he got pinged for smacking the ball through from the ball-up in the last quarter? Now, I'll accept the argument that technically it may have been correct - after all he hardly tried to disguise it - but is there any danger in the world that they would have paid that in a high profile, tight game? That's my problem with this rule. Of course it wouldn't have been a problem if we hadn't wandered out of the square at the kick-in AGAIN, but forget the AFL and their bloody rules DVD because we should have to take notice of it when the umpires do. At least now you know that the Kurt Tippett fiasco last week was just cutting out the middle man because we would have copped the goal anyway. Unless you're suggesting that the umpiring standards veer wildly on a week to week basis, and surely THAT couldn't happen could it? Not with this glorious administration in charge of the great game. I thought it was ironic that in the two weeks of the World Cup when poor officiating has been a blight on soccer football’s greatest showpiece that the league would decide to over-umpire dramatically instead of easing off a bit and showing why our game is so good.

So eventually we not only got one inside 50 in the last quarter, but actually scored a point. Then god forbid we even got a goal, yes it's come down to these small mercies for the Dees. One thing I found troubling, and nearly offensive, was when Watts - who had been doing some really good work around the ground now that Bailey has come to the decision that he'll be dropped if he goes near the goalsquare - took the ball in the middle of the ground, looked up and the only target he could see was Spencer. If he ends up dicking us and joining the Gold Coast I'm blaming that moment. It was like caviar kicking to a Quarter Pounder. Surely after the strong contested mark he took on the lead for the goal he kicked earlier in the game the kid (the good one) could go up front and get in the mix down there - especially when the game is well and truly lost and we could do with some experimentation. Thought he did a really good job around the ground, and never looked as troubled in traffic as he did against the Pies. MORE PLEASE, and on the back of another rancid performance by Nick Nat for the Eagles are the peanuts in the press and on the internet finally going to accept that you can't judge the worth of a draft ten minutes after the names are announced.

Speaking of kids, Trengove was good but if Hannebery doesn’t win the Rising Star then they’re all on drugs. Hopefully he biffs somebody and gets suspended at some point – or goes on another end of school year egg throwing rampage – so Trengove can score a Bradbury style victory.

What Stephen Milne Did
[SNIP! - Demonblog legal department]

Crowd Watch
Congratulations to the person sitting next to me (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE) who came to the sudden realisation that Etihad was an airline and not a person when an ad came on the big screen offering business class flights to Paris. Magic moment.

Apart from this touch of greatness, and the foul creature across the aisle from me who hocked a loogie onto the staircase during the third quarter, the humanoids were suffering a distinct lack of interest in the match. The Saints fans could barely get interested about grappling with bottom four buffoons, and the only time our 27 fans raised any noise was during the brief third quarter rally. Special mention should go to the lady behind me who was giving it a bit of "ooh Lenny, ooh Dal, ooh Stevie" every time they went near the ball. But never for Peake, Pattison or Dawson surprisingly. There was a definite sense that she'd been down to the members end at Moorabbin and faced a couple of balls in her younger days.

Lookalike Central
I know Kyle Cheney was probably stoked that his lookalike Brock Lesnar had pulled off such an exciting and gutsy win at UFC 116 just two hours before the first bounce, but did he have to spend the whole day trying to kill Brendon Goddard?



Ok, so I'm the only person in the world who sees it. Move on.

2010 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Jordie McKenzie
4 - Jack Trengove
3 - Brad Green
2 - Jack Watts
1 - Mark Jamar

Apologies to Macdonald (rancid first quarter cost him any chance), Moloney, Dunn, Rivers and Jones

I'm leaving open the chance of somebody making a late run at the Jakovich, but in the absence of Grimes – and the possibility that when he comes back he might end up DQ’ed for spending too much time in the midfield, bookies are poised to pay out on Frawley in the Seecamp unless somebody starts a run next week. Mind you bookies paid out on Richmond winning the spoon and look how well that's going for them right now. Elsewhere Trengove wrests back leadership of the Hilton from Q*berts, setting up a ding-dong battle between those two and Scully for the rest of the year.

In other news after all these years I’m considering renaming some of the awards. It’ll be put to a public vote but more legit nominations for players to be honoured with the Seecamp and Hilton will be accepted from now. Obviously the Strawbs is going to be renamed after Jim Stynes so there’s no point even pretending to be democratic about that.

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

Around The Grounds
I expected North to follow our path to hell and back as they rebuilt their side, but they're massively exceeding expectations. Even though they're unlikely to make the eight Brad Scott, and equally as importantly I'd say Darren Crocker, deserve credit for massaging a team chock full of absolute nobodies into a side that might get stuffed by the big guns but can at least knock over teams in our class without breaking a sweat.

Adelaide are doing what we could have done in 2007 if we hadn't stuffed up the draft so badly in the few years before. When they got stiffed by the senior players they threw the kids into mix and the combination has started to reap some rewards. When our experienced players lost the plot we had nobody else to come in and were cast into football exile for three years (and counting).

Then there's Richmond. Six weeks ago they were the worst side ever, a bad joke who weren't going to win a game and should be ashamed of themselves and now they're in better form than anything we've offered in the last three seasons. I'm still holding onto a childlike dream that everything's going to be alright for us but you can understand why people get shirty when they see teams recovering from the brink or avoiding it altogether while we're still lying at the bottom in a crumpled heap waiting for the ambulance to show up.

Thank christ for West Coast. Wait, what do you mean they beat us?

Next Week
Essendon at the MCG on Sunday. Given our respective efforts at Football Park over the last couple of weeks this game should be sponsored by a rival insurance company as the "We Hate AAMI Stadium Cup". They're so flaky that they could very well come out and lose to us, but we're almost as much of a team of manic depressives so who knows what will happen? You'll go broke tipping us to win, but even without Grimes for a few weeks (*wail*) I've got a funny feeling that we might get up. They're just the kind of side for us to play, not shit enough to think we're going to get up and not good enough to be an absolute certainty to win like the Saints were.

Final Thoughts
At least we were ten goals better than that bloody dog thought we'd be.