Saturday 28 May 2011

Zombie Nation

If you think we've got it bad spare a thought for the executives at Channel Seven. Friday Night Football rating its arse off is one of the great certainties of the Australian television industry. Men have built fortunes off the backs of bonuses for delivering big numbers following on from Better Homes and Gardens. Now these ponytailed spivs are left in the position of having to find some way, any way to make our second consecutive appearance on Friday night interesting enough to make anybody watch.

What I know for sure is that when the Melbourne Metro ratings started plummeting at about 9.15pm towards the levels usually enjoyed by shows involving Mick Molloy that at least one TV executive would have floated the idea of calling Andrew Demetriou and trying to use the "come on, we've paid a billion dollars for this" card to try and get us booted off next Friday night. It's hardly a week of blockbuster clashes but you can be absolutely sure that they'd prefer Collingwood/St Kilda, Geelong/Bulldogs or even god forbid Hawthorn/Freo in the 'showcase' timeslot than us coming out with a defensive mindset like Accrington Stanley trying to steal a nil-all draw in a cup game at Old Trafford. Just the sort of 'exciting' game style that people will be able to vote with their wallets and not turn up to watch next year when it's live on TV.

I couldn't tell whether it was a good omen or not when the toothless junkie bird on Southgate stopped me, slurred "yeah Demons yeah, we're gonna win yeah" and then stuck out a hand for a high five. I reluctantly obliged despite the obvious danger of catching a bloodborne disease. As the night wore on I started to wish she'd menaced me with a syringe instead. Does the fact that not only the dancing man of Kew Junction supports us, but that those who struggle to find a vein are starting to get on board mean that we're broadening our appeal to the community or that the whole place is about to go tits up?

After vowing never to make another First Goalkicker bet again after last week's Watts debacle I was sucked into it by them offering up Ricky Petterd at the generous, nay seemingly ludicrous odds of 41-1. Sure he was starting on the bench, but come on. I'm convinced that there's somebody from the TAB who reads this blog and sits there on a Monday thinking "now, how can I make this idiot part with another $20?". Because it's always $20. I never seem to have a tenner on hand and am too lazy/ashamed to queue up just to claim a tenner from the counter so some other ridiculous bet. So I threw the second half of the twenty on Maric in the hope that he'd get forward, throw one on the boot and bring the house down with one of his famous beaming smiles. Stupidity all round. If you see somebody in an SME jersey loitering around the Ponsford Stand basement TAB next Friday I implore you to crash tackle him to the ground. Hopefully it's me. Surely nobody else is supporting the Experience on their jumper.

Of course these antics in the TAB, including five minutes spent trying to teach an old man how to use the betting terminal only for him to find out you couldn't use coins in it (oh my god), caused me to miss the live Olivia Newton John concert. Which, as I'm not a housewife donning flashing red horns wasn't a big issue. From the footage I saw on the one screen downstairs that wasn't showing the Maitland greyhounds it looked pretty cringeworthy, but good on Jimmy for setting it up just so he could live his dream of sleazing up ONJ. Was hoping her missing husband who faked his own death might turn up wearing a green vest and reveal himself but it wasn't to be. Wouldn't be the last missing individual not to turn up on the night.

Contrary to popular belief, and what you read on here, I'm actually quite the optimist when it comes to football. We can all take a lesson from the interview with Robbie Flower on Fox Sports during the week where he said that every week he turned up at the ground thinking that he was a chance of playing in a winning side. He played in 88 wins from 272 games for a winning percentage of 32.35%. Ludicrously we have five players who have played more than 50 games and have worse winning percentages than this.

Even when I know deep down that we're no chance I've still got to try and find some sort of reason why we could possibly scab an undeserved victory, otherwise it would be hard for me to show up. Conversely when we're red hot favourites (thanks to Gold Coast for giving us the chance to have that feeling again) most of the week is spent finding ways for us to get done.

Even before the scurrilous rumors about J**d being out starting going around at 6pm (only to be quashed by the Blues at about 6.01) I'd tried to double our allegedly 'improved' performance last week into them missing their top ruckman and attempted to ignore the fact that our black death injury crisis had not only taken Tapscott (expected) and Davey (not surprising) but Bartram as well, the latest victim of a mysterious mid-week injury that nobody knew about until 5.01pm on Thursday. Realistically as long as J**d played we were always going to be in substantial trouble unless the midfield fired on all cylinders. They didn't, but they certainly weren't alone.

We were always on a hiding to nothing being forced to pick players who didn't warrant being there, but surely we'd all have rather lost by ten goals playing decent football than eight goals in a desperate attempt to minimise the damage? Starting Watts behind the ball was absolutely rude, and we got what we deserved with Juice being completely outclassed on his own up front with little or no support from Bate, Jurrah and Petterd - and Watts rewarding Bails with the sort of shit game is always going to play when they're being dragged dragged from one the other on the whims of a coach desperately trying to plug gaps in a gameplan that nobody on the field seems to understand/care about.

It was all downhill the moment poor old Sad Panda Morton copped that free kick against him. We were already going for the world record of the most inside 50's without a score when he responded to a month of being slaughtered by all and sundry for having zero intensity by trying something physical, copping a free for it which directly led to the Blues first goal and then proceeding to play like a terrified 14-year-old schoolgirl for the rest of the night. Do we employ a sports psychologist at this club? If so can somebody please book Cale in for about three days of lying on the couch this week talking about his issues? He can't be depressed at being outshone by his brothers because they're both toilet as well, so what's the issue? For all the people wanting to ship him off to West Sydney good luck, because the last thing they need in a team that is going to spend its first two years being thrashed every second week is a mentally scarred kid who has spent four years wandering around the half-back flank slowly losing confidence until he's a wreck.

Up front nobody looked like they were any chance of scoring let alone kicking a goal. With Watts loose in defence, and playing quite well before taking a nasty turn for the worse in the second half and having about ten clangers in a row, it was left to Juice to be on the end of our traditional high bombs into the forward line. Never mind that pretty much the only time he ever looked half decent was against North when they kicked it to him so he could lead out to it, the ball was coming in high to marking contests and he was getting soundly and deservedly beaten in every single contest. Wasn't entirely happy about them not replacing him with Jeremy Howe, but if they were just going to kick it in like that anywhere then I'm glad that it's cannon fodder like Juice who got stooged instead of somebody who we're expecting to play a part in the future - as horrid a future as it may be.

Two goals down and our forward target de jour Juice takes a mark inside fifty and finally brings up a score. Of course he missed, and he would later disprove every theory I've ever had about how he might be a decent defender, but I'll you something about Newton. At least he has a crack. He's no good and everyone knows that he wouldn't be in the side if we didn't have a rash of injuries, and probably won't be in it for long but at least he's always having a go which is more than you can say for some players who are hundreds of times better footballers than him. If we're going to have to be slaughtered by injuries, shit coaching and shit drafting then at least we could have somebody with the slightest bit of desperation in him. Of course the reason that he's desperate is that he know that at any given time he's about five minutes away from working in Cranbourne Red Rooster next year but at least it's more than you can say for others.

If The Jurrahcane is 100% fit then I'm not here because he's going at about 50% pace at the moment. Flash back to the West Coast fiasco where he was so starved of opportunities by our rubbish tactics and the ineptitude of his teammates that he came up the ground, got his own ball and ended up leading our inside 50's. Then look at the last two weeks where he's barely moved other than when the ball is kicked straight to him or he's crumbed one of the pack. If he's not fit then don't play him, if he is then put him in the forward line and kick the fucking thing to him on a lead instead of over his head into a three-on-one pack.

Same goes for Green. He got plenty of touches in the middle of the ground last night but they were overwhelmingly ineffective or crap. Now that SCULLGOVE are poised to make their triumphant return to the tag team ranks next week it's surely time for Bailey to abandon the experiment of playing him in the middle of the ground and put him back where he kicked 55.27 last year. It's not like he'd be keeping Watts out of position considering that Jack has suddenly become a defender (oh joy), and Petterd has spent the last three weeks proving Bailey right for not picking him in the first place. Still, maybe if he was allowed to run onto a lead and all that..

Of course it won't happen for more than five minutes at a time, because apparently the people running this club seem to despise the idea of changing something when it's not going well (e.g Davey being tagged to buggery for four quarters, Morton only being allowed near the forward line against GC) so we'll just leave him in the centre until his confidence is completely destroyed and we're forced to put up with an entire season of retrospective punditry about how we should have made XYZ the captain. Some goose called SEN last night and first suggested Sylvia should have been made the #1 before calling Green a 'squib'. I almost stacked the car hearing that. I wish right now he had gone to Collingwood where he'd be a champ, instead of having to try and please the clowns that follow us. Rang up myself to issue a spirited defence of him, but after 25 minutes on hold totally forget to abuse the original caller. Missed opportunity.

Somehow despite our best efforts and getting smashed in the centre, where the Experience was winning the taps and not finding anybody other than J**d most of the time, we spent most of the first quarter in touch. Home viewers everywhere might have been flicking to see whether there was a far more interesting episode of Cops on another channel but we had given ourselves the slightest chance of nicking it if we could get our forward structure right and the backline held firm. Even with the Waite goal at the end of the quarter, and yet another of the world famous one goal Bailey Quarters we were only two goals behind. Might have helped if the mids could have given us anything but you can't have it all.

It all went horribly wrong from there, but we weren't being helped by some baffling free kicks. How about the Big Setant contributing to Warnock's horror night by leaping underneath him on the goal line and winning a free kick? Opened up a three goal lead and that was pretty much the end of us. Good on Rivers for telling the umpire he was a dickhead, for which a 50 was then paid. When the mark was already on the goal-line. Very effective. What happens if you kept giving away token fifties in that situation? Reported for time wasting? (even though the clock should have stopped) Free from the centre? Complete anarchy and the collapse of footy as we know it? Somebody's got to try it before the year is through. Where's our version of You Are The Ref?

Of course no umpiring rorts in the world could have contributed to the simple mark he dropped in the goalsquare. Had been ok the last couple of weeks but played an absolute howler last night. May as well have gone back to the tactics of Jordie McMahon Tank Day and played him at FF for all the benefit he or our actual FF were giving us.

But did we change anything after going three goals down? Of course not. The vain hope that we could somehow defend our way out of a 20 point lead and onto victory let us pretty much break even at two goals apiece in the second quarter they were always the better team, and as we blundered our way up and down the ground butchering chances galore it was left to, of all people, Michael J Newton, to thread a set shot from a difficult angle and keep us in it. And when that's your best forward option then give up. Or at least drag Petterd, Jurrah and Bate and ask "WHAT IN GOD'S NAME IS WRONG WITH YOU ALL, YOU'RE BEING MADE TO LOOK BAD BY JUICE!"

I couldn't help notice that at least one half of the pre-match shit bloke/ex-player theory was coming true and that the Chernobyl Child Mitch Robinson was doing as he liked in the midfield. Was obviously excited that Olivia did a concert in his honour beforehand, but it didn't mean our players had to avoid him like he was actually radioactive. Turncoat J**d you can understand getting off the leash, because for all of his personal faults he is actually a bloody good player BUT copping it from Robinson is a bitter pill. Olivia announced before the game that she had raised 45k for her foundation by singing about Mitch. That's nothing, J**d got 100k from Visy for getting up on Friday morning and putting the bins out.

The second half of the theory didn't go according to plan and Brock wasn't particularly good. Must have thought he was still playing for us and not a good team. Not sure why you'd boo him though, except as an excuse just to boo because you're hating life as a footy fan right now, because even though The Gizz had a shit night it's still the killer deal of the millenium for us. Right up there with Steve O'Dwyer for pick 3 and Troy Longmuir for the pick we got Green with in the history of great moments on the draft table.

He was no good, but at least he had a bash. I posted this on Twitter last night and people I'd never heard of came out of the woodwork to (wrongly) assume it meant I didn't want to trade him in the first place but I'd rather have had him in our side last night than Morton flapping about and Jones stuffing up everything he went near.

I had a sick fantasy about Brock during the week. He runs on off the bench to contest an early centre bounce, the Experience gets the tap down, J**d sharks it as usual only for Brock to block his path, knee him in the aggots, drop him with an uppercut, throw an elbow down as a tribute to the Macho Man and tear his light blue jumper off to reveal a shirt with the letters MFC on underneath. He then tearfully embraces The Gizz, walks off to the acclaim of the crowd once more and we go on to win by plenty.

In the extended version of the fantasy he walks to Bails (conveniently located back on the sidelines) and announces he's back in the MFC fold, to which Bails says "That's nice but I don't want you next year" and Brock says "never mind you won't be coach anyway" and (insert new coach here) signs him on a rookie list free where he spends the rest of his career as a Casey superstar, occassionally filling a gap in the seniors when everyone else is hurt. Well if Juice can take a spot on the list all these years....

From the moment the second half started and we copped a goal in the first minute it was going horribly in the wrong direction. It took Rivers roaming forward to provide a mark inside 50, the Blues continued their cavalcade of uncontested marks around the ground and Watts finally lost the plot after a month of good football and took off on his world record run of ineffective kicks. What pissed me off royally in the third was the amount of times we'd kick it to a three - or worse - on one situation, and then when the Blues won it back they'd kick to another three-on-one, for a grand total of six-on-two within the space of twenty seconds. That leaves four players wandering around aimlessly looking at seagulls a'la Geoff Hayward.

I hear Malthouse called Emo Maric a cheat for trying to rort the umpire into thinking he'd kicked a goal just before 3/4 time. Because I'm sure Mick has never, ever, EVER done anything deliberately outside the rules himself has he? Shit comments but the upside is everyone is going to be talkin' emo this week so it's a great time for Demonblog's own black prince to get some airtime. Because he did precious little else this week.

Nicholson, who replaced Warnock when they finally got jack of his shambolic performance, was good considering his limited game time, but Evans suffered the traditional second game let down when the opposition work out who he is and decide to put some time into him.

Looks like we attempted a belated go at the old forward press in the last quarter and it lasted about five minutes before Juice went for a howler of a kick across the ground to Frawley who cocked up the half volley from the rubbish pass and allowed the Blues to go straight down the other end and score. Then we all sat there and nearly died of boredom for the next twenty minutes.

Tweet like a Demon
"Disappointing result! Heaps to learn before next week. Can't wait for Friday night. Playing FIFA against Juice. Go Bulls. Parmas for lunch"

2011 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
There have been more than few games over the years where it was hard to fill the votes, but I don't think I've ever been there for a more even spread of rank ordinary players. No apologies to be delivered because about 15 could have slunk unfairly into this top five..

I honestly almost gave Newton a vote just for having a crack despite an abject lack of AFL standard talent.

5 - Jared Rivers
4 - James Frawley
3 - Joel Macdonald
2 - Stefan Martin
1 - Colin Sylvia

19 - Brent Moloney
18 - Colin Sylvia
16 - Mark Jamar (LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
9 - Stefan Martin
8 - Jack Watts, James Frawley ((LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
7 - Colin Garland, Jared Rivers
6 - Luke Tapscott (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
5 - Rohan Bail, Jordan Gysberts
4 - Jack Trengove, Michael Evans
3 - Jack Grimes, Liam Jurrah, Nathan Jones, Joel Macdonald
2 - Ricky Petterd, Clint Bartram, Neville Jetta
1 - Brad Green

Crowd Watch
The only highlight of the evening was the Carlton fan being hassled out the door as I was coming in. "I've got a ticket" she screamed. "It's a child's ticket" said the MCG attendant. "IT DOESN'T MATTER!" she yelled going in the other direction. Odds on that she spent the entire first half trying to pull off the same scam at every ticket outlet in the ground.

How about the flames when the team ran out? Almost as bad as him on the trumpet and his velvet jacket. I was hoping at least Juice would fall in and make them worthwhile. I can't fault the club for trying to do something to get the kids in and distract us from the fact that the team is going nowhere but we're starting to do gimmicks that even American soccer teams would consider too kitsch, and they play at stadiums with names like Pizza Hut Park.

Shattered that the OPSM giant glasses gimmick seems to be a permanent fixture this year. It's a step up from junkies kicking for cash or the time we played up every stereotype by having fake snow outside the ground on Queen's Birthday, but bloody hell is it really worth downgrading your dignity in public on the off chance that some perverted cameraman will pick you out of the crowd (and how often is it young girls that they pick?) and win you a 'seat upgrade' for the last three quarters.

Even worse are the people who apply/wave around the promotional item in question even though the camera is clearly not showing any interest in their part of the ground. A grown man in front of me was going absolutely wild with the glasses despite it being abundantly clear that a) he wouldn't win for being male b) they always pick somebody in the front row and c) the cameras were focusing on the Southern Stand the whole time. Needless to say he didn't win the coveted 'seat upgrade'.

MCG Masterchef
Forget the floppy hot dogs in rock-solid, stone age bread that they sell inside the ground and your natural aversion to 'comedy' shop names and get into the Kaiser's Sausage outside the Ponsford Stand. Don't worry, this isn't a sponsored tweet for which I'm being given my bodyweight in kransky sausages (not that I'm not interested if you're reading Von Kaiser),
it's just a community service announcement. If like me you'd rather eat your own sock than a meat pie then honk right onto that German sausage. It costs about $1.50 more than the chemical shit that is sold inside the ground but provides about $6 more value.

Get into it before the MCG adopt the same Stalinist policies towards outside food as Corporate Stadium.

Next Week
With any luck Essendon will find some way to become depressed by the bye like we did and come out serving up the sort of utter garbage that we might be able to do something with. That is if we're not lining with 18 players behind the ball

Not even bothering with changes because somebody will suffer a mystery injury during the week and stuff it all up anyway.

Next Season
With no regard to their contract status I'm putting Morton, Warnock, Newton, Bate and Dunn in the departure lounge. Have given up supporting Bate, and the only one that I see even the slightest hope for amongst the rest is Morton is he gets his head right or finds a new role. Tom McNamara is going nowhere, James Strauss might be dead a'la Paul McCartney and even though the Spencils is - I think - contracted for next year there's fat chance he'll ever play seniors again.

Then there's the backroom staff. Bailey is hanging on by a thread, Schwab has had to shut up shop publicly recently, Connolly has been reduced to hosting sportsman's nights and god knows what the likes of Mahoney, Royal, West, Williams et al are doing at the moment.

There are going to be some very, VERY lucky survivors on this list at the end of the year. Roll on celebrity status at other clubs for the ones we drop.

Sunday 22 May 2011

If you tolerate this your children will be next..

My first instinct after a game like yesterday, and indeed most of the matches of the last five years, is to come on here and go absolutely troppo, skirting the boundaries of defamation law with writing horrific overreactions that make me cringe when I finally re-read them on Wednesday.

As I stomped home like a petulant - dare I say emo - teenager, furiously punching notes into my phone with no regards to pedestrian etiquette or the possibility of wandering into oncoming traffic it felt, not for the first time, that we were at the sporting equivalent of the end of the world. Not some Wobbies World style apocalypse declared by a Californian nutbag living in a cave, but the real stuff when you've been fooled by one too many mirages in the desert and are starting to wonder whether it wouldn't just be easier to give up. Not that I've ever personally been lost in the desert but go with it for dramatic purposes.

But the thing was that it didn't really matter to me anyway because, if I may briefly digress, the limp, lifeless lump of a game of football between two sides unlikely to trouble the AFL Fixture computer (an Atari ST) in September that we 'enjoyed' at Corporate Stadium - home of the slowest ATM in the civilised world - was just the entree to proper sporting drama.

The year is 1994, the MFC forward line is going bananas and a stupid child who has watched the Monday night Premier League highlights show for years has finally decided who he's going to support. A team that wins titles? Too obvious. A team that has a lot of fans? Very unlike me. No, I'll choose Wimbledon as my team based solely on the fact that I liked their colours, nobody else I've ever met supported them (though in 1994 that pretty much applied for any team in the competition because there was SCANT INTEREST in the world game amongst people I knew) and they got in a massive touchline brawl on the very night I was ready to make a decision.

Not the worst decision I've ever made, lest we forget that if Murray Wrensted the big spastic hadn't missed that goal in the '88 Elimination Final then my "I'll go for whoever plays Hawthorn" theory would have landed me with one of three other teams who have since won a flag.

So, for the next seven-ish years I 'enjoyed' never winning anything (though lest we forget that glorious year of being top of the league in November and making the semis of the League Cup and FA Cup), but never getting relegated either. Then we did get relegated. I kicked a small tree over. Then this happened. Think of South Melbourne to Sydney but with a hint of not only stealing the club but then going around to every fan individually and beating them half to death with an iron bar.

English football is a curious beast where teams are up and down as their circumstances change, it's not like VFL sides of the 80's which were either competitive or sent themselves bust trying not to lose by 50 goals every week. Some football clubs do get themselves into trouble by over-reaching, some adjust to their place in life and do just fine. We would have been the latter, and nine years later would probably have been in League 2 anyway, but instead while some frauds wasted a spot in the league we were sent on a nine year odyssey from the ninth division of league football.

So, eventually via the Seagrave Haulage Combined Counties League, Ryman League Divison 1, Ryman Premier League, Blue Square Conference South and Blue Square Conference National we landed at Saturday night - a one off match to go back into the Football League. Need a summary of why that's so important? Read this post on the SW19's Army blog. Incidentally, the very same blog that has, since I first discovered it in 1999, almost completely shaped - for better or worse - the way I watch and write about sports. Without SW19's there would certainly never have been a Demonblog, and for that I'm thankful even if nobody else is. It's to my shame that I've never acknowledged SW19's on here before, but how are you supposed to explain that you've stolen the gimmick of adopted your style from somebody who writes about obscure non-league English football clubs without access to more charts, spreadsheets and Powerpoint presentations than a paranoid North fan.

So how could I possibly concentrate enough under those circumstances to come on here and recycle the same tired old cliches about how shit we are for the 50th time in the last three years? At that point the events on Etihad Stadium DID NOT MATTER. Ironically, what did matter was a game at City of Manchester Stadium where everything was sponsored by Etihad. A bad enough omen as any considering the inability of any team I follow to get the job done at anything with Etihad written on it, and after 120 minutes where we should have lost it twice, should have won it twice and had the ball in the net on an offside it went to penalties.

Ahh penalties. Last night, and to a lesser extent that World Cup qualifier shootout against Uruguay, is exactly why I want to stab people in the face whenever they suggest extra time, goalkicking shootouts and other marketing department invented bollocks to settle drawn AFL games. I think it's fairly obvious which way it went, but if you want to relive the moments of glory click here but for god's sake turn your speakers down because it was hardly an unbiased commentary.

With the greatest apologies to the last 22 years following the MFC it was my greatest ever sporting moment. Of course if we were ever to win a premiership I'm sure the emotions would multiply by a million and I'd probably drop dead on the spot from a massive brain aneurism, but none of us are holding our breath waiting for that to happen are we? I've spent my teens and 20's waiting for the Demons to give me the "now I can die happy" moment so we'll see if we can tick that off before I'm a porky, bald 40 year old living in Melton and being banned from going to footy because some snotty kids have to be dragged around to jazz ballet practice. A horrifying vision of the future.

Everyone knows Wimbledon have now found their place and they'll settle as a comfortable middle of the league club, so they've pretty much ticked off everything I wanted from them after the murder death of the original Wimbledon FC on May 28, 2002. Now all that's left is for Melbourne to win the flag and Atlanta to win a Superbowl, and I'll give up 50 of the latter for one of the AFL version.

So you can understand how even more than a day after the game it's hard for me to come to terms with another great MFC letdown amongst a cavalcade of hundreds (if not thousands for some of you) that we've seen over the years. Some sides have the disaster gene firmly implanted in their DNA, and alongside Footscray, St Kilda and Richmond of the last thirty years we've got it in spades. So, as this sadly isn't Wombleblog let's step into the Every Day Is Like Sunday Time Machine (available now at the Demonblog store. Free MEESEN MAGIC cape with each purchase), pretend that the FA made the right decision on that fateful day in 2002 and that my entire weekend/year wasn't saved by the combined powers of Seb Brown's hands and Danny Kedwell's boot. Let's try and maintain the rage long enough to really get worked up about footy again just enough to absolutely spaz it and get arrested on Friday.

Worst thing was that I'd half convinced myself that we were a chance. Like a smaller scale version of 2008 when I talked myself into believing that 2007 was an injury-induced abberation which we would soon correct the same logic was applied between the North and Saints games. Not entirely sure why given that we've not only gained more injuries since then (including THE CELEBRATOR and his mystery 'we didn't want to say we dropped you in indigenous week' knee troubles) but that the 07/08 hypothesis lasted all of a quarter before Hawthorn massacred us and set into motion (as if it wasn't already, who am I fooling?) the terrifying ghost train ride that we're still on today.

That day I think we all felt a bit sorry for Juice when he was fumbling around like he had absolutely no idea and we all wondered if somebody who was clearly the prototype of a 'good VFL player' could possibly survive another year in a rebuilding side. Four seasons later he's still there, scuttling around not looking much different. Viva la revolution.

Times may be tight, but not enough that I couldn't be persuaded to donate money to the TAB with another one of my ridiculous first goalkicker bets. The fact that the only players I have ever successfully picked to do it correctly are Will Minson and Tom Lonergan should be warning enough to stay away, but when I saw Jack Watts at the positively ludicrous odds of $34 I couldn't help myself. Even Dean Polo was considered more likely to do it. Somebody at the TAB must have taken notice of the barmy theories going around about him suddenly being the next big thing in defence because he took a couple of marks down there last week.

And bloody hell he almost did it too. When Joel Macdonald took the most unlikely first shot of the game since Nathan Carroll helicoptered his one and only career goal through after a 50 at the same venue nobody was surprised to see it fall short, but just for a second I saw Jack rise with his hands ready to snaffle it in the goalsquare only for some arsehole to get a hand in and punch it away. Would have been a good time for a baffling free kick from somebody running a fingernail across his back I'd have thought. Like the sucker for punishment and exotic betting options that I am if they keep offering $30 I'll keep taking it. And losing.

Despite the Saints then being hemmed in on their own goal-line with about 30cm of daylight to extract the ball we couldn't even force them through for a score and the tone for the day was set. Straight down the other end for the next President of IMF to make Clint Bartram look stupid and not only was my betting record looking poor but we'd allowed them to go from one end to the other almost untouched. When Milne got a second it looked like it was going to get ugly. Not because we were going to lose, we're well used to that, but because it was going to come at the hands of the #1 ordinary human in the competition.

What is it with us that encourages the shit blokes of the league to go to town on us? First Harvey, now Milne and you can absolutely mark it down that the Chernobyl Child Mitch Robinson will have a corker next week. Could it be that we have a list heavily weighed down with Bieber-esque teenage idol wannabees who inspire absolutely no fear whatsoever in their opposition? I'll do whatever human sacrifices that are required at draft time to get some of these hateable characters into our side. It's ugly, it's morally bankrupt and it's unpleasant to be giving a real job to somebody who should be collecting garbage cans but like Saints fans under Ross Lyon I'm prepared to turn a blind eye and pretend it's all for the greater good. Until we stuff up three Grand Finals, then I'll turn hard and flood to talkback to whinge about how terrible it's all been.

Thought it was an interesting but not entirely unlikeable move to start JMac forward. It certainly wasn't for his spectacular goalscoring prowess (just the casual seven in nearly 100 games, and absolutely none for us) but at least he offered some sort of presence and pressure. Besides most of the time our forwards are in the backline anyway so what are we losing? It was certainly a better idea than the clowns on the radio who were trying to make the case for swapping Watts and Frawley. If you're going to experiment then do it for the right reasons, or because you're trying to lose to a Richmond side featuring Jordan McMahon, not just because you're hoping that somehow two high draft picks will suddenly become guns at each other's position so that you can swap them around on a whim and baffle the opposition.

Would have been interesting to see how he went down there for the rest of the day, and how long they would have persisted with it when the Saints started getting on top, but if there was a tactical masterstroke waiting to be unleashed we only saw a hint of it in setting up Watts' goal (three too late kids) because he had to go back and cover Tapscott after the poor bastard booked his room in the MFC Casualty Ward (which is now starting to resemble a 14th century plague pit) by blowing his hamstring to shreds with the exact same kind of roosting kick that he's done about 50 times since Round 1. Justice may have been flowing in Manchester later that night but it was notable in its absence in the Docklands area around 2.15pm Saturday.

I'm not a huge Macdonald fan, but at least you know he's going to have a bash every time. I did enjoy when he sledged Fev about his gambling habits last year (which must have been unpleasant for all parties when they ran out together at Casey last week) but failed to see where he fit within our, surprisingly, half decent backline. Seemingly it's as the "our only other choice is Tom McNamara" option so get used to him being down there while Garland and Tapscott are on the sidelines. Tremendous cockup in the last quarter though when he beat Riewoldt to the ball (good...) then tried to play on with Nick a foot away from him and was, to nobody's surprise, pinged for holding the ball (horrendous...) Wouldn't have been such a big deal if Davey hadn't then enjoyed a massive brain explosion and thrown the ball back to JMac instead of Riewoldt in order hold up the play and copped the 50 which basically put the game away. Mark down another case of MFC Disaster Syndrome - originally thought to have been on the way to eradication, now spreading like Ebola.

Warnock can also be relied on to put in a big effort every time he's out there, but more than just whole hearted performances I thought he was actually quite good. No surprises because he really hasn't done a great deal wrong over the last couple of years other than be squeezed out of the side by Garland coming back from injury and playing good football. He's a good depth option and as long as he understands that much time is likely to be spent in the 2's if everyone else is fit then I'd be happy to keep him. Though I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't share the same viewpoint and demanded a trade at the end of the year. Didn't hurt his performance that he spent most of the day playing on Kosi who was, let's be frank, shithouse. When the SME wasn't using him as a step ladder in the ruck he was down front giving the Saints absolutely nothing. Must be a nice luxury to be able to play with the equivalent of 21 men every week just to try and prove a point. Apparently he was concussed at one point. How could they tell the difference?

It looked grim when they went three goals in front, considering we're lucky to kick three goals in a half most of the time, but to everybody's surprise we managed to fight back to some sort of respectability by quarter time. It wasn't all going our way though - Milne was having such a good first quarter that he even had the good fortune to totally stuff up a kick running inside 50 and have it land in Riewoldt's hands at the top of the square. Is there no situation he can't worm his way out of?

It took Jurrah and Green to get us back into it, shortly before they turned to doing almost completely bugger all for the rest of the match. He was hardly impressive, but what's with the urban myth going around about Green only having one tackle for the match? AFL stats are often as wonky as their website but they've got him down for four. To be fair I'm more likely to believe forum scuttlebutt than anything that comes off that site, but either way they can't have been four very memorable ones.

Jurrah was moving around like somebody who wasn't quite right. Managed to pad his stats a bit in junk time, but it was easily one of the worst games he's played for us. I fully expect him to stand on somebody's head on Friday night to keep us all interested.

Davey, on the other hand was pox, and you don't need me to point it out because everyone from Bailey down noticed. Pulling out backing into packs, jogging around like he's at training and once again getting tagged to buggery with no ability to shake it. He's NQR at the moment. I don't completely absolve the coaching staff of blame either because it seems they never even think of sticking him down in the forward line for a while to try something different. No wonder he's showing a distinct lack of interest when he knows if it's not going well at 0.05 in the first quarter he'll probably be in the same position at 27.50 in the fourth, but it's still no reason to let the head drop like that unless there's some serious off-field action going on. At the moment he'd be lucky - if we're in any way serious about sending the proverbial 'message' - not to be playing for the Scorpions next week. Will probably survive just on the basis of there hardly being anybody to replace him. After all you're not going to dump somebody for showing a lack of intensity and then pick Morton are you?

Strange to see both teams on five goals at quarter time, given that in most games featuring these teams they'd be lucky to be on that halfway through the last. The difference is the Saints would be 5.4 to 5.3, and we'd be 5.1 to 16.23. Trust us to play all their depressed superstars back into form, who didn't know instantly the moment Goddard had a shocker last week that he'd run riot against us? Other than the ex-player cutting us to shreds it's the most notorious move in the MFC playbook. Somewhere Brock McLean, who qualifies on both counts, is rubbing his hands together in glee at the prospect of redeeming his rapidly failing career with a 45 possession Friday night smackdown.

The ludicrous sea-saw nature of the game continued in the second quarter when they kicked away for a third time that day. Didn't help that we spent most of the term kicking to Newton in the forward line and watching him either miss sitters running straight into an open goal or being outmarked by defensive titans like James Gwilt while showing as much fight as a panda. No idea where Jurrah or Watts were during all of this (wait, I'll tell you exactly where Watts was - most of the time he was on a half back flank playing Baileyball. At least he was doing it well...) but surely halfway through the quarter somebody in the coaches noticed that another avenue might be required for us to have any chance of putting up a decent score? Nah, just keep doing the same thing over and over again and hope for the best. We're the football equivalent of World War I - just throw a million men over the top and suffer thousands of casualties in the vain hope that you'll gain about 15m of ground. Not as many hamstring injuries in the war though.

I'm trying so hard to be fair on Bailey that it's not funny, but I'll tell you what if the words OUT: Newton don't feature in our changes next week then all bets are off. He is symptomatic of everything wrong with us, not good enough to play in any sort of decent league football side but does just enough and shows the occassional flash of physical aptitude to scam the club into keeping him on the list. Then at the first hint of a black death style injury crisis he's in the side once again doing just enough so if you only judged the game on the stats in the paper you'd think he was ok. Could he possibly going down as the worst 20+ game player in league history ever to average more than one goal a game? He's the poor man's Brad Miller but without even that slight hint of intensity given by the former. The chase and tackle late showed that he has got a half decent defensive side whenever the other side have got it, so why does he have the air of terror around him whenever the ball goes near him?

I hope he bought last week's game on DVD so he can sit down and watch the first quarter on repeat. With the season effectively buggered we might as well bring Howe and Gawn in - they cannot possibly give less up front and in the ruck respectively than Juice does. Presumably Bate will be in trouble as well considering he was decidedly ordinary again, but you could see just how much interest they've got in him being part of our future when he was named as the sub. The fact that he got a run early is neither here nor there, he got dumped after one game for being shit, played a cracker in the VFL and was then reintroduced only to be - all things going well - marooned on the bench for three quarters. May as well see if Warnock wants to share a trade request form now for at least despite having had a couple of poor years he's got the credits in the bank to earn another go somewhere else where he'll inevitably go and kick nine against us.

That we were only 13 points down at half-time said as much about how shit the Saints are this year as it did about our (usually non-existant) fighting qualities. When Watts got his second from a dinky rolling toe-poke early in the third I even fooled myself into thinking we were about to run away with it. Bartram was on top of Milne (though did he give up a goal with a farcical cross field kick? Two weeks in a row of Docklands slop is melting in one in my memory. I can't even picture if the roof was open or not), and even though Montagna was killing us Frawley was holding Riewoldt relatively well. When even Juice started kicking snaps out of his arse even I, cynical as ever at the prospect of this team being any good, cocked an eyebrow a'la The Rock and tried to convince myself it was going to last.

Of course it wasn't, it didn't and it very rarely ever does. Maric brought joy to the dark hearts of teenagers everywhere by tying up the scores, and even briefly cracked a smile in celebration before realising that he's still the leader of the black parade and going back to the default snarl. It was such a crucial goal that even The Spencil managed to stand and applaud it;


Shame that from then we all became depressed. The late goal to Montagna didn't really hurt too badly, and it probably wouldn't have even happened had Petterd had a touch more luck with his kick that hit the post - and even though we were behind at the last change there was still the fact that the Saints have proven themselves to be flaky freaks this year to give us hope that we could steal it and 'earn' an undeserved reboot for season 2011.

That lasted about ten seconds of the last quarter until THAT Davey-Macdonald-Riewoldt howler, and from there the Saints were off to the races. Our battlers battled on, our fancyboys put the feet up and busted out the cocktails and the Jurrahcane picked up a couple of junktime specials to buffer his stats but when Frawley got confused in the backline and turned it over for the second Cripps goal we were stuffed. Would have been a good time to walk out if I hadn't pledged to see every minute of every game in Victoria this year.

It was a heinous last quarter. Forget the junky goals which kept it close, the Saints finally decided to play like the 2010 model and we had absolutely no idea what to do to get around it. Cue the best part of 30 minutes of dinky kicks and handbals in the backline which usually ended in tragedy or a final desperate hoof into the midfield which was neatly cleaned up. It was horrible and said it all about where we're it. We're so used to coaches who don't have a plan B that we probably wouldn't recognise what it looked like if they suddenly implemented one. Don't know why it worries me, I can barely work out was Plan A is most weeks.

Positives were few and far between. Gysberts was back to his best (so far - a lot more best to come from that guy), Watts continued his good form despite once again being called upon to occassionally wander around the backline and both Jetta and Maric showed that pre-season form isn't a complete fraud. Other than that it goes without saying for anyone who saw the game that Michael Evans had a great debut. He looked comfortable from the first bounce and his disposal under pressure was great - kicks into the forward line weren't much chop but a) he'll naturally improve (no really, don't be fooled by the rest of the list) and b) why bother drilling a kick into our forward line anyway? They're either not there or there's seven of them in the square waiting for a long bomb. No way he gets a game - at the moment - in a full strength side, but good luck seeing one of them again this year. I'm still not convinced that Tom Scully is actually injured and that we aren't being strung along in one of the greatest conspiracies of modern times.

No superstars, no grunt, no ordinary humans, no future for season 2011. There's another three months of this to go, and then you've got to sit through cricket season so that's even more painful. Forget whatever fellow member of the Commonwealth we're losing to in test matches this year, November means one thing for me and that's the draft. Here's my three point schedule of demands;

a) Big bodies
b) Players who are hateable to opposition fans
c) Funny names

I have no idea what Freddie Clutterbuck of East Perth does, plays like, looks like or does in nightclubs but he certainly fits category C. I suggest we pick him even if he's otherwise no good just to fulfill everyone's dream of having a player on our list called Freddie Clutterbuck.

2011 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Jordan Gysberts
4 - Michael Evans
3 - Jack Watts
2 - Neville Jetta
1 - Stefan Martin

Apologies to Sylvia, Warnock, Maric, Moloney and McKenzie.

By reader suggestion I've added Russian insult to Russian injury by temporarily taking back Jamar's Ruckman of the Year award due to Stef Martin getting within nine votes of him. Good luck making up those numbers, but with The Experience having it all to himself over the next few weeks he could at least make it interesting.

Suffice to say the Green back-to-back tilt is looking distinctly unlikely at this time.

19 - Brent Moloney
17 - Colin Sylvia
16 - Mark Jamar (LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
8 - Jack Watts
7 - Colin Garland (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Stefan Martin
6 - Luke Tapscott (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
5 - Rohan Bail, Jordan Gysberts
4 - Jack Trengove, James Frawley, Michael Evans
3 - Jack Grimes, Liam Jurrah, Nathan Jones
2 - Jared Rivers, Ricky Petterd, Clint Bartram, Neville Jetta
1 - Brad Green

Around the grounds
A big hand to the Bulldogs for leaving it until the very last moment to take the heat of us with that putrid display against the Eagles. Everyone punts home a ten goal performance, except when it's Tony Modra and you're about to get done by Freo, but there can't have been many non-Eagles fans more keen on Kennedy bringing up double figures last night than Dean from Melbourne.

Until the quarter of slaughter at Subiaco he was firmly in the gun for a weekend of media scrutiny, now it'll be pushed towards the racing results by the inevitable "will Rocket get the arse?" speculation surrounding the dogs. Leaves the field wide open for all the real whining about the Dees to be done by internet nutbags (hi) anyway, and that can never be a bad thing can it?

Certainly puts our debacle against West Coast into some perspective. If only we hadn't been shit two of the three weeks since (and admittedly sublime the other) you could nearly write that Thursday night debacle off as the result of the Eagles going absolutely bananas with the most multipronged forward line in the history of generously pronged items. Good side to watch too, not just because they fulfill my footy fetish of having towering, big bodied, anti-social looking bastards all over the place. Would help if they could win in Victoria but I'd rather see them pull off the comeback of the millenium to win the flag rather than see any of the *spit* other Victorian teams do it.

As much as I'd like to see Malthouse or Roos working for us on minimum wage next season I'll have Rocket if he's happy to work cheap. And let's be fair if he's employed the Bulldogs he certainly works cheap.

Next Week
Now that we've got the pesky winnable games out of the way it's time to start the month long disaster tour which will either see us emerge phoenix from the flames style, or more likely inevitably fall apart and end up struggling to stay out of the bottom four again - in a worse position than last year.

I don't want to be alarmist but there was a stat posted recently on one of the forums which sums up our last four seasons perfectly. Since Dean Bailey took over we are (counting Saturday) 4-1-40 against Victorian teams - for a grand winning percentage of 8.8%. And three of those were against Richmond who by all accounts are actually doing quite well for themselves now and have 10 wins and three draws against Victorian sides in the same period.

All absolutely outrageous reading for those of you who used to enjoy going to your office/school/family reunion etc.. and basking in the glory of having beaten up on sides that gave you bragging rights over somebody other than that weird woman in the finance department who likes Freo because they wear purple. It's not in itself a reason why we'll lose next Friday night, but it's as good a reason as any to expect it.

Unfortunately for all the anguished hand wringing and "sack the coach" panic calls to SEN whenever they lose a game, the Blues have emerged from the trash can as a half decent side. For want of any great depth of contenders this year they could very well finish top four and contend for a Grand Final berth. There's nothing surer than in front of the bright lights of the Friday night football cameras that even if we manage to stick them for three quarters then that filthy turncoat J**d will turn up in the last, drag them over the line and get another three undeserved Brownlow Votes. 2 votes McLean, 1 vote Robinson.

Then it's Essendon who obviously didn't read the memo about rebuilding from scratch and 'bottoming out' (as much as you can with thousands of draft concessions going to clubs nobody is interested in), and who have decided to polish some of the ex-biggest turds in the competition into a genuine finals contender within a year. Good luck getting them in the same psychologically destroyed, nigh on mentally tortured, state that saw them give away all those 50m penalties last year. Hird and his floppy haircut which hasn't changed since 1994 haven't got much to worry about from us this year.

Let's just concentrate on not humiliating ourself once or, god forbid, twice in front of a national television audience eh? We're only just emerging from therapy after that Geelong debacle in '08 (and it's out one door of the psych clinic and back through another when it comes to this club), so let's not go straight back to the bottom of the laughing stock league yet shall we? Think of the poor television executives who will lose out on mountains of coke and leggy Brazilian hookers if we ruin their ratings and cause Seven to demand their rights deal cash back.

Hopefully Bails openly swears on TV again to keep it interesting. No help for me, I'll be there trying to climb Light Tower 2 with my WE WANT MAXIMUM GAWN banners. If nothing else it should get the game shut down.

Saturday 14 May 2011

Shit Sandwich

Here endeth the footballing week from hell. How many sides have ridden the sort of ridiculous rollercoaster that we've had over the last few weeks? From the debacle in Perth to unbridled joy last week and then back to the gigantic turd that was served up in the last three quarters of today's game we're proving to be even bigger bi-polar freaks than Port Adelaide.

Of course even when we got dicked by the Eagles in embarassing fashion and the internet exploded in a shower of sparks we could console ourselves with the fact that we had players to come back into the side. Even when Rivers went out injured before the Crows match you could laugh and say that we probably deserved one or two injuries after the good run we'd had from Round 1 onwards. Then Grimes busts his foot, the Trengove Debacle robs us of Jack for two (later three) weeks, Jamar hurts his knee and The Spencil totally destroys his in the 2's. It never rains it pours etc..

Still, despite our putrid record against North (lost eight in a row) and at Docklands (one win from 14) there were still plenty of people willing to throw their hard earned on us beating North at Docklands. It wasn't an idea entirely without merit, the 19 survivors from the Crows game had been bloody good and North's sole win for the year had come against Port. Even without Jamar in the centre if everything went right we could have gotten away with it - and for a while we did.

So, just another shite afternoon at Corporate Stadium then? Well, it looked good for the first twenty minutes. We expected The Experience to be competent in the ruck, but for the first quarter he absolutely dominated. North were running with absolutely no idea what they were doing and even Juice, born under the zodiac sign of SPUD, was running around inside 50 like he was Jonathan Brown. By the time he'd won the free kick that allowed Watts to kick the second goal it looked like last week had never ended. Next thing he's dropping to the ground theatrically in honour of the birthday of the league's #2 Shit Bloke Boomer Harvey (and we all hope that he'll be promoted to #1 soon when Stephen Milne is finally locked up) and winning a 50 for his second goal and everything's coming up Melbourne. Forget the fact that he went down like a housewife - deliberately for once - and consider that he had two goals and a hand in another, we were four goals in front and it was looking like the former delistee was about to have the greatest day of his life. Somewhere John Meesen must have been sitting on a couch yelling obscenities at his foot for robbing him of the chance of being out there as well.

After three more goals and with Lachie Hansen missing sitters that even Ben Holland would have got with his eyes closed you could almost believe it was going to continue. Alas the Demons are great at lulling you into a false sense of security - witness the second quarter of the Hawks game for the perfect example - and there was something false about the way we were running all over them. Still, at least if we got out to a big enough lead we might have been able to withstand the inevitable correction in the umpiring and North working us out in the middle.

Naturally we were ahead of schedule and nearly managed to stuff it up by the end of the quarter. Suddenly Newton was in the ruck and while he was having a fair bash at the bounces - and getting a hand from Sylvia and Gysberts elevating the third man up tactic to an art form - he was everything to the right of your dial that he wasn't to the left of it. Absolute shite, and never really recovered even though he tried hard for the rest of the day. That's what you get with Juice, effort and at least no dropped marks today but he's not getting any better. God forbid one of Gawn or Campbell can get through enough games with Casey without suffering crippling injuries I'd much rather one of them and Bate into the team - who was unlucky to be dumped after one ordinary performance in an otherwise brilliant side - and Newton back doing what he does best and killing VFL defenders. Possibly for Port Melbourne.

When North kicked two in a row, the second from a free kick delivered on a platter after a ruck infringment from the flaming spud, I thought the balance was about to tip in their favour. Should have gone with my first instinct, but the Bartram goal in the last few seconds sucked me into believing we were going to steady and run away with it in the second term. After all, not only was Bartram absolutely destroying the Shit Bloke but if he of all people (four goals in three years, how many of them set shots?) was booting them off an angle late in the quarter then we could do anything.

Indeed we could anything, as long as that meant playing like muppets for the next three quarters. There was an element of terrible luck in it at times - we were getting rubbish bounces all over the place, the majority of the pox umpiring decisions started to go against us (and make no mistake there were plenty in either direction throughout the day), Garland went off with a sore ankle, came back and then succumbed to it, and Bail did his knee. As if that wasn't bad enough we were butchering the ball going forward or bombing it in aimlessly only to see it come back the other way at a million miles an hour. When Goldstein - who must love playing us after we gifted him five goals at the end of '09 when The Tank was in full gear - realised what he was playing against and started to dominate the balance tipped noticeably in their favour.

Didn't help that Moloney couldn't get near it. Just when those of us prone to insane hyperbole started to declare him a contender for the Brownlow he spent the first three quarters barely able to get near it. Having the bloke who near single handedly tore the Crows to shreds last week being dominated by Hamburgers Ziebell (he of the leg that is even more fragile than Patrick Dangerfield's head) said it all about our performance today.

Without looking at a replay, and if you think I'm going to subject myself to that then you're on crack, it's hard to piece together what happened over the next quarter and a half. I remember Aaron Edwards taking the Flaming Spud of the Century title belt from Juice and running with it while the former champion tried to roll through a snap from a tight angle like he was Lance Franklin and instead punted it straight through for a point. That was about it for Juice, but Edwards took it upon himself to run riot despite putting in the worst shot on goal since The Spencil dropped the ball on the ground on his run-up on the same day we tanked against Goldstein by playing Dunn on him all day.

From there we were just purely putrid, with very little to recommend us. Other than Jurrah's big mark in the goalsquare and his retrospectively unwise sledging of Firrito they just smashed us. With the centre absolutely locked up in their favour North seemed to have loose men everywhere - and what would an MFC game be without the opposition being able to spot up leads within 50 and without one of our players anywhere near them? - and picked us apart with ease. Normal service resumed, Melbourne Football Club apologises for any inconvenience.

Somehow we were still in front at half time but the tide had well and truly turned. We could have come out of the sheds and made a stand, but Wona (no celebrations, shit game due to playing a shit game) missed one and then Harvey the dog did his weekly cheating to milk a free kick from the gulliable twat of an umpire and kicked the goal. He'd done two thirds of bugger all until then but his success in cheating inspired him and North were off to the races. Undeservedly we got back to within two points when Petterd goalled at the second opportunity but it was just delaying the inevitable and by three quarter time we were stuffed.

How many times in one game can a team be just about to launch an attack when they cop a free kick or make a stupid turnover? Never mind we'd probably have stuffed it up anyway the way we were going today but Jones cost us two goals with the sort of cockups I'd started to forget that he specialised in and Davey another with a putrid kick across the ground. Is there any minor danger that we can get two good games in a row from some of these guys? Moloney only managed to get any sort of freedom once Ziebell went off at 3/4 time, Sylvia was good for most of the day but rapidly lost interest as the game went on and Green was missing again.

There's something wrong with Green, and it's not just that they're not using him the same was as they did when he was so good last year. Now that the swashbuckling Baileyball has been put to one side and we seem to be playing with a forward line again it would be a good move to give him a run up there just to get his hands on it. Especially if, and you may as well shut the doors if true, Jurrah is also hurt.

I did like Watts' game, even though like everyone bar Maric and Jurrah he couldn't get near it up forward in the second half, he looked good down back (!?) and through the middle. Still, I don't want him down back and through the middle - I want him leading to the ball inside 50. Maybe one day we will actually kick to leads on a regular basis and give him the chance.

The game petered out into a junktime slopfest in the last quarter, going on just long enough for every remaining MFC in the stadium - all seven of us - to completely lose the will to live. Maric racked up three after the bins had been dragged out and looked good in doing it, but there was precious little else to be said for us as North ran away to an easy win. The backline was ok, and Frawley was easily the best of them, but we got exposed doing stupid things so many times they were always going to crack under the pressure eventually. Still, when you let Edwards kick six you're either not going to win the match or are a VFL side. We had a hint of both about us today.

It's not to say North Melbourne aren't a half decent side this year, after all I can just picture one of their high proportion of paranoid schizophrenic fans stumbling upon this post and foaming at the mouth that they're not getting acknowledgment. Before I'm subjected to a cavalcade of Excel spreadsheet and flowcharts proving how they're the next big thing and a going financial concern for the future I'll admit that they were absolutely the better side on the day and their ladder position says more about the pox run of games they've had to start the year than it does their playing list.

But they are no better than half decent, and if we can't beat half decent on a regular basis then what's the chances of finishing anywhere near the eight? Last week might have seduced us back into thinking we were half decent but it's back in your/our box for at least one more week now. With the run of games we've got coming up over the next few weeks it's not inconceivable that we could lose the lot and end up back above only Port/Brisbane/Gold Coast. At least now Bails can blame injuries and suspensions for it, unfortunately for him that doesn't bode well for his future and there's no doubt that until we start playing well on a consistent basis that every week is going to be "I know a bloke, who knows a bloke, who cleans the toilets of the MCG who..." conspiracy theories which somehow end with him being replaced by Roos, Malthouse or Checker Hughes.

Frawley was right in the post-match interviews, we just gave up during the match and that's not right. He was one of the few who you couldn't fault for going at it hard for four quarters but there was definitely a sense of "well, that was fun while it lasted" when things started going wrong. There was never any doubt that they were going to come out like a house on fire at the first bounce. I wouldn't be surprised if the whole group joined in a circle for a group slash onto a picture of Demetriou before running out but the challenge was to keep up the same intensity for four quarters - or at least until the game was won - and we failed miserably.

Can we recover from here? Well the West Coast/Adelaide results show that anything is possible, but with the injury plague suddenly becoming even more black death-eque, and with Dunn almost certainly to be suspended for his flying knee drop in the first quarter (no loss considering the way he played) we're running very short on potential ins. Attention Cale Morton - this is your opportunity, if you're not going to come in and show some desparation now then don't turn up on Monday at all.

2011 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
Almost impossible to give these today. Even when we're absolutely putrid - even more so - there's usually two or three standouts and it's impossible to fill the bottom two spots without reaching. Today the Stef Martin Experience's first quarter gets him over the line and then there's a writhing mass of about nine players who could go into the other spots in any order.

5 - Stefan Martin
4 - James Frawley
3 - Colin Sylvia
2 - Jack Watts
1 - Clint Bartram

Apologies to Newton (first quarter only), Davey, Jurrah, Petterd, Gysberts, Warnock and Maric (for junktime CRUMB).

19 - Brent Moloney
17 - Colin Sylvia
16 - Mark Jamar (WINNER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
7 - Colin Garland (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
6 - Luke Tapscott (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year), Stefan Martin
5 - Rohan Bail, Jack Watts
4 - Jack Trengove, James Frawley
3 - Jack Grimes, Liam Jurrah, Nathan Jones
2 - Jared Rivers, Ricky Petterd, Clint Bartram
1 - Brad Green

Encyclopdia Titanica
Demon Wiki can now be found at the far easier to remember URL of... No need to change bookmarks or links, the old address will still work as well. And while we're at it, nice try to the person who tried to add Garry Lyon's nickname as "Cock Breath" during the week. Unfortunately that page is guarded like my own child and I'm on top of these sort of shenanigans.

On that note I apologise for being a massive scab for the first time in seven years but the advertising revenue from this site goes directly towards paying for Demonwiki - not straight into my pocket for cigs - so feel free to click a link to the right whenever you visit. Open it up a new tab and don't even look at it if you're really not interested. And I promise never to scab you again, until the next time when we start to get close to the payment threshold and need that little push over the edge.

Next Week
Back to Death Valley to play St Kilda. It's just our luck that they'll find some form against the Hawks tomorrow and then bore us into submission next week. Given that half their backline kick like Al Nicholson after an amputation it would be nice if somebody could put even the slightest bit of pressure on them before we're out of the match.

Can't be bothered playing fantasy selection committee, not particuarly excited by anybody we've got to come in except for McKenzie if fit. We've got a prick of a run after next week so get ready to hear the words "season defining" carted out by every broken down media hack alive - but for once they've got a point. After next week we play Friday night games twice in three weeks, and personally I'd rather us not like complete tools both times and once again be banned from appearing in marquee matches.

Was it worth it?
If you're into Maric self-harm then yes, very much so. And you'd have to be to watch this club regularly.

Speaking of Maric I think the most disappointing part of my week was discovering that he's not a complete emo afterall. Maybe it was Beamer Moloney's sparkling interview techniques that brought a smile to his face, and introduced us to the newest catchphrase in footy - "yeah, it's good" - but I think this image needs to be posted here for posterity just in case we never see anything like it again.

He'll always be the AFL's #1 My Chemical Romance fan to to me.

Sunday 8 May 2011

Crisis Management 101

Well, we can be well assured that this afternoon in stark contrast to the Gold Coast game we did NOT witness the worst ninety (six) point victory in league history. In fact if one of those wild flying shots from Bail or Dunn had gone through at the end and pushed the margin into triple figures I'd have been comfortable slotting it straight into my top ten all-time matches seen live.

Without actually sitting down and looking at the last 22 years in detail it would still be unlucky not to make it. After all it's not every day that you turn up at a game and every single gripe you've got with the team is addressed before you win by 16 goals.

Of course the smartarses are already creeping out of the woodwork, pretending they didn't lose the plot ten days ago after the West Coast debacle and sarcastically asking if we still all want to sack Bailey now. Coming out and pretending that you weren't livid about that performance, and those against Hawthorn and Brisbane, is all fine if it makes you feel better but the difference over the last week and a half is that everything that you, me and people who have been living in huge Pakistani mansions without phone or internet for five years could see was wrong with the team was addressed - and it worked gloriously.

First they picked Petterd and corrected one of the great injustices of the 2011 AFL Premiership Season. Not surprisingly that paid off in spades even before he started kicking goals in the second half - he just provides presence, not in a Brown/Franklin big bastard way but as difficult match-up in a forward line. Speaking of forward lines, my god we actually played with one. The bombing the ball to the top of the square reminded me a lot of the Gold Coast game, which makes me wonder if it was their intention to do it against the Eagles as well before we turned up and could barely get the ball down there. There was even a couple of kicks to leads nearer than 50 yards out which was worth getting excited about. Also note the additional times Watts spent up there - did a couple of ordinary things but also displays a touch of class when he's inside 50 that we're denied when they've got him, and the rest of the forwards , aimlessly wandering half back like Burke and Wills. You didn't even mind seeing him end up down there today because you knew it wasn't going to be the be all and end all of his game. This is a positive. Two good games in a row, we want more.

Thank god too that Bailey abandoned the ludicrous sideline cheerleading and head patting and went back to the coaches box instead. I'm sure the players didn't feel there was much of a drop in enjoyment from not having their heads rubbed as they came to the bench. Hopefully he enjoyed what he saw from a decent vantage point enough to stay there for the rest of the year. If they need to hire somebody specifically to show up on match day and slurp up to the players, telling them how great they are then I'm available to do it at cut price rates and promise not to leap on one of Jamar's enoromous tree trunk legs and try to hump him senseless. Also I've got to get some kind of job which means that I can say "bad luck, can't come" if somebody decides to have a wedding/birthday/funeral at the same time as a game. Could get a job selling the Footy Record but as a nearly 30 year old man that would have a touch of the Mr Kelly's about it.

Another reason for optimism was the balance between going through the corridor and playing wide as required. Showed a versatility that I don't think any of us thought the players or coaches had in them. The bookies and the optimists must have known something I didn't because it seemed almost certain to me that we were going to come out, serve up exactly the same slop as last week and get fingered in the old crackola again. Now it becomes apparent that the enormous difference between the two games is that last week we couldn't win shit out of the middle, the backline collapsed under siege and nobody had a chance to set up properly. That was horrific but today was nearly the complete opposite - you're not going to get the amazing run that the Psychic Friends Connection had today in most games but somewhere in the middle of the two should see us right as long as Jones (back into decent form), Trengove and Scully (can I have an autograph? Sucked in you just signed a new contract!) continue to give him a hand. Last week is what happens when everything is left to Beamer and they get on top of him work - let us never live through the horror of Nic Nat standing around with nobody near him then galloping halfway down the field unchallenged before shanking a shithouse kick ever again. Something tells me North aren't going to be so stupid as to fall for the same trick.

Adelaide were very, very ordinary today and Neil Craig deserves to end up in the same seventh circle of hell as Voss and Eade this week (with Bails desperately trying to crawl out of a half opened window a'la The Poseidon Adventure) but the final piece in the - at least temporarily - solved problem was his players putting on pressure. You can hack away at Bailey until the cows come home for not playing the press like every decent team in the competition but even his shock conversion to its virtues a quarter of the way through the season would have meant two thirds of bugger all if the players hadn't come to the party as well. Not hard to beat the amount of tackles inside forward 50 from last week given how few times we got it in there but today we outstripped our entire total from last week's entire match in the first term alone. Down the other end the Crows were trying hard but they could barely lay a glove on our defenders. That was a huge difference, and a huge reason why we won by so much.

We've seen a lot of dumb things written over the last fortnight, not least by king tit Kevin Sheedy in today's paper who suggested we stuffed up by making Green captain instead of somebody younger (who in god's name could you possibly have put who is significantly younger? Grimes? Give the guy a chance to put a few games together before expecting him to captain the side. Another injury to the poor guy today is unbelievable) but much of it by our own supporters. Surely I won't be the only person edging away nervously from some OTT comments in the last ten days.

Reading moments of utter, panicked stupidity serves you right for participating in forums (or reading this page) but for all my haste to join the queue of people throwing rocks at Bailey I never stooped to the level of trying to drop Green, Sylvia, Davey and Frawley. All four of those names were suggested at various times of the week as players who should have been dumped after the Eagles debacle. Unfit, not trying hard enough, just plain finished etc... All four of them killed it today. You just knew that Rodney Eade was going to ruin it for all of us by dropping Brian Lake because he was unfit, but surely nobody in their right mind thought that anything could be gained from giving one, or god forbid all four, of these guys the arse coming back onto the MCG? So Frawley looked rusty, so Green was having a poor trot, so Sylvia fell flat on his face while running with the ball. So what, they're still amongst our best players most weeks even when we have to struggle to find five players good enough for votes.

There's nothing to be gained from swinging the axe on players, especially the captain, in Round 7 and I was glad to see sanity restored after Green kicked that goal and grabbed the club logo (unless he was grabbing the Hankook symbol to celebrate driving excellence) to wild scenes from the crowd. I hope everyone who bagged him for giving company line answers in interviews during the week, for appearing on Channel 10 last Saturday night and on the Footy Show is taking a step back tonight and trying to find the delete button on posts they wrote about him. The smother in the last quarter said it all about him, didn't need to do it while we were a million points in front but the man bleeds red and blue. Could very easily be at Collingwood right now tearing the competition apart instead of having given us three years as one of the few you could count on to give 110% every week. Is practically untouchable in my eyes and I'm glad he stuck it up the whingers. Put this picture up on your wall and look at it the next time you doubt his commitment.

As for Sylvia and Frawley that was just stupid on either front and barely even worth mentioning here. The only one I had real, legitimate concerns over was Davey and today he quelled every fear I had that he'd lost interest in the game. Hasn't looked his usual self for most of the year, and other than slapping a few children around in the Gold Coast game he's barely had a decent touch all season. Probably helped that the Crows didn't bother to tag him, which certainly upset him against the Lions, but he was back to delivering quality kicks to his teammates today and was running around like he cared again. Love the guy, would never suggest he should be given the boot but was very worried that he was over it. Very pleased at his response to playing an absolute nightmare against the Eagles.

Setup and pressure aside we just looked one step better than them from the first bounce. I'm not sure if Adelaide are like us and can only play well at one ground, whether they're completely stuffed or if the St Kilda game meant anything whatsoever but we had them covered with ludicrous ease. They tried to stop Moloney from clearing everything but how could you stop the man? With Jamar putting every second tap straight into his hands nearly unchallenged it's no surprise that he's in career best form. Admittedly it didn't work last week but there can't be many more dominant combinations in the league than the PFC. J**d and any ruckman Carlton can put out there would probably rank as highly but the turncoat is bringing about 90% of that partnership, these two are equally epic. It was nowhere near Russian's best game this year around the ground but who needs to compensate when you're giving silver service to the midfield like he was?

It was especially satisfying as he was playing without a backup after the baffling (but omission of the Stef Martin Experience. No offence to Jack Grimes but if somebody was going to break their foot two minutes into the game I'd much rather it happen to him - or nearly anybody - than Jamar. He rucked one out in the centre for the first three quarters before Dunn was thrown in to give him a break. He got a hand around the ground with other players going third man up which helped him from running out of juice (speaking of supposed ruckmen) long enough to help get us in a winning position. Had one kick which was shite but it didn't matter today because he laid the platform from which Moloney broke/shattered our record for most clearances in a match since they started keeping the stat. Only thing that's going to keep the Russian from a second AA berth is that not only is the giraffe Sandilands dominating but that Mumford and Cox are too. Can he be inducted in a Scullgove style package with Beamer? Best tag team since The Quebecers.

In honour of the great man I've uploaded the video of him rightfully giving celebrity tool Andy Maher nothing and walking off halfway through the interview post-last year's Queen's Birthday. Watch, swoon, laugh at Maher's stunned reaction and desperate attempts to recover.

Best thing about today was the way that we kicked into a winning position without Jurrah firing. He got the first goal before deciding he was Buddy Franklin and trying to snap them out of his arse for the next two quarters. Worried? Not in the slightest. Lowlight was the hurried play-on after a free kick during the first but you've got to expect that from mercurial characters. Glad he got three - and had seven shots - in the end but it was hardly his finest hour. By the time we'd sewn it up he only had one and the other two came during the junk time rampage, but once we finally straightened up and stopped kicking points the goals started to flow from everywhere. Watts got a couple, making up for completely missing a mark in the square at the end of the first quarter, and both Tapscott (ROOST!) and Bartram went forward to boot one - and you know when the backline are kicking goals then everything is probably going to be alright.

Somehow despite dominating them in pretty much every facet of the game we were only 14 points in front at half time and every possible chance of suffering the counter attack from hell if they got their act together. When they booted the last two goals of the second quarter I started to get a bit nervous, especially considering the Hawthorn game debacle which started in almost identical fashion when we lost intensity in the dying minutes of the first half. Difference this time was that instead of them keeping us in the game with rancid kicking it was the other way around. Obvious solution was to start kicking straight which they did AND HOW.

Highlight of the first half for me would have to be Graham Johncock getting pinged twice for deliberate. Didn't even bother trying to disguise it and paid the price accordingly. Should have been done for a third one but the umpire took mercy on him despite it being the most obvious of the three. Cue the handful of Adelaide fans in the ground then demanding everything be given as deliberate - unfortunately one of the nine was sitting behind me and screeched it for the next quarter and a half until it became clear they were going to get tonked then shut her mouth and sat there silently fuming.

Any fears that Craig would take his "most exciting Crows youngsters ever seen" into the sheds, tear strips off them and send them out to run riot over us was well and truly blown out of the water in the first five minutes of the third. That man Petterd took a one hander and when Sylvia got the second we were back to where we'd been three minutes before the half. Straight out of the centre Col got another one then Petterd added his second and we were all but home. To nobody's surprise it was Moloney who set both of them up. For all the whacking off that the media did over Judd's performance against Sydney the only difference between him that night and Beamer today was that we won by plenty and there wasn't a royal wedding on the other channel.

Also, memo to all media outlets. Shut your mouths about Moloney's "indiscretion" and stop talking like he actually did something. There's no proof he whipped it out and took a whizz other than some random talkback caller, and if getting blind is a crime then the cokeheads and alcos in the media should be the last people to start getting moral. Ahem.

My only disappointment with the blitz that put the Crows away was My Chemical Maric kicking a point just when emo fever was about to erupt and engulf the MCG in an orgy of floppy fringes and self inflicted razor wounds. Still, it was easily his best game for us today - 31 touches and 15 'score involvements' which is some sort of mystifying stat that nobody can really explain but which can't possibly be a bad thing. What it showed was that he's not all about playing forward and kicking goals and is quite comfortable up the ground. Absolutely crucial for him because good luck getting a look in with Petterd, Jurrah, Watts and even THE CELEBRATOR down there. Who would have thought that we'd even be here talking about a forward line of any kind let alone one that looked like it belonged on an AFL ground. It's a Mother's Day Miracle.

Speaking of THE CELEBRATOR, how good was he in the third quarter? Was probably lucky to keep his spot after last week but those were two crucial goals in the context of the avalanche - and the first one was followed by a flying, fist pump celebration a'la Freo in '08. Unfortunately for him I have a feeling that Brad kissing the badge will be the picture on the front cover of the sports section tomorrow which will finally depose the shot of Aussie's celebrations against Freo from my wall at work. Unless the papers opt for more dreamy shots of Hird's windswept 1997 haircut while they furiously rub themselves over Essendon having another win. Either a possibility, hopefully the Herald Sun opt for Hird so I don't have to give them a dollar.

Any worries we were going to run out of gas with one player less for most of the game (and no, I do not want to hear about how good the sub rule was for us) was well and truly put to bed in that quarter. They could have brought Hulk Hogan on as their sub and it wouldn't have helped them with the rest of the team falling apart under our relentless pressure. Nevertheless Trengove did his bit by killing Dangerfield and will probably cop a reprimand from the tribunal for it once the TV stations have played it a thousand times and all but buried him.

8.5 to 1.1 in the third quarter and we were well and truly home with no concerns - a flat 60 points to the good and well over the Chris Sullivan line. Nice to have a last quarter where you can relax and enjoy attempting not to be shat on by a seagull. It even stopped raining a second time which was a relief for those of us looking at driving dinky Japanese cars out of the carpark 35 minutes later.

What I didn't want was a last quarter where the players put the feet up and let the other side get some sort of respectability a'la Sydney/Essendon last year. My wish list basically extends to a flag, somebody kicking 10 in a game and being there in person for another 100 point win so it would have been nice if we could have ticked off at least the third of those today. My goodness we went close too. If Bail or Dunn had managed to get a bit more hoof onto their desperate attempts late in the quarter we would have done it. Never mind though, when your biggest concern is 'only' winning by 16 goals you've had a great day out at the footy or are playing Gold Coast (gee, sorry to mention that Voss and Primus).

Cue the procession. Petterd got his fourth and everybody, probably including Ricky himself, simultaneously turned to the coaches box and said "where the fuck has this guy been for the last month?". Jurrah and Sylvia got a couple more each and Jones added to the carnival atmosphere with one of his trademark goals where he turns the defenders in knots before kicking on the run. The Jurrahcane's second put us within touching distance of the magical 100pts barrier, before we let them get one at the other end to shatter everyone's hopes and dreams. The torch was reignited a section time when Green ran into an open goal and gave Matty Bate ABSOLUTE DOUGHNUTS despite him standing on the line waiting for a handball and we back in record territory with 90 seconds left. Sadly it didn't happen and we'll just have to console ourselves with a 96 points victory. Oh drat, how will we ever go on?

Lucky Bate managed to toe-poke one in during the massacre because after a shocking game it was moderately uncharitable of Green to give him nothing in the square. At the same time it was completely fair because you could see Green shape to handball and then think "bugger this, I'm awesome" and all but tell him to get out of the way before booting it into the second deck.

I'm still not convinced this is the dawn of a new era, because we've seen about 13 of them in the last few years, but it makes me glad that I did do a semi-about face on Bailey during the week and took myself out of the "What's Todd Viney doing next week?" faction. Today certainly puts into perspective how stupid it was to even stick one foot in the same camp as the Facebook group starters and over-spazzers. Might go tits up next week, might be the best thing we see all year, might actually increase the pressure on Bailey if we go nowhere near playing like that again but with any luck the changes he made to address the issues of the past few weeks will stick and the corner will has been turned. If Bails was a stock I'd be upgrading tentatively from SELL to HOLD.

2011 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
What a change, trying to fit seven players into the last three spots instead of having to justify why one was slightly less shitter than another just to fill the numbers. Would like this problem more often.

5 - Brent Moloney
4 - Colin Sylvia
3 - Mark Jamar
2 - Ricky Petterd
1 - Brad Green

Intensive apologies to Davey, Maric, Trengove and Bail and level two apologies Frawley, Jones, Jurrah, Tapscott, Watts, Bartram, Garland + pretty much everyone else bar Grimes and poor old Matty Bate.

Three horse race! Here's to none of them leaping a fence and landing on unsuspecting punters at Warrnambool - unless it's Jamar taking a huge hanger over it then they can cop it. How come everyone is happy to take their kids along to watch horses snap their legs jumping over fences but when one takes equine revenge and lands on them in a death from above attack it's a scandal? Anyway, enough animal cruelty news - back to real sports.

19 - Brent Moloney
16 - Mark Jamar (WINNER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
14 - Colin Sylvia
7 - Colin Garland (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
6 - Luke Tapscott (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
5 - Rohan Bail
4 - Jack Trengove
3 - Jack Grimes, Liam Jurrah, Jack Watts, Nathan Jones
2 - Jared Rivers, Ricky Petterd
1 - Stefan Martin, Clint Bartram, Brad Green

Not a bad suggestion in the comments to institute a Darren Cuthbertson Award for forward of the year. I'll give some thought to it. Issuing retrospective medals for 2005-2010 is one thing but up until last week almost everyone would have been DQ'ed for not spending enough time up front.

Chatting with the stars
Held the door open for Nick McCallum as he was coming out of my office building this week and thought afterwards that I could have saved us all the usual pre-match wankfest by just shutting it on him. Not his fault (except for the QB09 fiasco when his voice cracked during an impassioned plea like the teenager in the Simpsons), you try firing up an MFC crowd before a game. We bat well above our average once the ball bounces but nobody gives a rat's clacker beforehand.

Thankfully, to everybody's surprise, not only did they quietly put the flag raising away in the "seemed like a good idea in a marketing meeting" file but also the man better known as Neil Mitchell's understudy was almost completely phased out in favour of Russell Robertson. Robbo of course now has plenty of time on his hands having resigned as captain-coach of St Joseph's in the Geelong league because he was copping too much abuse over the fence. No really. Either way with no disrespect to McCallum who is probably doing the job for peanuts, Robbo is a far less stuffy character to front up this sort of thing. He might have been gone from being called a crunt by tractor driving Geelong bogans to umpiring a kids goalkicking contest in the space of three weeks but at least unlike Hawthorn there were no (allegedly) recovering junkies involved shortly before breaking into your car in Yarra Park.

Pre-match entertainment is a lose/lose situation for anybody over the age of 15 who actually cares about the game so let's not try and overcomplicate it. Not sure how many times we needed to see the exact same video packages in the 20 minutes before the first bounce either. And while we're at it can we ditch the ponce with the trumpet? He's got one song to play, the least he could do is actually get it right. Can't be easy trying to belt out a tune in front of 20,000 people but it seems like every week he hits the same bum note. Imagine if the bloke playing the Last Post did that on ANZAC Day, the whole place would get torn down. The flag is the first victim of people power, we'll get rid of old mate in the velvet jacket before the end of the year if we stick at it.

Crowd Watch
Drove to a game for the first time since R1, 2009 (I remember it well because it was the Sunday of the Grand Prix and the game against North fit into me taking the longest lunchbreak in workplace history), because in the circumstances it would have been rude not to at least go and pick my mum up from home, and it's good to see that even a completely unexpected landslide victory doesn't give people enough joy to show the slightest bit of courtesy behind the wheel. In the end I was letting people in from ridiculous positions that they had no right to expect to be waved in from just to make a point. What it needed was somebody hanging out the window screaming WE LIVE IN A SOCIETY HERE like George Costanza.

Finally we escaped the parking lot, and having never driven to a game against a team with more fans than North Melbourne I'm not sure how people do it every week, only to find a car proudly displaying two Adelaide scarves from the window. There's a car full of people who need to take a good hard look at themselves. Even if it's kids doing it you'd think the parents might put a stop to it. Let them do whatever they like and the next thing you know they'll be acting like Port fans and stealing cars instead of hanging scarves out of them.

Mother's Day tribute corner
Horrific news for those of you who were stooged out of today's game by family related events. Lucky mine was there, and if it wasn't for her I almost certainly wouldn't have been (obviously, but hold on there's more to it..) so cheers to her.

Not that she's likely to read this, the only post on here that she ever did read was the one where I revealed how she nearly snotted a Port Adelaide fan on (ironically enough) Mother's Day 2003, and that didn't go down too well even though it was 100% true.

Anyway, my family is loosely connected to a Collingwood dynasty via my aunt having (once) been married to one of them so mum always went for the black and white filth out of duty rather than any actual interest in football. Poor woman must have been horrified when I came home shortly after the '88 Grand Final and declared that I was now into footy, not because it wasn't the Pies but because without any males to handball me to she'd have to take me herself. So we went to the G and Waverley (until they started charging for the buses) but never anywhere else. I was young, she was relying on me to get the fixture right and we managed to miss the Round 2, 1991 massacre against Fitzroy due to showing up at the MCG before realising that the game was actually at Princes Park. Neither of us knew where that was so I went home and listened to Darren Bennett dismantle the Roys while recreating the match in our hallway with a rolled up sock.

Not surprisingly looking back on old footy records from that era when I used to keep scores of my own versions of the games Melbourne always won very, very heavily. There was one I found not long ago from that same season where Allen Jakovich kicked about 45 goals but mysteriously I'd seen fit to give the opposition 1.1.7. Who said only children weren't generous?

So while sometimes (i.e last Thursday week) I wish she'd told me to do something else with my life all these years ago I'd like to say thanks for putting in all that time for me and, god forbid, eventually falling for the club and buying memberships of her own. I'll always have good memories of some plastered North fan pouring beer on us while going for a big grab in the crowd, Essendon's Chris Sullivan Line setting comeback, the seagull shitting on my hand in 1993 to the general mirth of everyone else, the Port fan nearly copping a belting, the horrified reaction to my enormous spray against Port in '07, her having to sit there for 20 minutes after the Freo comeback in '08 because she couldn't move due to tension inspired back spasms and the epic walkout when we played Adelaide in '09 and hadn't kicked a goal halfway through the third quarter.

I want a premiership for purely selfish reasons, but it would be nice as some sort of payoff to her for all the time and money she put into taking me during the early 90's. Incidentally her favourite player of all time is Brad Miller, but we won't hold that against her. Happy Mother's Day!

Next Week
This all means very little if we lose to North. Given our woeful our record at Docklands nothing is more certain than us either getting rolled or at least making bloody hard work of it. The fact that we've never beaten them there should mean nothing in the circumstances but forget North getting humped at Kardinia Park yesterday (know the feeling), they're going to watch our game and try to lay a trap to drive a wedge through the Connection. Not to mention the likelihood that Brent Harvey will spend the entire game trying to fake that he's been hit to win a free kick and get reported.

Here's a sport for you, in the crowd of 25k try and spot the tool who took a limp wristed swipe at Daniel Motlop. There's no way he's not just showing up with a baseball cap on and non-North related clothes. Out him to the security guards if we start losing, it'll make you feel better.

Hard to make changes given a win like that, but I can see a couple of potential swaps. Dunn was actually quite good in the centre ruck contests late in the game but he only came in when we were well home so surely there's no way we can go one out against North and their 200 ruckmen. Not sure if Martin played for Casey today - he certainly wasn't listed in the bests - but I'll have him back in if it's all the same.

Depending on whether or not Rivers is right to go or not Macdonald (if we must..) could come in for Grimes, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Gysberts go down for a run in the 2's after a couple of average games. Bate is an interesting one, he was rancid for much of today but is there much point in dumping him straight away? The only forward seemingly knocking the door down for a game is Newton but in the three quarters he played for Casey today after being at the G as an emergency he didn't kick a goal - can't blame him given those circumstances but it's hardly a good run for coming into the seniors. Jeremy Howe got two but surely even if we are going to start kicking long to the square we still need a lead up forward. I'll give Old Bate one more, it's unfair to judge him on a solitary shocker. Perfectly fair to torch him for two in a row though so watch out for that next week.

The best news is that every week brings up one step closer to the return of McKenzie and Scully. Even Robert "the New Meesen - may not exist" Campbell played for Casey 2's this week. As long as Rivers/Grimes isn't the start of an injury avalanche then maybe, just maybe then things MIGHT turn out alright this year. And that's about as much optimism as you're going to get out of me.

Final thoughts