Monday, 2 May 2011

A funny thing happened to me on the way to next week's game

As much as I tried to filter out my inner rage at Thursday night's performance it seems clear upon a full re-read that there was still some fairly serious bile in what was written - even after a good 12 hours to think about what happened and form a sane and rational opinion on matters. Like, for instance, that getting upset with footy is about as much use as losing the plot when you don't like what television shows are on. Good thing I've not traded in sanity and rationality in the last six seasons and am certainly not going to start now.

The Twitter inferno which nearly saw #sackbailey hit the worldwide top 10 showed that people were bleeding and that it was going to be an ugly week for Bailey and the players. We've certainly not disappointed. Log into your chosen forum and look at the threads. It's a cavalcade of blame, finger pointing and outright hatred - some of it justified, some of it almost as bad as the sort of trash you read on YouTube video comments. I've seen various punters slaughtering everything from the logo, to the sponsors and Brad Green appearing on Channel 10 on Saturday night. "How dare he!" they screamed, "he shouldn't show his face in public". My god.

One person on that farce of a "Sack Bailey" Facebook group which somehow managed to - even more farcically - end up being reported as actual news in the Herald Sun, suggested that The Stefan Martin Experience should be dropped for The Spencil. Is that our most improved player being dumped for somebody who hasn't been better than average in the VFL? Sure why not. Frawley dropped for Warnock on the basis of two ordinary games for Chip and one dominating performance by Warnock against Frankston - the Gold Coast of the VFL? Yeah, that makes perfect sense.

By the time Monday came around, the club had been beaten from pillar to post from every media outlet on the planet and every one of us had our say a hundred times I realised that I didn't want to be thrown in the same camp as the hysterical, screaming emos of the internet. When people are complaining that their friends and workmates are bagging them for following a shit team then I feel as if everyone's missed the point a bit. Don't take that sort of stuff from your workmates seriously, just smash their desk up after they go home. Certainly don't take it to heart, as if you won't get a chance to hang shit on them at some point in the future - you'd be a rare footy fan who follows a team that hasn't been necked at some point. And if you don't get a chance to bag them about footy then just run them over in the car park.

Of course the truth is that the amount of people who read this blog and the three big hitter forums combined is less than the membership of the Diamond Valley Under 9's (and Demonblog represents about 0.1% of that number) and the majority of fans don't bother with them. That's where Facebook and newspaper comments come in, and the proof is there across every single medium that we're currently involved in the biggest collective mass-spazz out in club history and that nobody knows what's going to go on over the next few weeks.

I'm as guilty as anyone, but after reading some of the garbage written over the last few days I'll hold my hand up and admit to being involved in an over the top, internet generation style over-reaction. Right now I believe there's nothing to be gained from changing coach. Maybe, just maybe if and when it becomes plainly obvious that we're going to miss the finals by miles then it might be time for the Daniher style "mutual decision" where the coach realises he's going to get fired and walks before he's pushed.

But now? What do you get? The right wing of this debate want to sack him now and be done with it (often suggesting that Chris Connolly coaches the rest of the year. W, T and indeed, F). The obvious successor for me is Todd Viney, and I love the man but what are the chances that a complete switch now is going to get us into the finals? Surely that's the only reason you make the change. The mysterious gameplan shenanigans of Bailey do as much for me as a seven hour long film in Mandarin but even if he gets burnt at the stake tomorrow we're not going to inject confidence into the problem areas of the playing list or master a new plan overnight.

What I know is that the next two weeks are absolutely crucial. It's not completely out of the question that we'll knock over Adelaide, they weren't exactly dominant against the flaky Saints, and despite our pox record against North their big win over the shambles that is Port Adelaide (currently propping up this week's laughing stock ladder below us and Gold Coast) doesn't mean much. We could conceivably win two in a row, and we'd bloody well better if we hold any minor hope of playing in September.

In the five weeks after that we play St Kilda, Carlton, Essendon, Collingwood and Fremantle and there's every possible chance that we'll lose every single one of those - especially if confidence is at rock bottom. That's the time to start to think about making a change, not now. We've beaten nobody, and even struggled to get over one of the nobodies, and we probably don't deserve to be inside the eight but we are and that's better than being Port. It's not over yet, the pulse is starting to fade but I've watched The Club about 1000 times and I'm going to close my eyes and pretend we're about to do a red and blue version of that - and that Morton is the new Geoff Hayward.

I still don't think that Bailey is going to be the man next year, but I'm not going to put my name to petitions to sack him. Not just because online petitions are the biggest wank since leadership groups, but because it's a prick move. Have your say, vent your spleen but save your digital ink and campaigning for some real causes which affect the world and not something set up by a 15-year-old who alt-tabbed away from looking at pornos for five minutes to set it up.

Problems in this team go deeper than the guy coaching on the sidelines (on that note - BACK IN YOUR BOX!) Blame him, blame the recruiters, blame yourself for caring but what Dunn, Bate, Jones, Morton, Blease, Maric and Strauss have in common is that they're all top 25 draft picks from the last few years who are either going nowhere or treading water. The first three all have flashes of brilliance but have never managed to put it all together at the same time. Morton is the biggest mystery since JFK, Blease is still bubbling under in the seconds and both Maric and Strauss have had their chances with little success.

On the other hand you've got Frawley who might have had a horror fortnight but is still as close to an out and out gun as we have, Scully is as near to a lock as is humanely possible and looked good last year but might dick us at the end of the season, Grimes has been just average so far this year and Watts who finally started to show something in the first quarter of last week just when his position started to look shaky. I disagree wholeheartedly with the way they play Watts but I'm not expecting that the slop written on here is going to change the world.

Trengove, Gysberts and Tapscott are all showing signs but we've prematurely declared champions before and seen it go completely tits up when they don't reach the level we assumed they'd get to (*cough* McLean *cough*). That's why I'm slightly concerned for the future - natural improvement is magic but time and time again we've been stooged on this front via injury or a lack of natural progression (*cough* McLean *cough*), so what happens if this group doesn't come on? What if it takes another three years for Scully, Trengove, Watts et al to become out and out champions just as Moloney, Sylvia, Davey, Green, Jamar etc are on the way out?

I'm worried about the rest of this season but let's not get seduced into the idea that simply maching gunning the coach is going to solve all our problems. Looks like it worked for Essendon but that's a rare win for the shock turnaround because as far as I can see the same process is hardly setting the world alight at Alberton Oval. We need to take a deep breath, wait and see what happens over the next month and then decide where we're going to go next year. If we're utterly necked and haven't won another game by Queen's Birthday then maybe it is time for the golden handshake but having a caretaker coach in charge for three quarters of the season is dumb and I'm ashamed at myself for being into it in the first place.

Besides, even if one of his mates is the natural successor do you see Jimmy Stynes as the sort of guy to sack somebody midway through a season? He's into positive thinking, crystals, drinking his own urine and all sorts of fluff, there's no way he's going to drive a sacking off his own bat. Joe Gutnick - there was a guy you could imagine sacking somebody during the pre-season (shortly before building an illegal settlement on their grave) and rightly or wrongly he knifed Hassa Mann and Neale Balme with glee at about this point during 1997 but if we earn a rare hat-trick of axing three coaches in a row mid-season we should be ashamed of ourselves and never again bag a club like Richmond for 'eating their own'.

Jim Stynes is, thank god, no Joe Gutnick and with absolutely no chance of being voted out by the members he doesn't have to make knee jerk reactions to keep the punters happy. I've got a very small turning circle so I won't guarantee that at some point you're not going to come on here and read me calling for everyone's head but for now I want everyone to breathe in a few times, realise that Stynes is highly unlikely to make the move and cross your fingers and hope for the best.

When we win the flag this is going to be a great post to read again.


  1. Great post in a swirling sea of irrationality. Am looking forward to this Monday's post, though!

  2. The other bright side was the $4.50 I got on Friday for the Dee's 52 being the lowest score of the round!

  3. rich and compelling


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