Saturday 17 September 2011

Neeld In A Haystack

(Dear Herald Sun, please find above my entry for the 'obscure Neeld headlines competition'. You can keep the prize of a chicken dinner with Andrew Bolt).

When my usual Friday afternoon attempting to look busy was interrupted around 4pm yesterday by SEN announcing we were about to announce Mark Neeld as coach I was, it must be said, unmoved. Nothing against Mark, just that we'd spent the week being fed lies by both 'media' and actual clubs/coaches so why not another farcical rumour which didn't turn out to be true? After all, while Hutchy himself was leaping out from behind a hedge at St Kilda HQ on Thursday night to startle the Saints President, 'Hutchy Jr' Damian Barrett was assuring us that it was a Scott Burns/Neil Craig tag team who were poised to take the top job.

The week started with SportsNewsFirst, the Women's Weekly of AFL journalism, claiming that Ross Lyon was about to tell the players he was off to join us. Cue mainstream media (well, SEN at least) being sucked in and sending crews down there, presumably ignoring every red light between Richmond and Seaford in their haste to check a story attributed to 'sources', and which no actual news outlet had heard anything about. Needless to say (Neeldless? This is a golden day for headline writers and hack bloggers) it turned out to be such utter crap that when Ross the (ex-)Boss actually did walk out on them and join the Dockers on Thursday that not only had SNF never heard about it but he didn't even tell the players he was off until he was already singing heave ho while swinging a $cully style bag of cash over his shoulder.

So, we'd already been told to piss off by Clarko, Malthouse is (for now) holding firm on not coaching anywhere next year, we missed Lyon because he was engaged in arguably unethical shenanigans behind his club's back, Scott Burns had been annointed as the winner by the alleged "newsbreaker" and now SEN - the home of following up wild rumours floated by drunken talkback callers - is saying that less than 24 hours after Garry Lyon had said that we were "very close" to announcing a coach that it was about to happen. On a Friday. What ever happens on Friday?

News media, you can see why we might very well have been confused. With the Harvey Heave-Ho Debacle still less than 24 hours old it seemed too ludicrous that we'd add to the chaos by naming our coach while poor Mark was still trying to work out what the hell had happened to him (O RLY?). Add to that the fact that the only men who hadn't been named as contenders for the job were Paul Feltham, Dean Bailey and Jock McHale and it was hard to take it seriously.

But there was some air of credibility about it simply because Mike Sheahan broke the story. Now, Mike's not perfect but he's a damn sight less likely to put his name to an obscenely made up rumor than the twats desperately generating hits on their website so the ad revenue will mean they don't have to eat dog food for breakfast. And to Mike's credit it turned out to be true. Within a couple of hours Garry Lyon was on Triple M all but confirming it as a done deal without actually saying Neeld's name.

In the spirit of Michael Roberts going right over the top on the Footy Show and comparing Mark Harvey getting the boot to a) a tsunami and b) having cancer I'd like to compare the footy world since Monday to September 11, 2001. This can't end well but stick with me. The moment it became apparent that there was some serious terror action going down and not just some tit in a light plane who couldn't steer the news went into overdrive with every stupid rumor they could find and every tiny piece of information was bent and twisted into something much larger. Hundreds of planes were hijacked, car bombs were allegedly going off in major cities, Palestinians were holding the Moomba Parade to celebrate etc.. None of which actually turned out to be true. Only Americans would need to embellish the biggest terror disaster in history with additional activities just to keep people watching. Imagine if they'd had Twitter then? Chaos.

For once SEN weren't all that bad in their coverage of the switch, but even then they went through a 15 minute moment of doubt on either side of the 7pm news when they were convinced Rodney Eade was on a plane to Perth to sign on just because they couldn't get him on the phone. Still, once the ship was righted and they were on track they thumped the TV networks for coverage. Very much against my will I was watching X Factor half an hour later when BREAKING NEWS - ROSS LYON RESIGNS AT ST KILDA TO COACH FREMANTLE came crawling along the screen. 1bil for TV rights and they won't even break into a talent quest for five minutes? That's the future of TV sports broadcasting right there. At least dump an episode of Are You Being Served on 7TWO and cross for rolling coverage. I'd be happier to watch the antics of Mr Humphries than those of Ross Lyon but that's not the point.

So, with the paint barely dry on old Owl Eyes' tombstone in the west, and him mysteriously 'being on a plane to Melbourne' (which of course he actually wasn't) the plot thickened. Of course he wasn't coming to us as the process was already, according to Lyon at least (the media one), almost over by the time Harvey was knifed. But who knew what that meant for Eade/Burns/Neeld/etc.. Nobody was even sure who had been interviewed for our job. Burns/Neeld/?? Viney? Laidley? God knows.

In the end though it was Mike who got the scoop, and that's why he's a major football journalist and not writing tossed off 'Brad and Angelina to split' style tosh credited to friends, insiders and amazed fellow diners. Neeld was indeed to be the man with a press conference at midday Saturday. Mind you the way this week has gone I wouldn't have been surprised if the doors at AAMI Park had flung open to reveal Ken Judge standing there with a cheeky grin and another 'hilarious' gag about Hitler.

But the ex-Collingwood assistant it was, and the reaction from fans was as you'd expect mixed. Everyone wanted a 'name', but after missing out on Clarko and Lyon the 'names' were rapidly thinning out, and we were in danger of losing the man who was obviously the preferred candidate to either Adelaide or Footscray. Like it or not Malthouse wasn't coming, Mark Williams is quite happy being the real coach of GW$ and Eade/Laidley/pretty much everyone else represented just as much of a risk as a highly credentialed premiership assistant. As much as I would cracked an Ararat at the prospect of Laidley/Williams being involved just to fulfil my own sick footballing fantasies the appointment worked for me straight away without ever having heard the guy say a word.

Of course naysayers say nay. "It's another Dean Bailey!" they scream. And while like Bails, Neeld might not have had much of a playing career I think you may just be overlooking his vast experience as a senior coach at local level (and four straight premierships in a half decent country competition is nothing to be sneezed at) and his stint as TAC Cup coach of the Western Jets before he even got to Collingwood - where he was the right hand man of the bloke that everyone (including me) was desperate to get.

I'd go so far as saying that considering what we'd have to have paid to get Lyon - who we just assume is good because he's taken Riewoldt/Goddard/Dal Santo etc.. to two Grand Finals - I'm deliriously happy. Talk to me when Jay Van Berlo, Justin Bollenhagen and Freo are waving a premiership cup around - until then I think we can afford to go without paying him $cully money. I didn't give god knows how much money to Debt Demolition just to have us spunk it up the wall on the off chance that the only thing wrong with us is the coach.

Also, to all the talkback callers who were pontificating about what complete arseholes we were that we cried about $cully doing a runner and then tried to steal somebody else's coach. In the words of Alan Partridge, "Swivel". I don't expect any apologies from [Name] of [Suburb] will be forthcoming. Besides, the moment the compo came in was there anybody left wailing about the $2m turd leaving? Doesn't mean we have to like him though..

If you'd given me the option of the 'untried' assistants yesterday I'd probably have taken Burns just because he had a long career and was a captain but either way I'd be happy not to see all the hard work to get out of debt wasted by spending zillions on a 'name' coach. But now that I've watched Neeld in action at his press conference I'm even happier that we've gone for him. If you've been reading long enough you'll know that the one thing I've wanted ever since 2005 (and before) is a coach who is a bit of a psycho, and I think we've landed one here. In a good way of course, not someone whose floorboards need to be taken up in the search for bodies.

In between saying all the right things in his first press conference (and who else other than Mal Meninga doesn't?) he didn't crack a smile once. I love it. In his interview on the club's YouTube channel the only time he half raises a smirk for the first seven minutes of it is when his list of achievements as a coach was read out to him. I love this. You can tell he's driven, and although this mean a great deal doesn't coming from the guy who was convinced Dean Bailey would be a smashing success, I'm more than happy to back him 100% now and then go back and delete this post in five years time if it doesn't work out.

We all swoon when he says things like wanting us to become the 'hardest team to play against' in the competition, but we'll have to wait and see how he intends on achieving that. I'm happy to be along for the ride. If you wanted a coach who you'd heard of, and who you have happy memories of during their playing days, then bad luck but if you wanted somebody who is going to take no shite from his players and will hopefully do a great line in verbally destroying journalists in press conferences around the country then here's the good times, and here's the hill, let them roll. I also love the twitch in his left eye. He's just ticking every box for me to believe that one day we'll lose and he'll cut a swathe through the press conference with a chainsaw. He's as cold as ice, willing to hack and slice.

It's also confirmed that he'll get his own team to work with, and that's a big goodbye to Josh Mahoney, Bryan Royal, Scott West etc.. The good news though is that Todd Viney stays. Todd seems infinitely more jocular than the man who replaces him but there's no doubt they're both fierce competitors and will hopefully get on nicely. Get Jack Viney in there already.

So, I'm as happy as you can get with a new coach at the moment. Though you just don't know with football. Mark Harvey went into this year looking at top four, was still at least within visible range of it three months ago and now finds himself out of a job. Just don't spaz out and threaten to microwave your (unpurchased) membership just because we didn't hire some superstar. And if we go out and get rolled in Round 1 next year don't forward project three seasons, decide he's no good, start sulking and not show up for the rest of the year. It may work, it may not - that's footy. Have some faith that eventually the skies will open, and the god of football will finally point his gigantic cosmic finger at us to deliver what we've all been waiting most of our lives for. Could happen. Probably won't, but as long as we get a few good years of legitimate hope out of it then I'll be satisfied.

Now the question is whether there's any truth to the rumor that Neil Craig is going to be a 'senior assistant' to him. Doesn't look like the kind of guy who would enjoy having a gruff South Australian hovering over him, and I'm still not sure Craig can operate in a non-South Australian environment. Maybe we can keep him in an oxygen tent full of air sourced from Victor Harbour and unleash him at nights only to follow Cale Morton around, leaping out at him from the shadows in carparks and scaring him until he's an edgy killing machine.

Watch this space. Well don't watch this exact space. This is already one more post than I expected to write before the end of the year.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Demonblog's 2011 End of Year Spectacular

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Doncaster Over 28's for the third annual Demonblog End Of Season Spectacular. Before any further ado let's cross to Moscow for our opening musical number.

Hi, my name is Supermercado. Thanks for joining us this morning, and let me tell you we invited a sparkling lineup of guests to present awards at this event.

From UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to Prime Minister of Iceland Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir and the guy from the Deep Heat ad they were all on board until mysteriously pulling out in the hours after the Geelong game. Ban Ki cited some conflict in Libya, Jóhanna stopped returning my calls and the Deep Heat coach rang to say he refused to be associated with such a shambolic brand as the MFC but did advise me to breathe.... from the core.

So, instead we asked one of Australia's most loved, and cheapest to book, entertainers to join us - although he would like to point out that he’s got commitments to the Frogsack tour at 8pm and if we’re not done by then he’s just going to walk out.

Ladies and Gentlemen, a man so offensive that if you put him on the AFL Match Review Panel nobody would be able to tell the difference I give you Mr. Rodney Rude.

[enters to muted applause]

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. And ladies, don't you hate it ladies when you work your arse off to finish last in order to draft the next big thing and two years later he ditches you for a million bucks a year to go to a softcock expansion team? I hate that.

Anyway trendsetters, this morning we're gathered to look back at what was a long, difficult and often traumatic season for the Melbourne Football Club. You know, just before the ball was bounced for the first time in Round 1 my grandfather said something to me....

[audience member] "How's your grandfather?"

Oh mate me grandfather's depressed, he's the last man alive who can remember Melbourne being a premiership side.

In fact he's depressed because he's just been in court for stealing two pies at the football. "Were you gonna eat the pies?" said the judge. "No your worship" said my grandfather, I was going to hollow them out and put them over me ears so I couldn’t hear that dickhead playing the trumpet.

But that's enough from you mate. Yeah I recognise you. I saw you outside Gate 1 before the Gold Coast game trying to slurp the Kaiser’s Sausage! So shut your mouth mucus and let's move on to our first award of the evening.

Like handing out an award for wicketkeeper of the year there's only so many contenders who can be in contention for being the number one ruckman in a team. That's why it took us five years to invent this award so we had to come up with retrospective winners for the first few seasons.

Anyway this season two men went to battle for this one, and despite a brief fortnight when the fool who runs this site prematurely declared Jamar the winner only for him to be over-run, the winner for the first time is in fact The Stefan Martin Experience.

2011 Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year
24 - Stefan Martin
16 - Mark Jamar
0 - Max Gawn, Jack Fitzpatrick
DNP - Robert Campbell, Jake Spencer

Honour Roll
2005 - Jeff White
2006 - Jeff White (2)
2007 - Jeff White (3)
2008 - Paul Johnson
2009 - Mark Jamar ($3)
2010 - Mark Jamar (2) ($1.50 fav)
2011 - Stefan Martin ($30)

Congratulations to the SME. And now a tribute to you, the Demonblog readership, as we name our commenter of the year. From that small but dedicated group of people who not only take the time to read the garbage that is spewed out here on a weekly basis but also to write good, bad and often abusive comments we have one standout this year.

Lyall St Kilda we congratulate you. Your rants deserve a blog of their own, and were this not a one man operation run out of a bank vault in Snowtown we'd hire you as a columnist.

However a special place will always be reserved in all our hearts for Anonymous who tore through place leaving comments of such baffling beauty that it’s hard to narrow it down to his top five..

Top 6 Anonymous Comments for Season 2011
1. This may sound a little strange but last night they were like the Hammersmith Flyover, fast, crowded and to the point. Those bobmers crashed down, see the bobmers crash down. (every time I see Essendon play now all I can think of is "see the bobmers crash down" - Mercado)

2. as the chris morris-armando ianucci invented character alan partridge would say they looked like cattle riding bikes from the air

3. after the 20 minute mark of the first quarter they only passed to Melbourne players when they couldn't find a couple of north players in the clear, I really hope there's no betting scandal, inexplicable difference to the first 20 minutes and the garradine swine of the last three quarters.

4. I'm All Right Jack is a 1959 British comedy film directed and produced by John and Roy Boulting from a script by Frank Harvey, John Boulting and Alan Hackney, based on the novel Private Life by Hackney. The film is a sequel to the Boulting's 1956 film Private's Progress, and Ian Carmichael, Dennis Price, Richard Attenborough, Terry-Thomas, and Miles Malleson all reprise their characters from the earlier film. Peter Sellers played one of his best-known roles, as the trade union shop steward Fred Kite, and won a Best Actor Award from the British Academy. The rest of the cast included many well-known British comedy actors of the time.

I am going to watch this on GEM in one hour's time hoping that Sellers uses the phrase "Garradine Swine", otherwise the last thirty years have affected my memory a little.

I predict we will demolish St.Kilda as the odds are against us and there is a lot of cash to win for a reasonable investment.

5. Mr Crossland, a german man, was dining with the Queen Mother when she stated "I always find beans so nourishing, do you grow beans in your native Germany, Mr Crossland" to which Mr. Crossland replied "shut up, don't you know I am a highly intelligent man?"

6. the dees have been twunted by a honda

Enjoy it while you can kids, anonymous comments are out the door next season. Sorry if that sounds rude but..

[audience member] "How rude are 'ya Rodney?"
Ohh not as rude as Melbourne's record against Victorian teams under Dean Bailey.

Shut up mate, I've seen you somewhere. I know where I saw you, you were hanging around Stephen Milne's house waiting for sloppy seconds! I'll be watching you mate.

But enough of that, at this moment I'm very pleased to welcome to the stage the man that the next award is named after. 43 games, 29 goals and one of the few pleasant things ever to come out of Moorabbin. Ladies and gentlemen a big Doncaster Venue 28 welcome for Jeff Hilton

2011 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year
11 - Jeremy Howe
6 - Sam Blease, Luke Tapscott
4 - Michael Evans
1 - Tom McDonald
0 - Jack Fitzpatrick, Max Gawn, Daniel Nicholson
DNP - Lucas Cook, Troy Davis, Kelvin Lawrence, Cameron Johnston

Congratulations to Jeremy who joins a lengthy honour roll of players. One of whom even turned out to be good.

2005 - No players eligible.
2006 - Matthew Bate
2007 - Michael Newton
2008 - Cale Morton
2009 - Jack Grimes ($4 fav)
2010 - Tom Scully ($5)
2011 - Jeremy Howe ($30)

Wait, ladies and gentlemen. We've just got some breaking news through from Sydney. Tom $cully has agreed to join GWS, and the owners of Demonblog have taken the unprecedented step of stripping him of his 2010 award a'la Milli Vanilli at the Grammys.

And so say all of us Tom,

Lucky you'll have your millions of dollars to keep you warm at night. Let's try that honour board again.

2005 - No players eligible.
2006 - Matthew Bate
2007 - Michael Newton
2008 - Cale Morton
2009 - Jack Grimes ($4 fav)
2011 - Jeremy Howe ($30)

Much better.

Thanks Jeff, feel free to grab a floppy $5 hot dog on your way out care of our friends at Delaware North catering. And how appropriate that Tom will be playing at Skoda Stadium next year, because his knee is about as reliable as a Skoda.

Anyway, back to players who have decided on loyalty over fat bags of cash. Remember, Tom McDonald and Jack Fitzpatrick are still eligible to win next year’s award because they debuted in the last month of the season.

Speaking of young Tom McDonald I was talking to him just the other day. I said "Tom, you're not the first McDonald to play for this club. What McHappened to that other McBloke who used to play for this great McClub?" "McJunior!" he cried, "I never met the McLegend but everybody tells me it was a McFarce that he got forced out of the door by sacked McCoach at the end of last McSeason".

"You’re McRight!" I cried, "these McClowns wouldn’t know the 4.32 footy special to Glen Waverley was up 'em unless it tooted the horn. Who's going to be next!"

"Joel Macdonald isn't looking all that McSecure” he said. "That’s McBullshit!" I screamed back at him, “First Matthew McWarnock demands a trade and now you're trying to push the McMadman from the North out the door after him. That’s McMadness!"

"I know Rodney" he said, "but if I can somehow engineer him to get the McArse that means I'll probably play 20 games next season". And you don’t get better McLogic than that. Just then Anthony McDonald walked in the room and it got so bloody confusing I just let the whole thing go.

And now, on that note it's time for our next award. One where we pay tribute to the defenders, the men who have spent the last five years under the biggest siege since Hitler had a crack at Russia. Men whose feats of bravery and courage during this time are only matched by the thousand yard stares that they’ve developed from having been under attack for so long.

It's time to add another name to the honour roll of great backmen to have served this club. Ladies and gentlemen, would you please welcome to the stage one of the most reported players in Melbourne Football Club history. 89 games, 8 goals, 12 matches suspended - a big hand for Mr. Marcus Seecamp.

2011 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year
18 - James Frawley
15 - Colin Garland
14 - Joel Macdonald
11 - Jared Rivers
6 - Luke Tapscott, Sam Blease
3 - Jack Grimes
1 - Tom McDonald
0 - Matthew Warnock, Jamie Bennell, James Strauss

Congratulations Chip for becoming the first man ever to win this award three times in a row. We look forward to seeing his defensive work at the heart of this team for many years to come.

2005 - Nathan Carroll and Ryan Ferguson (shared)
2006 - Jared Rivers
2007 - Paul Wheatley
2008 - Matthew Whelan
2009 - James Frawley ($22)
2010 - James Frawley (2) ($3.50)
2011 - James Frawley (3) ($4)

And now, back to our glorious proprietor for a look at what we had to go through in 2011.

That was the season that was
Pre-Season Preview - In which I picked us to finish 7th before losing my nerve and changing to 11th by the time of the pre-season update post.

Intra-Club game
A day at the footy.. kinda (by Eskimo)
In which Eskimo cast the first eye of the season over our squad and discovered that at least we could win when we played against ourselves.

NAB Cup Round 1 vs Adelaide/Port Adelaide
In which we snapped our near ten year filth record at Football Park by winning two glorified practice matches under baffling rules against sides who turned out to be not very good at all in the end.

NAB Cup Quarter Final vs Essendon
Keep Feeling (Agitation)
In which we turned out another in a long line of garbage performances at Docklands and contrived to make Essendon fans feel so good about themselves that they gave a standing ovation to the coach for winning a pre-season match.

Practice Match vs Brisbane
Let the good times roll
In which we lost to early wooden spoon contenders at a 95% empty Princes Park and my blood pressure went through the roof.

Round 1 vs Sydney
It's a weird and wonderful world
In which we were 73 points worse off than our last start against the Swans at the MCG but nobody cared because we still pocketed two points.

Round 2 vs Hawthorn
National Shite Day
In which a premiership contender turned up and put us back in our box with brutality. The sound of expectations bursting nearly deafened large sections of the crowd.

Round 3 vs Brisbane
Cute, Fluffy and not even slightly Ruthless
In which we welcomed the winless Lions to the MCG and faced an almighty struggle to beat them. Better than the practice match at least. Also in which my talkback radio rant about perceived misuse of Jack Watts ended up in the Finey's Final Siren promo, nearly causing me to crash my car on Bay Street, Port Melbourne when hearing it for the first time.

Round 4 vs Gold Coast
Advanced, Forthright, Insignificant
In which I travelled to the Gabba to watch us flog a bunch of 14-year-old rookies and go home disappointed despite winning by 90 points.

Round 5 vs Nobody
In which we sportingly had the bye for the Easter long weekend and I went to Omeo.

Round 6 vs West Coast
Spaghetti Western
In which expectations unfairly raised based on two wins against rubbish teams were burst for a second time when the Eagles unsportingly refused to let us get the ball inside 50 for most of the night. Cue Dean Bailey Media Frenzy pt. 1

Round 7 vs Adelaide
Crisis Management 101
In which the First Media Frenzy was buried in a shallow grave care of a thumping, runaway victory over hapless interstate visitors. Also in which an injury free first six weeks of the season ended and an era of black death style plague was ushered in.

Round 8 vs North Melbourne
Shit Sandwich
In which we belied the injury crisis and played like we were good for a quarter before it all went horribly wrong. Juice Newton seen having the time of his life for the first 20 minutes before regular service was resumed. Injury crisis got worse.

Round 9 vs St Kilda
If you tolerate this your children will be next
When we played the Saints back into form after their horror start to the season. A late flurry of junktime goals made it look more respectable than it otherwise deserved to be. Injury crisis continued to get worse.

Round 10 vs Carlton
Zombie Nation
In which we set up to try and go into quarter time at nil-all and it suprisingly didn't work. Channel Seven executives kill themselves en masse at what we did to their ratings, and in a rare show of solidarity the media supports them by launching Bailey Frenzy II.

Round 11 vs Essendon
Violent Mood Swings
In which Bailey Frenzy II ended in the same timeframe as the original. The wobbling Bombers were put to what counts as the sword for us, yet somehow managed to end the season having beaten Geelong and making the finals. Not that it did them much good. We could have been thrashed just as convincingly by the Blues if we'd finished 8th.

Round 12 vs Collingwood
One Hit Wonders
In which we were briefly teased a 2010 style performance before the inevitable thrashing at the hands of the reigning premiers. We'd almost beaten them twice the year before you know..

Round 13 vs Fremantle
Rollercoaster of Love
In which an injury riddled Dockers side gave us cheek for a half before folding like a house of cards and being thrashed. Misguided excitement suddenly injected back into the supporter base.

Round 14 vs Richmond
Let them burn and we shall all clap our hands
In which we won what was billed as an "early Elimination Final" and suddenly started to think we were a chance of making the finals. Both sides would provide little or nothing of interest for the next month and a half and they'd eventually finish above us.

Round 15 vs Footscray
Dog Day Aftermath
In which we went into a Friday night as favourites, against a side on their knees, ready to consolidate our place amongst the challengers for eight. And were royally thrashed. Another week, another shit team played back into form.

Round 16 vs Nobody
In which we got a week to stew on the fiasco against the Dogs whilst simultaneously shitting ourselves at the prospect of losing to Port.

Round 17 vs Port Adelaide
The thriller in (conditions resembling) Manilla
In which we pocketed big bucks for selling our home game to Darwin and managed to hold on against the worst team in the land despite having to hold quarter breaks in a room usually used to store meat.

Round 18 vs Hawthorn
The light at the end of the tunnel (is the light of an oncoming train)
In which our "month from hell" started in poor fashion. Still, didn't matter because as long as we won our last three we'd made the finals. As long as we didn't totally lose the plot by getting thrashed in Geelong at least..

Round 19 vs Geelong
'In the dark times will there be singing? Yes, there will be singing about the dark times
In which I said "oh dear" and took the V-Line train home with a look of abject shock. This time the Bailey Frenzy lasted about 18 hours and ended up with him getting the boot. Somehow this result won the CEO a contract extension. Work that out.

Round 20 vs Carlton
Bloodsport for all
In which we donned novelty headbands in honour of a new coach and saw another shambolic performance against a quality side.

Round 21 vs West Coast
Shaky minus ladder
In which the game that before the season seemed to be our best chance to get a win at Docklands suddenly became another excuse for a good team to tee off on us. Ricky Petterd's mum featured heavily in the post match dissections.

Round 22 vs Richmond
Be strong, it's almost over
In which we finally managed to lose a game by under a million points. Sadly it was against one of our fellow rubbish teams and absolutely ended any slight mathmatical hope we had of making the eight. Why did we still have any hope?

Round 23 vs Gold Coast
It rubs the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again
In which we went far too close to losing to the Queensland Under 18's than you'd like and stayed in the race for a 9th placed finish. Coincidentally the same day that everybody said "why in god's name would you have a top 9?"

Round 24 vs Port Adelaide
Viney's Final Siren
In which we helped welcome football back to the Adelaide Oval by allowing Port to avoid the wooden spoon to the joy of 25,000 yokels and the general despair of my neighbours who had to hear all about it while inanimate objects were smashed.

Thank god that's over. Now back to our host...

Y'know, the other day I got a letter asking me to renew my membership. I wrote back and said "you can do what a duck can’t do, stick your bill up your arse". But even in these dark times there have been some players who have given us joy with their performance. There are also quite a lot who got votes just because we had to hand out five every week.

And so that brings us to the most prestigious award in Australian Rules Football. Like the Brownlow, Norm Smith and Coleman Medals added together, multiplied by the Bluey Truscott and divided by the Liston Medal, it’s time to add another name to the honour roll of great footballers.

And to present this award it gives me the greatest pleasure to welcome the man who you, dear Demonblog readers and sympathisers, helped bring back to prominence by making the day in his honour one of the highest trending topics on Twitter. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Allen Jakovich.

[crowd rises for a five minute standing ovation]

"Even though the club shafted me by not making me one of the 150 Heroes, and even though they've shut up shop on the Hall Of Fame so that I can never be inducted I'm more than happy to be here today presenting the 7th edition of the medal struck in my honour way back in 2005.

There's been a lot of water under the bridge since then, and the six men who have lifted this award have had six seasons ranging from magnificent, to pretty good, to just better than the rubbish he was playing alongside.

So this morning, to a man who wore my jumper number as a kid I say congratulations to Brent Moloney on your victory. After party is on Fitzroy Street."

Brent Moloney is unable to be here today, the owners of Demonblog would like to accept the medal on his behalf. We'll put it alongside the other six that have never been claimed.

2011 Allen Jakovich Medal
35 - Brent Moloney
32 - Colin Sylvia
27 - Jordie McKenzie
24 - Stefan Martin, Jack Watts
18 - James Frawley
16 - Mark Jamar, Jack Trengove
15 - Colin Garland
14 - Joel Macdonald
11 - Ricky Petterd, Jared Rivers, Jeremy Howe (WINNER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year), Nathan Jones
10 - Jordan Gysberts
8 - Brad Green
6 - Luke Tapscott, Lynden Dunn, Sam Blease
5 - Rohan Bail
4 - Michael Evans, Tom $cully
3 - Matthew Bate, Clint Bartram, Jack Grimes, Liam Jurrah
2 - Neville Jetta
1 - Addam Maric, Tom McDonald

PhotobucketThanks Jako, and you know Jako I was just hanging around Chapel Street the other day, sipping lattes and checking out the action when I pivoted a bit and who did I see. Another ex-Demon forward, Brad Miller! "Brad!", I said "What's your season been like?"

Photobucket"Well I’ve got some good news and bad news for you" he said, pulling a copy of the league ladder out of his pocket.

"The bad news is that my team finished one spot above yours on the ladder".

“That is bad" I said "What's the good news?”
“Well Rodney, see my wife Pia?”
I said "yeah!"
He yelled "The good news is I'm rooting her" and leapt onto the Route 78 tram.

Anyway, that's it. The night's over. You can piss off home.

But first I'd like to sing a song that I just came up with. Ready? Here we go.

"I wrote a letter to Chris J**d. I put the address Crunt, Carlton. He got it."

That's all I know of that one. Now, we're finishing the night with good old fashioned Aussie limericks. Who’s got one? Come on up.

There once was a coach from Port Power
The draft for good players he would scour
He played forwards down back
Til the place was off track
Now we’ll never be a superpower"

"There once was a day in Geelong
With everything that could went wrong
The coach got the sack
Schwab was asked to come back
And nobody sang the theme song"

There was a young star named Tom
Who took to the game with aplomb
We rorted the draft
Then he gave us the shaft
Now we hope his career will bomb"

Goodbye tax dodgers, see you again next year.

Sunday 4 September 2011

Viney's Final Siren

Nothing is ever easy around this place. You know that, I know that and the city of Adelaide certainly knows that because they've been taking the piss out of us every time we've gone then for a decade. Still, even if you started to doubt it as the game got closer surely you thought somewhere, deep in the far recesses of your Melbourne Supporter Depression Syndrome addled brain that this was going to be the day we'd finally do the right thing in South Australia.

First and foremost Port have been utterly shite this year. We were hardly convincing in beating them in Darwin but that was easy to put down to the conditions. Secondly it wasn't being played at Football Park where we might have won some Wobbies World glorified practice matches under invented rules earlier in the year but realistically hadn't fired a shot at for a decade (Chell, if you're still reading I'll save you the blushes of yet another round of talk about THAT goal in '01, suffice to say it's still the best thing to happen in that city since white settlement).

A + B = four points right? Far too easy an equation. I couldn't work out whether or not the fact that they were still a chance of avoiding the spoon helped us or not. Bad news for us that the only good thing the introduction of the new teams has produced, the devaluing of 'winning' the spoon, turned out to be our downfall in the end. As profitable as rorting the draft turned out to be (in getting Trengove and two kids courtesy of the $cully Bequest) it must be nice to actually want your team to avoid the humiliation of finishing last instead of punting it home like the last 100m of the Cox Plate.

For more evidence of why we couldn't possible lose, see also Port's shattering fadeout against the Bombers last week. If that had of been us the whole place would have gone into meltdown and we'd have showed up the next week and copped nine goals to nil in the first quarter. That's what you'd expect out of Port given that they've spent most of the year doing exactly that but of course today they decide to be spurred onto victory in front of a crowd featuring 10,000 people who haven't been to a game all season but decide to turn up just because the match wasn't being played at the Bulgarian government constructed concrete jungle at Westlakes.

You'd have thought that getting away from Football Park would have helped us, considering the absolute spasticity that strikes the entire club the moment we walk through the door of the place but sadly it turned out moving the game to Adelaide Oval didn't help us in the slightest. In fact if you're the sort of person who believes in crowd atmosphere having any bearing on things it probably condemned us. The presence of 29,000 toothless simpletons and bearded ex-dock workers (who Channel Seven insisted on highlighting repeatedly when they weren't bouncing the camera angles around like an episode of NYPD Blue) certainly didn't hurt them in the umpiring stakes.

But you know what, being rorted by umpires who are too scared that some filth is going to smash the windows of his car doesn't come close to explaining why today was so disappointing. I'd love to say things about how GC's wooden spoon and pick four is just another one of their concessions from the AFL, but despite some of the most baffling decisions ever, an umpire who couldn't bounce the ball straight and wasn't even being taken seriously by Port players by the end, we could have and should have still won today - and that's what makes this even more of a dog vomit heavy slopfest than it would have been otherwise.

How's that set of circumstances that would catapult us into the finals looking now? Smash Richmond, smash Gold Coast, smash Port, get knocked out by Carlton. Seemed logical enough but clearly didn't take into account the massive smell of fish that's coming off this club at the moment. It's a shattered lump of a place and unless we either land the coaching or playing free agent signing of the year I'll be open mouth gobsmacked if we don't lose 5000 members. One thing you can be pleased with is that surely this year the AGM is going to be more of a chair throwing battle royale than a gigantic sporting circle jerk like it has been every other year in recent times.

The worst thing is that if I look at our team on paper I'm still convinced they're not that bad, but you're talking to the guy who went into '08 thinking '07 was an abberation that would be corrected en route to an '09 flag tilt. For all the negativity on here maybe I'm not actually critical enough about our playing list? Or maybe they're decent enough in isolation but can't put it together as a team? Maybe somebody shagged a witch during the 1964 Grand Final post match celebrations?

Tell you what I am critical about and that's the inability of this club to win the centre clearances when it really matters. I know that there's no mystical formula that you can apply to suddenly start dominating - or you'd probably be playing a Qualifying Final this week - but for god's sake is there any danger next year that we might at least attempt to put the brakes on other clubs winning out of there so easily? I don't care if they have to lock it up for ten bounces but the amount of times this season that we've won a tap and had it go straight to an opposition player who roosts it forward is a disgrace. Jamar had 40 taps today - between Moloney, Jones and McKenzie we would have had a mere handful of quality clearances.

And there's the problem. 40 taps to Jamar, dominating Brogan and Lobbe in the air and all of Moloney, Jones and McKenzie being amongst our best players but almost every centre bounce, or secondary bounce, saw Port winning the ball. Their massive ineptitude saved us from the sort of total disaster that would have occured if we'd played like that against a good club - and with their slightly vaunted key forwards doing nothing it was the best invitation you'll ever get to steamroll somebody. And we cocked it up.

Butcher, the new Darren Cuthbertson, did absolutely nothing and will probably have to stay at Port now that he's been exposed as a flash in the pan. Ironically he wasn't alone, all their tall forwards were well held (at least until Westhoff dicked us in the last quarter) but that didn't stop them scoring goals while we were botching chance after chance down the other end. Not that our talls were doing much either - Watts and Green barely touched it in the first half and by the time Howe got into the game he spent 20 minutes being ripped off by the tossers who were umpiring.

We might have been in a better place at half time if we'd taken half the chances we'd been offered to run away with it. Don't forget that in the end the difference in the Port game was the first quarter and Emo Maric going off his nut with crumb (doesn't that seem like a long time ago?). We could have done with some legitimate crumb today but it's seemingly still not the done thing at this club - please address this at the draft table for god's sake. As much as I loved seeing Howe snap one around his body that's an additional bonus, not what should be happening every week.

As it was the ball was leaking out of our forward line as soon as it went there - thanks to Port for finally deciding to try forward pressure six months into the season - and even when we did have chances we were muffing them. At the other end they had guys booting torps after the siren. If I'd shaken a magic 8 ball at that point it would have come back ALL SIGNS POINT TO NO.

It was not a day to be Sam Blease. In a year where the "profile in the paper" curse has taken out half the squad (and Daniel Nicholson has never been the same again) it seems that the Rising Star nomination curse has taken another a victim - and it's got The Gizz twice in two years so it's a potent bastard. Poor kid was absolutely pox. It didn't help that he got dropped head first onto a cricket pitch but he was already heading towards a shocker. Eventually got subbed out with five frees against and one behind where he could probably have handed off for a goal. Watch today's tape once and burn it kid, last week was where it's at. Probably doesn't play Round 1 next year but there's a big future there - especially if Grimes necks himself 20 minutes into the season again. Viney said he had a migraine in the press conference, I hope that came from being poleaxed on centre wicket and wasn't there before the game because if so he should either not have played or come on as sub.

Tell you who I did like in the first half - Matthew Bate. Never thought I'd say that again but he was good in the middle and handy around the ground. Drifted away in the second half but for the first time it became apparent how he's been managing to rack up 25+ touches in the VFL so often. I've got a soft spot for Old Bate, and even though he faded away in the second half I hope we keep him - he's never the answer to our chronic issues in the middle of the ground but he could definitely do something off half forward if given a decent chance and not shuffled in and out of the side and played as sub every second week. Still don't know why he got the boot after being one of the few people to come out of the Geelong debacle with any credit but who am I to argue with this mighty football club.

Poor old Sad Panda Morton saw another 50k slashed off his 'wait until the end of the year' contract price. He was pretty good in the first quarter to be fair, and I could have almost worked him into my votes at that point for want of five good players but from then on he was almost completely unsighted other than a couple of hamfisted efforts late in the game. Keep him (under suicide watch) for next season if he's keen but if [new coach] doesn't make his first act to go over and start shaking him vigourously and screaming in his face I'll be very disappointed. Also feel free to sign up a sponsorship with KFC and force feed him some of those burgers where the bun is replaced with pieces of chicken.

Another thing that shit me up the wall about today, and helped contribute as much to our demise as farce umpiring, rubbish forward structure and getting killed out of the centre, is the amount of times the Port players were allowed to run free to take a kick or a handball 20m clear of an opponent. Most of the time they cocked it up because they are not actually any good (I know the feeling) but give them enough chances and they're going to eventually score. Seems like we've been here before in the last five years? About 50 times to be precise.

Meanwhile at the other end we've got Jack Fitzpatrick playing the worst debut game since Isaac Weetra and Tom McDonald hitting the post with one of the shonkiest kicks at goal ever seen on the Australian mainland. McDonald was ok down back, and I'm certainly not expecting him to kick set shots but can anyone explain how Fitz booted five for Casey last week? I know they were slaughtering Preston and even I might have got on the end of one if I'd stayed out there long enough but his kicking style is heinous. It was almost Spencil-esque the way he looked down for an eternity before putting ball to boot, and usually spraying it. Good on him getting a goal in the end but in the spirit of playing at the Adelaide Oval all I will say is Michael Clark.

I'm not putting him in the Weetra/Bode division yet but I'd rather not see him in the ones again until at least halfway through next year. Inauspicious doesn't quite cover it. Why was he playing anyway? Ok he kicked five last week but surely if there was going to be a third tall played we owed it to MAXIMUM GAWN to give him another go. Would have been the perfect time to start Jamar at FF. Don't tell me we're trying to make up for the karma of destroying Casey's finals chances a couple of years ago by removing all of our players by letting them keep Max this week (and fat lot of good that did against the other Port) instead of giving him another vital hitout against AFL players.

A point down at half time and you might of thought it couldn't get any worse. After all we'd ridden the sham umpiring, our own chronic lack of structure, the COMPLETE AND UTTER REFUSAL TO KICK TO A LEAD AT ANY TIME EVER and some absolute skill howlers to be just a point behind. When Jones got that first goal my blood pressure dropped from STROKE IMMINENT to STROKE LIKELY, before going all the way up to AMY WINEHOUSE when they got it straight out of the middle and goalled thirty seconds later. Half a decade of Melbourne style football summed up right there.

In the massive list of things I'm sick to death with at this club second only to not being able to kick-in properly (and didn't "Viney's Vacuum" prove to be the biggest one hit wonder since Tommy Tutone?) is when we spend what seems like hours (and often is) struggling to create a goal and then the other side go straight down the other end from the bounce and boot one without raising a sweat. Then to really rub it in they added another four without even the slightest hint of perspiration. It was almost like we were playing somebody half decent.

In the middle of this madness Howe was denied a mark that would get paid every other day of the week but that was about as good as it got because they were carving us at stoppages, running free all over the place and kicking goals at will.

It's at this point that, confronted with yet another Channel 7 shot of some codger in the crowd and Bruce McAvaney's 93rd anecdote about what happened to Glenelg in the 1968 SANFL Grand Final that I might have punched buggery out of a couch. For the first time. At the end of the game it still had dints in it but don't worry dear owner of said couch they seemed superficial and should even out eventually. All the structural damage was to my hand. Only Trengove's goal at the end saved me from total despair. And wasn't it good to hear the umpire call the Port Adelaide variety "Trengrove". Sack the man immediately. Send Tim Watson with him for calling our one "James". Abusing Bruce would be like killing Bambi but even he managed to call Dan Nicholson at some point despite him being in another state.

We managed to stage a brief revival in the first few minutes of the last quarter but from there on it was pure shambles. Garland's attempt to take on Westhoff and the subsequent dropping the ball decision (surely not holding the ball considering there wasn't a tackle) said it all about the way we're going at the moment. Next thing you know we're four goals down and the sound of people trying to bend their membership repeatedly so that it will snap in half starts to echo across the Melbourne metropolitan area.

Another belated comeback made it half interesting for a minute or so but we'd left it too late. Port avoided the spoon, we continued to be utter shite west of Bordertown and the Melbourne Football Club managed to turn the knife in the collective backs of their fans one last time before shutting up shop. What will the players do if they can't tweet about how disappointed they are, pledging to do better next time?

Bailey would have been at home pissing himself laughing in front of the TV. You have to laugh. Unless you're busy scaring the neighbours by screaming abuse at the top of your voice. I reckon I topped this guy's performance today. Thank god there was nobody there to record it.

2011 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Brent Moloney
4 - Jordie McKenzie
3 - Jack Trengove
2 - Matthew Bate
1 - Nathan Jones

Apologies to Martin, Howe, Bail, Jamar, Rivers and Frawley.

Final Leaderboard
Congratulations to Beamer who stormed to victory with an undisputed BOG, removing any danger of a 3, 2 or 1 vote performance and the requisite teeth gnashing and guilt about having him narrowly win, lose or draw the most tainted award in AFL Footy. Beware sir, there's a reason nobody has ever won it twice - ask Green what it did to him this year.

Frawley holds on for back-to-back wins in the Seecamp while Howe takes advantage of Blease's horror afternoon and Tapscott's green vest to hang on to the Hilton in his own right.

A word too for McKenzie who managed to finish just seven votes shy in third despite missing most of the first half of the season. Clearly there's a fetish at play here so expect him to poll well next season too.

35 - Brent Moloney (WINNER: Allen Jakovich Medal for Player of the Year)
32 - Colin Sylvia
27 - Jordie McKenzie
24 - Stefan Martin (WINNER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year), Jack Watts
18 - James Frawley (WINNER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
16 - Mark Jamar, Jack Trengove
15 - Colin Garland
14 - Joel Macdonald
11 - Ricky Petterd, Jared Rivers, Jeremy Howe (WINNER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year), Nathan Jones
10 - Jordan Gysberts
8 - Brad Green
6 - Luke Tapscott, Lynden Dunn, Sam Blease
5 - Rohan Bail
4 - Michael Evans, Tom Scully
3 - Matthew Bate, Clint Bartram, Jack Grimes, Liam Jurrah
2 - Neville Jetta
1 - Addam Maric, Tom McDonald

Coaches Corner
There was always something unnerving about Viney coming out on the back of a battling win against the (eventual, thanks to us, sorry about that) wooden spooners and saying that he was considering changing his mind and applying for the job full time. Maybe wait and see if you can beat the worst (eventually second worst, thanks to us, sorry about that) team in the competition first?

It's hardly fair on him that he's been handed a gigantic steaming turd and been told to polish it but when he said from day one that he didn't want the job at the end of the year everyone was willing to sit back and let him go, with the understanding that he'd do his best and stand back at the end of the year.

Surely the job application was put through the shredder this afternoon and he gladly goes back to being the Development Coach (though given that we've gone backwards this year it's anybody's guess how much development is actually taking place) instead of formally applying and almost certainly being rejected. Given the absolute carnage that I'm convinced will be occuring with our assistant coaches when the new guy (whoever he may be) comes in he should probably be happy just to stay.

Not to say he wouldn't be a fine coach with a stable, non-mental playing group and the benefit of a pre-season but at the moment unless everybody else both experienced and senior assistants tell us to get stuffed I don't want to take the chance.

Unless it was some sort of rort in the road to springing Malthouse from the Pies, then I'm for it.

As for who it will actually be who bloody knows. Won't be Lyon (either of them), almost certainly won't be Laidley or Williams, probably won't be Eade and I'll eat my hat if Malthouse somehow manages to get out of the Westpac Centre and to another club without Eddie having him assassinated first. Whoever it is they're going to have a whale of a time trying to sort this mess out.

Ironically tonight I was flicking through the book about the Daniher brothers at somebody else's house, and naturally turning straight to the page marked in the index as MELBOURNE FOOTBALL CLUB it had Cam Schwab attempting to lure Neale to Melbourne only for the then Freo assistant coach to say he wasn't sure because the club was a shambles on and off the field. All was well that ended well, but 14 years later what's changed? Different shambleses, same vibe - and there's no Jeff White + absurd salary cap rorts coming over the horizon to save us next season.

Scull and Crossbones
Take your dirty money and piss off. In a season of unwanted distractions that saga has ranked only slightly below Baileygate in unbalancing us. I hope all the players who were carted out to testify what a fine upstanding citizen he was who, Abraham Lincoln style would never tell a lie, get the chance to belt him once each when we play them next year.

Of course if he comes out tomorrow and announces he's signed the above paragraph might disappear. But wouldn't you be slightly peeved if he put us through that whole year and then just signed anyway? Good thing it's not going to happen thanks to GWS being given the blank cheque from heaven to spend whatever they like, and they don't turn out to get value for money then who cares just go back to the league and ask for another handout.

Just don't take him on any pre-season tours of China in case he sooks it again. And Tom, if you're reading don't come out and say you were thinking of staying until some knob on the internet wrote mean things because we all know that will be an epic lie and [I think that's quite enough of this segment - legal department]

Was it worth it?
In that it gives me something to seethe about for six months yes. Also good for draft picks, but really how desperate are we to be thinking that going four picks in the higher in the mid teens is going to help us?

Final Thoughts
So for the seventh time we come to the end of the Demonblog season - and for the fifth in a row it's tinged with disappointment and/or outright depression. Thanks to all the readers, the commenters, the lurkers, the Twitterers, people who took an 'active interest' in the ads and all the opposition fans who come on here just to piss themselves laughing about what a shambles we are. To be fair I'd probably still be writing this as therapy even if nobody was reading but it's nice to know somebody else has half an interest.

If you're not entirely sick of the whole thing and wanting to forget it ever happened there'll be the annual year in review post on here sometime in the next week and I'll get around to doing a full update on Demonwiki as well.

After that actual posts will be scarcer than a Melbourne centre clearance so keep an eye on Twitter for any wildcard updates around trade week, the coaching change or the drafts and we'll get back into it with gusto again next year.

It's certainly been interesting...