Saturday 25 February 2012

Lukewarm three-way action

Saturday night and the rules are shite, but at least there was no Dwayne Russell to be seen. Ok so Danny Frawley was involved, and ok being a tightwad meant I had to traipse halfway across Melbourne to find a friendly Foxtel connection without having to put up with idiots in pubs BUT it's footy so I'll deal with it.

God forbid we ever play a pre-season Round 1 game in Melbourne again (five years and counting...) but even if you're forced to watch the game on TV - something I'm sure many people are looking forward to this year, until Dwayne turns up - anything looks good when you've spent the whole season trying to get back into cricket for the first time in a decade only to be backstabbed by the return of Brett "Carted" Lee. Even the three-way format with the suspect changes is better than that. Well the menage is ok anyway, I can understand why they have to do that to fit 18 teams in without byes, but I could do with PROPER RULES.

How long do you think the enthusiasm lasted?

Game 1 vs Gold Coast
... until precisely a minute and a half into this match.

With vast swathes of what is allegedly our "best 22" either sitting on the bench, in the stands or in another timezone expectations were already rock bottom before the game began and we were duly treated to an exhibition of garbage football the likes of which would not be seen again until about an hour later.

Even with the weather causing havoc, the Psychic Friends Connection both wearing the dreaded green vest and the aforementioned rotation policy playing havoc with any chance of a cohesive team you'd probably have expected us to win anyway. And if we didn't? Well who gives a rats - and I've got rock solid written evidence to prove that I was never going to get overly excited no matter what happened.

It became abundantly clear from the first two minutes that we weren't in for a classic, but has there ever actually been a classic in a pre-season match other than maybe a final or two? No, they're shit for a reason. It would be easy to blame the rules that nobody except the AFL likes but the two teams were just as culpable. Both sides had their own reasons for being rubbish, it was just that Fox Footy Channel gave everyone a chance to watch in - and in the true spirit of Melbourne FC gave the Facebook punters their chance to go right off. Which brings me to a brand new segment here at Demonblog...

There's one who's pulled the pin already. Don't panic yet mate, we can get a lot worse than this. Thought I'd better hide the name before people continue the trend of the entire off-season and start threatening legal action and/or lagging me into the MFC because they think I'm an employee. It should be pointed out, as if the content and image of a man jamming a fork in a toaster didn't give it away, that I am most certainly not. If you really must you can complain via email or Twitter but frankly unless you're the legal counsel for a certain St Kilda forward and are demanding a retraction of several statements made over the last few years then you're not likely to get much joy.

Anyway for the first few minutes the massed, prone to exaggeration, armies of Facebook and the internet should have been on their feet proclaiming a bold new era of success. Personally we'd have had to have won by over 50 for me to go well over the top and try to find signs where they didn't actually exist.

For the first few minutes at least it was total domination. Clark made Warnock look stupid and kicked the first goal then proceeded to take advantage of the fact that they never played together by engaging in 35 minutes of 'light hearted' abuse with him. You can't help but feel that Warnock will be a lot busier than Clark this year and on a much lighter paypacket. Sucked in. But ultimately better than playing at Casey 20 times.

When Jones kicked another without reply your heart rate might have jumped to approximately 1bpm more than its usual rate. Especially considering he couldn't have ducked any more into the allegedly 'high' tackle if he'd tried. Please, it's pre-season for the umpires too.

Indeed for the first ten minutes Gold Coast were lucky to have taken the ball across the centre line, all this with Fitzpatrick as our ruckman. He wasn't bad, but the one who stood out in the first few minutes was the elf-like Tynan. Either way we were hardly putting out our best team and were still doing them comfortably. Forward 50 entries were haphazard at best but we're all used to that, Neeld's not a miracle worker. Next you'll want him to give us decent kick-ins.

Shame then that the first time Gold Coast went inside 50 they kicked a goal, and then did it again. Mind you the first one was a bit of a shambles, coming as it did from a combination of Bennell not having any idea where his opponent was and the umpire blowing the whistle to pay the mark so quickly that he missed the bloke then dropping it.

Despite the belated comeback by the Suns we might have had more. Clark was impressive considering how the delivery was coming in with no rhyme or reason, but surprise, surprise when the ball hit the ground inside 50 there wasn't even the remotest hint of crumb. Not a cracker. Davey lurked around there a bit in the second half, and could have won the game in the dying seconds, but other than that there was very little. Am I correct in saying Neville Jetta is injured? If so can they try Bennell down there where he can't do as much damage. Either that or give us '04 edition Davey back and watch him snap some goals out of his arse. The people want it - and if they can't have Kevin Rudd give them something to keep their spirits up.

With the scores level at half time and with Jamar and Moloney both coming on I half expected us to run over the top of them. Sadly the other half expected that we'd somehow throw it away. Hello Melbourne. We could have won it in the dying seconds but no harm done, no need to get the razorblades out and start a campaign to sack Neeld. Do as the Dalai Lama would have you do and show a moderate disinterest in practice matches.

The only key things to note from the second half were that Lynden Dunn's moustache looks even more like Hitler's when his hair is wet and that if Bartram can kick straight (after the umpire ludicrously enquired if he wanted to shoot for 9 from 75m out on the boundary line) then maybe anything can happen in real games. It should also be noted that Bartram had 100% efficiency on his disposals - all of them kicks. Maybe the tide is turning now that he's one of the 25 people in the leadership group?

I was impressed by Magner and Tynan. Magner didn't set the world alight when he got the ball but at least he seemed to be a natural at getting it in the first place. See also Matthew Bate, so nearly a Bulldog now a midfielder, who can clearly get his hands on it. Now he's just got to work on delivering to somebody not just blindly hoofing it down field/out on the full. He's got a month to work on it but I liked what I saw tonight.

Paul Prymke Plate for Pre-Season Performance votes
No this doesn't count as an official vote. Michael Evans and Kyle Cheney still the only men to take maximum votes on debut in a match that matters.

5 - James Magner
4 - Mitch Clark
3 - Nathan Jones
2 - Matthew Bate
1 - Josh Tynan

Match 2 vs Brisbane
So at 0-1, and with security guards dispatched to Neeld's house in case an angry, Facebook inspired, pitchfork wielding mob turned up and burned the Volvo he received gratis from our sponsors, we returned immediately with a tweaked lineup to take on the Lions.

Now, if you thought the first game was bad you hadn't seen anything yet. While it should be said for the 20th time since 01/01/12 that nothing you see in a pre-season game should be taken seriously - especially the first night - we were utterly putrid for the first ten minutes. It seemed that nobody had any interest in going short and every time we got the ball in the midfield it was just long bombs forward that more often than not went nowhere.

One place they didn't go was into our forward line and for much of the glorified 'half' it looked like we were about to without a forward 50 entry. Stats freaks everywhere would have been reaching for the record books, if anybody bothered to keep in-depth stats of this rubbish. One thing nobody will be collecting is the Name A Game DVD of it that's for sure. I've heard the master copy is already being used to prop up a chair at Sports Delivered HQ.

For fans of early season umpiring shenanigans there was another cracker when Jonathan Brown clotheslined Rivers only for the umpire to point in the wrong direction and confuse everyone. Their pre-season too. I know the feeling, just writing about games again is taxing me and I'm merely a porkie sat behind a keyboard.

Eventually we got it somewhere near the Brisbane goal, courtesy of the Lions going backwards inside 50, but couldn't even manage a score. The good thing was that as ludicrously terrible as we were coming out of the 50 the Lions were just as bad going in. Cue 20 minutes of the ball pinballing back and forth with nobody having any idea what to do with it before Frawley had a rare cock-up, the umpires chose not to pay a Lions player stuffing it up trying to play on and they got the only goal of the half.

We couldn't even get the ball for most of the half so the fact that we went in just seven points down was nigh on criminal. But who's complaining? Scoring nothing isn't ideal but we've just lived through four years of Baileyball so going through twenty minutes with a score of zero is second nature to us..

Good luck finding anybody who deserved credit from the first half, except for Bate who once again found himself on the end of it every five seconds in the middle. I've got my doubts that he can do anything with it other than throw the ball on the boot and hope for the best but despite the fact that his kicks were wonky we were so bad in the first half that he was still our best on ground. It was that bad. Let's just say the Plate vote tally was pretty much reset to zero at 'half' time with it all to play for.

Interesting broadcasting fact, even in the absence of Old Firestarter Russell it looks as if Green will be known only as "former captain Brad Green" in every match this year. He wasn't bad, but he wasn't great. Nobody really was though. Watts, Macdonald and Bennell were ordinary all night and Clark did nothing of substance (or anything full stop really) in the second match but give me them under real rules for four quarters and let's make judgements then.

The first ten minutes of the second half neatly mirrored the first but with some more inside 50's for us to stuff up. We should have had a free goal when Chenee Stiller double fist pumped the ball into the point post - and therefore out of bounds - in the forward pocket but the wheel of umpiring random decisions sadly spun against us. Thank god we don't have to put up with this bollocks rule for another year. They'll try and bring it in for real one day they will, and I hope we've won a flag by then so I can put the hand up and walk away from the game comfortably.

What would have been a scandalously bad quarter in a real game was rendered to nearly useless half and a half by the fact that the game was meaningless. Of course losing the first match alone probably stuffs up our chances of making the NAB Cup final but so far so like every other year since 1989. All this means is that we're 100% certain to be playing in Port Lincoln in the last week and somebody will probably graze a knee while sliding across a supermarket carpark of a ground littered with dog turds.

Finally after switching play for the first time all night Sylvia kicked a goal, and despite it being the worst game of football you'll ever see Brisbane's willing participation in it being shit meant that we were only two points down.

Can we do a Reece Conca and claim Sylvia has served his suspension in the NAB Cup? If you can belt people and serve it pre-season then why not your ban for indulging in early morning shenanigans and missing training sessions for invented sports? Come on Neeld, nobody cares what he did now, time to sweep it under the carpet and concentrate on winning.

The comeback was nearly shortlived as after kicking one goal in 30 minutes the Lions went forward immediately after Sylvia's where Joel Mac cocked up for the tenth time in succession and they crumbed, YES CRUMBED, a goal. Well, what we all thought was a goal anyway until they went to this farce of a video replay system which rorted them out of six points based on the fact that the ball may have scraped one millimetre of the padding on the post. Another winning rule from your friends at AFL House.

If you're going to introduce video replays you're going to have to have cameras everywhere, no just one or two and hope for the best. It might have its place if done right but god help us all if it ends up like cricket where the most obvious decisions are referred to the video because the umpire is too scared that he might make the wrong decision.

Then to make up for the officiating debacle at one end they screwed us out of one by somehow finding a free kick against Sellar even though the Brisbane player slid straight into his head. If some of the rot on offer tonight (and a lot of it in our favour mind you) is indicative of what we'll be seeing this year the umpiring coaches would have to be even more concerned than anything from McKenna/Neeld/Voss. Mystery ruck free kicks are also still very much on the agenda I see, stand by for another season where the whistle goes and two ruckmen both stand there baffled waiting to see which direction the umpire will point in. If he points the right way.

We had our chances to hit the front as the gameturned on its head in the last ten minutes. The Stefan Martin Experience looked lively and a moment where he did some funky Harlem Globetrotters shit with the ball en route to giving away the early free kick of the year convinced the likes of Alistair Lynch that he was actually some sort of Jurrahcane style magician who was likely to do something absolutely outrageous. Err no, he's a good ruckman (never played there once tonight mind) and a capable forward - he's not Cyril Rioli. Still my favourite player though, Experience fans unite.

In the end it was the much-maligned by internet nutbags James Sellar who went forward, won a free - which was paid this time - and kicked truly to put us in-front for what ultimately turned out to be one of the most unfairly stolen victories in history. But for the sake of a philosophical discussion ask yourself this question, if something is without value is it a crime to steal it?

Of course the Lions nearly stole it back. Old mate should have run into an open goal with seconds left but sprayed it across the face to keep us in the hunt for a 'coveted' finals berth if we can clean up Collingwood and Hawthorn (fat chance) over the next two weeks. Really I'm just happy that nobody seriously crocked themselves and whatever Garland did to his back doesn't appear to be super serious. I'm not going to get excited about Grimes' fitness until he can get through a real match though.

Super impressed with Howe when he came in. Rarely if ever went forward but took some good grabs in the middle and was chasing well too. Have to go for Bate as BOG though as despite the occassionally wonky kicking he was the only guy we had who showed anything across both halves of this sawn-off slopfest. Congratulations to Old Bate who sits atop of a Demonblog leaderboard of some description for the first time in his career.

5 - Matthew Bate
4 - Jeremy Howe
3 - Brent Moloney
2 - Jack Grimes
1 - Rohan Bail

Paul Prymke Plate For Pre-Season Performance Leaderboard
7 - Matthew Bate
5 - James Magner
4 - Mitch Clark, Jeremy Howe
3 - Nathan Jones, Brent Moloney
2 - Jack Grimes
1 - Rohan Bail, Josh Tynan

Crowd Watch
Obviously the fact that it was pissing down didn't help but it looked like an A-League crowd. So that'll be called 15,000 by the AFL I suppose. Any Gold Coast fans actually present though? Big noise for Melbourne and Brisbane, mild operatic style applause when the Suns did something. Expansion is smashing it so far.

Next Week
Collingwood, presumably building towards their best side, over four quarters at Docklands (*spit*) and with the spectre of Eddie's unveiled threats to fuck us up hanging over the event. Expect goading from simpleton opposition fans.

Looking forward to see what lineup we put out. There will be still be massively extended squads (probably featuring 72 subs apiece in a late rule change) but somebody's going to have to get the chop/be rested from tonight. They'll still be playing with some fanciful rule changes like the 9 point goal but at least the ball will be able to go out of bounds scot free again. It's also the first, and most likely last, time we'll play the Pies at Docklands so there's that too. Either way feel free to turn up, you hate the ground and it hates you but if I show up and have to sit alone amongst 5000 Pies fans then I'm coming on here next week and giving 5 votes to Scumbag $cully out of pure spite.

Final Thoughts
Nothing that occured tonight is worth getting your undergarments in a twist over. Nothing. Absolutely nil. Nada. Zilch. Zip. Let's start to progressively up our stress levels from next week onwards until going absolutely barking mad when the Lions dick us in Round 1.

The most exciting development of the season so far is that they've finally shelled out for a microphone so you can hear the journo questions. This is the best thing to happen to footy since ever. Now somebody just ask an interesting question.

Thursday 23 February 2012

Demonblog Films presents.. (part two)

After the runaway success of our Emo Maric documentary (152 views, practically an INTERNET PHENOMENON) a letter arrived on our doorstep from a group who said they wanted to employ our hi-tech studio to create an election ad. We obliged due to the large sums of money involved.

Sunday 19 February 2012

Waiting for the great leap forward

"Work hard for three years" said the portly Mao Zedong as he launched the titular great leap, "and be happy for a thousand". Shortly afterwards, as agriculture was sacrificed for industry in a ill-fated attempt at matching western production, 40 million Chinese enjoyed the happiness that only starvation can bring.

There's no record of what Adelaide Strategy and Innovation Coach Dean Bailey's first words were before he embarked on a similar attempt at revolutionising a failure over a few short years. "What have I got myself in for?" came a bit later (half time, Round 1 2008 to be precise) and "this place is stuffed" even later than that (three quarter time, Round 1 2008).

Three years should have been enough. 2010 was hardly cause for celebration but the fact that we pushed a wildcard finals claim to within three weeks of the end of the season, including that magic day when we tore Sydney to shreds, led most of us to believe that the bad times were over and Baileyball was about to become the newest forward press style 'next big thing' in footy. How wrong can you be?

It wasn't just our fans who were getting overly excited, flash back to last year's pre-NAB Cup preview and have another chortle at the people's champion Hutchy declaring us a red hot finals side and an outsider for the Grand Final.

Mind you even halfway through the year we were playing supposed "elimination final" matches against Richmond while the pundits debated who would be the better side as we jointly went on to dominate footy many years into the future. To Richmond's credit they mightn't have gone on to any remarkable feats but at least five weeks later they weren't losing by 31 goals.

Russian airlines aside has the bottom ever fallen out of something so rapidly? We'll never know what went on behind the scenes last year (and I'll take either a real expose of the events of 2011 or any rumours you've just made up) but whatever it was it must have made Rudd vs Gillard look like the love match that stopped a nation. Whether it was the fault of the players, the coaches or the administrators is up for debate and depends on which internet nutbag you're reading.

This internet nutbag has no idea, I'm just happy to wipe the slate clean and start again. Let us all forget that we're just five complete games from 186. Five games before that we were beating Richmond to become the next big thing. Then in that case who in god's name knows what's going to happen this season? The atmosphere of the place has certainly taken a turn for the better since Neeld turned up but if the atmosphere is as bad as seems it was last year even the Reverend Jim Jones would have lightened the mood significantly.

We've got six games to navigate before the first bounce and while NAB Cup form should be completely ignored in any sane and rational analysis I choose to ignore that very sensible advice and draw conclusions based solely on what happens between the first bounce in Saturday night's hot three way on the Gold Coast and the final siren of our yet to be scheduled final match depending on who makes the NAB Cup final (presumably not us).

In between then we have the second leg of the three-way, Collingwood at Docklands (enjoy that, it might never happen again), Hawthorn at Docklands (where they've belted us in every pre-season game there yet) and then whoever at wherever. Presumably after playing two in a row in the city we're an absolute certainty to wind up in Victor Harbour or Omeo in the last week for the traditional "somebody's done their knee on a gravel centre square" match.

So that brings us neatly to Saturday night. Carrara Stadium (trading under some corporate name) at 6.10 against the Suns, then immediately after against the Lions. Sometime before the first bounce everyone should make the time to sit in a quiet room and chant "it's only the NAB Cup, it's only the NAB Cup" to themselves a few times lest we get a) overexcited at tonking some garbage or b) suicidal that we didn't beat them by enough or even, god forbid, lost.

And that's just the Gold Coast game. I can understand a bit of angst if we don't win that (not that it matters a jot) but imagine the implications for Round 1 if we put in a shocker against the Lions too? Forget the fact that there will be kids that you'll never hear from again playing for both sides and positional switches that will make the tankfest against Richmond look like it was a Grand Final the MFC universe will absolutely explode and declare that we're absolute certainties to get done over against the Lions when it really counts.

Not here they won't. We might have won both matches at this stage last year but fat lot of good that did us, so conversely what do I care if we lose both this time? I'm much more interested in the week after when we go up against the Pies and even more interested in a fortnight after when it's Hawthorn presumably working towards full strength for Round 1. Not getting bitter and twisted in any way at a contest where you cop a free for the ball trickling out of bounds - unless the umpire gets confused and calls for a ball-in.

Look at GWS on Saturday night. Two creditable performances over 40 minutes each against much weakened sides and suddenly they're "not so bad" afterall. Cobblers, I seem to remember Gold Coast beating Sydney in the novelty matches last year and the next thing you knew they were losing to Carlton by 20 goals. It's absolutely meaningless, and while I've always thought GWS will sadly win at least one game this year it didn't make me think they were going to win two. If we lose a game by over a goal and somebody applies Footy Maths which sees us assumed to be worse than the Giants I'll throw something.

Having to go through the Pies (who will no doubt have a far better team than they did last Saturday night) and Hawthorn means we almost certainly won't be making the NAB Cup final no matter what so it doesn't matter a jot if we win both games as long as Neeld and his newly expanded team of 5000 coaches get what they want out of the evening.

Everybody wants a win but don't be one of these people who spazzes out unnecessarily (and if you're going to please do it on the Facebook page so I can get screenshots). What's more important is that they've got a month to work out which rookies are going to get a start early in the season, the final makeup of the forward line and whether Grimes can get through a month without being hurt. I can't guarantee I won't kick something (the season's first appearance of the metaphorical cat) or give it some of this but by the time I've had five minutes to think about it I'm confident that I can deal with pretty much anything (barring injury or Watts in a back pocket) that I see out there.

Right, so have I successfully dampened your enthusiasm for the first game of the season yet? Totally ruined your Saturday night? You're probably going to watch Iron Chef instead now but there are still some storylines to be played out. Will Warnock play for the Suns and who will he line up on? Hopefully Clark stitches him up a treat just to give some indication (disclaimer: even in a novelty game) that he's ready to go off chops this year. The aforementioned rookie question will also go some way to being answered (and I'm dying to see Leigh Williams in action) and we'll get our first look at GRIMGOVE as captains. What's the bet they play one in each game?

So, set your expectations to MEDIUM and come with me for the launch of a brand new twice yearly feature;

The Demonblog 46
Now that Mike Sheahan has retired I expecte that he'll be able to openly declare his love of the Dees and will be happy to come on board and write this column next year, but for now here's my personal ranking of the list from top to bottom based on importance to our side this year. Your views may vary significantly so feel free to let rip with the Y U MAD? comments so that I may duly ignore them.

1. James Frawley
Face facts we're still going to cop a bunch of inside 50's this year. He marks, he spoils, he runs it out of the backline, he storms out the centre occassionally and kicks a goal. Will never win an award for public speaking but my god what a player. One of the very few (maybe only) players who would walk straight into any other team in the competition.

2. Colin Sylvia
Forget for a minute his round 1 suspension for early morning shenanigans, there's 21 more games to make up for that, and get roped in as I am to the idea that alongside your more traditional midfielders he's going to finally perfect the art of running around like a lunatic both kicking and setting up goals. He's excelled at it once or twice a season, and while nobody need get excited and slap down a Brownlow bet if he can do it five or six times that could be five more wins in the bank. And five wins in the bank... is more than we had for 18 months combined at one point.

3. Mark Jamar
Granted Fremantle have had Sandilands dominating the middle every year and it's never helped them get anywhere even remotely close to a flag, but in the context of where we're at he's still absolutely vital. The Experience is a more than capable backup in the middle, and in all reality has better skills when he gets the ball but you can't beat the Russian for sheer presence around the ground.

Also if we're in any way serious about breaking out of the bottom division for good he'll be a key target for the kick-outs but not the only one. At least we know that barely anybody in the league is going to outmuscle him in the marking dual, now to get somebody who can take the ball away when it hits the ground. And that brings us neatly to..

4. Jack Trengove
Undoubtedly trending towards being a gun, but how's he going to handle the extra attention? A breakout season would be crucial to us not relying almost solely on Moloney for centre clearances, which was one of the major reasons we were more often than not belted out of the middle for most of 2011.

How he handles the additional attention - and how his teammates protect him - will say a lot about where we're going as a group and other various footballing cliches.

5. Brent Moloney
It almost seems rude to rank the Best and Fairest winner below an inexperienced kid - even if he has been made captain - but I dream of a season where Beamer is part of a thriving midfield unit and not the standout in a barely functioning punching bag.

Has a lot to show on the leadership front after being given the arse in the Stalinist purge of the senior players but I'm not sure he's the kind of guy who needs a title to lead, he just does it. Would the captaincy have been wasted on him anyway? Don't ask me I still think titles and leadership groups are an epic wank.

Needs to keep doing what he did last year (his blank during 186 aside) and provide additional cover for kids like Trengove and Gysberts. Can be very damaging but not if too much is left to too few.

6. Jack Grimes
Provided he goes back to his pre-injury (the last one) position off the half-back line Grime Time could be absolutely crucial to our season. Think Aaron Davey in 2009 but not surrounded by a shit team being encouraged to lose by 40,000 people. On paper the idea of him linking up with the likes of Trengove who then turns around to kick at a Clark/Watts/Jurrah/Howe etc.. forward line is enough to give you the horn.

The only problem is that he's reached 'that' point where everybody's just expecting him to hurt himself ten minutes after he steps onto the field. Moloney, Rivers and Petterd have risen above their own injury battles (for now..) and it's his turn to have some luck. Looking forward to him making it to the point where I stop wincing in anticipation of shattered bone every time he touches the ball.

7. Colin Garland
Frawley can't do it all down back. Another previous injury victim he has become one of the standouts in a backline which has been under siege for years. Brings the additional benefit of actually being able to dispose of the thing properly as well, a luxury we'd have considered nearly beyond us during the reign of Al Nicholson.

8. Jack Watts
The vital link between our, supposedly, much improved (but not much vaunted because that always means 'underperfoming') midfield and our, supposedly, much improved Clark infused forward line. Was good last year but he's still got a long way to go. At least he's proven to be durable so far - has he missed with injury yet?

Potential to absolutely smash it this year with a bigger body and better players around him. Would like to see him belt somebody at some point and at least cop a reprimand if not a couple of weeks. Now that Reece Conca has shown us that you can serve your suspension in the pre-season why not start this week?

9. Jordie McKenzie
If he stays fit he's an absolute crucial element of this side and yet another winner in a long line to have come off the rookie list.

It's hard to quantify exactly why he's so crucial to our side. It isn't just the tackles but it's an almost effortless ability to get the ball out of tight situations. His disposal isn't anything to write home about but at least he knows his limitations and handballs it most of the time instead of trying to hit 40 metre passes by foot. He's never going to win the Brownlow but do we care? I certainly don't.

10. Nathan Jones
Had his best patch of the season after Bailey got the arse (not that I'm suggesting the two are in any way connected) and if he can continue into this year he'll be another cog in the rebirth of our midfield. Ability to kick goals absolutely crucial, especially when they come out of the middle and from clearances like many of his do.

Had his career high for disposals (almost four per game more than 2010) and goals last season. Can offer plenty but whether or not he does is a coin toss. I'm prepared to go into bat for him for now.

11. Mitch Clark
The mystery man. The good news is that his mere presence might make him one of our most important players even if he's not the man who ends up kicking the majority of the goals. As long as he's dragging defenders away from Jurrah/Howe/Watts etc.. do we even care if he's the highest paid decoy in history? NO.

12. Stefan Martin
Not only is the Experience more than capable as a backup to Jamar, with better skills around the ground, he's also a decent forward option and can go back into defence if required. Our foremost practitioner of total football can pretty much do it all, which is impressive considering that this time last year his career was hanging on by a thread. Will be handy in the middle but also capable of doing some damage elsewhere.

13. Brad Green
Very fashionable amongst our supporters to completely ignore his winning 2010 season and instead concentrate on the rollercoaster like 2011 campaign. So the captaincy didn't work. But what did last year? Like everyone else he was good when we were good and putrid when we weren't. So what, I'm not going to hold it against him.

Surely he's got two or three years left in him if he can get into the right team. Whether that's us or he takes the opportunity to become the first MFC player to leg it under the cover of unconditional free agency. Wouldn't blame him for leaving to be honest, some of the vitriol towards him is an absolute farce given what he's done over the years. Can still make a difference whether he's deep forward or up the ground but I wouldn't be surprised if his final act ends up walking from the ground flicking V's at the fans for their gross disloyalty.

14. Luke Tapscott
Well dangerous coming out of defence. In combination with Grimes offers us some hope of getting our kick-ins right for the first time in a decade. Also provides a bit of... well, let's let Tim Lane explain more. Crucial to our chances of clearing the ball out of the backline without having to go through ten minute periods of the backline being pounded unmercifully.

15. Liam Jurrah
This could go anywhere. Either he's going to thrive under the new forward line structure and not having to be our key attacking target or he's going to get lost in the mix. Still well and truly entrenched in the best side but needs consistency. Also Neeld highly unlikely to allow him to ignore the defensive side of the game in favour of the spectacular.

16. Jared Rivers
Surprised everyone in finishing 2nd in the Best and Fairest, but considering the sort of season we had I'm surprised they didn't troll us by giving it to The Spencil. Still a crucial member of the defence but surely everyone bar the B&F voting panel surely acknowledges that he's slipped well behind the Frawley/Garland (FRAWLAND) combination.

17. Aaron Davey
It's not exactly a last chance thing considering he's got another year left on his contract at the end of this season but I'd love some indication that he's still keen on playing. The suspension in the Richmond game was a debacle and his whole season was played under the cloud of 'injury' and 'disinterest'.

Chances are he's going to start forward, and in the absence of any other obvious CRUMB contenders he'll get first crack at kicking goals. Needs to take it because if Grimes stays fit he won't be seen at the other end of the ground anytime soon and the only other option might be Casey. Neeld has hinted that he's right on board our BRING HIM HOME campaign, let's hope the man himself can rise to the occassion.

18. Jordan Gysberts
Has shown aptitude for racking up possessions, now he has to be damaging and do it consistently. Will get plenty of chances and either way we've already won the McLean trade even if he retires and joins the Jehovah's Witnesses.

19. Jeremy Howe
After an impressive first season he's got more help, and at the same time more competition, up forward. His marking and ability to go up the ground will ensure that he's given more chances than some others. With any luck will benefit from the addition of Clark as much as, if not more, than Jurrah.

20. Rohan Bail
Underrated. Most of the time I'd be hard pressed to tell you exactly what he does but whatever it is I enjoy it. Ruined by injury last year but has plenty to give if he stays fit.

21. Sam Blease
Started well before hitting the wall (and the ground) rather heavily in the Port game. Could go absolutely off his nut this year if we're lucky but might be worth targeting for next year if you're betting on awards.

22. Ricky Petterd
I want to rank him higher because I really like him, and don't forget he could very easily have gone home before last year where Gold Coast would have had him as an instant selection every week but it feels like he's slipping away from the top of the list. Showed a surprise second string to his bow with the tackle frenzy against Richmond but couldn't back it up week after week. Interesting to see what they do with him in the NAB Cup.

23. Cale Morton
When I re-do this list at the end of the year (oh yeah, I'm redoing it at the end of the year) it'll be interesting to see where he lands because either he's going to rescue his career this year or will be so unpopular amongst the fan-base by the end of it that he'll have to go into the witness protection program.

This is the man who had 28 kicks in Round 7, 2009 and 37 possessions the next week. Two years in a row he suffered pre-season injuries but surely a shot finger couldn't explain his apparent total lack of confidence last year. If Bailey was never willing to grab him and scream in his face you can only hope Neeld made it his first order of business. He's got the tools to make it huge but the only question is whether somebody will harness it or if he's going to let his career slip away.

24. Lynden Dunn
See Petterd but without the tackle frenzy. Has done some ok work elsewhere in the ground before (remember Boomer Harvey's rotten acting when he pretended Dunn had belted him?) but is losing ground on our first choice side. Shame considering that 2010 was his best season yet but it's hard to fit him in. Will definitely get chances though. Needs to lose the mo. Nobody's laughing anymore.

25. Clint Bartram
Best 22 for tactical reasons rather than anything he does on the field. Must improve his disposal, but after this long what are the chances? Hopefully less pressure from continual opposition inside 50's will give him more time to get it right. Must be doing something well if he's gotten into the leadership group but it doesn't mean I have to be particularly enthused by him.

26. Matthew Bate
Is supposedly being groomed as a midfielder which will either turn out to be complete genius or one of the greatest debacles in history. Have always liked the guy and wanted him to do well so I'm hoping that I don't end up feeling sorry for him that he didn't end up at Footscray. Surely it can only be good for his very ordinary career win/loss record to stay with us instead of going to the Dogs?

27. Daniel Nicholson
Speed to burn and an absolute cert to be the first off the rookie list. Showed some good signs last season and will play enough matches this year to get a proper look at where he's going. I suspect he starts next year on the senior list.

28. Jamie Bennell
Don't rate him. Has done a little bit here and there over 50 games but never had any consistency. Could potentially be another CRUMB option but I'm not convinced that he's got a position at either end of the ground. Bailey seemed to like him but it's anybody's guess how the new regime feels. One to watch in the pre-season.

29. Neville Jetta
Career stalled after a good pre-season last year but at least unlike Emo Maric he didn't end up being exiled to Richmond. Probably playing for his future this year and must find a position to make his own or he'll be in huge trouble.

30. Tom McDonald
Showed enough at the end of last year to show that he'll be a good player but I can't see him starting in Round 1. Projected to rise up this list over the next 12 months.

31. Joel Macdonald
Ignoring the fact that I'm seemingly the one player who in any way rates him it's more than likely he'll be out the door at the end of the year. Capable backup but can see him being overtaken by others as the season goes on and Team Neeld start looking to the future.

32. James Sellar
Not drafted just to boost Casey's tall stocks. He might start there but you'd expect him to jump into the senior side pretty early on. No doubt whether he's sent forward or back as soon as the injuries start piling up he'll be given a chance.

33. James Magner
Drafted for a reason after smashing it for Sandringham last season. I'm not expecting a Barlow-esque remarkable debut season and am well prepared to give him time to get it right but is definitely the pick of the new rookies.

34. Lucas Cook
Put in some decent performances in the NAB Cup and for Casey early last year but got injured and his season fell apart. As a forward he's gone one back in the pecking order thanks to Clark and I feel as if the likes of Dunn/Petterd are going to get their chances first before we turn to Lucas. No doubt he'll play at some point this year but I don't think it's going to be early on.

35. Michael Evans
Coming off injury (I do believe) and showed a bit last year but unlikely to play at anytime early in the season. Not against him in any way but he'll have to put in a string of good performances in the VFL and rely on some injury carnage to get himself back in the side.

36. James Strauss
Has done well to recover enough to even be running considering what he went through but I'm not sure if we're going to see much of him in the first half of the season at least.

37. Jack Fitzpatrick
Had a fairly ordinary debut on a very ordinary afternoon against Port but I'm not going to hold that against him. Has jumped two spots up the pecking order with the temporary demises of Gawn and the Spencil so it'll be interesting to see how Neeld's nerve holds on the idea of playing Clark exclusively forward in the event of an injury to Jamar or Martin.

38. Tom Couch
One to watch in the pre-season but I'm treating anything we get out of him, or any of the rookies from here on, as a bonus.

39. Kelvin Lawrence
If neither Davey or Jetta can take up the CRUMB mantle he could be in-line for a game. I'd suggest that if he's even half decent at Casey and we're half rubbish that he'll get a game sooner rather than later. The clock's ticking on his time on the rookie list so he'd want to show something soon.

41. Josh Tynan
Impressed in the intra-club but is unlikely to appear anytime soon.

42. Rory Taggert
Long(ish) term prospect. Even more unlikely.

42. Jai Sheahan
Even more more unlikely.

43. Jake Spencer
On the long term injury list for at least the first eight weeks of the year while he recovers from last year's knee injury. Given that it's the last year of his contract I have no doubt that he'll play later in the year. Is apparently bulking up into a beastly figure which could save his career in the event he can prove ability to get back on field but for now is offering very little. Possibility for a Meesen/Newton style delist/re-rookie at the end of the season.

44. Troy Davis
Still have no idea who he is. Neverthess on the advice of Twitter's @hardcore_1981 I've decided to adopt him as "Demonblog's own" and pay special attention to his performances in the VFL. Also sports a broad grin in his player profile shot which is nice.

45. Leigh Williams
Not quite the ultimate project player (that would be an American/Irish rugby league convert with two heads) but about as close as you get while staying inside the same sport. Just to be entirely clear if you're only just coming to terms with our drafting he's not from the Norwood in South Australia (now home to J. Newton) but the one in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Where he was a defender until halfway through 2010. Anything could happen here.

46. Max Gawn
Missing the whole season through injury sees sink straight to the bottom. Get well soon Maximum.

Demonblog's chosen 21+1
And so with that in mind here's my advanced lineup for the first game. This takes into account the fact that Sylvia is out for Round 1. Otherwise send Gysberts to the bench, Petterd into the emergencies and Morton to Casey Fields.

I reserve the right to make wholesale changes to this at the end of the pre-season.

B: Bartram, Frawley, Rivers
HB: Grimes, Garland, Tapscott
C: Gysberts, Trengove, Jones
HF: Green, Watts, Davey
F: Jurrah, Clark, Howe
Foll: Jamar, Moloney, McKenzie
I/C: Martin, Petterd, Bail
Sub: Blease
EM: Jetta, Nicholson, Morton

Where do we go from here?
Looks like I've been stiffed for the report from the intraclub but I'm not exactly sure how votes would have been handed out for that glorified training session anyway so fair enough, let's start the Paul Prymke Plate for Pre-Season Performance votes from this week with a different set of votes for each game.

At the conclusion of the pre-season we'll be back for the final preview/state of the union with updated Demonblog award odds and my hotly awaited (*snort*) ladder predictions. I'll bet you're absolutely gagging for it.

Final thoughts

Friday 17 February 2012

Rating the themes

Many years ago BD (Before Demonblog) I posted a list ranking my favourite club songs. Didn't that go down a treat. You think it's bad when you troll Black Caviar fans, just watch how people spaz out when you suggest their club song is naff. Let's be entirely honest, even the good ones are rubbish by any decent musical standard, unless you're a fan of oompah music hall tunes.

So, in the spirit of causing people to have a breakdown again - and in honour of the two heartless and soul-free franchises which the AFL have forced upon us - it's time for an honest, frank and Anthrax in the mail provoking reassessment. Once again I've left our song out because then the integrity of the whole list would be under a cloud. Rank it wherever you like. First? Fair enough. Last? Fair enough too, it's your list pal.

1. Sydney
To be entirely fair to the Swans I never gave their ditty much thought until the mid 90's, but really until they won the flag who gave them any thought at all? Until they made that Grand Final in '96 I still thought they used the bastardised version of Up There Cazaly designed to make Sydneysiders think they were the next big thing even though no body living there had ever heard of Cazaly.

But what a mistake that alternative was considering the cracking tune they were replacing. Even the banjo solo that should derail the entire enterprise somehow only adds to it. It's racked almost lock, stock and barrel from the Notre Dame song but that's ok, this list is not about originality - god knows some of the original songs are the worst.

The best bit is how they actually improve on the original lyrics. It's one thing to take somebody else's poetic shaking of the thunder down from the sky but imagine if instead of lifting "that" noble banner high they'd opted for the original "send the volley cheer on high". Hideous. What does that even mean? Take note St Kilda, it's ok to change some of the words.

Here's to sense prevailing and somebody ensuring that the Swans didn't end up with new jumpers, totally new songs (a pox on the fake Cazaly tune) and a nickname designed solely to appeal to half-interested wankers to the North. They managed to hold their nerve for 30 years and now that's what GWS are for.

2. Geelong
Come on, it's an opera song. What more could you want? Is it too much to ask for a bit of culture They did their best to stuff it up a few years ago by adding a thoroughly unrequired second verse but that, much like their financial situation at the time, proved to be a disaster and was soon forgotten.

I also enjoy their suggestion that they play the game the "way it should be played". There's a touch of arrogance in that which appeals to me. Also appreciate the fact that despite flogging their stadium's name off to the highest bidder every two years they've retained "down at Kardinia Park" instead of doing a North and rewriting the song to suit themselves.

So, it's a rare 1-2 for songs that mention a banner. Obviously when the songs were written banners were the sort of things troops carried into battle, not crepe paper monstrosities advertising the Cheer Squad Disco.

3. Richmond
Well overrated considering the fans only sing three words of it but I've got a sick fascination with the fact that at heart it's actually a knees-up vaudeville song about some bloke cracking on in a rowboat.

The line between a good song and a not as good song should be the ability to yell it out in a drunken stupour. For Richmond fans this is even more crucial considering most of them are either drunks, balding middle aged women or both. I can well imagine being off chops and yelling this out, possibly while running around in circles imitating a trombone with my arms.

4. Hawthorn
Here's a textbook case of the tune rising above the extremely mediocre lyrics to create something good.

It's fair to say the over and above everything else the suggestion that "teamwork" being "the thing that talks" is the elephant in the room. It's a clunky line and it means nothing but it's not the only problem I've got with it. Declaring yourself a "happy" team is well poxy and if you're going to ride bumps then do it with a snarl or similar, not a 'grin'. So it shouldn't work, yet somehow it does.

So effectively what's happened here is that I've ranked the songs from 1-17 based purely on gut feeling then sat down and thought about it. What this made me realise is that while this song should, by all objective measures rank near the bottom of this list something inexplicable draws me to it. Like West Coast coming from nowhere to unexpectedly steal a top four position last year I'm on-board with the Hawks even though they're sporting lyrics that would make The Vengaboys blush.

5. Brisbane
While we're all still pining for the classic Dare To Beat The Bear (in which they helpfully reminded us that "we're a team"), and there's no doubt that the Fitzroy song was better on its own sadly theme songs don't pay the bills and when the AFL organised the shotgun marriage between its two most disappointing teams they had to compromise on the tune too.

There's no doubt it's stirring, but then again what would you expect from a song that is practically all about publicly killing rich people with a sizeable blade. "All for one, and one for all" is certainly a noble concept but it almost loses the plot when they run out of inspirational lyrics and instead of claiming that they're going to win the flag/are the best team they just pledge to "kick the winning score". That'll strike fear into the hearts of men.

I will make this prediction though, just as they axed the good Lion and replaced it with an Adelaide style non-threatening, child friendly cartoon version they'll eventually write out the verse that says "Like Fitzroy and Bears of old". Some of us would like to remember the Bears of old - and especially their scoreboard which used to flash up messages like GO HOME MEXICANS whenever Victorian teams kicked a goal. And Fitzroy.

6. Fremantle
It's very fashionable in the eastern states to throw the Freo song into Port and West Coast mix when discussing the worst songs but I never knew it was so unpopular in the west as well. So much so that they had a competition to decide what to do with it at the end of 2011.

As an unashamed supporter of the original theme, and the creator of the predictably unpopular #saveheaveho Twitter campaign I made a visit to a Freo forum to see what the people were thinking and was surprised to see how many people were dying to get rid of it.

It looked for a while like some alternative monstrosities were going to get up, but a voting system more confusing than Modified D'Hondt somehow delivered victory to the original song. Or what they referred to as an 'altered version' of the original song.

I can't even tell the difference. What I do know is that it's still not as good as my edit which emphasises the heave ho over the shit verses. Happily as this video was labelled 'new version' before the vote people now go onto it and think it is the real new version. Which either proves that even Freo fans can't tell the difference or the people who comment on YouTube videos are morons.

7. Adelaide
After opening their league career with an abysmal singalong wankfest of a song the Crows, in the words of famous drownee Whitney Houston, "nearly had it all" when a worldwide search for a song led to the CEO sitting down and pinching the US Marine Corp song.

And it was a belter. Real kick doors down, invade small countries, shoot unarmed civilians stuff. If this list were being compiled a few years ago it would have been top four with a bullet. Then, as football clubs always do, they had to go and mess around with it. At about the same time they replaced their good logo with a low-fi startled chicken-esque rip-off of the Baltimore Ravens they decided to tart their tune up and made it worse in the process.

Out went the old man singers so beloved of footy fans and in came what sounds very much like a group of young men attempting to sound like they're a barbershop quartet. So far so shithouse. Then they changed the lyrics so instead of "we're the mighty Adelaide Crows" it's now "and we're known as the Adelaide Crows". We already knew who you were you dickheads, now all you've done is taken some of the fight out of your own song.

Like the real top 8 they fall in by virtue of 75% of the competition being mediocre hacks. First round exit. Bring back the old version of the song even if the intro did sound as if it was being played on a Hammond organ as part of a Grade 6 concert. We don't song intros.

8. Collingwood
Put your traditional hatred of the Pies to one side, try not to think about mutant supporters belting this out and admit that it only qualifies for the top eight because what's below it is either unproven or terrible.

Much like Hawthorn's chatty teamwork the Pies achilles heel is the cakewalk. Research has shown that this song is the only recorded use of the term since at least 1932 and it's all well and good now that they're winning but to actually alude to a premiership as an acheiveable (nay 'cakewalkable') goal when you're winning you're first game nine weeks into the season is an absolute farce. Good on you for having high aspirations, and congratulations on them finally coming true after fifty years of near misses but it doesn't mean it's any less awkward.

Otherwise it's hard to fault. "Good old" is a subtle enough reference to supposed superiority, and until they add the COR BLIMEY bit into the official lyrics I'll blame the players for introducing that themselves. I also like the bit where they lay down to the law to their 'barrackers' about what they should be doing. Maybe our fans would fire up more if they were ordered to by the song? Or maybe Pies fans [insert cliche about having been in prison].

9. Greater Western Sydney
It might just be because it's new, and maybe I want to find something about them that I don't hate with all my being but even when I heard the nine second preview I was in for this. The only thing that could ruin the cossack explosion would be the addition of lyrics.

Sadly they opted out of totally confusing the Sydneysiders with an instrumental theme a'la the old Channel 7 Plays of the Month music yet somehow it still didn't make me want to boot my screen in. Which would have been difficult considering I was watching it on a mobile phone.

Sure the odds are that once I hear this more than ten times AND see Scumbag Scully belting it out live that it will tumble down the list to the point where it invokes a Pavlovian response causing me to swear loudly in front of children but for now I'm in. Much like Hawthorn surviving to make the top four even with wonky lyrics nobody's suggesting that this sets the world on fire but the Soviet power of the music appeals to me greatly.

I've seen people suggesting that it's got a touch of the Moscow Moscow about it but it's more like this to me. The animal suit shenanigans are complimentary.

10. Gold Coast
Proving that they'd both learnt lessons from but also made the same mistakes as Port's '97 entry into the AFLvision song contest the marketing gurus behind the Suns opted for a song that wasn't utter horseshit but failed to base it any sort of catchy tune.

Stuffing the thing full of trumpet and including a world class sun/son double entendre in the opening line keeps their head above water at least. At least when these new teams opt for something 'traditional' (i.e not the West Coast song) they go for upbeat and jaunty instead of wrist slashing dirges like Carlton or Footscray-esque sea shanties.

Still, if you've told me the two newest teams in the competition would both run top ten two years ago I'd have spat at you.

11. North Melbourne
At the risk of having my email assaulted by a parade of North fans with their Excel spreadsheets trying to convince me that their song really is the next big thing I'm here to say that it's not. "But Victoria used to sing it!" they cry. Obviously because they thought picking the song of a team nobody followed would alienate as few proper Victorians as possible.

In fact the best bit of the song is the bit they don't even sing. Even if it makes absolutely no sense to anybody born after the First World War.

The crushing disinterest of the world to the rest was clearly shown before our clash with them at Docklands last year when pre-match the North fans were encouraged to sing along lustily with a ball bouncing across the words on the screen a'la Shut Uppa Your Face by Joe Dolce Music Theatre. As the karaoke version belted out a tumbleweed nearly rolled across the field. The only thing more embarassing on the day when Juice pretended to be Jonathan Brown was our performance for the last three quarters.

What I will give them is that they did the right thing in changing their song back when they gave up the sad Kangaroos gimmick and returned to being North Melbourne. Unfortunately they'd never actually bothered to rerecord it in the first place and the 'change' was effectively just taking off the badly applied "THE KANGAS!" which somebody had patched over the top of "North Melbourne" when they were trying to shift the whole enterprise to Sydney/Canberra/anywhere else in the late 90's.

Somewhere along the line the last line was changed for the worse too. "North Melbourne is the team that plays to win for you and me" was probably the most democratic and utopian sentiment in any theme song ever (including the theme to Perfect Strangers) but thanks to the players ruining it by singing "North Melbourne will be premiers in [YEAR THAT DOES NOT RHYME WITH ME]" the club followed suit and changed it to "will be premiers, just you wait and see". We're still waiting, and presumably will be for a long time. We might not, and probably won't, win anything either but at least we're not getting ahead of ourself.

Please North fans, do not send me spreadsheets and powerpoint presentations. I will not rate you any higher no matter what homemade stat you come up with.

12. Essendon
There's nothing particularly offensive about it as a jolly singsong, possibly at a medieval fair, but as a theme? Pass. As something to belt out in celebration in ranks somewhere between Advance Australia Fair and I'm An Individual.

Even allowing for the fact that it's derived from Keep The Sunnyside Up which sounds like a jingle for eggs is there anything worse than grown individuals yelling "up! up!" en masse? Except when they're doing it after tonking you in a Grand Final. Don't remember that bit, had gone off to sulk by then and have never watched it again.

But what's even worse than up! up! is the delusion of convincing themselves that 'premiership' is pronounced preeeeemeeerership just so it fits the song better. I'd like to believe there's at least one Bombers fan who refuses to join in and sings the word properly.

As with other clubs they lose points for their indiscreet claims about being certs for the flag but I will pay credit to their promotional work for the game by declaring it "grand" (hands off our word) and for being early adopters to the idea that 'fame' was worth seeking well before anybody invented reality television.

13. St Kilda
It's been well established that ripping off other people's songs is the safest method of adopting a theme. Even if nobody's ever heard of the song it's at least proof that the tune is catchy no matter what the source material is. You'd never get away with it now mind, imagine the en masse self-harm these days if a club came out with a tune derived and re-written from the Zigfield Follies?

If Richmond were formed tomorrow they'd be sporting something a lot different courtesy of 'consultants'. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't at least have some sort of a go at coming up with your own words.

This was not a concern for the Saints who, in an era when twirly moustaches were very much in favour, ditched the nickname 'Seasiders' and opted for their new name. Surprisingly it took until they ditched the Junction Oval to give up on singing "I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside". Presumably about ten minutes after they moved to Moorabbin somebody went, "hey, there's a song that would really suit this name" and five minutes later it was official. Repeat at every other sporting club in the world with the same name.

While it should be noted that during their dark 80's period as they flirted with changing name to the Moorabbin Saints (and wouldn't that have been a waste a few years later?) somebody did have a go at coming up with a sparkly new theme song. Unfortunately for all involved this Daryl Cotton-esque none-more-80's pop classic had a shelf life of about ten minutes. Not that you'd know that from their official history which now claims that it's the "most popular" theme song. With St Kilda fans perhaps.

It shouldn't discourage them from trying again. Sure they've not got a great record for change, ditching the now familiar colour scheme during WWI out of fear that people would think they were keen on the Kaiser and adopting the colours of popular wartime cannon fodder nation Belgium instead, but don't be concerned with the mistakes of the past.

The fans will hate it, and the chances are it will turn out to be worse anyway, but there's a lot of good that can be done for the world by using old man singers and a horn section.

14. Western Bulldogs
It's a sea shanty. That's not a bad thing if you're on-board the good ship Venus but it's substantially less attractive when it's being belted out on dry land. So much the worse when it's introduced by a jaunty horn solo, the likes of which would never have been seen on the high seas other than on an episode of The Love Boat. There are good horn solos in footy themes, then there's the Bulldogs.

The Footscray version was better, but then against Footscray was a better name. The only thing of any value that they've done since then is draft Allen Jakovich and film him looking totally disinterested in Year Of The Dogs while Steven Wallis tearfully retired in front of his mates. And Jako.

15. Carlton
No doubt this suggestion will lead to an even more rabid response than one provided by North fans and will almost certainly lead to cyber bricks flying through my online windows but let's be entirely serious here - it's not a theme song, it's the soundtrack to a silent movie where a fat man ambles down the road and either slips on a banana skin or is decked by a workmen turning around unexpectedly while carrying a ladder.

Fair enough if you're Charlie Chaplin or Fatty Arbuckle but how does anybody else get themselves excited for this tune? I'd get excited by Two Become One by the Spice Girls if it was played after a win but that's because it means you've had a win, but Blues fans will defend this tuneless wank to their graves.

16. Port Adelaide
Once upon a time I'd have ranked this dead last but that was before developing my hatred of the Eagles song to its full potential. It's not that this has grown on me in any way mind you, but compared to what they're up to in the west it's practically a Lennon-McCartney production.

Apparently they followed South Melbourne's lead (or inspired South, who knows) in ripping off the Notre Dame song blind but just as they had to abandon their colours upon joining the AFL they were also forced to opt for a new song. Not sure why because it's not like there's ever two songs played at once but you can picture the Port marketing department having a nervous breakdown if anybody had suggested it pre-1997 season. Not to mention the AFL who were still swinging bottles of champers around their heads at having gotten rid of the Roys.

Apparently it was co-written by the guy who was the original bass player in Cold Chisel. You can see why he was asked to leave if this is the quality of what he was contributing. To be fair being given the task of writing a club song would be the most poisoned chalice since the one that turned the guy inside out in the Indiana Jones movie but if as this page claims it was the winner of a competition involving 70 tunes you shudder to think what else must have been submitted.

And the late 90's was the era when you had to have studios and the like to make half professional sounding music. These days people can knock up a theme song on their home computer and have it on YouTube within 20 minutes. Apparently it topped the South Australian singles chart - which is fine but somebody show me a list of other songs to have topped that particular chart and I'll decide whether or not that's an achievement.

The two most offensive elements of the song are the utterly poncy "come on! Port Adelaide aggression", a line which indicates no actual aggression whatsoever, and the cry/wail of "Powahhhhh" at the end which sounds like they've got some kids in from Alberton Primary School and bribed them with red cordial.

I think it's time we held another competition to find them a new song. They're a bit skint at the moment so there won't be a prize, but if you can contribute in any way to giving them some semblance of pride as a football club by introducing a song which isn't a complete embarassment please contact their club offices directly c/o Motel Formule One, Adelaide.

17. West Coast
The shortest, the shittest and the only one that if you listen really closely has a female backing singer who sounds as if she's on the job during the recording.

Granted the whole thing took a sharp downward turn in about 1988 when they ditched the verse which practically abused the entire eastern seaboard but did they have to ditch verses altogether? There's nothing more painful than hearing their players trying to put some oomph into this when they're belting it out after a win. There's

You've got to hand it to them for sticking with it for so long when even Freo got nervous and tried to railroad their fans into changing to something written by Eskimo Joe BUT that shouldn't excuse how terrible it is. What in god's name is "the big game"? That's far worse than talking teamwork and cakewalks in my book.

There's a very good reason why Subiaco play Eagle Rock as quick as they can after this monstrosity ends. Just pay up for the licence fee and buy the rights to that already, you're not North Melbourne get your wallet out.

Thursday 9 February 2012

Retro Review - Round 20, 1990

West Coast at Subiaco. Sunday 19 August.

Being the era where half the matches weren't taped at all comes one from the west that you'd expect to go for the full four quarters. But it doesn't. Either somebody from Channel 7 or whoever uploaded to a dodgy torrent site must have taped over it with an episode of The Main Event. Either way how dodgy can a torrent site be if they've got games like this on offer?

Anyway there's 32 minutes and 31 seconds worth for us to look back at and we join in progress with Chris Lewis lurking menacingly above Graeme Yeats who rises unsteady to his feet clutching his nuts. Considering Lewis' later indiscretions it might be worth zooming in to make sure that there's no teeth marks across the flange.


The uploader clearly left the tackle grabbing in for pure comedy value because seconds later it cuts out and we come back to the start of the last quarter with Melbourne 33 points in front. Take being 33 points in front at the last change in Perth these days? Better odds of winning Club Keno.

With sponsors still on the Subiaco fence to this day like SGIO and Town & Country lurking in the background future Demon Dean Irving beats Stynes for the bounce and we're off.

The ball is soon going forward courtesy of midfielder Simon Eishold (!?) who finds forward Danny Hughes (!?), according to Peter Landy moved from centre half-back where he'd been on Peter Sumich for 'undisciplined play' which considering the match was apparently full of brawls sounds like a cover-up for 'shit play'.

Speaking of undisciplined the flowing permed mullet look is in full effect thanks to Andrew Obst and he's soon given the seal of approval by local crowds when he has a scrunched up chip container piffed at him from the crowd while appealing for an out-of-bounds on the full. The benefit of a replay 22 years later has shown that he was either misguided or a filthy cheat because the ball lands nowhere near over the line, a point that Obst is reminded of by the screaming feral woman in the front row.

Revenge comes quickly for the man with the living hair as a blatant over the shoulder headlock on Brian Wilson in the square goes unpunished but in the confusion the ball bounces to Obst standing on his own in the square and he whacks it through to up the margin to 39 points. Clearly we win this or why else would I have it but without looking at the margin I'm going to assume that somehow we make a total hash of the lead and fall over the line in a thriller.

Straight out of the centre the Wilson/Obst combination comes to the fore again as they combine to set up Tingay (in his shameful rat tail years) for another goal within 20 seconds. All of a sudden my prediction of a drastic Eagles comeback is looking absolutely shambolic.

Sadly the ads are cut out because after that goal it briefly cut to a car ad which started "this is a modern..." with the most 80's looking car in history. I suppose it was "a modern" then. See you in 2032 for a round of pissing ourselves at today's ads.

Good news for Phil Narkle fans as possibly the only indigenous player ever to appear in a helmet marks on the outer wing. He then proceeds to turn around and boot it straight to Stynes without an Eagles player within ten minutes. Good work Phil.

What was sadly left out of this copy is a cracking brawl at three-quarter time (did it stem from Yeats having his tackle mashed?) featuring Stynes prominently. Landy and Commetti (back when Dennis wasn't allowed outside of Perth) allude to the fact that he's "not the most popular man in the stadium" but you can't hear a solitary boo in his direction.

Speaking of unpopular individuals the Narkle debacle eventually ends in a Chris Lewis goal after Jimmy's kick forward was completely botched by Earl Spalding. The crowd goes absolutely mild as the margin returns to 39. Classic era goal umpiring too, he just stands there with body stiff and sticks out the two fingers - none of the baseball capped buffoonery you get these days.

Ever the master of understatement Landy says "they needed that" as the camera pans to show a man who is clearly old enough to know better waving his homemade "ON YA! EAGLES" banner. At least old enough to know where to put the exclamation mark I'd have thought. Another classic early 90's sign in the crowd is "I DON'T BELIEVE IT". If you don't believe somebody kicking one goal perhaps you should be at a soccer game. Except that it's 1990 and at that point there were about 19 non-ethnic people who liked soccer in this country and we were spending most of our time being accused of homosexuality or being un-Australian.

TELECOM MOBILE PHONES is another quality sponsor, for those of you looking for something that fits in a suitcase and everyone in the world can listen in on.

21.13 left in the game and the Eagles go forward again only for Grinter to miss a swinging right fist and accidentally connect with the ball. The ball rolls out of bounds in front of a half-hearted Steven Febey and MY GOD THAT IS THE WORST HAIR EVER. The dual coloured mullet makes Tingay look positively contemporary. Dean Kemp and his perfectly sensible barnet are seen looking in absolute wonder at it seconds later.

Eishold once again gets the clearance (did he do this often? I just remember him botching the '87 prelim and being swapped to Richmond and doing nothing) and finds Spalding just outside forward 50. Earl actually manages to hold onto the mark this time as Commetti declares he's "too far out to score" only for the Duke to have a ping. It gets all the way to the line - and accurately too may I add - where it trickles through off hands for a point.... or so everyone things except the goal umpire who ignores the evidence of Darren Bennett's enormous mitt thumping it through and pays a goal. Before Dennis can properly register his shock Channel 7 dump us to a McEwen's hardware ad.

Back from the ad (sadly we only got somebody singing, "YOU CAN DO IT! AT MCEWEN'S!") and Dennis' conspiracy corner continues. "Bennett showed disappointment, Brennan showed amazement, the goal umpire shows two fingers!" he says. These days he'd try too hard and work in a reference about Rowdy Roddy Piper. Hey Dennis, we'll do the forced obscure 80's wrestling references in this sport. Odd that they never offer a replay. If that happened now it would be analysed for the next 20 minutes.

Stynes loses the ruck contest again but a shock Jay Viney intervention sees the ball going forward anyway. For about five metres. Thankfully for Melbourne fans everywhere the ball lands with Fabulous Phil Narkle who tries to break a hundred tackles before finally managing to get the ball to boot where it trickles a couple of feet. I was not surprised to learn that Narkle only played one more senior game after this.

Eventually the ball finds its way to Brett Lovett (another owner of a spectacular haircut) who is infringed upon by - surprise, surprise - Chris Lewis. He takes off and Landy exclaims "Advantage rule!" only for the umpire to call play back 20 seconds later as Lewis is clearly seen mouthing a four letter anglo saxon word for fornication towards the bemused man in white.

A smothered Spalding kick soon sees the ball come back and the Eagles go inside 50 only for Tony Campbell (he of the gloves and a failed NFL career) to deny Peter Sumich a mark with what would be described and penalised today as an "unrealistic marking attempt". Unfortunately the ball then goes backwards where Garry Lyon does the most blatant throw you'll ever see in your life and gets pinged as the cameras cut to Mick Malthouse looking like a lego man in the coaching box.

Chris Waterman misses an absolute sitter as Landy gives us another round of "that was badly needed". He gets another chance about five seconds later as our kick-in is broken up by Steven Febey being blatantly taken out without the ball but Waterman's second attempt is touched through by Rod Grinter in front of a goal umpire who is actually able to spot that sort of thing. 43 points the difference with 18.11 left to play.

The Eagles go forward again thanks to Tony Begovich, who I'd never realised was a great Phil Read lookalike because I'd never seen what he looked like, before Cannibal Chris ignores Narkle (sensible choice) and dinks a pissy little kick inside 50 that goes straight to Jay Viney.... who proceeds to fuck it right up and allow that man Narkle to kick the last of his 55 VFL/AFL goals. At least Jay got a paycheck in 1991.

Eagles go forward immediately out of the centre again (feel free to win a clearance Melbourne. Oh, where have I heard that before?) and a ball lands in the square where Campbell proceeds to leap up in the air and spike it out of bounds in the forward pocket like he's playing volleyball. I don't want to say that community standards were slightly out of whack in that era but the commentators are legitimately shattered that he's pinged for it. It can't be understated how deliberate it actually was. Never before has an umpire ever got one more right than that and here's Peter Landy openly claiming he only made his decision because of the crowd.

After a brief moment of panic when the crowd get excited the resulting Sumich free kick barely scrapes in for a point, which doesn't stop Dean Irving from seemingly hurling some insults at the goal umpire as he signals the behind. Now, there might be 20 minutes and the win is safe but it would still be nice if they could a) win a clearance and b) keep the ball on our side of the middle for more than five seconds at a time.

A booming Grinter kick-in comes straight back again but Jay freaking Viney takes a huge contested grab in the backline and passes short to Stynes who finally cops some boos from the mutants in the crowd. In a moment straight out of commentator cliche school Danny Hughes kicks the ball off the ground and Landy goes "Oh, he's been watching the soccer!" which I very much doubt he had been given that the World Cup finished about five weeks before.

Inability to keep the ball on the attacking side of halfway almost comes back to haunt Melbourne again as Waterman adds another point hitting the post with nobody in the square. These days he'd have deliberately run onto a funky angle and tried to roll it in.

Now unlike today the kick-ins are actually quite good, and so's the next possession - it's when they go forward of centre that things start going horribly wrong. This time it's Grinter to Brett Lovett who shamefully tries to milk a 50 by slapping the ball into Lewis' hand so it will fall out. The only person fooled by this ruse is Commetti who barks "that could almost be 50 there!" when the umpire was standing about a metre away from him doing it and sensibly tells Lovett to get on with it.

Finally the ball ends up going forward for the first time since that hotly disputed 'goal' and it ends in a not at all disputed major for Steve Febey after a classy underground handpass from that man Eishold. Either history has been very unkind to him or this was the greatest quarter he ever played.

According to the ad break "Seven brings you the hit movies" then they show a scene from Days of Thunder as we cut back to the footy. What's next Mr Nanny?.

Another centre break for the Eagles is quickly defused and after a mazy run down the wing by Steven Stretch, looking down at the ground on every bounce of the ball, it winds up with Spalding who does a snap almost as bad as some of his set shots and misses. Still, this is over - the only thing left to ask is courtesy of the signage around the fence that says "ARE YOU RED RED READY? RED ROOSTER" (A: no).

Eishold continues the game of his life by marking 40m out and kicking the goal to end the Eagles 15 game winning streak at Subi. He should have had a 50 straight to the line too after another great obscure player of the 80's Troy Ugle basically leapt on his back then sat on him after the mark. Not as much concern from the commentators as there was for Campbell's red hot punch out of bounds.

Whoever the special comments bloke he's never acknowledged on screen. It could be Ross Glendinning but unless they identify him it could also be Pol Pot for all I know.

Ironically just as we get the ball out of the centre for the first time all quarter (courtesy of a free kick) it winds up going the other way where finally Chris Waterman gets something right and hits a pass to Lewis who converts and gives Seven the chance to cut away to a Hey Dad advertisement. Looked like Betty was about to do something stupid. They come back to Peter Sumich being kneed in the head by Jay Viney then kicking into the mark before Dean Kemp ensures his spot in every 1990's blunders compilation by doing a darting run through about five Melbourne players and handballing it straight to Brett Lovett standing still.

By this point everyone's pretty much going through the motions and Sumich has another shot which doesn't even make the distance - leaving his tally at 2.5, one out on the full and one into the man on the mark. Some bloke called Melesso who nobody has ever heard of tries to mark in the square but can't hold it and it goes through for another point. According to the ever helpful AFL tables Peter Melesso had one of the most messed up careers you'll ever see. 14 games in ten seasons, no bloody wonder nobody's ever heard of him. What's more ridiculous is that he only played in four wins in that whole time and three of them were this season.

Give up Melbourne might have but the Eagles were utter shite and eventually a cock-up by Ugle gives Brian Wilson a goal and the Eagles yet another chance to win a centre clearance. They do and this time it's Garry Lyon's turn to be done for a blatant by today's standards deliberate out of bounds. This umpire was 20 years ahead of his time because despite the fact that he dinked in straight over the line with a five metre toe poke Garry is ropeable and Commetti is horrified because the ball "angled away" before it went over. Yeah about 90 degrees from where it landed. Mystery special comments man Leon Trotsky tries to defend Gaz by saying "his leg was retarded by a tackle".

The ball ends up with Dean Irving in the square and while he drags the margin back to 41 points with six minutes remaining and I'm absolutely certain about five minutes have mysteriously disappeared from this quarter at some point. Lewis finds Sumich, who you'd think was absolutely shit if this is the only game you'd ever seen and he finally manages to get his third after a couple of rubbish attempts. Also don't you wish Lewis had bitten Jay Viney's finger instead just so Jay would be remembered for something?

It's no bloody wonder we didn't win the flag if this game is anything to go by considering the Eagles win YET ANOTHER centre clearance. Channel Seven have stopped going to ads now because they know that when they come back the Eagles will be in attack. Just to keep it interesting they have another shot on goal through Mainwairing who is absolutely robbed when the ball clearly crosses the line but a mark is paid to Peter Rohde. Not only did it clearly cross the line but Rohde also put the ball on the ground after marking it in a blatant admission that it had crossed. This turn of events is so shocking that the Unabomber shows up to register her disgust;


The "I DON'T BELIEVE IT" banner gets another run, this time with some justification.

The "I DO BELIEVE IT" banner may as well have come out seconds later when Spalding burst inside 50 and attempted a shot on goal which landed in the arms of an Eagles defender 20 metres out. Of all the great players on this Melbourne team he's the one who lifted a premiership. Rude.

As time runs out the Troy Ugle Experience completely stuffs up a bouncing ball inside 50 and gives makeshift forward Danny Hughes the chance to shoot from a tight angle but he makes that same mistake that all footballers did from 1859 to 2006 where he tries to kick it through properly instead of doing a poxy little dribbling shot from the boundary. It was the last score of the game, though he should have had another shot after the umpire somehow pinged him for a throw despite Ugle doing a springboard dive into his back 10m out directly in front.

Mystery Commentator X says we've done well despite having "a record" eight knee injuries that season (a figure later broken single handedly by Collingwood's Lee Walker) and Landy suggests that they've just put in the eye catching performance of the round before proceeding to name another three matches that could take the crown - leaving just three winners who didn't impress him for the week (Sydney, St Kilda and Geelong stat fans. Surely any Sydney win in 1990 was considered impressive?).

Fittingly a huge spoil by Jay-V (Todd nowhere to be seen) sets up Melbourne's last chance of a score but the siren beats Febey a second before he can get boot to ball and sneak it through for a point. Handshakes all round for John Northey and co but it's the early 90's and a win only means one thing. It's time for this guy to make an appearance;


His best feature is the laugh and the backwards march off screen waving the trident triumphantly. In other triumphant gestures Garry Lyon picks some mud off the ground before joylessly piffing it across the field and Darren Bennett runs in and abducts Grinter from a post match interview, carrying him off from the bemused and bemulleted bloke with a microphone. Dennis covers himself in glory by trying to start a scandal about a "confrontation between a radio interviewer and Rodney Grinter" before the mystery commentator points out that "err, I think it was just an interview Dennis".

Speaking of confrontational Brian Wilson decides to lead a 'stirring rendition' of the theme song as the players walk off the ground while Graeme Yeats forsees the birth of the Western Force a few years later by attempting to pack a scrum.


This 'hearty' rendition in the face of the Eagles fans not surprisingly leads to several comments from the punters and neither Willo or Rodney are shy about making their own feelings felt;


In light of that perhaps the reason Bennett abducted Grinter was because Sir Rodney of Cheapshot was about to unleash some foul and offensive comments across the airwaves bless him. Darren himself is seen giving it large on his way off the ground but at least he was sensible enough not to do it on live radio.

With two games left we moved to equal second on points but fourth on percentage. Every possible chance of finishing in the top two. Unfortunately we won both but still finished before Collingwood and the Eagles on percentage - thus throwing them together into a qualifying final. They drew, then the Eagles lost and despite playing that at Waverley with an extra week off we lost. Typical Melbourne fiasco.

Thursday 2 February 2012

Demonblog Cinema