Thursday 26 April 2012

The tide hastens for no man

The epic shambles that is New Blogger is rearing its ugly head again. Any bizarre design/font quirks in the following are entirely their fault.

As Eric Clapton once said, presumably in the midst of one of his epic benders, it's in the way that you use it. Then he spun around a couple of times and collapsed to the floor a'la Matthew Newton. Allegedly.

Chances are that he was talking about a woman or a guitar but it was 1986, so maybe he was referring to the Melbourne Football Club and their award winning finals drought born of wilful and malicious heinous use of the ball. You know that year we managed the spectacular feat of being tonked by over a hundred points three times in just two months. But in a dramatic, un-MFC like twist the story has a happy ending a year later when we make the finals (then there's the regulation tragic ending, but a happy ending first).

We've got until Round 9 to rack up the two more fiascos required to match the dirty deeds of the 1986 squad, and about a year and half to recover it a'la '87. Even after tonight's game I know which one I'd be offering better odds on if I were Jamie Rogers from TAB Sportsbet.

God knows what depths the 80's version of Demonblog would have sunk to after that eight week period of death and destruction. Thankfully for one I was five years old, and secondly anybody half interested in providing their views about footy online would have had to use one of those ridiculous WarGames style 300baud modems plugged into a rotary dialing phone to post on a BBS. In short, nobody was talking footy online so god knows how those of you who survived that era did it without intensive psychotheraphy and experimental medications (both legal and otherwise), because if I didn't have this outlet to come on and let it all out I'd be up all night howling obscenities at the moon.

Thinking about what happened 26 years ago and trying to draw a parallel between that team and today's is the first sign of madness but that's the position I find myself in these days. What else am I supposed to do, sit around all week pondering the post 2006 era?
It's got to the point where I could sit down confidentally on Thursday and write an accurate (as accurate as you get on here anyway) summation of our shambolic performance and simply plug in the votes whilst trudging grimly down Brunton Avenue. But where's the fun in that? And I will admit that most of my waking hours are still dedicated to considering the ups and downs of the post-Daniher era. Melbourne FC owes me hours upon hours of psychological consultations.

At least we were treated to something different this week, the presumptive poleaxing replaced with a grinding loss where we were still a chance 15 minutes into the last quarter. Cancel that post about leaping off the top deck of the Olympic Stand and replace it with one with platitudes galore about honourable losses. Actually, cancel that post as well because honourable losses can get stuffed. We did better than expected but that's no consolation in the grand scheme of being 0-5 and above just two teams full of kids and men press-ganged from the SANFL to try and keep their clubs afloat until the draft picks pay off. We are still looking at a 16th place finish this year, and even though that's less shameful than it was last time we finished there I still don't want it - and I don't care what benefits we can get from ending up there.

It didn't hurt us that the conditions were absolute rubbish because there's nothing like dragging a better side down to your level. I remember when we were good and it happened to us all the time. Unfortunately more often than not it happened when the conditions were absolutely perfect. We're hardly wet weather specialists in the Mark McGough mould but at least it slowed St Kilda down a bit tonight. Still, when you go into the last quarter having battled back to being just three points behind and then fail to score in a fourth term for the first time since Brian Stynes' last game then you deserve exactly what you get - zero points.

Forget 'honour' for a second (we are not samurais) and let me do some serious whinging. With all due respect to children who may be reading who does Ricky Petterd have to pork to get a game around here? Ok, so he wasn't in the best for Casey two weeks ago (pre-VFL bye) but who was in a team that got tonked by 70 points? He wasn't much chop against the Eagles either, in a team that got tonked by 108 points, but you would have thought that maybe in a week where Mitch Clark is recuperating from almost breaking his neck that it might have been a good time to take a chance on playing another forward with some aerial ability. Nah.

There's this belief that he and Dunn can't be picked in the same side, which is fine if you have Clark there. And Green. And Jurrah. But we didn't have Clark, Green or Jurrah - and Dunn is not a week in, week out goalkicking option. I'm pleased they didn't sacrifice Jeremy Howe's ability to be one of the few who can take a decent mark around the ground to permanently play him forward, but there's a reason why for the first time in god knows how long a substantial amount of our scoring came from CRUMB. But it's no good swinging wildly from one to the other, we need both.

Sellar did nothing up front, and whatever Dunn did it was probably some defensive masterstroke that I'll get panned for not noticing. Not much else on offer until he finally took a mark, kicked a goal and was immediately subbed. Obviously they'd already filed the paperwork to get rid of him before the mark/goal, because unless there's something I missed his only offensive contribution was his facial hair.

Explain to me then how Petterd's not worthy of a game? Give me the answer I want to hear and I won't bore you with my theories on Martin vs Sellar - this week. Consider the following comments in the context of my overall support for Team Neeld and willingness to suspend disbelief and go along with their plans for a couple of years but by christ some of their selections shit me to tears.

I don't want to hear about how we couldn't pick Petterd or Stef Martin because the VFL had a bye last week in the same week that Sylvia comes back after not playing a game for six weeks. It's a bollocks excuse. Also the presence of Joel Macdonald still confuses me - clearly we're not playing for a premiership this season (oh really?), and there's no chance he'll be there next year so how about a decent run for Tapscott?

Not that any journos have the slightest interest in the Dees but wouldn't you like somebody to ask these questions? "So, Mark many fans would have expected Ricky Petterd to play more than one game so far this season. Any reason he didn't get a run?" Instead the leadup to the game is dominated by a fictional Watts vs Riewoldt matchup which was as likely to occur as Sugar Ray Robinson vs Esme Watson. If any footy journos are reading I'll be happy to sneak you some cheat sheets that you use to ask questions at press conferences as if you actually know who plays for us.

At the risk of winding up like a pointless, single issue political party I reserve the right to spend significant amounts of space on here on the Justice For Ricky campaign, even if it ends with me having an ASIO file. You can have your Australian Sex Party, I'll be drawing my own square on the ballot paper and writing FREE RICKY PETTERD. In blood.

When it was announced that Frawley had injured himself and was going to be withdrawn there was a moment of hope amongst Petterd fanciers that the great man could win a recall from the emergencies. He didn't, and if he goes out and does his knee in the VFL tomorrow I'll chuck a boulder through the window of the Demon Shop.

Given about five hours to digest the news that our only good player was out before they announced that Tapscott was going to be his replacement, there was plenty of time to wonder how many digits our losing margin was going to include but also to ponder a classic, internet generated rumour that Mitch Clark was going to do a Hulk Hogan style crowd-pleasing entrance despite not even being named in the emergencies. Pre-match I said why waste money on the fine, save him for the Kardinia Park abortion instead. Once we got close I started to wish they'd frivolously wasted Opel's money and picked him.

Not that I know if he's even remotely fit. He might be in Zurich seeing the same team of doctors who did the revolutionary spinal fusion surgery on Sylvia which allowed him to appear tonight. He might also have done nothing when the rains came, but at least he would have gone around being angry at everyone and damaging inanimate objects.

Without Frawley and Clark you could have been forgiven for expecting that it was going to end in tragedy, but this is a St Kilda team who will be lucky to fall into the eight and who had plenty of good players down on their luck. Naturally the likes of Goddard, Gilbert etc.. decided to turn up when the match was in the balance, but in every aspect other than scoring in the fourth quarter it was easily our best performance of the season. Not a difficult podium to end up on.

How much of it was improvement, and how much of it was down to the weather? Well the good news is we looked like a proper league side even before it started pelting down sideways. If we'd gotten our spanking in Geelong out of the way in Round 1 and were scheduled to play Brisbane next week you'd be far more confident of beating them now than you were last Sunday night. But we didn't win, and now the toughest campaign since the Siege of Leningrad leaves 0-11 as a distinct possibility.

Still, at least we managed to hold some good players. Jordie McKenzie's performance on Brendan Goddard was probably my highlight of the season so far. Not since Ben Holland spent the whole day holding Anthony Rocca by the arm in 2007 have any of our players done such a cynical and successful job of following an opposition player around, committing illegal acts against his person and (mostly) getting away with it. Absolutely thrashed him, and the only time Goddard got anywhere near it was when he rorted the umpire into paying a free against him and then kicked it straight into Jordie's smother anyway.

You could understand that matchup working, but far more troubling on paper was Tom McDonald vs Riewoldt. Happily, other than a couple of dinky kicks and one occassion where he completely lost his opponent, Tom Mc was solid. I was going to come on here and say that everything was fine except when he was actually disposing of the ball but it turns out he had a team leading 89% disposal efficiency, so there you go. Not sure if he's really first choice when Frawley is fit again BUT considering other than last week's rotten performance he's been pretty good this year he could free up Chip to do... something else. God knows what. Where does this leave Demonblog's Own Troy Davis? Is he destined to take the Andre Gianfagna route of being seen in one pre-season campaign before disappearing into the VFL? Surely once the unofficial tank is rolled out later this year everyone half fit is going to get a game. Maybe even Lucas Cook if you're lucky.

Also straight from the shock result file was Morton's best performance since at least 2010. I saw him lay tackles, I saw him going for a hard ball, I witnessed in person him putting his body on the line. Ok so his disposal wasn't exactly top shelf but at least it's a step forward and you've got to be happy with that at least. Not if you're the first guy on talkback radio tonight who did that cliched Melbourne supporter call and whinged about how terrible Morton was. Obviously the bloke couldn't get through last week, because it was well unfair to complain about him tonight. He'll probably put in a landfill performance next week, but then again so will everybody so if you're going to do some classic Finey's Final Siren work at least come up with an original angle.

There were a lot of things to love about tonight. It's just such a shame that it ended so limply and we eventually waved the white flag without much of a fight after more than matching them most of the night. I loved Matthew Bate's first quarter, especially getting rid of his opponent in the square for the second goal. I loved winning the tackle count for once. I loved the fact that Sylvia has had a decent run (though it took them long enough to get him on) and will start next week, but what I loved most of all was Clint Bartram's goal in the third quarter.

It's not the goal itself that was most loveable, though it was nice that he got one in his 100th game and all that, it was the celebrations afterwards. I'll have to see a replay but I'm fairly sure that after he slotted it Jeremy Howe went about 20cm from being knocked out cold by his swinging fist pump celebration. He ducked his head in just as Clint was swinging the fist, and thankfully for our sake but unfortunately for blooper tape compilations around the world Jeremy didn't quite nuzzle in far enough and we were spared the most comical injury in sporting history.

It helped us that there were about 2000 bounces because of the weather, but Jamar's domination of the bounces was also something to love. Sometimes the taps even went to our players, and on more than one occassion Moloney reignited the late, great Psychic Friends Connection and found himself perfectly at the drop of the ball. His performance fell just one short of the most hitouts in a match of the modern era - losing to Will Minson of all people. After being decidedly average throughout the first month of the year it was a welcome return to form.

We won the clearances too on the back of Jamar's domination, and other than one or two occassions where the Saints went straight out of the middle and had scoring shots it was a vast improvement on everything else served up so far this season. Now to work on moving the ball around the rest of the ground and coming out of defence confidently. There were a few nice moments tonight, just like there were last week, but there were also still some shambolic scenes - including hasty, failed play-ons. At least they went inside occassionally this week instead of going down the boundary line every single time no matter what.

What was decidedly unloveable was the fact that with Riewoldt fairly well held we were being put to the sword to the tune of three goals by Beau Wilkes. This was a man who had one goal in 24 matches before tonight, looks like he was dragged out of a pub and put in a footy jumper and who is named Beau yet somehow tonight was a Gary Ablett Sr-esque world beating aerialist. Odds are that he will never kick another goal again let alone three, but why not save your best performance for when you play against us, it's the Australian way. Thankfully even Scott Watters knew not to push his luck too far and subbed him in order to bring on
the poor man's Cale Morton, Dean Polo who might have done something but it wasn't taking big grabs and kicking goals.

Despite throwing away the early two goal lead it was a most encouraging opening term. Had the Saints not fluked one from a speculative ball-thrown-at-boot + bugger of a bounce, and one from a free right at the end we'd have been in an even better position. Jones played an absolutely immense quarter and got two goals to cap it off. We were so competitive that Dean Bailey would have blown an O Ring about it if he'd still been around. Nobody had a great deal of interest in going near Nick Dal Santo to be fair, but the rest of them were being well stitched up. All that stopped us from going in with a decent lead was luck, shit umpiring and a lack of class.

Ok, but we've played good first quarters before then delivered a steaming pile of sewerage straight after - so why should tonight have been any different? Surprisingly most of the second term was legitimately fun - it almost reminded me of the reason I used to enjoy watching footy, until the goose on the radio reminded me that we haven't beaten them since the 2006 final and Melbourne Supporter Depression Syndrome kicked in again.

Howe robbed Jones out of a goal assist by missing a sitter but it was another brilliant set-up to give him the shot in the first place. Watts got the comedy goal after the fresh air handball by the Saints defence, then suddenly Rohan Bail decided he'd crumb like a maniac and kicked two to put us ten points in front. Couldn't last, didn't last but like last week's third quarter it at least gave the crowd something to get briefly excited about.

Normal service appeared to be on the verge of resuming when they got the first goal 30 seconds into the third quarter, and we spent the next ten minutes on the ropes trying desperately not to get blown out of the game. Beau Wilkes mania briefly swept the MCG before he was subbed, but after he was (and I'm not suggesting it had anything to do with him going off) we turned the tables on them and kept it in our forward line for the rest of the quarter. Dunn and Bartram got the goals, we were back within a kick and people were bursting out into applause all over the ground despite the fact that we actually lost the quarter by a point. Desperate times call for desperate measures..

Congratulations during the third quarter to James Magner who has now passed Jared Rivers and Brent Moloney on the list of MOST INJURED MFC PLAYERS. He's got Petterd and Grimes in his sights now. First he "suffered an injury from a clash with Leigh Montagna" (i.e was practically eye gouged, accidentally or not) then he did his ankle. He returned after being pumped full of china white in the change rooms, but it won't be long until he'll be hobbling off again. Which is good, because clearly the reason he's being ripped to pieces every week is because he's always violently struggling to win the ball - and while we could do with some classy midfielders amongst all the grunt at least you know the grunters will always have a pop.

Also I think we were supposed to congratulate Steven Milne for doing something, but I couldn't hear what it was over the thousands of people abusing him for being an utterly shit bloke. Would love a clone in our team, but one not forever tainted by a high profile criminal investigation. Tonight the closest we had was Rohan Bail, and as much as I'd like to apologise to Rohan for trying to drop him a fortnight ago if he's our crumbing option then we're buggered for years to come.

After all that wasted applause at three-quarter time the last quarter was painful. Davey could have put us back in front but kicked it straight up in the air, and the only other times we went forward the ball was kicked to packs and evacuated hastily straight down the other end.

Defensively we held up well under siege, even Joel Mac appearing surprisingly useful at times, but if we weren't going to score eventually they would and after a couple of misses finally kicked what would ultimately be the sealer via Lenny Hayes taking the piss out of our entire team and walking around them for the goal. If we'd had any chance of scoring we could have still pinched it from there, but it wasn't to be - and what should have been remembered as a decent performance against an ok side is instead a missed opportunity and a statistical anomaly on the road to six weeks of poleaxings.

Rules Committee Corner
Dropping the ball does not exist anymore, and to get pinched for incorrect disposal you've practically got to stand in front of one of the umpires and spike the ball into the turf like an NFL player.

Also, ruck free kicks. Nobody knows what's going on, and surely nobody gives a shit what happens when the ruckmen are duelling unless one of them is manhandled completely out of the contest and thrown skidding towards the boundary line fence.

Finally the video review system covered itself in glory tonight. Two blatantly obvious decisions where we were forced to wait because the goal umpire and field umpire couldn't do what goal umpires and field umpires have been doing for 100+ years and make a decision. Proof at last that they've been guessing all that time, but they must have been guessing right the vast majority of the time, because other than a handful of debacles and that absolute howler in the '09 Grand Final it's not like the TV era has been a non-stop cavalcade of goal umpire mistakes.

Luckily the two they had to adjudicate on tonight were so blatantly obvious there was no question of the replay, like the one in the Gold Coast vs North game where they couldn't for the life of them tell if the ball had hit the post - and no bloody wonder either considering the only technology they've got at their fingertips is a camera. I'm sure they'll eventually get to snickometers, hot spots and all that rubbish in goalposts but it's no surprise the technology is crap considering the league decided to introduce the rule 15 minutes before the season started.

2012 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
5 - Nathan Jones
4 - Jordie McKenzie
3 - Mark Jamar
2 - Matthew Bate
1 - Tom McDonald

Apologies to (in order) Rivers, Grimes, Moloney, Morton, Magner,
Howe, Bail and Garland. Some others not bad, but not getting votes.

Every possible chance of a runaway victory here. Good luck catching Jones if he keeps going like he is at the moment, especially over the next few weeks when effort and struggle in defeat will .

Also congratulations to Jamar for all but sewing up his third Ruckman of the Year award after losing to Stef Martin (remember him?) last season.

18 - Nathan Jones
10 - James Magner (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
9 - Jeremy Howe
7 - Matthew Bate
5 - Jordie McKenzie
4 - Mitch Clark, Jack Trengove
3 - Stefan Martin, Jack Watts, Jared Rivers (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Mark Jamar (LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
2 - Brent Moloney, Tom McDonald

MFC Facebook Comment of the Week

Hard to actually get to the comments from our fans in the midst of a bunch of St Kilda supporters sooking that Milne was booed. Even when I did it was hard to find quality amongst all the positivity about how we're back to being the next big thing.

But what I did enjoy was this one, a classic case of it being somebody else's fault when you can't stay away from a computer long enough to properly enforce a media ban or are too cheap to shell out for Foxtel.


Also considering they've been doing quarter-by-quarter updates every week for a year maybe you should have considered that before opening up Facebook to do some loling and poking you plonker.

Stat My Bitch Up
It's unlikely that you need, or indeed want, any sort of breakdown of our performances since that fateful night when Nick Smith was reluctantly welcomed back into the fold and Freo put us out of the finals for the last time but bad luck here's one anyway. From that point on we have gone 28-2-85. In their last five years Fitzroy were 27-0-81, so even if you remove our five losses from this year we're officially just one win and two draws better than them over that period. From 1991 to 1995 Sydney were 23-2-83 so at least we're better than them, but this is the company we're keeping at the moment.

To continue the theme you'll be pleased to know that before this round we were only the equal second worst side of the century/millenium/yes I included 2000 even though it's technically not correct, I'll do the pedantry around here thanks.

Blogger hates tables as much as it hates not putting random paragraph breaks in your posts so I just copied and pasted from Excel and this came out. That'll do. It's games/wins/draws/losses/win percentage - and what it shows is that before this round we were only the equal second worst team in that timeframe. We've already gone outright second thanks to Carlton's win on Friday night so thank god for Richmond, stay just the way you are. I'll be keeping an eye on this list and there will be a massive piss on when we officially go bottom sometime next year.

Geelong 289 185 3 101 64.01
Collingwood 290 165 2 123 56.89
Sydney 287 158 4 125 55.05
Adelaide 283 153 0 130 54.06
Brisbane L 285 151 4 130 52.98
Port 284 148 2 134 52.11
Hawthorn 282 145 1 136 51.41
St Kilda 285 146 6 133 51.22
Essendon 282 144 4 134 51.06
WCE 283 140 3 140 49.46
North 277 134 3 140 48.37
Footscray 280 130 4 146 46.42
Fremantle 274 119 0 155 43.43
Carlton 277 112 3 162 40.43
Melbourne 277 112 3 162 40.43
Richmond 271 100 4 167 36.9

Crowd Watch
When the Frawley news broke you could almost feel about 5000 falling off the gate as people decide that they'd rather spend a Saturday night inside than going into the cold to become depressed over sports. Not that the club were admitting that he was out until they absolutely had to - we're not in a position where we can thumb our nose at gate receipts and there was audible shock from the people around me when the announcement came up on the screen.

This is the future for clubs that are stuffed but have to play night games in terrible conditions. Away crowds the last two weeks have been absolutely disgraceful so you can't tell me that there aren't a shedload of people opting to take the live TV option instead of going. I know that's the reason I don't feel the need to subject myself to a trip to Kardinia Park next week, and that if it weren't live I'd probably be reluctantly going. The big games will still get big crowds, but when depression sets in - especially at the end of the year - there's going to be some pretty heinous crowds for dead rubber matches. Forget closing level 3 at Docklands, they might be shutting Level 1.

At least those of us who did turn up got to see a decent performance in person.
Not that you'd please a couple of the lone gunman style nutbags giving it their all in the Redlegs area. I thought paying extra to sit in a section full of Melbourne fans (except for the guy behind me who'd smuggled in a woman obviously barracking for St Kilda, possibly due to the MCG attendants showing scant interest in who goes in) would mean a drop off in insanity but as long as these two turn up every home game I could be onto a winner.

I'm not sure which one was which, because they were basically the same guy with the same voice. The angry, mid 50's gent who stuck with the club through a dark childhood and after 40 years of having their emotions played with they're about to snap. Both looked the same, like a frustrated office worker who probably used to come with his children but now they refuse to because he's far too embarassing, screaming things like "FORCHRISTSAKEWATTSGETINFRONTWHATDOYOUWANTTODOJESUSCHRIST" and "AWWBALLLHOWDIDEGETRIDOFITUMPIRE" far louder than anyone really needs to considering that neither the players or umpires can hear you. They're both very keen to lay into the usual whipping boys, and you know that at least one of them is probably a regular talkback radio caller. Sadly neither had a helium tinge to the voice, and nobody was screaming out for Leigh Williams to get a game so I can confirm that neither was SEN Hall of Famer Chris from Camberwell.

At least they were there until the final siren, which is more than can be said for the guy sitting in front of me who packed up and left after the Lenny Hayes goal. Ten minutes to play, less than two goals down, rubbish crowd, 10pm on a Saturday night - what traffic were you trying to beat, and where else did you have to be? I saw a couple of people from the cheer squad go as well, so you can decide for yourself how badly we're going when even the most over the top zealots can't be bothered hanging around. If they'd waited another two minutes for the next goal then they could have slunk out respectably. Alternatively they could have STAYED UNTIL THE BLOODY END LIKE REAL MEN. Ahem.

Draft Watch
No, it's not another in-depth analysis of how shit our drafting has been. You know the story. So how about a change of pace from the usual Cameron/Prendergast/Bailey/Faceless Men bashing and onto a non-self generated Farce of the Week, this time provided by 'popular' Herald Sun journalist Mark Stevens.

Usually any article penned by Stevens can be dismissed as slop before you even know what the subject is, but I was thrilled to use the Herald Sun paywall Google rort to read his bit about GWS rolling us into using Pick 3 on the new J. Viney (who we all pray will be better looking than the first J. Viney).

Well, not really rorting us - more using the rules exactly as they were intended. Which is more than you can say for us when we were playing Matthew Warnock at full forward and praying desperately that Jordan McMahon would shank his kick out of the full.

I suspect everyone's across this by now, but effectively the fact that we've blown our load early on Jack instead of playing it cool means that everyone on the planet knows we're going to draft him no matter what so we'll be forced to spend our extremely high first round pick on him regardless of whether he's a top five or top twenty prospect.

Unless of course GWS or Gold Coast (should they be 17th and 18th, which is hardly certain at the moment) offer pick 1 or 2 just to stooge us and we decide that one of the top two prospects is better value. Then they can have him against his will and we'll get on with ruining the career of a different talented youngster. Extra value in the angle that it'll be Todd reading the names out on the night.

It won't be whoever finishes last that is the problem, because it's universally acknowledged that he's good but not that good so why take the chance on missing out on the best player. Shitbox Team #2, however, could make it interesting. Unless that's us, then we can get him for a second rounder and use the other three picks.

Still, even if we don't rate him as being worth a #3 pick we might as well pick him if one of the other two bids. He can't be that far off, and our record of deciding who is and isn't worth using a premium pick on is absolute rubbish anyway so just take a chance. If we pick him for no other reason let it erase the stain on our history that is Chris Johnson being the best father/son selection we've had since the introduction of the draft.

The best thing about this is that thankfully it means there's really no reason for us to tank our way to a higher pick for once. Unless of course we can engineer a way to finish second last use a 2nd round selection on Viney OR GWS bid on him, allowing us to ditch family values and take the real #1 instead.

Us finishing second last is realistic, GWS taking the chance on losing the (alleged) best player in the land just for the chance to screw us less so. Unless $cully has a breakdown from us abusing him and exercises the clause in his contract which says he gets to run the club however he sees fit.

So if, hopefully, the ol' tank is out of the question then. If we're going to take him with whatever pick we get first then so much the better if we finish as far off the bottom as is humanely possible. At least if he ends up being a pick 7, 8 or 9 (fat chance on the last one) he'll be immune from the usual gnashing of teeth and wailing about who out of the top five we should have picked instead of him when they're all winning Brownlows (four way tie?) and he's curled up in the foetal position crying on the half-back flank.

Next Week
Disaster looms large. Here's to the Cats somehow ingesting enormous quantities of rancid meat for breakfast and spending the entire match with a case of the squirts. Could get us within six goals if we're lucky. Maybe they'll have "heavy legs" (CLICHE) after playing in even more soaked conditions than us?

Casey won by a point, but it doesn't seem anybody is really banging the door down. Bennell was apparently BOG but I'll be fine thanks. Stef Martin is still out injured and even appearing amongst the alleged best probably won't help Petterd. Given that the only two that I'm really keen on aren't on the agenda for whatever reason the only other ones I want back are are Frawley and Clark so I'm not even going to bother calling for changes in this case. At least then I can't be disappointed. Maybe time to give Jack Fitz a bash in favour of Sellar for a couple of weeks? Surely by the time we're over it then Martin will be ready to return. Would prefer Blease and Bennell play a few good games in a row before we pick them again.

Either way if you're going the pleasure is all yours, I'll be at home throwing things at the television and making threats against Dwayne Russell that make the Sam Lonergan case look like child's play.

For those of you on '86 watch (that's 1986, not 186) it'll take two of three losses by over a hundred in the next three to achieve similar levels of stink. Geelong might be teetering on the brink of falling back into the midcard again (or about to win a flag, who can tell with that lot) but could still tonk us with their eyes shut, and Hawthorn a week after is an even scarier prospect - but at least tonight showed that there's something about us lurking deep inside. Fingers crossed that one or all of Sydney, Essendon or Collingwood fall apart in the next few weeks and we can get at least one victory up before the bye and the $cully bonanza.

Last team to start 0-11? None other than the Keren Ugle powered Fremantle Dockers as referenced on this very page last week. Welcome to your historical farce connection.

Final thoughts
Three of four Rising Star nominees before this week have come in matches against us. Surely the Saints missed an opportunity for rare positive publicity by not playing a malnourished Biafran orphan in the back pocket.

Sunday 22 April 2012

Rock Bottom Redux

NOTE: Apologies for any bizarre formatting in this post. Blogger has switched to a new interface which randomly changes font sizes and includes mystery line breaks where they're not wanted. I'll take 'credit' for foul typing, shocking punctuation and paragraphs that randomly end in the middle of a sentence but everything is their fault. Switched back to old Blogger interface so from next week all the farce is home grown other than the fact that it's all changed to some hideous font that I can't get rid of.

And now, a massage from the Swedish Prime Minister...

Aren't you glad you waited the entire weekend for that? At least if it had been against somebody you could be absolutely 100% certain we were going to lose to then you could have spent the last two days preparing for our inevitable demise. Maybe you correctly assumed that we were going to be reheated, homebrand slop and didn't bother leaving the house. Sadly I was roped in to the dream that in the desperate race of the Melbourne and Footscray football clubs to ruin the game of football we'd take advantage of the fact that they had no forwards or defenders and scab a much needed four points before its too late.

Of course we didn't, but it's not we were blown away in a classic game of footy. As far as dignified spectacles the match ranked somewhere between the expedition of Burke & Wills and the Battle of Iwo Jima. We're no good, they're no good, nobody's any good and the quality of the match reflected it. Unfortunately they're about four goals less vile than we are at the moment and good luck to them for that.

If it's any consolation we got a lot closer to the Dogs than we did last time. Everyone should remember that night well, it was when we were violently tipped out of the Next Big Thing bus onto the Fiasco Highway where carcass still lies, splattered just that little bit more each passing week.

You may now either bite down on your carefully secreted cyanide pill or tear open the DOOMSDAY SCENARIOS envelope because if we couldn't win today we never will. In the short term against a decent team at least - the prospect of a free four points from Gold Coast is looking shaky, and even a double over GWS isn't guaranteed anymore. Today I was in a house that randomly displayed the 1995 Fitzroy team photo - even they won two games.

How I loathe these Sunday graveyard shift games. It's not just because we've been utter garbage ever since they started, it's because usually by the time we've been beaten up and I get home to whichever suburb I'm living in that season (and it's been one each for every year of the dark era) there's usually no time to lower my stress levels by indulging in a sport of good old fashioned keyboard mashing.

Somebody's Russian grandmother once said the secret to a successful marriage is to never go to bed angry. Same goes for football teams. If I had to wait until tomorrow morning to alt-tab furiously on my work computer trying to make it look like I'm doing something important than I'd have wasted a night lying awake pondering the mysteries of sporting life anyway. At least now I can press publish and get on with my life. Until every man and their dog wants to review the match in person tomorrow. Maybe it's time to take all the MFC propaganda off my desk and move to another office where nobody knows me.

Had I not paid for the privilege of showing up every week I wouldn't bother any more, I'm officially disheartened. It's not just the horrible run we've got coming our way, it's five years of seeing us get a kicking week after week. I'd rank the way I'm feeling now alongside 186 and when we went 0-9 in '07. At least one of those times we won the next week, and both were cloaked in the feint hope of ransacking the draft and rebuilding. Now I've lost confidence that we can even get that right. Better to trade this year's picks for magic beans and Jarrad Oakley-Nicholls rather than ruining more careers.

Tell me where it starts getting better in the short term. The gameplan might be mastered eventually but it's not going to happen overnight, and even then can you really, honestly, deep in your heart say that you've got confidence in the current group to be a top 8 side? You can't swap more than a few every year so set your clock for about 2015 at this rate. Until then we're going to have to keep enjoying players who wouldn't get a game in any other club unless it's as Warnock-esque filler at GWS or Gold Coast. Somehow we've only lost 3000 members from last year, god knows how many are going to do a runner before next season.

I'm starting to see how even neutrals might be starting to take a sick fascination in our club. People seem drawn to epic tales of farce and disaster. Just look at all the coverage the Titanic's getting at the moment, everyone loves a shambles and secretly a lot of us take an interest in losers and less than heroic failures.

Even as we were turning a Grand Final appearance into a mid-table waste of a season during 2001 I was enjoying a sneaky affair with the Fremantle Dockers and their epic quest to go a whole year without a win. Are James Sellar, Lynden Dunn and Joel Macdonald this year's Robert Hadrill, Keren Ugle and Daniel Metropolis? The way it's going they might be. The difference is that when it's somebody else's club you can laugh heartily and feel conflicted when they finally go 1-17 by storming back from five goals down at half time to beat Hawthorn. Freo even managed a second win, and this is in the days before the AFL provided a pair of easybeat sides for everyone bar Port Adelaide, Richmond and presumably us can score free wins off.

Sadly the disaster tourists don't contribute anything (god knows I gave nothing to Freo that year apart from support to their theme song), and unless you can really get yourself onto the verge of extinction a'la North Melbourne nobody's handing over hard cash out of pity so if we don't have some sort of late season glimmer of hope they're going to have a hard time coming up with a membership slogan that isn't just "Aww, come on".

Suddenly we've become the club people pat on the head and wish well. Nobody's taking an interest in us due to the champagne football on offer and the swashbuckling, end to end footy where we rack up a guaranteed 20 goals a week. Maybe 20 goals a fortnight if you're lucky. No, people are tuning in to see how bad it can get and what sort of comedy capers we're going to deliver. It's like when somebody collapses on the street and everyone stands around going "ooh, isn't this terrible. What shall we do?" all the while doing everything they can not to take photos, or tweet a shot of some giblets on the footpath.

Even your mate and mine Jeff Kennett has managed to weigh in during the week. We've been there before, the last time we were unexpectedly free falling to our death he tried to get us to move to the Gold Coast. Then the greatly respected and loved Jim Stynes came along and he shut up for a few years. Now Jim's gone and Jeff feels free to pipe up again. This time it was a proposed merger with the Roos, and just like Jason Akermanis he got exactly what he wanted when we all spazzed out and abused him, giving him much sought after talk of the town status for a few days before he's forgotten again. Surely nothing to do with the fact that the Roos are horning into his team's racket in Tasmania?

Surely by now he's managed to alienate every single person who actually liked him during the 90's (including yours truly). Shut schools, sell the power stations, do whatever you like pal but be buggered if I'll take important footy advice from the bloke who stuffed up an unloseable election and eventually landed us with John Brumby as Premier. Was also keen on the Melbourne Hawks. Dear sir, take your brown and gold jacket, roll it up and stuff it down your gob. We can stuff this up without your help.

Jeff's waffle aside it wasn't that bad a week. Sure we're rock bottom of the Laughing Stock League for another record breaking span but we gained one new sponsor during the week and then another on match day. Sadly off-field activities and doing a piece of cracking business was about as far as heartfelt tributes to Jimbo went, because when the game started they were few and far between.

You could argue that it was an emotional day and etc.. etc.. etc.. but bollocks to that. I'll accept that after round one but no more. By now it's every man and their dog playing for his survival like they're on the desk of the Costa Concordia and it's about to tip sideways. There's a lot of players who know they're in the Neeld gun-sights at the end of the season and are trying to avoid playing for Aberfeldie or Doutta Stars next year.

Not that we didn't have our chances mind you, and really if it had been against Sydney or Carlton it'd have been an honourable defeat (and that's as good as we can get at the moment) but it wasn't. It was a limp loss against a side in our division who continually opened the door for his to take advantage and got away with the fact that we are collectively too spaz to do so.

Missing all those shots in the first quarter was the killer. We could have built up a decent lead (of course if one had gone through then the game would have been different and yadda, yadda, this isn't a screening of Sliding Doors) but Howe, Clark, Trengove and Watts should all have kicked goals from relatively easy shots. You could forgive Mitch his first one where he was so far on the boundary line he had to throw a plastic seat out of the way, and Trengove deserved to miss because he received it from a bullshit free kick but do you care how they come at the moment? It seems like such a long time ago that we put in those free scoring performances against Adelaide and Fremantle. The banner today said WHATEVER IT TAKES, and if that means proper cheating (not just staging for free kicks) then I'm into it.

It really was criminal that we were so close at half time. Said it all about the opposition that we'd fumbled and bumbled around, kicking to nobody in particular and were still half a chance thanks to Bate kicking a goal on the siren. In a throwback to his NAB Cup form he was easily our best today, but if we're relying on him to be the best every week it's going to be an ugly ride. He can play a role but it's got to be complimentary, and for all the hard work of Jones and Moloney who turned up in force during the second half we still can't move the ball around to save ourselves. Clearances weren't even that bad today, it was more of a problem when we had to get the ball from one end to the other.

With all the times that our chain of possessions amounted to one it's no wonder that we were smashed in the disposal count again. Having the ball a million times doesn't mean much if you just dink it around and go nowhere but even that's sometimes preferable to lobbing it forward to nobody or killing your teammate in a contest. If you take out the disposals where we switched it from one side to... slightly further along the same side.. then it's probably even more of a discrepancy. At least they were a bit more free to go into the middle today.

Apologies to the half decent Rohan Bail for writing him off last week, and god forbid Cale Morton could actually hit a target and attack the ball he might have had a good game, but is there even the slightest chance that Aaron Davey's going to be there in Round 1 2013? Like I said last week there's probably no point ditching him now because who's going replace him but surely he can't show up next year and take his huge paycheck with a straight face. Ok so there was one cracking tackle and some classic era crumb, but other than that he's a shadow of his best.

After two good games in a row poor old Tom McDonald put in an absolute stinker. If they had to bring in Joel Macdonald, and god help us all if that's the best they can do at the selection tables, then it might have been worth trying Tom up forward this week. We can't just rely on Clark every week, Lucas Cook doesn't exist and Jurrah's not coming back any time soon so they've got to find another option somewhere. And he did kick three in a VFL game before he was recalled so why not at least try it for five minutes? If the ball comes down there and he flails at it before kicking out on the full from 10 metres out then fair enough but you never know. Instead he was left down there looking silly in his fifth game while Tapscott sat on the bench wearing the stupid bloody green vest.

With so many doing absolutely bugger all (Sellar? Dunn?) I don't know why we didn't do the sub late in the third quarter when the Bulldogs got back on top after our ever so brief period of dominance. By the time Clark TKO'ed himself out of the match they were already back on top we were stuffed and by having to take out Clark we had to leave in about five players who didn't deserve to be out there.

Speaking of Clark I love his aggression at the ball, and his throwing of the plastic seats, but he really had nobody to blame for almost permanently wrecking himself with that ludicrous attempt at a mark. Still, as long as he's not seriously injured that's exactly what we want him to do. As overly ambitious as it was, and I was closer to marking it in the Southern Stand, at least he's having a crack in the air - and other than Jeremy Howe and Rivers today there's not a great deal of other players on our team who you can say that about.

Loved the way he waved off the stretcher and walked from the ground too. His OTT paycheck could have seen him blamed for all our problems but he's rapidly turned into one of the biggest fan favourites around - and not just for his starring performance in the Ultratune ad.

It showed how crucial he's become, and how much we don't know what we're doing, that when the game was on the line in the last quarter and he wasn't there they kept bombing it forward hoping for the best with nobody there to do anything about it. If he doesn't play next week then surely they're going to have to put Howe down there instead. Without Jurrah and Green as options there's really nobody else who can kick goals. Watts and Petterd perhaps, but with the the level of respect he's being shown Ricky probably won't even get an invite.

I do know that if Petterd isn't preferred to Dunn for this week's game then the man with the stupid mo might slip to the same level of popularity with 'the fans' as Morton. Anyone see that shambles where he fell to the ground clutching his face like he'd been punched in the face then climbed up completely unscathed when the umpire sensibly ignored his shithouse acting? Ok we're lacking a hardman, but he's not it. Every day of the week I'd rather have Petterd down there putting proper pressure on and kicking goals than Dunn attempting to be a gangster when nobody takes him seriously. Good last week as a sub when it was a junkfest but if he's not going to do it over four quarters then go to Casey, have a shave and get back to me. Of course I seem to swing from one extreme to another with him every week so even if he does play against the Saints I'll probably come out of it going "aww, he's not that bad". I am vowing to never support him again no matter what until he loses the mo. Please remind me of this if I get sucked in again.

Given our record in third quarters this year I was all ready to kick the chair in front of me to death if we'd put in the same sort of effort tonight as we did against Brisbane or Richmond. Luckily nobody was sitting in it, and I admit it did get a bit of a nudge during the last quarter, but surprisingly for about fifteen minutes during the third term there was no destruction of inanimate objects required.

I will admit that when the Bulldogs kicked the first goal of the first quarter I may have yelled out an audible obscenity. Maybe everyone else around me was as well, but I had headphones firmly in to avoid having to listen to people, and considering that the reserved seat section were enraptured by the trumpet player I'm not sure there's any hope of radicalising them. Then, in one of those great moments where you feel like you're going to be proven wrong in a good way we spent the next quarter of an hour playing like an honest to god real AFL team. It was temporarily ace.

The Dogs were on the run, the fans were going as off their tit as Melbourne fans do these days and the margin came back to a point. Shame we couldn't take proper advantage and at least get in front before reverting to type and delivering a string of circus music worthy moments. First was Watts, once again ok without doing anything special, dropping a mark and gifting them a goal then every target actually hit for the previous few minutes was counterbalanced by one completely missed in the next few before the umpires joined in the Great Moscow Circus-esque atmosphere by somehow not paying the most obvious dropping of the ball decision in history and gifting them goal. Would have been nice if Frawley had just rushed it through in the first place mind you, but it doesn't excuse the fact that old mate picked the ball up and dropped it cold in the tackle and the plonkers in charge waved play-on.

The goals from Watts and the umpire (Jordan Bannister, who is about to become the next Ray Chamberlain as the umpire everybody refers to by name because he's the only umpire whose name they know) put us right back where we started from before our purple patch. Then just when you were celebrating that we'd broken even in a third quarter and thought we were still half a chance in the last we came out and copped the first two goals of the quarter. And off went half the fans in my section. Don't know why people would take their kids home when things start getting ugly, stop protecting them from the harsh failures of real life and force them to watch the full four quarters of this rubbish. After a few years of that they'll have survival instincts honed so finely that they'd survive a plane crash in the Andes.

Admittedly the moment the Bulldogs kicked the second goal of the last quarter I lost interest, feeling that if watched too intently from there I'd say something that would cause my membership to be revoked. There were also children present, but the little bastard sitting three seats to the right of me deserved to have his life ruined by a string of obscenity because he spent half the day tipping the seat down just to hear the noise when it sprung back.

So, not wanting to trip the anti-social behaviour hotline I started doing Monday's work on my phone and missed Davey kicking the 2005 era snap out of his arse. Glad he did it, still didn't mean he had a good game. What it does show is that even though he's almost finished he's still got more natural flair moments in his wrecked body than most of our fit players put together.

A goal by the people's favourite Morton goal made the prospect of a ridiculous comeback at least feasible but that's where it ended. Footscray went right back into their shell after he got it and allowed us to 'attack' relentlessly up to the point where 'attacking' involves having actual scoring shots on goal. We got a couple of points but nobody looked even remotely threatening. Surely if we'd got a goal closer they'd have decided to start playing proper football again and we'd still have lost. Either way it would have been nice to test them.

As the chief whipping boy Morton is going to cop it again this week but that goal he kicked was actual honest to goodness quality. Let's give up the fantasy that he's going to be a top quality midfielder and give him a go as a forward. Obviously he's not to win body on body contests because he weighs as much as a supermodel but he's at least nimble on foot. We could do with some pace around the forward line at the moment, even if it's from a guy who looks scared shitless and hasn't played a good game in years.

So ok, we were relatively close in the end and we were moderately rorted by the umpires but it's still not an excuse. For god's sake show me something next week, it's getting hard to drag myself out of the house for this stuff. I've heard all about being patient, and really for me this is patient, and I tipped us to come 13th so it's not exactly a surprise but we've been here before - the first thing I want to confirm is that we're not going to go winless or win one match. Easy to say "oh, of course we won't" but you don't know that for sure. Nobody does. At least get the single victory on the board then even if we suffer the greatest injury crisis known to man we'll be no worse than the 1981 variety MFC failures.

2012 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
5 - Matthew Bate
4 - Nathan Jones
3 - Jared Rivers
2 - Brent Moloney
1 - Jordie McKenzie

Very minor apologies to Jamar, Frawley, Bail, Howe and Watts. Dunn was defensively good on Murphy in the second half but I refuse to apologise to him because he was shite in every other aspect of the game and has silly facial hair.

By the end of this year this could be the most discredited award since Milli Vanilli won at the Grammys, but as Hunter S Thompson said "in a generation of swine the one eyed pig is king" so somebody's got to go in the history books as the winner. At least the current leader, and possible first two time winner, can't be accused of not having a go every week.

Also is there any danger Magner might be challenged for the rookie award? Maybe Lucas Cook will make a late run? More chance of world peace.

13 - Nathan Jones
10 - James Magner (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
9 - Jeremy Howe
5 - Matthew Bate
4 - Mitch Clark, Jack Trengove
3 - Stefan Martin, Jack Watts, Jared Rivers (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
2 - Brent Moloney
1 - Tom McDonald, Jordie McKenzie

Facebook Comment of the Week
Feature cancelled. The nutbags are all correct.

Crowd Watch
Nice of 1500 Bulldogs fans to turn up. Has there ever been a more muted victory celebration at the MCG? Mind you, good luck getting a substantial amount of our 'fans' that turned up to come back again. I've never seen so many five year old membership scarves and Reject Shop variety scarves that read MELBOURNE in a too-narrow font outside of Queen's Birthday. Good luck seeing any of that glory hunting swill for the next five years.

Good week to open the famous Prayer Rooms. Did anybody get abducted into one of them and violenty forced to your knees in order to pray to a random deity? Didn't think so, but if you listened to some of the people whining about it during the week you'd think that by converting Utility Closet 27B into a room where whatever denomination can go and do whatever it is that gets them through the day that society was about to crumble and Genghis Khan was going to ride down Brunton Avenue beheading the Police Operational Commander.

Personally I couldn't give a rats. Nobody started a picket line when they opened prayer rooms at the airport so why should anybody care if they have one at the MCG? I'm moderately offended by having to stand up for drunkards to go to the bar every five minutes but whatever, you deal with it. Or in the case of the prayer room scenario you'll probably never even know it's there

If you need any further proof that it's not all that bad an idea, other than the fact that you never have to go near the place if you don't want to, is that our Jeff was decrying it in the same breath that he was trying to rope us into a shotgun marriage with North.

Speaking of religious experiences I might be ye of no faith but I can imagine what hell would be like and it consists of Daryl Braithwaite doing endless renditions of Horses. For the first time in the history of a 'legacy' act I think I heard somebody yell "play something off your new album". Unfortunately for us the new album is probably Daryl: Live at the Burvale and consists of 12 live performances of Horses. But, you know, good on him for showing up a tribute and playing for (presumably) free. He was playing for free wasn't he?

I'm more in favour of Old Mate The Chocolate Cake who is at least a confirmed Melbourne tragic. Not that, to be entirely honest, I'd have any idea who My Friend The Chocolate Cake were if he wasn't a confirmed Melbourne tragic but that's a matter for another day – at least he wasn’t singing Horses. I'd rather see Monte Video and the Cassettes "Rock the 'G" than suffer another round of Horses.

The Stynes fiesta was nice but I've got to admit that after a month I'm all tributed out. Even though it was mostly video packages that we've all seen fifty times in the last four weeks with a bonus guard of honour (featuring Travis Johnstone still rocking the Bumfights beard) it was good for closure. Not sure why it should have any affect on the players, and it certainly didn't in a good way.

St Kilda is undoubtedly our last chance to score a win against a side even remotely close to our division before the run that will end with some of our fans finally tipped over the edge, perched from a belltower opening fire on innocent civilians. First its 186 Pt. 2, then Hawthorn (smashed), Sydney (bored to death, then smashed), Carlton (smashed), Essendon (no longer in our league) and Collingwood (perhaps not smashed but fat chance we'll win). 0-11 every possible chance going into the bye. Something to look forward to there. And you can imagine what happens when we enter the match against GWS with that hanging over our head. Disaster looms large on the horizon.

Plenty of spots available for our last half winnable game for six weeks so it's shame then that with the exception of a handful of Kelvin Lawrence-esque delistment fodder who played Casey reserves everyone not involved today was sitting on their arse due to the shitbox VFL having a bye. Blease and Tynan maybe? That's about as deep as our depth goes until Sylvia's spine is fused together or Jurrah is freed on a legal technicality.

Apparently Sylvia is actually fit and ready to go but they forced him to serve his suspension in a week where he was available. Great news for discipline fans, not much good for our footy side. I'll assume that he's going to be rushed back in then. Forget fitness, even if he has to come out with a walking frame he's a better option than some of our list.

So, on that note I'll opt for;

IN: Couch, Petterd, Martin, Grimes, Sylvia
OUT: Macdonald, Davey, Dunn, Sellar, McDonald

McDonald unlucky because he's been good the last two weeks but he's had his fair run now, time to give somebody else a go. How's Demonblog's own Troy Davis going? If the VFL ever restarts we might find out.

Morton survives because there's nobody to replace him and I refuse to consider the possibility of Bennell returning. I suppose if Clark doesn't come up from piledriving himself in epic fashion then Sellar will have to be in for another week. We've got three games out of him now, surely that's what's expected out of a mid 50's draft pick, the experiment is no longer required - bring back the Experience and let's forget it ever happened in the first place.

All well and good to play Fantasy Selection Committee but there's no chance Davey will get dropped in real life is there? Mind you I said that the first time, and about Green and they both got the boot so you never know. I just think that the two goals will cover up everything else. We're going to get belted aren't we?

Final thoughts
Remember, it's all $cully's fault. You're another week closer to your chance to take it out on him, even if it's rapidly proving to be the smartest decision that anybody's ever made.

Sunday 15 April 2012

A clear choice between obscenity and vulgarity.

The following is drastically unedited as I have better things to do than think about the MFC right now such as go on holidays. Will sadly be back in time for next week's game so I might actually re-read this slop before then and correct the numerous errors below. Goodbye.

Sometimes, as first noted by Tammy Wynette and later Steven Kernahan, it's hard to be a woman. I've never been one myself but I'm assuming it's no harder than being a Melbourne fan. The way it's going if you're both a woman AND a Melbourne fan you have my deepest sympathies.

Yes, it appears that we are in fact still absolutely rubbish after all these years of false dawns and random hope. Call it what you want, the result of foul drafting, karma for outrageous tanking, whatever - it doesn't change the fact that even our own people are starting to referring to it as a 'rebuild' again. Another three years minimum of not being very good? That'll get the punters flocking through the gate.

Standing by your team is one thing, and I will do so until such time as either they fold or my heart does but as of three-quarter time today I'm joining the panicking masses. Things could get very, very rude for us this year. Losing to Brisbane was easily written off as an anomaly, and the West Coast debacle wouldn't have seemed half as bad if we'd stayed under the psychological barrier of 100 points but what I witnessed on Saturday afternoon was just plain wrong.

I'd love to become violently upset about it all and smash a few inanimate objects, but really there's not that much left to give psychologically after the last five years. Of course as previous history has shown it usually takes losing in a thriller to cause proper sporting meltdowns, and if we're going to get beaten to a pulp every single week then I guess I'll just sit there glumly resigned to our common fate of following a club destined to win absolutely bugger all in our lifetime.

Even my worst case scenario at the start of the year, one that had us 0-12 at the bye, involved us losing close games to the other rubbish teams. If we're going to suffer ten goal losses to Richmond then there might need to be a worser case scenario drawn up. If we manage the same against Footscray next week, a side who struggled to five or six goals against the Saints, the place will blow up (note to the Federal Police - this is not a threat, it's a metaphor).

Just remember, every loss is another 25% of abuse to be heaped upon Scumbag Scully if he dares show his face at the MCG in Round 13. It's just that nobody expected 300% extra abuse before the season started.

Not that there aren't things worth firing up about right now though, like when in the midst of an apocalyptic firestorm while we're bleeding goals somebody manages to give another one away courtesy of an interchange infringement. Forget for a second that in an allegedly brutal clash of professional athletes there is a rule that costs you a goal if an administrator doesn't fill in his paperwork properly. That's a farce unto itself, even more deserving of abuse than the much hated (in these parts at least) sub rule, but consider the mental state of this place when a cavalcade of goals not only spooks the players on the field into running around like headless chickens but freaks out the clipboardists as well. Lucky none of them are air traffic controllers or there would be chaos in the skies.

They can spin it as desired this week (and I notice the person responsible for the Facebook account practically gave up and just gave the final score with a message saying "don't swear") but we were tremendous rubbish again. Not that I'm rushing to blame Neeld mind you - one thing I will not let you forget, no matter how bad it gets this year, is that he inherited a team which lost six of its last seven games by a total of 341 points (including two narrow losses against pox sides) and battled for two and a half quarters to shake a Gold Coast team sporting a bunch of 15-year-olds, a rugby league player and Nathan Ablett.

For all the 'signs' that we'd put together during 2010 and 2011 somebody had gone drastically wrong and it's still affecting us to this day. As much as some may wish it was this isn't Chris Scott, Nathan Buckley or to a much lesser extent Scott Watters picking up superstar laden finals sides. Neeld has been given a lukewarm, briefly microwaved turd sandwich and told to fix it. Good luck. There might be questions over the tactics but you could play any system you like and it's not going to work if nobody can properly dispose of the ball.

So you can expect another week of trial-by-media "where did it all go wrong" gnashing of teeth from journos now so firmly intent on assassinating us that they've become Colonel Willard in the final scene of Apocalypse Now. At least we're one week without substantial off-field scandals and none of the players caused celebrations at Air Crash Investigations head office by setting off a fire extinguisher halfway back to Melbourne. There was even, whisper it quietly, a good news story amongst it all and we can't cock that up unless the new sponsors have managed to insert a "shit third quarters" clause into the contract.

Still, in the wake of the fiasco in Perth (against, let's not forget a team that might very well win the flag at a ground we've been pox at for the best part of a decade) there was still a tremendous amount of self-loathing and ridiculous hand-wringing about how there's no future for us and that we'll be going out of business within five years. How appropriate then that our next match would find us matched up against Richmond, the club which has made self-loathing an art form to almost the same degree that North fans have mastered the art of holding onto a siege mentality David Koresh would be proud of.

Not that, for once, it was journos making the early predictions about our demise, this was our own fans. A tad over dramatic in the wake of an 18 goal loss I thought. It's just that when we went to Geelong and were 13 goals worse than that everyone had their piece of flesh by boiling Bailey to buggery so we were too distracted to consider that the whole place could be tipped into deep financial and footballing shit barely six months later.

Hooray then for Webjet turning up and slinging us an undisclosed amount of cash to be the front of jumper sponsor this year with an option for two more, that ought to hold the SOBs for a while, but it's not like we were going to go sponsorless until the end of time. Even if we'd spent the season outfarcing Gold Coast and GWS (still a possibility) somebody was eventually going to come along and get their slice of a nationally seen brand. Personally I was hoping that the league would cover us for the year and in return we'd feature a cartoon depiction of the Demetriou/Anderson administration teabagging legitimate footy fans across the back of our jumper.

Even Fitzroy managed to cut deals with Galaxy TV and Rositas Corn Chips, and while you'd want a slightly better brand of sponsor than that it's proof that you can't be in one of the biggest leagues in Australia with a blank jumper for long. The other member of the National Association of Friendless Clubs, the NRL's Cronulla Sharks, who really are about ten minutes away from folding, managed to convince Fisherman's Friend to sponsor them - and surely Webjet is paying more than a vaguely homoerotically named brand of throat lozenges.

Good blokes one and all at the Sharks too I see. At least we're on a good five year streak of having a violence against women free playing list, which is more than half the teams in the competition can say, and that's got to be good enough to earn us a back of the jumper sponsor in these tough economic times.

God knows how much we're getting out of it, but even if we're a mil down in the end that's the price of having principles, and I'd rather them than another 15 assistant coaches. Sounds like Energy Watch will be lucky to make it to the end of the season themselves the way they're going so at least we got to briefly occupy the AFL moral highground.

Millions of dollars are not to be taken lightly of course, but a club with national TV exposure every week for 30 odd weeks a year will eventually get somebody to come to the party whether it's KFC, (god forbid) China Southern, Club X or the highly apt for us Pick-A-Part. As long as you're in the AFL or NRL at least, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the big money sponsors to turn up if I somehow woke up tomorrow in the nightmare scenario of being the owner of an A-League or NBL team.

Allegedly we've got potential takers all over the place for the back of jumper so there's still hope for those of us who have been waiting for Coles to come on board and feature Cale Morton in an ad proudly proclaiming himself to have "no added hormones".

Still, you've got to be worried when even Eddie McGuire is coming out and acting like he's on the Good Friday Appeal telethon to try and get us a sponsor. We musn't have managed to steal that recruiter from the Pies, because it was only a month or so ago that he was vowing to hunt us to the ends of the earth and steal our sponsors. Well, the joke's on him - we haven't got any left to steal

There seems to be some suggestion that he had a hand in Webjet, but the club are denying it and claiming they had talks with them last year. Which is exactly what I'd say if I was in their position too, but I'm willing to accept as the truth. The last thing I want to do is be in debt to McGuire, waiting nervously for him to come and kneecap us when we can't pay him back.

I'd really like believe that he went on his 'fledgling' (i.e unwatched) talk show and announced he was going to find us a sponsor for purely noble aims, but like any politician it's hard not to suspect he's up to something that eventually involves blind self interest. I can just imagine him lining up Crown, Foxtel or similar, taking the plaudits on the Footy Show as the "best bloke in footy", then turning around at the end of the year and saying "Collingwood's done enough for you, we'll now be playing the Queen's Birthday game against Richmond", knowing that he could get a home game every other year and his cut of an 80,000+ plus crowd.

It's easy to boo and throw chairs when we get bullied by these clubs, but good on them. If you're in a position to advance your own interests at the expense of sides who have been pissweak on and off field for 50 years then why wouldn't you? For the metric truckloads of abuse we gleefully hurl at the Pies they've been doing us a favour for years in allowing us to have the Queen's Birthday game as a home match every year.

I'd love to tell them to jam it and play the Queen's Birthday game against Richmond every year instead. It's not like playing the Pies on QB is some grand tradition that's been going for a hundred years, we've been at it with three quarters of the league in the last 50 years.

It might mean splitting the receipts of a 60,000 crowd every year instead of pocketing the lot on 60-80k annually but at least we'd have our pride and not be shamefully pocketing pity money like a bankrupt housewife forced to secretly work a street corner. Dignity, always dignity. There were 50,000 odd there yesterday, no doubt inflated by it being the Melbourne home game replacement for Darwin, but surely we could still get 70 against them on the back of our huge constituency of once a year fans.

One thing you can be absolutely sure of is that finally there will be some biff at the AGM this year. The guy who got excited and rambled some incoherant complaint about what a mess we were might have been ahead of his time. Mind you the sting might have gone out of it a bit by then, if they'd held a meeting in the immediate wake of 186 they'd have had to bolt everything to the floor whereas by February the new broom had swept in, people had calmed down and it was only that lonely vigilante who saw fit to go off his tits about... something or other.

Not that anyone ever turns up to AGM's anyway but the prospect of a bit of chaos should make it standing room only at the very least. If everybody on a forum who put their fork and toaster down long enough last Sunday to type out rants calling for Cameron Schwab's instant dismissal show up then that should boost the tension level high enough to make it worth the rest of us going. Hopefully they market it as "Be there, throw a chair".

Enough off-field intrigue, back to the latest in an increasingly long list of disheartening, soul destroying performances? It's not got to the point of writing a written resignation a'la Bart Simpson to the Krusty the Klown Fan Club, but I can understand how people who have shelled out for memberships might start to exercise their democratic right to stay indoors and watch this rubbish play out on Fox Footy. At least then if it all gets too much you can always be sure there'll be an episode of Are You Being Served? or a How To Look Good Naked marathon on to switch over to.

The scoreboard show that we were very much in the game at half-time, but what an absolute lie that is. The answer to the great "next superpower" conundrum has been answered, and it will officially be neither of these teams. Sorry Richmond fans, you might be better off than us at the moment but that's like being second in command on the Titanic, you might not have driven the thing into the iceberg but you'll be floating face down in the ocean alongside us in the end.

We mastered being no good as an art-form in the first quarter. Especially out of the middle where the rot that would see us end up with even less inside 50's than last week's debacle started from pretty much the first bounce. Had we been playing any half decent side in the same circumstances there's no doubt it would have been a hundred point loss.

The dramatic love of handballing to a teammate in trouble is just the start of it. Just because somebody calls for it you don't have to give it to them. Nobody will think worse of you if just hoof it forward to a contest. Key word there is CONTEST. Which is not always the fault of the kicker. Sure, if the ball lands 30m away from any of our players you can blame the person who put it there but my god any danger of crumbers? I've almost given up. Crumb doesn't have to occur in the goalsquare, it can happen anywhere around the ground and is well effective in stopping opposition sides going from one of the ground to the other in 20 seconds flat and kicking goals on you.

The one, unexpected upside to the whole thing was the performance of Jeremy Howe. Deep in my heart I hate the way that he's not playing exclusively in the forward line and taking screamers in the goal square but no doubt he is actually quite good around the ground. At the moment he's out Jack Wattsing, Jack Watts in the Baileyball style half-back flank role. Not that Jack himself is doing too badly but the added ability of Howe to sit on people's heads every week helps immensely. Here's to him locking in on Number 38 and never changing. It's a number that needs love.

The positives run out not long after that. Jones tried hard in the middle, Watts recovered from injury to take a few good grabs around the ground and Clark was lively when the ball was going down there then almost unseen after half-time when it wasn't. Still, I'm backing Mitch as good value so far even if he did indulge in goalsquare shenanigans the likes of which haven't been seen since both Jamar and Robertson attempted to play on a centimetre out from the line a few years back and scored nothing.

It should be noted for the historical record that despite this we were winning during the second quarter and managed to kick four goals in a row. This despite being on the end of classic umpiring when a throw-in was called before the umpire realised the Richmond bloke had landed on the dinky artificial turf next to the boundary line and hit his head. Given that the interchange fiasco was still a good 50 minutes away I thought having a free against due to poor stadium design was the sign of a bad day.

Even when Richmond got back in front, with Miller once again having the time of his life sticking two fingers up at us, the situation wasn't terminal. If the Stef Martin Experience hadn't missed from 20m out and Clark hit the post we'd have been less than a goal down. But be as close as you like, this is the Melbourne Football Club - where third quarters go to die. I jokingly said that we'd probably turn around and stink the joint up in the third quarter but even I didn't think it could be as bad as it was.

In fact it was classic Melbourne, kick the first and then cop seven - including at least one straight out of the centre after a goal. Everyone just seemed to stop and forget what they were supposed to be doing. Is there a panic test for potential draftees? If not there should be and I want to pick whichever kid comes out showing the most ice-cold reaction to being left in a burning building full of venomous snakes and barrels of medical waste - because there is a distinct lack of fearlessness around the place at the moment.

The rest of the match was generally watched with head in hands and even the junk time comeback after the Tigers had given up wasn't enough to cheer me up. Even that didn't come before another classic kick-in farce cost us a goal and Grimes' streak of not injuring himself ended at 11 quarters when he was knocked out on the famous artificial turf.

Dunn was good once he came on, but that sort of cameo performance seems to be his role in life these days. See also Petterd. Sad that players who don't deserve three quarters get them and some that do are exiled to the shameful green vest because nobody's got any use for a 'fresh ruckman' off the bench. I'm generally supportive of Dunn, apart from his dinky moustache, but the way they treat Petterd is a crime. Hope he goes to Richmond and wins a flag alongside Miller and Emo Maric.

I had a second Kaiser's Sausage on the way out of the ground to make myself feel better (hint to the Kaiser, I'd feel better if you slung me a few freebies for all the free plugs). Must avoid Komfort Kaiser in the future or I'll be the biggest fat porky in town. Today a guy several rows in front stood up and his hairy crevice was clearly on show and that sort of lifestyle is to be avoided at all costs. NB: Obviously he was not an MFC fan.

So let the scumbag opposition fans and the media take their shots. Eventually they'll punch themselves out on us and move on. We'll still be here, even if it's as shambling wreck lurching from one disaster to another. On the balance of things I'm still proud of be a fan of this club, its just not much fun most of the time.

2012 Allen Jakovich Medal votes

5 - Jeremy Howe
4 - Nathan Jones
3 - Jack Watts
2 - James Frawley
1 - Mitch Clark

Some apologies to Jamar, Bate, Garland, McDonald, McKenzie and Rivers. But not many given that even the last three vote getters were lucky to get one let alone anyone being stiff to miss.

Magner still leads despite hitting the wall, but Howe and Jones are right behind him. On the basis of the first three weeks the Experience doesn't qualify for the Ruckman of the Year because he's barely spent any time in there. At this rate Jamar might nab it if he can score a solitary vote.

10 - James Magner (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
9 - Jeremy Howe, Nathan Jones
4 - Mitch Clark, Jack Trengove
3 - Stefan Martin, Jack Watts
1 - Tom McDonald (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)

MFC Facebook Comment of the Week

Usually I cut and paste images of the classic comments, but this epic rant goes across too many pages to be successfully welded together without the use of Photoshop, and I'm far too lazy for that. So, enjoy the works of Nathaniel who randomly poured his heart with this post on the subject of the Webjet sponsorship. Not sure how the two are connected but go with him. The formatting has been left intact so enjoy the wackiest line break sequence ever seen in a non-Demonblog post.

Open Letter to the Melbourne Football Club, Mark Neeld and fellow coaches,

I have followed my football club through hard times and good, mostly hard as we havent won a premiership in the time I have been alive, I have seen good teams at times, bad teams at times but mostly just an average team that has represented the greatest, oldest football club in the land and even the world for that matter.
At the start of season 2007 I had real hopes that that was going to be our year and that all the planning from the previous three years where we were close but not close enough were going to pay off. A horror run with injuries at the start of the season set the tone for the year with us getting belted from pillar to post in the first 10 games of the season. We sacked the coach (yes that is the real story) and then hired what I believe to be the worst coach that we have had and by his fourth year I was calling for his sacking as were thousands of other melbourne supporters. So that makes 5 years of hell this club (not talking financial just playing on game day) went through.
For the last 4 years under Dean Bailey we were told that we were going to bottom right out and get rid of the players that were "too old" to contribute and build on a foundation of youth. Two years in a row we won the wooden spoon to get the best kid coming through, one of which is so maligned because he isn't Nic Natanui or Michael Hurley. The other....... well he took the money and ran.
We have gotten rid of so many good servants of the Melbourne Football Club a year sometimes two years, early. We have brought these kids up to not know what a winning culture feels like and that it was ok to get beaten by big margins because we were getting games into the kids. Hell we were even told by the coach that we just sacked that 100% they will be a final 8 team next year.
In 2011, we had some really good times (big winning margins) followed by some really horrible times (some record losses) yet come this season with all the coaching staff changes I felt like things were going to go well.
What i have seen dished up so far from this team is absolutely nothing short of disgraceful. Its a worse start than Dean Bailey had as a coach.

I guess i have a couple of questions for the you Mr. Neeld. The first being WTF?????
The second question is you inherited a highly skilled bunch of young men, looking to take the next step, they have spent four years honing a game plan and while it didnt always come off, you knew they weren't far off, so why change the game plan so drastically that in season 2012 you start off with a home loss to the brisbane lions by a considerable margin and then get beaten by triple figures to West Coast? Why would you not just come in and do something like Chris Scott of 2011 and change little things here and there? build on what the boys already knew?
They look like they have lost all of their flair that they were starting to get and for what, so we can play like Collingwood????
We HATE Collingwood, they are the last team we want to play like. In my experience of playing sport, while not at the highest level, most of the time when you try and be like someone else you always lose, when you try something different that no-one else does then you may lose but you have a better chance of winning because they dont know how to stop you.
Why when other teams are bulking up and building muscle because so much of football these days is about contested possession, did the Melbourne coaching staff allow the fitness staff to make these players lose weight and slim down???
The article in the Age today was very true in its assessment.
So here is my challenge to you Mr. Neeld, please come up with a game plan that suits the players you have got and the kind of pre season fitness training you put them through. For the sake of all the Melbourne Supporters, fans and tragic's out there that want to see our club do well. 6 Years in the bottom 3rd of the competition is NOT GOOD ENOUGH. You need to do better!!!! Finals football should be your only goal for this year.

If anybody can beat that this year they'll probably have said something so outrageous the police end up becoming involved. Epic rant.

Crowd Watch
Have you ever seen a worse exhibition of goal-kicking than in the pre-match 'entertainment' hosted by celebrity turncoat Pete Lazar (the man of a thousand team polo shirts)? Even that one a few years back where they had recovering heroin addicts taking shots (insert Ben Cousins reference here) had a higher standard of accuracy than the numpties they plucked out today.

Just a day after I was bemoaning the lack of PA announcements directing people to whatever today's equivalent of the Ground Floor, Olympic Stand is there were two of them. You'd have thought everyone had a mobile by now, but apparently not. It's the most action the new administration office has had since Marjorie Wilson Appreciation Day in 2007. With any luck at least one of them was a Melbourne fan being informed they'd won the lottery so they can move to Tahiti and never watch this SLOP again.

No balding women amongst the Richmond faithful today, which is something new. They're aiming for a different market if the event on at Punt Road before the match was anything to go by. You could hear some peanut rapping about the Tiges from halfway up Swan Street, and as I walked towards the ground I expected that it was yet another busker trying to relieve you of your cash via gimmicks (see for instance the guy who dresses like Elmo. Shameless) but it turned out to be coming from Punt Road itself which was absolutely rammed full of kids and adults who should know better having a kick. That's what happens when your club has a home base right next door to the stadium they play in, not 35km away practically in the country.

Also apologies to the guy in front of me for accidentally half-gobbing on him when I went off abusing everybody involved with the MFC after the interchange infringement debacle. He didn't notice but it may very well have landed in the hair a bit. Oops.

Social Media strategy corner
Now, I will defend Twitter almost as violently as I'll defend the legacy of Phil Read and rank it alongside Wikipedia and YouTube as one of the features of the internet that has greatly enhanced my life but can anybody explain what footy players use it for?

Everyone mocks Harry O'Brien for being moderately interested in himself but at least you can see what he's on there for. At least express opinions on something, or make a statement. Otherwise if you're a celebrity you're really there just to tell people you've eaten a parma, brag about your prowess on FIFA, retweet stupidity from 15-year-olds and read hateful abuse from fuckwits delivered conveniently to your desktop or mobile phone.

Once upon a time footy players were all but immune from the views of nutbags like us. Sure you might have the chance to hurl a few insults at Des Tuddenham across a supermarket aisle or if he cut you off in traffic but that was it, otherwise you had to either pay your money to show up and scream at him on Saturday or sit down, write a letter, put a stamp on it, walk to the postbox and forget that you'd even sent it by the time it's thrown into the bin at the footy club.

Then the internet came along, and this may be hard for younger readers to believe, for a long time nobody cared. Even in 1998 commentators were still suggesting you "dial in" to when you were "surfing the web". There were websites (and this is a belter of a period piece) and forums but the websites were always positive and nobody had yet got searching the internet right yet (note that the previously linked site had a page that you could click to access search engines, yes kids we did used to live like this. There was no Facebook in my childhood, it was all about animated GIFs and being groomed by sex offenders).

Eventually Google turned up and it made it easy to anybody to find anything with their name on it. If only we'd known that when we were writing stupid things we now can't get rid of under our real names in the late 90's. What that meant, in conjunction with the growing powers of 'the forums' (My first registration under the Supermercado name was on BigFooty in December 2002) meant that any player who searched for his own name could instantly discover just what the fans - at least those with access to a keyboard - thought about him.

Not surprisingly it soon became common practice for players not to Google themselves lest they end up questioning everything they thought about their celebrity status. Especially fringe players, some of them would be in the mental ward with Emo Maric and Morton if they read what fat porkies like me were saying about them. No doubt some of them do give in and do a search, and there's always rumours about players posting under assumed names on forums, but generally they're not sitting there trying to find every piece of negative feedback written by a teenage scumbag or a mental defective.

Even Facebook tripped some players up. Tell me somebody saved those shots of Jack Watts and Juice Newton cavorting with older women in Bali that were on Juice's unlocked, unsecured Facebook page a couple of years ago. Comedy gold. They've sorted that out now, until the next scandal involving naked players or rubber chickens.

But Twitter, never before has there been a better opportunity to make yourself feel like you're part of the celebrity world by writing abuse to a highly paid professional. And you know they see it. It's not like when you don't Google yourself and don't find out that everybody hates your guts, they seem to be able to see all the messages that internet menace teenagers send them asking for RT's about people's birthdays and free plugs for their shitty homemade news services so they have to see the messages calling them filthy swine and total hacks as well. That can't be helpful. Maybe if you're Gary Ablett Jr (not sure Senior's account would be much chop) and can laugh it off because you've got millions in the bank or can wave premiership medallions at people and bag them for being bad supporters two days after a grand final like Dane Swan but imagine what that does for the confidence of a kid?

So why do it? You've got me buggered. Having followed, unfollowed and re-followed our players with their RT's blocked I'm still not sure why I bothered again. Seems to me like they're all just indulging in a bit of "fuck me I'm famous" work and trying to pretend they don't see the shit that nutters, including some who purport to be MFC fans, send to them. So really, they get what they deserve but imagine the kind of shit that is sent through.

Disclaimer: We all know Tom McDonald is the only Melbourne player who has got Twitter right because he follows @demonblog. This has nothing to do with him ever getting votes, honestly.

Next Week
Footscray were utterly filth against St Kilda so it sounds like a good excuse to play ourselves back into form to me but this is Melbourne so congratulations to the Dogs on opening their account. If you're into emotion and that sort of stuff it IS the official Stynes tribute game so you might expect them to fire up a bit for him. Personally I expect them to fire up every week as highly trained sporting professionals, but if a bit of forced enthusiasm is what it takes to get us at least one win then so be it.

IN: Moloney, Green, Petterd
OUT: Bail, Sellar, Bartram

I know everyone wants to machine gun the older players, and neither Green or Davey are anything like what they used to be but find me the players who are smashing the door down to take their spot and then let's talk. Unless you want to play your Leigh Williams' and Kelvin Lawrence's instead and watch them get torn asunder then we might as well go with the senior players for the moment - teaching the kids is all well and good but what are they going to learn losing by 20 goals a game? Unless of course we start the shameful tanking again and suddenly there's Bennell vs Mumford ruck duels going on.

I'm completely over Bail. He's done nothing this season. Tapscott was pants as well but at least he's got an excuse based on his limited games over the past few weeks so he gets another chance.

Sellar wasn't bad but I don't know why we need him, Jamar AND Martin out there. The Experience was shite today but he's not being used in the same way he did his best work last year. The amount of times we're going inside 50 and the quality of the delivery is going to make it hard for anybody spending most of their time up there. Clark is trying hard and getting away with it but it's not working for Stef. Let the Experience roam free.

And Bartram is Bartram. He tries hard but can we afford to carry players who, even under good circumstances, are ropey disposers of the ball? Especially in the backline. I call for his dumping with no personal malice, it's just that I can't justify having him in there when confidence around the place is already shot.

Also I'm willing to give Morton a final shot at showing something against rubbish opposition or he can join Bennell in the file of players who I've completely lost interest in and never want to see again. Bate gets another week as well just because.. well, just because really. He's not terrible but he's not doing anything damaging either. We could bite the bullet and dump him now (for Couch perhaps?) or go on for a few weeks and hope that whatever the system is he clicks into it perfectly when it gels. I'm willing to give him a couple more chances to play four quarters.

After that we play the Saints, who are not a patch on what they used to be but should still clean us up. Then it gets ugly with Geelong, Hawthorn, Sydney and Carlton on four consecutive weekends. I've decided that I can't possibly go to Kardinia Park this year and see 186 Part II. Maybe if it were free to get in (as my membership card erroneously claims) I'd take the chance of an honourable defeat with a few 'signs' (rapidly becoming the dirtiest word in the MFC supporters book) but be buggered if I'm catching a train, or driving an hour, to watch us get hammered and pay $25 for the privilege of watching it in the middle of a bunch of yokels on a frozen terrace. Maybe next year but brace for an unpredictable change of heart on the morning of the game and live updates from the Little River servo.

Final Thoughts
After the game I walked over the footbridge towards Hisense Arena to be greeted with the sight of an oval full of teenagers sitting in circles, throwing balls to each other, building human pyramids etc.. Very odd.

I'd have thought there was a One Direction concert on but there were too many males present for that. Eventually it dawned on me that they were 'young Christians', attending some Keen On Jesus Convention. Maybe it was hiding the fact that their parents didn't hug them enough or dumped them on the steps of a convent 20 minutes after birth but they did seem very happy. There's the difference between religion and sports right there. I suppose at least we get an off-season.