Monday 28 May 2012

Hashtag Surrender

It wouldn't be a match against Carlton unless somebody ended up waving the white flag at some point during it. They've blown five goal leads in the last quarter twice, suffered the indignity of being the last team to lose to us by a hundred points and 'managed' their way to the #1 pick in such shameless fashion that it made several MFC administrators and thousands of fans sit up and say "ahh, there's an idea!".

Happy memories from a simpler time. Hands up if you walked out of that Round 22, 2007 game convinced that the season had been an abberation and we'd be back better than ever under a new coach? Just me then? Fair enough.

At least we've been charitable enough to lend Carlton a hand up when they most needed it. Forget the 98 point belting when they were good, J**d playing one quarter and getting three votes, or Bailey debuting the controversial new 18-0-0 formation in front of a nationwide audience - how about the time we provided two of their three wins for the year and still made the finals? I guess we should have known then that the good times were about to come to a screaming halt.

That sort of dual upset could never happen these days, not to us anyway. Certainly not the bit about making the finals, but what about any danger of pulling off two wins against finals bound teams let alone the same team unless it's Gold Coast. It's getting to the point where we're last start losers against every other team competition that isn't staffed almost entirely by 15-year-olds. It's down to Adelaide, Essendon and Fremantle and our two match winning streak against the Bombers will almost certainly be over by this time next week.

When you follow a team who has kicked eight and a half goals a week this season or have read this page more than once you probably don't need another reason why we're rubbish but indulge me with one more obscurity for now - drumroll please - since 2008 there have been five occassions that we've won consecutive matches in a row and out of those 12 wins just one of them - first, second or third in the 'streak' - has been against a team that ended up in the finals. And that was Sydney at the MCG, a performance so far out of the ordinary that it deserves to be officially declared the exception that proves the rule about what a shipwreck we've been.

Exactly half of those wins (three each) were against Richmond or Brisbane, one of whom is the hottest property since us after we beat Sydney and one who has already beaten us - neither of who have been any good for the vast majority of the last five years.

The way I see it as a Melbourne fan at the moment you've got the same range of options as when Ned Flanders committed himself to the Calmwood Mental Hospital, you can either go calmly or be taken kicking and screaming. In the immediate aftermath of the Sydney debacle I vowed that I'd well and truly opt for the latter and spend the whole week defending our honour with abusive phone calls to SEN and even more abusive forum posts to our own fans who were failing to stay the course, but as negativity gave way to people acting as if they'd been involved in a world war I lost heart for the fight.

Teams who have just suffered their second hundred point loss of the year don't exactly deserve peace and quiet, but good god was there any exposed part of the already battered carcass of the Melbourne Football Club that didn't have a journalist busily sinking the boots in under the guise of 'tough love' during the week? Some of it was deserved and some of it came from Fox Footy's Chief Plonker David King but when even Mike Sheahan is coming out of retirement to admit he's a Melbourne fan and still manages to kick the shit out of us you know that everyone's getting a little bit overexcited.

I'm not sure what the main contention of Mike's article was other than to tell us pretty much everything we already knew, take the same pot shots at Garry Lyon that Mark McClure did a month ago and continue the tired "why didn't they get Ross Lyon?" argument. Now that he's put his hand up and admitted to feeling the pain as "somebody with an emotion connection to the Demons" I expect he'll be putting his hand up to help us elsewhere. If he does then we can do business, if not he's just as bad as the rest of them. Maybe he's the one who's going to have a wildcard run at the presidency instead of Derryn Hinch? Forget players donning the MFC blazer they'll all be forced to adopt one of his Alan Partridge style jumpers.

So in the light of Mike's wet lettuce style slapping (unfairly promoted to the front page teaser of the Herald Sun), a similarly pissweak effort by Caroline Wilson and the King debacle I was planning a gigantic list of everyone in the media who has taken a shot at us and why I hope they catch herpes off each other during the Monday morning AFL Media Association hot-tub circle jerk but in true MFC tradition I started out strongly and lost heart for the fight. Not to mention paranoia about being sued for more than the approximately $15 p/a that I've made out of this site since 2005.

Luckily then this post came along and said pretty much everything which needed to be said without as many abusive comments about David King.

The above post was written before Garry Lyon's limp retort of Mike's allegations on the Footy Show (no time for serious issues, they had to get back to him faking being unhappy about being called hairy while Brayshaw did a force 10 fake laugh) so there wasn't the deserved declaration of David Schwarz as the MFC's winner of the week. He said exactly what Neeld and McLardy would probably have loved to say but didn't want to end up on the front and middle pages as well as the back. On a list where the depth has been cruelly exposed there are a lot of players who aren't earning their chop and who should either have a crack or put their hand up, say I'll be off now and sign up to be a Channel 7 boundary rider for the rest of the season. I've been critical of the Ox before, especially his unhelpful nosing into the $cully saga, but at least he can speak from previous experience as a man who realised halfway through a season that he was absolutely buggered and pulled the pin gracefully instead of tumbling down the hill until the end of the year and ruining his legacy.

My one contribution was a talkback call to SEN where I was so intent on not letting Kevin Bartlett and/or Greg Denham get a word in so they could wrap the call up that I ended up just yelling for about three minutes in a voice only a couple of octaves lower than the aforementioned legend of the airways Chris from Camberwell or that guy who cried on-air with a dog barking in the background after we lost to Richmond last year.

The only sensible point I managed to make in all this chaos whilst hiding in a utility closet at work was that for all the hand wringing and potential self-harm about us soon being 0-9 and how we've gone 'backwards' that we haven't had a winning record at this point of the season since we've been shit and that in the combined last year of Daniher and first two of Bailey we were 2-25 at this point of the year. Didn't even manage to mention the cliched stat of the week about Richmond being 0-9 two seasons ago before recruiting Emo Maric and instantly becoming the darlings of the media.

I'm not sure what relevance if any the goings on of six, five and four years ago have to today other than to reassure me that going troppo now is not in anybody's best interests. Ok we're doing a rebuild² and nobody's happy about that, and a few players might have got their sook on because they were told the truth about being average but as much as I reserve the right to crack the shits about individual coaching decisions I'm still willing to sit in the bunker alongside Neeld for another year before chowing down on the Webjet/Opel branded cyanide pill that I bought from the MFC Megastore.

The call to SEN should never have been made, I'm too emotionally fritzed out to make any sense with the pressure of live radio and the compulsion to call Greg Denham a cockhead (and Greg, I know like Ricky Nixon, Tim Gossage and Hamish McLachlan you are the sort of guy to Google yourself so yes you're a cockhead) but after hearing people ringing in floating the usual nutbag theories I felt like somebody should represent my views - and as I'm the only person who shares them who better?

The media siege has finally broken me. I've got no idea how North fans manage to keep their persecution complex alive so successfully day in and day out because after a couple of months of it I'm ready to roll into the foetal position and start sobbing. I suppose they've still got the moral highground of not finishing last since 1972 to cling to.

Even giggling at panicky fools on forums couldn't get me going in the morning, and there's so many of them that it's almost harder to find a sensible post than it is an insane one where two or more people are physically threatening each other. If the MFC aren't interested in hiring a shrink to work on the players they could at least provide one to some of the people who post on Demonland and have to preface every statement with I'VE BEEN FOLLOWING THIS CLUB FOR 50 YEARS as if they've survived on eating rats for breakfast in a North Korean dungeon since 1962. Mind you they have seen six spoons in the time that North have had none, and no premierships in the time they've had four so maybe they've got a point. That's me in a few years. That might be me by the end of the season.

So, instead of lengthy essays about why we're shit and how everyone should be put into a sack and cast out into the ocean why don't we try discussing footy instead? This is a stupid idea because I've also lost interest in using catch-phrases like SPREAD! GAMEPLAN! CORRIDOR! and PRESS! so any coverage of the match itself will be reduced to the same level of sophistication as that suspicious looking middle aged guy in Transitions lenses who sits next to you and just screams "KICK THE BLOODY THING!" not realising that at the moment every possession is sacred and he should be cherishing it.

The upside of having Something Better™ to do on Sunday night is that what you're currently reading has been written with more than 24 hours in which to digest the fact that for the second time this year something credible at three-quarter time has been ruined by the remainder being absolute toss. A rare good news story at 0.01 of the last quarter ended with us stuck to the bottom rung of the Laughing Stock League by default because nobody who hasn't won a premiership in the last five years disgraced themselves.

To set the scene a typical night after a game at Demonblog Towers VIII (in fact every bloody night considering we've not won a game since I moved here) consists of me sitting here listening to us get flayed on radio talkback - usually quite correctly - reading newspaper match reports in one browser and forums in another two. The obvious result of this is a loss of interest in life so severe that only some grandslam keyboard mashing can mentally free me enough to get on with my life, especially after a Sunday game where there's the additional issue of facing the prospect of having to turn up for work the next day.

Giving the usual routing nothing on Sunday night was hardly by choice, I'd agreed to take in the utter MFC-esque slop of Eurovision knowing full well that I'd much rather be listening to rambling ten minute long discussions of obscure topics and people complaining about umpires on Finey's Final Siren. Turns out that hurling abuse at the best in 80's europop and Englebert Humperdinck was actually the best thing I did all week because it means I heard none of the pre-match inquests, read none of the match reports (still haven't, not going to until at least Wednesday) and only briefly checked in to BigFooty and Demonland to make sure nobody had necked themselves in despair.

Good result too, by this morning I'd returned to the same zen like calm that I had before the Sydney debacle and unless I missed a Chris from Camberwell cracker there's surely nothing that could have been gained from listening to SEN on Monday that I didn't already know myself. We're no good? Well bugger me there's something I had no idea of, thanks for that.

To be entirely honest as much as I'd like to metaphorically kick the cat (if it were real the poor beast would have died in the Demonblog Towers V era when I lived so close to the MCG I'd be home after the final siren before my blood pressure had the chance to get back below dangerous levels AND we were winning dual spoons) the end result was exactly what I'd expected. So much so that I broke my ban on the TAB and had a pansy $5 on a Melbourne/Carlton/Carlton/Carlton quarter bet at 8-1 just because I was so sure that I knew that's what was going to happen.

Ok so I expected that it would be either the second or third quarters where we'd snap in two but the general concept was always that after the week they've had our players would come out like Apollo Creed and leave like Apollo Creed. Carlton might have been coming off two losses in a row but so were Sydney and they quickly reverted to type this week after flogging us. The jaw dropping shock victory was never going to happen but I'm impressed at how close we got before bundles were dropped en masse.

The moment the siren went at quarter time you might as well have packed up and gone home because it wasn't going to get much better. Our ability to hold teams out for the first ten minutes of the game and then cop scores in the first two minutes of the next three quarters is remarkable, you can almost set your watch by it. Forget listening to hear a siren while you're hooking into a Kaiser's Sausage hot krainer hold the onion outside the Ponsford Stand, just wait for the roar of the team with more fans and you'll know that we've just conceded a goal.

How come we can (more often than not) hold a team from the very first bounce but get sliced up at every other one? Not to mention the grand tradition of struggling grimly for minutes/hours to kick a single goal and then conceding one 30 seconds later because we got murdered in the clearance. In fact we looked half decent in the first few seconds of the first quarter, and if Jeremy Howe could kick a set shot to save his life (7.11 this year compared to 18.8 last year) we'd have even had the first goal. Mind you if 2006 Allen Jakovich Medallist Brock McLean hadn't missed one of the great sitters they'd have had it. The difference is that like a man in his 40's shaving his head we can't afford to mess around because we might never get another chance.

Still, thanks in part to a new found willingness to kick the ball into the middle of the ground, quick players like Blease and Nicholson willing to take their opponents on, Carlton not being entirely serious and Mitch Clark being our best recruit since god knows when we managed to open up a two goal lead. It couldn't, wouldn't and didn't last but at least until we shat ourselves at the prospect of putting together a start-to-finish decent quarter (and decent is about the best you can hope for right now) it looked like we'd hold onto it. Credit also to Brad Green who got himself killed to allow Clark to kick the second goal and will miss his second block of games for the year because of it.

Then our players decided to contribute to the Make Mark Neeld Look Stupid fund and stuff it up, leaving him to hate life more than ever before. We got away with Grimes shanking one straight out of bounds on the full before Bail's rank attempt at a switch and Watts' rank attempt at getting to it combined to cost us the first goal. Then with seconds left Frawley gets sucked into giving away a dopey free kick to hand them the other one and undo all the good work. The projected lead held by a solitary point but any sense of momentum we had was stuffed and we only just doubled our score over the next three quarters.

You can present as many theories as you like on why everything that has gone wrong since the start of the year, up to and including the Energy Watch affair and the Jurrahcane's ill-fated trip to the territory, Neeld's fault (and I will gleefully ignore them) but what's he supposed to when his players can't even kick to a target 20m away without putting the thing half a metre out of bounds? Part of the journo beating was complaints that he loses the plot too much in the box but tell me you wouldn't have bashed the table, punched the window and visibly screamed obscenities in Leigh Brown's ear if that was you? Especially when you come into the game as popular as the Manson Family and get a surprise jump on a vulnerable team only to cock it all up with shit disposal.

For reasons as unclear as their policy of not letting you hear the questions at their press conferences the AFL only shows total disposal efficiency instead of kicks and handballs on their website so everyone's stats get padded by dinky two metre handballs BUT the radio gave away the truth halfway through the second quarter when they revealed that we were 50% by foot against Carlton's 79%. That's nigh on outrageous, especially considering that Neeld has clearly realised he's coaching slop and has started to move away from slavishly going around the boundary every time. After watching some of the kicks by Grimes, Nicholson and Bail he'll be even less keen to stick with his goalsquare via Jolimont Railway Station plan - if those three are kicking it anyway.

At least Bail did the right thing and piffed Mitch Robinson into the fence during the first quarter. Shame he didn't knock him out considering the man who had half a facelift and then forgot to go back and get the job done spent the rest of the day tormenting us. Bail himself was tormenting me in the first quarter, leading me to deliver some crowd behaviour hotline worthy comments about him, especially after the Robinson goal but to his credit - and the detriment of the rest of our side - he ended up one of the better players. Which is not saying much considering if giving out votes were optional I'd probably be handing them out to one person only.

Mind you for all the balls performances and the fact that we had about five players who couldn't get a kick to stuff up in the first place, when this 50% stat was being bandied about we were still very much in the game, which says to me that the Blues were taking after Geelong and Hawthorn before them and pissfarting around against us to their own detriment. It is almost certain that if any of the three had kicked straight in the first quarter our much vaunted 'competitive efforts' would have turned out more like the Sydney debacle.

We were hardly good value for our lead but at least we had one. For all of 25 seconds before the President of the Chernobyl Survivor's Association kicked another one. Our poor downtrodden defenders were doing their best to keep the Blues out, and if he didn't do anything else worthy of a #1 pick Jack Watts was delivering our best sequence of kick-ins for years, but there's only so long you can hold out and it looked as if the familiar landslide was on the way before god knows how we spun it around to spend the last five minutes in control and at least make it interesting at half time.

It was only 13 points which is by no means insurmountable if you're a side who kicks more than six goals a week, but for us that's like being 40 points down. It was Kardinia Park again, a misleadingly close score where we may as well have been ten goals down there and then for all the chance we had of actually winning based on five or six minutes of good football and nearly an hour of being battered around the head.

It's very, very rare to take that sort of a beating and recover to land a knockout blow in any sport where you can't win with one lucky punch. That's why they made a movie about Ali vs Foreman and nobody except Brock McLean will ever watch this terrible match twice. He will watch it around a table with Brent Grgic, Sean Charles, Jeff Farmer and Brad Miller as they all heartily laugh about the time they played their best games for their new clubs against us.

Restricting them to 1.6 in the third quarter should have been our cue to launch a final, desperate counter-attack but it looked like they were all out on their feet and from midway through the third quarter there was very little in the way of interest for anybody in red and blue - including the players - as no shots were fired en route to copping seven goals to nil in the last quarter after being 16 points down (which is about 61 points when adjusted for this team) to start it. It surely didn't come as a shock to anybody when they got the first goal after 90 seconds. Can somebody please run the stat of goals scored/conceded in the first two minutes of each quarter? If we're not 'winning' the conceded in at least two of the last three terms then I'd be absolutely gobsmacked.

Didn't help that we were being caned in the middle of the ground again. Jamar was having 40 taps to nobody, Moloney couldn't get near it and Jones wasn't much better than ok. The only one who came out with any credit was McKenzie who furthered his status as the most popular tagger we've ever had (apologies to Simon Godfrey fans) by bringing J**d to a standstill for most of the day. He can't be expected to do that and win you the game, it's all well and good to scrag an environmental ambassador out of the game but unless you've got some winners going your way it's not going to end well.

Moloney is undoubtedly part of the problem at the moment, and as I'm still waiting for him to come out and refute those comments by his manager I'll comfortably point the finger. If you're not fit don't play, if you're not interested don't play, if you need a week off to get your head together/do a dodgy deal with another club just take it and at least give us the benefit of your best football for a few more weeks before the inevitable split and tell all MY DEMON HELL headlines.

He's an odd case, you can understand Jamie Bennell not getting kicks because he's had ten in a game against a Victorian team once in his career (and not many against interstate sides either), but Beamer is better than this. It would be easy to assume that he's decided that he's going to leave and has mentally checked out already but surely there are larger issues at play. Unless some sort of dodgy deal has been done elsewhere you'd expect that even if he had zero remaining interest in playing for us that he'd at least be going hammer and tongs to try and maximise his contract value somewhere else wouldn't he? If I was [club] and had signed a big money under the table deal for him I'd be tearing up the secret contract and denying all at the moment. I'd say it was karma for the Herald Sun incident but if there was a thing $cully would have been bitten by a rabid dog by now.

Finally can we please have a steward's enquiry into what's going on with Trengove? I'm going early with the call that he'll be uncaptained at the end of the year to 'concentrate on playing footy' as if that's not what he should have been doing this season. I've got every confidence in the world that he'll achieve great things but for god's sake can we wheel in the nonexistant psychologist already and make sure that he's not freaking out at the prospect of co-captaining a slopfest?

2012 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
Realistically Jordie deseres about three and nobody else should get a cracker but rule 1.1 of the AJ Medal rulebook says that votes must be awarded consistently in every game so the rest get in by default, ranked by my own whims. McDonald was good though, he didn't even scare me to death with his disposal this week - has a big future ahead in playing cannon fodder for our failing midfield.

Bail only sneaks in front of Blease because Slamming Sam played a great first quarter and then pretty much went missing for the other three. Still, he's showing great signs and the injection of pace (CLICHE) is much appreciated.

5 - Jordie McKenzie
4 - Tom McDonald
3 - Jared Rivers
2 - Nathan Jones
1 - Rohan Bail

Apologies only because they all could have contended for 3, 2 or 1 in alphabetical order to Blease, Clark, Frawley, Garland, Grimes, Nicholson and Watts.

I will not be held responsible if it happens but Jones would practically have to fall over to lose from here. Certainly nobody under Howe/McKenzie on the board has the slightest chance unless they produce a fittingly Jakovichesque second half of the season from a minimum for four BOGs performances off 1st place.

The Hilton has come down to a one-on-one Magner vs Tom McDonald (eligible for debuting in the last month of 2011) stoush, but the real action is in the Seecamp where both McDonald and Rivers have leapt Frawley and Bartram to take the joint lead. Less exciting is the Stynes where the SME hasn't qualified as a ruckman yet and Jamar has only had one vote getting game so there's still time for The Spencil to salute.

27 - Nathan Jones
17 - Mitch Clark
13 - James Magner (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
11 - Jeremy Howe, Jordie McKenzie
7 - Matthew Bate, Jack Watts
6 - Tom McDonald (CO-LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Jared Rivers (CO-LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
5 - Clint Bartram, James Frawley, Sam Blease
4 - Jack Trengove
3 - Stefan Martin, Mark Jamar (LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
2 - Brent Moloney, Jack Grimes
1 - Rohan Bail

MFC Facebook Comment of the Week
When I was sent this I expect it to be the worst thing ever, but it's actually quite apt and 50 times better than any of the rubbish that I've done so I'm going with it instead. Enjoy the gimmick before one gets done for every team and it becomes more annoying than Hitler. You can add the ending jingle yourself if you're keen.

The extra time to select a winner allows to choose one from the "get well Brad Green" thread, in which everyone declares their love after most have probably spent the last two years whinging about him. Well, almost everyone declares their love..

Sorry lady, couldn't be arsed covering your name up. Contact us via the lawyers. Runner-up is the bizarrely named Emma Malcolm Raymond who interrupts the love-in to demand we win a game. We'll win a game when you stop having a man's middle name.

And for balance because everyone knows Twitter is ten times more nutbag friendly than Facebook will ever be here's the MFC Tweet of the Week. It runs the risk that somebody featured will actually be reading but oh well, don't say stupid things then.
I have so much hate for that comment. Hold firm you coward.

Draft Watch
This year's version being the 'most important ever' is set to become an even bigger cliche than pointing out how many times we've cocked up the other ones but no doubt there's some truth in both statements. Obviously the main event is all about Jack Viney + some other poor kids who will visibly shed a tear when we read their name out but I've come up with a plan for the rookie draft that will at least keep me entertained. We're going to draft the following. One of them must be a quick small forward but I'm not concerned which:

* Somebody with Mike Tyson style facial tatts who wasn't invited to draft camp or even the TAC Cup because he either looked he should be in prison or was in prison. There was a time (2011) where I was acting like a true Melbourne fan and saying I didn't want any players with neck tatts. I was wrong, and so wrong that I'd like to drastically overcorrect and get an absolutely unstable nutter in.

* Somebody whose main attribute is his ability to, a'la Josh Gibson, cut his teammates in for a leg-over at a world class rate. This will instantly raise morale, especially amongst the younger players. If he can actually play this will be a bonus.

* A trio of violent brothers from the Iron League.

If nothing else at least things will become interesting again. If we're going to kick six goals a week let's at least get some true novelty players and eccentrics involved instead of picking more fancyboys.

Next Week
Essendon, where we'll presumably be thumped again. The fact that they're actually a good side makes about as much sense to me as the fact that we've ransacked the draft for years and turned out terrible but there you go. We do hold a two match winning streak against them for now..

Ahh yes, Dean Bailey punching the roof of the dugout in a sexually arousing fashion, Max Gawn missing sitters from the square, Watts taking screamers and me whopping off over $cully in a fashion that betrays my attempts to pretend now that I always thought he was shit.

It was the best of times, it was far from the worst of times. It was a Friday to remember, one that left you alone to enjoy your weekend without watching footy review shows through your fingers. Get your fingers ready, you'll be watching through them next Sunday morning.

Changes based on Casey not playing:

IN: Martin, Petterd, Bartram, ? (I've got nothing, this has never happened before)
OUT: Green (inj), Sellar, Dunn, Bennell

I know everyone wants Tom Couch because we've all developed some ridiculously high expectations that he's the next big thing but the fact of the matter is that he hasn't played a match for three weeks so I can't justify picking him. Start your 'internet humour' about how he'll still do better than Moloney but I'm prepared to give them one more week to convince Beamer not to be such a Maric style emo before I scrapheap him alongside the Sellar, Dunn and Bennell trio who I could quite frankly do without ever seeing again.

Other than the two I call for the return of every week and the return of Bartram who has been alright this year (in context) I'm stuffed for finding anybody else who deserves a game. What are you supposed to do when the VFL gives your seconds side a fortnight off? I'm almost tempted to give Couch the call-up anyway, because there's no way any of Davey, Sylvia or Morton deserve to get back in without playing at least one match at Casey and other than that what have we got? If it has to be one of them I'll opt for Morton who at least looks like he cares when he's stinking it up.

Even though Trengove is even more in need of a 'mystery injury' and a rest than he was last week it's not like we're flush with other options at the moment so I'm going to keep him based on a slightly better second half. If Frawley doesn't make it after his injury then I suppose they'll pick Joel Macdonald but given that we're going to get rumbled anyway how about a run for Demonblog's Own Troy Davis?

Anyone for a first quarter lead and ten goal loss?

The week after that
Bad news not getting Collingwood in the few weeks where the media declared them to be terrible, now they're good again and will presumably whip us even without the half of their best team who are injured and the other half who will be mysteriously rested that week. This is really the game to pick Couch, Davis etc.. just to confuse the shit out of the once a year fans.

The week after the week after that
I've come to the conclusion that no matter how awful our situation seems at the moment that there's no way GWS are going to let us get pick 1 AND Jack Viney at a bargain basement price. Just look at what happened after they beat Gold Coast and were presented with a realistic chance of winning against Brisbane, they 'rested' (wait, they actually admitted it so there's no need to be sarcastic) several players and lost by 90 something points.

They know how the league works, which is no surprise considering that they're run by it, and now that they've got the win on the board which means avoiding being the equal worst team ever who cares if they finish 1-21 just to get the first pick and spike our draft rorts? The paymasters at AFL HQ have no concern for the feelings of a cheersquad full of idiots dressed like V/Line conductors, they're working on a strategy to build a huge fanbase that involves children who haven't even been born yet. They've also just relocated the team from West Sydney which is strange.

So bad luck if you're keen on 'winning' the dignity free race to the bottom because they won't let it happen. Come Round 13 there will be a Sherman Tank going around the MCG (nb: not rhyming slang) and for once it won't be driven by us. By the time we get to Manuka Oval for Round 19 they'll be doing farcical moves like Junior McDonald to full-forward and Billy No Mates Scully as Captain if it'll stop us finishing below them.

Of course the big question then is if we finish second last (AIM HIGH KIDS!) do they nominate Viney to make us pay Pick 2 for him? Of course they do, knowing that it would be the screwjob of the millenium to ditch the kid at that point having already spent the season suffering from worse publicity than the Khmer Rouge. I'm comfortable with that considering we just stuff picks up anyway so let's at least give ourselves an out on this one by the fact that we were 'forced' to take him so high.

Now watch them come out and tonk us on June 24. Just wait for it, then I really will slip my mental mooring and be dragged out kicking and screaming.

Final Thoughts
If we'd signed Ross Lyon and this was happening people would be comforting themselves that kicking six goals a week was all part of the plan.

We're getting to it

Apologies to those of you who like to waste your Monday at work by reading large slabs of tripe, a post will appear at some point before our next loss.

Until then I would like everyone to visualise $cully being hit by a Skoda while crossing the road.

Thursday 17 May 2012

Death by a thousand cuts

We all had a good laugh at this guy's expense last year, but it turns out that he was actually right.

They are "fucking shit", they do "fuck it up" and they do stand there not "doing fucking anything". If he was like that in August 2011 I expect he's dead now but his memory will live on forever.

Should you have stumbled upon this page since the start of 2012 it might be hard to believe but there was actually a Demonblog era where even when we were "fucking shit" that not every single post started with a blow-by-blow commentary about how all light at the end of the tunnel has been extinguished and how half our list should be deregistered by the league for the good of the game. Start here for instance. Look at how rosy the future seemed, that night was our Woodstock. The Winter of Love didn't last much longer, and other than a few random moments of magic it's been like the aftermath of a nuclear war ever since.

There may very well be a time when it's no longer necessary to commit the keyboard equivalent of a primal scream after every game just so I can sleep at night, but this isn't it. Just when you thought rock bottom had been successfully achieved and it couldn't get any worse we've managed to outdo ourselves again.

I can't have been the only one who thought the process of this club changing from a 'work-in-progress' (downgraded from 'next big thing' in approximately Round 16 2011) into the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald couldn't reach another terrifyingly low milestone until at least the GWS game. The generally accepted wisdom was that if we managed to avoid apocalyptic beltings against Geelong and Hawthorn then we could at least wobble through to the bye without suffering another one.

If there was another nightmare on the cards most of us, unfortunately including yours truly, thought that it couldn't possibly happen against the Swans - a side so historically boring that they spawned the Ross Lyon method of coaching. Carlton, Essendon or Collingwood you could almost understand, if not accept, but it's hard to comprehend when you're ransacked by a team that's had just one hundred point win in the last decade despite playing finals eight of ten times.

Even we've had one in that time, (no really) that's how unimpressive their record of torching teams has been over the last decade. Sure they've opened up a bit since Paul Roos moved into his new job as a passive aggressive special comments man but they're still not exactly 186 era Geelong.

Obviously nobody likes losing by a hundred points, that goes without saying, but when it not only comes against a team renowned for boring the world to death, coming off two losses and without two of the best players the psychological impact is doubled/tripled/whatever you like. Any way you cut it the ramifications are ugly.

Not that it ends there, we've become roadkill so spectacularly that teams can afford to 'experiment' with their lineup against us. No Goodes or Mumford? Why not throw in a Canadian and a first game Irishman, it's only Melbourne. Remember when everyone got a little bit too excited about beating Collingwood in the NAB Cup when they were fielding two Irishmen and a guy from Milwaukee? This result was a smaller outbreak of karma amongst the larger cosmic retribution for tanking.

Honest to god there were Melbourne fans taunting Collingwood supporters that night and if I was a Pies fan I'd be going back into the archives of every footy forum and adding to the posts from that night with a simple LOL. You have been warned, there's still time to go back and delete any posts that make you look stupid.

The bad news is that the queue to join in on making us look stupid stretches from Brunton Avenue to Bendigo. It's not just amateur crackpots either, the footy media hasn't shown this much joy in sinking the slipper for years. Serves us right for presenting a wide target but it's got to the point where any journo can say or write anything and the public - not to mention our fans - will believe it. Even the most obviously fraudlent Twitter account ever is roping people in left, right and centre.

It's not often that something written on here turns out 100% correct but as predicted we managed to ride out the wave of sympathy after Jim's passing and come out just as unpopular as ever before.

There's no surprise that the moment the first drops of blood hit the water the media swarmed (again). Not just because as both club and fans we generally roll over and take whatever's dished out to us, and not just because we'd lost a universally respected figurehead but because the real walkers of the coaching plank are all located outside of Victoria.

The absolute overwhelming majority of people consuming footy media couldn't give half a toss what happens to Guy McKenna, Michael Voss or Matthew Primus so it'll just have to be us that cops it. There's certainly no newspaper sales or radio ratings to be had from piling in on the Gold Coast or Brisbane coaches so as the Victorian representative on Mt. Shitmore they'll just keep hammering us.

Speaking of the AFL's future Division Two clubs how good was it to see Port Adelaide fight to the death and steal that win against North? There's a team that's undergone their own local version of our season from hell and who have a coach who everyone knows is well down the conveyor belt at the abbatoir.

Still, didn't stop them from hanging on for three quarters before showing some pride in themselves and interest in keeping their coach out of the firing line by mounting a brave comeback. They were lucky enough to fall over the line and win the match but even if they hadn't at least they HAD A GO. They're still no good but at least they've won two more games than we have. It might not save Primus in the long run but at least the players could look him in the eye the next morning.

Any chance that the vast majority of Melbourne players could do the same at the moment? I doubt it, something is seriously rotten somewhere in this organisation. The club isn't so much a shipwreck at the moment as a space shuttle disaster - a multi-million dollar machine, allegedly manned by highly trained personnel and prepared by the finest engineers going pop 20 seconds after launch and plummeting to earth in a ball of fire, leaving wreckage spread over a wide portion of the country and 30,000 odd people standing around in disbelief.

Nobody needs another run-down of the last two month's activities other than the overall summation that it's been about as much fun as catching the Ebola virus. Despite the toxic gas of doom which is picking off our supporters one at a time I've tried my hardest to remain at least respectful if not positive.

It might be hard to believe if you've managed to make it all the way through any post since midway through 2007 but I'm not the sort of person to spaz out, call for everyone to be sacked and hang over the race screaming blue murder at players. There's something in me that recognises the difference between a fat bastard in the stands who thinks he knows everything (hi) and professional sports people which makes me of the silent fuming type with a few random outbursts but I've reached the end of my tether.

In the five stages of footy grief I've passed through "incredible sadness and regret" into "fear and loathing" on the express train to "outright embarassing levels of taking sports too seriously". The last one is kept behind glass marked BREAK IN CASE OF LOSS TO GWS. There's only step past that, and you'll know we've hit it when some tossbag shames himself and the whole club by gobbing at the players or coaches a'la that famous Richmond fan. It will most certainly not be me, the worst I can see myself ever doing is piffing my jumper at the bench and telling them all to fuck off and die.

In my adult supporting life absolute Chernobyl "I hate this club" meltdowns of that level have only happened three times - when we lost to Geelong on a Friday in '03, the ten goal loss against Richmond in '07 and to a lesser extent 186 where to be fair I was more in shock than anything else. Oh there were other outbursts but they were all situational (McDonald + Port Adelaide + 'deliberate' comes to mind) not explosive decompression directed at the club itself.

All three times involved a tremendous turn on the coach (including twice on Daniher, sorry about that Neale) and in the case of the Richmond game one of our own supporters, but never before until now has it been directed at the players themselves. I dare say the way it's going other fans are going to be in the firing line as well before too long because my patience has run out.

Along with "spread" and commanding you to "get around" somebody the media have an obsession with the idea of coaches "losing" players. What they rarely talk about, until somebody's seen throwing something from the stands, is when players "lose" the fans. That, along with an unhealthy dose of sporting sadness, is where I've come to in my relationship with this incarnation of Melbourne Football Club after Saturday night.

I'll never throw my membership under the 5.28 to Glen Waverley but I can't think of a time where there are so few players that I actually like. Even the ones I do are usually out of the side because they don't meet the criteria for getting picked every week no matter what of being ex-superstars or high draft picks.

I refuse to believe that they don't care, and I'm not expecting them to try and crucify themselves a'la Neil from The Young Ones to try and prove to us how much they're hurting but it all just seems to be too hard for some of them at the moment. It's never been so difficult to fill the votes from week to week. Every single match since Demonblog began in 2005, yes even 186, has had five people awarded votes but it's getting to the point where I have to cut out the ten players who were shit and take the handful of average performers above them and make an arbitrary judgement about who was less terrible than the rest.

Votes will continue to be awarded as seen fit but don't think just because somebody's on that leaderboard that I wish he was my best mate. There are perhaps five who sit above it all in my book and the rest have either never been seen in the senior team, can't get a game or fall somewhere between deep suspicion and active dislike.

I suppose they're all on Twitter 'apologising' profusely before shrugging and going back to playing FIFA, getting blind and chasing chicks or conspiring with agents to increase their value as free agents. Not interested, shut your bloody Twitter accounts down, stop LOLing and telling us how much you're pumped for Anchorman II. "We've got to try harder, stick together, #demonblood" wank, wank, wank. Then when somebody gets a bit excited and sends them some abuse they come out like martyrs

Guess what, if you start a Twitter account and apply your real name to it you're encouraging people to follow you - and to interact with you. A lot of what gets sent might be crap but what did you expect? This isn't Stef Martin casually waving to the camera, this is 'celebrities' opening accounts under their own names in order to take the plaudits. Alright when it's going well but accept the risk that the payoff for your opportunity to post shots of your FIFA tournament is that you're providing a simple outlet for people to rightly or wrongly send abuse directly to you.

Imagine a player publicising a phone line where you can ring up and tell him how he went, it wouldn't happen so how is this different? Obviously they read all the negatives. One player who will not be named was even busted searching Twitter for mentions of his own name and replying. This is madness. It's one thing to be Joel Selwood, sitting there pissing himself laughing at offensive comments with three premiership medallions around his neck, but don't tell me that in the current climate of crushing self doubt and depression at Melbourne that there's not at least a marginal contribution from being teed off on by every man and his dog online. It's certainly not doing anything to help, I can tell you that without the benefit of a psychology degree.

I'm still not convinced that Neeld was running his 'own' account anyway but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that it wasn't ghostwriten and give him credit for putting the cue in the rack and giving up on it 23 days before we lost in Round 1. If it was him he should never have been there in the first place, especially doing chummy messages to players but ok he gave it a go, one thing I'm sure of is that he's not sitting down for a coffee this morning, pulling his phone out and pressing refresh to see the advice of those who haven't coached an Auskick team.

He should go in and delete the whole account (if he even knows it exists) then get Neil Craig, Don McLardy and his rotating cast of assistant coaches together before marching into a team meeting and tell them that they don't deserve to be acting like celebrities online until we win a game. Anybody who posts under his real name is dropped, anyone who admits to reading the bullshit we write "at" them is dropped. If they want to continue to play the "fuck me I'm famous" game they can do it from Casey Fields.

There'd probably be a player revolt and the AFLPA would be called in to mediate on our 'disgraceful' suppression of free speech. What a load of shit, it's well within the rights of the club to remove negative mental influences on their players - and if they can't stop them from pissing on in nightclubs and shafting groupies in car parks then at least remove one distraction. Whatever excuse Sylvia has for being seen yukking it up after the game (and he might have just been caught at a bad angle for all I know) I'd rather that his coaches and teammates are the ones who bail him up for it after the heat has died down and not the fans instantly while they're still bleeding.

Realistically what the players do on Twitter is small bananas considering the many and varied disasters which are befalling us at the moment but it just seems symptomatic of the wider issues. Give me some players who wouldn't spit on Twitter users. Dare I say it I'd almost rather stack the list with a bunch of dead eyed Billy No Mates straight edge types like $cully than even more fancyboys who are just happy to be there or mental cases who need to be drip-fed anti depressants.

I've had enough, and while I'm not bitter and twisted enough (yet) to expect that the players spend the week between games openly weeping for the cameras like a North Korean funeral at least give us something other than the usual rubbish about trying harder. Even better, give us nothing off-field and present a unified front on-field instead.

Of course none of this would be an issue if we'd put in an even remotely credible performance at the SCG. Anything under a six goal loss would have probably led to "it's slowly getting better" credit and ten goals would have left us in pretty much exactly the same position but they rolled over and died and deserve to cop it.

Yeah we were virulently pox against Hawthorn for three quarters but there was - surprisingly - some hope of improvement this week. It was, after all, our 'best team' of the year on paper - if you suspended disbelief and pretended Green is the same player he used to be and conveniently ignored the fact that Jurrah probably had some more important stuff on his mind this week and must know that every time he runs out that he could be playing his last game before doing a stretch.

Blease and Watts also added value 'on paper' despite neither having done a great deal so far this year or having absolutely set the VFL alight while dropped.
Ironically they ended up being our best but that was like going one/two in a Wednesday afternoon greyhound barrier trial in Traralgon considering how rank most of the other 20 were.

So, our 'best team' of the year against a side who had lost two in a row and were without both their most iconic player and dominant ruckman. What could go wrong? The SCG is even a ground that - unlike say Football Park or Subiaco - some of our players had appeared in a win at (Bartram, Davey, Green, Jamar, Rivers and Sylvia if you're in any way interested). Must seem like a million years ago, and considering what's happened since it may as well be.

More importantly in our recent history with the Swans is the ultimate monkey on the back of the Bailey era, and the day that must give him even more sleepless nights than 186, that one remarkable day when we massacred them at the MCG. Unfortunately for Neeld it's also the standard that this squad will be held to and the reason that he's already being pounded into hamburger meat.

The past really shouldn't mean anything but it's recent enough to point out that 14 of the players who disgraced themselves and the jumper this week were also in the team that day and three others are still on our list. The ones who have moved on are Bruce, Johnson, Emo Maric, Scumbag $cully and THE EX-CELEBRATOR - and other than maybe $cully if you're being generous I seriously doubt any of them would have influenced us positively this time around.

God knows what happened to that team that Bruce McAvaney boldly and breathlessly declared were "going to be something". To be fair to him, as overly excitable as he is, it certainly looked that way on the day - and he didn't explicitly state what the 'something' was. He should claim that what he meant was "a shambling bunch of wrecks who play like escaped mental patients". Even the world's most hardened masochist would have trouble becoming aroused over the trail of blood and guts that we've left behind since.

To say it hasn't turned out as we might have hoped would be one of the great understatements, but it was hard not to cast your mind back to that day before this week's game. Even the draw in Round 1 last year seemed to indicate that we were 'on the up' shortly before it turned out we weren't.

With their allegedly 'diminished' lineup and a ground so short even we should be able to get an inside 50 every once in a while I'll admit that I was ever so slightly - and whisper it quietly - confident. Not confident of a win mind you, I'd not have had a cent on them to win, but at least that they could put in a respectable performance.

Unfortunately respectability lasted about a minute and a half before everyone went into self preservation mode and got stomped. Again. For the millionth time in recent memory the phrase "ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" came to mind. I don't expect to win but how do you end up in the position where the fundamentals of football are so wilfully ignored that forwards wouldn't go to the goal line when their teammates were kicking for goal and the defenders wouldn't do it when the opposition were. The first cost us any chance of a goal, and the second cost us a goal full stop. These are not the sort of things teams losing 21 goals to five and who are left with a percentage of 52.49% can afford to be casual about.

If you're a zen master you might be able to forgive a few targets missed but those goal-line debacles were pretty much it for me. You can't blame Neeld for that. You can blame him for not grabbing the players involved by the throat and screaming bloody murder at them for doing it but it's not like his game plan involves wandering off towards the middle while opposition players are having shots on goal.

It might have been at least marginally different if Howe had kicked that absolute sitter in the first couple of minutes. It would have at least avoided another goalless quarter. Can somebody with access to a more robust database than I tell me what the record is for the most goalless quarters in one season since 1990? We'd have to be on at least top ten pace at the moment wouldn't we?

Howe has been great this year but no doubt last night was his worst performance of the season. Remember when he first came into the side and was kicking goals from everywhere? Why am I not surprised that as the noose has tightened on us this year his accuracy has gone completely out the window? At least kicking goals isn't the be all and end all of his game now and he's been good around the ground.

Also takes a fair mark but forgive me for showing absolutely not one bit of interest in his 'mark of the year' considering that a) we were 70 points down at the time and b) he totally stuffed it up by panicking at and throwing a dinky handball to Morton that was never on. Why Morton called for it I'm not sure but you can add that to the 50 page log of questions about his career, Howe needs to learn that you don't have to give off just because somebody calls for it. It was a shambolic piece of play and I hope he doesn't win the award for it.

Morton on the other hand has reached the point where it's really not fair to anybody to keep him at the end of the year. He's absolutely shot as an MFC player and continuing the fantasy that he's going to somehow achievement superstardom is just that. If we get a third round pick for him and he suddenly turns up at Fremantle as the next big thing under the Ross Lyon regime then good luck to him - I wish him all the best but it's just not going to work with us and it's no good for anybody's mental health (especially his) to carry on pretending that it is.

It would be cruel to single him out though. Green and Davey have hit the wall, which is sad but surely we're used to that at this club (just the solitary 300 game player? Sure, why not). As long as they're man enough to put their hand up at the end of the year and say that enough is enough then they'll go out of the club with some respect. There might be a few recriminations on the way out but eventually they'll be welcomed back as heroes.

I take it Davey is on so much money that even if we explicitly state that he's dropped for good he'll just keep showing up a'la George Costanza style to collect a paycheck, but really it's time for somebody from outside the club to sit him down and ask how he wants to be remembered. In ten years I'd like to think of him as a freakish crumber or Best and Fairest winner and not as somebody who showed up for his last two years just to pick up a check. Green has probably got one more year if he's interested but if there are any lingering doubts about whether or not he should go on he might want to look at how Davey is going.

Sylvia has been equally as bad recently but at least if anything he's just come back from a serious injury. Bennell might not have played a properly good game since his rookie season and if there's not something wrong with Trengove I'd be surprised. It's almost time for the co-captain to be on the end of a 'mystery injury' which gives him a couple of weeks to get away and clear his head plus anything else which might be ailing him. Also can somebody have a word to him (and the SME does it too) that his 'on the mark' technique of doing twinkletoed starjumps makes him look like he's playing in the Under 12's. It's not putting anybody off, it's just making you look like a teat.

Frankly the early returns on GRIMGOVE show that its been a mistake. Grimes has been good enough given the context of the team he's in charge of but Trengove has barely fired a shot all year. Not suggesting the captaincy has anything to do with it but the fact that the team is crap is an added burden that he doesn't need on his shoulders. If we had to go for multiple captains - and I reckon it's the biggest wank around - it should have been one young/one old so at least if everything went bosoms up we could put the experienced player in front of the media.

When serial MFC hater Greg Denham (appears on a low rating slot on SEN, writes for a low circulation paper) suggested making Mitch Clark captain before the start of the season how we laughed. Not that he was being serious of course, it was just an excuse to take the piss out of the fact that we were otherwise rudderless when it came to senior leaders. Accidentally and against the odds he might actually have been right. Nobody could have forseen it though, fancy somebody who only came for the money turning out to be one of the few who it seems gives the proverbial flying rat's clackbag about how we're doing?

I suppose if you've forced me to opt for an old/new combo before the season began I've chosen Moloney/Grimes so that's why it pains me so much that now it looks like Beamer is going to walk out on us at the end of the year. Maybe if we'd made him captain he'd have felt obliged to leave rather than whoring himself around to the rest of the competition via the pages of the Herald Sun.

Maybe it's all a great big misunderstanding but until he comes out and refutes what his manager said then I'll just assume that he's in furious agreement and if anybody else will have him he'll be off. There are others in the same boat - most notably Jamar - but at least he's polite enough to get on with playing footy instead of trying to bignote himself through the press.

I'd love to give Beamer the benefit of the doubt but we pussyfooted around impending treachery last year and got screwed so I'm not falling for it again. Even $cully played the game publicly, so when you're a chance of finishing behind him in the credibility stakes you know things have gone badly. Prove me wrong Beamer, make me ashamed of this post when I look back on it in a couple of years. Until then you deserve to be the prime suspect. I just hope that if he wants to go then he does and it's not a case of ending up staying reluctantly because there are no other suitors.

He wasn't alone in doing nothing this week, but there's a difference between players who you know are committed to the cause and doing nothing and those whose commitment you're deeply suspicious of.

There's clearly mental issues at play across the board, and when even the handful who have given everything in every match they've played this year start to hoist the white flag we're going to be entering scary new territory. When you're suddenly striving to best the 1996 Fitzroy side's record then you know something is very wrong. They didn't have gun recruits, a raft of top draft picks, top training facilities and a legion of support staff - they had a tin shed and were probably reusing tape every week because the bank was about to foreclose on them. This is not the sort of comparison that we should be allowing ourselves to be involved in.

Last year I was half joking about the club needing to roll in a sports psychologist if they didn't already, but now I'm deadly serious. The majority of this playing group are clearly and obviously mentally shattered so if we're relying on casual chats and an arm around the shoulder from the assistant coach then it's no wonder everyone's about to get wheeled off in a straight jacket or walk out on us. It's either a psychologist or an exorcist because if we keep going like this the downward spiral will get more and more intense, the pressure will grow to an unbearable level and elastic bands inside footy player brains are going to be snapping like hammies.

After putting in such a good first quarter last week before folding it was even more offensive that after two or three decent minutes and Howe missing the sitter we then rolled over and died. There was a few minutes when we recovered from copping the early goals and seemed to be stabilising before the Swans kicked those three right at the end to totally blow it to the shithouse. You could hear Melbourne fans everyone throwing remote controls at the TV and walking out. Good thinking, wish I'd followed suit.

You know as well as I do that it didn't get much better from there and even on the rare occasions when we actually did go forward there was absolutely nobody to kick it to. Jurrah was trying hard but he was well off the pace, Green could hardly get near it and only once did anyone kick to Clark's advantage and that was when he was 50m out on the fence. It took Nathan Jones x2 to kick two legitimate goals and try to put some respectability into it. Sylvia got one, but that was all he did, and the other two goals were from 50m penalties.

So really, in four quarters we got three legitimate goals on the shortest ground in the league. In fact it was the second lowest score any team has ever kicked at the SCG. At least that's one record we won't be claiming but 5.7.37 is not really the kind of score that you want to be putting out too often if you want any kids to take an interest in supporting us. It's just boring, boring, BORING football and I can see why people aren't bothering. There will be a disgracefully small amount of our fans there next week but I can see why you wouldn't turn up if that's what you can expect to see.

Not sure what they said to them at three quarter time but I'm guessing it wasn't that we should try and lose by a hundred again. I presume they asked them to at least play with some pride in themselves in the jumper but it's one thing to ask and another for them to take any notice or have the ability to do it.

I wish Bennell had at least tried to have a shot after the siren. Who cares that he was on the wing and hasn't had an effective kick all season, at least show that you care enough about not losing by more than a hundred to fire a torp in. By this point nobody would have held it against him if it had gone two metres forward and twenty to the right and into the crowd - at least try, don't give up and accept defeat in every aspect of the game. No way he would have kicked it, and he'd probably have looked foolish to the Swans fans and handful of neutrals watching on TV but surely the fans would have appreciated it. I certainly would have.

2012 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
I bet Watts is named across the board as our 'best' but while I liked his game he really was just standing there on his own waiting for the ball to come to him. What I did like were his kickouts, in the midst of the debacle unfolding around him I've not often seen one player hit so many consecutive targets while kicking-in. More please but let's not pigeon hole him into playing as a loose man in defence for the rest of his life.

I much preferred Blease who might have been dirty with his disposal but at least he was winning contested possessions and having a go at taking his opponents on. Absolutely must have a lengthy run in this side. The other three are really just the best of a bad bunch. Clark might not have kicked a goal (mainly because nobody gave him a decent chance to) but I feel like his 14 taps were far more useful than most of Jamar's 46.

The idea of paying a mil to Travis Cloke makes me want to spew but if Jamar does repay our faith in him when he was shit by going elsewhere then maybe it's not such a bad idea. Either way I hope they've got a ruckman contingency plan in the back of their minds somewhere because Martin is a capable #2, Fitzpatrick and Spencer are questionable and Gawn is going to be coming off a year out. Maybe they've realised that even when we win the taps it doesn't help and don't care if we stop winning them?

5 - Sam Blease
4 - Jack Watts
2 - Mitch Clark (FILLING A SPOT)

25 - Nathan Jones
17 - Mitch Clark
13 - James Magner (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
11 - Jeremy Howe
7 - Matthew Bate, Jack Watts
6 - Jordie McKenzie
5 - Clint Bartram (CO-LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), James Frawley (CO-LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Sam Blease
4 - Jack Trengove
3 - Stefan Martin, Jared Rivers, Mark Jamar (LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
2 - Brent Moloney, Tom McDonald, Jack Grimes

MFC Facebook Comment of the Week
Almost seems like taking the piss to post this video now, but I made it before it became apparent that we'd all given up and won't be topical for much longer so here it is anyway.

I've almost given up on covering people's names, but the last thing I want is for them to start writing in having a cry that their shithouse comments have been archived forever so I'll keep doing it for now unless somebody unleashes a statement so outrageous that they deserve to have their name shown.

I do wonder if the censors are working overtime though because amongst all the impassioned wailing there's a severe lack of outright obscenity and slanderous comments. Maybe from next week it will have to expand to the social media comment of the week so that classics like this can be preserved in the archives.


Anyway sticking with Facebook for the moment first place is awarded for a complete lack of perspective and/or understanding of the history of football and runner-up for an awesome commitment to refusing to use any form of punctuation - the sort of consistency that the football team are so sorely lacking.

Third place (not shown due to lack of interest on my behalf) to the person who called for the return of "Jackovitchz", which in an era where we've got McClean, Pettard, Maloney, Clarke, Jarrah and McClardy going around must be the most spectacular attempt at spelling an AFL identity's name ever.

There's still time for YOU to make a fool of yourself and see your name whited out. Get in quick though because I doubt this feature will return next year, it's far too depressing going through it all.

Speaking of all things online if you've managed to avoid being sucked into the black hole that is one of the MFC forums then now is probably time to get in before they're made world famous by lazy journalists looking for "DEMON FANS LOSE PLOT" stories. There really are some incredible conspiracies that need to be seen to be believed, and the fans are turning on each other like Lord of the Flies.

One thing there needs to be a moratorium on though is threads by old people outlining our tragic history since Norm Smith was sacked. It is your democratic right as a supporter to do as I do and smash out whatever stupidity takes your fancy but there is no 'curse', and nothing that happened in 1965 has a remotely influential impact on what we're going through now.

We've had just about as many posts analysing our drafting follies but at least that's relevant to what we're going through - Ron Barassi playing Robbie Flower on a wing and Jim Stynes running across the mark do not and will not ever explain 20m kicks in May 2012 finding their targets on the bounce. If you believe it does please provide me with a flowchart which shows your working.

I'm beginning to understand how many years of thwarted ambition might make you grow extremely bitter but the best thing for it is probably trying to draw parallels between a 20 something year era of death and where we're at 31 years later. We understand your pain but opening another thread will not make you feel any better about what you're watching now.

Pulp Faction
The worse it gets on-field, the worse it's going to get off-field. I'd love to see a chart of who likes who and who hates who within the club, stick that in the Herald Sun centre-spread on a Saturday and I'd pay $1.50 to read it.

As a paid up member you deserve to know what's going on but I doubt we'll know the full story for a while so it'll be pieced together based on rumour and gossip.

Tell you what though, if it turns out to be a coach vs players issue then despite my misgivings about certain things Neeld has done until somebody can prove why I should think otherwise I'm backing the coach. Hopefully he can engineer the cleanout of the millennium at the end of the year and start building his own list free of mental wrecks and people playing for themselves.

Then there's the black cloud that hangs over the administrators and their alleged role in the pre-186 debacle. I'm not as keen on putting Cameron Schwab up against the wall as some, mainly because it will not help players put boot to ball and hit target any more than throwing firecrackers at them during training, but with a new coach in place (and it's not 1978, he will survive whether you like it or not) and no way to sack half the list McLardy is going to have to sure up his position as a leader by making some drastic change - and every day of the week it's Schwab who is going to cop it. Whether he makes it to the end of the year or is given the Paul McNamee treatment is anybody's guess.

Next Week
Carlton. Pumped. Can't wait. Things to look out for include 18 of their players running free 20m in front of an opponent about to have a heart attack in the chase and J**d being held for three quarters and still receiving maximum Brownlow votes.

It was his performance against us a couple of years ago when Junior McDonald (remember him?) thrashed him for most of the day before J**d ran riot in the last which practically created the 3 Votes - C. J**d meme. Sadly now they've got more than one good player so they'll be queuing up to play kick-to-kick in front of the umpires and get themselves a vote or three.

Apparently Jurrah has successfully managed to put himself out for two months at least, so that's that "comeback player of the year" campaign thwarted. Could be the last game he ever plays for us if his trial doesn't go well. Here's to him getting off on a technicality and coming back to kick big fat bags.

Hard to decide who comes back considering Casey had the bye this week but based on past experience I'll opt for the following:

IN: Couch, Martin, Petterd, Bate, Nicholson
OUT: Jurrah (inj), Trengove ('inj'), Davey, Sylvia, Morton (omit)

Green and Bennell survive because I really can't find anybody else to come in without ensuring another 100 point loss. The only other realistic options are Dunn, Joel Mac, Sellar, Taggert, Davis, Bail and Fitzpatrick - none of whom fill me with a great deal of confidence.

Apparently the SME played in the Casey Reserves, which is surely just for match fitness before he comes back into the senior side for good. Mind you if that was the case at Tom Couch was fit surely he'd have played too considering he missed the game last week. Seriously doubt they're going to bring him in off two weeks break but I've given up trying to accurately predict selection and have just started picking based on personal prejudice.

Unfortunately there'll be less Melbourne fans there than who read this so just yell something out and I'll scream back.

Final Thoughts
The GWS game is rapidly becoming our version of a low stakes Russian Roulette match. Either win and gain basically nothing or our brains end up in the bottom deck of the Olympic Stand. Can't wait.

Friday 11 May 2012

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue

Welcome home everyone. As Gerard Healy rightfully pointed out in 1985 there's a feeling in the air that you can't get anywhere, except in Melbourne. And that feeling is, as it was then, that you've been cheated.

Yes, the Melbourne Football Club is well and truly back where it/we belong. In last place. A new, sick 18th placed variety of last place. Wherever they are now (heaven, hell, Hawthorn) the members of the 1905, 1906, 1919, 1923, 1951, 1969, 1974, 1978, 1981, 1997, 2008 and 2009 squads are shifting up a few seats and making room for the 2012 team at the Wooden Spoon Reunion - sadly shaking their heads in the knowledge that they only finished 8th, 9th, 12th and 16th when universally declared the worst team in the land. They'd better stop adding teams to the competition soon or we'll find ourselves in the 20's.

The reality is that as strange as it sounds at the moment we probably won't finish last, but unfortunately we've managed to find yet another loophole to exploit which would - if you're really keen on ruining an entire generation of supporters - support us retiring all the old players en masse and playing Kelvin Lawrence in the ruck later in the year. Here I was a few weeks ago proudly (hopefully) declaring that no matter how shit we got there was no point in rolling out the tank again, now suddenly everyone's abandoned all hope and realised that we can grab Jack Viney practically free on top of three Round 1 picks (including selection) if we suicide bomb the rest of the season.

Not exactly looking like we'll need to at the moment, but it's no wonder we've ended up here with the draw we've had. Ok so we got the Lions at the wrong time and blew it in spectacular fashion when they're almost as bad as we are, and we've only got ourselves to blame for losing to Footscray but the rest has hardly helped. By the time we get to the game against GWS, now cancelled as the first ever clash between two 0-11 sides, we'll have been so psychologically battered that anything could happen but surely, SURELY, we've got enough to beat them at least.

Ok they won yesterday but if they quickly return to type like Gold Coast did after their first win last season (ok, so they beat Brisbane two weeks later but let's conveniently ignore that) and we beat them comfortably or otherwise - and I'm firmly tipping otherwise - then surely we couldn't finish below them without seriously embarassing ourselves and ending up with a membership of 10,000 next year.

Personally I'm over playing the maths. I reluctantly went along with the tank last time because I was promised riches, but it didn't happen so this time you can all get stuffed. I don't care if we finish 0.1% out of last I've had enough of us acting like we're trying to get one of those world's dumbest criminals lists where the guy robs the bank then uses his own card on the ATM outside ten minutes later. We're not smart enough to pull off these Machiavellian schemes so unless we're absolutely garbage naturally let's take Viney with whatever we have to pay for him and enjoy two other first round picks with our heads held (relatively) high instead of acting like the AFL's equivalent of a street beggar. Believe it or not success can come from using the draft normally and not cheating endlessly in the hope it will eventually work.

Besides, tell me the AFL aren't absolutely gagging for any chance they can get to strip us of a high pick which can be given to one of their lovechild teams. Sporting teams on the Gold Coast have a worse survival rate than a passenger on an Indonesian airline so if that lot don't start winning soon and the crowds continue to be mediocre they're going to start losing some serious money - then it's going to get ugly for anyone who stands in the way of their masterplan.

Not having awarded the team in anything approaching a fair ``manner they will hardly admit defeat and start shopping the team around to Tasmania, they'll give them more and more concessions until they can guarantee success and crowds - and now that they've got special projects to look after they won't be so kind on teams who blatantly throw matches. If they do decide to go down this path, and for god's sake at least get a couple of wins on the board first, it will have to be done very carefully so that even if everybody knows what's going on they can't prove it.

Even better just play properly and let the cards fall where they may. Push a few broken down senior players out the door at the end of the year, wave two fingers at the cowards who walk out on us for 'success' elsewhere and use whatever picks we get as best we can. Sure the more picks you get the more chance there is of hitting gold, but let's try integrity and picking decent players for once. I don't care if they're sex rompers or they've got ugly girlfriends as long as they can run faster than an 80-year-old woman and kick a football to a target consistently then I'll have them.

In the wake of Friday night and the half-surprise of the GWS victory just how bad are we at the moment? Well, I'll leave that to you to decide but one thing I won't be providing is a statistical analysis of how many quarters we've won/lost/drawn since Round 2007.

There's nothing I enjoy more than framing the disaster movie that we've become with a classic #statmybitchup figure. So, left on my own at Demonblog Towers on Thursday night I decided to sit down and work out that quarter figure. In the same scenario most men would use the time to slap on the DVD of White Wife Black Gentleman's Sausage #9 and sit down to a cavalcade of obscenity. Not me sadly.

I should have opted for the other choice because sitting down to relive the last few years ago was a stupid idea and I'm not sure what benefit it was intended to provide. At least that list posted couple of weeks ago surprisingly showed that Richmond are about a year away from overtaking us as the worst side of the 2000's. This would have been purely grim reading from start to end. No thanks. The project was shelved somewhere around the five minute mark when I realised the foolish nature of it all. Does anyone need another horrible number to cry over? Let's just assume it was going to be horrific reading anyway, add three to the LOSS column and one win (no really) from this week and get on with concentrating on modern tragedies.

Still, I must admit that considering the state we find ourself in I'm strangely, serene and calm about it all. Admittedly on Friday night I was briefly in danger of kicking the seat in front of me to death with somebody in it, but generally it's got a detachment that feels like watching a bad movie over, and over again. It's certainly no 2007 when first we thought we were going to win the flag then lost everything including two absolute heartbreakers which led to embarassing tantrums on my behalf. This year the closest we got was from a quarter where we didn't even score, so ask me again how calm I'm feeling when we get dudded in a thriller.

In a sick and twisted Twin Peaks style fashion, I feel like the last few years have been my 'best' as a Melbourne fan. Results and regularly crushed hopes and dreams obviously not included, but I've never been more 'engaged and active' (whatever that means, I'm not volunteering to cut up crepe paper for banners or anything) in 20+ years. Maybe 'concerned' is more appropriate than either engaged or active, in the same way that the Taliban are 'concerned'.

There's a big difference between being properly emotionally invested in this stuff (football that is, not religious based enslavement) and just half interested. I could have cared less for most of 1997, semi-listening to games on the radio and not showing up once for the first 16 rounds. They were glory days, when all the stress in the world came from being an unattractive teenager instead of what some clowns did on a footy ground.

The current thinly veiled air of serenity aside I've been up the 'obsession' mountain and have only just started coming back down the other side and it's not healthy. When football consumes your every waking thought it's either time to see a psychologist, find another hobby or support a club which makes it a pleasant experience rather than a non-stop funeral procession.

At least I'm no longer inclined to feel like ralphing every five minutes during a match. Not that I'm ruling out buying a lift pass to the top of Mt. Spewmore again, it could come back at any time. Maybe we should get involved in a close meaningful game again and then we'll see if I don't end up projecting the wreckage of a Kaiser's Sausage Hot Krainer across the Ponsford Stand. I can confidently predict that the Kaiser will have grown from two MCG outlets to become the biggest fast food company in the world by the time that happens.

I suspect this is what it's like to be an avid follower of a major political party when they're down on their luck and out of office for decades at at time. At least one thing you can be sure of in politics is that at least you know your side will always try to win and nobody will be suggesting that you throw seats and decimate your standing in parliament on the half promise that it will magically one day fulfil a promise of victory and good times.

What we do have in common with your favourite failed parties is that we've frantically cycled through leaders looking for somebody to right the sinking ship. The result has been financial stability (hoorah) and turdburger footy (booo). Now Neeld is playing Kevin Rudd to Daniher's Kim Beazley and Bailey's Simon Crean (without Daniher returning to replace Bailey then get the arse again) and trying to break through before presumably being knifed by some hack when he becomes moderately unpopular.

At least we get the opportunity to be good every year, in politics they've only got one shot every three or four years to get it right. I can't think that would be pleasant for the hardcore, base membership of the parties who are tonked from pillar to post every few years. It's ok for us to turn up, number boxes as required and go home to shake our fist angrily at the screen if our chosen side gets rolled but the passionate, paid up members of these organisations must start to wonder if the cycle of farce after debacle after shambles will ever end. Sound familiar?

Take the Queensland Labor Party for instance, they might be suffering from a disaster of 'barely able to field a netball team' proportions at the moment but at least they can be sure that they're not going to spend another 42 years on the outer as they did from 1957 to 1989.

With the additional hurdle of a fantastically rigged electoral system they lost ten straight elections in that time before Sir Jo and Co necked themselves by being openly corrupt and shambled through two more leaders before finally being tossed out. By the time the ALp finally got back in they'd been through ten leaders - one of whom was later jailed as a sex offender. This was hardly an organisation operating at its peak, but still even in their last losing effort nearly 600,000 people rolled up to vote for them.

The majority of that 600k would have been casual voters, rolling in to do their duty with the expectation that they were going to lose again but there must have been a hardcore base who by the mid 80's wanted to leap off the Storey Bridge. Which puts them very much in common with our fans in the same period. So if the casual voter was over the moon when they finally won then imagine the piss-on that the people who'd been out there actively trying to win for the last 40 something years would have had?

And that, via the longest and most boring metaphor in the long history of Demonblog, is where you and I sit. There are a lot of casuals out there who don't really care and cheerfully take the jokes in the office but couldn't identify Daniel Nicholson in a police lineup, and there's a lot who will storm back onto the bandwagon the moment it looks like we're back in town but the only people who will be able to hold their head up with pride are the ones who stayed strong throughout the brown years.

You don't have to go to every game, you don't have to blog/tweet/post on forums/write threatening notes to the club with letters cut out from newspapers but as long as you're holding a membership, maintaining the rage in your own special way and doing what you can to rope innocent children and new arrivals from overseas into following us then you're doing more than most. I will see you all in football heaven, where each man and woman will be provided with 72 players who can hit a free target by foot at 100% accuracy.

So anyway, now that we've got heartfelt pleas out of the way we can concentrate on having lost again. Well bugger me there's a surprise. Nobody other than the criminally insane or naive thought we'd win anyway, and that the most we could hope for was another one of these rubbish honourable losses so if you offered me a lead at quarter time I'd have taken it gladly even if it did turn into an eleven goal loss. But it's the nature of the eleven goal loss that is cause for concern - we were only in front at quarter time because Hawthorn couldn't kick straight to save themselves and spent the rest of the night taking the piss a'la Geelong last week.

In true footy cliche tradition I'm willing to 'buy in' to the long term Neeld plan but what in the name of Dutch buggery was he doing with Mitch Clark? The inaugural leader of the MFC Power Rankings is a dead set animal and almost single handedly had us in front at quarter time and somehow wound up going nowhere near the forward line for most of the second half.

Ok, so he didn't get near it in the second quarter but that's mainly because we were too busy shambling around in the backline to go attack in any decent fashion and put him to his best use. Didn't help that in defence we were trying to set the Hawks up for a pinball style million point play by botching every kick-in. Not to mention Garland taking his chance to look like an absolute twat in front of the entire country with the worst kick-in since the day either Simon Buckley or Chris Johnson tried to play-on and fell flat on his face in the square.

At least for Garland the damage had been well and truly done by that point, and just like when somebody stuffed up the interchange paperwork and cost us a goal against Richmond it was the final insult of a rampage that had already finished the game off. Then just to add another brown flecked cherry on top Howe missed a sitter, opening the door for another Hawthorn goal. And just like that we'd self-destructed, throwing away any hope of earning some respect in front of a substantial TV audience - at the start anyway, it wouldn't have lasted.

With the game over at half time we could have given some sort of decent account of ourselves in the second half. We've come back from further behind but this wasn't flaky Freo with a 51 point lead, it was a team who had already flogged us to death once in the pre-season and who were racking up possessions at will while 3/4 of our players ran around like headless chickens without ever looking like they were going to get a kick.

It should be noted for the record that yes, Ricky Petterd did rack up absolutely no possessions in the first half. Didn't that improve the quality of the night for those amongst us who had spent the last few weeks crying about how unjust it was that he was being left out of the side? No regrets, we were right even if it probably means he'll never been seen in the senior squad again.

Obviously something needed to change after being trampled on in the second quarter but did it really need to involve removing Clark from the area he'd dominated in the first quarter? Jamar had hardly been world class in the middle but it wasn't his fault that our ball movement takes place at glacial speed and that his teammates are kicking to winning matchups like Roughead vs Bennell or Franklin vs Morton. Maybe somebody watched the video of him kicking five against Carlton during the week and fancied a repeat, but it's a pipedream if you think he's going to do that on a regular basis - he can't even kick a set shot anymore let alone bag five.

Mitch was good at what he did when he took over in the middle, and his fierce second efforts just enhanced his credentials as hero to the masses, but at what cost? We scored 23 points in the first quarter and 26 combined in the next three. He had 19 of the first 23 and just one more as we aimlessly booted it inside 50 or broke down across half-forward time after time, allowing the Hawks to walk the ball out of defence and down the ground under no pressure where they'd inevitably end up scoring. It's a sad indictment that Clark is not only our best goalkicker and best crumber that he's also our most accomplished practioner of forward pressure this season. He does it all because seemingly nobody can be bothered.

Ok so Putting On The Fitz wasn't having a particularly good night, but given that we weren't going to win anyway and his senior career had so far extended to one and a half games maybe it would be better to give him the full four quarters for experience and damn the result? By the time the first half ended we were always going to come out as the crisis club of the AFL so let the kid play. As much emotional investment as I put into Petterd's return over the last couple of weeks he was clearly giving NOTHING and could easily have been replaced instead of taking off the second ruckman.

Even then if Fitz had to go, and that could be the end of him for a while if the SME gets the recall, why not Jamar playing in the middle with random bursts of Mitch Magic? He's rucked four quarters solo enough times that playing 75% of the second half can't have done him much damage. Like I said Clark did a good job but was nobody watching him marking everything and booting goals from ludicrous angles for the whole first quarter? Did it not occur to one of our 250 coaches and assistants that we might like this to continue? Obviously not.

I was just waiting for him to do his knee or similar in a ruck contest, and I swear if that had happened my support for Neeld would have been over. I'm generally supportive so far, despite having some serious questions about what the hell is going on, but the Mitch is sacrosanct at the moment.

I've got my issues with some of the stuff they're doing but it's certainly not time yet to overreact in spectacular fashion yet. Even if god help us all we go this whole year and don't win a game then there's not much to be gained from putting the coach up against a wall. It will absolutely ensure an AGM with flying furniture though, so that's something to look forward to.

Much like last week we were only in it early because the vastly superior opposition were taking the piss. I walked into the ground pondering how much you'd get for Cyril Rioli as first goalkicker, then luckily forgot to go to the TAB because my night would have been ruined even more if I'd been robbed out of hard cash by him fumbling it on the line and stuffing up an absolute sitter. That was pretty much the entire first quarter, other than Clark running riot at the other end. Hawthorn racking up points that should have been goals while we clung on with our fingertips, waiting to be trampled when they decided to turn up. Which they did not long after.

To be fair we did pay back their failed shots of goal during the first quarter with the two rancid efforts by Trengove and Howe during the second, but by then the damage had already been done and the match was well and truly gone - it was just taking the piss that Howe was missing from directly in front and Trengove was failing to make the distance from 30m out.

Maybe if those two rank awful shots on goal weren't our only scores of the entire second quarter they'd have been easier to take. Just another one of those fantastic, exciting quarters that make you want to break out your credit card every November and renew as a member. This is the sort of era that they invented the auto-renew memberships to guard against.

It's not that they were kicking goals at will and that we were suffering from world class kick-in debacles it was that you could look away for two or three minutes at a time and not miss one decent possession by a Melbourne player. A couple of wild shanks or a handball to a teammate one foot away was about as good as it got for most of the term. One half of me was on the verge of unleashing a primal scream and storming out but the other has been so desensitised to this sort of thing that I could afford to sit there looking glum and only unleashing the odd wail when it all became too much.

It would help if we could get the ball out of the middle more than a handful of times every quarter. Moloney was robbed out of a spot in the leadership group, and possibly out of being captain, but he and his manager certainly picked a bad week to come out swinging their dicks about him ditching us for fat cash at another club under free agency. Other than a couple of classic Psychic Connection era taps from Jamar I don't think his market value was exactly enhanced.

Granted we don't want to lose experienced players, and granted that he's the reigning best and fairest and has played a couple of decent games this year but I'm not entirely comfortable with the free agency concept yet so it's hard to justify basically coming out and saying "I'll be off then" seven weeks into the season. I know he's said nothing of the sort personally, but I didn't see him charging to the media to issue a denial or - god forbid - sign a new contract. Which he might very well do in the end (see also Jamar) but it'd be nice to have some indication that we're not going to go the rest of the year with one of our most important players doing that bullshit "will he/won't he" game which always ends in "he did".

Maybe when we're the ones picking off a quality player from elsewhere I'll have a miracle conversion to the concept that loyalty is dead (and I suppose there is the small matter of the Clark/Freo thing) and come to terms with it but even though I sort of understand where they're coming from I can't accept players dicking us to go and look for 'success' elsewhere.

No move guarantees success - going to Collingwood, Carlton, Hawthorn or Geelong guarantees 100% you'll be in the finals this year but that's as close a free kick as you get to the premiership, you've still got to get picked in the side and win a Grand Final. Having said that I'm sure that Moloney and Jamar took Brad Green out and got him absolutely plastered he'd let slip that he wishes he had gone to Collingwood when he had the chance instead of lining up against Cameron Bruce at Box Hill City Oval and being shabbily treated by his own 'fans'.

I want Moloney to stay, just like I want Jamar to stay but if 'testing the waters' means trying to rip more money out of us than they're worth just because one guy has been paid over the odds then just go. In a few years we'll adjust to the heartless capitalism of free agency but not now, not when we're on our knees. Tell us you're in the for the long haul or piss off now and let us lose with people who are committed to our cause for the future instead of thinking about their retirement fund.

If these guys dick us I hope we treat the rookie draft with contempt and pick all players over 25-years-old who have played in SANFL or WAFL grand finals. If there's anybody who can wreck the concept of mature age rookies it's us but we've got enough kids floating around the margins, get some legitimate adults in there and if one or two work then good - and if they don't at least Brett Lovett and the Scorpions will be thrilled to get some experienced players in.

Speaking of midfielders Jones was ok, but nothing like he has been over the last couple of weeks so you can blame the Herald Sun for featuring him on the back page. It's taken out so many of our players before that it's getting to the point where the club should start saying "thanks, but no thanks" when the papers start calling. Especially given that every feature article about us at the moment is along the lines of "how I'm coping with my team being shit". Nobody needs a reminder of how shit we're are so stop turning it into a We Are The World style telethon. No wonder 'certain people' are talking about scabbing us for 'success' elsewhere.

I know who I did like last night and that was Clint Bartram. He's been in Morton/ Bennell territory for a long time but if that wasn't his best game for us in years then I'm not here. I note he didn't even make the top five according to the esteemed journalists of The Age so maybe I've just got no bloody idea but it was enjoyable. Your opinion may vary.

You have to feel sorry for Morton though, he sits down for a 60 Minutes style in-depth interview about what a hard time he's had over the last couple of years then after two decent games in a row he unleashes some absolute howlers and stuffs any chance of a tearful return to fan favourite status. In the overall scheme of things he wasn't awful, but he wasn't much good either and unfortunately what everyone will remember, especially after the TV plays it fifty times, is that his awful kick out on the full came when we were still winning a minute into the second quarter. We didn't stay in front much longer.

Tom McDonald can also look forward to appearing in disaster highlight packages for the rest of the year after that shocker off the side of his boot that cost us a goal in the last quarter. Told you I liked him but was uncomfortable when he kicked it. Still happy to stick with him for the moment but book him in for an appointment with the famous club psychologist to make sure it doesn't end up with him plummeting into a spiral of depression a'la Morton.

Do we have a psychologist? Would seem to be a good investment considering the run we've had over the last few years and the fact that it's our players dominating the list of worst win/loss records in the league. The top 20 alone features Morton, Jones, Bate, Martin, Garland, Petterd, Dunn, Frawley, Bennell and Bartram. At least four of these guys are absolutely crucial to us in the next couple of years, and most of the others can play some sort of role so can we intervene before they all play the 'success' card to walk out on us or become dysfunctionally depressed at the way their career is going. Incidentally #1 on the list is Matthew Warnock, so we're about 80% responsible for that too. No doubt we'll take the piss and recruit Jake King or Kepler Bradley to continue the trend.

I don't mind losing, even when it's seven straight and counting (this year anyway), but can we try to do it without looking like total gibbons? Everyone knows the media loves nothing more than to drop the knee on a pre-battered target, let's not provide the ammunition. Make their job of finding highlights to shame us difficult instead of handing it to them on a silver platter of disgrace. Dare I say Garland's moment of madness could have been avoided if he'd kicked it straight down the middle to Morton all on his own 30m away. Gameplan or lack of trust in teammate? Either way kicking it at him would have made more sense than trying to dance around Cyril Rioli a metre outside the square because you play on from the square and suddenly realise you haven't got any options.

I'm not surprised that defenders are having random moments of psychological distress, they've been under siege for so long it's no wonder they're starting to crack. It's costing us goals every week, even more than being rorted by the umpires. Forget Moloney and Jamar it wouldn't surprise me if eventually Frawley got tired of being the shining light in a weekly shambles and told us he was off somewhere else for a rest, and his case I almost wouldn't blame him because he deserves it.

It's become legitimately boring to watch us. People pay money to come and see their team attack, not to watch them treated like a Lada Riva towed onto an army missle test range. There is no joy in seeing your team use the ball 165 times less than the opposition and people will start jumping off.

It's lucky that the $cully factor will put a few thousand on the gate because otherwise the GWS game might have been relocated to Casey Fields. I'm prepared to blame him for all of this if it means another 500 paying customers through the door. Maybe he does deserve a bit more scrutiny in all of this? I know people are saying that the quagmire we find ourselves in now justifies his decision to go but that's bollocks. A big fat fuck-off cheque with a lot of zeroes was what got him there and nobody should forget it - but how much did the will he/won't he affect us behind the scenes last year? It's no surprise that the playing group, coaches and administration were all at sixes and sevens when all of us - including the fans - spent the whole year trying to justify to ourselves why we were allowing a clear and obvious rat in the ranks to continue as if nothing was happening. Don't get fooled again.

It's not his fault we're 0-7, and it's not like we'd be any better off right now if he was there (in fact if it meant no Clark then we'd be very much worse off) but at least when you're burning your effigy of choice (Bailey, Schwab and Green the best sellers at Ye Olde Effigy Shop) spare a thought for the guy who introduced on-field political shenanigans into the volatile mix just because Maximum Gawn spewed on him. Hope he invested everything he got from the Giants into the Greek economy and ends up living in a cardboard box.

2012 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
5 - Clint Bartram
4 - Mitch Clark
3 - James Magner
2 - James Frawley

Apologies to nobody.

22 - Nathan Jones
13 - Mitch Clark, James Magner (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
11 - Jeremy Howe
7 - Matthew Bate
6 - Jordie McKenzie
5 - Clint Bartram (CO-LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), James Frawley (CO-LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
4 - Jack Trengove
3 - Stefan Martin, Jack Watts, Jared Rivers, Mark Jamar (LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
2 - Brent Moloney, Tom McDonald
1 - Jack Grimes

Laughing Stock League
#1 with a bullet. We're a disgrace and deserve the kicking of a lifetime. Just make sure if you're a journalist that when you're piling on to sink the slipper that you're at least realistic.

This week Robert Walls declared that we were hasty in sacking Dean Bailey after Round 17 last year, which would be a surprise to our ex-coach considering that week we beat Port Adelaide. And the less said about well know cheapshot king Leigh Matthews' farcical comments about Mitch Clark the better - if that wasn't a desperate attempt at providing a rev-up then he needs to go and have a lie down in the Hamish McLachlan/Dwayne Russell Commentary Failure Ward.

Let the crisis meetings begin. Which ex-player or random B-Grade celebrity is going to big note himself by announcing that they're 'considering' challenging for the presidency at the end of the year? My money's on Derryn Hinch. I'd rather have Dyson Hore-Lacey than him but people are going to be so depressed at the end of this year that they'll vote anybody in who thumps the podium and shout a bit.

Anyone from here keen on having a go? Probably not because it seems unless you're filling the traditional ex-player role you're no chance unless you're coming in absolutely loaded. Unless you're a complete nutbag I'll guarantee you my vote as long as you drop some key Demonblog phrases into your campaign material. You'll pay me back with a few corrupt invitations to the President's Lunch and we'll finish this joint off in style.

Rule Committee Corner
Only in the AFL would they take two injuries caused by sliding and introduce a new rule which then encourages players to fly in head-first and knock themselves out instead. If Gary Rohan's leg had snapped it would never have happened, but why not introduce another thing for the umpires to interpret and stuff up? The season's less than a third done, there's plenty more time for them to come up with more stupid ideas.

It wouldn't be because they want more players to suffer concussions and leave teams short on the bench they can justify switching to 2/2 interchanges would it? Everyone will roll over, give up and let them do whatever they like when their team suffers a loss after two players are KO'ed by flying into a contest head-first.

They'll tell you they've got the 'best interests of players' at heart. They're lying through their teeth, there's always something dodgy going on in the background.

MFC Facebook Comment of the Week
(This is my favourite yet but I suspect means absolutely nothing to you if you weren't a 15-year-old boy in 1996. This may help but otherwise you're on your own.)

You know I love classic overreactions, so here's the best so far this year. Throw your memorabilia in the bin, that'll show them. Or not because I'll bet you didn't and are just big noting yourself online. Couldn't be bothered blanking his name out, if you list yourself with three names like somebody charged with a serious crime then you can't be that concerned.
Mind you, he was right about GWS.

First runner-up to the guy who said "Pettard" has only played one good game and "Trengrove" is no good. Second runner-up to the person who quite seriously said we could win all 11 after the bye.

Commentary Corner
AM Radio might be as outdated as fax machines but if I ever, EVER, suggest I'm going to a game without one ever again you have my legal permission to shoot me directly in the face with your choice of firearm. The only reason I'm ever listening to Triple M again is if they're the only lot covering our game - not only has it tilted from being midly amusing to an all-male circlejerk in the last couple of years but now they've got Luke fucking Darcy, the man who suggested nine points for a torpedo goal lest we forget, to show up and say Trengrove every time he goes near the ball.

Now I don't expect his colleagues to pull him up on air and make him look stupid but perhaps in the quarter time break somebody could have a quiet word and let him know that he's a cockhead? Obviously my abusive tweets didn't help him see the error of his ways. Thank god I was listening to all this through my phone and the battery died during half-time. As compelled as I feel to listen to the game I couldn't take much more of that. There didn't seem much need to hear about us sinking without a trace and the phone would have most likely ended up in the lower deck of the Ponsford Stand if I'd put up with any more of that rubbish.

None of the stations are perfect but before I go back to Triple M I'll even try the ABC with Depressed Drew and his cavalcade of senile idiots. At least they're not almost solely responsible for popularising phrases like "up and about" and "get around him".

My tolerance levels for the football media are at an all-time low, the only program worth listening to is Finey's Final Siren just to hear what sort of nutbag theories that people are going to float and to cheer when Chris From Camberwell rings up to demand that Leigh Williams is promoted to the senior squad at the exact same time that he's in a coma. The rest love to beat up on us, so at least on the appropriately named FFS the lunatics are given the keys to the asylum and provided five minutes in which to shame themselves and the club.

Crowd Watch
Apparently it was 'all happening' with the Hawthorn fans. Not where I was as the top deck of the Ponsford continues its reputation the unofficial happiest place on earth. The middle deck might go off but its not once been open for our fans at a home match yet this year so who knows.

In the absence of any proper action in my part of the stands a big 'sucked in' to the people next to me on the way home who were crying that they left early to try and get the empty train then had to wait until everyone else got there anyway. Serves you right for leaving early, I hope the train broke down a stop after I got off and you were forced to walk to Glen Waverley.

Next Week
Before the year Sydney was one of the 'maybes' out of our horror run. Last start loss against the Tigers aside and the subsequent loss of next big thing status, they're still well above us and even without Goodes you can be sure that it will become another fiasco. At least unless you live there or have made travel plans you can't get out of you won't have to leave the house to watch it.

Casey flogged Box Hill but it was hardly impressive stuff. Perfectly acceptable stuff if you're up against Tyler Durea (!?) and Amos Frank (!?!) but best of luck replicating it at the SCG.

Don't care that we might only get a handful of games out of Jurrah before he's otherwise occupied in legal matters (here's to the justice system being treated with contempt and the whole thing being adjourned until after the season's over) or that he didn't display any great athleticism for Casey, because we've got to get somebody else with a bit of flair about them into that forward line.

IN: Couch, Martin, Jurrah, Watts
OUT: Bail, Fitzpatrick, Bennell, Bate

Couch didn't play for Casey because he was sick but as long as he's not trapped in a toilet somewhere next Saturday he's worth a go.

Petterd only survives because I put so much effort into campaigning for his return (not that it had anything to do with the actual return) that I have to get at least two games in a row out of him before we ditch him again. No doubt if he does survive he'll be the sub and straight out of the team the next week anyway.

The two in a row theory does not apply to Bennell who I can do without ever seeing again and Fitzpatrick who tried hard but doesn't appear to be much good right now. Martin survived playing for Casey so I'll have him back ASAP. Not that he did anything when he was in the team this year, but I'd much rather see him rucking than Clark.

Poor Bate only goes because it's clear they have absolutely no respect for his position in the team anyway, so why bother picking him? Should have let him go to the Bulldogs instead of dicking him around as sub every second week. Shit rule, shit application of said rule. He's now a full three green vest wankfests in front of Bennell and Daniel Nicholson on the career leaderboard the poor bastard.

I reluctantly leave Morton in because you've got to give him a chance to get some continuity into his game. Despite what talkback callers would have us believe he was ok the last two weeks, and ok turned into a pox performance this week but there's absolutely nothing to be gained from dumping him again. If he's still booting it straight out of bounds on the full and giving away stupid 50's in a few weeks time then ok, exile him to Casey and arrange for the makeweight trade at the end of the year but if he's ever going to catch fire it's not going to come bouncing between the seniors and the VFL every week.

Final Thoughts
Somewhere Bailey is rolling around on the floor pissing himself laughing.