Tuesday 26 June 2012

Fear and Loathing in the Olympic Stand

This post is dedicated to Mitch Clark's foot, news of which came through during its preparation. Only we could find a full forward who is also our best crumber and then lose him for half the year anyway. Now we've got two spots for replacements to fail in.

Additionally this post is very much unedited and as such may contain foul spelling, appalling grammar and the now traditional randomly ending paragraphs. List errors in the comments, on Twitter or via email and I'll fix them eventually.

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

What were the odds that the one day in over 20 years of watching this wretched club on which invective (great word) and outright hatred (of a sporting nature, which is far more gentle - in this country at least) were going to 'distract' me from the game even more so than usual that I would end up suffering a debacle with contact lenses that would render most of the game beyond the forward 50 at the Punt Road end so much of a blur that to properly make out what was going on I had to follow it on the big screen. I imagine that's what it's like to be one of these people to show up pissed off their nut after sampling every pub in Richmond before the game but it wasn't for me - even if I spent most of the day yelling out any sort of random shit as if I was actually some cheap wino in an SME jumper.

Usually I listen to the radio, but given the choice between trying to follow exactly what was happening or just concentrating on hurling mostly unjustified abuse at a 20-year-old I opted for the latter. God forbid the grandkids ever read this (or have it read to them? Hey kids, want to hear a bedtime story about Round 19 2011? You'll NEVER guess how it ends) I would like to stress to them that as a responsible adult that the futility of it all is quite clear. But as a significantly less responsible 30-year-old it was one of the great days out.

To be entirely honest instead of trying to follow what was actually happening I just yelled out the word FILTH a lot, heard some kids swear far more than I did and went spaz whenever we kicked a goal. For that reason this may end up as the most disappointing Demonblog post since the day Jamar kicked five, causing me to enter a state of shock and just post a photo of him alongside the photes BUT does anybody really give half a toss about the method of victory? I'm prepared to sit down at some point when I have a couple of hours free and enjoy the replay for analytical and crowd shenanigan purposes but the overwhelming emotion is relief that we got the four points and avoided adding yet another moment of shame to the long, terrifyingly bleak history of the Melbourne Football Club (including pretty much everything from the 1880's to now with the exception of the 25 years between 1939 and 1964).

It could very well have ended in disaster though. I'll freely admit that when they kicked those first two goals I was not so quietly shitting it about the prospect of people called Whiley (who?), Darley (WHO?) and Hombsch (you're taking the piss) chairing $cully off the ground as he triumphantly turned the tables on fans by stuffing money down their throats and laughing heartily like he was Ted DiBiase and/or Scrooge McDuck.

But they'd done this before, and as previous identified they'd put in their two worst performances of the year against sides well down the ladder. Mind you if there's any club standing ready, willing and able to botch it against a makeshift side it's us. Nevertheless with that in mind, and the fact that their second halves are scientifically proven to be even worse than ours (and whisper it quietly we've still only won one final term this year), I could handle running away with it in the second half after giving them a start. If I absolutely had to. Thank christ then for Mitch Clark (*sob*) and Rivers who kicked a full house between and almost single handedly broke their resistance.

For this was not just a matter of winning or avoiding an epic debacle my friends, but it was a life and death struggle to avoid giving that two faced turncoat the chance to run a lap of honour at the end of the game waving two fingers above his head and crying with laughter as he hands over $1500 for a $900 fine and tells Demetriou to keep the change before they join their respective fortunes together in order to buy a controlling share in The Age.

Sadly when there's a guy going home with $6 million in the bank (and guess what AFL members, you're helping pay that) then it doesn't really matter what the result on the scoreboard is because he's beaten us all. But at least we can delay the inevitable rubbing of our nose in the pile of shit he's left behind for a few more weeks/years.

For there is no doubt that the GWS Giants will eventually go supernova. Even if Cameron, Coniglio et al don't turn out to be capable of getting the job done and commentators whopping off over the chance to scream "THE GENERAL!!!1!1!" every time Patton walks within 50km of an AFL venue becomes a distant memory there's not much chance the league are going to let their prized investment flounder without giving it every possible to succeed via every loophole and rort in the book. If it's too remarkable a plan to pull off without looking shonky they'll put it to the clubs and strongarm them into voting for it or be given 11 home games at 2.20 on Wednesday afternoons. In Cambodia. Democracy will get the Giants over the line one way or another.

Somebody's going to have to take the role of responsibility of slaying this dragon, so who better than us? After all Sheedy and one of their marquee players already hate us so why not introduce some element of success into it, even if by then Sheeds will realise his headset isn't plugged in and Choco will be revealed to be the man pulling the strings the whole time while the ex-'coach' is carted off to an asylum for people who were famous in the last century.

What it will take for this to occur is for us to break the habit of a lifetime and draft some quality with the - admittedly over the top - compo that we've been given c/o that kid who everyone hates. At least if they turn up and are actually good we'll have something tangible to see as the result of wasting two years and a bunch of medical bills on that kid when he had NO INTEREST. He'll always be filth but while his wallet is keeping him warm at night the best revenge we can have is to live well.

It's a shame they had to give over half the league to these new teams because usually I'd much rather see some interstate club was no local fans winning flags so I don't have to hear about it. I don't hold the $cully debacle against them personally because it was very much the obvious thing to do but I really think either giving them half the draft + all these 'mini draft' scam inventions would have sufficed without opening up the uncontracted player smorgasboard as well. So stuff them, until which time they're the Canberra Giants and the Tasmanian Suns I will consider it a grave insult to the club to lose to them at any time.

So basically if we'd have been done over yesterday I'd have spent the next hour with my head on the seat in front of me openly crying like the MFC supporting, apparently private school tie wearing ponce that I am. So yes, thank the good lord for Clark (*sigh*) and Rivers (!) who made up the most bizarre but successful forward combination in history. Admittedly they were playing against the team who let Harry Taylor kick six so maybe Riv was a bit under par but after four goals in eight and a half seasons (one of them last week) I'll take it.

When it was looking decidedly ropey early on it was no surprise that you know who was playing out of his skin. As you would in that scenario with the best part of 20,000 people questioning your parentage (as in "haven't you had enough to eat sir?" #obligatoryfatgag) and no house mic to grab and remind everyone in attendance that he could have us all killed and still buy half of West Sydney. He wasn't alone either, once we got the ball into their backline they had absolutely no bloody idea how to cope with it but it was a matter of getting it down there in the first place.

The cruellest aspect of the Clark injury (and where in the name of dutch buggery did the foot go?) was that the way he was going he'd have kicked at least, AT LEAST, eight or nine. We have been denied a decent bag for so long (and correct me if I'm wrong but has anyone kicked even six since Neitz got eight against St Kilda in '06? Certainly not seven. And eight is just a pipe dream around these parts. CORRECTION DULY MADE - I forgot about Robbo kicking 7 against the Pies on QB 2007 and having a beer can piffed at him from the crowd at the final siren) that it wouldn't have mattered if it came with a gigantic asterix that directs you to a footnote reading AGAINST A TEAM WITH NO INTEREST IN WINNING. It would still have been glorious. Now all of a sudden he's finished for the year and we're left with the prospect of Garland and Rivers as our 'experienced' key position forwards for the rest of the season. No doubt they'll have a good old fashioned bash but it's hardly Franklin/Roughead '08 is it? It's barely Miller/Wonaeamirri '08.

At this point in the chronological order of the game though Clark was still wandering free and smashing down defenders like Godzilla rampaging through Tokyo - and thank christ we eventually started getting it down there enough to make a difference. After kindly letting Mr X wander around and do as he liked for most of the first quarter he finally copped the J. McKenzie treatment and was - to glorious catcalls - forced to spend the rest of the game doing dinky little handballs and never standing still long enough to give the crowd the chance to call him a scumbag en masse.

Conceding five goals in a quarter to this lot was a worry, but the proof was there that even after giving them the start we could still manage six - and any team who cops six goals from us in a quarter without it a) being junktime or b) the prelude to them running over the top of us out of revenge is not going to hang around long enough to make things interesting. Of course nothing ever happens around these parts easily though, so once we had settled the nerves and re-taken the lead our glorious rampaging victory was again thrown into question by conceding the next three goals.

And what easily scored goals they were too. Shit marking inside forward 50 didn't help, nor did the fact that nobody could hit the target by hand to save themselves while they were running around with all the enthusiasm of a bunch of kids let loose on the MCG for a casual kickaround - which is a pretty accurate summary of what they're good for at the moment.

My theory that they had/have absolutely no interest in winning this week/finishing above us was starting to look shaky, even after it had been made absolutely bloody clear via the move of 'resting' Cornes and starting Power as the sub. Were we about to cop the same sort of treatment as when Gary Ablett doesn't play for Gold Coast and they almost win only for him to come back and have the team get flogged? Hardly, nerves at the prospect of being involved in a sad, shameful moment aside the whole thing was so well scripted that Vince McMahon should have been made their inaugural chairman.

Not playing two 'older' players is obviously a perfectly sensible move if you're looking five years down the track, as they should, but it's football suicide when you're in a very much winnable game against a team who are psychologically just holding on most of the time. Any interest in taking advantage of our wayward nature to open up a two game break on the Suns? I seriously doubt it when they could roll on through the next few weeks, get to Round 20 against the (surely not) winless Suns and suffer a shock loss them which drops them to the bottom on percentage and delivers the #1 pick. It would hard for a Melbourne fan to point the finger at anybody else for draft tampering so good luck to them if that's the plan - it helped us get a morale boosting four points and with any luck they'll accidentally draft some total mental case who causes the whole place to cave in via his insane, possibly drug induced antics.

Anyway, back to the present. Which is to say back to late Sunday afternoon, in a timeslot beloved by none other than TV executives. It reminded me of another poorly scheduled Sunday game ruined by Channel 7, when we played our first game against Gold Coast at the Gabba. Luckily I was there and didn't have to wait for the delayed telecast (nevertheless, you're all bastards) but it was a lot like what we were served up at the MCG. The order of which quarter they ran the white flag up in might have been different but the overall concept was generally the same - "Plucky" young team gives plenty early, we all panic prematurely, before the good guys ease away to a 'huge' win which is nice at the time but you know you'd never have gotten against the 15 real teams in the competition. You take it and move on while the media are frantically trying to spin new ways in which to tell us about the coming of the glorious AFL approved franchise era.

We still weren't operating much better than one park team beating another but thanks to Jamar getting on top and the midfield finally managing to get some clearances two goals in the first three minutes of the second quarter pretty much did it. All of a sudden they're the ones playing like Melbourne and shitting themselves whenever the ball goes inside their defensive 50, and for once we were taking advantage of it. How very much like us to bully a team down on their luck before presumably being smacked upside the head next week.

While it appeared that the now traditional 2012 GWS third quarter collapse had come early it was no time to start taking the piss. At least until we'd crossed the fabled Chris Sullivan Line, but try telling that to Garland and Jamar who botched near certainties by playing on after marks in the square. Surely even they can kick it from there? At least the umpire absolutely lost his mind in almost criminal fashion and failed to call play on after the Russian turned around and took an air swing so vicious it was heard from here to Vladivostok. If that had happened against us the internet would have melted. He's got form too, I remember him trying to play on from a foot out against Hawthorn once in the same goal-square and stuffing it up.

By half time it was, thankfully, all but over and we could relax. We might never beat them again so you've got to enjoy it, and the only silver lining to the Clark injury was that Blease was forced to come on which negated any chance of him pulling off the heel turn of the millenium by tearing the green vest off without permission, charging into the middle of the ground and calling for a head count before taking his MFC jumper off to reveal a GWS one underneath before warmly embracing $cully as the MCC Members collapses under the weight of people charging to the fence to throw things at them.

Not only did he resist the urge to 'go early' on his projected GWS turn but he also decided to up his asking price by a few bucks by kicking the third in his career trilogy of outrageous goals on the run from the boundary line. Before he goes (and no doubt that you're reading, so may I say you are more than welcome to stay) let's just have one normal goal? Imagine if Nic Nat had kicked those three, they'd be erecting statues down the streets of every major city in Australia. Unheralded Melbourne players, on the other hand, can boot them out of their arse at a 100% career strike rate and it's TS for them.

It might have taken us more than five minutes to score, thus not adding to our frankly shithouse 2.4.16 in the opening minutes of Q3 this year (but at least we didn't concede either..) but from there on it was party time. Old mate with the bulging bank balance was absolutely nowhere to be seen, Junior McDonald kept running past us and receiving deservedly warm applause and for the first time since R8, 2006 (which is not quite as historically impressive a gap as I'd hoped) we kept a team scoreless for an entire quarter. At least $cully hasn't lost that one trait that is burnt into the soul of almost every Melbourne player of the last five years, going completely missing when the team starts to fall apart.

Let's not be too harsh though, you'd hate to judge a top draft pick in his first fifty games would you you? Unless you're the media or any other living organism (yes I've been involved. ONCE OR TWICE) and the subject is Jack Watts. In that case swing for the fences. He was good again, and this time it looked like it was more than just floating around the back picking up cheap ones. On a day where even Lynden freaking Dunn was taking kick-ins (and what a kick in it was) we didn't even need him to get us out of jail after a point. Mainly because they didn't kick any for about an hour. How good were his contested marks? He just knows where to go, and while I hope he can go forward and kick a few goals again at some point I'd be equally happy if he just became a contested mark wrecking machine across half-back with above average ability (adjusted for MFC players) to be able to find targets. How good was the kick to Trengove? It's all got the AGAINST SHIT TEAM asterix against it still but I'll take it for now - one wonky performance against Collingwood aside he's done it well against good teams too.

Speaking of Dunn it was nice to see both he and Bate freed from the horrors of wearing the green vest 'o doom and given the chance to play four quarters. Neither of them may do anything against decent sides but at least they were given the chance and delivered on the day. This is what I loathe about the sub rule - how can we properly assess these fringe players if they're either coming on or going off halfway through games every week. Either that or running around desperately trying to save themselves so they're not the next ones subbed out and on their way to Casey.

I don't give a toss about heavily massaged injury figures or the league's desire to sell every last aspect of the game to sponsors - I want to see the players who are selected play. Sadly it's here to stay, and we'll be lucky if it's not greatly expanded just to give them more opportunities to sell advertising, but for better or worse I'll go to my grave despising it and the people who forced it upon us.

There might be an upside though, and that's when the sub has been completed and guys like Bate and Dunn are no longer looking over to the bench every twenty seconds to see if the red vest is being prepared they can play fearlessly. I really enjoyed Bate's game - he doesn't really do anything that damaging with the ball when he gets it but I just love the way he's always in there trying to make something happen. Of course he might be doing it because he's fully aware that he'll be off at the end of the season and is trying to build up a nice highlights package for other clubs but even if it just benefits us in the short term I'll take it - and I'll be legitimately sad when he leaves and there's no longer a dead ringer for the Demonblog mascot in our team.

In a way it's sad that we failed to really ram home our superiority in the last quarter and bring up a triple digit win (I suspect the calls for 187 around me at three-quarter time weren't obscure rap references) but it wasn't for want of trying. Nobody really took their foot off the gas any more than you'd expect and we kept getting it down there only for foul kicking and the absence of somebody guaranteed to skittle everybody in a pack en route to a mark stopping us from belting them.

Speaking of wasted chances can somebody sit Jeremy Howe down and show him a video of the set shots in his first few games? Because since halfway through the West Coast McGinnity vs Petterd match at Docklands he's had the ghost of Earl Spalding hovering over his head. He's come ahead in leaps and bounds in every other aspect of his game this year but he's got to get that right, we can afford to scrub chances in rubbish games like this but one day it's going to come in crucial.

All in all a good day out. The players were chummy with you know who after the match but that was all to be expected so it couldn't ruin my enjoyment of the day. Also the sight of $cully smiling broadly (no really) with Sylvia after losing by 78 points would have sent Luke Darcy running off down the street in tears so that's a good thing as well.

What a shame then that the day was tainted by such foul and disgusting crowd behaviour. Which brings us neatly to a segment that has been promoted above the votes for the first time in history:

Crowd Watch
Forget everything that happened above, that was just contractual obligation stuff, the real action was off field and can I say that was absolutely proud as punch at the amount of effort our lot put into the theatre of the Carnival of Hatred. There's not much time before free agency ushers in an era where we'll expect players to lie to our collective faces so at least we got to give it to one treacherous dog before everybody becomes one.

Given that the target of the Carnival probably didn't even know it was taking place at least we proved in a small, insignificant way that not every Melbourne fan is a pip-pip style Scotch Old Boy (in fact there's been no sign of that stereotype being true since we wheeled their band out at Queen's Birthday) and that there are actually, god forbid, passionate people who care about the club and want to make a statement. It was, however, a nice touch that they did get some teenage hooligans waving legitimate 50's around so that it is perfectly clear to everyone else that we're supported by future captains of industry.

Also let it be noted that nobody visibly went over the top and disgraced themselves or the club. A couple of banners got the arse, old mate with the cash stapled to his jacket got harassed by security and more than a few people probably swore like a sailor for the first time in their life. The Giants coach (road, actual or Sheedy) didn't get bricked, nobody ran on the field and tried to crash tackle the star of the show and none of the banners just flat out called him a crunt. Also despite the best efforts of SEN caller 'Harro' to try and discredit us by claiming that he'd seen somebody gobbing on the Giants players in the race nobody was seen by the million cameras hocking a giant loogie at them. And rightly so too, we might have been having our big day out but there's no need to cede the moral highground of not being a bunch of scumbags just yet. Save some up in case you need it later.

If I missed anyone's antics let me know, but for the historical record there was at least the following

- "Tom Scully #1 PRICK"
- The one about him saying he hadn't signed
- YOU LIED TO JIM over the race at the end
- Old mate and his dollar bill suit
- Custom money being piffed around
- Legitimate money being waved about

and last but not least all sorts of foul abuse - often delivered by children which was heartwarming. What a huge week it must have been for manchester sales. There were a couple of signs being hoisted in the outer too but I couldn't read anything unless it was written in large font on a bedsheet.

In the interests of fairness the MCG were good enough to zoom right in on a kid holding up an "I HEART TOM SCULLY" sign before the match just to try and make us look bad for slaughtering a little kid's idol. Shame the kid was probably handed it two seconds before the cameras were turned on.

Oh, and there was also this.

Mum will be so proud, it's taken a decade but I've finally beaten my record for closest to a Herald Sun front page (record previously set at page 14). At least this time the family name wasn't disgraced with me being named as responsible for writing something scandalous online (no really. Nothing to do with footy either). If you remember me for nothing else once I'm gone - presumably stone dead in my seat after we lose a Grand Final by a point - let that picture frame your mental image of me, caught doing what I loved best, abusing $cully while paying silent tribute to obscure 90's wrestlers and holding up the end of somebody else's banner while a poor baffled man and his kid wonder why the photographer is taking shots of them. I'm glad for his sake they cropped him out in the paper so he didn't get banned by the wife from ever taking the kid to a game again.

I'm more than aware that I ended up looking like an absolute plonker, including to the TV audience apparently, but it's better than having everybody you know tell you that they saw your on television making an arse of yourself. Happy to admit it was me, happy for you to see my face any other time if you're particuarly keen but let's keep it off of the historical record for now shall we?

Thanks to the great Biffinator off BigFooty for providing said banner, and for allowing me to claim it as the new crown jewel in the burgeoning Demonblog Hall of Fame and memorabilia collection. I also came home with this one, which I assume was just abusing his dad for being a fat porky. Which is ok because I'm one too, and us people should stick together - possibly at Sizzler.

I didn't even know what it said when I hoisted it so thank god it wasn't tremendously abusive. Either way both are safe with me in the Towers and they'll be ready to be dragged out and looked at in the future. God knows what I'll do with it until then but maybe if we win something someday we can get them out and have a good laugh. Maybe $cully will sign it once he's come out and apologised and we're all friends? Don't hold your breath.

It was truly a joyous day, but the irony can't have been lost on many that the AFL - on the day where heartless capitalism was firmly annointed as the norm in their code - booted the Auskick kids off the ground at half time for a 'demonstration' of the modified nine-a-side game that they've invented to try and flog the sport to Concerned Of Campbelltown who is terrified that little Jimmy will have his ears torn off in a rugby scrum.

Unfortunately I missed most of this exciting exhibition due to being in the bathroom trying to take a whizz while being told off for it having no meaning by a guy in a comedy red and blue dreadlock wig. Hardly the sort who should be pointing figures at pointless fashion gestures I'd have thought.

Sadly if the kids sitting next to us were anything to go by, the payoff for cancelling the Little League was to buy three rows for the jilted children, load them up with sugar and tell them to go wild for the Giants. Good for them, I'd probably have done the same at that age if you'd offered me a free Cornetto, but somebody at the AFL should have sent a memo to the parents to make sure the kids - conveniently parked next to the TV cameras - didn't all turn up wearing Carlton and Collingwood hats which made it look even more contrived than it actually was.

The antics of the children were understandable enough, at least kids don't know what dignity is so they're more than happy to throw it away for a couple of choc-tops and a seat on the fence. Anything they got up to wasn't even half as contrived as the peanuts masquerading as the GWS cheersquad. Here's the ultimate in a picture telling a thousand words:

Not the guy at the front who is probably the only legitimate supporter the Giants have and is quite aware that his team is 70 points down. Upon closer inspection it might actually be Joel Macdonald.

Now, I am WELL aware of the irony of claiming others had forfeited their dignity when I was sitting on the other side of the ground in a Mexican wrestling mask but let's treat that like a political statement just to suit our own needs. Besides, you can be damn sure that if we'd been 70 points down there would have been no such shenanigans - let alone carting an entire street threatre dickhead patrol around to every Giants match in Melbourne.

I'm not against fun at the footy (for instance on Sunday I had plenty) and in my old age I've come to terms with the cheersquad as a concept but if that lot are in any way legitimate fans and not either a paid troupe of performing buffoons or idiots who follow other clubs and have just decided to turn up and be wacky due to the assumption that the Giants will have no other fans then I'm not here.

I was surprised at how many Giants fans were there. Not that there were many but I expected perhaps two on top of these fuckheads. Good for them, if they can live with the shame of switching sides for no good reason as a grown adult that's their business - just don't come around swinging champagne bottles at my place when 'you' win a flag. People who saw which way the wind was blowing and followed it shamelessly are one thing - and would make good politicians - is one thing, because in a way I can almost understand the assumption that they're an absolute cert to win a flag sooner rather than later but I refuse hide my disgust at that cheersquad.

Imagine deliberately leaving the house dressed like the Dalai Lama and then proceeding to dance around like a Hare Krishna on national television with your face exposed. You would have to be either self employed or unemployable to let yourself be seen either dressed like that. Not to mention that whether they're supposed to be Buddhists, Hare Krishnas or what it's the equivalent of turning up dressed like Mahatma Cote and doing jokes about eating a curry. Thank god the Giants didn't opt for black in the uniform or they might have turned up in blackface a'la Al Jolson.

I don't remember the nine Brisbane Bears fans in Victoria throwing inflatable bananas around the crowd while our fans were holding their banner up at the MCG in the late 80's, and at least the handful of Gold Coast fans who turned up when they almost rolled us last year were polite enough to follow tradition, act properly and stick to (team name) *clap* *clap* *clap* style chantage. This is just an insult to actual footy fans who bleed for their team both physically and mentally week in week out. Get serious about your team's plight or fuck off back to watching club rugby. I take it they have real cheersquad members who must feel the shame of being associated with these clowns - my respect for the whole club will rise tenfold if one of the real ones is pictured telling these tourists to piss off.

Anyway, enough hypocrisy from me over acting the goat - let's get back to the Carnival Of Hate. And what a magnificent carnival it was - the only downside being that none of the action in the crowd got the reception it deserved in the ground. How #1 PRICK didn't get the reception of the millenium is a mystery to me.

At least, having not yet watched the replay, it seems that the TV stations couldn't help themselves. I suspect they treated it the same way as when there's a soccer riot and the commentators fall over themselves to condemn the horror of it all while simultaneously pumping their fist in the air at the chance to run the footage 20 times plus reverse angles and slow motion.

It was marvellous. It annoyed commentators, it annoyed opposition fans, it even annoyed some of our own fans. The person it was intended to annoy remained stony faced throughout like the emotionless robot that he is, but we'll meet him again - and while you may very well be over it I am not. CUE DRAMATIC MUSIC.

2012 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
This is harder than it should be because there weren't really any standouts this time. If it was an Under 10's game - and parts of it certainly deserved to be - they'd write TEAM EFFORT and move on. But somebody has to get votes, and in a draw just conducted at Demonblog Towers the top four came out in the following order.

5 - Jack Watts
4 - Jared Rivers
3 - Tom McDonald
2 - Nathan Jones
1 - Matthew Bate

Bate just in front of Clark who was unlucky to have only played one and a half quarters, but what a one and a half quarters. Could almost have snuck in for a vote based on that alone. The only man ever to get a vote for playing half a game was when Bate got one at 186 because there really wasn't anyone else left.

Funnily enough when you look at the stats every touch Clark had which wasn't a score was a clanger. Does he have some kind of gourmet injury which still allows him to roost goals from 50m out on the boundary but not hit any other targets? If so give him a walking frame and put him in the square because we're rooted without.

Also unlucky in no particular order Dunn, Garland, Jamar, Macdonald, McKenzie, Nicholson, Sellar and Sylvia. Most others not terrible either.

With Clark not to feature again this season Jones extends his lead to just under five BOGs over the next contender Watts, and with the Jakovich all but in his keeping for the second time we now turn to his race to top Brock McLean's 47 vote record set in 2006. He's already got the sixth most votes ever in a season with just under half of it left so I dare say that the record is a formality at this point barring a fiasco.

Garland is officially suspended from the Seecamp now after three in a row up forward (not that he's scored any votes in it anyway..) and Rivers is one game away from being banned too despite having just tied for the lead. Clearly I never thought we'd have a coach who would put key position players in different spots and therefore never came up with a rule to cover what happens in the case of a defender getting votes for kicking goals. Jamar still winning the Stynes by default - whither the Stefan Martin Experience and another shock victory?

38 - Nathan Jones
19 - Mitch Clark
16 - Jack Watts
14 - Jeremy Howe
13 - James Magner (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
12 - Jordie McKenzie
10 - Jack Grimes, Jared Rivers (CO-LEADERS: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
9 - Tom McDonald
8 - Matthew Bate
5 - Clint Bartram, James Frawley, Sam Blease
4 - Jack Trengove, Brent Moloney
3 - Stefan Martin, Mark Jamar (LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
1 - Rohan Bail, James Sellar

MFC Facebook Comment of the Week
I didn't bother making more than one about us winning so for the second week in a row there's no video to be had. So first enjoy one last look at some fantastic lying...

Then listen to this slice of genius (not mine sadly) and wonder why it didn't go #1 in the ARIA singles chart this week while you steel yourself for some world class nutterism.

Or not as the case may be, considering that as usual everyone is (relatively) happy about the win and that the MFC social media team have gone through and done a forensic sweep of stupid comments by opposition fans. There were a couple of people crying over the Carnival of Hate but that's Melbourne fans for you, always somebody ready to fit the stereotype of being a group of tremendous softcocks. It was to be expected I suppose, but what I never thought I'd see is this outrageous statement:


Nah, our fans never 'barrack'. They just sat there for the first eight weeks of the season stone silent. Hey everyone, listen to NAME DELETED we should all take absolutely no interest in the fortunes of the club we allegedly support and instead cavort around the stands like a bunch of escaped mental patients no matter what the score in order to support the game. I really hope people don't read this sort of stuff and associate all Melbourne fans with it.

Facebook are really missing the chance to fire things up by allowing a reply to function on these comments. It's no good trying to pot somebody 500 comments later, you just end up looking like an even bigger nutbag than you do for posting on there in the first place.

Next Week
Given that the Gabba is just about the only place outside of Victoria that we can win it's a shame that the Lions are not entirely terrible anymore. Not that they're much good either but certainly better than us - and have proved it once already this year.

Clark out is a disaster for the rest of the season, and in the short term I'm not sure how we're going to cover him effectively. He was the only reason we didn't win by 150 this week, and by sheer weight of numbers the job was finally done but Rivers and Garland aren't going to combine for seven every week - especially against good sides - and neither Howe or Jamar can kick straight enough any more to be match winners - so unless there's at least one dangerous aerial option down there for the full four quarters we'll be back to scoring 6.8.44 again if we're not careful.

Nobody really banged the door down to come back at Casey (though I must admit I only watched the first quarter and relied on second hand information for the rest) so why make any non-enforced changes at all? The NO CHANGE sign was ready until the Clark debacle was confirmed so instead I'll have the Experience who is no 60-a-year goalkicker but can at least cause some trouble in marking contests.

IN: Martin
OUT: Clark (inj)

Some are going to want to dump Moloney because he did nothing but you can't afford to machine gun senior players coming back into matches against real teams. At least he forces them to think about him.

I wouldn't be surprised if Lucas Cook got a run soon. He didn't do as much for the Scorpions as he had done in the previous two matches but after having proven that he exists he's got to be getting close to a "why not?" debut. I did absolutely love one lead he made in the quarter of Saturday's game that I watched. He botched the kick but it was a beautifully natural lead of the sort that we do about once a fortnight at the moment. Perhaps just one more in the twos to make sure and then in he comes in to either look silly against Richmond or lead us to a famous victory over Emo Maric

Oh and any danger Ricky Petterd before we all die of old age?

Was it worth it?
Yeah he got $6 mil.

Tuesday 19 June 2012

An open letter to Tom Scully (part two)

Hey Tom, remember me? I wrote in last year before you became filthy rich to plead with you to (and I quote) "become an instant legend of this 150+ year old club instead of a big fish in a disinterested pond where nobody gives a toss" and invited you to pocket $3 million worth of the club's money to strike one last blow for loyalty in a world of heartless capitalism before free agency arrived and ruined the AFL forever.

Not ringing any bells? Fair enough too, when somebody sent it to your management and they claimed to have 'passed it on' to you it did rather have the air of parents promising to pass on a kid's letter to Santa before running it through a shedder.

Not that you'd have ever known this was going on because at the time you were busy "not in any way being signed by another club", but the online community even banded together for the most heartfelt 'please stay' collection since that kid offered Chris Grant his pocket money so that he wouldn't join Port Adelaide (in related news: Chris Grant stayed at Footscray and has just been inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame).

Obviously what we did wrong was to not offer $3 million in a suitcase full of unmarked bills on top of that. How stupid must Chris Grant feel now not having pocketed whatever the 1997 equivalent of rude money to ruin his legacy? At least he had a legacy to think about ruining I suppose. Does six million bucks compensate for leaving behind a brown stained legacy tinged with lies and hatred? Probably.

In fact the gigantic wedge of AFL approved cash provided by the AFL GWS Giants would probably have bought everything we offered a hundred thousand times over, but would it have meant as much as receiving this from somebody you knew only as @biggestred47;

Now that's a heartfelt offer. But it's not a $1.5m Superb 3 Bedroom with private eastern aspect is it? Mind you there was also the small matter of $700,000 a year from the MFC on offer too. I wasn't expecting you to show up and play for the inflatable thing only (apparently his name is Jack) so I'm sorry if I misled you into thinking that my offer was replacing a salary package equal to what some people might take a decade to earn. It often troubles me in the night how we could be so rude as to offer you such a pittance of a wage after all you'd done for us.

But that's all in the past, unless there's a 'mystery injury' which means you can't play we will meet again for the first time Sunday. We the collective jilted wife coming face to face with her husband for the first time since he ran off into an emotionless cock-in-a-cash-register style relationship with a young, well built tart.

Does the jilted wife end the night trying to glass him before being capsicum sprayed by police? You bet she does. Do we? Maybe not, it's not like you've actually killed anybody after all, but in the absence of anything decent to complain about in a country where $3 million sets you up for life and doubling that is effectively taking the piss you'll do nicely as public enemy #1 until somebody more worthy comes along or you retire.

This has been hanging over all us of since the moment the fixtures were released so thank god we're finally getting it out of the way. If the AFL end up complaining about the crowd turning nasty they've only got themselves to blame for not playing it earlier in their rigged fixture. And yes, any moral highground we could have taken claiming that you've gone to a 'worse team' has rather thinned due to our rancid start to the season but in an environment where everybody from Dean Bailey to Cameron Schwab, Brad Green and Julia Gillard have been blamed for our Titanic style flop at the end of last season I'm pointing the finger at you whether it's justified in the public eye or not.

Plenty of others had a hand in what we can only hope was a once in a lifetime set of circumstances during the 2011 season (there were so many triumphs and debacles rolled into one that they'll probably make an ESPN 30 for 30 out of it) but why do I feel that the "will he or won't he" (spoiler: he did) intrigue that swirled around our club from day one last season contributed in its own special way to the poisonous atmosphere that bubbled up throughout the club all before tragically bursting from the ground and killing us all (but mostly Dean Bailey) one sad, cold day at Kardinia Park?

Who knows what would have turned out differently if you'd taken the same path as Jack Trengove and agreed to stay. I'm not suggesting Dean Bailey wouldn't have ended up Adelaide, James Strauss wouldn't have snapped his leg or that Liam Jurrah wouldn't have been involved in some alleged unpleasantness in the territory but I'll bet we would have been in a much better situation than we are now. Or would we? Would Mitch Clark be there now or you'd stayed? For all our midfield follies I know right now I'd rather have him and two draft picks but it doesn't mean I have to like you for the way it went down.

Todd Viney was nice enough to recall you the week after 186, I'd have told you to pack your bags, drop the cover stories about indecision and go sign your contract elsewhere. Actually that's not entirely true, I'd have dropped you after Queen's Birthday when it became clear to all but the hopeless dreamers and the remarkable optimists that the only way you were going to stay with us was if GWS went under and we did some not at all shonky J**d/Visy style deal to pay you. Then the AFL told us we couldn't do that either. Funny that they would do that when you're ALLEGEDLY tossing up between a club that is owned by them and one that isn't. Nice way to help build an alibi.

At Queen's Birthday we were still in the hunt for the finals (no really), and you did rack up 29 touches that day (some of which hit the target) so I can imagine the uproar if we had given you the arse then. Your dead eyes looking down the barrel of the TV cameras solemnly pledging yet again that you were in no way decided about your future while the footy media rounded on us, kicking the club to death for hanging a brave young man out to dry just two years after drafting him.

In retrospect it would have actually provided you the perfect cover story for leaving, claiming that you were still 'weighing it up' until that point and being told to fit in or fuck off had 'made your mind up' about the future. You might still be exchanging messages with our players now and posing for Miami Vice style Facebook profile photos with Sam Blease but I seriously doubt they would have convened a strike a'la The Club to save you at that point.

It didn't help that you spent the year making contradictory statements about your future and using lines like "I'd love to end my career and say I was a one club player". "Then just sign on the fucking dotted line" we all screamed in vain, knowing that being a one club player doesn't buy that three bedroom apartment (hint: you could get the same place for about a third of that here), and in this could would land you with partial responsibility for helping drag the battered carcass of the oldest club in the world onto to its feet and back to glory. Jack Trengove took that challenge and whether he captains us to a flag or to relegation into the VFL he will be welcomed with open arms into any gathering of Melbourne supporters for the rest of his life.

But why involve yourself in something as noble as the rebirth of an icon? So much easier to grab the cash, deny you stormed out of China because Max Gawn spewed on you and take up at a team where success is as close to guaranteed as possible with the entire world served up to them on a silver platter. Nice coincidence that your dad got a job there too. Eight months before. And apparently didn't tell you about it. How do any of them go around talking about this with a straight face or unlit pants? JUST ADMIT YOU WERE NEVER GOING TO STAY ALREADY.

There's also something about Jim Stynes, but I won't get into that because it will cause me to write something that I will be ashamed of and that you might launch legal action over - because we all know you love a dollar.

Maybe the projected wild scenes this week (which are likely to fizz out into one guy limply throwing Monopoly money rather and the aforementioned cavalcade of hate) are the scenes we had to have and will probably ruin any chance of an amicable future between us but at some point in the near future an apology would be nice. And not in 30 years time when you're on Open Mike doing an interview with Mike Sheahan which has to stop every thirty seconds for him to take a belt of oxygen. The sooner the better so we can decide whether or not to bury the hatchet in the ground or 'elsewhere'.

Sunday afternoon would be good, after you're inevitably dragged into the press conference by Sheedy. Forget saying that the reaction from the fans was "pretty disappointing" (currently $1.02 favourite for first answer on TAB Sportsbet) and admit that while you are looking forward to being handed multiple premierships, being paid well over the odds and eventually playing in front of five figure crowds in Sydney that you were always going to leave Melbourne. That you, your management and your family did the sums the moment you were drafted and worked out the exact timing required to take the biggest financial windfall possible after stringing us along for two years.

It's a fiendish plot, and perhaps it's karma in a way for our conduct during 'that' Richmond game, and perhaps if you were at another club I'd heartily laugh and congratulate you for pulling off such an epic swindle before going behind your back and saying you were a shit bloke instead of just saying it openly. Lucky in a way we did 'lose' that game, because I can only imagine how much more remarkable the reception would be if we'd only had one pick and he'd become a scab.

Even the fans of other teams who are having a field day telling us to 'get over it' and laying the boots into the fact that we're rubbish know deep down that they'd be acting just as badly - if not worse - under similar circumstances. God knows footy fans have never been known to go off their collective tit about something trivial and stupid have they? Good thing Melbourne fans are all cravat wearing, snow bunny ponces (so the guy who wears the headset and pretends to be your coach told me anyway), because I'd love to have seen the reception you'd get after pulling the same sort of low act on a team with real life, feral fans.

Just take that first step on the path to redemption and admit that while you think what you did was right the way you did it was very, very wrong. Even if you don't want to admit that you signed years ago (possibly at birth) at least put your hand up and say there was no chance in hell for one minute of the 2011 calendar year that you were ever going to stay with us. Let the reconciliation process begin at your end because it's certainly not starting at mine. Offer a buyback scheme for all those people (certainly not me) who bought a #31 jumper and haven't yet set it alight.

There's no doubt that very few football clubs are perfect either. We were a shambles at times last year (*points*) for sure, and there's one of your teammates who almost everyone would admit was harshly done by when he was forced out the door by 'us'. You'll be able to tell which one he is because he'll be greeted with exactly the same respect on Sunday that you will never ever get from anybody other than a handful of orange clad Giants fans and the sort of people who write love letters to Ivan Milat.

We don't care that he's playing for a league owned franchise, we're happy for him to get another go because he won the respect of our fans over more than a decade of hard work, earned a shitload less than $6 million in doing it and is probably on something near #emomaric wages this year. Nor do we care that Matthew Warnock is appearing in McDonalds colours. To be entirely honest I don't even give a toss than Scott Thompson ditched us and became a superstar because he did it properly, got paid proper wages and earnt the right to be called a star. That's respect.

Respect isn't all it's made out to be though, certainly not when you stack it up alongside six million bucks and see which pile turns out to be higher. "Oh everyone would have done the same thing" they scream (and let's be frank so do you, hopefully in your nightmares) which might be true [see attached list of all those who haven't] but it doesn't mean anybody has to like or treat you kindly for it. Hamfisted "what would YOU DO" style analogies aside the fact of the matter is that you didn't have to do it, you wouldn't have been the first to say no and you'd still have ended up with a damn sight more money in your pocket than your performances thus far have deserved.

"But what about Mitch Clark?" they wail. What about him? I certainly don't expect Brisbane fans to like him any more for leaving them. Who am I to tell other people how to support their club? If GWS fans think you're the messiah then that's their problem, I'm not going to tell them to stop. But if Lions fans want to burn Mitch effigies and shout slogans at him that's their business, but the chances are other than a few hearty boos and a bit of blue language they probably won't really bother. It helps having recent memories of being involved in one of the most successful eras in the history of football. They've tasted glory, we've been beaten like a mangy dog for 50 years - and that's why we hate you so much.

Somebody was always going to cop it eventually, why not the guy everyone put their hope in only to have it spat back in our face? I couldn't think of anybody more deserving. Some poor deluded souls in the media think that Sunday is going to bring 'closure' and that a few casual handshakes with the players who didn't scab on us will mean we all shrug our shoulders and get on with lives. Don't count on it.

Sure there are a lot of fans who built the bridge seconds after you 'went to Sydney to test at the facilities' and wound up using the 'contract signing machine'. There's even a fair amount who are in the "good for him" faction. That's fine, I won't hold it against them - at least they're still loyal to the cause of this club and haven't traded in their membership for a seat at Skoda Stadium and an expensive car.

Many more will get it out of their system on Sunday and will be able to make a rational decision come Monday morning that they can go on with their lives, but make no mistake there will always be a group of us who will never forgive or forget the lies and deceit you have visited upon this great club, your contribution to the disastrous events of 2011 and the continued fall-out we're still suffering today. Even if the rest of the senior list banded together for a We Are The World style videoclip imploring us to close down the carnival of hate and forgive you then we will not consider it at least until you've apologised. Tearfully is clearly too much to ask for but a stoic stare down the barrel of the camera prepared statement live on Fox Sports News would be nice.

No matter how small and unorganised our group is, or how the numbers dwindle over the years, we will be the ones hurling abuse at our television every time you come on and begging to our chosen deity for your club never to win anything ever again. And even when the banners are gone and we're playing you in five years we'll still be making dog noises when you go near the ball.

It's hard to haunt a man with six million in the bank and who has the stock market beat but we'll damn well try our best. If you could please break the habit of a lifetime and show some minor traces of emotion in response that would be much appreciated.

And so on behalf of everyone who feels the same sense of betrayal as I do may I be the one to say break a leg.

Yours both bitterly and twistedly,

Adam S. Mercado
Demonblog Towers

P.S - That was break a leg as in 'good luck' of course. I certainly won't be the one rising to applaud if you really do end Sunday being carted off with your leg facing due east.

P.P.S - I see why nobody writes letters on paper anymore.

Friday 15 June 2012

Demonblog's 2012 mid-season State of the Union

First things first another term for Obama please just so I can keep using this graphic three times a year. Or twice a year in 2011 as it turns out considering that the archives show that I didn't bother to do one last season. How did you go on without? Very comfortably I'm sure.

But in the grand tradition of something that's been done twice, forgotten about for a year and then done again let's get to it. In the spirit of the AFL I was going to sell the sponsorship rights and call it the Kaiser's Sausages Classic Hot Krainer Mid-Season Report but a) the Kaiser still hasn't taken my hints and signed up as a sponsor and b) I'm not a member of the $cully family and can restrain myself from taking cash payments just for the sake of it.

So on that note we find ourselves dead in the middle of 'the season from hell' (© the entire world). To open with what's gone wrong would take far too long, so in the spirit of the 2010 mid-season report let's start with what's going right.

Two years ago in this very spot I suggested beating up on Richmond was "like driving through the National Under 12's cycling championships in a Sherman Tank", so coming back two years later to find that they're no longer terrible and that we still are is rather unpleasant.

Obviously Essendon is the highlight so far. They necked themselves in remarkable fashion but the realisation that we were going to win at last and the resulting wild scenes on the bench (including the near surprise cameos from Garland and Howe which would have lost it for us) put it straight into the GOOD TIMES (Grimes) file.

One quarter later we'd reverted to type and been belted to buggery, and Essendon spent the first three quarters of their next game proving that it was no fluke that they'd forgotten how to kick but at the time it was magnificent. It will be even more entertaining to look back at if/when we permanently stop slurping so much plum.

Honourable mention - Winning a meaningless pre-season match against Collingwood, the first quarter against Brisbane, bits of the Geelong game, the third quarter comeback against St Kilda and first quarter against Hawthorn. None of them actually that good or actually honourable but the best of a bad bunch.

Individual highlights of note are all of Jeremy Howe's hangers EXCEPT the most famous one where I'm still bitter about the handball, Mitch Clark kicking five against Geelong and Tapscott belting Fasolo.

The entire Sydney game stands out like a gigantic brown shining light over everything else. West Coast was bad for the last three quarters and we've been beaten senseless at some point in most of our games this year but the first quarter at the SCG was near on criminal.

You could (if you're generous) understand it against Collingwood, especially considering two of the goals were criminal, they were dominating the midfield and we were giving off the back of a shock win but to dominate the first five minutes of a quarter and then go in 0.3 to 7.1 down is horrible and horrendous on a grand scale.

Dishonourable mention to the gigantic black hole our forward line disappeared into in the last quarter against St Kilda. The defence held on as long as was humanely possible but they've been doing that for five years, it's about time somebody else had a go isn't it?

And now in alphabetical order we find out whose hot, who's not and who's lukewarm at best.

Clint Bartram - Played his best game in years against St Kilda and was consistent until injured. Unlikely to ever achieve superstar status barring a miracle but has played well above expectation.

Mitch Clark - A colossus amongst lesser men. Needs to do it in multiple years to justify the payout but in a team that barely get the ball inside 50 has made critics look stupid.

James Frawley - Maybe not safe as houses, but safe as a nice block of flats in a good suburb at least. Has had his moments but so would you if you'd had to defend for this lot all these years.

Jack Grimes - Has remained alive thus far.

Jeremy Howe - Set shot goalkicking is still of the 'could go anywhere' variety but even last year it would have been hard to guess there was more to him than just playing forward.

Nathan Jones - Must have hated Dean Bailey's guts because he's been a new man ever since DB got the boot.

James Magner - One of the great red hot bargains of recent times. I doubt there's too many teams he'd be getting a regular game in, let alone every week, but suits us for where we're at right now in Struggletown. Also must be congratulated for playing every game when it seems that twice a week he's being hauled off in the arms of trainers.

melbournefc.com.au - Design and much of the content still hamstrung by the AFL/Telstra deal but the web shows like The Robbo Show, Gawn in 60 Seconds etc.. have been a big hit.

Tom McDonald - Came into the season as a depth defender and has now progressed to the point where we can afford to let Garland and Rivers go on adventures into the forward line. Prone to some random kicking but if we banned people for that there'd be a very lonely list of people at the top.

Don McLardy - Is not Jim Stynes but anybody who wants him to be needs to get their head read. Has played a decent straight bat in difficult times and, as yet, nobody has even been moved to big note themselves by floating the idea of a challenge.

Jordie McKenzie - Can't kick for buggery and hasn't been getting the 'high' number possessions he did last year but has in the past but has done some excellent tagging jobs and at least consistently over ten touches a week.

Jared Rivers - I'm sure some will dispute this based on the fact that he always seems to be copping a kicking but notwithstanding the fact that I'm still baffled as how he finished 2nd in the B&F last year he's had another good year considering the amount of time the ball is down there.

Jamie Bennell - Is he a forward, is he a back, is he a midfielder? With all respect to his position as a professional footballer it's not clear which of any he is and if he's ever going to play another proper good game. Not interested in waiting to find out. Hopefully his sister will come on and tee off about how he's a misunderstood genius a'la the club Facebook page.

Aaron Davey - Needs to weigh up the chance to pocket one more year of our money against totally ruining the good memories we've got. Has a lot of kids to feed but your mission is complete Flash, put the feet up and let's remember the glory days.

Jack Fitzpatrick - Feels harsh to put a guy who has just been diagnosed with diabetes onto the miss list, but his second senior appearance didn't make me any more confident about him being a regular fixture anytime soon than the first one - and he didn't even get a cheap handball over the top goal to remember this one by either.

Brad Green - Same as Davey but might be able to muddle through another year if he's really keen and doesn't object to being dropped at some point.

Kelvin Lawrence - Coming to the end of his two year rookie stint, highly unlikely to be invited back barring a miracle.

Brent Moloney - Has played a couple of good games and claims he wants to stay but is nothing like what he was last year. Plenty of time to restore his reputation but he wouldn't want to go on this path much longer before signing a contract or he'll be working for a greatly diminished wage.

Cale Morton - The poor bastard hit Vodafone levels of customer satisfaction halfway last year, and like them he's at the point where even if he does everything right 75% of the time nobody will show any interest and will wait patiently for the other 25% so they can pot him. I accept the fact that he tries hard but also that people are so set against him that we need to take whatever we can get in payment and let him start again - possibly under an assumed name.

Ricky Petterd - As a charter member of the Save Ricky Petterd Action Faction it pains me greatly to put him in this list but when he got a chance he played a shocker. Ok so there are others who have played 20 rubbish games in a row and still got picked but if you're not holding incriminating photos of somebody then it's off to Casey.

James Sellar - Cost nothing and has recovered somewhat with two decent games in the last fortnight but must never, ever, ever be allowed near the forward line again.

Jake Spencer - He's certainly become a large man in the last couple of years, and as we all know you're not legally allowed to write ruckmen off before they're in their mid 20's thanks to Jamar - but is hardly banging the door down for a senior recall. Could survive for depth purposes but fact remains even allowing for his ruined 2011 he's played two games in two and a half seasons and is behind all of Jamar, Clark, Martin, Sellar, Fitzpatrick and (but for injury) Gawn in the ruckman depth chart.

Colin Sylvia - It all started with his 5am shenanigans in the post-season and hasn't gotten much better since. The small matter of a broken back aside there was great excitement about his return and other than that goal against Essendon has delivered absolutely nothing of any note.

Jack Trengove - Will get 'there', but isn't moving towards 'it' very fast this season. I refuse to accept it's the captaincy that is causing the problem, he's got to have a niggling injury or something. Hopefully the break will reinvigorate him and he'll turn up and plunder GWS for 40 touches and/or bitchslap that guy that was drafted in front of him.

Neither Here Nor There
Rohan Bail - Expectations weren't exactly high so I've got what I expected. Almost had him in the misses category but low expectations + a decent last game save him from the ultimate indignity.

Matthew Bate - Poor bastard had a decent pre-season and was playing some ok football at the start of the year despite starting three games as sub but lost his spot and hasn't been seen since. Odds on to be out the door at the end of the year - of his own free will I'm sure - but will hopefully get a chance somewhere else.

Sam Blease - Brings a much needed aspect of taking the game on into our side and has kicked a couple of cracking goals but at the same time has a vile kicking efficiency. You'd think he'd get better but there's more than a few examples on this list of players either standing still or going backwards. Also as $cully's only mate in the world he's immediately under suspicion.

Lucas Cook - Seven goals in two games in the VFL (against admittedly shit opposition) have raised his chances of making a debut later this year (possibly when we're trying to 'get out of' the bottom three) almost certain. And about time too, the only person who has had more publicity and not played a game in two years (+ a half) is Majak Daw.

Tom Couch - Settle down Facebook fanatics, he'll get his chance soon.

Troy Davis - As above but with less Facebook freaks and more Twitter fans

Lynden Dunn - The replacement perma-sub once Bate and Bennell were given the boot. Possibly the only man to play better as a sub than he does when he gets picked, usually because we're ten goals down when he comes on and the other team has lost interest.

Colin Garland - Consistent at the back but hardly setting the world on fire. Forward cameo was a nice change of pace but he came back to earth fairly quickly the next week. I wonder, in the nicest possible way, if we could use him as currency to fill gaps elsewhere at the end of the year? Not trying to get rid of him by any means but we're in the rare situation of having quite a few decent defenders - with the potential for Davis and Sellar to add to their ranks - so who knows? Wackier things have happened. Hate mail to the usual address.

Mark Jamar - Gets a million taps but they never go to anyone. Whose fault is this? Maybe not his but he's hardly as dominant around the ground as he has been in the past and can't be relied on as an accurate goalkicker. It's no shame to be on the NHNT list, and he's a long way off the misses, but it seems something's missing. Mind you it's no wonder that his award winning tag team with Moloney is off the rails at the moment. Let's hope Beamer doesn't walk out on Jamar a'la Rick Martel on Tito Santana at Wrestlemania V.

Joel Macdonald - Hasn't been absolutely terrible when he has played but conversely hasn't been that good either. Probably on his last legs, though imagine did the controversial Garland trade - he could stick around for another year just for depth purposes or in case Tom McDonald does a Nathan Carroll and plays half a good year before becoming a turnip.

Mark Neeld - I like the guy but god knows if he's any good as a coach yet. Certainly not using anything that has happened so far as a base to decide. Let's talk in more depth on this subject in exactly one year's time.

Daniel Nicholson - Runs quickly, has a red hot go and does a few nice things but would he be there if we were any good? I suspect he'll find himself on the senior list next year but (and feel free to prove me wrong Dan) doesn't seem like the kind of guy who'll be there in five years.

Cameron Schwab - Cops it almost as much as Morton thanks to his alleged involvement in 186 and the fact that he was supposedly going to get the arse before it and somehow wound up coming out with a contract extension. Still, as much of a disaster as Energy Watch turned out to be at least we only had to spend a couple of weeks on footy's equivalent of the Dole

Jai Sheahan - Has apparently been quite good for Casey. I've been to one game in two and a half seasons I'm hardly in a position to judge.

Rory Taggert - Likewise.

Luke Tapscott - We all loved his cheapshot on Fasolo, and he's shown a bit here and there but really not hitting any great heights yet. Has plenty of time to get it right.

Josh Tynan - Odd selection in Round 1 but wasn't the worst before being shot as one of the patsies for our terrible performance. Injured after that but future looks respectable.

Jack Watts - Some good performances down back in the last month and the title of the best kicker-inerer in the last decade aside he's hardly setting the world alight. Will sadly suffer by comparison to others for years to come, here's hoping he can go forward again and become the player we wanted rather than a glorified Jared Rivers style loose man in defence for the rest of his life.

Where Are They Now?

Michael Evans - Started promisingly, got injured. Never seen again. Can't see him surviving the end of the year.

Max Gawn - Considering the run we've had over the last few years it's a surprise that there haven't been more 'serious' injury victims. Shame, then, that it had to happen to a guy threatening to be a massive (in all senses of the word) cult figure. Doesn't get enough credit for looking just like Jaws from the James Bond movies.

Jordan Gysberts - What a mysterious figure. Played a few belting games in his first 18 but then again so did Morton and that hasn't turned out particularly well for anyone. Double injuries this year have ruined his season but I'll take somebody who is averaging almost 20 possessions a game in his career so far. If he can stop getting hurt so often we've got a good ten years to ram home the advantage in the McLean trade like we are on Johnstone vs Grimes.

Neville Jetta - Unfortunately for Nifty Nev somebody's going to have to go at the end of the year, and as we're unlikely to engage in a full scale two-for-one style trading frenzy he might cop it in the neck as a consequence. I've always liked the guy but at the end of his fourth year it could be curtains unless he can back into the side before the end of the year.

Liam Jurrah - Hard to say he was rushed back too early considering he'd played two full games in the VFL beforehand but still looked well out of it back in the seniors. No surprises considering the off-season he's had and the fact that the one game he did play we were being humped like a German Shepherd.

The Stefan Martin Experience - Kicked 10 goals in 21 games last year (all of which came in five matches, four of which were wins) then suddenly expected to be our 'other' tall forward rather than a pinch hitter. Played two games, got dropped twice and ended up at Casey where he was injured while we were left with either Sellar floundering or Clark taken away from where he could do the most damage. Give me back my SME you bastards.

James Strauss - Has done well to make it back into the seconds so quickly after snapping his leg in two. Not sure if he's storming back into the seniors anytime soon but should be right next year. Then we find out if he's actually any good.

Leigh Williams - Very rarely do any of our players end up in a coma off-field rather than at the start of the third quarter. Tremendously speculative rookie pick and will almost certainly get a second year but stranger things have happened (Come in Cameron Johnston). Would want to be at least making half an impact for the Casey 1's by the end of the season.

The rest of the year
Thanks to the Pies game we're 6pts above where I thought we'd be at this point of the year. The Brisbane, Adelaide and Port wins plus the Pies draw were unexpected wins I didn't see us having but I would have taken any money on beating North and West Coast.

The rest of the year;
Round 13 - GWS (MCG)
To be entirely frank I'm shitting myself about this. It would be bad enough to lose to either of franchises at the moment (and god knows we tried hard against Gold Coast last year) but to see $cully celebrating and Sheedy strutting around like he's exacted some vengeance on us for not picking him as coach five years ago.

Not to put too much pressure on but everyone involved needs to know that we're going to smash the joint up (sadly not literally) if they win. I think we'll get up but I'm not banking it yet. Ironically their two biggest losses all season have come against two teams who are also no good so with any luck we'll tonk them and $cully will catch a flesh eating bacteria.

Round 14 - Brisbane (Gabba)
The only non-Melbourne metro ground that we've got half a decent record at during the dark years, and surely their win over us in R1 was as good as it got for them against us. Having said that they've not been terrible by virtue of having played so many games against pox clubs so I'm going to assume a loss.

Round 15 - Richmond (MCG)
Cue half a million flashback articles to last year's game. They could be on the turn after recent performances, so here's to a return to the rancid and stinky Tigers outfits of old. Still not keen that we're going to win.

Round 16 - Fremantle (Docklands)
Bored to death in front of 8000 people. Can't wait. Another loss.

Round 17 - Port Adelaide (Marrara)
Better than they were when we fell over the line the last two years. Not confident about this one either. So effectively at this point I've still got us on two wins, what a wonderful world.

Round 18 - North Melbourne (Docklands)
If we're ever going to win a game at Docklands this is it (for this year at least, considering it's our last game there). They're not very good but they are slightly better than us. If we do what we should against GWS and get on a roll of decent performances I could see us winning this but don't hold your breath.

Round 19 - Gold Coast (MCG)
Now surely this one we do win. Everyone just jump on Ablett and kick it to whoever's playing on Warnock.

Round 20 - St Kilda (MCG)
Good performance against them earlier in the year aside I seriously doubt we're going to challenge this time - especially considering they'll be knee deep in a life/death battle for the finals at this point.

Round 21 - GWS (Manuka)
Their mid-season revival will have petered out by this point, so for once I'm confidently predicting victory. Now watch us get done by ten goals.

Round 22 - Adelaide (MCG)
Not their best venue but nah.

Round 23 - Fremantle (S)
Them again? By this point they should either by done for and playing the kids or fighting tooth and nail for a spot in the eight, so that could be the big difference between being close and being tonked. Hopefully for us the third scenario comes up and they're well and truly in, it doesn't matter where they finish, and they rest everyone. Would be nice to go out with a win and snap our Perth hoodoo at the same time.

End of the year
If this thread is in any way correct there's a frightening amount of players we still have to sign up.

So, assuming Davey doesn't do the right thing and put his hand up to let the last year of the contract slide I'll go with.

OUT: Dunn, Petterd (trade), Green (retired), Bate, Bennell, Jetta, Spencer (delist) + Evans and Lawrence (rookie delist)
IN: Kids + some rejects from elsewhere + more mature aged rookies + for christ sake please an AFL standard small forward. Plus Nicholson and Magner promoted to the senior list.

If we lose next week then the rest of the year is going to be chock full of hate and recrimination. Probably from me. In reality it's not the end of the world if we don't win it, and probably doesn't have any impact on what follows, but god knows I'll be acting like it is.

Conversely even we tonk them it doesn't mean we're going to cut a swathe through the 'easier' second half draw. So yeah, either we'll be good or bad. How's that for analysis? I should get a job as Chief Football Writer of the Herald Sun with skills like that.

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Squashed by the Reality Bus

Notwithstanding the fact that we were never going to win on Monday I thought it was appropriate when the 'humorous' Passive Aggressive Notes daily calendar in my kitchen presented one that morning featuring a handwritten note simply reading "Please try not to curse so much on your blog - Mom".

Good thing that my 'mom' isn't reading then. She did stumble across it once and it happened to be the week where I recounted the incident of her nearly swatting a Port fan in 2003 and that was it. So at 55-4 it would have been just my luck that she'd get into again just in time for the air to turn blue as I hurled out caps lock laden abuse and threatened to kick the metaphorical cat.

Then the third quarter ended with us a very, very, VERY long shot to win but at least not 150 points behind and everything seemed alright with the world. However three minutes into the last quarter with the white flag halfway up the pole and the crew preparing capsize procedures and handing out life jackets we were all set for more frothing, gnashing and keyboard mashing about our tendency to shut up shop.

Somehow, via a series of bizarre coincidences, goals by defenders, moments of disinterest by the Pies and a sub performance by Lynden Dunn which made every Melbourne supporter in the place scream "WHY THE FUCK CAN'T YOU DO THAT WHEN YOU START?" as one it ended up as a 'respectable' defeat. Usually honourable losses can do one but when you're handing out fifty point starts I don't think anybody can take the moral highground on this.

Somehow the series of random events ended in us not only losing by 'not much' (at least that's the way it'll look in the record books in ten years time) but also with our highest score of the season (no really). Admittedly beating 78, and still having the worst high score in the league this year, is not something that deserves a street parade but at least it's a step in the right direction against a decent team. Or was it? I don't know anymore.

Oh yes if you weren't there it was one of those days. God knows if I'm supposed to be happy, angry, sad or in despair so I'll just adopt a trademark Garland bewildered expression and remain confused about what I saw happen right in front of me.

Really even though even with rock bottom low expectations and the fact that I'd have taken that margin and run a mile with it before the game or at quarter time I still can't help but feel a little bit ripped off at having spent great swathes of a game against the premiership favourite of the week (for what that's worth this year) playing decent football only to end up necking ourselves with the same farcical kicking that brings us undone every week and would have against Essendon too had they not forgotten how to kick straight.

Obviously the same concerns could be applied to a similar performance against any top four team (including the first three quarters against Carlton when they were still one) but I'm sure this will find its way into the hands of a Pies supporter who will furiously hurl abuse at the screen about how it's worse because Queen's Birthday is "our Grand Final". Cram it with walnuts pal, that line might work on one of the once a year tossbags who turned up - only to hear that they're actually at the snow which must surprise them considering a) they're actually at the MCG and b) they weren't coming to games even when it was sunny.

Personally I've more than had enough of Queen's Birthday. They're right in a way that their fans barely consider us rivals anymore, especially if they're under 60, so it is a bit embarassing for us to go around treating this game like it's a two way vicious hatred. We call them filth, they call us one of the few teams who have won even less than them in the last 50 years.

As I said pre-season in advance of exactly this 'bitter after a loss' scenario, surely we've reached the point where we're financially safe enough to stop being patted on the head by these condescending cockheads and told all about how they're 'helping us'. It's hard to turn down the home share of a 64k gate but let's reclaim some our dignity and request to play Richmond or Carlton instead - one a one year home, one year away basis. At the moment it's like Collingwood owns a (admittedly wafer thin) slice of the club and that turd who runs the joint can dangle it over our head as blackmail whenever he likes.

It's just our luck that the moment we decided to say no charity that the AFL would gleefully take the chance to screw us and roll in Damien Hardwick and Brendan Gale for the press conference only to reveal that it's Eddie and Bucks on the other side of the curtain and that we'd been scheduled to play Gold Coast atop Mt Vesuvius.

Unfortunately my masterplan for a new Queen's Birthday extravaganza is at least a year away so we have to deal with the fact that yes they beat us again, yes they brought a shedload more fans than us to our home game and most regrettably we managed to take home the Golden Smoking Jacket for Footy Stereotypes for the tenth consecutive year.

Just when you thought the racist filth who got lagged out by Daisy Thomas last week helped us wrest back the advantage in the great stereotypes game we rolled in the Scotch College marching band to provide 'pre match entertainment'. Which was hardly entertaining considering they didn't march anywhere (leaving the leader to stand around looking foolish) and nobody bothered to put a microphone in front of them so it was basically a pointless exercise for any reason other than making us look like velvet jacketed wankers again. Like the trumpeteer who even has a name and a stage to play on now.

I'll take our stereotype over anybody's (oh no, we're rich that's just terrible for us. Any danger of a cash payout to allow me to actually live this lifestyle?) but before saying "hey, how about a private school marching band in poncy uniforms?" in the pre-match 'entertainment' brainstorming how about considering what it adds to the occassion. In this case nothing unless old mate from Webjet turns out to be an ex-member of the Scotch marching band and strongarmed us into giving them a run in return for cash.

Ironically after turning the ponce meter to 11 with the marching band and trumpeteer combination we then put in our dirtiest performance in years and their fans went on to cry about it. We're even copping it from peons because Didak got booed when he went off the ground. At least Jack Watts didn't end up getting blamed for it because he was the one who kicked it at him in the first place. Make up your mind Collingwood fans and journos who like the taste of pie fan plum on your upper lip, are we the Brighton Grammar All-Stars or the Manson Family? You can't have it both ways - unless you're the woman sitting behind me but more on her later. Fair to see even if you are a smoking jacket clad poon (and I have no idea what a smoking jacket actually is to be honest) you'd have to have enjoyed Tapscott's cheapshot on Fasolo later on - how he only got one week for that I'm not entirely sure but I'll take it.

Unfortunately it was all downhill from Didak tearing his ball bag in two because the thirty seconds before that was probably the best we had it all quarter. Let the procession begin, featuring almost total midfield dominance, a goal that I swear was a point (having refused to watch it again this may be totally incorrect) because it hit old mate's leg while he was against the post and a bunch of other goals that were perfectly legitimate.

How was the confusion when they went to the video 30 seconds after the 'goal' when the ball was already in the middle of the ground? By that point even when it looked like we might get away with a point I was embarassed to even be part of it. Unfortunately it stood and the procession continued at pace but the reviewing fiesta wasn't quite done with, poor old Dan Nicholson can't get them to look at one that lands a foot over the line last week but then this week they compound Green's wonky kicking by making everybody sit there and wait for them to decide that he just managed to sneak one in instead of booting it out on the full. Who would have thought that a system rammed through via AFL style 'democracy' a week before the season started would end in a shambles? Nah, nobody.

Underrated in the reporting of the rampage is that we were matching them for inside 50's most of the quarter. The difference of course being that their forwards (and Travis Cloke) were getting pinpoint delivery or capitalising on cock-ups from our defenders while we were smashing it forward hoping for the best and finding nobody - and out it came again with the greatest of ease. Mitch Clark is still our best crumber and proponent of forward pressure - this needs to be addressed urgently at the end of the year. Give the poor man some help, he's playing out of his skin at the moment but he'll end up shellshocked and depressed like our defenders eventually.

Speaking of shellshocked and depressed it might come as a surprise given the crimes he was involved with later on in the game but I thought Morton was amongst our best in the first quarter. Not a great deal of competition but there were a couple of moments where he showed promise. Admittedly other than his moment of high farce in the third quarter there wasn't that much else that he did wrong when he got the ball but it's a matter of getting it in the first place not just standing around looking petrified.

Unfortunately for him the third quarter debacle has not only not been swept under the rug but it's earning a cult following on the AFL website in a video presented with no context other than the video title of 'coach killer'. That's something nice for your resume. Watching it again I'd almost have preferred him to have been pinched for running too far - and he must have been close - than to turn it over like that. Where was he even aiming? In that video it appears that he gets confused between the long and short option so decides to split the difference and just boot it to the guy standing in the middle. Interesting. Shit but interesting.

Sadly the advantage of being Collingwood is that they've got such a killer core of good players that they can afford to carry 10 who are either kids or are simply shit (S. Buckley come on down) and still comfortably clean up rubbish teams with only slight aggravation. Unlike, say, Essendon who have one or two who can be relied on every time and freaked out en masse by the thought of getting rumbled by a rubbish side. Maybe that's where Morton would flourish as predicted, because it's sure not happening in the MFC Misery Factory. Book him another session at the fictional club psychologist.

Having god's own midfield also assists in carrying one hit wonders like Travis Cloke who is basically the rich man's Mitch Clark at the moment. Surely his putrid performance yesterday coupled with our own midfield follies put to rest any suggestion that we're going to pay him a zillion dollars for a five year contract at the end of the year. Ok maybe he'd have been there or thereabouts when we were roosting them long inside 50 with no aim or care during the first quarter but I'd much rather fix that thanks. I know you can't go and buy a gun midfielder off the shelf but I'd rather buy two good mids than pay a fortune for yet another player who is mentally suspect. Let GWS have him, or even better let Collingwood get roped into paying a fortune to keep him for five years just don't let him anywhere near the MFC unless it's in the rookie draft after he's been delisted elsewhere.

The good news for fans of our award winning ability to self destruct at the start of a quarter is that this time we managed to last a full seven minutes of the second quarter before conceding a goal. Only because they didn't kick straight on their previous two attempts. Then one of a number of shit umpiring decisions - this time against Frawley and no I'm not blaming for the result, it's not their fault we can't kick to a target - cost us another one and it was starting to look a bit 186 against a team who would probably bar up over the prospect of that sort of spanking victory.

Then just as the Kardinia Park flashbacks were becoming overwhelming we booted three in a row to end the half. Pardon? Most of the time we're lucky to kick three for a half but rarely do they all come in a row at the end of it. Didn't hurt that the midfield finally decided to stop getting slaughtered and come to the party - especially Jones who was good after doing nothing in the first quarter and at least Moloney who might have actually done his own tribute to 186 by not getting a kick in the first quarter managed a few when it counted.

I loved Grimes' game from this point on too. The stats will show his disposal efficiency was shite (though only had one clanger, work that out. Everyone else's fault?) but how many of his marks came in the defensive 50 at full stretch when he'd been put under pressure by a rancid kick across the ground? Even when he got decked and everyone thought his long overdue injury was on the cards he was back to normal not long after. Long may he live without a depressed fracture of the cheekbone.

The third quarter was even better because, if you can bring yourself to ignore The Morton Debacle which led to their deflating first goal, for a great deal of it we were bloody good. Didn't hurt again that the Pies couldn't kick straight but ignore that, the beastly (in a good way) figure of Mitch Clark finally got his hands on it inside 50, our midfield were at least breaking even, Jamar wasn't getting flogged for the first time all day, Jordie was doing a fine job of a filthy scrag job on Daisy Thomas and somehow to the popular acclaim of at least 9% of the crowd we were well within the Chris Sullivan Line going into the last quarter.

Unfortunately the CSL only applies to teams playing against us, and after kicking our opening two goals of the first five minutes of a third quarter all season (leaving us just 2.4.16 to 7.11.53 behind now fact fans) whatever Neeld said to them at the last break can officially be deemed to have 'not worked' as we somehow contrived to cop three goals in the first 2.42 of the final term. Sure we weren't going to win without the miracle of the millenium anyway but after being lulled into a false sense of security that we were going to keep it under 10 goals it was a rude shock to see a grand slam capitulation like that. No doubt this is the sort of game Frawley will be citing when he eventually becomes jack of being the punching bag for shit midfields and asks to leave.

Then the bipolar freaks decided to kick four in a row. Then having closed the gap to four goals and at least made the Pies sweat a bit they turned around and copped four in a row. WHAT IN GOD'S NAME ARE YOU PEOPLE DOING?

Also in tribute to his goal at the end can I be the first to say I reckon there's something odd about Sam Blease. I love the way he takes the game on and his two career goals have both been rippers but he seems, err, distant? Also could somebody with Champion Data style stats please confirm if anybody else with 75 odd kicks this season has got such rancid disposal efficiency? Thank god for somebody quick but it goes for both he and Nicholson that it would be nice if they could combine speed with accuracy. In their defence it's not that we've got anybody to kick it to half the time.

Compare and contrast to the way the Pies players ran off their opponents to take marks? I'd have half a bar if we could do that more than once or twice a game - and not just on the half back flank, somewhere that it might cause some damage. Pleased to see more adventure in the middle of the ground this week but until we can get some proper users of the ball AND players willing to work their arses off to get into positions to get the ball we deserve to be three games inside the bottom three.

Close your eyes and think about signs, that's all we've got to work off at the moment.

2012 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Jack Grimes
4 - Nathan Jones
3 - Jeremy Howe
2 - Mitch Clark
1 - Jordie McKenzie

Apologies of varying degrees of sincerity to Dunn, Frawley, Blease, Nicholson, Magner and Sellar.

Shut the gate. I didn't rate Jones' performance as much as some but he still extends his lead to more than three BOGs with half a season left. Elsewhere Grimes takes the lead in the Seecamp but if you're punting on it I'm concerned that by the end of the season he'll end up DQ'ed for playing too much in the midfield.

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

Crowd Watch
I can see the benefit of following a team with a billion fans, mainly because it means you're probably winning, but my god you'd want to be winning eight in a row to justify having to put up with crowds like that every week. No man should ever have to stand in line for five minutes to take a whizz at a Melbourne game, that's precisely the sort of compensation that we happily take for financially supporting a basketcase.

The downside to having a million fans is, of course, that the more you've got the more freaks and geeks you're likely to attract. Sadly for that percentage of Pies fans who aren't munters by virtue of having the most fans they can always be relied on to provide a high proportion of nutters.

On a day where you had to work really hard to get away from people (and I ended up three rows from where I was last week, only this time unfortunately without the twenty empty rows in front) I suspect that there will be some cracking stories about fun with the underclass but truth be told the overwhelming majority of Pies fans at the very back of the Ponsford were perfectly normal footy fans. They brayed for free kicks when they were supposed to, cheered at the appropriate time and visibly shit themselves at the prospect of surrendering a 50 point lead to a rubbish side. So far so much like everyone else.

There were some big winners though - the guy who stood up and yelled "HEY EVERYONE, GUESS WHAT, WE'RE TOP OF THE LADDER!" in the last quarter and got absolutely nothing from anyone of his fellow fans and the lumberjack style beardo who screamed out some rubbish about Melbourne fans leaving early in the last quarter despite the fact that clearly nine out of 10 of them were Pies fans trying to beat the crowd.

Then there was the astonishing creature behind me, the clubhouse leader for fan of the year. Even before seeing the two tell-tale signs of a good time waiting to be had - a tramp stamp and a Reject Shop "COLLINGWOOD" scarf (NB: if your scarf has the full team name on it you have bought it from the Reject Shop and are NOT FOOLING ANYONE) - I knew what I was in for when she sat down behind us and loudly exclaimed that the seats were "too fuckin' far" away from the bar. Good start. Ironically enough the gentlemen with her (by weight of numbers one of them 'the father' I'm sure) actually shut up and behaved like human beings.

Unfortunately this left the air clear for four quarters of screeching about how shit all the Collingwood players were and all manner of other random filth. I reckon she was about to rip out some racial gear on Wellingham at one point and just caught herself before it slipped. Not a physics major. More likely the sort to be seen sitting in the gutter outside the Pool Room in Ferntree Gully after being thrown out for glassing the barmaid. Which is kind of hot if you're 20, randy and lurking around the streets of Ferntree Gully but not so much a decade later when you're trying to concentrate wholeheartedly on your team giving up a nine goal lead.

None of it was particularly offensive but it did show another one of the major benefits of following a huge team. If she'd been a Melbourne fan acting the goat about our players I don't think I'd have been able to restrain myself from firing back smartarse comments (which is always far more difficult when the person is sitting behind you) but with the Pies fans whipped into a Nuremburg Rallies style frenzy by success and their overwhelming numerical superiority nobody told her to sit down and shut the fuck up. Which is how brawls start, but as long as I'm not involved and nobody's granny gets knocked over in the fracas what do I care?

Brawls also start because security guards just stand around waiting to be told there's something going down or for someone to lag their fellow fan out to the text hotline. And let's just say that some of the people with kids within earshot of Roboskank actually wanted to report their fellow fan for screeching fuck a hundred times in five minutes, it's all well and good to command them to send the details of where they're sitting via anonymous text but unless you're sitting on an aisle who knows what row or bay you're sitting in? I'd have had no bloody idea where I was if you'd asked me yesterday other than on the top deck of the Ponsford, seven or eight rows from the back and 'in the middle' whatever that means. I'd love to see the stats on how many hits this hotline has had and how many times it's led to people being booted out - my money's on it having the same sucess rate as the terror hotline which has just racked up a decade without a single call that wasn't either a prank or a vengeful ex trying to get somebody arrested.

Alternatively if somebody was really offending you then you could just move but does not somebody ripping out the top shelf stuff deserve to be kicked out? If you're lucky and the person is sitting near enough to be caught on camera (i.e not at the back of the Ponsford) and identified later they might get a slap on the wrist (as if the guy who was stripped of his membership wasn't there somewhere) and have to make some dinky, fake apology before going back to being a drunken arsehole.

I shudder to think how Roboskank ended the day, having shown up blind then consumed numerous beers throughout the match (one of which I think was spilt late in the day if the slight beer shower I copped was anything to go by) and threatened to "go out for a celebration" afterwards. The suggestion at the time via Twitter that she might end the day in congress with various fellow fans in the MCG carpark might not have gone far enough, I'm expecting the police to come out with one of those "do you know this person" appeals asking if anybody knows a woman with a Reject Shop Pies scarf, a hint of muffin-top and a tramp stamp probably acquired in Bali. Alas like so many others I knew her only briefly.

MFC Facebook Comment of the Week
Thanks to the tip-off from The Farce Blog here's a man currently living the dream with the Box Hill Hawks (via the WAFL, two delistings and two underwhelming AFL games) suggesting that our players should do a runner for bigger and better things.

Now admittedly he's a red hot chance of a flag this year, of the VFL variety, but what fish and chip shop does he work in to keep paying the electricity bill? The revelation during the week that Emo Maric is pocketing just $55,000 a year to be on the Richmond rookie list seems to indicate that young Daniel is probably playing for expenses a'la one of the Cordner brothers and living off the fact that by kicking two goals in two games he had a better AFL career than Relton Roberts.

Apparently the comment was 'liked' by Simon Buckley, but at least he somehow managed to fall into a position where he might play in a premiership (via 50 people doing their knee) after we sacked him for being shit. If Chris Johnson (e.g our greatest father/son selection of the modern era) hadn't been shunted from Carlton to Aberfeldie for the same reason that could have been him.

Coaching Corner
Now he's had his week off from being belted by the media how much are we going to see Neeld getting hammered for the footage where he clearly tells an assistant coach to shut up. Several times. Maybe the assistant just said something stupid and deserved to be told so? I'm still backing the man even if his 3/4 time speech was obviously the worst since Fatty Vautin's TV debut. I'd like to think it was Chris Connolly randomly bursting into the box and attempting to do one of his AGM comedy acts before being told to fuck right off.

In a fortnight
For the love of all that is good and right in the world can everyone involved make sure that nobody who has anything to do with football at this club shows up expecting that the fact that GWS has one or two good players and 20 kids means that we'll get all the good aspects out of the Collingwood game and none of the bad because if they take the piss or crumble under the inevitable decent start by the Giants and get done then a lot of people are going to go off their collective tit.

As for changes I'll acknowledge the fact that Lucas Cook is alive, well and doing nicely in the VFL but I'm not going to take the piss by giving him a token game just because we're playing GWS. Somebody still has to kick goals and I'm not sure he's up to rocking straight into the AFL and pretending he's John Georgiadis after two years doing bugger all. His time will come, there's no need to force it - there will be a lot of dead rubbers to be had at the end of this year.

There's a few being lined up to play for the third against Box Hill this week (you'll probably find Cash and Flag Danny Hughes cutting oranges on the sidelines) so somebody will undoubtedly snap their forearm in two but hopefully if you're playing in that game you're not in contention for the seniors anyway. It would be nice if the Scorpions were playing a proper game but unfortunately the VFL (doesn't even deserve to be referred to as the VFA anymore lest we sully the good name of Camberwell and Geelong West) is such a farce of a competition that for the third time in five weeks we're not playing.

A bye on either side of their state game (OH THANK GOD WE WON BY A 100 POINTS LET ME HUMP JOHN BAIRD'S LEG IN CELEBRATION!) has put pay to any chance of our fringe players actually playing. I know the sub rule and the impending criminally negligent introduction of 2/2 (which we must fight to death if needs be) seems to indicate that playing football is less important for a footballer than riding exercise bikes and playing FIFA on an X-Box but at least give kids and players who are living on the edge of oblivion the chance prove themselves regularly.

With any luck Essendon's dicking of Bendigo in order to field their own reserves team should even the numbers up and ensure that there's less disruption to the real teams next year (and with apologies to Casey how I would love to field a proper reserves team) but how about some better scheduling as well? What do you think would have happened to Casey's attendance compared to average if they'd played at home this week while Melbourne had the bye? Last week you make sure one of the North teams (why do they have two?) and Williamstown were playing to cover North and Bulldogs fans, this week you make sure Casey, Collingwood, Bendigo and Geelong are playing and next week Preston, Werribee, Sandringham and Box Hill. I'm very much available to come and be the commissioner of this new league as long as they promise to keep Phil Cleary away from me.

Also the VFL Development League is for the tip. They should merge it with the TAC Cup so that the puny kids can get some experience against bigger bodies and some down on their luck AFL players before they're drafted. At the risk of sounding like one of those numpties who writes into the Herald Sun implying they've got the solution to everything I think this is the solution to everything.

Back to selection speculation news I'm opting for the long awaited return of the Stefan Martin Experience after a best on ground four goal performance last week. He's not Lance Franklin now and never will be but he's far more likely to kick a goal than our defender laden experimental forward line. Sadly for Sellar after his two best games in a row this means that he's squeezed out for one or both of Rivers and Garland to go back and for the introduction of Demonblog's Own Troy Davis as my token 'let's take GWS lightly' selection which will inevitably backfire.

Apologies to Sellar, I'm not sure I've ever tried to drop somebody who has received a votes apology before but to be honest he only just managed to get one of those so my conscience is clear, but I don't want Clark going anywhere near the ruck during this match and surely Garland/Rivers can take a week out from being the new Brian Lake to go back and do what we know they're good at. The Experience plays second ruck and gives us another proper tall target to kick it at in the forward line and Sellar goes back to the 2's with best wishes rather than the directive to tell his story walking. I have NFI what "One percenters" consist of but it's telling (I suppose) that he had 14 and the next best had four. Still not saving him.

Tempting to boot Green out too but if he's fit I'm willing to give him another week against some 15-year-olds. If he can't get it going there then it's time to give him the same "don't ruin your legacy" talk as Davey and a standing ovation on the way into a well deserved retirement. Of course had he kicked three instead of missing them today I'd probably be on here waffling about how he was going to play until 40 but that's what being fickle is all about.

Mystery training ground injuries aside that leaves us with the very simple switch of:

IN: Martin, Davis
OUT: Tapscott (sus), Sellar (omit with apologies)

Anyway, forget what's happening on-field against GWS tell me all about what's going to happen off it. I know you might want to keep your activities quiet just in case 'the man' is watching but go on, you can do as everyone else does in the comments and write it as 'anonymous'. Just don't post anything that might land us all in jail. Are people going to properly go off on $cully in a frenzy of vile filthy hatred or is it going to be, as I suspect, a few pockets of foul abuse, some 'heavy' booing and a lot of gnashing of teeth.

Obviously stop at anything illegal or which involves you introducing kids to obscene and indecent language but I fully encourage you to do anything it takes to let the world know that we hate players who chose their club solely on the basis of how much money was offered unless it's Mitch Clark then that's ok because he's a top bloke.

Civil disorder is not in my nature so I've got no idea how to do such a thing but if anybody is an expert in writing slogans in paint across bedsheets contact me via the usual address as I'd like to unleash $CULLY FILTH! at the top of the Ponsford as a historical tribute to the MOORE FILTH! banner that Pies fans unveiled when Peter Moore joined us.

Final Thoughts
Given that we're three full wins and percentage below 15th I'm confident that the second half of the year will involve us having the full bash and cleaning a few teams up. It is not optional for this to start after the GWS game.

We got away with belting a few people this week, let's redouble our efforts into being the game's new bunch of hated cheats and beat up on some children en route to a morale boosting victory. Either that or the 32 of us left at the final siren are going to look bloody stupid when $cully and Sheedy are doing this dance in the middle of the ground at the final siren.