Sunday 28 April 2013

Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

Tomorrow morning at 9am I'm going to walk in the front door of the Melbourne FC Truth and Reconciliation Commission, solemnly declare that I was well and truly duped by last week's fourth quarter and ask to be excused for my sins.

"They're not all kids! What about Phil Davis, Rhys Palmer and Stephen Gilham" I said, unconvincingly willing myself to believe that those three could have any more influence on a team that's no bloody good (at least they have a reason) than Gillies, Pedersen and Rodan.

No, I was duped. Or more accurately I duped myself based solely on the evidence of one quarter of landslide football against a side that - yes you are correct Patrick Smith as much as it pains me to say it - IS like the Diamond Valley Under 9's at the moment.

Congratulations to all of you who flat out refused to believe that any good came out of last week other than putting us above Fitzroy 1964 (0-18) in the all-time league table of shithouse seasons (even if we haven't quite reached their 59.7 percentage yet). When everyone craps on about the Spirit of '64 as if it's got any relevance to today's club I'm not sure that's what they're referring to.

For fools like I who thought "no Clark, no worries" and dreamed of ending Sunday night by pulling away from the foot of the table and getting somebody else's coached sacked mid-season for once (which would make a change for our players) at least we got one quarter of something approaching AFL standard football. All of which got us five goals for (yay), five goals against (boo) and a false sense of hope that we might get a couple of good quarters in a row.

Considering our forward line had band-aids stuck all over it, with resting ruckmen and defenders all over the place it was never going to suit us to get into some sort of free-wheeling, high scoring exhibition match. Which would have been fine if we'd managed to avoid letting the Lions win every clearance, rebound from one end of the ground to the other with the greatest of ease AND have three free players inside 50 every time no matter how long we'd had to get back there and do whatever it is our defence is supposed to do these days.

For those reading in the future, possibly looking for clues as to why I eventually go postal, it should be pointed out that Brisbane are not all that good themselves. We can't even use the hackneyed excuse about being a young team this time considering they had a side full of teenagers and the most inexperienced player we had was Dean Terlich who looks about 39. Time to just admit we're shit, put ten players in the lifeboat (guaranteed seats for Clark, Grimes, Hogan, Howe, Jones, Trengove (just) and Viney. The rest can fight it out amongst themselves, but I'm going to assume Gawn would win the Battle Royale and I'd be happy to have him on board) and run the HMAS Melbourne FC onto the rocks for the insurance money before reappearing under a new name in 2014.

The sense of having been taken for a ride would have been bad enough if it had been at the MCG and I'd have been able to see it all unfolding terribly in front of my own eyes, but to have to watch that sort of slop on television is the best ad the AFL could ever do for putting your hand in your pocket and paying for a ticket/membership. Though maybe don't buy the one that guarantees you a Grand Final ticket when your team is perennially shit.

It must happen to everybody that you sit through most of the season watching games you don't really care about, abusing Dwayne Russell for making up stupid catchphrases, abusing other commentators for using his bloody catchphrases and remembering when Dennis Cometti seemed half natural doing 'off the cuff gags' during the game but then when your team comes around (and especially when you're always bloody losing) it becomes abundantly clear that these people are total buffoons who must have blagged their way into the job by winning a raffle.

Mind you I can see how fans of 'big clubs' might not feel like this, you just know that while he did his best to keep things upvibe and professional Bruce McAvaney was glancing at his watch every five minutes from the first bounce onwards waiting for next Friday night when he can call a game between sides that anyone other than a handful of fools gives a rats about.

In a way I don't blame Bruce or Cometti and his teleprompter of comedy statements for giving our game nothing. Would you? Surely they'd be sitting there going "how the hell did we end up with this game on free to air?", and realising that about as many people are watching it as a Super Rugby match would treat it accordingly, doing their best impression of the Melbourne Football Club just plodding along until it was all over then hitting the nightclubs as soon as possible. After all Bruce had been roped into doing this game after being in Perth on Friday night so given the circumstances he should almost get an honourable mention in the votes for not just chucking a sickie and leaving Tim Watson to call the match.

It seems rude to complain about TV coverage now that we're living in the admittedly glorious 'watch every game live' era, but it's strictly for games not involving the Dees for me thanks. It's not that radio is all that better, but I'm almost at the point of doing that mute + radio gimmick that I've been mocking all these years. Anything would be better than more Dwayne, more Tony Shaw and god help us hopefully never again more bloody Leigh Matthews.

"Lethal" has taken Malcolm Blight's role as the "elder statesman" of the commentary circuit who is wheeled out every few weeks to sit around and give us wisdom of their glory era by talking to themselves, possibly not even knowing that they're on the air. At least when Paul Roos does a Sydney game and can barely restrain himself from whopping off under the desk he appears to have all of his mental faculties about him. Matthews, on the other hand, is only slightly more with it than I'd expect Kevin Sheedy to be when he's providing this sort of role for GWS games in a couple of years (maybe even next week, it's not like he's actually coaching this year).

Today's Lethal highlight was Blease being flattened after kicking and the 30 seconds of moral outrage about how there's no way it was a late hit and how it was a rubbish decision (coming from somebody who spent half his career crippling Melbourne players) before the replay showed that oh he actually got elbowed in the head and a quick retraction followed a'la Caroline Wilson. Then in classic Channel 7 fashion they missed the goal being kicked while showing the replay. Fox Footy's product is so superior to Seven's that it's almost hard to believe they actually sign cheques for Dwayne and Tony Shaw. Trade them to Seven and we'll be in a Pay TV glory era.

Sadly I've not got the thousands of dollars required to follow this travel circus of mediocrity around the country so at least six more times this year (including the two MCG games I'll be interstate for and the match at Carrara which I'm intending to go to if depression doesn't get me first) I'll have to suck it up and cop watching it on TV. At least next time I'll be going in with such low expectations/white hot hatred of football, that they could probably have Lady Gaga and Pol Pot on commentary and it wouldn't be able to ruin my day any more. If anybody from Foxtel is reading I'd be happy to have a go on the red button channel a'la Eddie, but don't expect me to call any opposition players.

Let's be frank though, if we were a half decent team would I give a shit? Probably not, but we've won 24% of matches in the last seven years and somebody else other than players and coaches has to share the anger and frustration eventually. Next thing I'll be sitting in the middle of opposition cheer squads just to give me some victims to unload my self-loathing on.

It's getting hard to come up with ways to put this, considering the same thing has been said in almost 76% of reports since 2007 (excluding the two draws), but we are still shit and not getting any better. Thrillsville. And for every minor win we have like unearthing Michael Evans from the wilderness we've got ten other players either treading water or going backwards at a million miles an hour. I very much like Michael Evans, don't get me wrong - but is he going to lift the club out of the mire single handedly? No he is not.

Now that Port has managed to break free from the gas chamber and head for surprise salvation a'la Melbourne 1998 and Brisbane has snuck ahead with their supposed free win against GWS yet to come we're left in a neck and neck race to the bottom with Gold Coast (look better than us), Footscray (look better than us) and the Giants (looked better than us for three quarters). Our status as the worst 'real' team in the competition is almost assured for a second successive year and we're no longer safe from winning line honours either.

On one hand I'd like to say draft picks can get stuffed, I'm sick of everything being about draft picks and why don't we just play properly for once but sadly we are - and even more sadly if we were to end up with Pick 4 at the end of this year it would not only be quite a tasty pick to ruin some poor kid's life with but would also mean that we actually managed to finish above three sides on the ladder - and at the moment I'd probably take that.

At least today the first quarter provided some highlights. When Moloney wasn't rampaging out of the centre and their forwards weren't taking the piss out of our defenders (Garland excused, the rest straight onto the Hertz Rentacar Psych Couch) we at least got to see another monster mark and goal by Gawn as he continues to promote himself as our biggest cult figure in years. It was also the first time we'd kicked five goals in a first quarter against a team better than us since Freo at Docklands last year so that was something, but it didn't last then and it didn't last today. You can't go around playing one quarter every week and expect to get anywhere, and how the players let this happen again and again is a mystery to me.

We actually looked half decent whenever we got the ball, but the problem was that firstly we were hardly getting it and when Brisbane had it they looked even better, slashing through us like the famous knife through red and blue butter.

If it's any consolation our tackling was good all day, but of course a team who aren't all that much better than we are will get themselves into situations where they're going to get tackled. There was a lot of headless chicken work going on over the other side as well, on the occasions when they weren't all running free with five men forward of the ball queuing up to go inside 50 and score. Not to mention the times when an opposition player is at half-forward, or out in the boundary line inside 50 kicking from a free kick or a mark and somebody always, ALWAYS gets free for a pass. Roll on a big week of our famous zone defence being the talk of the town. I'm not even sure what a zone defence is supposed to do, but by the looks of it neither are any of our players.

With Brisbane sensibly tagging Nathan Jones to buggery in the knowledge that he's the only weapon we've got of course we got smashed out of the middle. Jamar did a couple of old school novelty perfect taps to our lot (and some Psychic Friends Connection reunion specials straight to Beamer), but he also did plenty that hit the deck and were scraped up by Brisbane players without any of our players in the same area code as them. Not surprisingly, with the Stefan Martin Experience dropped after having done absolutely bugger all so far in his Brisbane career, it was left to Moloney to do the traditional Brent Grgic/Jeff Farmer/Brian Wilson style demolition of us after leaving.

No wonder he did too, was there any danger of trying to put pressure on him in the first half? By the time McKenzie got moved to him in the second half we were already going down the gurgler and much of the damage had been done. For two weeks we (e.g I) have been crying about how we couldn't tag anyone because we didn't have any taggers and then we bring one in - who bless him is relatively limited in doing anything else, and we accept that - and let a side's best midfielder run around unmolested.

Given this I suppose we're going to have to hear all about how stupid we are for "letting him go" etc.. etc.. after he butchered us all day under no actual pressure from anybody. Big whoop, he tonked a rubbish midfield - good luck to him, but it's like what he used to do for us when we had a promising midfield, not the faultiest of all units on offer despite having drafted 7000 'saviours' in the last five years.

Speaking of midfielders can we send Jack Trengove to a (properly accredited and non dodgy) specialist for somebody to work out what's gone wrong with him over the last couple of years? The poor bastard is trying his heart out but can't get near it. To his credit at least he was tackling everything that moves in the first quarter when he couldn't get a touch but for whatever reason he's running around like a shadow on what he was like in his first couple of seasons. If he needs to be rested or give up the captaincy (if that has any bearing on anything, which I'm not sure it does) then do it. We're not playing for 2013 anymore, and if Neeld's trying to save himself - as any of us would - he needs players out there who can do the job. He does always show flashes of brilliance though, how good was the kick to Howe on the lead in the second quarter? Related - how good was Howe's lead? Shame he chose it as the time to blow his perfect goalkicking record for the season, because it was everything kicking to a forward lead should be.

Assuming that you counted breaking even in the first quarter as a 'good' one then the bad news for anybody who thought that we might get two in a row was that we, err, didn't. Not that anybody was kicking goals anywhere, but that was mainly because even though we were going around with a silver platter offering them up Brisbane were too stupid to take them. They kicked points, we gave it back to them, they kicked another point, we tried to bomb the kick-in to Jamar, they kicked another point etc.. etc..

Even when we had the good fortune to win what must have been one of the worst free kicks of all time when Moloney "shepherded" Sylvia (in fact Sylvia was trying to do some sweet UFC style submission move on his head a'la Neville Jetta last week), Col - who I'm pleased to report otherwise showed up and looked interested again, probably with his agent training a sniper rifle on him from the stands - managed to handball it straight into Moloney's hands and stuff it all up.  It was good to see MFC players finally linking up under Neeld, it's just a shame that it didn't happen until one of them left the club.

It took 10 minutes of silver service before finally Shannon Byrnes, who I thought was otherwise (spoiler alert) our best of an ordinary bunch, botched a handball and gifted them a goal. Then, just when you thought the inevitable massacre was about to break out we kicked two in a row and took the lead back. Work that out considering we were being belted across the ground, but just because we were being belted everywhere it mattered did it mean that it had to go that way for the rest of the day?

How many times has a team had to hold on for dear life for a half before getting on top and winning? It's a weird game, weird things happen (see the fourth quarter last week) so why couldn't we do it? We weren't playing Geelong there - and I don't give a toss if it was 27 degrees in Brisbane because even if we hadn't been on this magical mystery tour to Darwin in the pre-season a proper side would get the job done instead of running around like an over 40's team. Fitness be stuffed, they run around like they've all got multiple injuries in the first quarter much less the last.

Six points down, from six more scoring shots and Brisbane should have put us away but they didn't and we were given a free life. With Watts going forward at the start of the third quarter I started to fantasise that he'd go down there and boot a bag to drag us over the line and prove why he should never be allowed across the centre of the ground ever again. Sadly, even though he went down there and did a good job (more importantly looked like he was interested) we still managed to do our traditional roll over and die at the start of the third quarter and totally stuff it up. No point having a quality forward if the ball never goes down there.

I respect that we're not capable of being good enough for long enough in games, or to play four decent quarters every week but why does it always have to happen to us in the third quarter? What do they say to them in the rooms? It's not even just the first five minutes anymore, it's the whole quarter. Three goals in the first seven minutes (and it should have been four) before Tapscott fluked one to keep us in it. Then of course after busting our arse to get a goal, as lucky as it was, we turn around and let them have two at the other end with stuff all pressure. Balls to everything.

Yet somehow we almost got back into it in the last quarter. If Bail had kicked an absolute sitter (or passed to Davey a mile free right in front of goal) we'd have been back to 12 points. Next thing you know they're down the other end kicking goals and even Brisbane's version of Juice Newton, Aaron Cornelius, is kicking goals.

Game over, not good enough, players looking like they can't be bothered. At one point Ashley McGrath, who had spent the entire game being mocked by the commentators for being a bit porky, 'ran' through our midfield like he was Gary Ablett and despite Pedersen being somewhere in the general vicinity he managed to set up a goal in slow motion under no pressure. That piece of 'play' (at 5km/h) said everything about the long queue of mediocre players hoping to reinvigorate their careers by belting us throughout the year. We are to the league what GWS were to us, and that's so sad.

With the finish line in sight and most of the team now sorely lacking interest the only person who fired up in the last few minutes was Davey when he pounced on Zorko at the end and probably got himself a reprimand/suspension by jumper punching him repeatedly. Good, I say. As much as I'd like to start Davey instead of sitting him on a plastic chair for three quarters it was good to see somebody fire up for their teammate when most of our players would have just taken the free goal and walked off.

So, put the Coaching Doomsday Clock on again. If Carlton flog us again next week, as they very well might if we play like we did today, then 4.40pm on the following Sunday 12 May against Gold Coast will be GWS Pt. 2, with Neeld teetering on the edge of the cliff and ready to be lobbed off if we lose.

I still don't think that sacking a coach now is going to achieve anything, and I look forward to writing this once more next week before it's no longer relevant due to the coach being axed, but my faith was shaken today. Why pick McKenzie and not use him to tag? Why pick Rodan to start and leave him on all day? Why keep Davey on the bench/plastic seats until we're five goals down instead of throwing him into the mix during the third when we were still in the game? Why take Blease off (unless injured) and leave Pedersen on field after we'd sent Watts forward. I don't know what he's supposed to do in the team, but we're not playing GWS every week.

I don't care if Clark and Dawes are coming back next week, and I welcome both of them in the side, if I see Watts walking alongside Frawley, Garland and the King of Sizzle (who is clearly suffering a curse after winning Demonbracket) towards the backline on Sunday I'm out for this football department. They can all go down there and if we can ever get the ball in that direction they can all play a role. It makes it hard to hide Jamar or Gawn when they're not playing in the centre but I don't give a toss, park them on the bench if you have to. What happens if Watts somehow catches fire up front and wants to stay with Clark, Dawes and Hogan around is anybody's guess but if we're going to lose him then like Sylvia let's get a few good performances out of it first.

2013 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
Nobody was really any good, so please scale your outrage about the following on that basis.

5 - Shannon Byrnes
4 - Colin Sylvia
3 - Michael Evans
2 - Rohan Bail
1 - Colin Garland

Apologies to Howe, Gawn, M. Jones and Watts (second half).

15 - Nathan Jones
9 - Shannon Byrnes, Matt Jones (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Rising Star Award)
8 - Colin Sylvia
7 - Jack Viney
6 - Michael Evans

5 - Jack Grimes (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
4 - Jeremy Howe
2 - Rohan Bail, Aaron Davey, Max Gawn (JOINT LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year), Mark Jamar (JOINT LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
1 - Mitch Clark, James Frawley, Colin Garland, Jordie McKenzie
Facebook Comment of the Week
Cancelled due to CBF, but have a video from last year that's come back into relevance after our players were all caught out on the ground grinning broadly and having the time of the life with the opposition at the end of the match. Also features the SME's lovely hair, which is only now being challenged by the magnificent locks of Michael Evans.

Next Week
Dunn was apparently dominant for Casey but is he going to be there next year? I'd much rather try Strauss now, because we're getting to the point where we have to make a decision on him soon instead of waiting for something to happen by magic one day. Whatever's going to happen with him won't come as a result of beating up on VFL players every week.

As for the outs I was happy with Tapscott's bumping and willingness to get killed for the team but just like Pedersen I'm not entirely sure what his role in the team is supposed to be. Whatever it is he does it better than Pedo, but if I'm sending Watts forward he is not required.

In other selection news Rodan probably needs to put his hand up, go "this isn't working" and concentrate on working with the kids in the VFL. Not that he will, but we need to do it for him because he's not adding enough to make playing him every week worthwhile - especially in the starting lineup rather than as sub. Shannon Byrnes has proven his worth the last couple of weeks, Rodan is yet to do anything to justify his spot.

IN: Clark, Dawes, Strauss, Viney
OUT: Pedersen, Rodan, Tapscott (omit), Trengove (rest)

Final Thoughts
My patience for football is starting to rapidly evaporate, so it's a good thing that I've got three matches left before fleeing Victoria for the Hawthorn and Collingwood games as well as the bye. Still looking for somebody to write the reports for these two games (you don't have to write one for the bye). I've got an offer from a Collingwood fan to do Queen's Birthday, and I'm quite into this gimmick but definitely first preference to any MFC fans who are keen.

You can do it however you like, either wail thousands of words of impassioned pleas, a video of yourself screaming WHY ME!? or just post a photo of the Goatse man along with some votes but as long as you do the votes sensibly it's up to you. Email, tweet, send a comment etc.. etc.. if interested.

Monday 22 April 2013

Stat My Bitch Up

Players to hold a career winning record in games for the MFC during "the dark ages", and the rounds in which they had it. Wins from before 2007 count towards their career record.

Rohan Bail
Round 18 2010 to Round 21 2010
Round 4 2011 to Round 5 2011
Round 7 2011 to Round 8 2011

Clint Bartram
Round 1 2007 to Round 5 2008
Matthew Bate
Round 1 2007 to Round 6 2007

Daniel Bell
Round 1 2007 to Round 7 2007

Jace Bode
Round 19 2007 to Round 20 2007

Cameron Bruce
Round 1 2007 to Round 5 2007

Simon Buckley
Round 14 2007 to Round 15 2007

Aaron Davey
Round 1 2007 to Round 3 2008

Lynden Dunn
Round 5 2007 to Round 8 2007

James Frawley
Round 11 2007 to Round 12 2007
Round 14 2007 to Round 15 2007

Max Gawn
Round 11 2011 to Round 12 2011
Round 13 2011 to Round 20 2011
Round 4 2013 to ?

Brad Green
Round 1 2007 to Round 9 2007
Round 10 2007 to Round 13 2007

Ben Holland
R1 2007 - retirement (final record 34-1-31)

Jeremy Howe
Round 11 2011 to Round 12 2011
Round 13 2011 to Round 19 2011

Travis Johnstone
Round 1 2007 to Round 5 2007

Joel Macdonald
Round 19 2010 to Round 20 2010

Stefan Martin
Round 14 2008 to Round 15 2008

Tom McDonald
Round 23 2011 to Round 24 2011

Brock McLean
Round 1 2007 to Round 2 2008

Brent Moloney
Round 1 2007 to Round 2 2007

Daniel Nicholson
Round 13 2011 to Round 19 2011

Byron Pickett
R5 2007 - retirement (final record 15-1-13)

Jared Rivers
Round 2 2007 to Round 5 2008

Russell Robertson
Round 1 2007 to Round 9 2007
Round 10 2007 to Round 13 2007
Round 14 2007 to Round 15 2007

Tom Scully
Round 4 2010 to Round 5 2010

Colin Sylvia
Round 4 2007 - Round 6 2007

Luke Tapscott
Round 4 2011 to Round 5 2011
Round 6 2011 to Round 7 2011

Jack Trengove
Round 4 2010 to Round 5 2010

Paul Wheatley
Round 2 2007 to Round 1 2008

Matthew Whelan
Round 1 2007 to Round 4 2007

Jeff White
Round 1 2007 to Round 2007


Have you ever found yourself more baffled by a victory ever? Not just slightly confused but actually unable to come to grips with what you've just seen. There was nothing confusing about the Freo comeback in '08 - we were just half shit and half divine - and for all the surprise "how did that happen?" victories over the years (Essendon 2012 comes immediately to mind despite being forever tainted by a fortnight ago) nothing is going to match what happened today for a long time, if ever.

It's unlikely that circumstances will allow it, firstly the shock value of losing to Gold Coast is already diminishing, and in a couple of years it will be the same with GWS. But for now the idea of losing to them anywhere - much less on your home ground - is enough to make grown men cry and/or get the sack. Ask Matthew Primus, who until he ran into them last year had actually improved his side from the year before and the next thing he was signing on down at Alberton Centrelink.

We've got Rounds 7, 19 and 20 to get through yet before we can confidently retain our "at least we've never lost to..." status, but at least the pressure valve has been released a little bit now. Next get the entire world to presumptively write obituaries for the coach before the match after a shite run of results, include a wildcard midweek 'drug' scandal, then find a way to twice blow good chances to put your opposition away before going into the last quarter three goals behind.

Difficult enough to engineer all that, but at about 3.40pm, with Herald Sun sponsored mobile death squads pulling up to the MCG carpark to take advantage of the "free entry in the fourth quarter" policy, if you'd told me that I was about to watch Michael Evans and Jeremy Howe be the face of the greatest quarter EVER played by the Melbourne Football Club in any game from 1858 onwards I'd have treated you to some of this:

And you would have deserved it, because if Mark Neeld is (as everyone would have you believe) a condemned man, then when the three quarter time siren went with GWS 19 points in front and with momentum he was strapped into the electric chair and about to cop it full blast. Then this improbable record breaking quarter comes along and he gets a stay of execution with a retrial starting next Sunday. Football is stupid.

No doubt when we're 19 goals down to the rapidly plummeting Brisbane (why did I get sucked in by pre-season form and almost put them in the eight?) the original verdict will stand and he'll be walking The Green Mile again, but until that happens (or until later in this post) let's concentrate on the fantastic, absurd turn of events which today saved a coach from almost certain death.

Considering we opened the game conceding two goals to The Big Setant first up after a year out with a stuffed knee we weren't actually all that bad early on. It was certainly better than last year's first 15 minutes when they kicked three in a row and we all adjusted our Mexican wrestling masks nervously as it looked like a gigantic shambles was on the cards. We eventually recovered that deficit to rack up a big (by our standards) win, but what 2012's Carnival of Hate lacked compared to the modern day Carnival of Self-Hate was well over the top celebrations from an insane Irishman.

Good luck to him too, if your career is hanging on like a thread and then you do your knee you should celebrate a successful comeback by throwing wild haymakers in the air and dancing up and down on the spot. It would certainly be rude of a Melbourne fan to abuse him for it after Brad Green's similar antics in an equally pointless match against Gold Coast late last year. As soccer fans say whenever somebody gets busted for souveniring chairs, passion is not a crime.

It was certainly Setant Time in the first quarter as he made the King of Sizzle look a bit foolish early on, but in the grand scheme of things have you ever seen a worse five goal performance? You may as well play for yourself when you're in the position he is (employed 95% for comedy value) but that was something special. McDonald didn't have a great day, or even a good one, but the difference between the two when the ball hit the ground was criminal (except when it hit the ground and gifted him goals with a novelty bounce), and that's why Tom will play 150 games and TBS will be lucky to make it to a 100. The KoS will be back bigger and better, Setant will probably not kick another goal for the rest of the year but will be able to take his seat at the table with Beau Wilkes and Kent Kingsley at the Royal Society of Forwards Who Only Play Well Against Melbourne.

When I say "we weren't all that bad" that's in the context of a game which was poor to an almost satanic standard. A good side would have cleaned us up in spectacular fashion, but such is life for a bottom four team - if you don't take advantage of the other teams in the same leaky boat then you deserve everything you get. Later on they'd be the ones taking advantage of us, but all's well that ends well eventually.

Once we'd put Setanta back in his box (temporarily at least) it looked like the natural order was about to restored. Byrnes and Pedersen were showing signs of why we recruited them and Maximum Gawn was furthering his status as a monster fan favourite and cult figure by playing like Jamar circa 2009-2010. Imagine a ruckman who actually wants to get the ball around the ground? THIS HAPPENED. Also is there anything more thrilling than one of Jeremy Howe's screamers actually leading to a goal? Vote 1 his grab today after the Giants botched the kick-in for Mark of the Year because for once it wasn't when we were 50+ points down, didn't end in us turning the ball over five seconds later and (eventually) took place during a win.

Underrated highlight of the first quarter was Clark's run down the wing, unnecessarily bouncing the ball about six times when two or three would have sufficed. Considering he's looked like he's hardly been able to get out of more of a light jog for the last couple of weeks it was heartening to see him bolting at full stretch, but I'm hoping that wasn't the forerunner to whatever foot injury he ended up with later in the game. Sadly, but happily at the same time, instead of trying to kick a Franklin style goal of the year he gifted Pedersen's first goal at the top of the square. Assuming his injury isn't lethal this is why he's so important - Mitch has hardly gotten out of 1st gear so far this season and he's already kicked seven goals. Big whoop in the grand scheme but for us anybody on target for 40 is a crucial part of the plan - now he's also got Howe and Byrnes heading in that direction too, which is nice.

Sadly everything has to be put through the shit team filter against sides down at our end of the ladder, where you ask yourself "would we have done this against a real side?" (this is usually what the fans of opposition clubs are asking when they play us), and I'm pleased to report that yes for once we might have. The tackling was good, we were ok in the middle of the ground AND we were racking up scoring shots too. Ok, the last one probably doesn't pass the STF but take if wherever you can get it and run for your life. Pedersen faded out after quarter time, but Byrnes was great - if he can put in performances like that against real teams and add that to what he's been hired to do off-field (i.e. teach the secrets of success from Geelong) then he'll be the most valuable of the four recycled players, and we might get a useful second year out of him on-field.

Unfortunately for fans of blood feuds and vendettas we were also letting $cully run riot. That's how well we're going, letting him play his first half decent game in years. He even kicked it to his own teammates most of the time, which isn't much change from when he used to play for us and would kick it towards anybody who wasn't wearing red and blue. Unlike the original Carnival when he copped hell from the crowd AND didn't get a kick it did get a bit silly when everyone was booing him as he was belting us. It's much more fun to shout proper abuse instead, but in the end he's still going home to a gigantic Uncle Scrooge style bank vault so 1-0 to him and I look forward to his second value for money game of the year against us on Saturday 3 August.

We were, uncharacteristically, the better side in the first quarter and could have built up enough of a quarter time lead to be relatively safe if Clark hadn't given away a free for jostling behind the goal as Matt Jones was about to take a shot on goal. If MJ never kicks another goal he'll probably curse Mitch until the day he dies, but I was at the exact other end of the ground and haven't seen the replay so not sure if there was anything in it. There probably wasn't, and they probably get told to piss off all the niggle in GWS games in case it scares "the parents" of West Sydney out of letting their kids play AFL. "The parents" are probably not even watching because they're more interested in Rugby League matches where everyone beats the suitcase out of each other.

The Clark incident created the cliched two goal turnaround - assuming Jones would have kicked straight - as the Giants went straight back down the other end and that man Setant kicked another. It was a blow, but we were still on top. Witness for instance their kick-ins, which were in a state of disarray because for once we had pressure on. You do not have to wait for a GWS to come along before putting pressure on an opposition side kicking in, this can be done against anybody.

To be honest I put so much into the last quarter that the middle two are a bit of a blur to me, but I do distinctly recall them battering us in the first few minutes of the second but not being able to kick a goal before Byrnes got two in a row to give us some breathing space. At the time I remember thinking that we were all over the top of them after his second goal, but looking back it seems that I've pushed the four goalscoring opportunities they had (for 0.3) before then out of mind. So should it really be all that much of a surprise that almost immediately after the second Byrnes goal they then put on a burst and took the lead? So, one of them was a dodgy video review (one of many) but we looked wobbly again. Thank god then for the ex-Geelong man who somehow managed to squeeze a fluke goal, his third, through from the boundary courtesy of Jamar and Giles knocking each other out of its way and the defender trying to rush the ball over the line and fresh airing it. Take it however you can get it.

By this point we were back to just playing 'ok'. When we did that at West Coast it ended up with them being applauded off the crowd despite being 10 points behind, but when we did it against GWS everyone was still filling up Molotov Cocktails, ready for the mass outbreak of civil disorder in the event of a defeat. We were still lucky that the Giants were playing like the motley collection of children and rejects from elsewhere (hold on..) that they are and keeping us in it. Luckily we still had one of our famous third quarters to come.

The good news is that this week the queue for the Progressive Insurance Psych Couch will be significantly shorter, but the downside is that at the front of the queue there will be two marquee names. Any danger either of Frawley or Watts is going to be with us next year? They both look totally disinterested on field, and not just because they've been bullied by Luke Darcy into shaving their beards off. At one point in the third quarter there was a loose ball right on the GWS 50m line and in the midst of all the chaos Chip just stopped for a second with his back turned and stood there. It was like one of those shots by war photographers when bullets are flying everywhere and some poor, haunted civilian just freaks out and stands there in the middle of the battle. Forget sticking tree bark into Lynden Dunn, give Chip a hot one full of Xanax and sit him down for "a chat" with a qualified mental health care professional.

As for Watts could it be that he just doesn't give a shit? We can't seem to win with top picks, either we go for the laconic (Watts, Johnstone) and they never live up to potential or we picked a brutally serious, Soviet style player ($cully) and he knifes us. Hopefully either Trengove turns out to be the best of them all because he's normal or Smilin' Jimmy Toumpas kicks in the door for jolly players everywhere.

It's fine to be laconic sometimes, but not when you're playing in the backline. If the ball comes to him his kicking and decision making is a cut above almost everyone else on our list but if it doesn't then he'll be right with a light jog in its general direction. In an ideal world he wouldn't be like that, and he'd just happily do whatever he's told but it's not an ideal world and other than two games last year when he was a world beating defender - until we got excited and played him on Jonathan Brown in Brisbane - there's nothing to suggest that it's where he's going to play his best footy. Once he came back from injury in the last few games of 2012 he didn't do anything remotely interesting, and his finest work in the pre-season was pushing forward and kicked goals.

Yes, he was the king of intercept marks in 2012 but so what? If he and Rivers swapped I'm sure Riv would have done exactly the same. Either get him back up front, play him on the ball or just give up on him and watch him walk out the door and into a better team at the end of the year. We're not going to make the finals, so they've got to make it their mission to rebuild him by the end of the year. I want to see him doing random blind turns around nobody and kicking goals again. If he doesn't want to be out there at all he should at least put his hand up and say so, but if he just hates playing down back then stop trying to smash the square peg into the round hole. See also sending Blease forward again so he can follow his natural instinct and wreak havoc kicking goals instead of having to go within 10km of an opponent.

Then again they both looked as happy as Larry when singing the song at the end, so who am I to judge what's going on in their heads. If either of you are reading this (and if so, why? Do you not have a FIFA tournament of some type on?) I ask you to give us a sign that you care in the form of your signature on a new contact and some acts of near suicidal desperation next week. Look at Rohan Bail for inspiration, there's a guy who wouldn't get a game at another club if we ditched him and who's one concussion away from having his entire career wiped out and he's still diving on footballs with reckless abandon. You are both better than this.

There was some slight nervousness at half time, but deep down you knew we were the better team whether we wanted to show it or not. It took us 15 minutes of the third quarter to level the scores, but yet again just when it looked like we were about to break their back (and make them humble) the Giants rebounded to finish off the quarter with three goals and dark mutterings began to sweep the ground again.

The last came after Neville Jetta booked himself a fortnight minimum off by poleaxing Whitfield (continuing the MFC tradition of trying to ruin top draft picks) and while I was absolutely cursing him for giving away the downfield free/goal at that point (after originally abusing Jamar in a case of mistaken identity before the replay showed he had nothing to do with it) thank god somebody finally decided to belt someone. I'd have preferred if he'd set himself the ultimate challenge of trying to clock Josh Kennedy last week (would have bounced off), but if we have to bully some 18 year old to make ourselves feel better then so be it.

After being not very good at all in the first half Jetta was quite good in the second. Probably got excited and decided to thump somebody, and that's the sort of player I can support. He even managed to get on the highlight reel for performing a suplex that Taz would have been proud of. I've noticed that if opposition players run into him he's a gun tackler, but on the run they usually just go around him. Can't see him being there for 200 games - or next year at this rate - but handy enough in the interim while we sort ourselves out this year.

He was especially good in the last quarter, but mind you, who wasn't? Even I might have gotten a kick in the avalanche that was to come, but for the moment after his cheapshot heroism we were three goals down and impromptu lynch mobs were forming everywhere. We'd gotten ourselves into some sort of hole. Not even just the bog-standard MFC style landfill full of used Atari cartridges, but a real Viet Cong style man-trap with additional spikes for maximum carnage. The natives were restless, the neutrals were biting their fingernails, the media were trying not to flop it out and start having an Uncle Doug in full view of the entire press contingent at the prospect of getting him after a long campaign like they did with Terry Wallace.

Even I, foolishly (and at times unconvincingly) in the "don't sack anybody yet" camp, was starting to see which way the winds were blowing and that it was almost certain that they'd have tossed him out in the street if we'd been rolled. I don't believe in the Sports News First conspiracy theory that we'd already lined up T. Viney 'just in case' (mainly due to the fact that the guy who writes it has got a rumour file strike rate of about 12% - link presented as a source only, no need to click it and give them ad revenue) - and if we had then chalk up another reason why we're a spaz of a club - but I'm sure they would have caved in to 'everyone' telling them to do it just to try and avoid having the fourth receptionist this year put in a compo claim for mental distress from nutbars calling in and abusing her. Not to mention whoever has to moderate the Facebook page and the ASADA troubling cocktail of anti-depressants they must be on.

Considering the start to the season we've had and the new revelations during the week about us allegedly lying our arses off about players being injected with monkey glands in a Coles carpark it would have been easy enough for the players to roll over and die there and then. They had gotten themselves into enough trouble that even a slight win in the last quarter wouldn't have saved them, and we'd have been going for the golden sombrero of coaches sacked midway through the season.

Most of the players who are any good would get a game somewhere else, so if they're not playing for pride what do they care? And thank god that for once pride won out long enough to shatter the Giants' fragile spirit and allow us to eventually beat the shit out of them. When Byrnes got ripped off out of his fourth goal in the first minute (admittedly after costing himself the hassle free goal by stumbling over 25 different attempts to soccer it through) it felt like everything was going to conspire against us. This on top of that goal late in third quarter when KoS McDonald had a bouncing ball covered only for it to take a bastard bounce straight over his head and into Setant's arms for a goal. Then there was some, err, questionable umpiring but we would say that wouldn't we? I'm interested to sit down for the replay and watch the 2000 cutaway shots to Neeld in the coaches box to see what his expressions are like when all of this is going on.

For the next few minutes we teetered on the edge of disaster, one GWS goal away from a four goal deficit with a crowd rapidly turning (especially on Watts, who went from supportive cheers to low murmurs as the day went on) and ready to start kicking seats into plastic shards. Then Nathan Jones took over. Beautiful Nathan Jones, the only player to have actually significantly improved under Neeld.

He wasn't getting as many clearances as he had in the other weeks (was apparently the league leader before today. Work that out), but he was one of the few we had who could claim a four quarter effort then went absolutely off his tits in the last. You don't need a title to lead, and he's practically the third captain at the moment. His goal opened the floodgates, before Maximum kicked his first from the square to fire the crowd up. It was a popular goal too, almost killing the goal umpire as payback for her complicity in the Shannon Byrnes rort and seemingly smashing a GWS fan wearing a comedy wig straight in the head, which serves him right on both fronts. Would have better if it had been one of those dickheads dressed as monks, but you can't win them all. Maximum didn't apologise for his path of destruction, and for that we love him.

There was one slight bit of nervousness after we levelled the scores, when it once again looked like we were going to run away with it and then let them get the lead back again but from there on it was a procession - led by the aforementioned combination of Evans and Howe who booted seven for the quarter between them. It was all quite ridiculous. With 13 minutes to go we had still been losing. Cue a landslide, and cue GWS playing like we do when somebody puts the heat on. How are we in the same boat as teams like this?

All this without Clark who had disappeared with an injury that for the second time against the Giants at the MCG threatens to take all the fun out of it. I swear he's not been fit for one minute this year, so winnable game next week or not if he needs the rest give it to him. Not entirely sure who'll play up front in that case (Pedo? Sellar? Jamar? Hogan in a blonde wig with Troy Davis' number on?) but having him for 16/17 other games this year is more important than running him into the ground.

Howe is always a consistent performer, one of the few who can put his hand up every week even when we're shit, but I've been thrilled by Evans' performances over the last couple of weeks. There were eyebrows raised when he got promoted off the rookie list despite missing all of last season, but on the strength of last week and today you can see why they were keen to have him available. He looks like somebody from the crowd who has blagged their way onto the field in a Melbourne jumper, but unlike most of our other players who plays like he belongs, and if he's going to kick goals too - including some CRUMB - so much the better. Happy to have recognised his potential two years ago when I gave him 4 votes on debut behind some bloke called Gysberts who has since disappeared.

The rampage got to the point where even Colin Sylvia was bursting through the middle, knocking off teenagers like Jack Darling on school camp. I'm definitely applying the STF on that piece of play, because no real team would have allowed it and if he could do it against anyone he would more than once a year but his last two weeks have given me some hope that we'll at least get a great season out of him before he dicks us and goes elsewhere.

In the end the mood swung around from mass distress to Carnivale, with every goal ratcheting up the good times metre but while it was nice - and I was loving the goals don't worry about that I was hardly in the mood to celebrate. I'm glad for the players, coaches and everyone else properly involved but we're not out of the woods yet. For now there's no blood on the players' hands (which would mark a third lot for Davey, Dunn, Jamar and Sylvia who must spend a lot of time washing theirs Lady Macbeth style) but after the (subdued) elation of victory wears off they're going to have to look at why were we in that hole in the first place when the Giants weren't actually playing all that well themselves.

They were quick, and were taking advantage of us to get loose players all over the shop but their general kicking and disposal was shite and that's what kept us on the same level long enough to wear them down before clocking them in party time. Strangest part of today was how Jack Viney had held his own against grown men in shit sides for three weeks, then when we get a fair and balanced matchup against kids he goes missing. Never mind, one so young cannot be expected to be on top every week. I expect that once we get to the Facebook Comment of the Week I'll find at least one person suggesting that he was 'tanking' in order to try and get his dad the senior coaching job. I did like how he initially refused go to the middle of the circle for the club song, and had to be reluctantly forced in a'la the Speaker of the House.

Speaking of the coach, the Trial By Seemingly Everyone Except Me is adjourned for another week, but no doubt there's another belt of it on the way soon unless something dramatic happens. Beating Brisbane would be a good start, if we can get past Moloney's inevitable 47 possession game and the SME kicking six. Their losing margins haven't been quite as drastic as ours, and their win over a new club was a lot more heart stopping, but they're under the pump too. Imagine if Moloney has a shocker next week and Voss gets sacked, then Neeld cops it in the neck later in the year - Beamer could be the first man ever to contribute to two coaches being sacked in one year.

They're flat as a tack, but there'll be nothing more that'll get them going again than beating us. Do we get the rampaging elephant version of the MFC? Probably not, but I'll take the first half of the West Coast game variety again if they're offering - just for four quarters this time. Suddenly we're not the ones under all the pressure, time to stick the knife into somebody else for once.

Coaching Corner
Like it not Neeld is going nowhere this week and hopefully we can have some rest from a thousand articles about how bad we are and how he's a terrible guy for doing whatever. Speaking of, we've all got our historical issues with Matthew Lloyd, and he does often come out with some tremendous bollocks, but this article about how bad we are does make some sense - at least compared to Luke Darcy's anti-beard crusade and Damien Barrett performing frottage on a cardboard cut-out of Kevin Sheedy as he tries to extend yesterday's hero's coaching career into a 12th decade.

When he resists the temptation to write the exact same article as everybody else has for the last six months ("OMG, shit drafting. Should have picked Nic Nat/Dustin Martin/Jack Darling/Jaxon Crabb etc.. Thanks for the newsflash arseholes) he makes sense in saying the board - who are on shifting sands themselves - have to either back him or sack the coach. Last week I said that there was nothing to be gained from sacking him, and I still believe that, but I do take the point that the board either have to properly support him (and not just with glib statements) or we're just going to be a sideshow after every loss.

There's no need for a random extension of contract or anything, we've got him until the end of next year and with a record like he has there shouldn't be any worry about Ross Lyon-esque midnight phone calls. The board can say under no circumstances will they remove him before the end of the season and at least give him and his team the chance to have some clear air until the end of the year. If we're still ratshit then and they've got no faith in it turning around then they can make the move, we can wheel the next victim in and go back to square one. If we've improved and go backwards in 2014 they can still give him the arse, and if we improve and keep improving then I'll be as surprised as anybody. If there are players who come out and say "I will only stay if you get rid of the coach" then trade them as soon as you possibly can even if you are going to change coach.

Also assuming that the likes of Leigh Matthews and Paul Roos are quite happy in the media, Clarkson doesn't fancy swapping quality for horsemeat and Kevin Sheedy is finally wheeled into "Past Glories Retirement Village" (where like today he can stand around talking to himself because nobody's given him a headset) can somebody provide a primer as to who the potential candidates are in the event of a replacement being required at the end of the year. Who are the key assistants and why should be even remotely interested in going back to square one with any of them?

During the week I saw somebody claim that "nobody would want to coach us at the moment", which is absolute bollocks because bad football clubs are like prostitutes - there's always a man out there somewhere who thinks he can save them (and who will presumably wind up broken and bankrupt both morally and financially). Ok, you may not convince Chris Scott to walk out on Kardinia Park but there's 17 other teams chock full of assistants, most of whom would be champing at the bit for a crack. Sure, you might not get a 'big' name, but Ken Hinkley was hardly Port's first choice and all of a sudden he's being hailed as a messiah. If all else fails there's always this guy.

Still, for the moment I'm going to stay in the (online at least) minority and stand by the man. Mistakes have been made, and ok Rodan/Pedersen/Byrnes should probably be stepping aside for the youth of tomorrow eventually but if anybody can locate these supposed killer replacements please contact the Melbourne Football Club courtesy of AAMI Park.

2013 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes

5 - Nathan Jones
4 - Shannon Byrnes
3 - Michael Evans
2 - Max Gawn
1 - Jack Grimes

Apologies to Bail, Davey (pro rata), Garland, Howe, M. Jones, Pedersen, Sylvia and Terlich.

It's beginning to look a lot like 2012 at the top. Grimes still doggedly avoiding the Seecamp DQ, and welcome for the votes for the very first time to S. Byrnes of Geelong.

15 - Nathan Jones
9 - Matt Jones (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Rising Star Award)
7 - Jack Viney
5 - Jack Grimes (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
4 - Shannon Byrnes, Jeremy Howe, Colin Sylvia
3 - Michael Evans
2 - Aaron Davey, Max Gawn (JOINT LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year), Mark Jamar (JOINT LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
1 - Mitch Clark, James Frawley, Jordie McKenzie

Crowd Watch
Just over 20,000 apparently, and I see that inventing fictional crowd numbers for GWS games now extends to their away matches as well. That said there's no doubt there were a lot of neutrals there who took advantage of decent weather to come along and see an execution, and to them I say thanks for paying to get in (although you probably got a free ticket) now you can jam it in your arse.

Considering the crowd it was almost obscene how many GWS fans were there. Who did these people barrack for two years ago? They can't all be natives of Sydney's west who have just discovered the game and decided to travel to the MCG. If you're actually from the area I'll pay it reluctantly, but there seems to be more than a handful of adults in Melbourne who have done a total about face and selected a new team. How can anybody over the age of 13 do this with a straight face? Do you know somebody like this, can you please ask them what the hell they are doing?

Not to mention anybody who lets their kids follow them or Gold Coast. Ok it's practically child abuse to force them to go for Melbourne, but if your kid walks in and says "I HATE THE DEMONS" (and why wouldn't they?) before declaring they want to go for one of these plastic franchise teams it's your duty to steer them away. If they can't be steered back to the red and blue then at least get them to follow a real team, then refuse to ever take them to a game except when their new team plays us and even then they have to sit there and STFU for four quarters. Further advice on child rearing is available by sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Demonblog Towers.

But while we're at it thanks to the various turncoats and street performers who helped boost the crowd numbers a bit. It's fair to say that not many of them made it to the top deck of the Ponsford which was very sparse populated, but apologies to the people in front of me who were inadvertently on the end of a massive anti-Scully spray featuring most of the big gun obscenities after he gave away that downfield free kick in the last quarter. Also apologies to the MCC for battering the bejesus out of the seat in front of me in Q32 whenever we kicked a goal in the last quarter, I was so excited relieved and just couldn't hide it.

Meanwhile how bitter and twisted would the AFL and (secretly) the MCC be that they have to put games like this on at the MCG when they could be making millions more without us. Imagine if they could rig it so that on any given week there were two/three games there that involved Carlton, Collingwood, Richmond or Essendon as the home team? I know it's 'our' ground and all but we need to watch our back with all this boutique stadium talk going around, because if we're not careful we'll be strongarmed into playing at Punt Road Mk. 2 instead of the MCG so that everyone except us can make an extra buck.

Sure the MCC Members would crack the sads for about 20 minutes until they got reciprocal rights at the new ground and a letter from the MCC saying "you're free to hand in your membership if you're not happy, we have 500 million others on the waiting list", but I've noticed in our club constitution that while there's a clause about the members having to approve any mergers there's nothing in there about relocation or changing home ground. I'm sure there'll be bigger fish to fry, but I think we should rectify that at the next AGM. Make it so that any move to relocate more than four home games a year to a ground other than the MCG has to be approved by the members. The AFL will still get their way if they want, and they'll bully us into it in the end but at least we can go down with a fight and put our disdain on record. Think about it and I'll see you at next year's AGM for the big vote.

Facebook Comment of the Week

This week, we have premature evacuation, bizarre third party comments and why tanking is the right thing to do as long as there's no draft picks on the table.

Enjoy seeing your hard work in print - next week I'm going to take advantage of the fact that everyone will be at home watching by switching to the MFC Tweet of the Week, highlighting the best things sent to @melbournefc during the game. This is highly dangerous as no doubt either you or somebody you know will get a run and I'll cop even more hell than that time I bagged Black Caviar.

Next Week
When we were lined up against Port in the opening round it was a disaster because the resulting wild scenes from the loss dynamited any confidence the team might have had left BUT now we've got a team who are in our league while we're coming off a confidence boosting quarter. If we go back to being turnips then resume the executions, but it's a good chance to start again and - god forbid - undeservedly get somewhere near the top eight.

For the first time in about three years I managed to be at enough of a loose end on Saturday to justify going to watch Casey play. It didn't hurt that I wanted to go to Windy Hill at least once, even if it is a hollowed out shell of what it used to be and several times a game of bowls next door was interrupted by a footy bouncing onto their green. They did, however, have a proper food caravan which is a step up from the primary school canteen at Casey Fields.

The good news is that the Scorpions had a win, but don't get too excited because it was an Essendon C team with barely a game of AFL experience amongst them other than from Matthew Bate, who looks like he's lost half his body weight (send canned food for him C/O Essendon Post Office) and didn't appear to get a touch until late in the 2nd quarter.

I have no idea who their ruckmen were or what EDFL team they played for last week but they allowed the unheralded combination of Jake Spencer and Jack Fitzpatrick to look like Dean Cox II and Dean Cox III. Unfortunately for both of them Jamar looked reasonably good today, and Gawn has absolutely sewn up his spot in the team so they'll both be playing for nothing until one of them is injured. It was still bizarre to see the Spencil so dominant. He was also not bad with his disposals when he had time (i.e from mark/free kick) but he's still an absolute disaster in traffic.

At least Fitz could have an argument (not a very convincing one) for a spot in the forward line if we get desperate, but at the risk of having rotten fruit lobbed at me I'd like to suggest that if Clark can't play and we don't have any other forwards that we park Jamar down there for four quarters and play a Spencil/Gawn ruck duo. It's not pretty, it might not be effective, but at least it's some kind of target without having to rely on Howe to stand on heads just to get a shot at goal. Fitzpatrick lost me a bit when he took a mark 30 metres out on no angle and did that bullshit kick around the corner thing.

'Essendon' were a lot like Melbourne were against real Essendon, they were terrible from centre clearances, conceded a rush of goals in the third quarter which killed the contest (at least they kept it to one quarter), had one good forward target who they couldn't get it to enough and a backline who battled manfully but were eventually overwhelmed by sheer weight of numbers. Was nice to be on the 'other' side for once even if it was only the VFL.

All the MFC players put in at least 'good' performances (and how could you not in an 80 something point win?), and excluding those who can't play like Magner, Couch and Hogan (who I command you to DROOL over. His marking and pack crashing will bring tears to your eyes in a good way even if his set shot run-up is even worse than Dunn's) the better players were Spencer, McKenzie and Rodan. Jordie is a certainty, and as for the other two the first is not required with Gawn/Jamar in the team (assuming my selection theories are not of interest to the match committee) and the third has hit a massive dead end in the seniors, but to be fair to him he has only played one full game. Still, we know what our lot is for this season now so we may as well stick to playing one or the other of he and Byrnes and giving the other spot to a 'kid'.

Taggert was probably the next best, playing up forward for a couple of goals and some good defensive pressure, and all of Clisby, Kent, Strauss and Tynan had their moments but other than Jordie nobody stood out as a player who will actually impact what's drastically wrong with us on-field. Strauss was probably the best of the defenders coming off half-back, and he'll get his opportunities eventually but nothing to get over excited about yet (in his fourth season). Magner might help plug the gap in the middle but he can't. Troy Davis was ok too, but with respect to the man himself who looks like a lovely gent I'm still confused as to why we kept him at the end of last year.

Then there's Blease and Nicholson, who both had their moments but neither could claim to have played anywhere near four solid quarters. The amount of times Blease collects the ball, beats an opponent with pace and proceeds to kick it straight down the throat of one of their players is ridiculous. I'd pack away this obsession about turning everybody into a midfielder and put him back inside 50 where he did the most damage last year.

So, assuming Clark can't play and Jetta won't be allowed to play I'll opt for...

IN: McKenzie, Blease (maybe Taggert for novelty?)
OUT: Clark (inj), Jetta (susp)

If Clark makes a miracle recovery I'll just take a straight McKenzie for Jetta. Toumpas didn't play yesterday, and that hardly did wonders for Watts' confidence so I'd like to see him playing VFL before he gets a recall to the 1's. Watts and Blease to both go forward and Davey to replace Jetta in the starting lineup.

Was it worth it?

To have been there for history (in a good way for once) makes it worthwhile overall, but I still feel like we've just papered over the cracks for a week. I'm over the moon that the monkey is off the back of the players a bit, and hope they can treat next week like Round 1.

Final Thoughts
Melbourne Football Club, get well soon.

Friday 19 April 2013

Sunday 14 April 2013


Before we begin, Demonblog Films presents the second instalment in our series tracing Mark Neeld's harrowing journey through 2013. This was supposed to stretch out across the season and culminate in a spectacular conclusion in Round 23 but I'm getting antsy that sadly we won't make it that far together, so best rush produce the last three episodes in case they all need to be played at once next Sunday.

*Normal programming resumes here*

This football thing is all getting a bit much isn't it? (spoiler alert: YES IT BLOODY WELL IS). Even when something tasty is briefly dangled above our head it's soon snatched away and replaced by strips of rancid meat. Dark clouds are everywhere and karmic payback for ruining Addam Maric's career by stereotyping him as an emo is that we shall all be turned into emos for the rest of our supporting lives. Sorry about that.

Thank god for Essendon I suppose, though it would have been nice if they could have been thrown into turmoil last week before obliterating us. Not that it would have mattered much considering the performance we put in, James Hird could have been fronting the International Criminal Court in The Hague and he'd have still managed to get back in time to rack up a 20 goal plus win by taking advantage of grand slam defending like this (picture courtesy @lachie66, who seems to have a chandelier in his house).

I assume that everyone goes through different stages of footballing grief, but I've got mine down to such a fine art that you can manage your calendar by it. Assuming we've lost (and the odds of that are pretty good) I'll trudge home gloomily, kick a few inanimate objects, eat my feelings and mangle the keyboard until some minor level of catharsis has been achieved. Then on "Day 2" I'll look at some forums, read the newspaper reports and listen to us being unmercifully pilloried on the radio, which will cause my blood pressure to head north again.

If it's a Sunday game there's generally less time for cleansing of the soul and we get a jump start on Day 3 (Monday) where deepression has well and truly set in and I start to wonder if there's any reason to go on. This is exacerbated by having to talk about the result to every man and their dog. Yes, I know we were no good. No I don't know what's wrong with them. Repeat five times. It's ok with MFC fans, but please Hawthorn and Collingwood fans queue up and tell me what's wrong with our club because that's something we really appreciate.

By Day 4 (Tuesday) I've had everybody in the world who considers themselves a "bit of a comedian" doing jokes at our expense (there was one belter this week about the waterboy being sacked for poisoning the players that somebody tried to get over about ten times, all of which were totally ignored until he gave up and moved onto our other local MFC fans), have foolishly clicked more SACK EVERYONE threads and will have read/seen enough SACK EVERYONE, WAIT DON'T SACK THEM THEY'RE ALRIGHT media reports to cause maximum deespair to set in.

It's more of the same on Wednesday before everything starts to turn around on Day 6 (Thursday). By 5pm I'm gagging to see team changes, and am actually starting to look forward to the game even though I know exactly what the pattern of the next week is going to be. It should be pointed out for the record, and for evidence in future Fair Work Australia cases, that somewhere in the midst of all of this deestress actual work is occasionally done. Friday is more of the same, the excitement of "this could be the week somebody good happens", topped off by watching good teams play at night and trying to remember back to what it was like when we were young and full of hope. Then the match rolls around, we got tonked and the vicious cycle begins again.

In those grim days mid-week where THE FEAR has well and truly taken over I wind up like Homer Simpson seeing Moe's face everywhere in the wake of the Flaming Moe/Homer incident. Everything I read, and everything I hear features some sort of wisdom that either seems to explain the predicament of the Melbourne Football Club or seems highly apt about the state we've got ourselves into.

This week I was looking for something else when totally by accident I stumbled upon a cheery piece called To Those Born Later by our East German correspondent Bertholt Brecht (who has Demonblog form, having previously been turned to in times of crisis). Join me in putting aside full footy bogan mode for a paragraph and entering full literary wanker mode instead - and tell me if this doesn't ring true as a Melbourne loyalist.

Truly, I live in dark times!
Frank speech is naive

A smooth forehead suggests insensitivity. 
The man who laughs has simply not yet had the terrible news.

He goes on to basically suggest life is shit which, with respect to people in the world who have real problems, it actually is if you're a Dees fan.

There is no ducking the fact that we're constantly finding new ways of hitting rock bottom, because unless you're a kid who isn't old enough to know better (and the ones that do have until Monday to switch teams and avoid becoming a playground comedy figure) the fun has been completely sucked out of the experience (not The Experience, whose name just conjures up memories of good times and great haircuts in the recent past) of being a 'fan'.

The rush some of us still get before and during a game - at least for a while - is one thing, but other than Essendon killing themselves and the inaugural Carnival of Hate, which had a completely different storyline, the last time I had actual proper fun at the footy was 659 days ago on Saturday 25 June, 2011 when we beat Richmond, the late Jack Watts was best on ground and Melbourne (yes, that Melbourne) moved half a game inside the eight. Good times indeed. Just over a month later we got clocked by the 186 meteorite and it's been one horror after another since to the point where Jack has been driven mental, we've won six games at about one every 110 days (including the off-season) and Richmond are apparently actually quite good. And more power to the Tigers, somebody has to take their opportunities instead of imploding at the slightest provocation.

Admittedly not every single week ends with friends and family holding me back from introducing fork into toaster. For instance summer is quite restful, but even during the season sometimes you just sit there for four quarters watching the inevitable then go home and think "well, I've done my bit". Sometimes you might even get a few minutes or a quarter to bag up and take home as a happy memory in lieu of actual solid gold wins. Occasionally you get a mixture of all the emotions - take for instance last year against St Kilda when the first half was so boring you'd have been forgiven for falling asleep, then they thumped us in the third quarter before we got the cut-out-and-keep, possibly never to be repeated NQR Blease rampage in the final term.

What I really want is the right to be at least a little bit arrogant again. Obviously until you're at least a finals team you should generally shut your mouth and get on with your life, but I was re-reading an old post during the week and this bit from the day we flogged Sydney (the absolute undoubted highpoint of the Dark Ages) says it all in regards to some panicking fool who would go on to see his team win a flag two years later:

My highlight was in the middle of the third quarter massacre when Sydney were trying, albeit comically, to get it out of their backline and he screamed "KENNEDY! KENNEDY! KICK IT TO KENNEDY!" and somebody yelled out "Kick it to whoever you like, it's not going to fucking help you". Brought the house down. Hearing our fans ripping out arrogant lines again is almost enough to bring a tear to the eye.

Can you imagine that happening today? Too much ammunition has been handed out to the opposition for anybody but the bravest individual to start dropping bombs on other supporters until at least 2015. We've gone from 'on the rise' (allegedly), to a scandal tainted, farcically run outfit who are permanently mired in the bottom four (at best) and have been officially designated as the punching bag for every poon in the media who wants to rack up a few more hits on their articles or get the switchboards to light up by saying something provocative about us. Step forward Barrett, Darcy, Smith, Wilson et al and take your shots, you're kicking a lifeless corpse you weak pricks.

Anyway, as if you needed to go through all that for me to tell you we're no good. I'm sure you were well aware of the situation, but here's the stat that'll make you wish for a nuclear war - our winless start and percentage across the first three games of the season (35%) represent a worse first three games of the season than any side since St Kilda - 1985 (34.7%).

Think about that for a while and see if you're still interested in getting out of bed on Monday morning. If I'm going to be pitched into a state of terminal self-loathing I'm taking the 300 or so readers of this page with me. If that's not bad enough if it's officially the 8th worst start in history and third shittest since 1910.

1 - St Kilda - 1898 (21.3%)
2 - St Kilda - 1899 (22.7%)
3 - Carlton - 1901 (24.8%)
4 - St Kilda - 1897 (26.5%)
5 - Hawthorn - 1950 (29.3%)
6 - St Kilda - 1910 (34.7%)

Given how easy if was to have dramatic rises and falls in percentage in the years when teams scored about 15 points a match (the 1898 record was set with a largest loss of 76 points) I'm not even counting those in the final tally - let's skip straight to 1950 and honestly call it the third worst start ever. CALL 1300 DEMONS AND BUY A MEMBERSHIP IMMEDIATELY! At least we're not St Kilda right?

So that's the sort of hole we're in, and god knows how we're going to get out. There really were some good signs today, and I'd almost have taken any loss under 100 before the first bounce if you'd offered it, so it's hard to get too down on what happened (other than the usual level of background disappointment that has hovered over us since Round 1, 2007) but the fact remains that in the end we were lucky to avoid our 25th entry to this list. Does the fact that the disaster was almost entirely confined to one quarter wipe out all the gains from the first two?

I think there's still a lot to be taken from the first half even knowing what came after it. Without a recognised tagger, and with two of our key defenders (Frawley and Thousand Yard Stare Garland) playing like they'd finally cracked under the pressure of holding us together for years we played proper, league standard football for large periods of time and twice kicked four goals in a row - which without consulting the record books probably happened twice all of last season.

First things first let's get it out of our system and boo the all too often inept umpires for rorting us out of our deserved 10 goal loss. Do you feel better now? It can at least be said that our players had an actual, proper bash for the first half this week. Not the first five minutes before the CBF's kick in like Essendon, two entire quarters. They were running with their opponents, they were running for their teammates, we were even winning honest to goodness clearances against a proper midfield. I even saw somebody shepherd. Good god who are these players and what have you done with the real MFC?

Of course we had to go through a period where it looked a bit Round 2, a bit exactly like the real MFC, where we spent the first five minutes breaking even and thinking we were in it before getting (presumably) belted. Even worse this time we conceded the first two goals (don't forget last week at one point it was 6-6), causing red lights and alarms to start going off everywhere.

Then something magical temporarily happened and we started to look like an AFL side again against a team who were not Gold Coast or GWS. It wasn't just Nathan Jones and Mitch Clark carrying the team on their shoulders as usual, Trengove was playing his best game for a long time and even Jamar had remembered how to tap (although in general play he bombed out to levels approaching his almost criminal 2003-2008 output) and Sylvia was clearly responding to me trying to get rid of him (more likely responding to his agent reminding him that it's not good enough to just be a free agent, you have to score a decent contract too) with one of those cameos he throws in every once in a while which make you think he'd be a deadly permanent forward. Not getting fooled yet, but I'll still enjoy it when it happens.

By the 20 minute mark we were in front and the small but tightly wound up crowd were going well over the top (myself included). Jack Viney even got a rousing ovation just for getting a kick. Suddenly the presence of fringe players like Bail, Evans and to a lesser extent Jetta was having the sort of positive influence I'm sure they were convinced the Byrnes, Pedersen, Rodan trio were going to provide before they collectively failed to fire a shot other than a couple of cheap Byrnes goals.

Given that we weren't doing too badly in the middle despite the likes of Priddis and Kerr being able to run around doing whatever they liked, it would have been just reward for bouncing back from a bad start to hold the lead until quarter time - but that was that for the first term and the Eagles got the last three. Gate slammed shut again. Typical MFC.

Still, apart from Bail going off with what was suspected to be a concussion at the time and which could have finished him off forever, the second quarter had moments to recommend it for future viewing as well. Ok, so the Eagles got the first goal within the first minute and it looked like we were about to be wiped off the face of the planet (save that for later), but once we realised that Mitch Clark was a god amongst men and decided to just boot it at him and let him do the rest we managed to not only put the brakes on but actually kick some goals as well. He got another one on either side of some crumb - the one thing we seem to be better at this year - and god help us all we were not only in front but in front by double figures. Jaw dropping stuff. If you thought alarms were going off earlier in the game imagine what was happening at this point, apparently even UVB-76 briefly went off air due to the shock. Then we got thrashed.

Yes, the four goals in a row and the brief moment of joy across the MCG which greeted them was pretty much the end of it for us, but at least we got to see something memorable - and it wasn't just two crumbed goals from a side who almost completely rejected the concept last year - it was in fact another highlight reel screamer courtesy of Jeremy Howe. It's doubtful that anything else memorable will come out of the match (unless you're a West Coast fan), but we'll always have his Mark of the Year - and at least this time when it's shown endlessly the score in the corner of the screen will reflect a point in the game where we were actually doing well. My highlight from that picture is the woman who has shown up to sit in the stands and casually read the paper. Also good to see celebrity Dees fan Anthony Michael Hall reprising his role in The Breakfast Club in the bottom right of shot.

As far as highlights went our collection sort of grinds to a halt at about the time he landed on earth and flubbed the kick, because once again just as soon as we got ourselves in a decent position we fell apart. Terlich went from a hero in the first quarter to booting the ball down the throat of an Eagles player, eventually leading to a Josh Kennedy goal. He of the fruitiest run-up in history had botched two easy chances in the first term, one possibly due to the crowd breaking out in laughter just before he dropped the ball, but give him enough chances to get it right and he will eventually. By half time he'd very much solved the issues, seemingly by removing one shuffle out of his motion, and we were very keen to give him as many chances as required to practice.

Then there was Darling who [INSERT COMMENT ABOUT LUCAS COOK HERE]. We got the last goal of the half through Trengove but it was no good getting involved in a shootout because that's something we're woefully underprepared for. It's fine to get a few goals out of the midfield, but unless we were kicking it at Clark or Sylvia there was barely any point going forward. Compare and contrast to the other end where they were threatening to kick them from all over the place, and both Frawley and Garland looked like they wanted to be anywhere else. Tom McDonald, the official King of Sizzle, was having his issues with Darling but at least he appeared to care.

You could just tell that it was going to go wrong at some point, though even I didn't think we'd manage to find a way to almost lose by the ton, even though the Eagles were 0-2 and facing the possibility of landing at Perth Airport to be attacked by an angry mob if they somehow contrived to lose to. Big deal, you could tell that Worsfold wasn't all that concerned by the prospect - even if it's hard to tell because he only has one more facial expression than Garland - he knew as well as anybody that we were playing out of our skin when we took the lead and that after everything settled down his side had too many stars for us to handle. It looks to me like they're also got a few duds (and as a Melbourne fan I think I can spot them) but who cares when they're not the ones required to do the heavy lifting?

When we got the margin to season high double figures in the second quarter courtesy of Howe's arsey snap Worsfold might have broken into a very light sweat but he needn't have worried. Even with the underdone Kerr and Le Cras (complete with dodgy arm cast a'la Cowboy Bob Orton) they had too much power for us on all lines - but especially up front, and even more especially when Cox went down there to give us three talls to have no idea about/no interest in stopping.

So, the chances of us winning were somewhere between slim and none anyway but surely after the most popular 10 point half time deficit in the history of footy (they even got clapped off, which I wasn't entirely against considering everything which has happened recently) we'd get a bit more of the same, even if the returns rapidly diminished as the afternoon went on. That'd be ok, we could handle that.

Surely the team building benefits of the Sorrento Scrabble tournament (sample scores include FARCE - 10pts and SHAMBLES - 15pts) and the prospect of spending another week being beaten from pillar to post in the media would encourage them to not go out and get totally molested. "We might even run over the top of them in the last quarter and win!" said nobody, but plenty of us were willing to believe that we could go into next week's Battle for 17th with a credible 30/40 point defeat behind us. That really is as good as it gets against finals contenders at the moment.

We were horribly wrong, and it was two of the great storylines of the Neeld era which came together to sink us and possibly him. Despite losing the first two games by a combined total of a million points we'd kept the damage in the first five minutes of third quarters down to just 1.1 - and had even scored a goal ourselves. Considering we lost that count by 20 goals last year it was one of the very few positives to come out of Fiasco Fortnight, but when the first goal went in within seconds and another one followed soon after it was obvious that yet again whatever had been said or done at half time had not had the desired effect.

Last week the Bombers got their 28 goals via a consistent spread of 6, 8, 7, 7 - so to go out and cop 11 in one quarter today was a heartbreaker. For the third week in a row we looked half decent going forward in the first half before totally falling in a hole during the third - with our worst quarter since the 2nd of 186 where we conceded 12 goals to one. Why does this happen once every week? We have had runs of four or five goals against us in every single full length match we've played this year, and almost every match last season as well. Are they all mental, is it the coaching (internet says yes) or a combination of the two?

As usual when the landslide started we just stood there and got poleaxed by it. It doesn't matter which players they bring in, the same thing happens. Now that I'm starting to look back on the last two years of the Dean Bailey era as a golden age (relatively speaking and pre-186 anyway) it's become clear to me that while this sort of stuff used to happen every few weeks when he was coach that it happens every single week since he hasn't been. This is the kind of thing that will sink Neeld in the end.

Ok, so both the first five minutes curse (which really needs a catchy name that people can get into like Bailey Quarter. Neeld Time?) and the 11 goal massacre were started by some classic cheating tactical mastery by Ashton Hams, but it serves them right for trying to tackle him around the shoulders in the first place. One day he'll duck straight into some sort of Byron Pickett-esque shirtfront and leave the game with a broken jaw. The aggressor will get six weeks and he'll need it to read through all the letters of congratulations from around the country. I don't know why we keep recruiting people who try to play within the rules (since Pickett at least) because obviously it gets you nowhere. There's no time for snobbery any more, give me the neck tatted psychos from Broadmeadows Tech.

So a manageable, and in fact almost heroic, 10 point deficit had become a "more of the same old shit" 73 in about half an hour. At least at the other end we'd kicked ten, which is actually only the 6th time we've done this under Neeld. If we can get the ball down there consistently we can kick half decent scores, it's just a matter of getting it down there instead of having it go the other way.

All of a sudden 100 was back on the cards, which was good news for West Coast fans or peanuts trying to get their head on TV yelling stupid shit over the race at the end. It was natural and understandable after round 1, but last week it was just tossers grandstanding and Essendon fans trying to be smart - and I can only imagine what it'll be like if we get done next week (possibly back to natural and understandable). Either way I'm not sure these players need to be told they're shit anymore, I think if they weren't aware of it after the Port game they've certainly worked it out of the last fortnight.

In the end we just managed to avoid the dreaded triple figures thanks to Sellar making his one and only contribution of the day to kick a goal which seemingly made it safe (until they got one back straight after) and we were forced to endure a nervy wait to see if the psychological barrier between serious disappointment and murderous rage was going to be passed. We just held on, and even though it's not fooling anyone that we were any good at least it's not a big, juicy three digit margin for everyone to wave around.

It's a good thing we got poleaxed in the third and were just normally bad in the last (even though the Eagles had all but given up and we still lost the last quarter easily) because the last thing they need is to go into next week on the back of conceding 11 goals in a quarter. Last year when there was still a bit of life in them, and when GWS were still losing by 150 every second week, we could stand to concede the first three goals and come back to win easily - I fear if that happens again next week it could be curtains and that the 200 people present will resort to violence.

Good luck being a coach trying to review this game with the players. Striking a balance between concentrating on what they did right at the start and so badly in the third quarter would be difficult. There's a lot of material for them to work with, but is there a special setting in the software which shows where everyone was when we went missing in the third quarter? Following us is like investing in the Zimbabwean Stock Exchange, for every minor gain there's a gigantic crash waiting just around the corner.

As long as they don't shy from showing footage of players stopping in traffic because they had no idea what to do or Grimes (who is excused due to signing a new contract) being so surprised that Toumpas was shepherding for him that he decided to handball into the Teen Idol's guts. It didn't end well. As a group they still don't know what to do under pressure, and neither Byrnes or Pedersen was helping with that today. I'm starting to come around to the folly of getting these guys, and if the SME isn't a better option then Pedo I'm not here, but we still need players to replace them with.

Some of the inclusions did well today (especially Evans) but how much more is there in the tank? Realistic options not in the side today were Blease, Dawes, Gawn, Gillies, Kent, Macdonald, McKenzie, Nicholson, Rodan, Spencil, Strauss, Tynan and Watts. McKenzie is straight in, Dawes will be, Blease could replace Byrnes, Strauss will get a go at the back at some point and maybe Gawn/Spencer into the starting ruck and Jamar forward with Sellar/Pedersen out?

There are options, but are there enough to make a difference? Evans and Bail did well today, McKenzie certainly would just for the tagging, Dawes is an unknown quantity and it's anybody's guess which Watts or Blease will turn up on any given day.
Mark Neeld doesn't seem to be the kind of guy to shit himself under pressure, but if I were him I'd spend at least one day next week laying explosive booby traps around the edges of my office and investing in bullet proof armour because rightly or wrongly if we lose against the Giants he will have to run the biggest, most brutal siege since Waco to be in Brisbane on the afternoon of Sunday 28 April.

Every week there's more and more people turning on him, and I can't blame them considering the results but I really don't think that no matter what happens next week there's any point dumping him right there and then. We're hardly going to make the finals (this is not The Club and Jimmy Toumpas is not Geoff Hayward) and secondly he's just going to get replaced by somebody who has been involved almost as intimately in the process over the last couple of years. It would be nothing more than a sacrifice to the media and fans, and if you think a new coach is going to save us from getting shithouse crowds every week for the rest of this year you're mad.

Unless there's some ridiculous power struggle behind the scenes between Craig and Neeld (and I'm sure there isn't) where they're pulling in different directions you're not going to get anything more than the token 'new coach' bounce for a half like we did today before the Memorial Reality Bus arrives and we get thrashed anyway. That is if Craig becomes coach. People seem to be whacking off over the idea of Todd Viney doing it again, which I'd cop if it got to that but has anyone made sure he's actually interested?

Talk to me again in Round 11 when I might be in the absolute minority if I'm not already, but throwing him in the volcano now seems almost completely pointless unless you're going to wheel the permanent new coach in to fill the gap straight away and they can get on with preparing for 2014. Unless Paul Roos loses his mind in the next eight days or we're going to exhume the corpse of Checker Hughes and prop it on the sidelines there is nobody who is in a position to do that so what's it going to do for us? Is it going to have the same big boost that we got from sacking the CEO, because that was totally awesome for about three minutes.

Yes, mistakes have been made and yes at the moment there is absolutely no doubt that we're heading down the path of our fourth mid-season sacking in a row at the moment. If it happens, and next time I'm just going to be anti-whoever the coach is because every time I get sucked into optimism and it ends badly, it's time for the players to put their hand up and admit that they're just as responsible as anybody else - and it's time for the assistants to start preparing their CV's and checking in preparation for the end of the season. Though apparently not before one of them coaches out the rest of the season if the Sack Neeld faction get their way.

I just want to know for my own sanity what has gone on over the last few years. Can we hold some sort of Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where we invite back every single person who has played or worked for us in any capacity between 2007 and today (including Bailey, Schwab, $cully, Isaac Weetra and Trent Zomer) to iron out exactly who ordered who to do what, who sacked who, who should have sacked who, who couldn't be stuffed doing the extra training sessions they were set and who cheated at Scrabble in Sorrento. Get it all out in the open, it'll have more of a positive effect than filming Harlem Shake videos.

2013 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
5 - Nathan Jones
4 - Colin Sylvia
3 - Matt Jones
2 - Jack Viney
1 - Mitch Clark

Apologies to Bail, Evans, Grimes, Howe and McDonald.

Normal service resumed at the top, with additional Jones in second.

10 - Nathan Jones
9 - Matt Jones (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Rising Star Award)
7 - Jack Viney
4 - Jack Grimes (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Jeremy Howe, Colin Sylvia
2 - Aaron Davey, Mark Jamar (LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
1 - Mitch Clark, James Frawley, Jordie McKenzie

Crowd Watch
Not quite the empty arena match I expected, but that's probably due to a combination of a) us having a hardcore base of 12/13,000 who will show up no matter what, b) West Coast being relatively well supported in Victoria, c) people from Perth booking their annual holiday to be for a guaranteed win and d) the fact that it didn't absolutely piss down beforehand.

I got there at 2.09pm and missed all the exciting pre-match entertainment but I'm reliably informed that the bugler was not present, which could be the second best thing to come out of this season after this but we'll have to wait for next week to confirm that he was given his marching orders in a two-for-one package deal with Cameron Schwab. Maybe he just called in sick because he had to play in an acid jazz festival somewhere?

Stupid question but have the Eagles remixed their theme song to make it even worse? It's always had some horribly 80's slap bass style shit going on in the background and a woman wailing away on backing vocals but I'm sure today she was even more prominent with her fake orgasm style singing techniques. Please note visiting fans, this is not me being bitter and twisted as I would adopt Call Me Maybe as our theme if it meant winning.

Facebook Comment of the Week

At the risk of losing faith in humanity I'm delving back into the slop. There's such a wide variety of bizarre comments that it's hard to narrow them down to a handful - sadly nothing too over the top, but I'm surprised at the amount of insanely optimistic people still left on there.

It's one thing to say "hooray for the first half, the rest was poo" but people who are going "great performance!" and "We're only two games out of the eight!" are living in a world of innocence which I can only admire. Luckily for them this feature is designed solely to celebrate the ZOMG SACK EVERYONE crowd, who are actually about to win. Now I know how hardened ALP fans feel knowing Tony Abbott is a cert.

Highlights include a topical North Korea reference, Bailey as saviour, a bizarre demand for hidden camera footage, some attempted humour and a person who doesn't seem to understand that our worst start to the season in history has taken place solely at the MCG.

Next Week
To say I'm worried about next week would be an understatement. It's not even about $cully anymore (dollar sign restored, I can't stay non-angry at him for long even if we did clean up on the compo), he's just a sideshow to the whole thing who we might (MIGHT) get the chance to take out a bit of our anger on if we've got the game wrapped up in the last quarter.

No, it's basically become a referendum on Neeld now. If we win then nobody cares because GWS aren't supposed to win at the MCG yet, and if we lose then the "Kick on the G" promotion is going to be marred by people tearing down goalposts and burning obscene messages into the grass at the Punt Road end.

It was disheartening to see them totally stuff up the Watts omission. I swear they dropped him to give him a rest, and that's the reason he didn't play in the VFL, so why bring him to the MCG instead of just sending him away and telling him to totally forget about football for a while? Why create an unnecessary controversy when they could have packed him away for a week and admitted that it was a mental health day (or even 'send him to Casey' where he suffers a mystery injury at home on the morning of the game and can't play).

Otherwise why not just play him in the 2's? If you're going to go through all that you might as well just give him a game and hope he can get some confidence back. Instead we look stupid when it's revealed that not only is he the emergency at the MCG but that Rodan and Spencer are there as well. Craig was on the radio saying the reason he was there is because they didn't want to have to put Spencer in if there was an injury - but in that case who are you expecting Spencer to replace? Late breaking injuries in the warm-up are common enough, but the odds of it happening to Jamar are low enough but when you consider we already had ruckmen of varying degrees in Sellar, Pedersen and Clark playing the odds of the Spencil being required must have been pretty remote unless there was something they knew that we didn't. He certainly played like somebody who couldn't run, but if you're ok to drop a fit Watts then surely you wouldn't hesitate to rest/drop an injured/ill Jamar after last week?

Elsewhere it's time to send Toumpas back to Casey to get some form. The guy came in smiling broadly, shaking hands warmly with his opponents (Gentlemania) and looked good in the NAB Cup but he's a year behind Viney and isn't there to be making difference in a shite team yet. He's not even smiling any more. All of a sudden "We cocked up not drafting Wines" is going around, and while history may very well prove that to be right (if our drafting history is anything to go by) let's remember than Wines has played two games against soft targets in Melbourne and GWS, whereas Toumpas has played two and a bit games in which his side has been absolutely porked sideways.

Your expectations may be higher than mine, but I don't expect a kid to lift a crap team on his shoulders and the fact that Viney seems to be having some success at it should be celebrated as a miracle rather than being set as the standard for other draftees. The Toump will be back, we just need to accept the fact that you don't need to play every high draftee from Round 1.

Good to see Magner amongst the best at the Scorpions again. He'll be thrilled to have to get a job in the KFC Drive-through to supplement his wages because we stuffed up and marooned him on the rookie list. Strauss was amongst the top players too, and I'm sure he'll get a run before long too - at least we can pick him.

IN: Gawn (though no doubt they'll try The Spencil first just to really try everyone's patience), McKenzie, Watts (because if they're not going to properly rest him he may as well play 1's).
OUT: Pedersen, Sellar, Toumpas

LUCKY: Byrnes, Garland, Jamar

Holy Shirt
I meant to include this last week, but forgot it amongst all the angst in the wake of the Essendon debacle. Thanks to everyone who contributed to our fundraiser towards paying a small chunk of the $500k Not Guilty of Tanking Tax. All 55 shirts sold, and after production costs and GST we raised $440 which has been donated to the club.

It was a bit risky for me as I had to order a quantity of shirts up front not knowing if anybody would be interested, but based on the killer design put together by @somtum and some early pre-orders by people who knew about it before it went public it seemed like a good bet.

I was overwhelmed by the response, and wish I'd had about 30 more to sell in the end but the good news is that those of you who scored one got something very limited edition. Thanks for handing over money to me sight unseen, not knowing if I was going to nick it (not that I'd have got very far).

Many thanks also to Barney's Print Management for their support in giving us a great deal on production which allowed us to maximise the donation. I suggest gettng @somtum to design something (not just t-shirts, enquire within) and then getting Barney's to print it. Then go on BigFooty and write about it (for Demonblog would not have been born without them), after clicking taking a legitimate interest in our ads to help pay for the hosting costs of Demonwiki.

Was it worth it?
Approximately 40% yes, 20% was neither here nor there and the rest was total gash.

I walked home again. At the point where I was the furthest away from public transport of any kind (or indeed a road on which a taxi might have come past) it threatened for a minute or two to absolutely piss down and put the icing on the cake of what had already been another thrilling up and down (then down again) day following the Dees.

Final Thoughts
Back to Brecht, because it's my blog and if I want to infuse it with pseudo-intellectual bullshit then I will. He was obviously talking about communism (and didn't that turn out well) but the finale of To Those Born Later also has something for you as an MFC fan - or more likely your yet unborn children.

You who will emerge from the flood.
In which we have gone under
Bring to mind
When you speak of our failings
Bring to mind also the dark times
That you have escaped.

Put that on a t-shirt.