Sunday 25 August 2013

Lifestyles Of The Broke And Irrelevant

God said "The meek shall inherit the wooden spoon", and somehow we've ended up in a position where come next Sunday night that could be us. We've already got our hands on it morally, but for the sake of our reputation in the eyes of future generations who will only have raw data to go on can we please for the love of all that is holy not finish last this season? It's already been arguably the worst season the club has ever played, at least let us end it without the shame of 'winning' another spoon.

Considering the AFL fixture is routinely manipulated like a North Korean opinion poll you have to wonder how they let a GWS vs Gold Coast match happen in the last round. The Suns have well exceeded expectations, but surely somebody thought this game would be a contentious one for the last round - especially because the Tankquiry was in full swing when they put the fixture together.

As a karmic penalty for our involvement in alleged past match fixing activities (P.S - James Hird is going to get the same penalty as Chris Connolly. Work that out) it's us and not Gold Coast who are scrapping with the Giants at the bottom of the sewerage tank, so the direct one-on-one Kruezer Cup, loser wins, style matchup is off the cards but if the Giants win early Sunday afternoon wait for every filthy scumbag on the face of the planet to scrutinise every single move we make in what is already an inevitable defeat to the resurgent Bulldogs.

Thanks to Essendon, Steven Milne, Ahmed Saad and the Horny for Paul Roos trilogy nobody's talking tanking this year, but if we're in that situation then say goodbye to any of the traditional last round shenanigans like playing Tom McDonald at full-forward to try and get him his first goal in 50 games. When you've got nothing to play for that sort of thing is a good natured jape, when losing gains you something it's criminal behaviour.

Having said that there is next to no chance that, unaided by conspiracy theories, the Giants will 'accidentally' beat Gold Coast and give up pick one. The Suns are too good, but you never know when a side's going to play for dignity rather than rolling over and dying on purpose. Besides, if they're convinced they can't get a trade done for Pick 1 and can assist Jeremy Cameron to the Coleman Medal why wouldn't they just go for it? The Suns are a better side, but sometimes - believe it not Melbourne fans - accidents upsets happen.

Were we to somehow end up in last place (teams who have their points withdrawn notwithstanding) it would be morally fitting, and some would no doubt think it was the greatest thing that's ever happened (it's been forgotten in all the horror of the last two years that our 'controversial tactics' did actually work in 2010) but personally I'd be horrified to be confirmed statistically - as well as morally - as the worst team in football yet again. If you can't make do with Pick 2 (not to mention the arrival of one J. Hogan) then you deserve to continue to be shit.

Though I'll miss it when it's all over, we sadly can't skip straight to the off-season before confirming our place in history as one of the few sides in the last 30 years to win two games or less in a season (St Kilda '86, Sydney '93, Fitzroy '95 and '96, Fremantle '01 and GWS '12 and '13). It cannot be stressed how heroic those who have watched almost every moment of this season live - including going to many, many interstate games - are, while the rest of us skived off on holidays halfway through or broke our TV by throwing a heavy Foxtel remote through it.

To say we're limping towards the line would be a tremendous understatement. If James Hird is hiding in a bunker under Berlin as hostile forces thunder towards him with murderous intentions we're ending the season as if the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg accidentally declared war on America and wound up having several atomic bombs dropped on them.

We even managed to time our announcement of the appointment of a new Chief Commercial Officer and the re-signing of Jack Fitzpatrick to occur about five minutes before kick-off of yet another 'exciting' Essendon vs major shareholders press conference. Was this an attempt to ironically poke fun at people who drop bad news when nobody's looking, or did they just think nobody would be looking no matter when we released the news so fuck it why not then or 3.32am?

The saddest thing about Saturday is that even at quarter time when we'd played what amounted to a decent, competitive quarter (though mainly thanks to brave defensive efforts) you justk new that we were going to end up getting snotted by more than 10 goals. You really did, every single one of you. The new President doesn't want honourable losses, but if possible I'd have liked the ruthless aggression era to have started next season after we put in a couple of reasonable performances to finish this year off before the toxic waste clean-up crew move in to bury season 2013 under 50 tonnes of reinforced concrete.

Obviously nobody's expecting victory at this point of the year, even if people involved the club can't publicly admit that or crack gags about it without being suspended for a year, so as much as we'd have loved to avoided entering into spoon calculations at all with a surprise win over the Dean Bailey powered Crows (and was Dean even there yesterday? You'd have thought the TV would have been all over that subplot.. if they had half an interest in talking about footy and not random bullshit) it wasn't going to happen - but at least turn a narrow quarter time lead into a six goal loss rather than totally rolling over and dying to the tune of 11.

Even though it was clear that the dam walls were always going to break at some point it was hard not to be at least slightly impressed with our first quarter. The chase was good, our ball movement was ok, the defence stayed strong like it always does and Dawes being back in the side meant that we at least had some sort of target to kick it at around the 50.

You could tell things were going right when Watts a tremendously bullshit free when his opponent was accused of shepherding out in the greatest miscarriage of justice since the one in that Bob Dylan song. Never fear though, history is a wheel and our brief rise up on its spokes quickly turned bad as we barely got another free for the whole game and Patrick Dangerfield (oh how glorious is it to remember the day Jack Trengove knocked him out and we won by lots?) almost had more for the whole day than we did.

But still, at the time everything seemed to be going reasonably and while nobody who follows this club is ever going to fall for one quarter again even I started dreaming about ruining their last game at Football Park as we did Carlton's last game at Princes Park when we were still winning seven minutes in the second quarter. It was still fairly obvious that if they got their forward line working properly then we were in huge trouble but as Carlton showed a few hours later you can dominate inside 50 as much as you like but it doesn't mean anything unless you put the ball between the posts enough times.

This is not something we can be accused of doing very often (four quarters total this season in fact - the last against GWS, the first three against Footscray and bugger all else), and when fist was reintroduced to back passage in the traditional fashion with four goals in four minutes the Crows had done in as much time as it takes to run a mile what we struggle to do in four quarters. All of a sudden when the pressure came we reverted to our default state of playing like a crowd trying to escape a burning theatre.

Not that I wanted him in the side in the first place, and as rude as it seems to be to say it in the circumstances nor do I want him there next year, but I'm prepared to pay credit to David Rodan for being a huge part of our success in the first quarter before he got injured. I suppose everyone perks up when they see the light flickering at the end of the tunnel (in his case for a third time) but one of his clearances out of the middle was almost better than any other this season, and his centreing pass to the square which led to our first goal was team play personified. It was sad to see him get hurt - knowing he'll almost certainly get the chop at the end of the year if he doesn't put his own hand up first, but at least he can say after a rocky season that he went out playing a quality quarter.

The only remote up-side to this injury was that it meant Aaron Davey got to play pretty much a full game. Why he was named as the sub in the first place in the week where he announced his retirement (unless he self-excluded of course) is another one to throw into the "what in god's name are you people doing?" MFC file. We're not trying to qualify for the finals, so who cares if he's been struggling in recent weeks? He didn't do a great deal again yesterday, and looks like be labouring towards the ultimate finish line more so than almost anybody else on our team but that does not matter right now. The man has two games (now one) of AFL football left and should have been given the respect he deserved to play four quarters. If he doesn't start on the field next week everyone involved in the decision is a bum.

You might have thought that in honour of the young Flash Davey practically inventing the concept of forward pressure in his first few seasons (before the team fell off the cliff and we to reinvent the concept of actually getting the ball forward in the first place) we'd have celebrated one of the great modern day MFC careers by trying to keep the ball in our forward line for more than five seconds a time - but that's not taking into account the fact that we haven't recruited a small forward who even got close to playing a senior game since Jamie Bennell (who ended up playing anywhere but until about five minutes before he did his knee). We do not do small forwards. At some points we don't do forwards at all, but when we do they're all enormous. Hence when the hits the ground it races towards the other end like a greyhound springing free from the gates at Sandown Park.

With all respect to Jake Spencer, who played another really good game and continues to be one of the few players willing to chase his guts out and lay blocks for teammates, when we're kicking to him on a lead 45m out on the boundary line then you know we're not going to kick a decent score in the first place - but expecting a forward line consisting of him, Dawes, Pedo, Howe and Watts to keep the ball down there for more than five seconds at a time is optimistic at best.

They all do a decent job at their core role, but anybody who thinks that any of them are going to stop the opposition whisking the ball from extreme of the field to the other in lightning quick time is insane. It's not all their fault though, we should be able to stop it further up the field before our over-worked and depressed defence has to deal with it - but if the total lack of speed and tackling skill in our forward line isn't addressed this off-season then I'll chuck shit/write nasty things on the internet.

Not that during Adelaide's murderous rampage it was all the forward line's fault, we couldn't even get it past the middle of the ground most of the time. He wasn't there for the first couple of goals, so I'm not suggesting it was all his fault but with respect to Pedersen I find it obscene that he was playing as the second ruck while future #1 Max Gawn was running around Box Hill City Oval in a team where Tom Gillies was playing at full forward.

I respect the difficult situation Pedo was in, but it's not like he was getting a kick anywhere else either as the Crows rodgered us. Not that he was alone. When Watts, who had kicked a goal from a perfect piece of forward play in the first quarter and was doing quite well up front when we actually got it there, turned up as a loose man in defence during the crisis it was clear to everyone that the real Dees had returned. Could you not, say, throw Pedo down there and leave Jack up front doing what he does best? I'm critical of his interest in tackling and chasing but marking and kicking goals does not seem to be a problem for him - anybody can play loose down back and take a few marks, but finding a reliable route to goal such as Dawes to Howe/Watts to Clark/Hogan would go a long way to helping us not be beaten to death on a weekly basis with scores than Little League teams laugh at.

Then just as everyone stopped running and the Crows realised that any chance of bringing shame on their club had been avoided we rammed the disappointment home right up to the shoulder by stuffing up an interchange and gifting them another goal to effectively seal the match. Has any club ever been better at deflating supporter expectations within the space of five minutes? We're as good at that as we are at training and attempted tackles.

In the midst of all this Sylvia laid our first shepherd of the season, unfortunately it was on Pedersen who must wonder why a black cloud floats above him everywhere he goes. Having said that we did eventually kick two goals and have a shot at another with delivery from the middle while he was playing in the ruck, so maybe he was doing something obscure well - the kind of stuff assistant coaches whack off over on their ninth viewing of the replay. Either way he's there for another two years so get used to seeing him float in and out of the side every few weeks. I can handle that, we've had plenty worse over the years.

The two late goals momentarily stopped the violence, made things look better and struck a vital blow for this side in their efforts to avoid the worst 22 game season in club history (see below for '97 Watch) but it's the same old story that you've seen so many times in the last few years, with a reasonable start tossed out the window by the opposition blowing us out of the water in the space of 10 minutes. One day somebody's going to come up with the solution to our problem of bleeding multiple goals in a row and the world will be a better place for it. I would very much like that person to be Mark Williams but at the moment I'll take anybody.

Any momentum we had from those goals lasted for about 20 seconds of the third quarter before normal service resumed. Even after we won the ball out of the centre the ball went inside the Crows' forward 50, where Matt Jones did one of about 1000 hospital handballs delivered by a Demon that afternoon to Jack Grimes who decided that handballing wasn't for him and got pinged for holding the ball. It happened to him again later, but at least that time he was caught trying to run away not just being caught like a deer in the headlights. Nevertheless in a flat performance he was still one of our best players - it's just that it'd be nice if we could give him the space to use the ball rather than having to have him get it in traffic every time.

We got away with the first debacle of the quarter, despite Garland being rolled by the strictest interpretation of '15 metres' in the history of the game from the kick in. Then Grimes got done for HTB again, Dunn gave away his traditional cheap free for belting somebody behind play and eventually after two minutes of trying our hardest to gift them a goal the Crows took the hint and kicked it from 20m out.

It's a shame for Dunn that he makes himself look stupid doing stuff like that because, if I may express an unpopular opinion, he was good again today. Certainly in the first quarter at least, when he was mopping up everything across defence. He went missing in the middle of the second quarter but who didn't? To hold it against one of our players for going missing for a quarter would be like not picking somebody because they don't have precision kicking skills, and we'd never do that - isn't that right James Magner fans?

Poor Mags, sat alone at home next to Andrew Leoncelli with both waiting for Neil Craig to call them all week. 51 touches against Bendigo (who went on to lose to Geelong by a casual 201 points this week) obviously meant nothing, and fair enough too, but walking into AAMI Park to discover that the contents of his locker have been couriered to Casey Fields was taking it a bit far.

One of my few highlights of the third quarter - and the second half - was the sight of Jack Watts sporting a black eye. Not for any sinister reasons, I still hope he'll re-sign and play well just to stick it up his critics including yours truly, but because it was it fit in to my dream that one day he'll get busted wide open a'la Jeremy Howe (done for 'tripping' an opponent with his face) and it will unleashed a fanatical bloodlust in him. Unfortunately that's not likely to be happening while he's playing for us, but good luck to him nonetheless. Witness his third quarter goal for an example of the stuff he does when played properly near the forward line which makes us go weak at the knees. Shame we had to go and ruin it by doing the traditional Melbourne thing of conceding one at the other end 10 seconds later.

We might have had another if Davey had gotten away with having his kick touched on the way through. Considering that the umpires stuffed up the review and asked for it to be checked for 'touched off the boot' when nobody was anywhere near it at the time I thought it would have been nice if we'd gotten away with it on a technicality. It's the sort of bullshit decision that would have gone in our favour if it had been the cricket third umpire. Flash should get a two for one deal alongside Essendon and go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to try and get it added to his career tally.

Naturally we copped a goal just before the siren. Not that it mattered anyway, other sides would have considered a four goal deficit at the last break as something to aim at - we're lucky to get four goals for the whole match so what was another if not just something to stop us from spending three-quarter time dreaming about a stirring comeback.

Again, there was no expectation of victory is this match but one of the things that shit me to tears was our switches from 60m out from the opposition goal which required us to go all the way back to 20m out. What sort of tactic is this considering that we can't clear the ball past 60m in the first place? At 70-40 with 2mins to go in the third quarter you can be fairly sure you're not going to lose by 150 (but not entirely certain) - what about being positive? Seeing Jimmy Toumpas - playing one of his best games yet even if he does shit himself in traffic at the moment - turn around and hoof a kick 40m backwards to McDonald or Frawley is nearly criminal. Even if nobody's running for you up forward (and they should be) at least try to find a contest. It seems to me if Dawes isn't running his arse off to get the ball up on the wing nobody is.

At this point, despite the late goal, you thought "well, at least we're not going to get thrashed" and there was even some hint of stirring comeback after kicking the first two goals of the quarter within three and a half minutes. But of course we stuffed it up royally by letting Ian Callinan walk through about five players grasping at air to kick the sealer. Another win for fans of 'attempted tackles' and goodbye any chance of ending the Football Park curse. Somewhere Leoncelli and David Schwarz gave up and went out into the backyard to recreate that magic moment in 2001.

Then football's grim reaper, who we thought we'd nimbly avoided for once, came calling for us as usual. Once Howe had been taken off with Richard Tambling's stud marks in his face (accidentally of course, see you at the Dees in 2014 Richard. Oh, wait Mark Neeld's not still in charge) we closed up shop and kicked one more point while Adelaide kicked off party time by booting seven. Go and get stuffed.

That's twice in one game that we allowed a side to pile on a bunch of goals in a row to kill us. More comedy capers. One of the unintended consequences of the being the AFL's equivalent of an impoverished, debt wracked third world nation where everyone is dying in unspeakable conditions is that it has destroyed my ability to not only pour scorn on other teams but to even actively dislike them. Even the plight of Essendon leaves me without glee, because I know that no matter how badly the AFL torches them they'll still emerge in better condition than we're in now. Even if their coach and 75% of their list are suspended for 2014 and replaced by their VFL side (Matthew Bate!) they'll probably still start at a longer price for the wooden spoon than we will.

Farewell Football Park
Or more accurately, here's hoping that they attack the place with napalm at 9am Monday morning. I went there once, and as taken as I was with their commitment to Warsaw Pact style concrete architecture and providing an enormous carpark for toothless simpletons to start drinking at 10am I don't think any of us will be sad to see the place go in favour of the newly revamped and probably stunning Adelaide Oval.

It was the day Cale Morton went for a jog when confronted with the prospect of a brawl (though he was clearly trying to run to the contest). Nobody else was there, we lost and spent a lovely night hating the human race in Adelaide airport.

Admittedly we had a few good times there over the years. None of which happened after I turned 21 so the whole place can get stuffed. It turns out that Port are playing there next week, not that you'd know by the way the muppets on Channel 7 were acting, but the sooner a wrecking ball plows through the first Farmer's Union Ice Coffee ad the better.

2013 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
On a day when we were actually quite good by our standards (and our standards of matches in Adelaide) it was actually quite difficult to identify a top five players. About 10 players deserved one vote each, but that's not how the system works. Basically what I'm saying is that if you don't like it then tough luck.

5 - Lynden Dunn
4 - Jack Watts
3 - Jack Grimes
2 - Jimmy Toumpas
1 - Jake Spencer

Apologies to the 'unlucky' Dawes, Garland, M. Jones, N. Jones, Sylvia, Terlich and Trengove

Nothing for the top eight today, so Jack Viney officially wins the Hilton. The other awards remain up in the air, with either of Garland or Terlich a chance to jump Frawley in the Seecamp - and Dunn (*ducks*) a chance to tie for first. The ruckman award remains such a farce that if we had one who'd never played before they could come in for the last round and tie for it with a BOG.

45 - Nathan Jones (WINNER: 2013 Allen Jakovich Medal)
27 - Jack Viney (WINNER: Jeff Hilton Rising Star Award)
22 - James Frawley (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
21 - Colin Sylvia
20 - Colin Garland, Matt Jones
18 - Jeremy Howe, Dean Terlich
17 - Lynden Dunn
14 - Tom McDonald
12 - Jack Watts
10 - Shannon Byrnes
8 - Jack Grimes
7 - Jack Trengove
6 - Michael Evans, Jordie McKenzie
5 - Mitch Clisby, Aaron Davey, Chris Dawes, Jack Fitzpatrick (CO-LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year), Max Gawn (CO-LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year), James Magner
2 - Rohan Bail, Mark Jamar, Cameron Pedersen, Jake Spencer, Jimmy Toumpas
1 - Mitch Clark, Luke Tapscott

'97 Watch
Total score - 196.192.1368
Score to beat - 203.235.1477
Score required - 109
Prognosis - Roughly equal to that of an AIDS patient who contracts the Ebola virus while undergoing chemotherapy in the middle of the Gobi Desert.

Media Watch

It's days like this where I start to wonder if Dwayne Russell isn't all that bad after all. I know we mock his ludicrous statements and over the top calls of goals being 'the firestarter' when a side is 50 points behind but at least the stuff he turns up at the game with on reams of A4 paper and starts reeling off is (usually) football related.

Compare and contrast to the Saturday "Arvo" (*spit*) team and Hamish McLachlan with his 300 different ways to reference Weekend At Bernies (because, you see, there's a movie right - and also Adelaide have a player called.. you guessed it...) as Basil and co guffaw along pretending they're having the time of their life. Everyone loves Tom Harley but I'm not letting him off the hook on this either, he's just as bad.

I know you've got to find some way to inject interest into a match that means absolutely stuff all but leave the obscure 20 year old cultural references to enthusiastic amateurs like me and CALL THE BLOODY MATCH YOU HAVE BEEN PAID TO CALL. Even I'd lay off posting links to bizarre interviews by 80's wrestlers if I was employed by a proper TV station. We even got a free Tom Berenger reference in the third quarter, which must have been absolutely baffling to anybody watching who is under the age of 30.

They also apparently saved money by trying to beam the game back to us using the Optus Vision satellite, leading to the picture randomly dropping out for a few seconds every so often in the first three quarters - only to come back with green static (as seen above) and a sharp squealing noise.

Crowd Watch
You wouldn't celebrate beating the Dees would you? Oh, apparently you would. Also, when are you ever going to wear your Farewell Footy Park t-shirt or cap again? If the money's not going to charity and you paid money for any of that rubbish then you're a tremendous knob.

Next Week
In a fun twist on 2009's antics we'll know by the start of our game whether or not we're the clubhouse wooden spooner. I have no doubt that unlike that year we don't have a compelling bonus to be gained by losing, and nor will we be in any position to actually win in the first place - but it won't stop every tossbag journalist casting aspersions at us.

It will all be academic by 4.40pm anyway, GWS have the big prize in their grasp and nobody cares if they only finish with one win so I expect it'll be Mark Whiley to full forward and Curtly Hampton to the ruck if they're in any position to win. And good luck to them, not only would it be rude to wish ourselves another wooden spoon but it would be downright hypocritical to go around arguing about another team interrupting our draft pick shenanigans by avoiding victory.

However, if it comes to us 'needing' to lose to get pick one next Sunday afternoon can the 13 or so Melbourne fans who'll be joining me at Docklands next Sunday afternoon please retain their dignity by either openly pretending they want us to win or shutting up about any desire for us to lose. If you walk up to the ticket booth, hear that GWS has pulled off a surprise 1pt win and now wish for us to get beaten then you may as well turn around and go back in the other direction.

Given the circumstances we may as well pick our best side, if such a thing exists in the last round after an already ordinary side is battered with injuries for six months. Footscray have gone so far in the other direction since our last meeting that it's not funny - even since that night both sides have spent the rest of the season playing like the last 15 minutes of that game.

IN: Gawn, Jetta, Magner (HA HA HA)
OUT: Rodan (inj), Tapscott, Kent (omit)
LUCKY: Practically everyone
UNLUCKY: Kent was ok but padded his stats late. He'll be there next year, time to give Nifty Nev a final airing in Victoria before he's coldly dispatched one night at a warehouse in the meat packing district. Realistically Magner couldn't get a game if he blew Neil Craig so it's more likely that Kent will survive and Jetta will get a game having been one of Casey's best this week.

Fitz can also count himself as unlucky, but he's done wonders (relatively speaking) in the second half of the year. If he had a concussion after the Fremantle game I can handle him sitting out next week safe in the knowledge that he's no longer playing for his career.

Nobody will be there, the Bulldogs will hump us (even if at the time of writing they'd putting in a rubbish performance against the Lions) and it will be all mercifully come to an end.

Next Year
Don't despair, every day is one closer to 2014. Surely we've been bled white now and there's nothing left to give, even if we finish last we can do it with more style and less blunt force trauma to the head than this season.

The only updates to last week's list of probable evacuees (willing or otherwise) is that we now know for sure that Fitz has come from the clouds to win a new contract and Flash has officially pulled the pin. Other than that we're no closer to knowing more about Sylvia or Watts, and probably won't until they announce they're pulling the pin at about 9pm next Sunday night.

We can also be certain that Magner is going to get the bullet too, considering that he was overlooked (despite the fan placating but ultimately futile Robert Campbell style elevation to the senior list) for giving Rodan a free trip to Adelaide so he could drop into his old next-door-neighbours' house for a BBQ (which is the only reason I can come up with why we'd pick him at this stage). At least he can go to his footballing grave knowing that 'the internet' was behind him even if the MFC hierarchy weren't.

With not even the slightest of hint during the week as to who our coach will be (other than Craig having some sort of chat with the sham committee) I've decided that we need to employ somebody in 2014 who understands hard times - and I think I've found him:

Final Thoughts
My faith in love is still devout..

Sunday 18 August 2013

No one is innocent

Melbourne Football Club how do you disappoint me, let me count the ways. Or let's not, because nobody's got enough time to go through a list of over 5000 real-life examples, hateful rants and conspiracy theories. Besides, if you go back through the archives you can read it all again, and again, and again.

I'm flat out for unique ways to describe the shame that this club brings upon me on a weekly basis, especially ways which haven't already been covered ad bloody nauseum over the last couple of seasons. There's every possible chance that by mid next year I'll be welding bits of old posts together to explain our next wooden spoon campaign.

So why then, having sat through another classic disaster, halfway through the last quarter as we slid towards the whirring blades of yet another 100 point loss did I sit there and think to myself how I still enjoy dragging myself out of the house in all sorts of filthy weather conditions and watching this incredible dross live. Over the last two years we've played some of the most boring, hopeless football known to history but my desire to be the last person to go down with the sinking ship grows on a weekly basis. Football's equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome continues to have its way with me on a weekly basis.

I even found myself feeling sad when the fans were on the ground being presented with jerseys for going to every home game this year. Last year that was me (no really, it was, I got Tapscott's) and I suppose I could have - and should have - rorted the system and got somebody to scan me in for the Collingwood game but it wouldn't have been the same. What really irked me, in a perfectly irrational way, was that I'd not only missed that game by also the Essendon and Hawthorn away matches. Why would anyone in their right mind feel bad at having missed more than 300 points worth of losses? Should that sort of good luck not be celebrated? Not if you're a sick individual like me. In the last two years it's gone from mere obsession to panic buying supplies at Safeway before a nuclear holocaust wipes all life off the face of the planet.

I'm not aware of the AFL's cheque having actually cleared yet (though we must have pocketed at least one payment of $600,000 to be on-traded to Mark Neeld for racking off) but we're hardly charging towards a brave new era in the history of this club. Don't you want to kick the TV in watching the Bulldogs having a tremendous bash to end the season? Now there's a team that deserves to go into 2014 with hope in their hearts. We will finish last next year; it's just a matter of how violently we're kicked to death on the way. Give me the mercy of a spoon with no 90 point losses and I'll be happy.

Obviously nobody was going to show up to watch us get flogged today, but it wasn't just sitting amongst 87,000 empty seats watching our club cop another limp, lifeless belting. It wasn't the fact that you could yell pretty much anything you liked out and every player on the field would hear it. More shame heaped upon this club, which is already noticeably sagging in the middle underneath all the horror that it's already been subjected to recently. It's not 1979, you can't hide the fact that even your own fans have abandoned you when the game's being shown live on TV.

The malaise started earlier than that. About one minute into the first quarter of Round 19 2011 to be precise, but Thursday night saw another hand grenade tossed into our midst. Sure, Jack Watts did exactly what every other player who is going to dick his club did and rolled out the "I love the boys, I'd love to stay" lines in his appearance on The Footy Show - but to come out and basically say that he doesn't want to stay unless we can show him we're going to improve was the biggest spit in the eyes to all the fans who have stood behind him in the last few years. The same people who pretended that we wouldn't at least have had significantly more fun watching Nic Nat (until, presumably, he screwed us as well) get a re-run of comments he'd already made a few weeks before. They didn't go down well the first time, so who's the dickhead who arranged for him to go on the Footy Show and repeat them? Try leaving graciously instead of acting like a wounded messiah.

I couldn't give a rats if he leaves, and I'd have even copped the same unconvincing "I want to stay" lines that Moloney and $cully fed us, because I know it's not the NRL and players don't just come out and announce they're leaving halfway through a year - but to put it on everyone else to lift and prove why he should deign to give us the benefit of his signature is an insult. Fair enough our player development has been a disgrace of the last few years, and our on-field leadership is up there with that of the Washington Generals but if you're J. Watts it's time to ask yourself what you've done to contribute. He hasn't exactly been known for his manic competitive efforts over the last few years, or for being a ruthless on-field leader (except for a bit of waving his hands around and directing other people). Have a good hard look at your own efforts before you start pointing fingers at everyone else - if you haven't got the balls for the fight and want to hide amongst a better team that's fine, just don't bullshit us on the way through.

In 2011 he was on the verge of something special, and he had a purple patch for a couple of games in the middle of last year before deciding it was all too hard and giving up at the end of the year, now he's acting like he's Gary Ablett. If you're going to leave just do it, clubs will still queue up in the hope that they can put the beast in him and turn him from a decent player on his day into a superstar, just don't act like you're Lebron James and are preparing to declare which club you're going to play for in a live television special. It can't have been a coincidence that the next day the club put a story on the website about how Jack Viney bleeds red and blue - because that's the sort of guy that I'm prepared to get behind for the next few years. I can take the club being no good, as long as the players go down fighting instead of lightly jogging.

If I were a conspiracy theorist I'd say that the Footy Show appearances was a deliberate move by Jack and his management to get our fans to turn on him so that he'd have an excuse for walking at the end of the year without looking like too much of a heel. Not a great tactic I'd have thought, it's not like we'd have been thrilled for him to go (especially if he walks for stuff all) but the majority of people would have at least understood the decision - now he's made himself look silly to everyone including potential suitors, and if it is a giant conspiracy then a lot of us have fallen right into the trap and decided that we'd be better off without. You can also be sure a lot of other clubs were looking on and slicing a few thousand off their contract offer having seen him delivering rubbish like that with a grin like a Cheshire Cat.

You'd also be forgiven for thinking that for five minutes during the second quarter he started being 'competitive' in a way he never has before - lightly whacking a player in a marking dual, crunching a player with his head over the ball - in a cynical attempt to get suspended for the last couple of games and not having to be involved in any more debacles which make him look less attractive (and less expensive to sign). I'm sure this isn't the case, but it seemed an odd time to start trying to belt people. I'll be interested to see if anything comes out of them. Hope he gets off and is forced to traipse around with us for the next fortnight whether he likes it or not.

Not that we're all that blameless, having played him in the backline for 3/4 of the last fortnight despite Davis - a defender by trade - struggling to make any impact up forward. Perhaps Craig's working on a masterplan where his trade value increases by getting a kick as opposed to standing around inside 50 waiting for somebody else to do all the hard work to get the ball to him in the first place? I can understand the thinking about putting him down there when we were getting hammered in the first quarter, but why was he still there an hour later? The same thing happened last week, and if that was the sort of stuff that he cited as his reason to pissing us off then I'd shake his hand and wish him well next year. Instead we get all this other "what about me" rubbish and I've got no sympathy whatsoever.

Just like I always feared with $cully in those last few weeks where we pretended to ourselves that he hadn't already signed with GWS I'd hate to be roped into the conspiracy and have this post held up as an example of why he should leave the club, but I've had enough. He played a reasonable enough game, when it didn't involved tackling of chasing, but when I saw him issuing orders to Colin Garland I was hoping Col would do a Graham Le Saux and twat him. Don't treat the club and its fans with contempt on TV then go around pretending you're a leader for the first time in your life until you've proven your commitment.

I'm sure we'll go to the ends of the earth to try and placate him, and there's nothing that would fill me with more joy than to have him turn around, sign and then stick it up me by playing bloody good football but right now I can't see myself missing Jack more than I might miss Jordan Gysberts, Cale Morton or any of the other fancyboys who we've drafted and ruined. Let's just see what happens if he goes elsewhere and it doesn't work - if he bombs at a better club do you back him to do a Brock McLean and fight his way back from the verge of death to become a useful player again?

Like Mitch Clark ditching the Lions - and unlike the aforementioned filthy traitor - at least he gave us a few years before deciding that it wasn't for him. It's not a palatable situation by any means, and he will look like a tremendous heel after we spent years pretending we'd rather have him than Nic Nat, but as long as he does the right thing and arranges a trade where we get compo instead of just pissing off in the PSD draft for nothing a'la Kurt Tippett then go into the night and try and prove that it was just us that stifled your career all these years.

Just like all our 'fans' who have done it over the last couple of years, let the rats exit the sinking ship and we'll concentrate on those who want to stay and be part of the struggle.

So anyway, now that's off my chest and his manager is pumping the air at having yet another fan on record saying they're Jack of him I can get back to my core business of trying to write 'reviews' of matches where we score five or less goals. Dandy. The only reason I keep bothering is because otherwise I'll be forced to write stupid posts on forums instead to get it off my chest.

If it wasn't bad enough already, today's tone of depression and bleakness was set when 45 minutes before the first bounce. After 95,000 empty seats witnessed the Robbo's Hangers segment the great man himself judged the winner by saying "not enough people are here to ask who was best, so I'm just going to make my own decision". Even our own pre-match entertainment has started to rub in what a lost cause we are. Creative accountancy managed to find 13,768 people there in the end (slightly more than the Gold Coast game) but it's still a horrible figure.

Having said that, safe in the knowledge that we would be very likely to lose by a large margin and not kick all that many goals I'm surprised so many people did show up. Peter Jackson and Glen Bartlett, who must feel like he's taking on the presidency of the Weimar Republic, should have walked every occupied inch of the stadium (which would have saved them from traipsing across 75% of it) and personally thanked every Demon who showed up. At least Neil Craig was seen saying thanks to all the people getting jumpers for turning up each week, that's a start.

It's not like we were ever going to win or give ourselves a reasonable chance anyway, but those of us did bother to leave their house with the threat of a big bastard storm engulfing the stadium at least got to exercise their persecution complex courtesy of a series of wacky/nigh on criminal decisions by the clowns umpiring. Obviously safe in the knowledge that nobody was there and that it would rate about 15,000 viewers this game either ended up with the umpires who went closest to being dropped at the end of last week or some work experience kids but Jesus H Christ what were these clowns doing?

It didn't stop there (the Blease 'in the back', Garland having his hand kicked off, god knows what else) but at one point early in the first quarter we'd conceded more dodgy free kicks than we'd had actual kicks. We do not need the help of umpires trying to get their head on TV to be a horrible, ugly football club that nobody wants to watch.

I've had enough this year, and do not propose to go into any depth about what happened today. As usual it's hard to write anything about a match from your club's perspective when they barely ever touch the ball. We should have been further behind at quarter time, and when that's the second best thing about a quarter of football then you're rooted.

The best thing, of course, was Jack Viney. Now there's a Jack you can point out to your kids and say 'he cares' (admittedly you could do the same to Jack Grimes with a straight face). With Nathan Jones being sat on and totally blanketed by Ryan Crowley for the second time in a row it was left to a 19-year-old kid to fight like buggery against insurmountable odds. He's hardly got the silkiest skills going around, but at least he fights every inch of the way - and that's the sort of man I want in my army as it trudges off to near certain violent defeat.

Unfortunately for Jack he was surrounded by total garbage. We couldn't get it forward in the first place (zero inside 50's for half the first quarter) but even when we did Davis and Fitzpatrick were average at best. Not their fault, they shouldn't be expected to be the first scoring options - but if we were insistent on having Watts hanging around down back trying to plug the gaps instead of being an option in attack of course we were going to struggle getting the ball inside 50 or doing anything with it once we got there. It was a true return to the days before Dawes got into the side where we didn't bother playing with a centre half-forward either because a) nobody was capable or b) it just didn't seem like a good idea.

So surprise, surprise then that the early season MFC inside 50 trampoline returned. In it went, and boing back out it went again at 1000mph. The only reason we weren't further behind in the first quarter is because we didn't get the ball down there - when we did they were back inside 50 and attacking within 10 seconds. When we managed to bottle the ball up in the middle of the ground or on their half-forward line they weren't all that dangerous considering the opposition. For the second week in a row we were half decent in centre clearances, and didn't get too badly beaten in clearances from stoppages - and we weren't any more awful than usual moving the ball it's just that we couldn't stop them running in waves up and down the ground.

There was a brief period of interest in the second quarter when we improbably got to within four goals after the only decent period of the whole game. Apart from poor Jeremy Howe who saw two absolutely gilt-edged chances go past him via inability to get ball to boot quickly and one bastard of a bounce, we had a 10 minute period where we looked like stemming the bleeding and kicking a half decent score which would trouble the week's required '97 Watch average. If Shannon Byrnes (NOT a fan favourite at the moment - and surely not insane enough to want to go on in this environment for another year) had kicked his goal on the siren we'd have won the quarter and had some sort of platform to go into half time with. He missed, we got thrashed. Thanks for coming.

I was pleased with the way we held the Dockers out for the first 10 minutes of the third quarter. It's not like we were threatening to score ourselves, but I suppose Craig had done the maths that we'd already got four goals and avoided breaking his own low score record for the second time all year so he may as well try and avoid a massacre - which half worked given how much more we probably deserved to lose by. Thank god to the timekeeper for declaring "that's enough" and hitting the button as the last goal went through to save us from another triple digit defeat.

The rot started to set in from there. Other than Howe's quality finish for the only goal of the quarter Freo were as dominant as you'd expect them to be. You can mount some sort of argument that there was no way we were going to keep it reasonable in the last quarter with one man left on the bench - and having spent the entire second half with two out after Blease and Strauss went down - and Freo are a pretty good team, so it wasn't so much that we lost or even the nature of the loss this time, it was just another mouldy cherry on top an already horrible season.

My mum, who had delivered the earliest verdict on the Mark Neeld era by standing up five minutes into the third quarter of R1, 2012 saying "I'm leaving, this is boring" and never coming back again even after Chris Dawes' dad ringing her up and trying to get her to buy a membership (she had no idea who Chris Dawes was, which didn't help the process), at least managed to get halfway through the last quarter before giving up this time. Despite not knowing who 3/4 of the players were she conceded that we were far more boring than we were that day, but that she was happy to go to one game a year and confirm that the club was still alive.

At least these days nobody is patronising us by going on about what furious trainers we are. For the first half of the season we were the footy equivalent of that cartoon frog who did a full song and dance routine to an empty room then did nothing when a crowd showed up. Even though I will desperately miss footy (in a way) during summer the best thing is for us to get to the end of the year and smash the buggery out of the big red reset button again then begin the last roll of the dice era.

Pedant's Corner
This is probably the worst thing I've ever whinged about, but leaving at the end of the game I walked past the non-playing lot trudging towards the lifts towards the change rooms. It struck me that we can't even get the team to dress in a similar fashion - compare Michael Evans, looking comfortable and re-signed in a jumper/shorts combo, with the soon to be no-longer with us James Sellar and the actually no longer with us Joel Macdonald in suits.

People outside of football clubs love to crap on about culture as if they know how it works, so I don't propose to do that, but surely you set a standard and hold everyone to it. Fair enough if Evans was on standby in the rooms until five minutes before the bounce, but we all know he wasn't. It's not a knock on him, I don't care if he wears a chicken suit (in fact I'd encourage it) but at the risk of sounding like the worst type of armchair 'internet fan' wanker it strike me as an issue that we can't even achieve consistent standards of dress.

'97 Watch
Total score - 189.182.1316
Score to beat - 203.235.1477
Averaged score required - 80.5ppg
Prospects of achieving the average - vs Adelaide, almost nil, vs Bulldogs, practically none
Prognosis - Roughly as much chance as world peace breaking out. Get ready MFC '97 and everyone involved, the monkey's about to be off your back.

2013 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Jack Viney
Several layers of the earth's crust and a couple of time zones
4 - Lynden Dunn
3 - Tom McDonald
2 - Jack Trengove
 Another area code
1 - Dean Terlich

Apologies to nil

45 - Nathan Jones (WINNER: 2013 Allen Jakovich Medal)
27 - Jack Viney (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Rising Star Award)
22 - James Frawley (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
21 - Colin Sylvia
20 - Colin Garland, Matt Jones
18 - Jeremy Howe, Dean Terlich

14 - Tom McDonald
12 - Lynden Dunn

10 - Shannon Byrnes
8 - Jack Watts
7 - Jack Trengove
6 - Michael Evans, Jordie McKenzie
5 - Mitch Clisby, Aaron Davey, Chris Dawes, Jack Fitzpatrick (CO-LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year), Max Gawn (CO-LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year), Jack Grimes, James Magner
2 - Rohan Bail, Mark Jamar, Cameron Pedersen
1 - Mitch Clark, Jake Spencer, Luke Tapscott

Crowd Watch
The "Member Appreciation Round" major prize pack draw said everything you need to know about this club at the moment. The guy who won wasn't even there and Robbo - clearly sick to death of playing to empty crowds and saying anything that came to mind - said "we'll have to call him and tell him he's won". Stuff that, give it out to somebody who was actually there (i.e. me).

Social Media Watch
I have great empathy with whoever does the MFC Twitter, because while we'd all love to work in or around a footy club they do have to answer questions all-day from clowns who think they're addressing the entire selection committee at once. So, it is with the greatest respect that I highlight the tremendous cock-up which occurred on Thursday night.

Everyone who has ever posted a link to a business has had that moment when you've hit SEND and thought you'd sent the wrong link - and admittedly there are FAR WORSE things you could accidentally send out - but instead of pointing to the intended website story this tweet:

Sent you to this page...

Which is perfectly fine of course, it's not like they accidentally sent 23,000 followers to Dildo Warehouse - though it would have been a more apt political comment. Sadly this season has been such a torrent of unpleasantly coloured water of dubious origin that it probably ranks in my top five highlights. I would make some gag about how they're similar, but the only similarity I can find with the BESTÃ… BURS ("May be completed with INREDA interior fittings") and the Melbourne Football Club is that in both cases "this product requires assembly" and neither of them can tackle.

Next Week
I simply refuse to believe that next week is our final chance to bury the Football Park curse once and for all before they bulldoze it back to the stone age (insert Adelaide joke here). Shutting the place is obviously one way to end our horrific run of outs at the place (15 losses in a row fact fans) but I'd much rather that we waved farewell to the place with a modicum of dignity - winning a NAB Cup novelty game does not count - by winning.

It's about as likely as winning Powerball, but I'd like it used as a motivational factor (well, nothing else has worked has it?) in the lead up. Since Andrew Leoncelli's 2001 miracle goal we've had the following players all play in losing matches at the ground (including players who had won there before we lost the plot). Take a deep breath... and live the dream with these 73 men:

Armstrong, Bail, Bartram, Bate, Bell, Bennell, Bizzell, Broadbridge, Brown, Bruce, Buckley, Carroll, Cheney, Davey, Dunn, Ellis, S. Febey, Ferguson, Frawley, Garland, Godfrey, Green, Grgic, Grimes, Heffernan, Ingerson, Jamar, Jetta, C. Johnson, P. Johnson, Johnstone, Jolly, Jones, Jurrah, Lamb, Leoncelli, Macdonald, Martin, A. McDonald, J. McDonald, McKenzie, McLean, Meesen, Miller, Moloney, Motlop, Morton, Neitz, Newton, A. Nicholson, Petterd, Read, Rigoni, Rivers, Robertson, Schwarz, *****, Sylvia, Thompson, Trengove, Valenti, Vardy, Walsh, Ward, Warnock, Watts, Wheatley, Whelan, White, Williams, Woewodin, Wonaeamirri, Yze

So basically everyone who was on our list from 2001 to 2010 except Isaac Weetra and Michael Clark. We've had two years away from the place, it's time to go out on a high. I insist that in the minutes before the match those names scroll down a screen like the tribute to dead people at the Oscars before Leoncelli himself comes out and delivers a pep talk before charging out onto the field and taking a pish along the boundary line to lift the curse. It shouldn't be too hard for the club to find him, his mobile number's stuck up on the outside of a property development on William Street. And while they've got him on the phone ask him to come back and sit on the board.

Fat lot of good any of that will do though, you could get the Pope in to perform an exorcism and it's still not going to help this group win on this ground with the mental state they're in. The upside when it comes to changes is that we've got a Saturday VFL match to go on, the downside is that beating Bendigo by 120 points is like an AFL side beating us by the same margin - is it that the players conducting the massacre were doing well, or were they just against such putrid opposition that it was hard not to run riot?

I've seen us make enough midcard strugglers look like superstars in the last few years to know that it's more likely the latter, but still the Internet's Own James Magner had 51 touches and considering that we're such tremendous filth you've got to reward effort don't you?

IN: Dawes, Frawley, Gawn, Magner, Taggert
OUT: Blease, Strauss, Byrnes (inj), Spencer (inj or omit), Davis (omit)
LUCKY: Davey (two games to go), Tapscott, Watts (fit in or fuck off)

Next Year
For once we've had a week where nobody has unloaded a rumour/started unfounded speculation about our coaching job. Not that it was all quiet though, with the sniper's bullet cutting down Michael Voss as he least expected it in mid stride towards the 2013 finish line the assumption was that they had 'somebody else' already signed up. And these days there is no 'somebody else' unless it's Paul Roos, so the natural assumption is that the candidate we hold so dear is out of our hands in a way that his 5000 other frantic denials didn't confirm.

Football is a sick industry, and we are a sick people, so I won't rule out some sort of cash/share offer in the club to lure him into the job, but obviously if you were Paul Roos and both Brisbane and Melbourne were pursuing you like horny teenagers you'd choose the Lions. Of course you would, if similar coin was on offer and you weren't keen on martyring yourself for a cause as obscure as ours why wouldn't you pick the one that has been (not so comfortably) mid-table for a couple of years? They've even got a shiny new training base on the way. By the weekend he was suddenly claiming to have no interest in either job, but there's no doubt that if he does 'develop a passion' (receive an enormous cheque) it won't be for looking after a club currently holding a percentage of 53.4.

So really, after saying I'm not writing him off I actually am - even more so than last week. I'm left with NFI other the same rumours and innuendo to go on. Pick who you want really, we're still going to be horse shit for another couple of years. Nobody has had to shovel a comparable load of manure since Hercules cleaned the Augean Stables, they're going to need years to get this place right.

Unfortunately for us the surprise success of Port Adelaide has meant that every week we're going to have to hear about how they managed to recover from a terrible position to make finals. Good news for Port, but it's the equivalent of Jamar coming good after seven seasons and every ruckman being given 500 years to get it right just because he finally put in a good couple of seasons after years of being no good. We're in nowhere near as good a position as Port were last year - and that's saying something. This is a rebuild of a rebuild of a rebuild. It will take a special kind of lunatic to take on this role, and if we're speaking about Port Adelaide that's why I'm so keen on you know who taking over.

Either way at least we're a week closer to finding out who's going to be driving the excavator in 2014.

The proposed length of the Rebuild³ is why I'm open to trading pick two. We know there's another top 5 pick coming next year and probably the one after - the only question is whether it's pick 1 (disaster!) or pick 5 (triumph! gradual improvement!) Still can't help but feel if we trade pick 2 for your Rory Sloane's or David Swallow's of the world that they'll end up catching the Ebola virus while James Aish (whoever he actually is) turns out win several Brownlows.

On Monday 6 May after we got done by Carlton I advanced the following list of possible 'leavers' at the end of the year.

Sylvia (Will fancy one last roll of the dice at a non-spaz club who can carry him being on and off like a tap)

Frawley (Hawthorn's first pick if we're lucky. Will 100% leave)
Watts (Whatever we can get to avoid losing him for nowt in the PSD, no way he'll want to stay).

Couch, Davis, Fitzpatrick, Gillies (may survive as cover if we lose Frawley), Jetta, Macdonald, Sellar, Taggert

Davey, Rodan

With plenty more water under the bridge I'd like to make the following changes. Apart from moving Frawley into the 'stay' category, writing Gillies off as any chances of staying as cover and moving Macdonald from Delist to Retire the only change I'll make is to remove Fitzpatrick from the chop (though he still hasn't signed a new deal). Unfortunately Fitz is replaced by Magner who we clearly have no interest in - and who will be pushed even further down the pecking order if and when we recruit or buy more midfielders. That leaves us with 13 off the list with some additional trade bait action with the likes of Jamar and Tapscott. Watch us draft a one armed man to replace them.

Was it worth it?
If the trumpeter had turned been there I'd probably have copped the $8700 fine and run onto the ground in order to pummel him to death. So, thanks to the ruthless efficiency regime of Peter  Jackson for having him rolled up in carpet and buried under cement somewhere. Other than that, and the sick buzz I still get from watching this club (while I still can), no not really.

It should have been the last airing for Aaron Davey at the MCG. He's just past it. We'll be so paranoid about forcing experienced players out the door having copped so much hell for the Junior McDonald debacle that he'll probably get another year but there's nothing to be gained from playing him. He should have announced he was pulling the pin at the end of the year and gone out on the MCG today - sure it wasn't a fitting crowd to farewell somebody who's been a bloody good player over the years but it's better to die with dignity than clutch on until the last breath.

Final Thoughts
For those of you who aren't silly enough to go to the Killing Fields next week, and who (unlike fools such as I) refuse to set foot on Docklands Stadium again unless standing triumphant on a huge pile of rubble that's the season finished. I'm not sure how it can get worse considering that it's arguably been our worse season since going winless in 1919 with the excuse of the Great War having torn the club apart (there are one win seasons in 1951 and 1981 but at least we had percentages 17 and 10% higher respectively), but with this group you never know where the next fisting will come from.

On Saturday it was Jesse Hogan 'doing his knee' (not seriously thank christ), on Sunday it was playing three quarters of the most boring football known to man. On Monday it'll be us announcing we've paid $3mil to sign Sylvia to a five year contract extension. On Tuesday every other reasonable player on our list will hear that and walk out. On Wednesday Kevin Sheedy will be announced as our new coach. On Thursday the AFL will decide not to bail us out because we're un-rescueable. On Friday we'll go into liquidation and on Saturday a skeleton side consisting of Sylvia, Tom Couch, 15 locals plucked from the Adelaide Amateurs competition, and five Romanian orphans will lose to the Crows by 321 points before the whole club is shut down on Sunday.

Good times.

Sunday 11 August 2013

National Lampoon's Queensland Vacation

This club has a proud history of disappointing results on the Gold Coast. Looking past recent outrages such as being rorted by a goal umpiring cock up in 2006 and kicking four points in the second half in 2009 our run of vomitous performances at the ground now known as Metricon Stadium stretches back into the 1980's.

In early 1987 the Demons visited the ground for the first time, and suffered what on the surface appeared to be a disappointing defeat to the newly formed Brisbane Bears. Luckily, though, at the time everyone still expected us to lose every game so instead of starting a hate campaign to unseat John Northey (presumably in '87 you'd be doing it on something that looks like this) the gentleman on the left took all his frustrations at following a traditionally awful club out by unloading on the allegedly abusive (but in reality highly charismatic) Carrara scoreboard.

For all the thrills he'd have got from throwing a passive aggressive written hand grenade at the scoreboard Richard probably never anticipated that the State Library of Victoria would go to the trouble of scanning in every copy of the Footy Record and bringing his letter to a modern audience. I'd love to know if he's still clinging to the dream more than 25 years later or whether he did what most sensible people have done and clambered off the side of the sinking ship at some point. I'll bet somebody who reads this knows him, and here at Demonblog we are willing to tell his story in ESPN 30 for 30 style.

It was a coincidence that I found the image above while looking for something else in the Demonwiki archives in just the same week that we were returning to Carrara to play a Queensland based club for the first time since 1992 (4902 people turned up and we lost), and at first I was only going to include it in this post as a comic aside to take your mind off how we'd just lost to Gold Coast.

After diverting to YouTube for an airing of their jaunty theme song I found myself on AFL Tables perusing this list of everybody who had played for them before they shacked up with Fitzroy. Like the early 90's Swans and probably in 20 years' time the 2007- Melbourne Demons there's a sick fascination with seeing the names and career records of some of the obscure players they fielded in their formative years. If you thought we'd put out a few Bodes, McNamaras and Weetras over the last few years scroll down to the bottom of that list and marvel at some of the names.

This inspired me to make a comparison between a side that has become universally acknowledged as one of the most shambolic footy teams ever constructed with the Brisbane Bears. The MFC 2007-2013 story is a well-known one (and if you've just been released from captivity by Kashimiri separatists you can read it all here piece-by-piece until you wish you'd been killed in a US drone strike) but let's pause for a minute to remember how the Brisbane Bears were set-up.

Forget mini drafts, zone selections and millions of dollars for uncontracted players, clubs were allowed to off-load any player to them who had played one senior game or a single finals match. We helped them along with big names like Darryl Cox, Dale Dickson and John Fidge. Essendon offered them Dean Bailey but they said no thanks. Even if you've got a keen interest in obscure footy players of the 1980's I defy you to identify half the players who appeared in their first match.

After surprising the word and winning their first two games they turned out to be not very good at all. This was a side who used their first five top 10 picks in their formative years on Chris McDermott (good player, no interest in showing up), Brad Rowe (14 games), David Ogg (9 games), John Hutton (18 games), Nathan Chapman (49 games) and a bunch of trades so obscure that they make pick 88 for David Rodan look positively sensible (Travis Martin-Benyon! What a name).

They were given six compensation picks in a row in a special 1989 draft and of all the players they selected (including their first two picks, the Jarman Brothers who refused to leave South Australia) they got a total of 15 games. To be fair Darren had already told us to rack off two years earlier when we drafted him, but we (eventually) developed enough talent that it didn't really matter. At least for all we've been through in the modern era the players we've drafted have actually turned up (though you may wish to debate that in Lucas Cook's case) - and even the one who dicked us Nathan Buckley at the Bears style inadvertently helped us score compo picks.

So take the 1987-1993 Brisbane Bears, playing in front of empty stadiums with a team assembled at Pick-A-Part and non-stop administrative turmoil that even we'd shake our heads and stack them up against the 2007-2013 equalisation era Melbourne Demons. I don't think you'll be well pleased at the result.

In that time the Bears 'enjoyed' a record of 36-1-115. They were going so well off-field that at one point in 1992 they had 56 players on their list and other than their measly, often late, football earnings 35 of them were unemployed. Last night's loss on our return to Carrara left a Melbourne team who have had access to plenty of draft picks, highly paid free agents and a salary cap of about $9 million (compared to the 1987-1989 cap of $1.25m, of which you only had to pay 90%) with a record in the same time frame of... 34-2-115.

Never let anybody bring up how awful the Bears were in their formative years to you again without shedding a silent tear. Go back and look at those stats again and think about what it means to be statistically on the same level as a club to who major sponsorship meant a giant PELERMAN'S LIQUOR BARN sign behind the goals and who were universally acknowledged as a shambles to the point where they are what the AFL used to justify giving Gold Coast and GWS such outrageous freebies upon their entry to the competition.

Some of things I read about them were eye watering, and yet somewhere we've still won less games over the years. Fitzroy were 38-0-114 in their last seven seasons, so we're shitter than them as well. And Carlton 2002-2008. And Sydney 1989-1995. The good news is that even if we lose our last three games ('if', ha) our winning percentage will still be marginally above University's ill-fated seven year VFL stint (22.07% vs 21.42%).

Somebody once castigated me on Twitter for always posting negative stats about Melbourne, and all those are Sylvia Plath level bleak, but if you can find any figure about us at the moment that is even remotely positive then I'm more than willing to put it up on a pedestal and treat it with the reverence it deserves. There's your challenge for the week, find a positive stat about our dark ages which compares even remotely favourably to another club without having to resort to the first seven years of St Kilda where they won nine games and seven of them were in the one season.

The only upside to being such a colossal disappointment is that we're so conditioned to pain and suffering now, that like a 500-a-day smoker whose leg suddenly drops off in the night we're not all that surprised at anything happening to us now. In retrospect even last week's loss wasn't all that bad - certainly not in our bottom five for the season anyway. Ok, the idea of losing to $cully makes your skin crawl, and yes every other team in the competition had been decent enough to beat them but really, compare that to the apocalypse the week before and most of our rancid performances this year and it was actually downright reasonable.

That doesn't mean I take back all my heartfelt wailing about how our future is grim and we're going to die or be relocated to Port Pirie. That all remains on the cards if we don't collectively pull our finger out (and if you missed the late Monday morning update to last week's post the AFL confirmed that a measly $138 from each of their memberships goes to the club that is listed for 'support') and stop being a comedy club.

Results like last night's won't help, but if you're entirely realistic about the state we're in Gold Coast are a much better side than we are (even if they are all kids) so it's almost rude to get upset about it. In fact I actually enjoyed being involved in something approaching a thriller - who cares if it's one of 'them', they beat us by 10 goals last time so this is almost cause for a street party.

You can even argue that for once we kicked ourselves out of a game instead of just being amazingly shit from first bounce to last. The 'Dead Cat Bounce' that Neil Craig got in our brief, 'thrilling' 'revival' led to nothing other than cat splitting open with North Melbourne drove over the top of it but there's at least some chance that he might get through to the end of the year without being humiliated again.

Really I'm not even sure why I was still going out of my way to watch. When the news that Cameron Pedersen has withdrawn with illness actually makes you sad you know the team has reached the point where you'd might as well give up for the year. I was interested in seeing Troy Davis play a game at last, and anytime spent with Colin Garland and Nathan Jones is a pleasure but it did seem rather pointless.

Spare a thought then for the real love of my life, the remarkably patient Mrs Demonblog who first agreed to celebrate my birthday by going to the game - then when I pulled out due to being chicken and not wanting to see us lose on foreign soil arranged for a lovely night out in a hotel knowing that half the night would be taken up by me screaming at the television while she sat around twiddling her thumbs. That's true love. She even rang up to make sure they had Fox Sports 3. It's only appropriate considering that the first three weeks we went out was the Sydney, Brisbane, Richmond run which left us on the edge of (mid-table) glory in 2010 but even though she knows full well what she's in for these days it still seemed like a waste.

At least we played a reasonable standard of football befitting being members of an elite competition. The Suns are only in the next bracket above us with St Kilda (Footscray have temporarily escaped) but it's nice to get a reminder every once in a while that there are other teams in the competition that we can compete with. Last week showed it as well, but at least this time it was against a side who had pulled off some decent wins this year - and who went closer to a win in Perth last week than we have for most of the last decade.

There was still horrific skill errors out the yin yang, and we've still got plenty of players who don't deserve to be playing seniors, but you can squint and pretend that if we had Dawes, Frawley and Howe we'd have handled that match comfortably. Maybe not, but considering Dawes had as many contested marks against North when we went forward about eight times a quarter as our entire team did last night you'd have to think he would have helped.

Howe too would have provided a decent overhead marking target up forward - for once we were getting the ball down there enough but this time there was nobody there to mark it most of the time. In fact considering that their midfield, like everyone's, shits on ours we did bloody well to win it as often as we did. You can thank Jack Viney for finally taking the heat off Nathan Jones and not allowing opposition teams to sit on him all day safe in the knowledge that nobody else would get a kick if he didn't. Throw in McKenzie being used properly as a tagger for the first time in ages instead of us thinking that he's suddenly going to become an elite midfielder and it's reasonable to say that we deserved to be in at the end.

To be fair it took McKenzie, Garland and Clisby performing criminal acts on Gary Ablett that the umpires had no interested in penalising to keep him out of it and make him crack the sads but what are you supposed to do, act like Nathan Buckley and let him run around to get 55 touches? If the umpires are too stupid to pay frees (or can't get simple ones right - ask Jarrod Harbrow after his perfect spoil on Kent got ) and can't see Campbell Brown kicking James Strauss in the face then what can you do but wait for the wheel of fortune to turn back in your direction. I suspect he'd pencilled in another three votes towards winning the Brownlow and was feeling gloomy that it was being taken away from him.

Our ball movement was better too, we're still prone to the likes of Nicholson not being able to hit a target if their life depended on it but at least there were times where we had players running hard for their teammates when we had the ball. It wasn't so good the other way - especially in the first quarter when we were as loose as a goose - but I'll take it over the alternative of being like throwing a hot dog down a hallway in both directions.

There might not have been such a sense of (VERY guarded) optimism if we'd let the second quarter play out as it looked like it was going to. Halfway through we already looked as if we'd played our traditional quarter and were going to let them run away with it. Enter Dean Kent, who entered a proud family of players who put in their best games the week after I potted them on here, with a snap to keep us in touch. If Nicholson, Davis, Byrnes and Grimes hadn't all missed relatively gettable shots for the rest of the quarter we might have

A moment please for Jake Spencer, fast becoming an actual useful player. I loved the way that for once his teammates made him kick it instead of handballing every time he got in. Maybe they were just too lazy to get in position to take the handoff but I'm willing to pretend it was a confidence building masterstroke from the coaches. His kicking is actually not that bad either despite a ball drop that even Jack Fitzpatrick would spit at.

The third quarter was quite frankly stupid. We did our usual capsize job in the first few minutes - aided by the umpire who sounded as if he was having an orgasm every time he bounced the ball casually missing Strauss being kicked in the face - before the wheel spun back to us with that criminal free to Kent. From there we looked good to run over them, already one player down with more to come, but botched so many gettable chances. Then after doing all the hard work to get back in front we go and cop three goals in a row to end the quarter, including one in the last few seconds.

We still play such dumb football - Gold Coast players scoring from shanked kicks because nobody's on the line to block it, Fitzpatrick gesturing to Nicholson to have a shot 45m out on angle instead of leading and at least clearing the square when he must know Nicho couldn't hit the side of a barn at any point. Still, all wasn't lost. We still had a fresh Davey to come as sub and Suns players started to drop like war victims in the last quarter.

If we'd taken our chances we'd have won, and if we'd run them off their legs more in the last 10 minutes we'd have given ourselves even more shots on goal which would surely have come off eventually. Sadly this is not the sort of team to take a side down to one on the bench and run them around until they can't move anymore. As they died one by one we somehow managed to keep conceding goals, leaving it too late to kick the last two and get within a reasonable distance.

I'd rather agree with Pol Pot than Tony Shaw most of the time but what in god's name was the point in leaving Watts as the loose man in defence when we were four goals down in the last quarter? He did a great job when he was down there but even though it's not in our DNA there has to be a point where you actually try and win. Even after we kicked the last two goals and needed three in three minutes they didn't make the change - that was odd. It was hardly a match losing non-move, but more ammunition for any club looking to get him to leave us to wave around as proof that we've got absolutely no idea how to use him. I accept the move at first - and it's such a shame again that it left Fitzpatrick and Davis (who looked terrified for most of the game until he got his head cracked open and then got into it a bit) trying to take overhead marks in the forward line.

It could have been worse, but if we play like that against Fremantle they will beat the shit out of us. It's one thing to switch back and forth all day and that might work to a degree against other lower level sides but the Dockers will do to us what North did times 50 if we try to pull that sort of shit off against them.

My main findings from the evening were that Jack Viney will be a magnificent player if we don't ruin him and Daniel Nicholson wouldn't be even if he hooked into an East German style supplements program.

'97 Watch
Total score - 184.174.1278
Score to beat - 203.235.1477
Averaged score required - 66.33ppg
Prospects of achieving the average - Almost none against Freo, not much against Adelaide, ok against Footscray but by then we'll need about 150ppg
Prognosis - Negative

2013 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Jordie McKenzie
4 - Nathan Jones
3 - Jack Viney
2 - Colin Garland
1 - Mitch Clisby

Apologies to Dunn, Grimes, Kent, Spencer, Sylvia and Watts.

Congratulations to Nathan Jones who cannot now be even tied, and is therefore officially the standalone 2013 Allen Jakovich Medallist - his third triumph in the award. Elsewhere we have a new leader in the Hilton for the first time all year, and Garland is threatening to block Chip winning his fourth Seecamp. The ruckman award remains as much of a farce as ever before and I don't want to talk about it.

45 - Nathan Jones (WINNER: 2013 Allen Jakovich Medal)
22 - James Frawley (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Jack Viney (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Rising Star Award)
21 - Colin Sylvia
20 - Colin Garland, Matt Jones
18 - Jeremy Howe
17 - Dean Terlich
11 - Tom McDonald
10 - Shannon Byrnes
8 - Lynden Dunn, Jack Watts
6 - Michael Evans, Jordie McKenzie
5 - Mitch Clisby, Aaron Davey, Chris Dawes, Jack Fitzpatrick (CO-LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year), Max Gawn (CO-LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year), Jack Grimes, James Magner, Jack Trengove
2 - Rohan Bail, Mark Jamar, Cameron Pedersen
1 - Mitch Clark, Jake Spencer, Luke Tapscott

Media Watch
I'm sure even Fox Footy executives put a line through this one as a dud at the start of the year, and they were duly rewarded with 57k viewers. It was clear nobody was taking it seriously when a) Tony Shaw was involved and b) Matt Campbell turned up to commentate sounding like Barry White because he'd lost his voice. He may as well just have found somebody in the car park and sent them up to call the game on his behalf while he had a medicinal whisky in the bar for all anybody would have noticed.

Next Week
Many of you have already given up and simply come on here to laugh heartily at those of us who haven't been able to shake the habit yet. I've given up halfway through a season in the past, but it seems like the more this club goes to buggery the more I'm trying to martyr myself for it. I'm so emotionally invested in our failure now that if we ever manage to turn it around I'll probably lose interest. So, plenty of time left to act like a teenage emo on the steps of Flinders Street Station until then.

As usual I write this without the benefit of having seen any proper VFL reports other than that Casey were completely shithouse in only narrowly winning, so christ only knows who's disgraced themselves or broken their ankle in a Frankston Oval pothole. Nevertheless three of these are in from injury/illness, so they're

IN: Blease, Dawes, Gawn, Howe, Pedersen
OUT: Byrnes, Davis, Nicholson, Spencer (omit), M. Jones (rested - looks tired)

I say the above with the greatest of respect to The Spencil who is actually in career best form, but call me old fashioned and sentimental but you don't rope a player who could have ditched us for god knows how many other clubs into signing a new contract then drop him for the rest of the season knowing he can't now leave. The waters are muddied even further when Jamar returns, but for now I'd prefer if we concentrated playing the future #1. Incidentally I only just realised Jamar is signed for the next two seasons - how in god's name that works I'm not sure but I stand by the plan to hook him up with a decent team and let him try to play finals while clearing a path for the other two.

As for Davis I don't want to flick him after one game but if Dawes is fit there's really no reason for him to play. He did reasonably well for somebody who was a defender until about a month ago but I'm not sure there's a spot for him next year. Serves him right for not showing anything in the years when we were giving two/three year contracts to anybody who wanted them.

There's a theory going around that you can't play VFL finals if you've played more than 12 AFL games during the year, and if that's the reason we're leaving him out of the senior side then we're an even bigger joke than ever before. I'm all for being nice to Casey after screwing them for so many years but that would be perverse.

If Clisby goes down for his suplex which blew the guy's shoulder out you can have your pick of whoever else you want to bring in because it won't make the slightest difference to our score of 3.4.22.

Exhibition Series Update
I've decided on the order of teams I'm going for in September. If the Bombers get the arse I'll have to reinvestigate the order.

1) Port, 2) Fremantle, 3) Sydney, 4) Richmond, 5) Geelong, 6) Hawthorn, 7) Collingwood, 8) Essendon

Next Year
Days after declaring the Eade campaign to have faded along with the Pies the hot rumour of the week was that he was already signed, sealed and delivered along with Geoff Walsh as Football Manager. I'll believe it when I see it, but I wouldn't say no. After last night I'm promoting him above Craig and into third on my coaching wishlist behind Choco and Roos.

As for the race to become captain of the Titanic our friends at Melbourne Matters are still plugging away. I'm not all that sure they're getting anywhere fast, and most of their tweets/Facebook posts seem to be getting retweeted by the candidates themselves and the women from the digital agency who put it all together rather than the Velvet Revolution style uprising of the people that they were expecting.

The truth is that most people are so disenchanted at the moment that they're perfectly happy to let the AFL do what they like with us. Peter Jackson seems to have worked out so far (in that he sacked the trumpeter) so that's one positive thing they've done for us - as well as writing an enormous cheque. There's no don't doubt the people involved are successful in what they do, but if the league has any interest in Stockdale and chums they wouldn't be trying to win support inch-by-inch, argument-by-argument via social media.

Admittedly I'd like to know who our President and board are going to be, and I wouldn't rule out a couple of the Melbourne Matters candidates being roped in, but it's not like some open primary where we're waiting for other candidates to put their hand up and nominate. The AFL could announce it as the undercard to the Essendon sanctions at 9am Monday morning for all we know. One way or the other, hysterical "won't somebody PLEASE think of the children" style tweets like this aren't winning me over:
A memo to whoever becomes President, I don't want to hear about how long it's been since we've won a flag. I'm also not that interested in about how long it's been since we played in the finals. In fact I don't even care if we win three games in 2014 as long as following the club stops being a weekly humiliation for everyone involved.

Everyone - including me I'm sure - scoffed at David Koch becoming Port Adelaide President, and while nobody could have foreseen them climbing out of the ghetto and becoming a reasonable football club overnight I was struck by something he said when being interviewed before their game yesterday. He said when he turned up he wanted to make football fun again for everyone involved with the club - and that's exactly what we need at the moment.

I don't know how you do it, and nobody can promise instant good times but at least Kochie's a jovial character. Even before the season started and they were still expected to be garbage he was out there cracking gags, kissing Mark Robinson on the head etc... etc... Compare and contrast to all the people who we've had linked with our job since Don McLardy pulled the pin (with apologies to Glen Bartlett who has never been heard from again since the rumour went out that he was in, but who I've never actually heard from) they're all so grey and monotone. I almost collapsed face first onto my keyboard when Stockdale was being interviewed on SEN and they had to interrupt him after five minutes of talking just as he was about to explain his plan to keep kids interested by putting on sausage sizzles.

I'm not suggesting we should go out and get Dr. Turf to be the President just because he's a Dees man who does gags on the radio, and there's no doubt if Port had bombed out like we have this year nobody - Kochie included - would be having too many laughs, but while it's a given that nobody's going to show up to games when you lose every week and the atmosphere is as sombre as a tour of Anne Frank's House there's also something to be said for having somebody with a personality at the top. A performer. If I can't have one as coach can I have one as President instead? After all what was the great Jim Stynes if not a performer and a uniter? It's not like he came to us having run a bank.

Player wise is this a good time to point out that both Shannon Byrnes, James Strauss and (possibly) Daniel Nicholson are all contracted next year? Also should we be watching out for an announcement from Aaron Davey this week? Surely he wants to go out playing at the MCG, even if it will be in front of 5000 people. Don't tell me he's going to do a Daniel Ward in 2007 and refuse to retire then be surprised when he gets shown the door - go out with dignity Flash, it's the only way.

Final thoughts
The saddest thing about a sad, sad season is that this defeat was probably our second 'best' of 17 behind the Sydney game. What a horrid era we're living in.

Sunday 4 August 2013

Abandon ship

One day you'll have a set of highly amusing anecdotes to tell about the last few years following this club, it's just a question of whether or not there'll be anybody left who wants to hear them.

It would obviously also be nice if by then there's still a club to follow, but every time we put in another heartless performance which further chips away at the miniscule fanbase that have stuck with us this long we strike another blow to our hopes of rescuing this club in time to take advantage of the AFL's (presumably) generous bailout package. In a way it saddens me to see that outwardly normal people are starting to come to terms with the sort of bizarre conspiracy theories I've been running with all season about how we're in MASSIVE trouble for the future, but at the same time at least everyone's starting to realise that we are in no way 'too big to fail' and must either get it right relatively quickly or see the world's oldest professional football side cark it.

Would you blame your kid if they came out of this week's game saying they wanted to follow the Giants? It's up to you to bribe or threaten them into continuing your legacy but you're fighting an uphill battle considering we've already turned off a generation of kids who are going into Grade 2 never having seen us get closed than arm's length of respectability before imploding in the greatest shower of debris that the professional football world has ever seen.

It's not losing to GWS that's the problem. I'm not suggesting that I'm happy to be beaten comfortably by an 0-17 team who hadn't won in 364 days and chuffed that we botched the chance to put a winless season on Kevin Sheedy's record out of pure spite, but if you're at all realistic about the way this year has gone they have been at least our equals if not better. But for one out of the blue quarter in Round 4 or the bounce of a ball in either of our matches against Footscray we're practically the same. The only difference is that at the moment we're both at the bottom but one side's heading towards a glorious future and the other is on the fast track to putting itself out of business.

I won't pretend there's no shame in what happened today, after all they're probably going to win eight flags in a row starting soon and Scully will perform the biggest 'fuck you all' to us by becoming a triple Brownlow Medallist, but it's the typically weedy way we went under without more than a token fight that irks me. The scene was set right from the start when Brogan started roughing up Watts before the first bounce - as is his right - and all our players just stood around watching while Jack offered token resistance. It's one thing to not go out and flatten somebody cheaply a'la Sylvia against the Suns (though it depends who it is, I'm sure we'd also rise to applaud if he'd done it against Boomer Harvey) and I respect that Nathan Jones and Tapscott have copped melee fines this year but how can we not have the balls to stand up for ourselves against a team of kids and angry veterans? Can't we at least engage in the macho bullshit push and shove game for show rather than just meekly going along with the script and getting tonked by them?

Humiliation is hardly a new sensation if you're a Melbourne fan, in fact if you're old enough we've (kind of) been here before against a much worse side (26 straight losses), but the horror of that day was at least tempered by having just won three games in the previous month. It was also soon forgotten when we won the next two. This year we've had a month where we kicked four goals twice, lost by 20 goals once, limped to what sadly constitutes an honourable loss and would celebrate a win in either of our next two games like we've won Tattslotto. This is a new level of bleakness.

Confident that we were going to find a new way to mine rock bottom in this game I set out during the week, in a frankly scandalous use of work time, to discover who or what dug the greatest hole in history. Surprisingly neither 186 or Mark Neeld and his 'hardest team to play against' comments featured, but I did learn about the oddly named Kola Superdeep Borehole.

This hole, officially the deepest ever until we lose all our remaining games by over 100 points, was started by the Soviet Union and - for reasons that aren't entirely clear - reached depths of more than 40,000 feet by the time they gave up. As I read on it became clear that the borehole and the Melbourne Football Club had a lot in common, both of them started to go downhill at a tremendous rate during the 70's and both were abandoned in 2008 when funding ran out. Eventually when there was no money left and no point in going on any further they welded the top of the hole shut, walked away and left the entire complex to fall apart. Sound familiar?

In modern footballing terms it's hard to tell if a rebuild from this position is possible because nobody's ever gotten themselves into as deep shit as us, much less lived to tell the tale. Even Fitzroy decayed with more on-field dignity than we've got at the moment.

The closest would be the triple spoon and twice 15th Carlton, but at least they could blame draft sanctions for slowing their rebuild to a crawl and point to Fev kicking a shitload of goals as a good reason why people should still bother turning up to watch every week. I would still contend that they were never as awful and painful to watch as we are today - averaging 76, 92 and 81 points a game in their three wooden spoon seasons. In comparison we might have avoided at least one spoon but are going at 66.7ppg this year following on from 72 last season without the prospect of a billionaire tipping a fortune in (unless you count the AFL) and without us even getting the half decent return from our litany of top picks that the Blues have. They got J**d for big money and he won a Brownlow, we bought Clark for plenty and his foot fell off.

The only other example I can find is Sydney, who did alright to recover from three spoons in a row in the early 90's to play in a Grand Final by '96. There are plenty of similarities between us and them too. They did nothing in the draft with a ton of top 10 picks (Jason Spinks, Darren Gaspar, Glenn Gorman, Adam Heuskes, Anthony Rocca and Shannon Grant. It took until the '95 draft and Jared Crouch to get somebody would stay around for more than 100 games), topping up with a bunch of average discards from other clubs and being financially bailed out by the league before finally getting it right. Would be nice if the league could go out and get us today's equivalent of Tony Lockett as well though. At least the triple spoon Swans went down swinging, averaging 90, 92 and 91 in their those seasons - if anybody in Sydney had given a rats about the team at least they'd have been proud knowing that their side was having a go and could have some confidence that if they turned up to a game something interesting was going to happen.

There is no such guarantee with the MFC. Right now we're dead on with the Roys last season in terms of average score, and have an only marginally better percentage than they did at the same point before completely giving up and getting thumped for the last four weeks of the season as we're every possible chance to do.

All this would still have been relevant had we beaten the Giants, but any sort of win would have momentarily swept the misery under the carpet instead of sending us all off the deep end once and for all. Not that I personally expected us to win, but one can always live in hope. It would also have helped to have gone down battling instead of being run around circles by a better prepared, quicker, smarter side - seven of whom had never played in a win and one who held the ludicrous career record of 0-21.

If only they'd managed to beat the Dogs a few weeks ago and would have stood to lose pole position in the race to auction off pick #1 to the whole league I've got no doubt we would have 'found a way to win', no matter how unsatisfying it would have been. No doubt J. Cameron would have had something sore which caused him to pull out and $cully would be temporarily sidelined with a sore back from picking up his wallet.

As it was the Giants had no call to employ any sort of shenanigans. With a full two wins between the sides the match was 'live' (not that an team would ever set out to avoid winning) and the AFL's pride and joy child had every motivation to tonk the uncontrollable shambles of a kid that the league has been accidentally lumped with because somebody forgot to take the pill for five minutes. We even managed to ride the wave of having several shithouse decisions go in our favour and still couldn't take advantage.

In a frightening flashback to the Neeld era any confidence I had in winning went out the door on Thursday night when the teams came out. Not only was Frawley gone but Dawes also suffered a mystery injury, robbing us of arguably our most important players at either end. Then against a lightning quick side who spent most of last week making Collingwood stupid as they flew from one end to the other with ball movement that made light of the fact that they'd lost by 20 goals a fortnight earlier we pick three ruckmen (with respect to Spencer having played a last start career best game) and expect Gawn to play as a centre-half forward instead of sending Pedo up there and using a proper defender like Davis - or god forbid Gillies - to plug the gap at the other end. With Garland and Tom Mac in the side they wouldn't have had to take the best forwards anyway, and if we were going to play without our first choice CHF at least do it with somebody who can take a mark and played his best game for us against the Giants in the forward line. It wasn't fatal but it certainly put a lot of stock in Gawn's ability to get possessions as a forward.

Then there was Kent over Blease. I know neither of them was much good last week, but Sam is still the player who kicked 19 goals last year - and his set up for Tapscott to miss in the third quarter last week was outrageous (in a good way). His disposal is a farce sometimes but he makes things happen, and that's exactly what we needed against a side who we were at least well matched up with. I respect the idea of leaving him out against sides where we need an all hands on deck defensive effort or of giving him full games in the 2's for form, but what's the point of that at this time of the year? On the other side Kent has played six games in a row and done almost nothing as a starter or a sub. Maybe they were worried Blease would turn heel on us halfway through the game and re-form Miami Vice? Either way Kent can afford to spend some time in the seconds, but we should be getting as many games into Blease as possible going into next season.

Selection issues aside (insert something about Magner here) I still believed we were at least a chance of winning, and while we did get the first goal again we were lucky that Matt Jones didn't get done for holding the ball in an admittedly cracking tackle from $cully (as usual playing out of his skin against us just to rub it in) after Terlich handballed it to him then didn't bother trying to lay a shepherd and just wandered off instead. Not the last time it happened for the day either. Does anybody ever shepherd on this team? Other sides appear to do it all the time. It's a fundamental of the bloody sport after all. There must be a bit of blocking and bumping going on 'in the clinches' (CLICHE) but I still reckon the only player I've seen legitimately sprint to help one of his teammates out all year was Jake Spencer - which is a tremendous indictment on the rest of them.

Just like last week the first goal was followed by a five minute period where we could barely get our hands on the ball, and when we did stuff all came out of it. Watts redeemed himself by kicking two goals in the first quarter before going missing again, but his attempt at a quick handball which squibbed off his hand and rolled pathetically to Garland with an opponent right up his clacker was hardly befitting a player who is making a big song and dance about holding us over the barrel until we fulfil all his desires. Good luck delivering handballs like that at Carlton next year and having Mick Malthouse scream obscenities directly in your face until you cry.

When we did go forward it predictably came flying out the other way at lightning speed due to us having about as much forward pressure as crumb. Absolutely nil. A brief period where we slowed them down long enough to get a few chances was completely wasted by missing them all, and whenever they got the ball back they'd find players free all over the place. They wanted it more, and you could tell it. The best thing to do to a team in that situation is strangle them at birth and reassert control but this is Melbourne we're talking about here - a team that has about as much successful in asserting themselves as a substitute teacher.

We were being sliced and diced from one end to the other, which was playing right into their hands. This made the fact that we then kicked three goals in a row (admittedly one from a technically correct but morally rubbish 50) totally confusing. Were we actually going to play a majority of decent football across more than one quarter? Of course we weren't, our loose attitude to chasing opponents cost us a couple of goals and when Puttin' On The Fitz brought back the old Lolpatrick days by missing an absolute sitter we went into quarter time behind, handing the Giants every clue they needed to believe that they could beat us.

Admittedly they were in a similar - if not better - position last week and lost, but we're hardly Collingwood. In all honesty I thought we actually did really well in the first quarter considering we were basically three players down with Gawn totally cut out of the game by being played out of position, Kent useless with zero touches and Sylvia further proving his status as one of the league's hottest free agents by being flogged to death by somebody called Mark Whiley.

Down the other end we were coping alright when the ball came in slowly rather than as part of a blitzkrieg style attack, but it was more often going backline - midfield - forward line in three hops like a game of netball and leaving us woefully exposed. The flavour of the month Jeremy Cameron might have got one, but McDonald was doing a decent job on him and even Pedersen - whisper it quietly - was marking strongly. He can take a great grab Pedo, but if we're going to play him down back we'll have to find ways to moderate his shambolic disposal. Like McDonald if he can be persuaded not to try and hit 50m passes and just dink it around or handball it then he could still be useful, but I'm not sure how many players like that you can have down there and still expect to move the ball quickly. Remember Tapscott in his first season? Why can't I have those days back instead of playing him as a half-forward flanker who doesn't kick goals. Though it's not like any of our players run to get in free positions anyway so what's the point?

Against the odds the midfield was ok. Spencer was doing reasonably well in the ruck, but he's well inferior to Gawn around the ball so once again I can't come to grips with playing both of them at the same time and almost totally sacrificing Max to some sort of pipedream that he's going to play like Paul Salmon. At least Viney was providing rare support for N Jones in the middle, allowing the soon to be three time Allen Jakovich Medallist to bust free and rack up touches - and more importantly some centre clearances. They usually didn't go anywhere other than straight to a GWS player but at least it was novel and unique to see us winning out of the middle occasionally.

I did enjoy Clisby having the odd run in there as well, but for once it wasn't being smashed in the middle of the ground that was doing the damage. We actually won the centre clearances for once, it was that we had nothing to kick to up forward so when the ball came loose GWS players were running around like they were possessed while most of our team loped about waiting for the final siren to save them. We have such an amazing inability to get the various parts of our game going at the same time that I'm convinced at some time in the next month we will kick 24.16.160 and still lose due our defence allowing somebody to kick 14 goals.

Still, at quarter time we might have been behind and outplayed but scoring wise at least it was a reasonable quarter by our standards. So what more typical Melbourne response was there than to turn up and kick one solitary, stinking goal for the whole second quarter? And even that was from a 50. Even Scully hitting a red and blue target by foot for the first time in his career wasn't a big enough hint for us to start playing properly. Our ineptitude even spread to times when we did have periods of dominance but couldn't make anything of it - witness for instance Toumpas storming inside 50 then shitting himself only for the ball to spill to a marauding Pedo who didn't realise he had about three weeks to turn around and kick the goal and instead tried a zero percentage snap instead. 1.5 for the quarter, and once again it might not have been all that bad going into half time if we hadn't conceded a goal to Jonathan Giles on the siren courtesy of some of the most lobster handed attempts at tackling in the history of AFL football. Somewhere Mark Neeld was sitting at home screaming that it wasn't just his fault that we were so dominant in the 'attempted tackles'.

By five minutes into the third quarter panic was starting to set in both on and off-field. Nobody should be surprised that they're a better side than we are. It's not like our two wins have been all that much more impressive - one belting final term when they had outplayed us and a narrow win over the Dogs where they were narrow losers. They lost two games by 100, so did we. We're horrid and need about five priority picks to rescue this gash list but every once in a while show random five minute periods of looking like a proper footy team - and from this we somehow actually cut the margin by a goal by the end of the quarter. Pedo let rip with a long bomb (play him forward perhaps?) and Kent turned up for one goal and one shithouse shot on goal and we were just a couple behind safe in the knowledge that GWS often fold like an accordion in the final term.

So, at this point what do you do? Do you a) Kick 12 goals in a record breaking quarter and win comfortably, b) engage in a grim slog for 30 minutes which could go either way or c) allow the player who claimed he was going to 'check out the facilities' then signed a multi-million dollar contract instead to act like Chris Judd by setting up two goals in the first two minutes. You only get one a) in a lifetime, and we're too shit for b) so I guess it'll have to be c) and total despair then. We got a few token goals after that but it was all over, they deserved their win fully and good luck to them - it's the coach killing loss we should have to them had months earlier.

Doesn't make it any more palatable, and I'm still furious about how terrible we are many hours later but I'm angrier about the place as a whole. This is just more insult added to injury which won't look as bad in a couple of years when GWS win a flag but right now it's just another humiliation which should ensure we shed a few thousand more fans and end up with a 2014 membership tally lower than Opel's car sales in Australia.

'97 Watch
Today's above average score of 12.15.87 takes us to 174.159.1201 in our quest to overhaul 203.235.1477. Thank god the team of '97 couldn't kick straight or we'd be no chance. We now require an average of 69 points a game to reach that mark, and that is going to be a hard slog with two of the four remaining matches being against Freo and Adelaide at Football Park. Stay tuned.  

2013 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
5 - Nathan Jones
4 - Mitch Clisby
3 - Jack Viney
----- SO MUCH DAYLIGHT ------
2 - Cameron Pedersen
1 - Matt Jones

Apologies to none. Even the last two didn't deserve it, and if we're being entirely frank neither did the top three. Nevertheless congratulations to Clisby and Pedo for scoring their first votes - it doesn't matter how you got them when we look back on the tally in the future.

On a dark day some good news is that with Frawley out Jones officially WINS his third Jakovich. At worst he'll have to share it if Sylvia rips out four BOGs while he scores nil from here on. Also pre-season favourite Viney has moved to within striking distance of Jones in the Hilton.

41 - Nathan Jones (WINNER: 2013 Allen Jakovich Medal)
22 - James Frawley (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
21 - Colin Sylvia
20 - Matt Jones (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Rising Star Award)
19 - Jack Viney
18 - Colin Garland, Jeremy Howe
17 - Dean Terlich
16 - Jack Viney
11 - Tom McDonald
10 - Shannon Byrnes
8 - Lynden Dunn, Jack Watts
6 - Michael Evans
5 - Aaron Davey, Chris Dawes, Jack Fitzpatrick (CO-LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year), Max Gawn (CO-LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year), Jack Grimes, James Magner, Jack Trengove
4 - Mitch Clisby
2 - Rohan Bail, Mark Jamar, Cameron Pedersen
1 - Mitch Clark, Jordie McKenzie, Jake Spencer, Luke Tapscott

Media Watch
I suspect that some were probably threatening to kick their TV in due to the commentators actively punting GWS home, but why bother? It's the done thing to cheer home a team full of loveable losers. Everyone loves an underdog story and a team bouncing back from losing 2000 games in a row to have a win is the best possible example of that.

Imagine what Essendon fans felt like last year when we were pulling off a startling upset to the soundtrack of Brian Taylor practically flopping it out and having an Uncle Doug in the box. The best way to avoid alleged commentary bias being an issue is to either be the shit team who has a breakthrough win or even better to not be an abject failure to start with.

On a related topic didn't it feel like somebody was taking a piss playing that Opel Performance Centre ad considering that their whole Australian operation had folded the day before? I know they still need to shift a few units (or to be more precise, shitloads, considering they expect to sell 15k cars a year and actually flogged 1500). Serves them right for pretending they sent Grimgove and Howe to Germany when everyone could see that they were driving around any old generic racetrack in Australia.

Crowd Watch
Special guest @lachyg89 travelled to Skoda Stadium so you didn't have to. He filed this report:

One favourable advantage of going to the Melbourne pre match function was being able to beat the football "traffic" to the Sydney Olympic Precinct. I liked the idea of being on a quite peaceful train over being packed in with the "Expansion Family of Giants Fans" with their fake dreadlocks, novelty sized hands, jumpers with the scab's number on the back and any other merchandise that might still have the price tag it came with. This moving parade of orange, white and grey is offensive enough on the eye but would be unbearable to be in their company knowing the success starved fans would be frothing at the mouth at the thought of playing everyone's favourite percentage boosting bunny in red and blue.

Surely being on a train to Olympic Park (Sydney's answer to the Bermuda Triangle because it's a bunch of stadiums, restaurants and a bar in the middle of NOTHING!!!) four hours before the game would guarantee peace and quiet...? WRONG!!! Each carriage was packed with nicely dressed men and women with nametags. At this stage I wonder who's filming what and where??? I muster up the courage to ask a woman "what's this crowd all about?"... that was a BAD MOVE!!! "It's a Jehovah's Witness convention at Allphones Arena" OK, there's a Jehovah's Witness convention next door to a football game featuring a team with a satanic nickname. Despite being dressed head to toe like I clearly already had something planned for the day this woman continued to tell me everything I need to know about the convention. And whilst I couldn't power walk away from her fast enough, it was nice to know that if I was overcome by a 3rd quarter Red and Blue emotional spiral, I didn't have to go far to find spiritual shelter.

Well-dressed religions aside, once done with pregame formalities I could no longer avoid the condescending orange parade glaring at anyone in red and blue like it was an endangered species. Giants fans appear to get the Etihad Stadium treatment every week with the upper deck of two of the six stands being cordoned off, I can understand with the lack of numbers but one of these stands is located on the wing, a prime viewing point I would have thought. Skoda Stadium boasts the "biggest screen in the southern hemisphere" which means absolutely NOTHING if you locate yourself in the away teams section therefore sitting in front of it facing the other way. I can accept not having a view of the novelty item but it is the only screen and time-clock that the stadium appears to have. How many regularly-used AFL grounds have one and only ONE screen and game clock??!! Cut half the novelty sized bastard and put it on the stand that they clearly have no intention of using until 2018. Had it been a close game I think I would be in a neck brace (Lucky that idea got turfed in the first 2 minutes of the last quarter).

At quarter time I couldn't resist the idea of feeding my face. Skoda Stadium is a great place to feed one's place as they have evolved from the Footy Food Standard Selections (pies, hot dogs, etc) the food variety is one of a food court in a shopping centre... The place has a Subway... A SUBWAY. With all this said I still went with the hot dog (livin' the dream). On my way back from the Skoda Foodcourt I was walking behind two casually dressed individuals... One said to the other "I'm sick of seeing all these Demons fans!".... Really??? There could have been 160 Demons fans there today... Hardly an invasion from the south. Does this bloke go into fits of rage when Collingwood come to town?? But because this individual who was not physically associated with any team playing is sick of this Demons Fans epidemic, we will leave the Giants to bask in four digit crowd figures meanwhile have our own live site outside the ground to watch future games at Skoda Stadium... As long as the Jehovah's Witness don't take it as a satanic gathering to rain on their parade.

The Giants cheer squad appear to have adopted the round ball supporter concept of making constant noise. They have hearts of gold but in the clubs infant years they don't have the numbers yet to pull it off yet. The Orange monk people didn't seem to be there today... I guess that's not a 'thing' anymore. As for the rest of the fans, they seem respond louder to the MC than their own team kicking a goal. At the end of each quarter the announcer call for the fans to "Get behind YOUR team" to which everybody just makes noise... The heart is in the right place but given there is no play going on it's just irrelevant noise. It's not a basketball game!!! Which brings me to my next grinding gear. It is August 2013... Gangnam Style has dropped out of the charts... there is no longer a need to have the song FULL BLAST at halftime. Again... IT IS NOT A BASKETBALL GAME!!! But the loudest and most intimidating sounds of the day came from above courtesy of Sydney's traditionally low-flying airplanes. They even cut through the GWS theme song for about 15 seconds.

It fills my heart with bliss knowing that even a year on from the #carnivalofhate, even on the Giants patch of grass, Tom $kully still gets booed by the Melbourne faithful if he goes anywhere near the ball. I say before every game that I'm over abusing but I'm lying to myself as I still get a thrill out of giving him an earful and making the slightest mistake sound like an abortion.. an expensive abortion. Unfortunately today was the day he got his win and that joke was on us. As the Giants players ran to the fence to hand out the now mandatory 'we won the game' items to fans, I was hoping the scab would have the nerve to come our way and maybe he would cop a beer over the head 'Brad Johnson GABBA style'.. He went nowhere near us. Thankfully the words to the Giants theme song don't appear to be second nature to the majority of the fans so there was no carrying on in or outside the stadium from the hosting fans after the fulltime siren.

Thanks Lachy, and we hope you enjoyed the scoreboard that explains what free kicks are for. How does a scoreboard know when the rest of us - including the players - usually have no idea?

Next Week
Gold Coast or not I couldn't give a shit if we lose by 100 points (what's another one?) as long as I get vengeance at the selection table. Without the Casey game having happened yet, and assuming Dawes' injury was of the minor variety and not some 18 month Mitch Clark style debacle I'll opt for the following.

IN: Blease, Dawes, Davis, McKenzie, Taggert,
OUT: Byrnes, Davey, Spencer (unlucky), Tapscott, Toumpas (omit)
LUCKY: Kent (have to admit that he was one of our better players in the second half - still not convinced)
UNLUCKY: Barry (only because I'm self bullying myself into keeping Kent), Magner (no point even trying to rescue him now is there?)

Two debutants in one match? Why not, at least we'd have an excuse for being horrible. If Dawes isn't fit then I'd rather Sellar come in and let Pedo go forward where he might be lucky to get on the end of one of our 25 inside 50's.

Presumably McKenzie tags Ablett, because otherwise he's going to have 70 touches instead of just 50. It hurts me to see Grimes playing as a tagger at the moment and I insist that it's stopped immediately. It's ok to have a player 'do a job' every once in a while, but your McKenzies and Magners are the sort of players who should be used as taggers, not allegedly blue chip players on a weekly basis. Also if he was supposed to be tagging Ward he didn't do much of a job of it.

Gold Coast by plenty. Another chapter to be written in our sorry history.

Next Year
We've reached such a tragic point that right now I'd be willing to accept a four win spoon season in 2014 as long as it's in the spirit of West Coast's 2010 campaign where they still managed a percentage of 77 and an average losing margin of just 24.

It might seem like a complete lack of ambition to be aiming at a spoon, and it'll be a backwards step on the ladder if GWS pack their season away and happily take last from here, but what's the hurry? We've been no good since dial-up internet was popular so what's another season as long as we are officially 'competitive' instead of going into every game expecting that we're going to get thrashed. Also something about draft picks.

God knows what poor kids we're going to pick this year, but can any draft experts tell me if there are any really ugly, Dustin Martin style criminal looking types in the mix? The success of Nat Fyfe and Rory Sloane proves that looking like a member of One Direction should not preclude you from being a top shelf player but I just feel that at this time in life we need somebody who looks like a member of the Hells Angels rather than another teen idol.

Also if we don't go out and get a proper small forward I'll spit (I hear Ahmed Saad may become available on a free transfer..) because days like today show that Davey is finished, Byrnes is a bit part player at best and if Kent's kicking goals it's not from crumb style situations. Even if they have to go out and get a state league player to provide an option then do it - imagine next year if Clark is ever fit again and we have him down there with Dawes and Hogan. They can't all mark it every time, but will certainly be putting the wind up opposition defenders by flying in so you can expect the ball's probably going to land on the deck every once in a while. Would be nice to hold it down there for more than five seconds at a time.

Elsewhere our out of contract players hardly did their asking price any favours. This week I was spruiking the idea that the Giants should ignore Franklin and instead pick up a bunch of free agents/out of contract players including Sylvia and Watts via Pick 1 in the PSD. Can't think either of them would have convinced Leon Cameron that they could offer any more than the players he's already got. GWS are insane if they spend enormous amounts of dosh on Franklin with Cameron and Patton in the mix (if they send Cameron into the backline everyone involved deserves to be arrested) but I still think they'd do better to go out and get a few players for the same price. Either way I've gone cold on Watts staying during the week so I now don't expect either of them to be with us next year. I'd certainly have him, but if you're going to put off contract negotiations until the end of the season just leave it at that instead of doing a Moloney and sending your agent out to deliver public pot shots at the club.

On the coaching front now that Neil Craig is unfortunately finished (unless everyone else tells us to piss off) I was thrilled to see Richmond take another big step forward by thumping Hawthorn to further my claims that Choco is the genius behind Damien Hardwick. Another big benefit is that he would have been otherwise occupied and wouldn't have had the chance to watch our game. He's the sort of driven, semi-insane character who would probably rather start at the bottom again as the boss instead of being a subordinate at a finals club but unless there was some mega financial gain I know which club I'd be at next season given the way they're going.

Another big winner out of today was Paul Roos. If you still believe that we're going to have our fourth "last crack" at him then he can either tell us to get stuffed and nobody will honestly blame him for not wanting to take on this horrible job, or he can bang another 200k p/a on his asking price and rely on 'us' being so desperate for a major figure to defend the indefensible that we'll do anything no matter how degrading to find the money to pay him. Don't come with your hand out to me though, I'd rather go on my knees to Damien Drum and beg him to coach us than be blackmailed for more money on the assumption that if Roos touches us (so to speak) that we'll turn to gold. Let's just have one more go at whatever outrageous price he's asking in the first place then shut the gate for good instead of running a sham selection committee who will be dismissed the moment we've scrambled together enough cash and promised the AFL enough degrading favours in the future to afford it to get him.

As for the hotly contested (for some reason) Presidency the Bartlett rumours have gone cold in the last week, and have been replaced by a renewed tilt by A. Stockdale. He's even got a website going, which I suppose you owe to yourself to at least look at and see if you agree. There's nothing remarkable in there, and the suggestion that we're somehow about to get in bed with the Herald Sun if he's President is odd, but I remain resolute in sitting back and copping whoever the AFL tells us to cop. If there's the huge groundswell of support that Al's hoping for and he gets up then good luck to him. If we weren't being run by the league I might even vote for him in an election, but considering where we're at I will do whatever they tell me to do at the moment and follow whoever is put in charge.

The future
It's hardly a revelation that we've been no good for the last few years, but I've love to know how much money this has cost us. Can anyone at the club slip me a covert Wikileaks style breakdown of the various membership categories that have made up our total numbers from 2008 to this year? We've only gained 506 in that time (total 33,106 - down from the all-time high of 36,917 in 2011 when we'd been roped into thinking we were at the vanguard of a glorious era) but is there a higher than previous proportion of AFL club support and novelty three game memberships?

I'm concerned about the AFL Members. If you've got one then good luck to you, I'm not here to tell you what to do, but there's a big difference between lapsed ordinary members who are roped into renewing at the cheapest possible price when Tom Couch rings them up and people who crack the shits and climb aboard the AFL Gravy Train never to return.

We still get the number counted in our membership tally, so it's not so much losing the ordinary member or people that never signed up in the first place that concerns me, it's the amount of money we've lost during the 'dark years' from people who have tossed out their premium memberships and switched to the AFL variety. The unconfirmed word is that club gets the equivalent of a normal, 11 game adult membership ($199), but the amount of people I know who have either ditched a premium membership for the AFL or are planning to is frightening.

(UPDATE, 11.30am Monday 5 August - The AFL has confirmed via Twitter that it's just $138 from every AFL Club Support membership to the club. Now I don't want to be the sort of person to lay a guilt trip on you here, and you might give money to the club in all sorts of other ways, but that's a pissweak amount. Thanks to the AFL's Twitterist for going out of their way to confirm it but I can see why their bosses are vague about the contribution to clubs in their brochures. I'm not here to tell you what to do, but just consider what this is costing the club before you switch over.)

That's dollars from 15 game ($320), Redlegs ($479, can't believe I pay that every year), Trident ($540) or Legends ($920) memberships out the window - replaced by $200p/a. We are never, ever, ever going to get those people back, and I don't blame them. It's a good deal for the fan - $690 for the first year, $399 a year from then on for silver and assuming not all that much more for gold. It's not for me (because I don't give a rats about going to game not involving the MFC) but more and more people are going to pull the pin as we get worse, and it's going to keep costing us. God knows how you convince people to pay more to get less in the future, and that's money going straight into the AFL's pocket. Admittedly much of this is coming back to us anyway but we're never going to get off handouts at this rate.

Was it worth it?
It made me feel like walking into the sea with a pocket full of rocks.

Final Thoughts
As we crawl on our knees towards our doom at least we're going down artistically. This from Twitterist @jhuntersmith says it all.