Sunday 31 August 2014

The last act of defiance

NB: The following has not been re-read or edited due to extreme end of season apathy. Let me know if there are any grammatical disasters or anything that doesn't make sense more than usual. And now, let the good times roll once more.

And that's the end of that. Draw the shutters, pull the blinds down and put the VACANT sign up until 2015. We've finally dragged ourselves to the end of a season that can only be considered respectable in comparison to the one immediately preceding it and can now concentrate on the best time of the year to be a Melbourne fan - the delist, trade, draft period where every idea and every player seems like a good idea.

With due respect to the fact that I already miss the ongoing tension of footy season it's hard to deny that the last few weeks have dragged. Maybe there is some merit in the plan the AFL are floating to split the last few weeks on the season into three brackets so the slop can play each other in winnable games with something on the line making them worth winning. Wouldn't have stopped us throwing it all away against Brisbane or crumbling like dust against the Giants but at least in the other games we could have shown up and gone off our nut as we liked without having to shamefully face fans of sides well on their way to September.

I'm resigned to the fact that without a miracle occurring we're not going to make the finals until at least 2017 if ever again, so this system could give us a much needed boost at the end of the year after the rest of the competition has gone through us like a hot knife into butter for the first 17 weeks.

That's all coming in the future, if such a radical change ever has a chance of getting up, and for now the system that has served us for pretty much every season since the turn of the 20th century left us with one last engagement against a finals bound side who had absolutely nothing to play for other than extending a winning streak of almost 3000 days and not having anyone get injured or suspended before next week. They responded by putting out a glorified reserves side, which does not cost a $500k fine as long as you're not benefiting from it in the form of draft picks, and toyed with letting us win for the first half before turning the heat up just enough for 20 minutes to fry us all the way through.

Most Melbourne fans I know had even less interest in the match than Brad Scott. Citing fatigue with the season, hatred of the stadium or more interest in watching the latest instalment in the Richmond miracle (now just one less win in a row than we've had since August 2012) they made their excuses and chose not to attend. Which is more than fair enough, the thought of staying home on my couch and throwing chips at the TV really appealed to me at about 5.45pm, but I just had to complete the set and see us play one last time.

Besides that there was a chance that unlike most matches this year we actually promised to put on a half-decent show. There was no point keeping the defensive noose tightened right up to the neck and North B were always going to give us the opportunity of a decent game (whether or not we were capable of accepting the invite was another matter entirely), and while it seemed far fetched by some North fans to suggest we were a chance of knocking them off you never know. And with nothing left to play for at our end either a handful of us trudged to the unhappiest place on earth and saw Melbourne take the hint to kick their highest score of the year and go out looking a little bit like a proper football club.

It was appropriate for this season to both start and end at Etihad Stadium Docklands - both promised an improved experience before barely delivered and nobody wants to go back to either ever again. It's been a weird year, one in which we briefly threatened to leave the lower classes behind before it all petered out after the glory of the Essendon game and left us with memories of something historically terrible but considered a pass only because it followed something even worse. We 'almost' won a few other games too, but you can't claim a share of Division 1 in Tattslotto because you were a couple of numbers off.

In preparing to put this odd campaign to bed I did something rare and went back to read an old post. Usually they're dashed out and packed away never be revisited (until the book/film/album deal comes through) but took a look at the season preview to see what sort of lofty ambitions I set with my internet lunatic hat on (it rarely comes off) and how close we went to achieving them. The key line amongst so much waffle was “the goal for 2014 is simply to avoid abject failure” so I suppose in our own lowly way we've achieved that. Run the open topped bus down Brunton Avenue.

Despite that a strange season does strange things to people. Even assuming we were only going to win 4-6 games and finish third last I went on to say it was time that we stopped playing the victim and stand on our own two feet. Which is hardly compatible with my beliefs 25 very odd weeks later suggesting that our record qualifies us for special assistance, but as the Chief Football Writer of I’m happy to put my hand up and admit that the season toyed with my emotions in a way that makes this sort of about face seem reasonable. After all we are now 10-56 in the last three seasons, I think I was being optimistic thinking that we were going to show enough to be considered beyond the point of needing bailouts.

Other highlights from the season preview include the reminder that during a pre-season training session Hogan accidentally - and hilariously - handballed straight into Roos’ knackers. It turns out that's about as good as it got for Jesse before his back fell apart. There was also a point in the post where the font randomly changed, which was a neat throwback to the era when perfectly good paragraphs would end randomly without any explanation.

Testicular injuries and disgraceful proofreading practices aside I was relatively close to picking our final position, only getting us and GWS the wrong way around in a bottom three bracket alongside St Kilda. In fact for somebody who pays scant attention to what’s happening at other clubs I almost nailed the bottom five in order so if nothing else it can be said that I recognise bad football and the teams who play it.

It seems like such a long time ago that we went to Etihad for the very first time this year for that NAB Cup win against Richmond. I'd love to know how the two women who sat next to me that night and speculated that we might make a run at the finals coped with the ups and downs of the season. They seemed to be well rusted on types so I'm assuming they made it to the end of the year, but I just knew that no matter how much fun we had that night that it didn't point to anything near a finals tilt. That night talkback radio exploded with Richmond fans prematurely ready to throw themselves out a window, and midway through the year they were 3-10, below us on the ladder and not having a much better time of it.

You know what happened next, and I'm fantastically jealous of them for it. Their last nine weeks have been exactly what we're in this business for, the chance to experience something that you'll be talking about until the day you keel over. Melbourne fans of a certain vintage have got 1987 to fall back on, but even that eventually ended in disaster. I'll always remember the run to the 2000 Grand Final and the last three weeks of the 2005 home and away season, but other than that it's just random, individual memories of games and moments that will seem insignificant in years to come. Sucked in to the grandkids who will be forced to hear me reminisce about us coming back from 95 points down against Freo or the night we snapped our 3 year losing streak against Essendon. These things tend to be embellished a bit.

After all that, and having listened to Richmond complete the fairytale just minutes before, thank god we didn't get thrashed by the North Reserves. They were even taking the piss by starting Nick Dal Santo as the substitute, so if we went out and got properly flogged it would have forcibly deflated any air left in the season. We went in without Salem, replaced late by Barry due to illness, and the odd situation of playing a last round game without any highly rated kids or veterans playing their final game. Then when North booted the first three goals in a row it did look like business as usual for a side who had checked out (some permanently) a month ago. What a glorious, apt ending to the year it would have been to finally lose by 100 after threatening it for most of the last six weeks.

The first one came courtesy of Ziebell putting both hands in Dunn's back before he took the mark, but as we saw with Paul Puopolo the other week umpires are happy to let that rule slide as long as it leads to spectacle. Forget actually umpiring to the rule book of the day, they're happy to make arbitrary decisions all day but are too scared to get potted by commentators for denying a screamer. I reckon that the rule should be that you can do whatever you like as long as you end up marking the thing, but unfortunately it's not. A viewing of the highlights (signs I'm already suffering withdrawals) shows that the theatre-goers in the Fox Footy C-team knew full well it should have been a free but opted for spectacle instead - so don't expect it to ever get mentioned again. Hopefully this sort of thing ends up deciding a grand final just to unleash chaos.

Then in a bizarre twist of fate that nobody could see coming we kicked two goals in a row to even things up - which is an improvement on our usual first quarters already. The first even involved Viv Michie - in his best game for us yet - bursting through the middle of the ground and hitting a leading Chris Dawes coming down the centre of the 50 on the chest with a perfect kick. Can somebody please watch the tape of all our goals this season (won't take you long) and confirm that that it was the first time we've managed anything as beautiful all year? Even the award winning Salem goal against Essendon might have meant more but was more frantic attack than measured, AFL standard delivery inside 50. It was absolutely fantastic, reminiscent of Watts in the similar dead rubber last season and I want lots more of it next year. It helped that he kicked the goal.

Unfortunately after a hot start - including taking advantage of the worst attempt at a kick-in since the day Simon Buckley fell flat on his face - Dawes then gave us another tribute to Round 23 next year when he channelled the spirit of our half-time brawlers against the Bulldogs by waiting until the last gasp of the year to start trying to show aggression - and not being very convincing about it. Not only did he drop out of the game after he decided to go around belting everyone, but he'll probably miss the first match of next year now for no overall benefit to the club. If anyone wanted to lightly biff somebody in the name of flying the flag and/or 'leadership' then sometime in the last fortnight would have been good and would have got any suspensions out of the way this year.

Even when North reasserted their natural superiority by kicking another two goals we managed to recover with two goals in the last 90 seconds to be level at quarter time. God knows how because we were as loose as a goose defensively and not much better at moving the ball but whatever we did it seemed to be working. Not that we should have had the last one, where after Dawes took advantage of the North kick-in kock-up Gawn clearly - and foolishly - attempted to play on and kick the goal through only for it to bounce off a North player but somehow be called back. That near fiasco aside what I did enjoy as usual before he got injured were Maximum's ruck taps - which often went right down the throat of a teammate or very much to their advantage in space. Compare to Jamar, who was really good around the ground in his 150th and took some great running marks but wins taps by brute force and knocks them to anywhere he can. For this reason I will be absolutely filthy if Max has done his knee.

I've got no idea what this means, but while it seems to not be the worst case scenario who knows what it actually does mean. If he's not ready to play early next year it would be a tragedy for him personally but another tremendous kick in the guts for us just as they were starting to finally groom him as Jamar's successor. Fingers crossed for him, and it's not a total disaster if we have to go in next year with a Russian/Pedo combination (hello AFP) but just another winning moment in the recent history of this club. Don't the football gods know we're supposed to get through until around Christmas before suffering our first serious injury affecting the new season?

Who cares how it was achieved, we kicked four goals in a first quarter for only the second time all year and were right in it. That should have been good enough for anyone. Possibly not for the guy near me who spent the entire first quarter scaring nearby children by screaming obscenities at Watts, Frawley and bizarrely enough Dawes during his best quarter all year. If there was ever a good example of how this club damages people who are otherwise probably perfectly sensible individuals this was it. I didn't think Watts was all that bad, but whether he means it or not he still runs around off the ball looking like he can't be stuffed. I'm happy to sit back and enjoy the ride if he stays but I really think it would be better off for him to go elsewhere. If anything at least he pushed his trade value up, and it would have been even better if he'd managed to hold on to one of those overhead marks in the forward line later in the game.

Eventually class won out. Even when we were two goals in front on the second quarter it just seemed liked North were biding their time before they ran over us. In the end we had more inside 50's, but that stat is even more useless when you consider how often the ball goes from inside our forward line to somebody having a shot on goal at the other.

In the grandest tradition of the Melbourne Football Club 2007-2014 much of the damage was done by totally unheralded or previous unknown players. Kayne Turner, the youngest player in the comp as we were reminded about 72 times, kicked four and he of ludicrous hair and even more ludicrous number Ben Brown - who looked about as useful as Tom Gillies when we played them a few weeks ago - added another three, and three that were quality. If you're a young player the next best thing to being drafted by a top club is to break into the team in time to play us in your rookie season. Only the performance of Jack Martin for Gold Coast the next day will stop us from being on the end of yet another Rising Star nomination in the same week we ended our first season without one since 2003.

The problem is we've just got too many enthusiastic plodders. Players who will chase their hearts out and tackle themselves to a standstill but can't take important marks or dispose of the ball to save themselves. While even the best clubs have one or two of these useful soldiers we've got a record breaking surplus - Rohan Bail, Matt Jones, Dean Terlich, Aidan Riley, Jordie McKenzie etc.. etc.. How are we supposed to maintain four quarters of reasonable football with four of the above in our side?

For me Jones (M) is the best of the lot, but that's not saying much. His move out of traffic to set Kent up in the second quarter was fantastic, but then when Deano about 20m free of any opponent the kick missed him. Probably for the better than he kicked for goal on the run than from a set shot but it's the principal of the thing that matters. He doesn't bring the defensive side that Riley or McKenzie do, but as much as it may come as a surprise to some we don't need to fill the full 22 with negating players. I'm not a huge fan, and his contract extension still baffles me, but at least he can do some damage.

Speaking of contract extensions we achieved a hat trick during the week by giving all of Bail, Riley and Terlich new deals. They'll all be in the mix next year but if we don't get enough mids - and it's possible that any or all of Trengove, Toumpas and Salem will be in the middle next year along with any draftees or recruits from other clubs - so that we can reduce our reliance on the battlers to one or two then we're not going anywhere fast.

I was in love with Riley a few weeks ago, not least because he shares near enough to a name with the director of cinematic classics like What an Asshole, Buttface 3 and Dirty Panties 2, but with respect to the fact that he's still coming off snapping his leg last year and was named the sub every second week his disposal has been absolutely criminal in his last few appearances. It's not just the fatal kick across goal straight to an opponent, even his handballs in the clear were landing on the outstretched fingertips of teammates. He can obviously win the ball, and managed to get his head over it enough to win five free kicks last night but there's no point playing him if he can't complete a simple handball.

The MFC Battler Spirit achieved it's greatest ever moment in the second quarter when we eventually got that goal after a series of the worst kicks and handballs in the history of football. Fittingly one of the key participants was Bail, who gave us two of his 150% effort, 50% skill demonstrations which eventually ended up with Fitzpatrick running into an open goal to give us the lead shortly before half-time. North levelled it up with a point, but we'd still managed to get to half time neck deep in the game.

Then the true spirit of Melbourne bubbled to the surface, and we were left with one final sour taste in the mouth for the season as what disgustingly enough represented our highest scoring half since Round 14 last year was followed by a 25 minute struggle to get our first and only goal of the third quarter while North casually hacked away at us. Vince disappeared, Dawes got distracted trying to kill somebody and our run totally dried up. It was noted by others that in Round 3 last year we had nine goals on the board at half time and lost by 94 points.

With everyone in the side now contracted for next year they could have rolled over and got flogged in the last quarter and everyone would have just shrugged, gone "oh well" and got on with their off-season BUT out of nowhere we were gifted a reasonably interesting last quarter. We were too far behind to scare them (might have been a chance again 2013 North though), and eventually lost the quarter but with the Roos joining us in tossing defence out the window we at least got to see some goals. Admittedly I did think the avalanche was coming when they got the first goal within 30 seconds, but that was about the only difference between the two in the end.

Obviously most North players were entering self-preservation mode by this stage, but stuff it I'll take anything at the moment. Then something magical happened. I don't know it was a piece of improvisational genius from the King of Sizzle or just North giving up and letting us do what we liked but a botched, rushed attempt to play on by Nathan Jones ended with Kent, who proved himself to be a tremendously generous kent by centering the ball to Tom McDonald for the most eagerly awaited set-shot since Salem vs Essendon.

Now, the North fans sitting around us did not understand why we were making such a big deal out of this. Some of them even thought we were mocking North and proceeded to celebrate for the rest of the game like they were beating a decent team, but stats freaks everywhere (i.e me) were aware that Tom had gone a full 60 games since debut without kicking a goal - lifting him to fourth in this list. He had a practice against Hawthorn from a similar position a few weeks ago and sprayed it wildly, so I wasn't expecting much but by god he kicked it and there were SCENES in the stands. 5th best moment of the year behind all the wins.

Then in the most improbable twist of events in the history of mankind a few seconds later Kent found himself in exactly the same position and looked up to see Tom in exactly the same position for the exact end result. 6th best moment of the season, and a reaction in the stands that led to one of our North chums informing us that they were going to be playing finals next week. Only a shit bloke would ruin a moment like that by reminding us of the harsh facts. Obviously he was right, but at the time we failed to see it that way at the time and with respect to the kids in the middle of us words were exchanged.

It was a great way to end the season, and the siren should have gone off the moment the ball went through the goal - but there were at least two more major highlights. One was Kent crumbing Watts' dropped mark in wonderful fashion and Riley gifting North a goal with a horror turnover in the backline. We got to spaz out at conceding a goal to a ridiculous free kick and North fans were so bored that they accidentally booed Jamar instead of Dawes at one point. Something was truly to be had for everyone in those last moments. It really did end with a bang instead of a whimper even if nobody saw it.

2014 Allen Jakovich Medal
5 - Dean Kent
4 - Dom Tyson
3 - Tom McDonald
2 - Nathan Jones
1 - Viv Michie

Apologies to Dawes and Vince (both for the first half only), Watts, Cross, Viney, Jetta and Fitzpatrick

Final Leaderboard
Nathan Jones officially saluted a week ago, but today we hand him his fourth brown jacket and wish him all the best with the crippling back injury he'll eventually suffer from carrying so many others. His final tally is the second largest in Jakovich Medal history, second only behind his own 56 in 2012.

In other awards Dunn also built up an unbeatable lead last week, so it was just down to Jamar and the absent Jay Kennedy-Harris to confirm their title victories. JKH lifted the Hilton automatically when Salem had to pull out, and in a bittersweet twist Jamar confirmed that he wouldn't have to share the Stynes when Gawn limped off. Congratulations to everyone on your achievements this year.

54 - Nathan Jones (WINNER: Allen Jakovich Medal for Player of the Year)
42 - Dom Tyson
27 - Lynden Dunn (WINNER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
22 - Daniel Cross, Bernie Vince
20 - Neville Jetta
17 - Tom McDonald
16 - Chris Dawes, Jack Viney
13 - Jeremy Howe
12 - James Frawley
9 - Mark Jamar (WINNER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year), Dean Kent, Cameron Pedersen
7 - Matt Jones
6 - Jack Watts
5 - Aidan Riley
4 - Rohan Bail, Max Gawn
3 - Jack Fitzpatrick, Dean Terlich
2 - Colin Garland, Jack Grimes, Jay Kennedy-Harris (WINNER: Jeff Hilton Rising Star Medal)
1 - Jordie McKenzie, Viv Michie, Jake Spencer

Crowd Watch
I know our fans stay away from the place like it's giving off radioactivity (and if it is none of our players are enjoying unexpected superpowers from it) but even accounting for the fact that North have no fans either 17,174 did seem absurdly low considering they're about to make the finals. It sent me scurrying for the record books to find the last time we had such a poor crowd against another Melbourne team - only to discover that the answer was R18 last year for our 'home' game where North spifflicated us by 20 goals. Just to prove that it's not all our fault there's an even lower one against North at Docklands in 2009.

Not entirely sure we were contributing more than about 20% of the crowd last night, though I did randomly see Paul Hopgood in attendance as he came out of the bar with a tray full of beers, and the 80% who were there for North paid an appropriate level of interest for the contest by rarely breaking out in anything more than a polite clap. The loudest noise all night accompanied the "make some noise" graphic after North goals which had a screaming crowd piped in with no respect for the fact that as it was suggesting we were in the midst of a grand final atmosphere you could individually count the number of people paying the scantest interest.

None of it does anything for me but North do a pretty good job of giving their home game a 'home' feel. Having said that is there somebody at the club with a hard-on for DJs or what? You couldn't turn a corner without finding somebody pretending to twiddle with their deck while running a playlist through Winamp. There was one at the 'Hop Up Bar' outside (which is actually a good branding gimmick), another in one of the bars inside and even some bloke called DJ Generic spinning shithouse tracks like a remix of Groove Is In The Heart that nobody would have been interested in when the song came out in the first place.

The best thing about the night was a crowd of 17,000 is about as many as you can fit into the ground without risking a deadly stampede somewhere between the ground and Southern Cross Station after the match. I can't imagine what that retail corridor where they feed everyone going to the station into must be like for 50,000 crowd matches. I can't believe health and safety regulations allow them to funnel people through such a narrow space, if one person yells fire there'll be a disaster through there one day. There's one benefit to following a team without any fans.

And on that cheery note...

Stat My Bitch Up
We not only avoided GWS' record for the lowest scoring team since World War II, we increased our points per game by +1.22 to get us to 60.72. In the end we put up our lowest total score since the 18 game 1967 season, and our lowest PPG average across all games since 58.74 in 1920.

The new leaderboard for scoring futility:

1266 - 63.3ppg - North Melbourne (1968)
1270 - 57.72ppg - GWS (2012)
1305 - 65.25ppg - St Kilda (1945)
1336 - 60.72ppg - Melbourne (2014)
1415 - 70.75ppg - Geelong (1945)
1452 - 66.00ppg - Fitzroy (1996)
1455 - 66.13ppg - Melbourne (2013)
1477 - 67.13ppg - Melbourne (1997)
1509 - 68.59ppg - Gold Coast (2012)
1513 - 68.77ppg - South Melbourne (1972)

Of course down the other end the scoreboard was ticking over at a 2013 rate, but the surprisingly tight defence of the first half of the season still saw us reduce our PPG against from 122.3 last  year to 88.81 this time. Midway through the year we were set for the ridiculous scenario of putting up our best defensive numbers since the 60's while simultaneously scoring like we were playing in the Great Depression (which in a way we are) but this corrected itself and in the end it was only the best since 2004's home and away season (86.36) which in the end is nothing much to shout about.

Meanwhile Dawes' 20 goals narrowly avoided us seeing the first MFC leading goalkicker to score under that mark since 1919 - equalling Barrie Vagg's total in a three win 1966 season. It's also the first time we haven't had somebody kick 4+ goals in a game since 1919 and we're the first team since 1972 not to score over 100 in a match at least once. Good times.

Finally, because nobody has criticised me for only concentrating on negative stats for a while I'd like to leave you with the fact that our losing streak at Docklands now ranks 1st for consecutive losses and 8th for seasons (excluding the three seasons missed during WW1). Have a list of all-time MFC venue winless streaks should you want another reason to self-loathe yourself into the off-season:

1. Docklands 2007- (20 games, 8 seasons)
2. Princes Park 1970 to 1982 (17, 11)
3. Football Park 2001- (16, 10)
3. MCG 1980 to 1981 (16, 2)
5. Subiaco 2004- (15, 11)
6. Princes Park 1905 to 1919 (13, 12)
6. Victoria Park 1922 to 1936 (13, 13)
8. Brunswick Street 1897 to 1906 (12, 10)
9. East Melbourne 1901 to 1908 (10, 7)
9. Kardinia Park 1990 to 2005 (10, 10)
9. MCG 1915 to 1919 (10, 2)
9. MCG 1906 to 1907 (10, 2)
9. Victoria Park 1908 to 1920 (10, 10)

The good news is that should we actually break this record next year - humour me and pretend that it happens the first time we play there - there's every possible chance that in the next couple of years Subiaco could overtake it and grab the record back in another victory for our glorious modern history. Our only hope of avoiding it may be the new stadium in WA being finished before we can get to 20+ losses there. At this point I will, like we have with Football Park, take the easy way out. We are truly living in an extraordinary era.

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year
With respect to the two goals by the King of Sizzle which provided me with as much excitement as anything other than the wins this year I'll have to go for the Kent Krumb in the last quarter.

It wouldn't have happened if Watts had taken the overhead mark he was in perfect position for, but I'll take some quality crumb no matter how it's achieved.

Sadly for Dean even this couldn't get in front of Salem for Goal of the Year. The youngster takes home the Davey for his winner against Essendon, ably assisted by nine different teammates. Congratulations on being the first player to take home what is sure to become one of the great MFC awards.

The Demon Army ends the season 21-1 with another solid effort. Their banner offered a free keg win, lose or draw (because the Duke hasn't had to give away the one when we win for 10 weeks) while their opposition put out the same half-hearted effort as their team - with weird spacing between the lines that forced some of the text on the back right to the top but left a huge blue gap in the middle. They also had four curtains, so with four curtain penalties applied it's one last thumping victory for the good guys.

Next Week
The September Exhibition Series is always worth paying some sort of attention to. Applying the usual rule that Victorian teams can piss off because if we're not winning the flag I don't want to hear about it from anybody else I'll be going for teams in the following order: Port Adelaide, Fremantle, Sydney, Richmond (top amongst Victorian teams just for #chokeyourselfwithatie), North, Hawthorn, Geelong and Essendon.

Also at some point in the next few weeks the traditional Demonblog End of Season Spectacular will land. You won't want to miss this year's performance by the Solid Brown Dancers or a special guest host we've been waiting years to use. Watch out for a link on Twitter, or if you're not into that sort of thing check back here every week until I can be bothered writing it.

Next Year
Not to harpoon any sense of optimism you may have gained from our narrow defeat to North Melbourne Seconds, but I think we're in for another long year next season. I can't see anybody other than St Kilda and us who will tumble into the bottom two, and I feel like almost everyone narrowly above us is going to keep moving up a faster rate than us.

I could bitterly take second last again as long as it's a strong second last with at least six wins and a decent break on last place instead of avoiding it on percentage. I'd rather finish somewhere between 1st and 9th but let's be realistic we've still got a lot of players who we need to ordinary and good ordinary players. All I know is that if we win four games again and don't show any signs of life for 2016 then I might be sitting in an empty stadium by Round 23 2015.

As for outs, based on the latest contracts list I'm going to assume no Mitch Clark miracle and suggest that on top of Clark and Byrnes, all the uncontracted players in Blease, Nicholson, Strauss and Tapscott are gorn plus Frawley and Watts. That's eight total, enough to work with it but not too many that we'll have to go out and get more campaigners to fill all our open spots. Shame on Blease and Tapscott but Dean Kent and injury have killed them off. I'm open to keeping Tappy as a rookie though.

Alternatively we could reverse the 'no dickheads' policy and instead boost our ranks with all the available players who have got a reputation for troublemaking and/or criminal activity. IN - Daniel Connors, Mitch Robinson, Chris Yarran, Travis Tuck, Liam Jurrah, Ahmed Saad, Colin Sylvia etc..

If they're all unavailable then I suppose I want more midfielders, a decent kick across half-back, a defender who can allow Howe to go back forward again and for god's sake give us a crumber or give us death - Kent looked like the small forward of our dreams last night but it wouldn't be the first time somebody looked good in one end of season game and was never seen again - at least give us another option to put the pressure on him and JFK.

Was it worth it?
In the end it was. At times it was as frustrating as ever, and it didn't fill me with any real confidence for next year but it was nice to play with no consequence and no next week to think about. Now let the blood run free.

Final Thoughts
For my sins I made it through the season without missing a game in Victoria. First time since 2011 after self-excluding from Kardinia Park in 2012 due to post-186 trauma and missing 300 points worth of losses at the MCG last year due to weddings/associated functions. My family and friends are quite aware that the only events I'll miss a game for are births, deaths or marriages but now that I've somehow acquired a family (and a reminder that my kid hasn't been legally alive for a win yet, though hopefully she enjoyed the other four in utero) I don't like my chances of pulling it off again.

I also don't like my chances of getting through another season of writing all the posts, so please work on perfecting your own spiteful brand of hateful invective during the off-season because for one reason or another I may be calling upon you the dear reader (yes, you specifically) to chip in.

Anyway, for the 10th year in a row (!) thanks to everybody who has stuck with me throughout the year no matter how self-indulgent things got at times. Even if no more than a handful of people are reading now - and most of those who are seem to follow other clubs - let future generations see it as a true and accurate record of time (mis)spent following this club.

So until next year (via a handful of posts over the next few months), I will see you @demonblog on Twitter and back here for 2015.

As the Japanese proverb goes - Fall down seven times, stand up eight.

The End.


  1. Thanks for your efforts- another year gone. Enjoy the brief respite before the inevitable raising of hopes begins anew!

  2. "and most of those who are seem to follow other clubs". I know that feeling all too well. Indeed, I probably come here to get away from the same phenomenon on my own blog.

    By the way, great effort this year as per usual. I tried to get the most recent teeth grinding episode added to the syllabus of a Vic Uni sports writing unit for the week dealing with match reports, but no dice.

    1. True story. I actually met a Melbourne supporting Demonblog reader in that sports writing class today. Freaky.

    2. Thrilled just to be nominated to contribute to our rich cultural heritage after doing so much to ruin it.

  3. thanks for another year. see you in 2015

  4. Amazing work once again, you really are the master of self-pity (a title that all Demons fans strive for). It's been a pleasure reading these posts, the only one I missed being GWS and I was in very real danger of breaking my computer at that point. See you next year.

  5. Thanks, really enjoyed your insights over the year...banner watch was my favourite section....I'm sort of half hoping Melbourne cheer squad introduce the dreaded curtain, just to read your reaction ! Cheers.

  6. Another fun read this year. Hopefully you are still doing this in 2017 when the Demons finally do turn things around.

  7. Great read as always.

    As a North fan, apologies on behalf of the bothersome few who seem to feel they can't enjoy the game without making sure that opposition fans aren't enjoying it... that's not what footy is about, not what North's about.

    Might have said a few choice words myself about Dawes at one point but his Mad Monday costume has made up for it.

    Another enjoyable year of Demonblog - looking forward to 2015. I reckon the Dees will improve notably this coming year, which unfortunately makes the blog a bit less entertaining ;)

    Kudos - Anon


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